Originally Posted by Kristo Vaher, 2002
I have to begin telling the story from the point where Micah Hymer formed an Age of Empires 2 Custom Scenario design team called 'Tribal Design Team'. I heard about the team in AOK Heaven forums, where the team was looking for recruits. Most of the replies said that nobody usually wants to join a new team. While I had my own team at the time, called Falcon Campaign Creations, I thought: "What the heck!" and joined. I did not do scenario work for Tribal Design Team, but I worked on artwork for them.
It did not take very long, for Micah's team to end its developments and that moment changed everything that came after. Micah Hymer, known as tribal_warrior, posted one of the most radical ideas in the AOK Heaven forums ever: a thread titled "Lets create our own game...".
Well, obviously, there were only two things that could happen. For one, nobody would care and bash the idea in the replies leading to the post to die soon. But thankfully this did not happen and it received around twenty replies a day, becoming very popular. After more than four months, it had 444 replies.
One of the first replies was mine and I went with the idea immediately. I said that the suggestion would have surprised me, if it was posted by someone other than Micah. It did not take me long to realize that Micah was very good with words and had a sense of managment in him. His Age of Kings scenarios weren't exactly a success, but he always knew how to produce and market them well.
We realized quite soon that we need to organize. A darn good fella known as King of Cheese created a forum (nonamegame.cjb.net), that was later renamed to 'RedForum'. Around thirty people volunteered in just a few days. Later, there were around fifty active members. At that time, there was no theme, engine, not even team and project name, just a whole bunch of talkers, aka 'dreamers'.
In the early stage of organization I was put to lead everything related to graphics decisions while Micah led the team. He also suggested the name "Reverie" as the team name, which many did not approve of. This was just one of the small arguments that caught flames in the forums and soon Micah realised that this was not a good environment to develop a game. He announced that he will split and that democracy is not the way to lead a project and asked others to join him. He decided to form a smaller team and called for people with same ideas to join him in a team called Reverie Studios.
Many talented members joined Reverie. I joined together with few other graphics artists like Josef Bugman. While I was not very experienced with graphics at the time, I still retained my lead artist position in the team while I also played hand in game design and concept in general.
One of the more important parts was that Micah Hymer brought with him a young computer programmer John Lockwood. Previously in the RedForum we did not have any developers at all, so inclusion of an actual programmer was an important step.
John was one of the most important pieces in the team. He had created an RPG game engine in his past, and joining Reverie, he reprogrammed it into an RTS one. At that time it did not have much on it. It was a 2D engine, had 256 colors, and had no elevation features whatsoever. Yet it had more options for us than any freeware engine available for download at the time.
The team that we split from formed a new team called 1337. There was a long war of flaming and such between Reverie and 1337 due to past grudges, though later peace was formed between the teams. 1337 continued to have production problems however and had other splits within itself, such as team called Phoenix, ITIS Creations and team called Wildfire.
Until Christmas, we did not do much. John upgraded the engine, I did some 3D graphics, such as trees and a castle, though I was not satisfied with the limits of the engine. In graphics department, the greatest headache was the limit of colors. Every realistic color was missing, and I ran into many problems while trying to replace color palette.
We still had no plans whatsoever about the theme of the game. A lot discussing was around Middle Ages, especially Dark Ages. Soon the team got another assett, Yanic Barret, jamaican art student who provided the team with multiple sketches.
After Christmas holidays and hundreds of e-mails we finally settled on a new theme for the game. The theme would be ultimate fantasy, with most well-known races and very powerful Scenario Editor. Another news was the new 24bit engine, as John also got a new computer, so he could dabble in more powerful graphics. So did I, swapping my Pentium II 300Mhz with a 1.2Ghz Celeron.
The engine also provided elevation maps and was amazing, to leave out just one fact, it only worked on John's computer! We then had almost a whole month full of bug-testing, until the problems were fixed. During that time some new members joined.
Unit design was handed over to Poser expert Duane Beckett, as we wanted to use Poser program to create units for the game and I had no skills in it. Our leader Micah Hymer also wrote a huge design book that details the concept of the game.
Finally the engine bug was fixed and in a chat I remember saying the words: "Now the real work can begin!". It was too good to be true, yet it was just that. And few weeks later the engine was changed from 2D-3D hybrid to a full 3d engine, enabling dozens of more options, especially for graphics department.
Josef Bugman left the team after Christmas, as he wanted to do a Lord of the Rings game with WildFire Studios. Reveries and WildFires paths crossed once more a bit time later, when there was a merge plan discussed to unite Wildfire's and Reveries teams.
WildFires leader, I have to admit, was a very smart leader. I got that impression very soon during the discussions. But Wildfire wanted that in the case of merge, we would do a free Lord of the Rings game and would not sell our work if we had a chance. And that was the big "no-no" for Micah and Reverie.
Antoher main problem with the merge was that John did not want to "give" his engine away, he had invested hours in it, and giving it away as freeware in the future was out of question. It was more than obvious that the main objective for WildFire was to get that engine.
Reveries and WildFires paths did not cross in the future any more, but something can be pointed out about their next steps anyway. WildFire began two projects at once, both RTS and would be working on a same engine. First project was called 'Lord of the Rings - The Last Alliance' and the other '0AD'.
New members began pouring in the team after good recruitment by Micah. Michal Matczak, a fabulous sketch artist, joined, along with two 3D artists Tiago Carita and Tom Roe. I finished all low polygon civilization Men buildings, and also animated Reveries logo. I also created many promotional type of animations. Tiago worked on Archer which came along just nice.
Then began summer, and I was away and separated from the internet for a long time. As I returned the winds of change had started blowing. John Lockwood was finishing a totally new engine, marking the fourth time in the history of Reverie Entertainment where the engine was almost entirely revamped.
But this certainly was not the only department where winds of change were blowing. In Art Department, thanks to the new abilities of our engine, alot was changed as well. One of the major changes the beauty opacity map implementation and new polygon system limits. Simply saying, all - and I mean ALL - of the graphics had to be redone. Soon followed full set of new buildings for civilization Men, along with many new trees and other objects. Project took a huge step forward and mostly everything that came before October 2002 was scrapped.
The project was "reborn" after that date. Along with this rebirth, project name has changed to "Dawn of Fantasy", a fantasy game in the theme of Lord of the Rings, but not infringing on Tolkien copyrights.