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A History of a Gaming Community - SunLit Games
SunLit Games is a long standing community of friends who enjoy playing first-person
shooter games in a friendly atmosphere. It is run by a group of gamers as a hobby. The game servers have been retired for now and the website pared down but the friendships remain.
Here is a look at the history of the SunLit Games community.
The Mayans had it right.. 2012 is the year for tearing down and rebuilding. It is with some sadness that we have to announce that our game servers will be terminated sometime before February 10. Our website will also be down-sized considerably. It is the end of an era here at SunLit Games, as we have had an active website and game servers running since our beginnings as a Half-Life community over twelve years ago.
Our focus from this point forward will be providing a basic website with some forums so that all the people that have made great friendships through this community over the years will have an easy way to stay in touch with each other.
We would like to say that it has been an honor and a privilege to be able to run this place for these many years. We have met some great people and had a lot of fun playing with all of you. And we'd both like to say a very heartfelt thank you to everyone who has helped us over the years -- all the people who donated their hard-earned cash, the people who helped us with the website, who helped run the SLDL, and of course the tireless efforts of our Enforcers back in our heyday. But it all wouldn't have happened without the vision and efforts of THE Evil Code Monger, Lazarus Long.
Best Regards, Pvt. John and Rosie the Riveter
Times they are a changing... The SLDL outgrew its infrastructure and imploded. It has been retired. The servers have been pared down to DODS, L4D, L4D2 and TF2. TF2 events, Halloween and Christmas, produced full servers but not the momentum to keep them going. BRINK had a brief appearance but the glitched client and server killed the game. Ham and Jam and Fire Arms Source are still pending.
SunLit is entering its 10th year. The SLDL starts its 20th season. July offerred a welcome surprise with the release of two free mods ported and revamped for Source: Alien Swarm a 4 man tactical cooperative shooter and Firearms:Source a fast-paced, quasi-realistic, action-oriented, warfare-centric modification for Valve's Source engine.
SunLit received the best New Year gift ever with the return of Pvt. John to community. The seventeenth season of the SLDL commenced in February. Lazarus Long, Founding Father and Evil Code Monger, returns to play L4D .
Zombie fever grew with the adddition of a UT2004 mod that runs on Steam, The Killing Floor. May saw the addition of two servers. The surprise announcement of Left 4 Dead 2 instead of support for a glitchy L4D floored everyone. SunLit added three L4D2 servers
and provided onsite and current links to its custom maps.
A Call of Duty server was reestablished and managed by ToddChevalier but the number of regular players was not sustainanble.
Valve promised a DODS Engine update to the Orange Box and the fixing of some of the glitches that are driving the community nuts. The Official DODS forums are discontinued and become just part of the Steam Forums. Looks like the last chance for DODS. Regardless. the fourteenth season of the SLDL commenced in February.
An attempt to repopulate the public DODS servers (April) by providing free private servers to a couple of clans in return for them adopting our pub servers as their home base. The May DODS Palermo update is met with mixed reviews but interest in the OrangeBox engine and long awaited fixes draws some players back for the open beta test.
Real life concerns draw Pvt.John away from the SunLit community although he graciously continued to provide the bandwidth for the website.
The CAMP (Community Associated Map Pack) team approached SunLit Games in July for help in testing out map candidates.
July also saw the third annual Fishstock celebration. Twenty-three intrepid gamers arrived for 3 days of LAN, food and friendship.
The TF2 Heavy Update in August gives a boost to the TF2 player base but it is short lived.
The question of whether it was financially worth it to continue running SunLit Games arose and was answered. The regulars donated sufficient funds to run the community for another year.
The sixtenth season of the SLDL got underway in September. The DODS custom map library reaches its 200th entry in October.
November was very exciting with the release of the Left4Dead demo and SunLit had test servers up immediately. With L4D going gold, SunLit now runs four L4D dedicated servers.
A CSS server (Jan. 2007) has been added for a bit of variety. SunLits has run test servers for the ProDOD, Cone of Fire (COF) and Pirates, Vikings and Knights2 nad the Insurgency mods and is anticipating the release of Team Fortress Source. SunLit Games is sponsoring two SunLit Gaming (SLG|) teams in both CAL DODS and CSS leagues. Who says pub teams can't compete? ;)
Fishstock 2 is held in Hamilton and Brantford Ontario (July). SunLit players from as far away as Denmark, Texas , California and Florida arrive for 3 days of food and fun.
Outside of Source engine shenanigans, the SunLit community has settled into a groove.
SunLits is involved with playtesting new DODS maps and runs 2 public custom DODS servers. The public HLDM Shotgun Madness and DOD 1.3 Boneyard are still running. SunLit Games still sponsors the SunLit Day of Defeat League, now just finishing its 10th season. Hurricane engineered and designed the current SunLit Games web site and features including a unique download section for each game with previews and reviews. The community ensured SunLit's survival through 2006 with generous paypal donations.
Last year's decision to amalgamate all the game servers to one dedicated machine and host the web site and downloads on another has proved to be a good one.
SunLit Games now ran 7 public servers with fast in-game autodownloads of custom maps, game stats, 3 match servers , with 3 HLTV , provide a web site with forums, custom maps and map packs and had 40 admins on board to keep things running smoothly. Our custom map DOD League , the SLDL started its fifth season.
On top of all this, SunLit Games has a loyal core of regular players , of all skill levels and styles but who play as a team . Good company, fair play and FUN!
July saw the incorporation a BattleField2 server for testing but it never took off. Ranked servers were the way to attract the player base but licensing a ranked server was exhorbitantly expensive. The BF2 server was discontinued.
The web site and servers were running pretty smoothly. DOD:Source release was imminent and anticpation high. Plans were in effect to add a DODS server immediately in its release Sept 26 2005. The Annex was converted over to DOD Source, maintaining Futurama for DOD 1.3 and continuing to feature its over 250 custom maps.
Pvt. John finished a new theme for the website. The old one was unique but it broke when it was upgraded the site to PostNuke .761.This gave us a good excuse to redesign the whole theme from the ground up.
Source is full of "surprises" for servers and clients and SunLit Games did its best to keep the community apprised of the solutions to each problem.
Almost immediately following Laz's formal announcement of his new job, Commando Dad (Jan 2004) announced his own retirement from SunLit. It was now officially a crisis. We were down to 2 working Admins, loss of the free server and bandwidth and the free web site hosting would be terminated shortly.
The challenge was daunting. The aim was to keep all the servers' and website'S content, be within affordable means and have it in place with no down time.
"The past 8 weeks have been a wild ride at SunLits on all fronts. Some of the changes have been visible to the community
but a lot more has been going on behind the scenes and we would like to bring you up to date.
Servers Moving: Locations and IPs
Our current provider for the servers has been affordable and fairly dependable. However, the inability of some European players to connect to the Annex, the recent 24 hour downtime of Shotgun Madness, servers lagging under load has made us review the servers' locales. The provider has offered to move the servers to a new location but at a higher monthly rental.
That's not going to fit within the PayPal Donation's budget.
We opted for a dedicated server to house SunLits games.
This would allow us direct and immediate control of the servers and still keep in budget with a brand new, state of the art machine. The server is located in Dallas, Texas, just about equidistant from both coasts .
We have been testing out the performance of this monster this week and have been very impressed.
We are going to go for it !
What this means is that Shotgun Madness can be upped to 16 slots as voted for in the current poll.
All the regulars can connect to the Annex and Futurama.
The servers will not be lagging out under load .
We will also have the power and room to add in the much awaited Half-Life 2, the very day it is available, at no extra cost"
It was a monster machine. We tested the potential of this state of the art server with a Half-Life mod new to SunLit,
Natural Selection (Jan 2004) on the SunLits HMS Beagle server. Performance was still flawless. The SunLit Games server was moved to a new location at the Planet Data Center, Dallas (June 2004) for a better connection and customer service.We experimented with a
Call of Duty server (Nov. 2004) and then its mod, Heat of Battle. CPU performance took a major hit with HOB due to an inefficient net code on Windows. However, Heat of Battle continued to be a resource hog on the server's Windows OS and was discontinued.
A new machine, new location, new mods and better download service were sure to draw in new players. The SunLit Half-Life of Horrors website was unique in style and content but was sluggish with its huge, accumulated 4 year forum and registered member archive. Adminning the forums was awkward. The tweaked php code was Lazarus' creation and without the "Evil Code Monger", it couldn't be modernized. John and Deb searched for a web format that they could manage and John set himself to learn the ins and out of postnuke. He had the new site designed,a more flexible forum and working plugins in short order. Lazarus transferred the SunLit Games domain over (June 2004) and the new site was launched.
A HL racing mod, HL:RALLY (July 2004) was added for a change from the frantic pace of the first person shooters and has its own following.
The Source engine made its on-line debut with CounterStrike:Source (Oct 2004). SunLit had a server up within 24 hours of the release. We were anxious to see how the server would handle the Source code after the disappointment of Heat of Battle. The dedicated server hummed along with Source and we counted the days until the release of HL2.
HL2:DM (Dec 2004) had a surprise release just before Christmas and it was up and running for the holidays. Despite the Source engine's growing pains, the SunLit Source of Horrors server was hopping and a second server, SunLit Source of Madness HL2:TeamDM was added. Server performance is good and we are ready to add DOD:S the instant it is released. SunLit Games has tested the new custom HL2DM maps and hosted over 50 maps of sound playability.
Then along came Steam.
The original press releases forecast the termination of WONnet within weeks but its end was delayed for months.
The global on-line gaming community was split into Steam and non-Steam servers.
Server after server was shutdown and emptied due to early Steam troubles.
Custom maps and skins no longer worked with the updated DOD engine.
Steam was rife with glitches. Rather than sabotage the working DOD and HLDM servers, John and Deb bit the bullet,
loaded up steam and began troubleshooting on an independently funded, professionally hosted, temporary,
Steamed DOD server, the SunLit Annex.
SunLit was ready to Steam Futurama and Shotgun Madness but were waiting for the community to adjust to the idea.
The conversion of the Shotgun Mod to Steam was fairly simple but HL-Stats did not work with Steam.
John engineered a functioning stat system for the Shotgun Madness server.
Shotgun Madness players expressed an interest in a Shotgun mod tournament (May 2003) and 3 Shotgun Madness events were
held over the next 3 months.
The SunLit Day of Defeat League (SLDL) was initiated. (July 2003) It was a league designed to promote good sportsmanship and a place for "new" teams to experience competitive play. Matches were 8v8 in format and on custom maps, a unique combination. Clan scoring was tweaked to work with Steam for the league and then added to the public servers.
Lazarus had found a new game of interest, Never Winter Nights and was considering adding a NWN server to the fold.
He started work on a new website format and domain, SunLitGames.com , but it wasn't to be.
Laz shared with us some important news. He had the opportunity for a new job venture and was going for it.
The server hardware and bandwidth would no longer be available and the SunLits gaming community was going to have to revamp to survive .The SunLit Annex became a permanent fixture overnight and Futurama and Slugfest were retired.
Shotgun Madness was moved to a professionally hosted machine in Virgina. Lazarus volunteered to temporarily sponsor and manage the Horrors web site.
The team play aspect of gaming piqued the interest of many players and a trial Day of Defeat 2.0 server was added.(Mar 2002)
Its popularity was phenomenal and it became a permanent addition to the SunLit servers.
Concurrent with the growth of the gaming community was the growth of Laz's business, SunLit Surf.
Laz's time to be involved with the "fun" part of the game was curtailed and the strain on bandwidth shared between the expanding business and game began to be felt.
The admins' available time was also on the decline.
Laz's business was booming, Commando Dad had returned to school and was working his tail off
and John and Deb were learning more about DOD, running a clan ([I&S]) and its website. (May 2002)
Enforcers were invited to help sustain the gaming environment in HLDM and DOD.
Their help has been invaluable.
Priority one became the eradication of the lag on the existing servers.
Moving the DOD server to another box was one option to alleviate the strain on the HLDM servers.
A new server was built to host the DOD instances and shipped to Laz.
Laz found the time to load up the DOD mod and Futurama and SlugFest were launched.
Lazarus' business was undergoing some major changes. Pocket money no longer covered the costs of the servers.
Lazarus asked the Community for some support through PayPal donations and was blown away by the response from the regulars.That money allowed for the maintenance of the web site and for Lazarus to purchase a much faster machine for the HLDM servers.
DOD continued to grow in popularity and Futurama was often filled.
John started up the Texas Annex off his home cable connection to handle the overflow.
However, the tempermental nature of "home cable " limited the success of this idea.
Back on the HLDM front, Commando Dad experimented with new plugins and tweaks.
The innovations were great but lag issues still plagued the servers. Hoping for some relief,
the Half-Life of Horrors server was retired from action and plugins cut back one by one on Shotgun Madness.
With the promise of HL2 and the appearance of new mods, the custom community was moving on.
New skins and maps were increasingly hard to find.
But what would SunLits be without Laz's HL mod? Shotgun Madness was kept on line and
its enforcers took more of a role in maintaining the HLDM side of the community.
August 2000 - January 2001
The Sunlit Half-Life of Horrors HLDM server was created by Lazarus Long around August of 2000 and the website soon followed in Jan of 2001.
SunLit was in its glory days with Lazarus' HLDM mod servers, Shotgun Madness and Half-Life of Horrors.
Lazarus Long provided the mod, bandwidth, servers and web space and a great deal of technical expertise,
free of charge. He received the satisfaction of seeing his Half-Life mod in action and the community and SunLits philosophy of gaming take hold.
The two HL mods in the DeathMatch community kept the servers rocking.
Special events were added in, a HLDM TeamPlay tournament(JULY 2001) and a weekly Ladies' Night.
The map and skin libraries were growing and the web site expanding. A million hits a month ! Shotgun Madness made Number 3 on the Top 50 HLDM servers on the CLQ.
Laz looked down and saw it was good. :)