The last three years.

27 07 2014

I have, as is apparent, neglected this blog the last…years. Facebook and other platforms became more efficent outlets for writing, and family and work and music is taking up much of my time. I have a new website with more updated content here:  www.silkwood.se

Anyway, what have I been up to since? Here are just a few things:

* The musical landscape. Since last post I started working full time as an archivist – and (at least temporary) stopped working as an archivist! This new path takes me further into the academic world: My day job is now all about writing a doctorate essay in ethnomusicology, working title “The Musical Landscape”, about music politics, place and regionalization. I have a PhD position at Umeå University but is positioned at Visarkivet in Stockholm. It is a wonderful, challenging and interesting thing to do where I get to learn new things each day and meet amazing people.

* Ulrika Bodén Band. I’ve accompanied Ulrika Bodén (Ranarim) on a few occasions before, among others at the Umefolk festival 2009. She’s an amazing singer and very pleasant to work with. So of course I was very pleased when a few years ago she asked me to play in her new band. Fantastic musicians are involved including drummers Petter Berndalen (Gjallarhorn, Rythm of sweden, Ranarim) and Valter Kinbom (Hir, Arash mfl) , fiddler Mia Marin (MP3, Nid) and Emma Ahlberg (Ahlberg Ek Roswall), amazing guitarist Mattias Perez (MP3) and trumpetist Gustav Hylén (Groupa, Hoven Droven). We released the album Kärlekssånger (Folk Love Songs) summer 2013 and have toured and played concerts quite a bit since.

ulrikabodenband

* Det rätta barnet . Together with my friend Anders Peev, a great keyed fiddler, guitarist, sound engineer and fellow human being, I composed and recorded music for a documentary film project called “Det rätta barnet” (The right child). It is a great movie that portrays the lives of two families who has children with downs syndrome. We made the music in a dreamy, folky style with nordic mandola, keyed fiddle, vibraphone and other instruments. On that subject, “real” vibraphone must be the hardest instrument in the world…we barricaded ourselves in a music school with our recording equipment one afternoon and started playing and figured it would take the afternoon. 3 in the morning we had recorded…something, but still had to add some midi sounds to make it sound right…

Daniel spelar vibra

Albatross

I started playing with fiddler Caroline Eriksson and Magnus Lundmark. Here’s a video we recorded spring 2014:

Lutes of the world: Hungary – Sweden

When playing at the TFF Rudolstadt 2009 as part of the Magic Lute project, I met Geza Fabri and Tünde Fabri-Ivanovich. There was something so awesome about the way they played their hungarian tunes that made me 1/ want to play with them and 2/ think that it would fit great with the swedish folkmusic crowd. So we applied for a grant to get them over here, and last year we finally got some funding! So in October 2014 they will come and play with me and Anders Peev in a few venues all over Sweden. It will be great!





7 great things about 2010

22 01 2011

I know, it’s a bit late to write a new-years-summary, but what the heck. Below are both personal and musical highlights from last year. Looking at it like this I can’t help but wondering what the coming year will hold. Whatever it is, I look forward to it.

  1. Got married. Yepp, in June I got to take the love of my life, Linnéa, to be my lawfully wedded wife. We had a nice non-religious ceremony and a great dinner and party afterwards. It rained, but we didn’t mind.
  2. Finished my studies. After two years of long-distance study (well, plus my studies at Umeå University 1998-2001. Yepp, I’m old) I can now call my self a schooled archivist with a degree in ethnomusicology.
  3. Recorded and released an album. Pettersson & Fredrikssons third duo-album ”Sotali” was finally released in summer 2010. It was long overdue, but I’m glad we didn’t rush into it. In the end, I think the album turned out really, really great and it is probably the one production I am the most proud of in my whole musical carrier. It is also the most ”indie” of all our cd:s – we recorded and released it without support from a record label, but with lots of help from great friends and outside-the-box thinking.
  4. Got a ”real” job. In August, I started working as a record keeper at the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education. It’s a great place to work with interesting people, I enjoy it a lot. While this does give me less time to focus on music, it also gives me the luxury to only focus on musical projects that I’m really passionate about.
  5. Toured europe. In November I took some time of from work and went playing with the Magic Lute Project. It’s such a great ensemble, and I’m proud to be a part of it. The last day we spent in Athens. It was 25 degrees celcius and felt like summer. I picked an orange from a tree and put it in my backpack. When I got home, we stuck dried cloves in it and hung it with a red ribbon in the window.
  6. Moved to Stockholm. After living most of my life in the northern parts of Sweden, with just a brief detour to Falun, I have now moved with my little family to the big city. The decision had grown over time and was made due to many reasons – the work situation being the most prominent.
  7. Went to Ireland. For many years I nurtured a dream to visit Ireland. I even got in touch with a university about doing post-graduate studies in ethnomusicology there, but never got around to it. But now, as an unexpected bonus of my new job, I got to go with my department to Dublin in October! Hotspots: Cobblestone bar (a great musical experience, and a future blog post) Clannagh Records (awesome cd:s), Kilmainham (great guide, horrible place), The Pigs Ear (Best Cheesecake Ever, avoid ”bag of sweets”), the long room (Potteresque).




Past sins III: The small hours

2 09 2010

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The last months have been very hectic – my little family has moved from Umeå to Stockholm, we bought our first house, and I’ve started working at a steady government job. Packing up things for such a big move to another town is weird – while your mind is primarily focused on the future, it is also a great catalyst for nostalgia. While cleaning out a closet I found an old 4-track minidisc. In it was a few songs from a musical project I’d almost forgotten: The small hours.

muchaIn my third year of high school I saw the movie “Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle “, of course portraying the life and poems of Dorothy Parker. I got intrigued and for some reason got the idea to start making music to her words as part of my senior project. I enlisted my friend and classmate, the singer Joanna Grubbström, to sing the songs. A recording was made, but that should be a blog post all on it’s own.

The year after high school we both moved to Umeå. We had occasional gigs, I wrote some new songs and we recorded a few of them in my little dorm-room in the student housing area “Ålidhem”. After a while we moved on to other projects, and the recordings where forgotten. But now, 10 years later, I found them again.

The problem was actually accessing the music – there are very few 4-track MD players left. Luckily I still had that big clunk of scrap metal called SONY MDM-X4 which is a “portable” (in the loosest usage of the word) minidisc recording studio. The REC-function had stopped working many years ago, but I had saved it for some reason. It could still play back the 4-track MD, and I managed to hook it up to my PC. So after that it was just a matter of recording the tracks individually to Cubase, add some light mixing, and upload it. So without further adeu, this is the sound of my late-teen-angst:

The death of nightingales

“The death of nightingales” was ment as a metaphor for the loss of innocence, the loss of a romantic mindset in favor of a dull, adult, realistic outlook on life.

Narrow

It seems like many of these songs was about balancing the thin line between adolecence and being a responsible grown up. So was this one.

To face a fear (why am I)

Now being a dull adult (working for the government and all) I’m glad to see that even when I was a romantically enclined youth I envisioned a future where I actually could balance that thin line of responsibility and family with seeing the world as a wondrous, colourful place filled with dreams and fantasy.

Warsong

Summer 1999 I was backpacking through western Europe, having the time of my life. At the same time, not far away, the Kosovo war raged.

To read the lyrics or download the song (for free of course), click the image below:





Pettersson & Fredriksson: SOTALI

8 07 2010

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After years of work, the folkduo Pettersson & Fredriksson’s third album is released.

“Sotali” is an old and odd word from the village of Kalix in the far north of Sweden. It is normaly used to denominate a lazy person, a sloth who just sits around all day. But it can also be interpreted as someone who “actively does nothing”. A zen-like, contemplating calm. We felt this went well with the feeling of the album.

Please have a listen to it through the player above or go to petfred.bandcamp.com . We have financed and released this album ourself, without a record label, so if you enjoy it we would be honoured if you purchased a download – or even better the physical CD. The CD comes packaged in a wonderful unique digipack which you just have to see! Plus, the digital download is of course freely included! Go to petfred.bandcamp.com to purchase a digital or physical copy. If you’d rather than using paypal, VISA or other online payment method would like to send us cash for a cd, that’s ok too. Contact us at sotali@silkwood.se for more info.

Finally, our deepest thanks to these people and organisations who have made this album possible: Erik Hasselgärde, Patrik Öberg, Christoffer Lundström and Johan Bergström at Upsweden, Frida Sjöström, Alice Pole Richard Ka,Thomas Blomberg at Turmalinen, Nisse Johansson at Ballerina Audio and probably a bunch of other people who I am not remembering right now.

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Past sins: Otyg live in Holland

4 07 2010

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Getting glimpses of the past is awesome. A while ago, three videos with my old band Otyg was uploaded to Youtube. I was suprised to see that it was live photage from a mini-tour we did in Holland way back, it must have been 1999. It was the best of times, with choclate-sandwiches (people of Holland, what’s the name of those? Reutelbrot?) in the morning, and music and beer at night.

PS. I’m the one with the base.  Had more hair back then.



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Mandora summit 2010

22 04 2010

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A while ago, I made a post about my main instrument the nordic mandola. As a complementary instrument I use another little known, 5-chorus plucked folk-instrument. Like the nordic mandola it’s a modified version of a historic instrument which has evolved alongside the second wave of nordic folkmusic. Still, very few people play the instrument. Yesterday five musicians and three instrument builders met up in Upplands Väsby to discuss the past and future of the mandora.

Like the nordic mandola, the modern history of the mandora has revolved around a musician. But where Ale Möller brought a preference for steel strings from the greek bouzoki, Totte Mattsson from the band Hedningarna came from the world of early music. He was a skilled player on renaissance lutes but wanted something simpler, less strings and something which went well with the Swedish style of music. In a book about old musical instrument he saw an image of the base-lute mandora, also called gallichon. He then had an instrument builder make a new instrument based on that very image.

The instrument turned out to have amazing qualities both as a base-instrument and as a melodic bearer. So Totte started using it in different bands and also – which is where I met Totte and the mandora for the first time – as a teacher at the folkmusic course at the Conservatory of music in Falun. I was a student on the nordic mandola at the school when Totte introduced me to the mandora. I loved it from the start. It complemented my other instrument in a perfect way – where the mandola is bright, clean and crisp the mandora is an ancient sounding instrument with jagged edges in terms of sound. At the end of the school year, I had already made an order with instrument builder Per Sandström.

A few others had already started playing the instrument, and other students later followed the same route – so it seemed the Swedish version of the historic instrument mandora had started to get a small following.

The emphasis in the last sentence should really be on small. There are around 15 instruments made, and we are 6-7 people who uses the instrument regularly (surprisingly, one in Japan!).  So it was nearly the whole population of swedish mandora players who met up in Upplands Väsby. Those who attended was Totte Mattsson, Gunnar Lingegård, Sven Åberg, Henrik Björlind, Per Sandström, Lars Jönsson,  Ola Söderström and myself. Yepp, Ola is the luthier who made my nordic mandola. The reasons for his involvement here is mostly that we used his café Gamla Apoteket as meeting spot, but being the great craftsman he is he also had some insights on different aspects of the mandora.

And many different aspect of the instrument was covered – how it’s made, tuned, stringed, fretted, played and so on. A long discussion was that of what to actually call the instrument – it looks like a historic mandora, but is tuned, stringed and played very different from it. There were many suggestions – “låtmandora”, “låtluta”, “nordic mandora”, “gallichon” and (although jokingly) even “Tottophone” . We didn’t agree on anything though. My suggestion is actually to just keep calling it “mandora” or simply “lute”. A cool thing is that Henrik Björlind is writing his master essay about the mandora! It will be very interesting to hear what he comes up with.

To conclude, it was a great meeting and a good start. We decided to try and meet up for a whole weekend the next time in a more project-like form.

If you are interested to know technicalities about the instrument, write a comment below or send me a mail. To get in touch with Per Sandström who is the one who makes these instruments, give him a call at 073-3809348 or mail him at info@klaver.se . He seems to be willing to take orders at the moment.

Mandorasummit2010

 

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Sotali session

28 03 2010

duo2010

Here’s the result from the photosession for Pettersson & Fredriksson’s upcoming album Sotali. The photographer is Frida Sjöström.





The nordic mandola: it’s not a banjo

25 03 2010

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Whenever I’m travelling people assume that my instrument (when in it’s case) is a banjo. It’s not. While explaining could be a great conversation starter, things tend to get complicated. At “well, to be precise it’s a theorbed 5-chorus octave mandolin” I usually will have lost them. There was a time when I considered just making a sticker to put on my gigbag that says “No, this is not a banjo”. Now I can just give people the link to this post.

So, what is it?

To be nerdy, it is a theorbed 5-chorus octave mandolin. It looks like this:

mandolaadin8

Terminology
Since calling something a theorbed 5-chorus octave mandolin is, to say the least,  lenghty it goes by many different names: nordisk mandola (nordic mandola), låtmandola (fiddletune-mandola), bas-cister, swedish bouzouki. I usually just call it mandola or, as the title suggests, nordic mandola.

According to english wikipedia, the mandola is the ancestor of the mandolin (which name simply means “little mandola”).  The mandola/mandolin distinction has a potential to mess with peoples heads because of the similarity with the viola/violin terminology. A viola is tuned a fifth below the violin. An octave violin is tuned an octave below a violin. So if a mandola is tuned a fifth below a mandolin, why do we at all use the term “mandola” for these instruments when it’s tuned an octave below a mandolin? I’m not sure, but it probably has something to do with the  fact that what in the US is called “octave mandolin” usually has been called “octave mandola” in europe. The viola-tuned mandola is called tenor mandola.

So the term mandola can describe any fretted string instrument with pear-shaped body and flat back which is bigger than a mandolin. But, as wikipedia states: “The confusion will continue to reign for some time to come as the terms continue to be used interchangeably.”

History
I won’t go in to the history of fretted instruments, flat-backed instruments or even the mandolin family. There’s lots of info about that if you head over to google.

The history of the nordic mandola is rather short – it was developed by swedish multi-musician Ale Möller and luthiers Christer Ådin and Helge Ekvall in the 80s. Möller had been living in Greece playing bouzoki when he decided to return home and find the music of his own culture. He went to Dalarna to learn the traditional folk music which primarily is played by fiddlers. But he didn’t want to play the fiddle.

“I knew from all the other kinds of music I played that the instrument is just a voice. The music, the style, is the language. I tried to translate it into my instrument, the bouzouki. I found that it could be done. “But to do so required changing the instrument. The notes and tunings were obviously not the same, and he had a long series of instruments built, trying to find not only an instrument that could play the same scales as the music of Sweden, but also, as he put it, “an instrument that would have the right sound, the right feel.” He finally settled upon a mandola, an octave mandolin, that with frets added could play the quarter notes he needed to truly play the fiddle tunes properly. (quote from RootsWorld)

enteli


So that’s the story. Since Ale is a famous and influential musician the instrument found it’s way to more builders and musicians – among them myself. I still remember finding the cd with Ale’s band Enteli at the local record shop when I was in 9th grade. The album cover was a stage with tons of weird instruments, and in the middle was one which my eyes was drawn towards – the nordic mandola.


 

 


Tuning, pin point capos and theorbed base
The common tuning of the nordic mandola is, from the base string at zero-fret:

C G D A E

Most nordic mandolas has 5 choruses, with octaves on the C and G string.

But here’s the little peculiarity with this instrument. As Ale and Ådin/Ekvall developed the instrument, they found a need to be able to have different drones in the base. This led to the invention of something called “pin point capos”. The pin point capo is a little screw with a rubber packing on it which goes into holes drilled in the fretboard. This allows for shortening of single strings, and thus being able to change the base notes – without changing the tuning.  The base strings are usually elongated/theorbed so the lowest string goes down to A, and the second goes to F.

pinpoint1The point (hehe) with the pin point capos is that they can be put on any of the strings which allows for very cool open tunings – without changing the fingering. In example, if a tune goes in A I usually put a pinpoint capo on A on the second lowest string, and on e on the third. My open tuning then is A A E A E.  If I play in D I’d put the capos on D and a giving me a tuning of D A D A E . Pretty convenient and it can be a good source for inspiration to just make up weird tunings and play around.

This is an instrument that evolves and changes over time – people try different approaches to the capos and theorbed bases. In example, in Ådins latest creations he has theorbed the top string as well, going down to D.

Quarter note frets
As RootsWorld writes in the above quote, the nordic mandola usually has frets added to be able to “play the quarter notes […]  needed to truly play the fiddle tunes properly.” . Yepp, swedish fiddle players has this annoying habit of not conforming to the tempered western scale. So to be able to play tunes together with these stubborn fiddlers, we use quarter tone frets. This is of course totally optional – if you’d order one you would get to decide if, how many and where these should go.

How to get one
There’s no factory made versions of this instrument – so if you want one you need to get a used one or get in touch with a luthier.

Christer Ådin is a magnificent luthier who lives in Grebbestad. He was the one who developed the instrument together with Ale Möller.  He makes fantastic instruments. He has a long waiting list, so if you are interested you might want to get in touch as soon as possible.

Ola Söderström (OS Instrument) lives in Upplands Väsby and is an equally fantastic luthier.  My instrument is built by Ola, and I am very happy with it. Ola makes awesome and very reasonably priced instruments.

If you are interested in getting a nordic mandola of your own, I’d advice you to contact both of these builders – they are nice people, if occasionally a bit hard to get hold of. Before you decide to buy one I really think you should visit your chosen builder and try out some instruments.  For contact with Christer and Ola, click the links by their names above.

Here are three more builders who make mandola-like instruments. I don’t know these personally though:

Mats Nordwall – http://www.nordwallinstrument.com/
Tyko Runesson (nedan) –
www.runessonguitars.com
Heikki Rousu –
www.gitarrmakare.se

Video

My friend Bob Mills made nice demo vids of his instrument, enjoy them here:



 

Pictures

Finally, enjoy these pictures of the nordic mandola, courtesy of José Higuera, Christer Ådin and Paulina Holmgren. And whoever took the group-photo from the mandola camp at Hovra -03…

References

http://www.christeradin.se/SWE/Kontakt.html
http://osinstrument.se/
http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandola
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandola
http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ale_Möller
http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cister
http://www.rootsworld.com/rw/feature/moller2.html
http://www.mandolincafe.com/archives/briefhistory.html
http://www.piping.se/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=4197&sid=80829aaf46bc1a1d0f28a8ce58c2b807

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The multiple meanings of “Sotali”

11 02 2010

It’s almost a bit eerie (well it’s not, but it’s kind of cool).

We have just finished the recording of Pettersson & Fredrikssons third duo album and we have already decided the name for it: “Sotali”. As a dialect term from the north of Sweden it could literaly be translated as “slow” but rather means  someone who is actively doing nothing. Contemplating perhaps. We find it fitting both because, well, it’s almost a caricature of who we are as people, but mostly it is a pretty good description of the music on the cd. It is very mellow and we feel the tunes often has a thematic of time’s passing and the flow of things.

As I usually do, I googled the phrase to make sure it doesn’t have any too offensive meanings in other langues.  Apparently it seems to be a word in a native american language from tribes around Minesota.  Actually, the “sota” in Minesota comes from Sotali, meaning “sky-colored water”.  I guess it’s one of those things like where folks on Greenland has lots of words for snow, these people living around lakes and rivers need words for different kinds of water.

So what’s kind of cool, seeing how we inadvertently named our upcoming cd “sky-colored water”, is the album cover and layout for our last cd which looks like this:

virek

Also, in the booklet we have more watery pics as well as a two-page spread of a blue sky with some clouds. Sky-colored water.

Does the word “Sotali” mean anything else in your language? Please let me know in the comments!

PS. Also, it is quite possible to pre-order Sotali right now, just send a mail to sotali@silkwood.se and let us know that you want a copy when it comes out!





Virek Online: The evolution of a Metaplace world

6 01 2010


This post portraits the creation and building of my main Metaplace world Virek Online, up until MP closed their servers on January 1 2010. If you don’t know what Metaplace is, read this post about it or, well, just google it.

When I got into Metaplace’s early closed beta I had the vague idea to make a virtual hangout to embed on my folkmusic-duo Pettersson & Fredrikssons webpage, where fans and friends could chat while listening to our tunes. I envisioned a fantasy tavern with instruments that you could click to select music, or something of the like.

Evil, fiery, fishy

I must admit I was overwhelmed when I arrived. This was bigger, harder and more complex then I thought. And also much less stable and developed. My laptop could hardly run the java-toolset, the embed functionality wasn’t there yet and I definitely didn’t understand much of the scripting and…well anything really.  But. There was promises of a simpler and sleeker interface called the “light tools”, which would resolve many issues and be kinder to noobs like myself. So I started building.

After a while the “light tools” arrived, now with the somewhat less patronizing name “flex tools”, and it was pretty great. Over time most functionality from the java tools was ported over and I started to feel like I actually could do stuff with this. And about this time, I decided to do something a little bit different – what if I’d make an actual, playable, tongue-in-cheek adventure game which borrows lore, npc:s and story elements from Pettersson & Fredrikssons music? I had already named the world “virek online”, since our latest cd was called Virek. It is a dialect word which means “Far-travelled”, so I thought…what if YOU are this “Virek”? The far-travelled one. The one who is destined to save us all. That’s as good a base for a fantasy rpg story as anything, so I started writing a tale.

The story

storytellerI came up with the idea of the Land of the Minstrel Kings, once ruled by two minstrels (suspiciously similar to Pettersson & Fredriksson) but now the evil wizard Braand has wiped the peoples memory and proclaimed himself king. You arrive after a shipwreck and meet the kind and wise court wizard, Jon-Masn, who says you are the chosen one, “Virek”. The name Jon-Masn is taken from a legendary fiddler from my part of sweden, who was told to have magic powers. The name Braand, on the other hand, is taken from our first album – Brand (meaning fire). Anyway, to be able to claim the throne, Braands right hand “The crimson knight” stole the magical Holy Crest (a blinged out version of our duos symbol) from the Minstrel Kings and fled east to the Land of Ice and Snow – Bottn.  Bottn (reminiscent of my homecounty Västerbotten in the north of Sweden) is a harsh and cold place, inhabited only by wicked penguins and a Saami shaman called “Väverskan”. The Crimson Knight is there, and after you kick his ass he reveals that he was decoy and that the wizard has the Crest, and is hiding in the castle. Long story short – you go in the castle, find and fight the wizard who evaporates, but leaves the Crest. You give the Crest back to the Minstrel Kings, who now play for scraps at the tavern, and you are hailed as the Far-Travelled Hero that you are.

That’s most of the story. On your travels you’ll come across a drunk fiddler-poet (Knaft-Jonke), a girl who needs a special pink flower to cure her fathers horrible dermatitis as well as your standard RPG-fare of flying fishes and ghosts. And also, there be meeps (and they give you awesome ice-shooting powers).

Hurdles

As a person with zero coding knowledge, limited graphic skills and who didn’t really knew what game design was there where, to say the least, some pretty big obstacles to come across. That Metaplace was the platform helped alot, especially in the graphics department – it was easy to import images, and after a while when the Google 3D Warehouse importer went live things got even easier. I’d download models to Sketchup, tweak and modify them and upload it to 3D warehouse. Then I could just import that model directly into my world in Metaplace. Very handy, even if image quality varied. When it came to coding, Metaplace stepped in as well – or rather, the users. In the wiki and forum users had uploaded “script snippets” – functions expressed through lines of script which I could copy and use in my world. I slowly started understanding the basics of the script-language by taking scripts apart, modifying them and changing their function. Sort of what I did with the 3D warehouse models. After a while I actually could make simple scripts myself, even if I never got very good at it. Later Metaplace introduced a “marketplace” system, where users could upload modules, complete objects with scripts and images for other users to download and use in their world. This simplified things a great deal and among other things let me install dialog and inventory systems, spawn points and other game mechanics in the world. A big thing was the bundle of functions called “cruises component pack” written by the user Cruise which I – after much direct help from him – managed to start using for many different things, like health/damage and projectiles.

fredriksson_front_rA huge problem for a long time was that of player choice. I had made a big world with different scenes and many NPC:s to talk to, but they where meant to be encountered in a given order. Even if I could make the map-layout and use dialog hints to try to steer the player in a given direction, I could never be certain. At this time, there was no quest-system or similar in the marketplace and I definitely lacked the skills to write one. Enter the inventory. A user and mp-employee called ZimZam had made an inventory system which was flexible and rather easy to use. I used this to let the story propel forward – the court wizard “Jon-Masn” would give you a scroll, which you needed to be able to talk to the next npc, who would then give you a fruitbasket to hand over to someone who otherwise wouldn’t talk to you because she was hungry. And so on. In a bigger story, this would of course not be sufficient, but for this small tale it worked pretty good.

A world in motion

To my surprise, Virek Online got chosen to be “community spotlight” in Metaplace’s blog in sep/oct -08. This led to a few pretty cool things – I got to show off pics from the game outside the site (this was otherwise forbidden due to the beta-agreement), the game got mentioned on Raph Kosters website and it was featured on the front page of MMO-bussiness magazine Worlds In Motion. It was cool, but also felt odd. I was just playing around, and here’s a screenshot of my game in between pics from WOW and Warhammer Online!

Close, but no cigar

vaverskanlLate spring 2009 I was very close to finishing this project. All places built, most functionality was working. The story was smooth. And then things started falling apart. Persistance issues, things didn’t get deleted from the ground as they should, the inventory was malfunctioning. Odd behaviours overall. Turned out, I hadn’t understood a basic premise: all “places” (different scenes) in a world activates when the player logs in. This meant, that as a player logged in every flying fish, every spawner, every scripted behavior was active, clogging the server with requests. And this was probably one of the biggest worlds in Metaplace.  So after a while I came up with a system to only let scripted objects “do stuff” when a player is nearby. This sounds simple, and it probably would have been for a competent coder, but for me it was a great accomplishment and something of a win over the scripting language.

The ending

After that things worked like a charm. A few weeks later, Virek Online was more or less finished. It would need tweaking in a few areas. I should have made the end-boss way harder, there where some bugs, a few sounds was missing, and…well there can always be more polish. But it was playable.

Not many people played it to the end though. Below is the complete list of people who made it to the very end, and who choosed a “prize” to be displayed in the throne room.

The Far-Travelled Heroes of Virek Online are:

Fred_the_third (that’s my alt) , Linnea, Obo, Raph, Reflex, Lunarraid, Isabelle, Inumo, Betyyy, Beacool, Nora, Gesully, Duskie, Sarim, SuperBobo, Alex6007, KrazyJosh1234, Tootles, GabbyGood, vBommel, GregDaniels, Jasmin, Truule

If there’s someone I’ve missed or who actually got to the end, but failed to claim the prize (because of bugs or otherwise) please let me know.

Documentation

Before Metaplace closed down eternally, I vidcapped an entire runthrough of the game. It’s divided in 10 youtube-videos. You can watch them all here: https://silkwoodmusic.wordpress.com/worlds/. Unfortunately, the sound quality is pretty bad for reasons beyond my control. Just note, that the sound was way better then this when the game was played.

Final thanks

I want to end this huge post by giving a huge thanks to the users, developers and staff members who helped me in so many different ways with this game. I have learned so much from it, and had so much fun. I never dreamed of being a game developer, but now that I’ve had a chance to pretend to be one I sort of have a craving to do it again sometime. So please, Metaplace inc, come back with something cool. And stay this time.

Thanks to Raph, Cuppy, Amethyst, Cruise, Zimzam, Crwth, Chooseareality, John, Lostbetween, Lunarraid, Slasrath, Scopique, Dorian, Jason and MANY MORE. I probably forgot most of the people who where super-important for the game, and now I can’t get back and check. If you know I used your modules or received help for Virek Online in any way, let me know please.