@ Action News

Argon -- Editor

Please don't forget to read the bulletin board. Enter +read from anywhere.

SpinDizzy Birthday Bash


Charter Park(#65RLJ)
        Although a generic park for the most part, the charter of 
Spindizzy is illustrated here, for all to read.
>From We, the furs of DreamTime to those of Toons Furr & Fluff, Greetings.
We present this beginning to you in the spirit of our mutual endeavour:
The exploration and sharing of creativity and imagination in a world to
which the limitations of our 'Real Lives' are unknown. It is in such
communities as these that together we may find a means of expressing our
hopes, our dreams, and all those beautiful and rich inventions of the
soul too often stifled beneath grim reality. We wish you many happy
years of fantastic stories, improbable inventions, and plain old
silliness. We charge you to take the lessons and joys of this dream
world and with them, make the real world a better place:
              A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
             Its loveliness increases; it will never
             Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
                A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
        Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
Our love and best wishes to you all.

With the "Charter" reproduced above as its cornerstone. SpinDizzy muck has been "under construction" for the past five years. A work that will forever be, "in progress".

Anniversaries bring back memories, and hopes and dreams for the future. Hopefully the celebration will elicite both. Here, in this anniversary edition of @Action News are thoughts of the past, and what not only SpinDizzy, but its predecesors mean to us, the characters and players, who have made it what it is today.

Spindizzy: A Brief Social History

Caged raccoon being looked at.Spindizzy is a place that you keep coming back to. Over the years, I've come to believe that the reason would be that it's the quality of people there. This quality best expresses itself in the muck's atmosphere, and Spindizzy's unique social history.

Spindizzy possesses a pleasant, small-muck atmosphere. It's easy to keep track of the names and faces of folk and become familiar with everyone you meet. It's the perfect place to discover a long lasting friendship, and every day is a chance to see something new. For example, I’ve been friends with many folks for a year or more, many for longer. I’m always meeting new faces with every guest and character connection.

Spindizzy has also had a very unique social history that has transformed itself into an interesting tradition: player-sponsored events. Spindizzy has been host to several player sponsored events, from the Fuzzy Yarns Story Circle to the Art Ambush , Puppeteer's Club, the @Action News newspaper, the Rose Garden Themes, and several online RP events and organizations, including the SED (Society of Evil Doers,) and RP Central.

The Fuzzy Yarns Story Circle, originally hosted on Spindizzy by Tarka, began sometime in 1997 or 1998. The original had been part of TF&F, SpinDizzy’s predecessor, but continued for most of its life on Spindizzy. During its heyday, participants told stories weekly in round-robin fashion, and also submitted artwork to illustrate their favorite stories. Fuzzy Yarn’s original story archiving program is still available through the Gaelic Ruin. This ruin is still open to visitors, located in a permanent spot one east and one south from the Rose Garden. The Fuzzy Yarns Story Circle lasted for several years under Tarka, to be recently revived for a period under Adara.

The Art Ambush was originally hosted by Twohart and ran continuously for nearly a year. Argon and several others have picked up the event for several month-spans since its first run. This event encouraged participants to pick up their pencils, word processors, and musical instruments and to post their drawings or other submissions in response to a weekly topic. The more recent ambushes are still archived on Spindizzy’s main website.

Ba’ar founded the Puppeteer’s Guild last summer, and this event hosts its meetings on a weekly basis to discuss con(vention) performances and to chat about the latest puppet purchases. It’s the newest event to form on Spindizzy and I hope to see it here for many years to come. Ba’ar says that the idea came to him partly because “...several SD players were amateur and semi-pro puppeteers.” He adds that the event provides “...a neutral, non-threatening place to talk shop and swap techniques and ideas.”

As the heart of the MUCK, the Rose Garden's weekend themes play a fun part in the Spindizzy social atmosphere. Gilead recalls a weekend where the garden became an underwater adventure and many in the populace changed their characters to match. Other such events included Flubber Day, where everything was padded in flubber, Above the Clouds, where people were encouraged to fly, and Young at Heart Days, where everyone had the chance to discover their inner child.

Spindizzy's newspaper easily has to be its longest-running event. The newspaper dates back to 1998 when it was published in its initial form as “The Ferret.” The current form, “@Action News,” was created in 2000 and has existed in this form for nearly three years thanks in a large part to its editor, Argon, and the many player contributions of articles, messages, and cartoons. Argon had this to say;"@Action News, in its present incarnation, has been published nearly continuously for over three years. Austin wrote the original HTML code for the current version of it and Froggar designed the current layout for it. The paper's original incarnation, “The Ferret,” was published over five years ago. Through the years, the name of the paper has changed, as has its coverage area. First, as the newspaper of Toons, Fur and Fluff, and then SpinDizzy, as a resource of history and an unofficial record of the mucks. It is claimed to be a valuable reference and record of events.”

These social events occur because of Spindizzy's unique populace and wiz-staff. The wiz-staff has a strong record of having been some of the events' biggest supporters and of actively taking a role in both helping and promoting specific events. Wiz-staff has participated in many events such as the Story Circle, and Theme Days. Peppermint and Ping support Theme Days by adding color and flavor. The most recent wizard, Morticon, deploys both help and strife in player-led RP’s. Findra keeps the server chugging along, and Skyler leads the player-founded helpstaff.

An active population, as well as the small-community atmosphere, is something that, together, has kept Spindizzy itself unique. This uniqueness has also kept me here for what has to be nearly seven years: two on Toons, Fur, and Fluff and five on Spindizzy. Spindizzy is has worked hard to achieve the community it now has, a community worthy of recognition in this, the fifth year of its life.

Additional thanks for help in this article go to:

  • Argon, for dates and information on several of the events, as well as for publication
  • Gilead, for information on the Rose Garden themes
  • Ba’ar, for information about the Puppeteer’s Guild

Splash Screens

Ok, maybe the technical term isn't "Sign-in Screen," but I can't think of a better name. It's the first thing you see when you sign on. Usually, it is the standard Spindizzy ASCII art with the floating islands, but during the celebration weekend, a few "special" ones came up.

@Action News was able to capture photos of the quickly appearing and disapearing text, and we now share them with our readers.

First, one of the oldest "organised" groups on SpinDizzy, the SED, or Society of Evil Doers, "took over" the muck Thursday night. Using their new-found power, they changed the splash screen to read...

Creating socket...
    Connecting to MU* host...
    Waiting for MU* server to respond...
ascii mods  ____   W_e_l_c_o m e___         t o :
by Tarka   /    \  |       |  |    \
'''',,,   /   ___\ |   ____|  |     \    * All Hail Morticon!*
;|  /  '''\   \    |  |__     |  |\ |
;| / ,  " .\   \   |     |    |  || | *** *** **   ** ****** **  **
 ;"    ,  .;\   \  |   __|    |  || | ******* **   ** ****** ** **
  | / .   ___\   \ |  |____   |  |/ | ** * ** **   ** **     ****
 ;    ; ..\      / |       |__|     / **   ** *** *** ****** ** **
  '    ..;|\____/  |_______|_ |____/  **   ** ******* ****** **__**
 .  '  .;|;/              \.."""""""-------________-----"""__""".)
      |.;|'   _---"-_      \:\::::::\......\....../.....:::: __""
 '  ,|.;|     "--___-"      "-""-_::_\::::::\::::/""-_:::_-""
.  ,#|..;|     "-_--"             ""  \::::/""__"     "-"
  ,#/..;|                              "--"  __  The Successor to
 /##/.;|    muck.spindizzy.org Port 7072    |__  _ .,_  _|.
/###|,;;| On the web at: www.spindizzy.org   __||_||| ||_||ZZ\/
|###/..,|                                       |            /
|##/....|  'connect <character>  <password>' to connect.
\#|..;;|   'connect guest guest' to try out life as a guest.
 /..;;|    'WHO' lists who's awake; 'QUIT' (all caps) leaves us, but SED
                                     minions will follow you home.
Mon Nov 18 13:36
    Please type 'news behaviour' for an explanation of how SpinDizzy's
Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) applies to behaviour on the muck in general.
It covers when certain types of behaviour are and are not appropriate,
and also how to react when someone's behaviour is upsetting you.  --Findra
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

...and apparently did little else. Tarka, local otter, and Terry, local technicolor pangolin met folks as they came to the Rose Garden as "new SED minions".

Later, cooler heads prevailed and changed the screen to the one from Toons Furr and Fluff...

Phoca is:
    Creating socket...
    Connecting to MU* host...
    Waiting for MU* server to respond...
You have reached Toons, Furr, and Fluff or TFF for short.
__________                                  ___________
\__    __/ ____    ____    ____    ______   \_   _____/ __ __ _______ _______
  |    |  /  _ \  /  _ \  /    \  /  ___/    |    __)  |  |  \\_  __ \\_  __ \
  |    | (  <_> )(  <_> )|   |  \ \___ \     |     \   |  |  / |  | \/ |  | \/
  |____|  \____/  \____/ |___|  //____  > /\ \___  /   |____/  |__|    |__|
                              \/      \/  )/     \/
                         .___    ___________.__            _____   _____
     _____     ____    __| _/    \_   _____/|  |   __ __ _/ ____\_/ ____\
     \__  \   /    \  / __ |      |    __)  |  |  |  |  \\   __\ \   __\
      / __ \_|   |  \/ /_/ |      |     \   |  |__|  |  / |  |    |  |
     (____  /|___|  /\____ |      \___  /   |____/|____/  |__|    |__|
          \/      \/      \/          \/
To connect as a guest, type 'connect guest guest'.
To connect as a given character, type 'connect character password'.
The WHO command can tell you who is on already.
- Don't panic! This muck may even be confused for SpinDizzy. -
Mon Nov 18 13:36

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

TF&F of course, is the muck that proceeded SpinDizzy. As you must know if you have read through the articles above this one. Nice ASCII art work in all cases. Tarka did the SED screen. @Action News has no idea who did the TF&F one, but it's very clever, I think.

New Arrivals

Newbie patpating Morticon.Every other week, I will be calling attention to the new members of our community. (Editor's Note; ...with the permission of each of the new folks featured, of course. Folks who don't want to be featured in this series, will of course, have that wish fufilled.) This is not to embarrass them, but rather I do it in the hopes that it will encourage everyone to give them a special welcome and friendship.

The following members are new to our community as of a week or two ago at most. Please give them a warm welcome and offer assistance if needed. Who knows, you might even make a new friend or two!

  • Twilightstar - Female pegasus
  • Warusa - jackanapes toon cuddly jocular hungry villainous cute Male Tanuki - "Hello everyone!"
  • Alfie - shy Male Semi-Anthro Maine Coon Cat
  • Dael - Male Tauric Fox-Wolf - "Reality is just the side of the mirror you happen to be on at any given time."
  • Paxton - male dhole

Bearing Up

Ba'ar.Welcome to latest edition of Bearing up, the advice column where Ba'ar (That's me!) has answers to your most challenging questions.

Dear Bearing Up,
How many Wizzes are there on SpinDizzy?
Signed, Courious.

Dear Curious:
There are 7 wizzes on Spindizzy: B.J, the Local buildin' wiz., Skyler the Helpstaff lead, Ping, Austin the Managing Editor, Morticon who is in charge of RP/Programming/General Help/Player Creation/Other, Peppermint who is in charge of things that make you go whoo, and Findra the server admin

Dear Bearing Up,
How many characters are there on Spindizzy? How many are regulars?
Signed, Census Guy

Dear Census Guy:
The exact number isn't known, but it's thought to number in the thousands. Of these thousands, a few like Patchy, Argon, myself, Gilead, Nikon and Morti are regulars.

Dear Bearing Up,
What is it about SpinDizzy that attracts so many centaurs? Is the hay here especially good or something?
Signed, Steppin Pile

Dear Steppin Pile.
Two reasons, I think. First, Spindizzy has lots of wide open spaces for centaurs to gather and move around. Second a tolerant populace that will accept them for what they are.

Dear Bearing up,
Is the Pope Catholic?
Signed, Agnostic

Dear Agnostic.
Actually now it can be told...the Pope's an atheist.

Dear Bearing Up,
Do you bears %^*#@ in the woods?
Signed, Watching where I walk when I walk in the woods

Dear Watching:
sure we do....wherever there's a public toilet or an outhouse.

Dear Bearing up,
Just courious, but how big is Spindizzy? In bits and bytes? How much space does it take up on the server's hard drive?
Carl the crab.

Dear Carl:
Spindizzy is infinite-it goes on forever! Also, are you implying that Spindizzy is only fantasy? Get a life! Spindizzy is a living breathing community and very much rooted in reality. I hope this helps.

Dear Bearing up,
With SpinDizzy's birthday coming up why aren't more furs buying cakes? And how come so many candles are still on the shelves? Aren't they going to have a big cake with candles?
Signed, Out of work baker.

It's really quite simple. Spindizzy is only turning five years old, so only 5 candles are needed. I hope this helps.

Dear Bearing Up,
I heard there's going to be a big cake for the Spindizzy birthday party. Who's going to jump out of it? Will she have DD sized breasts, and will my eyes be irresistably drawn to her undescribably sexy figure?
Signed, Lefty

Dear Lefty:
I'm not really sure what's going to be in the cake. Come down to the garden and find out for yourself.

Weekly Survey

Argon doing the survey.This week, Argon asked, "What do you like best about SpinDizzy?"

  • Butterfluff -- The thing I like best about Spindizzy is the balance of serious, intelligent conversation and silliness.
  • Roland says, "I like best about SpinDizzy are the bears and centaurs. Both are extremely amiable creatures."
  • Findra -- The best thing that I like about SpinDizzy is how wonderfully stable it is, never lags, and how it hardly ever goes offline. O =:)
  • Adara -- What I love best about Spindizzy is that, unlike most places I'm at everyday, I can be my true self here on Spindizzy.
  • KevMan -- I'd have to say the judge. ^_^
  • Sunshine -- The otters!
  • Morticon -- I like how I can be a supervillain, others can be heros, and the rest can do whatever it is they like, and all three groups have fun at the same time!
  • Phoex --"I like the closeness of the people here."
  • Austin says, "I like best when the characters start to act like daydreams realized -- when that spirit of openness and imagination causes people to energize one another and create something more wonderful than we had before. Those are the times when everyone involved becomes more richly themselves, a better-defined person who in turn makes those who interact come more alive."
  • Carlos bleats, "The majestic, scenic 50ft vixens."
  • Leowulf says, "Oh thats easy, the plethora of colorful characters," Leowulf grins,"And I DO mean 'characters'.
  • Chanspot says, "The unusual community, I suppose."
  • Arcturax chirps, "The bats, definately the many bats :)"
  • Gem blinks at the survey question. "Well, as stereotypically corny as it sounds, the people. Nice and diverse... And of course, there's the ever-existing possibility of a larger avian population further into the future. Or cybernetic individual population, either way. ^v^"
  • Carlos bleats, "The characters would be my real answer."
  • Gilead -- "Everybody!"

Notes on Dreamtime and TF&F

Spindizzy begins, ultimately, with two other mucks -- Toons, Furr, and Fluff; and Dreamtime. I wasn't there for the birth of either of them, and couldn't say just when they were created.

Dreamtime first. I know it's older, and I know something of why it was created. Dreamtime was a private muck, a small place on a succession of servers located in peoples' dorm rooms in the early and mid 1990s. The people collected met some indescribeable but definite character, a sort of mixture of idealism and romance and cynicism, love and some other creative potential. I wasn't one of the people invited to join initially. I'm not yet that old. Eventually I was accepted into the enclave.

It wasn't any particular activity or philosophy that joined the muck together, but the confluence of personalities was bracing and exciting and occasionally explosive, and it will probably not surprise anyone to know the place was wracked with a fair number of feuds. For a while that was fine. The love established among the people was the kind which stays firm even when they can't stand to talk to one another. Findra was one of them, as were Skyler and Joshua and Steve; ultimately Peppermint and Tuesday were too, as were CJ and Wintergreen and 910 and a few other people. Many were here for a while, but left Spindizzy, like Mina, Millie, Steve, Mahto, and Frommer. Some left Dreamtime early and never became part of Spindizzy, like Scotty Arsenault; others simply vanished, like Marble, returned to the plenum of fascinating people.

It didn't last forever; with the concentration of stubborn and individualistic people it's remarkable it ever lasted. Eventually the community split, or moved on, or drifted away; but everything ends. If we lost the community in which we could feel our players, scattered across the continents, lying in bed and touching one another by thought alone -- and find that we knew that touching -- then at least we ever had it.

Toons, Furr, and Fluff is more of a mystery to me. It opened sometime before 1997, and was always intended to be open to the public, which never really wanted to visit. It had never got much beyond a small community of Care Bears that slowly dwindled away and a small community of Sonic the Hedgehog characters, which could be found on every muck in 1996 and 1997.

One lazy night in 1997 I accepted a @shout-invitation on FurToonia to try out Toons, Furr, and Fluff, and I poked around the mostly deserted place. For reasons I'm not sure about I accepted an invitation from Speckles, its wizard, to try to revive the muck. This wasn't an easy prospect; for one thing, the need for a general-interest muck has never been high since FurryMuck stopped lagging out and crashing nightly, and even in 1997 the big granddaddy of all mucks was getting more reliable.

But I had friends and no clear idea of what would be involved. Over the next few weeks I asked friends -- on Dreamtime, on FurToonia, on Furrymuck -- how we might get Toons, Furr, and Fluff restarted. Somewhere around late September or early October 1997 we held a nice big general meeting, with the highest population recorded on Toons, Furr, and Fluff since its previous restart -- eight people! -- attending. The ideas tossed out were fairly straightforward. What already existed on the muck would be reorganized, brought together in a reasonably coherent map that could be navigated (at the time I joined, there were exactly five rooms which a person could reach from Central Park without teleporting or being msummoned), and without wastes of space like five rooms tromping along the path from A to B. We hammered out a basic Acceptable Use Policy. We got the permission of the server's owner, Carrie_Vixen, and its MUF-and-security wizard, Nicole, to try building a big new muck out of this infinitesimal one. And we'd all come together here and there and tidy up the place, and add new things to it, and hope to open for the public somewhere around New Year's.

One of the topics of debate was whether to rename the place. Several viable names were suggested, although my favourite was declined, and eventually the indecision about what to change the name *to* ended up with the decision to just keep the place named Toons, Furr, and Fluff. We never knew why the extra 'r' in Furr, but it made the place distinctive for something besides its peculiar port number of 7070.

As to what the purpose of the muck would be -- why people should come to Toons, Furr, and Fluff when there were perfectly good FurryMuck, FurToonia, FluffMuck, Sociopolitical Ramifications, and a gaggle of minor but niche-filling mucks like FoxMuck and several dozen Sonic the Hedgehog mucks -- we could find only one partly satisfying answer. One of the basic creative impulses is to take several old ideas -- often incompatible ones -- and try to fit them together. If the intent were only that everyone should bring what they like to the party, and hope that ideas would play freely against one another, we could be a creative muck. No explicit theme was needed; the joy of discovery would be the goal.

And then came preparations. The rationalization of Toons, Furr, and Fluff's geography ended up with what's become the most recognizeable feature of here -- the "grid" of map locations which can be reached just by going north, south, east, and west of the center of the world -- the main grid of the muck was a diamond shape. Somewhere that mixed with my mild obsessive-compulsive edge and had turned into a drive to produce a muck which is defined by good user-interface guidelines. That's not an easy ideal to live up to, and not one Spindizzy always lives up to, but it is the single most remarked-upon feature of the muck. Certainly it was a niche no one realized needed to be filled.

Toons, Furr, and Fluff was becoming less of a secret by December, and was gradually taking shape, with Skyler and Shadow and Bob coming on regularly to test things out, build rooms, figure out things which might be done later on. Finally come January 1998 I began a genuinely obnoxious campaign of public advertisements -- notice sent to FurryMuck, to FurToonia, to FluffMuck, to alt.fan.furry, all over the place, weekly. I stayed up long hours in the afternoon, the evening, the night, watching for any connections and any guests and paging everyone who connected long enough to grab a hold of.

I don't any longer have the first night that we broke ten people, or fifteen people. But it was only managed by the energy and enthusiasm that everyone else brought to it. Almost all of the Dreamtime people who were still around by then took their turns, connecting and leading conversations and trying out new characters and cultivating newbies.

Things grew fast, and surprisingly casually. Skyler, my first wizard, got his position when he sat me down one January night and told me I had to spend time *off* the muck, and if we needed a wizard still around, then he had to be it. His logic was perfectly correct, and soon the God character of Toons, Furr, and Fluff -- Sailor Toon -- waved her mighty wand and gave Skyler, who was a Care Bear squirrel-bunny, his first taste of real power.

Shadow followed about three weeks later with a largely similar claiming of power: he had been mustering together a great deal of in-character activity, he saw Skyler an I working ourselves to exhaustion, and ordered us to get some sleep. Before long B.J. -- who would become famous for such feats as the torso with the hundred pairs of arms -- was promoted on similar grounds.

Somewhere around March we opened a development muck, prompted by the many experiments of Bob and other would-be MUF wizards who managed to crash the muck altogether too often. We promoted him to a wizard, and the secondary muck Coons, Churr, and Muf opened on port 7071. There he and his friends could play to their hearts' content and, when code was up to prime time standards, it could be brought back to the main arena.

Overall we had surprisingly few crises, despite the population growing steadily and very rapidly, really too rapidly for us to handle. Tarka ran a regular story circle, and tried to extend things with a newspaper, the Toons, Furr, and Fluff Ferret. As always with bold projects like that it takes a long while to build up traction, and it never did quite get enough; only eight issues were ever published, with (I believe) a ninth under way by September of 1997.

And we learned some fascinating things about the dynamics of social decision-making process in an open, public muck, mostly that it is impossible to make a decision that way. We held several town hall meetings to try settling points of policy the wizards could not feel passionately enough about to settle. One which comes to mind came from the Toons, Furr, and Fluff building policy: according to it, the "grid" rooms -- the ones reached just by going north, south, east, and west of the Central Park were outdoors, and one went indoors by going northeast, northwest, southeast, or southwest. Someone asked if an exit from one outdoors room could go "northeast" to the outdoors room which was one block north and east -- if the sort of exit normaly used for going "indoors" still lead outdoors. A fine point, and one hard to work up much passion about.

I remember the open public debate ran at least five hours. At the time when I had to disconnect because my server would not let me continue, there were still twenty people on the queue waiting for their chance to speak. Many were still bitter for days after the debate. We the wizards didn't get any useful feedback on the issue.

We held a few more town hall-type debates, but not to actually settle issues anymore. It gave people the chance to make enthusiastic speeches to one another, at least.

We extended the diamond of main grid rooms -- making the geometry of the place a rectangle with a pair of triangles on the end -- and added a second core meeting place. Eventually we added a basic but quite functional outer space which Peppermint was not quite given enough tools to administrate. But the population was spiraling out of control and we were desperately short for good leaders. It was soon reaching a time when 35 or even 40 people would connect in one night --

That ended one terrifying evening, Tuesday, September 22, 1998.

The symptoms were strange: although superficially a normal if noisy night, some exits started to break. They were all MUF programs, though; we assumed that one of our experimental MUF experts had tried something and it had disrupted the system. But they swore innocence. More things began to break; soon, almost no commands which ran programs did anything.

We eventually made sense of it: MUF programs are literally programs, bits of software auxillary to the muck server. When a MUF is called from inside the muck, the muck server runs the compiled version of the program. When a program isn't used often the server refers to the version of the code saved in a file on the computer which hosts the muck. And those files were being removed.

The server was, apparently, being hacked, and all the files making up Toons, Furr, and Fluff were being deleted. It was likely at that point that the muck's database no longer existed, and what did exist was running solely from the computer's RAM. And even that was going: whospe vanished, and page, and the nice look and say programs disappeared, to be replaced with the generic server defaults.

The last thing I said on Toons, Furr, and Fluff was, "We will be all right." I don't know if anyone else ever saw it.

(I don't want to know if anyone else saw it. Not all questions need to be answered.)

In the aftermath a few things became clear. One was that there were no backups. They had been created, but turned out to be "soft" backups made on the same computer, and were lost when the muck was. If we started over, it would have to be from scratch.

And here Dreamtime enters again. Before I quite knew what was happening, Joshua, one of the Dreamtime creators, had arranged for a new server (note the logical choice for our new port number), and had found a workable core database which had grown into one of Dreamtime's incarnations ... which is why the earliest things existant on the muck, Kansas (dbref #0, the source of all rooms), and Amalfi (dbref #1, the one character who can grant and remove wizard bits on players) date to February 1995.

So restart we did. With the wizards we'd had, and a sense of what worked and what didn't, we started building Spindizzy. The now-famous square of rooms were created, based directly on the feature everyone liked about Toons, Furr, and Fluff. We made a more conscious effort to make commands easy for people to learn and use. We pulled in trusted people to seed the new muck with some starting attractions and events.

A few points were directly taken from Dreamtime, though many might not recognize them -- the Taurus-Littrow Valley, for example, in the upper northwest corner of the muck, was one of Dreamtime's regular hangouts. Charter Park, the room, was in an earlier incarnation the central room of Dreamtime. I believe that the name of room #0 -- the ultimate room, which on most mucks is the Void -- as Kansas is also taken from the old days.

And it all ... sort of worked. It was very hard to recover; many people felt an overwhelming loss, and couldn't commit to starting over as they had before. Many people were just lost; all our contact addresses were lost when the server was wiped clean, and we couldn't reach the people who had first found us by happy accident. The drive to make the new muck wholly original, apart from the people, was also challenging. While I was able to use the chance to give the place the new name I'd pushed for a year earlier, there are many little details of the muck and the attempt to produce new workable versions which were free of the Toons, Furr, and Fluff use meant that we made some things part of the muck because they were the best we could think of under quite demoralizing conditions.

For example, the "taxi" system on Toons, Furr, and Fluff was a catapult: Rampart the Fox would come, scoop you up, and shoot you on your way. (A conveniently placed giant would catch and set you down.) It was distinctive and memorable and just whimsical enough for the atmosphere of the place. I desperately wanted to use it again, but the argument that we had to avoid anything too firmly in the shadow of the lost muck was good. The best idea we had at the time -- a runaway bus, as inspired by the movie Speed -- did not capture the simple fun of the original. We have tried to renovate and redesign the system since then, but it still hasn't captured that plain charm.

But we took some other chances which worked out much better. Rather than the exacting code derived from FurryMuck and FurToonia Acceptable Use Policies, we went with the current and very short version, and trusted that our players would recognize we don't want to spend our lives listing every possible way that a person can misbehave. Many thought at the time that an AUP which left so much to the discretion of a wizard to say "stop it" wouldn't last; I estimated we might make it survive a half-year or a year at most before replacing it with an exacting specification. That it's made it to five years with only a few genuinely troublesome individuals and a few attempts at explaining nuances has surprised me, and delighted me.

The early days of Spindizzy were a curious mix of shellshock and enthusiasm. We never really organized a formal opening day -- just at some point the number of people invited in to get things ready became such a large fraction of the population that could be found that it rolled over into being open. We had trouble with people who were lost when all our Toons Furrs and Fluff contact information was destroyed -- a year and two years later we were still encountering people who never knew we had reopened. Some of them came back for good; others never quite found the sort of dedication and love again.

We're certainly not finished. No muck ever is, of course; the nature of the place simply lends itself too easily to great projects that start off strong and fade out as either interests fade or the other concerns take one's time. I still haven't finished making the combined cafeteria-swimming pool, something I first planned in 2000. The pool of styrofoam peanuts, another favourite idea of mine, has been waiting for completion -- or for initiation -- since early 2001. And in 1998 and 1999 I sketched out a Fleischerland theme park with Tuesday that doesn't show any signs of every happening. But I do hold the plans, and the dreams, and we keep generating new ones; ask me sometime about the planning I've done towards building Television City.

It's hard to fall in love with a place; it is more abstract and difficult than even the challenge of loving a single person. A person can have flaws and can vary, but will do so in what are typically concrete and predictable ways. To point to a community you otherwise love and have an objection to some point -- particularly when it is no individual's flaw, but something that arises from the interactions of people who are each doing their best -- is a much harder and less precise process; and communities can change and reform in much more varied ways. That we have found this community, and that we have found that much ability to love one another despite it all is probably the best thing we could do for one another. It is a thing we are not finished doing. But lots of folks don't even get that much done.

The Doze Garden

Click on the image to go to @Action News' 5th Anniversary Comics Page!

The Doze Garden Comic Strip

Guidelines and Procedures for Submitting Articles

Submitting a story or artwork for @Action News is easy! Just send it to newspaper@spindizzy.org or qmail or page Argon about it.
@Action News is published weekly on or after 12:01 AM Eastern Time on Monday. Most any type of story or article will be accepted. Generally, we'd prefer things that aren't out and out lies or flames about other folks, and have a basis in the reality of SpinDizzy. Things that occur in public areas are fair game. The things reported don't have to have actually happened, (any more than anything that happens here does) but make sure you don't overstep the social boundaries and rules of interaction that we have. These are pretty broad guidelines, but we expect good sense to apply.

Thanks! Argon, Editor @Action News