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Paul Piper

Trescom

A Jurassic Park Community

The Trescom Logo

Jurassic Park: Trespasser was a computer game that was ground breaking for its time. Production began in between Jurassic Park and The lost world and the Jurassic Park franchise was at its peak. Needless to say, media coverage of the game was huge. When the first little information leaked, people went crazy: a dinosaur filled island, free exploration, high end 3d graphics way ahead of its time, revolutionary physics engine, artificial intelligence, and an awesome soundtrack by Bill Brown. Steven Spielberg himself was keeping a keen eye on the production – it was too good to be true.

It really was too good to be true. With the release of Jurassic Park lost world in 1997 and continues delays of the game itself, Dreamworks Interactive was deeply troubled by its increasing costs. The game had a huge burden of unnecessary hype to fulfill and a lot of the great ideas turned too hard to be done on time. They finally published the game unfinished and unpolished. Critics noted that it couldn't live up to the hype and that it “failed to impress” – a few weeks later, it bombed at the shelves with hardly 50,000 copies being sold… a critical and commercial failure.

Dinosaurs didn't always look that good...

By that time, I wasn't too impressed of the game either. I had given the demo a try. There you were stranded on a platform and surrounded by velociraptors, but I couldn't even get off the stupid first platform because of the useless controls. My computer was no help either – the slow cpu was helpless and the framerate hit an unplayable 8-10 frames per second.

It was not until ~3 years later that I remembered the game, downloaded the demo again and gave it another spin. The experience was astonishing – it was unbelievable, something I had never seen before. The useless controls turned out to be quite unique – an arm, fully capable of picking up objects, was your main control of the player on screen. Each object could be shot at, moved, picked up, and rolled around. The sound was amazing, the dinosaurs believable, I played the demo over and over again. I had to get that game. Only problem was – it was darn hard to find.

After looking for it online for quite some while, I finally found a sweet copy in a small computer store, located right in my neighborhood. I kept playing and started looking online for like-minded people. I stumbled upon a website called TresCity (run by Wajas), who shared a link to the THS & THS II hacking community, but the websites had been abandoned a long while ago. I wouldn't let go, and came across a website by TSOrd, a game developer who had been working with another developer by the name of Andres James on creating a new Level Editor (TresView). He succeeded in delivering a tool to view the levels in 3d and importing some meshes. He had also just recently updated his website and launched a quiet forum online. It was heaven.

Only problem was: just like THS, TSOrds forum had become quiet as well, the last few posts dating a few months back. I still created a new thread saying “where is everybody” and got in touch with “Rebel“, a person equally interested in the computer game as I. We hit it off right there, I posted questions, he responded and started explaining everything, who the other people were and so on. Wajas, and a new guy by the name of “Remdul” (named after some alien from an easteregg in another Jurassic park based game) joined in. The Trespasser Community was born.

My first contribution to the community was this lame menu hack... *sigh*

It didn't take us long to get really into the game. With new interest sparked, Remdul and I started working on a website (this later turned into www.trescom.org), while the others continued to create unique content to discuss. Meanwhile, we launched the “diehard” forum – we had grown out of the hosted alternative quite some time ago and it felt like this was the next step. The name was actually an abbreviation for “diehard.ath.cx”, a tiny server my school-friend “Sky” and I had built in my basement (ath.cx was the domain name of a Dynamic DNS host – dyndns.com). I liked the diehard movies, the name stuck and the forum soon filled with new conversations.

It was then, that we got back in touch with Andres, who was still very much into game development and on his trip around the world. He had won this travel while finishing second in a national programming competition, where he had to program some balloon based game in less than 24 hours or so. While at it, he decided to visit Germany and was looking for a place to stay. I invited him over, he accepted and we soon started discussing Trespasser all around the clock. We discussed the possibility of turning TresView into TresEd (a fully functioning Editor) and he would code, while I would spent my day at school. To this day, Andres surprises me with his ingenuity (www.anhetoapps.com).

TresEd was the key to other people's heart and it was an amazing piece of software. It was easy to use, allowed people to copy and paste objects, and to fly around in the original levels. To this day, I haven't crossed a level editor that matches the simplicity and beauty of it. With it, the community grew, new levels arrived and new content was being produced (one of it being the TresCom levels – but I will get into that at another time). Many new people joined us: Sk8er, DapperDan, Mickey, Hilwo, Hppav, Miketheraptor, Rexhunter99, Tomi, BigRed, Asjad, Machf, Draconisaur, Slugger, Christopher, Scallenger, Tatu, Second Illiteration, Dinosaur_Neill and many many more. To this date, these people fill the forums with life and generate new content (though sometimes the news seems to be generated a lot slower than at other times) – they are amongst the most creative I have ever known.

That is why dinosaurs ruled the earth...

So in the end, Trespasser was a key step into the life I live to date. It got me in touch with a lot of very talented people and has brought me many friends I would never want to miss. With Remdul and BigRed I have worked professionally, Rebel & Andres got me into development & with many others I have shared a lot of joy (like maintaining the site with tatu, Sk8er, Scallenger, Machf, Mickey, Hilwo & Wajas). From them I have learned many valuable things, and together we developed many fun projects. Some of which I will probably write about in the future, but for now let me conclude by saying: thank you Trespasser.