Site icon Wes Platt Writes

Adrift in OtherSpace: Reflections on 25 Years

On one hand, it’s difficult to believe that we’ve hit the quarter-century mark since players first helped bring to life the territories of the Orion Arm – the Stellar Consortium, the Fringe, the Parallax – in the multiplayer text-based world of OtherSpace.

On the other, it’s blatantly obvious.

We’ve got a few stubborn old folks like me hanging out on our Discord. I’m still happily connected with several veteran players via Facebook. But despite repeated efforts – new platforms, theme shakeups, theme rollbacks, returns to old platforms in the name of nostalgia – it feels like it’s time to accept the truth.

As a collaborative storytelling project, OtherSpace is done. Really, it’s been done for a while, but I’ve been trying to convince myself that if I just tried this or changed that, we could pull back older players and attract new ones.

But I can’t do it alone – or even with the selfless dedication of a couple of friends. For me and for those veteran players, so much has changed in the world during the past 25 years. Some, sadly, aren’t even among the living anymore.

I’ve got two children, growing older and participating in more activities that demand more of the reduced time I’ve got to devote to creative projects. I’ve got a job that, as the COVID-19 pandemic recedes into memory, requires more travel to industry events.

So, right out of the gate, I can’t commit the energy or time that helped build a following for OtherSpace back in the day. And, in those days, a text-based multiplayer game didn’t have so damned much competition for attention. We competed against other text-based games, yes, but we didn’t battle against MMORPGs, mobile phone apps, gaming consoles, streaming platforms, or social media apps. Our signal wasn’t so lost in the noise like it is today.

It’s hard to admit that a cause I’ve been devoted to for so long may no longer be worth that effort. I tied a lot of who I am into this project, sometimes to my detriment. Who am I if I let it go?

That’s the question that keeps creeping back into my mind every year when this anniversary rolls around to find an empty MUSH and a relatively quiet Discord server. Who am I if I let it go?

What does letting it go even look like?

And why should anyone care if I let it go when it seems few care if I keep it going?

Well, who I am if I let it go is me, but without the underlying buzz of stress that I should be *doing something* to promote the multiplayer project, that I should be hawking the game on Twitter and Facebook and YouTube and TikTok and…dear God, when do I actually get time to interact with real people and build a story together?

Letting go might look like…calming down. The costs of keeping the MUSH and website online are negligible, so I don’t feel like I should stomp my feet and shut everything down in frustration. Maybe I just take rebuilding OtherSpace into what it used to be off my plate and accept that in the decades I hope to have remaining to me on this Earth, I can better spend my time writing stories and working on smaller, less intense projects that don’t rely on growing a live audience for interactive storytelling.

And why should anyone care one way or another?

Part of letting go is not worrying about that. I appreciate all the friends I’ve made – and all the lessons I’ve learned – through OtherSpace over the years. I regret the mistakes and hard feelings and utter catastrophes, but I still celebrate the memories of triumphant story arcs, amazing player-created characters, and epic moments that seared into OtherSpace legend because players made daring choices.

Letting go doesn’t have to mean going away. In this case, it just means I’m adjusting my mindset and refocusing my energy. I’m giving myself permission to set the MUSH aside. I want to revel in the memory of what it was rather than rail against what it’s become – and what it can never be again.

Letting go should mean freedom to do more and different things without feeling shackled to my expectations from 25 years ago.

Let’s see where it takes me.

Liked it? Take a second to support Wes Platt on Patreon!
Exit mobile version
Skip to toolbar