VO: A Short History in Pictures

THE LOOK: When you've been working on a website for decades, you have to change the look every now and again as the technology changes, but also to keep you from getting extremely bored with it.  For those of you who have been around since 1994, there have been several different looks.  I unfortunately don't recall them all, but thanks to a few screen shots that appeared in magazines over the years, and a few old files I still have on my hard drive, I have been able to reconstruct a few:

Some old images. Recognize any of them? ;-)



I used MS Paint to create the above graphic, in all it's 16-bit (?) colour glory.  The original premise of the site was an after-hours room of sorts, a place where only vampires were allowed -- so this graphic was supposed to represent a sign posted on the front of a door.  

Now the site name finally makes sense, doesn't it?



This was sent to me by a kind visitor to my site who obviously had better command of graphics editing programs than I did at the time.  I'm sorry that I've forgotten his name, but the picture remained part of the site for quite some time.


Here I was experimenting with bloody-type fonts.


At this point I was finally getting good enough at using graphics programs to lay fonts over pictures! W00t! (I hadn't yet discovered photoshop).


During this phase I experimented with image maps, an old HTML coding technique that generally required using an external program specifically made for assisting in creating the maps.








This one implemented a javascript-based rotating banner of sorts for the blue text which appeared below the site name.  A random slogan would load each time the page was refreshed.  Other slogans included:

  • Good things come to those who prey
  • For the blood is the life
  • Fear not, we do not bite... hard
  • Undead and kicking since 1994
  • Dress: casual; Fangs: optional
  • Welcome creature of the night
  • A vorld vide veb original
  • Bleeding the web since 1994
  • The original vampire website

It was also one of the first set of graphics I created after learning the basics of Photoshop...





    for the Dead travel fast ...


    for the Dead travel fast ...


I always liked this graphic; it stood on the entry page and was a simple entry point.




















This one also involved a java-script based mouseover event, which would turn the graphics red when the mouse pointer moved over top.



The chat rooms and other "conversation areas" had quite an auspicious start at VO.  If I recall correctly, the genesis of the conversation areas started with a simple Guestbook (the typical kind you see here at VO, or at most other sites) -- this was probably in late 1995.  As it turned out, people started conversing using the Guestbook!

As a result of this, the Guestbook file would exponentially increase in size over the course of a day, which made it quite difficult to keep my site within the bounds of the disk size I was alloted, which back then was probably 5 megs or so.  So as a means to better maintain this new "conversation" format, I basically duplicated the guesbook script, but called it something different.  For example, there was "The Eternals", "Fang Central", "Newly Undead", and author/book chats such as "Brian Lumley" and "The Vampire Chronicles".  I think I had, like, eight categories, which ended up to be overkill.

These eventually evolved into more distinct flavours of chats: "Theatre of Shadows" (serious role playing), "The Black Raven Inn" (casual role playing & conversations), "The Dark Grimoire" (user message board), "The Crimson Quill" (poetry and prose), and finally, "The Eternals" (an ongoing story).  However, they were still a Guestbook styly, which required very high maintenance, and if I didn't get around to cleaning them up, it meant a serious download time for any VO users (this was back when 28.8 and 33.3 baud modems were the norm).

It should be noted that one of our dear members, Crystal Star, came up with the name Black Raven Inn.

Here's an example of the old chat style we were using; I've tried to approximate the original look based on the browser capabilities back then -- all backgrounds were grey, text was black and links were blue.



 The Eternals 

... for conversations relating to role-playing games ...

(the most previous version of this board is still available through this link)



Onyx <Everyone>

On this, the seventh day of august, 1996, Dallemar 123 and Izabell formally announce their engagement to one another.  Happiness always to both!  Ladies...more info to come about a party for Izzi!

 - Wednesday, August 07, 1996 at 09:37:47 (PDT)


Tasmin <Onyx>

*grinning* A party? Any strippers? Jus kiddin.

 - Wednesday, August 07, 1996 at 16:15:54 (PDT)


Onyx <Tasmin>

You can be in charge of that area tas...do the best you can do, you know how picky we can be!

 - Wednesday, August 07, 1996 at 22:58:27 (PDT)


Raye <Tasmin & Onyx>

Stripper??*big grin*

 - Wednesday, August 07, 1996 at 23:40:20 (PDT)


Onyx <All The Females At VO>

There will be a wedding shower this friday, August 9, for Izabelle.  The wedding aproaches faster than I thought!  The party will be at the BRI at about 11:40 PST time.  Please try to attend and bring lots of gifts!!!!  I am not sure that I can be there but I am sure that everyone here knows how to give a party!!! Please ladies try to be there. RSVP here on the Eternals!

 - Thursday, August 08, 1996 at 06:14:06 (PDT)



(BTW those teeth became quite popular, they were lifted repeatedly from my site and showed up on many others.  I didn't mind -- but it took me a hell of a long time to make them from scratch using MS Paint.  Yes that blood is just a series of dots...one red dot at a time...ugh.)


Eventually I got ahold of a pretty good "Webchat" script, which was a web-based, CGI chat script.  I believe that the Black Raven Inn was modified to use this script, but the rest were still Guestbooks.  Unfortunately, several events happened that led to shutting down all the conversation areas in early 1996 -- they were too much a drain on the host server, and more importantly, several individuals were making offensive posts, and generall making the chat rooms unpleasent for all.  Since I couldn't rely on everyone to govern themselves, the rooms were shut down.

Later that year, the chat saviour, Elyza, came along and created a method to make the rooms viable once again.  The chat rooms were reinstated under the "Charnel House" banner, from 1996-1998.  Elyza transformed the old rooms into what I consider were the most popular vamp chat rooms on the internet, and with the help of Dark Savant, we were able to create a user support and other automated systems whiched helped the chat rooms immensely.

During the course of that time, I was trying out a number of different "front ends" for the chat rooms.  Here's an example of one:




Return to the VO Home Page Charnel House Entrance Send email to VO
















(that "v-mail" coffin graphic also began to appear on many sites after I made it...)


But alas, even though we were able to keep most of the riff raff out, our membership began to split into factions, and we soon found that there was a great deal of in-fighting.  Well, we couldn't take it anymore.  At this point I had been working for almost four years on the chat rooms, and Elyza and Dark Savant had been at it for two, and all of us had become frustrated with what was going on.  So I officially shut down the rooms once again in 1998.

I was burnt out, and even though there were numerous complaints about the shut down, I just couldn't re-open them.  After two years had gone by, I was ready to once again look at the conversation areas, but to a lesser extent than what they had been. I decided to start up one room once again: The Black Raven Inn.  It would not be part of the glorious system that we once had, but it would at least be a place for some of the old gang (and new blood) to talk if they wish.   By that point I had little involvement in the new BRI -- I really couldn't be bothered to take an active part in it; I've been burned too often in the past.  Even though some remnants of the old Charnel House still remain (the new BRI and The Eternals storytelling), it has never returned to its former glory.  


Of course, this only takes us to the year 2000! Much has changed in the years since then, and when I have a moment (or few months of free time), I'll work on continuing this article.


Re: VO: A Short History in Pictures

The good ole days :) Thanks for sharing this - it is amazing to see how far the internet (and VO) have come over the years! I am so grateful that you have kept VO going for those of us lost souls who always tend to find our way back to it :D

Re: VO: A Short History in Pictures

DEATH is never far Klaudia,... I mean it's easy to find DEATH,... no wait, DEATH is always near,... or,.. erm,... 

Fanged Films

From the Library

As the 20th century evolved, rational man turned to science to explain mythology that had pervaded for thousands of years. How could a man be mistaken for a vampire? How could someone appear to have been the victim of a vampire attack? Science, in time, came back with answers that may surprise you.Anemia
A million fancies strike you when you hear the name: Nosferatu!N O S F E R A T Udoes not die!What do you expect of the first showing of this great work?Aren't you afraid? - Men must die. But legend has it that a vampire, Nosferatu, 'der Untote' (the Undead), lives on men's blood! You want to see a symphony of horror? You may expect more. Be careful. Nosferatu is not just fun, not something to be taken lightly. Once more: beware.- Publicity for Nosferatu in the German magazine Buhne und Film, 1922  

Drawn to Vamps?

Vol. 8 No. 4
Horror Tales
Vol. 1 No. 1
R.I.P. V.1 N.1 1990