Community:Hyrule: The Land of Zelda
|Launch Date||August 1998|
Hyrule: The Land of Zelda (HTLOZ) was a Zelda website founded by Falco-X in 1998 and was one of the first popular Zelda sites. The site was infamous for its rumor mill, which eventually churned out the Ariana Almondoz fiasco in early 1999. HTLOZ disappeared without warning in early 2002 when their host, Trintium Gaming Network, closed its doors.
Pre-Domain HTLOZ (1998-1999)
HTLOZ was originally founded as "Hyruleland" on Tripod in August, 1998, as part of the first generation of Zelda websites. The original staff consisted of Falco-X, Zerofoxie, and Wolfhang van Kraus. Visitors were quickly drawn to the site thanks to Wolfhang and Falco's "Dark Art" section and the artwork used in the site's presentation. With the site's popularity increasing, Falco-X expanded his staff to include Goldenboy7 and Ultima9999. Ultima9999 maintained HTLOZ's first forum, an "Inside the Web" board, where user registration was not required. Not much is known about this period because most of the users from that time period have vanished. The only lasting legacy of the Inside the Web forums was the infamous "TRIFORCEGUY" and his Triforce hoax. By October 1998, the site had taken on the name "Hyrule: The Land of Zelda," and moved to n64gamer.com. Shortly after this move, Spots joined the staff.
Ariana Almondoz (1999)
In February 1999, when speculation about the Triforce in Ocarina of Time was at its peak, HTLOZ unleashed a killer story: A reader by the name of Ariana Almondoz claimed to have found the Triforce, and had convincing screenshots to back it up. The result was explosive: Every Zelda site around the net came to focus on the story. The Odyssey of Hyrule in particular posted a full page on the story without permission, which gave rise to the first tensions between HTLOZ and Odyssey of Hyrule (this would later be repeated with the publication of the Crooked Cartridge trick, but with fiery results). Within a week, a reader caught a giveaway in one of Ariana's images. Link's sword was sheathed on the wrong side of his back in a screenshot depicting him playing the "Overture of Sages." The entire story fell apart almost instantaneously, and community backlash towards the fraud was harsh. Ariana Almondoz's infamous hoax brought about the end for Ocarina of Time Triforce rumors.
Early Domain HTLOZ (1999-2000)
Three months later, Falco-X updated HTLOZ's layout to the tabbed design that would be carried over to the final Flash version of the site later in 1999. HTLOZ disappeared shortly after the update, before re-emerging on its own domain at htloz.com with a new host, Trintium Gaming Network. Ultima9999 also switched the forums from Inside the Web to Casual Forums, and user registration became required for the first time. By June, HTLOZ began using Flash for its layout, featuring a movie on the splash page, various interactive elements in the site's navigation, and a few games.
Khakain vs. HTLOZ War (1999-2000)
By late 1999, the online Zelda community was in the midst of what has since been called a "Golden Era." It was during this time that tensions arose again between HTLOZ and Odyssey of Hyrule. The "Crooked Cartridge" code that The Odyssey of Hyrule's webmaster, Video Gamer X, had claimed as his own, had appeared without credit on HTLOZ's "Codes Bag" section. VGX responded by placing HTLOZ on The Odyssey of Hyrule's "Wall of Shame." Although The Odyssey of Hyrule had the Crooked Cartridge technique first, the trick's discoverer was in question. If anyone "owned" the Crooked Cartridge trick, it was it's discoverer, T-Dog. Furthermore, HTLOZ received the trick in a reader's email. Ultima9999 attempted to defuse the situation by removing the code, only to have it replaced by a defiant Falco-X. This was when the staff member "El Toro" appeared, who was simply an alter-ego for Falco-X. "El Toro" created a "Wall of Facts" page to dispatch HTLOZ's naysayers, in addition to a satirical take on The Odyssey of Hyrule known as "Maxwell Martinez's Page." After this exchange of words, tensions rose further, and forum members opened fire between boards. By early 2000, an exhausted Falco-X had moved the boards from Casual Forums to a locally hosted forum and password-protected them.
Late Domain HTLOZ and Closure (2001-2002)
Espio, Flare50, Shadik, Brian and Blazer later joined the HTLOZ staff. Blazer opened a new vBulletin message board, which soon grew into the largest Zelda forum at the time. Here, a new legacy was born: Tri-Link's Cafe. Founded by Da_#1_Link, TLC was a sprawling, off-topic thread in the RPG Forum that reached over 40,000 replies before HTLOZ's end, a record for the Zelda community that stands to this day. As a matter of tradition, Tri-Link's has been revived on each successor to HTLOZ, but none ever approached the scale of the original (Gamer Crossfire was closest with 20,000 replies).
HTLOZ's end finally came about in early 2002, following a brief hacker incident at the forums. Just when it seemed HTLOZ would be reopening the forums, Trintium Gaming Network, HTLOZ's free host, decided to close it's doors. Falco-X, presumably short on time and tired of managing HTLOZ, didn't seek an alternative. Displaced members dispersed to hyrule.com.ar, Ganon's Tower, and the impromptu HTLOZ refuge, Gamers Talk Elite (later known as Gamer Crossfire).
Refuges & Revivals
The Fallout Shelter
On February 27th, 2000, following the closure of HTLOZ's forums during the Khakain vs. HTLOZ War, a user named Tempest launched an ezBoard known as the Fallout Shelter. This board was the first HTLOZ refuge, a tradition carried on by Indigo's Place, Gamer Crossfire, and HTLOZ II.
Gamers Talk Elite
Gamers Talk Elite (GTE) was established by Zelda King and eventually served as an interim refuge forum for HTLOZ members. There was a brief time when both GTE and HTLOZ co-existed after Falco-X restored the site in late 2001/early 2002.
When HTLOZ closed for good in early 2002, the GTE forums once again became a refuge for forum-goers. Shortly thereafter, Zelda King decided to switch servers and transitioned Gamers Talk Elite into Gamer Crossfire.
Gamer Crossfire, or GXF, was transitioned from Gamers Talk Elite in 2002. It was maintained by Zelda King as a refuge for HTLOZ forum-goers, but efforts were made to transition the site into a true gaming community. It was replaced by HTLOZ II in 2005 and was later revived as a short-lived gaming site before closing in 2006.
Zelda King's vision was to provide a website along with the community forums. The new web site would attempt to refocus the Zelda-oriented community on more general coverage of video games. This vision never manifested itself.
During GXF's lifetime, there were a number of problems which temporarily shut the forums down and left the community stranded, sometimes weeks at a time. There were two major server black outs that hindered GXF's growth and divided its history into distinct periods.
Out of all the versions of Gamer Crossfire, GXF 1 held the most resemblance to the original HTLOZ forums. GXF 1 had a large focus on RPG threads, user activity, and had rules which were very similar to the HTLOZ forums. Toward the end of 2002, the first server black out crippled GXF 1 and stranded the forum community.
Weeks after the first black out, Zelda King restored the site on a new server. At this point Zelda King wanted to stray away from being recognized as the only alternative for HTLOZ users. Stricter forum rules and a new Flash arcade were implemented in order to help separate GXF from HTLOZ. Zelda King tried very hard to establish an independent identity for GXF, but the origins of the forums worked against his efforts. Yet again, in late-2003, the GXF community was shut down due to server issues and a great deal of forum goers fled to the Ganon's Tower forums until GXF returned.
Just before the turn of the new year, GXF returned. This was the final and longest iteration of GXF. The adoption of vBulletin 3.0, still in development at the time, was a distinguishing feature of this period. The third version of Gamer Crossfire had an increased emphasis on the Flash arcade. Unfortunately, this appeared to detract from posting. Zelda King, now going by the name King-X, implemented a front page vBulletin portal that focused on video games. He featured some of his MIDI and MP3 work on the site, and opened the site up as a place that visitors could share their own music.
By the end of the year, word of HTLOZ II swept the GXF community. Inevitably, King-X shut GXF down just before the new HTLOZ II launched in 2005. GXF's role as a HTLOZ fallout shelter was supplanted, and members migrated to HTLOZ II.
In spring 2006, King-X founded the fourth version of Gamer Crossfire, recognized by the acronym "GCF" rather than "GXF." The new site distinguished Gamer Crossfire from its old roots as a fallout shelter for the HTLOZ refugee community and had a new focus on building a community with a broad emphasis on video games in general. King-X successfully separated GCF from the HTLOZ II forums and proved that both could co-exist with their own intents and purposes. Unfortunately, at this point in GCF's lifetime, the forums had seen unsatisfactory activity. At the very end of 2006, King-X decided to shut the forums down due to poor progress and low forum activity. The site went offline on January 1, 2007, and brought the Gamer Crossfire forums to an end.
In the fall of 2002, ex-HTLOZ staffers Blazer and Brian attempted the first HTLOZ revival, named Hyrule: The World of Zelda (HTWOZ) after being denied the rights to the name HTLOZ by Falco-X. Complications arose from hosting arrangements, and the project caved within the first quarter of 2003.
The name was successfully revived in March 2005 when a group of former members launched HTLOZ II.