I was putting the finishing touches on an Internet group that revolved around editing TIE Fighter (the original 1994 release) missions and battles. Fresh off reading the Heir to the Empire series, playing X-Wing, Dark Forces, Rebel Assault I & II, and of course, TIE Fighter, and coupled with a general resurgence of my love of Star Wars due to finding other likeminded individuals on this new thing they called the World Wide Web, I began making my own mark online. Having recently purchased my very first web host for www.praetorian.net (RIP due to domain hijacking), I had a great sandbox to play in, my fledging web design company was off to a start, but my passion for Star Wars – and the Empire – were driving me towards what was to become the Imperial Order.
I was a member of a few other gaming groups that were around at the time and after a few months of membership, found they were lacking in areas. Most preferred quantity over quality, drama and disorganization over honor and order, and a general lack of direction in their goals and almost no background story or plot.
It was time to embark on my own to create a group that not only prided itself on gaming, game editing, and all things WWW, but also stayed as close as possible to the Star Wars Canon of the day and followed Expanded Universe plotlines and source material. What could be better than playing your favorite SW Game (and there were many in the works in the late 90s), reading about your favorite characters, places, and vehicles, and then being able to go online and immerse yourself in that entire culture and create your own plotline, your own persona, your own slice of the Star Wars Universe. Thus, The Imperial Order was born.
January 1, 1997
After a late NYE celebration the night before to ring in 1997, I made a pot of coffee to get the day started. Sitting in front of a 14″ CRT monitor and fired up my custom-built PC with an 800MB hard drive and a 56K USR Sportster Modem (which really only connected at 33K). A few clicks of the mouse and screeches of the modem, and I was online. I read some emails, surfed the web on Netscape in a single browser window, and then opened my HTMLed Editor to review my latest creation, The Imperial Order website, er…web page. A single index.html file loaded with text and a few images and a handful of links. A few tweaks here and there, a few second guesses about what I was about to do, and throwing caution to the wind, because what did I have to lose by publishing a webpage, and the first page of the IO was FTP’ed to www.praetorian.net/io/index.html. I re-opened Netscape, went to the site and basked in the glory of the IO…and waited. Nothing happened. People did not flock to the new page and sign up within seconds, confetti did not rain from the ceiling, there was no Imperial Order fanfare playing. Just a simple fan-based web page dedicated to the glory of the Empire. All was indeed quiet on New Year’s Day.
But there were others.Several friends from the other SW groups I was part of, and had been somewhat privy to my plans, albeit the scope was shrouded in my own secrecy. I fired up Eudora email and blasted out a few emails to my trusted confidantes letting them know The Imperial Order was now an online presence. The first CGI/Perl based message forum, the ComNet went online soon after, the #Imperial_Order IRC channel was established on DALNet, and the Order began to take shape and true form. Within a month, there a dozen or so of us, forming the foundation of what was to come over the following years.
It hardly seems like it has been 25 years since those days, but it also seems like another lifetime ago. There are times that I long for the days of the late 90s and the early years of the IO, creating new missions and levels, building new IO sites, and updating existing ones all the time. It was a full-time job and a full-time passion of mine.
Everyone I have met through the IO and all the great times we have had, I hold dear. The camaraderie and friendships are what truly make the IO a special place. The all day and all night chats on IRC, playing JK MP until the sun came up, all done with a smile and laughter filling my home office as I met new friends from all of the world. Everyone I met is awesome – except for those few unfortunate souls who found there way to the airlock! Truly great memories that will always be cherished – what I would give to experience those days again. Here we are 25 years later, still in touch and still connected.
What will the next 25 years of the IO bring? The Galaxy is the limit… What I do know is that I will always work on the IO as time allots. The IO site will always be online, updates will happen, changes will be made, what was once will remain, and what will come is yet to be seen…
:: Ged Larsen, January 1, 2022