It's been slightly over or under 10 years since these forums were started, depending on where you count from. I first installed the forums on a shady PHP host I met on IRC and paid via paypal for a month, I set up moparisthebest.com/smf/ and it ran for a few weeks, then the host disappeared off the face of the earth along with the database and everything else, so I set it up on a new host on February 22nd, 2006. I know that date exactly because it's the date my account shows for a creation date. Don't worry, 2006 moparisthebest was an idiot, 2016 moparisthebest has backups, RAID, security, and all the other things you'd expect from a host.
For some more background, I started playing runescape (RS2) in late 2004 or early 2005. When I started I couldn't even touch type, I only hunted and pecked, I was forced into learning to touch type by the need to talk faster in runescape in order to cooperate with other players and be able to sell/buy things. I quickly got tired of the monotony of grinding experience points, and since I had just taken my first intro to programming course, on my way to a mechanical engineering degree, in college (university for you European folks), I naturally thought maybe I could automatically program a mouse to do this for me. Some searching brought me to a website with something called SCAR scripts on it, to sythe.org, and eventually to the home of the creator of SCAR, the kaitnieks forums. I liked these forums far more than sythe.org, there was no buying or selling allowed, and therefore no scammers. Additionally it appeared to be a meritocracy, anyone who could contribute positively to a conversation was welcomed, anyone who could program could share their work, and be recognized and thanked for it. From the script repository website, I had a few scripts that mined ore in parts of fallador, and smithed it, and did some other things. I improved on them, combined them, used them myself and shared them with the community. I had never programmed anything other than Java, so Turbo Pascal was much different, but procedural programming was procedural programming so I figured it out by example and trial and error. These scripts were so well liked I received 50 reputation points and magically saw a new board restricted to 'Community Members', there were some interesting discussions there, but most everything still happened in public. I even got a 'SCAR Scripter' badge which I thought was the coolest thing ever.
Around that time, someone named Waffendennis was releasing these things called 'deobs', which stood for deobfuscated, decompiled, java source code for the runescape client. You could modify it however you want, recompile it, and play runescape with it. At the time, runescape released new versions every few weeks or so, so you had plenty of time to play around with it before it changed. I used my knowledge of Java, and combined some tutorials posted on kaitnieks to create 'MoparScape', a custom client that made it easier to cheat on runescape with SCAR. It supported things such as stripping out the randomization of colors (something Jagex added to make SCAR cheating harder), locking the view north and high (again, Jagex had it randomly rotate), and some other awesome things like replacing all strings of 'RuneScape' to 'MoparScape' and of course awesome MIDI music from Doom! Probably some other things I don't even remember as well. People seemed to like it quite a bit too, and it kept me busy manually updating it every few weeks. I wrote an automatic updater which has to be some of the worst Java code ever written, I didn't know about parsers or regular expressions, so it consisted almost entirely of .indexOf(), .lastIndexOf(), and .substring(), it was so fragile I ended up writing more code and manually fixing it for almost every release, but I did end up learning a lot! It was fairly popular because it made it so much easier and more reliable to cheat with SCAR, as much as I hate to admit, I doubt people played it for the Doom music...
Sometime afterwards a guy named Winterlove, who had taken a version 317 deob, removed the encryption, studied and modified it, released a rudimentary server for it. You didn't even have a character and you couldn't move around, it was just a flyover of some of the landscape, and additionally, though we didn't know it at the time, it was some of the worst code and code structure you'd ever see, but it worked! Well that unleashed a firestorm, suddenly the possibility of playing on your own private runescape server was real, you could go anywhere, do anything, and see everything you couldn't get to either because you didn't have money to pay the $5/month membership fee or didn't have the levels required or equipment to get there, it was a dream come true. As I remember it, someone named Daiki made the first modifications needed to actually log in with a character and walk around. I applied my MoparScape changes to the 317 client, along with modifications to type a custom server and port to connect to, and the first private server MoparScape version was released. At some point I even bundled a server so all you needed was the client to play your own server, but honestly I don't remember when.
Around the same time, keep in mind this was still 2005, some java wizards, I remember RegeX, eXemplar, SeanWT, and some others (I know Mopman got involved later) created a JAVA bot based off of Waffendennis' deobs, this was called Aryan. This changed EVERYTHING!!! You have to understand, SCAR worked by scraping your screen, clicking on colors, and typing things. It took over your whole computer while automating a single bot. You couldn't even use the computer for anything else while SCAR was running. Aryan, however, emulated the mouse and keyboard in java on a per-client level, so the number of bots you could run simultaneously while still using your computer was limited only by your RAM and CPU. Runescape cheating exploded. Jagex started updating more frequently, and everytime they did, you needed an update to Aryan before you could cheat again. 'Noobs' as we called them would flood kaitnieks with requests for updates, indignant that the creators of Aryan doing all this work for them for free didn't do it faster. Jagex kept adding things to break Aryan, Aryan devs kept coding fixes, it was awesome. Aryan has a much richer and deeper story I won't fully cover here, we'll leave that for another post (perhaps by Mopman), and get back to the forum.
In late December 2005, or early January 2006, the kaitnieks forums abrubtly shut down with no warning. Kaitnieks had had a child, and had no more time to deal with the now far too busy forum, some of the community still hung out on IRC, and most of us talked over MSN messenger as well. For awhile, we held out hope someone might bring it back, but no one did, and no one wanted to go back to sythe.org. I had purchased moparisthebest.com the year before and had some SCAR scripts on there, so I figured why not install a temporary forum for the kaitnieks community to hang out until kaitnieks came back? I rebuilt the forum with the same category/board structure as kaitnieks, as retrieved from archive.org. The plan was to lure some original kaitnieks staff back, give them full control, and then revert myself to a regular member again. But the staff came back too slowly, and soon it was popular, clear that kaitnieks would probably never come back, and people seemed to want me as admin, so here we are.
The forums went through some crazy changes, at first it was just SCAR scripts and Aryan, the Aryan devs had abandoned updates and released their (broken) updater in the wild. It was crazy complicated with many regular expressions and even some perl, yuck. Other slimeballs on the internet started releasing updates for money, that didn't sit well with me, so I started releasing updates for it for free, along with my whole updater, so anyone could just click it and spit out a fully updated Aryan. (at that point, actually releasing an updated Aryan was legally questionable, releasing code to generate that from jagex's original runescape.jar was fine) This made the forums insanely popular towards the end of 2006, it quickly went from a hobby to something I spent 8+ hours a day on. I realized I'd be just as happy programming as doing mechanical engineering work, and that more jobs were available and it paid more, I switched my major to Computer Science and graduated in 2009, later that same year I was married.
During the same time period, private servers were making amazing strides, different people came out with different features, copied/pasted them between servers, and things worked despite not being able to support many clients simultaneously and mostly being coded as a giant case statement in one large method, it was terrible code-wise. The forums were filled with 'moparscape' questions, the cheaters hated it. I registered moparscape.org (some asshole had taken moparscape.com), copied the forum PHP files over there, and did terrible hacks to run 2 different forums on the same database. We banished all moparscape and private server talk go to moparscape, and moparisthebest was reserved for cheating. I personally focused almost entirely on cheating and moparisthebest.com, and unfortunatly moparscape.org turned into a craphole of spam, flaming, and all the other stuff you don't want in a forum. Then, Jagex released an update completely killing Aryan, it would have required a complete rewrite, and everyone was either too busy or didn't know enough how to do it. Even if you did manage it, updating was almost an insurmountable nightmare with the new setup. The golden age of runescape cheating was over. Runescape as a game started to decline as well, and with it, runescape cheating and moparisthebest.com.
Meanwhile and almost under the radar, moparscape.org was exploding. I released version 3 of MoparScape which was Aryan, back-ported to 317, with MoparScape features. The private server people didn't care for it because they didn't support cheating, I was surprised by this because I thought we were all cheaters, but I was wrong. I should have firmly taken the reigns and molded moparscape.org into the awesome community that moparisthebest.com was, unfortunatly I was busy with life, college, meeting my future wife, getting married etc. We had some less than great staff who got a head too big for their shoulders, treated everyone poorly, and even ended up creating a competing forum and encouraging everyone to go there. Different staff members tried multiple times to 'fix' the problem, some more successful than others. We created new forums, moparcraft.net dedicated to minecraft, gamedev.moparscape.org dedicated to game development, android.moparisthebest.org dedicated to android development. This required horrible SMF hacks to maintain, and moparcraft was the only one that achieved any measurable success. moparisthebest.com continued it's decline, and before long, it was more work maintaining seperate forums than it was worth, and the decision was made to just move everything to moparscape.org and a vanilla SMF. As runescape continues to decline so does moparscape, and I also don't have the time I wish I could put into it as a married 30 year old, with a full time programming job, a 4 year old, a 2 year old, and one on the way. I am still happy with what the forum was and still is, and it continues to be the absolute best community I've ever been a part of. It's still great and I think it can only get better in the future, so we should celebrate the past 10 years for what they were, and look forward to the next 10 years for what they can be. Most of us started this journey as teenagers, and now 10+ years later we can raise a glass together as we continue down this road! That's a solid 1/3rd of my life, and even more than that for most of you!
Congratulations to the kaitnieks/moparisthebest/moparcraft/moparscape community! Thanks for sticking together for an amazing 10 years! Let's keep it up!