Adrael began as a proposal made by Clat in a small private forum that served as a gathering place for a handpicked group of URU fans. In mid-April 2009, he began a topic called "Exhibition and Big Story". Within one month this conversation established the group Age project that became Adrael. By September 2010, this forum thread had grown to over 3,000 posts.

Here Clat talks about Adrael's history, from his own point-of-view.

1: Strictly Personal

My involvement in the Myst series and Uru is told in my page in the "Creators" section of this site. But I cannot tell the story of Adrael without speaking of my personal involvement. And in fact, the starting point of the whole story is strictly personal.

It was in the months after the closure of Gametap MOUL and before Cyan's reopening of the Cave, when many debates were seen in the MOUL forum threads about various ways to revitalize Uru and how to put the talents of fans to good use. My position was (and still is) that Cyan should allow for fans creativity, but also maintain a strict control over the whole process. A guy with a different point of view called me “...a paranoid hugged to his Rand Miller doll”. Unfortunately, moderators deleted his post almost immediately, and it was a pity, because I still consider it more humorous and ironic than evil.

Anyway, my posts in that thread attracted the attention of the proprietors of a private URU forum, who sent me an invitation that brought me in contact with a group of veteran Uru enthusiasts. Sadly, this forum is now disbanded.

In the same period, the daughter of a long-time friend of mine (her in-cavern name is Kira) was working on her graduation thesis, and asked for my help in some 3d modelling. I’m not an expert 3D modeller, so my assistance was in design and texturing, having developed an unusual way of doing textures by hand. I didn’t use any photographs, as is more the usual method, but instead made my textures by drawing them on paper with pencils and pastels and finishing them with some Photoshop treatment. The resulting textures looked very good in 3d renderings and I naturally thought about the possibility to use them in Uru age building.

2: The Bookcase Age

Walkway Render
An early test rendering of Clat's "drawn texture" concept

Among the people with whom I talked about those textures was Boblishman, already an accomplished age builder. He explained to me the huge difference between a 3d rendering that can be of almost any file size and an Uru age that must run efficiently in the Plasma game engine. He also introduced me to the fine art of texture stacking, and in time we began to talk about building a new age. As an experiment, we built a bookstand and placed it in a sandy flatland under a yellow sky. Someone - probably me, but I’m not sure - used the wrong term “Bookcase” instead of “Bookstand”, and so the age was known for a long period as the "Bookcase Age".

With time, the age grew up from that scant starting point, and other people became involved. D’Lanor took the responsibility of scripting for the Age. At that time, Cyan's plug-in for 3DStudio Max was still unavailable, so we had no other choice but to use Blender as modelling software and PyPRP to import things in-game and to program animations, sounds and lighting. This meant that all programming had to be typed line after line in Python language, eventually resulting in thousands of lines of code.

A short time later, Emor D’ni Lap joined the ranks, bringing his own skill set.

3: The name of Adrael

The first name I thought of was “Aldradat”. I used it just once, accompanying the first sketch of the dead tree, the focus of the whole age's puzzles. I eventually changed it to “Adrael” shorter and sounds better, to my ear. Please consider that I’m Italian, and so I pronounce the name as follows “A” as in “car”, a normal “D”, “R” resounding (as is typical for Italian, Spanish and Irish people), again “A” as in car”, “E” as in “end” and a normal “L”, with the accent being on the “E” (AdraĆ©l).

4: The Adrael Team

Emor started work with a beautiful tree and, with his arrival, we officially become a team, or so I felt then and still think today. Eventually, more modellers came to reinforce the team: mainly Lyllus, but also Kira, DatokerJ, Szark, SeryousYew and Simone. And there was more than just modelling and scripting: Sophia helped me with editing and phrasing the considerable English texts, Ehren did careful testing, Ametist recorded Irena with a colourful Swedish accent, Lyllus contributed with animations and, being a singer, contributed a beautiful song. You can read the detailed who-did-what list in the credit page, and I’ll add more information later. Sophia - with Murray - did a precious job in keeping the workflow organized and in maintaining harmony between team members. At some time I was officially appointed as “Age Coordinator”, and took part of this responsibility, but Sophia was always there with the right word at the right time. In my opinion, no team can survive for long without such a person. Her expertise was also put to good use in applying and obtaining a FCA (Fan Created Art) license from Cyan.

In the end, this team was most fortunate that we had at least one very skilled volunteer in every task required for building a good Age, without being too heavy in any one area.

For more details about “who-did-what”, please see the credit pages, accessible from the Adrael home page. You’ll find much more information there .

5: Adrael Grows

Over the following year, more and more ideas were suggested and integrated with the Age, which actually split off into two separate-but-linked Ages as the "DRA Office" was added. Technical issues were overcome, and everyone learned as we went along. Many of the details of this development will be explored in separate pages showing the processes we used and what we learned, so I won't go on about all that just now.

Work proceeded more or less smoothly for one-and-half years, until the age was almost complete. Adrael reached that delicate situation in which 90% of the work is done, but 90% remains to be done. The name of the beast is “details”. Before this point is reached, progress is constant and relatively fast. If not each day, at least each week another piece is uploaded and tested, and you see the place growing up, until you basically get the overall shape of the whole age, and you can even play it from the beginning to the end.

At this point in every professional project's development, the team braces itself and restarts from the very beginning, going through each and every small bit and piece, making improvements in texturing, cleaning up modelling, installing lighting and all the details that make an Age believable, and streamlining the Age's efficiency... until the whole age is polished enough to be released. In this phase, little new comes to bring fresh excitement, the work proceeds slowly among many difficulties, and progress can be slow.

Here was where our team hit a rough spot.

6: Transition Time

Puzzles were still incomplete. Lighting, texture improvements, and model detailing still had to be done. The Age was overweight as a download, far beyond the megabytes of other Ages including Cyan's, and needed to be carefully examined for efficiency. Nevertheless, D’Lanor and Boblishman, anxious to have the community see their work, asked formally for an age release. Other team members considered this a mistake, and a serious negotiation was made to reach an agreement, allowing for a partial “Beta release”. In the end, the negotiation failed. In late September 2010, D’lanor and Boblishman quit the team and released Adrael as it was then, in its unfinished state.

Suffice it to say that it was a severe blow for the entire team, and that all the negotiating and the upset left the remaining participants drained. But within a month's time we had reorganized. New team members have been added, it appears others may join us, we're all excited to see improvements.

We continue to develop Adrael's appearance and content, to the best level we know is possible.