History of the Phrozen Keep

History of the Phrozen Keep

Description: Written by Phrozen Heart through 2004, amended and expanded by Myhrginoc and Onyx

Categories: Articles

'Stay a while, and listen!'
~ Deckard Cain

Initially I was a fan and avid player of the original Diablo since purchasing it at the end of 1997. As with most Diablo players who used battle.net, the number of PKs and PKKs and PKKKs (etc) started to get extremely irritating and trying to play a good friendly leveling up session was becoming more and more of a rarity. Towards the middle of 1999, I'd pretty much abandoned trying to play a 'legit' character and attempted to fight fire with fire and taking on the role of PKK myself (with the help of Great Bobafett's infamous trainer). Just out of interest, my original username was simply Phrozen but after being described by a dead L60-something warrior as a 'cold- hearted killer', it kind of stuck.

Anyway, obviously playing the game PURELY to kill off other players has an extremely limited appeal (well for me anyway) and I eventually got bored of it. Not willing to give up on such a great game straight away, I turned my attentions towards trying to counteract the problem in a more productive way by using trainers and other utilities to aid legit players in finding unique items, gathering spell books etc which led me to the idea of creating a site purely for legit or at least semi-legit (considering the items would effectively be dupes if downloaded by multiple people) to get hold of non-hacked weapons, armor and other items without having to trawl through endless pop-ups and toplists on some of the bigger Diablo hack sites. After arming my Sorcerer with infinite life and gold, I set about collecting as many useful items from the game as I could, then exporting them all to .ITM files. These files were combined, along with full stats and item graphics for easy browsing and published on a free tripod site which became the first incarnation of the Phrozen Keep...(In hindsight, maybe I should have named it the Phrozen Khaos Keep since I was a “PKK” on battle.net. After all, it’s not like spelling “Chaos” wrong is a big deal with “Phrozen.” Oh, well…)

As soon as I learned about the release of D2, I eagerly pre-ordered it, waiting to see what changes Blizzard was making to one of my favorite games. At the time, I was still running an old 200MHz HP with 32Mb of RAM which made the game unbelievably slow and stuttering in single player and pretty much impossible in multiplay so Diablo 2 basically got shelved while I carried on playing some of my older games.

By chance, one day I was browsing the internet looking for Quake TC's when I stumbling across the original version of 'The Forge', a D2 mod making site by Rana Loreus (who by a series of bizarre coincidences ended up as a site hosted by the Phrozen Keep). The changes being made at that time were fairly basic but even so, it caught my interest and from the various step-by-step tutorials on his site, I learned the ground rules and basic processes for making Diablo 2 mods. At that point, I'd purchased a new 450MHz so after blowing the dust off of the game, we were back in business.

While the Forge got me off to a good start, I went searching for more information on the subject and found various utilities and tutorials dotted around the internet, half of which were loaded with broken links (which is one of my pet hates). For quite a while, I spent some considerable time in the mod making forums at the Diablo 2 Hacklist site, discussing ideas and getting advice from other mod makers. As more and more programs started appearing, I felt the need for some form of central archive for all these resources and with my D1 items site losing hits fairly rapidly, I decided that I'd take on the task. The Phrozen Keep was totally re-constructed with downloads for mods, tools and tonnes of other stuff essential to making quality D2 mods. I must of found a niche in the market, because hits started flooding in faster than the site had ever had previously. This was the beginning of the Keep as it stands today.

Knowing that I would be emigrating from the UK to the US sometime in the next few months, I didn't want the content on the Keep to get too out of date by leaving it to its own devices. This problem was solved when I asked Iowan (whom I had befriended through the D2 hacklist) to take the job as caretaker while I was away which he accepted. The transition across the Atlantic was actually much less painless than expected and after a month or so, Iowan and I took on rolls as permanent co-webmasters of the site which worked great.

With the popularity of the Keep growing, combined with the growing number of a**holes that were beginning to plague the Hacklist forum, I decided that the D2 mod making community needed its own set of forums, split into more defined categories. After having a look around at the various options and not wanting to kill our bandwidth just yet, I opted for a free forumco account which went great right from the word go. With a few well-chosen knowledgeable moderators, newbies and experts alike traded info and the whole community continued along at a good pace.

With the exception of the Keep, the only other site that was doing the same kind of thing as us was the mod site at Diabloii.net which had the backing of a well-established gaming network. This might have been the death of us if it wasn't for the fact that due to lack of time or enthusiasm on the part of the mods.diabloii.net staff, their site fell into major disrepair and eventually closed its doors for good. A large amount of their traffic, including several of their hosted sites (including Tactics Central and The Forge), came over to our community which took the Keep to a whole new level, being the largest Diablo 2 mod site in existence at the time. Fusman, one of the dii.net ex-hosted webmasters (and without question, a key member in the progression of the whole D2 mod movement at that point) joined us a hosted site and in turn joined the main site to become the third co-webmaster at the Keep. Many people might think that too many people trying to run the show would have a negative effect when in truth, each of us brought our unique skills to the table and the site continued to run like clockwork.

At this point, the Phrozen Forums were running smoothly, with around a thousand members and tens of thousands of posts until disaster struck. It was a fairly ordinary day and I was just going online to sort through my daily email when I came across several fairly frantic emails from both Fusman and Iowan saying the forums had disappeared. My first thought was just a temporary server outage at forumco's end maybe but upon further investigation, it turned out our account had been disabled (although not deleted thankfully) for breaking the terms of service. I couldn't think of anything we'd done wrong so I contacted forumco and the owner explained that the forums had been deleted due to a user (not mentioning any particular Bulgarian mod makers or anything :-P) had used a pornographic image as their forum avatar (ie their user pic) and that I'd posted in the same thread and not told him to remove it. The image in question as simply a somewhat crude yet highly amusing animated picture of a smurf engaged in what forumco described as 'a sexual act,' though it was the softest of soft porn at best. Luckily, I managed to reason with forumco and (even though I didn't believe I needed to) apologized which convinced the powers-that-be to re-instate the existing forums at least long enough for the other guys to set up the 'Ultimate Bulletin Board' script on our server to avoid this happening again. Starting over from scratch was a a pain, but a small price for piece of mind I guess.

Out of the blue one day, I received an email from Joe The Acolyte (site director of the Gamespy network site, Planet Diablo) who invited us to join them as their mod central. It took a certain degree of contemplation but the offer of free unlimited web space and bandwidth seemed a fair trade for adding their ad banners to each page. We accepted this gracious offer and partnered up with PD and Gamespy, gaining even greater exposure for the Keep. As time has progressed, more and more quality mod makers have joined us to create one of (if not THE) largest Diablo 2 mod coalition on the net.

June 2001 - The Phrozen Keep is one year old

Blizzard releases Diablo II Lord of Destruction, greatly expanding the game and removing the automatic game ending after killing Diablo that haunted the first game of the series and the original version of Diablo II. Many new items and features are added.

PATCHED OUT - November 2001
After a number of patch releases since June 2000 and the expansion in June 2001, Blizzard issues Patch 1.09d which becomes the modder's platform for the next couple of years. A large body of knowledge about the inner workings of the game develops at the Keep.

STAFF CHANGES - December 2001
With D2 mod scene slowing down somewhat and the various staff members having other outside commitments we had quite a few major staff changes. Webmaster Fusman left completely with his interest in mod making switching from Diablo 2 to Morrowind and Neverwinter Nights, which seem to have much more modding possibilities. Fusman left us on good terms and Iowan had withdrawn steadily from the actual site to commit himself more thoroughly to the Phrozen Forums. I myself had to step down as webmaster to assistant webmaster due to other online and offline commitments, with Jeff taking over the role full time. I still help out with the admin part of the site so he can concentrate on the content side.

...and not just any potato, POTATO JOE! After emailing several well-known webmasters of large gaming sites where they were serving huge files in such large quantities from, the most pleasant and responsive individual was the aforementioned PJ and after trading several emails we came to an arrangement about hosting the Keep's downloads (we'd been having major problems with Fileplanet's new 'Personal' and 'Public' server system). Once this was settled, we installed an extremely nice PHP script by Todd at PHP Arena which solved our download problems immediately.

After undergoing some major reconstruction, the whole site was converted to PHP in order to make things run much smoother which they still are to this day, so enjoy!

NEW OT FORUMS - May 2002
For a while there'd been some problem regarding the off topic threads on the Keep being grouped in with spamming as they weren't D2 related so in order to quash the argument, I set up separate Off Topic forums completely independent of the main ones using the phpbb script which proved much more versatile than ubb ever had as well as highly customizable to our needs.

PHROZEN FORUMS v3 - May 2002
With the phpbb script running so well on the new off topic forums, I figured what the hell and established new main forums as well using the script but still keeping the old forums up as a monumental archive to modding knowledge. With the shift to the new forums, the Keep staff is expanded with quite a few new faces in moderator positions.

June 2002 - The Phrozen Keep is two years old

PLAN B - June 2002
Switching to Potato Joe's server was supposed to be a dream come true by finally breaking away from the dreaded fileplanet but unfortunately it was not to be. When the server was up and running, downloads were going great but the problem was the server uptime was somewhat few and far between so reluctantly we trudged back to fileplanet, ass in hand so to speak. This resulted in a fairly brief but painful period of time during with no one could download much of anything, as I had to rebuild the filecenter for fileplanet from scratch.

ENTER SPIN - September 2002
Up to this point, I'd installed and modified the two phpbb installs pretty much on my own but any heavy-duty editing of the script was beyond me due to only having an extremely basic grasp of PHP and database usage. This deficiency was rectified by a Dutch system admin by the name of spin (capitalize the “s” and you’ll feel his wrath) joining the team as our forum tech support and all round PHP god (small 'g'). Not only did I learn a vast amount of information from him in a very short space of time but he also showed us things that no one even knew could be done with the forum script.

OT OVERHAUL - October 2002
spin's first MAJOR undertaking was a total reconstruction of the off topic forums adding in several new skins and a whole host of new and impressive features. This conversion in addition to being a great example of skill in its own right also provided a live test bed for the intended conversion of the main forums themselves.

'The Big Sync' as it was mockingly known finally happened and it was certainly a site to behold as spin had outdone himself once again on a seriously impressive scale. The main forums were now loaded to the brim with sparkling new features and options for our members to maximize their PKF enjoyment and everything went off with very few hitches at all :-) :-) The biggest problem seemed to be our failure to notice several potentially offensive emoticons in the expanded smilies list, but we got those out quickly enough. A few other minor glitches cropped up now and then, but spin seemed to vanquish all of them in a matter of hours…minutes in most cases, it seemed.

THE BIG XFER - March 2003
All good things must come to an end I'm affraid and with the continuing stress of the Fileplanet system on everyone we decided enough was enough. Even though we greatly appreciate Gamespy and Planet Diablo hosting us for as long they have we decided that it's time for the Keep to move on so following an offer we received a while back the Phrozen Keep has joined the Xfernet Network of gaming sites complete with brand spanking new file center although our forums still reside on a seperate server courtesy of the Rednas Group. Also Nefarius becomes a site admin, giving Phrozen and Jeff a breather with a growing admin load.

June 2003 - The Phrozen Keep is three years old

Alkalund and Myhrginoc become site admins to help out with the growing amount of work involved in the Keep maintenance. It is only fitting, as they are the two most prolific posters on the site, that they contend with the side effects .

X-ED OUT - October 2003
Well it looks like the 'almighty' Xfernet is dead and buried under an avalanche of financial trouble. Fortunately for the Keep, DaMidget stepped forward and kindly offered us free web space and bandwidth. Looks like they just can't keep us down for long ;) At this time kingpin joins the admin crew.

The long-rumored Patch 1.10 is finally released, after a couple of beta releases in the summer. Patch 1.10 improves the accessibility to Diablo II's inner workings by pulling much information out of the game code and storing it in the .txt database files. Modmaking achieves new heights of scope and complexity. We cannot thank Peter Hu (the sole programmer Blizzard allowed for the patch) enough for his work in opening the game's interior for our enjoyment.

FULL CIRCLE - November 2003
We greatly appreciated DaMidget throwing us a much needed lifeline but sadly TheGrotto's resources just weren't quite up to the requirements of such a massive file center and as such we needed to find a different host. The Keep's 'new' home turned out to be good ol' Planet Diablo which even though it means we need to suffer the sporadic pains of Fileplanet, Gamespy is without a doubt one of the most stable hosts on the net :) As a token of our gratitude to DaMidget, Jeff Bouley (who recently retired his 'full' admin status) is setting up an incubater site at TheGrotto for new hosted sites which aren't quite up to the standard of Gamespy's strict hosting policy.

Out of the blue new member Yohann introduces PlugY, the most revolutionary Diablo II mod ever, and answers the dreams of millions of players. Applying the deepest of coding lore he develops a system of inventory page swaps and removes the most annoying limit in the game. Players begin to amass hoards no dragon could ever surpass. Mod makers move quickly to incorporate PlugY into their projects.

After a LOT of preperation and seemingly endless months of upgrading and debugging, once again our technical wizard spin has excelled himself by integrating the forum, the main site AND the file center into one all-singing, all-dancing portal system which is hosted on webspace kindly donated by the Rednas Group. At the present time, it's not exactly feasible for them to host our entire file center so Gamespy's Fileplanet (courtesy of Planet Diablo) is still housing our downloads as their servers are more than adequate to handle the load. The new portal system encompasses the whole Keep experience in one easy to use system with features some of us never even though possible. Is there anything this guy can't do with a site? ;)

... continued by Myhrginoc & onyx

Ace code modder SVR releases D2Mod, a system for developing code plugins that can be added to the game. Diablo II can now be stretched in ways Blizzard never thought of (or at least acknowledged). Mod coders release plugins that allow non-coders to add significantly to their projects.

June 2004 - The Phrozen Keep is four years old

MUSICAL CHAIRS - September 2004
Alkalund retires from the Keep to pursue advanced questing in mathematics, a realm that makes Sanctuary and Hell just a walk in the park in comparison. Fortunately onyx takes up the gauntlet and bolsters our front-line team.

SCHISM! - October 2004
The most controversial event in the history of the Keep occurs, far outweighing the Smurf Incident and far less fun for all involved. The court case Davidson & Associates, Inc vs Internet Gateway, et al. is decided against bnetd over their implementation of Battle.net emulators. The Keep adopts a strict policy prohibiting all discussion of unofficial Diablo 2 realms. This splits the membership into two factions, with the Keep on one side and many bitter members on the other. The wound is to fester for years, with some members leaving in disgust and others ignoring the rule from time to time. Realm discussion becomes the most prevalent (and most detested) cause for action by Keep staff toward any member.

June 2005 - The Phrozen Keep is five years old

Vivendi Universal, the conglomerate that absorbed many gaming companies over the years, closes Blizzard North after a thirteen-year reign. Once independent, Blizzard North had developed and produced the entire Diablo series, including work on a much-rumored Diablo III. The control of Diablo code moves to Blizzard South. Patch 1.11 is released to the surprise of many. Deep coders in the modding world are dismayed to find a severe restructuring of game code, with many 'signposts' removed and major shifts in required techniques. The practice of using multiple versions of the game gains strength, allowing players to run advanced mods with older code and still play on Battle.net if desired (as Battle.net would force the new patch otherwise).

The unthinkable happens. Phrozen Heart retires from the Keep and exits Sanctuary, stage left, after six years of running the site in its many incarnations, and nine years of playing Diablo and then playing and modding Diablo II. Phrozen had maintained a low profile since mid-2005 but makes it official at this time. Myhrginoc steps up to senior admin.

June 2006 - The Phrozen Keep is six years old

ON THE ROAD AGAIN - September 2006
Long-time guru spin announces that he and Rednas are parting ways and he will also resign from the Phrozen Keep forums which themself cannot stay hosted at Rednas. A new home has to be found for the forums.

FULL CIRCLE, V2 - April 2007
After months of endless testing and debugging, the Keep arranges a return to PlanetDiablo, where once more the forums and the files collection will be united. With the help of spin and new tech support guru Volf, as well as the joint efforts of many of the retired administrators like Alkalund and Phrozen Heart, the transfer is as smooth as can be hoped for a totally volunteer endeavor. At the same time, declining participation in the Off-Topic Board triggered the Keep to merge the two communities back together. This marks the last activity of spin as tech support, although the site continues to use his customized PhpBB platform.

June 2007 - The Phrozen Keep is seven years old

Real life forcefully intrudes, and senior admin Myhrginoc pulls out of all but the most essential activities at the Keep. After years of post after detailed post about the game's structures and inner workings, a powerful voice in the modding community goes silent.

Gamespy make changes to their hosting platform and the Keep's file collection becomes inaccessible through the integrated File Center interface. Unable to fix the issues, techmeister Volf expands his own web site and builds a new File Center to support Keep file hosting. All the downloadable files continue to reside on File Planet's servers.

Blizzard announces the long-awaited sequel, Diablo III! While the game itself will be months in the making before we all get to see it, players everywhere are heartened by the continuation of one of the most successful game franchises ever. The Keep acquires the domain d3mods.org in preparation of an anticipated wave of new mods and discussions for when that happy day arrives.

June 2008 - The Phrozen Keep is eight years old

END OF AN ERA - January 2009
The demands of external concerns force Myhrginoc to step down as the senior admin of the Phrozen Keep after nearly seven years on the Keep staff. Onyx is promoted to the top spot.

A STORM IS A-COMIN' - May 2009
IGN/Gamespy announces that all hosting services will be terminated at the end of August 2009. The Keep and all allied D2 mod sites at PlanetDiablo will have to find new homes. With tech-support Volf busy in real life and the rest of the admins either inactive or retired, onyx begins his solo quest to save the Keep from certain death just as the site celebrates its ninth birthday.

June 2009 - The Phrozen Keep is nine years old

At this point, the Phrozen Keep has used spin's PhpBB platform for over five years, but it has become increasingly rickety over time with no support from its original creator. Onyx decides to rebuild the site from scratch using PhpBB v3 as a base and customize it to meet the needs of the site. All forum posts, user accounts, knowledge and articles gathered over the years are imported into the new database. A new host for the Phrozen Keep is arranged, kindly provided by Alex 'Raptor' Dobie - site director of Planet Unreal. The Phrozen Keep terminates mod site hosting and active mod sites have to find new hosts, while their forums remain hosted at the Keep. The file downloads are still served by Volf's external File Center and reside on File Planet's servers, which will remain active even after Gamespy's termination of hosting services.

BROKEN PROMISES - December 2009
It appears that File Planet has decided not to keep the hosted files after all, and out of the blue, without any warning, the whole collection of downloads of the Phrozen Keep was deleted from their servers. This caused quite a confusion and for about a week, no one could download anything from the site. Onyx, with the help of Volf, took on the task to transfer all the Phrozen Keep files, as well as the downloads from resource sites Diabolic Cartography, Incandescence, Inventharia and Infinitum, to a new host. The webspace was provided by Huge Laser and the site was once again reunited with the downloads. Volf's external File Center was reworked to link to the new location of the files and is still serving all Phrozen Keep downloads, while work has began on an integrated download database. After the files were moved, File Planet decided to restore all the downloads following a mass wave of complaints, but it was already too late. This ends all relations between the Phrozen Keep and Gamespy/IGN, as the Phrozen Keep is now fully hosted on Huge Laser.

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[url=https://d2mods.info/forum/kb/viewarticle?a=455&sid=a99084bfa0fe88075af9a8de330aa95c]Knowledge Base - History of the Phrozen Keep[/url]