A long, long time ago, back in 2006, a little trend started slinking around the Games subforum of the the Something Awful forums: people were posting up screenshots of themselves playing various old fondly-remembered videogames (such as Oregon Trail and Pokemon) and including their own humorous commentary. This proved to be a winning—if not entirely original—formula which very quickly exploded in popularity! Before too long, everybody was trying to get in on a piece of the action.
One particularly enterprising poster named From Earth (LPs be upon him) soon realised that there was an obvious problem with this situation: while everything was sunshine and smiles while the LP was still ongoing, when everything was all finished and done with the poor threads would often get thrown into the cold, dusty Forums Archive and completely forgotten about.
That's hardly fair, is it? What if you wanted to go back and read an older LP you might have missed first time around? What if you wanted to take over a basket of muffins to thank an LP author for their hard work? There was nothing in place at that time to allow you to do so!
"No! It shall not be so. I shall not permit it!" ― From Earth (poor reconstruction)
And so it was that on the 2nd of February 2007, From Earth posted a historic thread announcing his Let's Play Archive. No longer would finished threads suffer the slings and arrows of the outrageously fickle forums archives. Now they would live on in a clean and readable format, to be enjoyed for ever after.
The Archive was an immediate success, as people were able to go back to read old threads long since lost. The organised and complete format was pleasant and easy to follow. Requests were made and soon threads were being rescued and given shelter left and right, with an almost daily series of updates as From Earth slowly restored to light Let's Plays which had already spent months in the forums archives.
Starting from humble beginnings, the archive continued to grow and grow. More people helped out and improved the process of bringing a Let's Play to the archive. The popularity of Let's Plays was ever increasing, and there was never a shortage of LPs to add.
Behind the scenes at Archive HQ™ there seemed to always be plenty of work to be done. With so many threads starting up and finishing, there was no shortage of candidates for the archive. Hundreds of threads were already sitting pretty, but hundreds more awaited inclusion.
Fortunately From Earth had several kind volunteers helping out with the process. Polsy wrote an amazing script which, while not doing all the work, certainly alleviated much of the tedious drudgery. Schizoguy proved amazingly helpful in lightening the load by archiving many a thread.
Eventually however the archive began taking more and more time to manage, and From Earth no longer wished to take care of it. One of the other stalwart volunteers, baldurk, took up the torch. He moved the archive to a new domain at http://lparchive.org/, intending to keep the archive going in the same spirit and maintaining the quality with which it had been started with.
Having taken the reigns of the archive, baldurk pondered how best to improve what it offered and the overall architecture of the site. The archive had proceeded very much as it had begun for over a year and a half, and was beginning to strain and sniffle a bit under the unexpected number of LPs.
The changes began with a reorganisation of the layout to better deal with the larger number of LPs hosted. Shuffled around and laid out, things were easier to find and looking peppy. A new logo helped round out the look of an archive that was the same at the core, but a little more polished.
As time passed new features were added to aid viewers in finding new LPs to read or watch. Recommendations provided by similar LPs were instated, and a tagging system was added to help people search by broad strokes and general terms.
The growing popularity of the archive also took its toll on the servers - groaning and creaking to keep up with all the witticisms and humorous screenshots they were beaming across the globe. Some hard times were endured, but eventually things got better when out were thrown the dusty outdated servers and in were brought shiny and spunky new servers, all a-gleam and a-rustle.
In early 2009, the internet archive approached the LP archive with an offer of alliance. To aid in keeping videos safe from tumultuous and fickle video sites, the internet archive would host all video LPs in perpetuity, making LPs a small part of internet history. Through all this the LPs kept coming and soon the archive had grown to hundreds and hundreds of LPs. New features were added to organise and enhance, and the future was bright and shiny.
All that long and illustrious history brings us here and now, to the here and now. Updated and revitalised with a fancy new design and smooth and slick setup, the Archive is better than ever. Keep your eyes on this space, because the archive is sure to continue to grow.
With all this gazing at the past it's worth looking to the future. What's in store? Well, we don't know here for sure, but we hope to continue providing entertainment and laughs for many years to come.
All that remains I think is for me to thank those who had a hand in the considerable amount of work it took to bring the archive to where it is now, not least of which was this newest update which was worked on for months before its unveiling.
I'd like to thank the designer for the frankly astounding work on the new layout and design, and Null Set for his huge help in setting up the back-end database and making sure various nuts and bolts were tightened just right. Many thanks also to the two ridiculously talented artists who helped breathe a bit of life into the stuffier of our pages, lithuanian dad and Popular Energy Drink! I'd also like to say everyone who gave feedback and helped to test and checked the content while converting to our new setup is just super cool and they're all swell people.
I'd particularly like to thank those who pitched in in the growth of the archive - without whom none of this would be here to even appreciate. From Earth, for starting the ball rolling on what has become a quite incredible ongoing endeavour. Schizoguy, Polsy, Rirse and many many others for their hard work in bringing all this wonderful entertainment to the site.
I hope this has been interesting - it probably has if you're still reading. Now you can stop perusing this essay and go check out the real reason why we're all here! Great LPs of classic games like Mario, Zelda and Lost Planet. Go on, have fun!
Well I sincerely hope you read the above section when it was originally posted back in The Past™ because now it's incredibly out of date and we can all have a good laugh at it. Now that we're two years older, two years wiser and have two more years worth of LPs on the archive it's easy to see how far we've come.
The unfortunate downside is that it's easy to see how far we've come.
In late 2012 the archive broke one thousand LPs, and it became increasingly clear that the existing page layout—the "throw all of the content out there at once" method, we called it—just wasn't cutting the mustard anymore. Mustard isn't even that hard to cut, either!
So now, two years after the original major upheaval, we've gone about examining what needed to improve and how we could keep the archive young and alive through some liberal use of cosmetic web surgery. The result of this was a brand spanking new "Java's Script" table of contents for LPs that no longer takes twenty seconds to load whilst making the big servers creak and whirr worryingly over at Archive HQ…
At the same time we've finally sorted ourselves out with a proper professional looking logo and set of icons, to put the finishing touches on the site. All that's left now is to sit back and enjoy that slightly-new archive smell, and wait to see what changes the next thousand LPs will bring.