On or about June 15, 1994, an adventure would begin that no one could have ever foreseen would still be around 19 years later. Thereabouts the group known as the UFOP SIMming club was born. At the time the group was very different than it is today. Perhaps the only similarities were that the adventures took place in the post-TNG era of Star Trek (which had just ended its run) and that Fleet Admiral Wolf was in charge. As for Star Trek, Deep Space Nine was in its infancy, Star Trek: Generations had not yet been released, Voyager was on the drawing board and no one had ever heard of J.J. Abrams. Meanwhile, the UFOP SIMming club (Starbase 118 had not yet entered the picture) was based live AOL chat rooms. Play by Email would not become the group standard for a few more years.
Amazingly, our community has grown and persisted. Since formation the group has had 75 players serving as commanding officers aboard 67 different simming sites. Fleet Admiral Wolf commanded the very first ship, the USS Phoenix-B, a Nebula Class starship. Over time the group would enlarge as additional ships and commanding officers would enter the fray. About a year after the group’s formation, the original Starbase 118 began operations also under the command of Wolf. The following year, another mainstay of the group would begin: the UFOP Reporter. The Reporter acted as the group’s official newsletter under the editorship of Elinor of Kanist. Over the next 15 years, there would be a total of 44 issues. As time would progress, the use of the group’s website and eventual adoption of WordPress would make the Reporter obsolete as news would be published on a continuous basis.
Evolution would continue within the group. About ten years after the group’s formation, an official constitution would be ratified which became critical as the group became more difficult to manage without an official set of rules. The group’s website would move a few times using a variety of free webservers until finally settling in using the starbase118.net domain name. Soon the UPDS would follow, which made keeping track of ship rosters more manageable. A sense of community would also develop over the forums, which have now been around for more than a decade.
Part of the reason for the group’s longevity has been its cadre of talented writers that have created a wide variety of adventures in an alternate Star Trek universe all on its own. Today, and for many years the group has used a play by email format via Yahoo! Groups. Because of this format, many of the sims written from more than a decade ago still live on the Internet.
In general, most of the simming sites within the group have been starships, but there have been several non-starship settings as well. Besides the currently operating Starbase 118 Operations and the Duronis II Embassy, the group has had a presence at Deep Space 72 and the Daris Colony. Perhaps the most unique site that the group ever managed was the USS Panther, which was a captured Romulan Warbird that fought for Starfleet during one of the group’s early blockbusters known as the Yolanda Wars.
Next year will be the group’s twentieth anniversary, an amazing achievement in a world where longevity is far from the norm. To paraphrase the President of the Federation from Star Trek IV, thanks to the dedication of Fleet Admiral Wolf and all of the players who participate in the group, “We are forever.”