I have always really liked archiving things, either formally or informally, on the web. Whenever there is a wikia in a group that I am interested in, I often contribute content that is missing, or holes in the collective community memory. When The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim was first released, I was one of the people adding to the content on the Wiki page as I was experiencing it, screenshotting things so that pictures could be added. The Wayback Machine has been an excellent resource for me in a lot of my digital archiving endeavors, but in my most recent efforts to preserve history on a community Wiki page, the Wayback Machine struggled with the site it had documented.
The community is 4thewords, a Costa Rican writing role playing game that has been around for quite a while, from 2014 to the present. Its concept is what they call a "gym membership for writers" in which writers defeat monsters, level up, and gather resources by writing words within a time limit (difficulty higher or lower depending on the monster challenged). Though it is a very niche game, it has gathered quite a few loyal members that it serves well, and whom happyily pay the low monthly subscription fee. Those who cannot afford to pay, such as young writers or struggling adults, are often given memberships for free by the developers.
4thewords has grown and changed drastically, and yet, a good amount of the early days of the site are documented. However there is a large and noticable gap in the documentation that I myself happened to be a part of, and remember quite vividly--National Novel Writing Month, November 2017, the "Uurwall's Haunted Mansion" event. The reason this is so undocumented is not only because the site was a lot smaller then and has only exploded in growth more recently, but also because the site itself was experimenting with a new model that I believe used Adobe Flash. In this experimental period of the game, players could actually scroll around the background like a point-and-click adventure, or classic RPG. The haunted mansion itself was illustrated lovingly, and the monsters either crouched, waiting in the corners to attack, or defended other passages that led deeper into the castle. Players would battle these monsters and try to find keys and create candles from the resources of their fallen bodies in order to explore the creepy recesses of the castle. It was epic--a classic fantasy game feel mixed with the best haunted-house horror tropes, and the only way you could hope to explore it all or have your character survive was by writing your story for National Novel Writing Month every day, passionately and studiously, as you battled the monsters.
I had just joined the site, and I remember crafting my first great weapon in the game in that event; a sword created from the magical Dark Wood I'd collected in a secret forest clearing by making my way through the entire haunted mansion.
Unfortunately, this game design didn't last. Apparently, I was one of the few people in 2017 that had a gaming computer capable of running the new site smoothly. Others had to switch back to "simple mode" where they couldn't explore the mansion, and could only click and battle monsters in a list. There were a lot of complaints, and 4thewords ended up reworking the site and creating a new model that relied and stunning art and written storylines alone, rather than animations and traditional game design exploration.
I wished to catalogue this special event that was unlike anything else I'd seen before on the site or off it. However, though the Wayback Machine indeed took a screenshot of the site during that month of November: https://web.archive.org/web/20171030002920/https://4thewords.com/
though it was able to bring me to what the homepage looked like then, I was unable to see anything further. The links worked, but perhaps it was the site's use of flash and other more complex programming that made it difficult to archive. All that can be seen when it is clicked through are blank pages: https://web.archive.org/web/20181013090955/https://4thewords.com/demo
I'm still trying to figure out ways that I can retrieve and archive this special, brief time in the site's history for those who experienced it, and those who didn't, but would like to learn about it. It is possible that the best that can be created is a written account from those who experienced it, no data and images were archived. This experience really brought home for me in a tangible way how difficult and challenging archiving websites and games can be, because even if the game still exists, many games now are constnatly being edited, changed, and revised, and the older game versions can be so different that they are almost unrecognizable to the newer game versions. Many grow nostalgic for the older versions of the game, which were actually different games altogether than the new game. This is even more dramatic than the textual, visual, and physical differences of reading a text published in different places, at different times--it is closer to reading an entirely new, changed version of a book by the same author, which may be totally different from the original work in significant ways. Yet, in this case, the original work is wiped from existence by the new version, and is often irretrevable to its users even in their efforts to archive it's existence.
My current avatar in 4thewords, with all the weaponry, clothing, and pets I've earned from defeating monsters and completing quests through the years.