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Classic Games (Games) Games

Lost Online Games From the Pre-Web Era 186

harrymcc writes "Long before the Web came along, people were playing online games — on BBSes, on services such as Prodigy and CompuServe, and elsewhere. Gaming historian Benj Edwards has rounded up a dozen RPGs, MUDs, and other fascinating curiosities from the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s — and the cool part is: they're all playable on the Web today." What old games were good enough for you to watch them scroll by on your 300 baud modem?
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Lost Online Games From the Pre-Web Era

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  • by symbolset ( 646467 ) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @01:44AM (#33768460) Journal

    If I could get the hours lost back from Barren Realms Elite, I'd be young again. It was just an evolution of a game called Hamurabi [] for the IBM Model 5150 I learned to write machine code, Basic and APL on, but the addition of online opponents and leagues made it cool. We also had a Star Trek game, and football with random-generated game events and leagues and computer generated text play-by-play.

    And then there was LORD (Legend of the Red Dragon), Solar Realms Elite, Trade Wars, and the other door games.

    Ah, old times. Kids these days think games began with Quake.

    /onion, belt, off my lawn and so on.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      SRE was so much better than BRE. Every BRE game played out the same way: If you got in on the first day, and you played all your turns every day, you had a chance of winning. If you did not, you might as well not play, you would be completely dominated. SRE was far less clear-cut.

      Also, did you never play Exitilus? Like LORD, but MORE.

      And there was this BBS for the Mac which was almost exactly like had, or could run, a door game which was like Tradewars, but IMO, better.

      I think my fav
      • by Daltorak ( 122403 ) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @03:09AM (#33768754)

        Here's a wonderful little piece of trivia about Solar Realms Elite:

        The author of SRE, Amit Patel, went on to work at Google, and is one of two people credited with devising their "Don't Be Evil" motto.

      • Man, only one mention of the Pit. I loved that game. Dimly remember getting the Vorpal Blade (?) and just carving through enemies.

        SRE was great. I think it had the same "feature" as GWar did though - they were turn-based, but by day. If you dialed in just before midnight, you could take that day's turn, and then hang up and immediately dial back *after* midnight, and take another turn. You'd have to live through the entire 24-hour period after that, but if you timed it right, having two turns in a r
    • by darkpixel2k ( 623900 ) <> on Saturday October 02, 2010 @02:37AM (#33768654) Homepage

      If I could get the hours lost back from Barren Realms Elite, I'd be young again. It was just an evolution of a game called Hamurabi [] for the IBM Model 5150 I learned to write machine code, Basic and APL on, but the addition of online opponents and leagues made it cool. We also had a Star Trek game, and football with random-generated game events and leagues and computer generated text play-by-play.

      And then there was LORD (Legend of the Red Dragon), Solar Realms Elite, Trade Wars, and the other door games.

      Ah, old times. Kids these days think games began with Quake.

      /onion, belt, off my lawn and so on.

      Every time I see these pop up, people fail to mention LOD (Land of Devastation) by Scott M(?) Baker. That game was hands-down the best. Roam the wastelands of post-atomic earth and fight monsters while trying to recover stolen parts to the puritron(?) that will help clean up the radiation. After years of playing, you slowly uncover the dark secret that an alien badass tampered with the nuclear launch systems and nuked earth so he could take over. Then you go kill him.

      Am I the only one who played LOD? Am I the only one that thought it was awesome?

      Wildcat 4.11 forever.

      • by Elshar ( 232380 )

        You're not alone. I remember actually downloading LOD and playing it as a stand-alone RPG, as well as playing it via the local BBS. I'm really suprised more people didn't play it. Was definitely one of the best door games out there.

      • by crossmr ( 957846 )

        No. I loved LoD. It was amazing. for years after BBSs were more or less dead I'd fire it up. he was working on a web version at one point but it never materialized. It was the ultimate door game. it had everything.

        player created bases, items, automated weapons, tons of monsters, lots of loot, all kinds of stuff going on.

      • After being unsatisfied with the article, I did a search for that game. I never had a chance to play on a BBS, and I never registered, but I lost so many hours playing that game...

        That game was fun, funny, and classic. And I'm almost tempted to purchase a registration for it [] now. I kinda wish NETLOD took off, but I also enjoy having a life too...

      • Land of Devastation always seemed to be a bit of a niche game, unfortunately. Gods I loved it so. Did a lot of work playing with the editor that unfortunately went nowhere : /
      • by cob666 ( 656740 )

        Roam the wastelands of post-atomic earth and fight monsters while trying to recover stolen parts to the puritron(?) that will help clean up the radiation.

        Sounds like Fallout 3. Just goes to show you that even in video games there are no really new ideas!

      • Another game they forgot was one of the first Graphical online games. An early form of Sims or Ninteodo's "Mii"'s but in 1985:

        HABITAT aka CLUB CARIBE (invented by LucasFilms - hosted by AOL for Commodore computers) []

    • Don't be silly, we ALL played Commander Keen and Myst and Descent. Can't stand when you old fart's try to be hip by dropping the names of all these new games like "Quake" and "Doom"
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by WidgetGuy ( 1233314 )

        Don't be silly, we ALL played Commander Keen and Myst and Descent. Can't stand when you old fart's try to be hip by dropping the names of all these new games like "Quake" and "Doom"

        Come back and read that message when you turn fifty (when you're the "old fart"). I can't stand it when you young farts ... well ... act your age.

        Haven't read all the replies yet, but, so far, I haven't seen Core Wars mentioned. We had a real active CW club on CompuServe Programmers' SIG/Forum in the early 1980's. Loads of fun for programmers. The play was mostly off-line (with downloaded warriors other people had written in Red Code -- the CW "machine language"), but the bragging wasn't!

      • >>>we ALL played Commander Keen and Myst and Descent

        Never 'erd of them. They must be new? I'm still trying to make my way through the Atari 800 and C=64's 10,000 program library. I'm sure I'll get around to the new 90s games someday...

      • Myst? Seriously? You consider that old?

        When I think of an old online multi-player game, I think of RabbitJack's Casino, which has got to pre-date Myst by a decade or more.

        Or some of those relay games we played on ARB, WWIV, and C-Net (no relation to BBSes, circa 1983.

    • by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @05:47AM (#33769196)

      And then there was LORD (Legend of the Red Dragon), Solar Realms Elite, Trade Wars, and the other door games.

      LORD: the game where you could have sex with a severed head. Kinda makes modern MMORPGs seem like pussies :).

    • Sounds like someone who also was familiar with the WWIV BBS system, one of the few which you could get source too. A very interesting code base which spawned quite a few other BBS systems; telegard/renegade/etc. The best feature back then was WWIVNET which served messages and primitive e-mail between sites across the country, it was pretty seamless and a breeze for both operators to setup and users to make use of. Throw in the dearth of mods one could make to the later version's C source code and it was

  • It was probably more during the 9600 baud days than 300 baud, but oh how I remember staying up at night just to take advantage of the next day's activity in Legend of the Red Dragon. I don't remember altogether HOW they game was played (I'm kind of thinking it was EAMON except online) but the player vs player activities really meant that you had to watch out for the other guy about to jump you.

    • There're still many versions of Legend of the Green Dragon on the WWW...
    • I remember that. There were only a few of us who signed onto the local BBS, and only one other who was playing LORD as regularly as I was. But it made for a compelling reason to log on every day. "If I don't dial in and take my turn, that other guy is going to kill me."

    • LORD redone as a web page lord []
  • Galactic Empire (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TopSpin ( 753 ) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @01:56AM (#33768496) Journal

    My BBS multi-player game of choice was Galactic Empire [], consumer of many lines on Major BBS systems. Open Source today. I have Telix scripts for that game somewhere... what we would today call an aimbot. :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by khchung ( 462899 )

      Wow, that brings back memories.

      I had a Telemate script that automated most of the chores, with a hot key for each function. Not only did it scan the enemy twice and calculate the projected position for the laser shot, it has a hot key to shoot torpedoes, hot key to going up and down warp space to evade enemy torpedoes, etc.

      It also has hot key to automatically land the ship on planets (which was very tedious if you want to do it safely, keep scanning and reducing speed, and wait until you were close enough

  • by MstrFool ( 127346 ) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @01:57AM (#33768498)

    Heh, I remember getting into MUSH's and MUD's back when 2400 bps was a good speed. Spent more time on those games then a full time job. Folks said I had no life, but they were wrong. I had a lot of them. So what if they were all virtual? These days I can't spend as much time on them, but I still play a few MU*s. To me it's like reading a book rather then seeing a movie. I don't need some one to show flashy graphics. My mind can fill that in on it's own from a bit of text. Heh, I feel like I should be making a comment about how we had to use raw telnet, up hill, both ways, and we liked it. Heh. Gods, I'm getting old... And get off my lawn...

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Heh, I remember getting into MUSH's and MUD's back when 2400 bps.

      Shit man, we were playing chess by mail long before those new-fangled mo'dems came along.

    • by Aladrin ( 926209 )

      Which ones do you play now?

      I found one that I really, really like, but the company basically drove all the cool people away with price increases and now when I try to play, I just remember the old days.

      I'd like to recapture that feeling with a new mud, but all the ones I find are really lame when it comes to combat and things to do.

    • Met my wife that way (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dreamchaser ( 49529 ) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @08:50AM (#33769618) Homepage Journal

      I met my wife on a MOO (MUD, Object Oriented) long before meeting anyone online was fashionable. The funny thing was it wasn't anything romantic until we met in the real world. We just clicked mentally and she was coming up my way to Pittsburgh so we decided to get together. Two months later she moved in with me, two months after that we were married. Been happily married for well over a decade now.

      Thank you, text-space.

      • The funny thing was it wasn't anything romantic until we met in the real world. We just clicked mentally and she was coming up my way to Pittsburgh so we decided to get together.

        Ahh. That's what she wanted you to believe.

        (Grats, man. Not many people are as fortunate as you two.)

      • I found my career on a MUD. I was an english major in Uni when I discovered MUDs. Eventually I became a wizard, i.e an area creator on it. To do that you had to learn to code a bit in LPC. I discovered I enjoyed it and the next year I switched majors to Comp. Sci. and that's what I work with now. Though nothing I'm doing now is as fun as coding big bad monsters for that mud was. :o
    • There were some interesting MUDs, but they were like text-based MMORPGs. The real zietgiest of text-based role-playing was centered on MUSHes and MOOs. There was a Star Trek:TNG MOO which had a full ship combat system. There were no graphics, only coordinate locations of ships and damage assessments. The rest was up to you. I got to the point where my brain could instantaneously figure out what angle to turn my ship to fire on an enemy ship, or what angle to turn my ship to present my enemy with my stronges

  • I ran a BBS in the Chicago area in the 90's called "Throwing Copper", and Legend Of The Red Dragon was my addiction. Sometimes I think I set up that BBS just so I could play it without dialing in. This brings me back, The Whammy Bar, Disallusioned Society, and a bunch that are on the tip of my tongue.

    Someone should make a gritty reboot of LORD. I'd play it.

  • My whole purpose for digging through the libraries computers was to play on MUDS. I found little tricks, jump boxes and a hord of other little things to get through my playtime. The librarians were quite familiar with me and didn't bother me much because I would hide my session and free the terminal if too many were in use. This meant I could hord as much time as I wanted because I was using only spare cycles. Eventually I did get my own PC and it didn't take too long to destroy, rebuild, destroy, and rebui

  • Empire (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Space cowboy ( 13680 ) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @02:02AM (#33768528) Journal
    The civilization [] of yesteryear. Oh nukes, how do I love thee ;-)

    playing across the Internet between colleges of London University ... I lost so much time to that game...

  • Interesting take... (Score:4, Informative)

    by IorDMUX ( 870522 ) <mark,zimmerman3&gmail,com> on Saturday October 02, 2010 @02:04AM (#33768530) Homepage

    First off, since when is Nethack "forgotten"? Most people I know who still play it, do so on a centralized server like (mentioned in the article). There are even annual tournaments over at /dev/null/network [].

    Also, where is the MUD/MMORPG GemStone? (Gemstone II came out in 1988, though Gemstone III gained big popularity in the mid 90's.) Gemstone II predates The Realm, mentioned in the article as "one of the Internet's first MMORPG's", by nearly a decade.
    • I played Gemstone on CIS for thousands of hours, with european telecom prices from the eighties.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Megane ( 129182 )

      Gemstone is still around at, but at some point they expanded the world to support 2000 people online (rather than going with shards), and then once it shrunk below 400 online, most of the world became pretty much a ghost town. Actually they did do a "shard" thing, but it was for a premium service where the GMs would do more stuff for you. I played GS again for a bit early this year and population was dropping below 200 at peak.

      A brief history of the game:

      Gemstone I - the test version that

  • Movie Madness (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rirugrat ( 255768 ) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @02:17AM (#33768576)
    I actually wrote a BBS game called Movie Madness in the late 80s that was somewhat popular on Atari ST BBS systems. You purchased scripts, cast movie stars, spent money on production and marketing and watched how much money it made each week.

    Then the Academy Awards would be held and if your movie did or was cast well, you could win an Oscar and make more money (and then the whole game started over with you being able to hire better actors, spend more money, etc). A bit different than the usual fare.

    Honestly, I (and 99.999999999% of the population) completely forgot about that game until I read this article.


    P.S. Was also a big Galactic Empire fan too!

    • You wrote that! That's hysterical. When I saw the article about BBS games, that was the very first game I thought of. I've actually searched for it online several times over the years, but couldn't remember the name, or that it was an ST game (although I thought it might be, since I had an ST).

      That was an incredibly amusing game. You should totally recreate it on the web (or on Facebook). I used to laugh at the hilarious cast options the game would present you, where you'd end up being forced to cast,

      • Yes, that was me who wrote it and yes, you definitely remember the game. The MM "algorithm" for casting and box office was that either really great or really terrible (ie. it's so bad it's good) matches for actors/roles made the most money. Anything in between resulted in so-so revenue.

        I also wrote the non-BBS door game Wilderness Survival for MS-DOS, which was pretty popular in the late 80s too (anyone else remember playing it?). I still have the code and executables for that. Lost the code for MM.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Neat concept for a BBS game.

      I'll bet no one here remembers "CompuTrek" hosted on Computalk TCS in the Dallas/Ft.Worth Area circa 1986-1988. Up to 8 players squaring off in a real-time version of the old 'Star Trek' games (on a 64x64 sector grid if I recall correctly). The BBS itself was run on a cluster of 8 Atari 800's, sharing a Corvus 20 MB hard disk via a multiplexer, (and with a homemade synchronization device attached to joystick port 2 of each machine no less). The guys with 2400 baud modems had

  • XvT (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LongearedBat ( 1665481 ) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @02:30AM (#33768626)
    I still wish to see a remake of X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter. The scripted missions were great, more varied and more involving than any other space/flight sim I've come across. One really got a feel for different ships, such as the clunkyness of a Y-Wing compared to a TIE-Interceptor or A-Wing.

    The problem was that the internet wasn't fast enough. Even with direct dial-up, lag was bad. Basically the game came out a a couple of years too early.

    I think an XvT2 would actually do quite alright now. With broadband there'd be very little lag, and with modern computers battles could be truly huge.
    What I'd like to see is something like XvT, but where some players can control capital ships (several players serving different roles on a ship) and a few players even serving as admirals. Flight groups could be populated by a mix of players and NPCs. Anyone interested in making something like that?

    Anyway, I miss XvT. But I don't think it will run on modern platforms.
    • Re:XvT (Score:4, Informative)

      by BlueBlade ( 123303 ) <mafortier@gmail.cYEATSom minus poet> on Saturday October 02, 2010 @02:43AM (#33768678)

      LucasArts actually made a sequel in the same genre as XvT, called X-Wing Alliance. It will run fine on modern Windows systems (it uses Direct 3D), and you can even download fan-made high resolution texture packs for it to make it look better on newer systems. You only get to play the alliance side (at least in single player), but the campain is even longer than XvT's. There are also more varied ships than just fighers (Correlian Transports, shuttles, etc).

      The game follows the story of the Azameen family shorty after the evacuation from Hoth. You'll be playing several family missions, eventually joining the Rebel Alliance. From there you'll be staging Alliance missions, stationed in a variety of capital ships as the story progresses. There are also still family-related missions when you take leaves from the Alliance, which makes thing even more interesting.

      If you liked XvT, you'll love X-Wing Alliance. I wish they would make another of those games so much, but they are too complex to fit in today's "shoot everything that moves" paradigm.

      • They should redo X-Wing, TIE, XvT, and X-Wing Alliance. It would sell.

        I understand your cynicism but it's not true at all. Just because you aren't in the "top-10" doesn't mean you aren't successful.

        Plenty of people have ArmA2 [] for instance, and that sure as hell is more than "shoot everything that moves." while remaining (primarily) a shooter!

        (for those link-shy - it's a youtube recording of an hour long session. voice coms, organizational/'realistic' communication etc)

        • Crap. ok, this is less organized than I was thinking. Wrong vid. But still, my point stands eh?

          THIS [] is the one I was looking for.

          It's irritating that this guy loves his third-person camera. Nobody ever uses it except him it seems.

    • I spent a lot of time with XvT and with 56k modems the game was surprisingly playable unless you were playing against people half way around the world. At least until people started getting DSL/Cable/Broadband. Then the game became laggy as hell of there were a mix of dial up/cable players. Someone once explained why that was. It's successor was X-Wing Alliance. Now that game was too laggy to play without a high speed line.

      I wish someone would go back and make a good Space Combat simulator. I know the

  • The Realm [] is from the mid 90s and still going.
    • I remember The Realm well. I beta tested it back in early 1996, and gave up MMORPGs after waking up one day and played for almost 24 hours straight. I didn't want to turn into an apeman

  • I seriously spent a good 2 years and 5-10 hours a day depending on whether I was on vacation or not on those servers.

    I'd love nothing more than an MMO with Mechs.

    • by Machtyn ( 759119 )
      Agreed. Although it looked like a direct rip from Activision's MechWarrior 2 series. I spent many a laggy day on AOL just for that game.
  • Unless you have the game name in your handle :)

  • by rocketPack ( 1255456 ) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @02:55AM (#33768704)
    Judging by the lack of any other response citing this game, it may have been more of a local thing but I do recall at least 2 or 3 BBSes that had this in my area... Of course, I was 8-10 years old so this was right up my alley. No matter what you decided, you always ended up killing Barney somehow. I guess I'm not totally legit either, we had a 2400 baud modem -- way too high tech, I'm sure, by many of your standards.
  • Wow.. i feel old. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CrAlt ( 3208 ) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @03:04AM (#33768742) Homepage Journal

    Even though the web of today offers so much more I still sometimes miss the times of BBSes.. My old Laser Turbo XT was great "online" with its CGA color screen,st-225 HD, and 2400bps Hayes modem. Beautiful 80x24 ANSI art..

    I used to play Falcons Eye, Planets TEOS, and BRE.. I never really got in to LoRD.

    I forget which game it was but one of them used to reset your turns at 12am so it was a rush at midnight to be the 1st one in on the single line BBS to get a jump on everyone else. One of them (I think BRE?) used to pit BBS vs BBS. The game would dial the other systems at night to sync up all the moves and data.


  • by Oriumpor ( 446718 ) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @03:09AM (#33768752) Homepage Journal

    This should have been called "Extremely Popular Games from 1996, and some general archetypes I heard about from people that played them for real."

    Meridian 59 had thousands of subs initially, as did the Realm (once it got outa beta) these subs were mostly short lived because the companies that were running these games did a horrible job initially. So much so you could say their history is like a "DO not do this" playbook.

    In fact, the realm is a huge shame because Sierra had just gotten a chunk of change from their sale of THE SIERRA NETWORK (AKA The Imagination Network) to AT&T.

    AT&T took what could have been a marginally profitable service, with thousands of users connected online playing games, and dismantled the service following strict supply side economics. Some games as diverse as card games like Hearts (very popular) to MMORPGs (before they had a name) like The Shadow of Yserbius [] (very Eye of the Beholder meets multiplayer Wizardry) and laggy as crap action games such as Red Baron all saw great success leading up to AT&T's slow murder of the service. []

    AT&T first took away all availability of "Unlimited" access plans. Since INN relied on a large system of non-toll POPs AT&T presumably was able to leverage their domestic backbones to decrease aggregate costs that Sierra was having to offset at a much larger percentage of their operating expenses. By cutting the unlmited subscription option they lost the majority of their most die hard fans and advocates. Shortly therafter they increased the hourly overage (because you bought time in 25-50 hour blocks) by over a dollar an hour (from 1.99 to 3.49.) And lowered the available hours to the lowest plan from 30 to 20 and scaled back all other plans while leaving their pricing schedule alone.

    Shortly therafter the number of online users plumetted, and it can only be assumed so did subscription rates. AOL closed up shop in 1998 and sold the venture to AOL who immediately closed the service, users who tried logging in before the last day of service recieved an in game mail from the support team and AOL thanking them for their patronage and requesting they join AOL to continue such great gaming. AOL never transitioned any of the games to their platform, and until 2007 INN was a black hole.

    Some hobbyists picked up the old client, reverse engineered the server protocol and packaged [] up INN in a Dosbox emulator, breathing life back to a service that many thought gone forever.

    Meridian 59 on the other hand, who's history is fought back and forth in Wikipedia entries has come back to the beginning.

    Initially it was a game developed by the Kirmses brothers and backed by limited funding by an independent shop. The story goes: 3do loved it, bought their studio and brought them to their team. The game had a great launch, and had thousands of subs. The game was not turning an incredible profit, trying to sell media for a game that *required* the update to play was a fruitless venture. Eventually because of lackluster sales, and an inefficient support model for the quantity of subscriptions Trip Hawkins aimed 3do's success straight at the ground and followed in AT&T's footsteps, cancelling all unlimited subs and creating time based pay model. Effectively the cost to play was trippled in one month, and the number of players plummetted in half. But, because of supply side economics... well it was more profitable to support fewer users paying more. It cost less in support staff, so they cut in game paid support almost completely, and they had fewer load issues so they scrimped on server refreshes. They let most of the developers go, leaving a small staff to continue developing content releases and game patches.

    What happened after that is the sad story many games see, the critical mass required to make Meridian 59 "fun" for most peo

    • Uh, supply-side economics has nothing to do with eliminating unlimited access fees. Supply side economics simply says that, by lowering the barriers to entry in the market (barriers typically being taxes and regulation), you will encourage growth and thus have a greater supply and lower prices.

      Cutting supply so that your product is not as affordable, even if it means a short-term profit boost, has nothing to do with supply side economics.

  • ....but played it way more than was good for me. That was in the 90's. Then I played it some more via Telnet, a couple of years ago, but I must admit, a lot of the charm had disappeared. I realized too clearly that it was just primitive virtual point collection. Now I wish I had that time back, but perhaps it was a valuable lesson for the times ahead, and helped me to avoid MMOs and other destructive time-wasters.

  • Yeah, the old FORTRAN game played on the decsystem10.
    I remember staring at the source code, trying to figure out the database to work out the map. It was rather convoluted, as all code designed to run on a computer with hardly any core had to be.
  • "You are now ready to start accepting calls." Damn, I miss the feeling of sneaking out of my room at 12:05am to log on to every local board I could--just to get my turns in for Virtual Sysop. What a great door game. Sadly, most sysops, (at least in the Atlanta area), would selectively edit the game files in order to (re)balance things more to their liking. Good times nonetheless.
  • Geez, what is this kind of garbage TFA is? Terrible.

    No wonder people don't RTFA most of the time, it's crap like this and the comments are more interesting to read.

  • Tried them both briefly, but can't say that either had any games that hooked me.. and money was even tighter for me back then, than today.. and you had to watch your usage like a hawk.. I dropped them, and my Apple IIC, and built my first PC and about a year and a half after that I was on the net with Windows 3.1 , Trumpet Winsock, and Netscape.. But once again back to watching minutes like a hawk.. Thank god for Earthlink, and "all you can eat Internet".. I seriously think that the Internet would have been
  • I'm missing The Exploration Of Space in that list :(

  • There's still quite a few of us who live in the past, and still run BBSes. SynchroNet BBS Software [] makes it fairly simple, and is still (very) actively developed.

    My BBS (listed in my signature!) runs on Linux, gets a few callers a month, and has the old door games that everyone loved. It's primary purpose is for me to make fun of all the conspiracy-theorist nut-jobs in FidoNet []. (Yes, FidoNet still exists!)
  • A few... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Saturday October 02, 2010 @06:19AM (#33769292)

    The Island of Kesmai (shut down by EA in 1999)
    Megawars III (CompuServe)/Stellar Emperor (GEnie)
    Air Warrior, Air Warrior II, Air Warrior III...

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by dornbos ( 804376 )
      Island of Kesmai - Grim..tag

      Air Warrior - Damned Rocket

      Was hoping to see those appear on the list somewhere. Lotta great times with both those games (and waaayy too much money!)

      These days I purposely avoid getting sucked into on going games 'cause I know I'm a sucker for spending hours and hours more than I should playing. But it sure was fun back then. I lived in Richmond, VA - John and Kelton (Kesmai Corp) lived over near Charlottesville - several of us paid them a visit one everning - which was coo

      • by EQ ( 28372 )
        I visited them in Charlottesville too! The old brick "stables" on the hill were an interesting and pretty place to work. IOK Frito.OOI (And later, LoK BBQFrito.BW after Daisy roasted me when I was showing off my rdagger skills)
    • by EQ ( 28372 )
      IOK was a ball, and I played Legends of Kesmai from the time it was beta until they closed it down. But MW-III I remember a lot: it cost me a pile of cash on Compuserve back when I was "hulling out" a planet (and I remember a ton of hacks on GEnie one of which was logging in at 300 for some things, and "high speed" for others). In some ways, IoK/LoK was more fun than some of the more modern MMOs. There was a good community there.
  • The early web game Stellar Crisis is still going today. The web's first multiplayer strategy game! []

  • Used to play Doom and Duke Nuke'em via 28.8k/56k modems back in the early 90's. There was one BBS (The Hole in the Wall) I'd log into that eventually became a Mom & Pop Internet provider. I was active on packet radio using e-mail and usenet, at a whopping 1200 baud! Ah, the good old days.

  • I must have played UU for like 16,000 hours on my BBS. I really miss it most days. I resurrected my copy on dosemu a decade ago, and it was fun, but it needs multiplayer. They're "working" on it; although I expect they'll never finish... []

  • by Teancum ( 67324 ) <robert_horning@netzero. n e t> on Saturday October 02, 2010 @08:53AM (#33769626) Homepage Journal

    By far and away one of the most influential computer games that I ever played was called simply COMBAT, a real-time mutliplayer computer game played on teletype terminals (yes... I played it originally on a printer originally designed for use in a news bureau and had yellow paper printing only capital letters and control codes like backspace had to be manually entered with the "control" key directly.... none of this sissy backspace key BS).

    Unfortunately, the best reference I can find that talks about this game is Slashdot itself on this thread: []

    Porting this game to a modern system would be sort of pointless as there are now many other very excellent shoot-'em up multi-player computer games, but for what this did and the kind of user interface that it had was simply amazing for the era. It required a whole bunch of imagination as it was more like sitting in a mission control room for a 1960's era NASA mission that lacked a TV camera in terms of piloting your spacecraft. All of the controls had to be entered as text keyboard entries at a command prompt. Some people simply couldn't really figure out more than how to get onto the game and get wiped out, but there certainly were some very skilled players over the years and even some teams that formed which became very potent.

    I don't know if this game was ported to other computer systems of the era (early 1970's before microcomputers) and it really didn't make the jump to the microcomputers in part because of its multi-player real time gameplay. Computer games of that nature didn't start to happen again until internet connections were pretty common.

  • Cause I remember fiddling with stuff like A M P back in the late '80s. hey I still remember its NUA: 023422020010700 (power of the young brain, I was 14 and pretty much everything I read tended to stick).

  • I can't be the only one here who scraped together the registration for VGAP3,
    a turn-based multiplayer space conquest/economy game. I used to play by email
    and upload turns via BBS door. Probably cost me a few points on my GPA
    (both VGAP and DartMUD...).

    Nice to see it still exists

  • Federation II was a pretty big one on AOL back in the mid-late 1990s. A text-based space trading game, you could eventually move up to owning your own planet for other players to visit and trade at. Fun times. The company (ibgames) still exists and they've got a new version of the game going that's also called "Federation II," though I've never given it a shot.
  • I don't remember the version number, but it was the last version before they fucked the game up by adding like 12 different places where you could put armor on your body.


  • From the 2400baud days, Blue Wave was a store-and-forward e-mail system. BBSs were part of a network which would call each other a few times a day, and Blue Wave would pass mail packets back and forth. It also served as a mail reader, so you could log on, up/download your mail, and read at your leisure later.

    From the mid-90s, I remember joining some E-mail games where some BBS hosted the game and 3-8 other people turned in moves. Operations was very similar to a D&D game master leading the people
  • The game that gave me the 10-key skills I have to this day.

  • If it started in 1976, play by mail counts as online, right?

    It's up there with Diplomacy.

  • I just did a google search for it, and came up empty. But Mall Wars was fun, and silly. You were a teenaged kid with a skateboard in a mall, and you'd fight other skateboarders. You'd also try to steal from stores in the mall then get taken out by the mall security if you got caught.

    I don't really know why I liked it, but I did. It was one of those games that were a perfect mix of stupid and cool.

    I think I still have a copy on one of my backup stashes, I might need to look and see.

  • I had Trade Wars running on my BBS back in the day.

    It was a version that I wrote from scratch in Turbo Pascal, since I wasn't able to locate an official copy. It was harder to find stuff back in the pre-web, pre-search-engine days...

    I still have a copy in my archives.

  • The three games I played on the net heavily before the advent of www, were:
    AberMud: Infinity of the Virual World Club of New Mexico
    DikuMud: Dutch Mountains at the RuG
    VGA-Planets: Play by e-mail strategy game.

  • []

    How much of my youth was spent trying to figure out this stupid game. No modern equivalent.

  • While old games can't hold a candle to modern games in terms of graphics, the really good ones trounce modern games in terms of gameplay. The stereotypical example is NetHack, mentioned in the article. Nothing compares to it in terms of how game elements interact with each other (for example, if your character touches a cockatrice, live or corpse, you die by turning to stone, but if you wear gloves, then you can wield the cockatrice corpse as a very nasty weapon, turning most things you meet into stone). An
  • I remember this game on Prodigy (still remember my ID!), but why is it still requiring IE for the Internet version? :(

  • When I was a kid (80s) my dad would always show off his text-based Star Trek game, which he played on a VAX terminal at work. I've always looked for a port of that game, but heck, I don't know the exact system it ran on or even the real name of the game, just that he text-commanded his way through space firing photon torpedos at Klingons. One day I hope to find it and boot it up on his home computer, I imagine he'd have a fit (and not leave the computer for days).

    Assistance, ideas, or vague leads are appr

Order and simplification are the first steps toward mastery of a subject -- the actual enemy is the unknown. -- Thomas Mann