Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Lost Online Games From the Pre-Web Era

Soulskill posted about 4 years ago | from the you-are-no-match-for-my-imperial-starship dept.

Classic Games (Games) 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?

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Oh, if I could get the hours lost back (5, Informative)

symbolset (646467) | about 4 years ago | (#33768460)

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:Oh, if I could get the hours lost back (2, Informative)

OnePumpChump (1560417) | about 4 years ago | (#33768592)

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 favorite door game, though, was The Pit. Gladiatorial combat, in ANSI graphics.

Re:Oh, if I could get the hours lost back (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33768664)

There are still some descendants of Trade Wars out there (besides tradewars). Better in many cases. Here is one I spent a few years on.

StarShipTraders []

Re:Oh, if I could get the hours lost back (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33768694)

Oops. That domain expired. It now lives on StarShipTraders []

Re:Oh, if I could get the hours lost back (4, Interesting)

Daltorak (122403) | about 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Oh, if I could get the hours lost back (3, Informative)

Brobock (226116) | about 4 years ago | (#33769422)

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.

and that he lost the source code to SRE due to a hard drive crash.

Re:Oh, if I could get the hours lost back (0, Offtopic)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#33769650)

>>>If I could get the hours lost back I'd be young again

I'm happy to say I wasted very little time on online games. I tried the various MUDs and of course Tradewars, but they held little appeal for me. Like today's online games they seemed to have no point, and instead I stuck with classic Atari and Commodore simulations/arcade-style games. Like Red Storm Rising & Stealth Fighter which helped me land my first job.

Also I'm happy to say I was never stuck at 300 baud (0.3 kb/s). Imagine reading slashdot if the messages scrolled on the screen at the same speed you read them! Zzzz. Well you don't have to imagine. Here's a demo (turn down the volume) - [] - I used to watch TV when I was online, because otherwise I would have been bored out of my mind waiting for the slooooooow loading speed.

Re:Oh, if I could get the hours lost back (4, Informative)

darkpixel2k (623900) | about 4 years ago | (#33768654)

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.

Re:Oh, if I could get the hours lost back (1)

Elshar (232380) | about 4 years ago | (#33768818)

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.

Re:Oh, if I could get the hours lost back (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33768920)

No, you're not alone, but damn, you just ruined the storyline for me! I didn't get that far, or at least I don't recall that part of the storyline, which could be due to age, I suppose. /rant

Ha! My verification text is "crazily". How fitting.

Re:Oh, if I could get the hours lost back (1)

mvar (1386987) | about 4 years ago | (#33769012)

I remember LOD too. Usurper was another good door game, but probably the most brutal of all was Evangelist Wars where you played a preacher who had all sorts of stuff going on with organized crime.. Lots of laughs on that one >

Re:Oh, if I could get the hours lost back (1)

crossmr (957846) | about 4 years ago | (#33769304)

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.

Re:Oh, if I could get the hours lost back (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33769424)

You're a punk, Crossmr, and your heavy-handed Nazi-style bullshit at Wikipedia is good evidence of that.

Re:Oh, if I could get the hours lost back (1)

jojoba_oil (1071932) | about 4 years ago | (#33769434)

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...

Re:Oh, if I could get the hours lost back (1)

Vekseid (1528215) | about 4 years ago | (#33769514)

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 : /

Re:Oh, if I could get the hours lost back (1)

cob666 (656740) | about 4 years ago | (#33769718)

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!

Re:Oh, if I could get the hours lost back (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#33769722)

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) []

Re:Kids these days (1)

elfprince13 (1521333) | about 4 years ago | (#33768980)

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:Kids these days (2, Interesting)

WidgetGuy (1233314) | about 4 years ago | (#33769384)

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!

Re:Kids these days (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#33769692)

>>>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...

Re:Oh, if I could get the hours lost back (1)

mvar (1386987) | about 4 years ago | (#33769044)

I remember my enthusiasm whenever a new BRE version was out (if i recall 0.988 is the last one).. Inter-BBS BRE was probably the best gaming experience in the BBS-era where you had multiple boards fighting each other, forming alliances, backstabbing former allies, everything was accepted. Since the game was turn-based, there was a whole strategy involved on who would log in first, how many turns he would play etc..And then there was that after-midnight thrill of receiving a busy tone for like an hour or so from the BBS dialup, and you knew that someone was already playing BRE, probably nuking the hell out of your empire and wasting all those precious regions of yours. Good old times

Re:Oh, if I could get the hours lost back (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33769150)

You're right about being a bit off-my-lawn.

Just as people of your day would say "games.. on a computer? that's not {football|soccer|tennis|etc}!" there just happens to be the same ratio nowadays of with-it and non-with-it people (I'll let you decide which side gets which term). DnD is surely not the best relic of days gone by sure (albeit the largest, I posture), but tabletop and oldschool (just look at Minecraft) gaming are still as alive and well as they were at any point in the last couple of decades.

That said, I wasn't around as long as yourself, so I'm very likely wrong about your days vis-a-vis. So I guess you can go back to your old-man-isms and I'll just prep myself for doing the same once I'm no longer a youngin'

Re:Oh, if I could get the hours lost back (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 4 years ago | (#33769254)

Try and imagine this: there was a computer game called "Star Trek" where you navigated a ship (actually a text glyph that looked like the Enterprise) around a universe populated by Romulans, Klingons, &c and used phasers and photon torpedos, where you got repairs at starbases and so on. And it wasn't authorized or accepted by anybody in Hollywood. But nobody got sued for appropriation of intellectual property. Weird, hunh? It's like grandpa lived in a different world than you entirely, where people could use the icons of their culture freely. There was a guy who wrote a book about this. His name was Ray Bradbury. Celcius 233 or something like that.

Re:Oh, if I could get the hours lost back (4, Funny)

ultranova (717540) | about 4 years ago | (#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 :).

Re:Oh, if I could get the hours lost back (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33769306)

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

Doom, you insensitive clod!

Door games? (1)

Shivetya (243324) | about 4 years ago | (#33769574)

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 close to be a shared project, not quite open source (you had to buy it for less than $50 and you could not sell it yourself) but a beginning.

The earlier Pascal version was used the most by other writers, in the Pascal 3.0 days "door" games on it were not even complete programs, instead run by a feature native to Pascal 3.0 itself.

Of course I may be rambling and door games is a term used elsewhere, but during my BBS days I only saw it in one place.

Re:Oh, if I could get the hours lost back (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33769656)

Still around! []

Re:Oh, if I could get the hours lost back (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33769830)

If I could have it back

All the time that I wasted

You know I would only waste it again.

LORD (1)

joeflies (529536) | about 4 years ago | (#33768468)

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.

Re:LORD (1)

Bambi Dee (611786) | about 4 years ago | (#33768544)

There're still many versions of Legend of the Green Dragon on the WWW...

Re:LORD (1)

Valacosa (863657) | about 4 years ago | (#33768604)

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."

Re:LORD (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 4 years ago | (#33769038)

LORD redone as a web page lord []

Galactic Empire (2, Interesting)

TopSpin (753) | about 4 years ago | (#33768496)

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:Galactic Empire (1)

manicpop (1342057) | about 4 years ago | (#33768644)

Yeah, that was absolutely my favorite. Every once in a while I get nostalgic and find a telnet-able BBS that still has it and play it non-stop for a week or so until I realize I'm completely neglecting the rest of my life and I force myself to stop. I'd get into it again if I found a place to play it that actually had a decent group of people and actual competition. Often times you'll only find one or two other people playing so you end up hunting Cybertrons almost exclusively. I remember playing in the early 1990's and having some crazy five-player battles... the last time I played, the only other guy playing got pissed at me because I blew his ship up so he stopped playing!

MUD's, the first MMO's (4, Informative)

MstrFool (127346) | about 4 years ago | (#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:MUD's, the first MMO's (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33768744)

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.

Re:MUD's, the first MMO's (1)

Aladrin (926209) | about 4 years ago | (#33769228)

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 (4, Interesting)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 4 years ago | (#33769618)

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.

Getting my 14.4 was better than sex! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33768510)

I remember spending hours on Barren Realms Elite, Lord and my favorite, MajorMud. It's sad that I use to be able to memorize a 200 direction path to get somewhere based on N,E,S,W...

Legend Of The Red Dragon (1)

dominion (3153) | about 4 years ago | (#33768520)

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.

Re:Legend Of The Red Dragon (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33768726)

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.

Someone did. You can even grab the PHP code and run your own Legend of the Green Dragon server.

Nightmare (1)

Cylix (55374) | about 4 years ago | (#33768524)

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 rebuild again.

A lovely byproduct of the era is the fqdn is burned into my mind and I will probably never forget it. While I no longer remember the list I kept there was a time when I memorized every open gopher server I could find. This would essentially allow me to jump from host to host to hide my origin or employ the use of multiple accounts. Good times!

Empire (2, Interesting)

Space cowboy (13680) | about 4 years ago | (#33768528)

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... (3, Informative)

IorDMUX (870522) | about 4 years ago | (#33768530)


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.

Re:Interesting take... (1)

manwargi (1361031) | about 4 years ago | (#33768790)

That article managed to completely miss Simultronics' text based games and the massive, fanatical player bases that followed them in the 90s. I played Gemstone III a year before they detached themselves from the service providers and adopted a pay web service model, and even for a couple of years after that. But a veteran DragonRealms player I know still plays DR even now.

Re:Interesting take... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33768850)

Gemstone III still exists today as Gemstone IV. I've taken a few long breaks since I started playing it in '97 but I have to say that it is by far one of the most in depth and fun games I've ever played.

Re:Interesting take... (1)

Balisane (1267318) | about 4 years ago | (#33769318)

I still remember GemStone III very, very well; it ate most of my teenage years. it's sad that i don't have time to play in IV, because i have never enjoyed any other MU* quite as much.

Re:Interesting take... (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 4 years ago | (#33769584)

I played Gemstone on CIS for thousands of hours, with european telecom prices from the eighties.

Re:Interesting take... (1)

Megane (129182) | about 4 years ago | (#33769826)

I was not aware that it was on CIS. It was originally on the GEnie network as Gemstone II, but when they rebooted it as Gemstone III on their own Unix computer, they certainly could have added other ways in.

And for what it's worth, Gemstone I was the prototype that ran on an Amiga.

Just don't save them on CD's (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 4 years ago | (#33768572)

or they will be "lost" again: []

Re:Just don't save them on CD's (1)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | about 4 years ago | (#33768674)

I think they already are:

Not Found

The requested URL /device2/slideshow_viewer/0,1205,l%3D255130%26a%3D255131%26po%3D0,00.asp was not found on this server.

Apache/2.0.52 (Red Hat) Server at Port 80

Movie Madness (2, Interesting)

rirugrat (255768) | about 4 years ago | (#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!

Re:Movie Madness (1)

sunspot42 (455706) | about 4 years ago | (#33768834)

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, say, Danny DeVito as the "young hero", or Jimmy Stewart (there was always some fossil cropping up) as the "evil wizard". I have no idea how the game worked, but sometimes the most oddball casts resulted in boffo box office.

Which, come to think of it, is pretty much like real life. I mean, who in 1987, would have thought that John Travolta was gonna become a major box office star? His ship had pretty much sailed you'd have thought. And then Look Who's Talking happened, and that kept him running for 5 years, and then Pulp Fiction made him a superstar.

Re:Movie Madness (2, Interesting)

The Optimizer (14168) | about 4 years ago | (#33768970)

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 a definite advantage.

Whenever I hear "Galactic Empire" I always think of the TRS-80 game from br0derbund (conquer the 19 other planets in 1000 years) without FTL.


Furcadia, anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33768618)

Since Furcadia [] came out the same year as The Realm, maybe it qualifies. On the other hand, it's still quite popular, so it might not count as a "lost" or "forgotten" game.

Re:Furcadia, anyone? (1)

Aladrin (926209) | about 4 years ago | (#33769234)

Ah yeah, I played both of those. Heh. Simpler times. :)

XvT (4, Interesting)

LongearedBat (1665481) | about 4 years ago | (#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 (3, Informative)

BlueBlade (123303) | about 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:XvT (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about 4 years ago | (#33769526)

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)

Re:XvT (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about 4 years ago | (#33769534)

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.

Solar Realms Elite (SRE) (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33768630)

Best game from the bbs era.

Sadly the author (Amit Patel) didn't have a second backup of his data. So when he went to get it from backup and the floppy wouldn't read, it was all over but the crying. Never remade since the last version in 1994.

Though he did have Barren Realms Elite too. Good but not as good.

The Realm (1)

theArtificial (613980) | about 4 years ago | (#33768650)

The Realm [] is from the mid 90s and still going.

BattleTech 3056 / 3065 (1)

DeionXxX (261398) | about 4 years ago | (#33768660)

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.

You're all posers. (1)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | about 4 years ago | (#33768668)

Unless you have the game name in your handle :)

Barney Splat (2)

rocketPack (1255456) | about 4 years ago | (#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. (2, Insightful)

CrAlt (3208) | about 4 years ago | (#33768742)

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.


Re:Wow.. i feel old. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33768852)

Both BRE and FE (falcon's eye) had BBS vs BBS features. That's what made them my favorite games back then. Logging in at 00:00 to perform the new days moves and put my armies in the joint attack force! :P

Re:Wow.. i feel old. (2, Informative)

echucker (570962) | about 4 years ago | (#33769480)

LoRD probably reset at midnight as well. It still exists in a slightly changed for as LotGD - classic server can be found at []

Missed some good ones (4, Interesting)

Oriumpor (446718) | about 4 years ago | (#33768752)

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 people was just not there any more. The in game social interactions stagnated to the point where the same 20 people or so are still bickering over the same issues 15 years after the game went live.

3do folded, and meridian 59 went dark for a few years until two former developers purchased the rights. They ended up selling the rights in turn to the original creators the Kirmses who now run the game gratis, and have even made pledges to open source the game someday.

Re:Missed some good ones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33768836)

AT&T closed up shop in 1998 and sold the venture to AOL...

Oops. Lots of other errors, it's 3am.

Re:Missed some good ones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33768894)

It's pretty sad when services like TSN (aka INN) which advertised in PC MAG in their heyday and don't warrant an honorable mention in an article about the history of said services.

Barren Realms Elite & Falcon's Eye (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33768774)

Barren Realms Elite & Falcon's Eye (BRE & FE) were two quite popular BBS games in Sweden in the 90's.
You can even still BUY them today:
I was sysop at a BBS in Stockholm that won the largest FE league once... those were the days... users stacking up on redial at midnight to perform the new turns of the day. Now as then - the charm is to get together, build something together and summon forces to hit a human opponent somewhere out there.... //SysOp at Bright Shadow BBS

Apogee's "Monster Bash" (0, Offtopic)

Kreychek (264929) | about 4 years ago | (#33768786)

It was so good! I remember buying it at some gas station or something when we were on vacation out west as a little kid. They had a buncha Apogee-era 3.5" disk packs and I remember thinking the packaging looked awesome. :) []

Re:Apogee's "Monster Bash" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33768886)

I'm not sure you know what the word "Online" in "Lost Online Games From the Pre-Web Era" means.

But, hey, nice try!

Speaking of "pre-web era" online games... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33768830)

... the 2010 IF Competition games have just been posted. Go play [] them.

I only played LORD (1)

blind biker (1066130) | about 4 years ago | (#33768892)

....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.

Adventure (1)

NixieBunny (859050) | about 4 years ago | (#33768906)

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 got a shareware BBS program and a cheap modem (2, Interesting)

irixjohnson (1893864) | about 4 years ago | (#33768926)

"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.

RTFA? (1)

pspahn (1175617) | about 4 years ago | (#33769004)

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.

Re:RTFA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33769166)

I agree. The slideshow interface was non-intuitive. I didn't see any option to render it all as 1 page. An ad partially obscured the slideshow controls on the second picture. The blurbs about each game had no mention about what year the respective game came out. I was trying to learn some computer game history here. The scroll picture-thingy at the bottom moved by itself even if I had the slideshow paused. I quit reading after about 5 games. Badly-designed overall. I will beware of the PC-Mag site from now on. Absoludricous!

Ahh.. the Compuserve and Source days.. (1)

dbcad7 (771464) | about 4 years ago | (#33769020)

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 about as successful as the Source if not for Earthlink.. To those of you that had the cash to enjoy Compuserve, the Source, Prodigy, Genie, and the old AOL .. well I salute you.. I just couldn't enjoy (afford to enjoy) their content at the time.

call waiting (1)

J Mack Daddy (774273) | about 4 years ago | (#33769060)

We used to play BRE, over the modem of course. Some people had call waiting (the one that beeps at you if someone calls when you're already on the phone). Unfortunately this would cause the modem to hang up. So it became part of the strategy to try to anticipate if someone else was getting their turns in before you. You would then call them, causing their connection to drop. You'd then dial in and try to play your turns before them (it's already been noted above that BRE was particularly sensitive to this in terms of gaining advantage). It became all a bit too much (definitely favoured those who didn't have call-waiting enabled!)

Trade Wars (1)

ForgedArtificer (1777038) | about 4 years ago | (#33769082)

So, who remembers Trade Wars 2002? I bet a lot of people reading this article do... it was probably the most popular of the door games. I played it way back when, when BBSes were all the rage amongst nerds, and again when it was played heavily by a group of dedicated players online (through TelNet-based BBS software) - I even participated in the big yearly tournament once, although I can't remember for the life of me what it was called, and still have a registered copy of SWATH (Strategic Weapons and Automagic Tradewars Helper).

Interestingly enough, it's recently been re-imagined and re-released with a very slick web interface (I didn't like it at first, but I'm a big fan now.)

For anyone who's interested, you can check the new one out here: []
Or, if you're feeling generous, I also have an affiliate link: []

Another old door game that's taken an interesting twist is Improbable Island, a very tongue-in-cheek mod of the original LoRD, which uses (with full permission) the LoGD code. It's full of clever humour in a very British style, reminiscent of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett: []
Or again, I have a referral link if you're feeling particularly nice: []

Both are great revivals of the classics, in my opinion... and of course are a lot of fun. A lot more so than many modern games, come to it... and definitely make you think a bit more.

I haven't played TWR lately, but I might get back into it if I could find a few partners. I happen to have a lot of residual skills from years of TW2002 competition. ;)

Why not go truly old school? (1)

The Creator (4611) | about 4 years ago | (#33769088)

Correspondence chess.

T.E.O.S (1)

TyFoN (12980) | about 4 years ago | (#33769114)

I'm missing The Exploration Of Space in that list :(

Re:T.E.O.S (1)

ForgedArtificer (1777038) | about 4 years ago | (#33769172)

Loved TEOS :)

Some days I'd just grab a few Warp Units and blip back and forth between Hothor and Volcana as much as possible.

You could make money in that game really fast if you kept the best trade routes in mind.

I still run a BBS... (1)

daitengu (172781) | about 4 years ago | (#33769174)

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!)

On a 300 Baud modem? (1)

ignavus (213578) | about 4 years ago | (#33769264)


A few... (3, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | about 4 years ago | (#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:A few... (2, Insightful)

dornbos (804376) | about 4 years ago | (#33769684)

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 cool to see some of the secret powers they kept reserved for themselves. We had several live get-togethers, including one in Columbus, OH (CompuServe's HQ), seems like we hit Annapolis, MD for a couple years and occasional weekends some of us East-coasters would meet up at a player's home up in Maryland for marathon game sessions.

Materia Magica (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33769358)

List is missing quite possible the best one. Materia Magica, ( formernly Moongate, a text based game with new additions been rolled out all the time, played through a client such as Zmud, Cmud, Mush, Portal, simply just Telnet, or even the games own custom built Java client.

"Online for over fourteen years, MATERIA MAGICA is one of the longest-running, continually-developed games available, with a vast game world, detailed environments, intelligent monsters and other denizens, and many, many thrilling quests - you'll never run out of things to do." - Game login.

The login hardly does it justice, so I'll name a few of the features that you can expect:

*Multiclass - There are 12 races to choose from, each with its own perks and pitfalls, each race has access to a pool of classes, from the 4 fighter, 4 mage, 4 cleric and 2 thief, every 60 levels you can multiclass info one of the pools you don't have yet (help multiclass) can explain it in more depth should you choose to give it a try.

*Archon system - Hit level 240? Ready for a challenge? Then go attempt the Domain of Arbaces, 9 floors of some of the most challenging creatures around for your level, and topped off a tricky little doll to help home. Archon's are rewarded with a massive stat and vitals boost that they can train, as well as new spells and skills. How ever becoming an Archon is not all benefit, for your troubles you will be hounded across the face of Alyria by the Ithrix, a race of extra-dimensional beings who will create rifts through time and space as they hunt down Archons to kill, are you prepared?

*Clans and Alliances - Join a Clan, get together with like minded people, have access to a clan hall to recall to, slay enemies you could not on your own with them, have access to extra help when you need it. Some Clans are even in Alliances which gets you even more backup, in addition to this you can partake in alliance invasions; defend your home town as waves of foes descend upon it to earn passive rewards and points to spend.

*Religion system - Find a clergy of a power and dedicate yourself to it, gain access to that deity's spells, help your power out by partaking in player vs player religion battles as you assault other religions shrines to make your god more benevolent towards you.

*Character development - 7 quest masters with several thousand quests to do for rewards to better your character. There are also alternate ways to better your character, a treasure hunting quest, a body part collecting, various collecting of random scatters to build up items to improve yourself to name a few ways.

*Marks - Currently there are 274 marks in game, what are marks you ask? Feats of bravery, luck, exploration, *cough* evil doing, and others award a mark for your efforts, marks are a one time deal which offer great rewards, people will frequently ask which marks you have earned so far!

*Skill & spells - There is currently just shy of 300 skills and spells available, picking your classes will earn you access to the unique and fun spells and skills of those classes.

*Player homes - Build and customize your own home, pick a plot, create the rooms, doors, hidden rooms, dark, light, outside, player killing, safe, and many, many more flags for you to play with in creating your own private domain. You can even build one home per home zone and have access to safe recall points all over the globe.

*Massive world - Alyria is composed of an overhead virtual world approximately 2300 x 1600 rooms, richly featured with 10 main towns, and dozens of dungeons, villages, inns, keeps and more. Head underground and you will find yourself in the Great Alyrian Underground, yet more towns and isles with some of the deadliest creatures found. Also you can find your way to the Faerie Plane, where you can locate the seat of power for the Sidhe and Fey races, with more zones to explore. Topped off with the recent addition of the Sigil Underground, which has several zones to explore, and is the location of the religion shrines for religion battles.

*Ship combat - Buy a ship, add some upgrades, throw on a few weapons and head off out into the open sea... arghhh pirates! Yes there are pirates! Hunt them down, sink them, salvage their wreck for booty! But be careful not to get hunted yourself by another player, who is after your booty!

*Player vs Player - All player vs player rooms are hilited, and there are 3 types of PK rooms for you to fight in, ranging from nice and safe with instant resurrect, to putting some of your gear on the line in a fight for your very life! There is also a capture the flag area and an arena for 1 vs 1 fights to take place in.

*Massive equipment pool - Thousands of pieces of gear to find, loot, artifice into better items, let you fully customize your character to suit your preferences.

*Player shops - Got excess loot? found a steady supply of items people will need for their quests? Then why not open up a shop and profit! There is also an auction channel where people can bid on your items.

There are many more features to be found, so come give it a try :x

Nayuki of Clan Knights of Chaos

Feel free to throw me a tell in game if you get stuck "tell nayuki help!" or if I'm not around and you want official help "pray help" there is usually a guide around who will help you out and answer your questions and a pretty good help file system in game "help" to find out more.

Re:Materia Magica (1)

vlm (69642) | about 4 years ago | (#33769522)

Online for over fourteen years,

I agree Materia Magica is cool. I have/had a character there but haven't logged in for probably 5 to 7 years.

The problem is 14 years ago is WAY post www. That would be very late 96ish more like 97ish. I installed that strange "Mosaic" thing, probably the only excuse for running X-windows on an early linux box, the fall of 93. On the Sun and HP boxes at school, this new fangled "Mosaic" thing was available somewhat before the spring of 93 and I distinctly remember demoing it to my father to our amazement. The most interesting thing to see was this webcam pointed at a coffee maker (I believe in the UK).

Isn't 97 so post WWW that it was well into the artsy movie era of "the internet is like psychedelic drugs" where it was all stupid animations and stuff?

Stellar Crisis (1)

j0nb0y (107699) | about 4 years ago | (#33769432)

The early web game Stellar Crisis is still going today. The web's first multiplayer strategy game! []

DOOM and Duke Nuke'em (1)

Nonillion (266505) | about 4 years ago | (#33769512)

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.

Ultimate Universe (1)

spottedkangaroo (451692) | about 4 years ago | (#33769564)

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... []

They're all playable on the Web today (1)

harris s newman (714436) | about 4 years ago | (#33769586)

Well, not really. The ones you listed are. Decwars/Megawars was my favorite game, see: [] and [] to learn about this historic game. It's not available on the web. I'm rewriting a similar game, called routerwars. See: []

COMBAT on the MECC mainframe computers (4, Interesting)

Teancum (67324) | about 4 years ago | (#33769626)

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.

Does the worldwide X25 network qualify as pre-Web? (1)

Gruturo (141223) | about 4 years ago | (#33769638)

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).

No mention of VGA Planets? (2, Interesting)

technik (86834) | about 4 years ago | (#33769802)

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 (1)

Tickenest (544722) | about 4 years ago | (#33769820)

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.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?