Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

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!

History of MECC and Oregon Trail

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the little-timmy-has-died-of-dysentery dept.

Education 149

Gammu writes "For the past thirty years, many children have been raised with a heavy diet of MECC games like Oregon Trail, Odell Lake and Lemonade Stand. These products weren't developed by a major game developer. Rather, they were developed by the state of Minnesota for use in their schools. What began as an initiative to get Minnesota students ready for the micro-computer age turned into a multi-million dollar a year business whose products are still used in US schools even a decade after MECC was sold off to another developer."

cancel ×

149 comments

c0wb0yneel is d4 Ph4t Ph4g... (0, Troll)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476385)


Do you sit here at suckdot all day and night, with no life, no s[oul|ex]mate, no job, jerking off, clicking that refresh button every second just to see if the new story's first post shows the goatse [goatse.ch] ?
You must really get some extreme arousal and relief with that very erst post, then...

That takes me back... (4, Funny)

toleraen (831634) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476399)

Was I the only one dorky enough to receive both the "Number Munchers King" and "Oregon Trail King" awards in front of the entire elementary school at the end of the year?

Re:That takes me back... (1)

andrewd18 (989408) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476689)

I miss Number Munchers so much. Smartie Troggles were the best.

Re:That takes me back... (1)

twilightzero (244291) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477585)

I had the most insanely high scores at Number & Word Munchers. I so totally miss those games. We should start an open source project to recreate them in all their 8-bit glory =)

Re:That takes me back... (1)

Liberaltarian (1030752) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476961)

Alas, I was also a victim of the evil communist menace that is... SOCIALIZED GAMING. *insert scary 1950s music here*

Not a single bison shall stand (5, Insightful)

HaymarketRiot (931189) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476401)

Man, I miss shooting the hell out of all those bison. The shooting sections of that game really brought out a kill everything that moves mentality. Half the time I wouldn't even need food, but just wanted to shoot things.

Re:Not a single bison shall stand (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476481)

While that was fun, it was interesting that no matter how many critters you killed, your guy could only carry (IIRC) 200 pounds of it back to the wagon. Keeping this in mind when hunting would actually help your game in the long run, when you would have to economize on bullets and time.

Re:Not a single bison shall stand (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19476519)

(IIRC) 200 pounds
I recall 100 lbs and this was done to show how very wasteful settlers could be. You killed a 1400 lb bison for a sandwich.

Congratulations.

The game was intended to teach but many people were lost on this part in my opinion ...

Re:Not a single bison shall stand (1)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476619)

Dem rabbits were good eating.

Re:Not a single bison shall stand (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477803)

I also doubt you could find one single 80s kid who didn't at least once greet the hunting screen by saying "Be vewwy vewwy quiet, I'm hunting wabbits!"

Re:Not a single bison shall stand (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476699)

But at least you got a choice cut of meat.

(Sorry...)

Re:Not a single bison shall stand (2, Insightful)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476485)

Yeah I remember some of the kids would always ask me how I managed to finish the game, My response was always "I didn't waste all my money on bullets.

Re:Not a single bison shall stand (4, Funny)

jessecurry (820286) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476927)

you got Cholera and died

I hated seeing that.

Re:Not a single bison shall stand (5, Funny)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477163)

[save game]
River depth 3 feet
1: Ford the River?
2: Seal boat and cross the river?
3: Wait?
Ford the River!!

Your wagon turned over
You lost 3 Oxen
You lost 1200lbs of food
You lost 500 bullets
You broke a wheel
You broke an axle
You broke a yoke
Your wagon caught fire and exploded
Max drowned and died... we never found the body
Johnny died in the wagon fire
Betty was crushed by the panicking ox
Bill drowned
Jeff caught Cholera and died in under 30 seconds, a new record!
Jeff came back as a Zombie and killed everyone else, game over. .. wtf?

[load saved game]
river is 3 ft deep
1: Ford the River?
2: Seal boat and cross the river?
3: Wait?
wait

river is 7 ft deep
1: Ford the River?
2: Seal boat and cross the river?
3: Wait?
seal boat and cross river ... ......
The wagon sank, everyone DIED...
Mother Fucker..

[load save game]

river is 3ft deep
1: Ford the River?
2: Seal boat and cross the river?
3: Wait?
wait

The river is 19 feet deep, is flooding, full of debris, on fire, and has piranhas in it.
1: Ford the River?
2: Seal boat and cross the river?
3: Wait? ... you ford the river.

Everyone makes it across safely.

WTF?

Re:Not a single bison shall stand (1)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 7 years ago | (#19478295)

2: Seal boat and cross the river?

I believe the phrase you are looking for is "caulk the wagon."

I've been told that a year or two after i graduated my dorm set up a computer with a lot of emulated games on it in the lounge, including Oregon Trail. Every time someone was playing the game and encountered a river everyone in the room would shout out that they should "caulk the wagon." :)

Obligatory webcomic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19478901)

http://www.achewood.com/index.php?date=05132003 [achewood.com]

Seriously, this is hilarious...

Re:Not a single bison shall stand (1)

cxreg (44671) | more than 7 years ago | (#19479207)

Should have done a barrel roll

Re:Not a single bison shall stand (1)

daeg (828071) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476517)

Except those damn squirrels. Those things sucked!

Re:Not a single bison shall stand (3, Interesting)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476647)

At my middle school, our computer lab instructor went totally postal whenever he'd see a student do that. "Oh my god! You MONSTER! That is just sick! That is sick! You are exterminating the buffalo! You can't possibly use all that meat, it's just going to rot!" (If you didn't already know, that's correct. As others pointed out, you can only bring back 200 lb, I think 100 lb in some versions.)

And no, he wasn't being sarcastic or anything, he really seemed to have an emotional attachment to electronic buffalo, and punished students who slaughtered them.

Re:Not a single bison shall stand (1)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 7 years ago | (#19478041)

Hey, it's historically accurate behavior. And at least we're eating some of it. Later on, people would shoot buffalo from trains for no reason at all. Seriously.

It's not like you had a lot of choice, anyway. You shot whatever you could whenever it wandered by.

Re:Not a single bison shall stand (4, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476817)

The shooting sections of that game really brought out a kill everything that moves mentality. Half the time I wouldn't even need food, but just wanted to shoot things.

Paging Jack Thompson...Paging Jack Thompson...

Re:Not a single bison shall stand (1)

zarkill (1100367) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477185)

I hated when I really DID need food, and I shot an 800 pound bison, and could only carry 100 pounds back to the family. For god's sake, make two trips!

The other thing I hated was playing the game on a faster machine (I forget which exactly, I think we oringially had IIc, but then upgraded to IIgs) and the faster processor speed meant the animals ran so fast you had no chance of hitting any of them.

Re:Not a single bison shall stand (1)

Akaihiryuu (786040) | more than 7 years ago | (#19478067)

You do realize the IIGS had two modes: "Normal" for Apple II software, and "Fast" for Apple IIGS software right?

Re:Not a single bison shall stand (3, Funny)

zarkill (1100367) | more than 7 years ago | (#19478097)

Thank you, now I can go back in my time machine and explain that to myself when I was in fourth grade.

Re:Not a single bison shall stand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19479815)

I always wondered just how far away from the wagon did we go to hunt? It's no wonder everyone died if they were waiting for you to walk 40 miles back from your hunting trip.

Here's another idea....Take some of those damned kids with you to carry some meat!

The Censorship of the Oregon Trail (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476411)

Having grown up in Minnesota, I was raised in a grade school that had many copies of the Oregon Trail.

But something that isn't often mentioned about the Oregon Trail is the controversy that surrounded one of the first releases about it. We're all very familiar with the original but before that there was an even older one with crappier graphics. I distinctly remember playing the very old one only to have the teacher come up to my computer, ask me where I got that & then she took the disc and formatted it. Now that was curious behavior for a teacher.

So I came into the lab after school, got another copy of the disk from where I had found the original (stacks of old disks were common) and popped it in. The graphics were worse but I soon realized why this particular version was frowned upon. Instead of saying, "You have encountered Native Americans ..." or something like that, it said "Indians Attack!" and then you were holding a shotgun from the point of view of the shooter. There were three frames of images with a Native American on horseback and a bow. He would ride at a random speed in front of you and you had to shoot when he was in the middle of the screen. The better you did, the less supplies you lost.

I could see how you could argue either way to keep that in the game. Maybe that's really how some Native Americans reacted to settlers. Maybe you don't want your kid thinking that Native Americans were (and still are) like that. One thing is for sure--it was never in another version of the Trail.

Minnesota's history is ingrained with Native Americans. I have many Native American friends and thoroughly enjoy Pow Wows & their amazing celebrations. At the same time, I recognize that there was conflict going on with settlers being killed or wounded at towns like Milford, Acton & Slaughter Slough. Interesting history to me, haven't heard anyone who's known about these events aside from Native Americans.

Is it right to just forget about it? I personally don't think denial is the best way to deal with history. Although, the displacement of Native Americans from the east to parts further west like Oklahoma, Minnesota & Wisconsin (resulting in many deaths) isn't very widely known by most Americans.

Re:The Censorship of the Oregon Trail (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19476451)

I'd kill an Indian to get my hands on that version.

Re:The Censorship of the Oregon Trail (1)

dosius (230542) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476497)

I actually had a copy of it myself as a kid. Pity I had to leave all my disks behind in a move. :/

These days I've amassed a huge collection of software but a lot of the stuff I actually used as a little kid, I can't even find on the sites (asimov etc.), and a lot of that was MECC or Spinnaker.

I'd die if someone showed up a disk image of the Elementary Volume XX whatever that had "Oregon" on it.

Also looking for StoryMaker, Story Machine, FaceMaker and In Search of the Most Amazing Thing (I have the PC version of the last of these) - most of those are Spinnaker, I think StoryMaker was DesignWare.

-uso.

You are aware of course (1)

drachenstern (160456) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477159)

that Oregon Trail amongst others is available at WalMart. I have a copy and would be willing to host an iso if necessary.

You know how to look me up, only don't use hotmail, use gmail

Re:You are aware of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19478875)

But do they still have a copy of old versions - like the Apple II version? That's what I really want.

Re:The Censorship of the Oregon Trail (2, Interesting)

Seraphim_72 (622457) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477621)

cough [the-underdogs.info] , Cough [the-underdogs.info] , COUGH [the-underdogs.info] You don't happen to have a lozenge do you? Oh and you know what they say about slammed servers don't you? Wait till off peak time to access it.

Re:The Censorship of the Oregon Trail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19476465)

So you could say Oregon Trail was really what pioneered the FPS genre?

Thank you. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19476531)

As a native american of the Saskatchewan tribe, let me thank you for your thoughtful post.

And again, in my native tongue:
        Oooo booo booo booo booo, oooo booo booo booo booo. Oooo boo oooo booo ooo booo ooo boo boo boo.

Re:The Censorship of the Oregon Trail (4, Interesting)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476621)

Although, the displacement of Native Americans from the east to parts further west like Oklahoma, Minnesota & Wisconsin (resulting in many deaths) isn't very widely known by most Americans.
I know that the "Trail of Tears" (the largest such forced migration) was reiterated countless times to us in school in the 70s/80s.

A lot of the history of conflict between Native Americans and European settlers is swept under the carpet now -- we, as Americans, don't like to admit that we waged a war of genocide. Sure, there were people who actually had respect for Native Americans, and the war was never couched that way, but when push came to shove, Native Americans were exterminated or driven from land that settlers wanted.

Now, as for Oregon Trail, I think it has to do with the changing attitudes about civil rights and respecting other cultures. People became much more aware of the fact that a lot of hatred is learned, and that there is no place for teaching hatred in our schools. Part of the whole anti-discrimination movement of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, I think.

Re:The Censorship of the Oregon Trail (-1, Troll)

kinglink (195330) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477635)

I hate this fact that we can talk all about the trail of tears still, but we can't mention the fact that the Native Americans reacted violently to our expansion and that's why we had a conflict. Manifest destiny though is perhaps the ugliest situation we ever had, yet it's promoted as the best.

I hate this soft culture we are brining up who don't learn about our travesties done to us and against us. What's next? 50 years from now we learn about how America brutally attacked the germans in World War 2 and Pearl harbor never happened? Operation: Desert Storm was about Americans getting oil, and Iraq's invasion of Kuwait never happened? If we are going to ever grow as a society we need to tell the whole story, not the side that agrees with the current political climate.

That being said I never knew that Oregon trail came from one company. I'm always amazed about how much attention this game still gets but damn if every time there's an article I don't learn something new.

Re:The Censorship of the Oregon Trail (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 7 years ago | (#19478015)

I hate this soft culture we are brining up who don't learn about our travesties done to us and against us. What's next? 50 years from now we learn about how America brutally attacked the germans in World War 2 and Pearl harbor never happened? Operation: Desert Storm was about Americans getting oil, and Iraq's invasion of Kuwait never happened?

I think you have that backwards. History is, after all, written by the "winners."

=Smidge=

Re:The Censorship of the Oregon Trail (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19478811)

I hate this soft culture we are brining up who don't learn about our travesties done to us and against us.

What you're missing is that the things we've done are far worse than anything that's ever been done to us.

That's part of being the "winners" (instead of being good neighbors.)

I live in a town called Kelseyville. It's named after a man named Kelsey who imprisoned, enslaved, murdered, and raped the local natives. Eventually they rose up and killed him (not his whole family, just him. no massacre here) and a bit later the cavalry rolled into the other end of town and wiped an entire band of Pomos off the map. The place is now called Bloody Island. You can count the survivors on one hand and all but one of them were far away at the time. The last was one little girl hiding in the water and breathing through a reed, like something out of a Disney movie, except that the water was red with blood at the time.

So sorry, I can't get choked up over the horrible things that supposedly happened to us. We did far worse, and continue to do far worse, everywhere we go.

Re:The Censorship of the Oregon Trail (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476827)

Is there a ROM for this? I'd like to see this myself. Virtual Apple 2 [virtualapple.org] doesn't have it online. :(

Re:The Censorship of the Oregon Trail (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19476867)

I just read Ambrose's account of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Yes, some Native Americans stole from settlers. Of course, settlers were also guilty of abominable behavior to natives. Judging either group as a whole is simplistic to the point of being naive.

If "real history" came into such edu-sims, they wouldn't be rated E for everyone, and the tribes would've been quite different. Some friendly traders who even offered up their wives for the settlers, believing that this captured their power. Some wanted to use the white politically to settle scores within their tribe, or attack a competing tribe. Some tribes were aggressive killers to be avoided at all costs. And some settlers would be bringing slaves along to do some of the heavy lifting.

Thievery was common all over the place. A rifle or a horse could be the difference between living well and barely living.

Re:The Censorship of the Oregon Trail (2, Informative)

Nimey (114278) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476929)

I had probably four or five versions of Oregon Trail just on my Apple //c, and one did indeed have attacking Indians. You would encounter Injuns, and the game would say if they looked hostile or not (it was never wrong). You could keep going, circle the wagons (which had no effect), or fight. If they were hostile and you kept going, they'd raid your supplies. I don't remember what happened if they were friendly but you fought -- either they ran off or you killed innocent pixels.

I can't remember if that was the version on the 4-game disk[1] or the Microzine version; probably the former.

[1] All Western-themed, IIRC. OT, a text-based "defend the Alamo" game, some top-view Indian-fighting game, and I don't remember the other.

Re:The Censorship of the Oregon Trail (1)

tuffy (10202) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477013)

I had that version. I remember the key to shooting things was to wait until they got near the right side of the screen so that the slow moving bullets would have enough time to reach the target as it jerkily moved from left to right. The game itself was tucked away in a collections disk of pirated software, but I don't think I still have a disk image of it anywhere.

Re:The Censorship of the Oregon Trail (1)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477143)

You had copies of Oregon Trail? We had to play (in '78) via model 33 teletype's, on acoustic coupler modems... I always liked the terminal on the far wall, because it had a jack for the other terminal's phone line. When MECC was busy, a paperclip in the old 4-prong jack and a quick dial of the rotary phone and I was in!

Re:The Censorship of the Oregon Trail (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#19478343)

Simple truth is there is no simple truth.
Some tribes did murder rape and kill.
Some tribes where peaceful and really suffered greatly at the hands of settlers.
Some settlers where every bit as blood thirsty as some of the worst of the tribes.

Then you have acts of individuals and groups of individuals.
There where good and bad people on both sides as well as a complete lack of understand of each other on booth sides.

Re:The Censorship of the Oregon Trail (1)

Endo13 (1000782) | more than 7 years ago | (#19479105)

I don't think that's the issue at all. I think the real issue is that we took over this land and made it "our" country in the first place. You really have to see it from both perspectives.

First, you have the perspective of the Europeans who came over to settle here. Many of them were fugitives, and were just looking for a safe place to call home. North America looked extremely inviting - it was merely inhabited by barbarians, and open to the taking! Many of the settlers really wanted nothing more than to just live here peacefully and call it home; they only defended themselves against the "Indians" at first.

But then you also have the perspective of the other side: the native Americans. Many of the tribes in the east that the Europeans first encountered didn't really have a concept of land ownership. Land was a resouce: you used it efficiently and respected it, and the land was good to you. Which was also why many of the tribes attempted to be peaceful at first. But then the "white men" started changing the land. Trees were being cut down (for farmland, housing, etc.), and before long it was obvious the new settlers were going to completely destroy the land as they knew it. Their way of life was being changed against their will - and naturally they rebelled and tried to get rid of the European settlers.

The end result has basically been a (relatively) slow invasion of North America by the Europeans that not only took the land away from the previous "owners", but also completely obliterated their way of life. Most of this was not done with malicious intent by the "invaders" but it was done all the same.

Anyway, that's my take on it.

I still blame these guys (2, Funny)

swaminstar (726206) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476499)

I think that Oregon Train is single handedly responsible for my addiction to resource management sims.

Re:I still blame these guys (1)

Devir (671031) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477005)

Oregon Trail and lemonaid stand did it for me. To this day, I still stink at these types of games. Sim City? yeah I go bankrupt fast.

Oregon Trail (4, Funny)

paranoid.android (71379) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476503)

AQUAMAN has drowned

YOUR MOM has died of dysentery

Good times.

Re:Oregon Trail (4, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476595)

Haha, that was the best!

We used to purposely pick names that would look good on the tombstone, since anyone who played the same disk after you would see it when they passed by wherever on the Trail you died. It also let you write an epitaph for yourself, which led to a trail full of stones like..

Here lies HEMAN
skeletor finally won

Here lies SANTA
no more presents for anybody

Here lies (TEACHER'S NAME)
still can't find the on switch on the IIc

Good times.

Re:Oregon Trail (1)

Johnny5000 (451029) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477165)

We used to purposely pick names that would look good on the tombstone, since anyone who played the same disk after you would see it when they passed by wherever on the Trail you died. It also let you write an epitaph for yourself

Or my personal favorite:

The game is also notorious for the ability to create custom inscriptions on the tombstones of deceased party members. Perhaps the most visible example of this is a tombstone found in most copies of the disk image available for download: the tombstone reads "Here lies andy; peperony and chease". An email sent to a gaming website claims that this is the result of a schoolboy (going by the name of "Andy") who was inspired by advertisements for Tombstone Pizza (which featured the tagline, "What do you want on your Tombstone?"), whose game was saved to a disk which later became the popular pirated disk image.


Re:Oregon Trail (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477213)

Abstract nouns are always a good choice too:

You get messages like:
God has wondered off
Love has contracted cholera

Re:Oregon Trail (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 7 years ago | (#19479029)

Here lies (TEACHER'S NAME) still can't find the on switch on the IIc

Very sad to say, but doing something like this these days would probably have gotten you expelled or sent to an alternative school. It would literally ruin your life.

Opensource Effort (3, Interesting)

yohanes (644299) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476509)

I never heard of the games mentioned in the article. But reading the article, I think it will be wonderful if there are coordinated efforts from the open source community to build more educational games for the kids (I know about edubuntu, and stuff, but I was hoping more like MECC).

Re:Opensource Effort (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476851)

Isn't Oregon Trail still sold today?

Yes (1)

drachenstern (160456) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477197)

At WalMart, imagine that, huh

Re:Yes (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477935)

Wow, is it still the same graphics and all that by someone else?

Re:Yes (1)

drachenstern (160456) | more than 7 years ago | (#19478761)

The cover grafx are different, but as far as memory serves, the game is the same. I don't have my CD wallet with me, but maybe I have it on the laptop, I'll check later.

Fond memories (2, Funny)

MECC (8478) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476537)

With fond memories I remember time spent on kronos and nos playing the mainframe 'oregon trail'. So many failed ventures, so many families lost, so many missed deer and buffalo. I was a poor shot.

And, using up the remaining minutes on xtalk and mmt (wait, was that YIM, AIM, or just texting) typing with people from as far away as luvern and worthington - the far reaches of civilization yet as close as a modem. All that time spent on appleseeds (oops, I suppose now I'm busted). And, of course, 'cheating' (no kidding, that was the accusation) on biology homework with just a brief soliloquy of code. *sigh*

It was all fun until the paper ran out. Thank god for crt's.

So much has changed, so much has stayed the same.

Re:Fond memories (1)

Scutter (18425) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477043)

The first version I ever played was also mainframe based, but the interface was a teletype. There was no video display. My games usually ran 10 or 12 pages of fanfold greenbar paper. :)

Re:Fond memories (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19477403)

Do you have any ties to MECC, or just a fan?

Re:Fond memories (2, Interesting)

plover (150551) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477595)

Like everyone else on MECC I played some Oregon Trail, but it was too random to be lots of fun. Far too much was out of the player's control -- fording rivers or descending hills was always a roll of the dice (sorry, a call to RANDOM.) But COMBAT -- now there was a thinking nerd's game.

It's amazing to me that I still can't describe just how much fun it was to play a multi-player shoot'em'up with nothing but quickly printed tables of polar coordinates and vectors. How the advent of 300 baud modems made some people kings over a world of 110 baud modems. How to tweak the output to minimize response time, and interrupting it as soon as you could to get another shot off. How alliances were forged and broken, and "kill stealing" was both commonplace and frowned upon. Accusations of people writing cheat software on their Apple ][s. And blasting the Gorns, of course!

It's a shame that even if there was a duplicate of the software available today, it probably wouldn't be enjoyable anymore. It was a different era of computing.

Re:Fond memories (1)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 7 years ago | (#19478397)

Waiting... Waiting... Check that watch... Now!

L2000,M2,M2

Whew!

I don't remember anymore if those should be comma-separated or not... :-(

I knew a John back in the MTS days. Argiledhel in Rochester. I also remember folks like Coiled Snake on COMBAT taking me out far too many times to recall. Bastage. :-)

*GILDOR*/UN=H7LT263

Re:Fond memories (1)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 7 years ago | (#19478341)

MMT - Multi Mouse Talk? I also remember MTC and later XTALK, and DDT let you roll dice in the various channels.

Those programs were rather addictive. :-)

*GILDOR*/UN=H7LT263

Hmm (2, Interesting)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476569)

What about other games like bit-bots math games or.. oh you had a little red hat and you ran around a factory looking for vehicle parts and doing different science related problems to get through doors... forgot the name. Dinosaur Tycoon and a whole bunch of others that they had on the macs and the PCs.

Re:Hmm (1)

Darundal (891860) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476635)

The game you are describing sounds like gizmos and gadgets. At one point in my elementary career, there were so many user profiles created that I had to go through and delete most of them randomly to be able to play. Then the teacher yelled at me...ok, I am done.

Re:Hmm (1)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476675)

YES THATS IT! I have a copy at home somewhere... now I must play...

Link? (1)

svendsen (1029716) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476633)

Anyone know of a link to an online version? Sure I should be working but I want to shot small furry animals!

Re:Link? (2, Informative)

NappinLeprechaun (1008853) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476673)

Re:Link? (1)

svendsen (1029716) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476713)

Awesome site!! Ultima 1 - 5? SUPER SWEET. Thanks for the crack buddy... when I am in the back alley doing things that would shame Paris Hilton to pay for my internet connection I know who to blame! Thanks! :-)

Re:Link? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19477369)

Awesome! 3400 pts as a carpenter! Take that, you stupid bankers! :-P

Blame MECC for making me a computer geek! (1)

Kalendraf (830012) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476687)

We had the MECC system in our elementary schools in Mankato, Minnesota. My first exposure to it was around 1977 when I was in 4th grade. All of the MECC terminals we had were paper teletypes, and the original version of Oregon Trail had no graphics whatsoever. Thus, it was just a text adventure. At the beginning of the game, you could change your word for firing your gun. Most people used things like "bang" or "shoot". You had to type the name in fast or you would miss. Longer names were given a bit of extra cushion. Interestingly, the firing text used didn't actually have to be a word.

Soon a few of us stumbled upon a trick: use letters on the keyboard that were able to be quickly typed, but didn't mean anything. One of the class favorites ended up being "wert" or "wertcow". Most of us didn't know how to type at that age, but typing in either of those two words was rather easy for most of us.

There were other cool text-based games on the MECC system, including a sub-hunt game (IIRC, it was called Seawolf), and a dungeon-delving game (IIRC, it was called Scepter). To prevent kids from playing those during school hours, those to games were only accessible before 8am and after 3pm. Oregon Trail, deemed educational, was available during all hours. I remember being one of the geeky elementary kids who actually rushed to school in those days to try to get in some sub-hunting or dungeon-delving before school started. I've been a computer geek every since...

Re:Blame MECC for making me a computer geek! (1)

Bigboote66 (166717) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477195)

Count me among those old-timers who played the teletype version of this game (complete with the acoustic modem couplers). I think I played a revision to your version, though, around 1978. At that point, the maintainers had gotten wise to your cheap "wert" trick, and the words you needed to type to shoot your gun were randomly chosen each time the gun needed firing. "Pow" and "bang" were definitely two of them; I think there were a few more, like "wham" or "fire".

-BbT

Re:Blame MECC for making me a computer geek! (1)

thedohman (932417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477251)

Thank You!

I was starting to think I had gone crazy.... I didn't remember having actual moving graphics when I played as a kid! There were a few (but only a few) pictures... If you can call them that by today's standards

And, to someone else who asked, yes I think you can still buy newer versions. I checked out a copy from a local library (a great source for educational games such as this) maybe five years ago. I thought my daughter would be interested, but I guess she was still too young. I don't think I still have a copy.... It was a Windows version, with fancy graphics. I remember seeing it somewhere for sale new around the same time

Actually, looks like you can get it from Amazon [amazon.com] . Oregon Trail 5, and someone is selling Oregon Trail 3 on the cheap.

Re:Blame MECC for making me a computer geek! (1)

RPGonAS400 (956583) | more than 7 years ago | (#19478045)

I too played on the teletype in Minnesota. Our entire school's computer capability in spring 1977, my senior year, was the teletype machine that was connected to the Mankato system. It consisted of a phone, a modem, and the teletype machine which was a combination printer, keyboard, and paper tape reader/writer. There was no display - everything was via the printer. You dialed into the system with the phone and when you heard the beeps on the other end you fit the entire phone handset into the "modem" which was a coupler. We used to whistle into the coupler to get it to start trying to communicate with us.

The only thing I remember having to type was "bang" so we would create a paper tape of it and feed it through the tape feed when it asked us. Our system also had a grand total of 2 other games. One was lunar lander where you tried to land on the moon by firing small rockets to either slow down or speed up your descent without using all your fuel. I don't think I know anyone who ever made it. You usually were to slow in which case you ended up in orbit or went to fast in which case it told you how big of a crater you made in the moon. The last game we had would tell you how fast you typed by making you type in the alphabet. Again we would feed in a paper tape and qualify at hundreds of words a minute.

My last trimester of high school was when I had my only computer programming course in high school. One student, Jay Goude, was actually better than the teacher, Mr. Ness. He taught the teacher things. I ended up blowing off my biggest project and skipped the last day of school when we had our final. I got either a C or D in the class and it was my worst grade K-12. Ironically, I ended up being a programmer for over 20 years.

You can play these games online! (2, Informative)

antdude (79039) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476717)

Play Oregon Trail [virtualapple.org] on Virtual Apple 2 [virtualapple.org] 's emulator. There are other games as well.

the original original (1)

hb253 (764272) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476727)

This is a datapoint for all you young whippersnappers... Back in 1978 when I was a freshman in high school, we had a teletype terminal in a room next to the library that was tied into a GE timesharing system. In addition to Trek and Hunt the Wumpus, one of the games we played was Oregon Trail. Also, I remember playing Lemonade Stand on our schools's Apple II's. Was I playing games commissioned by the state of Minnesota, or did they just steal the ideas?

Ahh, Oregon Trail... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19476745)

The first educational FPS, and RTS. Guns and all. No matter how small the river was, fording it would always kill someone.

Anyone remember Robot Odyssey? (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476849)

Not an MECC game, but still quite educational in my formative years. There's a Java port called Droid Quest [droidquest.com] .

Re:Anyone remember Robot Odyssey? (1)

frooddude (148993) | more than 7 years ago | (#19480101)

I used to play Robot Odyssey for hours on end as a kid... Looking at Droid Quest made me wonder why I did. I remember enjoying it, I remember the satisfaction of solving the puzzles, but I can't for the life of me find the motivation that made me hammer away at that game for so long.

Gateway software (3, Funny)

greg1104 (461138) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476861)

While playing "Lemonade Stand" seems harmless for children, the friendly way it introduces computer-based sales entrepreneurship can serve as a gateway to a dangerous lifestyle. Child gamers in the 80's who become addicted to the rush of successful lemonade sales can find themselves playing games such as:
  • Elite: trading money is supplemented by violent piracy activity
  • M.U.L.E: forcing your fellow players into starvation is encouraged as a way to maximize profits
  • Taipan: selling weapons and Opium is the only path to success

If left unchecked, you can expect that these players will have moved onto a Dope Wars adulthood where they borrow money from shady lenders, sell drugs on the street, and shoot at law enforcement, all while holding onto just a slim dream of retiring to the Carribbean as their only possibility for redemption.

Related shirt (1)

Chris Pimlott (16212) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477001)

I have no relationship/vested interest in the company, but I think this shirt [bustedtees.com] is awesome. It's a great shibboleth for geeks of a certain age.

Idea stolen from Trail West? (3, Interesting)

JoeCommodore (567479) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477037)

A couple years ago I got an email from a person trying to get the PET game Trail West to run for his dad (who wrote Trail West) on an emulator and in part of the reply was this message:

"P.S. Glad you like the game. A little trivia about it... When my dad first made that game, just after the first PET came out, he had a meeting with some people from MECC (Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium) who were interested in buying game ideas. They thanked him and left. Never a word from them after that... EXCEPT... they magically came out with their famous nationwide best seller "Oregon Trail" the very next year, which of course was pretty much exactly "Trail West". Go figure!"

If you want to see what Trail West was like, the file is located in this disk image [portcommodore.com] , and is playable on the VICE Emulator [viceteam.org] . After LOADing but before RUNing, you need to POKE 639,94 in order to circumvent the ancient copy protection. (my bad, should have fixed it)

Re:Idea stolen from Trail West? (1)

Bigboote66 (166717) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477243)

The teletext version of Oregon Trail was around a long time before the PET hit the scene, and I remember the Apple version of that game being pretty much a direct translation of the teletext version, with the addition of a graphical map and using a "Duck Hunt" style shooting section instead of the "Type POW" tecnique. Seems unlikely that the microcomputer version of Oregon Trail was ripping off Trail West; more likely that TW drew its inspiration from the original just as the official OT did.

-BbT

Re:Idea stolen from Trail West? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19477853)

According to TFA, the Plato group had an "Oregon" game well before microcomputers were popular.

Re:Idea stolen from Trail West? (1)

plover (150551) | more than 7 years ago | (#19479213)

When my dad first made that game, just after the first PET came out ... [MECC] magically came out with their famous nationwide best seller "Oregon Trail" the very next year, which of course was pretty much exactly "Trail West".
I'm not sure he had all his facts straight. Oregon Trail was written in 1971 [wikipedia.org] , six years before the release of the Commodore Pet in 1977. [wikipedia.org] That could hardly be considered "the very next year" after the PET came out.

I'm not sure why the author of "Trail West" would have made such a claim.

Karnath (1)

Seraphim_72 (622457) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477137)

...or at least that is what I thought it was called. It was you basic dungeon crawl with The Fantasy Trip (if you are dorky enough to get that reference) like rules. I used to have the source code printed out and the entire rule book. Any body got a copy?

Sera

Odell Woods (1)

Vidar Leathershod (41663) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477227)

I loved Odell Lake and Odell Woods, and have since gotten a copy of Odell Lake for my Apple II, but alas, no love for Odell Woods. There also seems to be a lack of info on the game online. Is my school the only one who bought it? :(

Re:Odell Woods (1)

saintlupus (227599) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477521)

I remember playing Odell Woods in school, on the Apples, but my favorite was Odell Lake in its colorated glory on my C64. Pimpin' ain't easy but it's eight bit for sure.

--saint
(Grade school in Rochester, NY)

Nerds! (1)

Floritard (1058660) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477273)

Seriously, you all actually played this game? How novel. I myself also spent hours with Oregon Trail, but I'm not sure I ever actually played it. My friends and I got tombstone generation down to a science. Die as fast as possible and etch your brilliantly dirty "Here lies..." rhyme in stone. It was like the nerdiest graffiti you could ever produce.

MECC was for ME! (2, Interesting)

ALeavitt (636946) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477449)

As a Minnesotan student who grew up in the 80s, I got to play a lot of MECC games on our school's computers. I remember playing the Oregon Trail, Odell Lake, Number and Word Munchers, and Storybook Weaver.

One thing that I haven't heard mentioned yet, though, is Freedom. I remember this game very well. In it, you played a slave in the south, and the game began with your escape. The game randomly generated a character with different starting statistics each time. Sometimes you would be able to read, sometimes not - in which case all signs appeared as gibberish. Sometimes your character would have a compass or tools, other times you would have to rely on the sun or the growth of moss on trees. The game was presented from a first-person perspective in static screens. The goal, of course, was to make it to the Free North. Over the course of the game, the player met sympathetic people who sheltered them, members of the Underground Railroad, and of course, many people trying to catch and return the escaped slave. It was a very deep and engaging game. The Oregon Trail and Odell Lake were educational, but even on an Apple IIGS Freedom was scary and immersive - I really was afraid when I heard that distorted bark and knew I had dogs on my trail (and no cayenne pepper to throw them off!) Of course now I would probably laugh at the simple graphics and sound, but at the time the game was incredible.

The popularity of Oregon Trail (1)

British (51765) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477785)

I was at Discland and saw a black shirt with pixelated lettering saying "You have died of dysentry".

2 days later I was at work, and a coworker had a blue shirt with an old West font saying "you have died of dysentry."

I never thought an educational game would spawn two different t-shirts with its catchphrase.

Combat (1)

Seraphim_72 (622457) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477835)

Anybody remember Combat on a teletype? 2D real time space combat, over a modem. Having to track your movements and the movements of the other ten people you were in combat with pounding in commands the instant you got a chance waiting waiting to see "**BLAM** you have been hit for 52%" and thinking, "Damn, and that was only the first missle" There was even 'clans', I think there was one called DMS, one of them I think was DMS Pnesssut or something like that. And as long as I am gathering wool with old MNers any AVHS grads here?

Sera

Re:Combat (1)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 7 years ago | (#19478475)

I remember MU,COMBAT,USMK001 (the first one I played, I think), and MU,CCOMBAT,USMK031 which is still around on a tape I think. I also remember a COMBAT variant where the missles went "CLANG" instead of BLAM and that was more tailored for 110 baud terminals, but I don't remember the name (and it wasn't around very long).

Open Source (1)

booch (4157) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477915)

Seeing as how the state created the programs for educational purposes, and not profit, it's a shame that they didn't allow the source code to be available for free. Seems like in the long run, that would have had a larger impact on education. It's even more a shame that they did not open the code once most of the profit had dried up.

Rocky's boots (1)

nutsaq (116096) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477977)

don't forget about Rocky's Boots. Digital and analog circuit design for elementary school kids. Fscking brilliant. I hope my daughter gets to play truly educational games, instead of "dress up barbie, CONSUME!"

My wife worked there (4, Interesting)

Cris E (34068) | more than 7 years ago | (#19478081)

My wife worked at MECC for about five years until Softkey (*spit*) bought and liquidated them. It was a wonderful place to be right up to the end.

Little known fact about OT: if you started on the exact day, followed the exact path and stayed on a specific schedule (resting, waiting, etc) when you got to the Donner Pass you'd die in a snowstorm just like they did. The people working on the project (and all of the historical ones really) were adamant that historical details be correct, so someone embedded this and it stayed though many versions. (I do not recall the details, but I'm sure there are people out there who could produce the specifics.)

Cris E
St Paul, MN

Oh wow (1)

tekshogun (1110191) | more than 7 years ago | (#19478121)

I'm glad someone wrote this article. That was one of the most memorable screens in my computer life, the big MECC with the green grass logo or whatever it was. I remember seeing Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium somewhere on the screen. Oh the memories, Oregon Trail and all the Muncher's games (word muncher? number muncher, etc)

YOU CAN CURE CHOLERA WITH BISON MEAT (1)

rubberbandball (1076739) | more than 7 years ago | (#19478363)

Jimmy was bit by a snake. Hold on Jimmy, i'll go shoot 44 buffalo and that one bear that moves at cheetah-like speeds and there should be a cure in there. I hope so, because i didn't buy anything except for bullets when we were packing for this cross country trip. a little off topic, but still something i played on an older apple product: does anyone remember the "make your own storybook" game? i'm fairly certain i always added a ravine surrounded by bears and wolves for a surprise ending to my stories.

Sigh! (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 7 years ago | (#19478551)

I don't know the word MECC, and not being an American, the term Oregon Trail means nothing to me beyond being a trail in or to Oregon. There is a camping store in my city called Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC). So having flash-skimmed the summary, I was left wondering why the second C in MEC and what does it have to do with a camping outfitting store on a trail in Oregon.

Sigh!... /me hands in his geek card.

Thule Trail: Modern Take on the Old Favorite (1)

dinocitraro (1114583) | more than 7 years ago | (#19479679)

Has anyone seen Thule's version of this? http://www.thuleroadtrip.com/ [thuleroadtrip.com]

Oregon Trail taught me about computer security (1)

merreborn (853723) | more than 7 years ago | (#19480113)

By the time I was in grade school, we were playing Oregon trail on the Mac Classic at school. My parents bought a copy for our Mac Classic home, too. Reading the manual revealed the default administrative password for the game: "boom" (a reference to the older versions of the game).

Of course, the copies of the game at school used the same default password. You couldn't do much; the most exciting thing you could do was increase the frequency of animals, and bump the hunting session time from 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

And so I learned the first lesson of security, at age 10: don't leave default passwords unchanged. And of course, the corollary: if you want to gain unauthorized access to something, try the default password first.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...