I have always loved playing video games. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t playing some kind of video game or another. Since PCs are my “thing” I thought it might be fun for you to get a glimpse at what PC games helped shape the gamer I eventually grew up to be. This list is about graphically-based games – there’s a whole world of text-based games and MUDs that I was involved in. Those experiences are for a different post.
Without a doubt, the number 1 multiplayer game of my youth would have to be none other than TradeWars 2002 [BIC]. I can’t even begin to count the number of hours I spent playing this game. Shoot, I even ran my own TW2002 server for a while, I loved it so much! This game is a classic example of the old adage, A Minute To Learn, A Lifetime To Master. The basics were simple: By low, sell high; avoid the strong, destroy the weak; Do good and play fair, or go the way of the pirate and pillage away.
You could form corporations, construct your own StarPorts (which would become valid trading posts for other players as well), claim and colonize planets, create your own planets with Genesis Devices, amass small armies and sprinkle them throughout the universe to collect tolls from passing traders, upgrade your planet to the point where you could even MOVE YOUR PLANET ACROSS SECTORS!! Holy Crap I’m getting all excited just thinking about it!!
This game, though primitive in it’s “MMO”ness and PvP, taught me a great deal about how players interact with each other inside the gaming environment. It is also a game that has stood the test of time… in a way. I’m not sure if someone with no previous TW2002 experience would be able to find excitement and joy in playing it, but I can honestly say there is solid gaming satisfaction (not just a quickly passing nostalgic satisfaction) in returning to this game today.
Legend of the Red Dragon
Legend of the Red dragon [BIC] (LoRD) was probably my first (graphical) fantasy multiplayer game. I use “multiplayer” loosely, as it was more a multi-user single-player game. True, you could fight other players, but you could only fight players in an AI mode – you weren’t actually fighting against the other player, merely their character which would be controlled by the AI inside your fight. As you can guess, the PvP kind of sucked – but you didn’t play LoRD for the direct-fight PvP. No, no… you played LoRD for the epeen PvP of Dragon Kills.
When you killed the dragon, you started over again at level 1 and were expected to work your way back up to kill the dragon again, and again, and again. There were different names for the various levels depending on how many times you killed the dragon before, and different potential classes and races (depending on the BBS you played on) would also become available depending on the number of DKs you had racked up. Sometimes it translated into actual power, but most of the time it was simply bragging rites.
Player interactions were also interesting in that players could flirt with one another, get married, have sex, and even get pregnant (or contract VD)! If I remember correctly, this was pretty unique amongst the available Door Games [BIC] at the time – other than those written exclusively for the Adult section.
This game saw many spinoffs, including a recent web-based version called Legend of the Green Dragon, which is functionally identical in just about every way (that I can tell).
Solar (and Barren) Realms Elite
Solar Realms Elite [BIC] (SRE, 1990) and its sucsessor, Barren Realms Elite [BIC] (BRE, 1992) were functionally identical. They were, for all intense and purposes, the same game – just themed differently, which is why I’m lumping them together here.
I played both of these games, but found myself more drawn into BRE. A fact I’ve always found currious since I tend to be a huge fan of the sci-fi genre (see TW2002 above). In both of these games you control an empire, and attempt to expand that empire by acquiring specific types areas – areas of expansion were single-purposes areas, so if you needed to increase revenue you would try to acquire areas of tourism, for example.
You had to manage your empire in classic ways, by keeping the people happy, while making sure they were well fed, entertained, and secure. You would have to manage diplomacy with both computer, as well as player controlled neighboring empires. You could even raise an army and go to war with other players, which could quickly grow very costly, both in money and in lives.
One of the ways this game was unique, in my experiences, was its ability to connect with other BBSes! Your area could have a huge game of BRE going, with cross-BBS alliances and wars. It was mad fun.
[EDIT: Thanks to Josh, of the BBS Wiki, Break Into Chat, for the release-date corrections]
While not a BBS Door Game, Rogue is one of those games that sticks out in my mind as a classic example of fun gameplay. One of the fantastic things this game gave you was random dungeons – every time you played it, it was something new, and you never knew if your next step was going to be your last.
This was a very, very hard game. Each level you descended got progressively more difficult, and you ended up praying you didn’t see a letter nearby (monsters were represented by letters – ‘Z’ was for Zombie, as an example).
What made this game so much fun was the thrill of discovery mixed with the danger of knowing you could die at any moment. Finding treasure was an exhilarating experience in Rogue … in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had as deep of a satisfaction in finding loot in any modern game, as I did in Rogue.
Over all, it was a very simple ASCII game, that managed to hit all the right buttons, at all the right times. Total win for me.