MegaWars III – The Rebirth

A company called Crimson Leaf Games has taken it upon themselves to recreate one of the more popular online games from early/mid 1980s, MegaWars III.

Back in the day, MegaWars III ran on CompuServe under this name and as Stellar Emperor on GEnie.  Stellar Emperor (not to be confused with Stellar Warrior) began to diverge around 1987 and ended up being a very different game.  But initially they were as identical.

Stellar Emperor is where I first encountered real-time, online computer games, and I have mused on that experience here before, including my own peak in the game.

For me, this represents fond, if somewhat old, memories.

But why re-create this game today?  Crimson Leaf Games says:

Mega Wars 3 had many aspects to the game not found in any current online games. First there is an end to each war. This allows players to gain an understanding of the game over several wars to learn how to play as an individual, a team member and a team captian to lead your team to victory. Second the game is always running any other player (even a team member) can attack and take your planets from you 24/7. If you worry about losing what you worked so hard to acheive, this may not be the game for you.

If you want to make life long friends, work together with others to achieve real goals or just spy on another team to help your team over throw an upset to win then MegaWars III the rebirth is the game for you.

Yes, you will need to learn to type simple three letter commands since there are no buttons to click your way to victory.

That describes what the game was like way back then.  You could get 100 players on concurrently and the competition would become fierce.  But what about today?

I had to go take a look of course, to relive a bit of ancient gaming history.

The game is not free.  They were running a one week demo war last week, so I was able to poke around a bit during that.  But participation in a real, four week war will run you $12.  And the demo war was only last week, so if you want to see how online games were played over 20 years ago, you’ll have to pony up some cash.

I hope they’ll bring back the 1 week demo wars regularly, as $12 buys you a lot of cash in FarmVille or diamonds in Runes of Magic, and you can play either for free before deciding to commit any cash at all.

My first disappointment was that I had to play the game through a web page.   Granted, things look about right in their web interface.

I'm in space! Can you even tell?

I was, however, hoping I could log in via a terminal program.

First, that would recreate the experience moreso for me.  Hours staring at a 24 line, 80 column terminal emulator on my Apple //e was the way I played.

Second, I have a copy of ZMud sitting around, which would let me marco my heart out.  ZMud would have been the dream program back in the day.

No such luck it would seem.

Still, I was able to get into the game and, with a little help from the commands list page, start running around in search of the perfect planet.  The web rendition works well enough, and I don’t even have to obsessively hit return to get status updates.  Well, not as obsessively as I used to.

There is even a version of the interface with buttons for some basic tasks.

Buttons! I need something to help with scouting though

And so the search for planets began.

Finding planets, growing them, and holding them, is the name of the game.  In an active universe, it can be quite a challenge.  In a quiet universe though….

Anyway, I will likely pay the fee at some point to give this re-creation a try.  I think I remember enough planetary management to be a contender.  We’ll see if there is anybody with whom to contend.

I’ll be on as Wilhelm Arcturus, ship # 2451.

9 thoughts on “MegaWars III – The Rebirth

  1. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    Oh, it is worse than you think. You pay for games by buying credits. But you can only buy credits in $20 increments. Not a deal, unless you’re in it for the retro experience.

    Of course, back in the day, the cheapest you could play this game was $3/hr, and that was at 300 bps.

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  2. RedHawk

    Considering what I paid back in the $80’s. The $12 for 4 weeks is a deal.
    Compared to some of the online games today tho it does not compare, but they do not have the interaction or feel. Plus, I don’t mind helping the re-creator for his efforts in bringing the game back.

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  3. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    I don’t mind helping either. On the other hand, the wars are pretty thinly populated.

    I payed and signed up for one war. However, only a couple of other people joined. They must have withdrawn because I came back one day and the war was gone; no scores, no message, no nothing.

    Crimson Leaf got my $20 and I got very little in return. I wish them well in their work, but they shan’t get another penny from me or another post on my blog.

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  4. Spectrum

    Wilhelm2451 – the war was canceled due to the lack of players and I thought I had credited all the accounts. I just updated your account. We have opened the Classic instance for free to the general public.

    The web interface was designed around the original TTL look and feel for a purpose.

    Web services are available to the general public to create their own interface and we have two UI’s that are available.

    I hope you come back to our site to give you a better experience.

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  5. Screwtape

    If you want programmable buttons in your UI, try the Luciferware BeakerModeMods. See the Luciferware topic in the “Information and Downloads” section of the “MegaWars III, the Rebirth” Forum in the Crimson Leaf Games Forums.

    I’m working on a curses-based UI for MW3TR, written in Python, that should be pretty easy to adapt to run on your terminal (emulator?), though somebody would have to set up a dial-in modem if you want to replicate *that* part of the Original StellarEmperor/GENIE Experience. Simplest might be to connect your terminal (or your Applie //e?) to a serial port on your Linux box, and configure that port, on the Linux side, for 300 bits/sec.

    I currently run the curses-based UI in gnome-terminal or xterm windows myself. What I have has not quite the same layout as the original UI, but it should be fairly easy to rearrange. I could add programmable function keys, too.

    I’m not part of Crimson Leaf — just another paying player.

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  6. pancho

    Playership is down in the summer… but in my limited experience picks up quite a bit in the Fall and Winter. There are many famous (infamous) player from the old days… some with their old handles… Members of the Dorsai! from the glory days of CIS mingle with the later day JYD players. Any while we have aged, we still know how to fire torpedoes… and flame one another in the forums.

    Crimson Leaf has mad a faithful recreation of the game, with a few appropriate updates, and the spririt of the game is much as it was. All that is missing is a few more players. And I believe there is a FREE war scheduled to start on August 6. Hope to see you all in space!

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