Daily Archives: December 20, 2006

Coleco Telstar Arcade

A follow up to the Christmas 1977 entry.  Joe at the Chinese News Farmer did a much better job reading the Coleco Telstar consol game entry on Wikipedia than I did and spotted the triangular game system, to which I referred, in the list. 

In the related links portion of the entry, there is a link to a page that has a nice write up about the Coleco Telstar Arcade complete with pictures. (This is the web!  Of course there is a site, complete with pictures, about a 29 year old game system!  I never doubted it, I just couldn’t find it myself!)

Looking at that page brings back some memories!  That is the “other” game system I got that Christmas.  It even shows the add-on cartridges that I never saw myself.

So, as a side thought, and adjusting for inflation, it was as though I got an Xbox 360 and a PlayStation 3 for Christmas that year, cost-wise.  I wonder how many kids will face that this year?

Again, thanks to Joe for doing the reading I should have done!

Stellar Emperor – Winning The Game

This was my moment of obsessive power gaming eliteness, way back in 1987.

I wrote generally about the game Stellar Emperor previously.

In Stellar Emperor there were two “Top Spots” in the scores for each four week campaign.

The first was President of the Imperial Senate. This went to the player with the highest individual score. This score reflected primarily your skill at planetary management and your ability to hold onto your six planets. (No score for planets that other players took from you!) The planetary score was derived from an equation that multiplied the population of your planet by several factors, the most heavily weighted being the happiness of your population.

The other 19 players of the top 20 were given titles as well. Second place was “Second Lord of the Empire,” third place was “Third Lord of the Empire,” and so on.

The second top spot was Emperor of the Galaxy. This went to the leader of the winning team. I do not know if the leader of the second or third place teams got any sort of title because I never lead a second place team.

In campaign #12, I lead our regular team, The Arcturan Empire (AE!), to victory and managed to also claim the top spot for individual score. So I was both Emperor of the Galaxy and President of the Imperial Senate.

Now I could simply make that claim, but it would be just that much better if I had some proof of this achievement to back me up.

And, of course, I do.

When anybody got into the top 20 individual scores in a campaign, they got (eventually) a certificate in the mail for Kesmai and GEnie. You also got one for Emperor of the Galaxy. I still have all of the certificates from my Stellar Emperor days, but here are my two favorites:

Wilhelm d'Arcturus - President on the Imperial Senate

President on the Imperial Senate

Emperor of the Galaxy

Emperor of the Galaxy

They are signed by Bill Louden, who was pretty much the founder of GEnie and whom I got to meet the next year at the Air Warrior convention in Dayton, Ohio, and a name I cannot make out representing Kesmai.

In addition to the certificates, the Emperor of the Galaxy and the President of the Imperial Senate each got a pewter cup engraved with their name and title. Here is my matched set:

The Victory Cups

The Victory Cups

I haven’t quite figured out how to get a good shot of the cups with our digital camera. I will update this picture if I get a better shot. (I passed on the “reflecto-porn” opportunity that seems so popular on eBay.)

Now, I could have had a third piece of proof.  The monthly GEnie magazine, GEnie LiveWire, used to print the scores for the games.  Sometimes.  They would do it for a few months, then forget for a few months.  My win did not make it into LiveWire.  Neither did my Stellar Warrior campaign win, for that matter.  Such is life.

So how much did these two pewter cups and two certificates cost me? A little over $1000, spent at a rate of $5.00 an hour. This meant that in the 27 Day Campaign (each 4 week campaign had a reset day as part of the cycle) I spent over 200 of the possible 648 hours logged into the game.

(Did I mention that I was working close to full time and going to school?  The stamina of youth!)

Well, in hindsight spending that much money on a game seems more than a bit stupid, but I had a good job at the time and no responsibilities other than myself. I never played another campaign anywhere as seriously as that one and I laid of playing for a while to pay off that credit card bill, and I did pay it off. I recall that one player of Kesmai’s Air Warrior game got in so far with GEnie that he pretty much had to go to work for them.

But those two pewter cups have followed me around for the last 19 years. They are not that special looking, but when people ask about them, I tell them that they cost $500 each. That, and the time and glory they represent, is why I still have them sitting on a shelf in my office.

Of course this victory came with a ton of help from the Arcturan Empire team. To the names I remember, Moonlancer (the team founder), Ganelon, Wegnar, and to all the names I have forgotten, I owe a great deal of thanks for a great campaign and a lot of fun! I see those cups every day and think of those days gone by.