Tag Archives: Crimson Leaf Games

MegaWars Dawn of the Third Age

In order to talk about MegaWars – Dawn of the Third Age I feel I need to delve into the well of ancient games from which I drew the title of this blog.  It is been a while since I’ve gone here, so a refresher might be due.

Back in the early-to-mid 1980s personal computers were becoming common, modems were increasingly becoming an option for the, and online services like CompuServe and GEnie began to flourish.  This was the pre-web era, when even having a GUI beyond a command prompt was considered.  (There is a whole “pre-web online services” category on Wikipedia.)

And while special interest forums, online encyclopedias, and services were often bullet points used to get people to sign up, it wasn’t long before online games came into being.  Kesmai was an early leader in online games and its Island of Kesmai on CompuServe was very much a precursor to today’s fantasy MMORPGs.

Also on CompuServe was a game called MegaWars III.  If Island of Kesmai foretold the fantasy side of the MMORPG genre, then MegaWars III was very much a hint as to what the future might bring when it came to internet spaceships in EVE Online.  Launched on CompuServe in January 1984, it gained a following even at the expensive hourly connect rates that online services charged back in the day.  $15 a month seems like a bargain compared to $6 an hour.

MegaWars III did not feature a long term persistent universe.  Instead games were four week long affairs that saw everybody logging on to scout on the first night to find and colonize planets.  There was a fixed amount of numbered star systems, but the planets around them, and the quality thereof, changed with each game.

Players would colonize and manage their planets, build up defenses, try to take planets from each other, and attempt to blow up each other’s ships.  At the end of the four weeks scores were tallied up and winners declared.  The leader of the highest scoring team was declared Emperor while the highest individual score was named President of the Imperial Senate.  The top 20 scoring players were made senators.

When GEnie arrived on the scene, they wanted online games too and got Kesmai to make a simplified version of MegaWars III which was called Stellar Warrior.  A fun game in its own right, and following the four week campaign model, it did not have the depth of MegaWars III with its planetary management module.  GEnie eventually got a straight up copy of MegaWars III a bit later in the form of Stellar Emperor.

And that is where I came in.  During the fourth four week Stellar Emperor campaign during the summer of 1986 I logged into GEnie via the modem I bought from Potshot for my Apple //e and started fumbling around with online games.

It was then that I first used the handle Wilhelm Arcturus.  I had been recruited by a team called the Arcturan Empire (-AE-) and learned the ways of the game sufficiently to become both Emperor of the Galaxy and President of the Imperial Senate.  You actually got physical trophies for that back then.

Pewter Cups Awarded for Emperor and President titles

The names are probably easier to read on the paper certificates that were also mailed out to winners, including those senators in the top 20.

Wilhelm d’Arcturus Emperor of the Galaxy

Wilhelm d’Arcturus – President on the Imperial Senate

Later I dropped the “d” from the last name to become simply Wilhelm Arcturus.  My tales from those days can be found here:

And so it went.  For most of the balance of the 1980s MegaWars III and Stellar Emperor ran along as identical twins.  As the 90s approached GEnie and Kesmai began to work on improving Stellar Emperor, giving it a GUI eventually, while MegaWars III remained as it was.  If you played them both after 1989 or so you’ll probably say they were different, but before then they were essentially identical.

Into the 90s the internet and the web became a thing and online services started to fade away.  CompuServe was bought by AOL in 1997 and faded away into the background while GEnie shut down in 1999.  Kesmai ran its own online service, GameStorm, through the 90s until the company was sold to EA.  EA did what it always does with studios it buys; shut it down, never to be seen again.  And so all of the Kesmai titles, including MegaWars III, disappeared.

Like all closed online games, somebody out there decided to go ahead and recreate the originals.  I have written previously about Crimson Leaf Games and their resurrection of the original MegaWars III as well as Cosmic Ray Games and their recreation of a 90s version of Stellar Emperor.

But some time has passed since then; seven years in the case of the former and four years for the latter.

Crimson Leaf Games has been hard at work and has produced a new version of MegaWars III, MegaWars: Dawn of the Third Age.  The site for the game is here, and includes a history of MegaWars III worth reading.

The new version has a client and graphics and all sorts of things we associate with more modern online games.

The MegaWars III universe has also expanded from a couple hundred stars to over five million systems to explore.  Space has also changed in a way that might sound a bit familiar to EVE Online players.  Rather than the game being open season for PvP, there are three regions of space.  They are:

  • Empire – no combat and planets cannot be taken
  • Frontier – full combat and planet industries can be bombed but not taken
  • Open – full combat and planets can be taken

The penalty for Empire and Frontier is that you pay taxes that sap your planetary economy, and a hit in score, relative to the wild west of open space.  But in exchange for that you get complete safety in Empire space and some amount of safety in Frontier space.

The game is currently in open Alpha… which seems to be what we would call Early Access if it were on Steam… so you can try it out if you are interested.

So we now have a new take on a game that has its origins in the nearly 40 year old DECWAR, which was, in turn, an attempt to make a multiplayer version of the Star Trek terminal game from the early 70s.

And the beat goes on.

Items from the Mail Bag

The email address on the About page here is an address that I use primarily for blog related activity.  I have other accounts for personal email, game registration, and the like.  Too many addresses probably, as I have no doubt I’ve lost a couple due to memory lapse.

So mail that comes to that blog address is generally addressed to be in my role as the guy who write The Ancient Gaming Noob.  I get press releases from a variety of companies, which I like, and the usual amount of spam, which I do not.

And then there are the messages that don’t quite fit, simple requests from individuals or small companies sharing information about an article or a product.  Some of these are no doubt shot-gun blast email attempting to get attention from some quarter, but some probably just went to me.  Maybe.

So I have decided that every so often I’ll just make a weekend post and put together these sorts of messages and let you tell me which ones were worthwhile and which were the suck.  This is what I have for June, in the order I received it.

  • Crimson Leaf Games, who remade MegaWars III/Stellar Emperor, have been working on a version of the game that has a GUI called WarpPlus.  They plan to branch it out into at least two different games when the work is complete.  You can see more at their site.
  • Technorati would like me to blog on their site, though they would allow me to cross post here.  They say I would get a lot more readers.  You or I can apply here.  I am not sure what Technorati’s role in the world is these days, so I am not sure what this offer means beyond “come give Technorati content for free.”
  • Jane at MSO Marketing “came across” a two year old post on the site about WoW Patch 3.2 would like me to post a few links on my site for a hosting company.  However, MSO Marketing does not buy links, though they would like to “support my web site with a donation.”
  • Chris at What MMORPG? would like me to link his site on the blog, but I cannot really tell what category his site would fit into, much less if the whole thing is an attempt to make money through game registration referrals.
  • GimmeGolf, which I mentioned in a post ages ago, and which has since ceased operation, but announced a deal where their registered users get special perks if they subscribe to World Golf Tour.  It does not look like you have to be a registered user, you just have to go to World Golf Tour from the GimmeGolf site.  So if you are quitting EVE and looking for a golf MMO, here is your chance.
  • Sara McDowell, who runs a site that appears to make money on referrals to video game design university programs, thinks my readers would be interested in her post on The 15 Greatest Video Game Designers of All Time.  A lot of Japanese guys on that list.
  • The Action Marketing Group, whose web site has an message about the company that flashes by so fast that I could not read it, thinks I would be interested in playing classic Atari games on Pepsi Throwback’s Facebook page.  I’m not sure how they failed to work Twitter into that pitch.  If you get a high score, you could win something.
  • Anna Miller, who runs a site that appears to make money on referrals to online degree programs, and who uses the exact same title, wording, and formatting as Sara McDowell, wants to share her post about the 12 Most Violent Video Games of All Time.  “All Time” is apparently an important modifier in these things, certain to help these sorts of posts stand up over time.  All time.  And I am going to guess that this post and Sara’s post were lifted from some other site.

All I can really say about the sites as a whole is that none appear to infect your computer with malware.