Tag Archives: Summer Reruns

Summer Reruns – Online Gaming in the 80s

It officially turned Summer in the northern hemisphere yesterday, so I can legit post a Summer Reruns post.

This time for a look way back in time at the online video games I played in the 80s, a time when a 2400bps modem made you special and the command line was pretty much your only online interface option.  Back then you paid a per hour online charge that makes the whole $15 monthly subscription thing look like a serious bargain.

GEnie Price “cut” back in 1989 actually raised prices for non-prime time

While the internet was a thing at the time (I had a shell account through a company called Portal back then, which at the time was run out of a suburban house that backed up to the middle school I attended years before, and an email address with the domain cup.portal.com), only online services like GEnie and CompuServe had the infrastructure to let people all over the country connect together to play games.

I started online games with an Apple //e and an Apple 1200bps modem that I bought second hand from Skronk.  Later I upgraded to a Mac SE and a Zoom 2400bps modem that came in an odd smoked acrylic case.

Apple and Zoom modem pictures gleaned from the internet

That set off a series of events which led me to start my own BBS… back when BBS meant a modem hooked up to somebody’s computer that you could dial into… and eventually launched my so-called professional career of the last 28 years or so.  Time flies.

But before that I played… and spent too much money on… online games.  Fortunately I spent some time writing about them during the early days of the blog, when those memories were at least 10 years more recent than today.

Those were not the only games I played, but the ones that had the biggest impact and, thus, left the strongest memories.  All Kesmai titles, but Kesmai was the online powerhouse of the time. (Staff from Kesmai ended up developing the original PlanetSide as part of Lodestone Games.)

I also vaguely remember playing Island of Kesmai on CompuServe as well as a version of Maze War and the beta of Gemstone on GEnie back then, but not with enough detail to tease anything beyond “I was there” from my brain.

These games were very revolutionary at the time, unique experiences that left indelible impressions on players who were there.  However, they were also very much games of their time in terms of technology.  Impressive as they were in their era they would appear as rough and primitive by today’s standards, where the phone in my pocket certainly has more power and resources than the VAX minicomputer that hosted Stellar Emperor back in the day.

However, that has not stopped people from attempting to recreate these old games, or at least MegaWars III and/or Stellar Emperor.  I have covered those in posts now and again.

And so it goes.

As far as video games go, the 80s started with me owning an Atari 2600 and going to arcades to play video games.  I then moved to the Apple II platform and played a number of the classic games of the era.

Apple ][+ back in the day

Then there was the modem that got me online in 1986, then the move to Macintosh, and the decade ended with me running my own BBS.  MUDs and then MMORPGs still lay in the future for me.

Summer Reruns – The War in Fountain

Technically summer starts tomorrow according to the conspiracy of pendants and calendar makers, for whom there must be a set of fixed dates for something as nebulous as a “season,” but I still think of summer as just being June, July, and August, those being the span of “summer vacation” from school when I was a child.

And here we are in the latter half of June, with E3 behind us and the annual Steam Summer Sale under way (see, Steam is with me!) and I haven’t anything new to write about.  Sometimes I just get to the Friday post and draw a blank.

But that is okay, I’m all about nostalgia most days of the week, so it is time to drag out the Summer Rerun post format and bring back some posts on a specific topic.

This time it is the War in Fountain from last year, which ran from early June into August and saw the demise of TEST Alliance as a power on the null sec sovereignty map.

Reinforcements bridge in

6VDT-H Fight

This is essentially my diary from the war.  I just so happened to “be there” for a lot of the key moments, from the first battles over J5A in Caracals and Tengus to the clean up at L7-APB in Megathrons and dreadnaughts.

These posts reference a number of other sources and, as is the way of the internet, have suffered from a certain amount of link rot.  The biggest missing pieces are battle reports from EVE News 24, which appears to have purged all of their pre-2014 posts.  So supporting reports are pretty much limited to The Mittani.

In addition, I did a couple of posts about the propaganda war in Fountain, which was as hard fought as any aspect of the campaign.

And, finally, there is what I consider the video of the war:

There are so many “I was there” moments for me in that video that it, as much as anything, brings back the feelings I had during the campaign.

So that is the war in Fountain.  It represents my high water mark for involvement in EVE Online so far.  While there have been wars and deployments since, including the battle at B-R5RB, nothing has matched Fountain to this point.  It is up there with being in West Karana in early EverQuest or the instance group in vanilla WoW on my list of great MMO times.

Now to go watch Boat’s Oddity again.

Summer Reruns – The Instance Group in Vanilla WoW

The Chronicles of the Saturday Night Instance Group have been somewhat sparse this year.  Things change and real life intrudes.

So I went back and picked out the tales of the original group run, our joint conquest of the group content in World of Warcraft, which started in earnest back in October 2006.

The group in Shadofang Keep – 2006

Not that we were free from interruptions back then.  There is a pretty large gap in the timeline March and September 2007, during which one of us published a book, one of us moved across town, and another changed jobs and moved across country.  That gave us some time to go explore other games.  And we got back together to continue forward.

This group of characters… with one substitution part way in, Blintz the dwarf rogue was replaced by Vikund the paladin… did the group content and followed the various story lines all the way through to the end of Wrath of the Lich King.  We ended up skipping bits here and there.  And we never did get back and finish up those last three instances they added WotLK after we were done.

October 2006

November 2006

December 2006

January 2007

February 2007

March 2007

September 2007

October 2007

November 2007

December 2007

January 2008

February 2008

And That was that.  After getting UBRS access, we were through the dark portal and into The Burning Crusade content.  We had our epic mounts.  We saw most of the content.  And we were the right level.  It was time to advance.

The Group on Epic Mounts

Post WotLK we tried to recapture the feeling of the original instances by re-rolling our group as Horde on a PvP server in November 2009.  We made it into TBC content.  But various changes to the game… talent trees and abilities were tuned for the new content… and ourselves… we eventually figured out how to play… made it seem like the original content had been nerfed in some way.

And then again, with the launch of Cataclysm, we re-rolled and tried to start from scratch, four Worgen and a gnome.  But that fell apart more quickly than I thought it would.  The dark side of the Dungeon Finder reared its ugly head, as Blizzard redesigned the original content to suit its tool.  Until then, DF wasn’t that bad in my eyes.  I wasn’t so concerned about cross-realm groups or bad matches.  But when Blizzard decided that the instance content should be successfully completed by any group that met the minimum requirements in an hour or less, the instance plan died.

In about four years we went from needing to take multiple all-night runs at some instances to running multiple instances in a single night on a regular basis.  The game had clearly changed and the past was no longer reachable.

But we have our memories of good times, a series of blog posts to help remind us when memories fade, and even a video.

Summer Reruns – Fumbling with Questions that have No Easy Answers

I was away over the weekend, so I did not get a chance to write anything last night.

Plus, it is summer, the MMO scene is pretty quiet right now, and nothing being added, changed, or launched this year looks be set to change the MMO market in the slightest.

MMOs have become pizza. They vary a bit from vendor to vendor. You might not like the ingredients from one, and another might not keep their place very clean. But they are all round and share about the same set of toppings and what not. And if you like pizza, you will probably find a place that suits you.

So, with that in mind, I thought I would recycle some of my attempts at serious thought about pizza… erm… MMOs. Some of these are more than five years old. Have things changed that much since?

Or is it more a matter of the more things change, the more they stay the same?

Anyway, this is an open invitation to comment on some old posts if nothing else.

Summer Reruns – TorilMUD

Life has conspired to make this a quiet week for blogging.  I’ll get to why that is later in the week.

In the mean time, rather than just let days go by with nothing, I am going to fall back on the grand television tradition of summer reruns.  I am going to go back to a classic theme, TorilMUD, and call out some of my favorite posts.

Of course, the real problem is that I like all of my TorilMUD posts.  They are filled with nostalgia leavened with just the right amount MMO history.  Still, I think I can narrow it down to ten… links.  One points to five posts.  So sue me.

  • On Greater Challenges – How TorilMUD had a “hard mode.”  Why can’t we have this in modern MMOs?
  • Leuthilspar Tales – A few posts about the starter zones exclusive to grey elves. I should write more in this series.
  • Of Rooms and Rooms and Rooms – 19,584 rooms, each of which I visited and mapped.  And that was only about a third of the total rooms at the time!