15 years ago, most people didn’t have Internet Access, per se. They had dial-up service. 28.8k was state of the art (with 33.6k poking it’s nose in places). Service was typically AOL or CompuServe, maybe something else, and metered per hour, sometimes as much as $5/hour. You might also have to pay long distance charges if there wasn’t an access point in your local exchange. Oh, and of course, if you only had one phone line you would tie it up, unless someone picked up the phdsgndjkls nhyreio hnbknrw.b;ip0f nu3tur in which case that’s what you’d see.
I’m not just trying to show my age here, I’m setting the scene. 15 years ago, I was pretty cutting edge in some ways: pretty fast 28.8k modem, second phone line, lucky enough to live in the corner of town that fell into the local exchange that covered a large area. But we didn’t have any of the dial services like AOL, because the fees were unreasonable. But I still spent hours each week online.
How? Local BBSs (Bulletin Board Systems) - Other people would set up their computers with modems and phone lines and special software and host local systems that people like me would dial into. All ANSI text based terminals, with crude text-based interfaces, and no mouse. (I’m ignoring the later RIP vector systems) Some of these were BBSs in the literal sense of an electronic bulletin board - Forums these days - log in write new posts, respond, communicate, for community. Some had file exchange options. Many had Doors. Doors were add on third party modules that let visitors interact with the system and with others in different ways. Some would let you do things like bank unused minutes (with only one, maybe two modems, most BBS limited your online time so as to ensure fairer access), or send messages all across the country through BlueWave, a store-and-forward type e-mail system. Like the current postal service, all the messages would be gathered together, and in the middle of the nights, systems would dial into each other and pass messages around like pony express. Turn around time was typically a day, maybe two if a link was offline.
And many BBS’ had games. Multiplayer games, although, again, with most local BBS only having the one modem, they were asynchronously multiplayer. And me living in a larger local exchange, I had access to dozens of local systems. The only cost was my time, and the $15/month we spent on a second phone line. So I was a regular member of half a dozen or so systems, and most every day after school, I’d spend some time dialing around my regular list. If one was busy I’d move on to the next, and return later, etc. I wasn’t big into the discussion forums or the file exchanges, but I did play the games. I had my favorites, and the popular games would find their way into almost every BBS. Tradewars 2000, Exitilus, and the ever ubiquitous Legend of the Red Dragon (LoRD).
All of the above has been windup and warmup. Yesterday I discovered that someone has made a web based remake of LoRD called Legend of the Green Dragon. And it’s an open source project, fully with the intention that people can download and run their own game servers. How could I resist? So yesterday I spent some time installing it, adding modules, configuring, and setting it up. And now I invite you to dabble around. For anyone who has played Kingdom of Loathing, you’ll probably recognize the influence this game had on that. You can find the game running at logd.lebor.net… , and it’s open for anyone to sign up and play. You are welcome to come join me as I delight in the fact that good games never die, they just get remade by dedicated fans…
Originally published at lebor.net. You can comment here or there.