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MMORPGs came before the Internet, didn’t ya know? - Laurion [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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MMORPGs came before the Internet, didn’t ya know? [Jun. 14th, 2008|02:28 pm]

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.


[User Picture]From: umbran
2008-06-14 09:34 pm (UTC)
In technical terms, all that stuff was still the Internet. What it wasn't was the World Wide Web, for which the Internet is often confused.
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[User Picture]From: laurion
2008-06-14 10:03 pm (UTC)
Not at all. The Internet, by definition, involves the Internet Protocol (IP), and everything built on top of that (TCP, UDP, RTSP, etc.). I might be convinced that bulletin board systems comprised a network, but that's stretching things slightly.
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[User Picture]From: umbran
2008-06-15 01:46 am (UTC)
AOL and CompuServe were using IP, certainly.

The BBSs that provided e-mail service were certainly using IP on the back end, and those were aroudn by the time the Hayes Smartmodems came around.
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[User Picture]From: laurion
2008-06-15 12:42 pm (UTC)
Ah yes, and I admitted that 'Internet' Access was AOL and Compuserve. And those were not originally Internet, because there was no intercommunication. And in the beginning, they weren't using IP. In 1993 (The September that never ended), AOL finally connected to the rest of the Internet, and became a member of that network of networks. At that point they slowly evolved to the IP based service they are now.

And the BBS' were *not* using IP for their electronic mail systems. Bluewave was a store and forward system where the local BBS would store everything submitted for the day, and then transfer it up the line through direct modem-to-modem communication. No IP. Some of them may have also had Internet connections and done proper SMTP IP routing, but those would have been the exception rather than the rule.
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[User Picture]From: mr_teem
2008-06-16 07:22 am (UTC)
Internet access was sold to individuals via AOL, Compuserve, GEnie, and others, starting in '93. It was widespread among technical companies, schools, and government institutions. Internet culture that existed at the time tended to be of a higher signal-to-noise ratio because of the potential audience. The WWW had already been going for a few years before that point.

All that said, BBSs were a beast apart. Mature, too: they've been around since at least 1978. :-D
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[User Picture]From: laurion
2008-06-16 12:57 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, this I know. Eternal Summer wouldn't have existed if there wasn't Internet before AOL. I know many people who were lucky enough to have access in the quiet days, mostly through schools. I am well versed in the history of the 'Internet', from the original DARPA project ARPAnet, through Vint Cerf, Bob Kahn, to people like Tim Berners-Lee, BBN, Standard Tool and Die, etc. Even if I wasn't there, I've had cause to do research before.

Oh yes, BBSs have been around since the time of acoustic couplers.
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[User Picture]From: doxasticpirate
2008-06-14 11:16 pm (UTC)
I played LoRD! Good times! (Anyone making a remake of that Gladiator game?)

Anyway, I second that, BBS's were not the Internet. Though I do remember, toward the end of the BBS days, some of them started offering Gopher access and stuff. At the very end, they were ISP's with their own chat and other services.

I also remember being on a chat BBS that would sometimes call another BBS in Texas, and we'd be able to chat with the users of a BBS far away. That was cutting-edge!
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[User Picture]From: zemanel
2008-06-15 11:26 pm (UTC)
Cool, I made a character and everything.

BTW, if you like tick based games, I've been having fun with Ultracorps:

It's still in Beta, so completely free for now.
The latest Mega just closed to new players, 200+ players in it, but you can play solo games and join in PUB (small player run games).
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[User Picture]From: devoken
2008-06-16 12:28 am (UTC)
Love it.
Am addicted.
Have run out of turns.
This is a problem.
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[User Picture]From: alexx_kay
2008-06-16 07:36 pm (UTC)
No, if you think about it, limited turns are a *blessing* for an addictive game.
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[User Picture]From: jediro
2008-06-17 10:01 pm (UTC)
Lol, your post made me feel old;) 15 years, huh?

We very briefly tried to figure out the BBS stuff and then just started with AOL. Which, to this day, we are unable to cancel. They won't let us. But they keep giving us free months of service that we don't use, so it all works:)
Plus, I got an early screen name, which means no numbers are attached.

And I'm just babbling. Hope all is well on your end!
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[User Picture]From: laurion
2008-06-18 01:18 am (UTC)
Huh. I would have thought they'd cancel when you didn't give them a new credit card to charge.

I do recall you using an AOL address for many years.

All is well on my end. Come join the game!
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[User Picture]From: jediro
2008-06-18 01:53 pm (UTC)
Eh, why cancel when they haven't charged the credit card but keep giving the service? I think my mom still uses AOL occasionally....so at least there's a reason to keep taking the free service:P...

Glad to hear everything is going well on your end!
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[User Picture]From: laurion
2008-08-09 01:16 pm (UTC)
I did. My parents picked one up on the cheap at a trade show. I was one of the first to have one.

Which meant that almost all of my connections were speed limited by the other end...
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