The year was 1995, and CompuServe's online service cost $4.95 per hour. Yet thousands of people logged into this virtual world daily.
WorldsAway was born 20 years ago, when Fujitsu Cultural Technologies, a subsidiary of Japanese electronics giant Fujitsu, released this online experiment in multiplayer communities. It debuted as part of the CompuServe online service in September, 1995. Users needed a special client to connect; once online, they could chat with others while represented onscreen as a graphical avatar.
I was already a veteran of BBSes (I even started my own), Prodigy, CompuServe, and the Internet when I saw an advertisement for WorldsAway in CompuServe magazine (one of my favorite magazines at the time). It promised a technicolor online world where you could be anything you wanted, and share a virtual city with people all over the globe. I signed up to receive the client software CD. Right after its launch in September, I was up and running in the new world. It blew my young mind.
[this post was damaged during a server failure on Sunday 11th July 2004, and it has not been possible to recover it]
[this post was partially recovered on 12 October 2018]
Yay! I won an eBay auction for a copy of Everyway. For £4! Yay! Winner! Now all I need are some friends, some paper, some pencils, and no dice.
In other good news, I solved a really nasty Project: Jukebox bug.
And finally: I’ve been spending way too long (when I should be revising) in Second Life. I’m currently working on trying to build the game world’s first Bluetooth-like short-range radio system, but while building prototypes I seem to have come up with a great espionage/surviellance device (i.e. a bug). It works really well. I’ve spent the afternoon listening in on people’s conversations. I intend to sell my bugging device for L$100 ($L = Linden Dollars, the currency of this virtual world), and then, when I’ve cornered the market, start selling a de-bugging device that can detect bug usage for L$500. I am one of those people, I have decided, whom; if I ran an anti-virus company, I would write viruses to ensure that people still needed my products.
Ursela is her own, walking, talking, swashbuckling example of the monopoly flag argument. I see the flag distribution happening along almost the same lines as the current crew situation.
A new player logs on. We’ll call him Steve. Steve is quickly greeted by a member of the largest, most aggressively expansionist flag/crew. We’ll call her Ursela. Ursela seems nice, her politics look good, and she is certainly persistent, so Steve joins the Dastards. Steve, as a new player, quickly sees the advantages of having such powerful crewmates. Many ships to job on, knowledge to be shared, a snappy in-house trade system.
Steve puzzles away happily with the Dastards.
Steve gets pretty good and wants more power and renown. Steve soon realizes that the sort of fame and riches he can get through the Dastards is only in keeping with the Dastard heirarchy. Much as he likes the Dastards, Steve thinks he can make it on his own, with his own ship, and this time… as Captain!
Or, Steve stays with the Dastards and they live happily ever after. Or there’s a terrible row and Steve’s new crew and the Dastards become lifelong foes and their rivalry and animosity are legendary. Or Steve never joined because he’s a distrustful paranoid and starts his own Crew of fellow misanthropes and they never amount to much because they’re always afraid of everybody stealing their maps.
People in this game are governed by their personalities just like in the real world. In the real world there are many different groups to be part of. And no one group gets everybody. And don’t forget, there are ooo-run flags too. So, we’ll have some in-game influence of what’s going on too. If the need for some sort of anti-trust activity arises, we’ll confront it, but until then, I think the system is working out pretty well.
(Who will likely have his own renegade flag of anti-imperialists, operating out of a volcano near the Canary Islands. Then all we’ll need is a giant submersible war machine…. mmmm)
Steve? Why didn’t you just call him Ava and be done with it.
Also an interesting group are the developers, not the ringers, but all the other game developers playing this game, and there’s quite a few of them. Im curious if they can say why they chose this game instead of Sims or Everquest etc?
I’m a dev. (not a PP dev., of course), and you’ll probably laugh, Rengor, when you hear how I discovered the game…
I’m currently spending way too much of what little free time I have developing a secure online database system, which I’ll be selling at cost price to a network of charities in the UK providing night-time telephone listening and information to students. This system will help these voluntary organisations find and manage volunteers for specific nights of the week, send text messages to them to remind them when they’re due to be ‘on duty’, provide a secure forum, and (eventually) a host of other features.
While the selection of organisations which this system will serve are… somewhat diverse in thier policies (much to my horror as the system I develop has to cope with all of them), one thing they all have in common is the amount of time the telephone has to ring before they will answer it: three rings. As a result, my system is called Three Rings.
So; I looked for a domain name for it… threerings.com was already gone. Oh, I thought, I wonder who owns that? So I hopped to the web site and thus found Three Rings Design Inc., and, being a fan of MMORPGs and all things MUD and puzzle games, I signed up for Yohoho!
But what about the rest of you dev’s? I know there’re more tech’s out there than just me, arr!
The boys behind AvAngel.com have got something new up their sleeves… it’ll be coming soon, and you can expect to see it mentioned here a lot. Their latest project is a web-based, multiplayer, live-action roleplaying game called AngelPlanet. They’re keeping most of the details on a ‘need to know’ basis, at the moment, but you can watch for updates on AngelPlanet.co.uk.