These are full-blown essays, papers, and articles.
Slideshows and presentation materials from conferences.
Interviews and Panels
Reprints of non-game-specific interviews, and transcripts of panels and roundtables.
Excerpts from blog, newsgroup, and forum posts.
The "Laws of Online World Design" in various forms.
A timeline of developments in online worlds.
A Theory of Fun for Game Design
My book on why games matter and what fun is.
A book I started and never finished outlining the basics of online world design.
Links to resources on online world design.
All contents of this site are
© Copyright 1998-2006
All rights reserved.
The views expressed
here are my own, and
endorsed by any
former or current
Online World Timeline
The following is a timeline of significant events for the development of
virtual worlds. This has been reprinted at a few places, including MudCenter
and Four Below Zero. I welcome more additions to the timeline. Check at the
bottom of this for a list of sources.
Created, March 4th, 2000. Last updated February 20th, 2002.
- J. R. R. Tolkien publishes The Hobbit.
- Dr Cat adds, "I personally would like to see Lord Dunsany
mentioned to counter any notion that Tolkien invented swords
and sorcery. Even if everyone including the D&D authors
were obsessed with him (and of course everyone after the
D&D authors was obsessed with D&D)."
- Vannevar Bush conceptualizes aspects of hypertext, the Internet,
virtual spaces, and lots more.
- The three books of the Lord of the Rings are published in England.
This is their first publication.
- Ted Nelson gets the idea for hypertext as we know it now. He won't
coin the word until 1963, and the word won't see print until 1965.
He works alone on the concept throughout the decade, choosing the
term Xanadu for his project in 1967.
- University of Illinois introduces and patents PLATO,
"Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operations", a network
running on the ILLIAC computer system.
- "The nation's first computer-assisted program of instruction.
PLATO, conceived by physics professor Chalmers Sherwin and
developed under the direction of electrical engineering
professor Don Bitzer, co-inventor of the plasma display panel,
was the world's first time-shared computer-based education
system" according to the UI website.
- "The name PLATO was originally just a name, not an acronym.
Someone invented the acronym sometime in the 1970's, which was
never officially endorsed, but someone printed it anyway." -
- Spacewar! on the PDP-1. It's 2 player. And it's graphical.
And it is 9K.
- Modem patented by BBN.
- Concept of network connected by modems defined in a paper by
Thomas Marill, Daniel Edwards, and Wallace Feurzig.
- According to Richard J. Auld, the concept of the "FAQ" is
developed on PLATO.
- According to the
Cyberpunk Timeline, "MIT researcher Lawrence G. Roberts &
Thomas Merrill connected A TX-2 computer in Massachusetts to the
Q-32 in Palo Alto, California with a low speed dial-up telephone
line creating the first (however small) wide-area computer network
ever built. (Jan.)"
- Ralph Baer conceptualizes the videogame.
- Tolkien's Lord of the Rings is first published in the US.
- By now they are up to PLATO IV, according to some sources.
- "PLATO III yes, PLATO IV no. I started working at CERL in June
1972. At that time we were in transition from PLATO III to
PLATO IV. The new mainframe for PLATO IV had been installed and
quite a bit of system software had been written for it, but it
was still at an early stage." - David Woolley
- Baer files a videogame related patent. This is going to be the Odyssey.
- Rick Blomme writes two-player Spacewar on PLATO. It works
on the remote network, so it is now true network gaming.
- "The reason Plato was such a good gaming platform in the 70's and
early 80's is that it had graphics abilities superior to anything
else available. 512x512 random access monochrome displays were
simply incredible in a year when paper TTY's were still in use.
Another significant factor was that everyone using the system had
the same hardware capabilities, just as console systems do today.
And response time, at least in the early years, was
incredible...anything over 150ms was considered unacceptable
anywhere on the net, and under 100ms was common." - Eric Hagstrom
- "I think the cool thing to observe is that on PLATO programs
would get deleted, and then some other person would go in and try
to "out-do" the previous game, and so in the space of about 4
years we probably went through 20 different variants of dnd and
sorcery-like games. This was very healthy and kept people playing
the games, which were always changing." - Don Gillies
- ARPANet is founded.
- The Cyberpunk Timeline puts this at August of 1968.
- UNIX is written.
- CompuServe is founded by John Goltz.
- This seems awfully early? Source: "Hacking Into Computer
- Dave Arneson starts the first "roleplaying game" campaign, called
- (Arneson himself is not sure whether this occurred in 1970 or
- Ted Nelson works with various guys individually. (1971-2: Ted
invents/ discovers first "Model T" enfilade*), redesigns Xanadu
- Plato reaches capacity for 1000 users.
- Hunt the Wumpus is developed by Gregory Yob on a
Time-Sharing System at the University of Massachusetts in
Dartmouth. This is not an adventure game (it's a text-only maze
game), but a precursor. (Hans Persson, Adventureland timeline)
- Atari is founded by Nolan Bushnell.
- The second edition of the Chainmail miniatures wargaming
rules are published, including a "Fantasy Supplement." This ruleset
will go on to inspire Dungeons and Dragons.
- Airfight aka Dogfight (flight sim) on PLATO.
- It may have existed earlier, but this is the first reference
with a hard date that I can find.
- "In "Dogfight," two players tried to shoot down each other's
"airplane" -- a tiny spot on the screen -- and avoid being shot
down. You could control the position of your own airplane using
the various keys on the keyboard. (This, of course, was ten
years before joysticks and computer mice became common.)
Unfortunately, the person with the fastest connection to the
main computer in Illinois usually won that game." - Guy
- The literal command line name appears to have been "airfight"
- "airfight" was actually someones clone of "dogfight"...same
concept, different authors. Before that, there was "moonwar",
an where players took turns shooting lasers off walls and
around moons trying to hit the other guy." - Eric Hagstrom
- "Airfight and Dogfight were two entirely separate games.
Dogfight was earlier -- it just had tiny airplane icons that
you moved around on the screen in 2-dimensional space. Airfight
came later and gave you a cockpit view, and is what apparently
inspired Bruce Artwick's Flight Simulator, which later became
Microsoft Flight Sim. I'm guessing Dogfight existed by 1973,
Airfight maybe in 1975 or so." - David Woolley
- "PLATO also had "airfight", a 3-D real-time flight simulator
with 3-D views of horizon & airport & enemy (icon
only). One of the authors was brand fortner. These authors
went on to found the company that became microsoft flight
simulator. I think 1973 is the right year for the existence of
airfight - it was EARLIER than Empire. I think it's very
important to realize that microsoft flight simulator came from
plato, from the guys who wrote airfight. I cannot remember the
name of the company they founded, but it was really successful
for a few years before microsoft bought it in the mid 1980's."
- Don Gillies
- "Dogfight was a really stupid 2-d game with a top-view of 2
planes. It was perhaps the earliest PLATO game with a "BIG
BOARD" page. Every user appeared on the page, you could
"Challenge" a user, that user would be given the right to
"Accept", then you'd go to this page where the 2 planes were
displayed, top-view, travel allowed only in the cursor keys
directions (cursor around the 's' key, dirs are e w q a z x c
d), when you shoot ('s') a line shoots out in front of you. You
Could only change direction in inertial ways, I think.
Unsophisticated. Not real time. You could move faster by
hitting keys faster. A good programmer could write this game in
a few days. " - Don Gillies
- Talk-O-Matic, a proto-IRC with handles and chat rooms, is on
PLATO at this point (it may have existed earlier).
- "One of the more popular activities was "Talk-O-Matic". Five
people at a time could write messages, and read each other's
messages, on the same screen. Today, Internet chat rooms work
on the same principle. One of the remarkable new features of
this page was that you could log in with an invented name, and
pretend you were anyone you wanted -- any name, any age, any
gender. One favorite trick was to log in using the name of
someone else already logged into the page, simply to confuse
everyone else." - Guy Consolmagno, SJ.
- "Term Talk on Plato, a 2-user chat, predates the five
user Talkomatic, too. Term Talk also let you go into monitor
mode, where one user saw everything the other user did on their
screen. "- Dr Cat.
- "Talkomatic, by David Woolley, predated term-talk. Check this
http://www.thinkofit.com/drwool/dwconf.htm." - Eric
- The "Hacking Into Computer Systems: A Beginner's Guide" doc
reports PLATO hacked with the starship Enterprise attacking people
on Airfight (who were expecting airplanes!)
- Dungeons and Dragons is first sold by Arneson and Gary Gygax
as typewritten rule sets.
- The original Dungeons and Dragons set is published, though it had
been well-distributed prior to this.
- "The original '74 D&D set was the only version of D&D
until 1977 (although supplements were printed during that
"in-between" time)." - Travis S. Casey
- Somewhere in here, Mines of Moria (it had 248 mazes,
according to Antic magazine in 1984) on PLATO.
- Empire: multiplayer space empire game on PLATO supporting 32
- "A game called "Empire" allowed you to play over weeks at a
time, making moves every time you logged in, building up your
resources in an interstellar empire that eventually would
interact with other players' empires. But somehow it took so
long to set up your own empire that most players lost interest
before they ever encountered any other empire. " - Guy
- According to Antic Magazine in a 1984 article, it was in fact
Star Trek based, with Romulans, Orions, Federation, and Kazars
- Not to be confused with Peter Langston's Empire, which is a
- "The description of Plato Empire in 1972 contains "making moves
every time you logged in," which is misleading, that sounds
more like the Unix army-tank-plane-boat kind of empire than the
Plato spaceship empire. It was essentially almost the same as
Nettrek in slow motion, with one animation frame every 2-10
seconds. Your spaceship would vanish if you logged off, though
the planets and armies that were shared resources of your whole
team would remain. And you could call the keystrokes that
controlled your ship "moves" if you stretched it, but your ship
would keep coasting and generating screen updates every ten
seconds even if you didn't type anything. As for a game
lasting weeks - I don't know if it sometimes stretched that
long - when we logged on late one night at Purdue in the early
80s, we managed to conquer the galaxy three times in one night
because nobody was on but us klingons, so a game certainly
could be (and was) concluded in a couple of hours. I think
maybe we won one last one after "You can't kill / brian / slib"
showed up, but he called for help from other well known good
players and slowed us down enough we couldn't take the whole
galaxy any more. "Eventually interact with other players
empires" sounds a lot like the text based Unix with land armies
version as well - in Plato Empire they didn't interact on their
own, only when you attack planets with your spaceship and beam
armies up and then beam them down to an enemy planet. And
there's no eventually about it, you'd be doing that within
minutes of logging on unless you just wanted to dogfight enemy
spaceships. Same with "took so long to set up your own
Empire", that's the Unix Empire (which had many clones and
descendants btw, a bewildering array). There was nothing to
set up in Plato Empire, just log on and fly. " - Dr Cat.
- "Not sure about the earliest evolution of the original Empire,
but the surviving version ("conquest") can be played through in
a few hours. Action stops if nobody is in the game, however,
so games could last weeks in the sense that nobody is playing.
The more popular Empire ("empire") is, as you say four teams of
15 players, with Klingons eventually being renamed Kazar for
fear of copyright infringement. I've participated in wins that
took less than 20 minutes, but that was using the fact that all
planets start in a weakened state when the universe is reset
after a previous win." - Eric Hagstrom
- "I seriously doubt Empire existed at this early date, because
PLATO IV terminals were still fairly scarce. You would have to
check with the Empire authors, like Chuck Miller, but I suspect
Empire started more like 1974 or so." - David Woolley
- "I believe david woolley, Empire is circa 1974. It is the only
game on your list that existed already when i started using
plato in July/August 1975." - Don Gillies (Based on these
two notes, I have moved this entry to 1974 - RK).
- Don also provided a full description of Empire to settle some
of the above arguments:
Empire is the game to end all games. It is played
on roughly a 60x60 universe of "quadrants", you fly through a
quadrant in about 10 seconds, in real-time. Your view is a 3x3
long-range scan. You screen replots to update your location
every 10 seconds, but you can hit a key to get an early partial
The universe is laid out like a 5-spot dice, there
are home planets in the four corners (Klingon, Orion,
Federation, Romulan). Each home system has 3 planets and a
sun. In the center of the dice-like universe is a system of
about 6 planets / suns. Also, there are two "dead planetss"
halfway between each home space.
You have typical weapons (phasers, photon torpedos), long-range
and short-range scans. Your ship is a 16x16 icon that looks
like the real thing from startrek. You can fly or fire in any
directgion, but the ship plots only in the cursor directions (d
e w q a z x c) because its displayed with a limited set of
loadable charsets. Everything - phasers, movement, torpedo
travel - is performed in discrete real time. There is no
animation, but you can take an updated snapshot any time by
hitting a keypress.
Your goal is to drop armies on every planet in the universe.
When this happens, the game ends and the team is declared the
winner. If you get killed, you can go straight back into the
game, which will place you someplace in your home space with
few enemies. You can pick up armies from your home planet,
take them to another planet, bombard the planet to kill armies,
then drop your armies to overtake the planet. If your
homespace is taken over, you can bombard the planets and then
attmpt a "coup" to reignite your home team armies. The coup
can only be attempted about once per hour, and it often fails.
Empire was a MIND BLOWING game. It had 3 million contact hours
before 1980. Think about it. PLATO only had 1000 terminals.
So, there were only something like 9M contact hours in a
- DND (Avatar) existed by now, according to Steve Gray, who
was 11 at the time and writing code for PLATO. DND was apparently
the command line name, and Avatar the game name.
- "I think dnd and avatar were two different games on Plato. I
personally played dnd sometime in the 1975 to 1977 time period,
it was a 2D overhead view of a 3x3 sections of a dungeon map.
Dungeon Of Death on the Commodore Pet (from Instant Software?)
was a blatant clone of it. Avatar had a title screen with the
cover art from Dragon Magazine number one for a title screen,
probably traced somehow and converted into black and orange
line art. (No white on Plato till they made a CRT version of
the Plato terminal). Avatar's title screen said Copyright 1980
at one point, not sure if they started earlier. Several Plato
hackers got together to make Avatar as a newer and cooler
version of Oubliette. " - Dr Cat.
- Dr Cat says that Wizardry was directly based on Avatar, down to
the spell names.
- ""dnd", by Flint and Dirk Pellett predates "avatar". So does
"orthanc", by Paul Resch, Larry Kemp, and myself and
done about the same time. Both have overhead 3x3 views.
Orthanc allowed players to meet and talk in the dungeon, but
otherwise was a single-player game. This is 1973." - Eric
- According to Peter Zelchenko, the original authors of DND were
Gary Whisenhunt and Ray Wood, and Flint and Dirk Pellet were
- "avatar" was the big hit, of course. Roger Uzan got
hooked on it fairly recently, post-EQ launch. He tried to get
me involved, but I burned out on it a decade ago....I'd rather
play Everquest. There's still a loyal following to this day.
1979?" - Eric Hagstrom
- "I also played Avatar (which was a late arrival to CDC PLATO)
in the mid to later 1980s. The people who wrote it were
supposedly going to to come out with a PC version (and I dont
think Wizardry was it)." - Mike Lindeland
- "I am friends with steve grey, i don't think he has the year
right when he says that dnd appeared in 1974; i didn't see it
until months after i arrived in 1975/6." - Don Gillies
- "Yes, it was a clone. I played a few hundred hours of DND on
Plato in 1977 (in a bomb shelter in the Army no less) and when
I got my first microcomputer in 1978 I wrote an 8k version of
it. Also wrote a version of Empire (single player) called
Trek-X the same year for the Pet. Both were published by
Instant Software. So began the insanity. :)" - Gordon Walton
- "the very first graphical dungeon was probably Orthanc (Pedit5)
on PLATO, written by Rusty Rutherford in late 1974, which would
agree with the introduction of Gygax's first book." - Peter
- Notesfiles created on PLATO, the first BBSes, almost exactly
like today's Usenet.
- Also, around now Xerox visits PLATO and they trade ideas,
according to Doug Jones.
- "To me, saying notesfiles are "almost exactly" like today's
Usenet is an insult to notesfiles or an unwarranted compliment
to Usenet. Your mileage may vary. :X) Me, I would say
"similar" or something. It is worth noting that the tin
newsreader attempts to impose a notesfiles-like interface on
the messy underlying structure that is Usenet, which can only
imperfectly really be made to work that way - but it's better
than nothing, and I use tin exclusively to read Usenet being an
old-time Plato junkie." - Dr Cat.
- "Actually, the first version of PLATO Notes opened in August,
1973. Personal Notes (email) came along about a year later in
1974. Group Notes, the new version of PLATO Notes that allowed
anyone to create a notes file, came out in January 1976." -
- Somewhere in here, DECWAR was created. It is Star Trek based
also--perhaps a relationship to the Empire game on PLATO?
- "Sometime in the early-to-mid 70s there was a multi-player
Space War game that ran on DEC VMS systems. I played that one
for about an hour one day." - Chris Gray.
- "That was called 'Decwars'. Yes it ran on VAX/VMS. We used to
play it on a pdp10. It used shared memory to communicate, not
files - which was one of the ways the sysadmins could detect
it. We generally played 5+ players per side. It had a lot of
intelligent multiplayer design considerations." - S. Patrick
- The first first-person shooter? Dave Lebling and Greg Thompson
write a multiplayer first person Maze for the Imlac PDS-1,
with PDP-10 as a server. It supported up to 8 players, chat, and
- "We wrote this in (umm) 1974. It was based on a single-player
Maze-exploring game Greg brought with him to MIT from NASA.
Maze was 3D first-person perspective with up to eight players,
any of whom could be robotic. The graphics were a _bit_ less
compelling than Quake. You could also chat with the other
players. Mostly a shooter. You could design your own mazes and
pick which one you wanted to fight in, so there could be some
exploration. Shooting was a keystroke (no aiming, you just shot
in the direction you were facing). Hits were handled on the
server: if the requisite amount of time passed for the bullet
to travel to the target passed, and he/it was still in line
with it, he/it was hit. Movement, peeking around corners, and
shooting were all done with the keyboard. We had mice on the
Imlacs, but they were very flakey. I'm not completely sure Greg
wrote the single-person exploration version. It may have been a
freeware program for the Imlac, or written by someone else at
NASA-Ames. He did most of the Imlac coding and I did the server
on the PDP-10. A guy named Ken Herrenstein came in later and
redid the client and server to optimize throughput (sending
position diffs instead of whole positions, and other such
stuff). As mentioned above, you shot in the direction you were
facing. You could then turn and run without affecting the path
of the bullet (they were slow bullets). It was vector graphics,
the look was sort of wire-framed, except the hidden lines (and
hidden players) were removed, of course. You looked like your
name floating in space (shades of EQ!), with little eyes
visible if you were facing the viewer, an arrow showing which
way you were facing otherwise. The later Alto and Mac versions
did this part much more nicely!" - Dave Lebling
- Star Trader is written by Dave Kaufman.
- "People's Computer Company (PCC), a company that is still around
today and who brought us Dr. Dobb's Journal among other things,
publishes Volume 2, Number 3 of it's newsletter in January. In
this publication is a BASIC source-code for Star Trader by Dave
Kaufman. This game outlined the general details of a
sector-based game with ports and a player moving between sectors
trading three basic products (Fuel, Organics, Equipment) to earn
credits." - John Pritchett's History of Tradewars 2002
- A paper is published on "Teaching mathematics with games" on
PLATO. This is the only formal reference I can find to PLATO and
games. PLATO eventually banned games.
- Bridge on PLATO.
- "When I was in college in the mid-1970's, the only form of
computerized bridge play was on the nationwide PLATO
network. After playing against humans at the local club, we
would head for campus for late-night bridge on big monochrome
terminals in the university PLATO lab. If we were lucky enough
to find three other humans on the network, the game could be
fairly challenging. Often, though, at least one of the four
players would be the computer (called the PLATO "freak"), which
was programmed with a bare minimum of bridge knowledge. PLATO's
primitive bidding was random after the first round of the
auction, and its defense and declarer play defied logic -- the
program always pulled trumps, always played second-hand low and
third-hand high, etc." - Karen Walker
- "I was the main author of the bridge game (called "Contract").
Martin Wolff wrote the bidding logic, and I did pretty much
everything else. Karen Walker says "PLATO's primitive bidding
was random after the first round of the auction, and its
defense and declarer play defied logic ..." Well, it was
indeed a pretty pathetic player, I have to admit. However, the
bidding was deterministic, not random. It may have *seemed*
random, though..."- David Woolley
- John Taylor reports that he was writing and playing multi-player
games at the University of Virginia in this year.
- John Brunner's Shockwave Rider is published.
- Will Crowther creates the first version of ADVENT in FORTRAN
on a PDP-1 while working for Bolt, Beranek and Newman (BBN) in
- Hans Persson's Adventureland Timeline puts this at 1972, not
- "Well, Will Crowther made the game up after we had been playing
D&D for a few months. A new arrival on the ARPANET project
was also a housemaster at Harvard at the time and D&D had
pretty much just appeared. He dungeounmastered up a dungeon
and a bunch of us from the project team got sucked into
playing." - Sandy Morton in rec.arts.int-fiction
- "Since D&D had not been circulated in 1972, Crowther could
not have written ADVENT then, if this memory is correct.
Chapter two of Dibbell's _My Tiny Life_ states that ADVENT was
written in 1976, but I haven't found anything else to confirm
that." - Travis Casey
- Don Woods put ADVENT on the PDP-10. This is the version everyone knows.
- Apple Computer is founded.
- Control Data Corporation buys the PLATO network.
- PLATO is up to PLATO V by now.
- "PLATO V was really just a microprocessor terminal (also known
as a PPT..I have a manual at home someplace) that coexisted
with the older hardwired terminals. It had some download and
standalone capabilties, but was mostly used in a dumb role
along with the older hardwired terminals (PLATO IV's). The
PLATO network did not radically change as in previous PLATO
editions. There were also several CRT versions produced with
similar and standalone (microTutor) capabilities. Eventually
emulators were written for apples, pcs, and others -- once VGA
became an accepted standard (most VGA cards could be tweaked to
display 512x512) and all old terminals were eventually replaced
over the next decade. I gave mine away to a collector when I
moved to San Diego in 1993...too heavy for me to lug around any
more." - Eric Hagstrom
- Lebling & Blank start work on Zork on the PDP-10,
inspired by ADVENT. They form a startup with some friends, called
- "The original Zork, started in 1977, was written by me, Marc
Blank (note spelling), Tim Anderson, and Bruce Daniels. Infocom
wasn't founded until 1979. One source for Zork is that I was in
the game D&D group, which was mostly BBN people, that Wil
Crowther was in. Not at the same time, though; I think I
actually replaced him when we dropped out. Zork was "derived"
from Advent in that we played Advent, liked it, wished it were
better, and tried to do a "better" one. There was no code
borrowed, or anything like that, and we didn't meet either
Crowther or Woods until much later." - Dave Lebling
- A new version of Dungeons & Dragons with simplified rules,
later to be called "Basic Dungeons & Dragons", is published.
It contains the first known use of the term "role-playing game".
- The Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual is published.
- Kelton Flinn works on "the text-based amoeboid-like ancestor" to
Air Warrior called AIR between 1977 and 1979.
- "If Air Warrior was a primate swinging in the trees, "AIR" was
the text-based amoeba crawling on the ocean floor. But it was
quasi-real time, multi-player, and attempted to render 3-D on
the terminal using ASCII graphics. It was an acquired taste." -
- Roy Trubshaw begins MUD1 development. In the fall, he and
Richard Bartle complete the first version, which runs on a PDP-10.
The name, "multi user dungeon" refers to a variant of ADVENT known
- "I promised to get in touch with Roy Trubshaw and nail this
"how did the D in MUD come to be there?" question once and for
all. I've now done so, and having exchanged a few emails and
jogged each other's memories, here's the Authorised Version:
The D came first.
As Roy says, "We wanted to call it something
and DUNGEN was the best adventure game that we had played up
until then. (I was never really very keen on Haunt!)". The D
has always stood for "Dungeon" and the fact that the acronym
was also a word was a secondary (though not unimportant)
consideration. He didn't start with an acronym and work
backwards; he wanted to write something that was like a
It wasn't the case that Roy thought Adventure
games would be called "Dungeons", because even then they were
being referred to in the context of ADVENTure. He might have
named it after that program if it had been better than DUNGEoN,
but it wasn't.
The "MUDD" title in the listing I have from
1979 was because someone else (Keith Rautenbach, an
undergraduate in the year above Roy) went through commenting
the code and put in two Ds, probably because he thought it was
a reference to Dungeons & Dragons. It never was, and the
file that refers to "MUDD" is itself called MUD.MAC (.MAC for
the MACRO-10 assembly language).
My recollection of a gathering in Roy's flat
where we discussed the name was false. We did have such a
meeting, but we were talking about the map for the BCPL version
of the game. Roy wasn't staying on campus in his second year,
and another person at the meeting (Brian Mallett) didn't come
to Essex University until Roy was in his 3rd year and I was in
Roy also mentioned that he'd recently written
something on this subject to Jerry Pournelle, who in a small
part of a longer report on 2001's AAAS meeting
(http://www.byte.com/column/BYT20010228S0009) had put
"multi-user 'dungeons'" as an expansion of MUDs. Here's what
Roy wrote to him:
"A totally minor quibble in a very interesting
and succinct report on the AAAS meeting: MUD does stand for
Multi-User Dungeon. There is no need to stick quotes around
I might have named it MUA after ADVENT(ure) [a
text adventure popular on DEC-10s around the world] but a game
called Dungeon appeared and saved me from trying to find a way
to say MUA without sounding silly. There was also some slight
influence from TSR's Dungeons and Dragons."
Dr Pournelle replied:
"Well, clearly you have a right to say it, but
I used the quote marks because the guys at the conference
clearly implied them after I asked. For some odd reason science
people looking for grants aren't interested in being associated
with dungeons with or without quote marks!"
Some things never change (sigh)."- Richard
- Alan Klietz writes Sceptre of Goth, also a mud system. These
two developments were completely independent. Lauren Burka puts
this date at 1979. Sceptre of Goth was also known as Empire for a
while but is not generally referred to that way because of the
numerous other games with the same name.
- AD&D Player Handbook published.
- Interestingly, according to Lauren Burka, early mud developers
never played the game.
- Richard Bartle clarifies, "In my case, that's only true because
AD&D wasn't out yet; I had played D&D quite a bit in
1976-8. The only real impact it made on MUD1 was the "levels"
system, though, which I thought was a neat way to give players
short-to-medium term goals. Roy Trubshaw knew about D&D and
may have tried it once or twice, but I don't think he ever
dived in deeply; he certainly never designed his own dungeons."
- Walter Bright's version of Empire makes it to the DEC-10.
- Somewhere in here, Oubliette on Plato.
- "Oubliette had a 3D wizardry style view of the dungeons (line
drawings). Might have been the first on Plato to have that -
Moria might have been but I'm not sure what the display style
was." - Dr Cat.
- "When I was a little boy, I went and played in the basement of
the Lawrence Hall of Science where they had a small number of
primitive terminals (I can still remember the sound of the
teletypes!). On those machines, you could (if I remember
correctly) login to the "Plato" network. On that system was a
primitive D&D-like game whose original name I can't
remember, but it was renamed "Adventure" for a short while. The
game was taken off of the Plato network, and I moved onto other
things, as little boys are wont to do. I know it wasn't the
classic text adventure, "Adventure," because it had Ultima
I-like vector-based graphics for going into a dungeon, finding
a Vampire or Balrog, and seeing its representation on screen. I
remember some details about the game, like being ranked with
other players based upon the success of your character." - Paul
Forbes. I don't know which game this refers to. I have seen a
graphical title screen for Moria.
- ""oubliette", the first group-oriented dungeon on Plato, was
the model the early "Wizardry" series ripped off, and also
predates Avatar. Spells were cast by typing their names (i.e.
alito, fieminamor), and you had to type them as fast as
possible to beat the monster. 1977?" - Eric Hagstrom
- "1974 is far too early for "Oubliette." Oubliette beta (e.g.
very limited access list) was early spring, 1978 -- with
unlimited access list that summer. Oubliette definitely
predated Avatar; in fact, Avatar was supposed to be the
"Oubliette buster." I'm thinking version 1 of Avatar was
finished late 1978 or sometime in 1979 -- maybe even later." -
- Zork released as a standalone game by Infocom.
- The Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master's Guide is
- "Swarthmore summer" of specification and design amongst Ted, Roger
Gregory, Mark Miller, Stuart Greene, Eric Hill, Roland King. Mark
and Stuart develop General Enfilade Theory* from Model T; from this
the 88.1 architecture* of Granfilade*, Spanfilade* and Poomfilade*.
Between now and 1992 the XOC team (Roger Gregory, Mark Miller)
build two major designs (neither productized): Udanax Green
(formerly Xanadu 88.1, for its time of near-completion and
shelving), Udanax Gold (formerly Xanadu 92.1, for the intended
- S, the multiplayer space combat and colonization game by
Kelton Flinn and John Taylor, is coded over the summer at the
University of Virginia.
- MegaWars III was based on S.
- "'S' was written in BASIC and supported eight users on the
HP-2000." - Kelton Flinn
- S used ASCII graphics.
- "Basic Dungeons & Dragons" and "Expert Dungeons & Dragons"
- "This publication marks a split between "Dungeons &
Dragons" and "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons", as TSR modifies
the rules of BD&D to be less like AD&D. The split was
made for legal reasons -- David Arneson, the co-creator of
D&D, had left TSR and sued for royalties from D&D. TSR
maintained that AD&D was a different game, and they
therefore should not have to pay royalties to Arneson on it or
its products. Maintaining this, however, required that they
not replace D&D with AD&D, as had been their original
intent. For this reason, TSR continued to produce both D&D
and AD&D, and to change the two game lines to be different
from each other, into the early '90's." - Travis S. Casey
- "Nsorcery was another cool Plato fantasy game, it existed by
1980 when I played it. It was 2D, tile based, and single player." - Dr
- Empire introduces annual tournaments.
- Final version of MUD1 completed by Richard Bartle--Essex goes on
the ARPANet, resulting in Internet muds!
- Steve Jackson releases Advanced Melee and Advanced Wizard, along
with In The Labyrinth. The changes made from previous versions make
the games into a roleplaying system.
- drygulch exists on PLATO by now.
- "Drygulch on Plato had a gold mine that served as the dungeon,
it had a 3D line-drawing display like oubliette and avatar but
I think it was fancier and would display more squares of the
dungeon if walls were open to reveal them. The town had
multiple shops that had 2D line art illustrating the inside of
the shop. Among them were the sherrif's office and the jail.
The sherrif could assign rewards for the capture of players
that broke the law and administer the jail in some way. He was
chosen by election, and easily removed by the "veto" of any one
player - you could go into his office when he was logged off
and shoot him dead, and not being online there was no way he
could defend himself from that! It was all a cowboys and gold
miners in the old west theme, if I didn't make that evident
from the preceeding. No orcs or magic, there were some kinda
varmints in the gold mines. Snakes and spiders and rats I
think." - Dr Cat.
- "You list under 1984 that drygulch "exists on PLATO by now." While
that is technically correct, it actually certainly earlier than
that (IIRC by 1980 on CDC PLATO anyway [as opposed to CERL PLATO]).
I played with w/ others in a friend's parent's basement on a PLATO
terminal brought home by his father, who was a CDC employee. It
was mentioned in a 1984 article by Antic magazine (though no dates
of origination were given there)." - Mike Lindeland
- "Another PLATO game existing at that time (around 1980) was
Panzerkrieg (sp?). You and an opponent would carry out
extended campaigns against each other in a WWII simulation.
Another was Wolfpack (German, American, and British multiplayer
subs vs. destroyers)." - Mike Lindeland
- labyrinth also exists, but I know nothing about it.
- Kelton Flinn and John Taylor write Dungeons of Kesmai. It
used ASCII graphics.
- "The summer of 1980 we wrote the game that became Dungeons of
Kesmai, which supported six users on a souped-up Z-80." -
- They didn't know about MUD at the time. "No. The fantasy
lineage started with the single player fantasy game written for
the HP-2000 in BASIC during 1979-1980, basically extending a
maze combat program I wrote earlier in 1979, to see if I could
capture some of the essence of D&D. That game was rewritten
in UCSD Pascal for the Z-80 running CPM, and as I mentioned, as
that point became 6 user multi-player. Dungeons was the cut
down single-player version of that game, still Pascal because
CompuServe had a compiler. There was a TRS-80 Model 1 BASIC
version in there also. At that time I hadn't even heard of
Adventure yet. Of course by the time we were doing the Island
late in 1980, I had seen Adventure and Zork, but we were
heading off in our own direction by that time, a lot more
action-oriented and very little puzzle-solving." - Kelton Flinn
- Atari starts trying to put PLATO on their eight-bits. But negotiations
- "Plato was put on IBM PCs (as Plato Homelink?), with an
emulator that reprogrammed the CGA card to do 512*256, which
gave a passable scrunched reproduction of a 512*512 Plato
screen. There was also an Apple II+ emulator made, but it was
decided the quality was so poor it shouldn't be released as a
product. A CDC employee who remembered me from the old days
gave me a copy and I briefly used it to access Plato over my
modem at 300 baud with a 280*192 display, the font scrunched to
3*5 pixels or so and barely legible. " - Dr Cat.
- Island of Kesmai is written by Kelton Flinn and John Taylor.
- "Island of Kesmai was written in 1980 and 1981, the goal
being to soak up every bit of performance in the the CS
department's new VAX. We succeeded." - Kelton Flinn
- "The look and feel of Dungeons actually did not change
much, same basic screen layout and ASCII graphics from the
first HP-2000 version through to the Island, but the
addition of a quasi-natural-language parser in place of
cryptic single character commands was done in the Island,
and back-fitted when we did the Dungeons port to
CompuServe, so that Dungeons would serve as a intro for the
Island. The Island also introduced copious textual
descriptions of things, whereas the earlier games relied on
the ASCII graphics and terse combat results messages." -
- William Gibson publishes "Johnny Mnemonic" in Omni.
- Vernor Vinge publishes True Names.
- Kesmai is founded by Kelton Flinn & John Taylor.
- "In November 1981, John saw an ad for CompuServe, namely a
MegaWars ad ("if you had written this, you'd be making $30,000
a month in royalties!" I think the ad said. Bill was actually
trolling for new games!) That kinda got our interest, so we
sent a copy of The Island of Kesmai manual to Bill Louden and
also to The Source. Even though the game already ran on the
Prime computers that the Source used, they never responded
intelligibly. Louden on the other hand was interested. We tried
to bring the original UNIX version of the Island of Kesmai up
on CompuServe's DEC 20's, and chewed up $100,000 of CPU time
(at the then commercial rate) in 3 days. We got it working, but
as Bill said, the lights dimmed in Columbus when it was
running. So we headed back to Charlottesville to retrench. The
first step was porting the old Z-80 code, that became Dungeons
of Kesmai, which was cut back to single-player (probably the
only time in history a multi-player game was made into a single
player game!)" - Kelton Flinn
- Teletel is created.
- "Minitel was the outgrowth of a French Government
telecom project in the early 80's called the "Teletel" network.
This went live in 1982. It wasn't until early 1984 that the
Minitel service - "phone top boxes" in many french telephone
customers homes, etc - went live." - Josh Kirkpatrick
- MegaWars I launches on Compuserve.
- According to S. Patrick Gallaty, the design of MegaWars I was
based on that of Decwar.
- "Bill Louden, then at CompuServe, told me in 1989 or 1990 that
he bought DECwar on tape for $50 in 1982 and turned it over to
Kesmai for porting, and that the game did, indeed, become
MegaWars I and then MegaWars III." - Jessica Mulligan.
- "The page says MegaWars I was done by us. Not so, the game was
done in-house at CompuServe. Either Bill's or Jessica's memory
is a bit off. John can probably confirm, I think Russ Ranshaw
did the port of DecWars. The quote from Jessica implies
MegaWars III was an outgrowth of MegaWars I, which isn't
correct." - Kelton Flinn
- "(fyi MW2 was a specific version that used the Radio Shack
Color computer to provide rudimentary graphics)" - John Taylor
- "...we dusted off an old coffee-stained printout of "S". We
recoded tbe game in CompuServe's BASIC, enhanced the game some,
incorporated some ideas Bill had, and rolled out MegaWars III
in December 1983. It was an instant hit and stole a lot of
MegaWars I's thunder. That enabled us to go back to the Island
of Kesmai, rewrite it from Pascal into BASIC (a step
backwards!) and rearchitect it for CompuServe." - Kelton Flinn
- The film WarGames is released.
- The first commercial version of MUD1 opens on Compunet in UK.
- Islands of Kesmai launches ($12 an hour!).
- AUSI, a predecessor company to Mythic, formes & launches
Aradath for $40 a month.
- Atari finally puts PLATO on 8-bits. It has a $5/hour connect fee.
- Minitel goes live.
- A detailed history can be downloaded here.
- Sometime prior to 1984, John Sherrick writes Tradewars. It's
similar to Star Traders, written in BASIC, and is for BBSes.
- "It's not known whether or not Sherrick was inspired by Star
Traders, but I suspect this to be the case since they were both
written in BASIC. Sherrick's Tradewars is developed in BASIC
until December, 1989, when it is ported to C. I believe that
Sherrick's earliest work was freeware, without any
restrictions. It is because of this public domain code, and
the Star Trader code, that so many TW variations have been and
continue to be written. At some point, Sherrick closed his
code, releasing it under the new name of Tradewars II. His
version continues to be developed by John Morris, I am told." -
John Pritchett, Tradewars history
- "Another BBS door game. This is such an influential game, at
least to me. This was a multiplayer turn based space trading
game with a bit of combat thrown it. You couldn't actually
play this at the same time as another player. You had X amount
of moves per day. When your moves ran out, somebody else got a
turn. Yes it was persistent as your merchant and fleet were
left in the game for other players to destroy or destroy them
if they found you." - Jon Lambert
- Gary Martin starts work on TradeWars 2002 in this year. "Gary
Martin, original author of Trade Wars 2002, states that his
version of TW was inspired by Tradewars by Chris Sherrick,
which was active in 1984 but not supported on the BBS he was
running. In 1984, Gary decided to write his own version of the
game simply because he wanted to run it under the BBS he was
using. It's clear that Martin's version was inspired by Star
Trader. In fact, the core trading system code still has the
same variables as those found in the BASIC listing. It's also
clear that Omnitrend's Universe was an inspiration for Gary's
work where it deviated from Sherrick's, as many of the concepts
in that game are identifiable in TW2002. There are also areas
of the game that are taken directly from Sherrick's earliest
BASIC code, before he and Morris closed it. In terms of
technologies, names and places, Gary's version is derivative of
both Star Trek and Star Wars.
Between the years of 1984 and 1990, Gary Martin and his wife,
MaryAnn, took their version of TW, written in Turbo Pascal,
through multiple versions, going from Trade Wars with 100
sectors, through TW2001 for the popular WWIV BBS, to TW2002
versions 1 and 2, adding the StarDock with its Tavern,
Shipyard, Bank, Underground, Library, and Police Station,
adding planetary Citadels, increasing the number of ship types,
ramping sector count up to 5000, etc. By the time of TW2002v2,
the Martins' version is much more than just the sum of its
various influences. An interesting footnote: during this time
Gary enlisted the help of Drew Markham to create several of the
ANSI images used in the game. Drew Markham later went on to
found Xatrix and create some successful titles including
Sherrick's version was passed to John Morris during this time.
He continued to improve that version of the game. Development
diverged on these two games, taking place quite independently,
so that both games are recognizable as having the same root,
but are very much different in gameplay." - John Pritchett,
- Neuromancer is published, and the word cyberspace is coined.
- Islands of Kesmai on Compuserve
- "My memory says that Island of Kesmai went live on CompuServe
on December 15, 1985, after a very long internal test. The
price was actually $6 an hour for 300 baud, $12 for 1200 baud.
Serious players paid the bucks." - Kelton Flinn
- Stellar Warrior (rewrite of MegaWars) launches on GEnie.
- "On the same day [as the launch of IOK], we rolled out Stellar
Warrior on GEnie ($5 an hour for 1200 baud, raised a year or so
later to $6.) Stellar Warrior was a cut down and simplified
version of MegaWars III (not MegaWars), ported to FORTRAN." -
- GEnie launches at $6 an hour.
- "For example: On GEnie during 1991, our average MMOG customer
spent $156 per month, the equivalent of 32 hours at $3 per hour
to play. However, the hard core players averaged three times
that and accounted for nearly 70% of the total revenue. The
top 0.5% had truly astronomical bills, well over $1,000 per
month." - Jessica Mulligan
- QuantumLink,, predecessor to AOL, launches in November.
- Habitat is developed by Randy Farmer and Chip Morningstar at
Lucasfilm, as a product for QuantumLink. The client runs on a C64.
- Richard Bartle starts work on MUD2.
- Peter Langston creates PSL Empire, apparently as a
single-player game. Not to be confused with the other game termed
Empire that ran on PLATO and which was Star Trek based.
- "It was originally written on I -believe- a pdp 11, unknown OS.
The thing that made it architecturally interesting was that it
was designed to run in a server with a 64K code space
limitation, and so it was broken up into 7 modules with user
commands compiled into each of the 7 modules grouped together
to try to minimize reloads. The original PSL Empire had an
orthagonal map, which led to 'funny math' on moving diagonals.
The fortran was run through a fortran to C processor, which is
the format that I inherited it back in the mid 80's. I was the
games adminitrator on M-net, which I believe was the first
public access (free access) unix bbs..." - S. Patrick Gallaty.
- "while there might have been some single player Empire
initially, the version I played on a Unix box in the mid 80s
was multiplayer, with BTUs (Beaureaucratic (sp?) Time Units)
that slowly accumulated in your capital. You could log on
whenever during the day you wanted, execute "get info anout my
empire" commands for free all you wanted... But you only could
do so much "build this, change production, route this here,
move that unit there, attack that" type commanding 'cause each
command used BTUs. So someone logging on frequently didn't
have as much advantage over someone who got on seldom. It had
a lot of the attributes that got filed under your Plato Empire
description. Mark Baldwin's Empire was much more streamlined
and didn't take forever. (Maybe somebody somewhere actually
finished a game of Unix Empire... Maybe not. I know people
wrote shell scripts to automate a lot of the tasks involved in
maintaining their empires because it was so much work!)" - Dr
- "Also Rabbitjack's Casino was the first graphic multiplayer
online game from QuantumLink for the C-64 (1985 or 1986, maybe?)
and was later ported to the PC for America Online." - Dr Cat.
- "This was developed by Rob Fulop's company (name forgotten) and
Ernest Adams was involved." - Jessica Mulligan
- "The "(name forgotten)" Rob Fulop's company (for Rabbitjack's
Casino) was Advanced Program Technology. I worked on the sound
player code for this project back in 1985. :) 1985-1986 sounds
about right for when the game was launched. Rob Fulop was
earlier the author of many Atari 2600 games, including Demon
Attack and Night Driver." - Dan Peri
- xtrek, the predecessor to Netrek, is released.
- "Xtrek and Netrek are essentially Plato Empire with a much
higher frame rate (in the animating range, rather than one
frame every 2-10 seconds!) Computers got a lot faster from 1972
to 1986. There've been various refinements and new features
(like the motionless starbase type of "ship"), but the basic
gameplay and mechanics and commands are pretty close to Plato
Empire." - Dr Cat.
- Jessica Mulligan does first play by email game on commercial
online server: Rim Worlds War.
- Air Warrior hits pre-alpha.
- MUD2 launches in the UK as a pay-for-play service.
- UCSD Empire, by Dave Pare, made Langston's Empire a multiplayer game.
- MTrek is first run.
- "MTrek ('Multi-Trek') was up and running at University of
California at Santa Cruz from 1986 through the early 90's. At
least through 93. Mainly through the good graces of
then-sysadmin Tim Garlick, who designated ucscb.ucsc.edu as a
'social and games' system and thereby created an entire
community. There was an author-endorsed variant called
'S&MTrek' (supposedly standing for 'Sean and Madonna
Trek') hosted by Jon Luini (IUMA founder) at gorn.com, back
when Jon worked for SCO." - Jame Scholl
- Macromind (later Macromedia) releases Dave Lebling's game
MazeWars based on the 1974 game Maze.
- "Macromind's version was based on the one for the Xerox Alto
written by Jim Guyton (who heard about it from a friend who had
been at MIT) in the late 70s.
Macromind's version used the Appletalk network. It and the Alto
version had a HUD of the maze (which we always refused to put
in -- cheating!). There was no mouse-look in any of these
versions, if my memory is correct: it was all keystrokes. " -
- Air Warrior is released on GEnie.
- "Air Warrior had fewer overall players than GS III, but
they played longer and the game generated equivalent revenue
totals." - Jessica Mulligan
- "Air Warrior debuted on GEnie in February 1986, Jessica has
that one right. The initial client was on the Macintosh; the
Amiga and Atari ST versions came along later that year, and the
IBM PC the next. One thing that was unique about Air Warrior
was that we supported Macintosh, Amiga, Atari ST, and IBM PC
all in the same game, flying against each other. In 1988 we
rolled out Air Warrior on the FM-TOWNS for Fujitsu. It was
available in Japan for several years, but the price was too
high due to telecom charges, so it never reached the level of
popularity it had on GEnie." - Kelton Flinn
- Simutronics is founded; Gemstone goes alpha late in year.
- MUD1 is launched as British Legends on Compuserve.
- AberMUDs are released by Alan Cox.
- Gemstone launches as Gemstone II on Genie.
- IRC is invented.
- "If you're going to mention IRC you might mention the invention
dates of Compuserve CB, Genie's chat, and the first chat on
French Minitel (which was in the dawning days of Minitel and
led to some users dropping off with multi-thousand dollar phone
bills). No, I don't know these dates." - Dr Cat.
- Mark Baldwin does a GUI version of Bright's Empire for the PC.
- QuantumLink launches AppleLink, soon to be AOL. Turns down
Aradath and Galaxy II, though.
- Rich Skrenta at Northwestern University releases Monster, a
multiplayer adventure game writen in Pascal that supported online
- "I played and coded some changes to Monster back when I was in
school. It did indeed have online creation, and did IPC through
files." - Jon Leonard.
- "I wrote Monster in about three months, during NU's "winter
quarter". I was totally obsessed with coding it. Project
obsession was normal with me (really boosts the productivity
:-), but "Monster Madness" as I called it then really got out
of hand. I was spending all night in the comp center, leaving
at 7am, skipping classes, skipping everything. (My 10,000 line
VMS Pascal wonder would compile faster when no one was around,
which encouraged the nocturnal work). I went on spring break,
and when I got back I forced myself to not continue working on
Monster. I was afraid I'd fail out of school if I did. I left
it alone until November of that year, when I started sending it
out on the Bitnet." - Rich Skrenta (from Lauren Burka's
- "I can also assert to the 1988 date of Rich Skrenta's "Monster"
game. I have docs and a source listing of it dated Dec 1 1988."
- Chris Gray
- Club Caribe, a derivative of Habitat, is released on QuantumLink.
- TinyMUD is released by Jim Aspnes. It runs on Unix and is
written in C. It was originally conceived as a front end to IRC.
- Galaxy I launches on GEnie.
- A-Maze-ing, 3-d online shooter, on GEnie.
- "A-Maze-ing was authored by Greg Corson, and ran on the
Macintosh only. Greg's an old friend of mine from South Bend,
who taught me how to write a DDA line drawing routine to do
faster graphics back in 1981 or so. He started doing
multiplayer online stuff in the 1970s at Purdue and is another
Plato guy from way back. He was later the lead engineer at
Virtual World Entertainment (who made the Battletech centers
with the sitdown cockpits linked together in groups of 8),
worked at NEC coordinating the 3D chip stuff with Sega for the
Dreamcast, and is now at Sony in San Francisco." - Dr Cat.
- Lars Penjske's creates LPMuds and opens Genesis.
- "Having fun playing Tinymud and Abermud, Lars Pensjö decides to
write a server to combine the extensibility of Tinymud with the
adventures of Abermud. Out of this inspiration, he designed LPC
as a special mud language to make extending the game simple.
Lars says, "...I didn't think I would be able to design a good
adventure. By allowing wizards coding rights, I thought others
could help me with this." The first running code was developed
in a week on Unix System V using IPC, not BSD sockets. Early
object-oriented features only existed accidentally by way of
the nature of muds manipulating objects. As Lars learned C++,
he gradually extended those features. The result is that the
whole LPMud was developed from a small prototype, gradually
extended with features." - George Reese's LPMud timeline
- Simutronics launches Orb Wars on GEnie. Darrin Hyrup was
the lead pogrammer on it. Later that year, Hyrup leaves Simutronics
- "Orb Wars was a team-based competition game where differing
types of mages fought for control over the different orbs in an
arena. You could either play it using ASCII representation or
very basic graphic front-ends. Oddly enough, it would feel
very familiar to the Shooter folks who play stuff like
Tribes/Unreal Tournament etc. The game felt alot like Hack or
Rogue except that you had very clear victory conditions, and
the games were fairly short." - John Moreland.
- "It was a tactical multiplayer mage vs mage combat game, top
down, with a windowed interface similar to the old Islands of
Kesmai." - Darrin Hyrup.
- "Orb Wars was persistant in score and wizard type (?), but no
objects were kept between battles. The scores were tallied
every month and a 'top 20' list was posted, then all the
wizards reset." - J. Kerr
- Legends of the Red Dragon written by Seth Robinson in
- "This was a multiplayer hack n slash adventure game that scaled
up to a eight to ten users. It ran as a BBS door game. It
accomplished this on DOS through some kludgy software interrupt
time-slicing. Anyways I recall it had both PvP and PvCritter
action. This game was wildly popular from it's inception until
the decline of BBSs. I remember redialing and waiting for
hours to get into a slot on the BBSs that ran it." - Jon A.
- TinyMUD shuts down.
- TeenyMUD is created as a disk-based alternative to the
TinyMUD codebase. Written by Andrew Molitor and Marcus Ranum.
- "It didn't do much other than crash a lot, but it was the first
TinyMUD clone that kept its database on disk instead of memory
(or in swap as was more likely :-))." - Jason Downs
- Diplomacy on GEnie, done by AUSI and Eric Raymond (yes, the
open source guru).
- Federation II on GEnie.
- Negotiations for Ultima Online begin with Origin, Kesmai and GEnie.
Nothing comes of it, however.
- 100 Years War launches on Genie.
- Gemstone II converted into chat space called ImagiNation.
- TinyMUCK is written by Stephen White. Over a weekend, he
claims. Later that year, he releases MOO, which stands for "mud,
- Pavel Curtis does substantial modifications to White's MOO code,
creating LambdaMOO. LambdaMOO opens, hosted at Xerox PARC,
where it promptly becomes a major influence in the development of
social issues in virtual spaces.
- Islandia opens using TinyMUD code.
- TinyTIM opens.
- TinyMUSH is written.
- FurryMUCK opens. It features avatars that are
- Fujitsu launches a Japanese version of Habitat that works on
FMTowns at first and other platforms later.
- DIKU muds are released.
- The mud client tinyFugue is available now in version 1.4
- Shattered World, the first Australian LPMud, opens.
- "This MUD is the source of a private distribution LPMud server
used by a handful of spinoff MUDs in the United States." -
- The pay-for-play text mud Avalon opens in the UK.
- AUSI's Dragon's Gate launches on GEnie, written by Mark
Jacobs and Darrin Hyrup.
- According to Jessica Mulligan's History of Online Games
published on Happy Puppy and in Imaginary Realities, it's a
revised and expanded version of Aradath.
- However, Hyrup says, "It was a new creation, inspired by
Aradath, but bearing little physical resemblance to it. We
actually did do an Aradath remake a few years later, but the
project never surfaced."
- Jessica adds, "Darrin's correct. What Mark Jacobs and I agreed
to was Aradath for GEnie, but he and Darrin really went to town
and gave us a far more interesting game. It cost an extra 6
months of development, which really irritated me at the time,
but turned out to be worth the wait."
- "We had one Dragon's Gate player who spent $2,000 per month
every month for over a year (at the time, GEnie's access fees
during the period 7am to 7pm were close to $20 per hour, and
this guy would play during that time)." - Jessica Mulligan
- BatMUD opens.
- TradeWars 2002 is licensed to High Velocity software to port it to
MajorBBS. This changes the game, which was already multiplayer and
persistent, to also be interactive, since MajorBBS supported far
more concurrent users.
- "At about this time, Gary opened Metropolis BBS, a Major BBS in
his home. This was eventually sold to Multi Service where Gary
and MaryAnn went to work as administrators of the new
Metropolis that would have dialups in the cities of the then
Big 8 college conference. Metropolis was one of, if not THE
biggest BBS at the height of the BBSs popularity. It is still
active today, though the parent company, Multi Service, has
generalized their focus to include online game development and
hosting. They can be found under the name Gameport. They are
also the current owners of Legends of the Red Dragon, another
extremely popular multiplayer BBS door game. Interestingly,
the Martins and I left Multi Service before Multi Service
became interested in online game development. That is
unfortunate. " - John Pritchett
- The apparent first reference to the word "avatar" in print, using
the definition commonly accepted today, of a representation of a
user in a virtual environment. The appearance is in Benedikt's
Cyberspace, in multiple papers. The word apparently
originated on Habitat. Many claim Neal Stephenson's Snow
Crash as the coinage for the term, including Stephenson himself
in some editions.
- "According to the appendix of my edition of Snow Crash, Neal
came up with the term by himself, but learned after the first
publishing that Habitat had already used it with a similar
meaning." - Lars Duening
- "People were already using the word avatar to refer to a
character they played in virtual worlds (albeit worlds residing
in human rather than manufactured worlds). I found Usenet posts
dating back before 1992 where people used it in the same
sense." - Matt Mihaly
- The usage of "Avatar" to mean "The graphical representation of
yourself in a shared digital world" was first used in 1984-1988
in a product that was then called Lucasfilm's Habitat. Chip
Morningstar coined the usage. I was with him at the time. Yes,
it was derived from the Hindi usage. This significantly
predates any other similar usage that I am aware of.
(In 1988, the product changed names to Club Caribe,
and the documentation changed the term for this concept, but by
then some in the alt.cyberspace/VRML community had picked up
the term. Neal Stephenson says that he had thought that the
term was original with him, but when I contacted him at the
time, he graciously put a corrected afterword in the paperback
version of Snow Crash.)
It is important to note
that the term "Avatar" was used in another game around later in
that period (Ultima IV) and the concept of an Avatar was
in several works of fiction prior to the development of
Habitat, including Vernor Vinge's "True Names" and John
Brunner's "Shockwave Rider"." - Randy Farmer
- BSX muds are developed by Bram Stolk.
- LambdaMOO opens officially--however, there have already been
several hundred regular players. That same year, it acquires tools
such as site tracking, blacklists, and review boards for user
- PernMUSH is founded.
- Howard Rheingold's Virtual Reality is published.
- Multiplayer Battletech, designed by Kelton Flinn as an
attempt to appeal to exactly the opposite market as Air Warrior did
(eg, a more community-oriented market).
- Electric Communities is founded by Farmer, Morningstar, and
Douglas Crockford. They handle the WorldsAway contract as
well as begin design work on a secure distributed "cyberspace OS."
- At the suggestion of Walter Feurzig of BBN, MicroMush changes its
name to MicroMuse. It develops into the first
educational-outreach mud, focusing on grades K-12.
- Sierra network launches.
- "Sierra Network was first beta-tested in a 16 color EGA
version as Constant Companion in 1990 or 1991. (I think 1990).
The idea was that senior citizens would love to use this to
play board and card games with each other. Ken Williams sent
Richard Garriott a beta copy and said he'd like to get an
Ultima Online on there..." - Dr Cat
- "The Sierra Network.. often overlooked for it's contribution to
online gaming started in 1991. Version 2.0 was release in
Oct/Nov of 1992. Included in v2 was The Shadow of Yserbius,
Red Baron and Leisure Suit Larry Vegas.. (gambling.. cyber-ing,
etc) along with the v1 games of bridge, chess, checkers etc. I
once played bridge with Bill Gates, as he is an avid bridge
player and had an account on TSN." - Brian Thomson
- Tangent Online is created.
- "[It] started out around 1991 as Dan Goldman's attempt to make
a graphic online gaming service as a big multiline BBS with a
graphic front end. I was Creative Director and 'Manda [Dee]
art director for a while back then but it wasn't going anywhere
at the time. Tangent Online became Optigon Interactive..." -
- Stormfront Studios' Neverwinter Nights launches on America
Online. It was based on the Gold Box SSI AD&D games, and was
programmed by Cathryn Mataga.
- Discworld opens. It is an LPMud based on the Terry Pratchett
- "LambdaMOO takes a new direction"-an attempt to have a democratic,
player-run government within a mud.
- Genocide, first PK mud. It is an LPMud.
- "Genocide starts as the first MUD dedicated totally to
inter-player conflict, which is a fancy way of saying that its
theme is creatively player-killing." - George Reese
- MPG-Net founded, launches Kingdom of Drakkar (top
- Simutronics launches Cyberstrike (graphical).
- QuantumLink renames itself AOL.
- Valhalla, an LPMud, supports itself by charging money.
- "Though the MUD was given permission to charge players by Lars,
this move was still controversial among the LPMud community who
belived that Lars no longer had the right to give such
permission given the amount of code which had been donated to
LPMud from various sources." - George Reese
- First instances of intermud networks created using LP.
- "LPC sockets are added to the MudOS driver. This allows TMI to
create a very rough TCP intermud network. This protocol is
later replaced first by the CDlib UDP protocols, and later by
Intermud 3. " - George Reese
- Worlds of Carnage, first Diku with embedded scripting.
- The first version of Merc, a Diku derivative, is released.
- Legends of Future Past opens to the public.
- "As I recall, it opened its doors in 1992 as an independent,
BBS-based service accessible through one of the dialup networks
available at the time (Telenet, TYMNET, or Compuserve's phone
network, or some combination thereof).
The host service (NovaLink) was one of the early
public ISPs to spring up after the "opening" of the Internet.
I believe they were providing shell access as early as late
1993. I'm not sure at what point it became possible to telnet
into the service, but if it was at the same time that they
began offering shell access, this would make LoFP one of the
earliest commercial MUDs on the Internet.
Its biggest legacy may have been the number of
products it's spawned, probably because it was a small,
independent game that inspired thoughts of "Hey, we can do this
too!" among its players and designers. I know for certain of
four commercial games (two released, two in development)
started by former LoFP players or gamemasters -- making it, as
far as I know, more fruitful than Simutronics." - Ananda
- Nightmare mudlib released.
- "Leaving IgorMUD, Descartes takes over the development of
Nightmare from the mudlib point of view. He chooses to use the
new MudOS server, throwing out Nightmare's outdated LPMud 2.4.5
mudlib and driver. Flamme and Forlock join to help administrate
the new Nightmare. Nightmare LPMud opens to the public. Its
mudlib is eventually released as the Nightmare Mudlib. It
becomes the first publically available mudlib for MudOS, which
at this point is still considered a newcomer among drivers." -
- Neal Stephenson publishes Snow Crash.
- The film Lawnmower Man is released.
- Mosaic makes the Internet graphical.
- Doom comes out in December.
- Discworld mudlib released.
- "The choice of mudlibs for MudOS helps add to the driver's
growing popularity. At this time, the Discworld Mudlib contains
the most advanced command parser and user interface available
in a mudlib." - George Reese
- DGD Lpmuds released.
- "A single-user alpha release of the first LPC server not derived
from LPMud, DGD 1.0.a3 (Dworkin's Game Driver, later renamed
Dworkin's Generic Driver), is released for testing. DGD isolated
essential LPC functionality, leaving all, if any, game
functionality completely up to the mudlib. September 16, 1993: DGD
is released in multi-player form as DGD 1.0.a4. This version
introduces support for compiling LPC code to C, then linking C
objects in with the driver. This makes DGD the first driver to
support such functionality. " - George Reese
- Worlds of Carnage closes. It will reopen later in the year, but
several players and admins leave, never to return, including Damion
Schubert, Rick Delashmit, and the Kosters.
- ROM, a Diku derivative codebase, is released.
- Merc 2.1 is released.
- CircleMUD 2.00, a Diku derivative codebase, is released by Jeremy Elson.
- Silly, a Diku derivative codebase, is released.
- By now, CDC has sold PLATO to The Roach Organization. CDC stays in
Computer-Aided Instruction, but calls their clone of PLATO
Cybis. CERL at UI started NovaNET to replace it, but that
was then transferred to UCI.
- Howard Rheingold's Virtual Communities is published.
- On LambdaMOO, Mr. Bungle is toaded.
- This leads to Julian Dibbell's article "A Rape in
Cyberspace" in the Village Voice, which catapults muds into
- This also leads to the formation of a petition system on
LambdaMOO, which is a voting mechanism for players with votes
being binding on the mud admins.
- The Sierra Network first expands, then is purchased by AT&T and
becomes the ImagiNation Network.
- "In 1993 TSN expanded and then collapsed, well was eaten by
AT&T. When they expanded they added on to The Shadow of
Yserbius with Fates of Twinion. Both games were written by Joe
Yberra, who last I heard was at Ensemble. After AT&T ate
The Sierra Network.. It became The Imagination Network.
Ken Williams was moving toward the Realm anyway. The bandwidth
of running the sierra network was killing it. I believe the
backbone was Sprint-net. Sierra leased the lines and
subscribers could buy blocks of hours per month or unlimited
hours for about $120 a month. This is what killed it. Ken had
no idea at the how hardcore gamers would eat his bandwidth." -
- WOO and ChibaMOO meld the web with muds.
- Ron Britvich writes Web World, which I have not been able to
find anything more on but which allegedly had 350,000 people log
in. Could it be WOO?
- Dragonspires is opened by ex-Originite Dr Cat.
- News Corp buys Kesmai.
- AT&T buys INN. They subsequently lose their shirt.
- LegendMUD opens with Carnage refugees (both Kosters &
Delashmit as well as others); first classless mud? Uses a
reverse-engineered and improved scripting language based on Worlds
- Merc 2.2 releases with a modified version of Carnage's scripting
system, called "mobprogs"--the code was released by an abortive mud
started by Schubert.
- Imperium Gothique releases with a Diku scripting language
also, based on independent development.
- CircleMUD 3.0 appears.
- Work begins on Diku II, also called VME for Valhalla Mud
Engine. It now includes a fully embedded scripting system called DIL.
- Fujitsu's Cultural technologies division reintroduces Habitat in
the US, as WorldsAway. it is later shipped in Japan as
Fujitsu Habitat II.
- Worlds Inc founded in Seattle, launches WorldsChat.
- Avalon opens as a pay-for-play mud on the Internet, after four
years as a dial-up mud in the UK. Is this the first commercial mud
on the Internet?
- Nexon, based in Korea, begins work on Kingdom of the
Winds, a graphical tile-based mud.
- BBN receives a grant to demonstrate distributed architecture muds
- TEN gets going.
- ""TEN" went into national beta testing in 1994 before Jack
Heistand, Kleiner Perkins or Outland (It was just Planet
Optigon then) were on the scene. It had a multiplayer version
of SimCity, Chess, Checkers, chat spaces, multiple interface
themes, game partner matching, editorial and the ability the
play games like Descent with two players via the service. There
were just about 12 people in the company. Outland and Kleiner
Perkins joined in 1995. Jack Heistand joined in 1996." - Daniel
- Jack Heistand was formerly of EA Sports. Funding came from
Vinod Khosla of Kleiner Perkins, who merged Outland with
Optigon and pumped in $10 million.- Jessica Mulligan
- At the end of June, version 1.0 of Envy, a Diku derivative
codebase, is released.
- A company called Cyberspace, Inc gets going. This will
eventually be Turbine.
- "Founders were Jeremy Gaffney (CEO), Jonathan Monserrat
(President/Treasurer), Kevin Langevin (Secretary), and Timothy
Miller. None of the rest of the founders are still in the games
biz, they all left Turbine before I did (in January '98)" -
- id starts testing Quake, which is going to be their real
effort at making online multiplayer games. It becomes an instant
phenomenon, redefining online gaming and virtual reality in the
- Gemstone III goes live on AOL.
- Archetype Interactive begins Meridian 59, with Mike Sellers
as a designer and the Kirmse brothers Chris and Andrew as
programmers. Mike offers Raph Koster a job, but he declines because
of a job offer from Origin. He recommends Damion Schubert for the
job instead. Archetype and Meridian are later acquired by 3DO,
where Rich Vogel acts as producer for a time.
- Air Warrior goes live on AOL.
- LIMA mudlib offers Infocom-style parsing.
- Rick Delashmit hired by Origin for Ultima Online joining
Starr Long and Ken Demarest. Demarest shortly thereafter leaves for
Titanic, a startup. Later that year, Origin also hires the Kosters
- AlphaWorld launches, also by Ron Britvich. It's a successor
product to WorldsChat, not the same engine. It supports a whole
twelve avatar appearances.
- Electric Communities officially incorporates and gets venture
capital. Their product is a major revision of Habitat, called both
Habitat and Microcosm. It features a secure distributed
architecture. It is later shelved as being ahead of its time,
according to Farmer.
- Time Warner Interactive launches Jim Bumgartner's The
- Jake Song of Nexon leaves Nexon to join Inet, and branches TK
server to create Lineage. He joined NCSoft later at 1997.
- Illusia, a graphical mud with static backdrop scenes, opens
to the public.
- TeenyMUD 2.0 is released.
- "All functional versions of TeenyMUD were released by Sean
Coates and myself 1990 - 1993, with the last one (TeenyMUD 2.0)
being a completely new implementation written by me and
released in 1995. TeenyMUD 2.0 was still disk based, but its
world paradigm was very much MUSH-like. Sean (Xibo) still runs
his MUD, (EVIL!) to this day, evil.xibo.com 4201. It's one of
the oldest, if not the actual oldest, continuously operated
server." - Jason Downs
- Valhalla moves to player donations instead of charging for access.
- The TV show VR5 appears on US TV. In this show, a researcher
has found a way to enter virtual reality, and through it enter
other people's minds. The show is cancelled after one season.
- "LambdaMOO takes Another New Direction"-the admins take back over.
- Meridian 59 opens.
- "Until Meridian 59 launched in 1996 and UO launched in
September of 1997 with flat monthly rates, billing for
commercial MMOGs was mainly on a per minute/hourly basis (with
a brief period of free access to AOL's games from 12/96 to
about 7/97). Thus, the number of total subscribers was less
important than how long you kept your hard core players (the
top 10%) in game." - Jessica Mulligan
- The Realm enters beta.
- Dark Sun Online enters beta.
- AmigaMUD, a graphical free mud system.
- AOL takes on Dragon's Gate. At this point, AUSI has morphed into
- Quake is released.
- Origin demos Ultima Online at E3.
- Engage is announced at E3. It's first beta opens in
December, on AOL, with a multiplayer version of Castles II.
- AOL buys INN.
- Sherry Turkle publishes Life on the Screen.
- John Smedley at Sony's 989 Studios hired Brad McQuaid and Steve
Clover to begin development on EverQuest.
- Cyberspace, Inc, lears that the name is taken, and changes to
Second Nature Interactive. Someday, they'll make it to being
- Nexon launches The Kingdom of the Winds.
- Splatterball, by Interworld Productions, is released on
Engage. Shortly after, Interworld becomes Mythic Entertainment.
- The Journal of MUD Research launches. In the first issue is
an article by Richard Bartle, "Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades:
Players Who Suit MUDs."
- SMAUG, a Diku derivative codebase, is released.
- Furcadia, done by Dr. Cat and others, opens to the public.
It is a graphical Furry mud, which allows player building and
eventually, player scripting.
- TEN officially launches in September.
- MPlayer launches in early November.
- The Eternal City goes into beta. TEC focuses upon providing
the most immersive roleplaying environment to date, as well a sense
of space and a rich environment. The founders of TEC (Scott
Martins, Ichiro Lambe, Charles Passmore) were originally staff at
Legends of Future Past.
- GodWars, a Merc derivative codebase, is released
- Diablo launches, from Blizzard. Though not a true mud, it is
immensely popular and brings awareness of graphical multiplayer
RPGs to the masses.
- Ultima Online launches commercially and breaks 100,000 users very
quickly. Rich Vogel joins Origin before launch.
- Janet Murray's Hamlet on the Holodeck published.
- Second Nature Interactive discovers that its name was taken, and
renames itself Turbine Entertainment Software.
- A development deal is signed for Asheron's Call, to be
developed by Turbine. Jeremy Gaffney is among those involved
though he later leaves before it ships. Toby Ragaini is principal
- NCSoft launches Lineage.
- Neverwinter Nights on AOL was shut down on July 19th, 1997, when
AOL made the official switch to WorldPlay (formerly INN) for the
- Mythic releases Darkness Falls, a commercial text mud.
- In September, UOX, the first UO server emulator, manages two
simultaneous connections with UOX3. By 2000, there would be several
hundred UO server emulators running.
- Tad Williams begins publishing his massive four-part novel
Otherland, which deals with online worlds and artificial
- Ultima Online is sued in a class action lawsuit. The suit is later
settled out of court. Oddly, one of the plaintiffs is an ex-player
- Verant's EverQuest opens in beta.
- Rubies of Eventide opens.
- Lyra's Underlight launches doing a roleplay-enforced
graphical game, on MPlayer.
- Electric Communities acquires The Palace from Time Warner. It also
holds a closed beta of ECHabitats/Microcosm.
- Titanic releases NetStorm, an online only strategy title.
The company folds later that year.
- Delashmit & others (including Todd McKimmey, formerly of
LegendMUD & UO) form Wombat Games. One of the first
contracts is to help get Sega's massively multiplayer
action-strategy game 10six off the ground.
- Julian Dibbell's My Tiny Life is published. The first
chapter is "A Rape in Cyberspace."
- Sierra announces Middle-earth, a mmp based on the Lord of
the Rings. Steve Nichols, creator of the Realm, leads the team with
Janus Anderson, also of the Realm, and Daniel James of Avalon.
- Mike Sellers plays a role in bringing The Eternal City to The Big
Network where it becomes one of the first (if not the first)
commercial text-based RPGs to be supported by banner ads, using a
- John Pritchett creates the Trade Wars Game Server, which
makes Tradewars into a TCP/IP game playable over the Internet. He
also founds EIS.
- Mark Fabi publishes Wyrm.
- The first SF novel I've read to actually get muds right.
- EverQuest opens, and quickly becomes the second huge success in the
newly dubbed "massively multiplayer online roleplaying game" (MMORPG)
- Nine months later, Asheron's Call releases on the MS Gaming
- VR-1's Ultracorps closes on MS Zone.
- TEN ditches hardcore and persistent world gaming to become
- DWANGO dies in the US.
- EA buys Kesmai (& playNation). This is part and parcel of a
deal to become the exclusive games channel provider for AOL.
- MPGNet was bought from the founder and owner, Jim Hettinger, by
Interactive Magic. They combined I-Magic Online and MPGNet and
eventually renamed it IEN.
- Verant's Sovereign announced. It looks to borrow heavily
from design elements from Empire.
- Simutronics announces a graphical version of their games, to be
called Hero's Journey.
- Bioware announces a new Neverwinter Nights, to be a
distributed mud server, at GenCon in August.
- Electric Communities mothballs Microcosm.
- Nexon develops distributed game servers for Kingdom of the Winds.
They subsequently peak with 12,263 simultaneous users in a single
world, using this technology.
- Mythic releases Darkness Falls: Crusade, also a text-based
- UO2 announced with Starr Long, Damion Schubert & Jeremy
Gaffney. Jack Heistand becomes general manager of Origin. The game
is later renamed Ultima Worlds Online: Origin.
- Sierra re-starts development on Middle Earth Online and
abandons The Realm. Codemasters picks up The Realm and Nichols
- Legends of Future Past closes on Dec 31st.
- Project Entropia is announced. The novel twist is that
real-world currency will be freely convertible to gamne currency,
and vice versa.
- On December 2nd, CompuServe stopped running MUD1 after 13 years of
- "We were given a whole 0 days notice." - Dr Richard Bartle.
- The film The Matrix is released.
- The film eXistenZ is released.
- LucasArts and Verant announce a Star Wars Online project.
- Sony Online Entertainment acquires Verant.
- Squaresoft announces Final Fantasy Online. Other major
console series also announce later that year, including Phantasy
- Sony announces that the PlayStation 2 will have a broadband
solution by 2001.
- Mythic Entertainment announces Dark Age of Camelot, a
large-scale graphical mud using some design elements from their
Darkness Falls games. Both Hyrup and Jacobs are involved.
- Richard Garriott leaves Origin.
- Koster and Vogel and others leave Origin. It is revealed late in
the year that Rich Vogel is producer and Raph Koster is creative
director on Star Wars Galaxies. Other team members include
Chris Mayer (former lead programmer for UO Live) and Anthony Castoro
(former lead designer for UO Live). All except Castoro had been on a
cancelled unannounced project, Privateer Online, at Origin,
and departed for Verant in the wake of the cancellation.
- Wombat Games, composed of Delashmit, McKimmey, and Jason Spangler
(former lead programmer on UO: Second Age) among others, announces
Dark Zion, a graphical mud with a fully player-modifiable
environment, no built-in currencies, and a number of other
- Funcom's Anarchy Online is a hit at both E3 and ECTS.
- In May, Electronics Arts announces the shutdown of most of the
Kesmai games, including Legends of Kesmai and Air Warrior Classic.
- Also in May, Erwin Andreasen holds the 16K MUD competition. The
18 scratch-written MUD entries are later released to the public.
- In late August, Wombat Games closes, after failing to acquire a
- On August 31st, 3DO ceases operation of Meridian 59. The game
continues to run in Germany.
- It is announced that Ragaini has left Turbine and is now working on
LithTech's unannounced massively multiplayer title.
- Several games try to break massively multiplayer graphical online
games out of the RPG mold.
- World War II Online is announced. It is envisioned as a
tiered military sim, where players give each other orders.
Members of the team formerly worked on Warbirds.
- Also publicly displayed is StarPeace, a management and
city-building massively multiplayer game (think SimCity in space).
- The already-open Mankind is a large-scale economics and
- A group of ex-volunteers from Ultima Online file a lawsuit
demanding back pay for their volunteer activities.
- British Legends, aka MUD1, returns when Viktor Toth,
administrator of MUD2, completes a port of the original game to a
new server codebase.
- Dark Sector is announced, a massively multiplayer
first-person shooter by some of the developers of Unreal
- Verant announced Planetside, a massively multiplayer
first-person shooter. The principal technologist on the team is
John Ratcliff, formerly lead programmer on Simutronics' Hero's
Journey, which appears to have gone dormant.
- A small-scale online game, SiSSYFiGHT 2000, makes all the
players into female high-school students, and casts the PvP dynamic
as being about peer pressure, putdowns, and cliques.
- In October, EIS transfers trademark righs in TradeWars 2002 to
Realm Interactive, a startup in Arizona. They begin work on
Trade Wars: Dark Millenium, to be a graphical MMORTS.
- Phantasy Star Online releases for the Dreamcast, and is
extremely well received. But the Dreamcast is discontinued shortly
- Communities.com folds. Says a former executive, "It was a dot-com
company with dot-com problems." Randy Farmer says, "I wasn't done!"
- Fallen Age is announced. Its producer is a former writer for
the massively multiplayer editorial site "The Rantings of Lum the
Mad." The game is later cancelled due to creative differences
between the U.S.-based and Korea-based portions of the team.
- EverQuest bans the sale of in-game items on auction sites, and eBay
and Yahoo agree to remove the items from their listings. In
response, a group of EverQuest players threaten to sue over their
right to sell in-game items on Internet auction sites.
- Nexon continues to produce online games, announcing Elemental
- Westwood, a division of EA, announces Earth and Beyond with
a cover article in major gaming magazines. It is a massively
multiplayer RTS/RPG set in space. Janus Anderson is the lead
- Will Wright starts to talk publicly about The Sims Online.
- Lineage goes commercial in the US in May. It acquires only a few
thousand users in the US.
- EA publicly tests and launches Majestic, a conspiracy theory
online game that contacts players via instant messenging, faxes,
and email. A key force behind the game is Neil Young, who was
general manager of Origin during the early days of Ultima Online's
- EA purchases pogo.com.
- Gamespy.com purchases MPlayer.
- The never-announced Dungeons and Dragons Online is
- Steven Spielberg's film A.I. makes use of a game extremely
similar to Majestic as a form of viral marketing.
- Ultima Worlds Online: Origin aka UO2 is cancelled. There's a "wake"
for the game where design documents are burned in a huge pile.
- "At the wake, I crack a joke to Richard saying that maybe his
next company should be called "destination or something." I can
only assume I was not the only one to make the joke!" - Raph
- Richard Garriott, Starr Long, Kirk Black, Jeremy Gaffney, Carly
Staehlin, and many others from Ultima Online and the cancelled
Ultima Worlds Online: Origin form a new company entitled
Destination Games. Shortly after, the company is acquired by
NCSoft of Korea, makers of Lineage, and Jake Song moves to Austin,
to begin work with the aforementioned on a new project called
- Dark Age of Camelot starts public testing.
- There is legal trouble surrounding the development of a new version
of Middle-Earth Online as developer MM3D sues Sierra.
- Mudpie, a massively multiplayer world based on MYST, begins
to be discussed by Cyan.
- Seducity is live--it's an online world about sex, and offers
nudity and sexual animations in a 2d environment.
- World War II Online launches, and has a very rough time of it.
- Anarchy Online also has a rocky launch.
- Funcom announces Midgard. It is intended to be a roleplaying
game with a heavy focus on community building.
- EA begins testing Multiplayer Battletech 3025.
- The non-violent crafting and socialization world A Tale in the
Desert begins public testing.
- Jumpgate, an online space and trading sim, is published by
- Numerous former writers from commentary websites join the staffs of
various online games. Among them: Jumpgate, Dark Age of Camelot
(where Lum the Mad, the person, went), and Shadowbane.
- Elemental Saga is now in public testing.
- Numerous smaller games are announced as being in development, all
of them RPGs. Among them: Darkfall and Mimesis Online
- Blizzard announces World of Warcraft, a massively
- Codemasters announces Dragon Empires. Steve Nichols is
involved at first, but later departs.
- Dark Age of Camelot launches to glowing reviews and quickly
outpaces Asheron's Call to become the third most popular American
- EA stops development of Multiplayer Battletech 3025 and kills Air
- Fighting Legends, which is perhaps best termed as a
party-based tactical online world where you manage a group of
- 3DO drops Jumpgate; the makers, NetDevil, decide to run it on their
- Brian Green and Rob Ellis purchase Meridian 59 from 3DO and revive
- Mimesis Online launches, from publisher Tannhauser Gate.
It's another science-fiction themed massively multiplayer 3d first
person combat-centered RPG.
- VR1 announces Lost Continents, an online world themed around
1930's pulp adventures.
- The Imagineering group within Disney publicly tests
Toontown, a Disney-animation themed online world that sticks
close to the "groups of players kill critters" paradigm, but
changed around for a young child audience. It's notable for not
letting people communicate directly in game, to satisfy COPPA
- Majestic is shuttered by EA, having failed to garner enough
subscribers or retain them. The episodes of the game are released
all together on one CD to the retail market.
- Funcom's Midgard is put on hold so they can concentrate on Anarchy
- Mythic is sued by Blacksnow Interactive, a small firm that makes
its money by gathering in-game items to sell to other players. BSI
is alleging that Mythic is damaging their business by preventing
the sale of in-game items via online auction sites.
Still looking for info on these items:
???? - MajorMUD "... a mud that originated on BBSs (MajorBBS?) ...this
one seems important though I've never played it. I just _know_ someone on
this list has." - Jon Lambert
- Me (Raph Koster)
- Lauren Burka's MUDLine
- Amy Bruckman
- Mike Sellers
- Dr Cat
- Damion Schubert
- Randy Farmer
- Jessica Mulligan
- Richard Bartle
- "Hacking Into Computer Systems"
- "The Dot Eaters"
- University of Illinois
- Antic Magazine
- Oddly, a paper written by a pair of Jesuit astronomers.
- Just as oddly, a website about bridge.
- A bunch of miscellaneous references from mailing lists and
newsgroups and interviews of folks like Steve Gray and Doug Jones.
- Jame Scholl
- David R. Woolley
- Don Gillies
- Andy Zaffron
- George Reese and his LPMud timeline
- Dave Lebling
- Kelton Flinn
- Dan Peri
- John Pritchett and the TradeWars History page
- Jerry Gilyeat
- Jon Lambert
- Chris Gray
- Travis Casey
- Bruce <?>
- Erik Jarvi
- Richard Aihoshi aka Jonric of the VaultNetwork
- Daniel A. Koepke
- Toby Ragaini
- Brad McQuaid
- Ola Fosheim Grostad
- John Taylor
- Dave Kennerly
- Hans-Henrik Staerfeldt
- Darrin Hyrup
- S. Patrick Gallaty
- Derek Snider
- John Moreland
- Jeff Freeman, aka Dundee
- Colin Glassey
- Eric Hagstrom
- Josh Kirkpatrick
- Richard Woolcock
- Daniel James
- The official Xanadu website and Ted Nelson's website.
- Jason Downs
- J. Kerr
- Jeremy Gaffney
- Brian Thomson
- Peter Zelchenko
- The Cyberpunk Timeline
Back to Raph's Website, gaming section.