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Metafilter has killed the red dragon and become a hero!
July 2, 2010 7:37 AM   Subscribe

(E)nter the realm of the Dragon
(I)nstructions
(L)ist Warriors
(Q)uit back to BBS

Your choice, warrior? [E]:_

It's 1989 and, after hours of listening to the busy signal, you've finally managed to connect to the local BBS for the first time (at 2400 bits per second on your brand new 33 MHz 486, most likely).

You check out the chat room (empty, because the BBS only has three lines and both of the other users are downloading from the filepit). You peek your head into the menu labelled "Internet" but the options you see there are too arcane and opaque, so you quickly return to the main menu.

But wait, what's this? Legend of the Red Dragon? It's a game. Just like the others you play on the computer. But the graphics are so primitive compared to cutting edge offerings like Space Quest III. You almost don't even bother. But then you notice that one option "List Warriors." This is a game you play with other people, people you've never even met. What a difference that makes.


Legend of the Red Dragon (or LoRD) was one of the first BBS Door games (one of the two earliest ancestors of the modern MMOG, the other being MUDs). Coded by 14-year-old Seth Robinson, it went on to become one of the most popular features of BBSes around the world.

One of the most remarkable things about LoRD, especially in retrospect, was the amount of detailed sexuality in a game (a non-eroge game, at least). Players could flirt with and seduce NPCs and other player characters, contract STDs, get married, get divorced, get pregnant, have miscarriages and have children.

Those children would now be old enough to drink in the United States.

(LoRD previously)
posted by 256 (72 comments total) 58 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow. That takes me back. I remember playing LoRD freshman year on a local BBS in college.
posted by zarq at 7:39 AM on July 2, 2010


Hold on. We don't filter out <blink> tags?
posted by schmod at 7:40 AM on July 2, 2010


(E)nter the realm of the Dragon

Hey! Get off my lawn! /shakes fist
posted by Electric Dragon at 7:41 AM on July 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh, and if you want to actually play the game, the second "E" link is what you're looking for.

http://lord.nuklear.org/play.html
posted by 256 at 7:45 AM on July 2, 2010


LoRD was years removed from being one of the first BBS door games. Trade Wars dates back to at least 1986, for example.
posted by evilangela at 7:46 AM on July 2, 2010


Your choice, warrior? [E]: S

You have pressed the S key.

S is for story.

...
posted by haltingproblemsolved at 7:50 AM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


(at 2400 bits per second on your brand new 33 MHz 486, most likely)
Whatevs, yo. Tandy 1000 EX represent! (256k and 16 colors, mofos!)

And The Pit was the shit.

*fires up Procomm Plus*
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 7:50 AM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seth Robinson latest iPhone game.
posted by chunking express at 7:52 AM on July 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


And yeah, LoRD was pretty amazing. I liked playing that and BRE (Barren Realms Elite) back when I used to spend all my times on BBSes. Those were the days.
posted by chunking express at 7:53 AM on July 2, 2010


12:10 Get home for lunch
12:12 Set water to boil
12:14 Log in to BBS and play half a round of LoRD
12:18 Run and put hot dogs into boiling water
12:23 Finish LoRD session, log out of BBS
12:24 Get hot dogs and put them in buns + add mustard
12:27 Connect to BBS #2 and play full session of LoRD
12:40 Go back to school for the afternoon
posted by Space Coyote at 7:54 AM on July 2, 2010 [6 favorites]


Oh hell yeah. I think I was 8 years old when I started playing LoRD. It was a couple years before I understood what Violet really had going on.
posted by polyhedron at 7:58 AM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, gods, I remember LoRD. It's all coming back to me now.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:58 AM on July 2, 2010


Wow this is great. Really does bring me back...
posted by Captain_Science at 8:00 AM on July 2, 2010


I loved door games. There was one in particular that was pretty advanced for its day - it required you to download a local package, but after that you had the luxury of a VGA tileset whenever you played online. I can't remember the name, but it had a post-apocalyptic, Fallout style theme. But yeah, Trade Wars, and the way simpler Food Fight / Cave Man / Drug Wars etc style games were around way before 1989.
posted by dvdgee at 8:00 AM on July 2, 2010


I managed, about three years ago, to find a German LoRD server that wasn't blocked by the work servers.

I need to find it again.
posted by cobaltnine at 8:01 AM on July 2, 2010


GO NORTH
posted by DU at 8:01 AM on July 2, 2010


Trade Wars was harder and cooler, but LoRD was definitely game #2. I killed the Red Dragon once or twice. Never blew up Ferenghi.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:01 AM on July 2, 2010


Trade Wars was too full of bots wherever I played for it to be any fun.
posted by chunking express at 8:02 AM on July 2, 2010


LoRD was years removed from being one of the first BBS door games.

Huh. Seems you're right. BBSes in my end of the woods all seemed to get Tradewars and LoRD at about the same time. Would you accept "one of the early"? Certainly one of the most popular.

Tradewars definitely deserves an FPP (or three) of its own.
posted by 256 at 8:08 AM on July 2, 2010


BBS software ran on DOS (or whatever OS in the 80s), and thus was not multi-tasking. So in order to run an external .exe, you'd need some sort of TSR to keep the BBS running in the background while the door game .exe executed (fork()). Prior to that, the games would only work if you had the source code for the BBS and the game and could compile them together. It was TSR that made it possible and that first appeared in MS-DOS 2.0 in 1983. I don't know what the first BBS was to use TSR for external programs.

The first door game I remember is where you run around NYC trading drugs called Dopewars. Actually I remember it from before it made the transition to BBS (it was written in 1984), but it really picked up as a BBS game later on.
posted by stbalbach at 8:14 AM on July 2, 2010


Ah yeah, I remember all of it. LoRD, BRE, TW2002, DrugWars, Usurper... I played all of them, had many accounts on many BBSes, I even started my own BBS for a while so I could play them more often. Had my own phone line (parents grew tired of their own ringing at 2am), brand spanking new 14.4k modem, cracked PCBoard, everything.

Those were fun times.
posted by splice at 8:15 AM on July 2, 2010


WWIV 4 LIFE
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:19 AM on July 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


From the BBS Documentary site lists 5 door games as notable.

WWIV 4 LIFE

Yeah that really was the best with the source code you could do anything, doors were for kids. I guess Wayne Bell is still around somewhere.
posted by stbalbach at 8:24 AM on July 2, 2010


I remember LoRD! It was one of many that I played religiously for a while, along with Food Fight and Trade Wars 2002. When I played around with the details of running my own BBS (short-lived and friends only), LoRd was one of the very first games I installed.

And yeah, WWIV was full of win - my first real look at source code, and there was something about learning and applying a patch to make the *-lock LEDs blink like a BSG cylon while waiting for someone to dial-in, or create a timebank, etc.
posted by mysterpigg at 8:27 AM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


We're currently seeing a rise of asynchronous social gaming: Facebook games like Farmville, iPhone games like Mafia Wars, etc. I've been waiting for some company to go find all the best old BBS Door games and recycle them for these new platforms. They'd work perfectly.
posted by Nelson at 8:32 AM on July 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


@stbalbach Before Dopewars, there was Taipan! I remember messing around with lines in TAIPAN.BAS to give me infinite ship HP and cannons, and also using a rounding bug to generate thousands of extra currency units.
posted by brownpau at 8:33 AM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Pit! TradeWars 2002!

How can you forget Operation: Overkill?! OMGZX.

This is how you kiill a Friday. Thank you.
posted by cavalier at 8:33 AM on July 2, 2010


Wow. Gay marriages took place in 1989! (Seriously, the chance of a female logging on was close to nil).
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:34 AM on July 2, 2010


Nostalgia rush headache.

Door games and phreaking files were the shit (not that I ever did get around to making that blue box; it was more bad-assery by mental association.) I had a 1200 baud modem, and spent a significant part of my teenaged life trying to come up with a way to get at least a 2400 and the monthly income for my own phone line without having to get a job. Birthdays, unfortunately, are only once a year.

Anyone know if there are more playable versions somewhere on the nets? I would love Trade Wars, PimpWars, Solar Realms Elite... Also, does anyone remember a door where you hacked into other computers, War Games style?

On preview, what Nelson said is so right, it gives me hope.
posted by Chichibio at 8:35 AM on July 2, 2010


Jenny Garth ....
posted by crunchland at 8:37 AM on July 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


you've finally managed to connect to the local BBS for the first time (at 2400 bits per second on your brand new 33 MHz 486, most likely).

Heh. It's surreal how far we've come since then.
posted by homunculus at 8:39 AM on July 2, 2010


Man, the amount of time I spent playing BBS games was surreal. Until, that is, I realized I could download actual games. I suddenly had far less time for BBS games when there was X-Wing or Tie Fighter to play. :)
posted by antifuse at 8:44 AM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Love the LORD so much. I still play it on a BBS on Facebook.

There is a near clone of the game called Legend of the Green Dragon which I also play at lotgd.net.
posted by valis at 8:50 AM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, if traditional holds, everyone in my office is going to be leaving work early (around lunch) because of the holiday. However, I've made plans to meet my boyfriend downtown after an interview he has this afternoon. Given that I've done even more of the work than I'd planned to do before I left for the weekend, I was wondering how I'd kill the time.

Now I'm not.


Those children would now be old enough to drink in the United States.


Somehow this is upsetting me more than when I realized that any kids that might have resulted from my experimentation with heterosexuality would now be older than I was at that time. Okay, maybe not more but just as much.

Until I was in high school (1991-2), BBS stuff was only available to me when I'd visit relatives (cousins who had cool older friends), so around 1989, I was longing for things like this and I sometimes think I'm still trying to make up for it.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:51 AM on July 2, 2010


Hey, looks like Global War can still be purchased. Neat.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:53 AM on July 2, 2010


We found a gem! Thanks 256.

Also, I am old.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:57 AM on July 2, 2010


Oh god, LORD. It's one of those games that lives forever in my purgatorial list of Games I Should Really Try Remaking But Never Really Make The Effort (see also: Oregon Trail). I played the hell out of it for a year or two in high school.

Eventually my attention wandered instead to Barren Realms Elite and Falcon's Eye. And then I went to college and had a pentium and access to a LAN full of people playing stuff like Quake and that was pretty much it for door games. But I'll always love those stupid things, and there's something infectious about a simple game that makes me constantly think like "I could do it like this" in my weaker moments.
posted by cortex at 9:13 AM on July 2, 2010


I remember playing this stuff on LAFreeNet - I was an eight-year-old girl and really hoped no one would notice. Good times. My parents had no idea about the content, heh. I was obsessed with it all (even after we "upgraded" to Compuserve) pretty much until my dad bought Raptor.
posted by SMPA at 9:17 AM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


"@stbalbach Before Dopewars, there was Taipan! I remember messing around with lines in TAIPAN.BAS to give me infinite ship HP and cannons, and also using a rounding bug to generate thousands of extra currency units."

I spent many, many hours playing Taipan on my Apple II - borrowing money from Elder Brother Wu and then paying back more always worked in my favor.
posted by numbskeleton at 9:39 AM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


At the time when I discovered door games I had already found the Almighty Nethack (3.0 at the time). But these I could play using my Commodore 64, in a way. And so I did, using a program called Novaterm that emulated a 80 column screen on the machine's hi-res display, which gave each letter around three pixels of width. Still, however, awesome.
posted by JHarris at 9:44 AM on July 2, 2010


LoRD was totally the spiritual grandfather of Kingdom of Loathing. We (KoL devs) all have fond memories of it.
posted by rifflesby at 9:51 AM on July 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


Ah yeah. When I was painfully young, I played one of these -- it wasn't LoRD, it was a similar game hosted on a near-Chicago BBS called Sharky's -- and to play I had to earn credits by winning online trivia contests (at my age, I didn't have money, much less a credit card.) Having to type faster than everyone else to win did wonders for my typing skills. Plus, eventually meeting a bunch of the folks playing on there (who were almost all college students that took me under their wing a bit) did wonders for my RL social life.
posted by davejay at 10:03 AM on July 2, 2010


When I was a soph in high school, our new IT class set up and ran a BBS on Wildcat. LoRD and Trade Wars were two of our favorite door games. I think we had another one called Melee. Good times.
posted by xedrik at 10:04 AM on July 2, 2010


omg those people are in their mid-50s now so this means i am officially old and should stop typing omg
posted by davejay at 10:08 AM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Awesome. Can we have a web version of BarneySplat now?
posted by davelog at 10:16 AM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


@brownpau, I'd forgotten about Taipan!, and now I'll have to spend all weekend in a //c emulator. (wonder if I can find that 12 Tasks of Heracles, too...)
posted by easement1 at 10:27 AM on July 2, 2010


So I'm mostly a lurker, but when something this awesome gets posted on the blue I must chime in. As a SysOp of a 2-line renegade BBS when I was 13 I could attest to the popularity of door games. My BBS was more of a Trade Wars hang out but we did have an active Lord community as well. Thanks for taking me back to my 1200 baud childhood.
posted by JayG at 10:35 AM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


oh my goooooooddddddd yes.

Now I just need to find the MUD I used to hang out on in high school.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 11:08 AM on July 2, 2010


netrunner was my crack later on, but man... the pit... and LORD.

thank you metafilter for reminding me of this AGAIN - Aside from the perpetual reminder of my username, which was first picked back playing LORD and I've never switched.
posted by MysticMCJ at 11:12 AM on July 2, 2010


There was one in particular that was pretty advanced for its day - it required you to download a local package, but after that you had the luxury of a VGA tileset whenever you played online. I can't remember the name, but it had a post-apocalyptic, Fallout style theme.

You're thinking of Operation Overkill, which was pretty much the best of all the door games. I was lucky enough to live in Dallas, the same city as the developer, so I got to play on his board.

My favorite way to play OO was when we would do remote games against a board in another city. Each board would get the game data every other day, so the team only had 24 hours to accomplish everything they had to do, broken up in 30 minute chunks per player.

It was kind of TF2 meets nethack meets fallout.
posted by heathkit at 11:24 AM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Did anyone else have a registered version of TWHelp? Allowance $.
posted by nathancaswell at 11:28 AM on July 2, 2010


I got introduced to Trade Wars by the father of a kid on my baseball team. He was the equipment manager and was also in charge of labeling all the styrofoam Gatorade cups with the kid's names. Every game he would write "ESCAPE POD" on my cup cause I was constantly trying to fight Aliens, or running out of fuel outside FedSpace and getting blown up. Needless to say this did not go over well with the majority of the baseball team. Merciless teasing ensued.
posted by nathancaswell at 11:31 AM on July 2, 2010


Also, how do we recapture the feel of the old BBS days? Maybe I'm suffering from "Get off my lawn syndrome", but BBSes just had so many elements that seemed to be lacking from the modern internet.

1) A BBS was like a small town - typically no more than a couple dozen users. Everyone knew each other. Plus, long-distance charges meant most users would be in the same city. Meetups were common and fun.

2) Door games had some kind of play limit. Imagine how MMOs would be different if each user was restricted to 30 minutes of play time a day!

3) Anyone could set up a BBS. If you already had a computer, the cost was minimal. Compare that with the effort of setting up a website. We have a couple teenage sysops in this thread - how many teenagers can build an active online community these days?

4) BBSes were interactive and real time. You could page the sysop and chat with him, or even chat with other users who happened to be online if the board was multi-line. It was kind of like visiting someone's house.

In writing this, I guess metafilter has a few things in common with a BBS. Still, I feel like there's something lacking in the modern internet that BBSes provided, and it's frustrating that I don't feel like I can fully articulate what that is. Of course, it's possible what I'm really nostalgic for is my childhood...
posted by heathkit at 11:43 AM on July 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


(Seriously, the chance of a female logging on was close to nil).

HEY!
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:51 AM on July 2, 2010


metafilter has a few things in common with a BBS

I think you've put your finger on a lot of what engages the really active users around here.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:57 AM on July 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, how do we recapture the feel of the old BBS days?

ASCII pornography?
posted by nathancaswell at 11:59 AM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wasn't old enough to read in 1989, can someone give me the gist of what to do? I might be missing something obvious, but I've created an account and it doesn't seem like I can do anything.
posted by Betty_effn_White at 12:07 PM on July 2, 2010


I remember playing TradeWars constantly in the early 90s, only to have myself blown up nearly every time I logged in- I guess I didn't get the hang of whatever you're supposed to do to keep your ship safe!

And yeah, Nelson, I remember thinking the same thing when Mafia Wars hit Facebook. A friend of mine was addicted to it, and I told him "Well, it's basically like an old door game." "I'm not an old dork!" "No, I said... actually, that's pretty apt."
posted by maus at 1:01 PM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


You've finally managed to connect to the local BBS for the first time... on your brand new 33 MHz 486, most likely).

Apple IIe, baby. No sleep in the light of the green screen, trying to muffle the modem squawks with a handful of laundry so the parents wouldn't hear.
posted by rokusan at 1:45 PM on July 2, 2010


I was just going through some old papers the other day and found my registration receipts for my copy of WWIV and Trade Wars 2k2 among other things. Such were the days.

/ESN
posted by Rhomboid at 4:28 PM on July 2, 2010


Heh, I loved those door games when I was a pre-/early teen - LORD was fun, I ruled Tradewars (stealing someone else's planet and then running away with it? Oh yeah! When they finally found the planet and having the planet kill them? Priceless.), and SRE/BRE where one BBS would compete against another BBS. Gooey kablooey bombs! Giving other players seed money to start investment schemes with the in-game compound interest rates so they can eventually contribute to buying GK bombs. Tourism planets!

dvdgee - I remember exactly what you're talking about. Thanks heathkit for remembering the name... but it doesn't ring any bells for me. On the boards that I played, it wasn't particularly popular (or too difficult) and I was the only person building outposts or forts or something at rational waypoints into the wilderness...

Ended up going to a bunch of meets... I was a bit younger than a lot of the other people, but it was usually around 3:2 male:female. A greater-than-population-average physically disabled people. Benny's Bagels used to be sooo cool when I was a kid drinking unlimited coffee and reciting bad poetry at each other. After living right next door to it for a few years starting at age 27... it's kinda depressing. Can't tell if the business has gone downhill (no more unlimited coffee and their food sucks now) or if it was a matter of growing up.

Became friends with a few of the people I met on BBSs ("ran into" one on OKCupid recently, though) but the friendships kind of dissolved when I left Vancouver for college in the 'states.
posted by porpoise at 9:43 PM on July 2, 2010


Before Dopewars, there was Taipan! I remember messing around with lines in TAIPAN.BAS to give me infinite ship HP and cannons, and also using a rounding bug to generate thousands of extra currency units.

How I dreaded the appearance of the words "BAD JOSS, TAIPAN!". Seems someone made an online version of Taipan. It was like the fun version of Hammurabi.

Apple IIe, baby. No sleep in the light of the green screen, trying to muffle the modem squawks with a handful of laundry so the parents wouldn't hear.

It was interesting, as modems got faster, to hear the progression of the handshake deeper and deeeper. Weeeeee... WEEEEEEEE.. CHHSHSSHCHCHSHSH.. GRUNT!BLURP!SKRONKSKRONK.

(Though of course, you could +++ATL0)

Games I Should Really Try Remaking But Never Really Make The Effort (see also: Oregon Trail)

The Oregon Trail Let's Plays are predictably amusing.

The most interesting variation I heard of on Oregon Trail was to make it a sim of hiking the Appalachian Trail. It was in one of those old books where they expected you to like type in BASIC code by hand (distributing floppies being ridiculously expensive and with no such thing as websites, and those crazy barcode-type scanners to get code from magazines not exactly being commonplace), but the book was more about turning research into sim games.

Some perverse part of me wants to play a 3D First Person "Hiker" where you get tired, starve, get bit by a snake, or fucking freeze to death. Like Oblivion crossed with a flight sim, minus all the fantasy.
posted by fleacircus at 11:35 PM on July 2, 2010


Love the LORD so much. I still play it on a BBS on Facebook.

The day I can play MajorMUD on Facebook will mark the final completion of the Internets.
posted by Jimbob at 5:47 AM on July 3, 2010


WWIV 4 LIFE

I ran WWIV on my BBS back in the early nineties, with the one problem that it had a backdoor that became public. From there I moved onto VBBS and Renegade, but I always liked WWIV the most.
posted by waldo at 7:20 AM on July 3, 2010


Anyone who had a 33 MHz 80486 in 1989 must have been fabulously wealthy. I didn't upgrade to a 50 MHz '486 until 1992 (to install Linux 0.95 with SLS and finally run Xfree86).
posted by autopilot at 7:38 AM on July 3, 2010


Citadel was always my favorite, though I seemed to be in the minority.
posted by heathkit at 10:19 AM on July 3, 2010


heathkit, if you were on Cits in the Seattle area we may have known each other. I still run a Citadel. It's been active for 19 years as of March this year. Telnet to bbs.slumberland.org, or you can use Flash to connect here. (Slumberland is the board pictured on the Wikipedia Citadel page.)

The atmosphere has changed a bit since back in the day, though. The board has live chat now, and it didn't back then (except between the sysop and the logged-in user). Predictably, this has led to fewer posts in the rooms themselves.

We never had door games on Slumberland, though other local Cits had them.
posted by litlnemo at 3:58 AM on July 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


We ran our BBS on Synchronet in OS/2. At its peak we had 4 lines with 28,8 modems running on a 486DX2-66 with two 540mb hard drives for storage. I think all that equipment now resides in my mother's storage unit.

I spent a lot of time playing LoRD (and Trade Wars, VGA Planets, Food Fight...) and then I got my first shell account and discovered Genesis
posted by Tenuki at 5:47 AM on July 4, 2010


I ran my BBS on my 486 using my dad's fax line. It was a renegade BBS. It would go down whenever my dad need to send/recv a fax, or if I wanted to use my box.
posted by chunking express at 8:59 AM on July 4, 2010


I ran a BBS on the mac wwiv clone Hermes.

Also, this thread inspired me to download the source for WWIV over telnet. When I can get this to compile, I'm going to be a sysop again, bitches.
posted by cucumber at 4:53 PM on July 4, 2010


fleacircus: The most interesting variation I heard of on Oregon Trail was to make it a sim of hiking the Appalachian Trail. It was in one of those old books where they expected you to like type in BASIC code by hand...

I had that book. It was something like 'Six BASIC Adventures'. The AT trail one involved being allergic to poison ivy and getting blisters and caching food and something close to 30 pages of typing code. I never got far enough to finish. I don't think the 'you made it!' outcome was likely, given the percentages it gave over to starving while covered in a rash.

I also have to second the hilarity of LParchives of the Oregon Trail. There's something fantastic about having goons try to do the OT with supplies of bullets, hats, and clocks only.
posted by cobaltnine at 8:30 AM on July 6, 2010


*high-five cobaltnine*

David Ahl's BASIC Computer Adventures, that was it. Text available online.
posted by fleacircus at 9:19 PM on July 6, 2010


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