So yeah, I realize the blog has been quieter than usual over the last couple of weeks, and for that, I apologize. Got a bit sidetracked with the new writing circles (groups) feature, among other things, and I haven’t had as much time to interact with you guys as usual. Hopefully early July will put an end to that. :)
Anyhow, to pass the time with a little entertainment, I was perusing Tobold’s blog this evening and happened to notice what he’s been playing, lately. Tobold writes a popular MMORPG blog covering many of the new massively-multiplayer games, and has done so for several years. He plays hard, and somehow manages to maintain a day job AND blog on a daily (often moreso) basis. He’s always interesting, passionate about gaming, and well-spoken. To whit, one of his recent posts drew my attention.
A youth wasted on… BBS door games
Yes, I’ll admit it openly. I played BBS door games as a kid (and as a teenager.) You remember those golden pre-internet days of dialing up to various homes and businesses over your phone line (sometimes long-distance, something my parents have thankfully forgotten about now), and connecting with other people via text-based chat interfaces? I do. I’m sure some of the younger crowd on Protagonize may not be aware of this, but there were a variety of ways of communicating with others online before the advent of the Internet. Before Compuserve, AOL, etc., even.
I remember staying up all night, on various occasions, and screwing up on tests and studies just to get a few extra turns in on whatever game I was currently playing, or chat with some other kids who were online at the same time (assuming the BBS had more than one phone line.)
What’s the most striking about this? It’s what got me started in web development (and programming as a career.) So I’ll always have a soft spot in my head… err.. heart, for online text adventures.
Introducing the “Pastamancer”
Thanks to Tobold, I’ve rediscovered an element of my wasted youth. Apparently, the developers of Kingdom of Loathing had a similar pastime — Barren Realms Elite, Legend of the Red Dragon, and all of those turn-based text adventures we used to play. They just managed to translate the exact experience over to the web. And they’ve added in stick figures. This is just pure awesomeness and I couldn’t just not tell you all about it.
To be honest, I’m not sure how I missed this game originally, as it’s been live since 2003, has been covered in Wired, and has acquired a gigantic (rivaling the size of some paid MMORPGs) following. I read a couple of interviews with the game’s creators out of curiosity (mainly because I was wondering what their business model was, truth be told), and I’m pretty impressed that they’re able to sustain a team of 6 or 7 working full-time on a text-based game, completely off donations and micropayments.
That said, I’m warning you now: if you have no sense of humour, if you can’t handle using meat as an in-game currency, if terrible (yet hysterically funny) stick-figure graphics are a completely turn-off, or if your spelling needs work, you may want to pass on this. But for the rest of you, in the spirit of independent developers and text adventurers everywhere, do yourselves a favour and check out Kingdom of Loathing. If nothing else, it’s free, it’s got characters like the Pastamancer and the Accordion Thief, and it’ll help you kill time when you’re not writing on Protagonize. :)