Captain Zyrain wants YOU! March 18, 2012 6:02 AM   Subscribe

Anyone interested in a Metafilter game of TradeWars 2002?

TradeWars is a classic BBS door game that has been called one of the 10 best games ever. It text-based multiplayer exploration/trading/conquest game. These days, you can host a server over the internet, to which people (you) can connect and play. I thought it might be fun to host a Metafilter-members-only game for us classic gamers that remember it, and also for those yung'uns who want to find out what how much fun text-based games can be.

If I set up a server, how many people would be interested? Does anyone here still play?

TODO: the game deserves a proper post on the Blue...
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike to MetaFilter-Related at 6:02 AM (83 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

I've never played, but count me in!
posted by Kattullus at 6:38 AM on March 18, 2012


And then we can move on to Barren Realms Elite?
posted by chunking express at 7:06 AM on March 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


No. Legend of the Red Dragon next.
posted by crunchland at 7:13 AM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes! (VGA Planets next??)
posted by starman at 7:16 AM on March 18, 2012


Sounds great, I've never played but really up for trying - but this line from the wiki concerns me little:

TW2002 takes a large investment of time compared to most door games. Some modern TW2002 tournaments allow an infinite number of turns, and the most dedicated players devote most of their spare time over several days to the race for galactic dominance.

How long does it take to play?
posted by pmcp at 7:22 AM on March 18, 2012


It takes as long as the game runs to play. The real time commitment comes from the number of turns allowed in a day. Sadly, anyone out who still has the scripting software is going to have a huge, huge advantage over everyone else.
posted by absalom at 7:35 AM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think we should ban scripting (or, certain kinds of scripting?), and limit turns, if we decide to play.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 8:10 AM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, you can limit turns from the server end, but banning scripting is basically impossible to pull off since it happens on the player end.
posted by absalom at 8:26 AM on March 18, 2012


I think Trade Wars is the one big door game I never played. If the turn limit situation is analogous to how BRE or Falcon's Eye worked, throwing in a pretty small limit seems like it'd be a good way to make a group play situation not go to whoever just has a lot of time to kill, yeah.

We could also establish a couple separate games if there's both hardcore I WILL NERD YOU TO DEATH WITH MY ANNIHILATED SOCIAL SCHEDULE interest and more casual interest. I'd technically have the time for the hardcore but would prefer the more casual approach, as far as that goes.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:37 AM on March 18, 2012


MeFightClub would be a good place to recruit players conniving space scum as well.
posted by ODiV at 9:44 AM on March 18, 2012


I would play this game.
posted by jedicus at 10:06 AM on March 18, 2012


This being a BBS game, I take it I'll need to set up a BBS client as well?

I'm on Kubuntu 11.10. What client would y'all recommend?
posted by LogicalDash at 10:10 AM on March 18, 2012


Yes, and also yes.
posted by sacrifix at 11:43 AM on March 18, 2012


I'd play. :)
posted by zarq at 11:50 AM on March 18, 2012


Oh my god. Barren Realms Elite was my game of choice during the BBS years, but i'd be totally in for Trade Wars. But... um... how would I do this on a Mac? Never thought i'd miss my old 386 :)
posted by cgg at 12:11 PM on March 18, 2012


Playing OO][ locally was one of the joys of being your own sysop. I wish I had kept my super-modded WWIV 4.12 sources, but they're probably on an unreadable, unlabeled 5.25" floppy in a pile in a closet now.
posted by Rhomboid at 12:55 PM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


ah, man. I loved tradewars. I think I still have a TWGS install package from when I used to run it. I'd definitely be in.
posted by Woney at 1:07 PM on March 18, 2012


I think you just need a terminal app to play. So Ubuntu and OSX come with the app, and on Windows you can just use PuTTY. I'm testing it now, and I connected through telnet on OSX.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 1:39 PM on March 18, 2012


Awww shit. Yeah, I remember this one. It was a favorite in the 314 AC. There was a collective called The Borg, basically a bunch of obsessive TW2002 players who'd set up a corp called The Borg on every TW2002 instance in the AC, and they'd all join every instance of the corp on every BBS, and proceed to annihilate everyone else in the game.

I played a few times, but quickly tired of the "dopewars" arbitrage game, ultimately choosing an evil alignment so I could steal goods from bases, sell them, and gamble all my money at TRI CRON, only to be blown up by a player with "good" alignment after parking my ship in a random sector for the night. Basically, I was kind of a lowlife.

I personally never hosted door games on my BBS because I didn't one my one-line WWIV BBS monopolized by gamers. One line. Heh.

A few years back, didn't somebody invent a new game that was like Tradewars 2.0? Called Sky Pilot or Sky Wars or something? And it was kinda like Tradewars, only you could automate all the tedious arbitrage stuff? I think Navelgazer was into that.

Anyway, if we did this, I'd probably join, play for a little while, get bored with it, choose an evil alignment, and start stealing things again. I guess some things never change :b
posted by Afroblanco at 2:18 PM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd probably play. I don't remember how, but that never stops me.
posted by Justinian at 2:54 PM on March 18, 2012


Afroblanco: "I personally never hosted door games on my BBS because I didn't one my one-line WWIV BBS monopolized by gamers. One line. Heh."

I got onto the BBS thing really late in its evolution. I logged on to play these door games every now and then, and was surprised to find some ops getting really mad if I called the line outside the published hours. I couldn't wrap my head around the idea that some of them were using their single home phone to host the BBS for a few hours a day.
posted by vanar sena at 3:17 PM on March 18, 2012


I would play, though I would like all connections limited to 300 baud, so I don't freak out with future shock.
posted by pompomtom at 3:30 PM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, I did this back in the day and had some fun doing it.

I would definitely limit the turns per day. The version I last remember playing had something like 250 turns per day in a scout marauder, 100 in the starter ship and so forth. That seemed rational to me. Infinite turns? I'd just walk away.

Also, can we define the size of the galaxy these days? 1000 sectors is fine for 15-20 players. Too many and there are two many empty trading ports.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:06 PM on March 18, 2012


I'd like the idea of traveling in a near infinite, mostly empty space, searching for other players with scant hope of finding any. But then, I also like movies where nothing happens, slowly.

I still kinda like the idea of a game played in a vast, mostly lifeless universe.

Come to think of it, all games are played in a vast, mostly lifeless universe.
posted by Kattullus at 6:12 PM on March 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I ran a BBS on my dad's fax line. I never ran trade wars because it seemed to be more about managing bots than anything else. LORD and BRE were lots of fun, though. I feel like a lot of modern day Freemium iOS games are reminiscent of old BBS games, except you can spend 50 bucks for more turns.
posted by chunking express at 6:18 PM on March 18, 2012


I have also never played, but I'd also be willing to try.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:18 PM on March 18, 2012


Oh good lord. Yes no.

Self control wins again.
posted by ead at 8:04 PM on March 18, 2012


I've never played, but have wanted to for some time. I'd be in.
posted by Snyder at 8:43 PM on March 18, 2012


You are most welcome to come and recruit over at MefightClub, with the added bonus that you can use the forum to talk about stuff all you want (which isn't really all that viable here in Meta). Plus we're Really Very Nice and Mostly Not Space Scum at all.

Except Niteowl. Watch out for that guy.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:16 PM on March 18, 2012


Mostly.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:47 PM on March 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would totally join -- I just got to... NO DAD IM PLAYING ON THE COMPUTER DONT#`%${%&`+'${`%&
NO CARRIER
posted by eddydamascene at 10:05 PM on March 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


I KNEW keeping that old copy of QModem would pay off!

Somewhere, I have scripts for TeleArena, maps for Mutants! and a full version of LORD.
and by somewhere, I mean on that hard drive RIGHT THERE.
posted by ApathyGirl at 10:17 PM on March 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I KNEW keeping that old copy of QModem would pay off!

Telemate, yo. Telemate.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:48 PM on March 18, 2012


Um... maybe. Could I get a rough estimate as to how much of my life this would likely suck away and for how long? Looks pretty cool and a casual game would be fun in the sun.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:08 AM on March 19, 2012


oh hell of yes
posted by danny the boy at 1:34 AM on March 19, 2012


I would totally join -- I just got to... NO DAD IM PLAYING ON THE COMPUTER DONT#`%${%&`+'${`%&
NO CARRIER


You call the BBS back. Busy signal. Your ship is stuck outside of Fedspace with only a few fighters. An hour later you log back in and you've got a shiny new escape pod. Ah, memories...
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 2:23 AM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, please.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:59 AM on March 19, 2012


(It's called '2002', btw, not because it was released in 2002, but because when the game was released, 2002 was way off in the sci-fi 'future')
posted by empath at 6:21 AM on March 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Never played, would love to try.
posted by jbickers at 6:55 AM on March 19, 2012


at least one other person played operation overkill.. I had the fastest spacebar around.

I had a registered version of space dynasty, which might have been a pre-cursor to some of those.
posted by k5.user at 8:14 AM on March 19, 2012


Could I get a rough estimate as to how much of my life this would likely suck away and for how long?

Depends on the number of turns per day. Since the game was developed back in the BBS days, it wasn't designed to take ages to play. As a rough estimate: about 20-30 minutes for a typical day of trading, maybe close to an hour if you were doing something complicated. Much faster if you use a script, I imagine, but I've never used one.
posted by jedicus at 10:47 AM on March 19, 2012


very interested. Notify me if this ends up happening, I have fond memories of this game.

Can I also suggest Operation Overkill ][ as a follow up? That game had a pretty deep story and large world to explore as well IIRC.
posted by some loser at 12:21 PM on March 19, 2012


I think we should ban scripting (or, certain kinds of scripting?)

Maybe we could require scripting, and all use scripts for everything, so that it's pretty much just a bunch of bots playing each other and we can all spend time on more productive things?
posted by burnmp3s at 12:54 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


This sounds fun.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:21 PM on March 19, 2012


Navelgazer -- what was the name of that Tailspin-themed arb game you were so crazy about a few years ago? Sky Pirates? Sky Wars? Something like that?
posted by Afroblanco at 2:42 PM on March 19, 2012


Skyrates, I suspect.
posted by jedicus at 3:12 PM on March 19, 2012


Register this as interest, though chances are I won't be able to be, shall we say, serious about it.
posted by kaibutsu at 3:46 PM on March 19, 2012


I would love to play a long, this is the exact thing the guys at sdf.org would love.
posted by adventureloop at 3:54 PM on March 19, 2012


jedicus : yes! Always meant to play that one, but never got around to it.
posted by Afroblanco at 4:32 PM on March 19, 2012


Oh my god. If I can make my computer do it, then yes. Hell yes. 1993, here we are again.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:11 PM on March 20, 2012


Ok, I'm game.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:20 PM on March 20, 2012


Oh, wow. Hi guys. BBSer here. Man, did I play the crap out of TW2002. Planets, fleets, Interdictors, a general lack of fear of Fed ships. I would certainly try to play if y'all got a game going.

You drive a hard bargain, but we'll take them.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 1:49 PM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes, I would play this. Oh yes.
posted by pahalial at 6:14 PM on March 20, 2012


For those of you who want to play, I've got a server set up, but I'm exploring options to make sure the setup is secure since it will run on one of my own computers. See the AskMe here. If anyone has any tips (or would like to save me the trouble and host the server yourself :) let me know.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 7:42 AM on March 21, 2012


Pony: Anything that we can specify to make this more of a gentleman's/newbie friendly session would be a positive thing in my book. Just from reading above it sounds like people who are obsessed and/or script-kiddies may have a bit of an edge. I'm not going to take my ball and go home if I'm in dead last of course, but future rounds might be better to open up the throttle and say 'go crazy' with regards to rules/regs.

If others disagree of course that's fine too, just talking...

posted by RolandOfEld at 8:08 AM on March 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, it would be ideal if the game could be kept casual&friendly.
posted by Kattullus at 9:15 AM on March 21, 2012


I think we should start with a casual game (no scripts, on the honor system) and if there's enough interest, we can make another game for the hardcore players. That also gives new players a chance to learn in a casual environment, and if they want to move to the hardcore game later they won't be at as much a disadvantage.

By the way, I have a test server set up. I need a few people to test it, but the initial people need to be people who know how to use SSH with public key authentication. If you know how to set up your SSH client to use public key authentication and you want to help out, memail me and I'll send you the login details.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 9:22 AM on March 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


By the way, don't see Vulcan Thunder in the cineplex, it's no good. Debbie does Rigel is much better.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 9:33 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would love to play. I remember playing Trade Wars during my short lived BBS days and the horrible things it did to the relationship dynamics there (which were already pretty horrible). Because of those problems, we only wound up with two short games being played before the admin first reset the game, and then folded the BBS (but I'm sure that wouldn't happen here) and I never really got the hang of it.
posted by never used baby shoes at 9:42 AM on March 21, 2012


Late to this but (A) Hell, and (B) Yes.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:05 PM on March 21, 2012


it would be ideal if the game could be kept casual&friendly

I haven't played before but from what I can tell it's pretty PvP heavy. What exactly constitutes friendly versus unfriendly behavior in this game?
posted by burnmp3s at 1:17 PM on March 21, 2012


PvP heavy

...is fine. I just didn't think it would be as fun if someone with umpteen hours of playtime under his/her belt came in and destroyed us newbies with scripts/bots/exploits that are pro-level or common sense for those that have played before.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:33 PM on March 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


casual and friendly means you have to type 'lol' as you blow up their escape pod
posted by danny the boy at 2:44 PM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


This game takes place in a universe that adopts the character of its players: it wasn't always a bloody PvP frag-fest, and Fed zones ensured that new players had safe places to park for the night as they build savings and work towards something bigger. When I'm playing with a group of people in a game like this, it's as much about the shared experience as it is about achieving some sort of success. TW2002 was always like that for me. I'd be too excited to see familiar faces in there to ever think about attacking people.

...he says, completely giving away what a push-over he's about to be in this game.

Anyway, there are also negative ramifications of attacking fellow vessels, including gaining a negative alignment. A negative alignment is an interesting career move in many ways, but it makes many of the more taken for granted operations in the game very difficult indeed. This gives the game some balance. I'm not sure which version we'll be playing yet, but I have the fondest memories of being in a team (guild? corporation?) with other BBSers, and developing vast planetary systems and fleets with them. It was a game that encouraged cooperation.

I also won't abide by scripting. What would be most important to me is that everyone—veterans, newbies—has an equally good time playing. I think if any community can manage such a feat, it's a bunch of MeFites. Right?

Hm. Given how much more opportunity there is to communicate between players, perhaps we'd enjoy a game of LORD, too.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 3:56 PM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the way I've set it up (public-key authenticated SSH - you can't log in via telnet) will discourage casual scripting, since you can't use proxy scripts. Of course, a knowledgeable person can make it work. But we'll have a rule against it in some games.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 12:15 AM on March 22, 2012


Anyone interested in joining, please send me an RSA SSH public key via memail (just paste the key into the memail box). I'll have fuller non-techie instructions soon, but until then, if you're on Windows, you can follow this guide, if you're on OSX you can follow this guide. If you're using Linux, I assume you know how to do this, but if you don't, I think the OSX guide will work for you as well. In response, I will send you the SSH connection information that you can use with PuTTY (Windows) or terminal (OSX). burnmp3s has helped me test the connectivity, so I know it works.

If you're really want the authentic tradewars experience and are using MSDOS, I think you're out of luck.

I have a test game set up that we can use as a sort of sandbox for now, especially for new players to get the hang of things.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 6:02 AM on March 22, 2012


Dumb question: When we generate it, does it matter what to use for "yourname@yourdomain.ext" ?
posted by starman at 11:48 AM on March 22, 2012


Dumb question: When we generate it, does it matter what to use for "yourname@yourdomain.ext" ?

Nope, I'm going to change that to your username anyway. But if use your Metafilter username, it will save me the trouble of changing it.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 11:50 AM on March 22, 2012


OK, I'm going try this whole public key thing this weekend. Don't leave earth without me.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:27 PM on March 22, 2012


I've gotten a fair amount of interest - while we're in the testing phase, it's limited to a single user at a time, so two users can't be logged in at once (OLD SCHOOL STYLE). But once I'm sure everything works, I'll spring for more spots and more games.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 1:19 PM on March 22, 2012


Is there a deadline to get on the server and join?

Have I missed it?....

Excuse: wedding planning

posted by RolandOfEld at 12:26 PM on March 23, 2012


Right now there's just a test game running and Philosopher Dirtbike is accepting people's public keys as described above. There isn't a deadline that I know of right now and I'm guessing there won't be one for a while until an actual non-test game starts.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:22 PM on March 23, 2012


I'm heading out of town for a few days, but will gladly join in when I get home.
posted by never used baby shoes at 2:24 PM on March 23, 2012


Is there a deadline to get on the server and join?

Nope, no deadline. I'm still testing things, making sure everything runs smoothly before we start a real game. If you'd like to join the test game and help me test, send me a public SSH key by memail, and I'll send you the connection info.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 2:42 PM on March 23, 2012


I've started a thread on MeFightClub for discussing the game, and to advertise it to the folks there. I plan on starting the real game soon. I think when I start the real game, I'll make the test game into a sandbox with lots of money, turns, etc, so that people who aren't sure about how to play the game can play around with things.

If anyone has any suggestions as to how to set up the new game (number of turns, etc), let me know. I'll probably post some suggestions for discussion over at MeFightClub before I bigbang the new game.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 10:04 AM on March 25, 2012


I've started our first official game; if you'd like to join, mefimail me and I'll give you the info. I still haven't worked out a detailed set of instructions for nontechies, but using the instructions in this thread and in the mefightclub thread, and perhaps a little help from us over at mefightclub, you can get it working.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 1:42 AM on March 29, 2012


I can't figure out how to change the in-game message, so here are the "Normal" game's rules:

1. No scripts.
2. The "normal" game is not a hardcore game where anything goes. So, things like one person intentionally hunting down and killing a person, over and over. Basically, assume that there is a just God in the Universe who, most of the time, acts in a disinterested manner, but will intervene if things get out of hand - sort of like a Metafilter mod.

We'll start a sort of hardcore, "godless" universe eventually, where anything goes, if this game takes off. The test game still exists for newbies to try it out.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 1:53 AM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's my instructions for Windows users to setup the connection, using PuTTy (there's also a 64 bit version)

1. Download puttygen.exe (or 64 bit).
2. Run puttygen.exe and click Generate.
3. Move your mouse around until it has enough randomness to generate the key.
4. Change key comment to whatever you want (like [username]_tradewars).
5. For key passphrase and confirm passphrase choose a password to lock your private key with, you will need to enter this whenever you use your private key to log in.
6. Click Save public key and Save private key, you can store them anywhere you want.
7. Either copy the public key shown in puttygen or copy the contents of the public key file you just saved, and send it to Philosopher Dirtbike.
8. Download putty.exe (or 64 bit)
9. Run putty.exe, and enter the host name and port given to you by Philosopher Dirtbike.
10. Click the Terminal -> Keyboard settings category. Change Backspace Key to Control-H.
11. Click Window -> Appearance. Change Font from Courier New to Terminal.
12. (Optional) Click Window -> Behavior and change Remote character set to CP437. I didn't do this but it was suggested in the Mefight thread.
13. Click Connection -> SSH -> Auth. Browse for the private key you saved in step 6, to use that for authentication.
14. Click back to Session. In the Saved Sessions box enter a name for these settings (like "Tradewars") and click Save. Now you can reload all of these settings again by Loading them whenever you want to connect.
15. (Optional) Right click on putty.exe and choose Create Shortcut. Right click on the shortcut and click Properties. For Target make sure the path to putty.exe is in quotes. Then after the path (including quotes) add --load Tradewars or whatever name you used for your settings in step 14.
16. Double-click on your shortcut or click Open in putty to start the connection. Login using the username given to you by Philosopher Dirtbike and the passphrase you created in step 5.
17. That should be it, follow the prompts to join a game and enjoy Tradewars 2002 in all of its retro ANSI glory.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:57 AM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's fun so far, but it kind of seems like there are unlimited turns with it set at 750. I think it if were a little more limited it would be more difficult for people to jump super far ahead of everyone else. (not that it really matters). Maybe 100? 150? It forces you to be a little more strategic with fewer turns, as well.
posted by starman at 3:07 PM on March 30, 2012


Yeah there's already plans for a 250 game once we verify that the 750 one is working well.
posted by burnmp3s at 4:51 PM on March 30, 2012


N.B. It's perfectly common to use a blank password for your SSH private key. If you do this, make double extra sure nobody else will find the .ppk file.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:32 AM on March 31, 2012


Once we see whether the first game takes off, we'll start some new games with a variety of options, including a low turn game.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 2:27 AM on April 1, 2012


I started a casual, low turn game (150 turns) with 1000 sectors. Check it out and let me know if the settings should be tweaked. If you were waiting for the casual game to start playing, send me a mefi mail with your key and I'll get you set up.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 4:59 AM on April 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


« Older Looking for two fairly recent animated short vids.   |   The MeFi Register, Poster and Paper Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments