Counter Strike 1.6 – Bloody Gaming UCP (8.0)
Counter Strike 1.6 – Bloody Gaming UCP (8.0)
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The first commercial MMORPG (although what constitutes “massive” requires qualification when discussing mid-1980s mainframes) was Island of Kesmai designed by Kelton Flinn and John Taylor. Still roguelike, this game became available in 1985 for $12.00 per hour via the CompuServe online service and supported up to one hundred players.
Lucasfilm’s Habitat was an early and technologically influential online role-playing game developed by Lucasfilm Games and made available as a beta test in 1986 by Quantum Link, an online service for the Commodore 64 computer and the corporate progenitor to America Online. It was initially created in 1985 by Randy Farmer and Chip Morningstar, who were given a “First Penguin Award” at the 2001 Game Developers Choice Awards for this innovative work, and was the first attempt at a large-scale commercial virtual community (Morningstar and Farmer 1990; Robinett 1994) that was graphically based. It ran from 1986 to 1988, after which it was closed down at the end of the pilot run. A sized-down incarnation but with vastly improved graphics (avatars became equipped with facial expressions, for example) was launched for general release as Club Caribe in January 1988.
The first graphical MMORPG was Neverwinter Nights by designer Don Daglow and programmer Cathryn Mataga (not to be confused with Neverwinter Nights by BioWare). “Neverwinter Nights” went live on AOL for PC owners in 1991 and ran through 1997. This project was personally championed and green-lighted by AOL President Steve Case. Both Club Caribe and Neverwinter Nights cost $6.00 per hour to play.
During the early-1990s, commercial use of the internet was limited by NSFNET acceptable use policies. Consequently, early online games like Legends of Future Past, Neverwinter Nights, GemStone IV, Dragon’s Gate, and Federation relied heavily on proprietary services such as CompuServe, America Online, and GEnie for distribution.
Air Warrior was an early multiplayer game as players could battle each other flying virtual fighter planes. The game was first introduced in 1986 and ran on the GEnie network. In 1993 the game was revised to run over the internet.
Following Neverwinter Nights was The Shadow of Yserbius, an MMORPG on The Sierra Network (TSN), which ran from 1992 through 1996. The game was produced by Joe Ybarra. The Shadow of Yserbius was an hourly service, although it also offered unlimited service for $119.99 per month, until AT&T acquired TSN and rendered it strictly an hourly service. The name was then changed from TSN to the ImagiNation Network.
As NSFNET restrictions were relaxed, traditional game companies and online services began deploying games on the internet. The first commercial text-based MMORPG to make this transition to the Internet from a proprietary network provider (CompuServe, in this case) was Legends of Future Past. Legends was also notable for being one of the first titles to have featured professional Game Masters who conducted online events.
The term MMORPG was coined by Richard Garriott, the creator of Ultima Online, in 1997. The term probably derives from “MMOG”, which can be traced back to the 1995 E3 Convention, when Dale Addink used it to describe Confirmed Kill.
The Realm Online was another successful early Internet MMORPG, launched by Sierra Online. Although released just after Meridian 59, the beta was active several months before. The Realm Online had fully animated 2D graphics, both in and out of combat situations, which made it accessible to a wider audience compared to more text-based games or the graphical MUDs on which it was based. Also, its gameplay and interface were already familiar to those accustomed to the graphical adventure games earlier popularised by Sierra. Like many of its predecessors, The Realm Online only featured simple turn-based combat, however, it did feature a huge number (for the time) of visual character customization options. It, too, is still running.
Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds, whose beta was released to Korean audiences in 1996 was one of the first MMORPGs. It is still an active game today with over 1000 subscribers.
Meridian 59, launched by 3DO in late 1996, was one of the first Internet MMORPGs. It was one of the first Internet games from a major publisher, one of the first to be covered in the major game magazines and the first MMPOG to introduce the flat monthly subscription fee. Perhaps most significantly, was its 3D engine, allowing players to experience the game world through the eyes of their characters. A cult following quickly grew for Meridian 59 that still exists today.
Ultima Online, Alpha testing in Jan 1996 and later released in September 1997, is now credited with popularizing the genre. It featured 3D isometric/third-person graphics, and was set in the already popular Ultima universe. It was also a more involved, complex game than many of its predecessors.
Two years after Ultima Online, The Fourth Coming was released, an MMORPG in 3D isometric. It was launched in France under the name La 4ème Prophétie and contributed to spread the MMORPG culture in Europe as one of the first graphical MMORPG. It became very popular through the website GOA until its close in 2001. This MMORPG featured a unique communication system. The game has lost its popularity, however it is still a subject of nostalgia for its old players and some servers continue to host players.
A lesser known MMORPG was launched, on the Mplayer network, in March 1998 called Underlight by Lyra Studios LLC. The game featured live action FPS combat in a 3D environment, an advancement system where players write quests for other players, and a unique faction system with fixed houses that are player run. Also notable was the game’s rules required people to play in-character at all times and the game’s rich story line. This game was similar to Meridian 59 and likewise has maintained a cult following to this day, recently being re-launched again in 2014 by another group of former players under a new company named KoiWare.
Meanwhile, commercial online gaming was becoming extraordinarily popular in South Korea. Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds, designed by Jake Song, was commercially released in 1996 and eventually gained over one million subscribers. Song’s next game, Lineage (1998), enjoyed even greater success gaining millions of subscribers in Korea and Taiwan. This helped to secure developer NCsoft’s dominance in the global MMORPG market for several years. NCSoft has released Lineage 2, City of Heroes, Guild Wars, Exteel, and Aion: The Tower of Eternity. Recently, titles such as Blade & Soul and Guild Wars 2 were released between late 2011 to early 2012.
EverQuest, launched in March 1999 by Verant Interactive (a development venture inside Sony it was always closely aligned with the operating entity that became Sony Online Entertainment), brought fantasy MMORPGs into the Western mainstream. It was the most commercially successful MMORPG in the United States for five years, and was the basis for 22 expansions (as of November 2015) and several derivative games.
In 1999, following Ultima Online and EverQuest, was another hit, Asheron’s Call. Together, these three games are sometimes referred to as the original “big three” of the late 1990s.
By the turn of the century, game companies were eager to capitalize on the new market. The concept of massively multiplayer online games expanded into new video game genres around this time, though RPGs, with their ability to “suck in” the player, were (and still are) the most financially promising.
The next generation of MMORPGs, following the “big three” of the previous decade, was to include the medieval PvP-oriented Dark Age of Camelot, the sci-fi Anarchy Online, and Ultima Online 2. Anarchy Online, released first in June 2001, was saddled with crippling technical problems upon its release, mostly due to an inability to handle the huge playerbase. Dark Age of Camelot launched smoothly four months later, introducing “Realm vs. Realm” PvP and other innovations, and quickly passed Ultima Online and Asheron’s Call in popularity, and became EverQuest ‘s main rival. Ultima Online 2 was cancelled by Electronic Arts in March 2001, as they had decided that the market was becoming saturated and that it would be more profitable to divert resources to the original Ultima Online. RuneScape by Jagex was also released in 2001. 2001 also saw MMORPGs move off of PCs and onto home consoles in a limited form with the release of Phantasy Star Online; however, due to platform limitations, it would not be until EverQuest Online Adventures release that ‘massive’ features found their way outside of non-combat areas on consoles.
2001 also saw the first fully 3D sci-fi space-ship MMORPG. Jumpgate: The Reconstruction Initiative (also Jumpgate or Jumpgate Classic and commonly abbreviated as JG or JGC) is an MMORPG in a science fiction setting for the PC, released in North America on September 25, 2001 by NetDevil (developer) and 3DO (publisher).
In 2002 the sprite-based Ragnarok Online, produced by Korean company Gravity Corp, was released. Though unknown to many Western players, the game took Asia by storm as Lineage had done. The publisher has claimed in excess of 25 million subscribers of the game, although this number is based upon a quantity of registered users (rather than active subscribers). 2002 also saw the release of MapleStory, another sprite-based title, which was completely free-to-play – instead of charging a monthly fee, it generated revenue by selling in-game “enhancements”. MapleStory would go on to become a major player in the new market for free-to-play MMORPGs (generating huge numbers of registered accounts across its many versions), if it did not introduce the market by itself.
In September 2002, Earth & Beyond was released. Having been in development since 1997, this was the second 3D sci-fi space-ship based MMORPG. Earth and Beyond only lasted two years before being shut down by developer Westwood Studios’ owners, Electronic Arts.
In November 2002, Final Fantasy XI by Square-Enix became the first MMOG to provide clients for different platforms using a single set of servers, in addition to being the first ‘true’ MMOG to appear on a video game console due to its initial release in Japan in May of the same year on the PlayStation 2. It would go on to provide a client for a third platform, the Xbox 360, in 2006.
In March 2003, Ubisoft launched their first MMORPG: Shadowbane. Shadowbane was notable for featuring no quests, and instead relying on player warfare to provide immersion. To support this goal it featured player-built, player-owned, and player-razed cities and capitals, and a system for player government.
Also in March 2003 Sony Online Entertainment launched EverQuest Online Adventures, a PlayStation 2 spin-off of the successful EverQuest MMO. This game was only accessible to PlayStation 2 players. The game shut down on the March 29, 2012 after nine years of full operations.
May 2003 saw the release of Eve Online, produced by CCP Games, which had players taking the role of spaceship pilots and had gameplay similar to the series Star Control. Though not the first space MMO (Microsoft Allegiance was the first space MMO and was released in 1999), Eve was able to achieve lasting success. One of the reasons for its success may have been the game’s design, in which all subscribers play in one shared universe as a result the natural partitioning of the game universe into solar systems connected by stargates. This partitioning allows the world to be divided up in such a way that one or more solar systems run on different servers, while still maintaining a single coherent world.
In 1965, Donald Davies of the National Physical Laboratory (United Kingdom) proposed a national data network based on packet-switching. The proposal was not taken up nationally, but by 1970 he had designed and built the Mark I packet-switched network to meet the needs of the multidisciplinary laboratory and prove the technology under operational conditions. By 1976 12 computers and 75 terminal devices were attached and more were added until the network was replaced in 1986. NPL, followed by ARPANET, were the first two networks in the world to use packet switching.
The Merit Network was formed in 1966 as the Michigan Educational Research Information Triad to explore computer networking between three of Michigan’s public universities as a means to help the state’s educational and economic development. With initial support from the State of Michigan and the National Science Foundation (NSF), the packet-switched network was first demonstrated in December 1971 when an interactive host to host connection was made between the IBM mainframe computer systems at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and Wayne State University in Detroit. In October 1972 connections to the CDC mainframe at Michigan State University in East Lansing completed the triad. Over the next several years in addition to host to host interactive connections the network was enhanced to support terminal to host connections, host to host batch connections (remote job submission, remote printing, batch file transfer), interactive file transfer, gateways to the Tymnet and Telenet public data networks, X.25 host attachments, gateways to X.25 data networks, Ethernet attached hosts, and eventually TCP/IP and additional public universities in Michigan join the network. All of this set the stage for Merit’s role in the NSFNET project starting in the mid-1980s.
The CYCLADES packet switching network was a French research network designed and directed by Louis Pouzin. First demonstrated in 1973, it was developed to explore alternatives to the initial ARPANET design and to support network research generally. It was the first network to make the hosts responsible for the reliable delivery of data, rather than the network itself, using unreliable datagrams and associated end-to-end protocol mechanisms.
Based on ARPA’s research, packet switching network standards were developed by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in the form of X.25 and related standards. While using packet switching, X.25 is built on the concept of virtual circuits emulating traditional telephone connections. In 1974, X.25 formed the basis for the SERCnet network between British academic and research sites, which later became JANET. The initial ITU Standard on X.25 was approved in March 1976.
The British Post Office, Western Union International and Tymnet collaborated to create the first international packet switched network, referred to as the International Packet Switched Service (IPSS), in 1978. This network grew from Europe and the US to cover Canada, Hong Kong, and Australia by 1981. By the 1990s it provided a worldwide networking infrastructure.
Unlike ARPANET, X.25 was commonly available for business use. Telenet offered its Telemail electronic mail service, which was also targeted to enterprise use rather than the general email system of the ARPANET.
The first public dial-in networks used asynchronous TTY terminal protocols to reach a concentrator operated in the public network. Some networks, such as CompuServe, used X.25 to multiplex the terminal sessions into their packet-switched backbones, while others, such as Tymnet, used proprietary protocols. In 1979, CompuServe became the first service to offer electronic mail capabilities and technical support to personal computer users. The company broke new ground again in 1980 as the first to offer real-time chat with its CB Simulator. Other major dial-in networks were America Online (AOL) and Prodigy that also provided communications, content, and entertainment features. Many bulletin board system (BBS) networks also provided on-line access, such as FidoNet which was popular amongst hobbyist computer users, many of them hackers and amateur radio operators.
In 1979, two students at Duke University, Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis, originated the idea of using Bourne shell scripts to transfer news and messages on a serial line UUCP connection with nearby University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Following public release of the software in 1980, the mesh of UUCP hosts forwarding on the Usenet news rapidly expanded. UUCPnet, as it would later be named, also created gateways and links between FidoNet and dial-up BBS hosts. UUCP networks spread quickly due to the lower costs involved, ability to use existing leased lines, X.25 links or even ARPANET connections, and the lack of strict use policies compared to later networks like CSNET and Bitnet. All connects were local. By 1981 the number of UUCP hosts had grown to 550, nearly doubling to 940 in 1984. – Sublink Network, operating since 1987 and officially founded in Italy in 1989, based its interconnectivity upon UUCP to redistribute mail and news groups messages throughout its Italian nodes (about 100 at the time) owned both by private individuals and small companies. Sublink Network represented possibly one of the first examples of the Internet technology becoming progress through popular diffusion.
With so many different network methods, something was needed to unify them. Robert E. Kahn of DARPA and ARPANET recruited Vinton Cerf of Stanford University to work with him on the problem. By 1973, they had worked out a fundamental reformulation, where the differences between network protocols were hidden by using a common internetwork protocol, and instead of the network being responsible for reliability, as in the ARPANET, the hosts became responsible. Cerf credits Hubert Zimmermann, Gerard LeLann and Louis Pouzin (designer of the CYCLADES network) with important work on this design.
The specification of the resulting protocol, RFC 675 – Specification of Internet Transmission Control Program, by Vinton Cerf, Yogen Dalal and Carl Sunshine, Network Working Group, December 1974, contains the first attested use of the term internet, as a shorthand for internetworking; later RFCs repeat this use, so the word started out as an adjective rather than the noun it is today.
With the role of the network reduced to the bare minimum, it became possible to join almost any networks together, no matter what their characteristics were, thereby solving Kahn’s initial problem. DARPA agreed to fund development of prototype software, and after several years of work, the first demonstration of a gateway between the Packet Radio network in the SF Bay area and the ARPANET was conducted by the Stanford Research Institute. On November 22, 1977 a three network demonstration was conducted including the ARPANET, the SRI’s Packet Radio Van on the Packet Radio Network and the Atlantic Packet Satellite network.
Stemming from the first specifications of TCP in 1974, TCP/IP emerged in mid-late 1978 in nearly its final form, as used for the first decades of the Internet, known as “IPv4”. (IPv4 eventually became superseded by its successor, called “IPv6”, but this was largely due to the sheer number of devices being connected post-2005, which overwhelmed the numbers that IPv4 had been able to accommodate worldwide. However, due to IPv4’s entrenched position by that time, the shift is still in its early stages as of 2015, and expected to take many years, decades, or perhaps longer, to complete).
The associated standards for IPv4 were published by 1981 as RFCs 791, 792 and 793, and adopted for use. DARPA sponsored or encouraged the development of TCP/IP implementations for many operating systems and then scheduled a migration of all hosts on all of its packet networks to TCP/IP. On January 1, 1983, known as flag day, TCP/IP protocols became the only approved protocol on the ARPANET, replacing the earlier NCP protocol.
After the ARPANET had been up and running for several years, ARPA looked for another agency to hand off the network to; ARPA’s primary mission was funding cutting edge research and development, not running a communications utility. Eventually, in July 1975, the network had been turned over to the Defense Communications Agency, also part of the Department of Defense. In 1983, the U.S. military portion of the ARPANET was broken off as a separate network, the MILNET. MILNET subsequently became the unclassified but military-only NIPRNET, in parallel with the SECRET-level SIPRNET and JWICS for TOP SECRET and above. NIPRNET does have controlled security gateways to the public Internet.
The networks based on the ARPANET were government funded and therefore restricted to noncommercial uses such as research; unrelated commercial use was strictly forbidden. This initially restricted connections to military sites and universities. During the 1980s, the connections expanded to more educational institutions, and even to a growing number of companies such as Digital Equipment Corporation and Hewlett-Packard, which were participating in research projects or providing services to those who were.
Several other branches of the U.S. government, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Department of Energy (DOE) became heavily involved in Internet research and started development of a successor to ARPANET. In the mid-1980s, all three of these branches developed the first Wide Area Networks based on TCP/IP. NASA developed the NASA Science Network, NSF developed CSNET and DOE evolved the Energy Sciences Network or ESNet.
T3 NSFNET Backbone, c. 1992
NASA developed the TCP/IP based NASA Science Network (NSN) in the mid-1980s, connecting space scientists to data and information stored anywhere in the world. In 1989, the DECnet-based Space Physics Analysis Network (SPAN) and the TCP/IP-based NASA Science Network (NSN) were brought together at NASA Ames Research Center creating the first multiprotocol wide area network called the NASA Science Internet, or NSI. NSI was established to provide a totally integrated communications infrastructure to the NASA scientific community for the advancement of earth, space and life sciences. As a high-speed, multiprotocol, international network, NSI provided connectivity to over 20,000 scientists across all seven continents.
In 1981 NSF supported the development of the Computer Science Network (CSNET). CSNET connected with ARPANET using TCP/IP, and ran TCP/IP over X.25, but it also supported departments without sophisticated network connections, using automated dial-up mail exchange.
In 1986, the NSF created NSFNET, a 56 kbit/s backbone to support the NSF-sponsored supercomputing centers. The NSFNET also provided support for the creation of regional research and education networks in the United States, and for the connection of university and college campus networks to the regional networks. The use of NSFNET and the regional networks was not limited to supercomputer users and the 56 kbit/s network quickly became overloaded. NSFNET was upgraded to 1.5 Mbit/s in 1988 under a cooperative agreement with the Merit Network in partnership with IBM, MCI, and the State of Michigan. The existence of NSFNET and the creation of Federal Internet Exchanges (FIXes) allowed the ARPANET to be decommissioned in 1990. NSFNET was expanded and upgraded to 45 Mbit/s in 1991, and was decommissioned in 1995 when it was replaced by backbones operated by several commercial Internet Service Providers.