I became fascinated with multi-player gaming in university (or, as my wife likes to call that era, the 1980’s). The UofC had a policy of giving free CPU time to students interested in building games, I think on the theory it would keep the hackers doing something almost useful, for a change ;-) The main computer we used was a six-processor Honeywell system running Multics: about $6M worth of hardware at the time. When I joined the group, Brian Brookwell had an amazingly complex real-time strategy game going that supported up to 30 gamers. “Universe” alone added a few years to my degree, while "StarBattle" provided night after night first-person, multi-player frag-fests, albeit with ASCII graphics. Thinking back to the eery sound of a Multics terminal beep-beep-beeping danger as Alan Dewar strafed his way in still brings gets that ol' heartbeat cranked up...
I largely stopped playing computer games after I left the university. The Unix games "NetHack" and "Empire" scratched my itch when available, but ‘386 PCs just couldn’t compare to multi-player gaming on a super-computer. And from an esthetics viewpoint, I’d rather have ASCII graphics than low-res 2D sprites. Bridge and Go took over my gaming time, or social games like "Settlers of Catan."
Many moons later, the advent of 3D accelerator cards really changed my view on PC gaming. The visual quality was still low, but the growth curve looked phenomenal. I then came across Ultima Online, and knew I had to get back into gaming. The maturing broadband and 3D technologies were clearly going to provide high levels of multi-player action. Meanwhile, games like Ultima Online were drawing from MUDs, to add social systems and community management. Many forms of persistent virtual worlds were clearly on the horizon and I wanted to be p
part of making it happen.