All Mouth, No Trousers

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Trip Down Memory Lane

Posted by SouthPaw, Nov 27 2009, 04:49 PM in Other

First thing's first; Yes it has been ages since I blogged anything.

In my defence, I have been working really very hard this year to a) keep my job and b) keep the jobs of everyone who works for me.

Also, planning a wedding takes a lot more of one's thought than I had properly appreciated.

There is more fan-fic in the works (or my mind at least) and it will work its way out here soon enough.

The cause for this post is due to one of my colleagues. He saw me looking at FAO at wrok and said: "What is this 'Allegiance' that you are always looking at?"

"It's a game I play." I replied. He said "I never really had you down as a gamer..."

This kind of surprised me. I stopped to think about it and I have been playing online games as a form of entertainment for over 12 years now. That's a pretty long time. In all of those years I have had passionate love affairs with three games. Here they are:


1997. I am at the University of Warwick studying my undergraduate degree. I am the only guy in my student house to have his own computer (can you IMAGINE that now kids?). We get hooked up to teh intarwebz via my computer and I stumble upon TEN/WON free games including Attack Retrieve Capture (ARC). A very simple team-based shooter that had surprising depth and seemed like magic to a guy who had grown up on Amstrad CPC464 cassette loading games.

You move a little flying saucer across a map, shooting lasers and three types of special weapons at other players in a CTF based game that requires quite a high degree of skill and thought. This game was a cult hit and I loved it. I was never much good, but spent many many happy hours fragging away.

After my colleague's comment I went in search of ARC. Turns out it died sometime in 2007, but the community basically re-wrote the code. It exists now under the name Spark and is free to download and play.

Get it here: SPARK I recommend it for 10-20 mins of shooting fun, though it is really dated by todays standards.

Shockforce / Wulfram 2

If ARC was my first kiss, I lost my virginity to Wulfram 2. This game had it all. Simple to learn, yet very deep to master. An extremely team-based hovertank shooter cum strategy game that broke all of the molds at the time. Two teams of players faced each other on a map, the aim being to destroy all of the opposition's base spawn points - whilst they tried to build them up.

The game required equal measures of skill, teamwork, situtational awareness and strategy and I LOVED IT. The community was small (smaller than Alleg) and very tight. Squad games were intense and fiercely fought. Over time (2002-2006) I grew into being one of the best players in the game in my role (Scout), was a trainer responsible for educating and levelling new players (better system than Alleg - newbies only got access to the regular server after they passed a test administered by trainers), played with the best squad in the game that dominated for 2 and a half years and let it absorb my life.

But... The leadership of the game was never right. The code was held by one developer who had no time to create updates. All of the community members who had the time to help out got frustrated. Very restrictive rules about behaviour (including a strict no swearing policy).

Eventually, the MODs became corrupt - banning people without reason. Finally, in a bizarre and suicidal act, the sole coder gave power to a MOD he thought was going to "clean up the game". This clueless guy (handle of Fireball if anyone here ever played Wulf) life-banned without reason (and with the support of the guy in charge) dozens of players including people who had devoted literally hundreds of playing hours to helping the community and training new players. This included about half of my squad.

In a very small community such an action was very badly taken. Even people not affected stopped playing, thinking that Slurpy (the coder) had lost his mind. The game withered and died sometime in 2008 after slurpy had effectively killed his own community.

Shame. Because although I could never forgive the leadership for what it did, I loved that game dearly...


So... Summer 2006. I have been driven out of Wulfram (although I escaped the life-ban given to so many of my friends for no reason). I am seeking a new passion to fill the void.

I wander through the databases of free games when I see Allegiance.

Hmmm, I think to myself. I loved Tie Fighter, X-wing and Freespace. This game claims to have the teamwork I loved in Wulfram...Maybe I should give this a try...

And here I am.

Just as in love with my second, younger, better looking wife as I ever was before.

If you see me issuing dire warnings about my experiences of a great game dying - take me seriously. I have seen it happen and lived through it once. It hurts a lot more than you think it will.

MooN_Monkey. Aka MooN[GEN]. Aka puggle. Aka SouthPaw@PK


  Death3D, Nov 27 2009, 05:43 PM

What signs of demise do you see in this community?

  ImmortalZ, Nov 27 2009, 10:55 PM

I don't think he has issued dire warnings yet.

Good to read about your gaming life SP. I've been thinking about writing something similar for a while. smile.gif

  SouthPaw, Nov 28 2009, 05:21 AM

Oh yeah, there are plenty of points where Alleg is getting it right! Empowering the community is the difference.

  notjarvis, Nov 30 2009, 05:33 AM

We had 2 computers in our student flat. mine was one of them - being a 486DX2 with Windoze 95 installed.

It was not fast mrgreen.gif

An interesting read - thanks southpaw.

  Raveen, Dec 1 2009, 10:42 AM

I had a Pentium in '97, the only PC in my flat iirc (was my first year in Edinburgh). Lost many many hours to Star Wars Supremacy that year smile.gif

Also it's good to hear that you think we're doing it right. Any chance of luring some other ex-Wulframites into Alleg?

  Adept, Dec 15 2009, 09:14 AM

Thanks for sharing. It looks a little like Battlezone, which I liked a lot. Never heard of Wulfram before (same problem as with Allegiance right there btw).

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