Stardock Alpha-Prime

First Impressions, Again...

May 7, 2014 by Abraxus

I found TradeWars some 20 years ago via my 1200-baud modem and a local BBS, the name of which I've long forgotten. I wasn't very good, and I am certain that I spent most of my turns just exploring. See, there was no Internet to use for reference and I had to learn it all myself...the hard way...and I am not very patient.

Somehow I got to know the SysOp who went by the name Shadow Ray. He took pity on my 1200-baud modem and said he'd give me a faster one. We met in a parking lot one day, me with my 18-month old daugher, and he gave to me the power to connect faster...a 2400-baud modem!!

I played for a while, still never getting good, and then time marched on and I forgot about TradeWars.

Some years later, I remembered the game, and how much fun it was, so I googled it...and found that it still lived, via the TradeWars Game Server (TWGS)

I saved up my pennies and registered my own TWGS, and re-joined the TW world. I made some new online friends (AITVO, Vid Kid, Timberwolf, to name a few) and even wrote a program to find dupes, for catching people creating duplicate accounts in the same game.

But again, time marched on and I lost interest...a lot of that was caused by what I viewed as elitism in the game.

I left the TradeWars world in 2002, right about the time that TWX Proxy was introduced. See, I never bought a helper. SWATH and TW_Attac cost money, TWAR for Windows worked, but was buggy and had limitations, and I was too lazy to try something like ZOC since it cost money AND I would have to write scripts rather than use built-in ones..

TWXProxy came on the scene like a firestorm. Suddenly, you really didn't stand a chance in the game if you DIDN'T use it. And, at the time, it cost money to get the really good scripts. Disillusioned, I walked away.

Fast-forward to a few months ago...I decided to set up my TWGS again...and register SWATH...and try my hand at playing. I still stink, and simply don't have the time or energy to devote to figuring out all the strategy necessary to really play the game. It is truly an in-depth game. I'm having fun playing, but honestly, I don't consider myself a threat.

I found the TW Forums, got my login issues straightened out, and began looking around. Once again, I find myself disillusioned. People don't play TW anymore. People write scripts that play TW for them. It's no longer who is faster at the keyboard, it's who can write the most efficient script. People don't log on, play their turns, and log off. People run a script that sits at the menu, refreshing it to glean information, and if there is a an appropriate change in that info, the script joins the game and plays some turns.

I think I was most surprised that there are scripts that I could run that ANOTHER PLAYER can utilize simply by sending a message with a keyword in it. For example, they could send "rescue 10 5342" and my script would jump into action, warp to sector 5342 and tow their ship, ship 10, to safety...EVEN IF I WEREN'T AT THE KEYS.

It's amazing that people have figured out how to do this, but I feel that they've killed the spirit of the game. TW simply isn't the TW I knew. Perhaps I'm just getting old, but programming a computer to play checkers for you isn't really you playing checkers.

Back In Business!

March 20, 2014 by Abraxus

If you are reading this, you obviously know that I brought Stardock Alpha-Prime back on line after a 12-year break. No special games running yet, but perhaps in the future.