According to a thread in our Forums, no one seems to remember a game that helped start this crazy world of multiplayer gaming. Yes, I know we talk about old school gaming a lot here, but I believe it’s important for you kids to know the roots of your favorite online games. The game I speak of is called Warbirds, by iEntertainment Network’s Total Simulation series. This game was what got me hooked on online, multiplayer games, and I believe it was one of the first true and pure MMO’s.
Way back in 1995, (yes, in the last millennium) I was reading a gaming magazine (yes, it was made out of paper) and it was touting a title named ‘Confirmed Kill’ that was set to revolutionize interactive and simulation gaming for the PC. The screenshots were enough to captivate me. The article wrote of battles fought between literally *dozens* of real life, real time players in a World War II simulated air-combat theatre. This, quite literally, blew my mind.
Check out the rest of my nostalgic rambling after the jump.
I had to see it for myself. Went out, picked up a Suncom F15 E Talon joystick, which in my opinion is still the best non-force-feedback stick out there if you can find one that still works. Mine does. Got me a set of CH Rudder Pedals, a shiny new Supra 28.8 (!!!!1) external modem, and took to the skies. Sort of.
That was one of the best points about Warbirds (Confirmed Kill when I first started in beta testing), was that there was a pretty steep learning curve. While the graphics were as good as they could be back then while still preserving playable packet latency, the physics were what set this game apart from everything else. All physics and plane models, even the cockpit artwork, were as accurate as possible to facilitate really rewarding, and sometimes very frustrating, game play. I think it took me about an hour to figure out how to get my F4U Corsair off the runway in one piece. Dogfighting was another issue altogether; that took years to master.
I played CK through it’s beta, and then when it went through some changes and became Warbirds, it really started evolving. These guys did a great job keeping the game playable while expanding the game’s universe through time. They always kept the servers up, even when the number of users logged on topped 150 plus. This, I’m sure, was truly a feat in the dial-up days of DOS front-end gaming. While not specifically a RPG, Warbirds was also huge on the social gaming front. It brought people together from across the real globe, and pitted them against each other in nice ANSI blue skies. There was real camaraderie there, I myself was in a squad called the 356th FG, as well as a small stint with an ‘elite’ group dubbed the Shadow Knights. We had lots of great times on Warbirds (I’m sure our webmaster Eric (callsign: ‘cube’) has lots to say about it too) and I spent years playing it. These are the qualities that people are discovering only now, in communities like Steam and XBox Live.
Warbirds was truly ahead of its time and welcomed a new genre of games to people on the PC platform. Warbirds, along with AirWarrior and other early online simulations, really changed the landscape of multiplayer gaming. And, apparently, people still play Warbirds today! I can’t seem to find much info about our glory beta days of this game, perhaps it was too long ago for the Internet to remember. It’s important to go back to your roots, my friends. Does anyone remember this game? Let us know in our Forums. I’d love re-live some of the first days of true MMO gaming.
Now, get off my lawn.