Memory lane

by Veni (the [CI$-BL] Wizard)

It all started with the Atari 1200 game console, I paid close to $500 for it when 2-3 years later people were paying a lot less than $100, but by then I had a very large selection of games, the latecomers just had ‘Pong’ and ‘Space Invaders’. I was very impressed by Atari, then distributed by “Cherry Leisure” in the UK, they had a great after sales service, new glossies for new games were mailed to me every month.

In 1982 I moved to the US, shortly thereafter came time for my first “Personal Computer” (strange how it’s been forgotten that ‘PC’ is the acronym for ‘Personal Computer’) the choice was Apple, Commodore, or Atari. I became the proud owner of an Atari 800.

I upgraded to the Atari ST almost as soon as it was released. With this I could use a real 300/1200 baud, Hayes compatible, modem, and with ‘Flash’ an excellent VT100 terminal interface, with programable keys and everything I could actually log on to systems.

With the ST I think I subscribed to every PC magazine that existed. Spent hours carefully typing in the programs published every month, and even more hours trying to find the typo that prevented them working. One thing all the magazines had in common were many references to an Atari support forum on Compuserve. So in the mid 80's I joined Compuserve, the support forum was everything I hoped it would be. When I posted a question the person who wrote the relevant magazine article responded, how impressive is that? I also joined the ‘Atari Developers Forum’ (having bought the ‘Atari Developers Kit’) and got to know first hand the developers of the games I played, the programs I used, and some of the manufacturers of the peripheral equipment I used.

Help was available if you got stuck in games too, not today’s blatant ten a penny cheats, but subtle hints and useful guidance. For the game “Dungeon Master”, from “FTL Software” the questions and advice began before most had started the first level, and continued, and continued and continued on to become, then, and maybe still, the longest unbroken thread in any of Compuserve’s forums.

Then I discovered the MPGAMES section and a little game, based loosely on ‘Family Feud’, called, “You Guessed It” or simply YGI. This led to many friends, and my first (of many) real life get together’s with fellow players. We were a strange group, mostly late 20's early 30's, mid to high level salary range, and, believe it or not, smokers.

Through one of the YGI players I heard of ‘British Legends’. It was strange I heard it from him, a player named Ace (the best YGI player there was, almost impossible to beat) for I never saw him playing in BL.

So I tried BL, and was instantly hooked, here was the game ‘Adventure’ that I first played in the 70's on an IBM mainframe, and ‘Zork’ (I, II, & III) that I had played so often I could complete it blindfolded, all rolled into one, with one subtle difference. Not only did you have to use your wits to beat the game, you also had to beat thirty or more other idiots that were playing at the same time. I may have been hooked after my first game, but after the second... I was addicted. YGI fell by the wayside, the Atari forums were all but abandoned, and “GO GAM-153" became part of my login script.

When I first entered The Land it asked for a name, ‘Veni Vidi Vici’ was the name I used in YGI, so ‘Veni Vidi Vici’ was the name I chose for BL. It threw the ‘Vidi Vici’ away, and thus, Veni was born, a name I still use to this day and one of the only three names I use on a regular basis for online gaming, Veni, Fozboz, and PseudoFrog.

One of the first people, if not the first person, I met while running around was Richard the ArchWizard.

“What’s that arch you’re carrying?”, I asked.

“Heavy.”, he replied.

I started to live in the land, and after a month or more, and countless deaths to dwarfs, dryads, and rats (and before I knew about the spring) I finally got to Superhero. This was it, I’d mastered the game, I was about to go all the way to Wizard, nothing could stop me now!

The next day I logged on, took two steps out of the tearoom, and was suddenly in a very strange place (that I now know to be the north side of the Isle of Woe) having the living crap beaten out of me, by someone with a lot of X’s, Y’s, Z’s and Q’s in his name, and a Long Sword. I was in shock, all I could do was look up with pleading eyes and ask, “Why?” and then I was dead, and angry, and left for good. That lasted a day, maybe two, and I was back, humbled, but determined.

This time I learned the game, every aspect of it, over a long time. I opened up more Compuserve accounts so I could play different names, made a few very bad killers in order to learn how to better defend myself, learned one way to get a share of four icons, and another way that yielded me all four and three very pissed players out for blood. (Hint: Don’t shout ‘MED’, someone is liable to be waiting at the railway track shortly thereafter).

I got to where I could go from Novice to Necro in a single game, I knew every shortcut, every puzzle, and the best order to do them in, and while everyone sat in the tearoom calling for a reset, I could get 500-600 points from a “dead game” collecting the little stuff that always got overlooked, in short, I was ready to make my move, but Veni had problems, Veni logged on, Veni got killed by Toothless, usually within 30 seconds of making superhero, so along came a young novice of a lass by the name of “Warmfuzzy”.

Warmfuzzy did nothing exceptional, she played a slow, but steady game, getting to scorceress, and then necromancess, and finally, with maybe one or two deaths on the way, to my first, and only, Legend.

Then I took off, I switched to a 2400 baud connection at $12.00/hr (300 baud was $6.00/hr, 1200 baud was also $12.00/hr) and flew until shortly thereafter, when wizhood was within range I found myself in the tool shed at the entrance to the mine. I had the mirror with me and Toothless logged on.

“Watch Toothless”.

He was at the entrance to the mine.

“E.kill warmfuzzy with brand”, “E.Kill Warmfuzzy with brand”...

Knowing not what else to do, I took the offensive, “Summon Toothless.Kill Toothless with pick”, I had the horn with me. The shock of him arriving scared me more than the ensuing fight, which scared the bejesus out of me. It was my one, and only, victory over my arch nemesis. I didn’t stay around to recover, I quit after the fight and virtually couldn’t move for an hour or more.

That night, or maybe it was the next day, during prime time on a Sunday night (8:30pm EST) with 20-30 other players including at least four very good killers, no Toothless, he still hadn’t recovered, but worse, Wanda! (Ah Wanda, waiting for me in the cave, when Wanda the novice logged on Legend’s and Necro’s ran for the door, that night she was enchantress or higher) and, of course, the obligatory wizard (The Immortal In Mourning, I believe) calling for legend meat and broadcasting updates as to my worth, dead of course, seconds after every point I scored.

I didn’t come back through the cave. I sailed back to the mainland, invisible, my arms full of treasure, I hoped it was enough, my heart was beating too fast to make any sense of mental arithmetic, and I stood with the squirrels, holding an acorn, waiting for invisibility to wear off, and ready to rush to the swamp.

I waited forever until finally someone whispered in my ear, “What are you waiting for, another tour?”. (The previous week I had conned a wizard (Phoenix?) into giving a novice personae a newbie tour).

“S#!^!!!!!” - invisibility had worn off and I didn’t notice.

I dropped the acorn...

“Your rank is now Mortal Witch”.

From the cave Wanda cried out “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Alas, life changes, Compu$erve (that’s how we spelled it back then, Compu$erve or CI$, with dollar signs) got too expensive, at one stage I was spending $300/month on phone connections, (CI$’s local number wasn’t quite local enough) and $900 or more on $6.00/$12.00/hour connection charges. My Compuserve accounts were closed, the internet took off, and I was reduced to playing Lpmuds. (First time I died on an LPmud I thought that I had found a bug, I still had most of my points). BL, although still much loved, was outside of my limits.

I visited briefly in the late 90's, Adrienne/Sherlette was now an Arch, (if you’re out there hon, [>o<]’s) she was still mortal when I first left. Wazoo, who played mortal as Wazoozwax, was also an Arch, we were both mortal at the same time and both made wiz around the same time his newbie tours were something to behold, he would always finish by taking them to the seventh tomb in the mausoleum, show them the armor, make them wear the armor, then take it away from them and place them back in the wilderness to see how long it would take them to find it again . Sadly, once again, even though CI$ now had a flat rate, they still were too expensive, once again I had to leave

I’m glad The Land is back, without hourly surcharges, sorry that it seems to have taken me ten years to find it, and wondering why there are not still 20-50 people fighting for the coal after a reset.