DotWar

In the mid '70s I distributed the manual for DotWar, a multi-user real-time computer game intended to replace the then extremely popular and recently outlawed game called Star Trek.

The program updated a binary file that was read and written from static contiguous memory.

GLOBAL (1) IDENT (77) TABLE HEADER (2) NUMBER OF UPDATES (3) TIME OF LAST UPDATE OBJECT (1,N) NAME OF OBJECT (2,N) TIME OF CREATION (3,N) TIME LAST UPDATED (4,N) R VECTOR (7,N) V VECTOR (10,N) A VECTOR EVENT (1,N) TIME OF EVENT (2,N) NAME OF OBJECT (3,N) NEW A VECTOR

The idea was to move the game out of the computer and into the leasure-time world of the players. The computer would just keep score.

I argued that players wouldn't tie up public teletypes since the timescale of the game wouldn't give online users any advantage. Gordon Letwin thought otherwise. I challenged him to a game of tag.

My strategy had been simple. Head out for a month, turn around, and head back in hoping Gordon wouldn't know how to estimate my time of arrival. No such luck. Gordon's battle computer had me pegged.

The battle was waged once more, this time using team tactics. Harry Chesley lead the white team, Gordon led the black. White was routed.

The database was finally corrupted by who knows what mechanism. I was working on the manual for the much more elaborate version two by then so restarting version one seemed inappropriate.

Sent to group myr in id=acd 
mail from acd, 14:06:17  10/22/75 
tcb l043, 80 users
  
  The end has come.  The universe is no more.  In preperation 
  for the celibration of the second anniversary of the creation 
  of the universe I discovered that pace the myrmidon 
  data base, had been destroyed.  This is truely a
  sad moment, as all of us have vannished with it.  I have
  decided not to recreate the universe as this would be dis-
  respectfull of those that have passed away, and I am sure 
  that a second generation would be unable to raise itself
  to the level of achievement seen in the early days of myr1. 
  
  Those of you who never saw the early battle computers,
  the console's ship, faster than light travel, galactic tag
  the myrmidon forum or the epic battle between good and evil,
  do not despair for there is still talk of a new and better
  universe someday.  One with all those things that were
  lacking in the first prototype like fuel and bombs, 
  secret identities and federation spies, and wealth and
  greed and hate.  Keep your hopes up, we may all live again. 
  
*** End of mail  12:26:23  10/22/75 

I've displayed more Recovered Artifacts from the '70s like that above on a web page assembled in the '90s.

I created a Page About DotWar on the original wiki.

DotWar suffered from canceling floating point precision as one traveled farther from the Earth. Curiously, Kerbal Space Program has observed the same problem. api