For some of you reading this, you may simply never have known a world before the internet existed by virtue of your age. It's not your fault, but as generational divisions go, this was a biggie. The internet saturates so much of our lives now that it's even difficult for those of us born prior to the '90s to remember how we functioned without smartphones, Google searches, and terabytes of cheap entertainment on demand. I think there were video game arcades in the mall or something.
Because of this, some of you will not understand the import of how it felt when technology advanced to the point that people could reach out online and interact with others, first through written communication and later through applications and games. What we take for granted in today's MMOs -- the constant presence of thousands of real humans interacting with us in a virtual space -- simply blew the minds of those who first encountered it.
And way back when, those encounters depended on the person and technology available. Some folks had access in the '60s and '70s to the early form of the internet and email in universities and government offices, but these close encounters of the virtual kind only started to make its way into households in the '80s (and even then, mostly to those plugged into the geek community). The developers of these programs -- the MUDs, the BBSes, CompuServe
, etc. -- were truly pioneers forging a path while trying to figure things out on the fly.
So it amazed me to hear that I've been missing out on a key part of MMO history by overlooking Lucasfilm
, which wasn't quite an MMO by modern standards and yet created a graphical virtual world with many of the elements that were adopted into later projects. In our two-week look at Habitat
, we'll see just how eerily similar this 1986 title is to what we know today -- even though it came out on the Commodore 64.