As usual, it’s been a while since I’ve updated my 0+ readers with updates in my life. You’ll not get any current updates today, either. There’s been something old on my mind lately, and I think the best way to address it, is to write it out.
I’ve been reflecting on my hobbies, old and new, lately. In the early 1990s, I latched on to the BBS scene, running up ridiculous phone bills, meeting interesting people, running my own BBS, writing my own utilities, and more. I think I did that from 1991 to 1993 or so. It was a hobby that I shared with a few of my close friends at the time, including my co-sysop, Bill. Over the last several days, I’ve been watching a documentary on the BBS culture. Until now, I don’t think it occurred to me that I joined in at the tail of its heydey, how deep its history was, and how insignificant my presence there was. Today, there’s no record of my BBS on the web. There’s no reference or notation of the addons that I wrote for Legend of the Red Dragon. There’s no mention of my old bbs handle. And, dammit, there’s no [wb_fb_f name=”co-sysop” id=”WilCurry”] around for me to swap stories with.
In 1994, I tried my hand at writing my own BBS, loosely based on Fremen Mountain, a social BBS that was set in the world of Frank Herbert’s Dune. In Fremen Mountain, as you posted and participated, you climbed the mountain, your rank on the mountain giving you more abilities on the BBS. The command structure felt more like the old text-based Colossal Cave type games. The BBS that I was writing, I forget the name, used a similar command structure, and rather than a mountain, I built it more specifically like one of those adventure games. With “areas” you could move between, other members would be present where they had previously logged off, and you could interact with them, and the various rooms. Before I could actually get beyond the basics with it, my video card fried, and I took a break from programming. Then, a month or so later, while I was moving, my PC was stolen, and I had no backups. My BBS, which turned out to be surprisingly similar to a MUD or MUSH was lost forever.
In 1995 or so, I discovered MUDs and MUSHes, and from 1995 until 2002 or so, I was active in playing and running a number of games, mostly based on the World of Darkness, Marvel Super Heroes, and the Transformers. I got more practice with scripting and coding, though MUSH’s built in scripting language was a good deal more robust than what I had worked with in my BBS. I wish I could remember what I was going to call it. Probably something lame, I have a running history with lame venture names. To this day, I still provide hosting for a handful of MUSHes.
My fascination with games has been ongoing since the late 1980s. It started when I borrowed an old D&D beginner set (the precursor to the Red Box) from my uncle, who had gotten it as a gift, and never done anything with it. With it, I introduced a couple of my neighborhood friends to role playing. I’ve touched base with both of them in recent years. One is a barber, and one is a burly tattoo artist. I’ll not mention their names, to preserve their “reputations”. I guess I’m the only one of us who was truly hooked. As we progressed into high school and drifted apart, I met new friends who had already established a gaming group, and spent a good deal of my weekends roleplaying with them. I only recall a couple of board games ever hitting the table, but I’m sure that Hero Quest was one of them.
They were all in grades above mine, and when they graduated and moved on, I got more involved in technology. My second PC, the first with its own hard drive, was purchased from the father of one of my gaming group members, and it was that suitcase style PC that I built my first BBS on.
in 1993, my co-sysop helped get me involved in the local community theater, and a few steps out of my introverted shell. Aside from my gaming group, and online, I never really felt comfortable anywhere. I certainly wasn’t comfortable at school. I didn’t fit in with the people I worked with, really. Theater helped me relax, and speak in front of people. I didn’t stay with it for very long, which is true of a lot of the things I do, I suppose.
One of the people I met from the theater introduced me to Magic: the Gathering. That was in the spring of 1994. She took me to a local comic shop that was carrying the new, addictive card game, and I slowly became involved with that nefarious crowd. I took a job working for the comic shop, and helped them start carrying role playing games, as well as their card games. The business changed hands in 1996, and I became a fixture. I’ve talked about the evolution of Legends other times, and this isn’t going to be one of those.
My interests have gravitated from role playing games to board games in the last few years. I like the contained nature of a board game, and look forward the opportunity to sit down and play a game, be it alone, with my [wb_fb_f name=”wife” id=”n3bul4″], or with a larger group of friends.
In the last several months, I’ve severely curtailed (read nullified) my board game collecting habits. I’ve got enough games to keep me occupied for years, really. And unless something comes out that really really speaks to me, I’ll not be buying many new games for a while.
I’ve been feeling a lot of nostalgia for my BBS days. I think it was the daily discovery of new things, figuring out how to make things work. Making things like fido*net style groups work, and building a community. There aren’t many people left that I can share that with. Most of them are gone, moved on, no longer with us (love you, [wb_fb_f name=”bro” id=”WilCurry”]), or otherwise out of touch. But I can’t help but think how my time in the BBS scene influenced so many parts of my life. Without it, I may not have gotten to know Bill. May not have gotten into the theater. May not have discovered M:tG. May not have eventually had my own gaming shop. May not have followed the career trajectory I’m on now… Who knows?
I guess some nostalgia isn’t a bad thing. I had been thinking about rebuilding a BBS, just for the fun of building it, but I don’t think I want to. I think I want to keep adding to the top of the building blocks that form my life, rather than chip away at the base.