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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Do You Miss Dial-Up Internet?

Of course you don't!

But I bet you miss this...

Whenever I hear that noise my ears perk and some dormant part of my brain lights up and begins craving Mechwarrior and Neverwinter Nights; and no, I'm not talking about that old multi-player RPG developed by Bioware. I'm talking about that even older multi-player RPG developed by Beyond Software. You could only play it multi-player on America Online and it was brilliant. Brilliant!

Let's see what I remember:

  • When creating your character you rolled randomly for your stats, so if you wanted six rolls of perfect 18's then you'd have to sit there and click 're-roll' for hours and pray that you didn't skip over the numbers you want when they finally do show up.
  • A cleric and a mage multi-class was called a CLAM for short.
  • There was an arena in the game where, if you agreed to it, you could duel another player not to the death, but to the deletion, which is so much worse.
  • The Spirit Lurkers were a player-run thieves guild that were incredibly successful in their time. They ran cons and bothered the general player-base, but their most notorious accomplishment was their spy network. It was a crazy idea. See, they would join other guilds and spy on their unsuspecting fellow guild-mates, gathering intel that they could sell later on to other guilds. After a while almost every NWN guild-master was convinced that his guild was full of Spirit Lurker spies.
  • If you were a nerd who needed a multi-player fantasy fix, this was the only game in town.

I played a lot more Mechwarrior than I did Neverwinter. If you're ever bored and want to be even more bored then ask me about the time I took out two cats with a jav.

House Marik can suck it.

AOL was internet for dummies, and if you didn't own a computer then I guess it was just that stupid CD you got in the mail every week. I loved it, though. I downloaded my first videos off of a 28.8k modem on AOL. It was 3-4 second clips of the Slayers and it took around 30 minutes to download each clip.
Boring? Not at all! The anticipation was incredible. I collected 8 of these guys and watched them all in their low-res glory, over and over.

(I hope I haven't fooled you into thinking that 28.8 or even 56k was a fun time. I hated dial-up. Everyone did. We put up with it because we had no other choice. If you're trapped in a dungeon with a rat and you're starving then you eat the rat. And then you pay the rat a monthly fee).

And yeah, I admit it. I like the Slayers. It's the day-old junk food of anime. Still good, sort of, but definitely an acquired taste.


  1. Huh, I've never seen this particular spinoff of MechWarrior. I know there was a version on the GEnie network that was very similar in appearance to MechWarrior 1, but this looks more advanced, perhaps in between 1 and 2.

    When you talk about the 28.8, I mainly remember how I used to dial into BBSes all the time, which was a completely different world than the web turned out to be. Sometimes I miss it.

  2. That sound sure does bring back a lot of memories! The broadband is such an improvement over the dial-up that we often forget we’re connected to the Internet until we lose connection or it slows down. Those are cool games! Those graphics looked so cool back then.

    Jannette Britt

  3. The Spirit Lurkers! Hah! I started that group back when I was in high school. I played under the username Movarl and Switfoot. It seems that the guild somehow survived another decade on other platforms. Crazy.