Usually when I think of multi user technology it makes me think of MUDs (Multi User Dungeons) from back in the late 70’s. They were Dungeons and Dragons inspired and text based having been also inspired by Zork and Colossal Cave Adventure. The First one was MUD (or MUD1) which was programmed at The University of Essex by Roy Trubshaw in 1978 and when The University of Essex connected to ARPANet in 1980 it became the first online role playing game. This was all done on the big awesome university mainframe computers, but it was the certainly the start of what led up to today’s massive multiplayer games like World of Warcrack and EverQuest or whatever it is the kids are playing these days. The first one I ever played was Ultima Online which was popular among many of my friends some of whom were also long time Ultima fans, I didn’t get a chance to play to much of it but is was sure fascinating to interact with all kinds of random people shortly before I stopped playing some dude gave me so much meat I coulden’t move because I was so weighed down I tried to sell it but the merchant said he already had enough. I played some WoW but the game is ridiculously repetitve and I never found maney people who were fun to play with I liked everquest 2 a bit more but I always seemed to play these things during periods when my friends were not.
I used to play a turn based strategy games called Warlords and later Warlords 2 the second game had a play by e-mail option, some of the bigger fans even organized tournaments. I never had a chance to use the email option as me and most of my friends did not have the internet. We played it hot-seat at the time which was fine in the early phases in the game but would get tedious later on with later phases of the game being fairly long as you had a lot of units to move. I still sometimes play Warlords 2 with Dosbox it a fun game I tend to enjoy it more then most of the current real time strategy games.
It seemed like earlier in this generation that many thought that local multi user was going to be a thing of the past and that online would completely take its place. Luckily a fairly gig backlash happend and now game are starting to have more local multiplayer and games like Borderlands and Resident Evil 5 did brisk business because of their local multi player. I think part of the reason that the Xbox 360 did better then the Playstation 3 was that Gears of War and Halo‘s multiplayer while the most of the Playstations triple A titles were single player or only online multi user functionality.
I’ve started to use Google docs, which is basically a multi user word processor and document storage system. A little while ago me and someone were working in the same document at the same time and you could watch the document update in real time.
This week I made a multi user thingy called spark. Launch it on a server using Xampp and robin and you can make all kinds of crazy multi user apps I just made a simple demo, the aforementioned spark. Basically its a pair of clamps from jumper cables when you launch your server and go to the right page in your other tabs and you can move the clamps around and if you touch the metal tips of the red clamps to the green clamps you get a spark. The clamps are each controlled from their own window but what you do in one shows up in the other, not exactly reinventing the multi user wheel but it was certainly fun once I got it working.