Simming History: In the Beginning

Tigra Tigress has been roleplaying online since the beginning, and has been very influential in the Star Trek communities. She claims she’s one of the longest running Play-by-Email people on the web, and is still simming! The article below was originally discussed in her chat seminar at last year’s SciWorld convention, which she’s continuing in the 2012 convention.

Here’s Tigra’s article: 

First off, if this sounds more like spoken word then an article, that’s because it is. The following is a brief glimpse into the history of the style of game that almost every person who reads this plays…the first decade (give or take a year) of simming. While it may seem that I am focusing on Star Trek and ignoring the universes of Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Twilight, and god knows how many others, let alone created universes, that is because the first simulation that I know about and took part in, was as far as we can tell the first simulation ever, and that was where I started. This is MY STORY: The First Decade…originally discussed in SciWorld 2011, and to be continued this year with the second decade in SciWorld 2012 this spring run by the Simming League.

To start anything off right we must remember that while there no are unlimited ways to type and get online, there was a time when most people didn’t have computers and even those who did, didn’t always have the internet. In that day and age there was something called fanzines, something which contained stories and also had places where people can write with others by mail. It was a slow process with an actual story taking months if not longer to finish. While it may seem odd for me to bring fanzines up, that was where we, a small group got our start writing when we could. It was also there that we decided to try to take our ideas and go onto what was then the common internet provider, something called Quantum Link or Q-Link and try to create an online experience. This stated with back and forth emails between the entire group actually scripting the entire event down to the final detail because internet time was expensive and limited. We decided to name our game the USS Oberth and enjoy ourselves. This was back before the premiere of Star Trek The Next Generation. The Oberth ran as a movie era sim for a few meetings back in 1987 starting in March.

After the first several meetings as a more scripted event, the appearance of Star Trek TNG built our numbers up which required the now senior members of a growing group to adapt and build a new method. This method is one that became the live format almost identical to how it is today. The increase also required us to build new games and by September 1988 there were 7 games around, all sort of linked but not officially a fleet for a month. One of those games was a Nebula class ship that was named the USS Brooklyn, that ship although it only lasted for two months was my first command .

In October 1988 with 7 games, the commanding officers all agreed that we needed to merge our thoughts and ideas together, that lead us to developing the first simming fleet. For the first several months we had our ups and downs like every fleet does, in December 1988 the simulation count dropped from 7 to 4 with at least one of those games electing to close as opposed to slowly die out…that game was the USS Brooklyn. As part of an agreement I made with the commanding officer of the USS Boston, my crew was transfered intact without any loses, where as I on the otherhand moved to join the crew of the USS Brooklyn and serve as that ship’s executive officer.

After learning the ins and outs of command, the Commanding Officer of the Galaxy decided to retire in July of 1989 and turned the game over to me. The key significance to this is that it marks the first time thst there was a retirement in simming although it was not the last, and as with many, it didn’t hold. After taking command to replace the former CO of the Galaxy I had developed a following with several crew members to the point where when the old CO came back and wanted his game back, I gave it to him and created my own game, using crew members who wanted to serve with me. Shortly there after, Q Link started what would become a yearly tradition of announcing their impending closing, but by that time most people had “normal” computers and could go to the other service providers. This lead to the first split of what had taken on the name StarFleet OnLine (SFOL) with the fleet moving from Prodigy, Compuserve, and AOL but not staying united. While most of the senior officers joined the Prodigy group, I was part of the AOL side. From there we lost contact with everyone from the other sides.

As with anything new, there were disagreements and the need for freedom, while part of AOL, SFOL was taken over and many people were upset. Eventually I took the USS Omni and lead it to what became another fleet, Continuum Online. At first I didn’t want to lead the fleet but being such a senior member of SFOL, including the editor of the newsletter, the job was sort of thrust on me. As much as I tried to make the fleet a democracy and let people have independence, I ended up elected year after year until I finally decided to step down for a time. At that time, I was already handing day to day operations over left and right and I was ready to go. After watching my hard work fracture not once but a few times, and one of those fractures itself split into another fleet, I returned only to run the fleet but at the time I was also working under different identities to assist with organizing my fleet’s grandchild fleet in the original Seventh Fleet and then that fleet’s child, the fleet that was known as Tango Fleet.

By that time Continuum Online had officially closed, and that brings us forward to 1998… that means that we are done for now, but if you want more, SciWorld 2012 is coming soon where I will bring about the second decade. Meet me there.

Written by Tigra Tigress

Published by

David Ball

David is a web developer, and the creator of OngoingWorlds