Hive7: Something Old, Something New…

by alec on March 29, 2006

Om and Erick are on the same meme-train at the moment — the re-creation of the “desktop” in the web.  It’s the web-top idea of a decade ago, but implemented in Ajax, and with enough bandwidth to make it truly useful.  Hence their interest in desktop app replacements like Goowy, Writely and utilities like Fabrik.  The latest story is about Hive7, an online environment, similar to the very popular Second Life.

We’ve come a long way, but there is still far to travel.  Or, something old, something new…

MUDs, or MOOs, or whatever the acronym you want, have been around for a very long time.  I played a multi-user online game called the Scepter of Goth through much of my university career from 1982 to 1987.  I used to travel everywhere with a 300 baud accoustic coupler!  My brother met his wife on LambdaMOO in the early 1990′s too.  LambdaMOO, if you don’t know the history, was the precursor to PlaceWare, ultimately bought by Microsoft and now marketed as LiveMeeting — a very useful product, and a real surprise that it came out of the text-only multi-user LambdaMOO, which was primarily a place where people went to chat.  That’s the power of a programmable environment, I guess. 

Hive7?  It’s very much like a MOO with a side-scrolling graphical environment placed on it.  You can meet people, build custom avatars, move from room to room, build new rooms, and so on. The limitations imposed by Ajax are significant.  It’s completely 2D, unlike Second Life, and uses really none of the capabilities of your graphics card. There’s nothing like VRML (anybody remember that?), or a sophisticated 3D rendering engine built on Direct3D, for instance.   Hive7 is also somewhat slow.  You won’t be building the hedge maze I just found in Second Life on Hive7.  Nor will you be choosing to fly around the landscape, the way you can in Second Life.

That said, as a beta, it’s pretty intriguing. If what you’re looking for is a fun chat interface, then this might be just the ticket.  And because it’s Ajax based, and exposes a standard web API, there are some intriguing possiblities lying just below the surface with new kinds of mashups.  Imagine, for instance, marrying this environment to the personal information available in a dating site…

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Alec March 29, 2006 at 6:48 pm

Seems like we've come full circle, doesn't it? Alphaworlds was another 3D environment I discovered in 1995 as well. Played with it for hours on the TCP/IP tap I had in my office at MSFT.

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Mathew Ingram March 29, 2006 at 10:41 pm

LambdaMOO — wow. That brings back memories. I never played, but I remember reading a lot about MOOs and MUDs, and I remember playing an early 3D virtual world “game” where people wandered around looking like giant eyeballs and penguins and whatnot. It was kind of fun. As I recall you could build houses there too, but the lag on dialup was a bitch.

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Carel May 3, 2006 at 4:11 pm

If you want the MOO/MUD feeling on a website, look at http://www.dutchpipe.org ..

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Brad August 9, 2007 at 10:05 am

You played Scepter of Goth where – in Ottawa? Telebyte System 3?

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Brad August 9, 2007 at 11:11 am

You must have been slightly before my time. IIRC I got into it in 1986 or so and played for a few years. Good times. I played "Bannor" the Barbarian and "Damelon" the Seer. If you weren't around much after 1987, but may not have seen these character classes…

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Alec August 9, 2007 at 2:56 pm

Absolutely Brad — Telebyte was the vendor and I played JimJones, the wizard, and Katsuk the warrior. I take it you played as well?

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Natalie Munro November 21, 2007 at 9:28 am

Sceptre of Goth was a long time ago and worlds away. I remember Katsuk and Damelon very well. We had good times.

I used to play Avalona, the Fighter (aka Scythian Princess) and Nymph, the Cleric. I'm still married to Zodiak, the Wizard (Tim) and we just celebrated our 22nd anniversary.

I'm still in touch with Wolfen, Grok and Zarniwoop. Ah, Facebook.

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Alec November 21, 2007 at 7:43 pm

Hey Natalie ;) Nice to hear from you! I think we need a Facebook group now …

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Natalie Munro November 22, 2007 at 6:17 am

It's an idea but unless someone were actively searching for us, they'd never find us in the vast wasteland of Facebook groups. And being that the game was essentially 20 years ago, who'd go looking?

Well ok, I would, but I'm nuts. Still. :)

I think I've found you on Facebook. A friend invite has been issued. If it's not you, I just made a new friend!

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Nate March 12, 2008 at 3:50 pm

I actually have all of the source code for the QNX-based Scepter of Goth game written by Alan E. Klietz. I obtained this code under NDA a long time ago when there was interest in reviving it. Ran across it in a box last year (it had been in there for something like 15 years) and was able to boot a very old version of QNX (new versions of QNX couldn’t read the file system of the floppy) and extract all of the code files to my Windows box via a virtual serial port (was running the QNX machine in a VM). I sent an email to the custodian of the code (who had since lost it) and recommended that the code be posted under the GPL as it’s something of a historical artifact now with no real commercial value. So far nothing has happened. It’d be a shame, in my opinion, if this piece of history vanishes altogether.

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lord foul September 1, 2008 at 6:10 pm

i played scepter in the 80′s in austin texas. i was by far the best game i’ve ever played! there has to be a way to get that thing back up and running? it just seemed to have the perfect balance. not too complicated and not too simple. if anyone has any info on it please let me in on it orangewatch@hotmail.com. BRING SCEPTER BACK!!

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