was a massively multiplayer empire building
game written by Kesmai
and run continuously on CompuServe
between 1984 and 1999. It was one of CompuServe's most popular games throughout its lifetime, and was only shut down because they switched to their web-based "CompuServe 2000" interface that would not cleanly support it. A modified version, Stellar Emperor
ran for much of the same time period on GEnie
, also ending in 1999 when that service shut down by General Electric
. A new version of Stellar Emperor
, sporting a new client-server GUI
, was run for a short period on GameStorm
In 1979 University of Virginia
4th year students Kelton Flinn and John Taylor started work on a game for the Hewlett-Packard HP 2000F time sharing minicomputer
. Known simply as "S", the game supported up to eight players on directly connected 2400 baud terminals. Much of what would become MegaWars III
was present in S
, but greatly simplified. This included ship-to-ship combat, the galaxy layout and creation engine, and a simple planetary economics system. The game was much "smaller" however, supporting fewer players and a smaller 255-system "galaxy".
While completing their doctorates, Flinn and Taylor started Kesmai
, a reference to their first commercial product, Islands of Kesmai
. They were then asked to convert DECWAR
for CompuServe, creating MegaWars
. Returning to S, CompuServe asked the game to be tied to MegaWars
, which was a big hit, and the new version emerged as MegaWars III
, II being a client-server version of the original MegaWars
which was not released.
During the conversion, the game was greatly expanded. The maximum number of players was increased from eight to 100, and the galaxy contained 1000 systems. However, another feature was lost; in S the player could close with an enemy ship in space and attempt to take it over, taking that ship's cargo if they were successful.