END-OF-LINE is a war game that can be played on the Internet. The game has
been available on the Internet since 1994. You can connect to it, with
a simple INTERFACE based on text, using TELNET e.g.
telnet 184.108.40.206 4000
Or you can connect to it, with a GRAPHICAL USER INTERFACE, using FLASH TELNET
The game was originally based on the film TRON, released by Walt Disney in
1982. But the game begins where the film ends. It is set in a fantastic world
inhabited only by computer programs. The Blue Programs, who fight for the
Users, have just managed to break the strangle hold on the world, held by
the Master Control Program (or MCP). But there are still pockets of Red
Programs, who fight for the MCP, resisting. The game is based on the war
between these two sides. You can choose which side to join, and what role to
play in each army.
There are two main roles: generals and troops. The generals manage troops and
other resources. They transport the troops and resources between areas, and
decide which areas should be attacked or defended. The troops fight individual
battles. There are computer controlled generals and troops on both sides, as
well as generals and troops controlled by normal players. These players can
join and leave at their leisure.
The war takes place over a large grid called the FOUNDATION GRID. This GRID is
made up of small, interconnected areas, where battles take place. Each half of
the GRID is occupied by one-side, when the war begins, and is invisible to the
other side. More areas become visible as each army advances further into the
enemy's territory. Each victory secures an area for one side, and the ultimate
goal is to capture the enemy's head-quarters. This is a special, heavily
defended area within the enemy's territory.
There are many distinguishing features of the game. But probably one of the
most important is that it operates on 3 levels of play, which interact with
The first level revolves around how generals manage resources in a war. This
involves a lot of strategy. This includes establishing supply routes between
areas, allocating and transporting resources to defend or attack areas. This
also includes co-operating with other generals to secure victory. This is like
playing a game of chess. But it more closely resembles a game called X-BATTLE.
The second level revolves around commanding troops in a battle. Each general
can choose to direct the troops of computer controlled characters deployed in
a battle. Or the player can let these troops attack at will. This again
involves strategy. It involves studying the map of the area where the battle
will occur, positioning the troops, deciding which troops should attack in a
sortie, and which to hold in reserve. This is similar to playing a game like
COMMAND AND CONQUER, from Westwood Studios. The difference is that some of the
troops may be players, who can make their own decisions.
The third level revolves around fighting as one of the troops in a battle.
This is probably the most familiar, and therefore the easiest level, for those
who have played other games involving combat before to get into. It involves
more short term, tactical thinking. This includes selecting a weapon or role
to play in the fighting unit, selecting a target, communicating and
co-operating with other members of your team. Since the generals controlled by
the computer are always fighting battles, the troops do not have to wait for
other generals, controlled by other players, to participate in the war. This
role is similar to playing one of the popular combat games like QUAKE from ID
software or UNREAL TOURNAMENT from EPIC games. But, unlike most of these
others games, you can view the map of each area where a battle takes place.
You can also see the position of all the players and equipment lying around on
it. So there is no need to memorise areas. What is more, the areas change each
time, and are randomly generated.
The game was developed from software used to build multiplayer adventure games
on the Internet, known as Multi-User Dungeons (or MUDs). The predecessor of
this game belonged to the class of games known as Player Killing Multi-User
Dungeons (or PKMUDs). It only concentrated on fast, close combat between the
characters of players. But this, like other combat games, lacked a command
level which could co-ordinate the fighters. However, by being set in a war
between two armies, each with a very simple hierarchy involving generals who
can command the troops, the new game provides this command level.
But probably more importantly, the new game adds a level which allows players
from the other end of the spectrum (i.e. role-players or those who do not want
to fight) to participate. The generals are not required to be involved in
close combat with other characters.
It remains to be seen whether those who enjoy the combat of multi-user
adventure games, and those who enjoy role-playing, will ever be reunited
again, as they were in the original MUD. Will they ever realise that, after
all, they all love the same things? the same game? It may take something
heroic. But look again! The scene is set, and your chariot awaits!