Saturday, May 28, 2011

ImagiNation Network

The ImagiNation Network (INN), aka The Sierra Network (TSN), was an early online multiplayer gaming system. Developed by Sierra On-Line in 1989, and first available to the public in 1991, the ImagiNation Network was a unique online gaming network that gave subscribers from all over the United States of America a place where they could "play games, make friends and have fun". With a wide variety of games including RPGs, World War I aeroplane simulations, live trivia, and card and board games, almost every user could find something enjoyable to play. INN also featured an electronic post office, many bulletin boards, chat rooms, and the company boasted of having "more than 200 groups, clubs and special events online."
Sierra On-Line founder Ken Williams wanted to create a network that even his grandmother would find easy to use, and to that end INN featured a unique emphasis on a friendly, graphics-heavy interface. Each user was represented by a persona which they assembled using INN's built-in 'facemaker'. The facemaker was incredibly detailed, with enough different options to construct over 84 million unique personas. Users could then indicate their level of skill in various games, in order to encourage fair match-making between players, and a short list of hobbies to help match interests with new friends.

So you all must be wondering what the @!%# is the reason behind this post.  If you want to read more about the history of this network, just follow this link

I remember back in this day when you had a 14.4bps dial-up modem and you were considered the cool kid.  Or even better, if you had the 28.8 or the 56k!  Imagine how blistering fast that was back then.  28.8bps would download at 2.8kb a second.  It would take hours to download a 5Mb file.  

So my buddy use to sign onto this network and they would charge you by the hour.  

Rates as of 1995 were as follows:
  • Welcome Plan: 5 hours for $9.95, $2.95 each additional hour
  • 10 Plan: 10 hours for $19.95, $2.75 each additional hour
  • 15 Plan: 15 hours for $29.95, $2.50 each additional hour
  • 25 Plan: 25 hours for $49.95, $2.25 each additional hour
  • 50 Plan: 50 hours for $99.95, $1.95 each additional hour
  • Unlimited Plan: for $129.95

As you can obviously see, this was a very pricey gaming network, but this was prior to the Internet.  This was in the golden age of  the BBS.  Here you could play DOOR games, write e-mails to others and even some sites had multi-node which allowed you to play four player DOOM.  Which was just unheard of over the phone!

But not to get to far away from the point of the Sierra Network.  The Shadow of Yserbius

The Shadow of Yserbius, originally published by Sierra On-Line, was the first of three graphical MUDs for the online community. Opening to rave reviews, The Shadow of Yserbius, according to industry critics, set the standard by which all future MUDs would be judged. The game was followed by two sequels entitled The Fates of Twinion (1993) and The Ruins of Cawdor (1995). Until recently, only The Shadow of Yserbius and The Fates of Twinion were playable in offline mode.
The Shadow of Yserbius, along with its successors, remained online until 1996, when America Online purchased the rights from then-owner AT&T for an undisclosed price (rumored to be $40 million).

When you would enter this part of the Sierra Network, you would have to click on that little cave at the top of the volcano.

This is how the game looked.  It was one of the first MMORPG type games of its time.

So what's the point of this article?   I just wanted to write something and I miss playing this game, using this Network and BBS games like Trade Wars, LORD, Usurper, etc.  Those were the days.

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