PLATO Empire - Sharing - Friendship - Control

Sharing - Friendship - Control

This aspect of the history is confusing, complex, and yet also simple. It is simple that those who worked on an effort should get appropriate credit. Chuck and Gary only acknowledge my efforts of providing some ideas in Empire IV. I am listed "Creator of", but only listed on the Help lesson.

One proof of how far along Empire was before I moved to Minneapolis and stopped direct work on the game is found in the listing of Empire IV signed by Gene Rodenberry which you can see on the title page of PLATO People. Chuck, Gary, I, and probably others went to the Star Trek convention together in the summer of 1976. I took my listing of Empire along to get it signed. Gene Rodenberry probably had no idea of what he was signing, since he was being asked for his autograph on many things.

That listing shows an Empire IV that was very functional and playable. I was there and helped the team make it so.

When Gary showed up at the Iowa State Education department PLATO terminal room, I helped him learn TUTOR. In a week he was uncovering nuances and showing them to me. At some point I let him have access to Empire (III) as it evolved I don't think either of us could point to what things he helped with, but we became good friends.

Chuck and others came around, to play and learn TUTOR. Jim Battin, Mike Rodby, others, and I helped write Empire IV. My focus was to optimize it and help add some features. I have listings of -michelin- and -empire- from this time with my notes on changes to the code.

I developed the concept for using -findall- for proximity scans, with a version of 1975 Empire V doing a sector scan using -findall-. This method did not do it right in that it was a fixed grid, not showing the sector centered around the player's ship. I led the project to refine -findall-. We met for many hours each day for a couple weeks. Eventually Chuck came in with the final idea which is now how -empire- works fast. I think he or we should have patented the concept.

I have maintained a friendship with both Chuck and Gary over the years, choosing to prefer friendship over control.

The best outcome I would like is to have them acknowledge the important base of Empire (III) on the design and my active participation in Empire IV.

This is one reason I resurrected Empire III. Since they both have had vague recollections of what it was like it helps show what base Empire IV was founded upon. It was also a lot of fun and brought back many great feelings of excitement and accomplishment. I rewrote the version running on Cyber1 to reduce the number of old-style branches, which is like trying to pick through a birds nest to debug, and replaced them with the more modern style -loop- structures. The -loop- structures tend to run faster, too, so also a good change. Still, it runs like a hog since it was designed before we figured out -findall-. You are welcome to look at the source code under Open Source Commons.

Xtrek - Netrek - and on ...

It has been a wonder to hear about and see Empire evolve as technology has evolved. The migration of the design to X-windows during the early 1980s as Xtrek and to the Internet during the 1990s as Netrek have made great strides.

Do I expect to control those evolutions?

Not at all. The effort involved in porting from PLATO TUTOR to X-windows in any other language is very complex; there is little one could have taken from the source other than the design.

The fact that the Netrek history provides acknowledgement back to the early history, pointing to the past, is enough.

It will get some curious, creative, inventive future developers looking at the steps and background, hopefully to give them some additional shoulders to stand upon ... to make something even more wonderful, more impacting, and more important for the future.