Raider Wars Interactive Magic Online 1997

This was online-only game developed for AOL's premium game services and based on the Planetary Raiders engine. It was somewhat influenced by Wing Commander; 8 ships were available with each having their own unique cockpit style. 3D graphics were done entirely in software with no slowdown whatsoever. While this did have the unfortunate side effect of no texture mapping, the gameplay more than made up for it, with massive battles taking place between the three corporations. A keyboard and mouse did not do this game justice - you needed to have a joystick to feel the full effect. The story was average - 3 corporations battling it out for control of a valuable solar system. Hast, Osis, and Vaught were the three corporations you could pledge loyalty to. Switching a corporation incurred a 15-minute 'no switching' penalty, so most of the players generally stayed with the corp they were assigned to. The objective was to capture the enemy's CVs, or space stations. 15 CVs were scattered across the solar system with a certain number being assigned to each corporation at the beginning of the game. Battles mostly took place around the CV located in the center; that was embedded within an asteroid. The arena was quite big, giving defenders time to prepare to defend a CV; it took roughly an hour to cross the entire asteroid belt at full speed. In addition, 14 floating space platform turrets defended each CV. Teamwork was essential in this game - to capture a CV, you needed to have two players volunteer to pilot a slow, defenseless ship that carried the equipment necessary to capture a CV. This ship was also a favorite of defenders to blow up; thus these ships required escort. To make life difficult, mines could be dropped. These could be destroyed, but they were very hard to see. Quite an innovative game with impressive network code; it was playable on a 33.6k modem acceptably. With support for at least 50 players per server, virtually lagless gameplay, a locational damage system, 3D-accelerated graphics that can still hold their own in 2006 and software graphics that could blaze along at 600x480 on a sub-100MHZ Pentium, it was incomprehensibly ahead of its time for the late 90's. The game consisted of an infinite field of space, with 13 Carrier Vessels grouped closely in the center, all of which were devided between three corporations; Osis, Hast, and Vaught. The object was to ally with a specific corporation and capture every rival Carrier Vessel in space by launching crew-killing robots into its cargo hold from a FAS-2B "Penetrator" assault ship. Of course, with 7 other ships to pilot and each Carrier Vessel's armada of automated defense drones, it was much easier typed than done. When one coproration owned all the Carrier Vessels, the game would reset and start over. Depending on the sheer feral viciousness of the players, matches could last minutes or span days. A single pilot defending one Carrier Vessel against multiple attackers for 5+ hours wasn't an uncommon sight. The game continued until around late 1998, when it was temporarily closed down pending Interactive Magic Online's partnership with AOL. Ater a brief resurrection in April of 2000 that saw Raider Wars recoded to run through the newly renamed Imagic Entertainment Network's awful front-end software and its perfectly good netcode replaced by a substitute that rendered it literally unplayable from lag, it was once again shut down. In 2001, an attempt to make an opensource clone of Raider Wars called FreeRaider was made, but the project collapsed due to its developers being severly out of sync with eachother. However, if anyone wants to continue it, the source is still freely available.
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