Thieves’ Guild: Exploring the World of BBS Door Games

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(Opening Screen of Thieves’ Guild BBS Door Game)

Programmers and game developers experienced a renaissance in the 90’s, it was the beginning of games that could be shared without cartridges. The internet had already been used for communication, but resourceful programmers realized it could be used to share creative endeavors as well. BBSes could be used to share creative writing and even basic game mechanics.

BBS Door Games were a culture in-and-of themselves. People interested in computers, programming, game design, and RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons, were able to pursue their interests through online Bulletin Boards. Whether someone wanted to share their personal thoughts or a game of their own creation.

(A section of gameplay from Thieves’ Guild)

Internet gaming is present everywhere today. Mobile games, online downloads, MMORPGS, it seems like everyone is playing games that sprung from the developmental days of the internet. Without passionate creators, curious players, and a ready interface, we would not have computer games as we know them today.

The BBS Door Game scene was very popular, and still keeps the interest of retro gamers and internet archivists. There are still ways to download the files for games like Thieves’ Guild, and these turn-based games doubtlessly inspired other classics and paved the way for more developed online RPGs. The culture of internet gaming started from the BBS platform. Many other BBSes were about communicating with people of similar interests, many were about Science Fiction and Fantasy, nerd culture was able to go online very early, and Door Games were a pure expression of the creative potential of fantasy nerds and computer programmers.

Thieves’ Guild was an interactive game with some graphics. The game was about progressing from being a low-level thief to a master, in a fantasy world. A player would use the keyboard to select their next movement, pressing Return to move to the next line of dialog or a number to select what kind of attack they would use. The game responded to these inputs and gave a result to each action. Like any other BBS, people had to call in over the telephone, using dial-up to connect to the server. The game was created by Paul White and Herb Flower, who did almost all the programming and graphical work, both were experienced BBS Door Game creators.

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