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Lucasfilm's Habitat  (View post)

Observer [PersonRank 1]

Monday, January 12, 2009
14 years ago3,918 views

fwiw, this paper from May 1990 claims that QuantumLink's system was still up and running two years later:

"As of this writing, the North American incarnation of Lucasfilm's Habitat, QuantumLink's "Club Caribe", has been operating for almost two years. It uses our original Commodore 64 frontend and a somewhat stripped-down version of our original Stratus backend software. Club Caribe now sustains a population of some 15,000 participants."

Waldir Pimenta [PersonRank 2]

14 years ago #

There's a typo right in the beginning of the post: "Lucafilm’s Habitat" should be "Lucasfilm’s Habitat" :)

By the way: for more info, and

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

Thanks Waldir, corrected!

That's an interesting article Observer. Two quotes...

________ Crowd puzzle solving ________

<<The first goal-directed event planned for Habitat was a rather involved treasure hunt called the "D'nalsi Island Adventure". It took us hours to design, weeks to build (including a 100-region island), and days to coordinate the actors involved. It was designed much like the puzzles in an adventure game. We thought it would occupy our players for days. In fact, the puzzle was solved in about 8 hours by a person who had figured out the critical clue in the first 15 minutes. Many of the players hadn't even had a chance to get into the game. The result was that one person had had a wonderful experience, dozens of others were left bewildered, and a huge investment in design and setup time had been consumed in an eyeblink. We expected that there would be a wide range of "adventuring" skills in the Habitat audience. What wasn't so obvious until afterward was that this meant that most people didn't have a very good time, if for no other reason than that they never really got to participate. It would clearly be foolish and impractical for us to do things like this on a regular basis.>>

________ Avatar murder ________

<<Among the objects we made available to Avatars in Habitat were guns and various other sorts of weapons. We included these because we felt that players should be able to materially effect each other in ways that went beyond simply talking, ways that required real moral choices to be made by the participants. We recognized the age old story-teller's dictum that conflict is the essence of drama. Death in Habitat was, of course, not like death in the real world! When an Avatar is killed, he or she is teleported back home, head in hands (literally), pockets empty, and any object in hand at the time dropped on the ground at the scene of the crime. Any possessions carried at the time are lost. It was more like a setback in a game of "Chutes and Ladders" than real mortality. Nevertheless, the death metaphor had a profound effect on people's perceptions. This potential for murder, assault and other mayhem in Habitat was, to put it mildly, controversial. The controversy was further fueled by the potential for lesser crimes. For instance, one Avatar could steal something from another Avatar simply by snatching the object out its owner's hands and running off with it. (...)

To make a point, one of the players took to randomly shooting people as they roamed around. The debate was sufficiently vigorous that we took a systematic poll of the players. The result was ambiguous: 50% said that Habitat murder was a crime and shouldn't be a part of the world, while the other 50% said it was an important part of the fun.

We compromised by changing the system to allow thievery and gunplay only outside the city limits. The wilderness would be wild and dangerous while civilization would be orderly and safe. This did not resolve the debate, however. One of the outstanding proponents of the anti-violence point of view was motivated to open the first Habitat church, the Order of the Holy Walnut (in real life he was a Greek Orthodox priest). His canons forbid his disciples to carry weapons, steal, or participate in violence of any kind. His church became quite popular and he became a very highly respected member of the Habitat community. (...)

Somebody eventually made the suggestion that there ought to be a Sheriff. We quickly figured out how to create a voting mechanism and rounded up some volunteers to hold an election. A public debate in the town meeting hall was heavily attended, with the three Avatars who had chosen to run making statements and fielding questions. The election was held, and the town of Populopolis acquired a Sheriff.

For weeks the Sheriff was nothing but a figurehead, though he was a respected figure and commanded a certain amount of moral authority. We were stumped about what powers to give him. Should he have the right to shoot anyone anywhere? Give him a more powerful gun? A magic wand to zap people off to jail? What about courts? Laws? Lawyers?>>

Rob O. [PersonRank 1]

14 years ago #

QuantumLink, by the way, is what went on to become America Online. It had started out as a service for Tandy's computers but quickly spread to other IBM-compatible PCs.

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

I love the way that the avatar walks right through the hot tub at 5:02.

Ruth S. [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

A nice surprise to see this here!

I am a 'netizen' of one of the worlds you referred to in your reminiscent projects link.

I've been in Dreamscape for about ten years. The Vzones are wonderful communities full of great people from all over the world who build lasting friendships and enjoy a lot of fun.

Here's another link for your surfing pleasure, full of history about these very worlds from Habitat to now.

Kindest Regards;
Ruth – Canada

jimstips [PersonRank 1]

14 years ago #

[put at-character here]Rob O: Actually, it was created for the Commodore 64 and 128. (

I spent MANY hours on Q-Link, especially on the GEOS forum programming GEOS apps for the C-64.

Ahh, those were the days of 300 baud modems!!!

Dave [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

Club Caribe, a substantially stripped down version of Habitat, was officially released to the Q-Link membership in June of 1989. (I know because I was at the release party.) I believe it was still running when Q shut down for good in 1994.

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