I'm not stupid. I did google it before I asked here but if you actually look at the results it gives you will find none of them explain what the hell a BBS game is.
BBS: Bulletin Board System (host)
The bedroom warrior would have the BBS software running on his/her PC (usually DOS based) that ran the whole show. Remember, this was a time when a 386 PC with 4MB ram was worth around $2000-$3000 so dedicating a PC and a fast modem to this task was quite the investment, not to mention the phone company rates were sky high due to no competition whatsoever, and if you were going to do it right you had a dedicated phone line attached to that PC.
The user would use a connection program, I used to use "Commo
" to control my modem and protocols like Zmodem
. Essentially it was like a modern Telnet connection, but the initial contact was made modem to modem instead of using TCP/IP. Username/Password access would get you into the system. User permissions were used to keep people in line - many BBS's had 'adult' sections and other things that weren't for anyone. (waiting up to 1/2h for one 50kb .jpg to download was the norm - to give you an idea of how slow these connections were)
So BBS Games: often called 'door' games or 'doors' since the metaphor on many BBS's was that you were moving between rooms on the board, so you would open a new door to access Legend of the Red Dragon (LORD) or Tradewars 2002, or whatever game was available. Everything was text based or ASCII art. There wasn't anything else! I remember playing a hockey game via BBS - all text based - and awesome.
Multiplayer: Unless you were on one of the big, popular BBS's that had multiple phone lines, "Multiplayer" pre-Internet was mostly turn based. Once you log in, you usually had a limited amount of time per session that you could stay connected, or the BBS would kick you off so someone else could dial up.
For example take Tradewars 2002. I would log in to the BBS and open the TW2002 door. This put me into the game, where I would have (for eg) 200 turns for the day. I would take my turns, read up on what other players did, whether or not they found and attacked my planets or ships and then when my 200 daily turns were done, I would log out and wait until the next day to continue.
Once finished with TW2002, I had the option of using the rest of my time for that phone call sending messages - forum discussions were pretty much like they are now, only not nearly as well presented as this board, for eg. or sending Fido mail (many BBS's in the network would route mail through each other nightly. So BBS #1 in Toronto would make a local call to BBS #2 in Oakville. Oakville would make another local call to the next city down the line and so on. In this manner, we were able to exchange "email" over great distances while almost nobody incurred long distance charges to do it.) This was the reason for the long round-trip delay on sending messages but at the same time, the only other alternative was snail-mail or the telephone.
Or, you could take your daily turn(s) at any of the other games found on that particular board.
So BBS Games are mostly text based, turn based and sometimes they're also MMO - just not at the same time. A PP turn-based MMO in the style of the old BBS games sounds great. I can't wait to take a crack at it. This format ought to prove very interesting with the updated graphics available today. Definitely looking forward to seeing it in action.
hope that helps