PlayNet (1985, C-64), which was BEFORE Quantum Link (Q-Link)

6 replies [Last post]
Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969

An interesting addition to my collection... We all know Quantum Link (Q-Link), but did you know it was an offshoot of this, which came out in 1985?:

PlayNet, the 1985 visual online service for the Commodore 64.
PlayNet, the 1985 visual online service for the Commodore 64.

It's still sealed.

n/a
clok1966
Offline
Joined: 01/21/2009
luck!
Rowdy Rob wrote:

Man, Clok, you consistently make me feel like a gaming noob with all of your fascinating gaming experiences, even though I've been videogaming for almost 40 years! You have first-hand accounts at many points of gaming history. I suspect you're the Doctor Who of videogaming!

I did the Compuserve thing for a while at 300 baud, and for some reason I briefly subscribed to the "Dow Jones News & Retreival" online service (maybe I got a free membership or something, I dunno). The hourly rates REALLY added up, and I found myself with spectacularly large usage fees! For anyone who complains about your monthly ISP bill, thank heavens it's nothing like the Compuserve/Genie charges used to be!

I've never heard of PlayNet, but as an Atari 8-bit user, I was quite intrigued (and jealous) of the Quantum Link service. That sounded amazing, although I rarely hear stories about it.

Mostly just the right place and right time.. and some stupidity in managing my money.. I bought stuff I couldn't afford.. we had a close out store in town that sold all those odd ball knock off PC and failed ones.. its where i got my Lisa, my Franklins and such.. The other thing was a friend at the local collage who ran the Computer Dept.. I had a telnet into the collage in the late 80's.. same time as the Commercial stuff (play net/CompuServe) so I had to try them. The last thing that helped is i have a friend ( to this day, we talk almost every day)) who is a electronic wiz.. i picked up many "broke" pcs.. and he fixed um.. back then most used off the shelf parts (so radio shack had um) so we fixed almost all of them.. cant do that now days.. to many custom chips.. So my skill was knowing the right people.. at the right time.. and PC being the most consuming hobbie i had back then.. How times have changed.. I don't use much of anything new...I was never hot for a laptop (always 10 steps behind a good desktop and no way to upgrade.. and up till the last few years the battery lasted for crap)... have almost Zero interest in Tablets.. in fact supporting um at work is my #1 pet pev.. people seem to think an Ipad can do anything a real PC can.. wonderful marketing... and word of mouth..and extremely stupid buying public. I'm a relic.. I hate to think I may be losing my beloved PC... its been slowing down for the last few years.. if they do go all tablet or Some combo of laptop tablet.. I will be out.. I know PC's will be around for a long time yet.. but gaming on PC's maybe not. (seeing that alot even now.. horrible menu systems botched together from a console port). I don't grind away coding or tinkering with um.. i just play on um nowadays.. My tech skills with PC hardware is almost useless now.. I used to fix real problems.. 90% of my work nowadays is Maleware.. rarely a HD fail.. and on occasion a Vid card.. working with old NT and such.. used to require some skill.. Win Server nowadays is all point and click.. I feel so old right now.. Im that guy i talked to when i was 20 and laughed at when he wasn't in ear shot. I know people say consoles just work.. well PC's do too almost now days.. (except for malware) I haven't fought an install in ages. my work nowadays is jut replacing failed parts..We use Dells.. and cycle um ever 4 years.. the last batch has a 2% fail.. (that's over 400 pc's) yes we track that.. we track everything.. i spend more time reporting/tracking then i do fixing nowadays too. (our laptops are at about 8% if anybody is interested.. surprising as they are in the field (no really, I work for a crop insurance company and our laptops are in the actual fields, pickups and such..some come in so dusty and such i cant believe they work) and of those fails.. its almost all HD's.. I replaced 2 MB's in laptops in the last year. HD's only in desktops.. .. oh sorry.. way off track as normal for me.. bored.. its almost bedtime.

Rowdy Rob
Rowdy Rob's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/04/2006
Diversity nowadays, and Clok1966 must be Dr. Who
Bill Loguidice wrote:

The best comments on Twitter about it were, "For White People!™" and "DO YOU GUYS LIKE COLOR GAMES"

LOL! The very first thing I noticed when I saw the box was that everyone was Caucasian. I guess we, as a 21st-century culture, have become more sensitive to diversity issues when we see them.

clok1966 wrote:

I used this for a short time, they didn't have local access numbers like Compuserve, and Source. They priced a bit different then the others.. it was a flat monthly rate plus $2 and hour i think.. and they had a sign up fee too. I seem to remember it was fairly reasonable compared to the others. Where it failed was it never had users.. it was really just a few games with chat. I can remember playing (or trying to) Stratego.. rarely did i have a 2nd player.. Hangman or chess.. always.. Another case of the right product at the wrong time. it was simply to early.

Man, Clok, you consistently make me feel like a gaming noob with all of your fascinating gaming experiences, even though I've been videogaming for almost 40 years! You have first-hand accounts at many points of gaming history. I suspect you're the Doctor Who of videogaming!

I did the Compuserve thing for a while at 300 baud, and for some reason I briefly subscribed to the "Dow Jones News & Retreival" online service (maybe I got a free membership or something, I dunno). The hourly rates REALLY added up, and I found myself with spectacularly large usage fees! For anyone who complains about your monthy ISP bill, thank heavens it's nothing like the Compuserve/Genie charges used to be!

I've never heard of PlayNet, but as an Atari 8-bit user, I was quite intrigued (and jealous) of the Quantum Link service. That sounded amazing, although I rarely hear stories about it.

Shawn Delahunty
Shawn Delahunty's picture
Offline
Joined: 08/01/2011
Typical Early Product

Looking at the design of the box art, and the wording on the back, it looks like a lot of "serious software" from that time-period. No one really understood the target demographic, except perhaps the software programmers themselves, and so they (the biz and management types) went with these "slick" looking graphic fonts (precision drop-shadows were KEWL then) and highly stylized layouts. But the low-budget side shows in the poor quality of the hand-drawn portraits and such.

I can think of some pop-art of the era which matches this to a "T":

  • The thin diagonal color lines were used in Max Headroom, Duran Duran Album covers (Seven and the Ragged Tiger), the art of Patrick Nagel, initially...
  • As the "art style knock-offs" came, you'd see the same kind of thing on box art for "Jazzercise" VHS tapes and the like.
  • Book covers for "technology-lite" books.

The whole thing screams "1980s!" when I look at it. But the box-text also shows they didn't know who or what they were targeting. So it's filled with EXCITEMENT WORDS... not quite techno-babble, but very much "marketer-speak" driven. Really telling...

n/a
Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/16/2006
That shadow effect on the box

That shadow effect on the box title is AMAZING. It looks like 3D!

n/a
Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Marketing was pretty funny
clok1966 wrote:

One last thing.. look at that box.. who where they marketing too? grandma? the preppies of the 80's? they didn't use PC's... The family might be ok... but they did some poor marketing on that.. of course back then the internet was such and unknown if you put that it printed money somebody might have believed it. it was almost a pure game service.. they should have maybe shown that more on the cover..

The best comments on Twitter about it were, "For White People!™" and

"DO YOU GUYS LIKE COLOR GAMES"

n/a
clok1966
Offline
Joined: 01/21/2009
I used this for a short time,

I used this for a short time, they didn't have local access numbers like Compuserve, and Source. They priced a bit different then the others.. it was a flat monthly rate plus $2 and hour i think.. and they had a sign up fee too. I seem to remember it was fairly reasonable compared to the others. Where it failed was it never had users.. it was really just a few games with chat. I can remember playing (or trying to) Stratego.. rarely did i have a 2nd player.. Hangman or chess.. always.. Another case of the right product at the wrong time. it was simply to early.

GE was a huge think tank back then (like Bell labs was earlier) surprising amount of cool stuff came from um.. Playnet was made by two guys who left GE when it was alsoin the early developing stages a online portal.. (which later became GEnie a year or two later).. Playnet is sorta like the Dreamcast and online gaming.. it did it the best first.. but it will never be known for it. Playnet morphed into AOL in the end.. (so good can become evil!).. as Bill mentioned Qlink was in the middle of it all. many of the stuff Playnet was developing showed up in Qlink ( the AD&D game.. neverwinter nights!)

it was a golden age back then.. Gamestorm.. one of the first with a FLAT rate for everything.. most the game where made by Mythic (who later lunched DAOC)..
MPG-NET- the first of the stand alone game only services (pure gaming not chat like Playnet) the most successfull online graphics based RPG of its day.. until Ultima Online came along.
Simultronics- (the EA of its day) they worked with all the online services till they decided to take there product solo and skip the others.

and all the others after.. anybody remember HEAT, they grew because of the DOOM /QUake FPS online craze and where the first to do some prizes and such for them ( yes I even won some back then).

its amazing how a small (2 sets of guys from GE) started a couple online services that essentially morphed into the stuff we have today. CyberStrike On GEnie was a huge success (3d combat in mechs with team based gameplay, not simple shooting and kill counts, but territory to hold) which in turn was the reason Everquest was made.. Sony was part owner of cyeberstrike and saw the potential for Online games.. EQ was (depending on who you believe) in the very first stages of concept before Ultima Online was released.. which in turn was done because games like Neverwinter Nights, Kingdom of Drakkar where successful in small ways..

ah the good old days.. 300 buad modems.. , a single phone number in your city to get on.. busy meant busy... $100+ phone bills ..hmm maybe not hte good old days.. but man it was fun.

One last thing.. look at that box.. who where they marketing too? grandma? the preppies of the 80's? they didn't use PC's... The family might be ok... but they did some poor marketing on that.. of course back then the internet was such and unknown if you put that it printed money somebody might have believed it. it was almost a pure game service.. they should have maybe shown that more on the cover..

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.