2018-05-09

Looking for old game source Conquer (FOUND)

Early this morning (or late last night.. ) while trying to rescue some computers which decided to die during reboot.. I got hit by a memory of computer labs in the late 1980's when I first went to college. While many of us would play Nethack and hang out on MUD's, the big draw was playing a turn based game called Conquer. The point of the game was that you would be in some sort of fantasy based world and you were the King of that country. Your job was to grow your country be it vampires, orcs, elves, humans and destroy all competition. I believe it was based off the classic Empire games but I am not sure. I expect it was not 'Free or open source' and I know it was full of really bad coding as the main point of the game for the CS people was to find a new overflow to make your country win.

Years later I met someone who had helped write a similar game called Dominion which is also very similar.  The game has been kept up and is under a GPL license which is probably why it is still findable.

And while waiting for ansible to rebuild various virtual machines which had existed on the now kaput servers, I went diving to find source code. My 2 am searches didn't come up with any copies of the Conquer code, but I expect it is because various search engines expect me to want to look for clones of Command and Conquer versus "Conquer".   Looking for fantasy Empire like games brings up tons of clones of Ages of Empire. Even looking for Dominion brings me to many clones of the Dominion board game versus the actual source code. I did find that someone has made updated versions of Trade Wars and Taipan! which made me happy as those were ones I had played a lot when I was in High School in the mid 1980's.  I was even able to find some code for Xtank which was another diversion on the poor Sun Sparc SLC systems which did not have enough RAM or CPU to do the game justice.

I expect that the game source code is probably sitting somewhere easily findable or that the game was called Conquest or something similar and I am not remembering correctly after 30 years. I also expect that the code has no usable lessons in it.. it just seemed important at 4 am and 6 am this morning when I couldn't get back to sleep. Hopefully a blog post will put that little worry to bed. It was like "Who wrote the game?", "Where did it go?", "Why did I always lose?" Ok the last one was easy.. I am not good at strategy and I was playing the wrong game (aka I was trying to play by the inside game rules versus the social "hey look at what we should join and do" and the "oh wow did you see what this does if you send 4 ^k to the game?")

One thing I do remember from these games was that there was no idea about client and server in them. Everything was written into one application (which was were most of the security problems came up). These days, the game would probably be written as a webserver application which would send HTML5 to the clients which the players would manipulate to send back 'moves'. This would then be checked by the server to make sure they were legitimate and confirm when the turn ran. Conflicts like army A moving into army B space would then get dealt with at the turn cycle and the next turn would begin.

[Quickly found by Alan Cox (thanks Alan) at https://ftp.gnome.org/mirror/archive/ftp.sunet.se/pub/usenet/ftp.uu.net/comp.sources.games/. It was originally called Conquest and then renamed Conquer. The game was written by Ed Barlow. Adding in Ed Barlow now gives the source code engines enough to find other versions. Looking at the source code license https://github.com/quixadhal/conquer/blob/master/header.h this is not open source in any way. There was a discussion on Debian Legal about the license being changed to GPL ?!? but without a formal release from the original author.. I am leery of saying it was done.]
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