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The Multiplayer and Modification Era of Computer Games

The late 1990’s had much to offer to the industry of computer games. The battle between consoles and computers still raged on throughout this period, and computers had the help of many momentous releases by computer games developers and the exponentially growing popularity of the internet. Blizzard, a computer game developer, created three instant classics: Warcraft, Diablo and Starcraft. These real time strategy games contained some of the best graphics of the era. Soon, Blizzard would introduce something that would take these games to epic proportions: Battle.net.

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Battle.net was one of the first online multiplayer programs that offered cooperative and player versus player action. It was released in 1997 along with Diablo and featured online chat, a matchmaking system and a ranking system all ahead of its time. This online multiplayer system became extremely popular, especially after the release of Starcraft in 1998. There are millions of players that logged on just before the turn of the century, and hundreds of thousands still continue to play games on their servers as you read this. The popularity of Battle.net has sparked a new interest in online multiplayer gaming that has been a focus of almost every game developed, on consoles or computers, since.

In fact, computer games offer hardcore gamers more solutions that console gaming. Almost all console games are created in a way that does not allow for user modification by discouraging the use of “home brew software” to alter the source code both legally and physically. On the contrary, computer games have encouraged it with companies like iD Software releasing source code of game engines to older games for users to modify. This has prompted the creation of new games or heavily modified versions of the original to be released into the market. The ability to modify code has made computer games the choice of any hardcore gamer.

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The pinnacle of modifying computer games, as well as online play, has come with the game Counterstrike. Counterstrike was originally a modified version of the Valve classic “Half Life.” This first person shooter that pits a group of anti terrorists against terrorists became an instant hit with the online gaming crowd. Millions still play Counterstrike and all of its succeeding releases online. Counterstrike was the game that proved that allowing users to modify and have access to source code of older game engines would produce great results for computer games. In fact, it is a belief among the gaming crowd that only the most “hardcore” computer gamers play the Counterstrike series.