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Island of Kesmai

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Title: Island of Kesmai  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Chronology of MUDs, History of massively multiplayer online games, Massively multiplayer online role-playing game, Mudlle, A Theory of Fun for Game Design
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Island of Kesmai

Island of Kesmai
Developer(s) Kesmai
Publisher(s) CompuServe
Release date(s) 1985
Genre(s) Fantasy MUD
Mode(s) Multiplayer
Legends of Kesmai
Developer(s) Kesmai
Publisher(s) AOL, GameStorm
Release date(s) 1996
Genre(s) Fantasy MUD
Mode(s) Multiplayer

Island of Kesmai was an early commercial online game in the MUD genre, innovative in its use of roguelike pseudo-graphics. It is considered a major forerunner of modern MMORPGs.

Launch date

In the summer of 1980 University of Virginia classmates John Taylor and Kelton Flinn wrote Dungeons of Kesmai, a six player game inspired by Dungeons & Dragons which used Roguelike ASCII graphics. They founded the Kesmai company in 1982 and in 1985 an enhanced version of Dungeons of Kesmai, Island of Kesmai, was launched on CompuServe. Later, its 2-D graphical descendant Legends of Kesmai was launched on AOL in 1996. The games were retired commercially in 2000.[1]

Price to play

The game was available on CompuServe for no additional charge. However, CompuServe cost $6 per hour for 300 baud or $12 per hour for 1200 baud access rates. The game processed one command every 10 seconds, which equates to 123 cents per command.

Game characteristics

After logging into Compuserve and selecting to play Island of Kesmai, the user was allowed to create a character. After creating a character, the next step was to enter the chat room. From the chat room, the user could enter the virtual world.

The game interface was two dimensional and scrolled unless you downloaded and installed a GUI.[2] The interface has often been called roguelike in that it borrowed features of game-play from a game called Rogue. The game used a Dungeons and Dragons-like turn-based play. Players moved in tiles on a grid utilizing short commands or key presses. Items could be found on the floor of the dungeon as symbols — as could mobs to fight.

One of the notable game play systems was the ability to perform quests for various rewards.[2] These choreographed progressions represented some of the first online questing systems which would become a significant aspect of the wildly popular future MMORPGs such as EverQuest and World of Warcraft.

Legends of Kesmai

Legends of Kesmai (LOK) was among the first successful graphical multi-player online role-playing games. It was based on a slightly stripped down version of Island of Kesmai with 2D sprites replacing IoK's roguelike pseudo-graphics, and was available for play at America Online and GameStorm. Prior to that, Kesmai corporation ran a long open beta for the game, as well as hosting the game for a short period of time in the mid 90's. In 1999 Electronic Arts bought Kesmai and in 2000 closed the business.[1][3]


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