Museum FAQ

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Questions and answers about the TradeWars Museum



Why is the focus on Martech's TradeWars?

Though the articles in this wiki cover many things beyond Gary Martin's version of TradeWars, the focus is always on how these things relate to Martin's TradeWars. The site was created by me, John Pritchett, and my personal knowledge and experience is centered on the Martech version of the game. In fact, I was not even aware of the rich history and variety of TradeWars-like games until years after I started developing for the game. Therefore, the goal of this museum is to preserve details of that particular game, its community, and the ways that it has touched other games, etc. I am aware that there are other communities surrounding other TradeWars-like games, and that they are equally worthy of being remembered and preserved. However, my hands are full doing justice to this one game. That is why the focus is limited to Martin's TradeWars and not all TradeWars-like games.

Community Registry

What if I don't want my real name in the Registry?

When creating the initial registry database, I attempted to keep the real name out of the registry listing. Only the game site name and other non-identifiable information like state/province/country were included. If you find that your name was inadvertently included and you would like it removed, please post a comment on your discussion page or email John Pritchett at

If you wish to create a community member page, you have the option of using your real name or an alias. All that matters is that the page have a unique title relative to all other community member pages.

Search engines will index most registry pages, but they are blocked from indexing personal community member pages. If you use your real name, it should not appear in the search engines.

What is the Community Registry?

The Community Registry is a database of any person who has been involved in the TradeWars community over the years.

What kinds of pages are in the Registry?

The primary page in the registry is the Community Member page. Other page types can be linked to the member page to represent various contributions by a community member.

  • Community Member Page
This page is associated with the actual community member, and it links to the other pages that cover various contributions by that member. The page can be generated based on the member's real name or an alias, whichever is preferred.
  • Group Page
A group could be a company, organization, club, etc.
  • Game Site Page
This page is associated with a BBS or TWGS game site.
  • Trader Page
This page represents a player's in-game persona.
  • Application Page
This page represents a 3rd party add-on, helper, script, etc.
  • Document Page
This page represents an official or unofficial manual, tips, fiction, interviews, etc.

The registry has been pre-filled with game sites from the Martech and EIS registration databases. If you locate your game site, please consider adding your community member page as well. Players who locate a site where they played can create a Trader page and link that page to the game site. The game site page will list all traders who played there.

How do I add a page?

There are two ways to add a Community Member page. For many of you, the easiest way is to locate your game site page, which has already been listed, then enter your name or alias into the Gameop field. Alternatively, you can go to the Community Registry area, then click on Add To Registry, then Add community member.

Similarly, there are two ways to create other kinds of pages. Either use the Add To Registry menu, or add a page directly to your Community Member page. If adding a page to the Community Member page, specify the page name under the appropriate field, then click on the link you added. If it already exists, you will be taken to that page. If it does not, you will be shown a form for filling out the page's details.

How do I find a page?

There are multiple ways to search for a page.

  • Use the Community Registry Browse Registry menu to browse for pages of a particular type.
  • Use the Community Registry Search Registry menu to search for a particular type of page. Enter any portion of a page name to display a list of pages with that text in the name.
  • Use the Search field on the left to search for text either in the name or text of any page. Wildcard searches are allowed with the * character. For example, John* will show any pages with title or text containing words starting with John.

You can also use the Guided Tour page to explore popular content. Each page has a "like!" tab that visitors can use to flag pages they find interesting. The tour page ranks pages by popularity, and also by how recently a page was "liked". There are also links to random pages of various kinds, if you're feeling adventurous.

What if a page already exists?

If you are creating a page and that page already exists, there are two choices.

  • Is the page you're creating already in the Registry? Since many game sites have already been added, there is a good chance gameops will find their game site page already listed. Also, others may add your personal page or pages for game sites, applications, documents, etc. If you find the page you're attempting to add, take a moment to verify that all of the information is correct, and add any relevant information that is missing.
  • Does the page represent someone or something else with the same name? It is not unusual for multiple people, game sites, applications, etc, to have the same name. To make your page name unique, add additional information. For example, if you're a gameop, and your name is already used for someone else's page, add your name as My Name (My Game Site). You may also use your player alias, like My Name (Alias), or any other bit of information that will uniquely identify you.

What info is required when creating a page?

No information is required. Simply creating a page is enough to add yourself or your contributions to the registry. The more detail you provide, the more interesting your pages will be. Also, this information will be used to determine if a community member is worthy of being showcased in a Museum exhibit.

Do I have to provide my real name?

Although it is preferred that you use your real name, you can create your page with an alias (one not already used), or with your first or last initial, e.g. J Pritchett or John R P, if you are reluctant to have your real name associated with your TradeWars persona. I know some of you have made some serious enemies over the years ;)

What kind of info can be added to a page?

Each page has a special form that asks for particular details. However, each page has a Notes section that is open to any details that the creator or any other viewer considers interesting. This section allows wiki markup so you can link to other pages, add images, create tables, etc, using all of the standard MediaWiki markup.

Why can I edit some pages but not others?

Most pages are created in a namespace that's specific to the page type (Community, GameSite, Application, etc). All visitors can edit pages in these areas. This allows you to create your own pages and even edit other people's pages. However, notable pages are often moved into the Main area which is only editable by registered Museum members. You are welcome to contribute to these pages even without becoming a registered member. To do so, post your contributions to the Talk page accessed by clicking the "discussion" tab for a page.

Museum Exhibits

What is the "like!" tab for?

Since there are a LOT of pages in this wiki (over 20,000 already), and many pages are stubs awaiting attention, I have provided a "like" button so visitors can identify the pages they find interesting. A "Guided Tour" page lists out "liked" pages in order by popularity.

Can I contribute to the Museum?

While you're free to create pages in the Registry with as much detail as you want, only registered members of the Museum are allowed to create Museum exhibits. If you just have details you want to contribute, do that in the Registry, and those details will be used as resource material for the Museum. If you have suggestions on ways to improve the Museum, post those on the "discussion" pages. If you'd like to actually create exhibits for the Museum, contact me with your ideas and I'll consider giving you full access.

What should be included in the Museum?

One of the main motivations for creating the museum is the fact that Wikipedia maintains a tight control on the content of any page, and is very careful to avoid trivial details, especially what they call "fancruft". In short, fancruft is defined as "content of importance only to a small population of enthusiastic fans of the subject in question". As far as I'm concerned, there is nothing too trivial for this site, as long as it is interesting to AT LEAST a small population of enthusiastic TradeWars fans. In other words, go nuts! ;)

I hate John Pritchett/EIS because...

Though few people come right out and assail me to my face, from time to time I read complaints that people have about me and my handling of "their" game. I don't take this personally, because I know that every developer of TradeWars games (and many other games) has faced this. Players are passionate about this game (a good thing), and with that often comes a sense of ownership (also not a bad thing) that can lead them to form rather bitter feelings toward the game's developer (not so good). It's inevitable, because whatever you do, some will be pleased, and others not so much.

Since, as I said, I am rarely given the opportunity to defend my decisions, actions, etc, when I am attacked, I am posting a set of common complaints and my defense against those complaint.

This isn't your game, you're just taking credit for it!

I've never claimed that this is "my game". I've always treated it as Gary Martin's game, a game that he designed and built, and that I merely maintain. And further, I credit Chris Sherrick as the creative spark that started this fire. And John Morris for his innovations to the game. When I talk about how great this game is, and how significant it is in the history of online gaming, I'm not bragging, because I had no part in making this game as great as it is. All I've done is help it stay around longer than it might have otherwise. I hope to one day add my part to this game, but for now, I am just a fan of this game, just like you.

You haven't done enough with this game!

Variations are "You've let the game stagnate!", and "You've let the game become boring!".

There have been many developers of TradeWars-like games over the years who got started precisely because they wanted to evolve the game, and they thought the current developer wasn't doing enough. I personally took over TradeWars 2002 with an attitude that it was a great game that needed to be preserved. I look at the game like Chess, or Risk. There are fun variations on both, but the core game doesn't need to "evolve". Any changes should be limited to those necessary to keep the game in balance. They should not be about adding content for its own sake. There have been other TradeWars games that have done that very well, especially Ultimate Universe.

On the other side of that argument, players themselves have evolved this game, so that my lack of attention to the game has allowed it to become something that it was not designed to be. When I first became aware of this trend back in 2002, I announced my intention to try to address those changes and restore the game to its original state. This was met with much negativity from the TradeWars "elites" (the high profile community members). I decided that small, private sites (the vast majority of them) could still play the game like it had been played in the mid-90s by imposing rules of play. Therefore, I decided, it was not necessary to make changes to the game to address this player-driven evolution, and that the players should be allowed to evolve the game as they had been doing. I believe now that I was wrong. For a variety of reasons, the game has earned a reputation for being broken and unplayable today, so that few players give it a serious look.

You've done too much with this game!

Or "You broke the game when you [fill in the blank]!".

What this usually means is that I fixed a bug that was being exploited, and usually had been exploited for so long that it had earned the reputation of being a "feature". Some players will openly argue with the developer about whether something is a "feature". The worst case scenario is when the bug has more history with the game than I have, putting it higher on the totem pole than me. Extend that to include gameplay that was not designed or anticipated (about 80% of the game today), and you face a very solid wall of resistance to change. In 2004, I smashed into that wall several times before deciding it was best to leave "their game" alone (see above).

This game should be open source by now!

I know this is something that a lot of people don't like about me. "The game would be much better off in the hands of the community, since we're more passionate about it than you are", they claim. The truth is, no decision I make about the game, whether I continue to evolve it or I try to keep it static, is going to satisfy everyone, and those who are dissatisfied are going to conclude that they would be better stewards of the game than I. Personally, I have no problem releasing the code to the community when the time is right. But it is not currently right. There are two primary reasons. One, because of the history of this game, open-sourcing it would create an even greater perception that it is public domain, and more than others who have open-sourced their software, I would risk losing complete control over and ownership of this game. And two, because I still have a desire to develop the classic game, even if my attention and priorities have been elsewhere. Once I reach a point where I've moved beyond the classic game, and I have other projects to anchor my ownership of this IP, then I would be happy to explore open-source options so the community can maintain "their game".

This game should be freeware by now!

Or, "You greedy capitalist pig!".

This is a tough one. I know the game is ancient, and I know the vast majority of games would be freeware by now. The primary reason I continue to charge is because I want those gameops who invest in a server to have some exclusivity. If the server was free, anyone could run it, and the number of sites would sky-rocket, meaning more competition for the existing player base. The fact is, because the player base is shrinking, the cost of a server should be going up, making the supply of servers smaller and forcing the smaller player base to cluster into those few servers. When the player base is fragmented, most games are stagnant, and new players are not drawn in by the excitement of an active site, causing the player base to shrink even further.

But I would like to point out that the revenue I generate from TradeWars pretty much breaks even with the cost of hosting the forums and other sites (like this one), the day-to-day support I provide to gameops, etc. Also, let's be honest, this is actually "donationware" more than "shareware", because anyone who wants to run the game without paying does so. Only those who appreciate what I've done are willing to pay for the game. I have great respect and appreciation for anyone who is willing to pay for a product when they could easily avoid paying. Thankfully there are many such people in this world!

You don't know anything about this game because you never play it!

Other variations, "You don't care about this game because you never play it!", and "Your perspective is useless because you don't play it!".

It's clear to me that many players do not respect me or have any confidence in my ability to develop "their game" because I am not a player. Now, of course I've played the game. Testing the game, it's necessary to play it quite a bit. But I haven't played the game on a live site against real players. I've lurked in those games from time to time, but never played. But the idea of learning first-hand the nuances of playing every possible role in this game seems completely overwhelming. What seems more manageable to me is listening to the input of a wide variety of players and gameops, each with their own particular style or view, and drawing that wide range of experience together into a more broad understanding of the game. Couple with that the inside understanding of how a game that, while I didn't write it initially, I've touched essentially every single line of code, I have an understanding of the game that no single player or gameop could have. Do I understand the inner workings of the PStealthPseudoTorpDropper script? Nope. But I can begin to gain a pretty good idea of whether it's a good thing or a bad thing as I start to hear what others think about it. The point is, if I was trying to make this game fun for me, the best way to do that would be to play it. But if I'm trying to make it fun for the largest number of people, the best thing I can do is listen to the feedback of the largest number of people, and try not to let my personal biases get in the way. Not having played it, I don't have personal biases.

What did you do to my code! I don't even recognize it anymore!!!

Yeah, that one's from Gary. Sorry about that, Gary. I got a little carried away ;)


How can I add a question to the FAQ?

Click on the "discussion" tab and post your question on the Talk Page, or just email me. I will add questions to the FAQ where needed.

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