The History of Trench Wars/Pre-History
- (December 1995 – October 1997)
Subspace itself began as a project by programmers Jeff Paterson and Rod Humble. They were attempting to create a demonstration product for their employer, Virgin Interactive Entertainment (VIE) to show the viability of Internet gaming. With a somewhat working program in the form of online asteroids, the alpha test for Subspace (then called Sniper) began for selected people in December of 1995. After a few months, on March 1996, the beta test began for the game. With the only advertisement for the game as a few messages on a games newsgroup, the early community rapidly expanded.
Originally with only one zone (Warzone, later renamed Running Zone when a new Warzone was created), four ships, and no squads Subspace became a hit among its small but loyal community. In those days, players would give suggestions directly to the programmers themselves and many even made friends with the programmers. In fact the idea of repels was a player suggestion. Soon it was time for the test to end. As word of the impending end of the VIE test was spreading, the players who loved the game so much begged and pleaded for it to continue. Happily the programmers complied.
Soon squads were added, and names such as Armageddon, Doomsday, Harvester of Sorrow and ReDS soon became the squads to strive for. Whereas ReDS eventually became the squad that everyone had been part of at one time or another, and was also the squad that won almost 40 resets in a row in Warzone, squads such as Harvester of Sorrow became a melting pot for only the best of the best. As summer 1996 rolled by, the game expanded to four zones with the additions of what is now called Warzone (SVS) and Alpha Zone. Pro League, which began as a weekend tournament was added as a permanent fixture to the game. Chaos Zone was added in the winter, along with such places as Turf Zone and Philosophy Zone (a private zone for special events). All the time more and more ships were added to the Subspace list. March 1997 saw the introduction of Dueling Zone and the first great dueling tournament in Subspace. As the sheep Dolly was cloned in real life, a new command ?sheep was added, and a new zone Sheep Cloning Facility was added (aka Philosophy Zone 2). Eventually this would be the original birthplace of TW. From the original four, ships were continuously added. There was even a special ship called the Nightwasp that the player with the most points in the zone would fly. Although not an actual ship, the Nightwasp graphic would cover up whatever real ship you were using and would ensure the guy who flew it bragging rights. In May 1997, the new graphical launcher for Subspace was made (still seen in SS 1.35) replacing the old very cheap version.
At this time, many rumors spread that Subspace was going pay. The general agreement was $10/month with a small initial fee for the software itself. The players were getting scared, but month after month, nothing happened. During the summer of 1997 the greatest days of the beta test (and even all of Subspace for the next three years) were happening. The population tripled in mere months, and now there were easily 1500+ people playing during peak times. Pro League made history by changing from a pyramid league, into a football-type league with seasons and schedules. That summer, 40 teams participated in Pro League Season 1. Subspace was saved from going pay during that time by Pepsi, which gave a bunch of money to sponsor Subspace.