The most amazing multi-player experience

skidmarks_thumbMulti-player games, in all of their forms (MMORPGs like World of Warcraft, Mario Kart on the Wii, …) are as common as well, a common game. Many, if not most games today feature alongside their single-player mode a multi-player mode that can be played on the same console or with friends over the net. I remember some 15 years ago that the only reason I played Quake was because of the multi-player mode over the net and I preferred having that multi-player feel in the game even when I played alone by using the many “bot-mods” that were available (ReaperBot anyone?) so I could continue to practice my 8 vs. 8 Capture the Flag skills.
Of course, in the mid-90s, not everyone had access to an internet connection at home, and if you did, it probably was a 28.8K or 33.6K modem, so not really something that was going to be “online” all the time (and then there was the matter of who would pick up the massive phone bill).

So, most of the longer multi-player game session were done via LAN or a null-modem.
Now multi-player via LAN is something most of us can relate to but multi-player over a null-modem or serial link? Surely that would just be a 2-player game with each player playing on his own machine? Well, it turns out that’s not the case and it was on the Commodore Amiga that you could play some of the best serial link games ever (Knights of the Sky, Populous 2, …), with the absolute best of the best and most innovative game being Super Skidmarks 2 on the Amiga 1200.


I am specifying here the model of the Amiga, as running the game on a 500 gave you a split-screen mode for two, three or four players, where you can use either keys, or a joystick adaptor in the parallel port, which was nice, but running it on the 1200 unleashed something never seen before in the realm of multi-player gaming…
Using the power of the 1200, your Amiga could handle eight vehicles, which meant that the fun got even better with more intense racing.
But the best bit, and this made it a landmark in game history, was the widescreen (or Super View as it was called) link mode.
With two Amiga machines and a null-modem cable (but only one version of the game), the course would split itself over the two monitors, allowing you to see all the track, all the time.


On Amiga 500 systems the first two screens show what it would like, with split screens on each monitor, and only part of the track where your cars are being shown.  On Amiga 1200 systems, the screen could be split into 3, so you could have more players competing on a single screen, with the other players shown on the other screen and they could even be running the game on the Amiga 500.


The cool thing of course, was when you used 2 Amiga 1200 systems and raced in Super View mode, with the entire track visible over the two monitors.

This meant that 8 people could play the game at the same time, resulting in epic game nights, possible swearing sessions, the occasional drink spilled on the floor because of all the excitement and that awesome feeling that you witnessed some magical gaming moments, right then and there!

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