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John Kaufeld: Welcome to the inaugural chat for my new games book, GAMES ONLINE FOR DUMMIES! It's a brave new world of gaming out there, with something for everyone (even if you don't like blood and gore). It's really exciting! And, from the looks of the question queue, you all want to know more about it! How about our first question, Dianna?
John Kaufeld: [grins] Well, I'm a strategy gamer, myself, so I play some classic games, plus some newer ones. I love "Go" (on the Internet Gaming Zone and Yahoo) and a turn-based strategy game called ULTRACORPS, which is on the Zone. [wry grin] And I'm a Monopoly fan too.
John Kaufeld: Well...ack...I can't stop myself from saying it! My book is a great place to start! [sigh] Sorry...it's an author thing...I tried to hold back...really I did. There are other places, too. Here on AOL, you can try keyword BOXERJAM, which leads to some really fun and easy word games. Keyword NTN takes you to the NTN trivia games. And heading to keyword GAMES takes you to AOL's "for-pay" online games (which is why I mentioned that last...the others are free). Start with something that interests you; classic games (like chess, hearts, and such) are often the easiest to enjoy! And they're usually free, too!
John Kaufeld: Oh, yeah...there are some amazing ones out there. Among them, there's MICROSOFT GOLF 98, TIGER WOODS 99 (which will be out any moment now from the folks at Electronic Arts), and there's the JACK NICKLAUS ONLINE TOUR, where you actually compete against other online golfers for real prizes (like serious CA$H!). Check the Accolade web site, www.accolade.com, for more about the Nicklaus tour.
John Kaufeld: I'm a Diablo fan, myself, but I can't wait for Diablo 2 to arrive! It's incredible...I saw a preview of it this summer. By the way, "RPG" means "role-playing game," in case you've never seen that acronym before. AOL hosts some chat-room RPGs at keyword SIMS. (Best of all, you don't have to buy anything to play them!).
John Kaufeld: Most of the chess programs out there include good tutorials, plus they have an online-play side to them as well. There's one that just came out...I'm trying hard to remember the name of it, but it's just not coming to me. [sigh] I think it's from Interplay (www.interplay.com), so you might check their web site for info. Most of the online game services, like the Zone (www.zone.com), Yahoo Games (www.yahoo.com), and Excite Games (www.excite.com), include chess as a free part of their offerings. You might see what tutorials they offer, too!
John Kaufeld: That's a good question. For most of the services, you supply very limited information. If it's a for-pay service, then you'll have to pony up a credit card to join, but they're very up-front about that. You won't get hit with an unexpected bill. As for solicitations, I've never received a phone message from one, although I occasionally get email from some game services. Those services do offer an option to not receive mail if you don't want to, though, and they live by your wishes.
John Kaufeld: Oh, yes...there's a very active gaming community here on AOL as well as on CIS. The big community here lives in the Online Gaming Forum (Keyword OGF). Over on CompuServe, the communities generally center around the premium games, like Islands of Kesmai. My book has a whole chapter devoted to online gaming on AOL and CIS, with lots of keywords and suggestions.
John Kaufeld: There really isn't one directory, although several of the game magazine sites try to list a selection of games. My book covers a lot of the online-only games, plus points you to over 50 different information sites where you can get news, reviews, and tips. [grins] I'm excited with how the reference side of the book worked out. It's really helpful. I use it a lot myself!
John Kaufeld: Yup, I do. Even though the companies let me try their games for free, if there's something that I really love, then I buy a subscription. The two that fall into that category right now are Ultima Online (from Origins, www.ultimaonline.com) and one I mentioned earlier, Ultracorps (on the Zone).
John Kaufeld: There are several places that offer completely free games. The three I mentioned earlier, Internet Gaming Zone, Yahoo Games, and Excite Games, are mostly free (the Zone includes three for-pay games). A lot of companies (such as Blizzard, www.blizzard.com, and Sierra, www.sierra.com) offer free matching services so you can play your purchased games against online opponents without any other fees. That's another great way to enjoy inexpensive online games!
John Kaufeld: There's a section in the resources chapter that talks about finding game information on the Web. And, of course, my AOL FOR DUMMIES book has a whole section on that, too. [grins] (Egad...I'm being shameless tonight!)
John Kaufeld: Yes, there are several great online gaming services out there. The biggest ones are Mplayer (www.mplayer.com), Gamestorm (www.gamestorm.com), TEN (www.ten.net), and HEAT (www.heat.net). Visit any of their web sites for details on what they offer and how to join. One more to look at it is MPG-Net, which (I think) is at mpg-net.com. (I might be wrong on that address...in that case, look it up at Yahoo or NetFind).
John Kaufeld: That's a tougher question than it seems. For classic games, like chess, Monopoly, hearts, and such as that, you don't need a heavy powerhouse computer. Any Pentium should handle the needs well. Heck, a speedy 486 could even do it. For the action games, though, the rules are very different. To make things work for a graphically intensive games like QUAKE, DESCENT: FREESPACE, UNREAL, or FORSAKEN, you really need a Pentium 166MMX or better, plus a 3D graphics card (like a 3Dfx Voodoo card).
John Kaufeld: Yes, it does! Most of the book focuses on games and gaming services available on the Internet itself. Playing through an Internet Service Provider (like AT&T or Mindspring) gives you a good connection for gaming. Here's a cool trick from the ol' bag: I use Mindspring for my Internet connection, and then use AOL on top of my Mindspring connection. The two of them together only cost me $8 a month more than AOL alone, because AOL only charges $9.95/month if you access them through an Internet Service Provider. Check out keyword ACCESS for more about that (it's in the "Bring Your Own Access" section).
John Kaufeld: I plan to do more books! (It's the author thing to do....) The next one will probably be an update to my AOL FOR DUMMIES book, which should come out next spring. After that, it's another edition of GAMES ONLINE FOR DUMMIES, because I update that book after the big Electronic Entertainment Expo show each year. (Ahh...and what a show that is!)
John Kaufeld: The requirements really center around what kind of games you're playing. For the games that those networks focus on, you should have at least a P166MMX with plenty of RAM (32MB or more). If your game of choice is a 3D action game, then a 3D accelerator is a valuable addition, too. Be aware, though, that those game services don't work too well through the AOL Internet connection. If you're going to really get into online gaming, then you might want to get a straight Internet account with an Internet Service Provider (but that doesn't mean you have to leave AOL! [grins])
John Kaufeld: Nope, you certainly don't. The exact controls depend on the game, but a mouse and joystick cover almost everything out there. For the classic games, you don't really need anything extra at all -- just what you have to run Windows works great! By the way, when you check out my GAMES ONLINE FOR DUMMIES book, be sure to look at the CD information in the back of the book. The book comes with a whole bunch of game demos, all of which are Internet-ready. You can start playing the moment you get home!