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History of Ants
Ants was created in late 1996 as a proprietary game for Microsoft's MSN service. At this time, MSN was the online service that was integrated into windows and you could access it by double clicking the MSN icon on the desktop, which would open a "My Computer" type window where you could use the service.
After Microsoft essentially got jealous of AOL releasing newer versions of itself, and Prodigy Internet, which was a giant upgrade of the popular online service Prodigy, Microsoft took MSN in a new direction by upgrading its own service with a flashy new layout powered by ActiveX called "onstage". Part of this service included a brand new section for kids and game fans. It was called "Spike's World of Games".
Spike's World featured some actually pretty fun games such as Scrawl, a popular game-show type game, and of course Ants. Ants premiered in early 1997 as a RTS game. RTS games were pretty uncommon then. Warcraft II and Red Alert were examples of other RTS games that were available at that time. Ants displayed the latest in Microsoft's game technology and it was paired for download along with Direct X 3. The 3 main links on a flashy Spike's World's Ants page with a cool "Ants!" background were: "Play Ants Now", "Download Ants", and "Download DirectX 3". Here's one of the "Download" images:
Well, personally since I was on a dial-up connection for a long time, I had such a hard time downloading Direct X 3 and Ants successfully. After I finally got it, however, I had a great reward. Finally I could play Ants. On Spike's World, Ants was powered by an ActiveX applet lobby system. Each "room" was actually a table with Ants sitting on it representing the players. This was a pretty cool picture and it's unfortunate I didn't save it. But here is the entrance screen to Spike's World for those who are interested:
Ants was really fun at this time. My first game was on Islands and like hell did I know how to play. Anters found it easy to communicate over ICQ and everyone had an ICQ UIN back then. Some time in 1997, Buffant made a cool Ants website and I got jealous of him and created my own Ants site called "Ants! Central". It ran as Ants Central for a while on Xoom (the old address was http://members.xoom.com/Ants/) and it had some crappy drawings of Ants I made with Map Strategies and Pictures. Later, Buffant and I both decided to make a site called "The Ants! Cool and Uncool List" and featured everyone who was good at Ants, and those who made Spike's World a hell to play in. "Ants! Central" eventually evolved into the "Ants Network" (http://ants.etmnet.com/) and finally into the "Ants Gamers Network" (http://ants.hypermart.net/). After a few layout changes and content upgrades, it is the site you are viewing right now today.
Some people were able to clone their browsers and tricking the ActiveX applet into allowing more than one instance of the lobby on their computer at one time. Some guys were able to log in and sit at all the tables (there were 12 tables in total), making it impossible for anyone to play because they were sitting there as the host. A few years later I found out that the guys who were doing this (something like WifeOfRepairMan and RxExPxAxIxRxMxAxN) was actually everyone's favorite Anter Fiwer.
The first Ants clan was made by Astrocreep. It was called the "Order of the Ant" and it is still going on today in some way or another. In total, you could only find about 5-20 people playing Ants on Spike's World at any given time.
After some more playing of Ants EvilAnt (one of the best Ants players) discovered the trick on Islands where you could complete the "puzzle" by only using one bomb to get to the mainland. He told me and he also told Fiwer, and Fiwer eventually spilled the beans and told everyone. Soon after that, we all discovered the way to jump over the power-ups in Islands and get the SwimAnts right away.
Another interesting fact was that the Ants hotkeys were pretty much unknown. We pretty much kept them a secret (although I don't know why) until the Zone.
In the late summer of 1998, the Internet Gaming Zone was taken over and made a part of MSN. At this point, since the "onstage" part of MSN was gone, Spike's World was gone too. You couldn't play Ants then. There was no way for anyone to play at all. However on October 18, 1998 I got an ICQ message from DarkCool telling me that Ants was now available on the Zone to play. Because of the community that was created in Ants, it was the only game to be ported from Spike's World to the Zone.
Did you know that Ants got changed when it came to the Zone? Obviously, all links that referenced Spike's World were changed to ones on the Zone. But another weird thing was changed too. For some unknown reason, in the new version of Ants, all of the Red Ants were darker than they had been on Spike's World. It was a weird and little change, but it was noticeable.
After Ants premiered on the Zone, the IGL gave it a league. But because of the easy cheating and overall lameness of the game/community, people stopped playing on the ladder a few months after it was available.
Also on the Zone, Ants got its first new map, Ocean. It was pretty cool, but a lot of Zoners didn't seem to like it. The first Ants tournament host was someone called %CandeKiss, and she did a pretty good job.
That's about it, there's a whole crapload of other stuff I could talk about in Ants, but I don't want to. Here's just some other stuff from early Ants that you might find interesting:
A list of all the people who played in Spike's World (Thanks Astrocreep):
All past addresses of Spike's World: