• Tag Archives Q-Link
  • Q-Link / Quantum Link (Commodore 64)


    Source: Commodore Magazine – July 1988

    You millennials with your fancy social networking, eBay, VR chat, online gaming, etc. Well, when I was your age, we could do it all on nothing more than a Commodore 64 and a 1200 (or even 300) baud dial-up modem [end getting too old rant]…

    Seriously though, all of these things were available via the online service Q-Link (or Quantum Link) that was specific to the Commodore 64. It had online auctions, instant messaging, discussion forums, games, downloads, and yes, even VR chat. It was called Club Caribe (or Habitat in its earlier form). You could wander around an island with your avatar chatting with people, playing games and other things. Granted, this was with lo-res 2D graphics but still…

    Unfortunately, I never had Q-Link (well I had the floppy disk, it came with every disk drive at the time…but I never paid for the service). It was too rich for my 12 year old blood at $10/month plus 6 cents a minute for “plus” services. But I did always want to try it. The original Quantum Link service has been reverse engineered and implemented over the internet so that you can connect via a real or emulated Commodore 64 and Q-Link software. I’m have not tried it yet and am not sure exactly what the status is (see http://q-link.net/ for more info) but Habitat / Club Caribe is apparently being worked on too.

    Quantum Link eventually became AOL which was for users of PCs only. While I loved Quantum Link (or the idea of it anyway), my perception of AOL was always much different (and really it was much different even if the back end was largely based on Quantum Link).

    The above ad is from the July 1988 issue of Commodore Magazine.

  • LucasArt’s 1986 MMO Is Being Revived

    18 years before World of Warcraft, 19 years before Second Life, 13 years beforeEverQuest, heck even a year before making a name for themselves with Maniac Mansion, LucasArts (then Lucasfilm Games) opened a beta for a game called Habitat, which ran from 1986 to 1988. Highly unusual for its time, Habitat allowed Commodore 64 users to chat with strangers, explore new worlds, dress like total idiots and act like a-holes decades before that became the norm. Thanks to a restoration initiative from The Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment (MADE), you will soon be able to play the ancestor to many video games being released today. If you’re skeptical, the MADE has declared Habitat to be an open source project, dumping a whack of Habitat’s files on Github.

    Habitat did not have any goals or missions structures, simply areas and various cosmetics for players to mess with. Features like robbing, even killing other users were added in gradually, but a large part of the pitch was that the game would be defined by the users’ shenanigans. This sounds a lot like a Second Life for the ’80s, and before you go snarking “yeah but with a lot less cyber-porking,” this promo video from 1986 suggests their head might’ve already been in the gutter because let’s face it every generation assumes theirs is the horniest.

    Despite being a predecessor to incredibly influential games, Habitat was not a huge success itself. Using Q-Link, a service for Commodore 64 that would later become AOL, Habitat could not maintain more than 10,000 users at a time. Q-Link also only ran on evenings and weekdays, meaning you could either play the game or do things with, I don’t know, friends.

    When Habitat did leave its beta, it was rebranded as Club Caribe which actually removed a lot of the high-genre sci-fi aesthetics like monsters and robots. LucasArts licensed the technology to Fujitsu in 1989, who released their version called Fujitsu Habitat in 1990, and then another version in 1995 called Worlds Away, and subsequently lost millions between the projects.

    Source: LucasArt’s 1986 MMO Is Being Revived | Motherboard