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Approaching the Federation Stardock.
Approaching the Federation Stardock.


Trade Wars 2002 is a turned based mutliplayer space adventure game that pits individuals or teams against each other in a race to collect resources, upgrade their offensive and defensive capabilities, and use those ships and space stations to rule the universe. Available as a Bulletin Board System (BBS) door game starting in the mid-1980s, Trade Wars gathered a large number of players to its text based space adventure long before graphical Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG) such as Ultima Online, EVE Online, and World of Warcraft existed.


Text based gameplay.
Text based gameplay.

After creating a character and giving your starting ship a name the player is presented via text and some simple ASCII color graphics the galaxy in which they will fight for survival. Highlights of the galaxy include the Stardock, the central trading hub, as well as numerous planets and asteroids for mining. Enemies include other player groups, or the evil Ferengi encountered randomly around the galaxy.

Players pick the part of the galaxy they wish to travel to by number. Each numbered zone of the galaxy is connected to only a few others, and routing to chosen destinations is performed automatically by the game. Each numbered section can have planets with resources of different types to gather, space stations at which to trade these resources, or opposing forces ready to either repel you, or be plundered.

Depending on the system configuration, players typically have a set number of turns they can perform per day, and only one player could be playing at any one time.

Modern Times

Trade Wars has influenced modern MMORPGs such as EVE Online. It continues to be played via the web, over telnet, and on the few hardy BBSs that still remain.

The Cineplex within the Federation Stardock.
The Cineplex within the Federation Stardock.

A browser-based version, called TradeWars: Rising, is being developed by Sylien Games.

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