The Last Resort

March 1, 2015: What is The Last Resort and why should I play it? In very obvious ways, TLR is a crude game. While there is a graphical client, it is not necessary to play the game. TLR is free and can be played with a web browser or simply by telnet. Using a web browser is not very immersive; playing via telnet is difficult at first. You find yourself typing '?' a lot for the command menu.

TLR's strength is a gameplay balance that provides a platform for strategy like few other games. Understanding it is slow at first, but once understood, there are a relatively small number of mechanisms and objects that can be used in a near-infinite number of ways. A recent predecessor of TLR, Starship Traders, was described by a long-time player like this: First it seems too complicated, then too simple. Then too complicated again.

TLR suffers from a lack of human factors engineering and is even more confusing as a result. Nothing is obvious to the first-time player. Even when a new player figures out how to use the radio and ask someone what they should be doing, they are likely to be told to 'Computrade'. Such a simple answer to the mystery posed by such a complicated, abstract universe. Surely that wasn't a satisfactory answer.

But we will address that in due time. Suffice it to say, TLR is confusing, text-based, and huge. 'How huge is it?', you might be wondering? The new version of the game supports a universe of up to four million sectors and rooms in size. There are over a million machines and ports, and over a hundred thousand planets and pantries in a a game of that size.

It will also support thousands of other players.

The typical universe is divided into 1500+ distinct galaxies and hotels, ranging in size from 125 sectors up to 16,000 rooms. Any one of those places might harbor an enemy starship, attack starbases, or maybe an automatic homing device that will attach itself to you as you enter, and start broadcasting your location to the other player that placed it there.

But back to the central question: why should you waste your time on this game? First, a simple answer to a simple question. You probably shouldn't play this game. But, who am I to decide? You'll have to make that decision for yourself. Most players quit within a few minutes of logging in. They see no appealing graphics, no music plays, and nothing makes sense to them immediately. They move on to the next shiny thing. The first impression may not be everything, but here it eliminates almost 90% of players.

The other 10% starts to play, tentatively. Moving to another sector by typing a sector number, Moving and Trading and with a machine by typing C (for Computrade), testing the various commands in the menu that ? lists. They move, they trade, they build a few milibots, they find an abandoned pantry and lift some stuff out of it. The pantry takes the name of the player, just as several of the machines had. And one MiniBar reported the name of the last player to trade there, 42 hours ago. So? Another 5% of the would-be players wander off to some other site or go mow the lawn.

The last 5% continue to play. Some of them listen to the radio as other players chat, occasionally using words and abbreviations that hold no meaning. Maybe they figure out how to use the radio themselves and ask a few questions. A few interesting things were discovered today. Perhaps half of the remaining 5% will return tomorrow to poke around more.

Our last 2% log in again. The game is still there, their character still where it was left. There are a different set of other players on this time. Some have various kinds of backpacks like 'Policepack' and 'Travelpack'. Others, however, having launched into space, are flying starships. Their ships have names 'Battleship', 'Stealth Destroyer' and 'Hyper Cruiser'. Our newbie hero notices that he has the words 'Camo Fannypack' in front of his title of 'Tourist+2'. The others have titles of 'Admiral+5', 'Predator+0', and 'Minor Tyrant+7'.

The new Tourist has quite an imagination and starts to see patterns in the seemingly meaningless actions in the game... When he moves, his energy level goes down. Energy is fuel that appears to be necessary to move around, trade, among other uses. One of the numbers in 'Inventory' is the ratio of microbots earned to fuel consumed. Further, new fuel is issued every hour. This is a turn-based game and energy is the fuel that turns are measured in. The energy can be used all at once in a single session, a little at a time, or hoarded up for a marathon session some time in the future. Efficient use of fuel is surely one of the keys to success in this game.

However, computrading is the simplest and quickest way to make money in the game. Did I say money? Even the local currency is confusing. The basic unit of wealth is the industrial Microbot -- a tiny machine that was never intended to be used as cash. Having actual inherent value, though, the microbot has displaced traditional, government-issued, currency and is in use whereever there is no controlling authority.

Microbots retain their industrial uses, of course, and a few hundred of them can be used, along with an amount of iron, to make small semi-autonomous weapons called milibots.

Huge quantities of microbots, and a large quantity of hardware, can even be used to build securitybots. Securitybots can be configured to defend a room -- or to attack anyone who enters the guarded room. Unless, of course, the visitor is a gangmate.

Any player can create a gang, and any unaligned player can apply for membership in any gang that has a vacancy.

Backpacks can be upgraded to augment their offensive or defensive military prowess, their cargo capacity, their instruments, and even, with jetpacks, their travel capabilities. Alas, as with all things, each type of upgrade is a tradeoff against other capabilities.

As you may have gathered, a new player starts out on a resort world as a tourist. However, it's not a difficult thing to find your way to the spaceport, trade in your gear for space equipment, and get launched into space. From space, you can trade and earn even more microbots, build starbases, augment your ship with all manner of weapons and equipment, as well as start a search for other resort worlds. There are 25 such worlds in total, 24 of which are randomly scattered throughout space...

In many games, there is a 'play nice' rule that applies to all in-game actions, with the sometime exception of words. In TLR, things are quite the opposite. There are no limits on in-game actions but freedom of speech is somewhat limited by the second of our three rules:

1) Play only your own character, only the number of aliases explicitly permitted, and never, ever share accounts! The current limit is 4 characters per person.

2) Use no profanity or personal verbal obnoxiousness anywhere here -- including the radio, the message base, and graffiti.

3) Violate no applicable law in your use of this system.

That's it. You may have noted the peculiar absense of another common rule of other games: bug exploits.

Anything you do within the game that doesn't violate one of those three rules is _not cheating_. If you find a bug in the game that lets you gain an advantage without breaking one of our three rules, then exploiting that bug is hereby explicitly permitted.

A player who finds and uses a bug, especially to win or place highly in a game, is greatly respected here. A player who wins such a game, then reports how they did it in a story on the message board, will long be remembered in the legends and lore of this place.

While it is hoped that such exploits are reported, note that there is no rule that requires it. Our permissive policy on bug exploits has served us well over the years, and several game outcome-affecting bugs have been discovered and fixed directly as a result of our bug-exploits-are-permitted policy.

Connection information

Telnet to port 2323 of

telnet 2323

The Web Login Page of TLR

TLR Survival Manual