What is Java MOO?

Master of Orion, or “MOO”, was a very popular 4X space strategy game. It debuted in 1993 when the only version of Civilization out was, ahem, Civilization 1. It was a brilliant and innovative game that managed to deftly avoid many of the micro-management problems that plagued Civilization and its various clones, including subsequent versions of MOO.

MOO 1 was a pre-Windows game that ran in DOS. You can still play it and run it in DOSBox. Unfortunately, this makes it much slower and more difficult to play. Combined with the 1993-era graphics and you are left with a diamond that has returned to the rough. Like a great silent film, it is simply too distant in technology for a modern audience to enjoy.

So, what is Java MOO? Around 2005, it was a personal project for me that represented an attempt to learn Java. While this was important for my professional growth as a software developer, attempting to rewrite a beloved game like Master of Orion smartly ensured that I would commit the time and mental energy necessary to become proficient with a new programming language.

I spent a lot of time on the project and got a LOT of the game to work. You could develop your colony, learn technologies, design and build ships, explore planets, interact with AI opponents diplomatically and militarily, etc, etc. Looking back in hindsight, it was a huge accomplishment for an individual who entered with no knowledge of the programming language being used.

It was also ugly. Very ugly and messy. But the underlying game mechanics nevertheless worked very well. After all, I was still an experienced developer and understood well the mechanics of the game I was developing.

Anyway, fast forward to now. I have been professionally using Java for the past 7-8 years and am still looking for a good 4X space game that doesn’t break down into micromanagement after 10-15 systems.

So I’m going to take my old Java MOO code, clean it up, and reskin it with better GUIs. I’ll include some examples later.

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