Farewell to Messenger

AN-MSNOn Monday it became official: MSN Messenger Service (or whatever it was called in its final iterations) has been shut down. This shouldn’t be a particularly poignant moment for me –– I haven’t used MSN in years. But upon hearing of the chat system’s end, I was immediately reminded of how much we used to rely on it, and what it made possible.

Back in the old days, say before 2009, I’d log into MSN every morning and leave the system on throughout the day. When I needed to connect with Mikael Christensen about some event, or Peter Caron about some concept, or Wes Prewer about some design, it was the conduit of choice.

Turns out I saved plenty of those conversations, so as a memorial to MSN, here’s one between Wes and I, from September of 2007. If you have the patience to follow our rambling, you’ll discover the beginning of a major piece of Defense Command history: the Tharsis-class battleships. It crystallized over the course of 20 minutes, right there in the chat.

A few interesting discoveries:

• My current irritating Facebook practice of posting word counts actually began with MSN name updates –– in the example below, it’s The Canary Wars, along with one of my favorite Defense Command quotes of that era.

• Wes saved me (thank God) from naming Bort McWebsbert’s flagship (Olympus Mons) the far-less-Martian-sounding Dreadnought.

• Though Ken Barron’s rants were rarely planned in advance of the books being drafted, we clearly knew what would push his buttons –– just see Chapter Twenty-Six in The Forge Fires for the realization of everything Wes and I guessed he’d hate about the ‘dreadnoughts’.

Without MSN, much of the creative process we followed simply couldn’t have happened. Sure, we might have used a different chat system… but MSN was ours, and now it’s gone. Farewell, Messenger –– and thanks for all the help.

Conversation from 1 September 2007

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:02:14 PM)
Evening

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:02:20 PM)
Hey. My net is coming and going, so if I vanish, that’s why

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:02:24 PM)
kk

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:02:33 PM)
so, my name is my question

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:02:43 PM)
Your name is also my answer

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:02:57 PM)
ah

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:03:07 PM)
If it looks right(ish) do it

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:03:12 PM)
k

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:03:17 PM)
I’ll get a pic

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:03:41 PM)
also doing something that I’d think the marties would do

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:04:10 PM)
I gave it another set of engines, I checked them and they don’t interfere with the fire arcs of any of the turrets

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:04:25 PM)
So… two sets of 4 wings?

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:04:34 PM)
kind of…

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:05:17 PM)
one set of big wings, another really small set of wings close to the hull, added speed and turning

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:05:46 PM)
Hmm, I’ll have a look. My only — only — concern with that idea is that it hasn’t been mentioned so far… so I’ll have to see

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:07:28 PM)
it’d just be something for KB to complain over, the fact that the martians put so many turrets on their Battleships, then to compensate for the lack of turning they stick on more engines to make it move faster, except! They don’t have the reactor plants to make the concept really work, so it fails…

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:07:38 PM)
but it still looks cool

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:07:59 PM)
Yeah, it’d be a great rant… it’d just beg the question why he didn’t do that rant at the battle over earth

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:08:23 PM)
did he personally go head to head against the BBs?

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:08:41 PM)
He described it closely enough then… and in Glorious Feb.

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:08:45 PM)
I’ll see it, then I’ll decide.

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:08:50 PM)
k

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many tu… would like to send you the file “martianBB1.jpg” (256 Kb). Transfer time is less than 3 minutes with a 28.8 modem. Do you want to (Ctrl+T) or (Ctrl+D) the invitation?

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:09:21 PM)
Worst comes to worst, we just hold that model back for 2233… and it becomes the Martians’ new battleship they reveal battle of the bulge style

Transfer of file “martianBB1.jpg” from Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many tu… has been accepted. Starting transfer…

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:09:37 PM)
ah

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:09:49 PM)
and she’s packing…

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:09:56 PM)
big time

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:10:02 PM)
Heh

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:10:04 PM)
forward section has 10 lasers

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:10:14 PM)
8 of them point forward

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:10:27 PM)
so ya…might have to make a smaller version…

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:10:33 PM)
save this for the bigger one…

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:10:48 PM)
Indeed… their answer to the Bonnie, more or less.

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:10:58 PM)
Even though it’d have been in development long before the war. Still.

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:10:58 PM)
cause it does look like the martians…exactly

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:11:22 PM)
Rushed into service after the Bonnies tore up the competition in TGF.

You have successfully received martianbb1.jpgfrom Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many tu…. Before opening this file, you may want to scan it with a virus-scanning program.

This is the actual image Wes transferred to me over MSN. Obviously I was sold.
This is the actual image Wes transferred to me over MSN. Obviously I was sold.

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:11:25 PM)
10 forward lasers, 40 em cannons

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:11:36 PM)
well…48 em cannons

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:11:37 PM)
HAHAHAHAH I love it

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:12:19 PM)
so…post-pone that one? or keep it?

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:12:53 PM)
Post-pone… it’ll make for a great dramatic battle in The Fleet Clash. I was wondering how I’d make that fight more interesting… having a Martian Super-battleship force appear will be how.

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:13:08 PM)
indeed

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:13:19 PM)
Thank you sir, for solving that problem 😀

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:13:23 PM)
n/p

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:13:42 PM)
I’m sure KB will point out the flaws in the design

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:13:44 PM)
Any thoughts on a ship/class name?

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:13:50 PM)
…um…

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:13:51 PM)
Hmmm…

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:13:52 PM)
Certainly

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:13:59 PM)
Ship class?

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:14:08 PM)
The thing screams Dreadnought

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:14:18 PM)
just look at it!

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:14:19 PM)
Aha yes.

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:14:29 PM)
spiny thingies everywhere!

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:14:29 PM)
And that’ll send Ken Barron into a livid rant.

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:14:41 PM)
more guns than…well…

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:14:58 PM)
…cripes…5 Destroyers!

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:14:59 PM)
Because to him a Dreadnought is an all-big-gun ship, and he’ll hate the Martians for stealing the name because it has a menacing sound

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:15:07 PM)
lol

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:15:10 PM)
and…

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:15:12 PM)
hmmm…

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:15:40 PM)
need a name…

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:16:01 PM)
it’s big…got spinies…is a dreadnought…

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:16:29 PM)
so…what to call it…

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:16:35 PM)
it’s got to be grand and…

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:16:38 PM)
martian sounding…

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:16:38 PM)
hmm… well, the lead ship will be Dreadnought.

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:16:45 PM)
Or, maybe not…

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:16:51 PM)
bah, they’re martians remember 😉

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:16:57 PM)
Actually, the BB in TSA is Utopia Planetia

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:17:04 PM)
o_O

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:17:06 PM)
So they like naming things after themselves.

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:17:22 PM)
Hellas Planetia

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:18:00 PM)
I think all the Planetias would be of the same class… so something similar in its connection to Mars, but different.

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:18:17 PM)
Olympus Mons?

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:20:02 PM)
Olympus

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:20:08 PM)
biggest volcano on Mars

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:20:14 PM)
Perfect.

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:20:34 PM)
Then… the class I figure would be 3 ships strong — all they could rush out in time for action.

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:20:37 PM)
So two more

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:21:39 PM)
Ah, Wiki tells me that Olympus Mons is in the Tharsis bulge, with Arsia, Pavonis and Ascraeus Mons

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:21:52 PM)
there ya go

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:22:11 PM)
Tharsis Class Dreadnoughts… Olympus, Arsia and Pavonis, with Ascraeus building but not ready for action

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:22:19 PM)
Awesome 😀

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:22:25 PM)
indeed

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:22:31 PM)
and the subengines do fit

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:22:39 PM)
amazingly enough…

Wes: So…the martian BB has…how many turrets?…40? 60? 80? says: (11:22:46 PM)
clearance for them on both ends

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:23:23 PM)
The little engines? Yep, and they make a lot of sense. Add that much mass to a ship without DC’s fine engines, and you’re going to need more.

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:23:46 PM)
It’s a classic case of trying desperately to keep up with the enemy by using more of an inferior technology.

Kenneth Tam – “It was like watching paradise burning.” – TCW at 8,602 words. says: (11:24:23 PM)
This really is brilliant :)

At this moment, my internet dropped out –– but you get the idea!