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An early networking experiment between BBC microcomputers, Bolo is a top-down tank deathmatch game with a highly simplified physics model, allowing the player not only to move through and among 10 different terrain types, shoot, lay mines, and capture and deploy automated pillbox turrets, but also build speed-enhancing roads, sheltering walls, and water-traversing boats and bridges through judicious use of his lumber-collecting Little Green Man (LGM). Toward what end? Why, the capture of refueling bases and defense of them against enemy human- or computer-controlled tanks.

(This may not sound like much, but in 1989 with sixteen people whooping it up in the Mac lab, it was pretty revelatory. StarCraft was still a long way away.)


Bolo Windows Setting off a chain reaction of mines...
Bolo Windows Resolving a dispute with a pillbox turret on the Everard Island multiplayer map.
Bolo Windows Loading up on armour and ammo at a base -- a minefield lies ahead.
Bolo Windows Start menu

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Alternate Titles

  • "WinBolo" -- Windows port title
  • "nuBolo" -- OSX port title
  • "LinBolo" -- Linux port title
  • "iBolo" -- LinBolo port to the iPod title

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"Although it is a similar game," says author Stuart Cheshire, "Bolo has no connection with the game of the same name for the Apple II", also a top-down tank game, one whose name was chosen from the nickname for the AI-driven supertanks in Keith Laumer's SF writings. Chalking up the namespace conflict to "an unfortunate coincidence", his choice of the name is said to have been arrived at through suggestion by his Indian wife, Pavani Diwanji, through the Hindi word for "communication" -- in reference both to computer networking but also to team strategizing. He elaborates in the FAQ:

"Bolo is about computers communicating on the network, and more importantly about humans communicating with each other, as they argue, negotiate, form alliances, agree strategies, etc."


The first (and for a long time, only) multiplayer map, "Everard Island", is named after author Stuart Cheshire's Sidney Sussex College classmate James Everard with whom he began the BBC micro networking experiments (stringing 50 metres of serial cable between dorm rooms) that would culminate in the development of this game.

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Contributed to by Pseudo_Intellectual (61060)