Planets: The Exploration of Space
Planets: The Exploration of Space is a door game for bulletin board systems that can also be played in a regular DOS environment. "Planets" was the second major hit for Seth Robinson and his company Robinson Technologies, following Legend of the Red Dragon.
Version 1.0 was released in January 1993. Robinson began testing substantial new v2 releases in February 1996.
Planets: The Exploration of Space, or Planets: TEOS for short, is a space drama that revolves around the interplanetary trading of goods. Players buy items from one space station and transporting their purchases to another in hopes of selling the them at a profit.
As a player accumulates wealth, he can expand his ship by purchasing cargo bays, fighters drones, and shield batteries. The goal of the game is to become powerful by taking over planets, buying bigger ships, and defeating other players and non-player characters in space combat.
As players grow more powerful, they can attack and conquer planets. When they control a planet, they can do things like restrict who can travel to the planet directly, deposit money (like a personal bank), or determine how many fighters the planet has for its defense. Planets produce fighter drones and money, adding to a player's totals, making them desirable to obtain.
By default, there are 26 planets available in the game, one of which is a planet called "Uniland". Uniland is often the first planet a player takes over, since it has only one person on the planet and is easily taken over. Other planets often have "Utopia Planetary Defense" systems installed, which makes them more difficult to conquer.
Social interactions are an important part of the game. Players can find allies and establish cartels together. A cartel allows players to share resources by swapping money or fighters, or by leaving them on planets. Effective cooperation makes it easier to conquer planets and take on other players. But human players are known to break alliances with devastating betrayals.
Planets: TEOS was sold as shareware. Sysops who paid a registration fee unlocked additional features in the game, like the ability to customize many aspects of the universe.
Origins and influences
After creating an enormously popular fantasy roleplaying game, Legend of the Red Dragon, Robinson set his next game in the sci-fi genre, in line with his philosophy "to never do the same thing twice technically or thematically." He later confessed to being a TradeWars addict who wanted to make a simpler version of that game. He cited the Sega Genesis console game "Starflight" as well as "Psi-5 Trading Company" for the Commodore 64 as examples of other space games he loved at the time. 
The influence of popular sci-fi film franchises is evident in TEOS, which has planets called "Volcana" and "Hothor", and non-player enemies such as "First of Five," who exclaims the famous Borg catchphrase "Resistance is futile" from "Star Trek."
As he did in Legend of the Red Dragon, Robinson included nods in TEOS to other pop culture characters he loved, such as Jennie Garth from the TV show "Beverly Hills 90210" or Wayne and Garth from the movie "Wayne's World".
In 1998, Robinson sold Planets: The Exploration of Space, along with Legend of the Red Dragon, to Metropolis Gameport. Gameport later contracted with Michael Preslar to continue development of TEOS. Years later, Preslar said he had been unable to do much development on TEOS because some of the Pascal source code was lost when Robinson had a hard drive crash.
- "BBSmates Interview with Seth Able". BBSmates.com. 2007. Archived from the original on 23 Aug 2007. Retrieved 15 Apr 2017.
I'm going to keep making games, one of my goals is to never do the same thing twice technically or thematically.
Robinson, Seth (2 Jan 2014). "Matt Chat 222: Seth Robinson on LORD and Planets" (Interview). Interview with Matt Barton. Retrieved 7 Nov 2022.
Really I wanted to make TradeWars. You want to emulate what you love, and I was an addict.
- BuckGB (31 August 2014). "BBS Door History / Michael Preslar Interview". Retrieved 7 Nov 2022.