Run 5 Magazine – How SSG joined the Dragon, White Dwarf and the General

[ By Helen Stuckey on November 22, 2013 | Filed under: Blog | Tagged with: , , , , , ]
[ 11 comments ]

Do you remember “Dragon” magazine and “White Dwarf”? Maybe you were hardcore enough to have read Avalon Hill’s “The General”!

Do you remember SSG’s magazine “Run5”

In the 1980s when gamers wanted to get more out their games, to learn strategies to take their gaming to the next level or play new scenarios they relied on old fashioned print.

“Run5” was launched by SSG in January 1986.

Ian Trout had determined that print was the cheapest and most effective way to share new scenarios with the audiences for their games. In the editorial to the first edition Trout explains that print was much cheaper than creating disks which would “cost around $15 a pop”. As the son of a newspaper publishers and himself a bookshop proprietor Trout had a fondness for print publication and was interested in what SSG could achieve with its own magazine. The first issue of “Run5” featured new scenarios by Trout for “Europe Ablaze” on the London Blitz. And a “Carriers of War” scenario by Trout and Jack Greene Jr. which revisits the Japanese amphibious assault on Wake Island 1941, just after Pearl Harbour and how it could have been different…  In this issue Trout also provides several pages documenting the actual technical data of the warship classes for Japanese (1939-45) and US (1939-42)in service. This data was designed to help gamers design their own scenarios for “Carriers of War”.

The feature article was by Roger Keating on programming in machine language for game design where he shared his elite knowledge with SSG’s community.

“Run5” let SSG talk directly to their player community, helping them to get more value out of their games but also extending the life cycle of SSGs games.

“Run5” made the games creators real to the players. Readers of “Run5” got to know the members of SSG who not only penned articles and scenarios for the issues but teased each other in print about their “in-house” victories and losses and their personal quirks as wargamers.

The community were also invited to provide feedback to SSG and issue one offered a design competitions for scenarios for both “Carriers of War” and “Europe Ablaze”. By issue two several pages were devoted to question and answers with wargamers. Q&A was to be an ongoing feature as was the publication of scenarios created by the community. By issue two the community also let Trout know that some of them were actually willing to pay for scenario disks rather than typing in those endless numbers…

“Run5” was the way that SSG could communicate with their audience and their audience could communicate to them. And through subscription to “Run5” SSG got to learn more about who their core audience were.

Roger Keating recalls that the Italian Ambassador to Leningrad was one of the people who bought all their games in the early 1980s.

Do you remember “Run 5”?

Did you type in the endless numbers to play new scenarios?

Please share your “Run5” stories

Run5, Issue 1, 1986

References: Interview Roger Keating, 10 June 2013, Run5 Magaizine, Issue 1, 1986.

Run5,  Issue 1

Run5, Issue 2Run5, Issue 9

Do you have a memory or thought to share?


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11 thoughts on “Run 5 Magazine – How SSG joined the Dragon, White Dwarf and the General

  1. I certainly remember this wonderful magazine. Even had a letter of mine printed in one issue.

    First, thanks for the PDF of one of the issues. I’ve been trying to track them down without success. Oh how I wish I had saved them!

    Generally speaking, I wasn’t that great at wargames. But I just loved the depth in games from SSG and SSI.

    I had just about all the SSG games and loved the fact that Run 5 allowed you to get even more out of your games. Plus, as mentioned in the article, it did something that today we take for granted because of the Internet… the magazine helped to build a community where like-minded folks could interact and share their love of games.

    My favorites were the Civil War games and I did type in some of the scenarios from the magazines. It could take forever, but what a sense of satisfaction you felt. (And it was a bit easier than some of those machine code programs many of us would type in from different magazines.)

    Someone, somewhere must have copies of all these issues that they’d be willing to scan and make available. I’d happily even buy them if SSG wants to sell them.

    Run 5 was a unique part of gaming history. We simply can’t lose these great magazines. We need to get them digitized and made available before they’re gone forever.

  2. Indeed I do remember!! I still have several issues of Run 5 and they are looking for a new home. I just loved Ian and Roger’s approach to military simulations.

    My gaming friend, Professor E. James Kehoe popped over the Ian’s place one day to pick up a new game. We played their games with an Apple II and then a Mac Plus. We both preferred the Apple II interface. From then we went onto Combat Mission.

    I no longer play military simulation games. So, if anyone is interested in being the custodians of the following Run 5s, just let me know. I have issues 5 to 20 (issue 16 has gone AWOL but it may turn up somewhere. 🙂

  3. Dear Jake,
    Thank you for sharing your memories.
    Can you remember which issue your letter was in. I will scan it and put it on the site?
    Roger Keating has given ACMI a near complete set of Run 5 magazines that I amorganising to have scanned and made available on this site. Roger has also given permission for a set to lodged on the Internet Archives Computer magazine Archive which is a fabulous resource for computer magazines of the 1980s.
    https://archive.org/details/computermagazines
    I am just organising a more professional archival scan than my little scanner delivers.
    best
    Helen

  4. Dear Gregory,
    I am missing issues 15 and 22 if you could spare those for the ACMI collection than I could organise a compete set to be scanned for posterity. I am happy to organise for the lot to be sent to ACMI.

    best
    Helen

  5. Hi, Helen
    I was a game developer back in the early days of Atari, Commodore, and PCs … and am thrilled to stumble across your RUN 5 scanning project.
    As a part of assisting a very good author of alternate history for his next book (he was also a wargame designer in days of yore), we were looking for a way to ‘game’ some of the threads in his current plot .. so I dug out Great Naval Battles, Fighting Steel, and then SSG Carriers at War (both the original CCAW, its Construction Set, and the 2007 CAW version), and got them all running nicely under Windows 7. Even today in 2014, CCAW seems the best ever classic naval warfare simulation ..the only one allowing both ship and air operations to be accurately modeled (the CCAW Construction set has a 336 page manual, with [ including all user add-ons and SSG expansion disks] every plane and ship from 1939-1946 available)
    RUN 5 Magazine contained a wealth of now priceless how-to information on building extra ships and custom scenarios for CCAW, as well as similar coverage for other SSG games. As such, RUN 5 is not just another old computer magazine ..but truly a goldmine of wargamer information … and a true piece of computing history.
    Please let me know as your scanning project proceeds, and you do get some of the issues posted in archive.org. I’m particularly looking for issue 19 ..(and probably 20)…which are referenced in the Construction Set manual. If you could use any additional commentary on these RUN 5 issues, also feel free to contact me [yes, these SSG games themselves are still purchaseable or findable on the web and usable on current PCs].

    Regards
    Don

  6. Dear Don,
    Thank you for your comments. The magazines are yet to be professionally scanned but I have some added some articles (domestic scan) to the Carriers of War entry on Play it Again for you. One of these is from Issue 20 this is Ian Trout’s mini tutorial on changing nationality. Sadly I don’t have a copy of Issue 19 of the magazine.
    I have also put up Part 2 of Ian Trout’s Technical Data on the Ships and a series of three Scenarios he published in Issue 2. The information for the Scenario’s is a little tricky to read as SSG’s layout design for Run5 was obviously designed to discourage photocopying.
    In addition from Issue 17 is an article entitled “Design Notes” from Gregor Whiley. I hope these help with your research for your friend’s novel – the process sounds fascinating. The articles are currently sitting under Media Coverage.
    Thank you for your generous offer for commentary on the Run5 magazines which I hope to take you up on. It would also be wonderful if you were able to share some of your memories and thoughts on Carriers of War and CAW Construction Set on the Carriers of War page on Play it Again, please included your reflections on the value of Run5.
    I am very impressed that you were publishing games for home computers back in 1977 – that makes you a very early pioneer for the home computer. Did you know that one of your games is currently on sale at ebay for US$149.95 (Starbase Hyperion for the Atari 800)? I suspect a slight mark up on original pricing.
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Atari-Computer-400-800-XL-XE-Game-Starbase-Hyperion-Rescue-Astron-System-/290780246606
    Best wishes
    Helen

  7. I will make sure that all copies of the magazine are made available for download this year. The reason that Helen is missing a couple as I only have one or two copies of them and I am keeping a complete set here.

    I can assure you Helen that photocopying was not being thought about as we put these together. Ian was rather afraid that his Dad, a professional layout man, might pick up some misplaced blank spaces or ‘screwed’ columns. He often came over to offer advice as to how Ian could best complete the magazine.

    I have also discovered that on ebay I can buy my old games for about $90. I was wondering how much my copy of ‘Age of Empires’ signed by the development crew would be worth now. We never signed any of our games, another thing that I can now regret…

  8. Roger,

    Thanks for offering to make these magazines available and thanks to Helen for the work that will need to be done.

    These are special magazines and represent a great time in gaming. Typing in and playing Civil War battles are among my favorite gaming memories.

    You wouldn’t believe how much I’m looking forward to going through these magazines again.

    Thanks!

  9. I well remember the Run 5 magazines myself.. I’m very much looking forward to being able to access the scanned set!

    For all you nostalgic SSG fans, are you aware that 30 years later, SSG are still in business? And that a revamped for modern PCs version of Carriers At War is still amongst their offerings?

    Check out their website at http://www.ssg.com.au/

  10. A simple “Thanks” doesn’t seem enough for the uploading of these classic magazines. But all the same, thank you very much.

    I had a letter printed in issue 13 and re-reading it brought back fond memories of that time in gaming as well as the challenges of getting publicity for a game if you weren’t a big company.

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