There are parallels here to modern games like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds or Fortnite. We started in the corners of a shared playfield, but within seconds we’d converge in the middle. This is when the fun began. You could chase after someone. You could collaborate with someone to trap another person. You could make precision movements down to a pixel, impressing the hard-to-impress crowd – or you could just goof around, tempt fate, or be an agent of chaos all around. You could also try to wait things out, although that would only work for a while; with each passing second, more and more of the field was covered with ever-growing lines, including your very own.
Lines 4.2 wasn’t 4.2 for nothing. By then, in 1996, I’ve worked on it for years. 4.2 had teleports. 4.2 had turbo zones. 4.2 had doublers – places where your line would twin itself, confusing the opponent. 4.2 was a later edition with many refined details, and many bad ideas excised after testing proved them wrong.
4.2 felt good. It was only good because we spent months playing and adjusting it. We used it so often we had our vocabulary and conventions. After your teammate died, you would draw a cross with your line to commemorate him (and, sometimes, collide with yourself in the process). If you were trapped, you could try a technique called “kaloryfer Wicharego” – Wichary’s radiator – to try to survive just a touch longer than your enemies. And so on, and so on.