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Compounding matters, Star Trek - one of the main engines of play-by-post role-playing - had declined and gone off the air.In its final years the series had degenerated into massive battles, causing many Star Trek games to become little more than battle games.For the few clubs with access to top of the line programming talent, the Internet offered seemingly unlimited growth and opportunity.But for others, it was a struggle to maintain cohesion, attract recruits and establish an identity on the Internet.Threads then become an ongoing story in which players periodically advance the plot by reading the latest reply and then responding with what their character does and how the environment changes in response.These replies are often open-ended so that other players can continue.

Despite this, one club came to dominate each of the online services of the era, Starfleet Online (later renamed Spacefleet Online) on AOL, Starfleet Online on Prodigy, and Fleet 74 on Compu Serve. This in turn spawned a flowering of role-playing concepts and management styles.

The introduction of IRC and the creation of national online services - most notably Compu Serve, Prodigy, and America Online (AOL) - enabled users to tap into a larger pool of potential players, which resulted in the establishment of formal communities, known as clubs.

During the 1990s, the bulk of play-by-post online role-playing occurred on online services based in the United States, but as the decade progressed, Compu Serve and Prodigy were shut down, and many AOL sims moved to the Internet.

When, how often, and how much each player contributes varies from game to game.

The written structure of a play-by-post role-playing game can take one of two styles, long style or short style.