Boneyards was the massive online server created for the Total Annihilation series of computer games by Cavedog Entertainment, allowing thousands of players to compete in organised battle over the internet. Boneyards was opened to the general public on April 8, 1999 (after an initial beta testing period beginning on November 12, 1998) and was shut down a few months prior to Cavedog's demise in August 2000.
Boneyards players had ranks, clans and many other options available to them. Server wide competitions were often held, where the top ranking from each side were given the "commander" status of their side. This was the highest rank, and was only gained by winning one of the top competitions.
Boneyards featured a metagame called the Galactic War for TA. When a player joined Boneyards, he or she would choose one of the game's two factions to play as: The ARM or the CORE. The metagame consisted of a specific sector of the TA galaxies featuring many planets to be fought over. ARM-held worlds were indicated by red, CORE-held worlds were blue, while contested worlds were yellow. Games were held on the contested planets, deciding who gained control of the planet and what planets would contested next in the push for the other faction's sector homeworld. Galactic War matches were generally 1 vs 1, 2 vs 2, or 3 vs 3, though the game supported up to 5 vs 5.
Players could also play "friendly" games on different maps, for stats points, or just for fun. Up to ten players at a time could play, with 1v1, 2v2 and 3v3 again being the most popular. Free-for-all matches with no alliances were also common.
From the use of Boneyards and other online TA services sprang the TA Demo Recorder, created by a clan of programmers known as the Swedish Yankspankers. The demo recorder's primary function was to record multiplayer games by intercepting and recording the TCP/IP communication packets, thereby allowing players to watch replays of the games they and others had played.
Later versions of the Demo Recorder also featured enhanced anti-cheating detection and the Yankspankers' "TAHook" program, which added many new interface features to the game, such as:
- The ability to view allies' resource income;
- The ability to leave markers or simple drawings on the map at the press of a key;
- Shared Line of Sight between allies (though the fog of war was not lifted in their version);
- Line-building, allowing players to create rows of buildings in two clicks rather than many;
- Other miscellaneous options all documented in the program's readme file.
Contrary to popular belief, the demo recorder did not add resource or radar sharing between allies, only line of sight.
The TA Demo Recorder is considered a must-have by modern day TA players. Though not required simply to play, many players will be annoyed if it is absent, especially in team games.
The Demo Recorder, after several years of dormancy, is currently being extended and bugfixed by long-time TA community member Xon. His work can be found at exclusively his website's forum.
Total Annihilation: Kingdoms
In general, the Boneyards support of Total Annihilation: Kingdoms was nearly identical to TA. Instead of the Galactic War, TA:K had the Darien Crusades, which also featured its own unique balance different from the game on its own. However, TA:K had a total of five races (including the expansion pack) instead of a mere two.
No community effort was made to replace Boneyards for TA:K when the service died due to the game's lack of popularity. The few remaining TA:K players play on GameSpy Arcade.