Friday, August 15, 2014

If These Index Finger Could Talk

You hate war to win it; you love your enemy to destroy him - Bean (Shadows in Flight)

My nerd podcast (The Incomparable)did a follow up to their video game episode with a computer game episode where they talked about the most meaningful computer games of their life. I wrote previously about my console games and a hole occurred in between the original Nintendo and the Playstation 2. That hole wasn't because I stopped playing games, it was because I played computer games. Here is a fun game to play on this one, see if you can name the game from the screen shot!

My computing started with an Apple IIe. What a beautiful computer it was and what amazing things it could do. I think it came with a stock Apple game that was like Space Invaders where you used the Open Apple and Closed Apple to shoot two different guns at on coming aliens. I can't remember.

The first computer game that capture my imagination was Lode Runner. You played a little man that needed to collect barrels and you could dig left or dig right into the bricks. You could use this to dig down or to try and trap and kill enemies. What truly captivated me about this game was that it came with a builtin level editor. You could build you own levels. I remember spending huge amounts of time trying to build the most difficult level possible that was still beatable and sending my brother against it. How many tried would it take him to beat it? You could build a maximum of 256 custom levels - it seemed like a bizzarely arbitrary number as a kid.

When I was in sixth grade I went on my first ski trip without my parents. As any good child would, I broke my leg. It was an impressive break. A spiral fracture of the tibia and fibia; I was told to keep my leg horizontal, because dangling it vertically would stretch out the fracture and slow the rate of healing. I got home from Tahoe, leg in a cast, with almost any movement causing me excruciating pain, and my parents had bought my brother a new computer game and a JOYSTICK! Wings of Fury was amazing. It was my first WWII game and you were a pilot who had to take of from a aircraft carrier, destroy stuff, protect the carrier for enemy planes with torpedeos, and just be awesome. It was amazing. Because we bought a joystick (something we previously only had on the Atari), I knew this was the future of gaming. The Nintendo's d-pad was nothing in comparion to the glory of this. I spent two weeks out of school at home - and I played A LOT of Wings of Fury. Almost six months later I had a birthday party and one of my friends beat my highscore... by FIVE TIMES! So I engaged in an epic quest to outdo him. I never did. Sad ending to this story.

The first fantasy role playing game I played was Bard's Tale. This is when I learned what it meant to "max out" a character, especially through game flaws. I found a boss battle that I could repeat if I just brought a new disposable character into my party and then just kept doing it over and over again until everyone was 999th level with 9999 hit points. Fantastic, right? So good. I loved the Bard's Tale games and beat most of them. I even got the Bard's Tale Constructor Set - and I tried building a few different scenarios, but never really had friends who wanted to play test that stuff.

So you want to be a hero? This was a pretty darn cool point and click adventure game. One of many in a long line of these games. I played through this game time and time and time again, eventually getting to the point where I had straight 100 in all of my stats with a multi classed fighter/thief/wizard.

Oh man, Myst. In 1993 I was running IBM OS/2 as my operating system. A better DOS than DOS; a better Windows then Windows, and a better OS/2 than the last one. I had 8 MB of RAM, and I think Myst technically took 16 MB, but OS/2 had this magical thing called Virtual Memory. The real game I played was "how do you get Myst to work in OS/2?" Did the game load? Yes! Wait no sound! Search forums, work on INI files, get drivers. SOUND! Wait! Video isn't playing?!? More work! I played very little of the actual game of Myst, but I sure spent a lot of time playing with my OS configurations.

I loved Wing Commander I, II, and III. The whole trilogy. Each iteration of the game was amazing! Even in the very first one, how you performed in each mission affected future missions. Your Wingman could be killed in action which affected the story line. There was a tree graph where each mission could be a victory/failure and affected what the next mission would be. You could beat the last mission and yet lose the game. WHAT?!? Amazing! The sequel improved storyline and game play and then came #3, where the cut-scenes had full video and real actors. Luke Skywalker! Biff Tannen!?! It had 4 CDs and cost $4 million to make. This game had way higher production value than the movie which came later. Space flight war - where are more games like this?

I really loved the movie Dune. I didn't really get it, but I knew it was cool. I think it's still my favorite David Lynch movie. So I bought the game because I knew how cool the movie was, and I loved the game. I seriously loved this game. Who was I to know that it would be the first real-time strategy (RTS) game that would spawn an entire genre of games. All I know is that I loved this one.

I am amazing at X-Wing Versus Tie Fighter. I enjoyed Tie Fighter. I enjoyed Descent. I LOVED X-Wing Versus Tie Fighter and I am amazing at it. I used a cheapo joystick and some amazing keyboard shortcuts. I played the X-Wing (cause) and would set all four lasers on simultaneous fire - swoop in behind my opponent until they were point blank and then fire, Fire, FIRE! BOOM! Once I had locked on you, it was over. Many of my friends would eject to prevent me from getting the kill - JERKS! I miss this game.