Friday, November 4, 2011

PC & Console Game Week: 5 of 6

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Today is day 5 of According To Whim's PC & Console Game Week. I have talked about Nintendo, Atari, and PlayStation games and today I am going to cover PC gaming (of all types).

Back in the dark ages of computing (or golden age depending on how you look at it) we went to the library one day a week to play on the PCs in elementary. These were the most basic (in more ways than one) PCs. We are talking 1986 or there abouts. The first game I have any memory of is Oregon Trail. I remember shooting my gun to kill me some food. When I moved on to Middle School there was a whole class devoted to computers and spending hours on hours programming in BASIC. Since it was so long ago it was the first version of BASIC where you had to actually number your lines manually. I could see the fun in making your own games right away and I remember getting books from the library with all that damn code and trying to finish the game before getting burned out.

Year later when I went into college (Harvard on the Highway) we were still programming in BASIC (Quick BASIC). The next year they started focusing on Pascal and having been initiated with BASIC left me confused. I quickly changed my programming major to PC work. I still worked on BASIC programs on my own though. I created some neat 'pre programmed' programs that simply made it look like the PC was doing cool things. I also took code (much like Chris talks about) and made other people's games my own by altering text. I did eventually make my own game, it was Robotech of course. It was basically a BASIC version of the Robotech RPG. I had found the correct code for random number generating so everything else was simple math. It worked well and I could have these text-only battles that used Palladium's RPG rules. The only issue was that I would really need to work in a story and such but I gave up on it by then.

As far as PC games goes there have been many that I have spent many hours on. The first CD Rom drive I bought was a Creative Labs 1X bundle from Best Buy. It came with several games including The Secret of Monkey Island, Loom, Encarta (not a game), Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, and one of the Wing Commander games. I fell in love with The Secret of Monkey Island. It was the 'special edition' that had real 'red book audio' (which means it had real audio tracks on the disc). I also spent many hours with games like Sim City and Sim City 2000. I played a couple of the King's Quest games. When Wolfenstien 3D came out I was amazed and sickened (with the nauseating 3D graphics). I played some Doom and eventually enjoyed Unreal Tournament 2000 that I have since played it about once a year (that's how good the AI was).

I spent a long time play Heroes of Might and Magic (2,3, and some of 4) and Lords of the Realm 1 & 2. I still play both every once in a blue moon. My friend James got me to play Diablo and then Diablo 2 with is ridiculously in-depth. I did get around to playing Diablo 2 again this last year and spent at least 60 hours on it (and I sitll didn't max my character out).

In 2000 Stronghold came out. I have covered this game in a blog post from March of last year. This is a real time strategy game that is set in Medieval England. It truly is the one game I have played most of all. I play it continuously. When I have finished it, its sequel Crusader, and the ever popular Crusader Extreme I will generally wait about six to eight months and play it all over again. I have been playing that series since 2000 and I still get a kick out of it. I tried the online version of the game (as you can read about in that post) but I ended up leaving it in disgust. I am not into online multi player games. I lost everything I had been working so hard and long for when my back was turned by other players. I was so pissed I quit being an Alpha player. Perhaps the game (which is now live) has been altered to prevent this back-stabbery but I doubt it.

I also played some of the Star Wars 'Jedi Knight' games as well. I will occasionally pop in Jedi Outcast and play it. The graphics are great and I love the Classic (not the new trilogy) game play.

I would be hard to pick which platform I have spent the most time playing. Certainly in the last 10 years the PC has won out but I spent so many hours of my youth playing console games it would be a tough call. What lies in the future for me and gaming... I don't know. Most game are 3D now with very few taking the classic 2D look. I am not into 3D all that much. There is a level of artistry that is lost when you have 3D. I haven't seen any games on the horizon that look interesting to me so I will just have to rely on my old classics to see me though the winter.

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