In which I again prove I am old and grumpy.
For somebody like me with a routine,a pattern, a plan (I already know what I am posting 5 of 7 days next week, even if I haven’t written more than a title for most of them yet), and incredibly low standards (I’d rather write something than write something good as I theoretically get better with each post, right?), the addition of a few more posts in a month isn’t such a big deal. Go look down the side bar to the archives menu. I already effectively write one post a day most months as it is. It is just a matter of spreading them around.
But the strain is beginning to show for some. Somebody without a plan, for whom each day is a blank slate and an empty text editor, and who has standards they feel they need to maintain, this sort of sustained effort can be a trial. Or so it seems. I’m the guy with a plan and no standards after all. Anyway, it has been a voyage of discover for some and a pain for others.
But a lifeline has been thrown to the Blaugust team, in the form of a video game questionnaire. Jaysla over at Cannot Be Tamed has put together 21 questions for people to answer on their blogs, and the Blaugust team has gone for this like a drowning man grabbing for a… lifeline… I already used that metaphor, didn’t I? See, complete crap.
Anyway, in the spirit of community spirit… or something… I too shall take the quiz, as well as linking out others who have taken the quiz in that community spirity spirit thing which I mention so recently in this run-on sentence. Also, it allows me to be grumpy, pick nits, write about stuff as far as 40 years in the past, link back to a bunch of old posts where I covered bits of this in detail, and generally ramble on in my accustomed Friday fashion. My previously planned Pokemon piece will be moved out to next week.
Others who have taken the quiz, some of whom aren’t even in Blaugust, but I am feeling expansive today:
- Ash’s Adventure
- Blue Kae
- Caddir’s Weblog
- Cannot Be Tamed
- Casual Aggro
- Contains Moderate Peril
- Crucible Gaming
- Endgame Viable
- Gaming Conjecture
- Gaming SF
- Growing Up in Azeroth
- Herding Cats Part One and Part Two
- I Has PC
- I Have Touched the Sky
- Inventory Full
- Life of a Pleasant Gamer
- Me vs. Myself & I
- MMO Gypsy
- Murf Versus
- Nomadic Gamers
- Simcha’s Many Lives Part One and Part Two
- StarShadow Part One and Part Two
- Tales of the Aggronaut Part One, Part Two, and Part Three
- That Angry Dwarf Part One and Part Two
- The Mystical Mesmer Part One and Part Two
- To Boldly Nerd
And that is surely not all, just the ones I could find easily. I will add more as they pop up.
As for my own answers, I am hiding those after the cut. The whole thing is kind of long, there are pictures, I get a bit testy about a couple of the questions, there is a moment of sexual innuendo, and the whole ends up being something best hidden in the back room so that random passers by don’t inadvertently see it.
This is a choice, what will you choose?
Drama much? Okay, after that build up, on to the disappointment!
1. When did you start playing video games?
I happened to be just about the right age to start playing video games when video games were actually becoming a thing in the mid 1970s. When Pong was becoming a thing I was about 7 years old. So then… when I actually had some quarters. So color me 7 or at most 8 years old, which puts us back in the first half of that turbulent decade. Since the late Nixon era I guess.
2. What is the first game you remember playing?
I know I played Pong early on, but the very first video game I actually remember playing was one called Flim-Flam at the Old Spaghetti Factory in downtown San Jose. This was a Pong knock-off that had joysticks rather than paddle controllers, so you could move your paddle forward and back as well as up and down, and a button that let you put some English on your hit so that it went off down an unexpected path.
And while I never recall seeing such a machine since then… and that had to be 40 years ago… and I am sure that the rather delicate nature of the joystick controllers doomed the game, the internet knows all and I was able to find a flyer for the game at the Arcade Game Flyer Archive. Because why wouldn’t there be such a place?
I actually think I played an earlier version of Flim-Flam, as I only remember it being a two player game. But memories are strange. Maybe it was 4 player. I do, however, strongly recall it being a green screen monitor, as that contrasted strongly with Atari’s usage of black and white for its games.
2. PC or Console?
Personal Computer from the first opportunity I had, which was way back in 1983.
Yes, I started with an Atari 2600 in 1977, but the power, depth, and versatility of the desktop computer has always trumped any console advantages. Plus I have tended to have only one TV in the household for most of my life, so there has always been the “games vs. TV shows” conflict as well.
3. XBox, PlayStation, or Wii?
Didn’t I just say “PC” one item up? I will call this the first dubious question. I would have bundled such a question up with the above one. PC or Console? And if Console, which one?
Of the three choices allowed, I would say the Wii, as that is the console I have spent the most time playing games on overall. But we also have a PlayStation 3, which mostly gets used for streaming video.
And those three choices are restricting, as the console I am mostly likely to use lately is the Nintendo 3DS XL, since that is the only place to play Pokemon. (Well, there and on Twitch, but you need to be a fish to play there it seems.)
What’s the best game you’ve ever played?
That is such a subjective question. Best by what criteria? Most hours played? Most memories? Best relative to the platform and technology available at the time? Most influential on my ongoing view of gaming? I cannot pick just one without coming up with an alternative or twenty almost right away.
So here is “best” by random categories, with links to posts about them here that might explain why, or at least what:
- Atari 2600 – Adventure
- SEGA Genesis – NBA Jam
- Wii – LEGO Star Wars: The Original Trilogy
- PlayStation 3 – Little Big Planet
- Nintendo DS – Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver
- Nintendo 3DS – Pokemon X and Y
- Apple II – Wizardry
- 70s Arcade – Space Invaders
- 80s Arcade – Elevator Action
- Early Online Gaming – Stellar Emperor
- B&W Macintosh – Dark Castle
- Color Macintosh – Hellcats over the Pacific
- MUD – TorilMUD
- Early Shooter – Marathon
- Late Shooter – Desert Combat mod for Battlefield 1942
- Early RTS – Total Annihilation
- Middle RTS – Age of Empires: Age of Kings
- Tower Defense – Defense Grid: The Awakening
- Early Flight Sim – Air Warrior
- Late Flight Sim – War Thunder
- 20th Century Fantasy MMORPG – EverQuest
- 21st Century Fantasy MMORPG – World of Warcraft
- Turn Based Strategy – Civilization II or Civilization V
And just freakin’ Diablo in whatever category that belongs in. That was some amazing stuff back in 1996.
I think this question annoys me because I have clearly failed at it so hard.
What’s the worst game you’ve ever played?
Again, not a great question. How does one define “worst” with so many parameters?
That said, I have an answer for this one straight off, Mutant Beach. While I can barely recall any details of the game, the internet provides where memory fails.
As to why it was bad… I can only recall being angry at how bad the game was back in 1991, not what was actually wrong with it. And most of that anger wasn’t even directed at the game. It was directed at the review of the game in Macworld magazine, which lauded the games graphics and went on and on about the sound and other somewhat tangential aspects without every really saying much about game play. It was clear, after installing the game from something like 7 3.5″ floppy disks and getting it running, that the reviewer had never actually played the game and, instead, wrote quick puff piece based on a game developer presentation.
This was actually a watershed moment, as after that I began casting a much more critical eye towards game reviews. Also I am pretty sure I declined to renew my Macworld magazine subscription, opting to stick with just MacUser going forward… until the two merged and then fell off the face of the earth at some point in the late 90s.
Name a game that was popular/critically adored that you just didn’t like.
There are lots of them, and I did not like them for various reasons. Examples:
GuildWars or GuildWars II – Both had their vocal, dedicated fan bases, but neither offered a compelling experience to me.
Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess – This was THE game to get on the Wii according to some. I could never get into it. I like my console games to be more arcade-like I suppose.
Civilization III – There was lots to like about this version of Civ, but Sid Meier also started going down paths that seemed to distract from the core game play. My least favorite version Civ version.
Titan Quest – Was a Diablo II competitor, but never really sold me atmospherically or on the story front.
Name a game that was poorly received that you really like.
There was a lot of rage about Diablo III when it launched, but I think most of that was around the “online only” aspect of the game rather than the game itself.
I kind of like the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series, which is essentially NetHack done with Pokemon. That hasn’t gotten much good press, though it hasn’t been panned like Pokemon Ranger has.
What are your favorite game genres?
I tend to favor MMORPGs, turn based strategy, and the occasional RTS or RPG.
Who is your favorite game protagonist?
Seriously, it doesn’t matter if I am playing as Link or a paladin or Ferdinand IV of Spain or a little square holding an arrow and killing dragons that look suspiciously like bloated ducks, that character is me. This is why I don’t really like a lot of the later BioWare work, including Star Wars: The Old Republic, as they insist on inserting words in my mouth that define the character in ways I don’t want. I have ranted a bit about that before. I much prefer that my character be mute, allowing me to mentally inject my own reasoning as to why I am off to do this, that, or the other. And making me say really out of character (from my point of view) things to earn things like dark side points, that really irks. Do not want.
So, yeah, me.
Describe your perfect video game.
What am I, a game designer now? I am a consumer, and consumers never know what they want, they only know what they have and what annoys them.
But I’ll give you something anyway.
I want Pokemon. On Windows and Mac. Multiplayer. Not MMO, but co-op invite where you can have a couple dozen people congregate. Full world, all regions with more regions being added over time. No problems with levels, just magic that problem away please. Housing in the EverQuest II style. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon-like adventures, only multiplayer. All on Steam. And I get to make out with Scarlett Johansaon every time I catch a rare Pokemon, because that is about as likely as any of this.
What video game character do have you have a crush on?
Well, I was totally going to say Princess Daisy, because have you seen her motorcycle outfit for Mario Kart Wii?
Plus she is not the complete victim that Princess Peach is. But then I saw a picture or Birdo and had to go there for the sheer “golf ball through a garden hose” potential.
Seriously though, a crush? Am I in 7th grade and writing “Wilhelm + Daisy 4ever” in my notebook and wondering if Mario can introduce us?
Anyway, Daisy only has eyes for Luigi I hear, so forget her.
What game has the best music?
EVE Online. Best music and most well integrated with the theme of the game, which is a dystopian future space sim. And we get more music with each update.
A lot of other games have good music. I like that I can tell what my daughter is doing when she is playing Pokemon with the sound on near by just by the music. But nearly every game has some part of their sound track that doesn’t work for me. The EverQuest franchise is the worst on that front. About half the music works, and then at some point when it should be creepy, the brass section wakes up and decides everybody needs to be happy.
That was kind of MMO focused, wasn’t it? I like that song from Portal. And Portal II.
Most memorable moment in a game:
That is really hard to narrow down. There are a lot of “the first time I saw…” moments. Killing Archaedas for the first time or seeing Froon the cyclops in West Karana back in 1999. Beating Diablo for the first time with Xyd.
Scariest moment in a game:
Probably the first time that dame “scare” crow activated in my house in EverQuest II. I get into the mood of games. Immersion works for me. But actually scared? Not really a thing that happens to me. Probably the closest thing is the adrenaline rush that happens when I jump through a gate and find a bunch of hostiles on the other side that I was not expecting. Time to run or fight… or in my case, probably time to die.
Most heart-wrenching moment in a game:
When Gaff dropped his emerald longsword into a stream? Actually, that was hilarious. That blade had perma-haste on it and then he fumbled and it was gone.
Maybe that time I was going to win emperor level difficulty for the first time in Civ II and the game crashed and the auto-save file was corrupted? Since I am my favorite protagonist, it is generally things that actually happened to me that matter. The murder of Old Blanchy in Westfall or the like aren’t all that big of a deal I guess.
What are your favorite websites/blogs about games?
Please see my side bar… and my RSS feed… and my Twitter feed… and who I follow on Google+.
I don’t even want to get into that here. And favorites ebb and flow. For a time I will be very interested in somebody’s blog, and then they’ll move onto another topic and I will lose interest for a bit. It is all very fluid.
What’s the last game you finished?
For specific definitions of “finished,” Pokemon Y. I did everything in the main story, thwarted the bad guys, defeated the final four, and became the champion of the Kalos region. But, like so many games, there are lots of other things to do. Gotta Catch ’em All!
The same with Mists of Pandaria. I’m done with the story. I even saw Garrosh defeated thanks to LFR. But I am still playing WoW every day.
I think the last narrow focus game I played was Portal. And even that has achievements and whatnot to go back and do. I just don’t play games that have a definitive end I guess.
What future releases are you most excited about?
Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. Warlords of Draenor. Civilization: Beyond Earth. (But not enough to pre-order it. It will ship broken and be fixed in time for the Steam Holiday Sale, you watch). And somewhere out in the distant future, EverQuest Next.
Do you identify as a gamer?
Sort of. Another topic going around has been an attempt to define what a “gamer” or a “real gamer” is. While I am not as dismissive as some, it does seem to be a futile effort to expand or contract a label to fit an imperfect and varying set of assumptions. I play video games. Isn’t that enough?
Why do you play video games?
Because I have to. Can I go home now?