Friday, April 15, 2016

Computer to Console to Computer

This is really a continuation of my previous blog where I noted that I started computer gaming as a substitute for playing Dungeons & Dragons.  Of course, that meant I played RPGs.  And at that time, it meant that I played western RPGs.  During those years in the early 1990's I didn't keep up with everything gaming.  I didn't own a console of my own (well, anything newer than an Atari 2600) but I played with friends on their consoles.  So, I was surprised when a friend told me about a type of RPG that was played on consoles, one that I hadn't heard of - a JRPG!  What?!?  Of course I had to try it.

I tried it, and I was surprised that I did not like it.  I was as surprised as my friend; it was a highly rated and hugely popular JRPG.  I tried to like it, but if you have to try to like something there is something wrong.  I just couldn't get over the fact that I couldn't create my own character.  That was half the fun of playing an RPG!  I would spend forever creating a character.  Depending on the RPG, I could choose my appearance, class, race, sex, alignment, abilities, skills, religion, and I would have a backstory in mind.  Sometimes, I would just create a starter character to see how the game played out before I created my "real" character because not all warriors play the same and a mage is not a wizard just as a druid is not a cleric.  It seemed like in a JRPG, you were dumped into a character and there wasn't much roleplaying to it.

I couldn't tell you how many times I was ripped out of the game by a dialog or action choice.  When the image I had in my head of my character did not correspond to the options given.  This only seemed to happen in a console JRPG.  I don't remember playing a western RPG on my computer in which the game came to a complete stop as I said to myself, "I wouldn't say this.  I wouldn't do that."  Sometimes I would have to pause for a significant length of time, hours or even days, before I could bring my head around to having my character take the best of two (or more) bad choices.  I hated that and it took the fun out of the game for me.

So, I stuck with computer gaming.  That is until the newer consoles came out and wonderful RPGs were available.  But that is the topic of another blog.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A History

Here is just a little history - my history - my gaming history. OK, so here goes ...

Pong came out when I was a teen. The first time I played it was at a family get-together in a pizza place during the 1970's. I loved it! But soon after I joined the military and went to college, and I didn't have much time while for gaming while getting established in my career.  When things calmed down a bit, I bought an Atari 2600 gaming system and of course, I got Pong.  Asteroids, Space Invaders, and a multitude of others soon followed. I played as much as I could, and ended up with a relatively small video game collection.

Then I found a new love - TSR's Dungeons and Dragons, the original table top role playing game.  At the time, it was still a new game and I remember all the negativity the media associated with the game.  But that didn't bother me.  I was still in the military and a few like-minded individuals and I formed a group.  We created characters and had grand adventures!  Sessions would end up lasting all night.  We had a wonderful dungeon master who was able to think on the fly and was able to improvise.  My favorite memory was a fight in a magic shop after an adventure.  It was just supposed to be an interlude to reequip but instead, ending up eclipsing anything that had occurred before.

Then personal computers first came out. I spent weeks deciding between the merits of the two top contenders of the day - the Commodore 64 and the Apple IIe,  After debating the pros and cons for hours with friends, I ended up with one of the first Apple IIe's. What a great system!  My first computer game did not have any graphics, it was the text-only adventure game Infidel!  I had to map out where I was, using paper and pencil, as the game progressed!

infidel.jpg infidel picture by swerdnagrl22

Even to this day, I don't think anything can compare to a text-only game.  It was a perfect combination of reading a book and playing a video game.  The lack of graphics seemed to enhance the experience.  It just allowed your imagination to establish the world, in a way that is still unique.  I remember getting stuck in a game. Not knowing what to do, I typed "Throw my hands up in the air" and the game responding "Your hands go flying over the tree". Zork, Sorcerer and Moonmist joined my collection of text-only games.  However, I eventually graduated to games with graphics! True, they were only black and white (or black and green, depending on which computer I used). The first time I played a video game all night long was while sitting on alert in the military. My navigator and I traded playing levels on Lode Runner. There were no saves, if you used up all your lives, you had to start over from the beginning.

loderunner.jpg lode runner picture by swerdnagrl22

Then I got out of the military, and my forays into the world of D&D ended.  I hesitated to find a new group; I was extremely shy.  But my days of adventuring weren't over - role playing games graduated to computer gaming!   My favorite was Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord and I remember having to buy graph paper so I could once again make my own map. That was just the start of my love for old school computer RPG's. 

wizardry.jpg wizardry picture by swerdnagrl22

I ended up playing all three of the Wizardry games which eventually led to Might and Magic series, which after many years led to series of games like The Elder Scrolls and Fallout.  Since then, I have played racing games, platformers, point-and-click adventures, puzzle games, first person shooters and strategy games. I have played handhelds, consoles and, of course, computers. I having been gaming for more years than many people who read this have been alive.  Boy!  Do I feel old.

Well, that is my early history of playing computer/video games.  In the next couple of days, I will chronicle my more recent adventures in gaming.