Tuesday, August 26, 2014

21 Questions

It would be a bit silly to write about the Gaming Questionnaire without bothering to fill it out, so here goes...

    When did you start playing video games?

In the very late 1970s.

     What is the first game you remember playing?

Space Invaders. I'd either read or heard about the existence of the game in the news but I'd never seen a machine up close. Then one night I went to meet some friends in a pub in town and heard a weird bleeping noise. The rest is history.

Looking it up on Wikipedia I see that Space Invaders was only put on the market in 1978, which would have been the same year I first saw one. They must have spread incredibly fast because by the time I was at university, between the autumn of 1978 and the summer of 1981, they were everywhere, along with Asteroids, Missile Command (the one with the tracker ball) and, my favorite by far, Galaxians.

    PC or Console? 

PC for the last fifteen years. In the 1980s, though, it would have been ZX Spectrum and in the early 1990s the Amiga.

    XBox, PlayStation, or Wii?

None of the above. The only consoles I ever owned were some long-forgotten thing that played Pong and my beloved Atari 2600. If I was going to buy one, and, if MMOs continue their seemingly inexorable slide towards console-style controls and gameplay, I just might have to, it would be a PlayStation. Can't play SOE games on an XBox, can you?

    What’s the best game you’ve ever played?

Everquest. No question. Outside of MMOs it would be Baldur's Gate and Broken Sword 1&2, which are, not uncoincidentally, the only video games I have played all the way through more than once.

    What’s the worst game you’ve ever played?

For MMOs it's Tera.  Played for half an hour and logged out feeling like I needed a bath. Offline it would be Pools of Radiance, which flat out doesn't work.

    Name a game that was popular/critically adored that you just didn’t like.

Lords of Midnight and Elite.  Neither looked anything like as good as people claimed and the gameplay seemed to consist of wandering about aimlessly for what seemed like forever.

    Name a game that was poorly received that you really like.

Vanguard. Obviously.

    What are your favourite game genres?

MMORPGs. RPGs. Adventure Games. 

    Who is your favourite game protagonist?

My Raki Disciple in Vanguard. My Ratonga Berserker in EQ2. My Vah Shir Beastlord in Everquest. My Charr Ranger in GW2. My Templar in The Secret World. My...you get the point.

Among characters whose dialog I didn't write myself it would have to be George Stobbard from the Broken Sword series, even though I frequently want to throttle him.

    Describe your perfect video game.

We don't have time for that. The design document would run several hundred thousand words. In one word, though, it'd be SLOW.

Right now I'd settle for an MMO that looks like GW2 and plays like Everquest circa 2004. I really, really want to have to break camps and set up pull strategies again and I want to do it in minutes not in seconds. And I want the original Holy Trinity back, please - Aggro Control, Healing, Crowd Control. DPS can take care of itself.

    What video game character do have you have a crush on?

Hmm. None, really. Comics characters, I could write a book, but video games? Can't think of any.

    What game has the best music?

Video game music is not designed to be listened to out of context and why should it be? I always leave the original game music on and always have it up loud enough to hear. To do otherwise would be as crazy as muting the music in a movie - who would do that?

Conversely, without the associated visuals and gameplay, the only reason I can imagine to listen to video game music would be nostalgia. Certain pieces from Vanguard and Everquest work for me on that level, particularly the West Karana river music and the music from Telon's high elven capital, Leth Nurae. Without the memories, though, they just sound like bad Enya covers, as does most game music.

To answer the question directly - The Secret World - because it has actual songs.

    Most memorable moment in a game:

We'd be here all day. And all night.

The three hour corpse recovery in The Tower of Frozen Shadows that went on until after 4 a.m when I had to be in work by eight in the morning.

Losing my ranger's corpse down the hollow tree in Blackburrow and logging out swearing never to play again. I lasted nearly three days.

Helping a player who'd just started as an Erudite Necro get off Odus and through Qeynos at level five.

My troll's journey from Grobb to Qeynos Hills at around the same level, carrying everythng he owned on his back, swimming across Lake Rathetear with my heart in my mouth, or his heart, or someone's...I'd lost track of which of us was which by then.

Seeing the explosion of lights from some huge battle far in the distance as I stood on a hill in West Commonlands. Magic. Real Magic. It was probably some level 9 wizard killing a beetle but I didn't know that then.

The Dark Elven invasion of Firiona Vie.

Oh look, these all seem to be from Everquest...

    Scariest moment in a game:

And so do these...

Tanking Trakanon for a guildmate's epic comes to mind.

Or cowering in the corner deep in the tunnels beneath Dulak's Harbor when our tank had to leave suddenly and went to get her dad to play her Warrior while she was gone. Followed pretty swiftly by the next half hour after he got his hands on the controls...

Or skulking in the pitch black Norrathian night just across the zone line out of West Freeport, my back against something solid that I couldn't see (it was a hut), waiting for dawn. Then being attacked and fighting and killing whatever it was without seeing it. (It was a bear. A really small one).

Or any trip through Kithicor. Although that wasn't half as scary as the halfling oompah music that greeted me when I made it to Rivervale

    Most heart-wrenching moment in a game:

The dialog with the girl in the Morninglight safehouse in Carpathian Mountains, I think it is, that's pretty upsetting.

It has to be when I fell down that damn hollow tree, though.

    What are your favourite websites/blogs about games?

Ask me choose between my friends, why don't you? Like I'm going to go there.

    What’s the last game you finished?

Baldur's Gate 2 I think. 

    What future releases are you most excited about?

EQNext. And...erm...can I come back to you on that?

    Do you identify as a gamer?

It's complicated.

    Why do you play video games?

 Partly because they're comfortable and relaxing. Partly because they give me things to think, talk and write about. Partly because doing so feels less passive and more creative than other forms of entertainment. (It isn't, of course. It just feels like it is because your hands are moving).


  1. '' Partly because doing so feels less passive and more creative than other forms of entertainment. (It isn't, of course. It just feels like it is because your hands are moving).''

    This sounds familliar ;)

    For me personally, I could add that I play MMORPG's because seeing other players makes me feel less like a lonely bastard staring at a screen. I'd much more prefer returning to 'tabel-top' RPG's but it seems just not being in the cards anymore.

    Funny you dislike Lords of Midnight, my brother and I liked it so much back then we played it for so long one saturday our ZX-Spectrum 48+ literally caught fire/started to blow smoke (sending our dad off in one of his tirades). Playing it with a map (Crash or another magazine had a detailed one, though the one of the booklet was fairly accurate) did enhance the experience, however.

    Come to think of it, I faintly remember talks about a Midnight MMO (which I'd play even though I doubt Dragons like Farflame the Dragonlord - my favorite recruitee as he could fly/move really fast and actually engage small armies succesfully on his own - would be on the PC options menu) and the game being succesful on current hand-helds for a time, all coming to screeching halt when the original designer sadly passed away a few years back.

    1. I think you're right about the Lords of Midnight MMO - that definitely rings a bell.

      There's a whole list of critically-acclaimed games from that period that I found underwhelming to say the least - The Hobbit, Valhalla, Archipelago, Skool Daze, 3D Ant Attack... I bought all of them and they were all huge disappointments. Either the technology wasn't up to the demands being made of it or the games were technically brilliant but lacking in entertainment value.

      Ultimate Play The Game was just about the only truly reliable development house that I remember - everything they made up to and including Sabre Wulf was sheer genius. Other than that it was all very hit and miss, but also very exciting. I got hyped for games far more in those days than I do now and therefore was disappointed far more often.


Wider Two Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide