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Tarinth's Posts

My Top 5 most influential games

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Tarinth said...
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My list will be a little different -- because the most influential ones for me are the games that made me want to become a game developer...so some of this stuff is OLD.

An early arcade videogame that gave rise to similar side-scroller shoot-em-ups like Super Cobra. For whatever reason, this is the game that really got me thinking about making games. I remember drawing the maps for levels, thinking up new weapons and enemies... I was probably 7 years old.

Adventure (Colossal Cave)
Played this on a DEC-20 mainframe. The first game that showed me that computer games could let you explore (very much in your mind) a completely new space. I remember the huge plotter-printer map of interconnecting rooms, along with places for loot and obstacles. Another game that inspired me to make games.

This was a simple text game on the C-64 which let you allocate limited resources (food and money) to peasants and army in a feudal kingdom. Misspending resources could be apocalyptic. The game was simplistic, but it inspired me to make the first commercial game I ever made: Space Empire, a multiplayer "door" game for the Atari ST, which dealt with a similar resource management game mechanic but took place in a science-fiction world--and against other players. I released it for shareware at $10 a pop, and at age 13 I think I raked in about $4000 (and believe me, at that age it was a life-changing amount of money!) In 1987 I ported it to the VAX and the Amiga, and then released the source code. Numerous ports followed (including the PC) and tons of derivatives were created. A lot of that multiplayer door goodness could be traced back to my own Space Empire--which I in turn created based on the simplest of C64 games.

Gemstone III
The multiplayer MUD on the GENie network circa 1991. This is the game where I met my future wife, and inspired me to create Legends of Future Past, a commercial fantasy roleplaying game I launched in 1992 and ran until 2000.

Knights of the Old Republic
The first game that made me feel sad for taking certain actions as an evil character. Beyond that, it was just a damn fine experience in every way. Star Wars that was even better than Star Wars. The sequel didn't quite measure-up.

Am I done five already? Wish I had made this a list of 10!
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I missed out on Gemstone III, although I always wanted to play it (but simply didn't have the funds at the time for GENie). I love how well they were able to advertise and sell what were pretty simple games with few to no graphics at the time. They really pushed imagination then.

I'm looking forward to the next Star Wars MMO, which hopefully will be at least as good as its trailer.

Space Empire seems to have a nice wiki article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Empire_Elite

I need to go through my C64 disks and see if I have Kingdom. I missed that one as well, but I'd love to play it (I knew I kept around that disk and tape drive for some reason!)

Adventure is an amazing game. I always ended up liking Nethack later on. I played a few Rogue-like games in the late 80's and always found them both wonderful and confusing at that age.
You have a functioning C64 with a tape drive?!
@Tarinth Yup. I had one until about 95' and then gave it to a friend for reasons I can't remember. Then a few years ago I saw one on CL for $50 in NH "with accessories". I drove up there and this massively OCD guy was retiring and moving to FL. He had the C64, two printers, a drawing table, the 1541 mouse, tape drive, floppy drive, software, manuals and every single Commodore magazine ever printed in sequential order in dust covers/sleeves (plus more) and was getting rid of all of it. He even had a service manual for the floppy drive and extra parts for everything. The C64 was still in its original plastic in the box, but had been carefully taken our and replaced each time for use. All of the cables had been put back exactly as they had been factory.

Needless to say, I filled the entire back of a BMW 328 Zipcar with the stuff and took it home. I auctioned most of the stuff on eBay for nearly a grand in total. The magazines were bought for nearly $500 by various libraries. I'm assuming there weren't many copies worldwide of this stuff that were in this condition.

I've still got the main stuff and the C64 is hooked up to my HDTV. I use it for music stuff as the 6581 Sid chip is rather unique.
Commodore 128 "Spy Hunter" becasue of the soundtrack and the increasing difficulty the game posed the longer you played. No save points or any and very few 1up oppertunitie's. Horribly addictive over polonged periods. The Graphics where a huge step up from the Atari cosole I had played for years before hand.

Nintendo "Mario Bros". When you complete the game, there are still challenge to over come, such as the self imposed Time Trial (How quickly can you complete the levels and the game). Ever completed the first level in ten seconds? Oh its possible, all it requires is timing and constant running and jumping at split second intervals. This is the first game that got me thinking about the mechanics behind game design, largely because of the rigid structure of the level design and the monster placement, fueling my hunger for less restrictive games and level design.

Mechwarrior 2 for the pc. My wishes from Mario granted. I'd played a few 3D simulator games but they where all to damn rigid in ther design and thinking. MW2 gave me an open world, a mech I could configure to my specs and a wide array of options to complete my mission in a fully 3D battlefield. Nerdvana for a 12 year old in my position. I'd also gave me a lot to think about in terms of game design, for me conventional game design had been broken in making it. It was less linear that the games I'd played before, it gave me options without making the game overly complicated, and it had GREAT graphics. I'd played the Fronteer Elite 2 at the same time, ans although it was a belting game, it just didn't grip me as much as games like Wing Commander had.

Command and Conquer for the pc. Intergrated hi-resolution video breifings, familiar settings and a strange Sci-fi background. RTS games before it had been challenging, but hadn't really drawn me into the storyline. Before C&C they had just been borrowing other IP's to base games of (Like Dune). The game itself was quite standard for an RTS game, it didn't really break any new ground on game design, except maybe in graphics, giving its enviroment a strange 3D look whilst remaining 2D. The main thing for C&C was the way they used live video caputre to create the 'human faces' of your allies and enemies, mixing in 3D objects into the background to add a little realism. Its something that only the C&C series has ever done well, a resource I'm glad has never been overused in other games but will be sadley missed when the series finally ends.

Dark Age of Camelot for the pc. My first proper MMO I played where I could stay connected longer then 10 minutes at a time. It was a great game, full of people from various nations, speaking different languages at times, but could all speak English quite well. It was a great community game, full of pvp killers, explorers, DPS junkies and Trolls... both kinds. I loved it, I got to meet people at their most uninhibited, from the various nations across the EU. The community made this game for me, you could chat with damn near anyone, you could swap jokes, share info, argue, debate and outright nerdrage across an entire realm, and meet some great people. There was politicing, back biting, back-stabbing, slander and outright accusations of homosexuallity thown about by persons and guilds on their own side, which would lead to all sorts of friction and confrontations.... which melted away the second you herd the word "Albs attacking out Relic Keep!" and we (Midgard) would drop everything we where doing and race headlong into raids and defences that lasted hours, sometimes days, taking shifts around the clock in order to keep the enemy at bay.

The community made that game for me, it really did. Two guys used to save chat logs of arguments, just so they could finish them off in case an attac happened, mid sentence. They could be calling each other every name under the sun one moment, hear the call to arms, and be watching each others backs during a keep defence for hours, before picking up the conversation again afterwards. Everybody thought they hated each others guts, but in truth they where good mates who happened to be political dabators at their respective colleges, who just liked the say all the stuff they'd 'like to say' during live debates they had to do for courses. It was really funny. It was also the first game I encountered the 'Gender Confused' people who, being male, would create female characters to play as their mains. I heard every excuse under the sun to justify why they did it, and I beleived none of it. You've probably read my rants on the subject, here is where they where first formed.

Ah Dark Age... The only game where you could always find a Frechman to beat up. Class.
It's funny, but I actully think that I was influenced by games from almost every major generation of gaming. The hardest is remembering what game did it FIRST?

Commodore 64 was my first "gaming" device.and there were so many games I did love on it. But among the best were Operation Wolf, Little Computer People, and Raid on Bungeling Bay. LCP probably was the standpout, because it was like The Sims, but almost 20 years earlier!

Then, of course, came the Nintendo which was amazing in itself, and Mario Brothers would be the game that so many people fell in love with. But it was the size andbeauty of Castlevania 3 that really got me that generation. It looked so much better than the 2 installments that came before, as well as offering so many new features. It was the firs instance of dev's pushing hardware farther than the inventors probably every originally imagined it was capable of!

Then came my PC gaming era. Catacombs 3D and of course Wolfenstein 3D introduced me to what would become my favorite genre. Still, the Wing Commander series is my unparalleled all-time favorite. But WC3 was the game that introduced me to live action cut-scenes on top of mind blowing game play. It was an interactive movie that still had great gameplay, unlike many CDROM games that solely tried to be interactive movies.

Super Metroid was one of my favorite games, I don't know that I would call it influential. I think in the late 90's I would have to put Resident Evil in the influential category. I know other games like Phantasmagoria tried to pull it off, but I really feel like Resident Evil was the first game that made me jump out of my skin. Other than the mad-zombie-dogs at the front door, you don't see them for the entire game... then you're walking down a hallway and they come bursting through a window! Holy crap!!!

And much like the "first" game, I also have a problem selecting a "fifth" game. It has to be something that is truly immerseve, a universe that I feel like I am a part of. The Final Fantasy games have so many installments that I feel as though I should know more about them, but I still find them to be disjointed. The Metal Gear saga is evidently great story that continues to evolve, but I have personally never gotten in to it. I feel as though I know a great deal about the Halo universe, but at the same time, it sometimes feels a tad too generic sci-fi, humans versus aliens... Even though there's only one, I think that right now I find Mass Effect to be quite an amazing accomplishment. The story is so well written, the universe so large, characters so diverse... they can stab you in the back or be your best friend, so much can happen in that universe. I give it my nod as the most influential of this generation, because I expect more games to try and emulate it in the future.

Grand Theft Auto IV gets an honorable mention, in my book, for what they were able to do. Scale down a map of New York City in to an interactive game that fits on a DVD. It's got a good story and a gigantic cast, along with voice acting which probably is a few points ahead of Mass Effect's on my scale. But while the game feels larger and more immersive, you expect to be stabbed in the back when working with gangsters. In the Mass Effect universe, you don't quite know who to trust and who not to, where to go, what alien races like humans and which ones do not, all kinds of things.

No matter which games I liked in the past, I just can't wait to see where things go next.

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