A blog about tabletop hobby and or strategy games, with a side order of electronic turn based goodness here and there. Now with tons of retro gaming content both electronic and tabletop. Also with 20% more self loathing douchebaggery!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

RPGs and Controversies. My College Composition Report Circa 1999.

The year I bought a 300 or so dollar DVD player with part of my bonus from work they no longer give us (for time and laugh factors I mention this) I was taking a class at the Community Technical College in my area.  While I pulled some of it just out of my own experiences and opinions, it was in general a well researched paper that took me 10-12 or so total hours to write.  I ended up with a 4.0 in the class so it was well done.

I am posting this as image files since I couldn't seem to get such an ancient paper (RUSTED STAPLES) to OCR and posting a PDF file seems silly.  Plus you know, I can take my name off of it for privacy purposes.

Also missing is the instructor's main positive comments on a connected sheet.  Otherwise here is the whole paper.  Read it and think some on RPGs and the way they were and pretty much still are thought of by "normal" people!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Game Collection: Look What I Did to my Id. (Also: NINTENDOOO SEEEXTEEE FOOOOR)

No, sadly this is not about :

Even if it is a really awesome movie and in some ways superior to the previous film about Brad and Janet.  (If you don't know what I refer to please get out from under that rock.)

What I refer to is: ID SOFTWARE.  The legendary software house who both saved PC gaming and destroyed electronic gaming with their perfection and popularization of the First Person Shooter. (FPS)

Starting off as some genius game programmers making Apple II and DOS games for magazines, they eventually got into the Shareware scene where their Commander Keen platformer showed how powerful the PC could be with a good team, and then they made Wolfenstein 3D, which started the FPS craze that has mostly taken over video gaming it seems.

Mostly ahead of their time, Wolfenstein didn't stand a patch to Ultima Underworld but was a bazillion times more accessible proving what modern publishers do with making "dumbed down" games for the masses is a good way to make some scratch.

And then the legendary Doom took the world by storm and started showing that FPS games were also great multiplayer experiences.

But my first experience was with Commander Keen.  It was a fun little platformer the berthing commander in Navy Fire Control A School tried to get me into instead of Wolf as their best game of the time.

Later on I would download the shareware version of Wolf 3d from America Online while it was still a dial up DOS application and endure a high phone bill as their access number closest to me came to be found out (to my mother's dismay) was not a local call.

It was fun but it was the shareware version of Doom I purchased and played at the Norfolk Navy base's rec center Wind and Sea for an hour at a time on their 386 PCs with no sound card and in lower res mode that would make me a fan of it all.

Let's see what Id did to my idiotic self!  (Besides me buying a 32X add on for my Sega Genesis.  160 bucks was cheaper than upping my PC's RAM.  Bad decision that...)

(Please forgive me not posting a picture of the third Doom novel I have since I somehow lost the first two novels in that line.  The third one was WEEEEIRD.  The second was kind of rad for light reading though.)

I bought this bad box for 100 bucks in 96.  All the Id titles released up to that point plus their few Mac ports all in one box.  I only had Ultimate Doom at this point so this was a really good buy.  Not counting the ugly Tee Shirt I ended up using as a dust rag I still have everything that came in this box.

(Though one piece spent much of its time hanging out in this glass cupboard with other videogame and retro friends.  Who is he and can you name everyone in the picture without doing a Net search?)

 Everything comes packed in this sweet foam insert.  Silly dog tags.  A poster.  The metal Cyberdemon sculpted by Reaper Minis, the "Book of Id" where all the games are, and the infamous Doom comic book.
The book has 4 CDs packed in the hard outer cover, with the book in the middle.  Listing all the Id games would take forever.  Just go look up their work on Mobygames or something.  Pretty much all their stuff up to 1996 is on here.  The symbol was also the image on the dumb Tee shirt.  No loss.  Plus the space it took up gives me room for.. stuff you will soon see.

 The booklet also is a mixture of silly serious horror fiction plus a history of Id.

 One of the less crazy pages in the comic book.

 The old ratings system before the ESRB system we see on software today came on a slip explaining it in the box.  Plus the Pentium Pro 150 PC order I placed in early 1997 so I could properly run Quake.  No Overdrive CPU could make my 486 SX handle it at any decent framerate.  Not even the Cyrix P5 133!

 Doom was so massive this 630+ page book with CD merely covered making your OWN levels plus contained the best Doom 2 map pack ever: Head2Head Christmas Doom 2.  The CDR is stuff like ports of Doom to run under modern Windows and the like.

 While my copy of this version of Doom was given away much like I offloaded the 32X Doom before I became the moronic collector I am now, I still have the poster and manual for the game.  Originally Doom like Wolf 3D was mail order only.  Ultimate Doom changed that.

 Spear of Destiny came with that Ultimate Games suite Spectre VR did in a previous post.  Heretic is Raven's Fantasy mod of Doom with all new levels, monsters, and tweaks.  Computer Game Review had some awesome support guides released with some issues.  I have the Blood Bowl guide as well.  Its a bit beat up because it wasn't in this Id box like it ought to have been.

Quake 2 was a superior follow up to Quake, and one of the first games I would use with a 3D graphics card.  It also was a killer of sleep after work Friday nights.  I would get out at 2-4 AM at the time, drive home, and play a couple hours of Quake 2 online over dial up, then get up around Noon to go play Warhammer 40,000 2nd edition and then head straight to work for another 8 hours!  Quake 3 Arena was really the end of my Id fandom.  Its just... eh.  I like solo gaming more than multiplayer and Q3 was 90% multiplayer focused.  Doom 3 BFG is like the 10th Anniversary edition of Doom 3 with numerous fixes to the original game.  (Plus making it a Steam title.  And requiring modern graphics cards.  Soo.. half upgrade half hosejob.)

It will replace Doom 3 on the X Box with its sweet ass metal case and plastic slipcover.  I never bought the expansion sadly.  It works on the 360 as well.  Its a fun and tense game but it got annoying after a while.  Maybe BFG Edition fixes it?

 Doom was so huge it got a boardgame with expansion.  I own both, though I think I got the Expansion on clearance.  Its a fun Space Crusade sort of game.  Lots of minis I should finally finish painting one day too!

 See?  Its neat.  I really should do a comic review of this game one day.

Now this collection leaves out the turn based RPGs Id made for IOS.  I have the Wolfenstein and Doom 2 titles which I have completed.  I just don't count digital downloads as something one collects.  

But I have one more Id thing (Until I go back and get Hexen, a version of Hexen 2 that works, and maybe some of the other Id/Raven Software co productions cheaply anyhow..) that leads into a short and sweet collection:

My second Nintendo 64.  I sold off my previous one because honestly.. the Nintendo 64 kind of sucks.  An expensive cartridge based system in the days of deep PC games and lots of long CDROM titles on the Playstation and Saturn.  Plus the normally lauded Goldeneye with that ugly controller didn't have anything on Aliens vs Predator or Half Life with a proper mouse and keyboard.

Yet for some reason I traded an older PC for this one, and grabbed a couple games on the cheap (only Ogre Battle I bought loose.  Zelda, WWF, and South Park were my friend's.  Zelda is overrated as hell IMHO).

The reason it is with Id here is of course due to Doom 64 which is practically an entirely new sequel to Doom with all new graphics and levels.  Its hard but pretty good.  Starfox 64 is a fun but short experience.  Perfect Dark is the unofficial sequel to Goldeneye and is only slightly less inferior to PC FPS in gameplay and speed.  (The developers who broke off from Rare and who made the PS2 launch era title Timesplitters would more than make up for it with a system and a controller that could actually make the first and possibly only great console FPS.)  Pokemon Puzzle League is Tetris Attacks with the Pokeymans.  If you love that puzzle game this is a really good follow up to the SNES title in reference.  (Kind of like how Starfox 64 is a follow up to an SNES game but generally better while not removing the appeal of the original.)  Conker's Bad Fur Day is a 3d platformer mostly known for being one of the few "Adult" games on a Kid Friendly Nintendo system.  Its ok.  Paper Mario is the absolutely AMAZING RPG that is really the best reason to own an N64.  Harvest Moon 64 is.. Harvest Moon the farming/dating simulation RPGish thing.  On the N64.  Yay.

For me and my generally PC Strategy and RPG loving self the N64 was just an inferior machine.  It didn't have the depth and breadth of titles the PC and Playstation had.  I have never really loved Nintendo the way so many electronic gamers do.

Paper Mario and Ogre Battle are really the only two "proper" RPGs on the machine in the US!

This picture is also what got me started on this now long running series of blog posts.

I have so many more sights to show you.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Game Collection: Dosvidanya! Or: The Last Days of DOS Part 2 (N-Z)

I wasn't going to finish this tonight but the BUG OF CREATION hit me.  When that little SOB says DOO EEEIT!! the best thing to do is to strike whilst the iron is hot.  Plus I am getting irritated having PC games covering my living room for the last few months in preparation for this project.

As always, click for bigger pictures.
Nomad is kind of like Lightspeed but I never got into it.  PCs After Hours (disk pic to come!) is a collection of stuff some business computer user might throw on their 92-94 era PCs to play around with.  Power Dolls is a Japanese turn based wargame with mechs.  All piloted by women.  PT 109 is sadly the CGA version and not the EGA I think I wanted it for.  Its a kick ass PT boat sim anyhow.  Played a ton of it on the Votech school's Mac SEs.  (About the only things they were good for!)  Quest for Glory is the VGA remake of the Sierra Adventure RPG hybrid and it owns.  Rise of the Dragon is a point and click adventure with some action elements.  Shadowcaster is a FPS adventure game where you can turn into cool monsters.  Shadowlands is a rad isometric RPG.  Sadly I don't have the Sci Fi sequel.

 Siege and the expansion were RTS games.  About attacking or defending castles in the same universe as Magic Candle.  Shadow of Yserbius/Fates of Twinion were primarily early online Bard's Tale styled MMOs to be played over Sierra's network.  But they were offline as well.  Okish I guess.  Cabal/Sidearms/Street Fighter were CGA/EGA ports of the Capcom classic arcade titles.  And kind of pants.  Dunno where the disks went.  Sorcerian is a translation of the Japanese side scrolling action RPG.  It was popular in Japan and got a couple remakes and expansion packs.  We got.. bupkis.  Spellcasting 201 was a cheeky text adventure with point and click stuff plus pictures.  Stunt Island is one of the best flight games ever made.  Fly stuff!  Do cool stunts for movies!  Set up your own movies!

 Strife was a weird Doom engine game merged with an RPG.  Summoning was an action RPG and a sequel in spirit of Darkspire.  System Shock was the legendary FPS RPG follow up to Ultima Underworld.  Terminator was an early "Sandbox" game and mostly using 3d polygons.  About 10-15 years before the tech could handle it.  Terminator 2029 was more or less an FPS with step movement.  Kind of cool but hard.  The 2 Aegis disks are Trek games.  You know the classic computer wargame?  Yeah.  Ultrabots was a simple mech sim.  Kind of alright.  Ultimate Games is where Spectre VR came from.  I think every other disk I either traded or lost.  No big loss.

 Ultimate Wizardry Archives is Wizardry 1-7 (Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord through Crusaders of the Dark Savant and the Windows 9x "Gold" port as well.) with the cluebook next to it.  Veil of Darkness is an isometric action adventure involving vampires.  Vengeance of Excalibur is a real time wargame mixed with some RPG elements.  Wargame Construction Set 3: Age of Rifles is the third Wargame maker game from SSI, this time focused on the 1800s era of warfare.  Warcraft 2 is like the UR RTS alongside Command & Conquer.  I could swear I had Warcraft 1 as well but.. it was kind of butt, especially compared to 2.  (And C&C Red Alert basically perfected it all.)

 Warlords 2 and its scenario maker are the best turn based conquer the world wargame ever made.  Wing Commander 2 and Privateer continue that space flight sim series.  Wing Commander 3 was the last big leap for the franchise, to it's detriment in my opinion.  X Com Terror From the Deep is the turn based strategy game sequel to X Com.  Except it was bugged and is locked on IMPOSSIBLE mode.  Otherwise it adds some cool improvements but is otherwise merely a total conversion of the original.

 Roberta Williams Anthology is basically all of her adventure games pre Phantasmagoria in one collection.  I got it from some Columbia House like Computer Software Club thingie.  I still cannot grok to Adventure games even though I try.  Space Quest Companion is a big cluebook.  Because I was borrowing the original Space Quest and needed help to complete it.  We see a Lucasarts and SSG catalog, plus the Quick Reference version of DOS FOR DUMMIES.  Since my PC didn't come with any tutorials for DOS 5.0.  (And I screwed it up so many times trying to shave precious kilobytes off my 130 meg HD.  Ultima 7 and expansion wanted 25 megs of it!  Windows 3.1 5!  DOS another 2-3!)

 I got rid of this game but kept the box.  I wonder why?

Shareware disks!  Mostly purchased ones!  (And a couple other things like the PC After Hours pack in disk and a collection of useful tools from Dvorak and Interplay.)  See back in the pre Internet age the only real way most people could get shareware was from BBSes or if they didn't have any they could call up, they had to buy them.  Usually 2-5 bucks a disk.  Even if the game sucked it was worth the price of a McDonald's Extra Value Meal or an indie comic book just to try them out.  Some were fun for an hour or two at least.

And that is pretty much all of my DOS games from the DOS age.  

Now they are all nicely binned in some semblance of alphabetical order, with the disks back in their plastic disk holder slowly continuing to die (abandonware sites are wonderful for getting backups to store on a flash drive or burn to CD to use on the old machine.  Or to use on modern PCs with DOSBox), and the CDs back in the drawer in my bedroom.

So many great games here.  And so many I want to go back and play some more, or play for the first time.

Go through your own old games collection.  You might rekindle a lost love.  Or make a new one.

Game Collection: Dosvidanya! Or: The Last Days of DOS Part 1 (Numbers-M)

DOS PC gaming and PC games in general are such a ridiculously HUGE part of my games collection this will have to be broken up into lots and lots of parts.  We will start with DOS gaming.

My first computer was the amazing Commodore 64, a 1 mhz, 64 kilobytes of RAM, 1 button Atari type joystick computer that being an American, meant a 5 1/4" single sided floppy disk drive that ran slow as hell because of Commodore's decisions during development of the machine.

I got this little baby in December 1987.  However by that time the next year all the computer gaming magazines were more and more covering PC DOS computers.  Those 1500-3000+ in 1988 dollar machines that were generally WORSE for gaming than my C64 which cost about a tenth the price.  No real audio, 4 Color CGA (or 16 EGA if you were big pimpin), and bad for games of the time analog joysticks.  My friend Dave had a Franklin DOS PC and it was just..  eurgh.

Yet the PC was becoming king, while the superior Amiga and Atari ST were left in the dust unless you lived in Europe.

As time went on and it continued to (unjustly) become the de facto home computer audio and graphics continued to improve.  In 1993 when I was in the Navy I bought my first machine, a Tandy 486 25.

Frankenstein.  My often upgraded 486 that takes a licking and keeps on ticking.  Even if certain parts do not...

As time went on I would go from computer to computer, but this special little guy got tons of upgrades over the years as it really was mighty bare bones to start.  Modems.  Sound and joystick cards.  Game controllers.  CDROM drives.  "Overdrive" chips.  More RAM.

It was pretty much the computer that I used for 3-4 years.  The Last Days of DOS.

Then we entered the Internet Age and the Age of Windows 95.

But that will be another series.

In this series we will be covering DOS games, both CDROM and 3.5 720k-1.44m byte disk formats as that as all this machine could ever have.  Sadly I never got a 5 1/4th inch drive meaning Ultima Savage Frontier was never bought as I only saw the 5 1/4 version.  And now its worth a TON.  

Due to some of the weird ways DOS games and collections were games will only sort of be in alphabetical order, and some will be dual Windows 3.1/95 / DOS formats or in anthologies.  Please keep this in mind.

Also keep in mind in some cases I have hardly if ever played some of the games below, or my memories are so hazy of them I simply don't remember much.  Most of the games I get  even these days are at the sub 20 dollar price point,  and some were like 5 bucks at the Navy Exchange back then.  I was trying to make up for lost time quite often, getting EGA or CGA games in the days of VGA!

Here we go!
688 Attack Sub is a simulator I barely played.  Alien Breed is a (at least my copy) buggy port of the Amiga Gauntlet clone. Bard's Tale 2 is of course the sequel to the legendary Bard's Tale RPG.  The Construction Set finally gave DOS BT players lots of color BT fun and an ability to make your own dungeons.  Battle Isle 93 I don't think I ever got working.  Bioforge is another of the earliest "Survival Horror" action adventures.  Budokan is a serious styled fighting game in the pre Street Fighter 2 era.  Bullfrog Compilation has Populous, Populous 2, Syndicate, Theme Park, and Powermonger.  I think I traded off Populous because I have it on the Genesis.  

 Card Game Classics is a neat little suite of Windows 3.1 card games.  Classic 5 is a set of traditional games.  Castles is the fun real time castle building and defending game.  Command HQ is a weird RTS that came with my computer along with another title by Dan(i) Bunten to go with the 2400 baud modem.  Crime Wave is an action game in the style of NARC.  Crusader No Remorse is an isometric action game.  Cyber Empires is a real time strategy title.  Cyclones is one of the earliest FPS titles with mouse aiming.  Darkspyre is an RPG of some sort.

 Destruction Derby is a port of the 1st gen Playstation 1 game that REALLY needs a Pentium 100 to play properly.  Definitive Wargame Collection includes Warlords, Gold of the Americas, Conquest of Japan, Battles of Napoleon, Decisive Battles of the Civil War, Wargame Construction Set 2: Tanks!, Panzer Battles, D Day, Global Domination, Reach for the Stars, When Two Worlds War, and Sword of Aragon.  (Games from SSI, SSG, and Impressions.)  I.. haven't really messed with these.  Deluxe Paint II Enhanced is more or less shown (disks in storage) because you sort of need it to make art for BTale Construction Set.  On the Amiga DPaint was GOD.  Not that I can draw mind you..  Duke Nukem 3d Atomic Edition is the legendary FPS that made us forget all about Doom for a while.  F-19 Stealth Fighter is the amazing upgrade to the C64's Project Stealth Fighter.  Flight Sim Toolkit I never really got to do much but it is apparently capable of making flight simulators.  Four Crystals of Trazere is a pretty rad real time isometric RPG.

I have no idea what Essential Frankenstein even IS.  Gabriel Knight is a Sierra adventure game.  Global Conquest plus the Strategy guide with upgrade disk is the other game that came with the PC.  The strat book was purchased separate.  Its another weird RTS prototype from Bunten.  Gunship 2000 is the sequel to the first computer game I ever bought on my C64.  (Cuz my parents weren't willing to get me Autoduel for some reason..)  Heimdall 1-2 are odd action RPGs from the UK.  King's Bounty is the prototype for the Heroes of Might & Magic turn based wargames.  Leisure Suit Larry 3 is another Sierra adventure.

 Lemmings is the classic puzzle game that came with my original Sound Blaster.  Lightspeed is a cool spaceship fighting/trading sim except I can't find my disks and its a bugger to find replacements online for it.  Lucasarts Archives Volume 1 is a huge collection of SCUMM adventure games plus a screensaver.  (Ill cover the games included plus other Lucas adventure games next picture.)  Magic Candle is a pretty interesting turn based RPG in the Ultima tradition.  Master of Orion II is one of the greatest games ever made.  A turn based 4x game.  (Explore, Exploit, Expand, Exterminate)  Might & Magic World of Xeen is the CD compilation of Might & Magic 4-5 which form one gigantic game in the Bard's Tale/Wizardry style. Links is the successor to the Leaderboard series and is still my favorite videogame golf titles.  The Microsoft games packs are some Windows 3.1 collections.  One has Windows versions of classic Atari Arcade games with some gameplay mods you can use, and the other is more generic Windowsy games.  Mile High Club (Sigh) is a suite of flight sims.  (Jetfighter II, Wing Commander, F14 Tomcat, Heroes of the 357th, Mig 29, Wing Commander Academy, ATAC, and Megafortress.)

 The Powermonger manual from the Bullfrog set they included for some reason, a Cheat/Hint disk, the Star Wars screensaver thingie and 2 issues of Interactive Entertainment which were like an attempt at making a PC games magazine in a multimedia format.  I have them here because they have a free game.  Walls of Rome, and The Lost Admiral.  The latter is a classic turn based wargame.  CD Power I don't even know how I got it but its got a pair of games I have never heard of on them.  (Tower of Souls and Millennia Altered Destiny)  Classic Spectre VR is an ok multiplayer tank sim from some other compilation pack and is currently chilling with the Mile High Club in that case.  Full Throttle came with the 8x CDROM Sound Blaster 32 kit I got off Ebay for like 30 bucks when the thing was originally 400 dollars or so.  Monkey Island Madness has Monkey Island 1-2 on it and I don't remember how I got it.  The rest of the games are Lucasarts adventure games.    One of these days I will "get" adventure games..

 Back when game magazines sold, and PC gaming wasn't relegated to online digital or mail order sales game magazines had CDs packed in with them.  Sometimes they gave you full games.  Like Duke 3D!  Descent!  Star Control 2!  Zork 1-3, Red Baron!  Battlecruiser 3000AD (DEREK SMART DEREK SMART DE-REK SMART!) Betrayal at Krondor!  Sheesh.  I am not gonna list all of them.  Just click on the pic to see the full sized one.  Note some of these disks require Win 95-98 to install the game even if the title was a DOS one.  

 Another issue in the pre Internet days was getting help for the stupidly hard puzzles in games.  Quest for Clues solved that problem for you.  Origin Systems published these collections of game solutions for RPG and Adventure titles on the computer.  Shay Addams edited it and most of them originally appeared in:

 QUESTBUSTERS!  A fanzine with reviews, talk, and solutions for the computer game RPG and Adventure genre.  Later on another higher quality magazine called Enchanted Realms would do something similar, but classier.  Sadly I cannot find anything out about them or find back issues for sale or scanned.

 On the right is an example page from Questbusters while on the left is another tip book, this one just covering RPGs during the time when it was pretty much JUST PCs for computer gaming here in the US.  In a lot of ways it is MUCH better than Quest for Clues and has a lot of cool interviews and tips for general RPG play than QfG does.  But I love both of them. 

Example pages from Enchanted Realms, the Wing Commander 1-2 Strategy Guide plus the two Secret Mission add on disks. 

Now.. this is just Numerals through M of my DOS games collection counting some titles by the compilation packs they came in.  This also leaves out the Hobby Games Gone Computer titles I have already mentioned here: http://wargamedork.blogspot.com/2012/11/game-collection-hobby-games-gone.html and the greatest RPG series ever which will get it's own entry or possibly be brought up with a little two letter company whose games changed everything...

Friday, April 5, 2013

[Battle Report] A Little Battletech Fun

See the previous post for a bit more background on this one.
(As always click for bigger.)

I run good games and I try to promote them and get others to play.  It just.. rarely gets anyone new who aren't already gaming at said venue.

Gamers REALLY need to become more sociable!


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Southeastern CT, United States
I like to play nerd games! I am a nerd! Join our nerd ways at https://www.facebook.com/groups/112040385527428/