In my first blog post, I said that my next blog post would be about high points in my gaming past (both board and video). Well I made a second blog post on a different subject, counteracting my statements made in the first blog post. If you are still following me, then know that in this blog post, I will attempt to go cover the original intended subject matter for what was supposed to be the second blog post but is in fact the third blog post. Got it? Phew!
I, like many here, have been a gamer for as long as I remember.
Growing up in the early 80's was a fun time, as there was a plethora of board
games floating around (from a mainstream standpoint) and of course the growing
video game industry. Perhaps the best way to proceed is categorically, that is,
to take a group/genre of board and/or video game and talk a little about it.
I'll cover one or two categories per blog post. I don't want anyone to get too
Down in the Dungeons and/or Pits in the Land of Roll and
Some of my earliest gaming memories, beyond the usual
mainstream fare of Mouse Trap, Sorry, Chutes + Ladders, Monopoly, Clue, Chess,
etc. was a little game called Shrieks &
Creaks. It was a pretty funky roll and move game that
featured, among other things, a talking tombstone that told you which terrible
fate would befall you during your upcoming move. I played this game constantly.
It seemed so deep and engaging at the time. I now realize that it's a pretty
much random affair, true to most roll and move games of the time. Oh well, the
board looked cool!
The next big memory was playing The New Dungeon!
when it was released in 1989, and which I still own. It was a rather simple
luck-based game but it was the first real dungeon crawling / quasi-RPG like game
I had played. I still play it on occasion and it is still a fun. Although not to
serious of a game, there are some big choices to make, namely when to press your
luck and try to skip dungeon areas and head down to a lower level than you
probably should. You gotta commit to your decisions.
HeroQuest. I played (but
didn't like) a number of similar games such as Key to the
Kingdom and Dark
World. I still remember getting sucked into the adds for
Dark World. Unfortunately the game was kinda lame and the level of excitement
was no where near what the ads depicted. Who knew!?
In the more modern
era, two games in my collection fit this genre, Munchkin and Drakon (third
edition). I like the latter better, but neither is a show
stopper for me. They are fun on occasion when we're in he right mood.
Incidentally, about a year ago or gaming group combined Munchkin WITH the New
Dungeon, which worked surprisingly well. Or at least our creation, aptly named
MunchUngeon, seemed pretty awesome through our beer goggles and
To RPG or
A few years after the New Dungeon a little game called
Easy to Master Dungeons & Dragons comes out. I bought
it (or the parents did). It was the first real RPG game I owned, even if pretty
basic (essentially a very paired down D&D rule set). I was hooked. Except of
course I never actually played it. I was however, so hooked that I proceeded to
buy all manner of AD&D 2nd edition core rule books, monster manuals,
companion books, dragonlance stuff, planescape stuff, and likely more stuff that
I can remember.
This dabbling in RPGs was however my first foray into game design.
At the time in middle-school, I was reading Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time
series (the third book had just been released). It was a great story, although I
admit that I gave up on the series somewhere around book 6 or 9. However, it
inspired me to write my own AD&D rule set for a new character class, the
"Channeler," inspired of course by the magic system from Wheel of Time. It was
awesome. Except I had no idea if it worked or not because I didn't actually play
AD&D, much less test my new creation! That was one early lesson in design
... test test test!
So during the mid to late 80's my
parents had the good sense to start buying computers for the home. Obviously
computers were meant for playing games. The Sierra Quest games, King's Quest,
and my favorite HeroQuest, renamed to Quest for
Glory due to trademark issues with HeroQuest the boardgame,
were staples of my early computerized adventures. Good production, good humor,
and engaging story lines.
Quest for Glory
IV: Shadows of Darkness, was released in 1994. They
featured three character classes, although you could train up any of the skills
regardless of your class. Combat was real-time. There were day and night cycles.
There was humor and adventure. You had to sleep and eat regularly. You'd get
encumbered carrying too much stuff. New things to discover. Oh My! I loved these
games, and had played each (with the exception of #5) close to a dozen
The mid to late 90's. Now there are lots of other
action-adventure-rpg type games that I played. Diablo (‘96) and Diablo II (‘00) fits the
category, and I certainly played a lot of those games over the years. While I
missed the boat on Daggerfall (also released in ‘96), I got into the The Elder
Scrolls world through The Elder Scrolls III:
Morrowind in 2002. What an amazing game. Let's
Morrowind was the first game that I remember playing (and it
wasn't all that long ago) where I was blown away with how convincingly another
"world" in its entirety was created for me to explore. I'm still amazed how many
places there in the game world. It seemed that at every turn there was a little
slice of life waiting to be uncovered. Of course its a sandbox (i.e. do
anything, be anyone) type game, but it was the first game since the old Quest
for Glory series that captivated me in the same way.
The Elder Scrolls
IV: Oblivion in 2006) to require many of the same things
QfQ did. Eating a sleeping requirements, smooth leveling, more weight
By this point I was becoming a Bethesda fan and
naturally started playing Fallout 3 (released in 2008). Again another oversight, but I had
never played the original Fallout games. I did however get sucked into the world
of Fallout 3 rather thoroughly. For as long as I was playing Elder Scrolls
games, I kept wishing for a similar style of game set in science fiction
environment. Incidentally I'm still waiting for a good sand-box style game set
in a "high science" future (Mass Effect is pretty close, but not sandbox
enough). But that's for another time...
I have a been a huge First Person
Shooter gamer (more on that in a future post), and the combat in Fallout 3 left
a bit to be desired. Plus, it needed the mods ala Morrowind/Oblivion to make me
need to eat, drink, sleep, etc. I mean seriously Bethesda ... what were you
thinking? You make a post-apocalyptic game dripping with survival elements, but
very few survival mechanics were actually in the game? Huh?
Fallout 3 Wanderers Edition (FWE), which went
on to become one of the most popular Fallout 3 mods (currently #6 on Fallout 3 Nexus). I learned a
ton, met great people who joined the FWE team, and look back on the effort
What was really exciting about the FWE project is that a few
Bethesda developers swung by our corner of the internet to give some positive
commentary on the mod. Perhaps I'm over inflating my ego, but many of the
gameplay changes that wound up in Fallout: New
Vegas were uncannily similar those created by FWE,
particularly in the survival aspects of New Vegas's "Hardcore" mode. Ultimately,
the FWE team went on to work on "Project Nevada" which is FWE's much improved
successor translated to New Vegas. I haven't been involved in the project much
due to family commitments, but Project Nevada is enjoying a high level of
visibility and success, making New Vegas an even greater game.
I'm still waiting for my sci-fi action-rpg-adventure game
set in a sandbox environment. Preferably with support for dedicated (personally
owned) multi-player servers (NOT an MMO!). In the meantime, I've been outlining
board game ideas for a high sci-fi semi-cooperative "dungeon" crawler. Possibly
with some persistent RPG elements to tie game sessions together. More on that in
a future post.
The next "My Dear Dossier" post will examine another game
genre that will likely include First-Person Shooter and Real Time Strategy games
... boardgamers beware!
This post was originally published on the Big Game Theory! blog on BoardGameGeek, here.