I got tagged by a meme in Facebook. It's about games. Since I'm on the front seat of this bus and the people on the seat behind me can see my laptop screen, I guess I won't playtest any puzzles right now. So I should pass along this meme, and take a break from games to write about games.
And now that I've written this... it's a lot of nostalgia; might not be so interesting to anyone who, uhm, isn't me. Sorry about that. I'm posting it anyhow.
The rules: Don't take too long to think about it. 15 games you've played that will always stick with you. List the first 15 you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. Tag fifteen friends, including me, because I'm interested in seeing what games my friends choose. (To do this, go to your Notes tab on your profile page, paste rules in a new note, cast your 15 picks, and tag people in the note - upper right hand side.)
Yeah, OK. I spewed out a list quickly. Then I added some commentary. That took longer than the allowed fifteen minutes. I'm mavericky like that.
- Meteoroids in Space
This was an Asteroids clone for the Apple][. This game was unusual among early computer games in that it had really smooth controls. You pressed a key, and your little spaceship responded well. When I wrote Skittertag years later, I wanted to capture that sense of control. (And then restrain it by putting that spaceship into some claustrophobic tunnels.)
- Beagle Bros two-line BASIC lightcycles game
Beagle Bros was a company that made programmer tools for the Apple][. (I had an Apple][ growing up, can you tell?) They had a little magazine/catalog which had articles. And a running contest: write an impressive program in two lines of Applesoft BASIC. Someone wrote a lightcycles game. I don't even remember if it had a name, but I remember that I played it a lot.
Yet another game from the early days of personal computers. In this one, your character runs around a map picking up goodies and being chased by bad guys. That was kind of neat. You could make your own maps. That was awesome.
Another great old game... wait, I hardly ever played this. I just remember watching Chris Jang play it a bunch after school, never min–
- Teenagers from Outer Space
Ah, paper RPGs. You kids today have no idea how tough we had it back then... Ahem. In late grade school, I had a couple of D&D books, but didn't have anyone to play with but my mom. (And that didn't go so well.) In middle school, I found some folks to play D&D, Traveler, and Champions with. But I don't really remember much about those days. In high school and college, I played a bunch of paper RPGs with friends. I still keep up with some of those people. We played a few games—D&D, GURPS, RuneQuest, Toon, CyberPunk, Call of Cthulhu, Dream Park, a couple of home-brew systems... But we kept coming back to Teenagers from Outer Space. Even after we weren't teenagers anymore, we kept playing it.
Another paper RPG that high-school-and-college group played a lot. This game system had some great pre-made adventures written for it. I ran a bunch of them. Those pre-made adventures were awesome—when I tried to make up my own adventures (in any system), they tended to be more "complex" and less "fun". Paranoia adventures had plenty of fun going on.
- Plundered Hearts
This was an Infocom text adventure (or "Interactive Fiction" if you are a hoity-toity intellectual discusser of computer games). I think this was the first one I played in college. Up until this point, I'd played these games on my own, got stuck on my own, and quit on my own. But in college, there were always lots of people around. And thus I learned that puzzle-solving is easier if you surround yourself with people smarter than yourself.
Tetris is, yes, older than the hills, but I'm telling you it came out when I was still at University. I didn't get totally addicted, but I spent a lot of time playing it. I noticed that my studies didn't go so well
This boardgame is all about making and breaking deals. It's very cut-throat. The easiest way to win is by betraying your allies. And your allies know this. I was thinking about this game because I recently moved to a new office. And some of the folks there started up a one-move-a-day game of Diplomacy. And I thought a board game would be a good way to meet people in the new office. But then I thought but not Diplomacy. Why let peoples' first impression of you be "backstabber"? And that got me to thinking about Junta, and the friendships that never formed between people who met each other over its board.
My first job out of college was this Operating Systems development company called GeoWorks. During the day, we worked on Operating Systems. In the evening, we played Doom. Or Quake. Or DoomII. Depending on which game was current at the time. Years and years playing those games. I got tired of them. Then there were tools to create your own game maps, so I did that for a while and got interested again. Years and years more playing those games. Maybe played them too much. By the time QuakeII came along, I thought, "I'm so done with first person shooters."
- Settlers of Catan
And suddenly board games were allowed to be interesting again.
- New Legends
There was that year I worked at a game company, Infinite Machine. We worked on this XBox game new legends. It had bugs, so we played a lot, trying to find bugs. I played a lot. I find myself quoting dialog from the game, saying weird stuff like "That's one big Buddha" even when there's no daibutsu nearby.
- Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma
Is the iterated prisoner's dilemma a game? People who study game theory study it. So I guess it's theoretically a game, at least. It's an important part of one of my favorite books ever: Prisoner's Dilemma by William Poundstone. It's a fun thing to turn into a computer program. I've done various things with the Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma in Erlang, Go, and C. That C program caused me to re-think mercy; it made me a more forgiving person.
- BANG V
If you've been following this blog recently, you might have noticed I've played a lot of bay area puzzly treasure-hunt games in the last five years or so. This was the first one I played in, the fifth Bay Area Night Game. That game was awesome. Since it was my first, it also had novelty going for it; it formed my opinion about how these games work.
- Hogwarts and the Draconian Prophecy
So far, this has been the most intense puzzle-hunt game I've played. I was a playtester, and then I hung out with GC while the actual game was happening. This game had a lot of logistics going on: many players, but also many volunteers. We got locked out of places. Stuff caught fire. Cars broke. Yeah, put it all together, this was a darned intense game.
Is that 15 things? Oh man, I kinda squished all the Doom-alikes into one line. Does that count? Whatever, I'm done.