I just made my first game Steam purchase purchase in 2019. For mid-August that is quite unusual, because ever since joining Steam in 2012 (Skyrim was first), I have accumulated games at a steady pace, in particular during the various sales events up to a point close to the GAMBLE state (i.e., Games AMassed Beyond Life Expectancy). Now it seems that I have stopped buying. Partly, I am sure, because I realized that spending money on games I will never play is sort of silly, and whatever game I am interested in, it will always come on sale again, and buying one game that I play at full price is a better deal than buying 4 games at 50% of that I won’t play. However, to fair to myself, I have been aware of this fact for a while, but maybe I just couldn’t stop just kept collecting stuff, like all the Beamdog remakes of Infinity engine games (which I probably won’t play anyway, but I already own them on CD/DVD and played through them and AD&D 2nd Edition hasn’t aged that well, but I still bought them once more). But partly also – I believe – because now I am actually playing something specific, instead of thinking about all the games that I might play if only I had/took the time to do it. And that is great!
And there is always another Steam/GOG/Epic/Ubi/Origin/Humble Store sale coming…
And whatever I do, there will never be a complete collection of remastered infinity engine games, because the Icewind Dale II source code seems to be lost forever…
Now, speaking of games, why not share my story of gaming?
My brief history of gaming #1 – It began with the C64
Well, it actually began with the few arcade machines that stood around the town where I grew up. One in the hallway of the sports center had games like Scramble, Bomb Jack and Buzzard; from the grillbar I remember Ladybug, Xevious, Xain’d Sleena, Silk Worm and Flying Shark. All very exiting and very expensive for a pre-teen (sadly, I never excelled in any of those games). After seeing a friend’s Commodore 64 I quickly calculated what an excellent return I would have on that investment and started saving up (Sunday newspapers..). In March 1986 I got the machine and Press[ed] Play on Tape for the first time. I had the C64 until 1990.
I learned BASIC (yes : ) programming on the C64 and briefly saw the desktop future in GEOS, but it was mostly playing games and sharing that excitement with friends that I did. It was a great time and it is fun to think back on the friends and the games we used to play and which, it turns out, formed me as a gamer.
- Wasteland, many times over and over until I found Base Corchise and could finish what I started.
- Ultima V, though a broken floppy disk stopped my progress. I handed the game back to the store and got the Gold Box Champions of Krynn instead. I eventually finished Ultima V on Amiga.
- Bards Tale 3 (maps, maps and maps on checkered paper) and Dragon Wars (built-in discovable maps, pretty cool
These games that originally drew me to home computers. Many enhanced the shooting gameplay with excellent music. Xevious was underwhelming, but several games I rememeber fondly:
- Zak McCracken and the Alien Mindbenders – the first SCUMM game I played
- Simulators from MicroProse: Red Storm Rising – a top favorite of mine from Microprose, which hid both intense action and hour-long shadowing hunts behind a plain, text-heavy interface; and Pirates!
- Martial arts games like International Karate and Yie Ar Kung-Fu
Stuff I missed
I never played an Infocom text adventure game; I briefly tried one of the Magnetic Scrolls adventures (probably The Guild of Thieves), but I don’t think I had the necessary language skills or patience at the time to dive in.
Apart from listing games I didn’t play I might also do a section of computers I didn’t own or even try. Being older and wiser now, I would love having had both a ZX81 and a ZX Spectrum (whether I would have loved having them at the time is another matter). I am not so sure about the Amstrad CPC (which I thought would be my first computer for a while, before ending with the C64), whereas the Apple II would have been a natural first step, had I been older. And then there were all the other home computers of the day, many of which that are mostly forgotten now, like Microsoft’s MSX, the Enterprise etc… I’d love to see those in action or at least in a museum.
Those were great years of games and computer fun, and I often miss that old machine. Of course, the odds that it would still work after 30+ years are slim, with its datassette and 5¼ floppy drive. And judging how long time I linger whenever I load up a C64 emulator (not long), it is probably fine like that,
Dark clouds and a newly harvested field close to home; picture taken on a recent afternoon walk.