Thursday, 14 February 2013

Interview: Mike Marecek - Sierra Convention 2014


As I’ve mentioned previously, I regularly get contacted by people who would like me to mention their game, event or online casino in this blog. Most of these get ignored for the simple reason that I want The Adventure Gamer to remain focused on chronologically playing adventure games. However, occasionally one seems worthy of attention, such as an email I received from Ben Rosner a few days ago. Ben is helping to organise a Sierra Convention for fans like us, and agreed to pass on any questions I might have to Mike Marecek, the man behind the idea!


Mike Marecek - It's too easy to make crude jokes about this image so I will refrain

Now those of you that have been here a while will know that the first thing I did was Google Mike to see what I could find out about the guy. It turns out that this guy deserves some serious respect in this field, not only for his vast knowledge on everything Sierra, but also because of his stupendously impressive collection. Check it out here: http://youcantbesrsly.com/?page_id=115


Man, I'd love to have this collection. My wife would be less impressed.

Here’s the original email:

“I represent the 2014 Sierra Convention. I was wondering if your blog would be able to put up a short article/feature about our convention. It will be located on the West Coast, and will feature well known Sierra alumni such as Scott Murphy (space quest/space venture), Mark Crowe (space quest/space venture), Jim Walls (Police Quest, also will be working on a new Police Adventure game soon) and David Homb (Phantasmagoria).  Thank you for your time. If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to e-mail me back.

Sincerely,
Ben Rosner
Social Media Director
Sierra Convention 2014”


Can you imagine the costumes at a Sierra convention? There are almost too many awesome choices!

Here are the subsequent questions and answers. This is not an extensive interview by any means, but I thought it would be of interest to the readership here.

The Trickster: Where and when will the conference be held?
Mike: We are looking at California or Washington State for the first year. This is mainly so we are closer to the Sierra alumni that want to attend. Our dream is for the event to grow each year and have it all over the world, this way fans all over the place can enjoy the convention without having to travel far every year. The dates are also not yet locked down. We are hoping for summer of 2014 but right now we are still in limbo on a lot of details. As we progress with planning & event details we hope to narrow down the weekend for the event.


I better go see Leonard quickly to try and get cheap passage!

The Trickster: I believe the event is entirely fan driven and not by Sierra itself. Is this correct?
Mike: This is correct. At this time the event is entirely fan driven but many of the original Sierra alumni have expressed interest in involvement with the project.

The Trickster: How did the event come to exist?
Mike: I have had this idea for many years. I attend a lot of various conventions and sometimes I am lucky enough to see someone wearing a Space Quest shirt or find a copy of Kings Quest but it is a rarity. I have really wanted to have a place where Sierra (and adventure game fans as a whole) fans could get together and trade old games, art work, merchandise, stories, etc... It would be amazing to also sit down and have the old designers & programmers share stories and sign copies of classic games. I think classic Sierra has a big enough following that a convention like this one can sustain itself. I never really did much of anything with the idea until Eriq Chang (ArtOfSierra.com & FableFoundry.com) pushed me into doing it. He and I have a special love for Sierra and we can sit on the phone or Skype for hours talking about it and sharing stories. Once he talked me into actually doing something with the idea, he's been a great help in getting the ground work for the event started, including our early logo designs (check out FB page for images).


Things are just not real until you have a logo. This makes it real!

The Trickster: Is this the first such conference?
Mike: At present we know there have been some vintage game conventions but nothing that has really been focussed on Sierra.

The Trickster: Is there a large cost involved in running something like this?
Mike: Yes, there are a lot of costs involved. We are looking at several large conference centers and along with that comes power, internet, tables, chairs, etc. etc. etc. Then we have the costs of a website, hosting, store fees, graphic design and printing. What once was a small idea has grown into a huge expense. We are hoping that once we can get our Kickstarter completed, fans will help in funding the event. Also, advanced ticket sales should help.


The website is just in development, but you gotta love the Sonny Bonds reference and the motto. "Still living the adventure!"

Also, we are looking for volunteers in the following departments:

- Graphic Arts
- Event Coordinator
- Web Development
- Event Staff
- Media Production
- Event Development Team

If anyone is interested, they should email mike@thesierracon.com

The Facebook page can be found here: http://www.facebook.com/TheSierraCon

92 comments:

  1. Hmm lots of good times with Sierra :)

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  2. Sierra made so many of my favourite games, I'd love to be able to go to this!

    It's just a shame that it's quite far from me, I'm not sure I can afford it.

    Hopefully some of the readers of this blog can make it on our behalf!

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  3. Thank you very much Trickster for posting information for our event. We know many people are excited for this and we have so many ideas to make it such a great get together.

    We cannot stress how much help we need though, anyone who can volunteer please contact us! Its going to take a whole lot of fans to put this together

    - Mike

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    Replies
    1. Not a problem at all Mike. Always happy to help out fans of the games we love here. I really hope this post helps out in some way, no matter how small.

      I'd also love to know how you got such a fantastic collection of Sierra adventure games. Did you purchase them at the time or collect them over the years since?

      Oh, and sorry for spelling your name incorrectly on the post. I've corrected it now.

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  4. I call B.S. on that collection! I see a couple of Infocom games in there along with a few other non-Sierra items! :)

    All jokes aside, pretty impressive. I've long since packed away my old adventure game boxes, but I kept them all. I wonder how many I have.

    This sounds like a fantastic idea. Unfortunately, I'm on the east coast in Virginia. Great place to live, but we've got nothing for cons of any sort. Still, I'll be following the progress of this one and will love to see pictures/posts/reports/etc. on what goes on. Having a classic game or two signed would be awesome!

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    1. I'm pretty sure I can't see a copy of Ultima II anwhere ther either.

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  5. ZOMG I want to go so badly. We'll see what my job situation is by then...

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  6. Oh man, if this is anywhere near the Bay Area I'll definitely be there! I don't really know any adventure game fans around here, but I'm sure there's gotta be a bunch and I'd love to meet 'em.

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  7. There is a nice adventure game sale on GOG that includes the following games:

    Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures
    Deponia
    Dark Eye: The Chains of Satinav
    Runaway 3: A Twist of Fate

    These are all modern adventure games, but at 60% off, might be worth a look!

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  8. I'm also very excited that one of the very best games I've ever played has finally reached GOG. It has been at the very top of their most wanted list since I started going there, so it's a big deal for a lot of people.

    System Shock 2!!!!!

    http://www.gog.com/gamecard/system_shock_2

    Easily a top 10 game for me. Top 5 even! Scared the shit out of me when I played it.

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    1. I bought it, but I've still got X-COM to finish (and write about), as well as Dishonored to play before Spoiler Warning cover it.

      Then maybe I'll get around to SS2, but there are just so many games to play! (and I don't even have a years-long list of games planned out!)

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    2. Sorry Trickster, that isn't an adventure game so you can't get any CAPS for it.

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    3. Damn it! I really need those CAPs to make myself play the sequel to Captain Blood! Apparently it's not as good as the first game, but when has that ever stopped me!?

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  9. Cool, Washington State is just south of Vancouver, right? If it is there, and a bunch of you are going, I might see what my budget is. I'll be moving to Vancouver pretty soon. :D

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  10. I played an hour of Larry III last night and hopefully will get time to put a post together tonight.

    In the meantime, I'm offering up 10 CAPs to anyone that is willing to share their top 5 (or top 10 if you want to) games of all time with the community. They don't have to be adventure games. The only caveat is that there must be some comments about why they are special to you (not just a list). The CAPs will remain on offer until I put up the second gameplay post for Larry III.

    I started thinking about mine after commenting on System Shock 2 being released on GOG. I'll list mine as soon as I'm happy with it.

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    1. Oh man, this is hard. Can I list a series as a game?

      1) Baldur's Gate. Man. This game came when I was in grade 6 or 7, and I played it for hours and hours. It took forever, as I only had a PIII 500 MHz, so there were a lot of long load times and frequent crashes (I had to play with weather effects off). But its plot felt alive; it was far past any other game I'd played to that point. Also the tactical combat was the first time I realized that effect spells are almost always more powerful then attack spells. Web, entangle, etc, could shut down someone and let me pound on them with darts and slings. I am replaying the Enhanced Edition right now, and it is still really fun.

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    2. 2) Mass Effect (1: I haven't played the sequels yet). I've beat this one, and have almost beat it a second time. The graphics! The universe! I won't spoil it, but there was a decision near the end that I just stared at the TV for...geeze, a long time. Half a minute? I WANTED to do the right thing, but I *hated* those guys, and what if that meant I didn't have enough of my fleet left to....damn! If this had more terrine diversity (SO many of the driving levels look identical) and more enemy types (Geth, Krogan, Human, Secret 1, Secret 2, pirate, repeat) it might even be number one. I'm really looking forward to number two.

      The whole series gets a big bump, as it was one of the things that my brother spent a lot of time on while he was sick last year, and we got a lot closer talking about it and me watching him play.

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    3. 1) Definitely The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time on Nintendo 64. I replay this game all the time and it is still fun. Back in first grade my friends and I would go to somebody's house after school and play it for hours looking for every secret.

      2) Donkey Kong Country 3 SNES. Most people consider 2 the best, but I think 3 was much better. By far my favorite platformer.

      3) Keystone Kapers Atari 2600. One of the first games I played on Atari and still my favorite. It is a simple concept, catching a thief in a store, but it is a lot of fun and looks great on the Atari.

      4) Super Mario Allstars + Super Mario World Combo SNES. If I had to pick an absolute favorite on the cart... I would probably pick Mario World, but all the games on the cart are amazing!

      5) Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord NES. While I'll admit I have not completed this one yet, I am having a lot of fun with it. The permadeath makes the game scary, knowing that one wrong step could teleport you, or a low level enemy could instant kill you with a decapitation is insane!

      This list honestly could change in five minutes, except Ocarina of Time, that will always be number one.

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    4. 3) Nethack. I've not actually played it a whole ton, but its taught me a lot about patience, careful decision making, and caution. Also the amount it accomplishes with ASCII graphics, the love the dev team clearly has for it, and the amount of planning you can do with caching and the E word and so on. I love it, even if I don't play it much.

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    5. oh, and the fact so few other RLs have persistent levels and gear caching and that type of gameplay. The trend these days is towards minimalist gameplay, when I am not a minimalist. I'd love a easier game that still keeps the identification game, and caching and such, but till then, Nethack.

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    6. 4) The Civilization series (4 if I have to choose, though I'll admit I've not gotten around to playing 5 yet). I can TAKE OVER THE WORLD! on um, really easy difficulties (Warlord). I....its getting hard to describe these games, I play this one a lot, but its hard to say why I like it over, say, Masters of Orion 2. Lots of ways to win, lots of units, game plays a bit different each time....you really get a lot of bang for your buck out of these games.

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    7. 5 & 6) Blight of the Immortals and Neptune's Pride on Iron Helmet Games. Both are long term (Months) games that you log into a few times of day and make a move. Then the game plays out in real time; so it can take 6 hours or more for your units to move between one city and the next. I love both the competitive, will he backstab me gameplay of NP, and the cooperative, must coordinate gameplay of Blight of the Immortals. The problem is the team doesn't iterate very well, so they never put improvements from later games back into Neptune's Pride, and they have horrible balance in Blight. Also, if everyone in the game is awake and working together, blight is trival to win, while if the wrong people drop out, it is almost unwinable. The best situation is a few people drop out, leaving you in a good, but not superb position. Neptune's pride also has issues with people dropping out if they aren't doing well after a couple weeks of play (or singing up and then not playing when the game starts).

      Anyway, I love logging in a few times a day and ordering ships around, or my men to move. It scratches an itch for me; I love games with delay mechanics, where you have to think a couple moves ahead.

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    8. Like most people, I'm having trouble narrowing it down to 5, but here goes.

      In no particular order...

      1. Morrowind. The most immersive game I've ever played and the modability? allows me to make the things that I don't like go away and add more things that I do like. Skyrim may top this eventually, but at the moment I'm going Morrowind because even replaying it ten years later it still felt as immersive to me. No other game rewards exploring every nook and cranny except perhaps for...

      2. Fallout 3. Similar immersiveness and modability as Morrowind, but upped things up a notch with physics and much better dialogue. New Vegas is equally as good, with each game doing some things better.

      3. Gabriel Knight 2. Phew, not all my favourites are Bethsoft RPGS. Brilliant writing and fascinating storyline. Any of the three could go up here. They all have great stories and interesting puzzles and I can't wait for Trickster to get up to them. We're a fair way from 1993 though so I'll have to continue to be patient

      4. Sid Meir's Alpha Centauri. A great strategy game with a surprisingly well-conceived and fascinating story. Eventually gets installed on all computers I've owned since 1999.

      5. The Pandora Directive. Another great story (I sense a pattern here) with good puzzle design. The first Tex Murphy game is up for Trickster soon but is totally different in design and atmosphere from the later games. The series hit its peak with this game.

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    9. Top 5, you say? Right, I don't have much time to play along these days, so let's earn them caps!

      - The Secret of Monkey Island: already talked about this one in my introduction post -- IMO the closest to a perfect adventure game, with the right mix of clever writing, challenging puzzles and amazingly good natured humor appealing to the wide-eyed (pirate wannabe) boy inside every one of us. Pretty much the Pixar of adventure games.

      - Thief: Everyone was going bonkers about Half-Life at the time, but meanwhile this Looking Glass gem was sneakily (ha!) making history of its own. Thief did everything right; besides turning the FPS genre upside down, it also featured a rich universe, an unforgettable anti-hero, a clear and logical set of rules for interacting with the game world, and a dark story that unfolded slowly and masterfully towards its shocking denouement. It also included one of the most terrifying levels in the history of gaming (Return to the Cathedral, I'm looking at you!) Even the intro movie was genius.

      - Heroes of Might and Magic 1-3: Possibly the most charming and accessible strategy games ever, the moment I got a taste of the first one in the series (on a PC Gamer demo disc!) I know it would become a cult classic. Featuring an incredibly elegant design wrapped by gorgeous graphics, music and sound, the games are as addictive as rewarding - it is a veritable joy to see my kids as hooked on HOMM2 (my personal favorite) as I was. Great family entertainment. The music by Paul Anthony Romero (which wrote the score for all games in the series, right through the sixth) is a crowning achievement, opera included! In my opinion, the more recent installments have failed to capture the original trilogy's sense of serendipity and wonder. (Continued...)

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    10. - Ultima Underworld/Ultima 6: To date, these two represent the best RPG experiences I've had. The world UU created was astonishing: much like those playing System Shock at the time who claimed they could remember every level of Citadel Station in detail, I felt I could traverse the Stygian Abyss with my eyes closed. UU was technically impressive, but the meaty part was the story of the different communities that inhabited the incredibly atmospheric Abyss and how the Avatar interacted with them. To this day I can recite the intro movie by heart. Ultima VI-The False Prophet was the first time I played one of the classic Ultimas, and it floored me! Such an incredibly vast world with schedule-bound NPCs and the detailed lore surrounding every town and place... it was a humbling experience. Plus, the music (I had recently got a Sound Blaster).

      - X-COM: UFO Defense: Lightning in a bottle. This is a game that shouldn't have existed, as it set the bar too high: nothing has ever come close since (except maybe Jagged Alliance 2, but on a smaller scale in my opinion). The game that had it all: a strong strategy layer, real time action, base building, technology research, resource management, trade, expansion, a cool theme, a compelling story, and of course, a heck of a turn-based tactical battle system that tracked EVERYTHING you could possibly want, from each bullet on every gun on each of your soldiers to the amount of smoke they were inhaling at any given time (risking being knocked out). The more it went on, the more aces the game pulled from under its sleeve with new enemies, technologies, craft, etc. A tactical minded gamer's wet dream and one of the most addictive games ever, inspiring a myriad of emerging stories, but also one of the cruelest - how many of your rookies can you stand to see decimated before aborting the mission?. (Beware the new version by Firaxis: while competent in its own right, it has been deeply "streamlined" and abstracted to the point that much of the time it feels artificially constricted and "on rails". Tactical battles are still strong but much more limited in scope and possibilities. As it stands on the shoulders of a veritable masterpiece, it is a good, but much less memorable game.)

      I think it would be interesting to pick a fav game out of every different genre (I would have included Knights of the Sky or F-117 in the flight simulation category, or platformers like Prince of Persia! ;-)) But these will do as 5 of the best games I've ever played in my long life as a gamer. They all provided me with many moments of durable joy and many great memories.

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    11. Oh man. Now that I've read Charles' post, I'm wondering how the hell I didn't mention Ultima VII and/or Serpent Isle.

      Oh well, no point complaining about there being too many all-time-great games in existence.

      Best to just keep playing them instead. :)

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    12. Pacpix: Oh, Ocarina is one of the few games I've ever beaten. Now, I did have to go back halfway through, after leaving it for years, but I beat it. I should do Majora's Mask, I only had the Moon left, and had every mask but the final one.

      TBD: Ah, Fallout 3 would be #7 or so on my list. Love that game, with Skyrim had taken its dungeon design from Fallout 3.

      Charles: Ah, HOMM. Great series. I own 1-5, but I've never installed 4 and played very little 5 as it was too buggy.

      X-COM: UFO Defense: Damn, great game. I should go try and finish it again. I've got the new one, which I hear great thing about, but haven't installed it yet.

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    13. @Pacpix: I'm going to play through that version of Wizardry soon.

      There are already so many good games mentioned here like Ultima Underworld, Thief, and Alpha Centauri.

      I'm going to focus on console games, and give a top 10 since I have trouble making small lists:

      Dragon Force (Saturn): It combines strategy, town simulation / management, and RPG leveling for army generals into a game that offers so many different possibilities. The mechanics take some getting used to, but after mastering the basics, it's a lot of fun to play.

      Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen (SNES/PS1): A sleeper hit on the SNES, overshadowed by Chrono Trigger, it was rereleased on the PS1. Once again, an RTS/RPG that breaks genre lines in many ways. Multiple endings, routes, and secret characters off a lot of replay value that encourages trying new tactics and exploration. With a standing army of hundreds of individual character there is nearly unlimited customization.

      Suikoden (PS1): The atmosphere for this game is unrivaled in my gaming experience. You take the role of a young general's son as he starts to move up the ranks of the army only to find yourself pulled into a revolution. The characters are all unique, and offer their expertise to winning army battles. The music is also another great aspect to this game.

      Wild Arms (PS1): I watched the opening movie to this game and was sold on it. The characters are memorable and the adventuring aspects interweave with the world very well. The music, wild west theme, and standard cliches are well used to draw an intriguing world.

      Saga Frontier (PS1): Told from the perspective of seven characters each in their own scenario, the story is wrapped in a final chapter as the stories collide. You can play through them in any order.

      Breath of Fire III (PS1): I thought about picking the second game, but really any of the first three are outstanding. The depth of the characters, skills, and world encounters add up to an epic adventure as the last of the dragons search for his birthright.

      Vandal Hearts (PS1): The first strategy RPG I played, it really doesn't do anything exceptionally new, but it's very well polished. Cliche in many ways, it offers a world view that it is at once harsh and realistic, yet not overly serious.

      King's Field II (PS1): First person RPG, it does well in following the footsteps of Ultima Underworld. Although not quite the same feel, the world is interesting and challenging. Something about these games feel exceptionally well made.

      Star Ocean 2 (PS1): Multiple characters, an active rather than turn based battle system, and a sci-fi/fantasy story come together to create another epic game. Each character can study different skills, invent items, and write books. Towns offer interaction with NPCs and party members alike.

      Valkyrie Profile (PS1): This game is beautifully created from art and music to the story. The main character is a Valkyrie, sent to earth to recruit fallen warriors for the final battle. Over multiple chapters, characters can be sent on to the army or used to explore the world for artifacts to assist the party.


      Too many good games...

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    14. I really need to catch up on your blog and CRPG Addict :/

      The only real complaint I have with Wizardry NES so far is their is a bug where armor class really does not make a noticeable difference, so lots of extra level grinding. That is what I have heard on forums anyways, and I am pretty sure they are right.

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    15. Sounds like it might be better to focus on mages and priests if that's the case. No worries. I just had a four month hiatus that should help anyone catch up. I'm starting up again though. Hopefully you can catch up on the Wizardry posts at least. Still 4 games away, so no rush. ;)

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    16. Ok, that's hard...
      I forget about the five, and list them without a ranking:

      -"Heroes of Might and Magic" I loved the whole row, but the first and yes, the fourth at most.

      -"Indy and the Fate of Atlantis" my alltime-favourite Adventure games

      -"TIE Fighter" my first PC-Game, it has a special place in my hard.

      -"Realms of Arkania 2", see above, I bought it with TIE Fighter

      -"The Witcher" It weakens at the End, but it was a very atmospherical RPG

      -"Sim City"-Row, i think 2000 made the most fun

      -"Gothic" a very good RPG from Germany, very immersive atmosphere

      -"Freespace 1 and 2" today still the best Space-Sims

      -"Monkey Island" row, I think I don't have to say somthing about that games ;)

      -"C&C Red alert 1 and 2" i like how the games take themself not too serious

      -"Desu Ex" my favourite "Shooter", so immersive...

      My favourtie console games:
      - Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
      - Secret of Mana
      - Chrono Trigger

      I surely forgot some games ^^

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    17. Aaaghh! I knew I was missing a masterpiece. That would be Alone in the Dark (the original). A legendary, frickin' brilliant Lovecraftian game!! Oh how I wish Trickster could play it. I forgive the French for all the Captain Bloods and Emmanuelles, they made up for it.

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    18. Another reader has already made it clear they are willing to pay a many CAPs as it takes for me to play Alone in the Dark. I'm sure it can be arranged...

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    19. Oh man, X-Wing, Tie Fighter, and Dark Forces are amazing: Why? NO BLOODY JEDI.

      I'd chip in a couple for Alone in the Dark. I've been watching Survival Horror game videos and a lot of them borrow heavily from adventure game genre, just with zombies or mutants added.

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    20. Would that mysterious reader be me? I have mentioned it before...

      I just feel that it has enough of an Adventure Game feel to it for you to consider it, and I've got plenty of CAPs to put forward.

      There's also another game I'd add, but it's a little bit further away from adventure game territory.

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    21. Give us a hint as to what that will be?

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    22. I can't think of a hint that wouldn't just make it obvious! All will be revealed when we get close to the appropriate year.

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  11. OK, this was a lot harder than I thought! In fact, it was so hard that I had to do something a little different. You see, I had an Amiga from around 1989 through to 1995, and it was only then that I got myself a PC. That means I played a lot of what we might consider to be classic PC games on the Amiga. Anyway, long story short, I've created a top 10 Amiga games list and a top 10 PC games list, but it's only based on what platform I played them on. Here goes...

    Amiga

    1989 - Shadow of the Beast - Yes, I realise it's not actually a great game, but it looked and sounded amazing. Being the first game I got with my Amiga, I played it for months on end until I could finish it without cheating. I consider that one of the highlights of my gaming career!

    1989 - Hero's Quest - You all know how I feel about this game. It was the first adventure game that I played all the way through and the magic remains to this day.

    1991 - Another World (aka Out of This World) - A good mate and I played through this game at the same time, calling each other up whenever we got stuck. It was an incredible game that was a huge step up as far as cinematic visuals and consistently gripping scenarios go.

    1991 - Eye of the Beholder - I'd previously tried to play Dungeon Master when I was younger but didn't get very far. This was the game that turned me into a full fledged RPG player. I would have loved to have included Black Crypt on this list too, but it was clearly just a clone of Eye of the Beholder and Dungeon Master, albeit a good one.

    1991 - The Secret of Monkey Island - Had there ever been a game that ties visuals, music, humour and puzzles together so well? I can't wait to play this game again. You can include the sequel as part of this selection too.

    1991 - SWIV - I used to love top down shoot'em ups as a kid. 1943 and Xenon 2 had already consumed many hours, but it was SWIV that really sucked me in. I played this game to death until I could finish it and then played it all over again.

    1991 - Turrican II: The Final Fight - I never played the first Turrican, but the second one seriously kicked ass. Part platformer, part shoot-em up, this game blew my mind. Seriously though, the music was probably the main thing and I can still bring it to mind at will over 20 years later.

    1992 - Pinball Dreams - Each of the tables in this game gave me endless hours of pleasure. I've played quite a few pinball games since, and there's no doubt that the physics, visuals and sound have all got much better, but the balance on these tables were just fantastic.

    1993 - Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis - I actually played this on my cousin's PC who I used to babysit. We would play through it together and I would often have a week to think about how to beat whatever puzzle had us so stuck the week before. It was a great game and one I will play again soon enough.

    1994 - Beneath a Steel Sky - I remember the day I bought this (which I have to admit was a rarity back then), cracked open the packaging and entered the first of god knows how many floppy disks. My after school hours for the next few weeks were spent in its atmospheric dystopian world, and I while I don't think I was ever able to finish it, I have very fond memories of the experience.

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    1. Beneath a Steel Sky is one of the few adventure games I have completed, I really enjoyed that one.

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    2. I like your list, although I think I like a lot more Shadow of the Beast III and Flashback than SotB I and Another World. Also, kudos for SWIV!! awesome game. That and Silkworm got a lot of my time when I was a kid.

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    3. Flashback was very close to the list, but I'm not sure I ever played Shadow of the Beast III. Either that or I did so around the same time that I discovered alcohol and girls. There's a bit of a void around that period. ;)

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    4. I had a friend who had an Amiga at the time all the other kids I knew -myself included- had to deal with CGA graphics and chirping internal beepers. Going to my friend's house was like a pilgrimage. Games were awesome but the intros were jaw-dropping; was Shadow of the Beast the one with the hut and the baby?

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    5. Wow, Pinball Dreams! Were there four different tables in it, the last having an undead theme? Had forgotten totally about that, invested lots of hours into it competing with my friends on the high score!

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    6. Was that the one with Android and Cybergirl, or was that another pinball game? They looked a lot like the Space Cadet game included with Windows 2000 and buried in Windows XP.

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    7. No, different game. You're thinking of Epic Pinball. Pinball Dreams was better, but I spent a lot of time on both myself.

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    8. @Fenrus: Yes, one of the tables had an undead theme. It was called Nightmare, and I think that was the one I played the most along with Ignition (a space themed table).

      I still know the music for three of the four tables (didn't play the wild west themed table much)!!!!

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  12. PC

    1998 - Baldur's Gate - This game changed me. It made me chuck sickies from work so I could keep playing. I stayed up until 4am when I had to be back at work at 8. I just couldn't stop playing. It was THE game I was waiting for, and somehow, the sequel was even better.

    1998 - Grim Fandango - The adventure game that I thought would breath new life into the genre. It stands as one of the best examples of story and characters in any game of any genre and has stayed with me since I played it. Would love to play it again.

    1998 - Half Life - Who could ever forget the intro to this game. It took the first person shooter genre to a whole new level of atmosphere after endless Doom clones. Once again, the sequel was even better, and Valve have proved themselves to be the masters of their craft.

    1998 - Thief: The Dark Project - This game scared the shit out of me. At first I thought I wouldn't like having to creep around, but once I got into it, it turned out to be one of the most engrossing and satisfying gaming experiences I've had. Both sequels were great, but I think the first one was the best in this case.

    1999 - Planescape Torment - I was always going to love this, given it's relation to Baldur's Gate, but the highly involving and intelligent storyline gave it a life of its own. You may not be able to change the nature of a man, but you can certainly make him very, ver happy!

    1999 - System Shock 2 - Another game that scared the crap out of me. I distinctly recall actually being afraid when the lift doors would open on each floor of the ship, not knowing what was beyond, but knowing it could likely violently tear me apart in seconds. The recorded messages left around added to the experience and Shodan has to go down as one of the best villains in the history of games.

    2000 - Deus Ex - Many consider this the best game ever made and while I won't go that far, I think it deserves its praise. Bring more options to the player than previous games, you could pretty much play Deus Ex how you wanted to, with the story remaining interesting and cohesive regardless. I think I played it in about three days as I couldn't tear myself away from it.

    2000 - The Longest Journey - For a long time, I thought adventure games were dead! I only played this in 2011 and it single handedly brought back my love of the genre. In a way, it was April Ryan and her incredible journey that inspired the creation of this blog.

    2002 - The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind - I frickin LOVE Morrowind! I seriously spent ages just walking around looking at the world. I didn't even need to do anything to enjoy myself. It was so complete, so beautiful. It didn't matter how repetitive it was. I just wanted to be there...and the music...oh don't get me started. Oblivion was great too, but didn't quite reach the same heights.

    2008 - Mass Effect - There's a big gap between Morrowind and Mass Effect, but that's mostly because the years inbetween were filled with lots and lots of sequels (many that I've already mentioned). Mass Effect brought something new, and I was hooked immediately. I was actually three quarters of the way through the sequel when by daughter was born (causing me to lose access to my PC and create this blog instead), but I was enjoying that game just as much. I'd love to play through the whole trilogy one day.

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    1. Ok, I'm going to say it: I never got Half-life. I tried Half-Life 2 on Xbox, and just couldn't get into it. There may be puzzle solving and such later in, but in the sections I got to it was just a mediocre shooter; Not fast enough to be a Halo, Xotic/nexuiz or Unreal style one, no cover like a Hollywood shooter.
      The story felt like I should already known these characters, so I figured I didn't like it since I hadn't played Half-Life. But I watched the Game Informer Super Replay of the whole first game, and it was really, really empty. The only dialog is at the start, going to Xeen, and with the G-Man. It also showed me the gameplay style you are supposed to use with it, which is constantly quicksaving and reloading if you lose too much health in a fight, since heath pickups aren't common, and one bad fight can make your next one unwinnable. It isn't like there weren't other shooters of similar quality out around the same time, soooo.... I don't get it.

      Feel free to light me on fire now.

      Delete
    2. The game on your list that I really WANT to play and like is Deus Ex and it sequels. However, I have NO patience for stealth gameplay, which is, as best I can tell, very much required by the series.

      Delete
    3. Technically, it's not. The genius behind the Deus Ex games is it can be played in a variety of ways. Stealth, brute force, take a technological approach. It's all up to you. Of course, some paths are easier than others.

      Delete
    4. Yeah, I can't say I took many stealth options in the game. I'm much more likely to take the frontal approach when given the choice, which makes my love of Thief all the more surprising. I take it that series isn't for you Canageek?

      Delete
    5. I love stealth games and will use that approach whenever a game lets me. That said, Deus Ex 3 was actually good enough to make me replay a few levels using only conventional frontal tactics.
      Dishonored (a so-called "spiritual successor" to Thief), on the other hand, was a big disappointment on both aspects and couldn't bear myself to finish it.

      Delete
    6. Really? The frontal approach is viable? My impression of Deus Ex: Human Revolution was that would get you killed very, very quickly.

      I've never tried thief: When it was viable I was a console guy.

      Delete
  13. Phew! That's 20 games (plus their sequels) that make up some of the best months of my life. I hope you enjoyed reading about it.

    I'm sure I missed something important, but you get that.

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  14. 1) The secret of Monkey Island - The first adventure game I played and the one I love most. I can't remember how many times I've played it (I think my last record was 2h and something) but I think it is just the perfect adventure: funny, engaging, with good dialogue, story and graphics... Best. Game. Ever.
    2) Ultima VII Part 1&2: A game I felt in love before even playing it just by reading about it. As soon as I got my hands on a PC (proud owner of an Amiga 500) I bought this game and it was incredible. Good story, the best world recreation Ive seen even up till now. I think I like it a lot because is more an adventure game than a pure RPG.
    3) Mass Effect (1, the others are... meh): I bought it thanks to a friend's recommendation and I couldn't be more grateful. Very good story and characters and an acceptable combat system. I even liked the mako.
    4) Dungeon Master: Even though I never got to beat it, I kept coming back to DM during my Amiga times. Great atmosphere, good puzzles, mediocre combat.
    5) Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup: I can't count the number of hours I invested until I finally beat (just 3 runes though) this roguelike. And even after that, I keep coming back to play some more from time to time.

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    1. Somehow I missed the whole Ultima thing. It's strange really, as it's totally my thing! I played Ultima I a couple of years ago and finished it. At the time I intended to play the whole series, but part II really lost me. I just wasn't enjoying it at all.

      One day I will give it another shot. I'd like to say I'd just skip part II, but well, you guys know how much of a completist I am.

      I remember playing Dungeon Master, but I just couldn't get anywhere. I think I was just too young or inexperienced in that type of game at the time.

      Delete
    2. For Ultima neophytes I generally recommend starting with IV, you can pretty much safely skip for I-III as they're pretty much standard save the world by killing the big bad tales, everything pertinent is covered in the lore offered up by the game manuals, or within the latter games themselves. IV is where the series took a dramatic turn into true world building and sometimes more introspective adventures as well as showcasing one of the early examples of a morality system within an RPG. Once you know the world offered up by IV and onwards, if you feel the itch to explore its beginnings certainly give I-III a try, if not, well you're not missing too much by skipping them entirely.

      Delete
    3. Yes, I agree completely what Jarikith. And before starting with Ultima IV, you can always read Mr. Addict's posts about I-III (If you haven't already). I just wish I was as lucky as you, and could still experience the Ultima's for first time..

      And regarding U2, I think Lord British himself is ashamed of that creation. It really doesn't fit to the Ultima lore in any way..

      Delete
  15. I'm really surprised to see that nobody included the original Fallout in their lists. Easily one of the best RPGs out there, and one of the best endings in gaming, IMO.

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    1. Fallout and Fallout 2 somehow evaded my attention. It was only after playing Baldur's Gate that I found out about them, but by then I's gone well and truly down the fantasy path. I played all the Icewind Dale games / expansions and anything remotely resembling that type of game, and then Morrowind came out! It was only after playing and loving Fallout 3 that I was inspired to go back and see what they were all about, but I got distracted after enjoying a few hours of the first game and never went back to it for some reason. I will...one day.

      Delete
  16. Well, my choices are more like ”the five games that have glued me to computer most” than ”the five games I consider the best ever”, but here it goes:

    Boulder Dash: One of few action games I’ve ever played extensively for years and years – and one of the first computer games I ever played – and as much as it’s embarrasing to admit this, I never got past level 3 (I’ve never been much good with games where speed is of the essence)

    Rogue: Yes, Nethack is probably more complex and has more of everything, but Rogue is a big part of my childhood; I can still remember wondering ”so PC games look this crude”, trying to use a dictionary to understand what quaffing was all about, cursing at the big L who stole my things, always getting killed by the big A that rusted the armor … and never managing to find the amulet (do I see a pattern here?)

    Laura Bow and Dagger of Ammon-Ra: There probably are better adventure games, but since this is the first LB I played and it’s only so few games to Colonel’s Bequest and I’ve always loved a good murder mystery and Laura is such a wonderful character I just had to include this game to my list

    Civilization-series: I remember feeling very proud when I had discovered what I thought to be the ultimate winning strategy in the first game (don’t make any revolutions, build nothing but military units, make all your citizens into tax men or scienticts and don’t bother if all your cities have only one citizen in the end, conquer all with your mighty armies); suffice to say that the pride turned into humility when I tried the next difficulty level… I probably played the second Civilization most and third installment only couple of times and the fourth is still waiting to be installed, but I know that if I ever do it, I won’t be able to do nothing else for couple of months but to play just one more turn

    Ultima 5: It took me a couple of times to beat it, but I finally did it; the last old-fashioned Ultima, which is probably why I like it so much

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    1. Boulder Dash!! That was unexpected but pleasant :-) Which platform did you play it on?

      Delete
    2. Originally the good old Commodore 64, although I think I've played some Windows -conversion recently (with as much success in guiding Rockford as in my childhood).

      Delete
    3. Wow! I've only played one of these games, which is Rogue. It feels like blasphemy to admit it, but I've never played a Civilization game. Thought about it a few times, but I'm just not much of a strategy guy. Heroes of Might and Magic III and Homeworld are about as strategy as I get.

      Maybe one day I'll do a strategy blog just to make myself play the classics!

      Delete
  17. @Charles: How could you so casually mention the words Return to the Cathedral! It took me many years to recover from that experience! I'm a fan of horror movies and nothing much scares me, but that level...was truly frightening!

    Seriously though, how good was the sound in that game. It totally made it what it was!

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    1. Rest assured that when I speak of RttC I do it with the utmost reverence! Sound design was genius, but then again what wasn't genius in that game :-) The cutscenes were also masterfully done -- the one where the cat finally gets out of the bag and Garrett gets a taste of what he was dealing with... thanks to Youtube I can relive them and be creeped out again!

      Delete
  18. Larry III gameplay post will be up tomorrow. Nearly finished but sleep beckons...

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  19. This is going to be difficult. Whatever list I come up with, it is going to be lacking something important. Should this be a list of games that I think, as objectively as I can, are shining examples of the craft that is computer games? Or should this be a list of the games that I've played with the uncompromising vigor of youth, back in the day? I think I'll just rant about my gaming history and choose five of the most important ones.

    Well, the first truly significant computer game of my life is Lords of Midnight. My father bought an Amstrad PC 6128. It comes with a 3" disk drive, none of that floppy nonsense, thank you. A character called Roland was sort of the Mario of Amstrad, and there was a platformer called Roland on the Ropes that was pretty significant as well. And some sports game, an F1 game, and this totally weird isometric game.

    I played Lords of Midnight with my father and brother. If you don't know it, it's a fantasy war game, where you command lords, who can recruit more lords to fight the armies of Doomdark. And there's a magic ring as well. We roughly divided the land and the lords in three and the game into two phases. First we tried to recruit everyone possible, and then focus on defeating Doomdark. We mostly played on the weekends and during the week we'd discuss strategy and make plans. Some lords command no troops, and those we'd use as scouts. You can only see what your lords see and thus we didn't understand that the game doesn't have any AI to speak of. It was an epic war that lasted for months, with offensives and retreats, triumphs and failures. Mostly triumphs, because in all honesty it's a fairly easy game. It is quite possibly the best computer gaming I've ever had, and probably the reason why I love playing single player games with friends. As a dysfunctional hive mind, if you will. It's also my favourite way of playing adventure games, although it's been a long while since I've had the pleasure.

    The next game is very difficult to choose. I think I will skip the 8-bit era and go to the 16-bit bliss that was Amiga. Faery Tale and Dungeon Master were some of the early important ones, but in the end the answer is clear. Ultima IV. I played the game religiously in the summer of 1989. Looking back, it's hard to understand what exactly so enthralled me about it. I think I never finished a single dungeon. I did explore all of the continent, and I remember vividly my first encounter with pirates, and gaining their ship. A thunderstorm destroyed my save game, and I never did finish the game. I still haven't. But it was magical, and it was also my first journey to Britannia. Ultimas VI and VII are wonderful as well.

    Since I skipped Maniac Mansion, I suppose I must by now choose an adventure game. There are a lot I liked. Perhaps my fondest memory with regards to adventure games is playing Hero's Quest for two days straight, just before Christmas 1990, and finishing it late into the night. I played Monkey Island in somewhat similar a fashion in summer 1991. Monkey Island was the first game that was truly funny, and clever. So well paced. I was stuck in a couple of places for a fair while (the ship and with the idol on the island), and only got through with the help of a friend. But I don't think I was ever truly frustrated by the game. Still, my next pick must be Gabriel Knight: Sins of our Fathers (PC). It is still one of the finest adventure games ever made, because it has, I think, the best characters and the best storytelling of all the adventure games I've played. Also the New Orleans of the game is very well realized. It's a breathing environment that hides unpleasant secrets beneath it's facade of normality. I hated the snake puzzle at the end. And the game had some pretty tough puzzles, as I recall. But it was the first time I felt something for the characters in the game. Gabriel is
    lout, I mean he's out.

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  20. I also played most of the FPS games that came out for the PC in the nineties. I poured tons of hours into Doom, Duke and Deus Ex. Yeah, that limps a bit, but still, alliteration! And I suppose I could have picked Deus Ex as my next game. Or perhaps it should have been Ultima Underworld, which is probably the most underappreciated classic of all time. Still, my choice is System Shock. The first one. I consider it superior to its sequel. SS2 is a great game, but it is more linear, less of a simulation. It is perhaps objectively speaking the better game. It's more focused, paced better and plays better. But for me System Shock was at the time the Holy Grail. Sure, the rollerskates bent the engine to it's breaking point, but I loved almost everything about that game. Sci-fi has always, unfortunately, been more rare than fantasy, and good sci-fi is truly scarce. I love it when games, movies and books try to maintain internal consistency in their fiction. And while System Shock isn't masterful in that regard (the audio journals have never been my favourites), it does a pretty good job. The cyberspace is a bit unpolished. But the atmosphere was really tense. The level and monster design was great. It was the perfect marriage between action and rpg. And the music was a great fit. Haha, also, the elevators (acting as load points between levels) had actual elevator music. While I enjoyed System Shock 2 a lot, I always felt it was a bit of shame that the sequel made the experience that much more focused and linear. But as I said, I do suspect SS2 is the better game. I just like it less.

    So, I'm down to my fifth game and I haven't even reached 1995. And I've already skipped wonderful memories and great games. I skipped Warlords, which inherited the title of the game I played together with my father and brother. It was followed by Warlords II Deluxe, which had it's wonderful editor. And Command & Conquer and Red Alert, which we also played a fair bit. And Age of Empires II. We also played a bit of Europa Universalis II, and I played it tons by myself. To leave it out is unforgivable. Yet sometimes there's no choice. Just like with Crusader Kings II, which is even better than first. I'm going to leave out Fallout II, which for some strange reason I played before Fallout. There's no Tie Fighter or Wing Commander or Sacrifice or Uru Online. Oh gods, Uru was such a wreck, and I loved it. I played it with a friend of mine, with whom we played lots of adventure and puzzle games. Fool's Errand is such a gem. There are so many worthy games, but from the past 18 years the game I'm absolutely going to have to choose is Dwarf Fortress.

    I suppose in a sense it's unfair. Dwarf Fortress is so different. It doesn't play by the same rules. The further along Dwarf Fortress gets, the further away from a traditional games it gets. It's not even a toy. For me though, it's the ultimate story generator. I have tons of Dwarf Fortress stories. Mostly they are tales of woe, yet I delight in them. And this is the single thing that makes it so unfair to compare Dwarf Fortress to any other game. Gaming, in general is built on the idea of progress, growth. Most games stand on the idea that you build upon something, almost always progressing and eventually succeed. Dwarf Fortress makes failing the norm, part of the game. It expects you to play, and eventually stop playing. Failing isn't as much your failure as it part of the history of the world. Everything ends, eventually. It's the simulated wider world, that, for me at least, transforms Dwarf Fortress. It makes the lack of goals that much more tangible.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Even rougelikes don't do this, even though they do share that same personal storytelling trait of DF, and the stories of failures are one of the strengths of the genre. I guess for a lot of people the best way to enjoy DF is to read other people's distillations, like Boatmurdered or Denee's Bronzemurder and Oilfurnace. In all honesty I do think people exaggerate the difficulty curve of Dwarf Fortress. There's a lot to master, but you don't need to learn all that much to have fun. The one truly problematic thing about DF is that it requires a lot of time. To achieve anything you'll easily need a couple of hours. But then, then your mason went crazy because he couldn't get all the items he wanted for his masterwork and pushed the pet cow of the depressed swordsman off the bridge into the river, where it drowned. And it all ended in blood, vomit and miasma.

    tl;dr

    Lords of Midnight
    Ultima IV
    Gabriel Knight
    System Shock
    Dwarf Fortress

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  22. Wow, good responses in here. For simplicity's sake, I'll stick to PC games. In no particular order:

    Archon - I just loved this game as a kid. I used to get together with friends and have long Archon tournaments. Played the dark side whenever I could and loved the basilisks.

    King's Quest III - A huge step up from previous games, I liked the timing aspect, hiding my stuff, casting spells, and finding out who I was.

    Space Quest IV - New computer, first VGA game. Jaw-dropping. And funny too. From that day forth, I always hoped they made 10 Space Quests so I could play The Latex Babes Of Estros.

    Dragon's Lair II - I know it's been released on every platform imaginable, but I first experienced this on the PC. 12 floppy disks. 43 total moves before the game was over. But VGA cartoon animation and digital sound was awesome. Plus I loved the characters. When Dragon's Lair 3D came out, I bought some of the figures that sit on the "knick-knack" shelf.

    MechWarrior - Loved the first one. There was a narrative that you could follow, or you could just go off and be a mercenary. Awesome battles. Contract negotiation. Political affinities. Always a fun time to play.

    There are many more, but I've singled these out for longevity; the ones I would fire up time after time to play with. I've played many other great games (Half-Life, System Shock 2, X-Wing/TIE, LucasArts adventures, etc), but always came back to these occasionally.

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    1. I remember Archon fondly. I was a strange kid that enjoyed playing this on the NES along with Battle Chess, Anticipation, and M.U.L.E. I did a speedrun of Archon, it can be a very quick game: http://speeddemosarchive.com/Archon.html

      Delete
  23. Hey Trickster: Why did you never add ASYLUM: From the designer of Scratches to your kickstarter list? Over $50,000 (Goal: $100,000) and almost at its funding goal. http://kck.st/VlnMSs

    And that appears to be the only Adventure game over $50,000. A lot under $10,000, and a few in between, but nothing over.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I missed that one. Correcting it right now!

      We should all get on this one too! It looks fantastic and the Kickstarter video is one of the best I've seen. Very, very funny!!!

      Delete
  24. Ok, time to hit up Steam for some adventure game sales:

    The Clockwork Man: 50% off. http://store.steampowered.com/app/111000/

    The Clockwork Man: The Hidden World: 50% off. http://store.steampowered.com/app/111010/

    The Journey Down: Chapter One: 75% off. http://store.steampowered.com/app/220090/

    The Book of Unwritten Tales: 75% off. http://store.steampowered.com/app/215160/

    ReplyDelete
  25. Stupid huge Steam Sales.
    The Book of Unwritten Tales: The Critter Chronicles: 50% off. http://store.steampowered.com/app/221830/

    Alright, given that these sound very much like an old adventure game with horror elements, I'll add them and Trickster can give me CAPS for them or not:
    Penumbra Overture: 80% off. http://store.steampowered.com/app/22180/

    Penumbra Black Plague Gold Edition: 80% off. http://store.steampowered.com/app/22120/

    Amnesia: The Dark Descent: 75% off. http://store.steampowered.com/app/57300/

    ReplyDelete
  26. Also: I know I won't get CAPS for this, but in the 'So bad, it is good' catagory: http://kck.st/Y9Ikjb
    Aren't you glad there is no chance in hades it will make its funding goal? Otherewise I'd totally set up a CAP fund to force you to play it.

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  27. I fail at making top 5 lists, so here's a top 15 PC Games:

    1. Quest for Glory IV: The best in it's series, and one of the best adventure games ever made. Not to mention it's calibre as an RPG! I love the music, the setting (Lovecraftian horror), the characters and even the voice-acting.

    2. Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge: I liked the first game, but for me it was the second that really nailed what Guybrush and co. were all about. The music and wonderful artwork help set the scene perfectly, and every character is weird and wonderful.

    3. Ultima VII (both parts): I was going to separate these, but they belong together. The Ultima series has been a big part of my gaming life, and I feel like I know Britannia like the back of my hand. The seventh in the series had the benefit of great technological advances (for the time!), with it's great interface, beautiful music and colourful characters.

    4. Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn: I'm singling this out in particular, rather than giving the whole series. The first was a little rough around the edges and had an annoying level cap. The first game's expansion was irrelevant to the main plot, and the second game's expansion felt like a rushed end to the series. But BG2:SoA hit that sweet spot, it fleshed out the characters, upgraded the graphics, great music, lots of interesting locations and just enough non-linearity.

    5. Mount & Blade: Warband: This gets all the way up here mainly on the basis of mods, but also because for the main game and the various modded games I must have clocked up well over 200 hours of game time. There are few games that keep me coming back for more, and it's amazingly rare for those games to be based so heavily on combat. It's that mix of enjoyable mechanics, vast modding community and emergent gameplay that makes this one of the best games of all time.

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    1. 6. Space Quest IV: Sci-Fi and comedy, a good mix! Space Quest was great right from the start, with it's relatable slob hero (relatable to me, anyway!) and mixture of parody and solid adventure gaming. I picked SQIV in particular because of those great VGA graphics and the music (You might have noticed how much I appreciate good music in a game!), not to mention that staple of Sci-Fi, the crazy time-travel plot. I like to think it inspired Futurama too, since they have a few things in common.

      7. Jagged Alliance 2: Surely the king of turn-based tactics games. It improved massively on the first game in the series, and I've played this quite a few times over the years. No game yet has come close to the sorts of tense gunfights that I've had with JA2, and it should really have had more influence on gaming than it did. The marvellous modding community have made massive improvements too, with the 1.13 patch being a personal favourite.

      8. Ultima Underworld: I could so easily have chosen Labyrinth of Worlds (especially how it ties in with U7), but I think that the first game deserves a lot of recognition. It was amazingly advanced for it's day, with full 3D environments to explore. It used this new technology to it's fullest, with intricate maps, unique locations and environmental puzzles. The plot may have been slightly generic, and it doesn't quite fit with the rest of the series, but it's a great game in it's own right.

      9. Alone in the Dark: That Lovecraftian horror rears it's head yet again, with the first and best in a long running series. While the awkward new 3D characters don't sit well with the 2D backdrops at times, it still managed to get across so much tension and mystery. It draws you in well, compelling you to investigate the strange goings on at the mansion. Top musical score too, as well as suitably creepy voice acting.

      10. Fallout: I'm choosing the first in the series for the list, because I feel it portrayed the world and used the mechanics best. The second is better in several ways, but a little less focused, and I'm not overly fond of Fallout 3 or New Vegas. The first game ejects you into a post-apocalyptic Mad Max-style hellscape, with nothing but a few supplies and your wits. It can be hard, even unfair at times, but this ties in so well with the narrative about how inhospitible the world has become. It then layers on various retro-futuristic science-fiction elements and plenty of nods to pop culture. A thoroughly enjoyable experience, that has quite a lot of replay value.

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    2. 11. Civilization II: I was going to choose Civ4:Beyond the Sword, but it can feel a little over-complicated at times. Civ2 was pretty much as perfect as it could be for the time, and introduced me to that "just one more turn" feeling. A true classic, I must have sunk endless days into it, trying to carve out my own empire or just win the space race.

      12. UFO: Enemy Unknown (a.k.a X-COM: UFO Defence): A game I'm replaying right now, this game mixes larger strategic goals with tense turn-based combat. It has been imitated many times, but there has yet to be a game which I feel has truly continued in the same spirit (Big hopes for Xenonauts here!).

      13. Sim City 2000: I really enjoyed the first Sim City, but I was a little young to really get to grips with it. By the time SC2k was released, I was a little older and a little wiser. I knew what I was doing, and yet still failed miserably most of the time. Somehow though, this city planning game kept drawing me back in for more, as I desperately tried to balance my budgets.

      14. Command & Conquer: Dune II might have been the first RTS that I played, but C&C did it better. From that gloriously cheesy sci-fi setting (who can ever forget those FMV mission briefings?), to the perfect Frank Klepacki music, I found it amazing. The gameplay was top notch too, with classic base building and two entirely separate branching campaigns.

      15. Championship Manager 3 (1999-2002): Three games here, but they were all really just updates of each other. Now known as Football Manager, these provided the perfect fantasy football experience. The later games might have added more features, but they also added perhaps a bit too much complexity (at least for me). This was the sweet spot for the series in my opinion, where you could get through a season in a weekend and play a match in minutes.

      I've missed SO MANY games from this list, like Day of the Tentacle, Diablo II, Half-Life, Neverwinter Nights, Jedi Outcast, The Witcher, Max Payne, Anachronox, Final Fantasy VII, Thief, System Shock 2, Fragile Alliegiance, Police Quest, King's Quest, Master of Orion 2, Caesar II, Sanitarium, The Stanley Parable, Heroes of Might and Magic II, Doom and so on. These lists are impossible! Even now I want to change it, and you could ask me next week and I would give a different answer. (and I haven't even mentioned console or handheld games!)

      Delete
    3. Andy_Panthro: Have you tried FreeCiv? It is based on Civ II, but with a modern UI and a lot of shortcuts and ideas that make it easier to play, based on the experience of people who have played the same game for way too many years, plus a couple UI ideas from later games.

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    4. I've not tried FreeCiv, my Civ fix has come from Civ4:Beyond the sword in recent years. I do have Civ5 though, which I haven't tried yet.

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    5. I'm in the same position, though I never got Beyond the Sword, just the base game. Did it change a lot?

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    6. It's been a while since I played it, so I can't quite remember. But I'm pretty sure they made quite a few changes, with religion, cultural victories and so on.

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  28. Also worth a mention, the Ken Allen kickstarter:

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mrkenallen/under-the-half-dome-an-album-by-sierra-composer-ke

    and also I got my Alpha key for the new Leisure Suit Larry remake, and it's looking good! (very rough at the moment though, plenty of missing animations and almost no voice acting and such).

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  29. I'm never good at Top 'However many lists' but I'll give it a whirl. Note these are in no particular order, just the cream of my crop of gaming experiences, often by genre.

    Space Combat Simulator game: Privateer: This game took everything that was awesome about Wing Commander and put it into a open galaxy where there was more to do than simply following the main story, having that freedom made the world feel more alive than games set on rails even if there wasn't that much depth to what else you could do within the game. (Really looking forward to Star Citizen!)

    RPG: Ultima Worlds of Adventure: Martian Dreams. Taking the Ultima VI engine which was pretty much perfection itself for the time, Martian Dreams was the second Worlds of Adventure offering the Ultima series (and much more narratively successful than Savage Empire). Blending Ultima lore and mechanics with an adventure to Mars with historical figures created a truly unique and memorable adventure that I still remember with nothing but fondness to this day. (Savage Empire and Martian Dreams are both FREE offering from GoG seriously if you haven't played them you have no excuse not to!)

    Adventure Game: There's far too many supremely excellent adventure games to pick just one! Ask me another day and I may have a completely different and still valid answer, for today it is... Monkey Island II everything Monkey Island was but just that much better thanks to the wider scope offered by multiple islands to visit and the interlocking nature of the puzzles offered on each.

    Simulation: Sim City 2000. I've always enjoyed building. I still collect cool Lego sets that strike my fancy, I enjoy jigsaw puzzles, etc, so naturally enough a game that allows you to build up an entire city certainly stuck my fancy from the first. Sim City 2000 is the one I spent the most time with, playing again and again, building new and different cities each time, it refined everything the original Sim City offered without becoming to mired down with a glut of options, details, and difficulty that later entries offered. (Really looking forward to the new Sim City in March!)

    Licensed Game Property! Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic. Sure it's another RPG but it was and still is the best use of a licensed property for a video game that I can think of. Bioware struck gold with the story and the twist in the middle that changed everything you thought you knew about the character you invested yourself in building up. Sadly KotOR 2 was rushed to sorta kinda completion and didn't recapture that same magic.

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  30. Too hard to name specific games, but quite easy to name my favorite series. I think what all have in common is a great game universe, overarching storyline, protagonists easy to identify with, and a memorable score and good graphics.

    Ultima - Ultima 6 was actually my first CRPG, and the open game world was something I had never encountered in a computer game before. I fell immediately in love with the series (and still am). My favorites are definitely U7 & SI, along with UW2. UW1 was groundbreaking as a game (engine), although it feels quite forced into the Ultima universe. But still a great game. And UW2 is a strong candidate to be my all time favorite game, if I had to name just one. Also liked the spinoff Martian Dreams.

    Quest for Glory - I guess this one needs no explanations.. Shadows of Darkness and Hero's Quest EGA being my favorites (I guess I am not the only one)

    Gabriel Knight - Great characters, story, dialogue and puzzles. Impossible to say which chapter is the best. I also like that each game is really different in game play and technology.

    System Shock - The atmosphere and the music is so creepy - I remember being scared while playing it at night.. I also liked how the story progresses through the log files found across the station. I had really big expectations on SS2, and it did not fail me
    ..
    Wing Commander - WC1 was really groundbreaking to me with it's graphics, and WC2 even improved with the cinematic feel. The introduction just blew my mind off (having speech and all!). I can still remember all the dialogue in it, watched it for a million times. Although I have to admit, that X-Wing and Tie Fighter are far better as space sims,. but still t prefer WC over them.

    Origin and Sierra seem to dominate the list.. liked of course all the classic Lucasfilm/-Arts games, but somehow they do not make to the very top.

    Bubbling under: Star Control 2, Gateway 2, Shadow of the Comet

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    1. It's so funny to read other comments now - so many similar memories, and others have managed to put my thoughts into better words!

      I just have to add one more game to my list. The original EA Sports NHL Hockey 93/94, played against a friend who is as skilled as you are. That was a game we really mastered, and we used to know all the stats of the players while optimizing the line-ups. The only flaw in the game was that other was forced to play with a mouse, which gave a slight disadvantage (to be honest there are other flaws as well but I don't mind them). Nowadays we still play it each time we meet (my friend lives across the world), although not the DOS version but with an SNES emulator (allowing both to use keyboard..).

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    2. Oh my, I used to play tons of Wayne Gretzky Hockey (so strange to think that Bethesda started out by making sports games!) with a friend. It could get very... animated. Fortunately by that time I had TAC-2:s, they were pretty much unbreakable :-)

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    3. Wayne Gretzky Hockey is another classic as well. I would classify it almost as a hockey simulator (especially when compared to the arcade style of other hockey games of the era - and as far as I know, even today..) It was quite realistic and allowed you to create different strategies, e.g. for powerplay, and the AI surprisingly good as the computer guided players also followed those formations quite well.

      The downside was, that it was damn difficult to control! You could lose the puck just by turning too quickly while holding the puck..

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  31. Not in particular order:

    Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive - One of the most fun games to play, ever. The gameplay's emergent the same way roguelikes are; there's many ways to play it and strategies to use. The characters and story are very entertaining, too.

    Ancient Domains of Mystery - The only roguelike I've really put time into or won. It has so much content and depth, and its maker has recently resurrected its development and making new releases with lots of new content and bug fixes!

    Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers - The best adventure game in my opinion. I love all the various twists and turns in the plot. Really good characters and art direction, too.

    Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars - The second best adventure game in my opinion. Very similar go Gabriel Knight in some ways, and also has many twists and turns that I enjoy.

    The whole Monkey Island series - The most nostalgic for me. I even like the fourth one! I've replayed them so many times I've almost gotten tired of them.

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  32. So much cat hair in that first picture...

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