Thursday, 6 November 2014

What's Your Story? - Joe Pranevich

Introduction by Ilmari
Answers and pictures by Joe Pranevich

It's so wonderful to see people committed to keeping "The Adventure Gamer" alive, ready to play and blog their way through adventuring history. Part of the appeal of this blog has always been the personality of its creator: it was not just some anonymous game player, but Trickster with his distinct character behind it all.  To continue this tradition, we've thought of introducing you to our new reviewers one by one. We have currently two active games going on, played by Aperama and Joe Pranevich. Aperama is probably known to everyone who has read the comments of the blog and even his What's Your Story? appeared quite a while ago. Joe Pranevich has not been as frequent commentator, but with commendable enthusiasm, he volunteered to keep the torch of TAG alive. So, without further ado, here's the story of Joe:

My home country is… I am originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the city that brought you “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood”, decent pierogies, and sandwiches where all of your side dishes get served on the sandwich itself. It also has one of the best amusement parks in the world, Kennywood Park. These days, I make my home in Boston, Massachusetts.

Pittsburghers actually eat this. Seriously.

My age is… I am 36. The last square age for thirteen years, but next year will be a prime so that is not a complete loss.

The first adventure game I played was… When I was around 10, my parents bought for me a “Golden Oldies” collection for the Commodore 64 which included a copy of Adventure, otherwise known as Colossal Cave. Despite my best attempts, I never made it too far, possibly because I kept forgetting which direction was “west” when drawing my maps. I pick it up again every few years and I keep getting a bit farther, but still have never beaten it.

Later, I remember playing “The Manhole” on an ancient Mac while visiting relatives. That was my first graphical adventure game.

I just know if I pick wrong I’m going to have to reload.

My favourite adventure game is… I do not have a “favorite” adventure game. I am quite fond of Quest for Glory and suspect that Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness may be the greatest Sierra-style adventure game ever made. As a kid, the answer would have been Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers-- though I am quite nervous to replay it in case it does not measure up to the nostalgia.

When I’m not playing games I like to… My interests are all over the place. In real life, I consider myself an internet technologists but my evening interests include modern biblical scholarship and the Dead Sea Scrolls, etymology and linguistics, Doctor Who, travel, and having fun with my wife and kid. I blog about most of these items either on (geek stuff) or (religion).

I like my games in (a box, digital format)… I used to like boxes, but now I am a huge believer in DRM-free gaming through sites like Although I support the concept of abandonware, I actually am fairly compulsive about owning a real license to games that I play. I have found ancient boxed sets of the Gold Box games, for instance, rather than just playing a download. “Operation Stealth” is the first game in a while that I have been unable to find any way to pay for, but if it is ever sold on GOG, I will buy it in a moment.

The thing I miss about old games is… I miss the artistry of small-team games. Knowing that something was the toil of one person, or of a few people, gives me a connection to them that I could never feel with a game that has hundreds of developers. This does not mean that I do not love modern games, but I do not feel the same connection.

Because in my head, this is how it actually works.

The best thing about modern games is… Nothing. There is nothing good about modern games until they release Civilization: Beyond Earth for the Mac. The last games I played on a modern console were Skyrim and Lego Marvel Super Heroes. Seriously, hurry up and release it so I do not have to be so jaded.

The one TV show I never miss is… Doctor Who. A big blue box that can travel between genres? That has a super-intelligent mostly-pacifist as its lead? How can you not love this show?

If I could see any band live it would be… I still wish Moxy Früvous would get back together.

My favourite movie is… I do not have a favorite movie, but I have probably seen Back to the Future more often than any other film. Right now, the Marvel Universe films are pretty awesome and I am looking forward to giving significant amounts of money to Disney over the next decade to support my habit.

One interesting thing about me is… The very first writing that I ever had “published” was a walkthrough I wrote for Ultima 1 and posted to the Ultima Dragons fan forum. It somehow ended up, with my name taken off, as the official walkthrough on one of the Ultima Collection CD-ROMs back in the 90s.

If there's anyone else out there that would like to share, or get their hands on 20 sweet CAPs, please send your responses to


  1. I too cannot wait for the release of Civilization: Beyond Earth (for PC however). I'm a little nervous though as I did not like Civ V, I still play Civ IV weekly.

    1. From what I have read, Beyond Earth appears to be very similar in nature to Civ 5, so I would be cautious before making that purchase...

    2. I've downloaded V (Got it in a Humble Bundle, and on CD as a gift...) but haven't played it yet. I've also been trying Endless Space, a Masters of Orion style game.

  2. I've been doing some thinking recently about why I'm so attracted to going back and playing old games rather than sticking to modern ones. There are obvious answers, such as:

    1. The cost of modern games and the increased hardware required to run them.
    2. The ability to pick a proven classic instead of crossing my fingers and hoping for a good experience.
    3. The nostalgia of games from the time when I was a child and therefore much more impressionable.
    4. My compulsive need to do things chronologically and completely.

    But I think you've touched on something here as well Joe. I did feel a really strong connection to games that I simply don't feel with modern games, but it's really hard to figure out why. Perhaps it was just the fact that I often played one game and one game only for weeks at a time, almost living it. Or perhaps, as you say, the fact that often one or two people fully committed themselves to developing an entire game somehow comes across in an almost subconscious way to the player. It's not like I was thinking about that as a kid, but looking back it seems important.

    Well that's my rambling for the day. I thank you for helping to keep this blog alive. Obviously it means a lot to me. :)

    1. I share your obsessive desire to do things in order. As part of the playing of "Operation Stealth", I had hoped to quickly play a few other James Bond games, maybe watch "From Russia With Love" (the second Bond film), etc. But no, the time does not allow it. I even considered playing Future Wars to get a better handle for the developer, but again the same excuse.

      I am currently stuck in Operation Stealth so I may take a break from it to do one of those things. I hope to be un-stuck by the time the posting schedule catches up with my writing schedule.

  3. Hmmm, I'm not sure I've ever played any of the Civilization games. I know, how can I call myself a gamer?!

    I will have to remedy this situation ASAP.

    1. Speaking of Civilization...

  4. I still wish Moxy Früvous would get back together.

    You never know, I hear Jian Ghomeshi is looking for work now...

    1. I think he might be a bit busy trying not to go to jail for that though. Also, he has to live at his mother's house right now, since she is ensuring his bail conditions, so that would make touring rather difficult.

      Also: Canada would like to apologize for letting a rapist get that famous.

  5. Trickster: Start with the first Civilization to get the core experience. I tried to get into the later ones, but never found them as addictive.

    Joe: Ref your caption to the Guys from Andromeda image, that actually was very close to how Ken Williams hired game designers. He met Jim Walls at a bar, decided he was a good storyteller and that Sierra could use a police procedural game, so Ken hired him. I'm pretty sure Scott Murphy already lived in the area. I got the job there because he held a meeting in which he said he was looking for an award winning, published, tournament-level dungeon master to design a game.

    How did that get back to us? Carolly Hauksdottir was a free-lance animator on King's Quest IV. Ken knew her because she was also a house appraiser/assessor working for Madera County; she appraised Ken's house. Carolly knew Lori and me through filk singing (science fiction and fantasy folk singing) in San Jose. I think she had also played in one of our D&D games; we later played in one of hers.

    So yeah, it worked pretty much like Ken meeting some aliens (or in many cases, locals) and deciding they would make good game designers.

    1. Really? I always founds Civ IV the most addictive, since it removes a lot of the stuff I found annoying about the earlier games. I'm finally getting bored of it, so I should give V a try....

  6. Honestly, I'd kinda suggest that all of the Civilization games are hellacious in their addiction. The problem with them is that you tend to go into them with a finite amount of time, then discover that you've not only swallowed that chunk but that it's 3 AM and oh god what am I doing I need to be awake in two hours.

    I think you should look at it as the Firaxis Apple conversion department just taking it easy on you, Joe. (Or possibly worrying that you will never finish Operation Stealth if Beyond Earth is available.)

    1. This site helped me greatly with my CIV addiction... CIV it the one game that actually almost derailed me graduating college...

    2. I had that experience with Heroes of Might & Magic. And Dungeon Master. And WoW. And Civ, and Wizardry, and tabletop D&D, and Microprose Magic the Gathering. And...

    3. I like how Firaxis KNOWS how addictive they are, and tries to help. Civ IV has an option to turn a real-world clock on in game, and to set alarms with custom messages (It is midnight, stop playing).

  7. I saw your image at the top and asked Mara, my new girlfriend, about it as she did her undergrad in Pittsburgh, and showed it to her.

    "(10:00:33 PM) Mara K: What, the sandwich?
    (10:00:57 PM) Mara K: That's from Primanti Bros., which was a block from campus. I walked past it all the time to get to restaurants that didn't serve coleslaw.
    (10:05:12 PM) Mara K: I never went, but I know people who liked the sandwiches there
    (10:05:29 PM) Canageek: ............WEIRD
    (10:05:48 PM) Mara K: yeah
    (10:06:13 PM) Mara K: that's what happens when you move cheesesteak westward
    (10:06:17 PM) Mara K: "

    I'm assuming you have to be native to eat that type of sandwich.

    1. Did I actually say that about cheesesteak? I remember everything else in that conversation.

    2. I copy and pasted that out of my chat client. You can tell; I even forgot to remove your initial.