Challenge 15

15 ballThis week I played Hearthstone and WoW. My Hearthstone Mage is almost level 20, but I’ve discovered a Warlock strategy that I really like, so I’m trying out the evil side.

I still can’t decide whether to buy the Draenor pre-order. I might wait and see how the new stronghold (housing) NPC crafting situation works out before making a decision on that.

15 is the magic number today, as lvling life and TAGN are both rolling with a 15 theme. 15 is the atomic number of Phosphorus, which can glow, burn, and explode. So here are my 15 most incendiary video games.

Honestly, phosphorus is a lot more exciting than this blog post, so if you’re a chemist and/or meth cook by profession, I’d suggest playing with chemicals instead.

1. Pong (1972) Long hours with a little console and a black and white TV, pushing ball control beyond the ken of mortal man. It was more fun than playing with barbie and ken.

2. Space Invaders (1978) I never owned an Atari. I had a Magnavox. My friends had the newer Atari consoles. This game was a much-referenced bombdiggity in its era, tense and creepy, and spawned sexier and prettier bottom-shooters like Galaga.

3. Wizardry (1981) This was the first RPG I played. You could create your own party and go explore the dungeon. I didn’t own this game until later. It was the domain of my friend who had a computer to play it. I eventually got an Apple IIc and played Wizardry up to the Legacy of LLylgamyn module.

4. Ms. Pacman (1982) This doesn’t need any explanation. Girls can swallow pills too, and this remains a seminal influence. I wouldn’t mind having a Ms. Pacman console in my living room as a stress-reliever.

5. Diablo (1996) This was a period when I didn’t have a proper computer, so this was a hand-me-down from my brother. I want to say I liked the original more than Diablo 2, but that would be crazy, right? I liked the gritty, haunted atmosphere and music of the original. Diablo 2 was a classic, but it was also more trudgey and gamey with the item sockets after the LoD expansion.

6. Fallout (1997) This was a wonderful little RPG and another recommendation from my brother. I also enjoyed Wasteland, its predecessor, on the Apple IIc. I enjoyed Fallout 3, but it seemed to end quickly, and the open world was too obviously just a big rectangle, which didn’t do much for immersion. The imagination is bigger than any game map.

7. Neverwinter Nights (2002) I played this game for years, including all of the expansions. I also played online in a “persistent world” called Grim River created and hosted on someone else’s hard drive. This could be my favorite D&D-flavored game ever, certainly in terms of hours played. The sound, music, and especially the animations were fabulous. The companion system was a little lackluster, but set the stage for better things to come, and still allowed for more complicated gameplay.

8. Baldur’s Gate 2 (2000) This remains one of the all-time great RPGs. It offered great characters and art, along with party romance, including lesbian flirtation with the drow elf, Viconia, and the druid Jaheira. I created an all-girl team.

9. Morrowind (2002) This was another recommendation from my brother, still a bit before I was proactively looking for video games to play. I loved this game, and it remains my sentimental favorite in the Elder Scrolls series. I didn’t like the instant teleporting around the map in Oblivion. It hurt immersion greatly, just like in Fallout 3. More recently, I’ve struggled with Skyrim and TESO because of the non-interface.

10. Vampire: Bloodlines (2004) This was a fabulous RPG that I followed up to launch. WoW released at almost the same time, but I played Bloodlines first, and WoW the next spring (I think). I was more interested in story and characters, which Bloodlines provided. I enjoyed Planescape:Torment, but I liked Bloodlines more because I could create the character I wanted and still experience a strong story with different endings.

11. World of Warcraft (2004) This was the first MMO I ever played. My brother-in-law played Everquest, but it just never looked interesting to me in terms of playstyle and game goals. WoW offered beautiful graphics and animation with responsive controls. I was overjoyed exploring Elwynn Forest and taking the candles from the kobolds. I played paladin and mage to cap in the original game, and since then I’ve played occasionally but never at the edge of the expansion progression.

12. Lord of the Rings Online (2007) I was browsing games at Best Buy and noticed this on the shelf. It looked good and had just released. I decided to give it a try, which was a good idea. This is my favorite and most-played MMO and RPG. I started blogging to just keep track of LotRO links and my add-on projects. LotRO also taught me the meaning of hating a game developer, since they despoiled my favorite game ever with F2P and store buttons all over the interface. I’ll be unlikely to do mods for a game ever again, or get so involved.

13. Dragon Age: Origins (2009) Lots of love for this game. It’s one of the all-time greats, offering unique racial starting zones and stories that touch the emotions, among other things.

14. Rift (2011) This was the first MMO where I got involved in the community and wrote a guide, which was insanely successful, and remains so, with over 35000 views in the last 10 months alone since I updated it for F2P. I really wish Rift were in a better place. I’m hoping their coming expansion will be something great. Rift re-inforces the concept of not getting too involved in any one game, since the game can change drastically or fail at any time.

15. Saint’s Row: The Third (2011) The more I hate Rockstar for misogyny in GTA and disallowing its games to be played as a female, the more I love Saint’s Row. This is the equal opportunity driver/shooter, the anti-GTA, and I’ll continue to support and enjoy every installment of this brilliant franchise. In Saint’s Row 3, you play a charismatic gang leader. I enjoyed the DLC that turns you into a vampire.

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15 responses to “Challenge 15

  • commenter formerly known as wumpus

    Some of what you missed (more to fill in the missing years).

    Star Raiders (1980): The game that sold the early (8 bit, 400/800) Atari computers. Basically an adaption of the classic “star trek” text game, made into a first person “3d-ish” action-packed game.

    A bunch of other great games that sort of blur into each other. 8 bits was only enough to fit in so much gameplay, then off to the next game.

    Ultima II (1982): First “big” game I’d seen (I never even heard of Elite, I think it was very late, if ever, ported to Atari). Oddly enough, “blue tassles” never dropped for me and I had to manually edit the save disk. This was less easy before things like the internet and GUIs.

    [PS. There was a long article in Softline describing Wizardy around that time. I was jealous. According to wiki, it was never ported to Atari. Never got around to trying later editions on PC.]

    more 8 bit blur…then a little 16 bit blur.

    Shinobi (1987) [coin-op] Only game I ever fed enough quarters to master. More a function of my situation (no computer, more quarters) than the inherent greatness of this game. Still, a good game.

    Wing Commander (I-IV, 1990-1996). The first game I had to sit back and admit that it was far, far, better than my beloved Star Raiders. Chris Roberts says he’s developing for the Occulus Rift: while I doubt he has his touch left, I am curious to see what he makes.
    PS. Why haven’t I plugged in a joystick into my last few computers??? Where are the next Wing Commanders?

    Spaceward Ho! (1990). Ok, this is more just a favorite of mine. Basically, distill civilization gameplay into something that would easily fit on a phone. I’ve probably played more spaceward ho than any other game.

    Civilization (1991): One … More … Turn. The graphics gets nicer and Sid meddles with the mechanics now and again, but the game was great in EGA (and is probably still the best game on this list even as civ1. It might have to concede “greatest game ever” to an MMO, but never best single player game).

    Doom (1993). Before doom, things looked more like Ms. Pac-man. Afterwards there was an endless progression of first person shooters. This is why. (I don’t really think this games stands the test of time all that well, but Serious Sam holds the banner for old school gameplay).

    A good five years missing here. I know I played a lot of quake (worse since I was using a cyrix processor. Ouch!). A lot of doom clones. There were some really good driving games (these seemed to be console only now). My spaceward ho (4.0) disc dates from this time. There were still wing commander games shipping. Warcraft[I/II] might be one of the more memorable games of the time, and Starcraft (1996) was certainly a classic, if not favorite of mine. Voodoo1 was out in 1996, but Voodoo2 wouldn’t ship until 1998 (and really nail things down for glide), so things were pretty much in flux

    I don’t know how I missed Diablo. I always thought it was that I was playing Baldur’s Gate at the time, but that appears later. I certainly remember playing *something* that was similar but less “rogueish”.

    Half Life (1998) [Wait, we're up to Baldur's Gate already?]. A game so good it falls apart in the ending and is still remembered fondly.

    No one lives forever I/II (1998-2000). Takes the idea of a first person story line from half-life, and runs with it. Don’t miss it if you are a fan of Bond/The Avengers/similar 60s shows.

    And Baldur’s Gate I(1998)/II/Throne of Bhal (competes with Civ for “best [solo] game ever”). Not to mention Torment (1999).

    Voodoo 2. Not a game, but made a lot of games awesome.

    1998: A good year for games (and they seemed to keep coming for the next few years). And back to your list.

  • Jackie

    Gosh, what a great list! I agree that Halflife, Doom 2, and Quake could have been on the list. I certainly finished all of those. Halflife was incredible. Did you play Blood and Blood 2? I liked Blood 2. Unreal could be on the list also.

    Serious Sam didn’t tick with me. Shinobi sounds really reflexy.

    No One Lives Forever was a memorable and well-done game, at least the first one. I didn’t finish the second, just like I didn’t finish Halflife 2. I had game-breaking bugs in both of those. I guess the list started out focusing on the games I could say “influenced” my life in some way. Like playing Ms. Pacman in the college game room. Then I filled it in with the best RPGs.

    I’ve played all of the Max Payne and Mafia games also. Those would be on an extended list.

    Warcraft, Starcraft, and Civ were not my thing. I did enjoy a space conquest simulator on the Apple IIc, but I forget the name. If I were to correct the list right now, it would be to add Jedi Academy. That was a good game that allowed light/dark options that mattered, and a female protagonist voiced by Jennifer Hale!

    I’d like to play “Spaceward Ho” as an RPG voiced by Jennifer Hale, but that would probably be a different game haha.

    Cheers, wumpus. Thanks for posting. It’s nice to hear from another old timer. I’m off to try to find some of those old game soundtracks now, for fun.

    • commenter formerly called wumpus

      What I don’t believe is that I missed the whole “15” idea until after I wrote them out. I’d probably end up copying your list or tediously listing all the worthy sequels until it added up to “15”.

      I just played blood (just the demo?). I should have included quake, I played way too much quake. Its just when I have trouble remembering which doom clone was which (kind of like all the Atari computer games), I can’t see how they were “most igniting”.

      I’ll have to start with Saints Row, maybe Dragon’s Age (now that the sequel won’t bother me). That and Morrowind. I’m afraid later games may have made me to lazy (fast travel and such) for Morrowind.

  • Wilhelm Arcturus

    Interesting idea for a post, though if you want to make it a meme, you have to “tag” people. Or have such blogging memes died out at this point. I haven’t seen one in ages. Anyway, it made me think a bit on what 15 I would choose.

    Fortunately, I am getting to a point in blogging where I can link back to what I mean about many of the games that are special. Space Invaders? Covered! Total Annihilation? I’ve mused about it. Wizardry? I have referenced my passion a few times. EverQuest? World of Warcraft? Please, I have too much on those topics.

    But there are still gaps, things I have only mentioned in passing on the way to other topics.

    Diablo is certainly on that list. While I go on and on about how Diablo II perfected the play of light and darkness in dungeon environments, I didn’t obsess for months about Diablo II coming out because the original was crap. No, it was awesome and dark and moody and I managed to play it with friends online in the age of modems.

    Now I will have to think about what those 15 games might be. Right now 15 seems like a lot, but I am sure I will have to fight with myself over which games will make the list in the end.

    (Apologies for gratuitous self-linkage, but I didn’t really want to go too nuts in your comment thread. Plus, it is easier to link than reiterate!)

  • Jackie

    Self-linkage is healthy. Like you suggest, I think I chose the original Diablo not because it was better or played more, but because it had a more memorable, lasting impression. When I started making the list, 15 seemed like a lot, but it really wasn’t enough. I’d be interested to read your list, Wilhelm :)

    @wumpus Saint’s Row 2 is still widely voted to be the best one (I think, unless 4 displaced it), and it’s on sale right now on Steam for $3. Morrowind is lovely, but you’ll have to get past the aged graphics. There are good hi-resolution texture mods and things like that for it, though. :)

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  • Isey

    I tagged you and made a list – see if this thing gets legs in blog-nation. Either way, thanks for the post and its great to look back at what made us fall in love with gaming in the first place!

    • Jackie

      Hi Isey, thanks for the note. It sure is. I’d like to see some opinions of younger bloggers, the current generation. I thought hard about Mario, and Rainbow Six was also a very good game I’d forgotten about. Enjoyed your list and bookmarked your blog for later. Cheers. :)

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