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Confessions of a Reluctant Video Gamer

I was in my twenties when video games arrived on the scene, so to me a game is something you play on a board or with cards. But despite my best efforts to resist, I've been drawn into the electronic madness. A selection of my experiences can be found here. Feel free to comment, if you like.

Archive for p55carroll

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Maybe a Spinning Point

p55carroll
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Minnesota
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Last blog post, I said I seemed to be at a turning point. I had pared down my active-play list to half a dozen games and thought maybe I was about ready to get deeper into one of them for once. But since then I've installed and uninstalled several games, trying them out and usually deciding against them. So maybe I'm just at my usual spinning point, where I go round and round and can't make up my mind what I want to play.
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Wed Nov 23, 2016 5:44 pm
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A Turning Point? Or Just a Purge?

p55carroll
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Minnesota
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Yesterday was some kind of turning point for me, but I haven't been able to make sense of it yet. Something big happened. But what?

For a few days, and especially yesterday, it seemed I just sucked at everything. I played six or eight games of Master of Orion 2, trying to relearn it, but--even though I was playing on Easy--I got overwhelmed time after time and had to restart. Finally, sick of the AI players ganging up on me, I played a two-player game. Thought I was doing OK there, until it came time to fight; then I noticed that my AI opponent had me so far outnumbered in Doom Stars that I didn't stand a snowball's chance.
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Sun Nov 13, 2016 4:45 pm
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Do-It-Yourself Dilemmas

p55carroll
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Minnesota
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I wish I could quit putting myself into this situation, but I guess it's part of the endless quest for the ultimate gaming satisfaction.

What situation? The choice between two similar, high-quality games.
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Tue Nov 8, 2016 6:18 pm
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Simulation Games and Me

p55carroll
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Minnesota
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I'm mainly a strategy gamer, but when computer games first took off, I was an avid wargamer. That means that in my teens I had made the transition from games like chess to games like PanzerBlitz, from abstraction to realism. And to this day, I like both.

The arcade scene of the early 1980s didn't interest me that much until I saw games like Battlezone (1980) and Red Baron. If it hadn't been so expensive and inconvenient, I'd have really gotten into those games and others like them. But I had to wait for the PC version of Red Baron to come along a decade later.
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Thu Nov 3, 2016 10:07 pm
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My Generation

p55carroll
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Minnesota
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Credits: The inspiration for this blog post comes from this VGG article. And the title comes from this Who song.

So, what's video gaming like from the viewpoint of my generation?
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Fri Oct 28, 2016 10:17 pm
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Time Filler

p55carroll
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OK, I'll just come right out and say it: I have nothing in particular on my mind, but I'm stuck where I have time to fill and nothing available to do except write up a blog post. So here it comes.
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Thu Oct 27, 2016 4:57 pm
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Around We Go

p55carroll
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Minnesota
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Let's see ... I just did yet another blog post on what I look for in a game. So it must be about time to do one on how I need to reduce the number of games on my active play list. (I do cycle around through these topics, don't I? Each time it seems like a new topic to me, though. I must be getting old or something.)

Anyhow, that's what's on my mind today. Every time I sit down to play something, I look at my list of installed games and hesitate. There are only about a dozen games there (in GOG Galaxy). Over at Steam there are three or four more, but I rarely go there.
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Thu Oct 13, 2016 9:00 pm
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Quest for the Ideal Kind of Game

p55carroll
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My last blog post got me thinking about what kind of video game would suit me. All too often, I search my library and find nothing that quite works, but then I settle for something anyway--and usually I like it well enough. But I still wish for something better. So, what is it I wish for?
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Tue Oct 11, 2016 9:05 pm
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An Off Day?

p55carroll
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I just could not get into any video games today. I kept finding time for gaming, and I felt like playing, but nothing I tried worked. Ever have a day like that?

I thought of playing Heroes of Might and Magic III Complete again, but I just finished a game the other day and didn't want to overdo that one.

I had started a game of Civilization V: Brave New World last night, so I resumed it today even though I wasn't eager to play it. The Turks attacked me, and I fended them off; that was somewhat amusing, except that they wouldn't make peace afterward but kept demanding half a dozen of my cities. The game was slow, and I wasn't getting anywhere, so I quit for lack of fun.

I felt like I wanted a change of pace--maybe a story-based game. So I reluctantly resumed the game of Planescape: Torment I'd had on hold for several months. Trouble is, I couldn't remember what I was doing when I left off. I also had a couple party members I barely remembered. I went to a walkthrough to try to get oriented, and it sorta worked. But then I decided I didn't want to deal with it all, so I exited the game.

Maybe my old standby, Master of Orion, would do the trick. I started a game and got well into it, and I guess it got interesting. But I was in a weird mood. And when all the other races attacked me, and I saw how much catching up I still had to do, I quit that game too.

I still had the idea of wanting to play a story-based game for a change, so I installed Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers. Must've bought it on sale at GOG some time ago, and I didn't really know anything about it. I watched the intro and started playing, but I didn't like the dialogue and didn't want to hassle with figuring out the interface. Done with that game too, and I might as well uninstall it.

The most gaming fun I had today was playing go and backgammon while waiting for other games to load or install.

Oh well. Tomorrow's another day. A work day, so I won't have time for much gaming. But today is shot, so I'm just going to bed.
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Mon Oct 10, 2016 4:21 am
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Oldies Are Not for Wimps

p55carroll
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I got restless last night and installed a free game I had gotten from GOG a few years ago: Ultima: Worlds of Adventure 2: Martian Dreams. The reviews made it sound good (well, most GOG reviews are like that, but in this case they were especially favorable). I didn't expect to get far, especially since I wasn't about to read the game manual. I just wanted to take a look.

Actually, just puttering around, I got further than I imagined I would. The text-based interface made me roll my eyes; I'd had my fill of that in past years and found it very frustrating. Nevertheless, I was able to engage in dialogue with other characters, rummage through the cargo hold, and borrow a prybar from the cowboy. Mr. Tesla convinced me not to pry the exit door open just yet, though, so I quit the game instead.

I wonder what would be in store for me if I continued. First I'd read the manual, if only to get some hints as to which typed words might actually further the dialogue. But would I have to take notes? Draw maps on graph paper? Maybe resort to a hint book?

I had similar experiences with other old games--e.g., Quest for Glory and Pool of Radiance. I stopped playing the former mainly because I couldn't get real-time combat to work with just my laptop keyboard and mouse. The obstacle to the latter was my lack of a numeric keypad for movement (but I discovered I can use the Function key to create a numeric keypad, so maybe I'll try again).

Years ago, a game often felt richer and more interesting if it required manual mapping and such. I enjoyed opening up the paper charts for Aces of the Deep and navigating around the oceans. I also expected games to make me think; if I wasn't puzzled, I felt I was just wasting time.

But I must've gotten spoiled. Nowadays it's a short step from being puzzled to being hopelessly frustrated. And just picking up a pencil and paper--for anything--feels like a major chore.

Still, I find myself sometimes drawn to the old games. Last night I was looking into the Might and Magic series (which I've never seen at all). Reviewers suggested starting with IV in the series because the earlier ones are too primitive to be playable anymore. But that made me curious. Could I discipline myself to play a game where I have to draw my own maps and adjust to a frustrating interface? I do it with board games sometimes; why not with video games?

I guess part of the problem is just that there are so many other choices now. If Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness was the only game in town, I might play it and enjoy it. But it's not anymore. And if I can get a smoother interface, better graphics, better sounds, and greater ease of play just by making a different choice, why shouldn't I?

Sometimes it feels good to put extra work into something. It can seem like you get more out of it, whether that's true or not. But when it comes to old video games, it may just be too tough to tolerate.

How 'bout you? Are there any old games you still love to play in spite of the clunky interface?
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Tue Oct 4, 2016 6:25 pm
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