If it wasn't for his wife getting a Fullbright teaching scholarship, Civilization 2 -- or Civilization 2000, as it was called internally -- may never have seen the light of day. But that's what happened to Brian Reynolds, lead designer on the iconic game, who relocated from the United States to London to support his partner.
Tagged With tribute thursday
The absence of a proper single-player campaign, if not a story, in Star Wars: Battlefront was making me nostalgic. After all, the Star Wars shooter games had great single-player levels -- and arguably decent stories, too.
But this week, I wanted to go back a little further. So I decided to return to something that was even more classic than the Star Wars games -- and had a single-player campaign that was just as much fun to run through.
In 1991 this game became the first MMORPG to display graphics. It continues to live on today in the form of an MMORPG, although the technology has changed substantially over the decades.
That game is Neverwinter Nights, and the game -- along with the franchise built on its name -- turns 25 this week.
I'd been considering what to look back at this week to start the new year until the decision was made for me yesterday. I already owned it, but what better opportunity to return to the land of the high seas than the prospect of paying US$1 to receive the most recent copy of Sid Meier's take on pirates, parley and plundering?
Back in the mid 1990's you didn't have the simplicity of games like AdVenture Capitalist, Clicker Heroes or the myriad of endless runners that you can get on mobiles these days. But there were games that had simple hooks. And I remember one of them quite vividly, because it was one of the few times I was allowed -- why, I don't know -- to stay up ridiculously late to play.
It had a sound effect best described as the following: NYAHHHHHHHHHH.
The amount of people who tuned into the 24/7 Bob Ross marathon on Twitch was fascinating, but perhaps not quite as much as the realisation that soon followed. Bob Ross, as it turns out, is wonderfully compatible with the intense, volatile world of gaming, as Twitch Creative quickly gathered a legion of followers tuning in for a meditative session with some Prussian Blue and Sap Green.
But the spirit of Bob Ross has been living in video games for a long time. And it's perhaps best illustrated in Heaven & Earth, a puzzle game released in 1992 that's since been released as freeware.
It seems a bit strange to do things this way this week, but my Dad is sick. Very sick, as a matter of fact to the point where (I've been informed) he was on the verge of being clinically dead the day PAX started.
I didn't actually know at the time and was only informed of this fact yesterday morning, so understandably I've had family on the mind. And given that this regular feature was coming up, the only thing I could think about was the few memories I've shared with my Dad over video games.
The latest Need for Speed got me thinking about going fast and furious. And as it so happens, there's one game that deals with both in spades.
That game, as it so happens, is also one of the most under-appreciated racing games ever made. It should be mentioned in the same sentence, with equal weight, as Mario Kart, but it doesn't.
That game is Re-Volt, it's bloody awesome, and you can still play it today.
This week's nostalgia trip became a pretty simple journey in the last 48 hours. I'd already been playing Sublevel Zero, a new six-degrees-of-freedom roguelike from SIGTRAP Games that is awfully reminiscent of the Descent days. Descent: Underground, a sequel to the series, has just gone up on Steam for backers. And the recent chatter about space epics and space games even convinced me to fire up Miner Wars 2081 again (although not for very long).
All of these games owe an awful lot to the original Descent. But fondly remembered those games were, the claustrophobic setting and gameplay didn't quite work for everyone. But there was one game released in 1995 that had a much wider appeal.
It's time for Terminal Velocity.
There's always been an inherent problem with nostalgia. It works a little like a good post-processing filter, cleaning up the jagged edges and rough lines that our memories don't remember or choose to overlook.
But some of the classics, the gems of yesteryear, cannot be brushed up, improved or glossed over. And one of those has been held up for decades as a pinnacle of great design, pacing, graphics and content. Hell, Amiga Power once praised it as the best game of all time. That game: Sensible World Of Soccer.
My response: bullshit.
When my former housemate packed up his things and departed to enjoy another phase in his life, he lazily, but quite happily, bequeathed his Logitech Attack 3 to me. It's been sitting in my living room for a good while, and for a while I've started at it pondering its best usage.
I thought about firing up X-Wing Alliance or TIE Fighter for a while; maybe even taking on Elite: Dangerous or checking out the Star Citizen modules. But instead, partially spurred on by a stream from the developers of the latter, I decided to exercise my joystick skills in a different arena.
I went to a fan game, one that made use of the ageing but still robust Freespace 2 engine. I went to Wing Commander Saga and the world of Sandman.
A lot of retro titles ran through my head this week. Master of Orion's back on the radar. Wing Commander was on my mind, thanks to Cloud Imperium Games and their extended stream. Morning sessions of StarCraft were making me think about what Dune 2000 was like -- I never got to play it, being a touch young when it came out, and OpenRA makes it easy game to rediscover. And the 1998 remake of Battlezone is something I'll undoubtedly revisit before this year is out.
But what left the strongest imprint in my mind for this week came courtesy of one summer holiday many moons ago. Picture this: you're sitting by the family Christmas tree with your older brother (I only have one), father and mother. You've got a shared sack. You go diving through and you find some video games.
One of those video games happens to be Spycraft: The Great Game.
Perhaps it's because I've been away from a controller and mouse for a while, but I've had a real strong desire for things that can be played with the arrow keys and a few buttons lately. So let's combine those two passions in this week's Tribute Thursday with a real old gem.
Let's beat up some blokes in costume.