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Life of a Gamer


Fionavar

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A life long (and a long life) video gamer

A blog by @Gorth

 

Since this is a "history" post, I'll start with the oldest stuff first and work my way towards the current time, here and now on the Obsidian boards 😊

I often deny having owned a gaming console and that is technically correct. But... long unrelated story, I grew up with relatives who were "junkies" (heroin addicts) and they would often rob stores and homes for things to sell for mere pittances at times to finance their addiction. One day, the oldest showed up at my parents place (my mother, for reasons, had become their legal guardian) with a Pong gaming console they had stolen somewhere 240507_02.jpg.032c92310b75e01c41059934e7a75ec3.jpgand no fence would take it off their hands. The original Pong console was among my first video gaming experience in the mid 70's. It was my parents though, not mine.

(I would have loved to put an image of the console here, but I honestly do not remember what it looked like 50 years ago)

Other sources of video gaming at the time was the arcade machines a various convenience stores and grill bars. Some were electronic, some were part mechanical, part electronic. I particularly remember a "Duck Hunt" game, where several layers of glass were used to create the sense of depth and a single glass plate was used to reflect a flying duck from a TV screen hidden out of sight. The shotgun was mounted to a stick that was effectively a big joystick. No fancy electronics at all. Other places had more modern games like Galaxy Invaders... I spent a fortune in coins on those machines.

Jump forwards almost a decade, 1983

I was convinced I was going to end up studying biology after high school... until my dad came home with three page advertising pamphlet for the Commodore 64. It was so colourful and impressive looking. It used an elephant to symbolize the humongous memory it had (even though only 38k turned out to be available to the user in the end). I managed to raise the money for my machine of dreams as well as the associated tape recorder and two games. A game on tape called "Beach Head" and a cartridge called "International Soccer". First two games I ever bought with my own money. Never mind that programming the C64 got me hooked on software development and an impromptu career change, the games changed my life too, spending much of my free time playing games on the old "Bread Box" (Danish nick name for the C64).

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US Gold was a major publisher int he 80's and the football game? It took almost 10 years before a better game of its kind came out.

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Another decade later

I raised the money for a Commodore Amiga 4000 and a hard drive. Gaming now became almost an art form. Bear in mind, in the early 90's, the Amiga completely outperformed contemporary desktop PC's, with the latters CGA graphics and built in tweeter for sound. Never mind the operating system, where MS only caught up with Windows 8 or thereabouts. But the games... sooo many, soo good.

On the C64, I developed a love for strategy games and role playing games. SSI gold games, the Ultimas etc. were not just nostalgia, they were state of the art as each individual title came out. So many strategy games too, it was like paradise for a gamer like me.

The Amiga added better graphics and real music to many titles. And they just kept coming for the next decade. This is where I almost get to the point...

(skipping a list featuring literally a decade and hundreds of Amiga games here)

Some of the newer PC games in the late 1990’s looked interesting and I could run them on a PC Emulator. One title in particular stunned with its atmosphere (because I'm a child of the Cold War and the end of the worlds was always present), the demo for a game called "Fallout" had me completely hooked. I bought the full game and... it didn't want to run on my PC emulator (even though the official demo did).

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Life as a PC gamer

Building myself a PC, my first gaming experiences on it was Interplay’s Fallout. More games followed and Fallout together with the first Tomb Raider were my standout memories from the late 90's. Then I ran into a game from the now established Black Isle Studio called Baldurs Gate 2 (yes, I missed the first one) and I spent the next 12 months, day and night playing the heck out of that game, to the detriment of the rest of my life pretty much. Fallout 2 happened, I ended up buying Baldurs Gate 1 too, completing it a few times, nothing like the time I invested in BG2 though. Still, I took note of the name Bioware as well as Black Isle.

That thing called Obsidian

I was active on the internet too at the time, but I had little interest in this thing called "Forums" (some newfangled sofware that was probably going to die out in a year or two, so why bother?). Usenet was where things happened and many discussion groups (especially the alt groups like alt.games.interplay) were completely unmoderated. Calling it the wild west is being nice to it.

Usenet died the slow death of entropy and forums stayed. By the time I had convinced myself to join the Interplay forums, Interplay de facto folded. At least, it ceased to exist as the Interplay I knew. That's when I heard about this "successor company" called Obsidian Entertainment which had plans for opening up a forum. Still not the fastest tool in the shed, it took me a fortnight to sign up. Despite being somewhat of a troll at times and getting into fistfights at times, I ended up as a moderator. Much to my own surprise honestly. I suppose the thinking at the time was something along the lines of using a troll to catch a troll.

The discussion subject at the time was "Project Delaware", resulting on all sorts of crazy speculations and wishful thinking (and doom saying). Knights of the Old Republic 2 arrived and... good game with awful ending is the best way I can summarize it.

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An understatement of course, as the ending was completely missing for various reason...

Neverwinter Nights 2 followed and was slightly less buggy the Kotor2 had been, but not flawless. The DLC's however...

Mask of the Betrayer in particular brings back fond memories of a game I might not otherwise remember.

The Sequel Maker

Obsidian was developing a reputation of making buggy sequels to Bioware games that were all 132% perfect... at least if you were to believe the most critical voices. Of course, there is a lot more to how such thing happen, but gamers are a weird bunch, often prone to tunnel vision and confirmation bias, congregating towards echo chambers. Especially when it comes to likes and dislikes of games.

Fallout New Vegas managed the impossible, convince a lot of people that Obsidian could actually make great games, that weren't necessarily direct sequels to existing games. It is probably also the only Obsidian game I feel like coming back to again and again, despite it's age. I know Outer Worlds offers a lot corporate humour and a feeling of living in dystopia, but something about the post nuclear setting just strikes a nerve because of my age (growing up during the cold war, expecting the end of the world every day). Playing through scenarios where humanity survives said war feels good I suppose?

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Still here 

Obsidian is no longer known in the business as the "buggy sequel" maker, but as a world builder, story creator and the maker of interesting characters.

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Like Obsidian, I’m still here.

Still enjoying video games 40+ years later, still having a preference for crpg's and turn based strategy games. There are many more Obsidian games I could mention (take a look at the forum!) and would have loved to spend time on, but those are the ones that stuck out for me...

-Gorth

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(about me) When not playing video games, I’m a table top wargamer, whether miniature wargames like Horus Heresy or board games like the old Avalon Hill strategy games. A programmer by trade (ERP systems) and a climate refugee. I ran away from the cold weather in the north and settled down under, having replaced Scandinavian climate and fir trees with subtropical climate and palm trees.

 

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Great blog @Gorth!

My start in gaming was my (at the time) new step-dad's Nintendo Entertainment System with Super Mario Bros. 3 getting me into consoles. Not long after, my blood-related dad got me into PC games with DOOM and Wolfenstein share ware via the old hard floppy disks people shared (got ours from my uncle).

I wasn't aware of Interplay or Black Isle, but I did play KotOR 1 for the first time on my friend's Xbox and immediately fell in love. Ended up getting it on PC and when I saw the sequel nearly died until I saw that it was made by some company named Obsidian instead of Bioware. At the time I was like, "Oh man, it's not Bioware? This game is probably going to suck..." To my surprise I enjoyed it even more. Being able to corrupt my companions, especially taking the time to corrupt Mira just felt epic compared to only seeing Bastilla corrupt in the previous title.

Years later, I end up seeing South Park and the Stick of Truth and seeing Obsidian and saying, "Oh yea, I forgot about them." I played that game and looooved it, especially Butters as Professor Chaos.

It wasn't until my old co-worker from Best Buy reached out to me to play a new game he was a part of developing called Pillars of Eternity that I would forever remember the name Obsidian. He is the one who ultimately helped get me into the gaming industry within Obsidian and I am forever grateful as it's allowed me to work with amazing, creative people both in the studio and within the community. After almost 8 years, I still can't believe the things I get to do and the people I get to do it with.

Another thing that your blog resonated with me was your experience playing Fallout, as I started playing it a week ago and only JUST beat that game technically this morning around 1AM and continued to start up Fallout 2. I can't wait to continue the adventure tonight 😀

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Great story Gorthfuscious. Such an interesting journey and you have been around since the early days so you have seen things progress and advance to the level of gaming from where we are now 

 

 

 

 

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Great read @Gorth!

Very interesting that you are also a wargammer. Have you looked at any of the video game wargames currently being made based on those old AH/VG/GDW boardgames? There is a studio called Strategy Game Studio (SGS) that has been making several of these games, and their publisher is Avalon Digital. If you check out the Steam forum for their games, the main guy who works for SGS seems very passionate about bringing those old TT wargames to video gaming. He might even be interested in adding another programmer to SGS.

I have the following wargames in my Steam wishlist, and as always, looking for feedback from anyone who's played them:

SGS NATO's Nightmare

SGS Afrika Korps: Tunisia

Strategic Command: World War I

Napoleon's Eagles: Game of the Napoleonic Wars

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Thanks, Gorth. I've read through your blog multiple times and find many parallels between your experiences and my own. Your generous sharing prompts me to realise how many titles from OBS, including those under the existing banner and previous iterations like Black Isle, I've replayed. I've lost count of how many times I've played through NWN, FO 1&2, and now, ToW!

I often return to KotoR, not just for the gameplay but also for what it heralded for the future, which you've captured so well, especially regarding the ending. As 'The Acolyte' is set to release, I can't help but remain geekily hopeful that OBS might get another opportunity with the franchise.

Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences and reflections, and for being the first contributor to the Community Blog. Your post sets a welcome model, and I'm excited to see the variety in future contributions. You've started us off in a good way—thank you!

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Gorth, an eternal friend I don't deserve.  I read this entry as a guest a couple of weeks ago.  I should have expressed my gratitude then.  I beg forgiveness.  Someday, brother.  Someday.

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