I’ve been tagged in the latest meme/fad going around for bloggers, the Liebster challenge.   Thanks for thinking of me Wilhelm.    Lord knows it took me forever to write this – epic post for the time starved.

Am I doing this right ?

This time, I thought I’d participate, especially since the “blogging” community is pretty well established here in 2015.    Yall are people I truly know – why not share a bit ?

First step is to list of 11 random facts about myself, given that Wilhelm has also listed some, which for no particularly good reason makes me like him a bit better.    (My kind of guy!).

  1. I started drinking Coke back before I was 10 years old.     Maybe 8-10 years ago I switched to Coke Zero.     I stay well caffeinated – I don’t track how many I drink but it’s probably a lot.    I’m drinking one right now.
  2. I learned to play chess at 8 years old because of Raisin Bran.   There was a set on the box you could cut out and set up, and I did this.   I taught my sister how to play.   Mom loves to tell the story of catching us doing this and her delight, although she’s been less delighted with my other gaming activities over the years.
  3. I lived for one year in Indiana.   That was enough.    After winter was over I was told “Mildest winter in 30 years”, which really cemented the deal.   I moved back to Southern California and have lived here ever since.    I can’t handle all that bad weather, and I’ll trade that for earthquakes.
  4. My TV show is the Amazing Race.    What a lot of fun, watching “normal” people get thrown into a race around the world.    I’ve seen some other shows in the past 15-20 years but this is the only one I watch consistently.    I mean, who has time for TV when they game as much as we all do, amirite ?
  5. I am amazed at how many cars people buy.   I am on my fifth car lifetime, while I have friends who have owned 20 cars.    No thanks – I want something that’s going to last for awhile and I seem to have generally achieved that.    My only mistake (#4) was buying a Camaro as what my wife calls my “mid life crisis” car.   I ended up hating it and selling it after about a year.
  6. I have never used a grill.    Nowadays I kind of want to get the hang of it, but whenever people come over 1) My Wife 2) Bro-in-law 3) best friend all end up doing any needed grilling.    Maybe I just need to put my foot down and plan on making burgers on the stupid thing one day.
  7. My method of generating pocket money in my teens was aluminum cans.   I collected tons of them by roaming the streets and digging through trash cans, in the days before recycle bins and the three matching garbage bins in front of everyone’s houses.    My Dad had a deal with a lot of the stews at the local airport, and they’d save all the cans from the planes for him, which he turned over to me.   That was maybe half of it, the rest I dug up.
  8. I am apparently an extroverted introvert.     I always prefer being alone, at home, etc.    Whenver I get dragged to a social event, or one appears at my house thanks to my fantastic wife, I invariably perform well.    The wife even loves to show me off to whatever group is in vogue at the moment, all her various volunteering, foundations, work, etc.
  9. ?Funny story.?   I went to Italy in 1995, before America had also succumbed to the bottled water craze, and always drank from the tap, and always finished everything since I’m a cheapskate.     While we were in Italy, we got bought bottled water by friends who were trying to be nice, at the restaurant we were eating at.   I was determined not to waste it.   I ended up giving myself water poisoning and heaving it all back up.     After that, I just let them waste the water if it wasn’t finished.
  10. My kids are my pride and joy, and they get mentioned a lot on the blog, with the gaming connections.    Thankfully I did go and have kids because they’re a lot more fun that I ever thought they would be.    Hard to believe one’s starting high school next season.
  11. I’ve been working for the same employer for the past 28 years.     I know this place, and I know it well.     My role has changed – no longer am I the brash young punk who doesn’t know anything, now I’m the wizened old veteran who knows all the institutional knowledge and is trying to pump the rest of the staff full of it.

Next come Wilhelm’s questions for me.

Why Blog ?

This is actually answered in my last post.    I could video-log, but I don’t like that stuff.    I don’t talk during gaming.    I like the long form, and I loathe anything too short – Twitter is the perfect example, which just leaves me scratching my head.   I’m supposed to find that valuable ?   Blogging is perfect.   It’s semi private, yet shared with the world for the few who share my narrow gaming interests.    In fact, I also have branched out into the world of reddit, where you can read about jury duty if you are so inclined.    See how modern I am (or not) !??

Why MMO’s ?  Or why not ?

MMO’s started out with the promise of being virtual worlds.    The phraseology is important, because it gives you expectations.   For me, first is the idea of longevity and dedication.   And second, I understand it to mean a few competing alternate worlds.

That does not seem to have been borne out in the past 5 years or so.    The virtual worlds continue to splinter down and become tinier, in their slice of humanity, both in the time we invest in them and in the gaming public who enters them and plays.    So I’ve kind of lost interest in the concept, and I’m more interested now in what’s coming next.   What’s interesting.     Steam and Ingress, as of today.   Probably be different tomorrow.

Science Fiction ?   Or Fantasy ?

Both, or neither ?   I go back and forth and all around this one.    I suppose I can give the edge to fantasy but it’s a pretty slight edge.

What of Steam ?

Steam is fantastic.    One of my daily activities is a dumpster dive.   Can I buy some simple little game for 25 cents ?   And I do, often,  every 1-2 weeks.     And I play them a couple of times.    Sometimes they sell so cheap, you can make money by selling the trading cards, which is fun.     It sure won’t let me quit my job and become an arbitrage trader, but it’s fun.

I miss the old way we bought books.   I would wander a bookstore for hours looking for….. I don’t know.    And I’d pick it up, ruminate, and put most of them back.    Today, I have to know about a book somehow – ad, interview, recommendation – and I search it up, buy it, and read it on my device.    Something is really lost.

The old way we bought games – I feel nostalgic for it.   I picked up three copies of F-19 Stealth Fighter, because box #1 was missing a manual, #2 had a defective disk, and #3 let me play.    The store manager of Electronics Boutique was real cool about it.    I wouldn’t go back to all of that, but I feel wistful about its absence.   Plus, the cost has gone down to the level of buying candy bars in many cases, for any non-new games, and I never browsed games like books – I know what I want and I buy it.    So Steam is perfect as far as I’m concerned.

Gaming relics ?

I have some old game boxes from way back when, tucked away in the attic.    The disks (3.5 and 5.25 inch floppies) are tucked away in my computer room.    Hah.   Like I have a computer that could read them.

I still have my Ultima 3 cloth map; the Shanghai yin/yang balls; several strategy guides.   The guide to the original Everquest, Rome on 640K a day, and something I bought in a bargain bin, after the fact – the guide to Populous.

Mine is packed away somewhere, but the internet delivers as alway.

Mine is packed away somewhere, but the internet delivers as always.

So I don’t keep much but I like what I’ve kept.

Three games that shaped you

After careful consideration, I have two PC games and an arcade machine :

  • Space Ace / Dragons Lair : Many a night was spent psyching each other up, as me and the rest of the teenage slackers at Burbank’s arcades tried to beat down Borf.    It was a game of memorization and split second timing – depending on how forgivingly the machine was set.     The graphics were amazing at the time, but the frame rate left something to be desired, and a lot of the experience was your brain filling in the fun parts.    This game, primitive as it was, set my expectations for future role playing, all the way from Ultima series and up to modern day MMO’s.
  • Empire.    A simple little RTS production game without the RTS, as it was turn based.    But the game was all about building everything you could to grind your opponent into powder.    The very first game I played on the PC, a multiplayer extravaganza even : you could give the computer to your opponent, walk into the other room, and wait for him to take his turn.   Fun !   We loved it !   This is the earliest example for me of buidling bases, increasing production, zerging the opponents, and being “firstest with the mostest”.    Honorable mention here to Romance of the Three Kingdoms III with some similar multiplay features.
  • Civilization.    Playing a game that goes across the entirety of human history is exactly my kind of thing.    The longer the arc, the more fun.    The pollution bug at the end of the game was the only thing that stopped me from perfecting the planet, but I did it so many times just trying to eke out a bit more score.    And finally, here was a game I could point to that actually taught important historical values.
Man, now I want to play this one again !

Empire screenshot.  Man, now I want to play this one again !

Rolling up a new character

The first one is always a fighter.   I think it’s the idea of being a big, tough, violent guy.   Take all the hits and keep the enemy’s attention, while your DPS types burn him down.

My very first pen & paper AD&D character was a fighter.     I rolled one up and managed to get a guy with ST 18, CON 17, and INT 6.    I christened him Lamebrane and played him to the hilt.    My Diablo barbarian was Ajax the warrior.    My EQ character was Hammerbreaker the Ogre fighter.    On and on it goes.

What games did you play before MMO’s ?

Kind of a duplicate of question #2, and answered throughout this post.    I’d shortly describe my gaming history in stages :

  • Pinball machines (1970 – 1979)

    I haven't seen one of these in years, but I loved this one.

    I haven’t seen one of these in years, but I loved this one.

  • Arcade machines including pinball (1979 – 1988)

    I'd like to buy one of these and add it to my computer room.    Loved this game.

    I’d like to buy one of these and add it to my computer room. Loved this game.

  • Primitive personal computing (1982 – 1985)

    I programmed a Steve Jackson game clone on one of these babies.

    I programmed a Steve Jackson game clone on one of these babies.

  • Boxed war games, and pen and paper FRP (1978 – 1983)

    More rules than a lawyer  on speed.

    More rules than a lawyer on speed.

  • Personal computing (1989 – today)
    I was one of the few who bought one of these things.   Tandy 1000.   Radio Shack.   LOL.

    I was one of the few who bought one of these things. Tandy 1000. Radio Shack. LOL.

    On the Tandy, this had the most amazing sound you had ever heard.

    On the Tandy, this had the most amazing sound you had ever heard.

  • Mobile phone gaming (2011 – today)

That pretty much covers it, other than Battletech during the ’90’s at the behest of a co-worker.    And obviously, family board games and what not.

I’m not a definer.   Some people make an art of breezily putting gigantic ideas together, I don’t have that skill.  But there’s always been a certain “nerd culture” set of gamers that I’m very much a part of, and have followed throughout my life.   I think the list above shows my progression through nerd culture over the years, and how its changed – as well as how it’s stayed the same.

I think that list also shows my snobby side, as I’ve never played a console nor owned one – the family’s Wii doesn’t count, even if I’ve gotten a 300 at Wii Bowling.     I’m firmly part of the PC Master Race.

Videogame Capital Of (The / Your) World

That’s a toughie.    While I see a lot of gaming and pay plenty of attention, I notice what the games are; what type/milieu; what companies are involved; what programmers/designers are at play; any new paradigms (MMO’s, LBG, etc).    One thing I don’t have a good handle on is where the gaming comes from.    SOE is in San Diego right ?

Instead, I’ll share an anecdote.     For years I loved to visit the bay area because of the advertising and the companies that exist up there.   In LA, it’s all about the movie business.   I could care less, but I notice the Angelyne billboard and just think “Eh”.   (I’ve actually met her several times too LOL).    The latest TV shows too.

Still driving around a pink corvette today.

Still driving around a pink corvette today.

But silicon valley has all kinds of technologies, products, and widgets that interest and excite me.     It’s fun to cruise past Oracle campuses, no matter how evil Oracle is – tons of people like me are grinding away there.    So in some sense, I feel “Home” when I go to Silicon Valley.   I’m around my people.

Computer people.   Nerds.   Gamers.    People who make computers behave.

Which MMO’s have you really invested yourself in ?

Just a couple.   I tend not to play anything without investing myself heavily.    Original Everquest; Everquest 2; Lord of the Rings Online.    And depending on how you want to stretch the definition, World of Tanks.

How do you spend your time in MMO’s ?

Solo.    99% of the time, I’m solo.    I’m the guy who doesn’t want to work up a party or wait around for the raid to start, or coordinate that all somehow beforehand.    I get in, do my thing, and get out again.    Perhaps this is part of the reason I’m not keen anymore on MMO’s – I didn’t get human relationships out of them.   Who knows.

And that finishes up my answers to Wilhelm’s questions.   Thanks for thinking of me.

For my questions, all I want to see is the same questions I answered above.    I’m tardy with this, and I don’t want to further string it out by thinking of a set of questions.   And I hereby tag :

Gank – Who hasn’t blogged for awhile, but should.

Stargrace – A lady with a neat perspective, and a professional game journalist to boot.

Bhagpuss – Who will definitely see this, but won’t respond :p

Go on, respond.   You know you want to.    It was fun, even if I’m very slow doing this.