Introducing Naithin — Part 2
I was trying to remember what week we were up to, theme-wise, for this week of Blaugust. Well- I didn’t need to wonder very long. I put the question out to the universe, and for once, the universe answered promptly. It’s ‘Introduce Yourself’ week, and I’ve seen a lot of people jumping in and tackling the subject.
It isn’t my favourite theme, truth be told. Talking about oneself is often difficult, or at least awkward.
But last year I finally gave it a shot, and looking back over that post now… It wasn’t too bad, really. Nothing to worry about. Apparently, I was so cocky by the end, that I thought there might be a Part 2 to come. It didn’t, but I thought it might. I even suggested some loose ideas as to what I might cover in a Part 2.
Maybe I’ll add a Part 2 to this, as there is certainly more that I could cover now that I’ve got the ball rolling. The type of content I like to cover, the type of games I like to play- no doubt other things that fall off the thought-wagon while writing about those… But we’ll see.— Naithin (Time to Loot), Introducing Naithin (2022)
If we haven’t met yet, or we have only met recently — here’s the first thing to know.
I’m often far more optimistic about what I might do when it comes to future plans than is often the reality. History has repeatedly taught me this fact, but it doesn’t stop me from idle speculation about something I may (but likely won’t) do.
But on this one at least… Better late than never? Between my commentary last year, Krikket’s post and Mailvaltar’s post, the idea is formed! Although I think I’m going to go for both a hybrid and slightly easier approach with fewer games selected.
I reckon… 4 games that have defined my past, and 1 that I reckon would have, had I played it, but I never did!
Four Games That Defined Me
Quake 1 — 1996
I played… a LOT of the original Quake. From the Demo on through to the full release, then to the QuakeWorld online-client, and just… a boatload of mods.
Did you know there was a QuakeRally mod? Well, now you do.
Quake was the only game I’ve ever played truly competitively as well. I mean, we didn’t have the huge esports tournaments and scene of today, but we had clans and we competed within ladders of community creation for the top spots. It was always a bit of a pain in the balls to play against Australians who had DSL while most of us poor Kiwis were still stuck on Dial-up.
We could play on NZ servers and still have worse ping than our Aussie counterparts. And heaven help you if you were in a single phoneline household and someone picked up the phone while you were in a match!
QuakeWorld: Team Fortress is where this competitive play took place for the most part, and I probably gave this game years upon years of play. I was certainly still playing it right up until the launch of my next defining game, in any case.
Asheron’s Call — 1999
I don’t recall when I first heard about the wonders of an RPG you could play online with hundreds of other players, but Asheron’s Call was certainly my first first-hand experience with one.
More than the fact that other players could occupy the same space as me — this is something I was already used to, after all. My appreciation for the scale of it in an MMO would come later — what really struck me was the lack of boundaries. Quake, Descent, and heck, even the RPGs and adventure games I’d played to date taught me to expect very specific things.
For any given game, there was a certain distance after which a level’s boundaries were encountered. The world ended. The area transition kicked in. The level ended and the next in the rotation loaded.
Whatever the case may be — it was contained.
Asheron’s Call very quickly taught me that these same boundaries simply did not exist. As I ran from my starter town of Holtburg West, going well past the point where the ‘level’ should have changed, and realising that there was still no end in sight to the world was truly awe inspiring.
Truthfully, it was a realisation that carried with it a fair amount of trepidation too.
I mean, I mostly knew the direction I had left the road behind, and was fairly certain I knew how to get back to it… But just that sense of scale dwarfing everything I thought I knew about game spaces was enough to instil if not outright fear then certainly a new respect for the world I had entered.
Asheron’s Call would go on to consume me, and take me away from all other games for a long time. I didn’t need anything else. I wish I could recall now what the first game to get me to lift up out of Asheron’s Call again was, but even once this did happen, I might lighten my play for a period of time, but there were many more years yet of going back and intermittently playing in heavy patches and lighter patches.
Diablo II — 2000
I had played a borrowed copy of Diablo 1 at some point, and I enjoyed it to be sure, but I still wasn’t done with my Asheron’s Call fixation when Diablo II came out. It was the talk of school though, anyone who was openly a gamer was absolutely hyped for it and talked about it incessantly. Largely due to this wave of hype, I begged for a copy of my mother, potentially as a late birthday present.
I didn’t not enjoy it, but as mentioned, I was not initially ready to come out of AC. I don’t know if Diablo II was the first game I played that wasn’t AC, but I think it would’ve been amongst the earliest.
In any case, it was likely some years later, but Diablo II became the game I rotated out of Asheron’s Call for. It seemed to go on 6 month or so cycles for a while there, alternating between Asheron’s Call and Diablo II on Battle.net. Whichever one I wasn’t currently playing, my brother would borrow and play until I felt the urge to switch again.
Neverwinter Nights — 2002
This is referring to BioWare’s 2002 Neverwinter Nights, rather than the MMO that came much, much later.
The official campaign that shipped with the original Neverwinter Nights release was a dog. A slog. And just generally not very good. But it hardly mattered. You didn’t buy NWN for the OC. Or at least, I hope you didn’t — and I’m very sorry if you did.
No, what you bought NWN for was everything else in the package.
It came with a toolkit for building your own ‘modules’ that was simple enough for anyone to pick-up, but didn’t sacrifice any real power in the process. You could add a fairly comprehensive set of new behaviours to the game through a C-script like language which could be triggered from conversation paths, from trigger points, skill checks, or any number of other creative avenues.
That wasn’t all though — in addition to being able to build (or play the built work of others) modules, Neverwinter Nights was extremely capable on the Multiplayer front. You could party up with your buddies and go on endless adventures.
(But wait, there’s more!) It also came with a Dungeon Master client. Someone could come in with the power to spawn encounters, trigger scripts by hand, teleport players, possess NPCs and all that good stuff. Some of my best memories with NWN come from playing DM-controlled campaigns with a group willing to RP out the scenarios.
Some of, but not THE best.
I think the best times came from building worlds as a group project with friends. The NWN Builder was exceptional at allowing assets to be exported in forms reusable by others, so we could, for example, split the world-building amongst us and stitch it back together for the final mod. We could have someone responsible for coming through and writing the dialogue. Someone else the scripts. Or the custom enemies and NPCs.
Other than connections with certain people? I think the loss of these modules we created together is the most painful computer-related loss I can think of.
Wait- That’s Four Already?
Perhaps I could’ve gone for 10 games after all. And better yet, maybe made each of them a post of their own! That would’ve kept the idea furnace burning for a while.
In selecting just these four I missed so much else. I didn’t touch on my roots in the strategy genre with the original Civilisation, or how much I enjoyed both Sierra and LucasArts adventure games (primarily the Quest for Glory and Monkey Island series respectively). Oooh, or the Sega Master System era that started well before we had a PC in the house! (Alex the Kidd! Sonic!)
But nonetheless, I do think the four chosen are a fairly representational group of games, where a bunch of my interests in gaming first appeared or were otherwise refined.
The One That Got Away?
There was a time when I could say I had played every MMO out. With the grand exception of this one; Star Wars Galaxies.
I don’t recall why I wouldn’t have played it. I know I was hearing good things about it, although thinking about it further, it’s possible I didn’t really start hearing all the noise about SWG until after the update that caused it all to come crashing down.
Having missed out the chance to play it was quite a thorn in my side for a while. I had missed one! But… That was thinking of a day and age where the number of MMO’s could still be counted out on your fingers.
As I understand it, SWG does have a good emulation scene running, but I’m not sure that without the nostalgia of having been there, done that, and formed the memories and connections while it was relevant that I’d really be able to get into it.
…Maybe something to try out one day though?
(Although, noting again, as I said earlier in post — I often make idle speculation on things I might do but probably won’t. This definitely fits that bill. ;))