to sound like one of those pompous old suspender wearing Unix
guru guys, but I think it's a sad, sad thing that the younger
gamers of today missed out on the infancy of our... shall
we call it a hobby? Or more a way of life? There's something
missing today, and I think the problem is that computers,
these oh so sweet pieces of hi-tech wizardry have no real
personality of their own... Now they are just another piece
of furniture around the house. Nothing really special. Those
of us who were there back in the day (No, I never had Pong,
that's even before my day.) Have, I think a higher appreciation
for what computers and computer games were, and what they've
become. (Shit. Sounding pompous...... Ahh well.) Sorry...this
little rant kinda wanders around a bit, occasionally getting
lost in small gulches and caverns of my mind.
a little history on what I've used & seen over the years.
the beginning there was the Vic 20. Marauder played with it
and saw it was good.
dating myself here, but my first gaming monster was a Commodore
Vic20. 20k of RAM baby! This bad boy was capable of mind blowing
color graphics and cheesy sound. It also took cartridges,
just like a console, but also had a DOS like text based interface
for the OS. Many hours were spent in the basement playing
on this ancient piece of hardware. Along with a 12" B&W TV
my Grandmother gave me, I felt I was in gaming heaven. After
I got my tape drive (Yes, tape drive... and not a streaming
tape backup... this technological evolution took standard
audio tapes for storage media, and took approximately a billion
years to do anything worthwhile) I went though every computer
magazine, scouring them for programs to type into the computer
and use. Little games, little utilities... All were typed
and saved to this tape thing.
the third year my father purchased a Commodore 128, and it
was very good as well.
the Vic 20 became a thing of the past, and my father brought
home the newest toy, a Commodore 128. Wow. Still had 16 color,
but more memory to play with and much improved sound. It also
had a...a... FLOPPY DRIVE! My god! The speed and space! This
machine was probably the one I had the most fun with. The
main reason I liked the 128 so much was that it had a C64
emulation mode. Hold in the Commodore key during boot and
SHAZAM! You are on a C64. Pretty sweet, and seldom was the
machine ever booted into anything other than C64 mode. (It
also had unique C128 & CPM modes.) I quickly caught onto the
principal of shareware. (Ex. Share all your software with
your buddies.) Since I was a kid and had no money, I was quite
happy to be pirating my ass off like everyone else. I did
occasionally buy a game, but it was a pretty rare occurrence.
The commie is in my opinion, where gaming really started to
shine and get cool. Many of the arcade games of the time (Ex.
Double Dragon & Bubble Bobble) were available on the 64, as
well as many new and unique games. (Hmmmm.. Jumpman, Bungling
Bay, The Last Ninja... Fort Apocalypse, Impossible Mission
etc etc) Pirate groups in Europe were doing amazing demos
and loaders. Great graphics, great sound, easy to use, and
a huge number of games available... The number of hours I
spent on that machine were simply staggering. My parents of
course, were always buying educational software, and I of
course was always playing anything but. I honestly think that
I had got more entertainment with that little beige box than
with any computer I've possessed since. What more could you
ask? Perhaps it was mearly because everything was so new and
cool. I bought a 300 baud manual modem from Canadian Tire,
and started calling a Bulletin Board System called Future
World (Got the number from an Eagle Soft Inc pirate loader.)
In Troy Michigan. My parents were not pleased by the phone
bill, and since we had a party line (We were out on a farm)
the neighbors were not pleased by the squeals and squeaks
over the phonelines in the night.)
me down the path to darkness came a PC.
completely determined to love and cherish my blessed C128
forever and ever when one day a new machine appeared. It was
square, ugly as hell. It had no sound, other than this annoying
little beeping sound, and crappy amber graphics. It had no
joystick. It had no hard drive. (Not that my C128 did either.)
There were no good games. It was an XT, and it was evil. My
father (Regrettably he was right) believed that this.. this...
thing would defeat my beloved Commodore machines in the open
market and become the new standard. Naturally I figured he
was on crack and the XT sat for the longest time while I enjoyed
my 128. Eventually I started playing with it.. why? Well,
partly because it was there.. and partly because I was having
problems getting programs for the 128. Everything was going
over to this POS. I started on it trying to figure out GW
Basic, entering again, little programs I found in magazines.
I then got King's Quest I from a friend and that was it. I
was hooked on the PC. As I played with it more and more, I
discovered the range of games coming out (Mostly from Sierra)
were not in fact, as evil as I suspect.. But were actually
pretty good. The 128 still sat out, but now it was the dust
verily indeed came grade 11 and the Amiga. And it was frickin'
still hardcore C64/PC when a friend (Livewire) brought a shiny
new Amiga 2000 to school. Oh. My. God. I almost died when
I laid eyes upon this machine. 1 meg of RAM, MCGA (256 color)
graphics, multitasking, and most impressive of all.... 4 channel
digital stereo sound! OMFG. I just couldn't believe that a
desktop computer was capable of the things I was seeing before
my eyes. And the games! The games were arcade quality. Considering
that it was actually Amiga machines running many of the arcade
games of the time, the Amiga ports for home use were exactly
the same as the arcade! Woot! The unique games were also amazing.
The utilities! The graphical demos! *shivers*
then that an Amiga would be mine. Naturally I had no money
so I had to try and convince my parents (Dad specifically)
to buy me an Amiga. I failed. Oh how I failed. I even talked
him into going to the World of Amiga with me one year. Still
unable to convince him that the Amiga ruled (And yes, that
was the first and last computer show I ever asked him to take
me to.... I could have stayed there for a week, he felt that
a few hours was more than enough time.) I kept slogging away
on my now completely crappy XT. Even upgrading the XT to a
286 w. mono-vga graphics could not lift me out of my stupor
and despair. (The 286 was the first machine I ever built,
the first one that was my own.) Most of my friends got Amigas,
and I was stuck with a technological throwback: a bloody PC.
The high point of my entire life for the longest time was
playing with the school's Amiga 2500 at lunch and after hours.
the Lord said, let there be BBSing. And there was.
I departed for College in Toronto, I continued along with
the PC. I started calling BBSs with my 2400 modem. I got on
a few pirate boards, made some friends, and that became my
life for the next year or so. At this time my father bought
me a 40 meg quantum hard drive. (Which is still to the best
of my knowledge working away) I still remember taking the
drive home on the bus, packed so carefully in my school bag,
so nervous about dropping it.... Installed it into my computer..
and.. and..My god! THE SPEED! I didn't even need to have a
floppy in the drive when I booted the thing! I was just overwhelmed
and nearly wept with joy.
verily said the Lord, move thineself into a basement apartment
and use thine computers for gaming, not evil!
thereafter I took all of my tax return money and sunk it into
the parts for a 386 DX-40 rather than rent or food. 2 megs
of ram. Soundblaster Pro 2 soundcard (SOUND!!!!! WOOT!) and
best of all.... a Dexa 13" COLOUR monitor. This was the first
time in all my life that I had actually had a colour monitor
on a computer and it was simply mind-blowing. (You may have
noticed by this time I'm actually fairly easily impressed
by new toys. This trend continues to modern day.) I then played
Doom. Wolfenstien was OK. Doom was just mind-blowing. I also
began to play Star Control 2, which is, in my not-so-humble
opinion, one of the finest examples of gaming ever made. At
the same time I also purchase a used Amiga 1000, made in 1986.
At long last, I had my very own Amiga to worship and hug.
The games! Oh god, the games..... :) With two new toys to
play with, I was seldom seen outside of my apartment for the
next few months. When I moved home a year later I immediately
spent one of my first paychecks on a used 486/66 DX2 motherboard
& CPU. Other than a little more speed for playing Duke Nukem
& Doom2, not much had changed.
then there was Pentium. And it was even better.....................
later just after starting a small, home based computer company
with my friends Kingpin & Viper, I got a bank loan and purchased
a brand shiny new Pentium 120. PCI video card and 16 megs
of RAM. Booyah! I was a gaming god. :) Ran my BBS (Bulletin
Board System) and gamed. Very fast, lots of fun. Mechwarrior
2 just whaled on that bad boy. So creamy. Since I owned part
of a computer store, I then started doing fairly frequent
upgrades on my hardware. After the 120 I went to a 150m then
a Cyrix 200+. Then came the Celeron. (It's interesting to
note that my Celeron was the first machine I ever really ran
Windows 95 on full time.. This is in 1997!)
Marauder did raise the overlocked Celeron on high and say.....
of hardcore gaming action. I never really understood why people
hated the original cacheless Celeron so much.. I rather liked
mine.... Right up unil the point that I acquired a Celeron
300A and overclocked the bitch to 450 mhz! Woohoo! Slapped
in an Intel i740 AGP 8 Meg video card and I was off to the
races...... Until Half Life. Kingpin returned to the store
late one evening bearing two large boxes. I almost died when
he announced he'd just spent $800 on two new video cards for
us..... Diamond Monster 2 12 meg Voodoo 2s. I honestly figured
that we'd be taking them back to the store a few days later...
I mean, how much better than an i740 could these things be?
Wow. I was wrong.. So very, very wrong. Several days later,
we were both running SLI Voodoo2s, and there's been no turning
back. The difference in the smoothness and playability of
those cards was just unbelievable. I was literally stunned.
Just after getting the Voodoos, a little game came out that
would change my life forever... Starsiege Tribes. Wow. The
damned game has been out for two years this month and I'm
still playing it on a regular basis. Never before has this
occurred. If you've never played Tribes, you've missed out
on something very special. Dynamix took a huge risk releasing
an online only shooter/tactical game. And has it ever payed
off. Now I know many people play Quake and other such games.
Get out of your superficial, boring little worlds and pick
up Tribes. The depth of gameplay is simply incredible, and
only good teamwork will win the day........ I was happy for
many moons with my setup, until I went out and got a Celeron
366 and OC'd it up to 550...........And installed a Voodoo3-3000
AGP video card..... And then I got a new mistress...... nVidia
entered my life.
Rune was raised from fool to "guy who was right damn him."..............
had spent quite some time in the cult of nVidia. I, with my
Voodoo 3 used to spend great amounts of time teasing and mocking
his framerates. Then out came the GeForce. After reading all
about these cards, I purchased two ASUS 6600s the day they
were released. Man. It had been quite some time since something
blew me away quite like these cards did. A GeForce can do
things that you simply can't do on a personal PC, they just
don't have the power. I spent SOO many hours going through
all the demos that came with the card, and many, many hours
showing off my new card. Forever since has nVidia controlled
my destiny, and Rune was proven correct. A few months later
I had purchased two Creative Labs GeForce Pro (DDR) cards.
Again, wow. A few months after that I took major chance....
joins the cult of AMD, Kingpin flees screaming..............
been reading up on the new Athlon processors from AMD... And
soon a 550 mhz overclocked to 700 was mine.. All mine.....
(Until a week later when I traded up to a 600 OC'd to 750)
Nice processor, very fast... Also very weird with a few of
my applications and hardware... None the less, I stuck it
out. 5 month after getting the Athlon, Kingpin was at E3 in
Los Angeles and purchased 2 Creative Labs Annihilator 2 GeForce
2 GTS video cards. Eh. Not a huge jump from the DDRs. Cool
to have though. By this time I was still playing Tribes. :)
A few months ago, my most recent and favorite CPU rolled down
the line. An AMD Thunderbird 800. Man this thing just screams.
That's all I'll say about it.
I'm (As usual) starting to drift off course and lose momentum
here. So lets end this all off by saying: God I feel old.
I do think that people who have actually been around the gaming
scene for years, and have seen where things have come from
have a greater appreciation for today's technology and toys.
Send me hatemail now.
email from Matrix Style
a few days ago, thought I'd post it here. :)
grew up starting on a vic20 with the caset tapes although
i was too young to understand pong and star command i still
banged on the keyboard trying to play but after reading your
article I see I grew up on alot of the same machines u did
and it just brought back a ton of memories.
were te shit though i can remember speing days at a time playin
and getting sick from not eating just wanting to game.I must
agree tribes is a good game but i did not spend alot of time
on it. I now got myselft a copy of tribes 2 and it does look
promising so im going to give it a try, I just wanted to thankyou
on writing that article because it brought back alot of good
memories and I hope u will write more in the future......