I’m being lazy today, so I figured I will make a post in which you can do most of the talking, and I can just sit and listen and post smart ass comments and correct the typos in this post as they are pointed out by our friendly neighborhood grammar Nazis in real time.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to tell me about the bestest, most epic game you have ever played. Or rather about the game that affected you most. A game that you remember most fondly, and that you keep revisiting. Tell me about that time when you went “damn, this game is awesome” every 10 minutes. Please talk about that one special game that made you squeal with joy either literally or figuratively.
If you don’t have a favorite, most significant game like that, tell me about your top 2 or 3 best games. I don’t really care what genre or type. If you don’t play video games, you can talk about RPG’s or Monopoly. Simply tell me what was the game that you had most fun playing.
I think that my favorite single player video game is Morrowind. I’m sure some you could see this coming because I bring it up nearly every time I talk about game design. It’s actually a funny story – I found it in the bargain bin at Wallmart. I didn’t know anything about it at the time. I have not read a single review for it – neither positive or negative. I had no clue what to expect. But it captured my attention because the box had all the magic words on it: RPG, expansive world, and first person perspective. I figured that you can’t go wrong with that.
I brought it home, launched it and that was it for me. It was love at the first sight. As soon as I saw that huge Silt Strider in Seyda Neen I knew this game was awesome. It had giant floating jelly fish things, living gods, ancient prophecies, an extinct race that left behind mysterious ruins, a mysterious plague, and an unseen evil enemy of Sauron like qualities. The world felt old, full of legends, secrets, old feuds, ancient conflicts and alliances. Not only that, but the game had a well designed, mouse driven interface that was intuitive and compact (unlike Oblivion’s interface which requires at least 8 mouse clicks to even initiate an inventory action). It had an engine that was robust and stable enough to offer enjoyable, frustration free player experience, but glitchy enough to allow for fun exploits that would allow you to gain an edge over your opponents. It was also full of Easter eggs, and interesting items and NPCs. Not to mention that the game as designed in such a way that you couldn’t really do all the interesting quests for all the interesting factions with a single character. Once you joined a great house or one of the many guilds, you would often be given orders to kill important quest givers from other factions effectively locking you out of some content. But that was ok. The game was so huge you could level up 2-3 different characters without ever actually repeating a single quest.
Of course Morrowind was not devoid of flaws. It’s character designs were atrocious. The conversation menu was a bit confusing and counter intuitive at first (as opposed to the rest of the drag-and-drop driven UI). The lack of quest objective map markers on the map, and vague directions meant that you often spent a considerable amount of time lost. The game however shipped with a mod making kit, and the thriving community quickly fixed most of these flaws with user made mods.
My second favorite would probably have to be HL2. Same as Morrowind it has a great story and very memorable characters you actually start to care about as you play. I heard a lot of good things about this game, and when I finally bought it, I had really high expectations. I was pleasantly surprised when the game surpassed them. I knew I was hooked when I played the original, but the Episodes with their very cinematic scripted events and more story driven (as opposed to combat driven) game play was what really did me in.
When it comes to multiplayer, I think I remember the original team fortress (the Quake mod) most fondly. We used to have weekly lan parties and played that game obsessively for hours on end. I sucked at it something fierce, but it was still a great experience. If you haven’t played a competitive FPS game with 10-12 of your friends all sitting in the same room, you really don’t know what you are missing. And no, playing online with voice chat is not the same – you can’t for example throw your shoe at the asshole who is spawn camping.
Funny thing is that since then I have played many multiplayer games that were far superior to the original TF. Among them TF2 from Valve which is an very different game – at least in my mind. It’s better, more polished, more balanced and well designed. But somehow I always remember the blocky, pixelated TF quake mod as the most fun multiplayer experience I have ever had.
I think I must also mention Warhammer Fantasy RPG. It was the first role playing game I have ever played and it was a blast. It had broken and exploitable gameplay mechanics and the universe was mostly lifted from the tabletop game but we didn’t care. We loved it.
I remember that I got the rulebook for Christmas, and spent the whole holiday studying it with this goofy enthusiasm. My GM said that he didn’t mind that I didn’t know the rules or the universe, but I really wanted to catch up with the other players who have been gaming for years. I pretty much inhaled the whole book and showed up to the next session full of knowledge and rules related questions. My enthusiasm for this hobby was so intense that the GM lent me his copies of Cyberpunk 2020, Vampire the Masquerade and Mutant Chronicles RPG which I proceeded to read cover to cover but didn’t get to play until much later. WFRP was my first experience with RPG and as such it has a special place in my heart.
Now it’s your turn. Tell me about your favorite games of all time.