Starry Wisdom

Entropic Words from Neilathotep

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wasteland (aka the best computer game ever)

It’s been a while (over a month!) since my last post. I obviously failed completely to do a post a day, but no matter. It’s time for a new post!

Let’s go back in time to the late 1980s, 1988 to be precise. Imagine you are a 13 year old boy who likes computer games and you come across a poster advertising this:

You find the game, perhaps a week later, and turn to the back of the box:

If you’re anything like I was 24 years ago, you’d do anything you can, including spending a couple of weeks allowance, to buy the game. Which I did.

The game itself was similar to some other games at the time – most particularly the Bard’s Tale games from the same studio, Interplay, but it had some notable differences, not the least of which was that it was set in a post-apocalyptic world, instead of a fantasy world. But the story, about a group of survivors from a nuclear war at the end of the 20th century was far more gripping than any story of magical heroes in a made up land could ever be. Your young team of Desert Rangers is sent off into the great desert to investigate some disturbances, and this leads to ever more adventures throughout the American Southwest. Demented farmers, giant bunnies, and deadly robots are some of the fiends you will face as you carry out your mission, which grows to epic proportions as you learn more about the state of the world.

The game, of course, is not perfect – at least on the Apple II version that I played, healing was very slow – you basically had to hit escape and ‘wait’ over and over to recover health- and hope that no random encounters came up while you were still weakened. I ended up sticking my joystick on the escape key to simulate it being hit over and over, while I would read for five minutes or so.

Anyway, I doubt I can sell this game to anyone who hasn’t played it, and I don’t think it’s quite help up so well, mostly because of the graphics. The game is also rather hard at some points – remember this was before the days of the world wide web and, so most of the secrets had to be discovered by one’s self. I remember spending days trying to get through the sewers of Las Vegas, because I couldn’t find the one item I needed to open some door and let me out. But the joy of actually finishing the sewers, and coming out with enough firepower in laser weapons to beat the dread Scorpitron filled me with much joy. I enjoyed the game so much that I ended up playing through it several times through during my high school and early college years.

The real point of this post, and why I am so excited about something from the 1980s, is that Brian Fargo, the founder of Interplay, has started a kickstarter to fund a sequel to Wasteland, almost a quarter century after the original’s release. It made it’s funding goal of $900,000 within the first day, and it is currently at almost $1,500,000 at the time of this posting. The more money donated, the better the game will be and at the $1.5 million mark, there will be a Linux and OS X version of the game released, in addition to the Windows version. Hopefully the kickstarter will hit that amount – I’m very excited to play the sequel (I pledged a fair amount of money), and I can’t wait until it’s released. There’s still time if you are interested in pledging!

posted by neil at 11:47 pm
under video games  

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