Thursday, January 03, 2008
When I bought my first computer, probably in about 1988, there was no internet in anything like its present form. Computers themselves were just coming into common acceptance for ordinary humans, and they had no hard drives and no graphics cards. Mine was a Wang. I never could have justified buying it except for business; I just just opened my own law practice, and I was broke. Nevertheless, there were already games designed for PC's and the first one I bought, and about the only one I ever played, was called Wizardy.
Wizardry was a attempt to duplicate Dungeons-and-Dragons-style role-playing games for the computer. It necessarily visually simple, with no graphics card and no real RAM either; everything was stored on big old floppy disk. You had to load the game with one disk, then put in a player disk you created to get your characters into the game. Once there, you ran around in a dungeon killing monsters or being killed by them. Of course you were the only real player as the online-RPG was unthought of. I became obsessed with the thing; I know I spent thirteen hours straight one Saturday playing the thing in my office, stopping only for food and the bathroom. Finally I developed characters who could kick the ass of every monster the game had to offer and it was over.
Of course that's the way all computer games work. Also, like all the others, Wizardry came out with subsequent editions, all of which added more sophisiticated graphics, etc., but I never could get into them. As PC's got better, the games became more like video arcade games. The more work the computer did, the less work you had to do. So younger and dumber people could play them, and the games became targeted for the market.
I never could get into Gaming, in the modern sense of the word. First, to get good at the sophisticated ones, especially the RPG's, you had to have an amount of time no adult with a job could ever devote to them, especially if he had any other interest in life at all. There are simpler games of course; most of the stuff developed for the PlayStation and the XBox realizes the aforementioned concern, and it's basically well-done arcade stuff. I can enjoy an occasional evening of PlayStation tennis, but it's not a mental activity (plus I don't like the damn controller). So I've been looking for a good online RPG, realizing I don't have twenty hours a day to develop my characters.
My interest was revived the other day by a free game where you create your own wolf-self and live the life of wolf in the wilderness, but when I tried to run it, my computer lacked enough RAM and kept locking up. I had wanted to try Second Life, which is hugely successful and has a following of millions probably, though it's reality based (a second mundane boring American life, hmm....), but my chief graphics card wouldn't run it.
So OK, yeah, I need to buy a better computer or upgrade this one. But in the meantime, I discovered this thing called Triad City, which is the coolest thing ever.
Triad City is a ten-year-old RPG which has no graphics. None, not even the elementary card-less ones of Wizardry, but it has all the potential conceptual sophistication you could want. It was obviously created by a couple of guys who loved literature and fantasy, had respect for the necessity of learning to use the English language. Triad City is a wide-open RPG with no pictures except those in your head. You create your own character, and develop him/her/it (there are eight genders). There are creator- and player-made maps available, but other than that, it's all up to you. You navigate around with basic verbal commands. It's potentially huge. It's wonderful.
Yes, you should have a few hours available on the night you start. I won't presume to tell you more about the site; you should experience it for yourself. Go here. It's free. You'll meet some really cool people. Be prepared to use your imagination and your skills and your sense; this is a game for adults (not necessarily Adults), and to do some work with your head. It won't kill you.
And you might see me there. But I won't tell you who I am. At least not at first. But you'll probably figure it out, as there's every few people there. I mean, almost none. As I write this, 6:17 p.m. CST, there are no players on. None. Just five bots. Monday, my first night, there were three players. Last night, there were four, I think. More will be on tonight. I will, I think.
How bizarre, or maybe not. This great thing is available for free, but no one is using it. Meanwhile, billions of people who access to it are not. Literallly. Did you mistakenly think I had faith or respect for humanity?
I did write the creator, and Triad City looks like it's here to stay. And hopefully get a little bigger, but not a lot. And hopefully you, if you can type and think and have even an out-of-date computer like mine.
Oh a couple more thoughts. I don't understand the idea of playing a computerized sport when you could play the sport itself, even if badly. I mean, there's some excuse for cripples or people like me who are getting to do all the stuff with their bodies that they can do in their heads. But the rest of you? The idea of kids doing their sports online while they sit on the couch and get fat and stupid(er) revolts me.
Finally, Triad City is to John Madden's NFL games is as books are to TV. Take it from there. Or don't take it near me.