Friday, May 26, 2006

I Love Computer Games

They are what got me interested in computers to begin with. Back in the day when ATARI was the big player and the local bars had all sorts of interesting games to play I thought to myself, ‘Self, they have flying games and they have shooting games and I would imagine they could make a bombing game. Wouldn’t it be cool to make a game where all these arcade units linked up and buddies could each drop their quarter and do a B-17 bombing mission?” a sort of cooperative effort. A grail that at the time was unachievable. I mean TCP/IP was not even common if even a protocol yet.
My First computer was a radio shack MC 10 that plugged into the TV and booted to MS Basic 1.2 I learned to program on that little box back in 83. I wrote a word processor, a spreadsheet, and even a spaceship game. About this time the movies started including really cool wire frame graphics. Think Alien as they are entering the atmosphere of the planet, the NAV screen. Way cool. I wanted to make one of those too. So I picked up all the books on physics I could comprehend and tried very hard to model a gravitational force on an object in freefall. Never quite got it right but you get the point.
Then along came my first PC. A Leading Edge 8086 with an orange screen and DOS 2.0 not even a hard drive. I was down at the library getting shareware games all the time. I loved the idea of simulations. SIM City, Flight SIM, name it and I loved it. I had Chuck Yeager’s Flight simulator. It was great. I eventually built out my own boxes and upgraded to the 386, then a 486, a Pentium, VGA, SVGA 64 meg 128 meg 256 meg video cards up to today’ box which I recently upgraded to be pretty great but not dream but it works.

Anyway Wolfenstein was the first 3d shooter out there in the shareware space and soon a number of other games followed. I fell in love with the first person shooter, particularly Half Life. Playing against the computer was OK but not perfect. Then I bought a game called Delta Force. It had an online component that once I tried it I was hooked. Massive death matches against real people scattered across the ether. The only thing that was bad about it was the damn Cheats and general trash talking smacktards. The same was true for team fortress that was the Half Life multiplayer offering. At the time the company I worked for had set up Half Life games that we would waste time on when we needed to decompress. It was great and the word Frag entered the vernacular and gibs were not from a turkey. But still, on the public servers there were the cheats and the idiots, so online was really not as fun as it could be.
Then about 3 years ago I saw a vendor booth for ATI at a trade show and they were showing game footage from Half Life 2. AMAZING graphics! Upon my return to Seattle I was in the market for a new Graphics card and while at the local electronics super store I saw an ATI Radeon 128 Meg card that included a free copy of HL 2. This was because someone had hacked Valve and released the source code of the next version of the best shooter of all time to the Internet. They had to delay release and wanted to keep marketing. As soon as it was released a copy was mine.
This came with a Steam account and I had access to all my current games and one that looked interesting. It was a WWII First person shooter called Day of Defeat. It was an online multiplayer. Once I managed to get it to get the app tweaked to where I could play I found a really cool shooter based on the half-life engine that was really small unit actions. Under strength platoon at best against same. Sure there were games out there like Battlefield that had their draw and Call of Duty is really gorgeous but the truth be told, the game play is just too linear. Go here plant this bomb and blow up the objective yadda yadda yadda. DoD was nonlinear, fun and you played against people. And best of all it had decent in game Voice communication. You could work cooperatively as a team with the other players. This is what I really craved.
By this time the online gaming community had organized onto what they call Clans. Little groups of players that would tag their game name and run their own server and web site bulletin board. Most are pretty silly filled with 13 year olds that have admin privileges and childish egos and are ever so 733t totally pwned you noobies woot. Really annoying punks. And there were still cheaters and team killers and just foul mouthed smacktards. So I shopped around, I found one server that seemed to be serious, did not tolerate TKs and general nonsense and they were pretty good players, The 1st Canadian Parachute Batallion. I played there regularly until one day one of the admins Team killed me just because I was not moving fast enough for him. He then proceeded to get all “don’t you dare revenge kill me or Ill ban you noob ass”. Well I never went back to that server again
Then I came across a server for a group that called themselves the 28th Infantry Division. They had all the rules I looked for in a server and they seemed to enforce them strictly. Plus if you were playing and there were a couple of 28th guys on the server and on the same team kiss your sorry butt goodbye cause they were gonna roll over it and take no prisoners. They worked together like a cohesive unit. And that was how they referred to themselves. A Realism Unit not a clan. They based them selves on the actual 28th division which was the Pennsylvania National guard. They Fought the Germans in the Hertgen Forest in the Ardennes as well as on the beaches of Normandy. The Germans refered the the Keystone Patch as the Bloody Buckets.
The DoD 28th has a Rank Structure about what you would expect in the average Infantry Company of WWII. Highest rank was Captain. When an officer arrived on the server they saluted and referred to him as sir and they followed orders and kicked butt. Over time I found that I played exclusively here and further I spent time on their boards. Over the next two years I made friends and was asked once or twice, but I never joined. I just did not have the time. And beside that would be weird and admitting I really am a Dork.
So Last fall one of their members, a Staff Sergeant, sent me a very nice personal message asking me if I would consider applying to be in the unit. They had also been holding public Scrims. A scrimmage or scrim is what they call a game against another team. They are organized with rules and a winner and a loser there are even leagues but not here. This was unprecedented and as soon as I was able to I signed up to play in a public scrim. It was great fun and the pubs even beat the 28th over the 2 or 3 pub scrims that followed. Finally I relented and submitted my application to the unit.
In those days when a person submitted an application members could comment on the application. I was really touched by the positive response I received from these guys. So anyway we as recruits are supposed to stay active on the server and the boards and check into recruit check in posts on a regular basis over the 2-month waiting period. They do this to weed out people that are not really committed to the unit. Finally after two months they announce who has been accepted and then we actually have to go through basic training where we learn about the 28th build teamwork and get generally abused by the training command. After that those that do not drop out or are discharged are brought into the unit as a PFC and assigned to a rifle platoon. I mean it is so cool. We actually have a custom made HQ and training Map where we all line up then go out and “Train” IE play the game and work tactics and practice for scrims. This is exactly what I was looking for in the gaming world. A group of teammates that I absolutely trust and know will be the best out there. The nature of the unit and its structure creates a sense of esprit de corps that as unbelievable. Granted 90% of the command staff are current or former soldiers so they are not just pulling this out of their Asses but in as much as they can through tearing down the individual then rebuilding a member of a team have created a highly disciplined unit.
There are weapons restrictions, so depending on your rank or training defines what weapons you are allowed to carry on the 28th server. Privates and PFC’s are only allowed to carry the rifle, M1 Garrand. This has a secondary, which is a grenade launcher that attaches to the barrel. During my time in the training Company I was having trouble with these. I was playing on the public server one night and the First Sgt (in real life a Corporal in the Marine Corps) reprimanded me for not passing my mid term on the grenades. I felt stung and so I really tried and worked on it till I got it right and now the process is second nature. I actually managed to twice in a row take a sniper out of a church tower in a fairly tricky shot on the public server. This I really owe to these guys in particular the FSgt, as recruit training is ultimately his responsibility.
I finished with the training and graduated and I am now a PFC in the second platoon. I am in the machine gun school so I can carry that weapon on the server and I am having the time of my life. I know it is weird me playing Army with a bunch of guys whose average age is about 20. Though a large portion are closer to my own age. I joke with the spouse and child that it keeps me out of the bars but truth be told. These are my friends. I have a normal healthy home life and we have our family friends etc but ever since a close neighbor moved away, I have not had any guy friends that shared common interests to pal around with. In the 28th I do.


At 5:38 PM, Blogger Grish said...

Your still playing I take it?

I have played Multiplayer games since about 1999 when I started playing Diablo then I started playing Everquest ~ played it for about 4 years. Then played (the original) Call of Duty for about 9 months mixed with a little 'Tribes' then City of Heroes, World of Warcraft, City of Villians, Call of Duty II and Star Wars Battlegrounds.

I never got to play Halo II even though I always planned on it. My problem is that I only play one game at a time and I was already in one when it came out and somehow got lost after that.

I'm not really playing anything right now because my mind was screaming at me for a creative outlet but I have Warcraft still hooked up for when I want to get a fix. I might find another game here sometime soon.

At 7:24 PM, Blogger Eric said...

ikdugshyeah Just finished a game just now. WE scrimmed against the Christian Soldiers clan last night and beat em in realizm rules. The assault had us down to two guys but we totally held the defense. Our Sniper and MG took out 5 before they knew what hit em and they never crossed the line into our defensive zone.

At 2:15 AM, Blogger Grish said...

I think I will buy Half Life when I can. I think I'll try to wire it into my bigscreen. lol

At 8:13 PM, Blogger Iwanski said...

I'm glad no the only one.

I was never really into video games as a kid, but I'm beginning to like them as an adult.

I actually like the Grand Theft Auto games. So much that I bought a Playstation.

I also enjoy the Medal of Honor games.

At 7:06 AM, Blogger Legal Alien said...

I share your love of the games. I'm convinced that, as with all other media throughout history (books, movies, television), video games offer a new artistic opportunity. There's a lot of silly crap out there, but some games are simply transcendent.

Sounds like you're having the time of your life in the 28th. MMORPGs scare me a bit--I can picture myself dying of malnutrition and blood clots, like those obsessive gamers in South Korea. But there is one coming out based on ancient mythology (Titan Quest) I might have to try.

At 7:12 AM, Blogger Legal Alien said...

Wait. I think Titan Quest is a straight RPG from the Age of Mythology folks. But I'm pretty sure I read there is a similar MMORPG in the works.

At 2:06 PM, Blogger Eric said...

Actually Dod is an Online First person Shooter just like half life. The role playing comes from the unit.

At 1:22 PM, Blogger Morris said...

nice screenshots. I didnt read the blog on this one yet, because I suck. I will though I promise.

At 1:24 PM, Blogger Morris said...

Great story, your lucky to find a good game with a good team. I stopped playing most onlines because I could'nt find a crew like that. Very cool.


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