Before I begin this tale – I have another; somewhat shorter, story. A week ago I was minding my own business (this is a lie; I was playing games) when all of a sudden…I was introduced to a website called Man Crates.
Being a man myself; my interest was piqued and I investigated the website and it’s actually a pretty cool idea! They deliver crates that are full of man-swag including a new dad tactical bag, whiskey boxes and most importantly of all; retro gaming and super retro gaming crates! Hell; you even need a crowbar to open these boxes of delights! If you are a man; or you have a man in your life who’d like this stuff go check them out…as I say it’s a cool website and worth a gander.
Anyway it gave me a good idea for a post – what was the ingredients for my perfect gaming memory…I’m not one to turn my back on inspiration so…are you sitting comfortably?
Then we’ll begin.
My story begins on Christmas Day 1999; I had asked for a SEGA Dreamcast for Christmas and nothing more. Upon the arrival of the big day I got my Dreamcast (yippee) and my siblings and I also got treated to a PC…for studying you understand. 1999 was the advent of the internet after all and parents worldwide (in their ignorance) could only see the educational potential of such a thing!
Of course my Dad was no fool; he’d bought us plenty of games and consoles in his day so the gift came with a proviso; “this is not for games! do you understand?” he asked; “Yes Dad” we replied.
Later on that afternoon and my brothers and I were playing ‘Star Wars: Pod Racer’ and ‘Outcast’ from a demo disk that Dad – gave us for installing word processing software! It was here that our fling with PC gaming began.
*Ingredient 1: PC*
Fast-forward 9 months, it’s late September and on a shopping trip I decided to call into GAME (our local high street specialist shop) and browse the PC gaming section, it was here proper bargains were to be had. After ten minutes my eyes were drawn to a leather green box with a simple symbol; a U above an O…”interesting” I thought to myself “what is this one about?” reaching down to read the box; it was heavy, this was no ordinary game. On the back it was simple, one word jumped out at me “Online”…wait a minute, I can play with people over the internet? My mind was spinning 1,000 MPH, the potential was mind-blowing. this was unbelievable! I spun the box around to check the price. £5…I bought it instantly.
*Ingredient 2: Ultima Online*
Getting home I eagerly opened the box to get to its delicious disc and the future of gaming – it wasn’t alone in there – this was a sort of collectors edition! It had the game disc, a cloth map of ‘Britannia’ and a massive, thick and detailed manual that contained the game instructions and lore of the game world – IN COLOUR! It smelt divine (that’s right I’m a manual sniffer – now a disc sniffer)! I placed the disc in my PC – desperate to step foot into this brave new world…
…up…date…what is this?
…my first taste of online play was the realisation of updates – and this was no small update – Oh NO! It was 500mb! On my puny 56K connection this would take – 9 HOURS! DISASTER!
Dear reader if you are under 25 you probably have no idea how crap internet was for downloading before broadband! Ultima Online would be played…tomorrow…sigh. I started the download at 10pm (internet was free after this time, and no-one ever phoned this late) knowing that it would be finished at; roughly 7am.
*Ingredient 3: Time*
My alarm went off early that Saturday morning – and I rose to the sight of a 99% bar. It would need more time to finish, breakfast?
*Ingredient 4: Breakfast*
Upon finishing my ‘Frosties’ I returned to the PC and found a newly installed and updated Ultima Online awaiting me! An exciting moment for sure – I created a character ‘Jimmy Joe Bob’ and ventured to the game world starting in a city called ‘Britannia’. Instantly I was transported to a building, surrounded by players all shouting random words: “Bank” they said, “Deposit” soon followed. “WTF? What am I to do? Where is my tutorial” I thought to myself, I had no idea what I was doing. I fumbled around the world a little, but I was stumped.
I returned to the building from where I started and just said “can anybody help me,? I’m new” instantly 3 players ran to me and said they could help me and they did, they gave me some gold, a weapon and brought me to the sewers and then the graveyard. This was gaming, gamers helping gamers!
The future had arrived and it was a Utopia.
*Ingredient 5: Ignorance*
I soon logged out, hung about with my friends IRL and when night came I was desperate to get back to Britannia – again I asked for some players to help me level JimmyJoeBob up; again some volunteers came forward. We went to the graveyard – they murdered me and stole my stuff.
Don’t trust everyone.
*Ingredient 6: Experience*
Over the next few weeks I plowed hours and hours into Ultima Online and it was utterly brilliant! One day though it said my subscription was up and it would cost £7.99 to get another month; WTF? I’ve paid for this game already! That’s when I realised I’d have to pay a monthy fee; this would never do! Surely there was a way to enjoy this game – without the subscription…
…TO ALTA VISTA (remember that search engine?) and it hit up a fan site ‘Casiopia’. There was detailed instructions on how to play this third-party server which I followed to the letter, soon I was starting a new character, in a new server, with new people.
*Ingeredient 7: A home*
The first thing that struck me was that there were far fewer people, but they were all good people. Helpful, friendly and informative. I made quick progress and began my path to become Casiopia’s premier tailor; my flamboyant and quick-witted character’s dream!
That though is a different story, for a different time…
*Ingredient 8: A Dream*
There we have it guys, a treasured memory, in recipe form.
If you could boil down a treasured gaming memory into a recipe what would you include?
Tell me in the comment section below!