Monthly Archives: August 2011

The summer of Ultima VI

Ultima 6 Gypsy

My brother & I alternated answering the gypsy's questions...it made for an interesting Avatar!

When I was a kid, my whole life was turned upside down when my parents divorced (don’t worry…this isn’t going to be a “my parents never loved me” kind of post). It was a series of typical events that I’m sure many of you can relate to, so I won’t delve into the superfluous details. Suffice it to say that my father ended up getting his own apartment, and my brother, Jasen and I were subjugated to required weekend visits twice a month. There wasn’t a whole lot to do during the weekends we spent with our father. He wasn’t exactly what you’d call a “hands-on” kinda dad, and would mostly spend his time locked away in his bedroom watching TV, leaving my brother and I to our own devices.

While we did have a Nintendo console, it remained chained to the single television which was usually in my dad’s control. However, there was an old IBM x286 that sat in a relatively empty office room, and somehow that became the center of our world during those weekends. There were two of us and only one computer, and miraculously, instead of fighting over it (which we were prone to do), we learned to compromise and share.

One of the few games that we had at our immediate disposal was Ultima VI: The False Prophet. Jasen and I quickly devised a system of game play that satisfied us both. He being older (by a year and a half) would be the captain and I would be the navigator. This meant that he actually got to control the game, while I sat next to him and helped steer the course. Four days out of every month would find us sitting in our respective chairs; my brother at the helm and myself to his right, clutching a pen and notebook as we immersed ourselves in the world of Britannia.

Ultima VI did not have an in-game map, quest journal, nor any of the other features that you find in today’s games. When entering dialogue with NPC’s, certain words would be flagged in red that indicated more information would be available on that topic. If you weren’t paying attention, it could be relatively easy to miss something good. But thankfully, there were two sets of eyes and we rarely missed anything. One of my jobs was to catalog all of the topic keywords, while my brother typed them in. I coordinated our quests, while Jasen guided the Avatar through them. When we entered a dungeon, I dutifully sketched maps of the area so we wouldn’t get lost, while my brother controlled the combat with the various dungeon inhabitants.

This might sound tedious to some folks, but for me, it was a hell of a lot of fun. And although I didn’t realize it, or truly comprehend this until much later in life, I really learned some valuable things that summer, hovering around a computer screen. Through our cooperative method, I honed the keen attention to detail that I’ve carried with me throughout my life. I got to spend time with my big brother (who I secretly idolized, even though he gave me indian burns and endless noogies). To top it all off, I soaked in the abstract concepts of teamwork and compromise, and working together to achieve something.

In time, we beat the game, and our temporary alliance would end. That summer brought a truce between siblings who were often at odds with one another, although adulthood thankfully brought the growing pains of sibling rivalry to a close. And I can definitely look back now and count those hours spent gaming with my brother as one of my most fun, and most memorable gaming experiences of all time.

I’d love to hear about your favorite gaming moments, so please feel free to take a moment and drop a comment below. Happy gaming!

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Are collector’s editions really worth the high price tag?

The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim Collectors Edition

Skyrim's collector's edition is unveiled

My initial mouth-foaming excitement over the news of Skyrim‘s collector’s edition quickly waned at the jaw-dropping price tag. For $149.99, this special edition and all of its glory can be yours. But the real question persists…are these collector’s editions overpriced or do they really give you some bang for your buck?

With the rabidity of most collectors, it’s no real surprise that video game publishers have found clever ways of parting our money from our wallets. But in the face of economic recession, mounting unemployment rates, fluctuating stock markets, and the housing crisis, can you really justify shelling out the dough for gaming paraphernalia?

Don’t get me wrong…my bookshelves are lined with their own tokens of gaming goodness – copious amounts of statuary and knick-knacks line the shelves next to concept art books and miniature representations of gaming’s finest heroes and villains. In fact, as I write this I’m staring straight at a puzzle block that when arranged properly says, “Diablo II“.

The Skyrim collector’s edition looks pretty sweet…all the right touches with the statue of Alduin in draconic form, full-color concept art book, behind-the-scenes DVD, and a nice-looking cloth map. It’s enough to make my inner child quiver with cries of “wantwantwant!”

If it seems as though I’m conflicted on this topic…it’s because I am. I’ve gladly and willingly shelled out the cash in the past towards special editions or exclusive offers. But with each purchase, I’ve had to weigh my choices and balance “need” vs. “want”. And it’s sometimes a difficult decision to make, because deep down, there’s a part of me that truly relishes collecting.

What’s your opinion? Are collector’s editions worth the price tag? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so drop a line below!

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