Part 2: RPG, RTS, & other great acronyms
Gamer Level: Happy. This is the achievement that we are trying to unlock. The first step in how to become a happy gamer is to play games that you enjoy. I know. Shocking, right? It's simple, but it's also a surefire way to have fun and ignore social pressures in gaming.
I started off playing PC games very early in my life. In many ways, my gaming addiction saved my life. As an adult, I realize that while the countless hours of playing video games never added much value to my life, they did keep me out of trouble. Silver lining! Video games save lives, kids.
The games I am going to share with you are those that are near and dear to my heart. When playing these games, I am able to pull from the creativity that these games offer. They are the muses that help inspire my creative writing projects (see Attack Roll).
Once you start to read about each of the games below, you will start to see a trend. I really enjoy the real-time strategy and role-playing game genres. Some of my favorite games host both genres at the same time. The best of both worlds.
Although I was only like five years old when Diablo released, I immediately recognized its creativity and world building. I loved the idea of creating a character, killing a monster, saving the world from a demon and using magic!
This action role-playing game gave me a new perspective on video games. Although it was limited in character development and creation, I found it so fun to hack and slash my way through a skeleton-filled crypt. Diablo has a spooky vibe and an interesting narrative that got me hooked. I even enjoyed Diablo II.
Total Annihilation (1997)
Once again, I was young when this one came out but this didn’t stop me from enjoying it later in life. Total Annihilation was (and still is) an incredibly fun real-time strategy game. This game brought a level of economics into the gaming world. Yes, I know. Sim City and others did that too. However, Total Annihilation actually made it fun.
You start out as a commander with limited resources and abilities. The more you create, the more options (or Units) you have. Your objective is pretty simple: create an army and destroy the other team’s commander. The sci-fi aspect along with the economic background provided an unfathomable amount of gaming fun.
Baldur's Gate (1998)
Oh boy! This game is possibly the biggest connection and link to my obsession with Dungeons & Dragons. This game functions on Advanced Dungeons & Dragons mechanics. The story dives deep into the Forgotten Realms setting of D&D. A lot of the story and themes in this game are still relevant in the D&D canon too.
I wish I still had a copy of this game so I can run through it again. It’s been so long since I first played it. Recently, Beamdog released Enhanced versions of this game and its expansions. They also recently released an enhanced version of Neverwinter Nights. Which reminds me...
Neverwinter Nights (2002)
I currently own three versions of this game and am completely unashamed! I have the Platinum, Diamond and Enhanced versions of Neverwinter Nights because of the game's replay value.
There are so many different storylines and plots that you can take in this game. When you're tired of the main stories and missions, you can also create your own game. My favorite feature in Neverwinter Nights is character creation and development. I love creating a character and testing out the many abilities and skills. In fact, this character creation tool and D&D influence have made me appreciate and love the Druid Class in D&D.
I also greatly appreciate the ability to create your own modules. One of my favorite modules is so cleverly created. It has real-time strategy aspects built into the action role-playing. Best of both worlds, am I right?
This game along with Baldur’s Gate, Dungeon Siege and SpellForce feed my desire to play Dungeons & Dragons. They are the reason I bought the 5th edition box set in 2014 and the reason I host a D&D homebrew podcast (Again, Attack Roll. But you probably already know that if you're on this site).
Dungeon Siege (2002)
So, I know that I said that the character creation of Neverwinter Nights was amazing. However, Dungeon Siege adds a unique flavor to the character creation. In the main storyline, you basically start out as a farmer. A nobody. Just a commoner. As the story progresses, you find yourself in a situation that allows you to pick up a sword or stick and you whack away at the creatures invading your farm.
The leveling system in this game doesn’t compare to the traditional system we know... it’s much cooler than that! Maybe you want your character to be focused more on melee and less on magic. Well, in order to be stronger, you just put a sword in your hand and get to chopping. Over time, you will gain experience in the melee field. Or maybe you want to shoot fireballs at everything ugly. Just do it! Over time you will gain experience in the magic field. This is the coolest and most realistic version of leveling up I have ever experienced.
Side note: This game doesn’t have loading screens! Pretty awesome. Imagine modern games with no load time.
This game is so much fun because it blends the fantasy aspect of Diablo and the economics of Total Annihilation. At various point in SpellForce, you have the opportunity to farm resources and create an army that is under your control. Imagine you are playing as your main hero, leveling up, collecting loot and slaying monsters. Then when the story progresses you are able to build units such as humans, elves, and dwarves to help assist you in your missions. Leading an army feels pretty rad.
There are some really great games that I have played that didn't make this list. Like Civilization. Although it is a wonderful game, it doesn’t have the same value to me as the games listed here. Those I have shared with you are the cream of the crop.
Just thinking about these games gives me new ideas for our D&D campaign and podcast, Attack Roll (I promise this is the last plug). Even when I have not played them in such a long time, these games still contribute to my Gamer Level: Happy.