I’ve redone this website near 20 times in its lifespan. Scree.org has always been an abused stepchild I adopted nearly two decades ago. While every revision has been spurred by some personal life event, this most recent one is due more to practicing my web development skills. I have several side projects that require this knowledge, but I always turn my eye towards scree.org first when relearning the skills needed to work on it all.
I felt my first post on this most recent iteration should detail the background I have in regards to subjects near and dear to me. Yes most of the content on this site will address my personal experiences in gaming, but I also will branch out to whatever topic interests me. That, however, diverges from the goal this post set out to accomplish and so I present…
The Sordid and often Trollish History of the one named Scree
Pre-AOL and Neverwinter Nights
I grew up playing consoles, mostly Atarii 2600 that my dad had from before I was born. It was fun, I remember actually playing the original E.T game (voted THE worst game ever made by some poll a few years ago). The games were mildly entertaining, but it wasn’t until my dad let me play on his PC (I shudder to describe its stats back in the late 80s/early 90s … 25mhz I think?…maybe lol) that I truly became a hardcore gamer. Let me pause and say yes, at 9 years old I was hooked. Now keep in mind at this point the internet existed only for the average person on “Prodigy”. It was a dialup service with a few bells and whistles later replaced by the now infamous America Online (AOL). This was the era of getting floppy disks (yea 5 and a quarter ones) in the mail with them trying to convince you to signup.
At this point I should state that I became addicted to early RPGs. They were lovingly called the Gold Box series of Dungeon & Dragon games. Sure their were many RPGs before this including an ascii dungeon crawler called Mines of Moria (early Lord of the Rings reference before it was cool to use them). These games were pre-Windows of any version. They ran on DOS which most of you probably won’t remember. They used @ and # to represent points of interest or walls. Yet, despite their graphically inferior roots they offered some of the most addicting Roleplaying experiences to be found. Needless to say, it stuck.
The real transition into gaming came with a new package Prodigy sent out. It contained an image on the back of a game called “Neverwinter Nights”. It hinted at gameplay with other subscribers all within a single game. To someone 10 years old, this was the coolest thing ever. I remember trying to convince my dad to signup for Prodigy and failing miserably. I was crushed. What followed was years of playing every game that looked cool to a ten year old. Wolfenstein, Doom, some random Cowboy game where the gameplay was a video imbedded into the game and you used your mouse to shoot video-animated characters (looked real!) called Maddog McCree. Tons of games littered the computer room of me and my dads gameplay center.
At this point my family moved and technology rapidly advanced with Intels introduction into the marketplace. We moved to Naperville, Illinois and began the quest for our first Windows machine. At this time point the latest was Windows 3.1 (I think that was the version anyways). It was intriguing for someone like me, and I quickly mastered it while my Dad yearned for the days of DOS. I began to take on new challenges as games came out that pushed the limits of what I believed possible. New games came out like Mechwarrior, Warcraft, Ultima, and Descent. These were games that required incredibly sized hardrives (400MB harddrives were huge!) and fast CD-Rom drives (yea… they were speed-tested just to play games back then). I spent long hours of my youth playing and replaying Mechwarrior and Warcraft. This was the stuff of legends for someone who had only a few years prior been playing ascii-graphic’d games.
With the introduction of Windows into our family, my dad quickly took a backseat to telling me what to do on the computer. At 11 years old I was the king of the computer den and everyone use to ask me to use it (or ask me to leave as was more often the case). At this time I knew I could convince them to let me onto AOL. I had for the last few months been trying to get a multi-player game of Warcraft with my friend down the street, all attempts led to failure. I thought my PC was without a vital modem necessary of talking with him. A few begging sessions and soon enough my dad purchased a new modem for me and allowed me a subscription to AOL.
This was, I would say in retrospect, the beginning of the end for my online gaming addiction. No offline game would compete with the rush of playing with other people on my PC. Neverwinter Nights has a long and fruitful history (better referenced here). My introduction with it was around 1994 and right from the outset I spent vast amounts of time in the game. This was a time period where AOL was still billed by the hour. They eventually launched a bundle pack of hours, I think $15 for 40 hours was when the game really took off. The graphic nature of the game, combined with the introduction of Player-versus-Player combat was what immediately grabbed me. NWN was a game that caused a $500 dollar AOL bill and a love for a genre that has lasted nearly two decades later. This period of my life is very fondly remembered…
TBC in Part 2…