Tag Archives: computer game

I’m living in a computer game


Phil: I’ve never been properly into computer games. Truth is, I don’t have the reflexes, nor the enthusiasm for killing things for first-person shooters, and can’t be bothered to spend hours getting involved with the more complex ones.

Many years ago, I did quite enjoy a game on my ZX Spectrum called Tir Na Nog. Cast in the role of Cuchulainn, you are required to mooch around the afterlife in an effort to reunite the pieces of the Seal of Calum.

Basically, you wandered around in what was, for the time, a very impressive graphical environment. Your character moved fluidly, the background scrolled and it was all very nice. I never got into the purpose of the adventure, instead, finding my own amusement.

By pacing out the complex road system, and filling these in on a massive sheet of graph paper, I was able to draw up a very accurate map. This satisfied me enormously, and I didn’t even mind when similar maps appeared in computer magazines. I had done it and they just proved I was right.

Those days of pacing a digital road system came back to me every time I go for a stroll. I’ve become very familiar with the roads and pathways near where I live. Thanks to not being allowed to go anywhere interesting for nine months, the challenge has been to create a bit of variety in my routes. While walks are lovely, the scenery is a bit monotonous now.

It’s a bit like my computerised wandering, except without having to spend seven minutes loading your walk from a cassette. Every slightly different side-road becomes an adventure. Gradually, I am building a mind map (I’m not using the graph paper, human strides not being as consistent as computer ones, anyway, I have Google maps) of even the more complex housing estates nearby. There isn’t really any point in this other than taking me away from staring at a computer screen, but then there isn’t really much point in anything nowadays.

Maybe I just need to be grateful that life is a bit Tir Na Nog rather than Space Invaders!

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They’re playing Video Games

Phil: Research, research, research. I know people say “write what you know” but if I only did that, Candice wouldn’t speak to me and the chance of us making it in the chick-lit world would be slightly worse than a snowball in hell.

So, no nerdy train stuff Parker. Instead, I need to look into video games.

Might as well keep the anorak on then.

Seriously though, in the book, one of the characters plays video games with a group of people he’s never met. This provides some important plot points and a interesting twist. Apparently I am the best suited of the pair of us to write this bit. Any complains about stereotyping are met with a hard stare.

I was given my first computer, a ZX81 in 1982. It came with hardly any memory and a cassette containing 10 games that would fit into this tiny space whilst not taking very long to load. They kept me amused but I preferred writing my own programs, or at least fiddling with the ones on the tape.

A few months later, I received what might have been the first game with what’s called a “First person” perspective, the brilliant 3D Monster Maze. You ran around in a maze and somewhere there was a T-Rex. Since the computer didn’t have sound, warnings appeared at the bottom of the screen such as “Footsteps approaching” and the terrifying “Rex has seen you.”. I played that a lot, fascinated that you were running around and could only see what your character could see.

I was rubbish at it though.

After this, there was a ZX Spectrum with a few more games. Like all speccy owners, I had The Hobbit, a text adventure that followed the book. Sadly, I hadn’t read the book so didn’t progress very far, spending far too much time listening to Thorin sitting down and singing about gold.

Basically, I was rubbish at it

Later there was Knight Lore, an early 3D game where you watched the action from the top corner of a room, controlling your character from there. I liked the cartoon style and recall playing it enough that I recall the screen every time I hear King singing “Love and Pride” on the radio.

I never completed the mission, ‘cos I wasn’t very good at it. No staying power.

After this I didn’t play games until working at a vegetable research centre, I found myself in the IT department where someone set up a “First Person Shooter” type game we could play over the network against each other at lunchtime (cough).

My attempts involved bumping into walls and being killed by all my colleagues. Rubbish.

And that was it. Since I needed to write video game sequences, I felt it was time to have another go. £1.10 worth of spending at the local branch of Entertainment Exchange furnished me with two games – seriously, is there anything that depreciates faster than a video game? – one of which is called IGI Strike 2.

igi22As it turns out (I celeverly read the blurb on the back of the box) you play a special forces operative who has to sneak in to buildings and do stuff. There are missions and guns’n’stuff. It’s a lot like the game I’ve invented for our character. OK, it’s not cutting edge but I’m getting the idea.

Well, sort of anyway. Obviously I’m still rubbish at it. I couldn’t even work out how to get in the first door without looking it up on the web. When I do, there is running around and getting killed. I think is 40 goes, I nearly reached the first objective twice.

It’s all so confusing. Why are there so many keys to remember? Why can’t I move fluidly around the place without running at walls or taking 6 goes to manoeuvre through a door?

Still, I will persevere. I think I’m getting the idea now. I just hope not too many of our reader are hard core gamers.

Oh no, you can actually PLAY 3D Monster Maze here. No work for me then…

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