Sunday, August 15, 2010

And The Merry Go Round Broke Down - Volume 11

I remember back when I was a little Jeremy and I was playing around on my Commodore 64 devising plot after plot to take over the world. As far as computing went, those things were a real powerhouse for the early 80’s and even the more expensive brands like the Apple II or the Atari 800 weren’t any more powerful. 64k of RAM was just massive at the time, especially considering that most of us had stepped up from either an Atari 400 or a Vic-20 which boasted a whopping 24k, but the important thing about the C64 was it had come with a strange device called a “modem” which at a blazing fast 1200 baud would get you onto various bulletin boards {BBS} or the internet {after my evil had taught me how to hack passwords to the University of New Hampshire servers} and thus the world was opened up to me. Well kinda anyway.

You see back then there was no World Wide Web, or Instant Messenger. Of course the monstrous 64k wasn’t going to handle those types of things, and the CGA graphics {usually through a television} wasn’t going to show you pretty pictures either. There was plenty of things to do, though if you were so inspired. There was Usenet {think of a long chain of those inane comments under everyone’s pictures on Facebook minus the picture, or the ego stroking}, IRC {Internet Relay Chat}, E-mail {minus the attachments and pictures} and yes there were even online games. Of course they weren’t exactly what you have now either, because your most sophisticated online games were what we had called MUDs {Multiple User Dungeons} which were really nothing more than an elaborate cyber dork version of Dungeons & Dragons. They were hugely popular though.

Now of course using a computer for games was never part of my intentions. I tried various MUDs like LORD {Legend of the Red Dragon} and QUEST, but I never could get into them for more than an hour. Reading text lines and choosing Yes, No, Left, Right just didn’t do it for me. I consider this a good thing because I was able to dedicate my time to the great evil I am still working at today. Let’s face it, we’re talking about 10 years before ICQ {pronounced I Seek You} came along to make Instant Messenger a staple of all computers, or DOOM came along to make people think of PCs as a big expensive game box. I was concentrating on programming and even when these things came along I usually uninstalled them pretty quick too. I never liked DOOM, and as most people know I am NOT a messenger person. This was until a game finally did come along that I found myself hooked on and it was quite frankly because it was a stupid game by game standards. Of course billions of people adored it, but it was the first and pretty much only game I adored until recently, and that would be SIM City.

Yes, SIM City was a game that could really bring out the Dork and the OCD in me. Playing God over a little town and making it into a perfect city, with flowing roads, nuke plants, waterfalls, the right amount of this building and that building. I was finally in my element with a game, and more over I could use my powers of evil to hack into it and make it run more efficiently for me. Of course the time came along finally when I had gone on about 5 days of no sleep trying to keep the residents of my imaginary city happy, I had gotten no progress on applications I was trying to program, I had read none of the articles from one of my militia groups in Usenet, I hadn’t practiced my Russian and all of the other things that a little hacker {now on an Amiga 2000} trying to take over the world should have been, and I quit it cold turkey. Ok realistically I went through a divorce and lost my computer to the ex wife, but you know what I mean. I have often tried to get back into SIM City but the real world {kids, job, dates, etc etc} spoil the obsession for me that I once had. Until recently I must again point out.

This is where my cyber-parents come into the equation, as I had recently found myself back on Facebook to get my mind off of losing my girlfriend at the time, and MamaCathy told me about Frontierville. Now let me tell you, it was like getting my old friend SIM City back in a bit more of a sociable format. It limits me to the amount of things I can do {based on energy, money etc} and is a great little diversion when I get a case of the screw its sitting at my keyboard, while at the same time keeping me somewhat in touch with friends and family. Scary isn’t it?

What really impresses me about the game Frontierville though is how everyone does thier slice of the cyber west differently. I actually take a moment to enjoy looking at everyone else's little town and all of them are unique and attractive in thier own way. More over I get a bit of an inside view of how my friends think by looking at thier little villiages. I have one friend that spends more time making the place look beautiful as opposed to functional. Buying up flower beds and statues with hardly any crops or animals. I have another that has no crops and focusses on trees and animals to make up the bulk of thier economy. Then I have a few who have a form of well managed chaos which since I have known them for ever, I can say it fits them perfectly. If you haven't seen mine yet, it is an OCD paradise, based on utilitarianism and hardly any asthetic beauty. It's all good however you see it.

Overall this strange game review mixed up in some past brain soup does have a bit of a point to it. I'm rather happy that I have gotten to a point in my life where I can play an online game that has a moderate social aspect to it, without going totally over the deep end. My friends that are addicted to online games rarely come up for air, and then people like me who rail against them rarely get over ourselves. Now that I have found some sort of balance, I only need to keep the goals simple. I usually add every app on facebook just so my friends can get whatever benefit they can draw from it, and then never pay it a second thought, or a second glance. I'm just happy that I don't have to get consumed in it all, and try to be the Uber Jeremy that doesn't even exist. I'm better off being the predictible Jeremy that everyone has come to expect. Of course I can't make any promises if they come up with some sort of game which involves running a Victoria's Secret or something really important ;8o)