Earliest significant game memory: I think it was playing Janitor Joe(http://www.myabandonware.com/m... on the computer. That was probably before I put in an hour or three playing Super Mario Bros. in my older cousin's room.
Mine was Ultima 5, when you get down to the bottom of a dungeon and you go down one more time and you exit into ANOTHER WHOLE FREAKING WORLD !!! or maybe it was when that evil happy face came out in Berzerk. It's all pretty mind blowing when your a kid. Super Zaxon on an Atari 800 computer was pretty mind blowing.
Playing Elite on the BBC Micro. I can't recall if it was the first proper game I played (might have been Rocket Raid or Chuckie Egg, but it was certainly the one that got me hooked with its crazy ambition and open-endedness. I've been trying to relive that gaming experience ever since, and Frontier aside, it's never quite happened.
There are a lot of moments over the years but the one that stands out clearest in my mind in the first few days after Morrowind came out. Exploring randomly off the beaten path, because that's what you do in a TES game, and trying to make my way to the Red Mountain even though my character was something like level 5. I came through a valley between two hills pursuing that mountain on the horizon and saw the Ghostfence for the first time. It was on a ridgeline above me, shimmering blue with the mountain and that red-ish sky in the background. I remember being shocked that they could make something look so good in a video game.
Star Control 2. I'd been playing games for probably something like 6-7 years before that, both on a C64 and a 286. But those were always fundamentally mere diversions. Now, Star Control 2... Such an amazing combination of scope, approachability and humor. That game just took my life over for a month until I made it through the main game. And even after that I'd frequently bike 10km to my cousin to play Super Melee with an increasingly complicated metagame.
For me it was Baldur's Gate. First time I ever played an RPG (I had done Sim City, CIv 2, Need for Speed, etc). Was amazed at this whole universe that existed and all these stats that would make a character and whatnot.
Most shocking moment came days later when Khalid got gibbed by an Ogre, I was out of health potions and I kept getting attacked and people were dying left and right. At the time it just felt so permanent and I felt so defeated and scared because I didn't understand the mechanics of 'magic' and healing and stuff.
Duke 3d. Shooting those barrels by the air-vent while cracking wise, falling off a skyscraper and immediately being attacked by Assault Troopers outside of a porno theatre. My 9 year old mind would never be the same.
The Sentinels of the Multiverse company is Greater Than Games.
The first game I can remember getting really excited about was SSI's The Summoning, an isometric labyrinth action RPG which had all sorts of clever traps, a rudimentary crafting system, and a spellcasting system that had you combining a library of hand signs to cast a variety of different spells. You learned the combinations off scrolls (IIRC) and also new signs, but you could combine any signs you knew in any order to try to suss out new spells and didn't have to find the spell in game. My best friend had it and when I saw him playing it I was enthralled. Alas, we didn't have a computer at the time so I had to experience it vicariously through him, going so far as to call him and listen to his running commentary on the game as he played. (long before any kind of video streaming or even the internet, really).
Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 doesn't sound so much actively bad as uninspired and lazy and hitting game tropes that Nick doesn't enjoy. I also picked it up during the Steam sale in an "I know this probably sucks but....eh, it looks so purty and a few people seem to like it" sort of shoulder-shrugging moment, so I guess I may see for myself sometime. Probably not anytime soon, though.
Oh, man, You have to tell me your impressions of Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 after you play it, Barac. Like I said in the podcast, there's nothing technically wrong with it. It's just so damn blatant about being a low-rent Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.
And the thing is, I don't necessarily mind that. Especially if there's a lot of sniping, which I enjoy to an unreasonable degree. I did make it through Homefront, so I might manage this one. (Then again, the modern Medal of Honor lost me pretty fast, and I knew better than to pick up Warfighter.)
When I was like, 5 or so, I would go over to my cousins house every couple of weeks. He had an Amstrad (the British Commodore 64) that he would play on. He had a bunch of games like Gauntlet that I would play with my brother for hours, just going around and mindlessly killing monsters .
Then one day I noticed my cousin was playing a different game and was reading a book while he was playing it. I asked him what it was about and he showed me this manual with a map and descriptions of items and monsters and prices in gold to buy items in this town called Skara Brae.
That's when I had my 'what?' moment when I realised that there was this whole other world that had been created in a game that you could wander around in and interact with. I was reading, I think, Magician at the time as well, and the realisation that I could be an adventurer in a game just like Pug was in the book felt like my mind was melting with the possibilities of what could be done. I will never forget that.
Mechwarrior: Mercenaries. Not that I hadn't played any other games up until then but it was really the first time that I felt like I was really thrust into the action; not like in other games where I was watching events unfold around my choices but I really had the sense of being apart of the action. A lot of this had to due with the computer controlled mech pilots there opinions and feelings freely over the radio. Its wasn't some senseless combat but a real engagement between you mech lance against another.
There is not better example of this when its came to arena battles on the planet of Solaris 7. These gladiatorial levels could have been just another add on to give players more "content" but by including an announcer calling the play by play, giving back story to unique mech pilots. Its one of the few times in a game where I felt part of the game. I loved it as Duncan Fisher called out my kills in real time, transcending me from game player, to rookie mech pilot Specter making his name in front of hundreds of thousand of holovid fans.
Its cool that for a game that could have been just another mindless mech sim that they through in a little bit more, elevating the game play to a wartime drama of competing sides in a civil war and a touch stardom on Solaris 7.
My first mind blowing experience, at least that I can recall, was Nethack. I had never before played a game with the incredible level of complexity and difficulty.There's something equally enticing and infuriating about gaining food poisoning from an old corpse that you ate to avoid starving to death, or drinking an unknown potiion hoping for healing and getting acid. I've since moved on to better games(like Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup) but Nethack still has a special place in my heart.