There's been a recent trend on Twitter called #GameStruck4, and the idea came about I believe from movies (I've seen that too) but as with all things on Twitter - especially within my timeline and folks I follow - it evolves to games. The idea is to list 4 games that define you as a person, a gamer, or with a lot of people I follow what defined their entry into the games industry.
For me, this is a very difficult one to list because I have so many games that defined various parts of my life for a number of different reasons... so I figured I would list each specific set for each specific thing they defined about me. This is still not an exhaustive list of inspirations, but I'm paring down as much as humanly possible to get the most succinct lists here. I'll try to stick with 4 influences and inspirations for each area, but here they are.
The seminal games of my childhood are the following:
Super Mario Bros. 2 is an obvious one. SMB2 was my era. I was still young, but it was the first game I touched.
Sonic The Hedgehog Though I wasn't a SEGA kiddie, I was still lucky enough to play them. This was like Mario, but fast. It taught me a lot of valuable lessons about reacting quickly, learning the levels, and planning. Also it was gorgeous.
Tenchu: Stealth Assassin was the first 18 game that I really got into in a big way. GTA was alright, but Tenchu was my jam. It introduced me to the concept of stealth games which have been a stalwart favourite sub-genre ever since.
Baldur's Gate was an incredible series and to this day remains a favourite. I could still play BG2 today (and do) without skipping a beat. Its graphics don't faze me in the slightest, because it was the game that brought me into the world of tabletop and D&D as a whole, so bring on the janky 2D graphics and dated system... I still love it! I'd love to see a new BG game in the Pillars of Eternity (or heck, Larion's Divinity) engine. Make it happen, Obsidian!
My Life as an Online Gamer
Phantasy Star Online was the first real, substantial foray into online gaming beyond the most basic stuff. This, for me, was the one that gripped me and opened up the idea of online gaming as a whole. It was also a fantastic game!
Neverwinter Nights cemented what PSO and Baldur's Gate began. It was an amalgam of D&D - which I loved - and the concept of online gaming that was growing on me more and more. I found myself a roleplay server with strict "stay in character" rules and lost myself there for a long, long time.
Counter Strike: Source while I did play CS1.5/6, it didn't really click until I played CS:S on broadband with a decent computer. Then it was nothing but this for a long time. I competed in open ladders, amateur matches, and built a solid group around me of fairly exceptional amateur players who are, to this day, friends.
World of Warcraft needs absolutely no introduction, even to the layman and non-gamers out there. It is the game of the generation. Everyone has heard of it, many have played it, and a fair few of us no-lifed the everliving fuck out of it. It was the culmination of time and place, and it captured me completely. Friends were made, love found, and imaginations blasted into a billion pieces and scattered like pixie dust. It was a time of self-discovery and I was around the age where I would be defining how I progressed through the rest of my life as an adult. I was in my very early 20s at the time. It informed how I would live my 25+ life...
It was an exceptional experience and I know without a shadow of doubt that I will never again find that feeling. Classic WoW won't recapture that, Vanilla servers will never come close, and no other game will ever again be able to impact that online interaction and friendship forging in the same way. It was a perfect moment in time for all of these factors to come together and cement itself in my life as the seminal experience of my online gaming life. Add to that the fact that WoW was also my entry point into the games industry, and you have something that will never be rivaled.
Game Development Inspirations
This was the very first game that I even considered making a mod for. I poured time and effort into creating levels, simple scripts for multitools, and complex branching conversations. It was a hell of a lot of fun. This is also a game that I love dearly to this day and have played to absolute death.
A game that absolutely gripped me to the point that I owned it for both PC and XBox (the original black monolithic beast of a console). I put maybe 1000 hours into it before Oblivion came out across all platforms, and then maybe another 1000 hours into it since then. It was another game that I delved deep into the toolkit and made things for. I had almost built a new set of Theives' Guild missions that branched from the main guild... almost like a rival faction within the guild itself. I wonder if I still have the files somewhere...
Made by Tom Francis and only a handful of people that helped him with auxiliary input (art, music, etc.) was a game whose development story truly inspired me. Working on the game in his spare time Tom Francis, a self-confessed programming layman, created a complex masterpiece of a game. It told me that should I be willing to put the time and effort into something, I can achieve it. This was an 'after work' project turned into a full-time career and going on to create another masterpiece afterward (HeatSig.) #inspired!
Not a game... EC is a YouTube series about games created primarily by Daniel Floyd and James Portnow. James is something of an aspirational goal for me. His understanding of game systems and the industry is top tier and his wisdom is way up there with the greatest minds in the industry.
What really inspired me, though, was their video on Game Compulsion. This is the video series that made me sit down and think, and the result of that thought process was my big project. A game about game compulsion itself. I wanted to tell a story about that compulsion using real life experiences of my own and those that I know who have been afflicted by this compulsion in a life-shattering way.
Today I want to encapsulate all of my experiences and the joy I've received from these exceptional games along with so many more that I can't even begin to list - mostly because we'll be here for a loooooong time - that have defined me as a person and shaped my goals for where I want to go next.
I hope these give insight into me as a person, a gamer, and an industry professional.