Friday, April 20, 2012

On A Good Story

I love a good story. I think most people do. I was reminded of how much a good story matters recently from a place that many people might find odd.

This one involves a high school boy, a friend with an Apple ][e, and a penchant for imagination.

Let's start in 2012 - I love checking out Kickstarter to see what kinds of things people are coming up with. I've even backed a few projects on there (some successful and some not). But one that really grabbed my attention was a project to develop a video game. Not just any video game, mind you. This game was touted as being the long awaited sequel to one of the grand daddy computer role playing games of all time: Wasteland.

For those of you who either weren't around in the 80's (some of you) or didn't play computer games back then (all the rest of you), Wasteland was one of the first games that took on the post-apocalyptic sci-fi genre and did something good with it. The game was pretty awesome. Especially to a teen boy who read every sci-fi book he could get his hands on....

Now, you might be asking "What could have made a game from 1987 so good?" I get that. I mean, we're talking 8-bit stuff here. The graphics and sound would barely pass as graphics and sound by today's standards. You controlled everything with the keyboard - no mouse or touch anything. It even required a *gasp* physical booklet (that came with the game) to play. The game, at certain points, would direct you to read a certain numbered paragraph from the couple of hundred paragraphs in the booklet. Old school, baby....

So, what's the deal? In a word - Story. Sure there were a few (for 25 years ago) tech advances. But the thing that really grabbed people (and it got quite a few) was the story. The player was quickly and easily immersed in the world of the game, mainly via text descriptions and paragraphs. The graphics and sound (such as they were) brought just enough to let your imagination grab ahold and run with it.

The sequel to Wasteland never surfaced and the game began to fade. It got a little boost (mainly in people's memories) when the game Fallout hit the scene a decade later. That game was a huge hit. Probably bigger than Wasteland mainly because of the growing number of home computers and gamers with paychecks (those teens in the 80's were young adults with jobs in the 90's). The tech was leaps and bounds above Wasteland but the story was basically drawn from the older game. Fallout rocked too.

But, Wasteland proved to me, and many others, that a good story is something that people really long for. Sure there are somethings that work fine with out a good story (e.g., Angry birds), but when you get a good story you can grab people and stay with them.

So, I backed the Wasteland 2 project on Kickstarter. And then I went and got an Apple ][ emulator and a disk image of the old Wasteland game. I had forgotten how good it actually was until I started playing again. I got hooked on the story once again....

On Waist Land
(see what I did there....)

I'm still not running but I hope to pick it back up next week as my foot is about 100% better than it was.

In the mean time, I 've tried to buckle down on the diet side of things. That has led me to the scale once again where I found:


Another pound. At that rate (1lb/week) I'll be pretty close to hitting the 200lb mark by the end of the year. Of course, I'd like it to happen a little quicker but I know it's slow and steady that wins this race.