Blast from the Past: UO and StarCraft

Tonight was blast from the past night.  I installed Ultima Online and StarCraft Brood Wars!

Ultima Online… my gosh.  Total 1998 rush.  I never really got into Ultima Online back then.  I played on a friend’s account (I still have his CD… never returned it, oops)  and usually just explored.  We’ve told the story before of when Graev was exploring and a guy came up to him and said “hey, want some cool stuff?” Greav said, “Yeah!”  and the guy said “Okay, come to my house and I’ll give it to you”.  Graev, being like 10 at the time, went to this guy’s house all innocently.  When the door opened and Graev stepped in it quickly shut behind him and he was then shot in the face with a crossbow by two guys waiting inside.  I think that was the last time Graev ever played UO…

For me it was all about mining back then.  That’s what I did tonight.  I created a Blacksmith and was guided around by a friend who is a big time UO vet.  I walked up to a bank and had to a bank and had to type “bank” in order for it to pop up.  Interacting with a vendor required you to type “vendor sell” or “vendor buy”.  I went up to a mountain and mined lots of ore which I then smelted into ingots.  After that, I crafted it into all sorts of things.  I made ringmail, chainmail, shields, polearms, and sold it to the vendor.  I made a lot of gold and felt really cool.

Playing UO tonight was awesome because it highlighted and again reminded me of how far games have really come in the past 12 years.  At the same time it also shows what actually worked then that still works now.  The menu systems for buying and selling from a vendor are just as high tech as they are today.  They are essentially the exact same.  In fact, I think I like UO’s even better.  The paperdoll system of equipping and unequipping gear in UO is really cool because you actually drag and equip things onto your character.  In many ways this paperdoll is identical to what is still used today as well.  The crafting in UO, what little of it I saw tonight, was enthralling.  Gathering the ore, smelting it, using different tools and choosing the materials to work with, and then creating the items was such a simple process yet it had depth and reward.

So when I hear about how games today need innovation, I feel like I have once again reaffirmed for myself that they really don’t.  They’ve come such a long way but at the same time they’ve retained an enormous amount of what worked.  Games over the past twelve years have added a lot and if they’ve all borrowed so heavily from these original games then why can’t the next generation of games in development retain much from the the oldschool and this current generation?  Once again I urge people to not be so hasty with demanding things entirely new.

StarCraft…. wow.  It’s older than people give it credit for in my opinion.  For anyone out there watching SC2 videos saying “This looks exactly like SC” you really need to go play the original again.  No video options and really low and blurry/muddy textures and funny looking animations definitely make SC2 look over a decade better visually.  Gameplay-wise it’s still good old StarCraft.  It felt exactly the same as I remember it.  For the people thinking that SC2 is just a remake in gameplay I would have to say they’re probably right in many ways. — but that’s what I want!  I think that’s what most SC fans want.  You simply do not innovate on StarCraft.  You just don’t.  It’s simply perfect the way it is and I don’t want it to be any different.

I’m really rusty at the game.  In my head I can play through a match and do awesome.  I have my build order all set and I know the units and the buildings. Then I actually play the game and I freeze.  Umm… where’s this again?  Where’s that button?  Crap, I forgot those could do that.  Lots of “ohhh yeaahh” moments.  It was really humbling to get rocked by a computer in the first two minutes.  I think there will be a lot of learning over again when I actually play SC2.  Maybe it won’t be so bad after tinkering around in the original.

I want to continue this ‘Blast from the Past’ night.  Perhaps continuing to play SC and UO but also reinstalling and playing some older games.  I’ll even take requests.  This could be a lot of fun.

  • We should play a game or two on SC: Broodwar, i finally got mine fixed for Windows7 x64 so i’ve been playing non-stop, but I am micro-noob lol.

    Sweetix is my name on

  • The main thing I missed about UO was the crafting. You didn’t feel like you had to rush to kill monsters, you could just go mine some ore buy a pack llama maybe tell it to kill a deer and then skin it.

  • I go back to SC:Broodwar about every 3 years to replay it. I still sucks. 😛

    my LOTRO is kinda Blast from the Past..even if it’s my first time on it.

  • UO was awesome. Played it a bit on the official euro-servers, but had several years on one of the most popular player ‘shards’ (Zuluhotel, if anyone cares)

    The graphics are a big turn off, same with the controls, but I still think it’s the best MMO ever created.

  • How about Diablo 2 I wanted to replay that some time ago, only to find out that I couldnt run it for some reason.

    Replaying the hitman series myself, which is surprisingly satisfying.

  • You are very right about StarCraft – I installed it a few months and was so horrified by the graphics and muted sounds that my journey down memory lane was short-lived.
    Most bizarrely is that I remembered every frame of the intro movie: in my head it was “realistic looking”, in reality it was not even well drawn!
    UO I was the first MMO I ran away from on sight: I remember a friend showcasing it to me and his entire game consisted of going to the bank and joining a huge queue of people moaning about the fact they were waiting to use the bank (Lag issues I believe). To me that was just not fun or even escapism and I never looked at it again…

  • I tried installed Diablo 1 on my PC a few months back… it didn’t work at first. After I finally got it running the resolution was so funky I just uninstalled it.

    D2 is still great, I still play it.

  • Loved your story about Graev UO 🙂

    Reminds me of a friend of mine in Everquest. He was asked by another player to enter a city and buy him something from an NPC vendor (the other player couldn’t enter because he was KOS). My friend took the strangers money, ventured into the city and then /camped offline, stealing all of the cash the guy had given him 😀

  • For me, the ultimate Blast from the Past game is X-COM: UFO Defense. This was the game that started me on PC gaming. Although the graphics are terrible compared to games out now, the gameplay is deeper than most games I’ve played since then. And the replayability is top notch. Also it’s challenging as hell, which I like compared to the easy mode of a lot of newer games.

    Definitely a great game if you’re interested in turn based strategy games. I believe it’s on Steam for $4.99 so it’s not a huge investment either.

  • Ahhh UO. What a game.. Best I’ve ever played, best I ever will play. It really was much more than a game. Probably the only MMORPG I played (DAOC a bit too) where it felt like I entered a virtual world, and I wasn’t just playing a game.

    UO had all the intricacies of a real world, from the regions that were “claimed” by different guilds, to the players who ran shops and peddled their wares around the different cities and world. Players made homes for themselves in all the parts of the world, and certain cities became their “home” city. I was always partial to Occlo and Minoc, Minoc being the very first city I claimed as “home” when UO first went live.

    So many stories and memories of that game, and I still think of them from time to time to this day.

  • UO was amazing; I’d love to play it again. (I need to find a good shard, I guess.) It did so many things right — I’m continually dumbfounded with newer MMORPGs that have completely ignored UO’s best features.

    @ Idunaz: Quote, “…certain cities became their ‘home’ city…”

    Totally! I started out in Trinsic, and somehow that always remained “home” for me. Even after traveling to all ends of the world, I’d get “homesick” and head back there… =)

  • “StarCraft…. wow. It’s older than people give it credit for in my opinion. For anyone out there watching SC2 videos saying “This looks exactly like SC” you really need to go play the original again”

    hahahaa, oh my god you are so correct. i cringe every time i hear references like that being made. not just of starcraft.