Ars Ludi (The Art of the Game)

Things have been good lately.

For four weeks now, I haven’t had to meet any deadlines, manage any fundraisers, plan for any holidays, or orchestrate the mailing of thousands of t-shirts.

I have to say, not doing these things has been lovely.

You see, I’m a slacker at heart. A dabbler. A dallier. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. You also don’t spend 14 years working on your unpublished fantasy novel if you’re a highly motivated go-getter. You don’t spend 9 years getting your undergrad degree if you’re the sort of person who thrives on a 14 hour workday.

Now don’t get me wrong. I can do the 14 hour workday if I really need to. The last half of 2010 proved that I can do it for months in a row.

But still, it’s not my happy place. I don’t thrive in that environment.

So I’ve spent this last month recharging my mental and emotional batteries. I’ve been catching up on my sleep. Catching up on my e-mail. And hanging out with Sarah and Oot, who didn’t see very much of me in November and December. Or much of October, either.

Also, I’ve been playing some computer games.

That’s one of the first things I cut out of my schedule when time started getting tight back in August. And it sucked. Computer games have been part of my life since…. well… kinda since forever. I played computer games before the internet. Before graphics. I played computer games before a lot of you were even born.

This has given me an interesting perspective on computer games. I played Zork and Bureaucracy and Leather Goddesses of Phobos: text adventure games that have never been equaled in terms of their ability to fuck with and frustrate their players. I played King’s Quest. I played Doom. I MUDed. I played the original Fallouts, both one and two….

So. Nutshell. Me big PC gamer.  Much playing. Much knowing of the games. Follow?

Here’s the problem. The last few times I’ve managed to sit down to treat myself to a game, I’ve found myself increasingly disappointed.

Games have come a long way since I first typed, “Take lamp” back in the early 80’s. These days games have cool things like, say, sound. I like sound. Increasingly, they have fury, too. And that’s not a bad thing either. The problem is when they’re full of sound AND fury. That’s where things seem to start going wrong.

Given the advances in technology, it seems like I should enjoy games more these days. They have all sorts of massive multiplayerness and vast polygonious landscapes to explore. This should be cool, but instead I find myself increasingly dissatisfied with my computer gaming experiences.

I could say more on the subject, but I worry it would grow tiresome. So instead, I’ve decided tell a little story with the help of my good friend and sometime illustrator Nathan Taylor.

The comics are kinda large, so you’re going to click on them so they can embiggen into their full glory.

Oh, and please don’t just take these comics and post them on your own blog. If you want to share them with someone, just link back here.

Why? Because otherwise you’re killing the internet.

Here you go….

Page One:

Page Two:

Page Three

Take that, Tycho. I warned you that writing elaborately interwoven narrative thingers was my bailiwick. Despite this, you continued to interweave them. Moreover, you employed cunning phraseology. Secondarily, you made alluring word usements. Sixth and lastly, you finished your story in a timely fashion. Thirdly, you used the word ‘ineluctable.’ And, to conclude, you are an irritatingly good writer.

This has left me no choice but to do a comic about computer games. I’m sorry that it has come to this, but you really left me no choice.

Later all,


This entry was posted in gaming, holding forth, video gamesBy Pat151 Responses


  1. jamiecta
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 11:36 AM | Permalink

    haha, good stuff. I always enjoy seeing you post a new blog so I can take a few minutes out of my workday to slack off and peruse your thoughts. Also, I can’t wait for the signed copy of The Wise Man’s Fear to arrive. Planning on it being a pretty cool birthday gift for the wife :)

    Keep up the good work.

    PS Are you by any chance a Song of Ice and Fire fan? I’m excited to see the HBO adaptation starting in April and was just curious if you were too.

    • tscott.iv
      Posted January 31, 2011 at 11:51 AM | Permalink

      Take a few more miuntes out of your day…I am siked and apprehensive about the upcoming GoT’s premiere on HBO. After what they did with Legends of the Seekere versus the Sword of Truth, I feel this is understandable. I have watched most trailers and feel they have a good shot. The problem I see, is if they actually do a good j0b and each season is one book, they will have to cancel in 5 years since the last two books will not be done.

      So how ’bout it Pat, you read the series, and are you excited????

      • TheJaguar
        Posted January 31, 2011 at 12:04 PM | Permalink

        GRRM has already said that the show will have the rest of the story if they pass him up. They’ll be able to complete it, and we’ll finally get the rest of the series even if it’s in TV form before book form.

        • tscott.iv
          Posted January 31, 2011 at 2:02 PM | Permalink

          Personally I think that is messed up. That would mean the last two books would be geared for TV and not geared for actual reading. I see all kinds of problems arising from that if it happens. On a positive note, I am pretty sure George is almost done Dance of Dragons, it will be a good year for books. WMF comes out and I will read that and then later this year Dance of Dragons…

          • Infinite_Day
            Posted February 5, 2011 at 5:30 AM | Permalink

            Unfortunately, I have almost given up on Martin. I really believe he has writer’s block on the Song of Ice & Fire series. His site is full of updates on other stuff he’s doing but it’s been how many years now with little progress on the next book? The idea that the TV show would surpass the book series is just a sad thought for the readers. Unacceptable in my opinion.

  2. Posted January 31, 2011 at 11:43 AM | Permalink

    Very funny. I agree that most games these days have really crappy dialogues. If you’re interested in some really cooland diverse ones, you could try some games from Bioware, like Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2. They’re both on PC and Xbox 360. ME2 is in the top 5 of the coolest games I ever played, and ME is not far behind.
    Have fun gaming !

    • Posted January 31, 2011 at 11:54 AM | Permalink

      ME 2 was one of the games that disappointed me. It wasn’t a *huge* disappointment, but there were elements in an otherwise good game that were like chewing sand. Consistency problems. Silly dialogue in an otherwise good story. Overly simplistic interactions.

      • Posted January 31, 2011 at 12:03 PM | Permalink

        Why is that ?
        I agree that sometimes, when you’ve finished a line of dialogue with a character, if you try to talk to him again, he’ll say a single sentence, and repeat it. There’s also when you’re engadged in battle, the characters always repeat the same lines.
        But it still does a better job than almost every other game out there, don’t you think ?
        Take a look at Crysis, Metro 2033, Splinter Cell, Halo…The fare a lot worse than these two games, in term of dialogue, in my opinion.

        • Club Neon
          Posted January 31, 2011 at 12:42 PM | Permalink

          Perhaps ME2 is doing a better job with dialog than the other games you listed. But compared to what Pat, I, and gamers of yore were used to in the dark ages; there has been little to no improvement.

          Graphics and sound are almost infinitely better, yet we still have these shallow dialog trees. Why can’t a modern game offer the same level of improvement on all fronts?

          Plotting the number of available conversation options from Zork, through Ultima IV, to Mass Effect 2 should be a skyward reaching ray. But instead it forms an arc, that is well described by shape of my frowning face.

      • Baldsilver
        Posted January 31, 2011 at 12:23 PM | Permalink

        whaat! it was such a good game, one of the best examples of an excellent story incorporated into a game! (though i do think the good guy lines were kind of lame sometimes. And he sounded so sleazy in the romance bits) other than that, epic!

      • burger96
        Posted January 31, 2011 at 7:13 PM | Permalink


        I know where you come from. ME2 definitely seemed to be not have too much substance, regardless of the reviews. I suggest you try something like Heavy Rain (unbelievably unique game), Limbo, and Dead Space 2. I happen to be a big fan of Borderlands too, but that’s your standard loot grab game. The Uncharted series is pretty good too, imho. PC wise, i think Machinarium is a throwback to the old pc games that made you want to throw your monitor through the window. Happy gaming.

      • Marcus Cox
        Posted January 31, 2011 at 8:57 PM | Permalink

        I more or less felt ME2 was a disappointment as well, at least when it came to the story. The gameplay itself was top notch. Much better than the first one. But the story always bugged me. If Mass Effect was a novel than Mass Effect 2 was a collection of short stories interwoven throughout a novella. Not exactly a bad way of doing it but I felt the story seemed a lot less grand because of it. Also it seems weird thinking along the lines of “We need to help humanity! Wait a tick, Jacob has daddy issues that need resolving.”

      • Fhaevr
        Posted January 31, 2011 at 11:16 PM | Permalink

        I arrive just in time to defend those hard working game designers. I am actually in school to learn to make games so I can tell you the very simplistic dialog is not *entirely without cause.

        You see for every single npc in the game the game designer needs to make a state table to represent every speech they might ever say. Each of these states will have a trigger of some sort that will move the character into another state (thus changing their dialog). So lets do some simple math here (and I promise this is very nice math, I am aware of your love for the subject :D):

        x npcs * (y+1 dialogs)*(N)

        where N is the number of base speeches that they give during the game. This would be somewhat akin to how many major plot events will change their dialog. So this is obviously an approximation since every character will have a different number. Suffice to say this equals a large number that grows exponentially as the story gets longer and/or the number of npcs increases…. bad news. (approximately n^3 for anyone computer savvy)

        In order to reduce this the unimportant side characters get shafted. So your side quests… those npcs get their her’s the mission dialog, their, reminder dialog, and their ‘happy day, you solved my trivial embargo’ dialog

        the characters you don’t actually interact with probably have even less dialog!!!

        So that is one issue, two other smaller issues: memory access, nobody like large loading times or slow games, those could happen if everyone had an infinite number of dialogs, and then also game size… although really… yeah, that one not so much so cause text is tiny, but if there is a limit the designers are pushing it could come into effect.

        That concludes my long winded soliloquy, and was your learning for the day :D

        also: for witty dialog you’ll love portal, although its more of a puzzle type shooter (think a 3d zelda where you need to figure out your way around). If you want permanent nightmares, try eternal darkness (for gamecube). that game is designed to mess with your head and sanity….

  3. Kelly
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 11:46 AM | Permalink

    If you’re feeling jaded and nostalgic for the “good old days” of PC gaming, there’s always Although I’m also a die-hard PC gamer, there’s always a few gems that I’ve missed that GOG has (like “The Last Express,” which I played over the weekend).

    • Gniess
      Posted January 31, 2011 at 12:01 PM | Permalink

      oh wow! Thats all I can say! Long have I desired to look upon the wonders of Kings Quest again!!!!!!!!!! I played that as a child with my dad. Some of my best memories are from that time period…we went even as far as to take poster board and sketch each screen so we knew what was there…Thank you so so so so much for posting this! I can’t wait to show my dad!!! :)

      • Kelly
        Posted January 31, 2011 at 12:22 PM | Permalink

        You’re welcome :) The extra nice thing about downloading games from is that they’re already tested to work on new PCs, so you don’t have to spend three hours fiddling with your system to get the games to work!

    • tscott.iv
      Posted January 31, 2011 at 2:04 PM | Permalink

      Thank you…I have searched off and on for years trying to get a compatible Lords of the Realm, this site has…woohoo.

    • evandy
      Posted January 31, 2011 at 7:04 PM | Permalink

      GoG has Tex Murphy. My all-time favorite adventure game series. the setting is, alas, Noir, but the gameplay was very well done. The first couple games were shooters; the final 3 were adventures: “Under a Killing Moon,” “Pandora Directive,” and “Overseer.”

    • TheEnigmaticT
      Posted February 1, 2011 at 2:55 AM | Permalink

      Hey, thanks for the shout out!


  4. TheJaguar
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 11:50 AM | Permalink

    Give Heroes of Newerth a try if you’ve got the time to learn it. It’s an online game, one time payment, no monthly crap, no stupid dialogue. It’s pure 5 versus 5 level and kill each other fun. It is however, difficult to learn and get used to. Most players take around a month or more to start getting good. It’s not exactly noob friendly. As a long time player of it and its predecessor DotA from Warcraft 3, I have to say it’s definitely worth the time spent doing bad to get to doing good.
    The average game lasts 30-60 minutes.

    • Zeo077
      Posted February 1, 2011 at 12:29 AM | Permalink

      League of Legends is also based off DotA and is free to play. The only caveat being that characters cost in-game points or real money to unlock. There are however, 10 characters that are temporarily free to use every week. I’ve never played Heroes of Newerth so I’m not sure what the differences are.

  5. tscott.iv
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 11:52 AM | Permalink

    Oh, and I always hold a soft spot in my heart for Lords of the Realm II.

    • tscott.iv
      Posted January 31, 2011 at 2:03 PM | Permalink

      And the Thief series from Eidos. I know its not as throwback as LoR or Kings Quest, but it has its roots in that type of game play.

      • peterfasel
        Posted January 31, 2011 at 3:48 PM | Permalink

        Starts off by listening to guards talking “Goin’ to the Bear Festival this weekend. You wanna come with?”. Seemingly background dialog but it sets the mood. Kind of like good writing where you are immersed in it and it just flows. Good call.

    • JoeLlama
      Posted January 31, 2011 at 2:06 PM | Permalink

      Lords of the Realm II! I loved that game, especially the voice over guy. He always sounded so offended when you tried to quit. “Exit the game, mi’lord?”

      • tscott.iv
        Posted January 31, 2011 at 2:18 PM | Permalink

        That he did!!! I am going to download it off that side,, that one of the other people on this site wrote down. I am super excited to play again!!!

  6. noregsson
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 11:53 AM | Permalink

    They should really re-introduce text input in video-games. I miss being told off by my computer for resorting to inappropriate language when frustrated by the sheer stupidity of the in-game dictionary.

  7. D_
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 11:58 AM | Permalink

    The final frame of page 2 asks for “ten God” to feed the kid. I’m a fan of God-eating (catholic), but I don’t think that was your intent.

    Proofreading aside, I love the blog. It’s good to hear that you are getting your grove back. :)

    Love to you and yours!

    • D_
      Posted January 31, 2011 at 12:00 PM | Permalink

      groove* haha it’s contagious! typo-itis…

  8. aquemini
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 12:01 PM | Permalink

    Hey pat, have you heard of Magika? its a new PC game going around you can grab it off steam. sounds more like something you would be into.

    • Zeo077
      Posted February 1, 2011 at 12:22 AM | Permalink

      I don’t know, apparently that game is buggy. I can’t even get the demo to run on my computer… =\

  9. Sokol
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 12:06 PM | Permalink

    I still have fond memories of spending too much time playing M.U.L.E at my friend’s house in college.

    Ahh… catching the elusive mountain Wampus. Does life get much better?

    • Posted February 1, 2011 at 1:55 AM | Permalink

      Wumpus will get you next time….

      • Sokol
        Posted February 1, 2011 at 8:59 AM | Permalink


        And my geek street cred just gets shot to hell.

  10. tolana
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 12:13 PM | Permalink


    LOVE the comic!!

    My introduction to gaming was two cartridges for the VIC-20. I think they were called Pirate’s Cove and The Count. I never solved either one. I think that lack of closure caused my addiction to chat rooms, then to MUDing, then to Diablo, then to Warcraft, then to Starcraft, then to …. um, you get the idea.

  11. Posted January 31, 2011 at 12:22 PM | Permalink

    Just wanted to drop a quick thank you. I’m the co-creator of the “See something? Cite something.” chart you linked to. So thanks, I’m a fan!

  12. Vexed Heckler
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 12:24 PM | Permalink

    Not gonna lie, these comic sketches make my day every time I see them, that and your flow charts, particularly—cropped-732395.jpg.
    Sadly, I cannot think of any old school games that have good dialogue, but if you are in the mood for an old game that is pretty cool, try out Legend of the Dragoon on PS1. Took me forever to beat while having a pretty good storyline but predictably crappy dialogue.

    • KristoferP
      Posted February 1, 2011 at 2:46 AM | Permalink

      That flow chart has an infite loop resulting in the idle Pat angrily signing the unforgettable book forever. (Sign the book, no return adress, bad mood, don’t forget the book, not busy, sign the book etc.)
      Make sure this never happends, ok Pat? Keep busy. Stay in a good mood.

  13. bornyesterday
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 12:29 PM | Permalink

    On a somewhat unrelated note, I had a near heart attack of joy at seeing you link to the “killing the internet” flowchart, as that was made by a friend of mine. I squeed, as appropriate, and notified him of this glorious occasion via twitter.

    And as I’m typing this, he tells me that he left a “thank you for linking me” comment.

    This is why the internet is awesome. I may have to get a print of it and bring it to your DC reading/signing.

    • bornyesterday
      Posted January 31, 2011 at 12:33 PM | Permalink

      Of the flowchart, not the internet. Though, the internet might all fit on fewer pages than Wise Man’s Fear, so that would probably be doable too.

  14. Sister_Spider
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 12:34 PM | Permalink

    Love the comic! Would most assuredly add it to the list of webcomics I read. I must add, “I am Guybrush Threepwood, mighty pirate!”, and that I now have a killer craving to replay King’s Quest 6. That is all.

  15. General_Disaray
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 12:35 PM | Permalink

    Starting with Pong back in ’76, I’ve played the video games pretty consistently. For years I’ve been partial to the PC, but I recently played Red Dead Redemption on the PS3. I was impressed with the vast amount of voice-over content. It didn’t offer dialog trees, but much of the time, I got the feeling that I was engaged in an interactive movie. The other nice feature was auto-aim. Not being a console guy, I often feel like a flidimite when trying to shoot at stuff, so the auto-aim made a big difference there.

    Sorry to hear about ME2. I haven’t played it yet. I have been waiting for several years now for Diablo III, and have high hopes.

    One very innovative game I played recently was Heavy Rain for the PS3. It was very compelling, but I had to set the difficulty level to ‘total spaz’ because of my previously mentioned lack of console skills.

    What made that game so good, besides the hot shower scene (it’s rated R, not for Oot’s eyes) is that every action you take has consequences that reverberate throughout the rest of the game.

    I’ve been reading Penny Arcade again, and while I’m enjoying it a lot, your comic is easily as good as anything I’ve seen there.

    Can’t wait to read WMF.

  16. Robo
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 12:36 PM | Permalink













    use sword


    kill myself


    • Mickey
      Posted February 1, 2011 at 9:14 AM | Permalink

      Ha ha ha ! My first good laugh of the day. Well done sir ! I remember the frustration of the early days. Those real WTF ? moments……aahhh memories.

      • Robo
        Posted February 1, 2011 at 12:23 PM | Permalink

        Yeah, I remember this one text game. You landed on an alien planet. And it was non-linear. It might have had the occasional ancient graphic. anyway, I got seriously stuck. Pulling-my-hair-out stuck, so I spent a lot of time tracking down an email of the creator. I told him where I was and he said, “oh, that’s where you need to ‘SHIFT TEMPORAL PLANE,'” as if any of those three words had been introduced before. I went apoplectic. “Shift temporal plane?! Sure, buddy, I’ll shit on your temporary brain.” Good times.

        Wish I could remember the name of that game tho. :)

  17. FFVILockeEsper
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 12:47 PM | Permalink

    Have you played the King’s Quest remakes by AGDInteractive? They are really great. Hope you read this

  18. bornyesterday
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 12:57 PM | Permalink

    For something a bit different, and which is more interested in storyish aspects including humor, check out Overlord and Overlord 2, both available via Steam (I think. 2 definitely is). Basically, you play an evil overlord in command of a bunch of imp-like minions. The environment is very rich and somewhat cartoonish. There are only a few NPCs which you interact with directly, but they all have fairly deep story lines tied to them. So you get to gleefully run around chasing down sheep and seals with your minions and letting loose your inner evil fantastical overlord.

  19. maine character
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 1:03 PM | Permalink

    I remember standing in the aisle at Radio Shack and playing “Colassal Cave Adventure.” I thought it was the coolest thing.

    And awesome comic.

  20. Posted January 31, 2011 at 1:08 PM | Permalink

    Love the blog.
    I too have many fond memories of “open mailbox”, mapping things out on graph paper, and trying to figure out that darn dam. Trying to explain to kids these days why a text-only game was so fun is like trying to explain morse code or vinyl albums.
    I used to get a kick out of just reading game manuals. Game makers had fun back then creating a manual written from the game’s perspective. Two Ozark Softscape games stand out for this: Seven Cities of Gold and Heart of Africa.
    Oh and old EA games… staring at that old EA 80’s logo waiting for games to load… Archon, Bard’s Tale, Lords of Conquest, Eye of the Beholder, Wasteland… Wasteland had a delightful storyline.
    Pat is right about it being really hard to find good story driven games these days. Final Fantasy 7 was good. I’m partway through Dragon Age, which is decen. I’ve also enjoyed some of the storylines in Lord of the Rings online.

  21. hummingrose
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 1:20 PM | Permalink

    The Much Ado reference just made my day.

  22. LaFleur
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 1:28 PM | Permalink

    I’m only 20, but I have played the discworld MUD, and that was pretty awesome. You’re right with the disappointing games these days, I find myself playing more 2D platformers and older games (Super Meat Boy is awesome). is a nice site, I believe they have Baldurs gate on there (if you haven’t played it already) and other awesome games.

    looking forward to your comics!

  23. sortova
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 1:43 PM | Permalink

    Heh – nice post today. I remember having to look up “plover’s egg” to see if having an emerald the size of one was a good thing(tm).

    • Posted February 1, 2011 at 2:00 AM | Permalink

      I remember going into the next room and asking my parents what a bludgeon was. They looked at me kinda strangely, then tried to explain it to me. I played the rest of Zork three with a dictionary next to the computer.

      • Sokol
        Posted February 1, 2011 at 1:15 PM | Permalink

        Prepare for tangental topic… in 3, 2, 1

        Get ready for one of the best parts of parenting, the mis-communication issues. I remember when my five year old told me that she wanted a diarrhea for her birthday. When I repeated diarrhea in a questioning voice, she said, “You know the thing you write down stuff in.” Ohhhh… I came back. Yes, you can have a diary.

        We now return you to your regularly scheduled comment thread.

  24. kungfusinger
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 1:52 PM | Permalink

    My intro to PC gaming was a game I programmed myself in Basic on a TRS-80. Actually, I copied the program from Rainbow Magazine. It was about 25 pages long and had several typos that took me forever to find. I saved on a cassette every night. I can’t tell you the number of times my brother or sister turned off the computer for me when I got up to go to the bathroom. Pages… lost… The code was so convoluted though, that I actually had not figured it all out (how it would play) by the time I was done typing and debugging.

    Despite all this, I loved the game when it was done. All text rpg. pretty darn cool and great memories.

  25. hasseth
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 2:00 PM | Permalink

    I hope you’ll take my advice when I say look up Minecraft, Mr. Pat (or something.) I bet you’ve heard of it, and even if you haven’t just look up its personal wiki. The game is a thingg of wonder.

  26. Celtland
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 2:07 PM | Permalink

    I’ve played WoW a lot over the last 8 months and am tired of doing the same daily quests over and over. Once I get through all of the seasonal achievements I’m not sure I’ll play as often. Also, dealing with children – both young and old – in WoW sucks. I don’t know how many times I’ve had a node, crab, and anything else stolen out from under me by a sneaky bastard (or bastress). Guild Wars 2 looks neat, but I didn’t play the first so I don’t know what to expect. I’m also eagerly waiting for Portal 2. If you haven’t played the first (as part of the Orange Box), I highly suggest it! Please share if you find ANY good games out there.

  27. Aminar
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 2:08 PM | Permalink

    Well, we have started down the path to what you want.

    We have a computer program capable of translating jeapordy level english language usage. Given the right applications a functional conversation bit might be plausible. It is alot of work for random NPC’s, but actual dialogue seems plausible now.(Give it 5 years and a few authors devoted to a single game and something might happen.)

  28. krdluzni
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 2:24 PM | Permalink

    If you liked that comic, you should look up RPG World. Same general style. Disclaimer: It didn’t reach a conclusion. Still worthwhile despite that. Good humour.

  29. Posted January 31, 2011 at 2:46 PM | Permalink

    Hey Pat!

    I recently re-played Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadows of Amn (from the same team as the first Fallout games), and I cannot recommend this game highly enough. Yes, it has some of the problems that many other games of this type do, such as minor glitches in dialogue, etc., but it has some of the most interesting character development and non-linear progression of any game I’ve played in the recent past. Anyways, don’t take my advice for this: Check out how it was rated, and the awards it won.

    Happy gaming!

    • Posted February 1, 2011 at 2:03 AM | Permalink

      I played those too….

    • hiver
      Posted February 27, 2011 at 8:54 PM | Permalink

      Baldurs gate games were not made by the same team as the Fallout games.

  30. neurosion
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 2:55 PM | Permalink

    One more try, with the helpful links replaced with search terms:

    Interactive fictions (the modern, politically correct term for the “text adventures” you remember so fondly) are alive and well. Google “Spider and Web” for a web-playable version of my personal favorite.

    … or, if you’d like to try a wider selection (including a tutorial and a huge adventure based on Lovecraft), our local IF users’ group (the People’s Republic of Interactive Fiction) has a nifty selection under “Play.”

    Interactive Fiction is threatening a renaissance. Aside from the recent documentary on the subject (Get Lamp, which you linked to above), Andrew Plotkin (write of Spider and Web) just managed to fund a $30,000 Kickstarter effort for his latest game, Hadean Lands.

    So if you still yearn for those types of games, there’s an ample supply, and lots of people who would love to help you get your feet wet in the hobby… and just in case it piques your interest, please check out “Inform 7,” the natural language programming environment (as in real English sentences) where a lot of modern Interactive Fiction development is taking place. I would friggin’ LOVE to see what you’d produce.

    […and if it turns out that the only reason my last couple of messages didn’t show up was because they’re in the moderation queue, I apologize profusely for the trouble]

  31. picklefish
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 2:56 PM | Permalink

    Hah. Fantastic comics.

  32. Erzberger
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 3:20 PM | Permalink

    I think the problem is voice over acting. Old games didn´t have that. They had text. Paying someone to think of all that witty, realistic and thought inspiring text doesn´t cost half as much as paying all those actors for saying it.

    By the way, gotta get out some gaming recommendations (older games):
    – Albion (the amount of background story, history and culturular information invented in this game is just beautiful)
    – Arcanum (it´s like Fallout 1+2 in a medieval setting)

  33. Aerron
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 3:48 PM | Permalink

    I genuinely laughed out loud, Pat. Very funny. I am reminded of Fable and most other RPGs to date. When I first heard about Everquest in 98, I thought, “How are they going to have a true RPG where I can decide what my character says?” It turned out to be a hackfest as most MMOs are.

    True RPing must be done with friends around a table littered with dice and chip crumbs.

  34. babblefish
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 4:27 PM | Permalink

    Hey Pat, you like the pixelated games so this should be right up your alley. Minecraft! Its awesome, you just build and mine, the possibility is endless. Just check it out on youtube.

  35. Jesse
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 4:27 PM | Permalink

    In its day Zork was the $hit! WoW is like virtual crack. I hope Star Wars doesn’t fail! And your comic is BAD ASS. Made me LOLZ

  36. Tazren
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 4:55 PM | Permalink

    Those comics were hilarious :)

  37. WE
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 5:18 PM | Permalink

    I recently spent a wife-eyebrow-lifting amount of time on Fall from Heaven 2 – a mod for Civilization 4.
    Great playability and ever greater to play with friends.

  38. Posted January 31, 2011 at 5:33 PM | Permalink

    You should try Amnesia: The Dark Decent… it’s a pretty awesome PC game.

    • Noth
      Posted February 5, 2011 at 3:48 AM | Permalink

      I read (almost all) the comments to see if anyone already suggested this :” d but yes, I also suggest Amnesia. Not too much dialogue, but still.

  39. farleykj
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 6:24 PM | Permalink

    Wow. Zork.
    I loved those games. I remember playing them with my brother over the phone. The conversations often drifted into pseudo help like “Well, laddy-boy, if I wanted a key, and it was on the other side of a locked door in the keyhole, I’d push it through onto something, wouldn’t you?”

    Ah yes. I miss those games. They were to today’s video games what radio dramas are to television.

  40. evandy
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 6:58 PM | Permalink


    You say you are a “PC Gamer.” Do you include Console games in that? These days, I’m not sure there’s much difference except in terms of input device (well, and buying the console). I am an adventure and RPG fan, which are to my mind the spiritual successors to Zork and such. But first: Have you played the text-based Hitch-hiker’s guide to the galaxy? If not, you should seek out a copy!

    Here are a couple of my favorite recent games that are off the beaten path:
    Okami (PS2/Wii): Adventure game; you’re a paintbrush-wielding wolf goddess. Art is AMAZING
    Rogue Galaxy (PS2): RPG with some 3rd-person hack&slash. You get a frog which masticates your weapons to upgrade them… need I say more?
    Zack & Wiki (Wii): Adventure game of the Monkey Island type
    Tales of Monkey Island (Xbox-360): Downloadable episodic games.

    Do you like puzzle-games? If so, consider a Nintendo DS, and check out the Professor Layton games. They’re a huge puzzle-fest.

    • evandy
      Posted January 31, 2011 at 7:02 PM | Permalink

      Oh, and I haven’t played it, but Aaron Connors of Tex Murphy fame has a PC-only game called “3 Cards to Midnight” that looks interesting.

    • TheJaguar
      Posted January 31, 2011 at 10:20 PM | Permalink

      It sounds like Okami is NOT a game to buy for the Wii. The brush strokes apparently are really really finicky. Sounds like it would be great for the PS2 though.

      • evandy
        Posted February 1, 2011 at 6:54 AM | Permalink

        It’s the only game that I’ve played on two platforms. It is a great fit for the Wii, but does have one or two points where it’s super-finicky. Of course, it was finicky in those parts on the PS2 as well. It works on both platforms.

    • Jerry
      Posted February 3, 2011 at 10:36 AM | Permalink

      Hi evandy,

      Hitchhiker’s Guide is available to play online on the BBC website:



  41. r_linton
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 8:08 PM | Permalink

    Being a bit of a young ‘un (in my 2nd decade), I can’t really wax lyrical about the old pc games, but I do miss my SNES back home more than my PS2, I have to say. Loved the ‘you’re killing the internet’ link.
    I’m glad that you’re getting a chance to recharge yourself – in such a busy world, it’s very nice to get that opportunity.
    The t-shirts reminded me; I ordered a Kingkiller t-shirt a while back, and it arrived during exams – brightened my revision and it’s very purty! So just wanted to say thanks for putting in all that effort to post them around the globe to your fans! We appreciate it.

  42. GabrielForcelledo
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 8:19 PM | Permalink

    Seems like you hit the sweet spot of your fandom my dear pat…


  43. Posted January 31, 2011 at 8:47 PM | Permalink

    I would say that if you haven’t tried World of Warcraft you should — even with its flaws it can be spectacular fun. However, as I’d like to read your next novel (after Wise Man’s Fear), I heartily discourage it :-)

    • TheJaguar
      Posted January 31, 2011 at 10:22 PM | Permalink

      I heartily discourage World of Warcraft as well. Though it’s definitely a lot of fun, it gets boring really quick once you’re the max level. It’s also a huge time sink that many people get addicted to.

      • Posted February 1, 2011 at 2:07 AM | Permalink

        Yeah. I know better than to get involved with a game like that.

      • Robo
        Posted February 1, 2011 at 12:26 PM | Permalink

        I picked up WOW right before Christmas one year beceause I had “two weeks to kill.” Two years later I had a bad neck, bad back and carpel tunnel syndrome. On the plus side, my teenage lexicon improved dramatically. I was saying “it’s the juggernaut, bitch” long before it was cool.

  44. Lexxa
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 8:54 PM | Permalink

    Since video games are huge disappointment (I have always found them to be so) there is only one thing left to do… Go back to MUDding!

  45. Rob
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 9:27 PM | Permalink

    I thought gaming dialogue sort of hit its peak with “All your base are belong to us.” It’s been on a downhill run ever since. I still laugh my ass off every time I say that shit.

  46. Matt
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 9:41 PM | Permalink


    You must Minecraft, and you must do it now. This silly little indie game with 16 bit graphics is pure bottled imagination and joy. You set your own goals. You create your own world to live in, and decide what you want to do with it. I look at Minecraft forums every day (I’m White Owl over there), and am constantly amazed at the quality art being created and shared by thousands of people. Normal people making beautiful things and sharing them, just because it’s so fun to do.

    One of my longer-term goals is to build the University and Imre – complete with Underthing – in Minecraft. It will take a long time, but it’s very very doable. (Pat, you don’t have any more detailed maps lying around handy, do you?)

    This is a gamer’s game. It is the most addictive and rewarding game I have ever played in my three decades (so far) of gaming.

    Of course, it can destroy your life if you aren’t careful, and set limits… but an experienced gamer like you already knows all about that.

    • Fattimus
      Posted February 1, 2011 at 12:58 AM | Permalink

      I second Minecraft, though it’s far more fun if you find a dedicated server to play on with other people. You and friends can work together to build a gargantuan mountain fortress, and/or you can split into teams, have both teams march fairly far in different directions (and establish a DMZ around the shared spawn point), and set aside say… a week or so for both teams to build a fortress before trekking out in search of the other team. The only rule in PVP is to avoid mass property destruction, and instead go for the player kill during battles. Nobody wants to see their lovingly crafted fortress completely destroyed, though a hole in the wall here and there can usually be patched up.

      The PVP aspect of Minecraft is well overlooked… traps, fortresses, materials, etc. make for some very interesting games. An underwater Obsidian fortress is, for example, almost undetectable AND nigh invulnerable. Plus, there will be a whole new dimension to the game once the Nether is unlocked in Multiplayer…

      That said, the single player experience is still awesome. It really gives you a lot of tools to indulge in your creativity, up to and including using Redstone to create rather complex electrical devices in-game. I just personally find the building much more rewarding when other people can not only see and explore what you’ve built, but have to fight through it to get to you. Makes you the Ganon to their Link, as it were, if you designed your fortress properly.

      • Guilherme Coppini
        Posted March 9, 2012 at 1:26 PM | Permalink

        Totally agree

  47. LaisLindsay
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 10:07 PM | Permalink

    I could never get into MUD’s. The idea of MUD’s tickled my fancy but they were just too, well… texty. I’m a visual gal. For PC I loved all the Monkey Island games. Grim Fandango was decent as well. If you’ve never played them, Stronghold Crusader and Stronghold Legends are really sweet strategy/castle sims. But for console games, I’ve gotta go with the Assassin’s Creed series, especially Assassin’s Creed 2 and the latest offering Brotherhood. The story line is rich and engaging, the environment is immersive, and Ezio Auditore is just flat out badass.

  48. Dunago
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 10:16 PM | Permalink

    Zork is amazing. I will admit I am not old enough to witness it’s release or even play it in it’s prime but I have definitely put aside my other games before to go back and play it though I have never personally finished it. I agree that sometimes games can be somewhat dull in the way of conversation now because dialogue doesn’t get so much attention compared to the works of visuals. I enjoy both sides of the gaming spectrum and just play what I feel I want to experience at the time (Though hitchhikers guide to the galaxy is just annoying in many aspects haha). Now enough of that to the comic itself. Not only do I love the writing put into it but the comic itself is very well drawn and I enjoyed it.
    Have a nice day pat.
    -Ryan T

  49. lodi16b
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 12:38 AM | Permalink

    I can’t believe I didn’t see one mention of Dragon Age: Origins! This game won 50 awards. If you are looking for a solid RPG, Dragon Age: Origins is the way to go. Dragon Age 2 is released March 8th, 2011. I’m also hearing good things about Two Worlds II, out February 8th, 2011. DRAGON AGE DRAGON AGE DRAGON AGE DRAGON AGE…

    • Fattimus
      Posted February 1, 2011 at 1:01 AM | Permalink

      I would guess it’s because the Strawgame parody in Pat’s comic is very similar to Dragon Age.

    • Mickey
      Posted February 1, 2011 at 9:45 AM | Permalink

      OBLIVION OBLIVION OBLIVION sorry, couldn’t stop myself

      • Guilherme Coppini
        Posted March 9, 2012 at 1:25 PM | Permalink

        Why play Oblivion when they already released Skyrim (game 5 of the serie)? xD

  50. C4vey
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 12:56 AM | Permalink

    Most of the big problems with computer games are because of insufficiently advanced technology, both hardware and software. Some advances may be a few years away, others may not be far removed from the realm of sci-fi.

    Perhaps, one day, there will sufficiently widespread and powerful hardware and sufficiently advanced A.I.s to be able to simulate the vagaries of human interactions across an entire kingdom or world.
    Then an event could spread as gossip and rather than simulating the end result immediately (the player getting “+7 Reputation”) NPCs who had seen or heard of the event acted slightly differently towards you, and the gossip spreads, its effects diminishing with distance and time.
    NPCs could each have their own unique backgrounds and personalities, created by hand for the imprtant ones, and by simulating the last few hundred years of the worlds history for the rest.
    The storyline would be a case of specifying certain events and objectives, and dynamically creating the rest as it goes on. Not dissimilar to tabletop roleplaying.
    The inner working of a computer game, however, are always going to be governed by numbers. Currently the fashion does seem to be to expose those numbers to the player to a large extent, probably because there isn’t another good way to communicate specifics about the game world with the player.
    When you can pick up a sword and feel the tingle, it won’t need to tell you that it is enchanted with lightning, and if you can vary that tingle, you won’t need to specify how much.

    This is all a long, long time on the future though, and while we may get some parts sooner than others, until then, developing every NPC a player can interact with to a point where they are believable to interact with is prohibitively costly in both time and money. While people are using a keyboard and mouse, or a console controller, there is no other way to give detailed feedback than on screen.

    On a more current note, I can highly recommend the Half-Life series from Valve, not much in the way of dialogue, as you play a silent protagonist, but that removes the need to allow for complex interactions, and allows more emphasis to be put on the story unfolding around you, and that story is excellent.

    • Erzberger
      Posted February 1, 2011 at 1:07 AM | Permalink

      That´s all well and true, but if you look at older games like Fallout they were able to give you a feeling of a more realistic dialogue. And what you did in one town didn´t affect your reputation in another town. They could love you in The Den and hate you in the NCR for the thieving scumbag that you really were.
      So I think with some effort good diverse games can be made. It´s just a matter of priority (graphics vs content)

      • Posted February 1, 2011 at 2:20 AM | Permalink

        Yeah. I agree. Sometimes graphics can *be* content, but more often games end up being shiny, hollow things.

      • Guilherme Coppini
        Posted March 9, 2012 at 1:23 PM | Permalink

        About this things you said, “The Elder’s Scrool V: Skyrim” is a game just as this one – great dialogue options, different reputations, thousands of paths to follow (as a mage, warmage, warrior, thief, assassin or whatever you want – even mixing abilities) and thousands of different quests paths and miscellaneous quests.

        Gave me a really good time, with an great story… but I still tend to paper-and-pen RPGs… =D

        • Guilherme Coppini
          Posted March 9, 2012 at 1:24 PM | Permalink

          And please Patrick, DO NOT play it, or you will probably delay your book on something like 2 or 3 months… D=

          How can I delete the comment?!?!?! xD

  51. Jared
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 1:32 AM | Permalink

    I spent my childhood baffled and befuddled by a text adventure game my best friend and I simply could not beat. But it was such a pleasurable frustration. The NES came and went; the SNES too; and here and there, as we grew bored of new games, we would go back and discover a new secret here, a new secret there, only to get stumped in a new area.

    But the game was so nice about it. It was like, “You’re screwed, but please try again; there’s lots of ways to die you haven’t seen yet, and they’re super-interesting.”

    The game was Guild of the Thieves by Magnetic Scrolls, and I bow to its awesomeness. In 1987, Dragon #127 called it an “exciting sequel,” (to The Pawn) citing its “witty dialogue, outstanding graphics, wry humor, and challenging puzzles” – and yes, that was a wiki-cut-and-paste.

    My friend and I spent many a night combing through the hilarious newspaper that came with it (the What Burglar?), hoping to snatch a clue or two, which we occasionally did. All 40 glorious pages are displayed at

    The contract you had to sign to play the game is here:

    And finally, you can play the game by clicking on “Play Now” at

    Sometimes, the best fun we’d have with this game was its snide remarks:

    “go north.” … “Your attempt to go in that direction is foiled by a combination of hydrogen and oxygen.”

    (you forget that the drawbridge is already lowered) “shout, ‘lower the drawbridge.'” … “The gatekeeper looks at you strangely, considers for a moment and deciding that he misheard you raises the drawbridge.”

    “hi.” … “Are you talking to yourself again?” … “no.” … “Well it sounded like it.” (or “yes.” … “Just checking.”)

    “examine wall.” … “The wall is standard Kerovnian dungeon issue, found throughout Kerovnia keeping adventurers within the substance of the universe.”

    Those were the magical days.

  52. Yossarian
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 1:40 AM | Permalink

    Bioware? Is that you?

    As someone who started PC gaming a decade later, I also concur with this sentiment.

  53. Istarion
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 3:02 AM | Permalink

    Accidentally posted on the wrong blog entry… sorry!

    Some of my favourite computer games include:
    Grim Fandango
    Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
    The Space Quest Series
    Full Throttle

    If you haven’t played any of these, you should definitely check them out!

  54. Posted February 1, 2011 at 3:02 AM | Permalink

    You mentioned that you’re an avid PC-gamer. If you’ve never tried them before, I think you should take a look at the Myst series. The point-and-click from the early 90’s had several older, prettier siblings. With all the plot, it actually created quite a universe – so much so, they ran out of room, and had to put some in the books!

    May be worth a try, if you’re into that kind’ve thing…?

  55. Linda
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 3:46 AM | Permalink

    Haha, imagine if real life morality was as transparent, all those mosquitos I didn’t crush.

    While the handsomely endowed woman is unlikely to be wearing a brassiere (assuming the game is set during the Dark Ages) it had likely been invented by the Greeks long before baby Jesus was born.

    The worst game I’ve played recently is Final Fantasy XIII, what a travesty. Watch 10 minutes of video, steer right ahead, press X a couple of times, repeat. What’s even worse is there’s no need to watch the videos because it’s not like you can make a choice, ever. I had more fun playing Spy vs. Spy on C64 and collecting sticks because it was in English and we didn’t understand the whole you’re supposed to kill each other aim.

    I know it’s not PC but Red Dead Redemption (and Undead Nightmare) is the most entertaining game I’ve played in years. I think you need to be a sucker for cultural treasures such as The Good the Bad and the Ugly or Deadwood to really enjoy it though.

  56. sinnq
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 4:16 AM | Permalink

    Maybe you would like the games developed in the indie department. If you havn’t tried Braid I can only recommend it. It is basically a platformer in the same way as Mario, though with interesting game mechanics and a very artsy graphical style.

  57. Boneman
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 4:33 AM | Permalink

    Aaah… ahem…. as a natural-born hoarder, I still have my intellivision consoles, my Atari 400, 800, and every computer on up. Back in those days text games were brilliant, and when you consider they produced GRAPHIC games from 8k and 16k processors, you begin to see how good they were. For those of you too young to understand what 8k is, ask your parents… Platform games: Bruce Lee, Miner 49er, Bounty Bob…

    Loved the strip, laughed out loud (didn’t want to put LOL….oh… dammit!) – was just playing WOW, and finding (again) that it’s a little too repetitive. But I’ll soldier – sorry – warlock on, for a while. Until WMF is out anyway: it makes the days pass quicker.

  58. Llaeros
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 4:43 AM | Permalink

    Not sure if this is the appropriate spot for this, but the Suvudu review of WMF went up about an hour ago and can be found at

  59. dramatekcv
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 7:57 AM | Permalink

    Pat, as a gamer, have you ever seen the glory that is Zero Punctuation? Game reviewer from Australia, makes hilarious videos of his reviews?

    If you haven’t seen it, you really should go here:

    Be warned. It’s addictive.

  60. Shifter
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 9:10 AM | Permalink

    You may already have seen/played this, but Kingdom of Loathing is good for some grins and giggles. All you need is a web browser and an appreciation for fine, stick-figure art.

    Here’s the intro page:

    Character classes include Seal Clubber, Disco Bandit and Pastamancer.

    No need to worry about it being a time sink, as it limits your play to 40 turns per day. Though that can be expanded a bit with food and gear.

    Best of all, you have to take a literacy test to enter the general chat!

  61. cdodds3
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 9:33 AM | Permalink


    reading your blog I want you to know I feel your pain when it comes to games nowadays. I’m 34 years old and for a period I felt like nothing really got my attention anymore when it came to video games. A year ago I got a PS3 but not really for the games so much as for the fact that it would play Blueray movies, stream Netflix to my TV, and would allow me to listen to Pandora on my surround sound system. A few months later a game called Dragon age piqued my interest at a nearby music store so I looked up some reviews online and decided to pick it up. After playing through it twice from different character plot lines and currently playing the follow up game in the series I can say it is by far one of the best games I’ve ever played in terms of playability, story, and sense of satisfaction at the end. I shudder to think what my life would be like with this game if I had more free time on my hands. I doubt my family would recognize me due to my crusoe like hair and uncut fingernails. But thankfully my wife and 3 kids keep me pretty busy and force my gameplay time to less then a few hours a week. Nonetheless I think you would really appreciate this game either on a ps3 or pc…

  62. Mickey
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 9:36 AM | Permalink

    Can’t believe no love is being shown for The Elder Scrolls IV aka Oblivion…PS3 has no finer compliment to pay to the RPG. The artwork is incredible and the choice of character and class is immense including a make-your-own if you want that special kind of geekery.

    Check it out people, it’s that good. Oh, and the new title is due out this year too…all kinds of fanboy win right there.

  63. Sedated2000
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 9:54 AM | Permalink

    I registered to:

    1. Tell you that your book has renewed my faith in modern fantasy novels

    2. Recommend along with the others that Minecraft is a game which lends itself to fantasy fans very well. You create your own adventure. Pack some supplies and hit the dusty trail… you never know what you’ll find. The ethereal music when you’re exploring a dark cave is perfect. The pixelly graphics are unbelievably appropriate. It has ignited a love for pixel art for me. I recommend you give it a shot. Personal or multiplayer. You can hunt for food, fish, mine, build… Watch one tutorial video. I recommend “How to survive your first night” by Paulsoaresjr on Youtube. It’s the video that made me feel like I was missing out on something fun.

  64. jagnogg
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 10:08 AM | Permalink

    I grew up playing Adventure games on my Apple II computer “Adventureland” is the earliest that I can remember. I know exactly what you are talking about with the games today. I’ve heard that Planescape Torment is very good. I’m going to give that a try next. Have you played it?
    Als0 – Ars Technica had a very good article recently about the rise and fall of adventure games:

    • Robo
      Posted February 1, 2011 at 12:32 PM | Permalink

      Good find. It’s scary but I’ve played half those games.

  65. Dylan Huebner
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 10:48 AM | Permalink

    Well at the risk of being drowned amongst other video game recommendations, you should really give the MARDEK series a shot, over on it’s flash, but styled in the way of an old-school rpg like the early final fantasy’s.

    plus it’s an awesome parody, so i think it would mesh well with your sense of humor.

    I agree with you on ME2 (and dragon age if you’d tried that). All the reviews promised this awesome story, but all the, what do they call it, “immersive plot mechanics” or whatever, seemed really contrived. I felt like it actually made the story sillier. Plus dragon age has these really awkward-looking sex scenes.

  66. Boneman
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 10:53 AM | Permalink

    Awkward-looking sex scenes? I must have missed those. ‘Leisure Suit Larry’ was brilliant for those. The one with his nephew at college must have been based on Pat’s adventures, surely?

    • Dylan Huebner
      Posted February 1, 2011 at 12:23 PM | Permalink

      You can romance some of your party members, culminating with “taking them to your tent.” Buuuuut, you’ll remember the main character doesn’t talk, so his mouth doesn’t actually open/have an expression when they kiss, which kind of makes it look like two manikins getting it on. And the music’s cheesy.

      Pat’s probably the inspiration for all kinds of video games. I bet they came up with the idea for crackdown after watching him punt a pick up truck.

  67. priscellie
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 1:51 PM | Permalink

    Hilarious! I have linked this blog entry to all my friends, enemies, and passing acquaintances with necessary attribution, as not to kill the internet. Except perhaps Canada, because those are some big images! Sorry, Canada.

  68. fitzchiv
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 2:13 PM | Permalink

    I like video games with strong plot lines. I like doing complex role plays. But I don’t look for them in the same place. And I’m okay with that.

  69. ASamuelson
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 2:50 PM | Permalink

    Good old MUDs… what was the telnet address of the one I played… mud.veda 2000 or something. Good old Morgath lives on in virtual pixels somewhere.

    StarCraft replaced MUDs for me, then Diablo 2, and finally Rome Total War before family and career forced gaming to a minimum.

    I’ve wanted to check out StarCraft 2 since it came out, but have avoided Pandora’s box because I know it would be the death of my career. Good luck.

  70. classicskiing
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 3:17 PM | Permalink

    Pat, I’m younger than you, but share similar tastes. I have extremely fond memories of Fallout 2 and the Baldurs Gate series, and I share your Mass Effect/Bioware pain.

    Here are some suggestions:

    Masq is a film noire-style text based roleplaying game. It also has simple animated sketches. It’s quite dark, and I imagine you’ll find it compelling. It’s also quite short, but very replayable. I think it’s free too.

    Have you played Planescape: Torment? Probably, but I have to remind you just in case!

    The Witcher is a great RPG. It has a like it or hate it combat system, and the first chapter is quite slow, but the story is excellent. The sequel will be out soon…

    Finally, try King Arthur: the Roleplaying Wargame. It’s basically a fantasy Total War (real-time battles plus turn based strategy), but also incorporates text-based adventures and roleplaying advancement.

    I’m excited for the Wise Man’s Fear! Hopefully I can repay the favor with a few hours of fun.

  71. Begaria
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 3:34 PM | Permalink

    I highly recommend The Witcher, Dragon Age: Origins (and its expansion), and their sequels (due in March) if you want some really damn good Computer RPGs to play. The Witcher and Dragon Age gets rid of the “good and evil” choices and colors every decision in gray. There are only choices and consequences in both games and they can drastically change how the story plays out.

  72. Fluvre
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 6:08 PM | Permalink

    I’m going to throw my 8 bit looking suggestion out there. Cave Story. A 200x (where x<6) freeware game made by one guy (Pixel). They made a wii ware version but it was kindof buggy. The game is a 2D platform shooter with a good story. Takes 2-3 hours to beat the first time. I would then recommend going back and beating it 2 or 3 more times with a guide, because you missed a fair amount of the game the first time through. I personally play through it every couple of months.


  73. PR
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 11:24 PM | Permalink

    huh. guess games aren’t so fun nor interesting since:
    1. your extremely amazing and superlatively redudndant skills at writing a dialogue is unequaled by any other game designers.
    2. The world you create may be infinitely more interesting than the small worlds in the games.
    3. ………..
    Anyway, didn’t want to criticize but I just wanted to point out how the game designers work their soul off.
    No offense.

  74. Weichkeks
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 1:33 AM | Permalink

    I recently started playing Magicka and really enjoyed it.

    Give it a try. Possibly you will enjoy it too.

    here can you get the demo:

    greetings from a cookie^^

    • Weichkeks
      Posted February 2, 2011 at 2:10 AM | Permalink

      I got this from a guy with the name Tim Buckley. He makes great comics^^

      probably you already know… but in case you don’t….

  75. bldysabba
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 3:38 AM | Permalink

    Hi Pat
    It isn’t exactly an RPG, and that seems to be your preferred genre, but I wonder if you’ve tried Grim Fandango? It’s one of the best written games ever.

  76. xakaron
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 8:48 AM | Permalink

    “a dirty mind is a terrible thing to waste”. i remember the blue and bright pink leather goddesses t-shirt you could get from the game.

  77. sumigo
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 10:44 AM | Permalink

    The problem with RPG games is the repetition.

    Its always the same thing. You start as a level one pea on. Then you do a billion quests that consist of:
    Killing 20 baby snakes and bring the guy or gal back the skins for a reward.
    One you do that then you have to kill 40 medium sized snakes and ring back their fangs for a reward.
    Please bring this “generic parcel” to Bill the Butt licker in the town of Broseph and you will get a reward. But instead a reward you get.
    Ok go kill 50 slightly larger than medium snakes, and bring me back their eyes. Then you will get the reward the other guy promised you. Then when you do that you still have to go back to Bill the Butt licker for the actual reward.
    And all games do this. All RPG’s anyway. And for the most part its cool but after playing many games that do this it all then starts to blend into one game.

    The whole genre needs a steroid injection or creativity. A game changer which will not happen because big developers only want big dollar games they can regurgitate like ‘Call of Duty: #1,251″.

  78. Brody
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 6:01 PM | Permalink

    Hey everyone! I was directed to some related reading yesterday but I didn’t have time to post the links. They’re short articles about game narratives and the relationship between the players and the developers.

  79. David
    Posted February 3, 2011 at 4:12 AM | Permalink

    I would also like to echo the calls for you to try Minecraft, who knew that a game with no real objective (other than don’t die) would be so much fun.

    I find the real key to the game is make your own objectives and goals, if you get bored of them then make some new ones! I would also recommend checking out some tutorials before you dive in, as the game has no in-game help. I’ve included some links to help get people started.

    The Game:


    Surviving the first night

    Minecraft wiki tutorials

  80. ASamuelson
    Posted February 3, 2011 at 8:52 AM | Permalink

    You could start playing Magic the Gathering online with Brandon Sanderson. At least that way you can keep him from working while you are taking a much deserved break.

  81. Steffan Eubanks
    Posted February 3, 2011 at 2:54 PM | Permalink

    XD lovign the comic guys. i wan’t to see more of it cause it Rocks! and way this reminds me of so many games -.-‘ (not pointing fingers)

  82. Whatsit
    Posted February 3, 2011 at 4:25 PM | Permalink


    I just wanted to say thank you so much for the blog and books. They are both amazing, keep up the good work. I am very excited for WMF.

  83. Infinite_Day
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 5:36 AM | Permalink

    The last computer RPG I played and really enjoyed for all of it’s aspects was Planscape: Torment. When I finished that game I stopped and thought “Now that was a really great story.” That doesn’t happen very often with games and really not at all these days. I’ve been hoping for some time that somebody would pick up the reigns where Black Isle left off and produce another game of that mold.

  84. Jonathan Entwisle
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 11:13 AM | Permalink

    I like the reference to the lightning struck tree

    • Posted February 6, 2011 at 6:42 AM | Permalink

      Heh. You’re the first person to notice that. Or at least the first to comment on it.

      I must have read the strip about a dozen times before I noticed that Nate had put that in there…

  85. Posted February 6, 2011 at 4:01 AM | Permalink

    Hi Patrick.
    I do not want to kill internet …
    I request your permission to download the comics and publish them on my blog ( translated into Spanish, along with other news from you or from Kvothe (

  86. Dani
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 10:20 AM | Permalink

    Fantastic comic.
    ME series was disappointing for the lack of interesting dialogue, esp ME2. Mostly bland does not make me want to play a game. Dragon Age was at least amusing.

    You might want to try Amnesia: Dark Descent. Scary, scary indie game, and a decent story. My fav for this year.
    See review here:

  87. Athena
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 12:40 PM | Permalink

    I’m a gamer by marriage; I used to be a complaining gamer wife, but I surrendered to the process and actually became one of them a while back. It’s amazing what that can do for one’s marriage. Since I have a busy life and I came into gaming so late, I’m fairly discriminating about what I play. Dragon Age for pc is incredible.

    I usually tell people that they should play it if they are even remotely interested in fantasy. However, for someone who actually lives, breathes, and creates fantasy like you, it’s kind of a no brainer. It’s got everything, but the stellar voice acting and relationship options make it unique. I personally think female characters get the better end of the deal; wooing a character called Alistair is particularly fun. I’ve got Dragon Age 2 arriving on March 8th, but starting with the first one is the way to go.

  88. xjm
    Posted February 7, 2011 at 10:16 AM | Permalink

    Games have come a long way since I first typed, “Take lamp” back in the early 80’s. These days games have cool things like, say, sound. I like sound. Increasingly, they have fury, too. And that’s not a bad thing either. The problem is when they’re full of sound AND fury. That’s where things seem to start going wrong.

    Are you saying the modern, rage-inducing MMO is a tale told by an idiot… signifying nothing? I’d say that pretty much sums it up.

    That said, Dragon Age was a pretty cool game. Fantastic graphics, good story, good voice acting.

  89. Borna
    Posted February 13, 2011 at 5:09 PM | Permalink

    Grim Fandango. The pinnacle of writing in games. I can’t imagine you’d have anything less than a mind-blowing experience playing it.

  90. jinjifra
    Posted February 14, 2011 at 6:42 PM | Permalink

    Have you tried any of the games they are very low tech, but really well written. The Geneforge series especially. In terms of in depth worlds and choices that you actually have to think about I can’t think of any games these are best games that I have found.

  91. hiver
    Posted February 27, 2011 at 8:48 PM | Permalink

    Hello Patrick,
    Im pleased to inform you that you have been just proclaimed “a true bro” over at our little forums at Iron Towers.

    First, because you mentioned original Fallout games as one of your favorites.
    Second because of this cool little comic which made my day.
    (compliments to the illustrator)

    You’ll be, i think, very pleased to know that the ideas and design philosophies brilliant Fallout games had or created have not in fact been abandoned and are about to be not only resurrected, but improved upon in the game called Age of Decadence.
    A low magic fantasy post apocalyptic game which main theme goes something like this:

    “Centuries after the fall of the empire, the world still rests in an uneasy balance, where even myths and fables deceive. A name on an ancient map brings back the memories of the distant past, turning a myth into unclear reality, and casting the player into political games built on years of discontent and ignorance of the past. Exploring both the legends and the land, you will have an opportunity to learn what truly happened in the past before the war turned civilization to ash or remain ignorant, believing in what you are told. You will be able to make powerful alliances, faithfully serving the interests of your patrons, or manipulating them to reach your own goals. You will have to find out where the map leads to and what is waiting for you at the end. That’s where the future of your world and your own future would be determined.”

    You can find out more about the story, setting, background, factions, skills and playable characters at.

    You can also download a combat demo and fight through a quite tough arena in glorious turn based combat full of different tactical options and combination’s, or listen to our salsa master (and the games master artists) Oscar explain a small quest and its choices and consequences in the latest gameplay video.

    A full demo is to be released “sooner than later” while the full game will be available on Thursday.

    oh yes, this is your thread :,976.0.html

    Feel free to drop in anytime.

  92. hiver
    Posted February 28, 2011 at 1:56 PM | Permalink
  93. quigly
    Posted March 21, 2011 at 11:48 AM | Permalink

    Iphone/Ipad game of choice? Angry Birds?

    Btw, we totally need a Kingkiller app game. Make it so! lol

    • Guilherme Coppini
      Posted March 9, 2012 at 1:16 PM | Permalink


  94. Guilherme Coppini
    Posted March 9, 2012 at 1:16 PM | Permalink

    Yeah, this happens with me too…

    That’s why I prefer playing RPG, the old paper and pen…
    In an paper-RPG game you can do WHATEVER you want, WHENEVER you want, and that’s totally fine… =D

    Hate the limits of normal computer/video games… As I got used to RPGs, now ever f*cking game seems too limited to me… And so… I just keep playing RPG…

    The problem is that it’s quite difficult to find people to play a game like that, so I ended up playing by computer, in special RPG-chat programs, with dice-rollers, characters sheets and other things included in the program… ^^

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