Before I started my career in the games business I was an ordinary player. This has affected my mind as a Game Designer. In the following I will give you a few examples of milestones and influences.
My very first Gaming experiences. In the early 1990’s I got a Sega Master System II. Up to this time I only knew that there was Nintendo around. But Sega showed me that there was more than just Mario & Co.
The games weren’t that complex. Most of them were simply arcade style and my spare time was dominated by Jump’n’Runs and Action games. I had some great experiences with those games. Well, there were almost only single player games with a lot of instant action and less story but sometimes there was a very simple and very entertaining plot is this games.
To name a few highlights: The boss fights in „Alex Kidd in Miracle World“ for just using rock-paper-scissors. The trilogy of Wonder Boy with a nice simple story and my first sandbox experiences. Also there were a few puzzle classics like „Lemmings“ or „Bubble Bobble“.
The next step was my first own Computer. The games changed from Jump’n’Runs to strategy games and economical simulations. This was mainly caused by the different input devices. A keyboard and a mouse offering very different opportunities than a 3-button-controler.
The depth of the games increased dramatically. There was a lot more lore and the complexity was more mind blowing than the side scrollers I knew from the past. Sandboxes were just awesome for me at this time. I was totally free to do what I had in mind. Well, the mission objectives were set but I decided which way led me to the finishing line.
Also fo this section there were a few noticeable highlights. For the ECO-Sims I remember in Simcity 2000 and Transport Tycoon. I tried to max out the map in Simcity as well as optimizing the balances of my armada of trains in Transport Tycoon. I spent tons of time in Battle Isle 2+3 enjoying the awesome story and depth of the strategic possibilities, e.g. dependency on ground and weather. Last but not least there was Grand Prix 2 – a racing simulation that taught me the Formula One tracks of this time that intensive, that I was able to name the track which was shown in TV only for a few seconds.
While my apprenticeship I lived in a dormitory. Together with a few other people I set up a small LAN. This gave us the opportunity to use the multiplayer features of a few games. My first multiplayer experience was Doom 2. I played it before and I was confident of success. But then there was my first enemy player. He simply destroyed me. Not that funny at this moment but later – after lots of hours of practicing – I was able to dominate newbies.
Quiet interesting impressions about multiplayer. That was a mind changing experience. The games just provided the playground and all the challenging content was made by the players themselves. Even if the environment never changed, e.g. maps or starting conditions, there was every time something unpredictable.
What about highlights? Well, as I wrote before, Doom 2 was my first really impressive experience with multiplayer. After this one there were a lot other shooters but we tend to play RTS-Games like Command and Conquer: Red Alert. In this game we made a few special rules for our gaming experience. This caused a very interesting battle of tactics and counter tactics. Also there was my first experience with Level Design. I designed a very simple map for C&C. It was just a test of the Map Editor, but it became our favourite map.
It was 1996 when I went online. There were only a very few games with online features. The first game I played online was Diablo. Blizzard was offering the Battle.Net where the players came together. There were chats and the possibility to play together with up to four players at a time. It was a large community and the player vs. player performance was at a way higher level I enjoyed in the LAN before.
A few years later the time of MMORPG’s began. The games were online only and the number of players in „one“ game was almost unlimited. The community and the business grew up as well. The game content changed to be more focused on multiplayer challenges, e.g. raid content or large scale pvp.
The games became more and more complex as well as the communities did. Another interesting point was the fact the games were running 24/7. This caused changing conditions all the time. Players went offline but the game was going on.
The most time playing games I spent into MMORPG’s. My highlights were Diablo, as described above, for being my first experience with a online community. My first MMORPG’s was The 4th Coming. Not that massively than games nowadays. But large enough to have a lot of fun. And I was able to affect the servers history were I was playing on, e.g. by organising events.
The biggest influence for me was Dark Age of Camelot. I played this game for around 10 years. There was large scale pvp as well as pve. Both were challenging and a lot of theory crafting, calculating and discussing was required to become successful. This game for me was the most depth experience with game mechanisms. I had to know a lot of formulas and mechanisms to master the game content.