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Gamer Origins: "Welcome Back Commander"

by Blane Humphries on 05/08/13 01:34:00 pm

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

Can you remember the first real gaming experience you ever had?

I'm not talking about playing flash games on the internet, or maybe the occasional puzzle game on PC. I'm not talking about the games you played because they happened to be in your house. I'm talking about the game that made you a gamer? Or the game that made you want to be a gamer? The game that the first time you played it, it was like magic.

I remember mine.

Let me paint you a picture....

It is the year 1999. I am 9 years-old. I had a Sega Genesis that one of the old neighbor kid's had left with a modest collection of games. These games included: Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Fatal Fury, Dr Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine, Road Rash and some others that I do not remember. At the time, I had no idea that a "gamer" culture existed. I did not choose/buy any of the games I had, they were just what the kid next door left me when he moved out. I not know that I had some of the best classics of that era. I played them when I was bored, or when it was raining outside, because they were left in my house, so why not?

Then, one day when I was over at my friend's house across the street, he showed me his new game he was super excited to play. I remember he described to me as a game where you got use tanks, lasers, robots, and even nukes to attack other people. Now, to a 9-year-old boy, that sounds pretty awesome. Hearing him describe it to me in such a way made me want to see the game right then! So naturally, like the future nerds we would become, we abandoned our earlier plans of Kickball (or whatever it was we were going to do) and sat in front of the computer and waited for it to load.

That game was Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun.

Tiberian Sun Box Art 

"Welcome Back Commander..."

Prior to this, I had never heard of Command and Conquer(C&C). I did not know that it was one of the most anticipated games of the year. I had never heard of a "Real Time Strategy" game before. Heck, this was the first time I had ever played/seen a game play on a computer. It was like magic. I had no idea what to expect when the game loaded. The first time you start Tiberian Sun (TS) you are greeted with a small intro video. This video ends by saying "Welcome back commander."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3miHCIJqp4

This left the 9-year-old me wanting more. I had never seen such a cool intro to a game before. My anticipation was reaching a boiling point.

Battleground in TS
Lasers! FROM SPACE!? This is awesome!

My friend, who was just as amped up as I was, jumped right into a skirmish game against the AI. It loads up and immediately neither one of us knows what to do. What was this? We weren't playing a soldier shooting the bad guys. We weren't driving the tanks, firing the laser guns, flying the planes. Instead, we were telling our little men and tanks on the screen to do the stuff. While to some, this would have been a disappointment after having such high expectations of driving tanks and shooting lasers, not to me and my friend. We were hooked. We had never seen anything like it, in a good way. It was nice playing a game where we actually had to sit and think about what we were doing, what action to take, and what structure to build next as opposed to the other games we had played, like Sonic, that seemed solely based off our reaction and button mashing times.

Not to mention that it was like every toy soldier battlefield we had ever made with our action figures and army men had suddenly come to life. To further add to the awesome, almost every toy I had ever played with up to that point was in this game. Now imagine how we felt knowing were in control of all of it.

There are few things more satisfying to a 9-year-old than giving him the ability to command and control an army.

"Peace Through Power!"

After taking turns getting destroyed by the AI a few times in Skirmish mode, we decided to jump into the campaign. There, we were greeted to two more unexpected surprises.

  1. You could play as the "Good Guys" (GDI) and the "Bad Guys" (The Brotherhood of NOD)!
  2. Live action cutscenes!
    KANE LIVES
    First appearance of Kane (bald guy) in the NOD campaign

These were completely new to us. In no other game we had played before could we play as the "Bad Guys" (not saying they didn't exist, just none that we had played). It was really cool being able to see the "other side" of the story. This added to our immersion in the game.

The live action cutscenes in this game were so cool to us. They really built up the characters and made the game "real". I remember getting chills the first time seeing Kane on the screen. It is by far, one of the most memorable moments of my gaming life. Even looking back, this is one of the few franchises that did/does live action sequences really well.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKy4BdOVsZI

In the end...

The entire game was filled with new experiences, memorable characters, and unexpected challenges. It made me want to play it more and more. This eventually led to me saving my allowance/good grade money to help buy a computer for my family so that I could get this game. It was a little over a year when I was finally able to get it and by then, TS Firestorm had just come out. Needless to say, I got them both and I played them almost every day.

After becoming hooked on C&C: TS, I wanted to know more about video games. I expanded my game collection and eventually I got a PS1 (the big grey version). As my interest in the video games grew, so did my collection and my tastes in games. This cemented my status as a gamer. Eventually, I had to move away from my friend, but it was through games that we were, and are, able to maintain our friendship.

Grey PS1
 

 

To this day, I still like to kick back and play a bit of Tib Sun. There is just something about it that keeps me going back. I can't explain it. To me, it represents the perfect RTS. Yes, I'm well aware that it was far from perfect, but tell that to my subconscious that loves everything this game has to offer.

I give full credit to TS for making me not only a PC gamer, but a gamer as a whole. Without it, I never would have expanded my gaming collection and I would not have discovered my passion for video games. So, Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun, I thank you for all the good times and great memories!

Do you have a game that helped shape you? Do you remember your first real game? Share your stories below or visit the Hybrid Gamer group on Steam!


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