January 17, 2008: Playing the Bard’s Tale

I didn’t end up having to work nearly as late last night as I had feared that I might have. By two in the morning I was getting ready to head off to bed. And additionally, the new Ruby email processing script is working and I was able to set it up to make a long run during the night. The only really unfortunate thing is that I am on the early shift this week and there is no way for me to have slept in today because I am covering early.

I was dragging pretty hard when I pulled myself out of bed this morning. But there was nothing to be done but to do it. I was working again quite early as there were people ready to use the servers that I had built last night first thing this morning. So right to work I went. I am so glad that today is my work from home day. I couldn’t possibly have handled being in the office.

The day actually went by pretty quickly considering what a struggle it was for me just to stay awake. Throughout the day, though, I started feeling sick and eventually realized that I had managed to run myself down while Dominica is horribly sick with a bad cold. So now I have a cold as well. Great.

I took a nap in the afternoon and that helped a little with my exhaustion but not much. I am definitely going to be going to bed early tonight.

While doing other things today I kept running my Ruby script in the background processing tens of thousands of email messages. I am really glad to get that stuff cleared out of there. I can’t believe how many emails were there. Nor can I believe how long this is taking to run.

The other day while we were playing Dungeons and Dragons, Kevin had shown the original Tales of the Unknown: The Bard’s Tale (a.k.a. Bard’s Tale I) on an Amiga emulator. That got me thinking about my old days of playing BT1 around 1987 to 1988. I loved that game back then when I had it on the original Commodore Amiga 1000. I recently bought a copy of the complete series for DOS (that is BT1-3 and the BT Construction Set.) So I decided that I needed to sit down and play it again.

I played the original Bard’s Tale on the Amiga at the height of my interest in video games around age eleven to thirteen. This game was by far one of my favourites and was the game that introduced me to the mechanics of role playing games. I would follow the Bard’s Tale with the Faery Tale Adventure and Pool of Radiance also on the Amiga. During the time that I played the Bard’s Tale the first time I had kept a log, a video game diary, that kept track of the time that I had spent on the game, when I played, what I did in the game, the plot, maps, etc. In many ways I suppose that that was the precursor to SGL since it was the only other time in my life that I really kept a journal for any length of time. Because I used that journal I still know that I spent over one hundred hours played BT! I also never managed to actually complete it. For some reason my copy of the game would not allow me to reach the final dungeon and even though my characters were massively powerful the game just wouldn’t let me finish it. So now I want to go back and beat the game for real and see the actual ending.

One of the first things that I noticed about playing the Bard’s Tale after all of these years is just how incredibly hard this game was to start playing. And today it is far easier as we can start and stop the game, restore saved files and more very quickly. But this game is still brutal to new players who might spend ten or fifteen minutes preparing to play and then die without ever getting to see any of the game at all.

What was amazing to me is how familiar the game is. It has been twenty years since I have sat down to play the Bard’s Tale and yet it feels like it was just yesterday. I can still walk around the city of Skara Brae, the setting of the game, and I know where every shop, temple, guild, etc. is located. It’s like I never stopped playing. Just a few minutes of a game like this just brings the memories flooding back.

I didn’t bother to leave the apartment at all today for food. I had cereal for breakfast and leftover Chinese take-away for lunch. I was originally supposed to have lunch with Susan today but she had to cancel. We are planning to see her on Sunday.

It was a quiet evening for us.  We were both so tired that we decided to just take it easy and relax.  Dominica started reading the third set of R. A. Salvatore’s Drizzt Cycle books and I played some Bard’s Tale and planned to turn in early.

Everyone decided today that we are all going to be around on Saturday so another Dungeons and Dragons session is scheduled for them.  So that is what we will be doing all afternoon.

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