Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
There are games I played in my youth. And there are games I sat next to my dad and watched him play. I’ve never played a game of Civilisation or UFO: Enemy Unknown, but I watched my dad play them for hours. Also in that list comes Betrayal At Krondor [GOG].
I helped, of course. Mostly I helped with the riddle-locked chests. But mostly I watched, enchanted by the enormousness of this RPG, seemingly going on forever in all directions, and open like nothing outside of the Elder Scrolls. I remember my weary father attempting to explain, for the dozenth time, how the turn-based combat worked, positioning his characters on a grid like a game of chess, while I imagined how much better it would have been in the Doom engine. It wouldn’t have been. I was 15, and an idiot.
I find even the UI remarkably evocative today. Those huge, bold character icons, the round buttons, the strange blue polygons. I played it all before I’d read any of Raymond E. Feist, but I think as a result of the game I picked up Magician and really loved it. I then tried reading Silverthorn and realised that boy oh boy did Feist need to rewrite all his books ten years after he’d written them. Still, gives me an excuse for a quick boastful aside:
I joined the Raymond E Feist mailing list in 1998, having read Magician. Feist was a regular contributor to this email list, and replied to absolutely everything. At one point there was discussion of who, should it ever happen, would direct a Magician movie. Feist had dropped hints that George Lucas might be interested. I, as a huge fan of Heavenly Creatures and all preceding Peter Jackson films (this was when LOTR was announced but unfilmed), suggested he was the man suitable. Feist pooh-poohed me for even thinking it, saying that Stephen Spielberg was the greatest living director. Well, Jackson went on to shit out King Kong and Lovely Bones, and Spielberg War Of The Worlds and Indiana Jones & The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, so I guess we were both wrong.
So, yes, I strongly recommend watching my dad play Betrayal At Krondor.