For some people, the topic of "which game required the most work" will be easy as remembering their latest time sink. For others, this may be a reach deep into the past back when they had the time to deeply plumb the recesses of video games before they got a life/job/family.
Although it's the latter case for me, I'm fortunate in that I have well-documented evidence of all the work I put into the games I love (shameless plug)
, and it's simply a quick read for me to remember the greatest time sink of them all.
The year was 2000. The fifth hardware generation was winding down as Sony prepped its next big thing to take more of the market from Nintendo. Microsoft's first entry into the market was just announced and Sega was still attempting its best to be relevant. Also, most of you lot were still in elementary school.
Also, every computer in the world died.
As for me, the world of the university opened up before me. I was in my second year, no longer a wide-eyed, bushy-tailed freshman. No, the world was now truly my oyster, and there were a metric ton of experiences waiting for me to de-bushify my tail. So, being the intrepid youth I was, I spent the majority of my newfound freedom on the Internet and playing video games shut up in my room in the dark.
It was on that same Internet that I ultimately discovered the community of GameFAQs. I hardly need to introduce such a site to the readers of Destructoid, many of whom I'm sure have spent plenty of time on the site, if for nothing else than perusing the brobdignagian archive of FAQs and walkthroughs.
Of course, we all have our opinions about the community these days, but this was 2000 GameFAQs, back when the community numbered in the mere thousands, assclowns were the exception rather than the rule, and site creator Jeff Veasey was still young and actively involved in discussions, rather than the Howard Hughes-like recluse he is today.
Last known photograph
It was here that the bug of writing truly bit me. I realized that I too could copy down all the strategies on beating video games into a text file, thereby saving gamers tens, maybe twenties of dollars in strategy guide purchases. My e-wang would swell and gorge, and I'd truly find my place in life.
Oh, my naiveté.
Unlike some other writers, I had a vow to encapsulate within my guides everything you may ever want to know about a game. It was only after I began that I realized that everything is a lot of things.
My first project was one Rare masterpiece entitled Perfect Dark
. Certainly a fair amount of time was spent pulling together the myriad threads of a game so big it required the N64 Expansion Pak to play properly, but help came from varied sources as strategies and the like popped up on the forums, so I can hardly take full credit for that guide's size.
No, the true glut of lost nights and urine-saving came from the development of the appropriately-named Quest Corporation, and via the publishing of a young and still hot-blooded group of nobodies known as Atlus USA.
Yes, that Atlus, some time before I begged to have their Jack Frost babies
The Ogre series will likely never rise out of niche-dom. Hell, it's barely in the same class as Shin Megami Tensei. Still, niches are meant to be filled, and this series had, and still has, its fans.
Most people knew the series only tangentially once Square consumed Quest and Final Fantasy Tactics games started squirting out. The gameplay from that series was a concept begun by Quest in the Ogre series. Still, that was Tactics
Ogre, and the true Ogre Battle fan (note: remove preceding pretentiousness later) is only interested in the main real-time strategy portion of the series.
Also known as "screw those grids"
It was in Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber
that the series shone. Of course, much of that shining could be attributed to the fact that the game was really the N64's only good RPG, but shining is still shiny nonetheless, and my RPG-starved bones feasted ravenously on this offering.
It was early into the game that I decided that, yes, I truly needed to make a guide of this game, if for no other reason than to have a place to chronicle all my thoughts and ideas regarding ways to best condition my troops, place my units, and liberate the kingdom of Palatinus.
It has been said that the despairing wail of my parents' hard-earned tuition payments could be heard that day.
Unheard over the vicious shrieks of freaking Hydras
It would be three months and two complete playthroughs of the game before I could consider my guide anything close
to complete. Three months of plugging away at documenting every item, every unit, every character, every battle. Let's not forget that these are college
months. This wasn't like an hour a night because I have school or work. These are long "whenever I'm not in class" hours. Stopping every few minutes into a mission because I had to document something meant a half-hour mission turned into two hours.
Such was my labor of love. When those three months were up and the guide was "complete", I still tinkered away at it here and there over the next year or so trying to refine it. In the end, I moved on to other projects that struck me, as I suddenly remembered that there were other video games out there.
All that said, do you know what the worst part about all of this is?
I'm still not satisfied with the end result. My writing was atrocious back in those days, for one thing. My organizing left something to be desired. Also, I didn't really document any good general strategies for making a proper battalion. I mostly just stuck to mission-specific strategies.
This is where I note that, eleven years later, I'm still
working on the damn thing. Oh, I have a job and a life now (allegedly), so no more seven hour sessions with the game, but with the game now available on the Virtual Console, it's easier than ever to boot it up and spend some time with Magnus Gallant and his ragtag band of misfits.
I'm still not ready to present what I've been working on all this time, as it's going to require at least one more playthrough to round it all out, but who knows what the next dry spell of games will bring?
One more mission. I can do one more mission, right?