Missing Time of an RPG Kind

    Circa, early 1990’s.

    It was about 4:00am on a cold Sunday morning when the door opened and startled me back into the real world. “Is everything OK in here?” came a voice. With the only light in the room coming from the monitor it took a couple of seconds for my eyes to bring the figure into focus. As the man walked towards me I caught a glimpse of a badge and recognized the shadowy outline of a police officer’s hat.

    “What are you doin’ in here so late at night?” he asked. Good question I thought.

    “Well, I was just fooling around on the computer and lost track of time” I replied, not wanting to tell him the whole truth, which just seemed too embarrassing to admit. “What time is it anyway?” I asked.

    “It’s four in the morning, I was just passing by and thought that I saw some lights”. “There isn’t usually anyone around here at this time of night so I thought that I should check it out”.

    “I don’t imagine that there normally is” I said, half yawning as sleepiness descended on me now that I was out of the fantasy world and back in the real one. “This is my dad’s insurance office, we don’t have a computer at home, so he told me I could use the one here whenever I want.”

    “I’m going to lock up and head home in a few minutes” I said, with hopes that the officer would go about his business of patrolling the neighborhood.

    “Alright, well, drive safe and keep your eyes open for deer on your way home this early in the morning”.

    As the officer made his way out of the office I stood up and stretched.

    “What time did I start playing this game anyway?” I thought to myself. It only seemed like a few hours ago. Did somebody in the real world cast some sort of time distortion spell on me while I was playing? Probably not. Did aliens abduct me and cause a missing time experience? Again, not likely, I reasoned; so the clock must be right. I had played for at least 9 hours straight with not even a few seconds intermission.

    Mentally, I backtracked through the day’s events leading up to this point in time. The day had started out innocently enough. I had a little bit of shopping to do at the local mall. Being a “typical guy” in my early twenties I didn’t particularly enjoy shopping (exceptions made for “guy stuff” of course), so I quickly made my way in and out of the stores and picked up what I needed. As I was heading out of the mall I looked up just in time to see an “Advanced Dungeon’s and Dragons” advertisement for a video game. Now, I had not played the old “pencil and paper” game in about 10 years but I always liked the concept of the game and I had read fantasy novels in my spare time throughout college. Additionally, though I was the first kid on my block to have an Atari in 1979, I hadn’t owned a video game system since I went away to college in 87’. But, the combination of the two intrigued me, so I decided to take the bait and have a look.

    I didn’t know it at the time, but the game that I bought that day would become one of the games in the old “gold box” series that helped bring fantasy RPGs to the PC. I remember stopping by the local sub-sandwich shop to grab a bite to eat before heading to my dad’s office to check out my new toy on his “new 486” PC. It must have been around 6:00pm when I inserted that first disk to install the game. The rest of the evening was a blur of character selection, adventuring, and leveling up; all the while making progress towards winning the game and saving all humanity from evil – or, at least in this little digital fantasy world – but only if I get this map written down correctly on graph paper so I don’t get my hero’s lost!

    As it turned out, that game would only be the first of many for me over the years. Of course, it also kicked off my “gotta have” a computer capable of playing the latest and greatest games along the way too. Did you say that the latest game takes up how much hard drive space? And, it supports the ultra-trick virtual reality graphics? Well, I guess it is time for more hard drive space and a new video card. Most of you know exactly what I am talking about.

    Now we fast forward to the present day in 2002. Diablo II has been around for over two years. It is the common thread between us. It is the “how and why” all of us have managed to end up at the same place at relatively the same time. It is the conversation starter that reveals that we have something in common.

    A visit to the Arreat Summit homepage over on battle.net or diabloII.net indicates that interest in Diablo II may be starting to wane. Where we used to see several news posts a day, now we see just a couple a week. But the homepage posts don’t tell the whole story. It’s like driving by a house that looks quiet and peaceful on the outside and not realizing that a major party is going on in the basement or the backyard. The game still emits a very strong pulse. It is alive, kicking and doing very well. The forums are still busy. Battle.net is still pushing it’s server capacity. Demons are still being slain and friendships are still growing. Which is a big reason why I have decided to write this column.

    Even though nothing “new” has been added to the game in quite some time, people are still gathering to the call of adventure. Our friend, Robert B. Marks (AKA Garwulf) is moving on to new things and has done a more than admirable job of covering the gamut of Diablo topics and even he admits that the list of subject matter to write about is getting short. Thus, my goal is to bring new insight and perspective to the various Diablo related topics available. At times we may revisit some of the issues and ideas already addressed but we will most definitely take a different path or expand on topics that only received honorable mention previously. That’s one nice thing about perspective, the view is different depending on your vantage point at the time. I’d like to share mine with you and you can feel free to share yours with me; our thoughts that is.

    Disclaimer: Fortuitous Ephiphaneia is written by Drandimere (Paul J. Darling) and hosted by Diii.net. The views expressed in this column are those of the author, and are not necessarily the opinions of Diii.net.

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