How classic Windows games got me to build PCs

Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central


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I’ve been building PCs since 2003 and enjoying gaming on the platform since 1998, after leaving SEGA Genesis. The very first PC game I laid eyes on was Dungeons & Dragons: The Forgotten Realms Archive, which included 12 titles from that era. But since before I built my first PC at the age of 13, I was bound by parents’ rules about how much time you could waste in virtual worlds.

Fast forward to 2006 and that was the climax of Unreal Tournament 2004. I was the community manager for one of the most popular servers at the time, the one that featured assault maps and race. When I wasn’t studying in college, I spent countless hours every day online with hundreds of people. It was great as a 16 year old at the time with nothing better to do.

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From there I entered the world of work and today I am fortunate to get paid by writing about technology that I love. I have so many fond memories of PC gaming, coupled with experiences on older hardware with different system versions, deploying servers for games, etc.

The early days of PC gaming

Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten RealmsSource: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central

Starting with Dungeons & Dragons: Pool of Radiance, I was instantly hooked even before I got into the game. To get into it you had to use these translation wheels, which were actually a really cool DRM implementation. We barely had a working internet connection so I had to use these physical drives otherwise I would have to try and hunt down someone else with a copy of the game.

My first PC was powered by an Intel Pentium P55C with a clock speed of around 200 MHz.

The gameplay was spectacular back then. It was the first Dungeons & Dragons PC game and I got it right away. The only problem was the lack of time to enjoy it while attending school and only having an hour every other day on the family PC. In 2001 my father had a custom PC built for him by a co-worker and I was amazed at what was delivered. It was a masterpiece compared to the Small PC we had before.

This is what made me want to build PCs. After weeks of begging my old man to give me what was left of our old family PC, he agreed and I was able to lay him bare. I remember it was powered by an Intel Pentium P55C with a clock speed of around 200 MHz. The RAM was well below 512MB and the newly acquired 10GB hard drive was the highlight that I thought would take me to the next level.

Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten RealmsSource: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central

Not only was I able to launch Forgotten Realms, but also Championship Manager 98/99 (long before Football Manager became reality) and even Dungeon Siege. Things started to get a bit complicated when I tried to install and run iTunes on Windows XP while playing. It worked, but the boy was he janky as hell. Other titles that I have enjoyed include Age of Empires, LOSS, Escape from Monkey Island, Might & Magic VII, Summoner, The Sims and Roller coaster creator.

Migration to the online world

Unreal Tournament 2004Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central

I was fortunate enough to grow up when Internet forums were all the rage. In addition, MMORPGs were seriously hot. In the UK, Runescape was talked about throughout school and it was important that you had a PC to join your classmates online and improve your skills. Looking back, it was a mundane chore – you try to sit there for five hours to gain a single level of mining skill – but it was so much fun in a group.

I played a major role in running one of the most popular 2004 Unreal Tournament servers for years.

Having internet access has completely changed computing for me, especially gaming. Over the years, I have managed to save enough to build my own platform, getting rid of this underpowered monstrosity in 2005. This is where I entered the Intel Celeron game with ATI (AMD Radeon) incredible. It was time to move from Runescape to Unreal Tournament 2004.

Unreal Tournament 2004 was massively popular during the 2004-2008 period. I helped run one of the more popular servers, which provided countless assault and race maps for up to 32 people at a time. It was crazy with so many people on TeamSpeak and in the game. Running a lively community forum next door was just the icing on a very delicious cake. (If you’ve played on the BIG server, I’ve been through “Traygon”, “RichEdmonds”, and “ShinRyuu”.)

Unreal Tournament 2004

The only surviving screenshot from my UT2K4 days on the AS-PWC-Office board.Source: Windows Central

For me, this was my highest moment with PC gaming. Add in Guild Wars, CS: GO, League of Legends, and many other PC titles released in the 2000s, and I barely left my immediate four walls. For PC building, in 2006 I worked at a local computer repair shop for work experience, which involved servicing machines sent in by customers. Some of them included custom platforms with water cooling.

This is where my PC building skills took off, along with my desire to create special platforms on my own. Oh, and Windows Vista has launched. Continuing to run servers, run mine and try code, in 2008 I landed a job at a SEO agency in London as a technician, mostly running scripts, helping advisors research data and manage the infrastructure.

Beyond 60 Hz and realistic visuals

Philips Brilliance 349X7FJEWSource: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central

The game continued to play a major role in my life, even after leaving Unreal Tournament 2004. As of around 2012, it was mostly League of Legends and various MMORPGs that my friends and other people I knew had between. jumped up. The Elder Scrolls V and The Witcher 3 both consumed thousands of hours, but PC building eventually became the vanguard of my hobby list, having spent so many years behind PC gaming.

That’s around the same time I joined WMExperts in 2010, which became Windows Phone Central. We were primarily a resource for all things Microsoft’s mobile platform, but with the end drawing near, it was time to expand our coverage. The PC landscape has also improved dramatically. We had multi-core processors, amazing graphics processing cards, and massive storage drives. Advances in modding have made water cooling a more attractive choice for system builders.

I wanted to increase the content of our PC from scratch and move fast today, you can find a multitude of topics here, from games to PC building, from networking to NAS servers. I have now lost count of how many machines I have built. It’s fine in the triple digits, but I wouldn’t have built a single PC if it hadn’t been for games. And the best part is I can come back and enjoy all those old classics that got me doing what I do today.

How did you get into PC gaming and did it help you build your own platforms? I would love to read your stories!

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