Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Dreams Surpassed

Posted by Rampant Coyote on September 26, 2013

When I was a kid, I used to dream about video games. I guess I still sometimes do, but not as often or as vividly. But back when I was a kid, and arcades were king, and Ultima III was in the process of blowing my mind… yeah. I’d play games in my sleep. There were a couple of really good ones.

One was a tile-based RPG, a lot like Ultima III or so. In the dream, I unknowingly traveled to one of the harder areas of the game at low level. I spent the whole time fleeing. Yes, fleeing. In my dream you could run away from tough encounters. Pity you can’t do that too often in modern games. Anyway, the dream culminated with something out of much more recent Doctor Who episodes (they must have stolen my idea!) – I was trapped in a room with a vampire who could only move when I wasn’t looking at him. He could talk, so we actually conversed, but whenever my attention wavered, he’d sneak a few inches closer – closer to my eventual demise. I had to talk with him all night long, keeping my attention focused on him, until dawn, when I made a break through the window and fled back to the lands of lower-level challenges.

Just before waking up, I thought that was the coolest freaking RPG of all time. It would totally kick Ultima’s butt in the marketplace.

The other dream was a recurring one. In several dreams, I was hitting arcade after arcade, searching for this one totally awesome machine that I’d played once before, which had really amazed me. But I couldn’t remember what the game was about, or what it was called. All I knew is that I’d probably recognize it when I saw it, and it was completely amazing. Heads and tails above everything else in the arcades. Yet older – in an apparent contradiction (don’t blame me, blame my subconscious!), it was a few years older, yet still had better graphics and amazing gameplay.

I don’t think I found the machine in every dream. And when I did, I don’t think it was the same game. There was one that I remember – I think the game was supposed to be Atari’s Space Duel. At least, that’s the game I was expecting to play (which was one of those games that really *did* amaze and thrill me as a kid. See the video if you are wondering what it was…)

Space Duel!

However, this game was not Space Duel. It was something closer to a modern flight sim. More something like this (but with space ships):

Looked almost this pretty!


In the dream, of course, I was ecstatic. It was clearly the greatest game that had ever existed, and the most baffling thing was how it could be so rare and relatively unheard of. How couldn’t everyone know about this amazing machine? I mean, sure, Dragon’s Lair was pretty, too, but this was something else!

And of course, I woke up before I played much of the game. Quest complete, right?

There are two funny points about these old dreams of mine.

The first is, of course, that the boundaries of awesomeness in my dreams have been surpassed today.  By a decent margin. Technologically, games today are extremely impressive, even the lower-budget indie titles.

The other went a lot deeper, and maybe explains a little bit of my deep indie & retrogaming obsession. I guess there’s still a part of me that is convinced that there are obscure, overlooked gems of the past that will would totally blow me away. While they aren’t quite that extreme, the truth is… there are. I still stumble across them. You need only look back at my series on Wizardry 8 to see what that looks like. I keep searching, just like that dream, even though the dreams have been surpassed by reality.

It allows me to live in an interesting world…



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  • Xian said,

    I have dreamed of playing games, though nothing as vivid as what you experienced. I played some marathon sessions of Ultima III which continued on in my dreams. At the time in the winter of 1983 I was recovering from surgery with very limited mobility, so I spent my recovery playing Ultima III. It was a pretty new experience for me, as I had never played any RPG with pen and paper so other than Temple of Apshai/Gateway of Apshai, that was really my first RPG.

    There was also one game that a solution to a puzzle came to me in a dream, though I can’t remember which game that was.