In August 2007, Creative Assembly (the guys behind the Total War strategy videogame series, just FYI) announced the first in a new generation of their flagship series – Empire: Total War. During 2008, after my preview of the game at GamesCom that year, and after having kept an eye on its progress it became apparent that my Laptop, by that point a good few years old, was not going to be able to handle it. It wasn’t top-of-the-line when I got, it and it had had a rough time being owned by me… and, well, it was a Laptop. Something needed to be done.
Now, I was in my final year of uni, I needed something to distract me from my dissertation, and I had some money saved up from my student loans because I’d decided to put my social life on hold because… well I’m not sure. In a move that was typically me, being in a long-term relationship and living with said girlfriend had made me even MORE introverted. Anyway, I wanted to be able to play Empire: Total War like, really badly. Having just recently started my ‘career’ in games journalism, there was a high possibility I’d get a free copy too. So I did what any keen, bored and technologically inquisitive adult male would do – built a computer myself!
Now, despite being firmly on the Geek side of Geek, the specifics of computing were something that I never quite got the hang of. I’d always liked computer/computing, and had enough ‘learned as I went along’ knowledge to tide me over, but a combination of a poor IT course at school and me not having really needed or felt the desire to tinker around with computers before then had meant that I really was little better than a layman. In the end, I turned to one of my favourite pastimes for help and bought a ‘Do It Yourself’ book.
Buying parts that, whilst not cutting-edge, were just off the latest and greatest whilst still being competitive, I finally launched into my true first ever DIY project in January ’09, just after I went back to Uni. Considering it was my first time, and I can be a tad accident prone, it was an amazing success. Just like Lego, actually. Not everything went off without a hitch – in fact it was a couple of weeks before I realised that I hadn’t fitted in my heat-sink correctly, but I had my computer. Intel Core 2 Duo 3 GHz, 6GB RAM, 512mb GEOFORCE 9400 gfx card, Windows 7 64bit and two Hard drives amongst other thing… It was, is and will always be a thing of beauty, and kicked the ass of every game out there.
I knew a time would come though where the gaming industry would catch up. With Intel’s new ‘i’ series of processors, meatier graphics cards… consumer-ready tech is now advancing once again, and so are the games. Don’t get me wrong, my rig is still competitive, but games like Dragon Age II, Shogun 2: Total War (sorry, not calling it by its new reversed name) and probably Crysis 2 when they release the specs have shown a significant jump in what the ‘recommended’ specs are considered to be.
As the title says, it has begun. I imagine I’ve got at least a year, maybe even two (assuming I can keep up the maintenance) before I need to think about upgrading, but still, it gave me a brief moment of pause when I realised what was happening.
Until next time.
Addendum: My good friend Marco actually helped me quite a lot in ordering the parts and putting it all together, as did my other friend Andy. Forgot to mention them. Although, complaining about lending a hand kind of nullifies all the brownie points you get from lending a hand in the first place…