Machines just had its 20th anniversay
...and we all missed it. According to Moby Games, Machines was released on April 14th 1999. According to Wikipedia it is one of the first 3D RTS games. I think it would be nice the few people that still remember this game to go down memory lane and write down something. When did you first play it, how did a 3D RTS feel back in 1999, what are some good memories you have...
Machines is the first RTS game I ever played and it might also be the first thing I ever installed on my computer by myself. I think it was the year 2000 or 2001 when I messed around my Turok 2 CD and found the Machines demo on it. I barely had any games to play, so finding a new game was really exiting. I was such a noob back then, I had no idea what I was supposed to do, so I started shooting at my own units and buildings. When I destroyed everything, new units started appearing with different colors, so logically I concluded that is how you play it; like some kind of shooter with new enemies spawning at the edges of screen. I don't remember how I figured I can build stuff. I remember my neighbor also installed it on his computer, so we slowly explored this new game type. The next breakthrough was discovering that sending a technician to research center gives you ability to make new units, then discovering the one included campaign mission and the shock of being attacked by a gorilla. I remember being in first person mode when I saw it on the horizon, slowly approaching...
Funnily enough I have never finished the full game until November last year. I did join the old forums in 2008 to download the full version, but when I started playing it I got bored. Recently I found new interest in slower games like RTS, so I finally decided to finish what I started 18 years ago. Objectively I think the game could have been better in many ways, with more engaging story, better pathfinding, more missions, but I had a ton of fun with it. There are not many missions, but many of them are really difficult and I had to learn each units strengths and weaknesses and develop new strategies, which I found interesting. Even the first person mode turned out to be much more than just a gimmick, there is a lot you can do if you use it cleverly, to distract larger units or to hunt down large enemy units with Judas Warlord. Too bad there was never a sequel, they had a solid base they could build on.
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@antrad Nice idea!
In my case, not being English my native language, and having many difficulties compared with my peers, I had a hard time understanding what I was supposed to do, or how to play properly. The box was translated, but not the game. This meant that I only played skirmish missions, especially the ones were mining, researching or building are not reqired.
I moved several times, and the game stopped working on newer operative systems; since I was not tech-savvy to know that that could be solved, I discarded it, with sorrow, partly because I was never able to really enjoy it.
Several years later, after becoming the best student of my English class, I was able to navigate the Internet without my long-lasting language barrier. I could learn faster about things that are unavailable in Spanish even today. Hence, out of curiosity, I looked for it, and found the old forum. I downloaded the demo, and finished it, but was unable to make the full game work. Time passed by, and the forum died and resurged from the ashes. This time, however, things turned out differently... not only I managed to download it and make it work with the help of this forum, I finished it.
It was a delightful, yet challenging experience. Nostalgia was replaced by fulfillment. But now, longing seems to strike back. Will MACHINES 2 come to life? I think that it can occur sometime in the future, but first, we have to learn a certain set of skills.
I believe that this game was not only a pioneering product, too advanced for its time, but also an excellent example of how good design can convey a backstory beyond the explicit one. There are some clues throughout the game that could explain why the machines' designs or architecture look like that, how were they programmed, and why there is not a single trace of humanity.
Also, the game presents some elements that, to me, are references to previous science fiction works, making the game more interesting.
What I personally loved about Machines was the amazing voice lines and designs. Each machine had its own character, be it through their manner of speech or looks. And, quite frankly, Reapers always sounded badass, even though they're the closest you can get to "fodder".
You could easily tell the purpose of a machine (and how powerful / important it was) through how many eyes it had. It's not entirely consistent, but it applies in almost every scenario. Too bad some units became noticably inefficient when the different units on the research tree came to be. No, I don't mean the "direct upgrades", like Wraith Reapers were to Reapers. Those are understandable (although, again, it's fun when units have more purposes, since just throwing away something you researched is... yeah)
I'm quite interested in the great aesthetics of this game. Midian looks simply amazing. The metallic looks of this planet have always impressed me and I remember it quite well because of that. Very unique. Talon Prime was great, too, with the giant fortresses and such.
Matt Roszak seemed to enjoy this game in the past or at least knew about it. You know, the guy who made the Epic Battle Fantasy series? That's the guy. I think you could see evidence of this in his "Mecha Dress-Up" game. There were the eyes straight from Machines and Reaper legs. Link:
I'd love to ask him someday, but I've no idea how.
My story is. When I was young, my father bought a magazine called Gambling. The magazine came with a disc which had a demo version of variety of games, including Machines. I did not understand anything in English, and had to play by the method of poke. In the demo version were the first three missions of the campaign, not counting training. The first and third missions were very similar to those that appeared later in the original game. The second mission was different in that the blue robots had a Gorilla! I called him the Terminator. The game really captured me, I passed this mission at least 200 times. At the beginning of the pass didn't work, I was waiting for that moment when the Terminator attacked my base and destroyed it, and nothing I could do :D. eventually, I figured out what was happening and learned to build defenses. I must say, it was my first strategy game. To defend against the terminator was very exciting and interesting. Later I learned how to build an army and attacked the Terminator on its base. Then the experiments began :). I captured all enemy buildings that were not available to me for construction. Especially interesting was the satellite radar, which removed the fog of war. When I found out what it was I understood how the enemy was out that I ran some grunt in the rear of the enemy and hid it there. I also tried to go inside the buildings a little grunt. So I destroyed the garage and the foundry at the enemy base :)).
Later, maybe half a year, my father bought me a CD with the full version of the game. As same was annoyingly, that from the second mission was removed Terminator :(. But there were a lot of other missions, which also left their mark on my memory. For example, in 6 the mission of the Gorillas were so many and I could not take it. Then I got to the 10th military Fortress mission and got stuck here. Enemy knights with green missiles were constantly destroying my squad. I didn't know how to complete the mission. Then accidentally destroyed the satellite dish and got reinforcements. But despite this, even using save and load I was not able to pass this mission. On this I left the game for a few years.
I gained experience in other strategies and returned to our favorite game. But I still could not pass the 10th mission! I was very nervous, I wanted to use cheats, but they are not present :). As a result, I discovered a bug of green buildings. I just put green buildings next to enemy buildings and they destroyed themselves! :D. It was funny. Further, any impassable mission was carried out using green buildings. Pretty quickly I got to the 20th mission Controller. And even green buildings, judas warlords, saving and loading didn't help me pass it. I tried many times.
After that I did the breaks and have not played for several years until nostalgia began to torment :D In the end, I was on 20-th mission for the first time only recently, it is on my YouTube channel. This game left me with a very nice remember, and I from time to time going through it again.
P.S. I Apologize if something is unclear, Yandex auto-translation from Russian.
Thanks everybody for you stories. I would say we all had a similar experience; being new to RTS games, having language barriers or quitting the game and then going back to it few years later.
I also like the visual design of the game, the machines are very colorful, you could say the game looks cartoony. Even though it has old graphics, it is nice to switch to first person or third person mode and look at colorful sky with planets, I bet it looked amazing in 1999 compared to the usual 2D strategy games back then. I also like the voices of various machines, it is one of my favorite parts of RTS games when units have unique voices.
I agree with TMG HK the game is very hard and I also got stuck on the Fortress and Controller mission, took me a whole day to beat each of those. I highly doubt I would be able to finish those missions if I played the game as a kid.
Oh I remember this like it was yesterday. It was the summer of 1999 and I wanted a new PC game. I was one of the lucky people with a graphics card that had a 3dfx ship in it; you could not play the original game otherwise.
It was only later on that I discovered how to use FP mode. For weeks, I was stuck on Behind Enemy Lines and I was jubilant when I got it done.
Every time I play that level I rememeber how frustrated I was lol.
I started playing when I was 4 years old, with the demo, so although English is my native language I was limited by the fact that I couldn't really read! You could definitely say I grew up with this game. I also tried out a demo of Starcraft around the same time, but I preferred Machines due to the advanced graphics and interesting plot. The Gorilla in that campaign mission was not easy to take down! I ultimately wound up needing to mass reapers to defeat it. Later on, my dad got me the full game after a time, and have I continued to play it even on XP and Windows 7, although lately I had not been able to get it working on recent builds of Windows 10 (I will try again with the new installer after I get some unrelated driver issues sorted out). By the way, I still have my original game disks and box, and the Micron PC I first played it on (I also use Macs heavily, although it has been a while since I used the vintage Mac Plus that I have).