Tonight I’m Gonna Game Like It’s 1999!

By John Fenno on August 11, 2020 | Featured Stories

November 30th, 1999

It’s the dawn of a new millennium. With Y2K fast approaching, the news is doom and gloom and makes us wonder, “Will my Pentium III PC explode into a fireball at the stroke of midnight?” But what can we do, really? We’ve already backed up everything to our trusty CD-RWs and Iomega Zip disks. As we all nervously await the new year, let’s ask a different question: Has there ever been a better time to be a PC Gamer?

First off: ISDN AND CABLE BROADBAND INTERNET! Game changer. Fire up Team Fortress and Q3Test without the ear piercing dial up modem waking up the parents or the dog, and you’re in a fast-paced world, fragging your online friends and noobs. We’re getting 512 KILOBYTES PER SECOND; downloading 650MB in less than 3 hours!

And then, wow…NEW GAMES. Descent 3, SimCity 3000, Heroes of Might and Magic III, Gabriel Knight 3, SWAT 3, Homeworld, Aliens Versus Predator, Alpha Centauri, plus sequels to Dungeon Keeper and Freespace - the list goes on. And who knows if Counter-Strike Beta is a passing fad, but we’re already hooked on this new shooter! We might need to double the day to 48 hours so we can get in enough Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun and Rollercoaster Tycoon.

Artwork by Rachid Lotf

Let’s not forget Everquest, which came out in North America this March, sporting new Direct3D hardware-accelerated graphics that are sure to make fans of Meridian 59 very sad (and require an 8MB graphics accelerator, as well a ridiculous 64MB of RAM!). We’ll see if this whole “Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game” thing catches on. We’ve come a long way from MUDs.

Another big thing… GRAPHICS. Honestly, I don’t know how any studio will top what we’re seeing in Unreal Tournament - just a stunning achievement! I’ve been having an incredible time in Facing Worlds, blasting peeps in low-G with rocket launchers, and attacking the beachhead in Assault, while marveling at the pixel-perfect character models and stunning graphics. I wouldn’t bet even my Phantom Menace collectibles that we will see anything better anytime soon (well maybe Quake 3 Arena, if Carmack and co. manage to release it before the Y2K apocalypse...).

But man, those graphics… I was getting only 20 FPS at 640x480, which is why I got a big advance on my allowance from my (admittedly sometimes ‘ok’) parents, so I could buy the NVIDIA GeForce 256, the world’s first “Graphics Processing Unit” (GPU). Maximum PC has been hyping it for months and it doesn’t disappoint!

NVIDIA’s TNT2 gaming accelerator went head to head with the Voodoo 3, but this all-in-one 220nm, 120MHz GPU smashes it, with up to 50% faster performance, Direct3D 7.0 support, and more.

Just look at this radical tech: Integrated Transform and Lighting delivers 2-4X the triangle rate for 2-4X more detailed 3D scenes. Plus, Independent Pipelined QuadEngine™ technology separates engines for transformation, lighting, setup and rendering provide a very powerful, highly efficient architecture that delivers 15 million triangles per second. Man, that’s a lot of triangles! Throw in a Soundblaster and PC Gaming will never be the same.

It really feels like we are entering a Golden Age of Gaming. We’re having so much fun that every year feels like a day, and it packs so much new delight and so many breakthroughs. Forget 2000. Where will gaming be in 2020? It’s impossible to know. If only we could accelerate through time…

1999 was a wild time, and gaming’s only got better since - we’ll be posting our favorite memories spanning the last 21 years on social media. Each day will be a brand new year in succession, until we reach 2019 on August 31st. We welcome you to join us! Here’s a .zip kit you can use to create and share your memories, and if you do it via #UltimateCountdown on any social platform, everyone will be able to see and share your favorite memories and moments.

On September 1st, we usher in a new era with a special event broadcast featuring NVIDIA CEO, Jensen Huang.

Get ready for the #UltimateCountdown, concluding 9am PT on September 1st.