Thanks for the advice everyone. I'm actually taking the next week off to job hunt, and after reading the responses here I think I will put more effort in asking my friends for recommendations. I'll probably also send out dozens of resumes to random companies that seem interesting, just to get the full range of experience. I figure something will turn up.
About a month ago, I was putting the finishing touches on my new computer (put two 40Gb hard drives together in a RAID array, whoosh), and having done that I was finally able to put my old computer back in one piece (sans sound card, but oh well). My old machine is a P2 400MHz, but more notably it's got a VooDoo3 3000 graphics card with an S-video output port. What does this mean? Last week I got the cable I needed and hooked the machine up to my new 28" flat screen TV. With my wireless mouse and keyboard, the good times were about to roll.
Now the best resolution I can get out of the S-video link to my TV is 800x600... which makes it pretty ideal for running games out of the Diablo series. Considering I only had 32 Megs of ram (I used to have 128 but the chip just exploded one day, don't ask), I decided it must be time to bust out CD again.
I haven't played CD in about 2 years, since I got over my addiction to EverQuest. I decided I wanted to take it easy my first time out and just play a regular old multiplayer sorceror ("No tricks, no weapons, just skill against skill alone"). My plan is to head into the church, kill some monsters, pump up my magic every level until it starts getting too easy.
So I'm killing skeletons and scavengers and fallen ones. I had forgotten how weak the sorcerer can be in melee, even on dlvl 1... I used to always melee with sorcs early on because I hated buying mana potions in bulk, but I decided I just didn't have the patience. I found Barnar's star on level 2 and just sold it for a cool 1700 gold or so. My first session ended when I was clvl 8
I didn't come back to it until two nights ago, and I just went through dlvl 1 again looking for shrines and books. Nothing. I find another Barnar's Star (sigh), but what really caught my eye though was the 13 charge staff of fire wall I found on dlvl 2.
"Staff of fire wall, huh? C'mere, Mr. Butcher..."
The Butcher was promptly fried with little to no effort (2 castings, maybe 10 seconds tops). I don't think I've had a character kill him so quickly at clvl 8 either.
I kept the staff around for a bit because I knew it'd come in handy for Leoric as well. Leoric took 6 castings rather than 2, but he died pretty quickly all the same. Hmm, what's that he dropped... unique small axe. I didn't remember what that was, so I didn't identify it until I finished clearing the level... but yes, it was Aguinara's Hatchet. :D Not a bad drop from Leoric, I'm certainly not complaining!
(the point's coming, I promise!)
So I'm having a blast frying things, up to clvl 12 or 13 now. I've got level 6 fire bolt and over 200 mana so I'm really cooking, and dlvl 4 is quickly feeling the heat. I'm gunning down archer skells left and right, nothing can withstand the mighty fire bolt! I enter a huge room, see about 1000 arrows fly at me all at once, and while I'm frantically spewing fire to all the corners of the room I notice there's a tome on a pedistal in the middle of the room. "Cool, one of the plot advancement books, I'll go read it in a sec." When all was said and done, I mouse over the book and the title catches my eye:
The Realms Beyond.
I had NO IDEA, in the almost two years I've been lurking around this site, where the name had come from. It seemed most appropriate so I didn't bother to think that it was pulled from somewhere in CD, although I suppose I should have known in the first place. I'd played CD enough back in the day... ah well. It seems you do learn something new every day.