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Orson Scott Card on Games, 21 Years Ago

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the back-in-the-dark-ages dept.

121

MilenCent writes "Long long ago, Orson Scott Card wrote a game opinion column for Compute! Magazine. In the November 1983 issue, he had some interesting things to say about the essential ingredients of a great game, all arguably still important today. He picked out one company that, at the time, consistently excelled in most of these areas--try to guess which one! Additional commentary over at Curmudgeon Gamer."

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EA... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14752155)

"The software firm Electronic Arts has added a fifth requirement for itself: The game must be truly original. No Donkey Kong or Pac-Man clones in this group, of games. Even though each of their games has roots in gaming traditions, the object has not been to recreate a favorite board game, or duplicate a sport, or translate an arcade game." Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Re:EA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14752450)

Wow, that has to the most ironic statement I have read in a long time. EA is the least game original company nowadays, simply cloning all of its old games. In fact, I would say that they are arguably the reason why the whole game industry won't make original games - the king of the hill always guides the rest of the industry.

I think, however, it is stupid to say that the state of games is lower today than it was in the past. Yeah, most games aren't original, but games have never been original (eg. the pacman clones mentioned in the article).

Re:EA... (1)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752861)

Oh how the mighty have fallen.

In a way it makes sense. They wouldn't have gotten so big today if they weren't doing something right in the first place. They gained their original capital by making games that people actually wanted to buy (without the brandname to rely on and the oodles of marketing they can spend now) which allowed them to make all the acquisitons which have led to them becoming the behemoth they are today.

As is described in more detail by the Snopes article [snopes.com] on the "curse" that seems to follow football stars featured on Chunky Soup can labels, if you pick out a particular person, company, whatever, and laud them for their excelence, it is only because they are performing above the mean in whatever merits you're observing compared to their peers. No one comments about companies who have always performed poorly, "oh how the mildly pathetic have become even worse." And once you've become the best there's only one other place to go. You can strive to remain the best as long as possible but eventually you will fail in that goal.

Of course there's always the question of whether you fail because you can no longer remain (as) competitive or through some kind of explicitly self-destructive action. Or whether that failure is of a financial or PR nature. Nintendo made what are, in retrospect, some obvious blunders and dropped from #1 in the console industry to a distant second, but have still remained a company that makes quality products and still turns a profit (though perhaps not as much as in their heyday.) EA on the other hand has become even more successfull financially, but at the cost of adopting policies that have made a lot of people regard them and their games unfavorably.

Re:EA... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14752889)

You mean distant 3rd for nintendo... right?

Re:EA... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14753489)

You mean marginal third in console sales, undisputed first in handheld sales, and undisputed first in overall profits, right?

Re:EA... (1)

shoptroll (544006) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752999)

the "curse" that seems to follow football stars featured on Chunky Soup can labels

Granted this is OT, but the same thing could be said for Pepsi commercials. Britney Spears and Spice Girls did Pepsi commercials and look were they are now.

Re:EA... (1)

smaerd (954708) | more than 7 years ago | (#14754784)

No one comments about companies who have always performed poorly, "oh how the mildly pathetic have become even worse."

There are plenty of articles about how Infinium Labs [phantom.net] sucks, and they haven't so much as put out a product, yet.

Derek Smart put out what many consider a long string of terrible games and even among those that despise him, he's something of a legend. [Caveat: I haven't played any Derek Smart games. I'm just saying the only press for these games I've seen is bad. They could be sparkling jewels of brilliance, my point is that the media never liked them.]

ION Storm Dallas never created one great hit and they're still laughed about today (although Romero came from iD, so this could be a "how the mighty have fallen" thing).

There's plenty of companies that start bad, stay bad, and the gaming media never tires of slinging mud at them.

Let's not forget. . . (0)

NetRAVEN5000 (905777) | more than 7 years ago | (#14755089)

. . . that at one point in time first-person shooters were considered "original". How many Wolfenstein and DOOM clones/sequels are "original?"

The way I see it, no FPS is "original" except THE original, Wolfenstein. But some people still consider Halo "original" since it follows a storyline - like Marathon didn't?

osc (0, Troll)

j3rryh (909483) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752157)

OSC has quite the pr engine, digging up 20 yr old articles to hype the Enders Game movie. verrrrry sneaky

Re:osc (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14752317)

Madden 2015 (3, Insightful)

Forrest Kyle (955623) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752164)

"The software firm Electronic Arts has added a fifth requirement for itself: The game must be truly original."

lol

Other company mission statements from 1983:
Mac: Our computers must run everyone's software and be affordable.
Microsoft: By 2006, all bugs and security holes must be eliminated. Also, we will open source everything.
FCC: By 2006, ABC will be required to show boobs at the top of every hour, all day long. Also, Howard Stern will host the Oscars.

...21 years ago? (4, Funny)

Kronovohr (145646) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752166)

2006 - 1983 = 21? man...I guess that's the new math for you

Re:...21 years ago? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14752253)

Shh. It's a dupe from two years ago. You aren't supposed to catch on.

Re:...21 years ago? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14752454)

NOVEMBER 1983. making it 21 years and 4 months. good luck with that math there buddy. christ... some people

Re:...21 years ago? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14752494)

okay, am i a troll becuase i said 'christ' in my post, or am i a troll because i stated fact? hmmm... either way, it makes some mod somewhere look very foolish.

Re:...21 years ago? (1, Funny)

timster (32400) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752549)

No, you're a troll because you suck at math. Stop hanging out in the hallways and go to class.

Re:...21 years ago? (1)

Karma Farmer (595141) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753428)

Stating wildly inaccurate facts on Slashdot is usually fine. However, most of the mods are able to catch obvious spelling errors and mistakes in third-grade arithmetic.

Re:...21 years ago? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14752529)

That would still make it 22 years and some months.

It's correct (1)

MK_CSGuy (953563) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752464)

1983+21 is the year of the first dupe...

Games should be excellent (3, Funny)

Oldsmobile (930596) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752175)

Yes, I agree, games should always be excellent.

Re:Games should be excellent (1)

moranar (632206) | more than 8 years ago | (#14754042)

Quoting out of context makes you look like an ass when someone calls your bluff. This is the full quote:

3. It should be an excellent game, not just excellent programming - the play itself should be exciting and not serve merely as an excuse to show off the programmer's expertise.

Fine, so EA didn't always suck, but ... (4, Insightful)

jdwilso2 (90224) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752183)

Killing Origin Systems was the beginning of the end of my respect for them.

Now they've evloved into more of a video game sweat shop than anything else. The games they publish that are still good are designed and written by third partys.

Reading this article really hightens my sense of loss for one of the great companies of my generation.

Re:Fine, so EA didn't always suck, but ... (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752267)

I hated them when they killed Westwood.

Sports games killed them (2, Insightful)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752347)

The sports games like the Madden series were the beginning of the end for EA. They made hunks of cash with minimal creativity required. As a result, their production rules got applied to everything else EA made with devastating results. By the time they bought Origin there was no longer any room for out-of-the-box thinking.

Then again, Origin was already half-dead. Starting with Ultima 7 they did just what Card lambasted in his article: "I have little patience with games that play me, forcing me to follow only one possible track or learn one mechanical skill if I hope to win." I remember I lost my first attempt at Ultima 7 because I started wandering around and hit the story elements out of order. U7 part 2 fixed that: you simply couldn't wander beyond the nearby area until you had completed the story-line there. A double-whammy for Ultima 8 which was both strictly linear and required a lame jumping skill to win. Even the beautiful Ultima 9 was nastily linear for the first half of the game, opening up only when you got a control of the ship.

Origin was already in trouble. EA just finished the job.

Re:Sports games killed them (1)

AlterTick (665659) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752581)

remember I lost my first attempt at Ultima 7 because I started wandering around and hit the story elements out of order.

Really? It's been a couple years since I played U7, but I seem to recall that you couldn't hit anything out of order, in that certain characters didn't have anything to say, or sometimes don't even appear until precursor storylines had been opened. I loved U7 for that. Free to wander and explore whatever small side-stories you wanted, or just roam the countryside adventuring, pursuing the larger story as it strikes your fancy...

Re:Sports games killed them (1)

mshurpik (198339) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752891)

>Then again, Origin was already half-dead. Starting with Ultima 7 they did just what Card lambasted in his article

Yep. I played Ultima V, Ultima VI, Savage Empire and Martian Dreams. Ultima V had crappy graphics but it took 200 hours to beat. Ultima VI was VGA and supported 16-bit sound. Savage Empire was the first to introduce recipes for items (sulphur+saltpeter=gunpowder+bamboo=flintlock). Martian Dreams? Never finished it. The only other RPG I played was Wasteland. And when I look at something like WoW I realize I haven't missed any developments, either :)

Re:Sports games killed them (1)

russellh (547685) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753062)

Ultima V had crappy graphics but it took 200 hours to beat.

OT but.. wha?? for someone who had played them from the beginning, no: V was awesome. And I'm talking about the apple // version, too.

Re:Sports games killed them (1)

CerebusUS (21051) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753240)

Ultima V had crappy graphics but it took 200 hours to beat.

OT but.. wha?? for someone who had played them from the beginning, no: V was awesome. And I'm talking about the apple // version, too.


Well, that could be it... IIRC the apple version of Ultima V looked much better than the PC version.

Even more offtopic... Origin games had a history back then of driving new hardware purchases for me. Ultima VI made me buy a VGA card and monitor. Wing Commander drove me to build my computer from scratch, to save as much money as I could on a 386sx rig. I was so poor, I didn't even buy a computer case for it, instead using a wooden crate someone had shipped a IBM PC to my workplace in. Classy!

It was either Space Quest or one of the Leisure Suit Larry games that made me acquire a used Roland MT-32 unit, though.

Re:Sports games killed them (1)

mshurpik (198339) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753677)

OT fine, all i'm saying is that Origin had much to offer circa Ultima V/VI but not much else by the time of Ultima VII and clones. By the time VGA was dominant most of the play styles were standardized. I recall Wing Commander well, thanks for bringing it up! I had almost forgotten pseudo-3D and the plot-centric WC3 that brought multi-disc gaming to the fore.

Re:Fine, so EA didn't always suck, but ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14752548)

So..... Quit buying crappy games. EA didn't suck back in the day but things have simply changed. I remember seeing the EA logo when I would load a game on my C64 and I would know that I was in for a good game but that can't be said today. :(

Re:Fine, so EA didn't always suck, but ... (1)

queef_latina (847562) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752551)

Killing Origin Systems was the beginning of the end of my respect for them.

EA is doing just fine, with or without your 'respect.'

You can play MULE online (4, Informative)

Absolut187 (816431) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752189)

Re:You can play MULE online (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14752887)

HOLY CRAP. I can die happy now.

(Though based on the guidelines, shouldn't your sig read, "Do not promote personal agenas when meta/moderating"?)

What a debut! (5, Informative)

Yeechang Lee (3429) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752196)

Yes, it's hard to believe that *that* company was once the unquestioned leader of innovative gaming.

Consider the company's first five titles [wikipedia.org] :

* Hard Hat Mack for the Atari 800 and Apple II
* Archon for the Atari 800
* Pinball Construction Set for the Atari 800 and Apple II
* Worms? for the Atari 800
* M.U.L.E. for the Atari 800

One is absolutely, bar none, one of the greatest games of all time [salon.com] . Two [wikipedia.org] more [wikipedia.org] are notable milestones in gaming history. Four, perhaps all five, are considered classics.

I like EA and its games. It's a tremendously-successful company, is (I think) the *only* videogame maker other than Nintendo and Sega to survive intact over the past two decades, and over the past 23 years has put out many other fine titles. But let's not forget that there was a time when it didn't depend quite so heavily on annual releases of Madden and NBA Live.

Re:What a debut! (1)

SetupWeasel (54062) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752326)

It's a tremendously-successful company, is (I think) the *only* videogame maker other than Nintendo and Sega to survive intact over the past two decades

Namco, Konami, Activision, and Capcom are all companies that have survived the last 2 decades. I'm sure there are more. I think Rare could be considered to be autonomous enough for this list.

Re:What a debut! (1)

badasscat (563442) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752434)

Namco, Konami, Activision, and Capcom are all companies that have survived the last 2 decades.

In fact, Activision was the first ever third-party developer, having been formed by disgruntled Atari employees to write games for the Atari 2600. Atari sued Activision and lost, which opened the door for other third-party developers that came later.

Namco, Konami and Capcom (add Taito and a few others to that list) started out as arcade developers, so their lineage is a bit different. Atari, Taito and Nintendo were probably the original arcade players.

Re:What a debut! (1)

Yeechang Lee (3429) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752479)

SetupWeasel wrote:
Namco, Konami, Activision, and Capcom are all companies that have survived the last 2 decades.

I can't speak for the others (although I suspect you're correct), but the current Activision only shares the name and some intellectual property (such as the Infocom brand name) with the company of the 1980s; that one went bankrupt.

Indeed, it's much easier to list the names of the other prominent videogame publishers extant when EA debuted in 1983 that aren't around any more, versus those that still are. Off the top of my head I can name:

* Activision (see below)
* Atari (acquired)
* Avalon Hill (acquired)
* Broderbund (acquired)
* Coleco (defunct)
* Epyx (defunct)
* Infocom (acquired)
* Mattel (exited)
* MicroProse (acquired)
* Mindscape (acquired)
* Origin (acquired)
* SSI (acquired)
* Sierra (acquired)
* Sir-Tech (defunct)

Surely I am forgetting a half dozen more, at least.

Accolade, Maxis, and Dynamix came later in the 1980s, and none is around today in its original form.

The turnover in the industry is quite remarkable. Who would have believed in 1983 that the mighty Epyx, the innovative MicroProse, or the wondrous Sierra would no longer exist a mere decade or two so later!

I think Rare could be considered to be autonomous enough for this list.

Disagree; I think being bought out by another (Microsoft, in this case) disqualifies it as having "survived intact."

Re:What a debut! (1)

despisethesun (880261) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752523)

By your standards, though, even Sega hasn't "survived intact".

Re:What a debut! (1)

Yeechang Lee (3429) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752566)

despitethesun wrote:
By your standards, though, even Sega hasn't "survived intact".

You're right; I completely forgot about Sammy having bought it. Well, I guess the list thins further.

Re:What a debut! (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752786)

Wow. Just that list of names is a walk down memory lane.

Re:What a debut! (1)

XO (250276) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752819)

And Epyx made, absolutely bar-none, the BEST gaming controller ever. XJ500? was that it's model number? Best joystick EVER.

Re:What a debut! (1)

SetupWeasel (54062) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752881)

Activision never went bankrupt. They did use a tax law that allowed them to reclaim paid taxes after the videogame crash which probably helped.

According to their own website [activision.com] "BHK Corporation, a company controlled by Activision's current executive management team" in 1990, but as it is a publicly traded company that stuff happens. It hasn't been merged into another company or ceased to exist at any point in time.

Re:What a debut! (1)

Yeechang Lee (3429) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752938)

Activision never went bankrupt. They did use a tax law that allowed them to reclaim paid taxes after the videogame crash which probably helped.

According to their own website "BHK Corporation, a company controlled by Activision's current executive management team" in 1990, but as it is a publicly traded company that stuff happens. It hasn't been merged into another company or ceased to exist at any point in time.

Not quite. BHK Corporation (standing for Bobby Kotick, Activision's CEO ever since) did indeed buy Activision/Mediagenic in 1990, but as I heard Kotick say in person (for about a year my job led to several in-person meetings with the gentleman), BHK bought it as a tax writeoff investment as he and his partners believed there was nothing left assetwise. They were surprised to learn that the Activision brand name (which he soon revived) and some intellectual property (such as the Infocom brand) still carried some value on the games market. Along the way there was, indeed, a prepackaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing (prearranged in order to streamline the company's finances). In any case, the post-Kotick Activision really does share nothing but some IP with the company that produced Pitfall! and River Raid.

Re:What a debut! (1)

SetupWeasel (54062) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753032)

It's not that I don't believe you, but I don't find sources that say that.

Re:What a debut! (1)

tsm_sf (545316) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753179)

but as I heard Kotick say in person

He is the source. Once this thread is cached at Google I'll send you a link.

Re:What a debut! (1)

SetupWeasel (54062) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753311)

A great song writer once said:

You don't tug on Superman's cape,
You don't spit into the wind,
You don't pull the mask off the ole Lone Ranger,
and you don't take a post on the Slashdot forums as gospel truth.


They might have tweaked that last line before they recorded it.

Re:What a debut! (1)

Yeechang Lee (3429) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753620)

SetupWeasel asks that I prove that I heard something in person, which is of course difficult to impossible.

However, regarding Activision's alleged bankruptcy--the central point regarding his skepticism--would a SEC 10K filing [sec.gov] with the following paragraph:

For purposes of this presentation, the Company prior to the January 9, 1992 effective date of its Plan of Reorganization (the "Plan of Reorganization") under Chapter 11 of Title 11 of the United States Code (the "Bankruptcy Code") is referred to as the "Predecessor Company," and the Company, after the effective date of the Plan of Reorganization, is referred to as "Reorganized Activision."

qualify as some type of evidence?

He's right in one thing, though; you *don't* tug on Superman's cape.

Excellent (1)

loony (37622) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752211)

"It should be an excellent game"

And I figured out how to win the next Superbowl - all I have to do is score more points than the opponent...

But seriously - the article is pretty useless... The hard part is not to understand that you have to do something new and excellent - its how to do it. A minor detail the article unfortunately doesn't explain...

Peter.

Re:Excellent (1)

sqlrob (173498) | more than 8 years ago | (#14754265)

The article is a little more useful than that, even though what he said is self evident now.

Scoring more points is a good way to win the Superbowl. Scoring more points is a crappy way to win the Masters.

Today, graphics come first, gameplay second. (1, Interesting)

SteelV (839704) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752227)

It has been said a lot, but it really seems like most games today try to focus on having amazing graphics, and then move onto focusing on gameplay later, if ever.

Some games manage to innovate both gameplay and graphics, but they are rare. A lot of sports games have played essentially the same for the past 5 or 6 years, with only graphical updates. Most FPS games are similar, with just better graphics (physics is an exception, but that's not really gameplay when it just has to do with rolling barrles after an explosion... only when, like in HL2, it's used for essential elements of the game like strategy, etc.).

Hopefully more games will be made that innovate, like Darwinia (steampowered.com), which looks alright, but has amazing and unique gameplay.

Re:Today, graphics come first, gameplay second. (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752458)

What part of HL2 physics are you referring to ?

Re:Today, graphics come first, gameplay second. (1)

Eideewt (603267) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752504)

There's one part near the beginning where you have to use some bricks to tilt a ramp so you can run up it. I guess that's one example, although it's not something I would say adds much to the gameplay.

Re:Today, graphics come first, gameplay second. (3, Insightful)

Xshare (762241) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752489)

Bullshit about the sports games. I keep hearing people saying this, yet I can't agree. Every year, the AI gets so much better, the ability to play more realistically gets much better, playcalling gets better, and the ability to change things on the fly gets better. I'm afraid of this stopping now that EA has exclusive rights on almost every sport, but sports games HAVE gotten much better over the past 5-6 years, and it hasn't been just graphics.

Re:Today, graphics come first, gameplay second. (2, Insightful)

despisethesun (880261) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752547)

If you compare a sports game from 2006 to one from 5-6 years ago, yes, there's usually a huge improvement. Thing is, the improvement doesn't look so big when you compare, say, Madden 2001 to Madden 2002. While the changes and improvements do add up over time, they're not huge from year to year and so the criticism is still mostly valid.

Re:Today, graphics come first, gameplay second. (1)

Rayonic (462789) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752710)

Well, it's not like they can go and change the rules for American Football.

Re:Today, graphics come first, gameplay second. (1)

despisethesun (880261) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752734)

They put a pretty interesting spin on it with Mutant League Football. It would be nice to see stuff like that come about from time to time.

Blitz: The League (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752801)

They put a pretty interesting spin on it with Mutant League Football. It would be nice to see stuff like that come about from time to time.

After the National Football League agreed to a long-term exclusive contract with EA, wouldn't you want to blitz the league [google.com] ?

Re:Today, graphics come first, gameplay second. (1)

rohlfinator (888775) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753527)

Exactly. The rules of the game don't change quickly enough to warrant a new sequel every year.

I would have no problem with sports titles if they would release a new version every 2-3 years, when the number of new features warrants a sequel. EA could easily cycle between releasing Madden and NCAA every other year. The games would probably be better this way, as each game would have a two-year dev cycle.

The only problem in the past has been roster updates, although EA could easily have made deals with third-party accessory manufacturers and sold yearly updates on cheap memory cards. Now that all three next-gen systems will be fully online-capable and have onboard memory, EA will have no excuse for releasing these slightly improved roster updates each year. I'm not expecting anything generous out of them, however.

Re:Today, graphics come first, gameplay second. (2, Interesting)

RobinH (124750) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752810)

You are correct but they're still just making incremental improvements to the same game. It's like taking a 2002 GMC sierra and comparing it to a 2003 GMC sierra. It still does everything the same, just better.

On the other hand, a segway was real innovation. It was a flop, but it was an innovative flop.

I can't say I'm happy with any recent innovations in the gaming industry. The MMORPG concept was pretty revolutionary, but nothing much new is happening now. It's the same basic rules with a new skin, better graphics, etc. Get a license from LucasArts and call it Star Wars Galaxies. Sure it had a better crafting system, but it wasn't THAT different.

There are times when a game seems to finally get a genre right... like command and conquer did with RTS's, or planetside did with real squad based tactics FPS (it's the only game persistent enough that you can ever hope to group with the same people on a regular basis).

I just bought Sid Meier's Pirates! which I originally played on the Nintendo (8 bit) and again on the PC (Pirates Gold!). Nothing too original in this one, but still a fun game, but I only bought it for old time's sake.

I used to play a game made with CGA graphics called "project space station". You had to run NASA and build a space station in orbit, run experiments, launch satellites, keep the orbiter fleet running, etc. That was innovative. Sim city was innovative. Sim City 4? Nope. Second Life is innovative (but I haven't seen it yet). The Sims is pretty innovative. But the Sims 2? Nope. What number are we up to on Civilization now?

I truly believe that we've begun the human age of sequels, and I don't think it's ever going to end. That's sad.

Oh, also, (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14752239)

Every game should have a naked shower scene like in his books.

EA need to read this (2, Insightful)

derek_m (125935) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752249)

The software firm Electronic Arts has added a fifth requirement for itself: The game must be truly original.

Clearly that one was forgotten about long ago, these days its just endless sequels each containing fewer differences than the last. Originality was forgotten about long ago in favour of squeezing every last dollar out of a 'franchise'.

M.U.L.E. is great. See for yourself... (5, Informative)

Errandboy of Doom (917941) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752259)

Read about and download M.U.L.E. here [the-underdogs.org] .

Re:M.U.L.E. is great. See for yourself... (2, Interesting)

Mrcowcow (931085) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752767)

You can avoid the ads and the hassle and just get the file here. [corkscrewed.net] Everything you need to play it is in the .zip.

Re:M.U.L.E. is great. See for yourself... (1)

Sigma 7 (266129) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752811)

FYI, don't point to the C64 games on the Underdogs - they are bloated as they contain much more files than necessary.

That file in particular contains PC64 - which is abandonware (actually Public Domain). There's much better emulators available that can run nativly under Windows - WinVice in particular is quite good at zooming past loading times.

Re:M.U.L.E. is great. See for yourself... (1)

Tyger (126248) | more than 7 years ago | (#14754849)

I think M.U.L.E. had to be my favorite game back in it's time. That game rocked. Though the Nintendo port never quite lived up to the C64 original.

How the mighty have... (1)

cthellis (733202) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752290)

EA (or ECA for us old-timers ;-) ) made some truly AMAZING games back in the day. Through them they established themselves and... well... led to what we have today.

Ironic, I suppose, but at least they were worthy of success to begin with. Heh...

Re:How the mighty have... (2, Informative)

kisrael (134664) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752321)

Yeah, the ECA days...that cube, sphere, pyramid logo was damn clever.

And the games...man. Archon, Skate or Die, Realm of Impossibility...in those really cool "album cover" like boxes...plus the respect they gave to the game programmers as artists (hence, Electronic ARTS...) That was an amazing time.

Re:How the mighty have... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14752580)

They used that logo right up until the 32-bit console era came about. I have a bunch of Genesis games that have it during the startup rather than the Sega logo.

Funny thing about that, too. When the Genesis/Mega Drive came out, Sega wanted to charge third party publishers a considerable amount of money to release games for the system. EA reverse-engineered the system, though, and was able to manufacture their own cartridges. Apparently Sega brought down their publishing fees to keep EA from sharing that information with other publishers. This is also apparently why most early EA Genesis games have their own unique style of cartridge. I'm pretty sure it carried on through the whole 16-bit era but I'd have to check my cartridges to be sure.

Re:How the mighty have... (1)

AlterTick (665659) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752599)

Yeah, the ECA days...that cube, sphere, pyramid logo was damn clever.

Oi, and of course the oh-so-clever Commodore 64 copy protection schemes. The bizarre "half-tracking" reading scheme that slowed load times to a crawl and tended to crap out if the drive was even slightly misaligned.

Re:How the mighty have... (1)

cthellis (733202) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752930)

C64 scum! Atari forever!!!! ;-P

Re:How the mighty have... (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 7 years ago | (#14754461)

I thought "Skate or Die" was made by Ultra (a child company of Konami, IIRC)

Re:How the mighty have... (1)

kisrael (134664) | more than 7 years ago | (#14754682)

Well, according to http://gotcha.classicgaming.gamespy.com/ea.htm [gamespy.com] :
Hawkins wanted a company that embraced the artistic vision behind the film company, United Artists, a firm founded by Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, et al. Bing Gordon proposed "Electronic Artists," but Steve Hayes countered, "We're not the artists, they are..." meaning that EA was a publisher and not a developer. (In fact, EA's first in-house game was Skate or Die produced in 1987.)
Ultra may have made the very much inferior port to the NES...after seeing Metroid on the NES and not the C=64, it was interesting to see how much better Skate or Die was on the computer vs the console.

on the C=64 I thought it looked almost as good as an Amiga game, but the NES version was absolutely nothing special.

Re:How the mighty have... (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752871)

EA (or ECA for us old-timers

Funny, I always thought it was EOA. Could never figure out where the O came from though...Now I guess I'll spend my time trying to figure out why it was a C instead... : /

Orson Scott Card's predictions (2, Interesting)

SlashThat (859697) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752360)

I've re-read Ender's Game lately (written in 1985), and was amased by some of the predictions Orson made in just one book. The "network", online news and bloggers (Locke and Demosthenes), hand-held devices used for education (we only start seing them now). Damn, I think we shouldn't be surprised if we see the buggers real soon! :)

Re:Orson Scott Card's predictions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14752435)

Damn, I think we shouldn't be surprised if we see the buggers real soon!

Some would say the buggers are trying to take over this country right now. That's why they're busy trying to amend the Constitution.

Re:Orson Scott Card's predictions (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752468)

Wow, a whole book to state the bleedin' obvious

Re:Orson Scott Card's predictions (1, Troll)

AlterTick (665659) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752512)

I've re-read Ender's Game lately (written in 1985), and was amased by some of the predictions Orson made in just one book.

Really? I saw nothing particularly insightful.

The "network"

Gosh, he envisioned a worldwide network only only 15-20 years after the creation of early world-wide networks like compuserve and the internet.

online news and bloggers

'cause no one was doing anything even remotely like that which could be fictionally extrapolated, like USENET of BBS's.

hand-held devices used for education (we only start seing them now)

Yeah, unprecedented. Those hand-held slates and chalk children used in the 19th century bear no resemblance to tablet PCs. No writer but the most visionary could predict hand held computers in 1985, when every high school student had a scientific calculator, and computers had (over the previous 10 years) shrunk from room-sized to desktop sized. Every kid with a Commodore 64 and half an ounce of imagination envisioned a future where computers were the size of an Etch-A-Sketch

Card's sci-fi was pretty pedestrian in the visionary sense. Gibson's Neuromancer (1984) was far and away more visionary. The fact that Card didn't even bother to imagine the worldwide network being anything but text-based is pretty telling.

Re:Orson Scott Card's predictions (2, Informative)

SlashThat (859697) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752647)

Cut the flame. If you think that these things were obvious in 1985, then you obviously don't remember it as well as I do. Of course, computer networks existed since 1969. But they were either defense or university projects. The internet was only opened to the public in 1990's. Nobody could tell then what it would look like and how (if at all) it would be used by wide public. As to blogging, it only gained public awareness in this millenium.
And where the heck did you come up that he only thought the network would be text-based??
Anyway, you missed the whole point. It was concievable that the technology would be developed to the stage that we see now (although the amount of small details that turned out to be correct is surprising). It is much more difficult to predict how the technology will be used, to what extent it will be part of our lives, and its social impact. The technological "atmosphere" described really captures the essence of what we only begin to experience today.

Re:Orson Scott Card's predictions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14752754)

The poster you replied to should also have mentioned that none of his ideas are particularly inventive for the genre he wrote in.

Earlier authors had already covered everything you bring up, and usually better and with more style.

He certainly was no leader in prognostication, and his novel really didn't have much to add to the science fiction field in terms of originality. I'll admit it is a well-written book, but it doesn't introduce any new concepts that hadn't been covered even decades before.

Re:Orson Scott Card's predictions (1, Troll)

AlterTick (665659) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752869)

The internet was only opened to the public in 1990's. Nobody could tell then what it would look like and how (if at all) it would be used by wide public. As to blogging, it only gained public awareness in this millenium.

Card's "Locke and Demosthenes" bit could hardly have been described as a blog. It was public message boards, exactly like those found on CompuServe and scores of public and private BBS's. From Ch 9, Valentine to Peter on his plan to go on the net and manipulate public opinion:

"On the nets we are clearly identified as students, and we can't even get into the real discussions except in audience mode, which means we can't say anything anyway."

Sounds more like a moderated newsgroup discussion than a "blog" to me.

The internet was only opened to the public in 1990's. Nobody could tell then what it would look like and how (if at all) it would be used by wide public.

I don't understand. Are you now saying he's a visionary, or that being a visionary would be impossible?

And where the heck did you come up that he only thought the network would be text-based??

From the complete lack of reference to digital images or video outside of Ender's little video game perhaps?

Anyway, you missed the whole point. It was concievable that the technology would be developed to the stage that we see now (although the amount of small details that turned out to be correct is surprising). It is much more difficult to predict how the technology will be used, to what extent it will be part of our lives, and its social impact. The technological "atmosphere" described really captures the essence of what we only begin to experience today.

I don't think I did miss the point. The description of "the nets" exactly fits a USENET or networked BBS message bases (e.g. FidoNet), the former being familiar to most university students of the time, and the latter being downright common and publicly accessible to boot. It wasn't particularly visionary, it was a weakly extrapolated mirror of existing things.

Re:Orson Scott Card's predictions (1)

Shipwack (684009) | more than 7 years ago | (#14754988)

Heh... If you think that's impressive, Murray Leinster predicted the Internet, home computers, search engines (is this prior art?), software filters for sensoring the search engiens, the idea that "information wants to be free" and home shopping in the short story A Logic Named Joe. [baen.com]
  • In 1946!
Many thanks to Baen Books [baen.com] for putting the first couple of chapters of a novel online, and even whole books. [baen.com]

Worms? (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752399)

Can anyone point me to screenshots of that "Worms?" game. It sounds quite interesting, but I can't find screenshots anywhere on Google. In fact I can find next to nothing on it.

Re:Worms? (1)

cthellis (733202) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752477)

I 3-ed Worms to death at the time. ^_^ Only Archon really surpassed it, of the ECA crop.

End Game (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14752430)

""Long long ago, Orson Scott Card wrote a game opinion column for Compute! Magazine. In the November 1983 issue, he had some interesting things to say about the essential ingredients of a great game, all arguably still important today."

And yet the one game he had a hand in, Advent Rising [adventtrilogy.com] . Did poorly in the marketplace.

Re:End Game (1)

Starbucker79 (829868) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753101)

Then again, he did have a hand (however minor [hatrack.com] ) in Loom and wrote the dialogue for The Dig. I miss Lucasfilm Games.

Re:End Game (2, Insightful)

cgenman (325138) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753427)

No offense to Orson, but I take a touch of dark satisfaction when someone from another medium comes into gaming and falls on their face. It ISN'T easy to create great games. It doesn't just take vision, creativity, and a budget the size of texas. It takes compromises, a willingness to give the player control when the experience warrants, a willingness to take control away from the player when the experience warrants, a sense of the aesthetics of play, a team full of skilled people that you are willing to give control to, an ability to shoot your own ideas in the head when it is time... And even if you create one of the greatest games of all time, it may still fail in the marketplace... just because.

No offense intended to Mr. Card, as if it wasn't for Ender's Game I may not have decided to become a game designer. But there is a big difference between ivory tower thinking about great gaming and the actual down and dirty process of making them.

Re:End Game (1)

ECMIM (946033) | more than 8 years ago | (#14754071)

Ah, but if you knew how little he actually had to do with AR you might take that back...let's just say he was a stand-up guy and did one of his relative (a cousin, I believe) a very, very big favor.

End Game-Just a touch. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14754486)

http://www.adventtrilogy.com/overview_fe.htm [adventtrilogy.com]

"Unprecedented collaboration with award-winning, sci-fi author Orson Scott Card on sweeping storyline"

Considering the pervailing slashdot attitude about current games (AR came out in 2005). The above wouldn't be considered "little".

Re:End Game (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14754749)

It's not like he single handidly coded the game. All he basically did was come up with some of the dialog for the first half of the game, and then they threw his name on the cover. He didn't come didn't come up with the overall story line or have ANYTHING to do with game play. He talked about all this during an interview at the E3:
http://media.psp.ign.com/media/714/714496/vids_1.h tml [ign.com]

I think he was just getting his feet wet in the gaming industry, but it's difficult to argue that he's fallen "flat on his face" when all he's did was write some fo the game's early dialog.

Re:End Game (1)

Kayamon (926543) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753941)

Ah, but he did also do the swordfighting insults in "The Secret Of Monkey Island".

I think that earns him some credit.

A reference to computer games! (4, Insightful)

FromWithin (627720) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752465)

Hurrah! Evidence of the existence of the computer games industry. It's not something you see often on here. Not the video game industry, the computer game industry: The one that almost all of the major players in the current game industry were borne out of.

Video game crash in the U.S? Irrelevant...computer games never stopped. They went on from strength to strength via the C64, ST, Amiga, and then the PC (when it's CPU speed finally came up to scratch).

It's getting harder and harder these days to find any sort of real history of games due to revisionists re-writing everything and putting such huge importance on video games, Atari, and Nintendo.

Let's have more articles like this.

Re:A reference to computer games! (1)

The Wicked Priest (632846) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752794)

It wasn't the CPU that limited the early PC's use as a game machine -- it always outperformed a C64. It was the crummy video and nonexistent audio. CGA video was actually sharper than anything you could get out of a C64, but you had the choice of 16-color text, or 4-color hi-res graphics -- and four nasty colors they were, too. Let's not even talk about the monochrome adapter.

Re:A reference to computer games! (1)

mshurpik (198339) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752852)

I can attest that a CGA adapter on a monochrome screen- 16 shades of green - was actually quite pleasant. But most people never had the experience. I spent most of my childhood rallying for a color monitor, not even realizing that what I had on my portable was rare and actually easier to look at.

Damn great PC portable that was. I beat most of Ultima V at my grandma's house.

Re:A reference to computer games! (1)

FromWithin (627720) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753095)

The thing about the PC is that it had to completely rely on the CPU. What I meant was that the CPU had to be fast enough to compete with the combination of CPU and custom chips in other home computers.

Ah the CGA colors (1)

snuf23 (182335) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753151)

I believer there were 2 different choices for the colors. Something like light blue, white, black and magenta or green, yellow, black and white?
While EGA was an improvement, it wasn't until the advent of cheap VGA cards that PC gaming really started to get good.

So good games = success? (1)

christoscamaro (953618) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753168)

From what I recall Magic Carpet 2 sold horribly.

I don't retro-game much. Sometimes for 5-10 mins here and there for the memory and for kicks. MC2 however, I can still play it start to finish and enjoy every second of it.

Random Card theories (1)

eurenix (912380) | more than 8 years ago | (#14754064)

Wasn't there some great theory at one point that Ender's Game was nothing more than an apology for Hitler?

What about that Ender's Game was actually written by a comittee, that this comittee abandoned him for "Speaker for the Dead", but decided to write "Xenocide" for him.

How about the least crazy one, that one of his series was a fairly direct retelling of The Book of Mormon.

Re:Random Card theories (1)

BarryNorton (778694) | more than 8 years ago | (#14754369)

Oh please, it might be Sunday but do you need to troll [wikipedia.org] so blatantly?
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