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Was Videogaming Better Back in the Day?

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the these-new-fangled-gears-and-half-lives dept.

Games 381

An anonymous reader writes "Sean Sands at Gamers With Jobs looks back at the dawn of videogaming, when we were all kids just typing in our games, one line of BASIC at a time. And he finds the present lacking: 'The dreamers became assets instead of leaders, and the rockstar designers became, well, Rockstar ... or Blizzard, or Valve. Publishers with cash-rich money to spend bought the creative process, and the minds of marketing professionals replaced four guys hopped up on sugar doughnuts and generic cola. So, how dare I be surprised that the price of today's gaming blitz is a little piece of last generation's soul?' Do you agree? Was simple gaming better, or are you a story in games fan?"

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Back in the day... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18750641)

I would have gotten away with getting the first post, too!

Meanwhile, beyond the land of False Dichotomies... (5, Insightful)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750651)

Why does it have to be either or? Can't both types of gaming be good? We have complex games now, but simpler stuff is available on things like XBox Arcade. Just relax and enjoy.

Re:Meanwhile, beyond the land of False Dichotomies (5, Insightful)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750719)

No kidding. "Was simple gaming better, or are you a story in games fan?" What the Hell kind of question is that? Story-wise, something like Unreal Tournament Foo has about as much story as the booklet that came with a Berzerk cartridge, while games like Ultima V (playable on Apple II, CGA-equipped PC and other beyond-elderly hardware) kick the unholy Hell out of cliched fantasy crap like Neverwinter Nights' original campaign.

Cliché (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18751743)

... the unholy Hell out of cliched fantasy crap like ...

It's "cliché!"
"Cliché!"
"Cliché!"

BLAM

Re:Meanwhile, beyond the land of False Dichotomies (2, Insightful)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751047)

Excellent point. New games aren't replacing existing games, they're adding to the body of games out there. Anyone with an old console, a Java-enabled phone or PDA, a service such as XBox Arcade, a "greatest hits" modern console port, or the wherewithal to grab an emulator and some ROMs will find it at least as easy to get hold of an old classic as it is to buy the latest console or PC game.

Re:Meanwhile, beyond the land of False Dichotomies (5, Insightful)

iocat (572367) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751333)

The other thing that makes this question hard to debate is the age/nostalgia thing. For instance, my favorite sci-fi ever was what I read at 14, vecause it was the FIRST sci-fi I read. So, all the mind-expanding concepts of sci-fi were new to me, and evens what others would have considered as cliched crap seemed brilliant to me, if only becuase I hadn't seen the cliches a thousand times before. So, sure, based on that, the simple games of my youth were brilliant! The story in Ultima was transcendental, the action in Xevious or even Pheonix unparalled.

So were those old games better? I think it's almost impossible to evaluate through the dewy-eyed nostalgia filter. The closest comparison to old-school (pre-NES) games are probably the "casual games" of today, and certainly Xevious or Galaga compare well with Heavy Weapon or Bejeweled. But comparing Gauntlet or Ultima to KOTOR or Diablo is like comparing a cave painting to a Picasso. They're so different, and so much products of their time, that it's dfficult to say one is better or worse than the other.

No, it wasn't (1, Interesting)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750665)

Were cars better "back in the day"? Guess it depends what point of view you take.

It was certainly easier to be impressed, back in the day.

99% of the titles I played on C64 were shit, and the Atari 2600 or NES could only dream of a good/bad title ratio like that.

Gaming today is as it's always been. If you prefer the older titles (and to a certain extent, I do), go ahead and play them.

Re:No, it wasn't (4, Insightful)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750727)

Certain genres are lacking today though. Try and find a good adventure game, or a good turn-based strategy game. 10-15 years ago there were plenty of quality options to choose from, and today there are few, if any. Platformers have also suffered, but to a lesser extent. Enough, though, that re-releases of old Castlevania and Super Mario Brothers games are best sellers *now*.

Re:No, it wasn't (2, Informative)

Zelos (1050172) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750843)

There are quite a few turn based strategy games: Advance wars (GBA, DS), fire emblem(GBA, GC and Wii), field commander(PSP), Disagea(PS2), final fantasy tactics 2 is on the way

Re:No, it wasn't (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750969)

That's a good point....

Those aren't the type of turn based strategy I was thinking about though... It's like they took just the combat from the big empire-building turn based strategy games of the past and wrapped them in either RPG or weak plot. Don't get me wrong, I loves Advance Wars and Tactics, but they're not the same. They're like part of a game. Heroes of Might and Magic 5 did come out recently, but it was *terrible*. Ever since Starcraft, all the futuristic straegy-sims have been real-time instead of turn based.

Re:No, it wasn't (3, Informative)

LDoggg_ (659725) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751075)

If you like turn based games you've probably already heard of it, but in case you haven't check out: Battle of Wesnoth [wesnoth.org] Lots of fun, and it's free.

Re:No, it wasn't (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751203)

I hadn't heard of it. Thanks for the link.

Re:No, it wasn't (1)

brkello (642429) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751063)

Sam and Max - adventure. Civ IV - turn based strategy. :)

Re:No, it wasn't (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751163)

I am meaning to check out Sam & Max now that you don't need to join gamefly to download them... Civ 4 was good, but that was two years ago. One game in two years. Two actually because of HoMM5, but not exactly a ringing endorsement of the genre.

Re:No, it wasn't (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751109)

I would love a game like M.U.L.E. for linux.

Re:No, it wasn't (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751283)

Platformers have also suffered, but to a lesser extent.

New Super- Enough, though, that re-releases of old Castlevania and Super Mario Brothers games are best sellers *now*.

- ... OK, fair enough.

Yes, it was. (5, Insightful)

Teddy Beartuzzi (727169) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750889)

First of all, 99% of stuff now is also shit, so toss out that argument.

The packaging was better. Real effort and imagination were put into it. Does anything come with a microscopic space fleet now?

The manuals were better. I've still got glossy, 300+ page manuals on my shelf that are practically history books, that came with Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe, Red Baron, etc.

But most important, the game play was better. Go down any list of "Best Games Ever", and it's freakin' dominated by old titles. Railroad Tycoon, Civ, Wasteland, Zork, X-Com, Monkey Island, Wizardy, Ultima...

The graphics have gotten better, yes. But the story and gameplay suffered along the way, as more time and effort were put into the graphics. Sadly, it seems like it was treated as an either/or by most developers.

Re:Yes, it was. (1)

toleraen (831634) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751217)

As pretty as the packaging was, I rather like the DVD size case of today. Those huge boxes, while slick looking, ended up getting thrown out (except for some favorites) because they were unstackable and took up way too much space. Some games today still use fancy packaging, but they're usually the collectors editions. I think Everquest 2 was the last CE I purchased, and the metal case w/ velvety lining was pretty slick looking.

Spot on with the rest though, manuals especially.

Re:Yes, it was. (2, Insightful)

cowscows (103644) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751387)

I'm not trying to dump on those older games, but it's not always that simple. I think that nostalgia not only tints things in a positive light, but the experience that you may have had the first time you played a really great game might wane as time goes on, and you've "been around the block" so to speak. The first time I saw the northern lights, it was so incredibly amazing and awesome. The second time I saw them, it was still very cool, but the shock and amazement and surprise had already died down a bit.

Civ IV might be a significantly better game than the original Civ, but it'll always be a sequel, and never perceived as the same sort of innovative new experience that the early Civ games were. But I think that were it to have come out when it did, but none of the other Civ games had existed, it would have been heralded as one of the greatest things ever.

I guess we just have much higher expectations for games these days.

Re:Yes, it was. (4, Insightful)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751507)

But most important, the game play was better. Go down any list of "Best Games Ever", and it's freakin' dominated by old titles. Railroad Tycoon, Civ, Wasteland, Zork, X-Com, Monkey Island, Wizardy, Ultima...

Your range of 'old' runs from the late seventies to the mid nineties. Assuming we mean by 'new' anything since then, well, GTA: San Andreas, Knights of the Old Republic, Wii Sports, Deus Ex, Ocarina of Time, Pokémon, Half-Life, Resident Evil...

Of course the 'best games ever' are going to be old if your definition of 'old' encompasses the majority of games ever made. And was the gameplay really better? Or have we just managed to forget the countless crappy games there were back then too?

Re:Yes, it was. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18751789)

The packaging was better.

You obviously have never seen the Megaman 2 box art.

It all depends... (3, Interesting)

PyroMosh (287149) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750673)

"Was simple gaming better?"

Depends. There's games that are compelx and terrible, and there are games that are complex and amazing (Supreme Commander, hopefully Spore)
there were also simple games that were and are amazing (Tetris) and simple games that were just horrible (Amagon, Super Mario Bros. 1 by today's standards (I'll elaborate if anyone cares))

"Are you a story in games fan?"

Yes I am. But it depends on the story, and the game. I just picked up Wing Island last night for the Wii. If I had known about the story, I would probably have thought twice. Gameplay is okay, but it's no Pilotwings (what I was hoping for). On the other hand, I absolutly love Hotel Dusk. Maniac Mansion continues to be one of my all time favorites, and the Half-Life series are great because of not only the story, but how that story is told. Wing Commander showed that cinematic games can be fun, if done right.

There's lots of examples of good story driven games. Not all of them new. And there's lots of examples of games that are fun without much story (Super Mario Bros. 3 continues to be a favorite of mine) and even some examples of decent games *dammaged* by the inclusion of a story (Super Monkey Ball, Bomberman, Wario Ware, etc, etc.)

Re:It all depends... (1)

Attrition_cp (888039) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750789)

Out of interest, what where the reasons that made Super Mario Bros 1 a bad game? [I have no slant either way, but am curious].

Re:It all depends... (2, Interesting)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751259)

Poor control, repetitious play, no save feature. Basically, think of "what made Super Mario World very fun" and notice it is missing here. I mean, we didn't know better back then, but I wouldn't put any serious time into the original any more.

Re:It all depends... (2, Insightful)

PyroMosh (287149) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751307)

That's not it either. Lack of a save game is not a bad thing in my mind given the type of game it was. SMB3 had no save feature, and it played fine (still does).

I can still put serious time into SMB3, but not SMB1. I think the control is the biggest thing for me at least.

Re:It all depends... (4, Insightful)

PyroMosh (287149) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751271)

It's not that it was bad. It's that it's become bad by today's standards. Hell, by the standards set a few years later.

Super Mario Bros. was an amazing, huge game at the time. But it was buggy at times, and glitchy, and the control wasn't very well rounded out. You couldn't go backwards, etc, etc. You can make the argument that the lack of left scrolling was an artistic decision, but it wasn't. It was a technical limitation given the game's scope at that early era of the NES's lifetime.

Compare it to SMB 2 (USA) or SMB3. It's not just that you can do more (you can). It's not just that you can move more freely (you can). It's not just easier to see what's going on on screen (it is). It's that the game controls well on the newer ones. You really can't improve much over the level of control you had on SMB 2 & 3. That's why New Super Mario Bros controls like Mario 3 in most ways that matter. SMB1 was a great prototype. My problem is that it didn't age well. Other games have stood the test of time. I can still pick up Zelda 1 and play through it without feeling like something is missing. I can do that with SMB3. I cant' do it with SMB1, a game I adored when I got my NES.

I would say the same about Doom 1&2. Both helped to usher in a new era in gameplay (the FPS). But play anything released after Unreal or Quake, and then play Doom. Lack of a z axis, no mouse integration to speak of, and other factors make it an important historical footnote, but an unfun game once you play something a bit more evolved.

Super Mario Bros 1 suffers the same problem. Gaming history is littered with titles that broke new ground, and were later eclipsed by what would be considered mediocre titles a year later.

Re:It all depends... (1, Interesting)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750815)

I would love for you to elaborate on why you think SMB 1 was a terrible game.

Indie Games (4, Interesting)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750683)

That's the answer to his complaints right there. You want to see good creative games that didn't cost multi-millions and may have been made by a single person go look at indie game areas. I for one am very glad that gaming has moved past the point where a 12 year old could build games that matched the game industry, if such a day ever existed. Modern games are sometimes uncreative but that doesn't mean the old days were somehow better. The difference is that nowadays more creativity is required to make a creative game as all the genres have pretty much filled up.

This guy really needs to see my sig. And by the way, I'm one of the people he doesn't believe in anymore. A gamer who wants to make games. Am I discouraged by the big money games? No, because I don't want to make those.

Was it better? Yes and no. (4, Insightful)

Demon-Xanth (100910) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750699)

Pick up an old game, and you'll realize two major facts:

#1 The game is hard. VERY hard.
#2 The control sucks.

Yup, #2 is sad but true. The old school games do have a completely different feel to them, and adding in the physics that came around during the 8 bit era lead to "slippery" feeling games. But #1 was because games weren't MEANT to be beaten by most people. When you beat a game, that was because you were a hard core badass gamer. They were meant to be played over and over and enjoyed. By comparison, most games today are play though once, move on to the next.

Does that make them better? You can argue both ways. Pick up Ikaruga and you'll be able to appreciate how getting level three is an accomplishment all over again.

Re:Was it better? Yes and no. (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750919)

I guess i'm a hard core badass gamer. Apart from some games like the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for NES, I beat a lot of games. Ok, I may have played a lot back then, but that doesn't really explain why I can pick up the same game, 10 years later, and still beat it, easily. Meanwhile there's a lot of games made now that are next to impossible, although usually not because they are designed to be hard, but because they make them artificially hard by making the computer unbeatable.

Re:Was it better? Yes and no. (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751087)

I guess i'm a hard core badass gamer. Apart from some games like the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for NES, I beat a lot of games.

I got to near the end of the Technodrome; the message is 'PREPARE FOR THE FIGHT, SHREDDER IS NEAR' and all, but there were just too many laser-toting jetpack guys to get past.

But the games we're thinking of here are older even than that. Think Bubble Bobble for the kind of thing. These were games that you'd play for a high score, more than for completion, and which you'd go to with a big bag of 10p coins if you meant to seriously challenge for the ending. You were meant to die and have to CONTINUE; that was how the arcade owner made his money!

Re:Was it better? Yes and no. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18751655)

max out scrolls with 3 of the characters and max out boomerangs with 1 character, I picked michelangelo for my boomerangs

use mike for the trash before shredder then nuke the hell out of shredder with the scrolls on the other 3

that was the only way I could beat him

Re:Was it better? Yes and no. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751753)

Apart from some games like the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for NES, I beat a lot of games.

That's one I beat (with teamwork.) I put it right up there with Metal Gear. Fantastic game. My best friend and I spent hours and hours with that game when it was new.

Meanwhile there's a lot of games made now that are next to impossible, although usually not because they are designed to be hard, but because they make them artificially hard by making the computer unbeatable.

The thing that always pisses me off is when they make the computer cheat perceptibly, like when you're doing the air races in Crimson Skies (PC) and the enemy planes are pretty much sucked through the obstacles, they're on a fixed path, while I have to actually fly through the hole.

Or of course when the "I want a quarter" code kicks in, and a fighting game that has been working with you nicely suddenly pours on the cheap and obliterates you. That's bullshit too.

...play though once, move on to the next. (4, Insightful)

dpilot (134227) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751335)

>They were meant to be played over and over and enjoyed. By comparison, most games today are play though once, move on to the next.

This is the most insightful point of a highly-moderated post.

Why on Earth would a game company want you to play over and over, and keep enjoying your single purchase? Of course what they really want is "the next purchase," every time and on a continuing basis.

It's kind of like movie previews. They used to be a teaser, promising more and better, but now they pretty much show the best bits, and promise only more. Movies used to play longer at theaters, and it wasn't unusual to go to a really good movie more than once. Today they hope to get that once, and maybe the DVD, especially with the "extra" crap. But by all means let's get another movie onto that screen, to get that one sale + DVD on that one, too.

Re:Was it better? Yes and no. (1)

Kelbear (870538) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751485)

I agree with parent, I'd also like to add that part of the difficulty in some of the older games has a very different nature than difficulty in today's games.

Less rigorous inspection(smaller teams, smaller budget, smaller dev cycles) allowed situations to occur in gameplay that lacked playtesting and feedback. Difficulty in today's games are supposed to be a challenge, but due to player fallibility rather than wrestling with fate. Players hate feeling helpless.

For example, when gameplay revolves around luck conditions and the CPU gets a huge bonus to their luck. Players like to win based on their manipulation of the game, rather than leaving their fate to random chance. Randomness is good when it provides unpredictability in the gameplay as a challenge, but it is BAD when the outcome is predictable, because the outcome is against you the majority of the time.

Even the perception is important. A frustration about a recent game "Lost Planet" was that players felt like they had no control, a feature that the japanese developers implemented intentionally. The large monsters cause the player to be stunned or stumble about, even knocked down. This upset players because they were put into these helpless positions even with an already sluggish movement speed against lightning-fast monsters. However, the developers accounted for all this, and every stun-situation that resulted in a player being hit was avoidable. Every stun-situation that was not avoidable, had the boss monster wait and give the player time to recover and have a split-second to dodge. The problem was that the stun masked this and made it appear as though the damage was inevitable and that the player was helpless. Those who finish the game realize this thin but important difference, but many become discouraged and upset early on since it appeared as though there was nothing they could have done to improve.

Re:Was it better? Yes and no. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751493)

Blame the "casual gamer".

Back in the 80s, there was no such thing. Who played computer games? It was almost invariably either kids (who do have a ton of spare time) or that handful of adults that were hooked. It was anything but mainstream.

Of course the market had to cater to its audience: Badass hardcore gamers. Would you have bought a game you could've beaten in less than 2 weeks?

Today, the market consists mostly of "casual gamers". People who want to "enjoy" a game without having to do too much for it. I mean, let's be honest here, games in the 80s were more often than not hard "work" to get through. Most gamers today don't want that. They want to enjoy nice graphics and play through a story, not prove that they can beat something 99% of the other players cannot.

I think the focus changed. People today would be fed up with games that doesn't "let" them win and keep them stuck in the first few levels, over and over. Instead of an encouragement to keep trying and improving, it would seem to them as a waste of time.

Re:Was it better? Yes and no. (1)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751633)

You're probably right that they were meant to be played over and over, but I think you are missing an important factor: One of the primary reasons #1 was true of most older games was BECAUSE of #2. Games were very difficult because they involved things like jumping at precisely the right moment with a flaky control scheme where you could do what felt like exactly the same thing at exactly the same time and get different results each time you did it. You mastered a game by playing it enough that the idiosyncrasies of the controls were committed to muscle memory.

A good example of this is Ghosts n Goblins. This is widely regarded as one of the most difficult games made for the NES. We had it at my office a few years back (one of my coworkers brought in his old NES from home, and it became our primary form of entertainment during breaks), and it made even our hardcore twitch gamers frustrated. One of the big reasons it's so difficult is because the controls are so flaky, and the game depends on precision movements. One of my coworkers spent weeks getting through the game, finally getting past the last level. Then, of course, he found out that you have to play the entire game through again in order to really beat it. He never looked at that game again, and I'm pretty sure the experience completely broke his spirit.

Re:Was it better? Yes and no. (1)

basscomm (122302) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751741)

Pick up an old game, and you'll realize two major facts:

#1 The game is hard. VERY hard.
#2 The control sucks.



Often #1 is a direct result of #2. A game like Ghosts 'n' Goblins wouldn't be quite as hard it is if you had a finer degree of control of your character. I'm also not completely sure that the brutal difficulty of most of those old games wasn't put there to increase the longevity of the title. Most of those old games weren't very long, and if you could breeze through it in an hour or so, your dollars would have felt wasted.

Don't be silly. (2, Informative)

seebs (15766) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750705)

Things change. I don't think games today necessarily have less soul than games before.

On average, maybe, but that's not because indy developers can't make small and fun games; it's because games that they couldn't make are dominating the visible industry, with huge budgets and little soul. There's still indy developers writing neat stuff, they just don't get as much of a share of the market... But the market's bigger. Fine by me.

What? (3, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750707)

Was simple gaming better, or are you a story in games fan?"

Logical fallacy: False dichotomy. Simple games can have a story, and old games aren't all simple. Unless you plan to go back before, say, the NES. And I don't think anyone can claim that in video game terms/technology lifespans the NES is not old school. Anyone who says it ain't has a date with me with a NES controller cord wrapped around my wrist in a dark alleyway.

But it looks like he really is talking about the 2600 and prior. And then he says the following on page 2 of TFA: "Were the games actually better? Well, no, of course not."

Is it a slownewsday already?

Re:What? (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751145)

And I don't think anyone can claim that in video game terms/technology lifespans the NES is not old school. Anyone who says it ain't has a date with me with a NES controller cord wrapped around my wrist in a dark alleyway.

The NES is the first of the modern machines, post-Crash of 1984. Before that were the Atari and Coleco and such in America, and the Spectrum and BBC Micros in the UK - a very different world.

And I have no fear of your NES controller cord. Nintendo have seen fit to provide me with a better weapon now, suitable for bludgeoning, strangling, or throwing straight through the TV screen... ;-)

Re:What? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751243)

And I have no fear of your NES controller cord.

I think you missed something. If the cord is wrapped around my hand then the controller can be swung through the air. Anyone who played, say, Ninja Gaiden 2 knows that the NES controller is made out of the hardest substance known to man and can survive amazing impacts. I'm betting that it's sturdier than nunchakau(sp?).

As an offtopic aside, the person who modded my GP comment down as a troll is an idiot. There's no troll there. Maybe flamebait, but only if you're a puss.

Tag article: getoffmylawn (1, Insightful)

GoodbyeBlueSky1 (176887) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750717)

Honestly, these crotchety articles looking at the past with rose-colored glasses are really getting old.

I don't know about 'better', but it was different. (4, Interesting)

EvilCabbage (589836) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750725)

I know when I was gaming on my C64 I never had to listen to spoiled pre-teens fling insults at one another or had to rely on an ever growing list of ignored players just to try and enjoy the experience I'd forked out for.

The games might have been garbage, but I recall the experiences with more fondness than anything I've picked up recently.

I don't even need to go back that far, the 90's had a lot of fantastic games that I still play and have a lot more fun with than running another damn WoW instance, or another round of Countersrike: OMGSNIPERFAGZ!!LAWLZ Edition.

Re:I don't know about 'better', but it was differe (2, Insightful)

brkello (642429) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750999)

You are comparing a single player experience with multiplayer. Your post has nothing to do with new and old as you would get the same difference if you weren't playing online.

And if you hate WoW instances and morons in CS...why are you playing them?

Whitelists rock for games (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751095)

Get some friends to play, and add them to your friends list (if that's ever been fixed -- fscking Valve). Set up your own server, or find one which is typically filled with decent players who don't act like pre-teens, and bookmark that.

Or play games like Natural Selection, where the OMGSNIPERFAGZ do not stand a chance at actually learning the game, and get a mic (because you really do need a mic to play NS well).

Re:I don't know about 'better', but it was differe (1)

cowscows (103644) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751155)

Online multiplayer can be a great thing, and not only really fits some gametypes, it also makes a lot of new gametypes possible. But it takes much of the experience out of the hands of the designer, which can be dangerous to the quality of the game. I do find it mildly frustrating that online gaming has sorta become the new "fad" , to the point where it gets applied even to games that don't really need it, and especially when it's substituted for something else. It blows my mind that Motorstorm for the PS3 has online multiplayer, but two people cannot race against each other sitting on the same couch and watching the same TV. Is the ability to play online with random people so compelling that it's worth trading away the ability to play against your friends, or your brother, or your kid?

Re:I don't know about 'better', but it was differe (2, Funny)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751207)

When you were playing on a Commodore 64, you didn't even *have* Internet multiplayer. So it seems to me that the fact that the Internet multiplayer feature exists at all makes the game much better than its C-64 equivalent.

Additionally, you don't *have* to play online now. You choose to. (Sure, there are some games that require online play, like MMORPGs and some FPS games.)

I don't even need to go back that far, the 90's had a lot of fantastic games that I still play and have a lot more fun with than running another damn WoW instance, or another round of Countersrike: OMGSNIPERFAGZ!!LAWLZ Edition.

So don't play those type of games. You act as if the entire game industry consists of Counterstrike clones and MMORPGs.

Less shared culture (4, Interesting)

metroid composite (710698) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750739)

One thing I will note is that...about 15 years ago a friend of mine polled his classmates about "Super Mario Bros 2 or Super Mario Bros 3" and everyone, everyone in the class (male and female) had an oppinion.

Nowadays games have become very audience-specialized. For instance, the two top-selling franchises right now are Grand Theft Auto and Pokemon--how many people can you find that play and enjoy both? Off the top of my head I'm actually struggling to think of a single accquaintance who enjoys one and doesn't turn up their nose at the other.

Re:Less shared culture (1)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750849)

I might be a freak but I frequently break out the game boy color and play poke'mon(blue). After relaxing I go back to playing GTA. Maybe thats why my classes aren't going that well this semester.

Re:Less shared culture (2, Interesting)

MagusSlurpy (592575) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750883)

I, for one, love both franchises. GTA for it's open universe, and, oddly enough, the driving: it beats the hell out of Gran Turismo any day, the only driving games I like better are Burnout and Mario Kart (and Carmageddon, I guess). I greatly enjoy flying through a city, splatting people, crashing into other cars, and eluding police. Plus, you get to shoot people! And Pokémon, because it's an awesome old-school turn-based RPG series (minus Dungeon), like the good old Final Fantasy games were. I never pay any attention to the story; I'm just collecting items (pokémon) and exploring dungeons. It's the kind of game I grew up on, even if it is being marketed to seven-year-olds.

Re:Less shared culture (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750937)

I bet if you ask about GBA and DS games you will see that kind of cross over. That is also what the Wii is all about, broad based fun games.

Too meny games now days are the same from year to. (2, Insightful)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750741)

Too many games now days are the same from year to like the sport games that are mainly just roster updates.
There are a few games that do get better over time like Heroes of Might & Magic, RTS games, Sim City games, other sim games, TBS games, a lot driving games now let you drive any where, and 3d shooter have been adding cool things to them but now days many of ones out right are the same. Pc pinball games still can't beat the free visual pinball + vpinmame and when they try they are way off in the rom part as well not giving you all of settings that are in the real games settings / test menu Pro pinball did do a good job with that.

I did miss the non looping path in need for speed one.

Side scrollers where fun back in the day but too many of them relied on spike abuse like the mega man games.

How bout no? (3, Informative)

cowscows (103644) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750747)

There's more choices today, tons of games coming out, and a huge backlog of old games to entertain yourself with if you feel so inclined. Big budget publishers allow for the creation of games way bigger and more complex than ever before, and we also get lots of neat things like shiny graphics, more realistic physics, and hopefully some better AI in the future.

Meanwhile, if you and your buddy want to lock yourselves in a basement for a week and hammer out a crazy game idea that you have, you can certainly do that. And there's this neat little invention called "The Internet", which you can use to distribute and even sell your game, without even needing to get a publisher involved. There are many people who have done very well this way.

The rise of big gaming companies has not killed the small group or individual game developers. It's just that now they're only a part of a much bigger ocean of games. If anything, new things like the Xbox Live marketplace could make that method of game development even more lucrative, by opening it up to the huge world of living room consoles.

I guess that maybe back in the atari days, small developer teams were making games for the home consoles, but that was such a small industry back then, the opportunities now are much more interesting.

At the time... Yes, but not anymore. (3, Insightful)

vertinox (846076) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750751)

I hate to say this, but every time I bring out a classic on an emulator or old DOS Box I am sorely disappointed and now I won't even try to keep from ruining the nostalgia of games like Populous, Syndicate, or even Castles II.

When I played this games, I was amazed and they sucked hours out of my life.

But now... I realize how clunky game play was back then and that I put up with a lot more to play a game. Maybe the new games (and my DS) have spoiled me. I remember going through boot disks and extensive 100 page manuals just to get by and I liked it.

Now... The controls seem unintuitive and the game play lacking in a sense that it isn't bad, but it isn't how I remember playing it in high school.

To be fair, I will pull out a SNES emulator or the old DOS War In Russia (Hex Games are clunky no matter how good of a GUI you put on them) and play them for a bit.

Again... Maybe I'm getting old, spoiled, or the novelty of old technology is wearing off (I remember when I felt I was like a movie hacker the first time I sent someone a BBS message on a 1200 baud modem), but I won't play old games mostly to keep the nostalgia from being ruined.

Re:At the time... Yes, but not anymore. (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751327)

I have also tried to play some of my old favorites and been disappointed. There's been a few that have stayed fun, though. Off the top of my head:

Super Mario Bros 3
F-Zero

I bought F-Zero for the Wii's VC the other day out of nostalgia. I was amazed to find it was actually still a fun racing game! I was almost sure I'd wasted my money before I tried it.

But the ratio of classics to crap is about the same these days. I'm going to look back and think: Man, I loved playing Prey and Samurai Warriors, but they are so clunky now. And I'm sure there'll be a few (Oblivion perhaps?) that I can pick up in 10 years and still enjoy. But the vast majority will pale in comparison to the new games on the market.

I sort of agree... (1)

methodic (253493) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750857)

I admit it's a task keeping up with the latest news in video gaming because of how commercialized it's become. I was just thinking the other day how/why Sony decided to get into the video game market, other than the obvious all might dollar and market-share. I find it hard to believe they actually CARE about the art-form of video games.

If I had my choice, I would like to go back to a simpler time when only Nintendo and Sega dominated the console market, and you had a few weeks to properly digest a new game, instead of new titles coming out literally every day. Even if I quit my job I wouldn't have enough time to play all the games coming out. "Bring me back to a golden time, from 85 to 89" -- Anthrax

Re:I sort of agree... (1)

Lectoid (891115) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751773)

I'm right there with you. I have a DS, Wii, and xbox 360. I barely get started on a game before a new one comes out. I can't remember the last time I 100% finished a game. Sure I might have beaten the last boss, but I didn't do everything.

It is the 90% rule. (4, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750887)

90% of everything is crap. As time passes you remember the good 10%. It is doesn't matter if it is movies, cars, TV, or video games. So yes the old games we remember are better than most of the video games on the market today.

Easier: yes; Better: maybe (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750925)

'Better' is to vague to answer.
It was easier and was easier because technology wasn't that far that a lot of skill was needed to produce something acceptable. Everybody can mess around with a "paint" program and create something that doesn't look half bad. But for 3D modeling applications you need way more skill to even create something remotely usable.
Quality standards were low back then due toch lack of technology, now with the technology the standards are much higher and skilled people are needed to create base assets. With some `wit' you can use those base assets to create the rest of your world. Not every characters has to be uniquely modeled, just some change in color and resizing can be enough to fool the player.

maybe? the game type changed (1)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750931)

Problem is that I'm not interested in a driving game (GTA or whatever) nor a first-person-shooter (ala Quake). What's left in modern stuff?

My favorite games are still Master of Magic, Starcraft, and XCom: Terror from the Deep. I like the MMORPGs, but not enough to have played one in the last couple years. They end up being more of a chore than a game, and I'd rather go running.

I guess the issue is that the market changed, and people now buy games I'm not really interested in. Civ2 was better game-play-wise than Civ4, and was certainly less preachy. The only game company that has seemed to stick to the "control-large-armies" style of play has been Microsoft, and I just can't bring myself to buy anything from them. Fortunately, I still find MoM to be fun (despite the constant crashing).

The answer is no: Nostalgia (5, Insightful)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750973)

The answer to almost all nostalgia-motivated questions like this is no, things were not better in the past. The human mind has an amazing capability to remember good things and forget bad things, so while there were many good games in the past, there were also many terrible games in the past and the percentage of good games is a constant.

I've never been pulled in like Starflight did (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750993)

but does that mean games were better back in the age? What about asking the question, who are we today that we were not then?

Memories are great, just don't try and find out if they are accurate. I remember shows I loved when I was younger and purchased many on DVD only realizing that what I remembered wasn't what was. In other words, I am a little more critical and fail to always see the magic anymore that once caught my eye.

Plus back then there wasn't much choice so the good games really did stand out. There are many games these days that are good but its hard for them to stand out, especially considering the platform choices as well

Nostalgia ... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18751029)

You're not comparing the games of today with the games of yesterday, you're comparing the you of today with the you of yesterday and, big surprise, you liked being young.

There were some good games out at the beginning of the epoch, henceforth known as 'the Dawning'. I haven't seen anyone mention Karateka, or the original Prince of Persia. Some good games.

There are some good games out now, henceforth known as 'the Nowening'. God of War 2, Fight Night Round 3, etc. Some good games.

But most, and I'd spew out a highly unreliable 70%, of the games are crap. Just like everything else mankind produces.

Don't give in to nostalgia, it makes you sound even older than you are.

Re:Nostalgia ... (5, Insightful)

cluke (30394) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751277)

You really nailed it there! I have started playing Oblivion and though it is a great game, I still feel only a fraction of the wonderment I felt when I was a boy playing something like Eye of the Beholder or Legends of Valour on the Amiga. Back then I would have practically shit myself at the thought of a game as open-ended and free as Oblivion, now the cynicism of age has taken the shine off it somewhat. It's easier to get "into" a game when you are young, I think. The suspension of disbelief is that much stronger. Now all I see are 3D engines and scripting back-ends.

Gigabytes of lovingly crafted art assets just wash over me, whereas back in the 8-bit days I was excited by a level that had a different background colour.

(As an aside, there is still an outlet for simpler 8-bit style games, on mobile phones. And man, is it one ocean of crap.)

Hard to tell... (4, Insightful)

misleb (129952) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751097)

You might as well ask an old man if music was better when he was younger. :-)

I'm going to have to fight the nostalgia and say, "hell yea gaming is better now." I spent my fair share of time typing in games in BASIC line by line from a book. And you know what? Those games sucked ass. The ONLY reason I spent any time playing them was because I didn't want to feel like the time I spent typing was wasted.

I don't really see anything special about games "back in the day." Sure, you can say that programmers were forced to be creative with limited resources, but I am not sure that is necessarily a bonus for the end user. Really, most games 15, 20 years ago were just plain simple. Maybe they had a good idea that could keep people hooked, but really, they were extremely repetitive (I'm looking at you, Atari). They just have nothing on some of the depth you can get in games today. Even overlooking tge fancy graphics (which is a bonus in and of itself, IMO), you can spend a fair amount of time just learning how a modern game works... learning strategy, etc. It is much more than hand-eye coordination these days.

That said, I don't play many games any more even though I could. The really old game just plain bore the crap out of me within 5 seconds and the modern games just take about a couple hours longer to bore me. But that is just me getting older. I don't think it should reflect on the quality of gaming.

-matthew

Short answer (1)

brakett (690755) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751129)

Short answer: Yes!

Development costs and imagination (1)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751131)

Back in the 8-bit days you frequently saw games written by one or two programmers, maybe a third would write sound routines and the music.

The costs were low, the ideas were much broader and you would very rarely see a sequel.

Games were often created by youngsters, geeky types, hippy types or just people who loved creating something.

These days games are developed in huge teams, each game is a large IT project requiring project management, meetings etc. A failed project can finish off a games company.

Control methods for games are too complex, Nintendo has the right idea. How many more buttons can you fit on a controller?

People play older games using emulators for many reasons, however they were fun and the learning curve was pretty much non existant.

Re:Development costs and imagination (1)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751375)

I have to agree with this. However, I also think that playing on an emulator is just not as good.

For one thing, you aren't using the same controller.

Case in point, probably my favorite game of all times is a shareware game made for the Atari 800 computer called Gauntlet (not the arcade gauntlet - this is totally differrent).

Playing it on my Mac using an iShock controller, I find that the ship is almost impossible to control. It is not as much fun as playing it on the original hardware. Unfortunately while I can download the game from the internet, I have no idea how to transfer it to an Atari floppy disk :-(

Also, there is nothing like Infocom these days.

What killed gaming complexity was 3D (4, Insightful)

Jerf (17166) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751173)

What really killed gaming complexity was 3D. We still haven't entirely recovered from the "need" to have everything in 3D.

Consider the set of verbs you might have in a late-generation 2D game, like Civilization or Starcraft. You might have tens, or hundreds depending on how you count. (Note modern Civs may use 3D hardware, but they are still fundamentally 2D games. The only effect is that I can't play Civ 4 because I have a laptop, whereas I could probably run tens of instances of the engine itself.)

Now, compare that to the set of verbs you have in Quake. The movement commands, jump, change weapon, and shoot. That's about it. That's about all you can afford in 3D, especially on a console because that set runs you right out of buttons.

3D made every feature immensely more complicated, both to create the assets and to implement user control, and as a natural result, we usually lost features in the jump to 3D. Result: Simpler games. Even now, the average blockbuster of today may be far prettier than a 1999 top-ten hit, but the 1999 top-ten hit will be much richer.

I think this is what actually killed the adventure game genre. Is it that nobody's interested in playing another Day of the Tentacle, or that there isn't a company out there that can afford all the requisite 3D animation work?

As my canonical example of how hard 3D is, imagine Nethack in 3D, with no compromises (except for anything that may be literally impossible due to being a play on words or something). Every monster, every polymorph, every item, every effect, everything in glorious 3D. Not gonna happen anytime soon.

I'm not saying all games are crap. They aren't. But we jumped to 3D before we were really ready technologically. Except for FPSs, I still don't think we are; it's all too expensive.

Re:What killed gaming complexity was 3D (1)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751413)

You are totally right. Also, I find that many 3D games, I cannot play at all. I get nauseated after just a couple of minutes of playing the game or watching someone else play. This isn't the case with all of them, but a lot of them I have this problem.

Re:What killed gaming complexity was 3D (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18751579)

In your case i recommend playing Prey after lunch.

Re:What killed gaming complexity was 3D (1)

Krischi (61667) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751619)

Are you aware that Telltale Games is trying to recreate Sam & Max adventure games in 3D, and so far is doing a fine job of it? The latest episode, "Reality 2.0 [telltalegames.com] ," is both uproariously funny and fun to play, especially for old-school gamers. The previous epsiode, "Abe Lincoln Must Die!" is also great fun.

Was Videogaming Better Back in the Day? (1)

yoprst (944706) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751177)

No.
Testified by a veteran gamer (started with atari 2600 in the 80s).

Games today are better... and worse. (4, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751209)

Face it, pushing a game out the door is a risk. Because games are invariably very, very expensive pieces of software.

This isn't what it was in the 80s, where 2 college students come together and hash out a game over the time of a year in their spare time. If it flies, great, if it doesn't, so what. In the 80s, making a game was "easy". Now, hold your horses, of COURSE it is way "easier" today to code a game with DirectX (which pretty much takes the burden of actually placing the graphics onto the screen off your back, with perfect algorithms that you'd need to study 10 years of advanced maths to get close), but back then the computers sucked so badly that even a hint of graphics was already something that inspired awe in your player. Take the average 80s game. "Pole Position" anyone? With some blocks resembling cars and a "pit stop" that consisted mainly of you moving an unanimated sprite across the screen.

Doesn't need an "animation artist" to make, does it?

Sound? Yeah, it squeaked. We have sound. And when the gun fires it makes "taktaktak". Perfekt.

Story? Yeah, someone of the crew wrote a 10-liner for the manual (since in the game there was no room for story anyway. Remember, 64k is a lot and 640k more than anyone would ever need). Here's your story. Go along the lines of "bad guy hijacks something we think is cool, princess or some gem or something, and you gotta go and get it back. Make it about a page".

Physics? What for? Gravity is "lower sprite a dot every 2 seconds".

Of course, a few crafty coders can hack that together in a few months.

The huge advantage of it is simply that you can take risks that way. You can leave the used and tried paths and try something new. If it blows, well, you tried and you didn't break your neck for it.

This is no longer possible today, with games that cost a few million USD to make possible. Can you imagine sinking about 10 manyears of highly qualified artists into a bomb? 3 bombs like that and EA is a goner.

For a small studio, one such bomb is already the torpedo it needs. And I think we all know a few studios that sunk because they couldn't get their wonderful game (which would have been wonderful, most likely) done before they ran out of dough.

So studios stay with the pathes they know. So we get NHL 200x, Command & Conquer Part 18, Doom 200 and the millionth fantasy MMORPG. Because it works. Because it sells. Because it is no risk.

Re:Games today are better... and worse. (1)

cowscows (103644) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751539)

One person can still make a game today. If it's a good game, that person can sell that game and make decent money. One individual cannot make a huge game like GTA3, but that's not the only type of game that exists.

The guy who made Snood made a good chunk of change off of that game. It's simple, that graphics have stayed consistently crappy over the years, the sound is weak, and the gameplay is very simple. That gameplay is, however, extremely addictive. And the simple nature of the game made it appeal to a lot of people. Keeping in mind the simplicity of the game, the price tag was low compared to most games. And while he didn't sell 20 million copies at $50 per shot, he apparently sold enough that he made over $100k, and he didn't have to share that money with anybody else (except the government via taxes I guess). Those successes also led to Snood getting picked up by some other publishers who ported it to various consoles.

There are many other examples of individuals or small teams who are making money producing video games. If all you read is big gaming sites like IGN or 1up, you might miss out on some of that, because the small time developers can't compete in the media circus. But they can still sell games, and make a living. Just because other people have moved on to the gaming "industry" doesn't mean that the indie scene has disappeared.

Why not ask Nintendo? (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751215)

I'd say Nintendo are uniquely placed to answer this. How are Virtual Console sales going, compared to new Wii games? How many are they selling of the NES and SNES Zelda games, compared to Twilight Princess? There's a chance for direct comparison here.

Then again, there's a selection bias; only good games of old get remembered. Same with most culture; the 95% of crap is forgotten, and we end up thinking of a golden age that never really was.

No. (1)

Bongo Bill (853669) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751237)

The average game today is an unintuitive, unoriginal, mindless piece of crap. The average game fifteen or twenty years ago was a cryptic, derivative, frustrating, and unplayable product of madness that only a child could figure out how to play.

The difference is that the best games of yesteryear were simpler and newer than the best games of today. Back then, as a game developer, you were exploring a concept with very few examples to follow. You had to invent the conventions yourself. A great game developer was able to make absolutely certain that all parts of the game fit together perfectly. Today, I have no doubt that the games are technically better and the design much more refined, but because there's a growing legacy of conventional design decisions, certain parts seem a bit out of place. This makes it easier to be able to pick up any game and figure out what to do with it, but it also encourages the inclusion of elements that may not serve the game as well as a less conventional solution.

We only remember that the old games are better because back then, we didn't have much choice. There were only a few we cared about and we probably had time for all of them. These days, there are so many that we become indecisive and obsessed with a game's flaws, regretting that the time we end up spending on one is time that another one won't get.

It depends on the target audience (3, Insightful)

Trevin (570491) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751249)

IMHO, the simple BASIC games of the past were better if you were an aspiring computer programmer, because it gave you a fun way to experiment with making the computer do what you want. (Assuming you were paying attention to those lines of code you copied from COMPUTE! or other magazines.)

The early commercial games for 8-bit computers and 2nd-generation video game consoles [wikipedia.org] were good in their day, and had the advantage of creativity -- limited by CPU and memory capacity, but not by special-purpose hardware, there seemed to be much more variety in game genres. Today by comparison, game consoles provide accelerated 3-D graphics, so most games are 3-D FPV action or adventure games and focus on "realism". They provide much greater detail and depth, but it seems not as much variety. How many simple board games or 2-D puzzles can you find on a modern console? Of course the PC, being a general-purpose machine, still has a decent varienty of games. And the Wii's virtual console gives it the advantage of having both old-style and new-style games.

We tend to remember the classics. (2)

Maul (83993) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751337)

We tend to remember the classics. There were hundreds of horrible NES games that few peopple remember (or at least care to remember).

One thing that is disappointing to me is how easy many RPGs are. Back in the NES days and early 16-bit (SNES) days, they were fairly difficult. Nowadays they are nearly so easy that you have to go out of your way to even make them a challenge (either by limiting yourself to not using the most powerful abilities that make the games easy, or doing the ridiculously long side quests that don't matter to the main plot).

Re:We tend to remember the classics. (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751597)

One thing that is disappointing to me is how easy many RPGs are. Back in the NES days and early 16-bit (SNES) days, they were fairly difficult. Nowadays they are nearly so easy that you have to go out of your way to even make them a challenge (either by limiting yourself to not using the most powerful abilities that make the games easy, or doing the ridiculously long side quests that don't matter to the main plot).

But why were they so difficult? Was it because of endless repetitive pointless random encounters? It was, wasn't it? Difficulty courtesy of flinging endless monsters at you does not make a great game.

RPGs have moved away from that and I for one am glad of it. Baldur's Gate had it pretty near right, and Planescape: Torment nailed it. Combat should be a part of the game and the player should have to have an eye to tactics in order to get through it, but it shouldn't be the whole challenge of the game. RPG: Role Playing Game. If I just want to kill things I'll play Quake. I want a story, I want plot progression, I do not want meaningless fetch quests through territory with random encounters every five steps.

Not Necessarily ... (2, Insightful)

morari (1080535) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751347)

I don't think the majority of games put out today seem as fun because the entire activity is FAR more mainstream now. I can list a helluva lot more great games from the 8, 16 and 32bit eras than I can anything past. I think this is largely due to the general shift towards three dimensional games at that time though. While I have nothing against 3D games per say, the idea now that EVERY game has to be in 3D has ruined quite a bit of what gaming used to be and still could be. It's destroyed entire franchises (like Sonic, and even Mario to some degree) and made fun genres almost entirely obsolete. A nice side-scroller could be great nowadays with high resolution sprites and full-on particles effects. But that's not very marketable, and I'm not sure if it's merely because the industry thinks that way or if the lot of people introduced to gaming through Madden on the Playstation would instantly dismiss such (despite Madden having been 2D at one point)...

Pfft (2, Funny)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751371)

...looks back at the dawn of videogaming, when we were all kids just typing in our games, one line of BASIC at a time

Why, back in my day, we used to have to enter our games as opcodes in binary, using toggle switches, and our 'screen' was a set of Blinkenlights, and we liked it that way. Whippersnappers.

What has changed is us (1)

J-1000 (869558) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751393)

The games themselves are still there, waiting to be played on an emulator or legacy hardware. Even the communities are still there, albeit in the form of niche fan clubs. What has changed more than anything is ourselves. We have developed an appetite for high-budget creations that weren't previously possible, and that has made it difficult for many of us to look back. And that doesn't even consider the fact that we've grown up, and our lives 10-20 years ago are nothing but one big nostalgic blur.

Let's not allow nostalgia to blind us from what's being offered up as we speak. There are plenty of great small-scale games being developed and published right under our noses. Just the other week I picked up Puzzle Quest, a fun and deep game that could have easily been created by a small number of people, if not one person alone. Coincidentally I also picked up God of War that week, and the contrast could not have been greater. One had merely serviceable presentation, the other had Hollywood aspirations. And guess what? I've been playing far more Puzzle Quest.

There are plenty of other examples, even from big companies like Nintendo. The WarioWare games come to mind, and how many people could it have possibly taken to develop Wii Sports? PC development is doing just fine, too. Mod development has created a small-time development explosion. And some smaller games, like Serious Sam, are even sporting custom graphics engines.

I think we have a tendency to only look at where most of the money is going (large development houses) when considering the state of small-scale gaming. The money is not being distributed the same way it used to be, but the small-scale developers and small-scale games are both still here.

Good games are still around... (2, Insightful)

grumbel (592662) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751415)

No doubt, good games are still around, but what I often miss these days are the experimental games, those that don't really fall into any genre and instead just are what they are, back in the day of the C64 and Amiga there where plenty of them, today on the other side to many games just try way to hard to fit into genre clichés. Games these days are often void of personality and more often then not I end up thinking about games in terms of 'yet-another-FPS', 'yet-another-RTS', etc. instead of thinking about them as uniq games.

Its kind of the same thing that bothers me with Hollywood movies or TV series, sure technically they might be well done and I am sure a lot of craftsmanship went into them, but often that craftsmanship annoys more then it helps. Shaky cameras can be great for some things, but when every second movies/series does them they start to get annoying very quickly. The effect ends up not helping what the production is trying to do, but the effect stands out on its own, its the trendy thing to do and so everybody does it. In games its basically the same, somebody comes up with a nice new genre (say GTAs open city environment), and a few years later you have ten games that all do the freaking same thing. I wouldn't mind sequels much, but when not only the sequel is repeating past gameplay but half a dozens other games as well, it really becomes annoying and boring. Especially because those new games often don't expand on the gameplay, they simply repeat it. This gets especially scary when games end up looking so much alike that I no longer can tell them apart (Quake4 looks like Doom, Saints Row like GTA, etc.).

This all wouldn't be so bad if it would be because we already tried everything and are kind of running out of ideas now, but the sad part is that there are still tons of ideas floating around that nobody ever tried or didn't try in quite a lot of years.

Some might argue that XboxLive and similar services allow experimental games again and to a certain degree they are right, but more often then not those services are abused for rereleasing old classic over and over again instead of actually new games, Nintendos Virtual Console being the worst offender in that direction.
 

not really. (1)

the dark hero (971268) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751431)

Its all about nostalgia. Some games we remember being better than they actually were and some games (for example, FF7) we never really let go of. Also, many games left a lot to the imagination. Sometimes what we fill in for ourselves is what makes the game great. Games today are representations of someone's vision. So much is done for us, but we still get great games from it.

Arcade vs X360 (1)

jason.hall (640247) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751447)

I have a homemade MAME arcade machine, and an X360 running in 1080i. All I know is when company comes over, the X360 sits idle and the arcade machine doesn't.

Classic Gaming vs Gaming of Today (1)

MyDixieWrecked (548719) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751499)

I'm a HUGE fan of retro gaming. For me, when I think 'retro,' I think of the NES when it comes to consoles and Police Quest, Space Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, and Prince of Persia for computers. The big thing about old computer games (namely the *Quest games) was that they were very clever. They required more thought than simply walking around the border of every room hitting the action button (think: resident evil), and although they had reading involved, it wasn't overly complex or distracting.

The big problem I see with many games today is that very few of them are pick-up-and-play style, and when they are, they either require a investing a significant amount of time to play or they're a puzzle game. I find that my most favourite contemporary games are Geometry Wars (which can take me 35-40 minutes to play a single game), Lumines (which I can play for hours, but I have the advantage where I can just turn off my PSP when I'm done), racing games like Burnout Revenge, and Crackdown. These games are great because they all have a very simple premise, and don't require too much thought from game to game. When I've got a lot going on in life, it's difficult to pick up a game that I haven't played for 3 weeks and remember where I was, what I was doing and how to get everywhere (Final Fantasy XII was like this, that's why I stopped playing it).

What happened to games like Super Mario Brothers 1-3/World, Megaman (the original bunch; namely #2), Q*bert, Centipede, Prince of Persia, etc which had a clearly defined gaming path with clearly defined goals? The original GTA had a feel like that, but it was ruined with all of the sequels.

The elegance of a great game is in its simplicity. We need to get back to those primitive concepts and apply our current technologies to make them better.

I could go on and on about how Nintendo and the Wii is on the right track, but is kinda doing it wrong and how many consumers are blind to shitty and redundant gameplay by spectacular graphics. Surely the industry hasn't run out of ideas!! They've got to be able to come up with new non-gimmicky, non-remake, fresh games.

As a supliment, some additional games that did it right in recent memory: the various Castlevania DS games, Shadow of the Colossus, the original couple Warioware games, Starcraft (when you play a quick zergling rush game, especially), Narutimet Hero (PS2, Japan), Quake3, Counterstrike, and Desktop Tower Defense (handdrawngames.com)

OMG LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18751543)

"getoffmylawn": Best. Tag. EVER.

Not better... (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751577)

...just different. With all the money and technology that goes into games now, it allows developers to more closely bring their vision to reality. With more advanced tools brings about "better" graphics, more depth, and more detail.

Back in the day, they weren't better...just different. Gameplay was number one soley because graphics were unable to be number one. It is my firm belief that had the technology and money of today had been available "back then", the gaming industry would have been exactly what it is now.

A temporary fix (4, Funny)

igotmybfg (525391) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751581)

Sometimes I like to play Doom3/Quake4 with a resolution of 800x600, or 640x480, because it gives that pixelated look that I remember so well from the games of yesteryear, when I first started playing (games like Wolfenstein, Doom, and Descent).

Not a yes or no question (1)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751635)

The simple answer is yes, or maybe it's no. It really depends on if you choose to wear those rose-colored glasses or not.

For the yes crowd, we tend to remember great games from our youth. We remember growing up on franchises (before the term franchise meant ingame ad deals and a yearly roster update) that grew with us. We tend to remember the first time we played a video game, whether it was Pong or Tetris or Super Mario Bros. or Street Fighter 2. We look back at those experiences as good and positive.

For the no crowd, we tend to remember the utter crap we had to go through. Whether it was dying in Ninja Gaiden or Contra for the thousandth time and throwing the controller at our little sister, or just wasting 15 weeks allowance on an absolute piece of crap. Those moments can linger with us and we don't soon forget.

Personally, I tend to drift between the two. I can recognize how gaming has changed over the last 20 years because I've been paying attention. I am continually making mental notes about games and the industry and I have the (un?)fortunate aspect of my brain that acts like a database of this knowledge and stores it forever (I can remember quicker the day Ocarina of Time came out in the US than the day I was married). I did a lot of research as a child, reading Nintendo Power and Game Players, etc. so I wasn't exposed to many "very bad games", though I did own a few, so thus, I generally have a wave of nostalgia flow over me when I think of playing Super Mario Bros. 3 for the first time or when I received a Super Nintendo for my birthday.

But I am still playing games. And I am still doing my research generally before I play them. I have a wide range of interests so I play everything nowadays from Pokemon to GTA to Civ 4 to Okami. And I tend to enjoy them all for what they're worth. I don't waste my time with bad games because I don't have a lot of time to waste. Much like when I was a child and I didn't have the money to waste. So many people here complain about stories in games nowadays, that's great, that's your opinion. But stop playing mainstream crap and branch out a little. Chances are your favorite story-based game as a child was a niche product when it was first released and there were plenty of crappy plot driven games when we were younger too.

Anyways, I'm starting to digress, but my main point is that I feel bad for people who can clearly say "yes" or "no" to the original question. If you say "yes" I feel bad because there IS a lot of great stuff out there and if you need help finding it, I can help. And if you say "no" I feel bad because there WAS a lot of great stuff out there and if you need help finding it, I can help.

Re:Not a yes or no question (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751781)

I generally have a wave of nostalgia flow over me when I think of playing Super Mario Bros. 3 for the first time

Christmas Day, 1991.

On New Year's Eve my parents moved the TV under the stairs to make space in the living room for party visitors to dance and stuff. Suited me just fine. Four hours or so into 1992 I was most of the way through World 4.

Yes, but you can't go back... (1)

merc (115854) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751653)

Back in the early 80's I have no doubt that I wasted countless hours (that turned into weeks) playing Adventure on the ATARI 2600. By the standards of those times it was pretty cutting edge. While the enjoyment I derived playing a game where my character was a blurry pixilated dot (and the dragon-opponent that more resembled a duck) was immeasurable there's no way that I could go back and extract the same amount of pleasure from the same game today. Perhaps I could play about 15 minutes of the game just for the sheer nostalgia alone, but that's about it.

So how does this answer the question posted by the headline in this article? The answer is both yes, and no. The games of those times were better, for those times.

3 hours of fun typing this in. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18751697)

30 print tab(30); "LUNAR LANDER"
31 print
50 print tab(30); "by Dave Ahl"
35 print chr$(7)
40 for i%=1 to 10: print: next i%
100 input "Do you want instructions",a$
110 if (left$(a$,1)"Y") and (left$(a$, 1) "y") then 390
160 print
200 print"You are landing on the moon and and have taken over manual"
210 print"control 1000 feet above a good landing spot. You have a down-"
220 print"ward velocity of 50 feet/sec. 150 units of fuel remain."
225 print
230 print"Here are the rules that govern your APOLLO space-craft:": print
240 print"(1) After each second the height, velocity, and remaining fuel"
250 print" will be reported via DIGBY your on-board computer."
260 print"(2) After the report a '?' will appear. Enter the number"
270 print" of units of fuel you wish to burn during the next"
280 print" second. Each unit of fuel will slow your descent by"
290 print" 1 foot/sec."
310 print"(3) The maximum thrust of your engine is 30 feet/sec/sec"
320 print" or 30 units of fuel per second."
330 print"(4) When you contact the lunar surface. your descent engine"
340 print" will automatically shut down and you will be given a"
350 print" report of your landing speed and remaining fuel."
360 print"(5) If you run out of fuel the '?' will no longer appear"
370 print" but your second by second report will continue until"
380 print" you contact the lunar surface.":print
390 print"Beginning landing procedure..........":print
400 print"DIGBY WISHES YOU GOOD LUCK !!!!!!!"
420 print:print
430 print"SEC FEET SPEED FUEL PLOT OF DISTANCE"
450 print
455 t=0:h=1000:v=50:f=150
490 print t;tab(6);h;tab(16);v;tab(26);f;tab(35);"I";tab(h/1 5);"*"
500 input b
510 if b30 then b=30
530 if b>f then b=f
540 v1=v-b+5
560 f=f-b
570 h=h- .5*(v+v1)
580 if h0 then 490
615 if b=0 then 640
620 print"**** OUT OF FUEL ****":print chr$(7)+chr$(7)+chr$(7)+chr$(7)+chr$(7)
640 print t;tab(6);h;tab(16);v;tab(26);f;tab(35);"I";tab(h/1 5);"*"
650 b=0
660 goto 540
670 print"***** CONTACT *****"
680 h=h+ .5*(v1+v)
690 if b=5 then 720
700 d=(-v+sqr(v*v+h*(10-2*b)))/(5-b)
710 goto 730
720 d=h/v
730 v1=v+(5-b)*d
760 print"Touchdown at";t+d;"seconds."
770 print"Landing velocity=";v1;"feet/sec."
780 print f;"units of fuel remaining."
790 if v10 then 810
800 print"Congratulations! A perfect landing!!"
805 print"Your license will be renewed.............later."
810 if abs(v1)50 then print "You totalled an entire mountain !!!!!":goto 830
816 if v1>30 and v110 and v15 and v1"N") and (left$(a$, 1) "n") then 390
870 print:print"Control out.":print
900 end

Ob. (1)

AlXtreme (223728) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751739)

I'm still playing Super Mario Brothers 3, you insensitive clod!

Seriously. I never did get past 8-1.

Uh-huh (1)

JohnnyBigodes (609498) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751747)

Videogaming was new and fresh back in the day. Now we're used to it. Next question!

Yes, but thanks to Nintendo it's getting better! (4, Interesting)

MrP-(at work) (839979) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751799)

I was a big gamer back in the 80s/early 90s. I loved my NES/SNES/Genesis and would play for hours a day and had tons of games.

Then I lost interest, from Saturn and on games were boring to me. It seemed all about graphics but not fun. Since I had a 200mhz PC up until 2001 I never played any PC games either.

But for the hell of it I got a Wii a couple weeks ago, I feel like a kid again. These games are fun. Super Paper Mario is a great example. It's a side-scroller yet it has 3D, it's a perfect mesh of all the previous mario games and it's fun.

The controller is great too, in fact I think it should become a standard for TVs and not just Wii. It makes more sense to point-and-click through your cable box program guide or your tivo menu. It would also be nice just to program your TV with a Wii style remote rather than using the usual volume +/- to navigate (and accidently click channel +/- and have to start over!)

Yay for Wii
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