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Games All Downhill Since Pong?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the you-kids-get-off-my-lawn dept.

Software 403

In a recent article Nolan Bushnell laments the current state of gaming, stating that modern games are nothing more than a "race to the bottom" resulting in complete and utter trash. In order to combat what he sees as the downward spiral in game quality he continues to work on his new dining experience uWink that features tabletop games and a "reasonably priced meal". RPS weighs in on the subject arguing that, while the unhealthy obsession with Halo 3 might be a bit misplaced, there are plenty of gems to be found amidst the flotsam and jetsam.

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403 comments

One Word: Portal. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21080857)

This was a triumph.

I'm making a note here:
HUGE SUCCESS!

Aperture Science (4, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081011)

I find that it's hard to overstate my satisfaction. We do what we must, because we can.

Re:Aperture Science (3, Funny)

MadnessASAP (1052274) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081453)

But theres no sense in crying over every mistake,

you just keep on trying till you run out of cake.

No. (5, Insightful)

Arathon (1002016) | more than 6 years ago | (#21080861)

See: Portal [slashdot.org].

Re:No. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21080897)

Now that FPS games have gotten as pretty as they can marketing will have no choice but to focus on game play elements.

Re:No. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21080969)

i don't think referencing a fad (a tech gimmick-based game) really helps your argument. it's by Valve, and it has fun with physics and portal puzzles--but brand and tech doesn't make a great game. it may be nice, but it isn't anywhere near good enough for you to troll a thread with one word responses.

Re:No. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21080977)

You clearly haven't completed the game. There's cake.

Re:No. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21081203)

Portal has nothing on Pong.

Portal is fun for the two hours it takes to complete it. Then it's over.

Pong remains fun years later, even if it is a bit simple. Maybe not for two hours at a time, but definitely for more than two hours total.

And, yes, I'm aware that Portal artificially increases gameplay length with the Advanced and Challenge maps, but those are repeats of sections of the original game and, having completed the Advanced maps, not so much fun as "vein-popping frustrating."

Re:No. (1)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081381)

I feel the exact same way. And I think it's the fault of ever-increasing quality in graphics systems in many ways. The original games weren't going to look good no matter what, so the designers focused on playability. Most of my favorite games- Ms. Pac-Man, Tetris, Bejeweled, etc. are abstract and I find them by far the most replayable.

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21081475)

1.) Portal takes AT LEAST 5 hours to complete, unless your some sort of fricken genius in which case I find it hard to believe you're obsessed with Pong.

2.) Pong? are you fucking kidding me? Pong is nothing but is one dimensional gameplay on a two dimensional screen. Back and forth and back and forth. I get more enjoyment over the years out of the shits I've taken.

3.) If you're really so up your own ass as to actually believe Pong is the best game ever, what do you suggest for a future title? How many balls and paddles can you add before you've totally exhaust the third-person-timewaste platform and we're having the same discussion?

Hmm, OK... (5, Insightful)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 6 years ago | (#21080867)

What metric is being used here? Fun-per-pixel? Fun-per-Hertz? I guess if you go by that standard, Pong is the best videogame ever.

In related news... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21081013)

All art downhill since first cave drawing.

I mean like, how could we possibly, you know, improve on, like, the idea of art, man?

Re:Hmm, OK... (0)

Itninja (937614) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081033)

Oh yeah. I mean wasn't Pong a literal 1-bit game? At that ratio, no other game could stand a chance.

Re:Hmm, OK... (4, Funny)

ResidntGeek (772730) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081145)

Yes. Pong was a literal 1-bit game. There were 2 instructions, and they each performed a different operation on the bit.

Re:Hmm, OK... (2, Interesting)

paganizer (566360) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081105)

I realize that TFA is mainly referring to console games, but the statement is still kid of dumb. (not the Pong parent)
Civilization. XCOM. MOO1&2. Wing Commander. Railroad Tycoon. Harpoon. Steel Panthers. Master of Magic.

I just find it endlessly frustrating that The Powers That Be are trying so hard to kill PC gaming; the only things being released these days are Real Time Strategy (RTS games are NOT strategy games, developers; I love strategy games) & FPS; I like FPS's but consoles will always be better for "twitch" games, except flight sims.

Hopefully when Spore comes out next year (with any luck) the developers will remember that there are a hell of a lot more people with PC's than there are with consoles; I would love a modern interpretation of Wing Commander (with joystick support, Mr. Roberts) or, of course, Master of Magic (Age of Wonders: Shadowmagic is close, but not close enough).

PS: get off my lawn.

Re:Hmm, OK... (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081339)

I like FPS's but consoles will always be better for "twitch" games, except flight sims.

Are you kidding? The entire console world are nothing but a bunch of keyboarders. There hasn't been the analogue stick designed that compares to using a mouse.

Feh (5, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 6 years ago | (#21080885)

As if Pong could possibly be better than Duke Nukem Forever.

Re:Feh (0, Flamebait)

rts008 (812749) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081323)

"Duke Nukem Forever"

I'm in the process of upgrading from Kubuntu fiesty to gutsy, is that available for me?

Damn it, man, WTF?

I want DNF on LINUX!

Dvorak, the salad (0)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21080895)

Hey, I didn't know that Dvorak was going into the restaurant business. Wow, even his business models are trolls.

Q2 LMCTF was the high point for me. (2, Interesting)

chrispatch (578882) | more than 6 years ago | (#21080899)

It had great team play. It had balanced objects. It had just the right amount of speed.

It had suspension of disbelief.

I so miss it.

Re:Q2 LMCTF was the high point for me. (3, Interesting)

Night Goat (18437) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081037)

LMCTF took up so much of my time in college. Thanks for reminding me. And you're right, it was great. You could just jump right in and start playing. Contrast this with Counterstrike which is no fun at all for new players who are playing alongside seasoned vets.

Re:Q2 LMCTF was the high point for me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21081165)

LMCTF FOREVER!!

Re:Q2 LMCTF was the high point for me. (1)

bigberk (547360) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081427)

Can I still play it? I'd love to check it out. Are there still people on servers?

I don't understand how such large numbers of players disappear from games. I used to religiously play Wolfenstein ET (Enemy Territory), which was fun because of all the servers and maps. These days I can not find any human players online.

I Completely Agree... (5, Insightful)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | more than 6 years ago | (#21080907)

I have a similar view - only differing by a generation or so. I'm probably a bit younger than the author. In my very humble opinion, games have gone downhill ever since they moved from 2D to 3D. My all time favorite game is Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES version). Ocarina of time was alright, but the games these days are just a little bit too complicated with way too much stuff going on. They're fine if you want to really get into them, but again, they are too complicated, and they just feel different.

Perhaps it's just a generation thing... you love the games you were brought up with... I'm sure that there are plenty of people who feel that games have gone downhill ever since they started using "advanced" graphics (tiles, images, etc... the stuff you see with Zelda, Donkey Kong, Mario, etc... for the SNES and NES), as opposed to a ball and some paddles...

Re:I Completely Agree... (1)

VirusEqualsVeryYes (981719) | more than 6 years ago | (#21080989)

I think so, I think it really is an age thing. I grew up with the SNES and N64. I think Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart 64 were the best of the series, Super Mario World 2 and Super Mario 64 go unmatched, and Star Fox 64 was THE game to have in '96. And games after that just seemed to lose focus. Games in the N64 era were 3D, all right, but it was obvious as hell that looks weren't the focus, seeing as hands were created with all of 5 vertices. Devs got creative with 3D then, but in later years they just stuck to the same rehashed formulas.

Of course, after the N64 came the Gamecube, so I may actually be objectively justified.

Re:I Completely Agree... (4, Interesting)

ashitaka (27544) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081043)

Maybe generational but there is an aspect of what kind of games do you like.

I watch my son playing Final Fantasy on his PS2 and the ridiculous complexity of weapons, healing potions, tactics, characters and maps just takes away any possibility of me just enjoying the game or environment.

The only thing I'll play on the kids consoles are the driving games.

For me there would still be great pleasure in Xevious or Tempest.
 

Re:I Completely Agree... (5, Insightful)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081455)

It's probably generational. I've played Space Invaders, Pong, and Galaga in their original styles and I found them all terribly boring. Give me a full form FPS or RPG any day. I recognize that a lot of people love those games but for someone whose first real game was Battlefield 1942 those older games are far too simplistic. That ridiculous complexity is one of things I love about games. As long as it's done right it offers you plenty of things to learn how to use which is something I find fun.

I'm sure you'd have a great time playing Tempest again. I wouldn't enjoy that game much at all, I'd much rather play Age of Empire 3 or Battlefield 2142 or Halo 3. To me those are good games (well, Battlefield loses points for it's awful DRM lagging my computer for 10 minutes after I close it...) and the 'classic' games I nostagize about are Battlefield 1942 and Star Trek Armada 2 (which I still play). Simplicity is probably a great thing in a game, if you grew up with simplicity.

As Douglas Adams once said, "Anything that is in the world when you're born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that's invented between when you're fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things." That's really what this article is all about, modern games are against the natural order of gaming for those who grew up with Pong-generation games. To those of us who grew up with modern games they're normal and ordinary and the older games are boring.

Re:I Completely Agree... (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081059)

"I have a similar view - only differing by a generation or so. I'm probably a bit younger than the author. In my very humble opinion, games have gone downhill ever since they moved from 2D to 3D."

I disagree, only certain genre's suffer from 2D-->3D and no once is pointing a gun to the devleopers head to make 3D games, there is the gameboy and DS if they really want to make a 2D game, and now there is Wii and Xbox arcade... if you want to see more oldschool 2D games then BUY oldschool downloadable games of the games you want sequels to or genres you like, make it know that developers can make money from it.

Next I think one reason some 2D games were better has to do with the COMPLEXITY and the amount of work that must go into 3D game art, object interaction and animation over a 2D one. Not all 3D games suffer from this, but 3D games are slowly getting better as console generations go by and the CPU's can do more.

Truth be told, there has been some damn amazing 3D games, so we might have given up some things from 2D games but we gained in other places. It'd be hard to say games like Prince of persia and God of war are "the suck!", and I'm sure any sane gamer would agree.

Re:I Completely Agree... (0)

swordgeek (112599) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081157)

"the games these days are just a little bit too complicated"

Too COMPLICATED?! Run, shoot, duck, shoot, shoot, shoot. Yeah, tons of weapons and tons of strategies, but that sums up most modern games.

The height of complexity in games was probably 'round about Civ II or Black & White, or some other resource allocation games. Warcraft is another possibility. These games were all as complex as they were, because that level of complexity was required to make the game work in a self-consistent manner. Most of the complexity in modern games is added on to make things more difficult.

Re:I Completely Agree... (1)

davisonja (1005601) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081211)

Too complicated? Citadel? Castle Quest? I think we're straying into "If it's too loud, you're too old..." territory.

Re:I Completely Agree... (3, Interesting)

Machtyn (759119) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081297)

I've been enjoying and playing games since Atari 2400. I've enjoyed my share of Pac-Man, Joust, Missile Command, Super Mario Bros, Contra (one of my favorites), Wolfenstein 3d, Mech Warrior 2, Warcraft 2, (never did get into Starcraft or Red Alert), Quake (Team Fortress), Half-Life (TFC, Counterstrike), Diablo, Diablo 2 (favorite) , Half-Life 2 (Eps1-2, Portal, TF2) (favorite), Quake 3, Unreal Tournament, Runescape, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3 (sadly, a failed port... could have been MUCH better. Yet, it was still really decent), Need for Speed: Underground 2 (not enough replayability, stupid EA for not supporting the mod community), Civilization 2, 3, 4, Bejewelled, Zuma, Bookworm, Text Twist (favorite), Peggle, Morrowind, Oblivion (favorite), Never-Winter Nights, Everquest, Zelda 1, 2 (favorite), Tetris, Metroid, Netcraft, kMoria (on the Palm), the Sims, Sim City 2000, Tiger Woods Golf and Wii sports. (not a complete list of the games I've enjoyed.)

You'll notice I have a wide variety of interest in games, I think I've covered: casual gaming, first person shooters, role playing games (massively multiplayer, multiplayer and single player), strategy (real time and turn based), side scrollers, sports titles, sims and god games.

I've mentioned quite a few cream of the crop and a number of first person shooters (I nearly went professional in Quake3 and UT.) I have enjoyed all of these games and it really is a preference to the individual player. My wife: a definite casual gamer. Me? can't you tell... addicted gamer. I can easily go back and enjoy the classics as well as enjoy the new shiny. I've learned I'm no good at real-time strategy... not that good at turn-based either, but I have fun with it. Also, give Valve credit, they're doing their best at putting a decent story into first person shooters. I highly recommend an Orange Box purchase.

My point to this post is that each person has their favorite. There is no right answer to the "Best" game. To say Pong was the only decent game ... well, he may have a point, but there is just as much gameplay in Civilization 3 or 4 (multiplayer) as there is in pong.
Just finished playing: Oblivion, Half-Life 2 eps 1-2 (twice), Portal (this will be awesome in multiplayer)
Currently playing: Civilization 3 (with a friend), Civilization 4 (learning the game, getting ready for multiplay), kMoria (I'm finally figuring out this game), Text Twist (great on the laptop), Team Fortress 2, Never-Winter Nights (multiplay)
Will/Want to play: Need a good flight sim, a better Need for Speed game (why can't we crunch cars real good, GPUs are good enough), a good strategy game and first person shooter that utilizes dual monitors.

/ Ah! How could I have forgotten Oregon Trail and another Apple IIe classic: Montezuma's Revenge. Or, even the classic Blue Disks for the IBM PC (and compatibles). // Your welcome for the trip down memory lane ;)

Re:I Completely Agree... (1)

Bryan Ischo (893) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081347)

I have been playing video games since I was six years old in 1978. In my opinion, games are no worse or better now than they have ever been (that being said, I haven't played any video games since my daughter was born a year ago; although I vowed that I wouldn't let a baby change my playing habits, unfortunately the cold hard reality is, I just don't have time for such things at the moment).

I have found great games to play every single year since 1978. They are out there if you look. Maybe the rise in popularity of gaming has meant that there is a bit more chaff to wade through to find the good ones, but every year there are amazing games.

I don't count the Halo series in this group, by the way. Halo 1 was kind of fun, Halo 2 was the same stuff just reheated, and not any better at all (in fact all of the 'dark' levels (dark in the sense of not being able to see anything) in Halo 2 were just stupid, a very shallow and small-minded way of trying to add depth to a game). I'm not in the least bit interested in Halo 3.

Re:I Completely Agree... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21081425)

I think it was all downhill after Gravitar

Re:I Completely Agree... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21081437)

Y'know to a certain degree I think it depends on the genre of games you're into.

Driving sims for example are lightyears better and more fun (assuming they aren't too arcadey) compared to games from 20 years ago. The problem really is more that the MBAs (and to a lesser degree the players, in response to advertising) expect amazing next-generational graphics.

I've played recent text based games whose gameplay spanks games with a million dollar budget, and I've played million dollar budget games that take me as long to play through as games from the '90s.

As such I think that games have neither really improved nor regressed. We've just had time to forget all the bad ones.

What a curmudgeon (1)

kabdib (81955) | more than 6 years ago | (#21080917)

Bioshock provided me with some of the best game-based entertainment I've had in years. And I've spent many happy hours deathmatching in Quake, going through a number of the Zeldas, thumping bad guys in Crackdown, and even playing Solitaire.

Downhill, huh?

(And yes, I enjoyed Halo 3).

Re:What a curmudgeon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21080937)

All games have been downhill since caveman days. Nothing can beat flinging poop for distance score.

Re:What a curmudgeon (1)

networkzombie (921324) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081051)

Agreed. I grew up playing Star Raiders on an Atari 400. Since then I have also enjoyed Quake, along with Doom, Heretic, Wolf ET, Call of Duty, and way too many more to mention. I played Berzerk until my inner ear gave out and vertigo made me one with the filthy carpet at the Yellow Brick Road. I anxiously drool for the newer games with better AI and more realistic online game play. My only regret is that I will be dead when the Holodeck® becomes a realization. Article is bunk. Pong sucked.

URL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21080935)

Okay, whose nagging wife created that URL?

The cry of a bitter man. (1)

Ailure (853833) | more than 6 years ago | (#21080943)

Seriously, I am the only one who thinks the games just have gotten better in general? Sure there's lots of recycled crap, but... it's always honestly been that way... infact I actually wonder if it was more common at the time of Atari. It's said that bad games was a factor for the video game crash in the early 80's...

The games Atari made is way overly simplistic for someone who grew up the NES I have to admit. Then, I was never a fan of seemingly endless games...

Re:The cry of a bitter man. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21081085)

I grew up with the Atari 2600 and the old arcade games, and games now are infinitely better. To clarify, there are plenty of terrible games out there now, just as there were back in those days also. A lot of people wax nostalgic about the early days, but those games seemed good at the time because they were all we had. With the exception of a handful of games, there was a lot of forgettable garbage back then too.

Not a gamer but... (1)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 6 years ago | (#21080945)

I'm not really a big gamer and haven't really gone for the FPS stuff much after the first Doom. I've played a few games here and there, but there's one game that I've played off and on for 10 years and can't seem to break the addiction, and that's SubSpace [wikipedia.org] (now known as Continuum [getcontinuum.com]). I started playing in '97 when Virgin Interactive had it in beta and while I've gone a few years here and there where I haven't played, I still play it pretty often. I can't really say what it is about it that's so appealing to me, but there isn't another game out there (other than maybe solitaire) that I've continually found engaging like Continuum.

Very good games in my list: (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#21080947)

LucasArts adventure games, Silent Hill 1,2 and 3 (4 sucked), Prince of Persia (all of them except the gameboy versions), Castlevania, SuperMetroid and derivates. Lemmings was a gem, too.

Self-projecting much? (4, Interesting)

The Orange Mage (1057436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21080993)

Coming from the guy who was part of Atari AND founded Chuck E. Cheeses, it seems Bushnell is stating HIS personal goal/philosophy of gaming.

Re:Self-projecting much? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081409)

He must not be alone in his opinions, I wish I had founded three wildly successful enterprises (Pong, Atari, Chuck E Cheese).

From the article:

We used to have families sit down and play a game together. A lot of video games today are very isolated. You don't see mom and dad, sister and brother, sitting down like they used to play, say, Monopoly," says Bushnell. "That represented good mentoring time for families that just isn't happening now."
So, yes, he has a certain vision in mind. He thinks family members enjoying a game together is better than sitting alone in a darkened room for hours on end pretending to slaughter people. What a lunatic.

Wii (5, Interesting)

David Nabbit (924807) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081001)

Has Mr. Bushnell played Wii? The article is pretty vague on what exactly his beef is with modern video games, but Nintendo seems to be aiming to do the same thing he is with his interactive restaurant games (minus the food of course).

Agreed (5, Interesting)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081337)

Up until a few days ago, I probably would have agreed with TFA. I played my share of console and arcade games as a kid, and a computer game here and there (I even gave WoW a shot, and it admittedly keep me going for a few months), but I just don't generally find games all that engaging. Either they're too simple and I get bored, or they're too frustrating, and I get annoyed and bored. It just feels artificial -- if I want a challenge, there are enough projects on my to-do list to keep me busy for several lifetimes, and if I want escapism, there are a lot of books. I'm not denigrating people who do like games (we all have our hobbies), I just didn't really get the draw.

But that was before a few weekends ago, when the S.O. and I were at a friend's house and saw Wii Sports in person for the first time. I'd heard of it, of course, but had never really played it. Overall, I'm not sure it'll go down in the annals of videogames as more significant than Super Mario Brothers, but maybe it should: I saw more non-gamers pick up and have a good time with that game than I've ever seen before, on any system. Lots of people who normally would have just tuned it out as annoying background noise ended up taking a turn. And perhaps more significantly, we weren't the only couple leaving that night and saying "wow, we have got to get one of those" to each other. It's a video game system that doesn't feel like a 'video game' system -- it felt like poor-man's virtual reality. And a week later, despite living with one of the most anti-video-game people I know (and at their insistence, no less), I found myself rearranging the living room furniture so that there's more room to play Wii Tennis.

As far as I'm concerned, Nintendo should let Sony and Microsoft fight over the established market: they're creating a whole new one, or at least bringing a lot of people whose last console system was an NES back into it. The major question for them is whether they're going to be able to continue to produce games that maintain the very high bar for playability and group fun that Wii Sports does (so far, most of the third-party titles we've picked up from Blockbuster have been a bit disappointing). The question of whether the Wiimote is revolutionary or just a novelty will ultimately depend on whether they can get more games that use it effectively and intuitively, instead of just using it to emulate traditional controls or as an addon, rather than the platform's core and distinguishing feature. At least in my opinion, if you play it sitting down, somebody missed the point.

I've played Halo 3, and yes, the graphics are pretty amazing (it's probably the first game I've played where the flamethrower looked borderline convincing). I suspect, based on the hardware, that the Playstation's are even more impressive. But there's nothing there that makes we want to run out and drop half a grand. (When they're selling for $100, I'll buy an XBox3 so I can play through Halo for the plot.)

Wii Sports (and the ensuing sore arm) was pretty much worth $250, just for the sake of watching people whose knee-jerk response to any console system is "I don't do video games" change their minds and start to enjoy themselves within a few seconds of handling the controller.

Games are not dead. I think that the game publishers and the hardware developers just went though a very risk-averse phase where nobody wanted to take chances, and so they ground out basically the same product, to the same audience, over and over. If you liked that product and its evolutionary improvements, it was great. But if you didn't, there could be pretty long dry spells. I'm not sure whether the Wii is the beginning of something different, or just a temporary oasis, but you'd have to be an idiot not to enjoy it either way.

Re:Agreed (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081463)

Bushnell's reputation is far overrated. His "great ideas" were simply to take existing breakthroughs - Russell et al's SpaceWar, Baer's, and before him Higenbothen's, tennis game - and turn them into arcade games. He has never been a game designer nor a technological innovator - just a canny impresario who has never had insight into what makes good gameplay (look at what happened to Atari under his guidance.) I seriously doubt he has even played a game made after 1990 for more than 15 minutes.

He has no authority on this topic, and it is a shallow ploy to keep his name in circulation and his speaking fees coming in.

Zero risk committee thinking (4, Insightful)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081015)

IMHO, that's the reason why games today for the most part suck.

Games these days are multimillion dollar affairs. And that's even before the movie is released. [wikipedia.org] There is so much money at stake that no sane person would ever risk making a game without a market study and focus groups. Large projects demand it.

And that's the problem - innovation gets lost in that process. Put another way, innovation isn't safe.

Back In The Day(tm), it was just a couple of guys sitting around thinking up wacky ideas. Sometimes they stuck, and sometimes they didn't. If it failed, who cares? It's just a half a dozen guys that are already on the payroll. But if it worked, you could get innovation - and that made the difference. That's why guys my age sit around playing MAME and not giving a crap about Madden 07. How different could is possibly be from Madden 06?

Nolan is a product of the Golden Age. That's why he's disappointed with today's games. Innovation was the thing back then. A half a dozen mad mavericks could easily turn the world upside down with a really great idea.

Sadly, not possible today. That's why despite all the beautifully rendered cut scenes, bazillions of vertexes per second and obscene piles of money thrown at new titles these days the games are just simply missing that magic spark. And just plain fall flat for guys from our time.

Re:Zero risk committee thinking (0)

p0tat03 (985078) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081169)

Nolan is the gaming equivalent of the first people that took photograph film, stitched them together with a hand crank, and went "HOLY CRAP, we can make something cool with this!". That doesn't make him precisely the world's greatest film critic, if you get what I'm trying to say.

The movie industry started with ambitious technical affairs that pushed the technology of the day constantly to its limits. In time people caught on, and in a huge way, so much that audiences demanded bigger and shinier tricks (sound familiar to gaming?), resulting in more and more derivative films with higher and higher budgets.

But you know what? The movie industry we have today has elements of innovative, daring cinema, and also elements of derivative blockbuster-of-the-summer fare. And that's okay, because not all art has to be deep, nor does it have to subscribe to anybody's notion of what's worthy of the medium and what is not.

Too often you "games suck nowadays!" critics pick up on the worst offenders in the industry, and conveniently gloss over all of these superb games that ARE coming out. I suspect nostalgia is at work here also - you don't remember the quality of the *game*, you remember the quality of your *memories* playing the game. These things are very different. I have often sought out games I played in my childhood, and simply cannot get into them today, despite having fond memories of my experiences.

Re:Zero risk committee thinking (1)

Bob54321 (911744) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081237)

The wikipedia link you gave is hilarious... See the Development Hell section giving movies who status has gone uncertian: # Duke Nukem: The Movie (2007) :)

Re:Zero risk committee thinking (1)

Machtyn (759119) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081379)

I tend to disagree. The multi-million dollar projects do use focus groups. However, some use these focus groups to try out new ideas, some make it, some don't. True innovation still happens. Ultima Online was a huge risk. It worked. It worked better for Everquest and even better for World of Warcraft. But why? Because WoW innovated from the original to make something truely outstanding. EQ did it, too.
Diablo was innovative, and Diablo 2 innovated on that.
Half-Life was also extremely innovative. It used an old idea, first person shooter, but it actually gave us a decent story.

The Nintendo Wii: supremely innovative. The new controller style is, yes, taking an old idea, but it made it work in a way that no one else has been able to do.

Yes, there are the duds, but you get that from the Sonys, EAs, etc. (I mean how many Madden's do we need? a new character, a slight tweak.)

Sure, there are some technology innovations, but I think most people arguing the innovation of games are lost discount this as just "eye-candy that doesn't matter." I agree when gameplay is forgotten. But there is still plenty of gameplay innovation occurring today. Granted, it is harder to do... harder to get noticed, maybe.

Re:Zero risk committee thinking (4, Interesting)

king-manic (409855) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081417)

IMHO, that's the reason why games today for the most part suck.
Games these days are multimillion dollar affairs. And that's even before the movie is released. There is so much money at stake that no sane person would ever risk making a game without a market study and focus groups. Large projects demand it.

And that's the problem - innovation gets lost in that process. Put another way, innovation isn't safe.

Back In The Day(tm), it was just a couple of guys sitting around thinking up wacky ideas. Sometimes they stuck, and sometimes they didn't. If it failed, who cares? It's just a half a dozen guys that are already on the payroll. But if it worked, you could get innovation - and that made the difference. That's why guys my age sit around playing MAME and not giving a crap about Madden 07. How different could is possibly be from Madden 06?

Nolan is a product of the Golden Age. That's why he's disappointed with today's games. Innovation was the thing back then. A half a dozen mad mavericks could easily turn the world upside down with a really great idea.

Sadly, not possible today. That's why despite all the beautifully rendered cut scenes, bazillions of vertexes per second and obscene piles of money thrown at new titles these days the games are just simply missing that magic spark. And just plain fall flat for guys from our time.


Indie != Good. Innovative != good. Small != Good. Generally it's nostalgia clouding your judgment. You look back and remember xcom, pacman, supermario, rygar, etc.. and forgot all the dreck. There was always derivative dreck, innovation usually sucked, and golden ages are more about you then what ever you are reminiscing about. Nolan was part of the original video game collapse. It was partly his fault for letting the really dumb people run Atari.

A good idea getting to a good organization can still make a good game. KOTOR, BioShock, FFXII, Halo, Warcraft 3, Disgea, etc.. were all non too original games that achieved success by doing it right and fun. Even now small developers can still make games. IF you criteria is that a good idea ought to be enough then the newest gen of consoles will fit your bill. Wii is intrinsically cheaper to develop for and the PS3 and 360 all have smaller scale downloadable games. Try Flow, theres just an idea, one guy, and a ton of oddly addictive fun. Try any of the XNA titles, try Most DS game. This is the true golden age.

One way to look at it... (2, Interesting)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081017)

is games that have lived on because they have infinite ways of being played....

ping pong

chess

tennis

sudoko, ect

Re:One way to look at it... (2, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081119)

... and no undo/save.

Re:One way to look at it... (1)

Machtyn (759119) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081395)

I don't know about that. Chess has plenty of save points (DON'T TOUCH THAT BOARD!) and Sudoku has my eraser, er undo.

Re:One way to look at it... (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081459)

This game [areyep.com] (based on Wolf3D) has an interesting solution to the "saves games make the game easier" problem... it has a "Tournament mode". You get a limited number of saves and you have to search to get powerups to give you more.

I think that is a good way to do it... make a regular mode where players have all the conveniences of loading and saving at whim that they're used to... and a "challenge" mode where they are restricted somewhat to add an element of risk back into the game.

Re:One way to look at it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21081175)

chess and sudoku are somewhat finite

sure they are finite (1)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081345)

but why get that nit picky? If you can tell me someone besides Rain Man who can tell you every scenario, i'll show you the impossible - you can't live long enough.

A perfect example of this is HL2... I loved Ep2 - but it was really short, and once the game was completed (and very short... did I mention that) I won't ever play it again... I'll of course play the sequels and any mods that pique my interest, but aside from that.... nope

Re:One way to look at it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21081421)

Funny how Sudoku is more and more considered as an ancient game. Actually it's fairly recent, IIRC it has been created in 1979. And you pretty much have just one way of playing it.

Re:One way to look at it... (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081447)

is games that have lived on because they have infinite ways of being played....

ping pong

chess

tennis

sudoko, ect


Chess and Sudoko are finite state systems. if string theory is correct so is tennis and ping pong. /pedantry

The last great game I played (1)

stox (131684) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081025)

Was Tac Scan, a really cool vector arcade game. I'm afraid that they have been sliding downhill ever since.

he forgot tetris (4, Interesting)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081047)

he forgot tetris... BLASPHEMY what other game do you know is able to etch its self directly into your brain? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetris_effect [wikipedia.org] though he is somewhat correct, a lot of the games have been utter garbage lately, although most of the bad games of the past died a quiet death to be forgotten as it should be.

Get off my lawn!.. dang kids.. no respect... (5, Funny)

bombastinator (812664) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081075)

Lets review.

New things are not as good as the old stuff back when they weren't as degenerate.

"reasonably priced meals"

Old fashioned entertainment

Isn't this all a little stereotypical Old Fart? i'm waiting for him to start talking about how good 70's cars were compared to today and what great artists "the Captain and tennille" were.

Just have to look... (1)

Jmanamj (1077749) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081087)

You just gotta look past the titles. Ive been content playing the Forgotten Hope mod for the battlefield 1942 engine for a while now, and it will soon have a version out for Battlefield 2, which will be nice to swap between with something like Project Reality. There are people out there who actually care about gameplay more than what the annoying lowest common denominator wants. Sure the graphics arent quite as good as say Crysis, but it looks good enough, and with 64 players, these games can be intense.

Some BF2 mods for those who havent looked:
WWII as it's meant to be played (coming soon)...
http://forgottenhope.filefront.com/main.php?module=&lang=english&flash=yes&mod= [filefront.com]

Intense, team-based, and tactical (available)...
http://www.realitymod.com/ [realitymod.com]

Great fun (available)...
http://www.bfpirates.com/ [bfpirates.com]

Delicious food (1)

Lewisham (239493) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081107)

I find it hard to listen to the ramblings of any old man, even the one who made Pong, who believes that the solution to gaming's ills lies in the serving of a reasonably priced meal.

Metaphor (1)

jsse (254124) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081109)

"It was like breaking down walls. And it was a metaphor. The world is better when you break down walls. Walls separate people. The more inclusive we can be, the better we can be as a species."
Those FPS games fits into your metaphoric mind as well. The world has way too many people, up to the point that the less people there are, the better we can be as a species. Killing people in game are a metaphor, we might as well use real guns to kill people on the street, but kids today need training.

But I do agree with you that walls should all be broken. We all use wall hack anyway. What's the point with setting up walls besides conning newbies? Down with walls.

Adjusting for inflation (3, Interesting)

Itninja (937614) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081111)

I think it's important to note that early generation consoles (i.e Atari 2600) cost nearly the same as those made thirty years later - about $300 MSRP (usually discounted). So in 1982 little Jimmy's mom and dad could easily be asked to spend half their mortgage payment on a new console system, plus games. In 2002 a new Xbox/PS2/GameCube was what? Less than five day's pay at minimum wage.

The relatively high price of the 2600 kept the user base pretty small. We all played them, but I bet most of us went to neighbor kids house to do it. Of course, with the video game crash 1983, a massive console glut was created....so maybe everybody's parents bought them after the crash.

Can't agree (5, Interesting)

Stormie (708) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081123)

"Pong" is a little before my time, I've only got about 23 years of experience as an avid gamer. And, in my opinion, this is just bunk.

Back in the good old days? There were fantastic, innovative, fun games, and there was also immense quantities of absolute garbage.

And now? There are fantastic, innovative, fun games, and there is also immense quantities of absolute garbage.

Any claim that games were "better" in the old days is just so much nostalgia and selective memory. Think a bit harder, you'll remember those games you pirated on the C64 that were so bad that you'd spend 2 minutes waiting for the game to load and then only 30 seconds playing it before you tossed the tape back in the case.

Re:Can't agree (1)

Angry Toad (314562) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081305)

Couldn't agree more - Pong was well within my time and I still find games that are great fun. I don't have as much time to play them, yeah, but when I do I've found lots of things to enjoy. Half Life 2 was good, Oblivion (though I never really had enough free time to complete it), hours of fun with BF2, and lots of others.

There's just as much creativity around, and just as much total crap, as there ever was.

Lemmings (1)

crumplez (1050548) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081131)

Half-life, System shock 2, Metal Gear Solid, Prince of Persia, Chrono Trigger, Metroid Prime, Super Smash Brothers: Melee, Resident Evil 4, Goldeneye 007, Warcraft, Half-life 2, Planetside, Diablo, WiiSports, Metroid Corruption, Deus Ex, Monkey Island, Zelda Ocarina of Time, Grand Theft Auto, Quake II, Katamari Damacy, Super Metroid, Area 51, Baldur's Gate, Super Mario Bros, Civilization II, X-COM UFO defense, DOOM, The Sims, Warcraft II

What's the proposed alternative... uWink? PASS. (5, Interesting)

mookie-blaylock (522933) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081141)

So, great, he's a father of the industry.

Ever been to uWink, his latest idea? It's godawful. Imagine the most tired, re-tread, uninspired, and dull fare you could get from the unholy collision of an Applebees, California Pizza Kitchen, and PF Chang's. The hook? You get to use a touch screen to order your food! Wow, touch screens! You know, like you use at the airport, your ATM, the occasional gas station, and about 500,000 other places. Plus they've got incredibly dull table games... Oh, and for kicks, the touch sensors on the screen are so comically inaccurate -- so make sure to double check that you're getting what you've ordered.

The decor is kind of like chromey mid-90s meets that bar in Star Trek 3, only people look like they're having a lot less fun. Basically, imagine any "futuristic" concept hacked out by any of a dozen subpar ad agencies or architecture firms around 1997. The Century City food court is 10x more self-consciously "futuristic" in its design and seems less ridiculous.

And the last bit of fun: Anything that's actually edible on the menu will be sold out. Ditto for any beers worth drinking. So enjoy that exotic pepperoni pizza and bud light...

Nope, sorry, give me Mario Kart, Guitar Hero, GTA, Final Fantasy 4, Katamari Damacy, Civilization, X-Com, Star Control, or any other of about six dozen games that are brilliant or brilliantly fun. If I wanted to go someplace and be bored while surrounded by awful overpriced food and where touch screens pass as a killer app, I'd hang out at the airport.

It's a toss-up... (0)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081163)

...but there are no games in the past 12 years that even come close to reaching the greatness of Duck Hunt. I'd say Duck Hunt and Pong are 1 and 2, or tied for 1. Shaq Fu is a close third.

Whoa, Fellas.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21081173)

Please do not forget Hironobu Sakaguchi's Final Fantasy

most definitely one of the best games of all time.

without a doubt better than Pong.

it would be nice to have something different (1)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081179)

First person shooters and racing games are getting a little old, how about something new?

I've more or less quit gaming after finishing HL2. Granted I never was a huge gamer but it's the same 'ole shit. Aliens are invading earth, one dude saves us all. It's WWII, some guy single-handedly wins the battle of buldge. Blah, blah, blah.

I guess this is why I still get out of the NES or N64 more than anything. At least "Army Men, Sarges Hero's" was fun. Maybe it's me, but I like comedy and am really tired of the sci-fi, dough-boy, rice-rocket shit. What happened to fun/funny games?

He's just trolling (4, Insightful)

rgo (986711) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081193)

I respect Nolan for his GREAT contribution to the gaming industry, but I can't believe he said that current generation games are pure trash.
Come on, the company he founded was a great contributor to the videogame crash. The crash happened many years ago, and a phenomemon like that hasn't repeated ever since; not because there are huge budgets or people buy crap, but because there are very good games in the market. There are games with charismatic characters (Mario), cinematic experiences (Goldeneye, Metal Gear Solid), inmersive worlds (Oblivion, Zelda, Half-Life), or plain-ol fun (Wii Sports, Mario Kart, DDR, Guitar Hero, Metal Slug).

Maybe he is ranting against american game publishers like EA, Activision, that like to market the same crap season after season, giving no more entertaining value. Maybe he is too old and don't play complex games. But that is no excuse, because there are also really good indie (or indie like) games, like Every Extend, Geometry Wars, Bejeweled, Clubhouse Games, Pac Mac CE. Games that are WAY more fun than the late 70s titles.

I also been thinking that maybe he doesn't really like videogames, but he likes to make them. It has always happened, just read some interviews to game developers and they'll tell you they don't really play games. Maybe he liked the old games, closer to the heart of the beginnings of videogaming, he was a protagonist in the revolution. Right now, there is nothing, in gaming, that makes him PASSIONATE because he FEELS there hasn't been a real Paradigm Shift(TM) in the way games are made or people interact with them. I hope he is trying to say what I have just written, but the interview is very poorly done to draw any conclusions.

I only have one message to him: Mr. Bushnell, thank you, you're work has made a great impact in our lives, in ways that no one can imagine. I'm glad you are still an active innovator, I love your restaurant idea, but don't treat the gaming industry like that, please look at Wii Sports and Wii Fit and you'll really see gaming is changing for the great benefit of our glorious nation.

This thread needs more... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21081213)

PINBALL!!!

I would argue that entertainment in general has gone downhill since pinball became less popular.

Hey, remember that one film? (5, Insightful)

doyoulikeworms (1094003) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081217)

Where it was a bunch of pictures of a horse running? Yeah, that was the best fucking film of all time. It's just been downhill from there.

In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21081227)

Computers downhill since ENIAC

Movie at seven.

4 s! (2, Interesting)

tsa (15680) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081235)

A recent study showed that if people have to wait for more than 4 s for a website to load they get bored. I had to watch a stupid advertisement for 15 s, or press a link I discovered after 4.5 s. Sorry mates, I won't see your website. This was an even more stupid and offensive way to force advertisements down my throat than those stupid popup advertisemnts you see on some websites.

Finally, a movie (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081253)

I've been playing video games for about 30 years, and the couple decades I've always heard the hype of "Playing this game is like being in a movie." I've seen try after try, from playable games that looked nothing like movies, to movie-like games (Dragon's Lair, beautifully animated) that were not really playable.

Only recently have we hit that milestone with Heavenly Sword -- good playability, good acting (voice and facial), and art direction that is breathtaking. And most major titles at least have a pretty good script behind them these days.

I'd say the state of video games is doing quite well.

Nag nag nag (2, Insightful)

tsa (15680) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081269)

There will always be people who nag about everything being better in the olden days. I didn't read the article because of the stupid advertisement, but if the guy who wrote it really thinks pong was the best game ever made I feel sorry for him. I, for one, am enjoying the torrent of new adventure games that we are experiencing at the moment a lot!

pong was the end (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081273)

If there is a downhill slope, it begins with pong, not after pong. This slide is created by the equivalence of 'games' and 'graphics' There are perfectly good text games, and the graphics adds little or nothing to the experience. Wonderful games like star trader, HHGTG, and Zork did not need graphics. Graphic games like Pac Man were so mindless as to be nealy worthless to anyone over the age of 12.

OTOH, if games are seen as a way to push technology, then there is not downhill slide. Pac Man and Donkey Kong are not dissimilar to pong, but merely utilize available processor power to animate the character widget. As we move to Prince of Persia or Doom, it is again not much different, in terms of skill level, but we see the increasing use of the platform, often with technologies that are not stable enough for actual production tasks.

That last point might be the real downward slide. In a game, one often pushes the technology to the limit. It might work, it might not. It is a game, so it really does not matter, what matters is the experience of doing something that one would not risk in real work. What one does just for play. So really, what has happened is that games are such big business, that there is no risk. Everyone has to win. The game is exiting, but with no little risk. The FPS is simply donkey kong with pretty graphics, but mellowed by the modern sense of the computer game. The Sims is Sim City, but without the monster. Really, I guess, there is a point. Without risk it is boring.

News at 6 (1)

teh moges (875080) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081289)

Person comments about poor state of an industry. Offers own product instead. We will be following this story with regular updates as it happens.

Best of the 2D Third Person Omniscient games (1)

xPsi (851544) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081311)

Forget First Person Shooters. Pong was the first and best 2D Third Person Omniscient (TPO) game that used (ahem, _only_) the Law of Reflection in its physics engine. Not only were you aware of all the action in the entire game universe simultaneously, but you also knew -- no, FELT -- all the character's motivations from everyone's point of view. As if that weren't enough, the angle of incidence was always equal to the angle of reflection with respect to the surface normals. Poetry.

Asteroids rocked! (1)

scgops (598104) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081315)

All puns aside, Asteroids [atariage.com] kept me glued to my Atari for my first-ever all night gaming session. I think that was just before Christmas in 1981. The game was simple and fascinating.

It took until 1995 for another game to keep me glued to a screen in quite the same way. That one was Descent [wikipedia.org]. The innovative use of 3D space and the creepy alien ships jumping you from all angles was terrific. I loved it, but I was jumping at shadows for days after my marathon session.

I played Pong quite a lot when it first came out, too, but it didn't get a death grip on my attention like Asteroids and Descent.

It's like music (1)

jihadist (1088389) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081327)

The musicianship and production in popular music has improved a lot, but they have less to say, so it's insipid but highly competent trash. I personally think video games peaked with the RTS games of the late 1990s, but I'm not a competent gamer and I'm sure people here have a better take on it.

However, I can say that while I appreciate the Mars Volta, 1970s prog wipes the floor with them.

Topical (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081349)

"Anything that is in the world when you're born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that's invented between when you're fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things."- Douglas Adams

Mr. Bushnell has a serious case of retroism. Pong objectively sucks. If you gain any enjoyment out of it I assure you it's purely nostalgia. It was innovative but it's not a terribly good game. By the same token a youngun now would say FF6 sucked, any enjoyment i get out of it is from pure nostalgia. By the same token for my kids kid Halo 3 sucks, any enjoyment my kid gets from... .etc..

Convenient Disregard For History (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081363)

History is always very kind to guys like this. If there is one thing I grow weary of is it's old guys who were successful probably beyond their dreams casually forgetting the number of mediocre/bad games that were around then. Hell, he was probably responsible for many stinkers too.

History keeps notes on one or two titles younger people seem to have heard of, but probably haven't played. The rest, (and there were many) are forgotten.

It's time to hang it up and move onto something really new.

boring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21081391)

Pong, and the old school point a shoot games got boring a log time ago.

I'll take Final Fantasy, except VII, anyday over pong/defender/pack rat anyday

The helicopter game was good.. (2, Funny)

scoot80 (1017822) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081399)

You know that flash based helicopter game. You click the mouse to go up and let go to go down - and then navigate over obstacles that are getting harder and harder. That was a good game.

Another one which I haven't played in a while was this circle game. You had two circles, one within the other. Each one had a small opening and they were both spinning in the oposite directions. So what you had to do is shoot a ball through when the openings align. I payed that one for hours and hours and hours...
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