Are old times good times, better times or worse?

Posted By: Loremaster

Are old times good times, better times or worse? - 01/03/18 03:24

This question addresses mainly those who have been playing for two decades (or more) and those who are younger but know the dusty stuff from back then. What has changed in PC-Games over the last 20 years (or so)? The reason for my question will become clear later. Just think about for now: During 1996 to roughly 2002/2003 we had a host of classics that still sell well on platforms like GOG (if they are sold).

Half-life, Unreal, No One Live Forever 1&2, Thief - The Dark Project 1&2, Baldurs Gate 1&2, Deus Ex, Starcraft (not my cup of tea but extremely well done), Forsaken, Unreal, Shogo: Mobile Armored Division, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Jedi Knight 1&2 - those are just off the top of my hat. We probably can add a ton more.

If you remember those games and compare them to those that are produced today - what is different, what is better now, what was better back then? Bonus quesion: What game prodcued between 2015 and today will likley attain a similar legendary status?

(Disclaimer: I have been a pro-for-hire in the industry between 1998 and 2004 and I like to learn how modern games tick. And why.)
Posted By: Kartoffel

Re: Are old times good times, better times or worse? - 01/03/18 12:01

(post turned into a wall of rant, oops ._.')

Well, a lot of the old games were probably "before my time" (like all of the nes/snes stuff) but some of the older games I really enjoyed playing are:
Rayman, Serious Sam (the classic versions. although the newer ones are great, too), Super Mario 64, UT 2004, Tonic Trouble (not sure if anyone even knows this one), Day of the Tentacle, Halo and probably a handful more.

Of course there's always the nostalgia aspect so I don't want to praise these games too much but to me it feels like the games from those 10-15 years had a lot more effort, heart and soul put into them. I mean yeah, games back then often had bugs, bad controls or various other flaws and there also were quite a few terrible games, but it feels like in most cases the devs cared a lot more for what they were creating. This has become pretty rare in my opinion, especially with triple-a titles.

Over the years (just like with pop music (no offense :P)) mainstream games turned into that tasteless homogenous blend and I guess some people got so used to it that they don't even like things in a different way. In terms of games I'm also talking about that endless easy-gratification approach. I don't consider this a bad thing as it can make games more fun to play, but in many cases there is nothing but this stuff with little to no meaning behind it and it's sometimes completly exploited (that lootbox crap is prob. the best example).

I don't wanna sound too negative, though. There still are triple-a games that I really like and many aspects got a lot better. Graphics (obviously), controls, storytelling (if you pick the right games), etc. and there's a much bigger variety to coose from.
Also there are much more indie devs today, which dare to try a lot of new things compared to bigger studios and have produced quite a few hits. The only problem I see with indie games is that there are more and more games that better wouldn't have made it to the release. I know it sound's cold, but with powerful engines like Unreal Engine, Cryenging, whatever... it's getting (potentially) much easier and faster to create a game. But in my opinion, the low-level knowledge about how things work and what you're doing is almost as important as it was before. The difference is that today you can make a game without it. As a result there are simply a lot of really bad games (it's usually flaws in controls, content, game design in general, polishing or optimizations). They look halfway decent on screenshots because those engines offer pretty advanced graphics features (even though people often don't know how to use them properly :[ ), but playing the game is a whole different story.

Anyway, I guess I'll stop here, I've been writing for way too long smirk
Posted By: MasterQ32

Re: Are old times good times, better times or worse? - 01/03/18 14:26

I mostly agree with Kartoffel, but want to point some things out:


What is different?
  • Games are now, like movies, a mainstream- (or better: mass-) media money machine which results in AAA mass productions
  • More people can create games now (see indie games)


What is better now?
  • We have learnt from the old games and improved visuals, controls, overall "work" quality, so the games just play better than in the old days (even if we remember otherwise wink )
  • We now have huge engines like Unity or Unreal that allow easy game creation (which allows to let people who can't program create wonderful games)


What was better back then?
  • We now have huge engines like Unity or Unreal that allow easy game creation (which allows to let people who can't program create aweful games)
  • The games did have more "soul", so there were a lot of tiny details placed by some developers that never were taken out of the game, because they were funny and "quality assurance" didn't care
Posted By: Reconnoiter

Re: Are old times good times, better times or worse? - 01/04/18 13:22

This is something that interests me too. I agree with the whole soul thingy (possible cause of budget/publisher reasons), but I think its not only that. For me personally the golden age of pc games was around the time when games such as Fallout 2, Starcraft, UT, Deus Ex were released (with also a few years before it and a few years after it). I think one of these reasons it that at that time creating assets was less work cause the 2d sprites or 3d models were low res etc so more time could be spend on other things such as mapping and programming (my guess at least). I think this allowed teams of ~10 people to create AAA-sized games (which now require way more people and a result must cater to a bigger audience).

There were also less or no asset stores and templates so probably more had to be created in-house, which might also have led to more distinctive looking games.

Whatever the case, its not only nostalgia. Since sometimes I find & play an old game that I never had played before and which is fairly different from the games that I played at that time (e.g. Seven Kingdoms 2).

Quote:
Bonus quesion: What game prodcued between 2015 and today will likley attain a similar legendary status?
, does Age of Wonders 3 + expansions count? Also while I haven't tried it yet, perhaps Spellforce 3 (for a niche group I think).
Posted By: txesmi

Re: Are old times good times, better times or worse? - 01/04/18 21:12

I think that todays best games are better than old times best games in everything.
Posted By: FBL

Re: Are old times good times, better times or worse? - 01/07/18 12:46

Games were less mainstream back then, so the difficulty levels usually were higher - so that the videogame nerd back then had sth to bite through.
Today, games have become more entertainment and need to be extremely polished, while back then it was pretty much accepted to deal with what you get. Even if that means fiddling around, noting down things, drawing maps.

Another factor is nostalgia. Several people here were young at a time where Genesis, SNES, Playstation and the like were present just everywhere. If those consoles are your entry in the gaming world the first games you played there will always remain something special. That's distorting things for sure.
And whenever you get back to one of those old games you'll experience the still existing link to the emotions you had back then.

But I guess that's quite okay.

For me personally I found out that in earlier times I was very hyped by some games, and was waiting for release day to grab a copy and then couldn't wait to come home and finally play the game. While getting older, this feeling of excitement has disappeared. A game might get me into "hey that's cool, I want to play some more" mode, but it's not the same as before. There is no hype anymore.
Often enough I automatically try to imagine how they did some things (programatically) I see while playing. grin
I did not do this in the past.

Posted By: Reconnoiter

Re: Are old times good times, better times or worse? - 01/07/18 14:54

Quote:
A game might get me into "hey that's cool, I want to play some more" mode, but it's not the same as before.
, I had that with Tribes 2. But with e.g. game like kknd I still play it from time to time, and every ~3-7 years or such I replay some good old games (like Fallout 2) and still enjoy them. For some games there isn't just a modern equivalent or it is somewhat stripped down (e.g. with many rts games only being able to play up to 4 players at the same time). The only things what I think are clearly improved since those times are graphic fidelity, pathing, physics and interface/controls (the latter compared to only very old games).
Posted By: Loremaster

Re: Are old times good times, better times or worse? - 01/10/18 23:45

Thanks for the feedback so far. The following is my opinion. Of coures, as mentioned by some, nostalgia play a big part. But then this can't explain everything. Over the last four years I played incredibly slick games with high production values (Mass Effect, CoD and many others). They were very, very good in many aspects. Polished to the max.

But they all lacked fun and personality. I couldn't tell from the game which studio had produced it. Once I could tell a Monoltih production from an Ion Storm title in about 5 Minutes. But today, with a few exceptions (Bethesda or the guys behind Witcher) I can't. It's all the same.

For me it's like comparing a movie like Raiders of the Lost Ark to whatever Marvel Studios are churning out this summer. Titles with heart, vision, ambition and naturally flaws against polsished no-nonsense, no-risk productions.

The medium has reached the shallow waters of Hollywood. Nice to look at, never challenging ( I can't remember the last truly challenging game I've played*) but without soul. Yeah. Whoever used that word first, he's right. Soul is missing nowadays. Faceless products done by former artist degraded to Sararimen.

For shame. I am happy that many indie producers are growing.

*Yah. I forgot Dark Souls. But that is less "challenging" as I define it and more "mean and crushing". But even that is by far more fun than the sterile blockbuster experience.

@texsmi. Also a valid opinion of course. May I ask which games between 2015 and today you really consider memorable and why? For one I am curious and maybe I even find something worth to play. laugh

Edit: I am pilfering (yet again) several "Best of 2017" articles and lists, especially the comment sections. And one thing I read over and over again was praise for Divinity Original Sin 2. Not in unison. Scattered praise. But the game really hit some nerve with RPG-Fans. And though I didn't like it (that is it was not able to keep my attention), I think it is remarkable for one simple reason: The gameplay is very much Baldurs Gate in a modernized package. And it has character.
Posted By: txesmi

Re: Are old times good times, better times or worse? - 01/11/18 14:47

@Loremaster
First things first, I am not really a hard-core player. I played few games last years. Since my computers and me are getting old, I already know witch genres I like to play alone (99.999% strategy but not of any kind) and with friends (not competitive coop games of any kind, mainly ARPG). I can fill (and enjoy) my playing time with those genres, a thing that did not happen in the past. Goodness of a mature industry.

For my taste, I dare to claim as the jewel of the year, if not of the history, to Factorio, a 2D cooperative RTS brain-breaker on early access. A game made for me and mine: cooperative, no story-line, no bodering cut-offs, adult visuals and a straight gameplay with infinite strategies to try out against a relaxed clock. Just great.

The proof of the crime:

More than a hundred hours played per month... I am wondering how could it happen xP

An other game I enjoyed a lot this year is Ori and the blind forest. Just a platformer but sweet and beautiful. Sweet controls, sweet visuals, sweet music, sweet story... suberb in every aspect of the game. Nothing to envy of any other game on its genre and impossible to develop ten years ago. Any rant about this game is just a matter of taste. I can't consider this game worst than any other platformer in the past, and looking to its technical excelence, I can only say that it is better. Almost a little bit.

As mentioned by others, I think most AAA game productions felt in the same insipid generalized style that makes games, cinema, music, food, clothes, everything at the end, unremarkable. But I also think that mature industries are able to build better products, as the examples above, than an adolescent one and that is why I claimed that todays best games are better than old times best games in everything (for my taste), what does not mean that the average must be better in consequence.

Personally, I think your question hides a false dilema because the jewels of each era or style are uncomparable. Nobody can objetively sort them by quality, just by taste. Between Picasso and Dalí, who is better?
Posted By: Loremaster

Re: Are old times good times, better times or worse? - 01/11/18 15:39

Between Picasso and Dalí, who is better?

In the end of course that is true: It boils down to a question of preferences and taste. I am gathering subjective opinions and impressions here.

Factorio's gameplay seems interesting (and able to keep that interest, considering 644 hrs of playtime :)) and Ori really looks lavish. I'll check them out, so thank you. Both seem to be indy-productions and that would support my point in the end: Big studios produce polished titles that have no lasting effect. Nowadays, the things you remember are the little gems made by small studios.

As one pointed out above - the big budgets bear the necessity to play it safe.
Posted By: txesmi

Re: Are old times good times, better times or worse? - 01/11/18 16:38

Originally Posted By: Loremaster
In the end of course that is true: It boils down to a question of preferences and taste. I am gathering subjective opinions and impressions here.

I perfectly undestood. That is why I spoke about mine first wink

Cheers.
Posted By: sivan

Re: Are old times good times, better times or worse? - 01/12/18 13:32

the main difference is that in the "good old times" I had enough time to play, but had no money, so got games only from friends for free, and today I could buy games but have no time at all... grin

at that time those games were great (2D or fake 3D turn based or real tile strategy), but today you can get much better graphics and AI quality (e.g. the pathfinder of Age of Empires I. was really frustrating! Civilization and Total War games are also better and better). earlier it was easier to be unique, because there were no so many predecessors, today it is hard to create something really new and fresh. when I have game ideas, I find nearly all of them already made in a certain form. but there are old games I still love because of their great design (e.g. Knights of Honor). today I spend more time with game creation than playing, I enjoy it more.
Posted By: BorgNot

Re: Are old times good times, better times or worse? - 05/17/21 18:18

I am in the Diablo fan club, not a public club but one we still play in the family since mother taught my brothers to play when it came out. She was on Ultima Online then went to DI/DII. I went to Steam to find out if there was a DII-like game for her to play with me. She lives in another US state. So, we had to have basic play skills recognition at a distant. I could not teach her or she teach me how to play. I also wanted to play home with my partner who preferred one person games like Elder Scrolls Skyrim.

I went here to if any team was working on anything that would interest them at Steam. Then, I went to Steam. I found Grim Dawn. I bought one and we tested it out at home. We bought it at GOG. Then, I bought some more for family members. We play at home. I am not that high on the xbox D3 Season Journeys but I do try to complete them. It's another way we can play with friends online, keeping it simple, old school-middle ages.

I am considering purchasing the Diablo 4 Collection since it is a family thing. It is one way family members can play online with each other at a distance to hang out.

That is the type of projects I would like to be doing and see others do. I see this is a bit aged but still a good topic.

BN
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