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Gaming history - do you think it's important?


Starwars

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I thought this article raised a rather good point:  http://gamasutra.com/blogs/FelipePepe/20150211/236041/The_Ministry_of_Hype_The_danger_of_letting_the_gaming_industry_curate_its_own_history.php

 

Not that everyone *must* try Daggerfall or whatever, but the fact that there's really very little interest in gaming history today. And the big focus on older games (which may not even be very old) being "outdated" and whatever is certainly something that have always struck a chord with me whenever people use it.

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I beg to differ, avid players who find themselves without current games to play will often delve into older titles which are exalted by communities. It is that way with RPGs, said consumers are the game equivalent of cinemaphiles (gamephiles?) whose wide range of taste strays from the mainstream and isn't common. This may be the reason why HD remakes have become so prevalent on current times; as players that are interested by older games but are put off by them or lack the know how on how to get them and make them function, have a new option.

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I'd say the answer to that question is kind of like the answer to "who's the sucker in this poker game?"*

 

*If you can't tell, it's you. ;)

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I wasn't really all that much in agreement in the first part, with all the Daggerfall stuff, but once he brought up Roberta Williams I perked up.  There was an attempt to kickstart a documentary on Sierra On-Line a couple years ago.  It failed, and I was very disappointed.  We need more books and documentaries on the history of gaming.  It is rich and fascinating stuff, but I can count the amount of decent books on one hand.  It's a crime that the history of Sierra On-Line is not well documented.  

 

As for actually playing the classics, I'm not sure if that is needed.  It is enough for me that so many games are clearly inspired by the classics.  

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Heh, was going to mention this sounded like something felipepepe from Codex was working on when I saw the title. Gaming history, hm, well I guess it is interesting and I feel people involved in the hobby should at least be aware of some big things - a shooter fan not knowing of Carmack and Doom is just wrong to me - that affected it in some way or helped grow the industry.

 

As for playing classic games, ideally they would be available so one could try them and see what was the fuss, though through a lens of looking back I imagine a lot must be lost. Some kid weaned on SC2 or whatever looking back to Dune 2 or WC1 might be left unimpressed.

Edited by Malcador

Why has elegance found so little following? Elegance has the disadvantage that hard work is needed to achieve it and a good education to appreciate it. - Edsger Wybe Dijkstra

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They matter as much as postage stamp history.

Philately is a passion and a hobby for many and they don't deserve to be put down because someone thinks it frivolous. Games are the same, their importance lies not on their intrinsic value but their subjective one.

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I'd say the answer to that question is kind of like the answer to "who's the sucker in this poker game?"*

 

*If you can't tell, it's you. ;)

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They matter as much as postage stamp history.

 

The history of postal service gives us a rich narrative on the efficiency and organization of budding empires.  From the Quipu's of the Inca's to the Pony Express, delivering messages is nothing to make light of.

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I don't think it's necessary for you to go back and play all the old games to validate your "gamer card". I personally think Final Fantasy 7 is the best RPG ever made (hardly a unique choice) But if a kid today played it, I don't think he'd be able to get over Cloud's square hands. Games just age a lot more rapidly than movies and other forms of media. And I'm not interested in the hits of my parents generation, why should young kids be interested in the hits of mine?

 

Now, if you're an actual game design student and there's something to learn, that's a different story. But for the rest of us? No, I don't really think it is important. At best, its an interesting topic than someone can tell you about. Like the "Extra Credits" series on game design on youtube. That's fascinating...

 

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I don't think it's necessary for you to go back and play all the old games to validate your "gamer card". I personally think Final Fantasy 7 is the best RPG ever made (hardly a unique choice) But if a kid today played it, I don't think he'd be able to get over Cloud's square hands. Games just age a lot more rapidly than movies and other forms of media. And I'm not interested in the hits of my parents generation, why should young kids be interested in the hits of mine?

 

Now, if you're an actual game design student and there's something to learn, that's a different story. But for the rest of us? No, I don't really think it is important. At best, its an interesting topic than someone can tell you about. Like the "Extra Credits" series on game design on youtube. That's fascinating...

 

 

I think elitism exist within plenty of artistic endeavors; art itself its elitist, but there is the matter of taste and widening it. There are people who are tired of the mainstream and want something with more depth, so they go back and look over to games that had a lot more to offer than graphics. Or they do so because you don't need to be an academic to have an academic interest on some things.

I'd say the answer to that question is kind of like the answer to "who's the sucker in this poker game?"*

 

*If you can't tell, it's you. ;)

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I don't think it's necessary for you to go back and play all the old games to validate your "gamer card". I personally think Final Fantasy 7 is the best RPG ever made (hardly a unique choice) But if a kid today played it, I don't think he'd be able to get over Cloud's square hands. Games just age a lot more rapidly than movies and other forms of media. And I'm not interested in the hits of my parents generation, why should young kids be interested in the hits of mine?

 

Now, if you're an actual game design student and there's something to learn, that's a different story. But for the rest of us? No, I don't really think it is important. At best, its an interesting topic than someone can tell you about. Like the "Extra Credits" series on game design on youtube. That's fascinating...

 

 

I think elitism exist within plenty of artistic endeavors; art itself its elitist, but there is the matter of taste and widening it. There are people who are tired of the mainstream and want something with more depth, so they go back and look over to games that had a lot more to offer than graphics. Or they do so because you don't need to be an academic to have an academic interest on some things.

 

 

That's fair enough. I've slogged through some old games. Sometimes it paid off, other times I was just too distracted by the graphics. But that's an individual's prerogative. Not something I think we need to do as a community (by making some kind of "must-play list of masterpieces" and expecting people to play them)

 

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I don't think it primarily has anything to do with gamer cred - that's just a side effect. For example, film snobs will push you to watch old films all the time, but that wasn't the main reason or benefit for appreciating older films. Filmmakers, critics and scholars simply recognised that new films aren't necessarily better than older films, so it makes sense to go back both to appreciate and to learn. As a side effect, when they start talking with outsiders or newcomers, they will say, you have to watch some older classics to know your stuff. It should be the same with games, if we want a healthy appreciation of its history. So it's not really about making everyone do it just for cred. 

 

After all, there is a canon for film or literature, but that doesn't mean novel enthusiasts force each other to read Dostoyevsky before they will talk to each other. No, but it's important that it's there, and the experts have at least read some of it. Instead, in games, we have a situation where many (not all) journalists, publishers, developers, etc. will just talk about the newest thing, make apologies for talking about older games ('we know they're outdated' - what does 'outdated' even mean? it means nothing, except 'old = worse because it's old'). 

 

I'm sure I've repeated this a hundred times on this forum alone, but 'new' isn't 'better'. There's no such thing as some universal law that things get better over time - it's something Western civilisation only started really believing in the last couple hundred years. Hell, even in the less 'artsy', more hardware tech stuff you see this. The newest car isn't necessarily the best, and any car enthusiast will be able to tell you some cars which stood out and made their mark, or specific pieces of car tech which did better than some of their successors. Historians of science and technology will tell you that how specific things get chosen as the 'next best thing' isn't an obvious objective thing, as if real world techs come with "+3" labels on them - the VHS/Betamax, DVD/Blu-ray struggles are easy examples of how it's not guaranteed. So, it's ridiculous that we should just say "new is better is newer is best" - no, it's not some God-given rule. And that means if you are an avid gamer, or you want to make games, or you want to write about games for a living, it just makes common sense to check out games from any period.

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Playing a few older games can make one appreciate certain improvements in game play mechanics a little more. But in general I now find a lot of older games to be tedious, despite having enjoyed many of them in bygone days.

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It really depends on the context. In understanding gaming, certainly. There are definitely games that I think everyone should at least try, even if they only play them for an hour or so.

 

In the grand scheme of things, however...pretty irrelevant.

 

Also, the biggest improvements in games over the years, to me, has got to be UI. There are so many old games (even ones I loved as a kid) that I try to go back and play, and the old UIs just kill it for me (no, I don't want to memorize the codes for dozens of spells, Bard's Tale!)

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It really depends on the context. In understanding gaming, certainly. There are definitely games that I think everyone should at least try, even if they only play them for an hour or so.

 

In the grand scheme of things, however...pretty irrelevant.

 

Also, the biggest improvements in games over the years, to me, has got to be UI. There are so many old games (even ones I loved as a kid) that I try to go back and play, and the old UIs just kill it for me (no, I don't want to memorize the codes for dozens of spells, Bard's Tale!)

 

You posted what I wanted to say. "great minds think alike "  :biggrin:

 

In depends on how you want to contribute towards conversations when older game are discussed

 

For example the oldest game I played was probably IWD released in  2000  but I played it 2 years ago. So my knowledge of games in the 1990's is very limited

 

Also youmay  want to go back and play older games after really enjoying a later one. I played Gothic 3 first and then went back and played the other two 

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Like it's been mentioned, it's not about having some sort of "you must have played THESE games to be a tr00 gamer!" list. It's about having a sense of history at all, to not have people automatically dismiss everything before a certain time as "outdated". A friend of mine was pretty much exactly like this, but I eventually forced him to play Darklands. And what do you know? He actually enjoyed himself a lot once he got over that initial "bump" of time investment (which is IMO not nearly as big as people make it out to be with a lot of older games). And he could recognize that there's a lot of things in Darklands which are simply not done in today's gaming and that could actually be really relevant or fun to bring back. Sure, he still prefers many modern games but that's not really the point.

I had a similar experience with Realms of Arkania: Star Trail. Hadn't played it back in the day, played it about 2 years ago and was blown away by certain aspects of it.

 

Again, the point isn't to create some sort of elitism (though that's unavoidable), it's just that there's rather a rich history of gaming which seems to be just be outright dismissed as soon as it passes a certain age. I think one should value and treasure it instead because there's a wealth of innovative ideas there, some of which are really cool. Kinda reminds me of the recent talk of the IE games and how the devs mention that the publisher suddenly said there was no market for them, despite the games being succcesful.

 

And again, regarding journalism, I think it should damn well be expected that the journalists know where games came from, that they're aware of the history, that they have played a wealth of them. Knowledge is good. It's expected in film, in art, in music etc. It should be in gaming as well.

Edited by Starwars
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The UI thing, by the way, I think is really overstated a lot of the time. Depending on which games and how far you go back there are definitely challenges - playing wireframe early Wizardry with graph paper on hand is a big deal. But I'd say most games made in the 90s at least are very playable after you invest half an hour to get used to it - just like, say, Gothic, and just like Europa Universalis or Baldur's Gate would be for a first-time player. 

 

I'm playing Ultima Underworld (1992) for the first time after putting it off for a long while, and it's actually pretty easy to pick up. Usually it's a matter of being different rather than worse, because keyboard shortcuts, etc. only became standardised in the industry around the turn of the century (so that 'E' is use in most FPS's, etc). Soon I was WXAD'ing around, picking things up with the mouse, swinging swords with right click, jumping with J, saving with Ctrl+S, and it really isn't a big deal. 

 

I mean, given how intensely annoying inventory management was in Witcher 1, or how you have to go through like 8 different full screens with zoom-ins to check out a couple of skills in Skyrim, you'd think that people are used to the fact that each game has its idiosyncrasies. It's not like today's games are VR-land. I think in many cases the UI complaint is (1) generalised so that some truly clumsy games represent all old games; (2) you might never really have got to give the games a chance. 

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The UI thing, by the way, I think is really overstated a lot of the time. Depending on which games and how far you go back there are definitely challenges - playing wireframe early Wizardry with graph paper on hand is a big deal. But I'd say most games made in the 90s at least are very playable after you invest half an hour to get used to it - just like, say, Gothic, and just like Europa Universalis or Baldur's Gate would be for a first-time player. 

 

I'm playing Ultima Underworld (1992) for the first time after putting it off for a long while, and it's actually pretty easy to pick up. Usually it's a matter of being different rather than worse, because keyboard shortcuts, etc. only became standardised in the industry around the turn of the century (so that 'E' is use in most FPS's, etc). Soon I was WXAD'ing around, picking things up with the mouse, swinging swords with right click, jumping with J, saving with Ctrl+S, and it really isn't a big deal. 

 

I mean, given how intensely annoying inventory management was in Witcher 1, or how you have to go through like 8 different full screens with zoom-ins to check out a couple of skills in Skyrim, you'd think that people are used to the fact that each game has its idiosyncrasies. It's not like today's games are VR-land. I think in many cases the UI complaint is (1) generalised so that some truly clumsy games represent all old games; (2) you might never really have got to give the games a chance.

Sure, but I'm talking like even older games, like the original Bard's Tale where you have to enter 3 letter codes for every spell in the game to cast them. That sort of thing is just far too annoying for me to put up with, particularly when I don't have original manuals or the like that I can have sitting open in front of me. Stuff like Ultima Underworld isn't a problem at all, besides being a bit clunky.

 

I also miss tooltips, since a lot of the time the icons aren't all that informative.

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As I said just above, some games have definitely not aged well. It would be ridiculous to deny that some new designs are better than old ones, or that every old game has aged well - that would be the just as logically bankrupt as all the "oh everyone who likes old games just have nostalgia" cliches. 

 

For myself, yeah, something like Bard's Tale, or doing my own mapping, etc does really get in the way. One good thing is it's really easy to play older games on a window and read a pdf manual or one of many online guides for controls or things like that, without spoiling.

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As I said just above, some games have definitely not aged well. It would be ridiculous to deny that some new designs are better than old ones, or that every old game has aged well - that would be the just as logically bankrupt as all the "oh everyone who likes old games just have nostalgia" cliches. 

 

For myself, yeah, something like Bard's Tale, or doing my own mapping, etc does really get in the way. One good thing is it's really easy to play older games on a window and read a pdf manual or one of many online guides for controls or things like that, without spoiling.

Yeah, I'm just saying, if you go back far enough, it gets to the point where the UIs are more often than not hard to deal with, but I get that it was a limitation of the time (heck, back in the day, nobody I knew had a mouse.)

 

As for playing in a window...I realize people do it, but I can't stand it.

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Why does history in general matter?

 

 

Because it gives you context.  

 

It also allows you to predict the future, but I'm supposed to keep that a secret.   :ninja:

Yup. Psychohistory won't work if the population is aware of its invisible hand.

"Things are funny...are comedic, because they mix the real with the absurd." - Buzz Aldrin.

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There are games that aged well and games that now are unplayable for me. For example might and magic seriesn is unplayable to me until part 6, which is fun even now.

 

Even some modern trips to the past ( I am looking at you Legends of Grimrock) have elements that just piss the end user off (like why the hell do I have to go through the chore of spellcasting codes every time I want to use a spell instead of simply equiping it once I found the combination?)

 

I still can play some older games and have fun but there are also new ones that are good too.

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