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Offline Best Username Ever

Junior Devvie





« Posted 2012-09-16 19:49:55 »

Are old video games boring?
Offline ReBirth
« Reply #1 - Posted 2012-09-17 02:03:46 »

I still play Snake on my mom's monochrome Nokia phone.

It's a story of pursue of your desire without end.

Offline Jimmt
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« Reply #2 - Posted 2012-09-17 02:10:50 »

Mario is still a story of raging after you held the button for 0.2 sec too long.
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Offline ags1

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« Reply #3 - Posted 2012-09-18 18:55:22 »

How old?

Modern games do not come close to the excitement of titles like

Civilisation (the original)
UFO
Doom
Warcraft II
Lemmings


Offline sproingie

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« Reply #4 - Posted 2012-09-18 19:07:36 »

For every great old game you remember, there were dozens of crappy titles.  There aren't any less good games nowadays, just more bad or just mediocre ones that you can still remember.
Offline princec

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« Reply #5 - Posted 2012-09-18 19:15:05 »

Even the good ones that I remember turn out to be shockingly bad when I go back to try and research them. All my old heroes. Bah.

Cas Smiley

Offline ags1

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« Reply #6 - Posted 2012-09-18 19:25:46 »

True - I tried to play Civ not so long ago and it did feel just a little (a lot) clunky.

Offline arnaud_couturier
« Reply #7 - Posted 2012-09-18 23:58:21 »

Most old (pre 1990) games suffer from severe flaws and very limited graphics.
One must have played them back then to enjoy them today (nostalgia).

The sweet spot is in the games released between 1994 and 2000.
The PS1/Win95-98 generation is IMO the golden age of video games, on all platforms.
Graphics were just right: not too flashy, and believable enough.
The right mix of art, technology and "fun".

Today's games are mere technological show offs.
And they (guess who) seem to put more budget on the trailers than on the games themselves.
Offline Best Username Ever

Junior Devvie





« Reply #8 - Posted 2012-09-19 22:17:57 »

1994-2000 was pretty good. I still enjoy things like Sim City 2000. It's almost irrelevant how good the graphics of a game are as long as the level of detail is appropriate to the game. Most old recognizable games, especially Nintendo and Sega ones, are extremely good even if they lack modern theatrical elements.
Offline princec

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« Reply #9 - Posted 2012-09-19 22:53:21 »

Having been around since the dawn of computer games (yes I even played SpaceWar on the original hardware though it was already a curiosity by then) I feel as if I've seen several "golden ages" come and go.

Some of the middling 8-bit games on the C64 and Spectrum were particularly good fun at the time but nowadays would be lambasted for their punishing difficulty which was a hangover from the concept of arcade games which milked money from punters. Back in the day I absolutely loved Paradroid, Uridium, Iridis Alpha, Ancipital, Dropzone, and a fair few others on my 64, but when I go back and try to play them now they are barely worthy of my attentions, as they frustrate in nearly every way. Sob sob. That's why I spend my days remaking them so they're good!

Cas Smiley

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Offline arnaud_couturier
« Reply #10 - Posted 2012-09-20 02:59:12 »

The difficulty was also right IMO in the 1994-2000 games.

Before that you had to have the reflexes of a ninja to have the smallest chance with shoot'em ups and platformers. Or to become a bookworm with RPGs, keeping your own notes of everything in the game world.

After 2000, even gran'ma could finish your game. No more challenge.
Just sit back, follow the scripted line and enjoy the show with your 3d glasses... yuck.
There are specialized things for that, it's called movies.

Fortunately for me, enough awesome games were produced in 1994-2000 to fill the rest of my gamer's life.
There are so many I still want to play.

Indie games tend to catch up, but are still not up to that golden age's standard. They're generally lacking in content and overall polish: all the boring stuff for us developers. I'm not blaming anyone though. Simply can't expect the same result from a team of only 1 or 2 persons with limited means.
Offline sproingie

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« Reply #11 - Posted 2012-09-20 03:39:26 »

A lot of games have adjustable difficulty levels.  While I'm nowhere near hardcore enough to go straight to Nightmare/Berzerk/OMGWTFBBQ or whatever they call it, I usually do start games on "hard" these days.  But thanks to ubiquitous quicksaves or generous checkpoints, ultimately most games these days are about "time to completion" and not "whether you can complete it".  And frankly, I don't care, because it's still fun.  You want hardcore, there's still Super Meat Boy.



Offline princec

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« Reply #12 - Posted 2012-09-20 09:08:08 »

I have a massive aversion to the concept of a "difficulty level" in games. I consider it a broken design if a game needs one.

Cas Smiley

Offline Oskuro

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« Reply #13 - Posted 2012-09-20 10:47:41 »

"Don't get me started on centipede"  Grin

I think there has to be some perspective. Older games not only were more immature as an art form, they had more limitations and often needed to focus more on barebones gameplay.
Modern games, on the other hand, are developed in a very different market and culture, where some things have been proven to work/not work, and there's a more "disposable entertainment" attitude towards games in general.


I personally like the purity of old or very limited games, going so far as to apply limitations to my own development, but I don't think there is anything wrong with not liking them either.

As long as we understand that there's room for everyone, it's fine.


Oh, and there's a question on the Escapist Expo Q&A panel that touches on this issue (The question about the idea that games should focus only on what they are good at, Movie Bob answers).

Offline princec

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« Reply #14 - Posted 2012-09-20 11:12:04 »

I used to think that there was a "disposable attitude" to modern games nowadays but actually what it is, is that there are simply about 100,000x more games to choose from, at prices ranging from free to peanuts. No point in spending time playing something that doesn't really float your boat immediately when you can just move on to something else or even just buy something else. Back then, games were a rare thing and you either tried your damnedest to enjoy them or you lost your entire month's pocket money, or you didn't have a game to play at all.

Cas Smiley

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« Reply #15 - Posted 2012-09-20 11:17:58 »

Just played Black Mesa through without stop - its a fan made re-creation of half-life 1 single player, and its stuck to the original down to the last detail. I remember HL1 being awesome, but playing it with modern(at least more modern..) gfx, it bored me senseless.

Still prefer old games like Alien Breed and Fallout (1 & 2), but I find em much harder to get into because they dont seem to engage the senses as easily
Offline princec

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« Reply #16 - Posted 2012-09-20 12:33:04 »

When you can't engage the senses you've got to engage the imagination or social interaction... or both.

Cas Smiley

Offline Best Username Ever

Junior Devvie





« Reply #17 - Posted 2012-09-20 23:50:38 »

I have a massive aversion to the concept of a "difficulty level" in games. I consider it a broken design if a game needs one.

Cas Smiley

I was just thinking the same thing today. First of all, why make me choose? I've never played the game so I don't know what the differences are. Easy-Medium-Hard is completely subjective. The worst difficulty setting options are the ones where they simply tweak variables to give the enemies an artificial advantage. Extra HP, more gold, faster task completion), and multipliers for damage, resource collection, speed, weight, health, etc. Those are all superficially more difficult, but are actually identical to easier difficulty settings in terms of the challenge they provide. The other changes to "difficulty" just limit your choices of effective strategies and penalize mistakes more.



I think there has to be some perspective. Older games not only were more immature as an art form, they had more limitations and often needed to focus more on barebones gameplay.
Modern games, on the other hand, are developed in a very different market and culture, where some things have been proven to work/not work, and there's a more "disposable entertainment" attitude towards games in general.

I would not say old video games were an immature art form. Arcade games are not as great as old or new console based games, but it seems like there was a lot more attention paid to detail. Pacman is a little repetitive and there is the glitch where you could walk past ghosts unharmed, but it has far more replay value than most games. Compared to Angry Bejewels, it is far superior even if the graphics and mechanics are primitive. And Tetris, order of magnitudes better than Pacman, has an artistic quality that is hard to reproduce without reproducing the game itself. Sonic and Mario games are even better. Besides being great games, even the visuals and music are pretty amazing.
Offline kul_th_las

Junior Newbie





« Reply #18 - Posted 2012-09-21 01:25:48 »

I still shamelessly play Mega Man 2 at least once a year to this day. There are few games that I feel anywhere close enough to happy with that are 20+ years old to still play once in a while.

Agreed that many of the old games were just awesome for their time, but that they don't stand up to today's games. Even if many of today's games aren't much better in terms of game mechanics, many of the control mechanisms alone have evolved to the point where trying to play an old game can feel very clunky.
Offline Oskuro

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« Reply #19 - Posted 2012-09-21 08:48:32 »

I would not say old video games were an immature art form.

Some where impressive and still stand the test of time, yes (But for each of those, there were many failed experiments). But what I meant is that videogames, as an art form, isn't very old, and is still struggling to be its own thing (Rather than like to ape movies, as is the current fad in mainstream gaming).

So when I said immature, I meant specifically that it is a very young art form, and older games are from a still younger stage. Take from that what you will.


Quote
Difficulty

I think difficulty levels are a matter of usability. Not all players can handle games the same way, and a difficulty setting helps make the game accessible to more people.

Heck, I think that's why the difficulty option exists. Old arcade games were all about reaching a wider audience, and most had a difficulty setting, so the arcade owner could make the game hard enough to attract as many customers as possible.

The thing I would fix, though, and I know this is a common idea, is to make difficulty adjustable at any time, not just at game start, so the user can fine tune the experience at any moment, just as you would remap key settings or change screen resolution.

This dynamic difficulty adjustment solves the issue of not being sure what difficulty to choose if you've never played (You can adjust it as the game progresses).


This makes me think that what I don't really like, and was typical in older games, is being asked to make binding choices blindly. Like the "choose difficulty when I don't know the game" complaint, if I don't know what I am selecting, what's the point of making me choose? So I have to restart the game in frustration once I realized my choice was wrong?

Offline princec

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« Reply #20 - Posted 2012-09-21 10:15:30 »

What is wrong with difficulty levels existing at all is that it implies that the game is trying to beat you, not the other way around.

There are basically two classifications of games - those where you play against people, and those where you play against "the game". An example of each would be chess, and patience.

Games where you play against others are almost trivial to set difficulty - you play against people of similar skill, or you randomly allot the chances of winning from game to game and thus difficulty is irrelevant.

Games where you play against "the game" are much more awkward to explain because of the incredibly long lasting legacy of the 70s and 80s arcade coin-op mentality and how they've affected the current generations of games programmers. Coin-op is very much about trying to "beat" the game for as long as possible before it extracts money from you. They are deliberately tuned to allow you to incrementally get a bit better at it every time you play, and get a bit further. This mentality persists to the modern day with such ridiculous concepts as "save points" which are a total anachronism.

The root of the problem is this: it should be as much fun to "lose" a game as it is to "win". It should, in effect, simply be fun playing the game. For 99% of all players, hard is not fun. Unfortunately nearly all developers, and especially developers of their own computer game, are in the 1% who get bored with the challenge quite quickly and decide to try and stack the odds against themselves actually completing the game. Then they go and make their game too hard, and so they retrofit a lame difficulty level selector for the 99% of the population for whom it should have been irrelevant.

My tip: every time I made my games easier, they sold more. The easier they are... the more they sold. This is down to one single factor alone: easy games are what people want to play. Easy games are more fun for more people. Don't waste your time with difficulty selectors that mean nothing to 99% of your customers.

Cas Smiley

Offline Oskuro

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« Reply #21 - Posted 2012-09-21 10:41:08 »

I agree and disagree.

First and foremost, one example you use, Chess, is a type of game where difficulty selection is essential. Namely, in order to truly enjoy the game, you need to choose an opponent near your skill level. If the opponent is too easy, the game becomes boring, if the opponent is way more experienced, you get steamrolled.

The most basic fundamental of gameplay (in any context) is challenge the player needs to overcome. And challenges imply difficulty, yet not everyone can handle the same difficulty, while still enjoying the challenge itself (Again, like chess).


Your assessment that easier game sell more is correct (in my opinion), but I think it follows a marketing trend more than anything. That notion of disposable games we mentioned earlier (The reason, I agree, being that there are so many options today you don't need to stick with something that you don't like) I think is at play here. Easier games are easier to pick up and beat for a quick fix, but not the type of games you will play over and over.

In today's market, these "play once and forget" games are financially sound, so I won't argue that, if your primary objective is selling a product, working to maximize your audience is a must.

But, if you are either trying to fill an specific niche (because there are difficulty junkies out there *cough* IWTBTG *cough*), or, like me, just a hobbyist doing it for fun or as a learning experience, it's ok to do different just for the sake of doing it.


And yes, it should be as much fun to lose as to win, I totally agree. Maybe an interesting option is to adjust difficulty dynamically based on player performance? If they keep dying, subtly lower the difficulty, if they keep pushing forward unopposed, subtly up it to keep them engaged.


Offline princec

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« Reply #22 - Posted 2012-09-21 11:05:22 »

WRT to "it should be as much fun to lose as to win" and "being steamrollered at Chess" ... if you're playing competitively against someone vastly better than you whose only objective is to defeat you and make you look like a fool... part of the enjoyment of chess is the understanding, memorising and application of strategies that defeated you and analysis of your own strategies that failed. This is why chess is fun even when you lose. It can be even more fun when someone vastly better than you actually talks you through how they're defeating you.

Easy does not mean throwaway. It means games you can play for a very long time before the game forces you to stop, usually by simply making it impossible for you to play any longer. Don't confuse it with throwaway games! Throwaway games are throwaway because they have no depth, or they rely on a consumable set of content, the consumption of which is the chief pleasure in playing. Many AAA titles actually fall into the latter category - they may cost £29.99 but you'll still only play them once because there's almost no fun in going back to play through again.

Cas Smiley

Offline Oskuro

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« Reply #23 - Posted 2012-09-21 12:04:00 »

What I'm getting at is that there's a delicate balance between an engaging game and a throwaway game. Not matter how deep the gameplay is, if it is balanced to make it too easy, the player will get bored easily (no challenge).


As for chess, playing against a more skilled opponent is a way to learn, yes, and is part of the enjoyment, but if that opponent is so far above your level you can't even react to what she is doing (or understand it), then it becomes frustrating (And the expert player teaching you to improve would be a tutorial, a different matter altogether)

Example in videogames: Counter Strike. I liked that game very much, but never managed to enjoy playing online (back on its heyday) because other players were so skilled I could barely take a step before being shot in between the eyes. And all the advice in the world didn't help either, because since it had a very important reflex-based gameplay, strategy could get you so far before raw training became the deciding factor.

That is the other side of the difficulty coin.

In short: Make a game too easy, the player gets bored; Make it too hard, the player gets frustrated.

Difficulty options are a way to give the player more agency in the balancing of the game, and, for deep and replayable games, I think is something mandatory, as players will gain skill and require more of a challenge to keep engaged.

Then again, as with the Counter-Strike example, it depends a lot on the type of game. Puzzle games depend more on intellectual interaction, and thus can be learned gradually through trial and error. Twitch/Reflex games, on the other hand, require training, and if the early stages of training are beyond the skill of the trainee, there's little to be done to improve.

Offline princec

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« Reply #24 - Posted 2012-09-21 12:26:21 »

I think this is why twitch reflex games are so unpopular today with the world at large.

Cas Smiley

Offline Oskuro

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« Reply #25 - Posted 2012-09-21 12:48:36 »

Agreed. And quite possibly why the "hardcore" resent the "casual".  Roll Eyes


(I so hate those labels)

Offline ctomni231

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« Reply #26 - Posted 2012-09-23 04:54:33 »

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/8FpigqfcvlM?version=3&amp;hl=en_US&amp;start=" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/v/8FpigqfcvlM?version=3&amp;hl=en_US&amp;start=</a>

I wouldn't call old video games boring. Plenty of new titles are trying to emulate the experience and feel of older games. I feel overall that the addition of difficulty levels, and not giving the player enough control of the character's they are playing as really dampen the experience of new video games a lot. In the old video games, I feel that you are able to experiment more with the game. I don't really like getting achievements for everything, sometimes randomly finding a secret passageway, or discovering a hidden location gives me more joy than getting random achievements.

There is a joy to be found in challenging games. I think Tetris is one of the most challenging games for reflex action around. Games that start off with a simple concept, and then throw in extra little challenges to overcome are usually the best games. Games that lure you into thinking that if you try hard enough, you can win. Those games can keep you hooked for hours.

However, I think what separates the old from the new is complete lack of a simple GUI. Controls and the menu systems have become a lot more complicated. Before, it used to take 1 click to get into the game. Now, you have menus and sub-menus for almost everything. You get used to it overtime, but I wonder how many people play the game for all the features it has to offer. I know I only use about 30% of the total features of the newer games. In the older games, it was more like 70%.

I guess time just makes things more complicated. We want different, we want flashy, we want entertainment. However, when they cater to that, the game play falls short. But, what can I say, flashy graphics sell big bucks. Why should we waste time with an engaging story, tight working controls, or cramming little secrets within our games that people don't have to look for? Make it pretty, get the bucks. Plain and simple.


Offline pjt33
« Reply #27 - Posted 2012-09-23 08:05:25 »

What is wrong with difficulty levels existing at all is that it implies that the game is trying to beat you, not the other way around.

...

The root of the problem is this: it should be as much fun to "lose" a game as it is to "win". It should, in effect, simply be fun playing the game. For 99% of all players, hard is not fun.
But how many players find unchallenging fun? As a general rule, if you can play it without engaging brain or reflexes what's to stop it from getting boring? The fun is in overcoming the challenge, and the hard thing as a developer is to ensure that the 99% can overcome the challenge before they get frustrated while at the same time giving the 1% a challenge at all. I don't have a problem with difficulty levels which are used to prevent people who already know the genre and have some of the skills from getting bored.

I love the concept of adaptive difficulty, but I haven't yet written a game which uses it. What I have done with some of my games is to try to make them multipath. Shift Shift 4k has one (harder than I really wanted, because I didn't have space and ideas for a longer curve) route where you aim to complete the levels, and one (intentionally very hard) route where you aim to collect the BONUS letters. Torquing! has various hard-to-reach areas which are unnecessary to complete the levels but entirely necessary to collect the hardest achievements. This is an approach which I'm very comfortable with.
Offline princec

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« Reply #28 - Posted 2012-09-23 09:08:37 »

But how many players find unchallenging fun? As a general rule, if you can play it without engaging brain or reflexes what's to stop it from getting boring? The fun is in overcoming the challenge, and the hard thing as a developer is to ensure that the 99% can overcome the challenge before they get frustrated while at the same time giving the 1% a challenge at all. I don't have a problem with difficulty levels which are used to prevent people who already know the genre and have some of the skills from getting bored.
There's your personal problem right there: you're one of the 1% - you don't really "get" the 99%. Stop even thinking about the 1% who get bored. They are an irrelevant - yes, irrelevant - minority of your userbase.

Cas Smiley

Offline Oskuro

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« Reply #29 - Posted 2012-09-23 09:52:09 »

I don't think the divide is 1%/99%, regardless of how topical that distribution is nowadays.

And I also think that, as more and more people get into games and it becomes something normal, more of those casual players will develop an specific taste for certain niches, including difficult retro games.

And when I say "think" I actually mean "hope". Such a fractured market would be harder to profit from, true, but I'd rather have that than a market buried under "mass appeal" products. If only as a player who is tired of being told I should like what everyone else does.


But, right now, if you're in the business of  selling games, it's more profitable to maximize accessibility.

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