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Default Rampant Games - The Seven Steps of Retro Gaming

September 9th, 2010, 05:14
Not specifically RPG related but a fun item at the Rampant Coyote. The Seven Steps of Retro Gaming:
Stage 3: Disappointment
Umm… you know, as much as you try to look past the old graphics, they really are… rough. What is that object really supposed to be? It’s either a sword or a person… Oh, it’s a house. The gameplay is a little more simplistic (in spite of its obtuse interface) than you expected, and there are a lot of things they are doing here that really have been done far better by more modern games. And did we mention ugly graphics?
Stage 4: Acceptance
Hmmm – okay, once you have read the manual and spent an hour or two playing, you kinda get into the rhythm of things. And it’s maybe not that bad. Sure, the graphics are primitive, but after a while you can look past that. But now, at last, you are finally playing, really playing the game. You begin to see the game as they must have seen it back when it was new. It’s not so much of a chore now, at least.
More information.
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September 9th, 2010, 05:14
Sadly, I hardly ever go past stage 3. Except Master of Magic. With all the talk about Elemental, I went ahead and loaded MoM, and yes, there I was in Stage 1, then Stage 2, then 3… but I actually went through stage 4, 5 and 6. It really was a great game.
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September 9th, 2010, 05:29
To be honest, about half the time I don't get past stage 3 or 4 myself. As much as I like to consider myself a retrogamer and look through the ol' rose-colored glasses at the games of my youth, the fact is that many of 'em really weren't that good to begin with. Just like today, 90% of everything was crap. But then you get those gems that really do shine, in spite of the years.

The latest one to really hook me was Heroes of Might & Magic III. I'd heard so much about it, finally picked it up, suffered through the first three stages, and then - bam. Addicted. That's an awesome game.

It's a little easier with games I've already played in the past - those old friends are easier to become re-acquainted with. I recently started re-playing Eye of the Beholder II. I am still a little rusty, but some of it came back to me.
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September 9th, 2010, 06:12
I ran into a different stage with Deus Ex… the "oh yeah, now I remember" stage. I couldn't remember much about the game at first but, after awhile, I started to remember more and more. Then I remembered too much and it started to be like … well, like replaying a game I just played, even though it was ten years back.
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September 9th, 2010, 06:13
HoMM 2 and 1 are just as good as you see what the next ones in the line did and they seem more streamlined.

I started a thread 4 or 5 years back about looking to old games for inspiration as they weren't tied down to such hard and same gaming concepts. HoMM was an update of King's Bounty and Pirates! is the latest installment of well..Pirates!

I would love to see updated Seven Cities of Gold for example.

But your article reminds me of the launch Fallout 3 when we heard many stories of elderly gamers forcing young ones to put up with the very primitive Fallout 1 and 2 and finding in them fellow afficianados and missionaries for what game design should be.

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September 9th, 2010, 11:16
I often get a different feeling. For example I bought outcast from GOG the other day.

1. It began with a well done cinematic, and I was thinking wow this game actually has a story, and it is nice to see a pre-generated sequence where the developer can do things they can't in engine.

2. After that I was thinking wow this game really has fantastic music… not many game have that these days.

3. Wow, I acctually have to think…. I don't need to do that in most modern games.

4. Great the story and gameplay gets better as I progress in the game and get into the world.

5. I wish they still made games like these today.

Maybe I am an exception?
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September 9th, 2010, 11:24
Well, there are games from the past that are completely unsurpassed in their specific genre/subgenre, like:

System Shock
Master of Magic
X-Com
Master of Orion 2
Ultima Underworld

They will almost always "work for me", if I'm in the mood to go back in time. Sometimes I have the energy or mindset that allows me to look past dated visuals, but it depends on several things.

That said, the majority of old games HAVE been surpassed, overall, by later titles - and I don't think we had anything like, say, Gothic in the old days. Another example would be Civilization - where each iteration tends to improve upon the past. I see no reason to go back in time to "relive" outdated gameplay or experiences, for that.

So, I can't go "back" and play games that suffer too much from lack of modern standards, and that has less to do with visual aesthetics, than it has to do with gameplay mechanics or evolution.

That said, most stories in the past appealed to me more - but they were also presented in an archaic fashion. In that way, I'd rather just read a book or watch a movie, if I'm to enjoy a good story. There are more great books out there than I will ever find the time to read, anyway.

That's probably why I don't understand people who get "too" nostalgic, and overrate the past - because I often consider it somewhat of an illusion.
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September 9th, 2010, 11:53
I don't really do retro gaming unless it's a game I've already played (e.g Might and Magic 6-8), which means I know exactly what to expect.
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September 9th, 2010, 12:53
I have always been a retro gamer even when retro wasn't retro . So I just pick the cream of the crop from the golden oldie period. It might be a little different than from what I remember, but they are still the best from a long time ago. I will admit that I cannot play The Bard's Tale on dos. I have to use a commodore 64 emulator to play that one because without it my mind rebels at these horrible dos images being assaulted on my commodore 64 memories.

As for step 2 well dosbox takes care of the technical part. For you youngsters who didn't grow up with dos I can see how learning the few commands in it can be a little frustrating, but it isn't that difficult once you learn the basics. I normally can get any game to run and only have to worry about the cycles. Before dosbox I can't tell you how frustrating it was getting Ultima: Savage Empire to run with sound. Actually, I don't think I ever did accomplish that feat without that program.

I used to judge a game before I bought it by how heavy it was. The bigger the manual the better the game. I was just a kid so I don't really have any excuse for that other than D&D had these HUGE manuals so I expected my crpgs to have them as well. .

These steps can be applied to rogue games as well as retro games. I could not get past step 2 and 3 for years with any kind of ASCII graphics or rogue game. It wasn't until all the praise heaped onto Dwarf Fortress and a few for ADOM by posters here that I finally gave it a serious shot and got through all of the steps. It opened up a ton of great games for me.

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September 9th, 2010, 13:39
It also depends on the game in question, just like movies. I can easily watch and enjoy a movie like Casablanca where the story and the characters are important and the presentation is secondary. On the other hand, I just can't watch a movie like the original King Kong as anything other than a curiosity because the special effects are so outdated yet play such an important role in the movie.

Last year I played through Might & Magic 9 for the first time and the first hour and a half it was just horrible to look at, but then I realized the gameplay was the same as the previous games and I quickly went past stage 3.

I seldom retro-game titles that I haven't played at the time of its prime, but even though the old graphics often are too old for me to enjoy, it is usually the old gameplay mechanics (or lack thereof) that finally turns me off. It is true that they don't make games like they used to, but for me that is a good thing in many case. Proper quest logs, automaps, and stuff like that has now become something I'm loathe to do without … but too each their own.

"Chess in particular had always annoyed him. It was the dumb way the pawns went off and slaughtered their fellow pawns while the kings lounged about doing nothing that always got to him; if only the pawns united, maybe talked the rooks around, the whole board could've been a republic in a dozen moves." - Commander Vimes in Thud! by Terry Pratchett
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September 9th, 2010, 14:10
Originally Posted by fatBastard() View Post
It also depends on the game in question, just like movies. I can easily watch and enjoy a movie like Casablanca where the story and the characters are important and the presentation is secondary. On the other hand, I just can't watch a movie like the original King Kong as anything other than a curiosity because the special effects are so outdated yet play such an important role in the movie.
I very much agree. "Commander Keen" 4-6 ist just timeless, whereas "Commander Keen" 1-3 and older Might & Magic games just look … odd to me.

And that although they're all from roughly the same time-frame.

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September 9th, 2010, 14:47
Some games do get better with each iteration… up to a point, then they add so many things that it suddenly becomes worse. I remember Sim City (the first) being great, and the next one was better, but I don't remember which one, had so many things that I found it unmanageable (water pipes network?).
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September 9th, 2010, 14:48
I can't get past stage three, shamefully.

If there's one thing modern games do right it's give you a sense of direction. One reason I can't get into Realms of Arkania, Might & Magic etc is that I feel lost as soon as I start. I'm fine with the graphics (for the most part), but beyond that it's very hard to get a foothold. There's also the lack of automapping in a lot of older games so you can easily get lost - Might & Magic 1 is terrible for this. I had no idea what I was doing at all.

But it doesn't ring true just for RPGs. I have Earthworm Jim 1+2 (from Gog.com) and they're incredibly hard!
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September 9th, 2010, 14:57
Originally Posted by wolfing View Post
up to a point, then they add so many things that it suddenly becomes worse.
Interestingly, this appears to be some kind of nature's law : Add up more and more complexity.

For example each office software package becomes more and more complex. With each iteration. also known as "featuritis" here.

You can watch the very same "add complexity" natural law in every complex object - like in tools, computers, machines, companies, states, bureacracy …

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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September 9th, 2010, 15:13
I have no issues with retro games in general but I will not give a game a second chance if "The commands are all over the keyboard" or if I can't figure out what and/or how I'm supposed to do fairly quickly.

Back then things were very different for me: I remember one of my first pc games was the first Civilization that someone gave me a copy of (yes I was a filthy thief). No manuals no instructions or anything + I didn't understand english so well yet. I had absolutely no idea what that game was about or how it worked and what I could do with it - and I didn't know anyone that could tell me, but I was happy to just sit there for days and days slowly figuring it out until I could play properly… and play I did… until I beat it again and again.

I just don't have that kind of patience any more (+ I have great respect for a well designed, intuitive interface)

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September 9th, 2010, 22:07
I think one of the hardest lessons I had to learn as a game developer (and I *still* have to relearn it, constantly) is how to make the user interface clean, easy-to-use, powerful, AND attractive. While they were concerned about this back in the day as well, we're a LOT better at it now.

But I'm not super-fond of some of today's input decisions, either. Maybe my brain is now hardwired by playing too many of those old games, but the button-press timings of a few modern games can rub me the wrong way. Maybe it's because I play too many games, and I forget the interface rules by the time I get back to a game.
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September 9th, 2010, 23:45
Originally Posted by skavenhorde View Post
I have always been a retro gamer even when retro wasn't retro . So I just pick the cream of the crop from the golden oldie period. It might be a little different than from what I remember, but they are still the best from a long time ago. I will admit that I cannot play The Bard's Tale on dos. I have to use a commodore 64 emulator to play that one because without it my mind rebels at these horrible dos images being assaulted on my commodore 64 memories..
I highly recommend the Amiga version, using WinUAE
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