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RPGWatch Forums » General Forums » Off-Topic » Is the decline of gaming permanent?

Default Is the decline of gaming permanent?

October 4th, 2014, 06:23
I have been thinking about this for a while. When I play an older game, there is just some kind of special touch, some focus to it that I can't pinpoint. What I have been thinking for a long while is that even if there are advances like Steam and Kickstarter, things are never going back to the way they used to be, for many reasons.

-The Internet

I actually think that the Internet is a big source of distraction from any of us which saps away our energy and modifies the way our brain responds to dopamine, since it always triggers many dopamine rushes. I think there is so much information and constant feedback that it makes our abilities to truly focus on something much poorer. I also think that the time spent dealing with a community or worrying about it, is time not spent working properly in a more quiet and secluded environment. I think games were better when the game developers were more insulated from their fanbase.

-Lack of limitations

Cleve Blakemore said one of his letters to Sir-Tech that limitation was the mother of human ingenuity. I think I agree. When you have unlimited horsepower and unlimited space, you have no incentive to make everything work tightly. When you have more space and horsepower at your disposal, you have a lot of pressure to show it off, whereas a limited system is more a level playing field, and you cannot make anything wasteful.

-Programmers of lesser quality, and less of them

Nowadays a lot of people who work in game development don't know how to program, or they use automated tools like Unity which cuts off a lot of the work needed to make everything run. But when you're not well acquainted with your technology, ultimately it's going to make the experience suffer.

I also think a lot of people are lacking in discipline. You don't really see genius, fabulously talented programmers like Sid Meier, Will Wright, or the Simtex founder anymore. People who used to be the best at their craft used to be very accomplished computer engineers. Now there are many posers, and even programmers are more disconnected "from the metal".

-Pressure to streamline

When the average gamer is older, it means he has less patience to deal with annoyances, with playing a sequence all over again, to figure out a complex but rewarding interface or control scheme. You can say that you're just removing things that are hassles… but bit my bit, they add up, and ultimately these hassles are part of the experience as well. A lack of hand holding is what made a lot of these games unique.

-The new business models are nearly always not enough to make a company viable

The only ones who can truly fund very expensive games on Kickstarter are those who have a lot of notoriety like Brian Fargo and Chris Avellone, and even they had to inject millions more than first anticipated. Most Kickstarter gaming projects are made by young starry-eyed college kids who can live at below or barely above poverty levels. But what happens when they want to get married and found a family, and such miserable pay doesn't suffice anymore? They might enjoy living their dreams, but the dream will be over soon enough, and they know it. They're riding the wave while they can still afford it.

I am not convinced at all contrarily to popular belief that a medium like Steam is the solution, because there is such a flood of software nowadays that to get notice you have to compromise a lot, either with your price, or with the quality of your content in order to have hope that the popular sites and youtubers give you your 15 minutes of fame. It is the App store effect all over again.

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October 4th, 2014, 07:41
All of your points have some truths in it. But I have one big counter argument:
The year 2014.
I can't remember the last time when I had so many good new games to play.
And the pipeline is full of new interesting ones.

Lords of Xulima
D:OS
Wasteland 2
Ghost of a Tale
Darkest Dungeon
MM X
Blackguards
Telepath Tactics
UnderRail
Neo Scavenger
Banner Saga
Age of Decadence
Eliminage Gothic
Child of Light
Expedition Conquistador

and many many more

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October 4th, 2014, 07:52
Of course all these great games exist and that's awesome. But the fact is that they are in the majority of cases not what they could be. For example we've had DOS and Wasteland 2 having content patches months after release, and many of these other games functioning on shoe string budgets. Among all of those only MM X and Blackguards can be considered as part of the "middle sized game", and that is because there is still a retail costumer base large enough in Germany and surrounding European countries to make them profitable.

A few of the ones that look more like them, like Legends of Eisenwald and Lords of Xulima, can exist because the people making them live in countries where the cost of living is significantly lower than in say the G8 countries.

In Kickstarter projects you see a lot of features cut, incomplete stuff, and other similar disappointments. To me, it is a sign that things are hanging by a thread, and there is little stability and means to insure a continuous income stream.

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October 4th, 2014, 07:57
I agree with HiddenX.

I have more games to play than ever before. I think the key to finding more enjoyment though is to play other games beside RPGs.

As for crowd-funding I think it has made game development better. Without it we wold never have games that have been dormant for many years already.

Sure games have changed also and that's not always a bad thing. I think some members are lost in nostalgia for old games they can't appreciate modern games.

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October 4th, 2014, 08:21
As a programmer working in the games industry I naturally have to react to a post such as this to defend myself and my fellow game developers

What you say about talent in the industry is simply not true. I would argue that pretty much every crafts group within game development has gotten *better* at their craft, from a technical point of view.The games industry is still young, compared to most other industries, so this is only natural and to be exptected.

In fact you only have to look at certain Kickstarter projects from a couple of years back to see what I mean. There has been a tendency for old retired "genius" game developers to come out of hiding to try their hands with Kickstarter funded games… only to discoved that they fail to deliver - even with all these "easy" tools like Unity that we have today. They haven't kept up, and now they are overwhelmed by the technical challenges of creating even a cheap Kickstarter game on Unity….
I'm not going to mention any specific Kickstarters, but you can take a pick from a fairly long list

I also think you severely underestimate the amount of talent that goes into developing new rendering techniques, animation, sound, ai etc. You're clearly not from the games industry yourself, but if you were, and if you attended conferences such as GDC, then you would quickly see that we still have tons of "genius programmers". They just work on much more specialized areas than those programmers you mentioned, which makes it much harder to see and celebrate from the outside.

For my own part, on the last game I was part of shipping one of the things I developed was a crowd system that could simulate movement of up to 1500 characters on a PS3 within an allotted 2ms time slot per frame. I'm not claiming to be a genius programmer or anything - but I can assure you that this was not trivial to achieve at all! And it was every bit as close to the "metal" as any game engine programming from the past. We're talking about analysing memory cache misses, and optimizing each compiled code instruction for maximum utilization of modern pipelines CPU architectures. Incidently it also landed me a nomination for best technical achievement in the games industry (sorry, couldn't resist mentioning that)

A genius programmer is no longer one that develops a new cool game engine all by himself… he develops some new tiny, but truely awesome, part of an engine or game consisting of literally millions lines of c++ code!

I'm not necessarily arguing that this is good.

In fact I do believe that we, the games industry, has gone overboard with trying to best each other with AAA quality games. It costs too much money and often takes away focus from core gameplay (as you noticed when comparing new games with the old ones). But we're kind of caught up in an evil circle where AAA is expected from large franchises. But there is a difference from this problem to stating that the talent of the industry has somehow declined…..

I can somewhat agree with most of your other points, and if Cleve really said that, then that might be the only sensible thing to have come from his mouth for a long time Limitations can indeed be good for focus….
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October 4th, 2014, 10:25
Originally Posted by Humanity has risen! View Post
I have been thinking about this for a while. When I play an older game, there is just some kind of special touch, some focus to it that I can't pinpoint. What I have been thinking for a long while is that even if there are advances like Steam and Kickstarter, things are never going back to the way they used to be, for many reasons.
It's called nostalgia.
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October 4th, 2014, 10:44
Originally Posted by KasperFauerby View Post

In fact you only have to look at certain Kickstarter projects from a couple of years back to see what I mean. There has been a tendency for old retired "genius" game developers to come out of hiding to try their hands with Kickstarter funded games… only to discoved that they fail to deliver - even with all these "easy" tools like Unity that we have today. They haven't kept up, and now they are overwhelmed by the technical challenges of creating even a cheap Kickstarter game on Unity….
I'm not going to mention any specific Kickstarters, but you can take a pick from a fairly long list
Do me a favor and mention specific kickstarters. Because I have this feeling that you think Schaffer was considered a ''genius'' .


Originally Posted by KasperFauerby View Post
As a programmer working in the games industry I naturally have to react to a post such as this to defend myself and my fellow game developers

What you say about talent in the industry is simply not true. I would argue that pretty much every crafts group within game development has gotten *better* at their craft, from a technical point of view.The games industry is still young, compared to most other industries, so this is only natural and to be exptected.

The quality of Programming college graduates is going down the toilet and most big developers are becoming increasingly bloated, partly by their size and unadapted structures, but also an increasing amount of barely qualified personnel who have gotten themselves in important executive or game designing positions.

Today's studios don't even come close to the ones like Id software of old in terms of efficiency.


What this era has given us though is the internet, and a good platform for homemade geniuses to start making their own small but efficient developing efforts.


I also think you severely underestimate the amount of talent that goes into developing new rendering techniques, animation, sound, ai etc. You're clearly not from the games industry yourself, but if you were, and if you attended conferences such as GDC, then you would quickly see that we still have tons of "genius programmers". They just work on much more specialized areas than those programmers you mentioned, which makes it much harder to see and celebrate from the outside.
That's true. This development was to be expecting but this over specialization of the programmer is what's choking things and led us to this state in the first place.
Programmers are hardly respected, or definitively not as they were back then were they were for the most part essentially designers or highly invested in the design process.
Maybe that's because studios were smaller, the industry was nascent and outside of programmers there wasn't anyone else. It was hard just finding composer who knew how to encode their song for the game into the engine, or artists.
Now most studios have a clear line between designers and programmers (and artists but that gets more complicated), with a dialogue between them that's completely sub-par and designers who are hardly qualified in the first place and accumulate nonsensical meetings after meetings.

For my own part, on the last game I was part of shipping one of the things I developed was a crowd system that could simulate movement of up to 1500 characters on a PS3 within an allotted 2ms time slot per frame. I'm not claiming to be a genius programmer or anything - but I can assure you that this was not trivial to achieve at all! And it was every bit as close to the "metal" as any game engine programming from the past. We're talking about analysing memory cache misses, and optimizing each compiled code instruction for maximum utilization of modern pipelines CPU architectures. Incidently it also landed me a nomination for best technical achievement in the games industry (sorry, couldn't resist mentioning that)
Congrats. Yeah we're doing more and more crazy stuff like that but it's completely disconnected from the industry the same way fields medal works is from Industrial Physics.

A genius programmer is no longer one that develops a new cool game engine all by himself… he develops some new tiny, but truely awesome, part of an engine or game consisting of literally millions lines of c++ code!

I'm not necessarily arguing that this is good.
Well said.


In fact I do believe that we, the games industry, has gone overboard with trying to best each other with AAA quality games. It costs too much money and often takes away focus from core gameplay (as you noticed when comparing new games with the old ones). But we're kind of caught up in an evil circle where AAA is expected from large franchises.
AAA is AAA marketing. AAA has essentially the same real production value as an AA (if we call AA the same thing). Whatever extra budget they have over AA (I can't stress enough how an absurd proportion goes into advertisement), they waste it in gimmicks, meant to make it easier to market : ''Look kid how realistic the trigger texture looks like'', and of course, the aforementioned insane, really insane, inefficiency.
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October 4th, 2014, 10:59
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
It's called nostalgia.
This. My old favorite games will probably always stay my favorites. It was the sense of discovery I felt the first time seeing a great RPG. I didn't even know anything like that existed.

So, even if modern games may be objectively better, they will never elicit the same feeling again. Yes, I may enjoy them, but it's different.
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October 4th, 2014, 11:21
The Internet is a great point made by HHR: Many people, me included, spend time on the net we would have used to game. The internet also offers quick solutions to games, in the form of walkthroughs and easily accessible cheats for those who prefer those, and with the ease of access, more and more do.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the glut of games released this year, while great, can actually be detrimental. Even in the old days when we were all mostly in high school and had more time to play, there were never that many releases in a year. There was only ever 1 or 2 quality RPGs released in a year, giving us time to digest.

Today, we need to quickly play the latest release, even if we have barely begun the previous release, because we want to discuss it on our favorite rpg board, be it the Codex, the Watch or any other, lest we be left behind the others in our online RPG social circles. And when we are burnt out alt tabbing between the game and the board, lo and behold another rpg is released, full of bugs that will be patched via 'free' dlcs (the developers actually hint they are doing us a favor by making these patches free)

In the defence of the devs though, regarding the last point, today's PCs have so many different configurations, and even old school art is more expensive today than it was yesterday since even old school art today is actually more demanding hardware wise than yesterdays art and effects (which never required graphics cards for instance, as they did not exist. This is the pre Voodoo days) that many developers are overwhelmed and forced to shove through unfinished products to generate revenue they can live on.

Some manage to make it even then like the Grimrock devs, the Eschalon dev and Jeff Vogel. But these folks do it by planning well, avoiding feature creep, and their experience (for instance, the Grimrock devs had a lot of years of programming & industry experience between them before making their brand new company's first rpg. They are NOT starry eyed college kids but hardened veterans before shipping their new companies first title even)

And finally, with the glut of entertainment these days and for the past decade, we are all jaded now. We can never get back the sense of wonder we had in the old days, when we first booted up Ultima Underworld, or Arena, or Ultima 7 or Startrail or Lands of Lore. Each of these games did have charm, but that was magnified in us because we had never really seen anything quite like it before. I even feel for the kids these days, they too won't get to feel the same sense of wonder we did because we were there at the start of it all. Before our generation there was only tabletop D&D of Gygax's generation, and before that was only the LOTR novels. The conecpt of the RPG as we know it today exists only because of D&D and in a smaller part LOTR.

Some games released this year though do recapture some of the old magic. I especially recommend the following:

MMX: Legacy
Divinity Original Sin (combat is great, dialogue & story is shit tho)
Blackguards

Play the above, preferably in order. That is a lot of hours of RPG goodness, and all the above games, especially the first 2, can last us years. Heck playing MMX with a different party with a different build for each character is like a new experience.
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October 4th, 2014, 11:36
The good old days have been replaced by the good new days. There are a lot more games that are a lot better than what we used to get. Real innovation is still extremely rare, though, and the more you've experienced - the more it takes to impress.

However, given the ridiculous size of the gamer audience today, it's inevitable that we'll see more innovation. It might be harder to spot and appreciate, but there's no way around that, say, a hundred times the people involved will result in more crap and more cream.

Lesson here being that there's no decline so much as an incline of expectation and a lack of ability to adapt to how times have changed.

So, games weren't better - you were just easier to impress.

When you're young and impressionable, you have the ability to focus and obsess over whatever you're experiencing, without realising you're not doing something else that might be wiser or more useful. When you were experiencing your first real RPG - it was a milestone in your life, if you're anything like myself as a major RPG fan. That will have created a massive emotional pathway in your brain that will never go away.

This kind of powerful impact is very, very hard to experience when we get older - and the brain changes in terms of how it creates these emotional connections.

Also called nostalgia

This strange emotional power will make you believe that how games "used to be" was better, despite new games having countless improvements, and you'll be missing that kind of experience every time some new game refuses to do things in that old way. Everything about it has to feel just like it used to be, with just the right kind of intricacy and (perhaps superfluous) complexity.

This is where it helps to keep an open mind, and really delve into all the aspects of the new games. As in, while some aspects might not be as interesting - according to the old ways - other aspects may, in fact, be superior. This is how you learn to appreciate new games - so long as you stay rational about it.

As for the Internet, that's obviously something that can have a major impact on your lifestyle and how you spend your time. This is where we need to take responsibility for how we approach it, and it can be a struggle. I'm also fighting against overuse and overexposure. It's doable - but very hard to maintain when you're as curious about what happens as I am.

I wouldn't lump that together with gaming, though, as it's completely optional.

As for the Cleve Blakemore quote, that's a slight variation on words of wisdom hundreds, if not thousands, of years old.

It doesn't quite apply to modern game development, though - as we're still extremely limited by the platforms available - and we still have to work within tight constraints.

Sure, we don't have to be as disciplined when it comes to optimisation - but the expanded scope and vast amount of new possibilities will outweigh the bad in the end. That's my take on it, anyway.

I used to think something similar back in the day, when I thought about what developers achieved with 1KB of memory (my ZX-81) - and then 512KB (Amiga), and so on.

Then I started using my brain and realised that, while impressive, those games were absolutely nothing compared to a game of modern complexity and scope. If they were, I'd still be back playing my Amiga backlog - and I'm not.

There's a reason for that.
Last edited by DArtagnan; October 4th, 2014 at 11:54.
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October 4th, 2014, 12:09
I like many new games with innovative ideas.
But I still play the old classics from time to time.
Jagged Alliance 2 and Wizardry 8 for example are still "best in class" in their subgenre.

I love old Amiga classics like Ambermoon and Amberstar or the Realms of Arkania series. Still worth playing with WinUAE IMHO.

In general I love old and new games that are interesting entertaining and challenging. Going back to the classics is sometimes disillusioning because they aged somewhat bad. But sometimes I'm still in admiration for some of these classics especially when comparing them to many new dumbed down casual popamole games.

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October 4th, 2014, 13:03
Originally Posted by HiddenX View Post
I like many new games with innovative ideas.
But I still play the old classics from time to time.
Jagged Alliance 2 and Wizardry 8 for example are still "best in class" in their subgenre.

I love old Amiga classics like Ambermoon and Amberstar or the Realms of Arkania series. Still worth playing with WinUAE IMHO.

In general I love old and new games that are interesting entertaining and challenging. Going back to the classics is sometimes disillusioning because they aged somewhat bad. But sometimes I'm still in admiration for some of these classics especially when comparing them to many new dumbed down casual popamole games.
Lots of old games are great and admirable. Some games, like Jagged Alliance 2 have had very few modern iterations - so it's hard to compare with anything new. Same goes for Master of Orion 2 and X-Com.

As for Amiga and older, how much time do you spend actually playing and completing Amiga games compared to PC games?
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October 4th, 2014, 13:34
My estimated game time distribution:

Old C64 and Amiga games: 10%
Old PC games on DOSBox: 10 - 15%
PC games after 2000: 75 - 80%

I play ca. 1100 hours/year, so that's
Old C64 and Amiga games: 110 hours
Old PC games on DOSBox: 110 - 165 hours
PC games after 1998 (new and old): 825 - 880 hours

All in all I would say per year I play 30-40% old games and 60-70% new games out of the current year.

PS:
Some of the old games are actually new to me, because I never played them before. CRPGAddict is to blame

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October 4th, 2014, 13:46
Sounds about right for what I figured for an old-school fanatic like yourself
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October 4th, 2014, 13:51
This year the ratio for old games is even a bit higher, because I made some reviews of classic games for felipepepe and still have some more to write - I need more time

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October 4th, 2014, 19:07
Originally Posted by KasperFauerby View Post
As a programmer working in the games industry I naturally have to react to a post such as this to defend myself and my fellow game developers

What you say about talent in the industry is simply not true. I would argue that pretty much every crafts group within game development has gotten *better* at their craft, from a technical point of view.The games industry is still young, compared to most other industries, so this is only natural and to be exptected.

In fact you only have to look at certain Kickstarter projects from a couple of years back to see what I mean. There has been a tendency for old retired "genius" game developers to come out of hiding to try their hands with Kickstarter funded games… only to discoved that they fail to deliver - even with all these "easy" tools like Unity that we have today. They haven't kept up, and now they are overwhelmed by the technical challenges of creating even a cheap Kickstarter game on Unity….
I'm not going to mention any specific Kickstarters, but you can take a pick from a fairly long list

I also think you severely underestimate the amount of talent that goes into developing new rendering techniques, animation, sound, ai etc. You're clearly not from the games industry yourself, but if you were, and if you attended conferences such as GDC, then you would quickly see that we still have tons of "genius programmers". They just work on much more specialized areas than those programmers you mentioned, which makes it much harder to see and celebrate from the outside.

For my own part, on the last game I was part of shipping one of the things I developed was a crowd system that could simulate movement of up to 1500 characters on a PS3 within an allotted 2ms time slot per frame. I'm not claiming to be a genius programmer or anything - but I can assure you that this was not trivial to achieve at all! And it was every bit as close to the "metal" as any game engine programming from the past. We're talking about analysing memory cache misses, and optimizing each compiled code instruction for maximum utilization of modern pipelines CPU architectures. Incidently it also landed me a nomination for best technical achievement in the games industry (sorry, couldn't resist mentioning that)

A genius programmer is no longer one that develops a new cool game engine all by himself… he develops some new tiny, but truely awesome, part of an engine or game consisting of literally millions lines of c++ code!

I'm not necessarily arguing that this is good.

In fact I do believe that we, the games industry, has gone overboard with trying to best each other with AAA quality games. It costs too much money and often takes away focus from core gameplay (as you noticed when comparing new games with the old ones). But we're kind of caught up in an evil circle where AAA is expected from large franchises. But there is a difference from this problem to stating that the talent of the industry has somehow declined…..

I can somewhat agree with most of your other points, and if Cleve really said that, then that might be the only sensible thing to have come from his mouth for a long time Limitations can indeed be good for focus….
I think it still touches on what I was trying to say, which is focus. And like someone else mentioned, a lot of people who are now game developers have no background in programming, and they have a lot of clout in the overall design of the game.

Also, I think it illustrates something else which I forgot to include. While it is admirable that you were able to program such an algorithm in, what we're seeing in gaming is less and less focus on making tight and compelling gameplay systems, and more focus on the underlying technology. For instance, while again something like GTA is impressive, does the fact that the NPCs have such impressive routines and that there are so many of them makes the basic game that much better than say an NES game from the late eighties like River City Ransom where you were able to walk around in a city and there were almost no NPCs? Probably not. All in all I also don't think it is easier to make a game now, then it was with an old system like the NES where everything was in assembly, ressources were anemic and you had no tools to help you.

One quote I saw was that to make better games there needed not be advances in technology, but primarily advances in imagination.

I don't buy the nostalgia argument either. When I was young my parents didn't want/couldn't afford to pay thousands of dollars for a PC and I only got a Windows 98 PC as my first one. It means I had never played any classic DOS games until very recently.

To me the dopamine argument is the most fascinating, it is something I am very acquainted with due to a health condition which make me especially addicted to it. I really do think that with the Internet and all the constant stimulations people are subjected to, it's really hard to have the patience to sit down, read detailed rules, and spent hours mastering something complex. And it's not just laziness, I am often told I am lazy. When your brain's response to dopamine is modified it just makes it really really hard to delay any type of gratification. It's as if we were all a little bit addicted to drugs. It's not as if we were using meth, but the underlying principle is actually the same.

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Last edited by Humanity has risen!; October 4th, 2014 at 19:34.
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October 4th, 2014, 19:43
Mastering complex rules so you can enjoy your passtime is supposed to represent superior entertainment?

What if you're having fun without mastering complex rules? Wouldn't it be wiser if you saved the mastering for something worthwhile, like an accomplishment in real life - like an act of creating something for others to enjoy or learn from?
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October 4th, 2014, 21:53
There's room for both simplicity and depth. I think nowadays we have something in the middle that just isn't as satisfying as either. Even in stuff like Gears of War or Call of Duty clones you have RPG elements and stuff like that. Often less is more. It's often too cluttered with features that ironically are meant to "streamline" or to "simplify" things.

For example, Falcon 4.0 shipped with something like a 500 pages manual that might as well have taught you how to pilot a real plane. It simply is the sign of another era.

The problem is that middle sized games with more depth have long ceased to be commercially viable. The only solution is to either outsource is to a poor country (like Tropico, which is now developed in Hungary) to pay the workers less, or to to make repetitive iterations of more or less the same game that have very low development cycles (which is the Paradox way) and which only take form later when the studio has already been paid. In that sense they have pioneered the whole "early access" thing.

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October 4th, 2014, 22:26
Personally I thought the 80's and early 90's were great for games. Though it was all new and exciting. I still love playing some of those older game. I even have
http://www.classicgamesarcade.com/ book marked for those days I feel like remembering the downtown arcade days.

As for the mid and late 90's maybe it just me but just didn't like a lot of the games nor played many of them.

Right now I find there is almost to many good to great games out there to play and wish I was younger with more time on my hands to play more of them that I don't get a chance to play.
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October 4th, 2014, 22:29
Originally Posted by Humanity has risen! View Post
There's room for both simplicity and depth. I think nowadays we have something in the middle that just isn't as satisfying as either. Even in stuff like Gears of War or Call of Duty clones you have RPG elements and stuff like that. Often less is more. It's often too cluttered with features that ironically are meant to "streamline" or to "simplify" things.
Depth doesn't mean complexity. There are many kinds of depth. For instance, games like Bioshock Infinite and Last of Us have depth of cinematic narrative that never existed before. You have a game like Path of Exile that FAR exceeds any action RPG of the past in terms of complexity and depth. You have games like Star Citizen and Elite Dangerous, both of which will blow the best space simulators of the past away in pretty much all the ways that exist. Then we have games like Wasteland 2 and Divinity Original Sin. WL2 is far more complex than the first game in the series and Divinity is at least on par with Ultima 7 when it comes to interactivity and far superior when it comes to combat and character mechanics. Then we have games like Risen 3 and Skyrim - both of which completely destroy everything resembling those games from the past, like Daggerfall and Legends of Valour. You have Deus Ex Human Revolution, which I happen to think is better than Deus Ex in most ways, and which most people seem to agree was at least a worthy sequel.

I really don't know what you're talking about.

Maybe you're talking about obtuse rules and stuff that wasn't intuitive and which absolutely required a manual? Yeah, I remember games like that. I'm not sure the opaque nature of mechanics and the interface was better.

For example, Falcon 4.0 shipped with something like a 500 pages manual that might as well have taught you how to pilot a real plane. It simply is the sign of another era.
Falcon wasn't intended for casual gamers or the mainstream audience. You should look into games like X-Plane and the DCS sims if you want modern examples of similar complexity.

The problem is that middle sized games with more depth have long ceased to be commercially viable. The only solution is to either outsource is to a poor country (like Tropico, which is now developed in Hungary) to pay the workers less, or to to make repetitive iterations of more or less the same game that have very low development cycles (which is the Paradox way) and which only take form later when the studio has already been paid. In that sense they have pioneered the whole "early access" thing.
If you're talking about big budgets with publishers investing in games that won't appeal to a larger audience, then nothing has changed here. They never wanted to do that.

It's just that budgets for big games used to be smaller to match the smaller audience, and there wasn't an expectation of endless millions in return on AAA games.

I can't really blame the suits for that, and I'm looking at countless deep and complex games coming out through Early Access or crowd funding. I don't care how these games are made, so long as they're made.

I'm also fortunate enough to appreciate the strong AAA titles.

When I look at something like the upcoming The Witcher 3 - I don't find myself missing the obscure interfaces and needlessly complex mechanics of old ambitious RPGs. I happen to enjoy polished and beautiful games with fantastic visuals, narrative and superb gameplay.

When I go look for old-school complexity, I have dozens of kickstarters and indies to choose from.

For middle-market games, we have developers like Obsidian, Piranha Bytes and several other European developers.

Essentially, I think gaming has been vastly improved these past 4-5 years. The only thing that hasn't improved is my leniency towards imperfect games.
Last edited by DArtagnan; October 4th, 2014 at 22:43.
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