Simulated Wood-Grain Gaming

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Simulated Wood-Grain Gaming

Is gaming improving so quickly that it no longer amazes us?

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Some excellent points raised. Reminds me of that MGS3 conversation between snake and paramedic about video games.

As someone who didn't start at the beginning of gaming, I still feel pretty amazed how far we've come since the 1990's. It's a perspective thing; if you find a random Amazonian tribal member and give them Battlefield 2, it would be the same sense of amazement as your first experience with the medium.

Awsome article as always. Good points, too bad some people just never understand them.

Reading the article makes me want to break out the Old Sonic games again

Quite a few games managed to provoke awe in me the whole way through in recent years.

Especially Okami. Which kept my jaw planted to the floor for nearly 50 hours. And then made me cry like a fucking baby:

If you played it, you remember the scene with this music. YOU REMEMBER!

I remember the first game I had that let me save.

I was speechless at the thought that the little cartridge could remember the things I had done.

I wouldn't say there happening to fast just that they may not be as uniqe as they used to like Susan's example controlling what happened on the Television back then was new to gaming and everything else. Voice chat before multiplayer used it amd motion senseing was created outside of gaming as well so it's a amazing in light when it's 1st used for gaming but it fades quicker than things that didn't formerly exsist at all.

Well that how I see it.

I'm nostalgic too, but I think it's not so much development and technology as it is the games themselves now coming so rapid-fire. Games are now being released and marketed today the same way as Hollywood movies. With so many options to choose from, it's easy to get ''lost in the shuffle'' so-to-speak.

If I ever have a kid, I'm going to simulate the evolution of gaming in my living room.

Onyx Oblivion:
Quite a few games managed to provoke awe in me the whole way through in recent years.

Especially Okami. Which kept my jaw planted to the floor for nearly 50 hours. And then made me cry like a fucking baby:

If you played it, you remember the scene with this music. YOU REMEMBER!

Off Topic: I haven't played it in aeons. Could you toss me a spoiler tagged reply with what happens :D?

On Topic: I see what you mean, having only been a gamer for near enough 12 years, there really has been a massive explosion in awesome looking things. Even in the past few years there have been changes. For example, I recently bought Far Cry 2, the graphics were pretty, but not jaw-dropping. But at the time, they were utterly astounding.

If you've read the article, or simply heard of the analogy, it's like the boiling the frog. If you dump him into hot water, he'll jump out. If he is placed into a warm pot of water and it is slowly heated, etc.

I think being around for the emergence of a new technology has a more noticable impact than growing up surrounded by it. I was going to say a more profound impact but as I thought about it I came to the conclusion that it was incorrect, the impact is essentially the same but by having memories of 'the time before' the impact is more personally noticable. The drawback to that is people who can remember these times can come to view them through rose coloured nostalgia.

With games, when it comes to purely technological progression I think it is harder to amaze people as we've come to expect, if not outright demand, this progression. Combined with the promises made by companies it's that most often we're locked into a 'satisfaction/disappointment' system, where if something meets both our expectations and the promises made to us we're satisfied but otherwise we get bitchy about it all. Very little comes out these days that both exceeds our expectations and either meets or exceeds the promises made to us (depends on the promises), so of course, very little amazes us (at least in a good way).


Off Topic: I haven't played it in aeons. Could you toss me a spoiler tagged reply with what happens :D?

Well written article. I think you could also add that the new technology has limited our ability to use imagination to fill in the blanks. I doubt many kids were bothered by "bad" graphics back then, because they could fill in the areas between the pixels with some good old fashioned imagination. It was as immersive (or perhaps more so) than current generation games. I think in some ways, new technology actually takes away from the overall "awe factor".

I'm reminded of the first time I played Half-Life 2. I had never played anything remotely like it, and I was blown away by the atmosphere. The graphics, the writing, and the voice acting helped make the world seem so real. I was blown away.

The only other game to loosen my jaw like that was Flower. I was amazed both by the beauty of the environments and the motion controls.

Um no since gaming has become console centric graphic boundaries are not pushed like they were, we have to wait on longer hardware cycles for any real improvement on graphics and I am fine with that its just with the focus on story and design there is less and less focus on solid and deep mechanics.

As far as I see things gaming started to become stagnant in the late 90s and we are still stagnant a decade later, big happy happy joy joy its gained a larger demographic but its moot if the core of he industry is still as shallow and childish as ever......

Since the early 2000 I been waiting on gaming to get back to mechanics and interaction on the mainstream and still surprised to see the use of vain and sometimes shallow graphic designs supersede everything but writing....and now I see a trend for better writing(hevy rain=better writing and the return of FMV games to the mainstream niche) less emphasis on graphics and more stagnation and back pedaling on mechanics,interaction,control,control layout as so not to be too complected for the wider consoletard and non gamer demographics........

Gaming is like new music, its all pop they just call it different things to keep people from paying attention.....

God I am getting old......

Susan Arendt:
I'm not one of these people who has nostalgia glasses permanently affixed to their heads, refusing to accept that anything modern could possibly compare to the glorious days of yore.

Good! That's MY job!

This was a wonderful article.

I guess all kids go through that stage of awe, I certainly did when I first got Super Mario 64 on an emulator for my Windows 98 computer back when I was 4. Once you get past that stage, you just get used to it. Then you play for other aspects, hopefully gameplay >:(

I'm always impressed with how technology works, I was re-hooking up my consoles to my TV and my Genesis was next up, it has to be hooked up as it was my first system and it just kinda has that luxury of a space in my heart. As I picked it up I realized that while this technology now is absolute retro-tastic and most people just don't care about it anymore, this device (or devices as the Sega CD is attached) was a technological marvel at one point. I was born in 86 so I didn't get to see the other consoles really so my story is a bit further up in the console line up so take this for what it is I guess.

When the Genesis/Mega Drive came out the only real competitor (a huge one at that) was the Nintendo Entertainment System, which wasn't half as impressive tech wise. I'm sure some read that with some glares but that's not how I mean it, the NES was incredible when it came out, and it made some HUGE marks in gaming that saved gaming from the "crash". The Genesis with a wider color range, faster games and bigger adventures came out later as the next step and it was quite a jarring thing for many as like the NES to the 2600 and such (the same goes for the SNES vs the NES, just so you get what I mean). It's another big step in technology and they actually cost at one point a decent amount of money like current consoles cost. But now the Genesis, like the NES doesn't mean much to many, it's just that console they emulate via Virtual Console or they mess around with, an old device that can't hold a candle to the new systems.

At least that's how I see other people view it, to me the older systems are just as valid as the new systems because most games on the older systems just are not done anymore like games are now. They're vastly different and miss the charm or appeal, whatever you'd like to call it.

Sonic and Mario for me will always be the two rivals with great big adventures that were better on plastic cartridges than their disc incarnations as are many other game heroes.

Great article, I like to see people talk about their experiences in gaming then and now, cheesy as it is, it's always fun to read.

This reminds me of last year when the ISS crew had to take refuge in the escape module on the Space Station. They were almost torn apart by debris in space. And all it registered was a note on the ticker across the bottom of the screen on the 24 hour new channels. It used to be when anything happened in space it was head-line news, now it barely rates mentioning.

Its not a phenomenon restricted to games. I mean, think about Wi-Fi...we have a connectedness worldwide through the air. No connections, no wire. All the information of the internet (most of the information of the world) at your fingertips without even needing a wire. That still amazes me but is also so common place its barely regarded.

Part of it is that the changes are becoming more subtle and delicate, a nuance of character movement or sound, as opposed to huge sweeping sea changes like the ability to save your game. (Yes, that was a big deal once.)

And yet here we are in the year 2010 and the majority of videogames still cornhole us with save points.

I'm one of those people who believe that while technology may have gotten better over the years, the quality of games, sadly, has not improved.

You know, I don't think this is an effect of gaming changing, but rather an effect of gamers changing, that is to say, gamers aging.

That since of awe isn't lost from the game industry, it's just gone for people personally when they aren't a child anymore.

(Sorry for offtopicness. Last one!)

Onyx Oblivion:


Off Topic: I haven't played it in aeons. Could you toss me a spoiler tagged reply with what happens :D?

Wow! I almost cried when I read this. When I was younger I would become awestruck by video games and what they could do, now I think I have a better understanding of the world and how things work and concepts introduced by videogames are just more comprehendable, and that makes them less awesome.

Oh and you have the same last name as my Chemistry teacher. Related? I'm sure your'e not. But are you?

We still have shock-n-awe moments, they're just a lot harder to make and are mostly about preference.

First time seeing the scenery in FF13, those cinematic moments in Uncharted 2, beating the first boss of Demon Souls, fighting the 13th collosi. All amazing moments :3

We still have shock-n-awe moments, they're just a lot harder to make and are mostly about preference.

First time seeing the scenery in FF13, those cinematic moments in Uncharted 2, beating the first boss of Demon Souls, fighting the 13th collosi. All amazing moments :3

Oh, sure, there are still amazing moments to be had, it's just a matter of degrees.

I wish i could relate directly to the first jumps in gaming technology and express my opinion more. I think i've come close a few times though :p

Like maybe the first time seeing HL2's physics engine. I used to be very behind on tech, for me this was a jump from the PS1 to a full blown physics engine that's still used today.
"Wait.. wha? You can... pick up this mug like THAT. Is that a seesaw? Holy crap that thing just bounced off a wall"
Hours of fun :D

I'm sure i'd have more if my childhood wasn't so blurry. Like finally getting a backlight on those gameboys instead of using that twirly streetlamp attachment. And hell they made it smaller too... WITH a foldy screen!

First seeing that semi-terrifying PS1 splash screen too as i was about to play my first console :p

Think i'm going off-topic a bit now xD

I think it's something to do with the game, as well. We have a guy we hate in our guild in Warcraft at the moment. He's a great kid, really gets into it, but always willing to help.

We hate him because he's still on his first character, and every second level, when he gets a new ability, he gives a single line to the Guild Chat that is almost copied and pasted every time - "I have [Spell]! This is AWESOME!" I was there when he got both his mounts, and he was amazed at how fast he was going. Part of me wants to be there when he hits 58 and goes through the Dark Portal for the first time and sees Hellfire Peninsula for the first time. Part of me doesn't because of the seething jealousy that all I can feel when I see such an awe-inspiring sight is the fact that I've seen it all before, multiple times.

Also, I went from Amiga 600 to Mega Drive to Playstation 2. I've seen the jumps in technology, and they have been amazing :P Part of me wants a new generation, just to get all that again, but I don't know if I'd get it, now that I'm as immersed as I am in the culture.

Susan Arendt:

We still have shock-n-awe moments, they're just a lot harder to make and are mostly about preference.

First time seeing the scenery in FF13, those cinematic moments in Uncharted 2, beating the first boss of Demon Souls, fighting the 13th collosi. All amazing moments :3

Oh, sure, there are still amazing moments to be had, it's just a matter of degrees.

Might I toss in an amazing moment of my own?

I'm guessing that we grew up in the same era, give or take a few years (mine was the actual Atari VCS, for some reason it was cheaper than the Sears version) and during those old Atari days my dad and I would sit and play for hours. We'd play Combat, Joust, Pac-Man (yes the 2600 version), Galaxian, Burgertime etc...

Cut to last night and I download Decimation X on XBLA Indie section. It's Space Invaders mixed with a bullet hell game. My dad comes in (long story why I live at home, short version is I had a massive stroke a few years back) grabs my second controller and the next thing you know, we're sitting on the floor playing what is essentialy an upgraded Space Invaders game like it's 1982 again. It didn't even dawn on me until later that night when I was reading before bed.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that no matter if it is as simple as Pong or as beautifully rendered as Uncharted 2, it's more of the moment that you are in that is the experience. It could be a spoiler tag worthy moment in a game, it can be the way the camera sweeps over a battlefield or it can be, like in my case, feeling the way you did almost three decades before. The point is, it's not the technology that makes the experience but what you take from using the technology.

tl;dr Rowdy is a big baby waaa waaa waaaa

I can relate completely with this article, there are several moments of gaming awe etched firmly in my mind. First playing duck hunt and getting to shoot helpless animals is of course heaven to a small child. The first time I laid eyes on sonic the hedgehog and was amazed with the gameplay. I played that game relentlessly (though I never got past marble zone.) First seeing mario 64 was awe-inspiring, I didn't think I'd see 3-D for years. Hundreds of hours of multiplayer goldeneye etched into my brain. Playing ocarina for about 6 months, and replaying it over and over...

And yeah, sonic adventure was ropey, but I agree, at the time that game was shit hot.

I know the games just don't compare to modern ones, but the fondness can't be matched, or replaced. *nostalgic sigh*

The first time I felt a large moment of awe as you described was in Sonic Adventure.
The whole game was a rollercoaster of amazing set-pieces.

I'm willing to bet everyone was staring agape in awe the first time they saw sonic speeding down the side of a building, or outrunning an avalanche on a snowboard, or countless other moments of greatness.

The second time was Shadow of the Colossus. From first riding out into that open world, and seeing the first colossus for the first time, scaling him, and taking him down. Just moments of pure awesomeness...

And don't even get me started on Bioshock. Sure I give it a lot of crap for its gameplay and hilariously black and white endings, but dammit the story was one amazing experience...

EDIT: Can't believe I forgot, but Power Stone 2 left me in awe countless times.

Every level changes drastically while you play. For example, one level is set on an airship. And as you fight on that level, the ship gradually deteriorates, eventually exploding, and sending everyone falling to the ground. While your falling, you have to collect umbrellas to break your fall, but you can also fly into people, causing them to drop their umbrellas. You eventually land, and where you land has catapults, and a tank that you can use on the other combatants. Its just amazing, and almost every level is equally dynamic and ever-changing.

Edit #2: I also remember the first time booting up Battlefield 1942. It was the first time I played online. I remember joining a game on El Aliman. I was on the British side. I looked around, and saw other people. There were other people playing, and they didn't even need to be near me! Sure this sounds laughable by todays standards. But I was just amazed by it. I was playing with actual people, from different cities, and from around the world. It was amazing, and it was my first online game.

River Raid sucked even at the time. Seriously.

I remember that box art was something to agonize over. My first computer was a ZX Spectrum and in order to play anything I had to first copy the programming code from the "gaming magazine" into the computer and then compile it. Somehow I still managed to get addicted to those games... :)

Anyway, first moment of awe: the opponent getting decapitated in Barbarian, and the little green guy kicking the head offstage. That's still the best "Finish him" move in the history of gaming.

Good article, agree with the sense of awe when all of a sudden we could control what's on the telly. Moments like these are few and far between but still do happen occasionally even to old cynics like me. As mentioned before, Okami was one, FFVII is etched in my memory because my mate literally barricaded himself in his room for two weeks playing it but the all time #1 has to be the original Mechwarrior on PC where it kept me playing for 36 hours with no sleep.

It's tough to say, technology certainly advances in leaps and bounds, and just keeping abreast of all the new games and their "unique features" is a feat in itself, but I'd say that no, we haven't lost our sense of awe - there's still a game every now and again which just blows you away (MechWarrior 3, Arcanum, VtM: Bloodlines, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.).

Perhaps I was just brought up in a time of innovation (one of the first few games I ever played on the computer was Age of Empires, and C&C soon followed), and have been spoilt by the progress that was made when I was "paying attention", but things seem to have stalled somewhat - even with all the press and promotion I find it hard to be excited about most new titles - maybe gaming is just moving in a different direction, maybe it will mean something else to the next generation.

Quick gratification and overwhelming visuals seem to have taken the place of immersion, depth and occasionally even gameplay in mainstream titles - or at least that's the explanation I offer for my well worn collection of "most played" game CDs.

I can't say I can agree with the author. Just beacuse gaming has become an everyday part of life does not mean that it cannot bring awe to the new generation that is barely experiencing it.

While I was growing up, games had already existed for a very long. To many people, they were already something completely normal. Yet, as a child, I was still amazed by video games. Even though they were something completely normal for other people, they were something completely new to me. Whether it was my first encounter with the Commodore, SNES, Gameboy, Arcade, PlayStation or PC, games had a certain magic that mesmerised me and never let go.

The point that I am trying to make is that it does not matter whether gaming had existed before or not. To us, in our own little world, it didn't until we were introduced to it, so it brought us much awe when we first made contact with it. And that is going to remain the case as long as gaming exists.

I had my moment of awe when I was 6, and I played a game of chess on my dads work laptop (this was 1992 so it was a hefty beast with a screen you could barely read). I remember thinking "not only can this box set up the game and keep me from breaking the rules, but its some kind of genius as well!" as it roundly thrashed me, not that I was any better than any other 6 year old.

Somehow Civilization and Dune 2 found their way into my home a year or two later and I was hooked for life.

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