Know Your Gaming Roots

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DJShire:
Remember when Bungie made good FPSs?

Oh, snap!

RIP Westwood. I am forever grateful for what you gave me.

Andy_Panthro:
Since everyone else is mentioning those companies they think should have been mentioned, allow me:

Origin.

Mainly (for me) for the Ultima series, but they produced a lot of other games too, including Bioforge, Crusader and Wing Commander.

Another great developer destroyed by EA.

They also pioneered nearly everything which define games today. First true first person gaming? Origin (Ultima Underworld). MMORPGs? Origin (Ultima Online). Big budget voice acting and cinematic storylines? Origin (Wing Commander III and Privateer 2). Constant demand for better hardware? Origin (WingComm was the first game to actually demand certain hardware specs).

Not to mention, they published games by Looking Glass and Jane's Combat Simulations.

Huge omission there, Shamus.

Fensfield:

GothmogII:
Umm...Maxis didn't die, the Sims 3? Spore? They're an EA subsidiary now, but they weren't wholly absorbed into EA, and Will Wright is still a pretty influential figure in gaming.

Oh? I know EA now own the SIM brand, but, you never see the Maxis logo anymore - and they don't seem to be into making simulators any more, really. It's no longer 'Right, what shall we simulate next?' and more 'How can we keep making money off simulating simulated people's lives into perpetuity?'

Not to mention Will Wright left to form the stupid fun club.

I was about to say that Shamus forgot the recently departed "Ensemble Studios" or "Totaly Games" of TIE Fighter fame, but there wouldnt be much to write about with them. Good article Mr Experienced Points, and thanks for remembering Microprose, Im going to go reinstall Call To Power now

Concerning Activision, two quotes come to mind.

Dear old Friedrich Nietzsche, font of quotable knowledge: "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster."

And more recently, Harvey Dent (Arron Eckhart) in the Dark Knight: "You die a hero or you live long enough to become the villain."

When i first read the title i thought it was "Know your gaming robots" so i was like :D
Then i re-read the title and realized its actually gaming roots not robots so i was like :(
After reading the article and finding out that Activision were good once i was like :O

OT: Great article i liked it, May i suggest making it into a series of articles telling the tales of other lost companies and developers we once knew and loved.

DaxStrife:

Shamus Young:
Low on cash after the lawsuit, they were bought up by an investment group run by... guess who. They filed chapter 11, renamed themselves again, restructured the company, moved the company, and then began buying up other companies.

The description there brings to mind the image of a parasitic organism (Kotick in this case) finding a wounded animal, infecting it, and then using the poor creature to spread itself to others.
Tell me I'm not the only one thinking this.

So, Kotick is a Xenomorph?

Micropose and Looking Glass (remember, System Shock fanboy here)... Ahhh, those were the days. I have fond memories of Maxis and ID Software (SimCity and Doom respectively) as well.

nairb1582:
RIP Westwood

*sniff*

^ that.

Good read. Funny thing is that I own almost every game mentioned in their original state. I have like three copies of Master of Orion, including the release that came on floppies and had copy-protection of asking you names of starships (which you could only get from the manual (which of course I saved!)).

Anyway, I miss LGS for Terra Nova: Strike Force Centauri almost as much as I miss them for System Shock and Thief. TN:SFC was another great "thinking-man's shooter." I'm not gonna do a review of it, but suffice to say that it was a squad-based tactical FPS in the future on planets/moons that were most definitely not Earth. The game had something ridiculous like 30 or 40 missions, customizable loadouts for each of your squad member's suits, different types of suits for different roles/advantages...Hang on, it's starting to sound like a single-player Tribes!

But really, Westwood and Microprose are probably my top missed developers. Glad that you were able to mention them in here.

I'm also of the belief that Interplay will come back with MDK3 and a new Earthworm Jim, and once those go viral, they finish the Fallout MMO and Descent 4. Yeah, one can hope.

Origin's a special case for me because of Wing Commander 3 and 4, probably the best integration of Cinematics into a game I've ever seen...

Michael O'Hair:
Remembering old development companies is well and good to a point; but I think it's important that many great developers started as hobbyists, not initially under the umbrella of a vast game-making company. Games built by a couple guys or just one person, what would today be an impossible feat, during the infancy of electronic entertainment. That's were the roots of gaming start: not with large studios and budgets and publishers, but with creative individuals who STARTED those companies.

There are *hundreds* of games produced each week by 1 and 2-man teams. They expand into studios.

Just like early game developers.

AH looking glass, its amazing that Thief for example, still has a great community. I have no doubt the spirit behind them will one day be reborn. Its a bit of a shame what happened to videogames, games like homeworld dont come out every day it seems..

Can't believe that Shamus miss that a large number of the founding members of Westwood left when EA shut the studio and set up Petroglyph games.

And that they are developing the potentially awesome End of Nations MMORTS game.

A persistant game world RTS made by the people behind C&C, yes please.

Am I old because I knew most of this?

Ruining Bullfrog is unforgivable! I want Dungeon Keeper 3!

Scrumpmonkey:

GothmogII:

Irridium:
Its hard to believe that Activision used to put out the most innovative, interesting, and fun games on the market.

I still play Pitfall from time to time...

Yeah, I still play Battlezone every now and then, it's sad to see how much they've lost.

It's disturbing to see how little they have actually produced since Kotick took over. All they have done is literally buy existing studios and put them on the sequel tredmil. They have done NO IP creation. NONE.

No, you're both wrong. What's sad, and disturbing, and quite frankly terrifying is how wildly successful that strategy was.

It might be absolutely appalling from a creative point of view, but from a fiscal point of view, they're all rich now. Insanely so.

More interesting than the remake of X-com was the other game its creators made when they had lost the trademark rights: "Laser Squad Nemesis", very solid tactical gameplay and very interesting game mechanics, where each players plans 5 seconds ahead and then is acted out simultanously.

Kron_the_mad:
and thief definitely wasn't the first stealth game. Try the original metal gear, which only opted for the stealth focus because of a combined hardware/software limitation that made having character collision a pain in the arse.

I came in here to mention Metal Gear, and I'm glad I got ninja'd.

OT: You know, despite them being still in business, I think you should have mentioned Lucasarts at some point. They're pretty much dead today, by my standards.

Back when there were at least a dozen larger developers all competing with one another, and the people in charge of making games were gamers themselves.

Now we have 3-4 conglomerates that have bought up all those devs, milking 15 year old IP to death because good, new ideas are too much of a risk. Now people in charge of making games are execs in suits who don't really give a shit about games, which has given us content removed from release and sold as DLC instead of making expansion packs because charging a few dollars for more, smaller items costs more in the long run, and control taken away from gamers who built communities around private servers so the damn corporates can shut down servers and force fans to buy the sequel to continue playing.

RIP Maxis

image

Hexenwolf:

Scrumpmonkey:

GothmogII:

Yeah, I still play Battlezone every now and then, it's sad to see how much they've lost.

It's disturbing to see how little they have actually produced since Kotick took over. All they have done is literally buy existing studios and put them on the sequel tredmil. They have done NO IP creation. NONE.

No, you're both wrong. What's sad, and disturbing, and quite frankly terrifying is how wildly successful that strategy was.

It might be absolutely appalling from a creative point of view, but from a fiscal point of view, they're all rich now. Insanely so.

You are correct sir, but let us not be dispondant, there are still a wealth of amazing games and companies out there. Activision may be massive but i don't think it has any real good-will attached to it, a virtue that can still go far in the games industry given the right circumstances. I remain hopefull dispite the obvious torrent of mediocrity and fail spewing from one of the biggest companies, personally i see the tide turning against them in terms of consumer dissatisfaction, Guitar Hero is mined out, as is Tony Hawk. What's left? CoD. I series that i also feel is comming to the end of it's useful life. There lack of creation has not put them in the best position in terms of big series.

I guess there is the deal with bungie, but i would like to at least hope that Activision can't get away with their bullshit forever.

Ah yes - back when Activision at least tried to do something different and still be fun. Still got and play a game called HyperBlade by them. Basically hockey with swords for sticks and an energy ball for a puck, but was so much fun.

And speaking of old companies - Cyan anyone? I mean they only created one of the, if not still the biggest PC games of all time - Myst!

Shamus Young:
class act compared to [a href=]other guys I could mention.[/a]

- hovers over hyperlink
- looks for 'kotick'
- Found! no suprises
- moves on....

Thanks Shamus another stroll down memory lane.

Get off my Lawn u Kids!!!!

Thorvan:

DaxStrife:

Shamus Young:
Low on cash after the lawsuit, they were bought up by an investment group run by... guess who. They filed chapter 11, renamed themselves again, restructured the company, moved the company, and then began buying up other companies.

The description there brings to mind the image of a parasitic organism (Kotick in this case) finding a wounded animal, infecting it, and then using the poor creature to spread itself to others.
Tell me I'm not the only one thinking this.

So, Kotick is a Xenomorph?

Far too glamorous. I'm going with virus, sexually transmitted, say Gonorrhea of the face.

Wait, wait. Kotick has been in charge of Activision for 20 years? Srsly?

(double post)

I am getting the impression that you don't give the Escapist community enough credit. Who doesn't know about most of this?

I can't argue that I was schooled though. Schooled as in it felt like I was back in school reading paragraph after paragraph of things I already knew.

" I think a first-person, party-oriented, turn-based RPG would be an impossible pitch in today's market."

screams Estrian Odyssey to me. and atlus has made 3 already

who else remembers micro pose for the mech warrior games?

So the lesson here... go bust or go greedy?
The Activision story is actually no more cheerful then the rest, but it hits the mark, once businessmen take over there is no soul and innovation, just a money hungry conglomerate, swallowing and milking other companies and their ideas.

Wow i never really realised that westwood isnt no more. Strange...right. Always when i see C&C i automatically had westwood in mind, not noticing they arent mentioned anywhere anymore.

demouse:
who else remembers micro pose for the mech warrior games?

Oh yea i do. Sooo great games. Still play them once in a while

I second the Bullfrog related lamentations, Syndicate and Dungeon keeper in particular were solid games.

As for Looking glass, I was horrified when I heard they were closing down. All that talent broken up and moved on was, and still is, the worst gaming related news I've heard. I *still* want SS3, and no Ken, don't tell me Bioshock is a revolutionary new game blah blah. It's a skin change and a story line swap on the superior experience that is System Shock 2. There I said it, and there's going to be no take backs. :P

Gift.

I can't help but think that with all the nostalgia in this thread that the market for a lot of these IPs still exists...

Andy_Panthro:
Since everyone else is mentioning those companies they think should have been mentioned, allow me:

Origin.

Mainly (for me) for the Ultima series, but they produced a lot of other games too, including Bioforge, Crusader and Wing Commander.

Another great developer destroyed by EA.

It's a shame to see how bad EA has killed the UO experience.

People have already hashed out the old classics, but I still remember the old days of tag team gaming Questron(SSI) with my 2 brothers on a C64 because the old 5.25 floppies couldn't save anymore or going to a friends house to play Ultima 3 on their Atari ST.

Fetzenfisch:

demouse:
who else remembers micro pose for the mech warrior games?

Oh yea i do. Sooo great games. Still play them once in a while

I always was a sucker for mech-type and wasteland/fall out type games. You can get mechwarrior 4 free now (well been out for a while) at http://www.mektek.net/projects/mw4/ . Not quite the same as the old mechwarrior game but there is rumour that there is a new MW game in the works after so many years of being shelved.

on a side note, do people still remember the goodies you used to get in a game box. Origin used to be one of the best with cloth maps and tokens in their Ultima games. Their Autoduel game came with a little toolkit that I used for a number of years to repair my eye glasses

Jaeger_CDN:
People have already hashed out the old classics, but I still remember the old days of tag team gaming Questron(SSI) with my 2 brothers on a C64 because the old 5.25 floppies couldn't save anymore or going to a friends house to play Ultima 3 on their Atari ST.

Fetzenfisch:

demouse:
who else remembers micro pose for the mech warrior games?

Oh yea i do. Sooo great games. Still play them once in a while

I always was a sucker for mech-type and wasteland/fall out type games. You can get mechwarrior 4 free now (well been out for a while) at http://www.mektek.net/projects/mw4/ . Not quite the same as the old mechwarrior game but there is rumour that there is a new MW game in the works after so many years of being shelved.

on a side note, do people still remember the goodies you used to get in a game box. Origin used to be one of the best with cloth maps and tokens in their Ultima games. Their Autoduel game came with a little toolkit that I used for a number of years to repair my eye glasses

Yeah i was talking about that one or two days ago in a Special/Premium Edition - Thread , all that stuff you are now paying 10-30 bucks more for, once was more or less standart with good games. At least a good solid Manual, Several Maps and whatever material was useful or funny.Still got my huge Wingcommander Spacemaps lying around somewhere, about 3 times postersize each.

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