Kids Can't Handle Old-School RPGs Anymore

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I think this is true with a lot of old games. I downloaded Final Fantasy 7 over PSN and I could not get into it. It's not even very obscure like Ultima IV. I'm 16 I feel a little shafted not getting being able to play some of these awesome old games (I just can't get a grasp on Mega Man).

To be fair to you, the reason you can't get into FF7 is likely because it's actually overrated to the extreme. It's actually not a classic or anything, it's not one of those "must play" games like people make it out to be.

Nowadays manuals are just used for reference and controls and such are mostly explained in tutorial gameplay. The testers may have been expecting a similar thing.

I've been gaming for a while, I think the old as hell graphics would clue me in that the manual for this one might actually be useful compared to the manuals of today which are only thick if they decided to include 2 more languages other than English in it (hello Nintendo).

Or that Ultima IV doesn't live up to todays standards?

Hit the nail on the head...

Thank god for modern intuitive game design.

Things age.

It's like trying to get somebody accustomed to watching blockbuster movies to watch silent black and white comedy shorts.
They're not all that funny these days because things have moved on, and half the marvel was at the technology. Moving pictures? NO WAI!
Same thing applies to the old Ultima games.
That being said, Ultima IV holds a soft spot in my heart. As much as I love it, I don't think I could play it again and enjoy it like I did back in the day.

Back in my day *grumble grumble*, kids these days *grumble grumble* up hill both ways *grumble grumbe*

/old man rant

Stupid kids (I happen to be one of them, but by virtue of being me, I'm automatically better than them)

Though it seems to be insanely confusing, I actually wouldn't mind to play Ultima, sounds like my kind of game.

Yes it must be because kids just don't understand them. It couldn't be because games are made much better now and people didn't have anything better back then.

Good thing I'm not a fan of many RPG's, or else this might apply to me.

I'm almost forty and I can't get Ultima. The word obtuse doesn't even cover it.

I haven't played Ultima IV so I can't say for sure, but couldn't they just skip IV and move right on up to VII? Wouldn't that be more fun? The kids would get that one, wouldn't they? There is still a manual though.

Off Topic: Old Manual Showdown - I've got the "Encyclopedia Frobozzica" kicking around here someplace.



Today we have a gaming community where things like "Mass Effect 1" were too stat heavy for many players, leading to the more shooter-esque "Mass Effect 2". People want to be taken by the hand and not have to work on, or discover anything on their own.

It's not that ME1 was too stat heavy, just that the stat system was utter shit. Besides, you're forgetting why stats existed in the first place. When Dungeons and Dragons was made it was impossible to really have any gameplay; it was a table top game after all. Stats, dice rolls and turn based battles were used to try and simulate these. We're at the point where we don't need stats, and can instead focus on good storytelling and multiple gameplay styles.

I'd say that Deus Ex had even less in the way of stats than ME2, but it's the much better game due to the story and due to the incredible freedom of choice.

You are incorrect, RPGs came from war games. The entire idea of the stats involved was to remove personal abillity from the equasion and resolve battles through numbers and variables. It began with college wargaming clubs fighting battles with minatures, and then slowly reducing the scale down until you were left with players controlling individual units.

The point of a role-playing game is for it to be an entirely intellectual exercise with the outcome based on the numbers and what you decide to try and make happen. When you put "gameplay" into the equasion reflexs and such destroy the entire point. Things like the MWS (Medieval Weapons Society) and SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) existed back before RPGs had come into being. One could have dressed up in armor and ran around hacking at each other with weapons, eithe ractual ones (MWS) or Boffers (SCA) if they so chose, but that was not the point, it was something for intellectuals to do things without having to worry about their releative lack of physical abillity (if such was the case).

RPGs are pretty much something where the quintessential "lobster accountant" and some quick fingered kid are supposed to be on relatively even footing, since personal physical abillity is irrelevent. That is what an RPG is all about.

Mass Effect was stripped down because the shooter fans couldn't get their head around why their abillity to line up a shot was irrelevent compared to the character's skill. It was a real time combat system, but stat based. If you chose to take no weapon skills on your Shepard, how good your reflexs were, were entirely irrelevent. That's what made it an RPG. The second installment was arguably no longer an RPG, which is why the community has been so divided on the subject.

As far as Deus Ex goes, that's another example where it's debatable whether it's an RPG or if the term is being used for hype purposes. I think games like "Deus Ex" and "Mass Effect 2" should be more accuratly referred to as "Customizable shooters" more than anything.

Storyline, dialogue, etc... have nothing to do with something being an RPG. After all the very first RPGs simply involved two units beating the crud out of each other with dice and numbers emulating the action while nerds guffawed at the idea that they had reduced combat to mathematics to their satisfaction. Later when "adventures" came into being it was a long time before storylines entered into the equasion in anything but the most trivial sense, a typical adventure was little more than a dungeon crawl.

These kids today with their twitter and their Jersey Shore. They don't appreciate anything
Back in my dad we had to walk up hill. Both ways. In the snow. Underwater. In SPACE for our RPGs. AND WE WERE HAPPY

I forgot a couple points I meant to make also.

1. The old machines just didn't have the memory to make a game like this any more intuitive. EG basically including an "online" manual or help system. It was all there in the printed stuff, saving many thousands of precious bytes.

2. This was a powerful anti-piracy tool (a little moot these days with scanners and broadband). You could get a copied disk easy enough, yeah, but the ten crucial pages out of the fifty or so page manual that told you how to play? Bit harder unless you were quick with a pencil.
Quite a few games I had back in the day on pirate multi-boot disks I never got far with and STILL don't know how to play, because the controls were just too complex, and they didn't always bother including a transcript of the important parts in a text file.

Maybe it's not that they don't get it, it's that the game was flawed?
It's from 1985. UI has improved, storytelling has improved, and games have flat out improved since then.
Since when was a tutorial "holding your hand"? Introducing the concepts, objective, mechanics, etc. greatly improves the understanding of a game.
Or this is all in the manual. Maybe reading it could have helped?
I read manuals for all of my games. It's a nice lead in as the game is installing or starting, and it introduces core mechanics. A tutorial is more than a TL;DR, but is putting new mechanics into practice. These tutorials can take place throughout the game.
Simplified systems aren't dumbed down. They are just easier to access. Why click five buttons when one works?
Now, games may not be as deep as older games, but does anyone remember Doom? Not exactly the deep end of the gaming pool.
maybe they had trouble because the game wasn't accessible. Maybe the manual would have helped. And if not? Is drawing a map on grid paper easier? Would you rather have a mini-map? This doesn't make the game easier or dumb it down, it's just a better mechanic. Maybe Ultima IV is broken to new gamers because it IS. I can play Syphon Filter. The graphics and shooting stink/are only okay respectfully. I'd rather have a minimap and better defined objectives than a map only in the start menu and vague objectives.
I read this and thought that people can play older games. But maybe older games just are older models. They don't run as smoothly as they used to, or look/play as good as in their prime.

I lol'd at "it reminded me of a bad runescape"

I personally can't play older games. After numerous attempts with Baldur's Gate and that other game which involves an immortal amnesiac with an awesome skull best friend I decided that those games are not for me. I guess I got used to modern RPG's and once you do that there's no going back. It's hard to get used to old mechanics when the new ones are just so much better. Sort of like how Madonna looked hot 30 years ago but now looks like a tranny. Back then I would've done her in a heartbeat but as it stands I'd rather not.

I don't know why this is news. Because for me, this is neither surprise nor shocking. Are we concerned that the footballers of today can't really play with the thick leather skin boots, and the inconvenient pig skin ball? Is it a problem that the army doesn't use the unstable, complicated, inefficient cannons that were used in the 19th century? The list is, literally, endless.

Pointless thread, really. A game--or anything for that matter--is not inherently good. It is only good if the gamers decide it is; if I decide that Ultima IV or Materia Magica are shit, then they quiet simply are. There is nothing sacrilegious, or noteworthy about it.

Someone should teach the teacher that a) "classic" games these days are so due to nostalgia, and almost never due to any intrinsically time-defiant unwavering standard of quality, and b) in these last 25 years we've discovered that it's way better to weave the tutorial into the actual game (see Portal, a game being studied at that same college), instead of forcing the player to sit down and read a fucking user's manual. We're trying to play a game, not assemble IKEA furniture.

And honestly I'm sick and tired of the whole "classic" argument. "Styles" can be classic. Functionally usually never goes "classic", it just goes "obsolete".

So it's not about kids "not being able to handle them" it's about kids being too impatient to RTFM. Which is their own fault. That's why the acronym exists, after all.

Patience is the problem. These days we all want it and we want it right now. We want a tutorial that means we get to play it while learning. We want those big arrows pointing us to the next place we need to be.

And developers want it too, because the second you're taken out of the gaming experience to look at a manual or check a website, they've lost you. Attention spans are getting shorter, and once you click on a website for a guide, you might end up sending an email or looking at news or doing any number of other net-based things instead of playing their game.

So it makes sense from a business point of view AND an interaction point of view. If you're playing a first-person game dripping with atmosphere, you don't want the player to leave that, so you need to keep them hooked. Breaking up a terrifying trip down a zombie-infested mine with "now check manual page 53 for a guide to defeating zombies" would break the experience entirely.

Back in the day when games were on multiple audio cassettes (I'm 30 years old, I remember it, shut the hell up) meant you had plenty of time with nothing to do while you loaded the next stage. A big old manual was great for that. Kept you in the headspace, you usually learned something while you were at it. And now people complain when a level takes 30 seconds to load. Pfft.

Maybe it's even a gaming middle-age problem. Games on computers in the 80s were slow to load but were able to have complex control systems and a lot of text-based stuff. Then later in the 80s and early 90s consoles took over with just a pad and a couple of buttons. Load times decreased significantly and there really wasn't too far wrong you could go by pressing A instead of B. The games have grown, the controllers have more buttons, but people still want that same kind of instant action.

I suck at games now. That has nothing to do with reading manuals and everything to do with just not being as good as I was a few years ago. It's sad, but it's true. If reading a manual could solve that I'd study them for hours.

I think this is true with a lot of old games. I downloaded Final Fantasy 7 over PSN and I could not get into it. It's not even very obscure like Ultima IV. I'm 16 I feel a little shafted not getting being able to play some of these awesome old games (I just can't get a grasp on Mega Man).

Don't feel bad: most of ff7's allure was the fact that it was the transition title from SNES to the ps one (graphics-wise, anyhow...the level of education needed to understand the story took a nose-dive however).

Ultima 4 is a very deep game, and involved a lot of elements that I actually miss in games today. I regularly rage about how RPGs in paticular are constantly being dumbed down.

But then again, as a lot of people besides me have pointed out, this is what happens when anything gets marketed based on the lowest human denominator. The market just can't handle a game that can't be adequetly explained by a 15 minute tutorial, or any real exploration or ambigious goals.

I have to disagree. Modern RPGs haven't been dumbed down, they're simply easier to get into. For example, Dragon Age: Origins is practically impossible for me on hard difficulty ( and there are two more levels above that ), not because I cannot figure out how to play or what to do next, but because the enemies are difficult to kill. The user interface is very logical and intuitive, the combat fluid and easy to manage, the spells and abilities quickly understandable and the story easy to follow. It's just that the harder monsters will not fucking die :)

Is it a bad game because you're not forced to read all the text and explore all areas? Of course not. Quite the opposite. People who want to play the game casually can enjoy half an hour of relaxing darkspawn bashing after work. Tactical masterminds who want to challenge themselves can crank up the difficulty and battle against impossible odds one carefully considered and planned move at a time. Roleplayers who want to immerse themselves in the deep story and its nuances can enjoy talking to the colourful characters and reading the codex entries. Everyone can play the game how they want to, get the experience they are looking for and be the person they desire. If that does not make a good RPG then I have no idea what does.

hehe they should play front mission any of them cept the new one coming out on steam soon i have front mission 4 or 5 i think and even that was hard to get the hang of even though they run you though like 5-10min talks on how to use the upgrade and parts system

To be fair I don't think it's really the students' fault. Most games nowadays tell you nothing in the manual, you have to play a tutorial level or whatever to find out what to do.

If I'm not sure how to do something in a game my first stop is always the manual but often this is fruitless! I usually end up going to a message board to ask for the answer instead - much more reliable than modern day manuals.

I don't think it's about intelligence, it's more about expectations. It's pretty clear that these people can't play the game because they haven't read the manual, not because they were too stupid. Were they too stupid to read the manual? Of course not, you aren't gonna do something you've never had to do before.


Honestly, I don't think that kids not reading the manual is an excuse for the game being hard to get into. If you can't explain yourself in-game, then how well can you possible explain the rules in the manual? And if you simply feel like not explaining how to play inside of the game, you are being lazy.

Having a manual is fine, requiring a manual is bullshit. What if you lost it? The game would have been nigh unplayable at the time, right?

Right. Manuals were the DRM of old times. I remember playing Day of the Tentacules and having to flip though the manual to find the correct recipe to make a battery (une recipe on each page of the manual, the game tells you what page).

Shit that makes so much sense!

I never play games older than myself.

These kids today with their twitter and their Jersey Shore. They don't appreciate anything
Back in my dad we had to walk up hill. Both ways. In the snow. Underwater. In SPACE for our RPGs. AND WE WERE HAPPY

haha good take on the old guy grumble

GAmes have evolved since then, and it's like going from a graphical OS to text based. Designers were hampered by technological and space limitations back then, but simply good design has evolved. A game where you have to read a massive manual and have no idea what to do is simply bad design.

I now feel compelled to post thespoonyone's review of Ultima IV


Or that Ultima IV doesn't live up to todays standards?

Hit the nail on the head...

Thank god for modern intuitive game design.

yes like Dwarf Fortress \o/

Am I the only person who ever reads the manual? I love reading the fluff that comes with videogames, and when it comes to CRPG's, you often NEED to read the manual.

Stupid children.

EDIT: Then again, it might be because I'm so damned old. 29 isn't exactly a spring chicken anymore.

High five for the Old Geezer Club (OGC henceforth)!


I'm not very willing to play any rpg older than the original Final Fantasy(1987)

If I was that professor I would fail the lot of them.
I always read my manuals, even the 230 page Civ V manual.

aparanty to most younger gamers if your not killing somthing/ blowing up somthiong/ killing by blowing up something its considered boring.

1985? Oh good, so I wasn't even alive yet. Now I don't feel bad about having never heard of it before.

Also, those students seem a bit silly. Sure, I'd probably try to play first without the manual too, but once I was confused as all hell, I'd go back to the manual and read it instead of just giving up.

You've never even heard about Ultima? Seriously?
It is a series of 9 games between 1980 and 1999 (Ultima IX even being in 3D but not doing that well because of the high system requirements at the time and lots and lots of bugs) and it gave birth and made the "MMORPGs" of today possible with "Ultima Online" back in 1997 and was a really popular franchise till EA managed Origin Systems to death in the late 90s/early 2000s.

Wow... I feel like a fossil, just remembering the copy-protection embedded in the manuals for games like Pools of Radiance (the original one), the King's/Police/Space Quest series, and Leisure Suit Larry. If you didn't have the manual, you couldn't even play the game, unless you had a crib-sheet written up, and there were always a crapload of clues in the manuals, besides.

Alas, where have my old loves gone?

Just release the games again on smart phones and tablets with a easier to use UI with a built in hint system and I bet you most people would love these games even more.


Anybody who spent money to take a class on the the "Art and History of Video Games" who ISN'T planning on a career in the game industry just failed an intelligence test. EPICALLY.

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