In response to “Youth Eternal” from The Escapist Forum: I don’t think it is youth in itself that we want when we look back at old games we used to play or even nostalgia. I think that what we want is that sense of wonder, magic and amazement that we experienced the first time we played the game in question.
I remember my first run in with Morrowind, the water was oh-so pretty (and it better had be on my brand new Geforce4 Ti4600 card, top of the line at the time), the guards were stern and despite its’ rather swampy surroundings Seyda Neen promised great times as I chose to be a Redguard. I had no real understanding of the mechanics in Morrowind (higher numbers better, use skills to level them, easy as pie) nor did I know anything about Morrowind, Vvardenfell or what awaited me once I set off for Balmora to do the starter quest.
Now, several hundred hours of Morrowind later I’ve finished the game twice and powerlevled more characters than I care to think about. I know where to get the awesome gear fast, what to exploit to get rich fast and I’ve seen most (not all) locations on Vvardenfell.
Fallout 3, Civilization 4, Heavy Rain, Dragon Age… The list of games that has given me that sense of “wow, this is awesome” feeling can be made quite long. But it doesn’t break down to youth, what it breaks down to is that I am looking for that same amazement over again. That feeling you get when you are just slowly starting to grasp the story or the mechanics and carve out your own small victories. The game seems so huge, so incredible and you are only seeing part of it! As you get further in, you realize that there are flaws, the game is short or you find a build/weapon/strategy that turns every fight into a breeze. You start seeing things in a new light and realize that they aren’t as fantastically awesome as you thought at first.
It can be seen in all things we do, from buying a new car or moving to a new (and better!) apartment or even getting a pet. We are looking for that thrill of something new, something we don’t understand and have to learn about. The car has a dodgy transmission, the hot water only lasts for five minutes and the dog needs to be walked every third hour or it starts chewing on your pillow. But oh boy, wasn’t the puppy cute when you got it?
Excellent article. My first system was a Super Nintendo. I remember playing Killer Instinct over and over just trying to beat my highest personal combo record. I also remember that Wow! Effect I got from playing it at a young age. The sprite characters were fascinating and it was the designs were the most beautiful things I had ever seen on a screen. After leaving behind the SNES and getting my first PSone, I got the same feeling playing Final Fantasy VII. Everytime, I left something behind to move on to something bigger and better. Now, about 15 years later, I’m playing TESIV: Oblivion nonstop! I think it’s one of the best Role-playing games I’ve ever played.
It’s amazing how things are though. My younger siblings just don’t get it. I’ll sit down and play Final Fantasy VII or Killer Instinct again and they look at me like I’m crazy! They say stuff like “That guy has no fingers!” or “That’s not even 3D”. But what they don’t realize is that once upon a time, those were the Oblivions and Final Fantasy XIII’s of the time. Sadly, those exact feelings will stay stuck forever in their respective generations and will probably be long forgotten down the road. That is of course, if we don’t share those experiences with our kids. I wouldn’t dare let them become ancient history.
In response to “Mega Man: A Transmission from Another World” from The Escapist Forum: Interesting article. I guess now is the time when we’re done figuring games out and we just have to use them well. Thinking of games as tools, relatively new tools, we’re finished with learning the basics about them, and now we just have to use them and figure out better ways to use them and more convenient shapes and sizes and stuff. I don’t know if I’m being clear here, but what I mean is that we know games well now, and we just have to refine them and figure out ways that work better. I still don’t know if I’m being clear… I hope I am, I seem to have run out of vocabulary.
Also, if the article is about the difference between Mega Man and Mega Man 10 (which it is), why is the picture a picture of X?
As others have said, there was such a thrill in picking something up off the game rental shelf at the movie store and not having any idea what you were getting beyond what the box showed. I was an early Nintendo Power subscriber so I had something of a lifeline but the mag’s focus on strategy guides and big name titles, not to mention the news lag of print media, left me totally blind more often than not.
I would certainly miss this always connected world of instant information that we have now if it ever went away, but there is something to be said for that info deprived mix of excitement and dread.
In response to “Videogames: A Modern Folly” from The Escapist Forum: This is not something new. Travel back 10 years in the past and you could write this exact same article, except with some names altered, including Deus Ex among the lines of something “fresh and new” and Turok or Quake II instead of Metro 2033 (wich is by far the most underrated game of the year).
I remember reading some article in the same vein as this one, on an issue of the mexican magazine of Club Nintendo, when Zelda Ocarina of Time, Turok 2 and some other gems of the N64 era were just around the corner. And here we are 10 years later saying the exact same thing.
“They don’t make games as before”, “there are not enough new ideas”. Most of the time this is very true, but gaming as come a long way in 10 years and while I agree that the FPS genre has been the same in more than 15 years, it’s still one of my favorite genres. And I have to agree that only the indie scene is the boldest enough to come up with the most unique and fresh ideas around.
I wonder which names are going to be altered in the next 10 years…
Eh, personally I feel that innovation is a bit overrated. Yes, it is wonderful to see something that is new and refreshing – games which push the boundaries of what was previously thought possible. Then again, another side of me couldn’t really care less whether or not a game was revolutionary. Sure, a game like Uncharted 2 is simply a conglomeration of various gameplay elements taken from older games, but does that somehow make it less enjoyable? No, it doesn’t – at all. Yeah, the cover-based shooting system came from Gears of War, and the platforming came from Tomb Raider, and yet I enjoyed Uncharted 2 a lot more than both of those games.
I agree that innovation is something which should be encouraged, and I’m glad that it is still a strong force in the Indie game scene, but one must remember that with every brilliant or revolutionary title that is born out of this spirit, there are probably going to be 7 or 8 crap titles which simply lost their way due to the over-ambition of their creators. I suppose what I’m trying to say is don’t knock the big-name developers – yes, many of the games they churn out have already been seen before, but don’t be so quick to judge. When I look at my current gaming library for my PS3, although it’s true I see a lot of re-used concepts, I also see hours upon hours of fun and memorable gaming experiences, and when push comes to shove, it is those games which are going to be remembered by the gamers of today. I think people need to put the elitism aside, and remember why exactly people play video games in the first place – to have fun.
In response to “Tower of Gygax: Honoring the Man Who Started Everything”: I have a memorial to Gygax and Arneson already. It’s the weekly game I’m in with good friends and fellowship. It’s the clatter of the dice as we roll to hit and damage. It’s the meta-game and house rules discussions that take up many an idle hour. All of these things make up their memorial in my heart. It may not be a physical memorial, but it’s real, and it’s meaningful. And I think the great men would have approved.
We’ll miss you, Gary. And while the statue they’re gonna use to memorialize you with is going to be tasteless, I promise that I’ll always imagine a much simpler one, of a man at a table, behind a screen, rolling some polyhedral dice to see if his players survive the trap, grinning because he’s bound to get one of them in his cunning trick. May he DM with glee.