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  1. #41
    As a kid I put up with a lot more crap. Firing up Ghost n Goblins for the 100th time and not finishing the first stage. Now I am a lot more picky, I enjoy maybe 3-4 games a year. Others I play for 1 hour and then never again.

  2. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by Heliocentric View Post
    Quit your grousing
    Precisely.

    There are many, many games out there which are not Call of Duty. If you don't enjoy dumb, scripted games, then don't play them; but do not make the mistake of thinking that because there are dumb, scripted games, there are not other types of games.

    You mentioned SpaceChem; I would also suggest AI War and Solium Infernum and Europa Universalis 3.

    Anybody any other suggestions?

  3. #43
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    The biggest difference I've noticed is sometimes the one that depresses me the most. Take a look at a game like Uru, or Albion, or Out of this World, or Outcast. You'll not see a world that alien in modern games, mostly. The reason being is that developers are afraid of showing people something new.

    I saw the growing wave of idiocy back around the early '00s. Fallout Tactics is a lovely example. FT had a far, far more passionately put together world, better moral quandaries, generally more intelligent, and more emotional than any Fallout game than what came before it. But the fans, suffering the wave of idiocy, balked at things that were different about it.

    Here's a great example, one that gets screamed about: Fallout Tactics has FOSSIL FUEL VEHICLES. Fallout 1 says that this is impossible. Therefore Fallout Tactics must be the spawn of the devil. See, what Fallout 1 did say is that the world had moved on from fossil fuelled vehicles to nuclear powered ones. So, the solution was obvious to me. Think about it. Military (now Enclave) bunkers existed, and they were even better built and secured than vaults. And what do you do with some bunkers? You stockpile. They had to have stockpiles to deal with potentially hostile forces, post-war. But due to the lesser availability of nuclear power post war, it would make sense to have some older technologies there, and to have your scientists in the bunkers improve upon those as best they can under the circumstances. So what you get is older fashioned armoured trucks and fossil fuels. So would it have been impossible for one bunker to have had stockpiles of old technology, fossil fuels, and fossil fuelled vehicles? It would have been likely, actually.

    See, that's when games started turning Lowest Common Denominator. And Fallout fans are among those.

    But what happened was that every time developers tried something risky, they were screamed at. If they tried something risky with a franchise, then they were screamed at more loudly. So from the early '00s to about a year ago, we fell into this rut where everything was the same old, same old, repeated over and over. And as development costs rose, the imagination and creativity present in games fell. why bother trying anything new and interesting, especially in setting, if it might go over the heads of your players?

    With indie and some developers trying newer things with settings, now, it does seem like we're pulling out of that rut. But some things do bother me. X-Com is one example. In X-Com the thing I didn't like about it wasn't that it was a shooter, that doesn't bother me, it was that they completely changed the setting. They changed X-Com from what it was, to a dumbed down Men in Black in the '60s sort of thing. And that's far less interesting than the original X-Com setting.

    That's what I've noticed.

    It's like developers really started being afraid of challenging people. If an environment was too scary or alien, they'd tone it down, then they'd tone it down some more. They'd worry that it would go over the heads of their apparently dumb audience, so it wouldn't sell. And thus things got worse and worse.

    Thankfully we do have some big names just BEGINNING to take risks now, I'm sure you can name them just by pointing at the games which have the most imaginative and unusual settings, and we have indie developers. So... whilst gaming got bad for me for a while. I have to admit... right now? I have hope. A hell of a lot of it.

    (EDIT: The reason for the Fallout Tactics example, if it wasn't clear, was to make a point as to how fans of a franchise would scream and shout if even the littlest things were changed, without acknowledging that they were changes for the better, that was a thing that was happening around... what, '04-'09? It's only after that time that people started calming down. I mean, if a setting is improved upon and made more complex and interesting instead of being dumbed down, then I'm all for it. Frankly, Fallout Tactics was a fine example of tuning up a setting, and introducing new elements. Fallout 3 would be a fine example of dumbing it down again.)
    Last edited by Wulf; 10-10-2011 at 07:01 PM.

  4. #44
    Network Hub thesisko's Avatar
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    It's a perception issue. As noted previously in this thread, PC games almost exclusively targeted niches in the past because the audience was a niche group of people. Someone only looking at what's "hot" will probably get the impression that games have become dumber when the real truth is that the hardcore Paradox wargames we perceive as a niche today are selling more copies than most PC games did in the 90's.

    Also, in the past visuals were limited by hardware and not by budget, which usually meant PC games looked a lot better than console games despite selling far less.
    Last edited by thesisko; 10-10-2011 at 10:37 PM.

  5. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wizardry View Post
    But it's true? A lot of PC games in the 80s were made by geeky university students for geeky university students. There were no proper studios as such. Just groups of friends either at university or recently graduated. Most of them were programmers. Sometimes all of them were programmers. It's simply not the case right now with all the big budget FPSs.
    I remember in the 80s complaining about all the bloody platform games (especially the movie tie-ins. Possibly one area where a generic FPS would actually be an improvement) in exactly the same way people today complain about FPS games, and I'm pretty sure there was a point in the 90s when the same was said of RTS games. Market hasn't changed, some genres gain in popularity, some decline, and there's always one that's overdone to the point of nausea.

    The one thing which has changed is the number of games released overall. In fact I suspect you're wrong on that score, there's probably far more "intelligent" games released now than there was back then, they just represent a much smaller slice of a much larger pie.

    Quote Originally Posted by TixyLixx View Post
    I personally find this boring because I want more depth from my games and just remember Half-Life 2 being one of the last greats that just offered something more. Yet we haven't seen that from an FPS since and instead they just become focused on run and gunning like the old days, only back then levels were open and not linear.
    ARMA, Deus Ex : HR, Precursors, Xenus II, Bioshock, The Ship / Bloody Good Time, Metro 2033 ... Sounds to me you've just been playing the wrong games.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zetetic View Post
    I'd add that computer owners were previously those with a special interest in computers and that may have biased the type of intelligence that computer owners did possess - you haven't really expanded on the effects of this.
    Has it? I seem to remember Dizzy causing quite a stir in the 80s, and Doom being somewhat popular in the 90s. I wouldn't call either of them particularly deep or intellectual. Personally I think it's just rose tinted glasses at work - If I think back to the 80s I could mention about ten or so great games I remember playing off the top of my head. I know I owned and played far more than ten games in that decade though, so obviously there's an awful lot of games which I simply don't recall playing because they weren't good enough to stick in my mind. So yeah, the problem isn't that quality has declined, it's that I'm mentally comparing ten games which were good enough to stick in my mind for thirty years with every game released this year. That doesn't mean there's no game released this year I won't remember in thirty years time, but I think expecting every game released this year to be that good is far too optimistic.

    Quote Originally Posted by thegooseking View Post
    I think there is an increasing pressure from the idea that gaming is not a monoculture. Endless forum arguments have made it abundantly clear that there is no one thing that 'gamers' want.
    It never has been. Back in the 80s I was playing turn based wargames, text adventures and strategy games. My neighbour couldn't stand those, he was into his football games and shoot em ups. At the same time my uncle stuck almost exclusively with flight sims. There were a few games which overlapped between us, but those were few and far between.
    The only real difference these days is that the market is bigger, and the key thing to note is that when the market grows it doesn't just add numbers, you get whole new niches being spawned too. In a smaller market the specialist companies dominate, because it's far more profitable to carve out a niche than try to market to the tiny band where they all overlap. In a larger market the reverse is true; you'll sell a whole lot more in that overlap ("the mainstream") than you will in any one niche because overall there's far more people in that overlap area than in any one niche market.

    Quote Originally Posted by cowthief skank View Post
    Anybody any other suggestions?
    Agricultural Simulator 2011. Oh, it's not Call of Duty and I don't personally find it all that great, but it occurs to me complaining about the state of the market is somewhat spurious in a world where such a game can actually succeed to the point it has a dedicated fanbase.

  6. #46
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    I seem to remember Dizzy causing quite a stir in the 80s, and Doom being somewhat popular in the 90s. I wouldn't call either of them particularly deep or intellectual.
    I didn't suggest that the type (I didn't even say level, so I've no idea what set you off!) of intelligence possessed by those that were interested in computers was biased towards the exclusion of enjoying games that weren't "deep" or "intellectual"!

    At any rate, I suggested that considering the changing demographic as a whole wasn't particularly relevant since the vague type of people who used to buy computers in the '80s still most likely do so, and in greater numbers than before. I think you're probably correct that the bias in people's memories towards better games is a fairly major factor.

  7. #47
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus sinister agent's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by archonsod View Post
    I remember in the 80s complaining about all the bloody platform games (especially the movie tie-ins. Possibly one area where a generic FPS would actually be an improvement) in exactly the same way people today complain about FPS games, and I'm pretty sure there was a point in the 90s when the same was said of RTS games. Market hasn't changed, some genres gain in popularity, some decline, and there's always one that's overdone to the point of nausea.

    The one thing which has changed is the number of games released overall. In fact I suspect you're wrong on that score, there's probably far more "intelligent" games released now than there was back then, they just represent a much smaller slice of a much larger pie.
    I was hoping someone would put this so clearly, as it saves me the bother.

  8. #48
    Obscure Node Phydaux's Avatar
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    Are video games bad these days!?

    Of course not. I think people are going to look back at this time as a golden age of gaming.

    You've got blinkers on if you think that consoles are dumbing down gaming or that nothing good in the FPS genre is coming out. You've been able to kill people with tentacles in The Darkenss, read from the bible while shooting people in Call of Juarez, free running in Mirror's Edge, listen to a potato in Portal 2.

    I could go on with loads of examples but people just bury their head in the sand and pretend gaming is in a bad/dumb/consolified place when it's in an awesome place.

    Maybe I have it lucky. I can enjoy a wide variety of games, from replaying Quazatron on a speccy emulator to the latest CoD release on my 360. Not to mention the plethora of great indie games that have come out recently, or are still in their perpetual state of development. You don't even have an excuse to avoid playing some of the great indie games with the humble bundles we've had this year.

    2011 is one of my favourite years for games releases. From the insanity or Magicka to the calculating patience of SpaceChem to the excellent writing of Portal 2, and all the others inbetween! :D

  9. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zetetic View Post
    I didn't suggest that the type (I didn't even say level, so I've no idea what set you off!) of intelligence possessed by those that were interested in computers was biased towards the exclusion of enjoying games that weren't "deep" or "intellectual"!
    It wasn't what I was getting at. Dizzy and Doom are lowest-common-denominator games, hence evidently that market existed in the 80s and 90s (which should be obvious, but judging by some of the posts in the thread).
    At any rate, I suggested that considering the changing demographic as a whole wasn't particularly relevant since the vague type of people who used to buy computers in the '80s still most likely do so.
    I don't think the demographic has actually changed all that much. You had people with an interest in computers certainly, students particularly, but you also had businessmen and equally kids like me who were just interested in gaming (although that was probably a European thing, the US seemed to go the NES route). Most of the kids in my school had either a Spectrum or Commodore 64 for example. While it won't be identical to todays demographics (I can't recall any elderly ladies who owned a computer, though my gran certainly liked Pacman) it was equally by no means mono cultural back then either. Hence the endless, insipid movie tie-in platformers. So the core demographics are likely unchanged; we might have picked up a few more of the elderly, and likely the distribution between male and females has evened out somewhat, but I can't see it really being that different now compared to then.

  10. #50
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    I find it hard to believe the demographic make-up of the PC games market hasn't changed since the early '80s.

    To take the United States as an example (because it's very big and I'd assume liable to be ahead of the curve on this), the percentage of households with a computer increased from 8% in 1984 to at least 60% (and closer to 70%) today [U.S. Census Bureau data]. I'm afraid I can't find data for the UK over this time period, but from 1998 to the present day it's a rise of 34% to 75% [ONS].

    Presumably there's some reason why certain people did buy a computer (or whose parents bought it) in 1984 whilst many people didn't make that (fairly significant) purchase.

    These days there's a much lower cost barrier to owning a computer (amongst other factors) and so now a much greater variety of the population owns one. It might be that the 'new' PC owning demographic are entirely disjuncted with the PC gaming market, but again I find that unlikely given that they now make up the vast majority of PC owners.

    A plausible explanation for your experiences is that you went to a school in a reasonably well-off area. I'd certainly have expected PC ownership in the early years to be strongly correlated with socio-economic status - because of the cost element - and everything that drags along with it to a greater or lesser extent. In the mid-'80s, when much of the UK was still suffering from the effects of a recession that lead to considerable unemployment and income inequality, a ZX Spectrum would have cost around 100 (edit: I think that's about right. It might be a little low.) and been an unbearable expense to many, and certainly a non-trivial choice to many more.

    PC ownership is still fairly strongly correlated in so far as very low SES households - such as those of the long-term unemployed - are the only grouping in Britain that don't have nigh-100% PC ownership.

    Anyway! It might well be that the market has changed - and not only grown - for PC games, but I also think that the market for games that appealed to the gamers of the '80s is most likely still there, not least because many of those gamers are still around and playing games and have much greater disposable income!
    Last edited by Zetetic; 12-10-2011 at 01:43 AM.

  11. #51
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus sinister agent's Avatar
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    The demographic hasn't changed; it's expanded. The people who played games then still play them today. But shitloads of other people do as well.

    All this talk of how games are nowadays is so often delivered as though the release of Call of Duty or Gears of War somehow means that that's all there is, as though there's a limit on how many games can come out. It's not true - there's an audience for just about everything now - more so than there ever was before.

    Games are not worse than they used to be. There are more games you won't like, yeah, but that's because there are simply more games. They also get a lot more attention and are louder and have bigger budgets, but that's comparable to how films went - pulpy summer blockbusters (some of which are without merit, but many are entertaining if not amazing) rule the roost, sure, but there are still amazing films released every year, more so than ever before.

    Plus, y'know, as you get older, you will become more discerning. It's what happens when you have a keen interest in something - your tastes become more refined. It doesn't mean you're maturing as such, or that games are worse. You just have a better idea of what you like, less patience for bullshit, and probably more appreciation for the unusual or rare, even if that game isn't actually as competently made or FUN as any of the nine generic shooters that came out that month. This is one reason why there's so often a disconnect between critical reception and public reception, and why I don't care how many poncey names you give them; I will only ever taste two kinds of wine.

    If games went back to the way they were 20 years ago, within a couple of months, we'd all be complaining because there were no brainless, gritty shooters being released.

  12. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zetetic View Post
    To take the United States as an example
    Bad example. Like I said, the US in the 80s was still console centric while Europe was focused on the 8 bit micros. So yes, you would expect a shift in the US demographics; back in the 80s if you only wanted to game in the US you'd likely buy a Nintendo, in the UK you'd buy a Spectrum. So I'd expect there would be a difference in the gamer demographics - in the US the PC attracted gamers in from the consoles, in Europe and the UK gamers moved from computer to console (not sure what started it first though, the 16 bit SNES/Megadrive or the Playstation).
    These days there's a much lower cost barrier to owning a computer
    The entire purpose of Sinclair's Spectrum was to provide a computer which was affordable to anyone. IIRC the ZX81 went for the princely sum of 70 fully assembled, which would be around 150 in todays money. They also focused the marketing on educational benefits of ownership, which tended to persuade parents.
    Certainly I wouldn't consider a North East pit village an affluent area in the 80s, so I doubt it was that. Hell, we thought we were lucky because our family were ship builders, so Dad kept his job right up until '87.

  13. #53
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    Hmm, you're right as regards 1988-1994; a slightly greater proportion of UK households owned computer than in the USA until after that point. We're still talking a massive increase in the proportion of ownership in either case (or overall) and that's was my point along with some assumptions about the changing demographics.

    However you're also absolutely right that the ZX81 one was cheaper than my estimate, although I was concerned with the Spectrums rather than the '81. Still I'll happily admit that perhaps there's something to be said for the ZX81 being a machine that altered the PC ownership demographic itself in the UK!

    Having managed to dig out of someone's analysis of the UK household figures, I'm prepared to concede that the demographic has not radically altered in terms of SES - the divide between high and low has seemingly deepened if anything , in the UK, in the decade between 1988-1998. That's... actually quite depressing. (Table 2 in this is what I'm looking at.) Thank you for making me look at this, and correcting me.

    I still wonder - if true - about your observation of how many of your classmates had computers at home, particularly if you say that you didn't come from a well-off area (and given the figures referenced above). A bit odd, but far from impossible. I wonder what other factors were involved in determining who bought computers in this period and who didn't; if the demographics of PC ownership did change in some manner since the '80s, I must admit it wasn't at all in the manner I'd thought regarding SES in the UK.
    Last edited by Zetetic; 12-10-2011 at 03:47 AM.

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