blog with my opinions and rambling on almost everything
present day advantages bring new life to older titles
Published on March 26, 2009 By bl00gername In PC Gaming

More than a few times I want to play some of the very good, older game titles whose gameplay started a trend, or defined a standard a specific game genre would be judged against. Games that look simplistic and downright ugly to some for today's visual standards, but whose core gameplay still holds up well, and hasnt become as obsolete as the 16bit routines it was built on. 

Games such as Wolf3d, Blake Stone, Rise of the Triad, Doom, Strife, built the foundations from where modern FPS games derive the elements that make up their gameplay, with varied degrees of artistic freemon, which provides different layers of complexity to their gameplay.  For RTS games, there was Dune II, a genre defining game from which household names like Warcraft and Command and Conquer took pointers from. Of course, both of these games added extra elements to their gameplay, like the hero system in the case of warcraft III, but those elements were an evolutionary, not revolutionary step. 

Not very long ago, since around last year, these older games have found a renewed interest from gamers both oldtimers and newcomers, with reasons going from simple nostalgia to the curiosity and the "strange" nature of these games to those who grew up with halo.  GOG, an online store which specializes in selling only classic, old-era games, has gotten lots of press attention and critical praise for its online delivery system, as well as their expanding catalog of classic games.  Id software's John Carmack this week released an modified version of wolf3d specially for mobile phones, to high reviews. 

Maybe portability is another appealing aspect of this games, and the possibilites which that aspect opens up for them.  The rising popularity of the light notebook computers, usually called "netbooks" driven by it's amazingly low prices, are providing these older, lighter, less resource intensive games a new home, just like they provided a new home to the windows xp system.  These netbooks, as well as newer more powerful mobile devices, provide a mobile, "to-go" gaming experience, and the classic games bring an additional much needed option to on the go players to their usual lackluster mobile game options.

Another aspect that could be making these older titles so appealing might be its modding possibilities.  In many cases these games have had its original source code released by their developers, giving way to a new, unofficial, community-driven support for the games.  Some efforts mostly deal with porting the game to newer platforms, like netbooks or mobiles, or correcting errors left by the original developers.  Other more interesting modding efforts (to the majority of the gaming audience) deals with updating or modifying the games' content instead.  Adding new graphics, high poly 3d models to replace it's original flat 2d gfx, sometimes adding completely new campaigns not included in the original title, turn these games into some sort of sandbox games which give way for experimentation and fun derived from changing the games' rules.

It will be interesting to see the number of this generation of games' titles which will be replayed many years down the road, long after their impressive visuals have been turned obsolete, after directx 10.1 is old, and long after its original movie tie-in is sold off for chump change. There is one reason why it's said that the classics dont die.

addendum:

Here is one example of the possibilities for older games:

This is a complete remake of the music tracks from the game Rise of the Triad Dark War.  They were made from scratch, in MP3 format,  remastered and remixed individually, updating the original game's MIDI format. (needs a copy of the original registered version of the game).

http://www.tinyurl.com/rott-addons

This is a compilation of custom made levels for Rise of the Triad (you can see that I am a big fan of the game), which I made on and off throughout the years. They require an original copy of the full game as well.

http://www.tinyurl.com/rottlevels

 

 

Digg this!


Comments (Page 1)
on Mar 30, 2009

I'm not sure if this is something you're referring to but I've heard someone's making a Diablo looking RPG based on Doom.  Sounds interesting but the graphics are basically the same which may not help it find an audience (i.e. newcomers say it's too 90s, purists say it's not Doom).

on Mar 30, 2009

Ah, you mean the Doom : Fall of Mars game, by if software. Yea, well, that's not directly what i was referring too, that's more of an interesting, very cool way to reinvent a game everyone knows like doom, giving it some twist.  It just occurs that the game is an older one.  I think it can find an audience, since this game wont probably be on retail shelves where all the "looks too 90's" crowd mostly hangs out.  It will probably be mostly distributed online, where the majority of that playerbase is more sawvy and can actually appreciate a good game for what it is, overlooking its "next-gen" shiny graphics. 

on Mar 30, 2009

Oh yeah, good old games... I still remember the good time I had with Starflight I (still treasure the package, manual and map) - great SciFi-Game. Sadly, except from Starflight II, there was never a good successor in all the years. Or Elite III, huge galaxy with real star names and positions, great atmosphere - but sadly not much to do in that universe - where is Elite IV, V... ?

The good old SSI AD&D RPGs (including Buck Rogers) - oh, how I miss turn-based combat in modern RPGs... Or Ultima 7 - huge World, lots of story, lots of usable items - compared with todays rpgs a true giant.

X-COM, lots of remakes but each failed to capture the flair of the original. Jagged Alliances 2 - great game, lots of mods - still played by many people, because there is nothing similar in quality...

Wing Commander I, II and III & IV (Kilrathi & Mark 'Skywalker' Hamil) - now we have huge budget for AAA-Titles, but something like Wing Commander doesn't exist anymore... very strange

Chaos Overlords and Imperialism II, because of their tabletop charme I still play them from time to time. 

Its strange, that lots of the newer games look nice, but are so shallow compared with older games, that I wished, technology hadn't developed so fast, so that there would have been more games like the ones above.

on Mar 30, 2009

I'm still trying to find Alpha Centauri and its expansion.  I really miss that game and I cannot for the life of me find my CDs.  I would much rather have a digital copy anyway.  Come on Impulse, dig up some of the classics and put em up for us to buy!

on Apr 01, 2009

Ah, last decade era space sims.  For the real hardcore gamers of then and now. In a way some of the classics might be coming back, for better or worse.  I hope it's for the better in Syndicate Wars, which is apparently going to get a sequel. 2 potential problems I see with it is a) EA is going to be doing it, and it's still not clear whether they will EA'd that title too, and Apparently too it's not going to be isometric, but rather first person.  Fallout 3 anyone?  There might be hope, since lately EA has declared they want to be different from their previous ways, and that they want to put out new IPs, new stuff instead of rehashed rubbish.

on Apr 02, 2009

[quote who="Jean" comment="3"]

Oh yeah, good old games... I still remember the good time I had with Starflight I (still treasure the package, manual and map) - great SciFi-Game. Sadly, except from Starflight II, there was never a good successor in all the years. Or Elite III, huge galaxy with real star names and positions, great atmosphere - but sadly not much to do in that universe - where is Elite IV, V... ?

The good old SSI AD&D RPGs (including Buck Rogers) - oh, how I miss turn-based combat in modern RPGs... Or Ultima 7 - huge World, lots of story, lots of usable items - compared with todays rpgs a true giant.

X-COM, lots of remakes but each failed to capture the flair of the original. Jagged Alliances 2 - great game, lots of mods - still played by many people, because there is nothing similar in quality...

Wing Commander I, II and III & IV (Kilrathi & Mark 'Skywalker' Hamil) - now we have huge budget for AAA-Titles, but something like Wing Commander doesn't exist anymore... very strange

Chaos Overlords and Imperialism II, because of their tabletop charme I still play them from time to time. 

Its strange, that lots of the newer games look nice, but are so shallow compared with older games, that I wished, technology hadn't developed so fast, so that there would have been more games like the ones above[quote]

 

Yeah, those games proved that shiny graphics do not equal good games, and that a game does not need "next-gen" techonology to be a good, fun-filled afternoon.  Fortunately, the internet is making these classics available again, has brought them back from its technological exile to new audiences.

on Apr 02, 2009

[quote who="Verkinix" comment="4]

I'm still trying to find Alpha Centauri and its expansion.  I really miss that game and I cannot for the life of me find my CDs.  I would much rather have a digital copy anyway.  Come on Impulse, dig up some of the classics and put em up for us to buy![quote]

If they did so, they would be going directly against GOG!! (am i allowed to mention them here?)   But, yes, there is a market for this games, maybe here on Impulse, maybe on some other online service, maybe on the iphone.  Who knows?

on Apr 02, 2009

I know GalCiv's history... but can some whisper a space 4x game that is kinda spelt the same way a cow makes noise... Number 1 please! I've never got my sticky mitts on the first.  I got to play it once but want more!

Most gamers would be fine with the old classics coming out again.  Issue, is the emulator to play them.  Sure I'm fine (an I guess most of you are) about firing up an emulator and running those games.  Some (SMAC) I can run in a combatabilty mode.  But... my gran she couldn't... would a games company really want to support those issues with my gran?  Okay they'd need a medium first, but you get the idea.  No my mother the old age pensioner, they'd need to start with enough tranquilisers to drop an elephant.

So you just update them right so my wizzy (imaginary) windows 7 machine can play them?  Well that's kinda a lot of work, you might as well update the graphics, and that annoying bit of game play.  Where upon you've utterly destroyed the orginal game along the way by making it 3d and cleaning it up.  I pretty sure we can think of a lot of remade classics that got violated like that.

Maybe the way to go is a web based emulator?  Some of those old skool games could probably run on flash now.  But then where's the profit in a games company doing that?

on Apr 03, 2009

Due to the DRM crap on recent games I have spent the last two years re-playing old games.

At a certain time I felt the urge to dig out n play Wizardry6 and 7. Was great fun despite the low level graphics. Same with Master of Magic.

on Apr 03, 2009

[quote who="CmdoColin" comment="8"]

I know GalCiv's history... but can some whisper a space 4x game that is kinda spelt the same way a cow makes noise... Number 1 please! I've never got my sticky mitts on the first.  I got to play it once but want more!

Most gamers would be fine with the old classics coming out again.  Issue, is the emulator to play them.  Sure I'm fine (an I guess most of you are) about firing up an emulator and running those games.  Some (SMAC) I can run in a combatabilty mode.  But... my gran she couldn't... would a games company really want to support those issues with my gran?  Okay they'd need a medium first, but you get the idea.  No my mother the old age pensioner, they'd need to start with enough tranquilisers to drop an elephant.

So you just update them right so my wizzy (imaginary) windows 7 machine can play them?  Well that's kinda a lot of work, you might as well update the graphics, and that annoying bit of game play.  Where upon you've utterly destroyed the orginal game along the way by making it 3d and cleaning it up.  I pretty sure we can think of a lot of remade classics that got violated like that.

Maybe the way to go is a web based emulator?  Some of those old skool games could probably run on flash now.  But then where's the profit in a games company doing that?[quote]

Well, there are many cases of older games that are packaged nowadays with emulators in one single, useful installer, which configures everything upon double clicking, no need to mess with config files. The Scummvm project games for example.  Scummvn is an emulator specially made for some older adventure games like Lure of the Temptress, which have been released as freeware, and as such many enthusiasts bundle with emulators and auto-installers.  You only download 1 package, double click, wait for the installation and play. 

For more modern, older era windows games, it's a little more difficult, but still doable.  Emulators such as Virtualbox have made incredible advances, and now, for example, support Direct3D on windows guests.  Problem is, they only support it in windows XP and above guests.  It would be better to have Direct3d support for an older windows, like windows 98SE for example, to install virtually in virtualbox and play the older windows era games there. There are commercial solutions for that, right now, like Swiftshader, which emulates pixel shaders. 

There are increasingly more options with todays techonology to create new platforms for playing this classic era games.  More will come too.

 

on Apr 03, 2009

[quote who="Star Adder" comment="9"]

Due to the DRM crap on recent games I have spent the last two years re-playing old games.

At a certain time I felt the urge to dig out n play Wizardry6 and 7. Was great fun despite the low level graphics. Same with Master of Magic.

[quote]

That's another reason why the older games are so attractive.  They didnt include any draconian DRM schemes, and can be played decades after they were made.  Can the same be said about games like Bioshock, Left4Dead, or Spore?  At least it's good to see that this DRM locking trend is starting to be reversed, judging by annoucements such as EA's annoucement that the sims 3 wont include any kind of DRM, and Ubisoft announcing too that their future games won't include DRM.  Apparently they are realizing their wrong ways.

on Apr 03, 2009

zndkwin
They didnt include any draconian DRM schemes, and can be played decades after they were made.

Except those games that included a manual check: "Please input word 15 on line 6 of page 74", being the first DRM ever I guess

on Apr 03, 2009

piderman

Quoting zndkwin, reply 11They didnt include any draconian DRM schemes, and can be played decades after they were made.
Except those games that included a manual check: "Please input word 15 on line 6 of page 74", being the first DRM ever I guess
i would rather have drm than somthing like that in some cases. i usually loose cd Keys so i can't replay my old games. ex. I got empire earth 2 and loved the game play, however my system was about 10X to slow to run it at any decent speed at the lowest settings so i packed it away. fast forward 4-5 years and i get a new computer, lets see how EE2 works, i got the box, the instruction manual, both disks in the original cases, the ads that came with the game, but NO CD KEY. get EE3 and it sux. I think stardock and co. have the best idea. " you want to go through the hassle of pirating our initial game with no bugs fixed and only the original stuff? fine. but you dont get the fixes that make the game playable or the awesome updates."

I really hate the seperate CD keys, the random 2"X4" slip of paper with random numbers and letters saying "lose this and you'r f***ed"

on Apr 03, 2009

Apparently they are realizing their wrong ways.

I'm still kind of suspicious concerning Ubi's and EA's sudden change of mind.

Time will tell whether they truly saw the light or it was just pretense...

on Apr 03, 2009

Verkinix
I'm still trying to find Alpha Centauri and its expansion.  I really miss that game and I cannot for the life of me find my CDs.  I would much rather have a digital copy anyway.  Come on Impulse, dig up some of the classics and put em up for us to buy!

OMG I loved those games. It was the first game I ever owned for PC and I used to play it for days and days. It was fun and addictive lol.

As to where to get a copy your best bet is prolly Amazon or ebay since the game is so old I doubt you will be able to find a downloadable verison thats legit from frixis games. Theres torrents for sure but I wouldn't touch them with a 50ft stick.

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