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- Category: Giskard's Blog
- Last Updated on Saturday, 07 April 2012 16:27
- Written by Giskard
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Over the years new technology has made new types of games possible, the current big thing for changing games is the physics engine stuff, entire games that are only possibly because of the physics engine are being released (eg From Dust) and standard shooters (Eg Just Cause 2) are 10x better because of it.
But does that mean we need physics engine stuff for everything... of course not.
Yet in the early 90s when 3D became popular somebody in the big Publishing houses decided if its 2D, its not getting published so games like Civilization, UFO Enemy Unknown, Fallout, RailRoad Tycoon and hundreds of others died a death instantly. None where 3D, none needed to be 3D to work, all worked best in 2D and many only reappeared once they got the 3D badge of authentication stamped on them.
Some of those games did well as 3D versions, but games like Railroad Typcoon, Civilization, UFO Enemy Unknown remained better in 2D, none of the 3D versions ever really did more than add a little eye candy to a game and use up more computer resources. Even Civilizations so called 3D is little more than gimmick to get the publishes to show an interest.
Ironically Alpha Centuri, a game based on Civilization also by Sid Meyers was a kind of sudo 3D and ranks as the best Civilization style game ever made. But they never made that game again. It died a death despite being many players favourite civ style game.
For over 15 years we were spoon fed 3D games because some highly paid executive decided 2D games did not make enough money and once they decided that, all the old school RPGs vanished, all the adventure games vanished replaced by Doom, Quake and Unreal style games.
Battlefield, Tribes and even Operation Flashpoint made 3D games more fun and put the old classic 3D like Doom, Unreal and Quake games to rest. Changing what we expected from 3D games and making them in to more than shooters. Hexen was the first 3D RPG I saw and it was no where near as good as the 2D RPGs it was replacing. Which is probably why RPGs reappeared in the old 3D isometric view that Hero Quest once had. Only in fairly recent years had 3D RPGs started to work with the Elder Scrolls, Gothic and Risen style games.
But still the old games remained on the "Do not publish" list despite the 3D replacements not being anywhere near as good as the older games.
Then Steam and other digital companies came along and suddenly all those small developers can suddenly sell their 2D games directly to us. Yet EA and Ubisoft hate Steam, they mess steam about and steam is the biggest retailer of digital downloads for games because its giving its customers what we want where as EA and the others gave us what they felt we wanted. A big difference.
Even the old classics can still be purchased via sites like GOG, our old favourites are back.
So if Old School is back and why is it back ?
Because it was never the customer that decided it was boring, it was the highly paid executives at EA, Activition and UBIsoft that decided we did not like those games anymore and stopped publishing them.They dominated the market, told us what we liked and expected us to send our money their way.
Now digital downloads are here, they cannot do that, thats why they hate steam the biggest of the digital retailers. Steam and all the other digital download companies have given us our choice of games back.
The very thing that takes away control of the market from the big publishers is giving us back the games we loved so much, making them acceptable again. Rebuilding the market for them that was utterly destroyed by some Ahole in a suit working for the Big Publishers in the early to mid 90s.
To day you can play space invades, pacman, graphical adventure games, old school RPGs, 2D Strategy games, 2D shooters and sideways scrollers on your PC because the people who make them can sell them to you via various digital outlets, by passing the prick in the Suit that once told us what we would like this year.
Puzzle games that once spent decades on the bottom of the bargin shelf at your local supermarket because no were else would sell them are now a big market on Digital sites. There are thousands of those games available today, 10 years ago, you would have struggled to find 1 people knew about. Yet puzzle games are not a new thing, they are older that most forms of gaming but the big Publishers did not want to know so we never saw them.
The music industry suffers from the same problem, lots of great bands never get heard.
What happened to our games was bad because a few people got to decide for us, what we would be playing. What is happening today is those few people are, despite being rich, losing their control over how we spend out money and digital companies like Steam, Gamers Gate, GoG and others are taking over.
Giving us the choice to buy 2D UFO style games, 2D Railroad style games, 2D Monkey Island Style games, Puzzle games, or 2D shooters and 2D scrollers once again. All games people once loved to bits before they where taken away from us.
They are all are back in force.
I look forward to seeing them retake their places in the gaming world where indi companies with their original ideas get to shine once again just like they did in the golden days of computer gaming before the word "main stream" appeared and main stream games became the only games in town you could buy.
I look forward to people talking about cool new side ways scrollers that could match the mighty Project X from those golden old days, listening to people rave about the coolest new 2D Alien Breed style shooter, perhaps even seeing Gauntlet reappear in 2D again.
3D is not and never has been the only way to make a game popular, and spending a few million advertising a 3D game in order to ensure its the only game people remember does not make that game better than the older games that came before it.
New ideas are cool, but what we see to day is the same old crap given the same old coat of paint we expect and new buzz words through at us to make it sound cooler than it actually is. Mean while we know we liked UFO Enemy Unknown just the way it was, we know we liked Dungeon Keeper 1 and 2, just the way they where. We do not need a multimillion dollar advertising campaign to get our interest in those types of games. WE KNOW WE LIKE THEM.
In the end if the market was left fend for it self, the customers would choose to buy the best games and they would not always be 3D. But big developers throw money at it their games to raise our opinion of their games before we even see them and make us feel like any company that does not throw a few million at their games before release is unworthy of our attention.
So we end up with the same old crap hyped to death and sold by the million and its rarely bug free and rarely any better than any other game from the big publishers we see to day. Highly polished buggy games are not as much fun as less polished bug free games.
Mount and Blade Proved that, the Ugly Ducklin that kicked the big publishers asses for Paradox. Way to go Paradox and Tale Worlds.
Truth is, indi companies may lack the funds to throw a few million at their games but that does not mean their games are not worth owning. Their game usually work on release day, the same cannot be said for Bethesda, EA or Ubisoft. If an indi game or other small developers game is buggy, they apologize and fix them.
There is no "maybe" about it like we see with Bethesda, EA and Ubisoft. No indi company would have released Skyrim in that state. Thats the arrogance of the big companies shining through. We got your money, we have our lawyers, fuck you, we know a few million dollar advertising campaign will convince you to by the shit we sell, so why do we need to be nice about it.
Smaller developers must take risks to be noticed, they cannot afford to have that big publisher attitude so their games are not only more original, but usually more stable too.
Indi companies need to keep on our good side so they care what we think and try and keep us happy, the bigger companies do not, so they write disclaimers that say "if we sell you a broken game then that is just tough, we deny responsibility for it, no refunds".
During my 32 years as a gamer, I have not seen that many big original ideas come from a big publishing houses or the developers they own. Sure some indi company may get their original game published by them, but the in house publishers owned by the likes of EA rarely produce anything new.
They just use ideas other companies have already proven are popular and even then they have to be really really popular before they use them. A new phrase appeared to describe that sort of popular and the phrase was "Main Stream", it means every game has to be cater for everybody, not just large portions of the gaming community but everybody. So every game we got was more or less the same as the last one as a result, boring the hell out of us in the process but getting all the kiddies excited about something they at least had not seen 100 times before like us older players.
Now the high street has been taken over by console games, companies that once sold PC games now only sell Console games in a flooded market are going out of business. I wonder why PC sales dropped off suddenly right around the time the big publishers started deciding what would be playing... hum.... maybe because an over doze of mainstream is bad for business perhaps ?
Game, one of the UKs leading computer game retailers is no longer open, it went bust a few weeks ago having dived in to the swampped console market and drowned. Mean while Steam and digital outlets for are going from strength to strength having gained the support of many of Games EX PC customers.
Lesson 1: driving away your established customers is a lethal things to do if your a games retailer. If game had supported the PC properly and then went digital, I would be using them now instead of Steam because over the years I had spent a lot money in game, but in the past 5 years I spent less than £100 and only for games I could not get else where or wanted on release day.
Not only are the old school games getting purchased via digital outlets again, but they are taking money away from the high streets console shops and the big publishers who are selling those same games on consoles for £40 when we can get them for £5 on the PC today.
Companies like Kalypso and Paradox are making a lot of money making and selling games that come from small independent developers that are not all 3d games and would have been ignored had they not gotten Kalypso and Paradox support. Deep Silver are also taking on more mainstream indi companies too.
So it should come as no surprise to find out my own purchases of games has risen since the digital age began and the 2 companies that are getting most of my cash these days are Kalypso and Paradox. The source of some of the best original titles in recent years.
The games I want, the games many on my forum buy are not all main stream games, many find them selves customers of indi companies or of publishes that take on indi companies like Kalypso and Paradox and because they never saw a massively expansive advertising campaign for those games, they probably do not even realize just how many games they own are indi games or are Kalypso games or are Paradox games.
Everybody knows about Battlefield, World or War Craft and Modern Warfare.... but who cares about those titles.... I mean hands up how many of you would shed a single tear if those 3 disappeared today. They have all been done to death now, you can pick up dozens of similar games.
But ask your self this, how many of you miss Dungeon keeper, miss UFO, miss Alpha Centuri, what would say if I said right now they where in production and would be out for sale in a month. Most of you would screen your heads off in excitement. Well UFO Enemy Unknown (UFO Defense) is being made, the rest are not.
But you can get the others from GOG right now for $5 each. I even saw Freespace 2, Wingcommander and Syndicate on sale over there.
Those games are ancient but I would take any one of over any Battlefield, World of Warcraft or Modern Warfare game because all of them where original in their time and provided something that was never main stream.
PS when you see PC versions of some old games from the Amiga, the sound your hearing is a dumped down version of the Amiga version and the graphics you see is also often dumped down too because the PC at the time used DOS and its sound was mostly midi and its 2D graphics left a lot to be desired. 3D was more of a CPU thing back then and the PC had a very fast CPU so did better with 3D games. Which may explain a lot.
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