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The Ten Most Important Games 577

Posted by Zonk
from the a-good-place-to-start dept.
Taking a page from the National Film Preservation Board, the History of Science and Technology Collections at Stanford University and a group of five prestigious games industry figures have inducted ten games into a sort of 'canon'. The New York Times reports that some of these titles represent the start of weighty gaming genres, while all are laudable for their place in gaming history. "[Henry] Lowood and the four members of his committee -- the game designers Warren Spector and Steve Meretzky; Matteo Bittanti, an academic researcher; and Christopher Grant, a game journalist -- announced their list of the 10 most important video games of all time: Spacewar! (1962), Star Raiders (1979), Zork (1980), Tetris (1985), SimCity (1989), Super Mario Bros. 3 (1990), Civilization I/II (1991), Doom (1993), Warcraft series (beginning 1994) and Sensible World of Soccer (1994)." Most likely, future years will see additional titles inducted into this game canon.
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The Ten Most Important Games

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  • pong (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mastershake_phd (1050150) on Monday March 12, 2007 @04:58PM (#18322385) Homepage
    What no PONG?
    • Re:pong (Score:5, Informative)

      by SageinaRage (966293) on Monday March 12, 2007 @05:05PM (#18322501)
      Pong is significant for bringing video gaming to the masses, and being the first large commercial success. This list is more for games of great cultural significance, artistic works deserving of praise. I wouldn't really include Pong, fun though it may be.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Umbrel (1040414)
        I'd put pong on the list, but also Prince of Persia and Donkey Kong Country for artistic works and technical achievement.

        What is Zork and what is so special about Mario 3?
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Threni (635302)
          > What is Zork

          There's information about it in the internet. Use a "search engine" such as Google (www.google.com) and find out.

          > and what is so special about Mario 3?

          I didn't get that either. It's more significant than 1 or 2? I'd have thought they'd have been better of with games like Manic Miner or Elite. It's just a personal list though, albeit by more than one person. There's not the same problem with computer games as with films, as we can always play the originals using emulation. Every yea
          • Re:pong (Score:5, Funny)

            by Tackhead (54550) on Monday March 12, 2007 @05:32PM (#18322933)
            > What is Zork

            There's information about it in the internet. Use a "search engine" such as Google (www.google.com) and find out.

            > TYPE ZORK INTO WWW.GOOGLE.COM

            Google suggests that the original poster try the Zork Wikipedia Entry [wikipedia.org].

            It is almost 5:00 pm in your office. You are feeling a mite peckish.

            > TRY THE NEXT LINK

            Google's second link points to the Infocom-IF [infocom-if.org] page on the history of Interactive Fiction.

            It is almost 5:30 pm in your office. You are hungry. Because Congress fucked up Daylight Saving Time, it is not yet dark.

            > TRY THE THIRD LINK.

            Google's third link points to a live PHP-based implementation Zork [thcnet.net], cleverly disguised as a 404 page.

            By the time you're done with that, you will have either starved to death, or despite Congress' fucking up Daylight Saving Time, it will be sufficiently dark that you will have been eaten by a grue.

            *** You have died ***
            Your score is 2 out of a possible (+5, Funny)

        • Re:pong (Score:5, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 12, 2007 @05:26PM (#18322843)

          What is Zork...
          I think you need to look around and ask yourself "Do I really belong here?"
        • Re:pong (Score:5, Funny)

          by textstring (924171) on Monday March 12, 2007 @05:32PM (#18322931)
          It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.
        • by morcheeba (260908) on Monday March 12, 2007 @06:50PM (#18324133) Journal
          1. Zork understood english sentences. All other text-based games used 2-word commands, like "take beer" and then "drink beer". Zork would understand things like "pick up the beer and drink it".
          2. Zork used an interpreter (Z-code), so the game content was separate from the code. This allowed them to port to far more platforms than their competitors (and back then, there were a lot more platforms!)
          3. Zork was marketed more like a book. When new games came out, the old games remained on the shelves because they still had value. This was a revolution in marketing game software.

          Also, read this. It's a fascinating story about the company behind zork. [mit.edu]

    • Pong Parody (Score:3, Interesting)

      by StCredZero (169093)
      Cheesy Blaxploitation + the grandaddy videogame = great parody [google.com].

      Or scroll to the bottom of this page [cornponeflicks.org] for better resolutions:

    • by omeomi (675045)
      And Super Mario 3 instead of regular old Super Mario Bros? I mean, yeah, 3 was a great game, but the first one was a huge hit at the time. It's still a fun game to play.
  • Simcity (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CastrTroy (595695) on Monday March 12, 2007 @05:01PM (#18322429) Homepage
    Simcity, and moreso, Simcity 2000 was awesome. I never really got into Simcity 3000, because I found that you had a little too much to manage, there was too much to control, and you couldn't keep it all in your head. I wasted many days on my simcity (2000). I never got to the point where the Arcologies would launch into space, although that may have been a myth, like the ability to pick up and throw the puck in fight mode in blades of steel.
  • by moore.dustin (942289) on Monday March 12, 2007 @05:01PM (#18322437) Homepage
    I am happy to see that they recognize WarCraft as the basis for which the success of StarCraft was built upon.
    • by freedumb2000 (966222) on Monday March 12, 2007 @05:23PM (#18322807)
      And I am not happy to see Dune II by Westwood Studios not beeing recognized as the basis for which the success of WarCraft was build on.
      • by Z0mb1eman (629653) on Monday March 12, 2007 @05:48PM (#18323177) Homepage
        No mod points, but hear hear.

        Dune II was the first PC game (that I'm aware of) that had all the elements of today's strategy genre.

        Warcraft was Dune II with orcs.

        Command&Conquer was... the next version of Dune II. :p

        Everything since has simply been a refinement of the same formula.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by naoursla (99850)
        But Dune was inspired by Herzog Zwei on the Genesis.
    • by Cheapy (809643)
      I'm sad to see that they don't recognize Dune II as the basis for which the success of Warcraft was built upon.
  • WarCraft (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MattyCobb (695086)
    Not that I don't love WarCraft (because I do, all of them... even WoW), but shouldn't Westwood's Dune 2 have been in its place? Was it as good a game as even WC1? No, but I am not sure a WarCraft 1 would have existed (at least in that form) without Dune 2.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Nasarius (593729)
      Look at the reason stated: "The first three Warcraft games represent the introduction of real-time strategy overlaid on a narrative"

      As I recall, Dune 2 didn't really have a plot. Command & Conquer would be a more appropriate comparison, but came slightly later than Warcraft: Orcs & Humans.
      • Warcraft had taken RTS is grand new directions while C&C stagnated and became nothing but cheese and rehash. they problably went with what came first and what had soem artistic merit. WCI was intersting btu ugly. WCII was pretty and despite it's age still looks alright. WCIII still stands up and is played by hundreds of thousands still, years after it's release. While the C&C series doesn't have as much lasting value.
      • Re:WarCraft (Score:4, Insightful)

        by demonbug (309515) on Monday March 12, 2007 @08:27PM (#18325457) Journal
        Dune 2 had at least as much of a plot as Warcraft. At any rate, I remember it better than I remember the plot from Warcraft. You play the Noble Atreides, the Evil Harkkonnen, or the Insidious Ordos, and try to take over the world. You pick which territory to invade (not that it actually mattered), and towards the later levels the emperor or whatever starts helping out your opponents (IIRC). Not great, but then I don't even remember anything about the plot in Warcraft.

        Yeah, I played a hell of a lot more Dune 2 than I did Warcraft - who doesn't love running over Fremen with a harvester, or building rocket towers in the middle of the enemy base and watching the fun (yeah, the game had some issues)?

        Dune 2 was a whole lot more significant than Warcraft, as it really broke open the genre (I'm sure it wasn't the first). Warcraft had a sense of humor, but other than that it had all been done before.
  • Not a bad list but. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Monday March 12, 2007 @05:03PM (#18322467) Homepage Journal
    Limiting to just 10 is silly.
    What about
    Summer Games?
    Combat?
    Pong?
    But two big thumbs up for Star Raiders!
  • Missing option (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Overzeetop (214511) on Monday March 12, 2007 @05:09PM (#18322557) Journal
    Life
  • How come WarCraft gets the series counted? Not that I don't love the WarCraft games, but why does WarCraft count as multiple games while Super Mario Bros. only counts as one?
  • by Sciros (986030) on Monday March 12, 2007 @05:11PM (#18322599) Journal
    And where can I buy some?

    How can Mario Bros 3 be considered one of the 10 most important games of all time when the original Super Mario Bros is the foundation is was built on in the first place? It wasn't even all that innovative if we're talking "grand scales" such as this (it was innovative, but not nearly the leap that the original was).

    Then there's Donkey Kong Country, which to my knowledge popularized actually using 3d models for characters in a game.

    The Legend of Zelda, anyone? Action/adventure one of those genres that never really took off or spawned a descendant that is considered widely to be the greatest game of all time? Ocarina is yet to be dethroned according to most critics (and gamers I know).

    How about Doom? Or is FPS a fad? :-P

    I just find it hard to justify putting in WarCraft when it didn't even spawn the genre it "represents" in the first place, and on top of that not putting in the games that spawned much more prominent genres.
    • by RingDev (879105)
      "I just find it hard to justify putting in WarCraft when it didn't even spawn the genre it "represents" in the first place, and on top of that not putting in the games that spawned much more prominent genres."

      Good call. Warcraft was a nice series and all, but hardly one of the most important games ever. Start Craft really set the standard for Multiplayer RTS while WoW has clearly set the standard for MMORPGs.

      And as great of a game as Doom was, it's Quake that really was the break out point of FPS and the GP
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Start Craft really set the standard for Multiplayer RTS

        No way. Dune 2 was the first, and Warcraft was the first mass success. Starcraft came long after that.


        while WoW has clearly set the standard for MMORPGs.

        You are clearly too young. Ultima Online was the first (not counting MUDs), and Everquest was the first with the appearance of WoW. WoW has been (by far) the greatest success, but it didn't set the standards that it follows.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by 7Prime (871679)

        And as great of a game as Doom was, it's Quake that really was the break out point of FPS and the GPU requirements. If it wasn't for Quake where would nVidia and ATI be now?

        Yeah, Doom makes no sense to me either, it was neither the first: Wolfenstien came out long before, nor probably the most popular: Quake or Halo probably recieve that honor. Wolfenstien was a huge hit... maybe not as much as Doom, but still large enough to be recognized in its spawning of FPSs. I'd also argue that Marathon and Rise of

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Jarlsberg (643324)
          If you'd been around when Doom shook the gaming world, you'd know why it's on the list, and why Wolfenstein is not.
    • by omeomi (675045)
      How about Doom? Or is FPS a fad? :-P Doom is already on the list... The Legend of Zelda, anyone? Yeah, that should definitely be on the list, though.
    • by grumbel (592662)
      And to add a question: Why Sensible Soccer? Why it and not International Soccer or one of the dozens of other soccer games that came long before it? Of all those games Sensible Soccer makes the least sense to include to me, but maybe I am just missing something, since I haven't played it all that much. With Warcraft one could argue that it was the beginning of what later became World of Warcraft, but for strategy games its really a bad pick.
    • by necro2607 (771790)
      "I just find it hard to justify putting in WarCraft when it didn't even spawn the genre it "represents" in the first place"

      Sure, but it was the first huge hit of that style of game. It spread through my school like wildfire when it came out, with ALL of the computer-game-playing kids obsessing over it for the longest time. This never happened with Dune, or... whatever other RTS game supposedly created the genre.
    • by CodeBuster (516420) on Monday March 12, 2007 @07:42PM (#18324849)
      I just find it hard to justify putting in WarCraft when it didn't even spawn the genre it "represents" in the first place

      While this is technically true, it is also true to say that very few people either played or remember the prototypes of the modern real-time strategy genre during the 1980s. Indeed, even the first game which mostly resembled the genre in its modern form (i.e. using the mouse to move units, gathering resources, etc...), Dune II from Westwood Studios in 1992, was not widely played and would not be immediately recognized by the average gamer. It was really the WarCraft series, beginning in 1994, from Blizzard that exploded the genre into the mainstream and cemented its long-term popularity. The Wikipedia article on real-time strategy [wikipedia.org] games really sums up the history quite nicely (including some obscure early games that I was previously unfamiliar with).
  • What about:

    - Street Fighter Hyper Turbo Super Deluxe vs. Capcom Marvel DC Comics Heroes edition-type fighting games?
    - racing games?
    - Final Fantasy / Dragon Warrior / Leisure Suit Larry, etc.?
    - shooting games (Lethal Enforcers, T2, whatever-that-game-in-Back-to-the-Future-was-calle d, etc)
    - niche non-Nintendo-licensed NES gems like "Bible Adventures"?
  • Mr. Grant, the editor of the popular Web site joystiq.com, who selected Super Mario Bros. 3, said the game was important for its nonlinear play, a mainstay of contemporary games, and new features like the ability to move both backward and forward.
    Enough said.
  • Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by msauve (701917) on Monday March 12, 2007 @05:14PM (#18322649)
    Where's Hunt the Wumpus? Where's Lunar Lander? Where's Star Trek? Pong?

    And most egregiously, where is Crowther and Woods' Colossal Cave Adventure, to which Zork owes everything?
  • by ucblockhead (63650) on Monday March 12, 2007 @05:16PM (#18322687) Homepage Journal
    "Sensible World of Soccer"?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rtechie (244489)
      Yeah, this one is pretty obscure. I think it's listed as the "prototype" for later sports games, but I still don't get it. Where's Madden? Maybe they just wanted an Amiga game.
      • But why would you want to pay homage to the yearly vomit of dull, repetitive sports games? And why not acknowledge the full vision, infinite fps massively multiplayer version that's been available since the invention of the ball?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 12, 2007 @09:06PM (#18325889)
      While I was reading this, I imagined that Americans would probably have that reaction, but I can assure you that SWS (the original) and SWOS (the early ones) are without doubt the best football games ever made, and probably the best sports game ever made, in terms of game controls and pure fun.

      Oh man, the hours I lost on those games on my 286(SWS) and Pentium(SWOS).
    • Lee Carvallo's Putting Challenge

      http://carvallo.ytmnd.com/ [ytmnd.com]
  • Zork? (Score:4, Informative)

    by koreth (409849) * on Monday March 12, 2007 @05:16PM (#18322691)
    What about the original "Adventure" (aka "Colossal Cave") by, if memory serves, Crowther and Woods? Nothing wrong with "Zork" but it wasn't the first of its genre.
  • What is this game? The article offers no explanation of its greatness, so what's the deal?

    And no Zelda? For shame.
  • Strange criteria (Score:5, Insightful)

    by omnilynx (961400) on Monday March 12, 2007 @05:18PM (#18322713)
    There's obviously something going on with the criteria that's not being mentioned in the article. The one that sticks out most to me is Super Mario Bros. 3, when that game is obviously based on Super Mario Bros. (1, of course) Similarly, Zork is based on the earlier Colossal Cave Adventure. Apparently part of the criteria is not just genre-defining but rather some sort of popularization of a genre. So, like any supposedly defining canon, this comes down to a matter of opinion on what is "important".
    • Tipping point, dude. Importance is not defined as first, or they would just use the word first. Importance is a different word. Certain games achieved certain statuses by reaching a tipping point where they became "big".

      A game that 80% of people played, that was the second game in a genre of which >50% of people ultimately played -- is going to be considered more important than a game that only 2% of people played, that was the first game in a genre that 100% of people play today. Popularity means a lot in importance.

      The most important horror movie isn't the first horror movie.

      Oh, and it's all based on DONKEY KONG, actually! :)

  • by twolfe (235277) on Monday March 12, 2007 @05:20PM (#18322745)
    Doom was basically just a graphics upgrade and subsitution of aliens for german soldiers. Doom/2/3, Quake/2/3, Return to Wolfenstein, Quakeworld (arguably the precursor to the Battlefield series), teamfortress, Duke Nuke'em, Unreal et al would never have existed without the popularity of Wolfenstein which resulted in hundreds of thousands of pirated installs globally and raised the perception of FPS as a genre to levels that enabled all of these a viable demographic in the business.

    At least that's my opinion, I could be wrong... I'm not though.
    • Multiplayer (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Khomar (529552) on Monday March 12, 2007 @06:51PM (#18324149) Journal

      I was a huge fan of both Wolfenstein and Doom (having wasted many hours of my college life on both), but I have to agree with their choice. Doom brought one huge factor into the FPS that Wolfenstein lacked: multiplayer capability. Before Doom, we used to hike up to Macintosh lab so we could play Bolo, a simple player-vs-player real network game where you fought each other in little tanks. It was actually a very fun and addictive game. But it was Doom that brought this concept to the mainstream. In Wolfenstein, once you solved the maps, there was no replay unless you downloaded your own level builder, but with Doom and multiplayer, you could play the same levels again and again. It made Doom highly addictive at the time.

      I remember a couple friends of mine created a network of four computers in our dorm(at a time when they still gave out college credit to CS students who fought through the headaches of networking a couple computers), and for the next semester, there was a death match running until about 2 am every night. It was huge. Of course, later came Descent (a revolutionary game in its own right), Hexen, Quake, etc., but it was Doom that truly kicked off the revolution. Without multiplayer, it would have been a pretty substantial upgrade to the graphics, but the player-vs-player death match would change the gaming world forever.

    • by Dalroth (85450) on Monday March 12, 2007 @07:53PM (#18325015) Homepage Journal
      Hardly. Doom introduced multi-player death match to the masses and ushered in the era of online multiplayer gaming. That is Doom's real legacy.

      Bryan
  • by Fozzyuw (950608) on Monday March 12, 2007 @05:20PM (#18322753)

    Super Mario Bros. 3 (1990), [...] Warcraft series (beginning 1994)

    Odd, why only pick Super Mario Bros. 3 and not the entire Super Mario Bros. series like they did with Warcraft? From the article...

    Mr. Grant, the editor of the popular Web site joystiq.com, who selected Super Mario Bros. 3, said the game was important for its nonlinear play, a mainstay of contemporary games, and new features like the ability to move both backward and forward.

    Super Mario Bros. 3 added some interesting new elements to the side scroller, but I would argue that it didn't define the side scrolling genre. I think Super Mario Bros. 3 improved upon the genre defining Super Mario Bros. game, even if I enjoy Super Mario Bros 3 more. Could 'nonlinear' games be found before Super Mario Bros. 3? What about any RPG game like Dragon Warrior? It would have been better to just include the entire Mario series for their significance on the video game world. I think Mario 64 is far more revolutionary than Mario 3, but the entire franchises importance shouldn't be underestimated.

    Cheers,
    Fozzy

  • Space invaders? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pubjames (468013) on Monday March 12, 2007 @05:30PM (#18322907)
    No Space Invaders? No PacMan?

  • Best game (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 26199 (577806) * on Monday March 12, 2007 @05:34PM (#18322959) Homepage

    I have yet to have more fun gaming than playing Deus Ex (although a few games have come close).

    To me that makes it an important game :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by unicomp (1074843)
      Thank you for voicing that sentiment, sir. Deus Ex also captivates me to this day; it forever changed the way I feel about games as art. I still get the impression that DX was an actual chapter in my life rather than just a game I played for a while. Top honors.
  • Rogue (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Procyon101 (61366) on Monday March 12, 2007 @05:34PM (#18322963) Journal
    Nuff said.
  • I thought Warcraft was just a clone of Dune 2.
  • by sitturat (550687) on Monday March 12, 2007 @05:45PM (#18323147) Homepage
    To me, Doom was just the next iteration of Wolfenstein. Wolfenstein started the whole violent, popular fps id thing.
  • by Matt_R (23461) on Monday March 12, 2007 @05:52PM (#18323243) Homepage
    What about Duke Nukem Forever?

    DNF is a very important game.. If it ever gets released, hell will instantly freeze over.
  • by Astarica (986098) on Monday March 12, 2007 @05:54PM (#18323279)
    For most games I assume it's because it's some game that first came up with the idea of whatever. But Warcraft does not have anything innovative in the first 2 games unless you count a quasi-story as innovative. It may have been popular but from the innovation point of view, it contributed roughly nothing to the RTS genre. If you're to pick a RTS game that really revolutionized the genre it has to be Starcraft, which is not Warcraft in space. So here Warcraft seems to get a pass due to its massive sales and popularity. That's fine but then where's the Pokemons and Final Fantasies? It seems to me Warcraft is only on there probably because whoever made this list actually plays Warcraft but not Pokemon, even though the two games are very similar: massive sales and popularity and not much contribution in terms of innovation to the genre. Which is fine. No one says a great game has to come up with something no one else thought of before. But don't bend the rules just to get your favorite game inducted.
  • by krunoce (906444) on Monday March 12, 2007 @06:12PM (#18323551)
    In no particular order:

    1) Pac Man
    2) Sim City
    3) Wolfenstein 3D
    4) The Legend of Zelda
    5) Super Mario Bros
    6) Mortal Kombat
    7) Grand Theft Auto
    8) NBA Jam
    9) Tetris
    10) Warcraft
    11) Myst
    12) Pong
    13) Space Invaders
    14) Tecmo Super Bowl
    15) Final Fantasy

  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Monday March 12, 2007 @06:16PM (#18323611)
    Hack / NetHack
    [God I'm old.]
  • by BinaryCodedDecimal (646968) on Monday March 12, 2007 @06:20PM (#18323673)
    What about Elite or Frontier?

    Mercenary or Damocles?

    *sigh*
  • by Glowing Fish (155236) on Monday March 12, 2007 @06:58PM (#18324239) Homepage
    The original list, like so many other lists I have seen naming the "Top 10" etc, seems to be unbalanced. Some things are put in that shouldn't be (Sensible World of Soccer)?!?!!? and there were many exclusions, (Zelda, Super Mario Brothers, Pac-Man, many Microprose games). And we can all argue over what goes where, but what you really need is some sort of rubric to judge games.

    For example, how do you compare Super Mario Brothers and Super Mario Brothers 3? Obviously Super Mario Brothers 3 was much more polished, but it only owes its success to the originality of the first. How do you compare a game with great graphics, sound and story lines, but whose gameplay is selecting from a menu over and over (like Final Fantasy VII) to a game that is almost pure concept (like Tetris)? How would you compare The Legend of Zelda, a great adventure/RPG game that everyone has played, with a game like Terranigma, a fascinating adventure/RPG game that was never released in the United States? Tomb Raider could be translated into a movie, which Civilization couldn't, do does that make it a better game?

    For all of these questions and more, you have to have a rubric, a means of grading, that you can explain your choices. A rubric would include graphics, sound, gameplay concept, originality, cultural impact, popularity, immersiveness, technical achievement, amongst other things, so that we could fairly rate games against each other. Without that, its just tossing out suggestions and haggling.
  • No Populous? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tim C (15259) on Monday March 12, 2007 @07:45PM (#18324885)
    I know the god-game genre isn't exactly huge, but Populous is generally credited with being the first; how can you ignore a game that created an entire genre?

    (And no Elite either? For shame)
  • by WalterBright (772667) on Monday March 12, 2007 @08:05PM (#18325201) Homepage
    Empire pretty much invented the strategy type computer game back in 1977, and was selected as Computer Gaming World's 1987 game of the year.

    http://www.classicempire.com/ [classicempire.com]

    Yes, I wrote it :-)
  • Marathon? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by v1 (525388) on Monday March 12, 2007 @08:23PM (#18325423) Homepage Journal
    Though I detest Bungee for selling out to microsoft, they had one of the most ground-breaking games of their time. Marathon featured 3D maps (not merely 2D, it had stairs and lifts) as well as real physics models, (your bullets and you were affected by gravity) ammunition limits (what, no 999 bullets in your pistol? really!) and used a physics model that allowed for adjustment of things like gravity and weight. I beleve it was also the first game to allow you to be submerged in a "medium" such as water, muck, and lava. (with the physics models adjusting accordingly, try firing an RPG in the water...)

    There was nothing even remotely like it until after the realease of the second in the series, Marathon II Durandall. They even published the map editor with M2 and you could make your own levels and even modify the physics of the game. Monsters could be set to trigger on a variety of events, including each other, and it was possible to "pull" several other mobs so if you were spotted, by the time the mob found his way to you (and he WOULD find a way to get to you) he may have pulled several other mobs with him. MMORPG fans will recognize the "train" effect.

    Mobs could even aggro each other. If a fighter's missile weapon hit a grunt one too many times the fighter would be on the grunt's aggro list and it was quite possible to get them sufficiently pissed off at each other that they would mostly kill each other.

    Even with all that it had a flawless network play for up to 16 people. (admittedly poor internet performance, but LAN was smooth) Unfortunately multiplayer was only for the arenas, not for the actual game.

    And the game... the depth of the plot and storyline was unheard of at that time. Even moving as fast as you could you might get to the end in a week. Most players took months to beat the game, and spent the next several months discovering the amazing variety of hidden rooms, secret weapons, and amazing powerups hidden on every level, of which there were what, 20? Large and unique, each map with a theme that set it visually apart from the other levels. (how could you not get tired of seeing the same room over and over and over again in Halo??) The different levels used different color pallates for the walls, ceiling, floors, etc, and all of them had a unique background sound.

    Although it did not have dynamic lighting, individual map squares (3-8 sided polys actually!) could be lit individually, and even dynamically change by itself or due to player action. Ambient sounds were also present, and were variable by distance and in stereo - you could follow a sound to its source if you were wearing headphones.

    It took almost four years for anything like Marathon I to come out on any platform, it was groundbreaking on every front. Doom was the only thing like it at the time and that was sad by comparison.

    It occurs to me that in some ways Marathon was more real than even today's games. Think of a FPS game you like. Can you turn while you are falling? How is that possible? You can't turn while falling in Marathon. And ignoring the 999 bullets in your pistol, what happens after you have shot seven of them? You shoot #8 right? In marathon you see his hand come out, drop out the clip, jam in a new clip, and cock the gun. You can't shoot while you're doing that, so emptying a clip in preparation for a tough encounter was one of many strategy decisions you had to make. It was years before any other FPS decided that guns needed to be reloaded. Authentic sound FX too, and bullets that ricocheted off a wall would have one of several random visual effects result on the wall.

    Not only did you have to worry about ammo and health, but some levels were hard vacuum and you had to manage your air as well. Certain mobs were resistant to certain weapons also, so you had to be peticular about who you used your limited fusion pistol shots on.

    If something exploded on the floor beside you, you didn't just take damage. You were tossed up into the air and over
  • Where's Myst? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SnowDog74 (745848) on Monday March 12, 2007 @10:17PM (#18326573)
    Myst was not only the first million-selling CD-ROM game ever, but it is also the best selling computer game in history until it was overtaken by The Sims.

    The ingenuity of Myst was that it ushered in an era of adventure-puzzle games but in my opinion there wasn't even a close second until the sequel, Riven, came along. Some other notes of distinction attributable to Myst:

    1. Prior to Myst's release on the Macintosh, CD-ROM drives were optional on computers. The timing of Myst's release with the emergence of Macintoshes that came standard with CD-ROM drives and the explosion in sales of Myst drove consumers to demand CD-ROM drives in their computers which quickly led to CD-ROM drives becoming standard equipment.

    2. Myst was not originally ported to Windows and until it was, many consumers bought Macintoshes just so they could play Myst.

    3. The use of Cinepak compression and other resource-conserving techniques resulted in a game that had outstanding still graphics and video for the time.

    4. With the success of the independently developed Myst (by Rand and Robyn Miller) and, incidentally, the low-budget sleeper hit "The Usual Suspects", one could argue that the plot twist became a staple in entertainment culture... Games and movies developed suspenseful storylines often predicated upon a last-minute twist.

    5. Myst was one of the few games where the objective wasn't merely to survive (you technically cannot die in the game).

    6. The actual objective of the game, the concept, and anything beyond basic navigation is not even hinted at in the documentation. In fact, figuring out the objective of the game IS part of the objective of the game.

    7. Myst was one of the first successful wholly-immersive experiences whereby visual and auditory cues were not merely window dressing but an integral part of understanding how your actions affect your immediate surroundings (e.g. listening to water flow in the Channelwood age to verify whether valves are set properly to power the machinery of that age).

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