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A Look At How Far PC Gaming Has Come 427

Posted by Soulskill
from the from-windows-3.11-all-the-way-to-windows-7 dept.
Bit-tech is running a feature examining the progress PC games have made over the past couple decades. The article highlights aspects of modern games we often take for granted or nitpick, and compares them to earlier games in which such features were implemented poorly or not at all. Quoting: "Doom's legacy is still being felt today in fact and it's a fair bet that you can take any shooter off a shelf, from America’s Army to Zeno Clash, examine it, and list a dozen things that those games owe to Doom. Things like the wobble of the guns and the on-screen feedback that tells you which direction you are being shot from — these were things that id Software invented. On the other hand, from a story perspective, Doom was absolutely rubbish. You start in a room, no idea what’s going on and you are surrounded by demons. You have to read the manual and supporting media to get a grip on it all — something modern games would get heavily slated for doing. Yet the idea that plot was optional caught on and the same flaw was replicated in other games of the era, such as Quake and (to a lesser extent) Duke Nukem 3D. There were years and years where the lessons of early story-driven games were forgotten and all anyone really cared about was having as many sprites or polygons as possible."
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A Look At How Far PC Gaming Has Come

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  • Doom (Score:5, Funny)

    by Burnhard (1031106) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @05:30AM (#29821127)
    This guy goes all the way back to Doom. It's almost as if he was, you know, in his mid-twenties!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Trepidity (597)

      Yeah, it seems to basically be the argument that current games build on ideas, representations, and mechanics used in previous games. And a lot of the influence comes from, well influential games, of which Doom was one. I do tend to see Doom as pretty large too, but then I'm also in my mid-20s.

      I do find the general idea of trying to trace where particular things originated interesting, though. I hadn't, until this article pointed it out, noticed that the gun-wobble was an id invention, though I suppose it m

      • Re:Doom (Score:5, Informative)

        by Canazza (1428553) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @06:54AM (#29821655)

        It's not so much as a history of PC gaming, but a history of PC FPSes. It makes only a passing mention of other genres, like platforming (Braid, which, ironically, was released on consoles first) and based adventure games. It makes mention of hybrid FPS/RPG games like System Shock, Deus Ex and Bioshock, but no matter what genre the guy is talking about he always winds up back at an FPS.

        Where are the RTSes, like Starcraft, Command and Conquer, Total Annihilation? Where are the God Games, Civ, Black and White, Evil Genius? Totally ignored. RPGs are mentioned in passing and the main focus was on MMO vs MUD rather than the likes of Diablo and Baldurs Gate.

        as for Gun wobble, that may have been an ID invention, but I'd quite like to know who first put a gun in the players right hand, rather than in the middle bottom.

        • Re:Doom (Score:5, Informative)

          by lorenzo.boccaccia (1263310) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @07:11AM (#29821777)
          ultima underworld was released a year before, had gun wobble (well, sword) and moving made the screen wobble for each "step"

          se even this research wasn't so much thorough. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TpuTbxkaZ94 [youtube.com]
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by nightsweat (604367)
            Not to mention Wolfenstein.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Clover_Kicker (20761)

              Ultima Underworld was 3d, a much nicer engine then Wolfenstein.

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by rwa2 (4391) *

              Not to mention Wolfenstein.

              Hey, look at that first picture and caption right in your face when you bring up the fine article!

              Oh, I suppose you could be talking about the summary ;-)

        • Re:Doom (Score:5, Insightful)

          by The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @07:12AM (#29821789)

          What about Myst? I'd say it was a pretty significant PC game in it's day.

        • Re:Doom (Score:5, Funny)

          by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @07:22AM (#29821865) Homepage Journal

          ...Total Annihilation?

          Man, I loved that game. And it taught me how to spell "Annihilation", which is no small feat. So if I ever have to write something with the word "annihilation" in it, I'm ready.

          You can't say computer games aren't educational.

          • Re:Doom (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @07:50AM (#29822105)

            I'm sure you've seen it; even played it, but perhaps not enough attention has been given to it yet:

            http://www.springrts.com/

            The guys started out with the Total Annihilation game, built an open-source implementation of the engine so you could play it with the original game-packs, and then went on to 'generalize' the engine somewhat so that you can create other 'games' for it.

            In one word: AWESOME. All that was good with TA (gameplay) and all that is good with modern graphics (3D, shaders, realistic water, nice explosions, deformable terrain.. etc).

            Check it out, if you havent yet.
            (ofcourse there's linux binaries)

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by PopeRatzo (965947) *

              Hey, thank you, whoever you are. I will most certainly check this out.

              I was a fiend for Total Annihilation. It was the first game I played against other people via LAN and it gave me a hint of what was to come.

            • by iYk6 (1425255) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @09:07AM (#29822975)

              Spring is buggy as hell. I reported several bugs on the forums, and I got
              * denial
              * accusations
              * "if you aren't using Ubuntu, you have no right to complain that it doesn't work in your distro"
              * "if you don't like the manual, change it yourself, it's a wiki." Except that it is buggy and that the devs are pretenious pricks, I don't know anything that I could add to the wiki.

              Spring is not worth anyone's time.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by digitig (1056110)
            Doom didn't just teach me how to spell "cacodemon", it taught me how to annihilate them!
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by eison (56778)

            My favorite game education is I learned "obsequious" from Starflight II.

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by bckrispi (725257)
              Actually, the Obsequious posture was introduced in Starflight 1. You needed it to communicate with the Gazurtoid without being attacked. See: sig
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            well, I learned more about history from Civ IV's civilopedia then in grade school. i dont't know if this speaks more about the quality of the game, os the complete disregard the authorities in my country have for education.

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by PopeRatzo (965947) *

              I learned more about history from Civ IV's civilopedia then in grade school.

              That's true. The civilopedia was very well done.

              You don't want to confuse the actual game with history, though. I really don't want to consider the ramifications of the Aztecs getting nukes.

        • Re:Doom (Score:5, Interesting)

          by rouge86 (608370) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @11:00AM (#29824333)
          First Person Shooters ruined the game industry for me. The games are without plot and are entirely brain dead in the attempt to finish any sort of tasks. Adventure and RPG games have always been my favorite. I sure do miss the days of Hero's Quest/Quest for Glory games, which was a hybrid of RPG and adventure. Considering that Neverwinter Nights 2 is probably the last of the DND franchise to be made for some time, I am thinking that these games are also going the way of the dodo. Then we will all be stuck with the next FPS that is just point and shoot with new pretty graphics and no plot.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        >>>I do find the general idea of trying to trace where particular things originated int

        Almost everything traces back to the original Atari console, early 8-bit computers, or 70s-era arcades. Just picking some random games off the top of my head:

        Space Invaders - shooter
        Space War or Star Raiders - first person shooter (ship)
        Hostages - first person shooter (person)
        Donkey Kong - platformer
        Crystal Castles - 3D platformer
        Pitfall 1 2 - Adventure
        Haunted House - survival-horror
        F15 Strike Eagle - simulatio

    • Re:Doom (Score:5, Interesting)

      by slim (1652) <john@hartnup3.14.net minus pi> on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @06:36AM (#29821525) Homepage

      I dunno. You're absolutely right, and yet... I think DOOM! was probably the first time I perceived a PC as a proper gaming machine.

      I mean, Wolfenstein was impressive, and in retrospect (I didn't play it much) a great game -- but it was very much a matter of "well, we've got this PC for business apps, I can make it play this game". At that time, if you had games in mind when you bought a computer, you got an Amiga. Or a console.

      Prior to DOOM!, most decent PC games were available for Amiga / Atari ST, with better sound and graphics. Wolfenstein looked like a poor Amiga game.

      DOOM! though, came out just as VGA was becoming mainstream, and sound cards were becoming available and affordable. Most PCs didn't have a sound card, and you'd add one as an afterthought, often to improve your DOOM! experience. It looked *amazing* in comparison to an Amiga game, and that was a first.

      OTOH the article's author should still consider the 25 years of non-PC videogaming heritage leading up to DOOM!.

      • Re:Doom (Score:4, Insightful)

        by cafard (666342) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @06:59AM (#29821685) Journal

        Prior to DOOM!, most decent PC games were available for Amiga / Atari ST, with better sound and graphics.

        A few years before that, my Amiga/Atari buddies were already salivating when i could play Wing Commander II, Falcon 3.0 or Civilization.

        I'll grant you that Doom put the final nail in the coffin, but the PC had already taken the edge for high-end quality games when it came out.

      • Re:Doom (Score:5, Interesting)

        by hairyfeet (841228) <.bassbeast1968. .at. .gmail.com.> on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @08:25AM (#29822447) Journal

        I don't know about that. Sure Doom was nice, but it was the original Quake that had everybody I know crowded around a monitor going "oooh!". From the awesome graphics, to the soundtrack by NiN, to the fricking huge levels with lots of secrets to find, Quake was the one that had all my friends rushing out to buy PCs and Voodoo cards.

        So while Doom got many folks to try a PC for the first time, in fact I got my first Intel PC from a guy who had last year's top o' the line P-100MHz and gave it to me for the $150 he owed me because it would only run Doom "stock" and gave him an excuse to get a tricked out gamer rig, It was Quake that had folks running out and shelling out what was serious money at the time for gaming PCs. Hell I would say that Quake and the Voodoo is what created the whole idea of gaming PCs, as a stock business rig just wouldn't give you the "oooh!" factor in that game.

        And look at how far we progressed thanks to everyone wanting the "oooh!" factor. In a five year period I went from that P-100 to a P233Mhz, a PII-400MHz, a P3-650Mhz, a P3-733Mhz, to a P3-1100Mhz which I still keep around as a Nettop. Lets be honest-Windows and the office apps of the day certainly didn't use anywhere near that much juice, and even today that 1100Mhz with Win2K and MS Office 2K makes a good little Net appliance, but of course if you want to game it just don't cut it, hence the dual core AMD with 8Gb of RAM and another 1Gb on the GPU I have for gaming. And that can all be traced back to Quake, which even today is still damned fun to break out. While Doom may have implanted the idea of 3D gaming in the heads of the masses, I would argue that Quake drove that idea home with all the power of a nailgun and made it a "must have" for the masses.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by slim (1652)

          I don't know about that. Sure Doom was nice, but it was the original Quake that had everybody I know crowded around a monitor going "oooh!".

          I guess it depends on your age and background.

          It was the "photorealistic" mountain backdrop in DOOM! that made my jaw drop. I was literally amazed that you could do that on a home system. After all, I'd been brought up on a BBC Micro where Elite was the peak achievement.

          Around the same period, I was similarly amazed by Ridge Racer in the arcades. I had rationalised that by putting it down to expensive custom hardware.

          • Re:Doom (Score:4, Interesting)

            by hairyfeet (841228) <.bassbeast1968. .at. .gmail.com.> on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @09:24AM (#29823171) Journal

            41 and started on a VIC-20 myself. Remember when Shatner had his TJ Hooker hair and was touting how the VIC was "more than just games"? While I admit I though the original Doom looked nice, it was Quake where I went "There is NO WAY that is running in somebody's house. That is like....some sort of super arcade machine!". And of course then came one kick ass after another, but I'll never forget everyone dropping their jaws over the original Unreal. That opening screen with the 3D pass over the castle...wow. We just sat there letting that thing run for a good 5 minutes just watching it.

            Of course to show my age the first game in the arcade that really made my jaw drop was when I went to see Return of the Jedi in theaters and there was the original wire frame Star Wars machine, complete with Obi Wan telling you to use the force. I thought back then that we would NEVER get anything that good in our homes, and sure enough it was over a decade before we saw that kind of 3D in the comfort of our living rooms, and that was thanks to Quake making 3D accelerators mandatory. Like I said, any halfway decent office machine could play Doom, but to get the "ooh" factor in Quake you HAD TO get a 3D gaming card, and thus an industry was born.

            Remember how quickly after Quake that reviews were talking about how a game ONLY had software acceleration, with the reviewers looking down their nose at anything that didn't hit the GPU? To me that is what changed it from something you could do on an office box during lunch break to something that had to have decent gaming hardware to run. And of course by making 3D acceleration affordable to the masses we now have some truly insane hardware for cheap. I remember when a hardware DVD decoder would seriously hurt your pocketbook, and now 3D surround sound, hardware video acceleration of multiple formats, hell we just take these things for granted now. My first game of Doom was played on an office machine from Compaq, but my first Quake? I had a Voodoo and a Soundblaster stuffed in there and the machine Oc'ed just so I could squeeze out every FPS while still getting the "ooh".

            To me that was really the turning point, and really caused gaming to explode and become its own industry, when you couldn't just throw the game onto an office machine and expect it to run decently.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Z00L00K (682162)

      And didn't it all start with Wolfenstein 3D [wikipedia.org] back in 1992?

      Of course there have been other FPS games too, but Wolfenstein 3D was a revolution at the time.

      • Wolfenstein 3D was the shot heard 'round the world. Doom was the revolution.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by kcornia (152859)

          I dunno man, being able to have sex with a prostitute and get VD because you didn't use a condom, that shit was pretty revolutionary.

          Leisure Suit Larry represent!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mdwh2 (535323)

      Indeed, I feel old. But wait - actually on the first page, he goes all the way back to Wolfenstein!

      I also love this ill-defined statement that he starts the

      The father of modern gaming is, I hope we can all agree, Doom.

      So like, any game before Doom is too old to be "modern", but any game after Doom isn't the "father", as it didn't come "first" (it's an "Apple first" - first, except for all the ones before it).

      I presume he means the first FPS, though he's still wrong (e.g., Wolfenstein).

      One could just as eas

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by IorDMUX (870522)
      Similarly, I'd like to analyze how far America has come in the last 100 years by starting with MLK Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement.

      Seriously, I'm in my mid twenties and reach farther back in gaming history than this guy. I grew up with the original Rogue, text-based dungeons, and the Atari 2600. I even wrote my own text-based space adventure game (complete with a turn-based, text-based battle engine!) as a Christmas gift to my brothers on our IBM PC Jr. in the mid 90's, when Doom and such were first
  • by bronney (638318) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @05:31AM (#29821129) Homepage

    I admit I am a carmack fanboi but damn that's how good doom was. It didn't need a story. It didn't need a manual even. Heck it didn't even need a mouse. There's also the important open source aspect of the game that gamers can create their own WADs which later turned into an integral part and the games themselves in Quake TF, and for the real CS:S and TF2. All because of doom.

    Doom isn't a game, it's an attitude.

    • by slim (1652) <john@hartnup3.14.net minus pi> on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @06:13AM (#29821359) Homepage

      Exactly. Let's face it, DOOM! is basically first person Robotron. Which is Asteroids with walls.

      Those games have no story to speak of, and they're fun to play.

      The big problem with stories is, you usually have to interrupt the game in order to tell them.

      • Robotron....no story to speak of

        Hey, what you do mean no story?
        http://www.gamasutra.com/db_area/images/feature/4099/0501.png [gamasutra.com]

      • by bronney (638318) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @07:24AM (#29821881) Homepage

        Agreed, that's why when Half Life came it was so nice. Story in the game flow. I still remember the first time I loaded it up and didn't touch anything when the cable car was running through mesa, and knocked the mouse by accident, wow I started already?

        • by slim (1652)

          Agreed, that's why when Half Life came it was so nice. Story in the game flow.

          It's nice, but it's still an interruption to gameplay. Even though you can move around, Half Life uses tricks such as locking you in a room until the in-game-cut-scene plays through.

          It also allows you to make a mockery of proceedings, by leaping around like an idiot while an NPC does exposition with a straight face. An NPC that you can't shoot in the face...

          The point being, that an ADD type like me finds themselves searching for the skip button at times like these. I don't want to be listening to a script -

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by artemis67 (93453)

          Bungie's Marathon was actually the first FPS to be story-driven, and it was a contemporary of Doom. It was one of those rare Mac-only A-list games.

          The story was told through the computer terminals, since it was mostly about how the ship's AI had gone insane, and was sending you on various missions. The nice thing about it was that you didn't have to read the terminals if you didn't care about the story, you could just click through them quickly.

    • by wireloose (759042)
      Exactly. The author must be a role player by choice. Not every game needs a story line. He probably never played poker or rummy as a kid, either.
  • by Hasney (980180) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @05:31AM (#29821135) Journal
    A lesser extent Duke Nukem? That game was writing gold. I shed a tear as the main protagonist (Duke) said it was time to "Kick ass and chew bubblegum.... But I'm all out of gum". It felt like it was a commentary on the human condition; "It is time to do 2 things, but I can only resonably do one of them right now"

    Without Duke Nukems thick layer of metaphors and social commentary, Kojima would never have been inspired to make Metal Gear Solid.
    • by Stormwatch (703920) <rodrigogirao@nosPAm.hotmail.com> on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @06:06AM (#29821319) Homepage
      That line is ripped from John Carpenter's They Live, and some others are taken from Sam Raimi's Evil Dead. Homage or plagiarism? You decide.
      • True, but I have to say that Duke's delivery (too lazy to look up voice actor's name) is far superior than Hot Rod's. "I am here [long pause] to chew bubblegum [long pause] and [long pause] kick [long pause] ass [long pause] and I'm [long pause] all [long pause] out[long pause] uh [long pause] bubblegum". It's so labored!
      • by Hogwash McFly (678207) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @06:27AM (#29821469)

        I think it's fairly obvious that the numerous cultural references found in Duke Nukem 3D were intended to be homages instead of being passed off as original. These comprise one of the main reasons I was looking forward to Duke Nukem Forever - the gags, the easter eggs, the nods towards low culture. Without all that you miss the essence of Duke and have just another generic FPS.

        • by natehoy (1608657) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @09:54AM (#29823523) Journal

          Duke Nukem Forever is a homage to Zen. It's the sound of one hand clapping. It's the tree that falls in the forest with no one around. It's the rock that falls in the puddle and makes no splash. It is, therefore, the purest form of gameplay. The ability to get your heart rate up and feel the excitement of playing a game with no actual game.

          It is the ZPS. The Zeroth Person Shooter.

          Eventually, it will deliver, and people will be unsurprised to purchase it, take it home, and have it be an empty box. And it will get good reviews, for the game will have ended as it began.

      • WHHOOOOOSHHHH!!!!!!
  • Doom's gameplay (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord Lode (1290856) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @05:32AM (#29821139)
    Doom's gameplay is very fun, and there are only few modern games that are similar to it. The original Serious Sam games were similar. Games with good stories are good, but games like Doom are too. Does every game need to have a story? A movie or a fiction book without story, that is bad. But for a game it shouldn't be a negative criticism if it doesn't have one. Depending on the style and purpose of the game, just being fun is enough. Many modern games feel too heavy and slow paced to match the fun of fragging monsters seen in Doom.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bronney (638318)

      this is so NOT true.. I swear there's a story in Wii Bowling!! wait..

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702)
      I don't know about a movie without a plot... I'm not going to joke about films like Die Hard 4.0 or xXx etc... I wouldn't mind seeing a film about Lobo [wikipedia.org], for instance.

      Sometimes, entertainment doesn't need a purpose. It can just "be" entertaining!

      Apparently, Guy Ritchie is going to direct a film featuring Lobo. Seems I have all of the good ideas just a little too late...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I definitely agree that not all video games need to have a definite narrative -- but I would go one step further and question the need for movies and books to have one as such -- there are some excellent books and movies out there that don't have a definite narrative, at least in the classical sense of the word. Go read Naked Lunch and get back to me as to whether a book needs a "story" to be a great work of literature.
    • Re:Doom's gameplay (Score:5, Insightful)

      by javilon (99157) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @06:50AM (#29821627) Homepage

      Doom is like tetris. You learn the game mechanics and you play and play and never get bored.

      If it had a story, once you go through it and learn how the story ends, that's it. you are not going back to play. This may be good for the publishers that can sell you a new game with a new story, but I contend that a game that is as enjoyable as Doom without a story is better.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by apoc.famine (621563)

        I personally like the story behind Tetris. The social commentary about how you may turn yourself to fit into a group, but you can never change your true shape. And just when you find a good, solid group to fit in with, it disappears, leaving you turning in the wind again, trying to fit in somewhere else.
         
        It's like a metaphor for being a teenager.

    • Re:Doom's gameplay (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) <obsessivemathsfreakNO@SPAMeircom.net> on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @06:57AM (#29821671) Homepage Journal

      Does every game need to have a story? A movie or a fiction book without story, that is bad. But for a game it shouldn't be a negative criticism if it doesn't have one.

      It's an old but true quote that story in video games is like story in pornography. It's expected to be there, but really only the flimsiest pretense of setting is necessary. Many early video games got on quite well with a handful of paragraphs in the manual.

      I can recall playing Sonic 3 in 1994 and thinking it had a great "story" for a platformer, as in addition to the manual paragraphs, it used in game "cut scenes" to advance what shred of a plot there was. Interestingly, the game told its micro-tale without using a single word of text. The on-screen actions and emotions of the characters were like those from a silent film, without the captions.

      Nevertheless, I did and still do consider the "story" in that game to be more than sufficient and moreover very suited to the type of game it was. I imagine it's similar for other games like Doom.

      The watershed for storytelling in video games was probably Metal Gear Solid in 1998. After Hideo Kojima blew everyone away with his storytelling, developers started offering ever more elaborate and "cinematic" storylines in their games which ate up ever larger portions of the budget. The trouble came from two important flaws
      1) Hideo Kojima never made a "cinematic" game. The resulting end product of MGS was a very different form of entertainment from a film. People focused too much on the cutscenes,(which were still quite different from raw film) and missed out on the wider package offered. It became usual to see ever more pompous and over produced cut scenes strapped on to games that never lived up to the "epic" tone set in them.
      2) Most directors are not Hideo Kojima. This was probably the more pertinent point. Developers wanted to make epic (action)storylines in the mould of Metal Gear Solid, but simply lacked the writing ability to pull it off. Even Kojima himself managed to foul this up in MGS2. The end result is a pretentious and overbearing plot that gets in the way of the game and severely reduces enjoyment and playability.

      I think a good example the benefits and pitfalls of story in games is given by the juxtaposition between Gears of War 1 and 2 on the Xbox. The first game has a minimalist story. Characters are barely introduced and have almost no development, detail on the setting is shamelessly scant, and where the plot is not entirely one dimensional, it contains gaping holes. Yet it works in the context of the game that Gears of War is, and I would argue works very well.

      Gear of War 2 by contrast, suffers from an overblown and overproduced story that makes a mockery of the proceedings. Attempts to develop characters are almost comically absurd, the setting is wildly different tending towards the spectacular, the plot is incohesive and convoluted throughout and leaves loose ends everywhere. The end result, while eye candy laden, detracts significantly from the game. People just wanted to play as Marcus Fenix and shoot aliens; instead they ended up unsatisfied and confused. The developers desire to create an "epic" story instead created an epic farce. Smaller was definitely better in this case.

      Obviously, the same rule does not hold across all video games. RPGs require a significant story. But even here, overproduction and poor writing can create an epic farce that taints the whole game. The prime example is Final Fantasy VIII; Your characters are all teenagers attending assassins' high school, and you fight the sorceress who was actually your matron in the orphanage where you grew up, who was actually being controlled by another sorceress, so she could rescue another sorceress and cause "time compression", and when that failed you simply allow the second sorceress to take over a party member who happened to be yet another sorceress so that they could go back in time to allow the third sorceress to cau

      • by Marcika (1003625)

        The watershed for storytelling in video games was probably Metal Gear Solid in 1998. After Hideo Kojima blew everyone away with his storytelling, developers started offering ever more elaborate and "cinematic" storylines in their games which ate up ever larger portions of the budget.

        I hate to sound like a pompous PC gamer, but that revolutionary Kojima "watershed" was a minor effort in storytelling compared to Wing Commander III for the PC, released in 1994, four years earlier... Remember, a game released on four CDs, with movie-length cutscences played by Mark-effin'-Hamill... (And in some respects, Dragon's Lair from 1983 or so is the spiritual predecessor to this sort of games...)

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Rude Turnip (49495)

        I disagree about Gears of War 1 & 2. I started with 2 and now I've gotten around to part 1. 2 IMO is much more fleshed out and the story goes hand-in-hand with the gameplay. I was very moved by the scene with Dom's wife and that got my mind even more into the world behind the game I was playing. The story in GoW 2 gives me a goal to work for, much in the same way that Capture the Flag in Team Fortress 2 gives me a goal and makes an otherwise shallow deathmatch fun (and there is no real pretense of a

    • by Targon (17348)

      While there is a good reason to want/need fun gameplay, I feel that what is missing from many games is the feeling of purpose that a storyline will bring. I do NOT suggest from this that long cut-scenes or pauses in the game are needed to bring this about, but instead suggest that the idea of "if it moves, shoot it", or just random acts of violence in games for no purpose without there being other types of games that get a lot of publicity is what is KILLING gaming.

      I have been playing computer games sinc

  • by Aceticon (140883) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @05:48AM (#29821203)

    For the last 5 years the evolution in mainstream PC gaming has been all around fancy new graphics.

    The only new original gaming style that poped-up was MMORPGs (not really new, but it did became mass-market in the meanwhile).

    [This point was really hammered down for me when "Supreme Commander", highly hailed as innovative, came out and it turns out it's an almost 1-to-1 copy of the old "Total Annihilation" from 10 years ago only with better graphics]

    The other grand "evolutions" have been the not releasing of demos anymore, the crazy DRM + phone home features, the rise of the "major game publisher" and the death of the small independent software house.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by rjames13 (1178191)

      "Supreme Commander", highly hailed as innovative, came out and it turns out it's an almost 1-to-1 copy of the old "Total Annihilation"

      Both games are by Chris Taylor. SC is the spiritual successor to TA. So it is similar because the gameplay in the original worked, and you don't fix what is not broken.

      The other grand "evolutions" have been the not releasing of demos anymore, the crazy DRM + phone home features, the rise of the "major game publisher" and the death of the small independent software house.

      DRM has been a problem but demos are still released for software. Crysis, Bioshock, Portal etc had a demo. The death of small independent software house is just ignoring the huge indy game scene.

    • by linzeal (197905) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @06:18AM (#29821411) Homepage Journal
      MMORPGS came from MUDS in the 1980's which came from tabletop RPG which came from Sci-Fi writers like Paul Anderson's 'psychodrama' stories from the 1950's. The idea being that grown ups act like they are something they are not and interact with each other through roleplaying. That would be an interesting article to read, not some 20 some year old who can't bother to at least Google a bit further back than his comfort zone.
    • by AceJohnny (253840)

      "[This point was really hammered down for me when "Supreme Commander", highly hailed as innovative, came out and it turns out it's an almost 1-to-1 copy of the old "Total Annihilation" from 10 years ago only with better graphics]"

      And that's exactly as I and thousands of other fans wanted it. Most remakes are crap. SupCom isn't.

      (actually, a 1:1 copy of the old with better graphics would better describe TA: Spring [springrts.com])

      It did add a vital gameplay mechanic in the zoomable tactical display*. Starcraft II is going to

      • by Neoprofin (871029)
        No game that I've seen has had the level of zoomability that Supreme Commander did with the top level being simply abstract symbols. Of course the problem became that it was so much easier to manage things on a macro level that by the end of my time playing I never went any closer because what good is a display with two giant spiders when I can watch the entire battlefield?
        • lol n00b, SupCom supports two screens that you can independently zoom to different positions. I usually have one as a giant map overview and use the other for the close in work. However the two screen configuration only works with a single card with dual heads, not multiple card setups.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      SupCom a 1:1 copy of TA? Have you played these games? Back in the day I was a rabid TA fanboy (this included trolling StarCraft forums, because they were the boorish enemy). I played TA regularly for years, messed with the thousands of 3rd party units, worked for TA community sites, and like most harbored the hope that some day Chris Taylor would make some kind of sequel. Naturally when SupCom was announced, I followed the development religiously, and it goes without saying that when it finally came out I r
  • He says : "Doom (story in it) was absolutely rubbish"

    Story in most games is incidental and most game stories are bad, a game with great gameplay can save a bad story, but a game with a good story can't save a bad game.

    "There were years and years where the lessons of early story-driven games were forgotten and all anyone really cared about was having as many sprites or polygons as possible."

    People care about how fun a game is ultimately, although I agree there are graphics whore games, but gameplay still is

  • by Atreide (16473) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @05:50AM (#29821219)

    > You start in a room, no idea what's going on [...] You have to read the manual and supporting media to get a grip on it all

    looks like my own life

    born in room
    no idea what's going on
    need to read holy book (manual) to get a grip on it all
    ans life seems laking sense if I don't follow the book

    at least a game is WYSIWYG
    which is not the case with life

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Cryacin (657549)

      need to read holy book (manual) to get a grip on it all

      That'll learn ya to RTFM!

  • Totally disagree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mccalli (323026) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @05:54AM (#29821251) Homepage
    "There were years and years where the lessons of early story-driven games were forgotten and all anyone really cared about was having as many sprites or polygons as possible."

    Nonsense. Doom wasn't supposed to be story-driven game, it was an action game. You grabbed your minigun, charged into a room you'd never seen before and blasted away. You even had a chance of surviving. There are no story lessons from Doom because there weren't supposed to me.

    It's exactly the lack of immediate mindless action that's put me off gaming for a long time after. I want gaming, not cinematic experiences. If you prefer cinema that's fine and there's room for both, but for me all the plot-driven stuff is a turn-off. I still want to grab a minigun and charge into a room blasting widly in a totally unrealistic fashion as strange creatures fall in front of me. Shortly before being overwhelmed by ridiculous odds, of course.

    When I do play acrade games, I tend to head MAMEwards. Plot-driven stuff just doesn't do it for me at all - if it does for you then that's fine and I'm certainly not criticising it, I'm just saying there's more than one type of gamer and Doom appealed to me in a way that almost none of the other FPS stuff has. That's precisely because it has little story or plot.

    Cheers,
    Ian
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by grumbel (592662)

      Nonsense. Doom wasn't supposed to be story-driven game, it was an action game.

      Doom1 wasn't the problem. That game came out when adventure games where still alive and well and simply did its own thing, nothing wrong with that. The trouble with storytelling in games only started when games like Half Life and friends tried to reinvent storytelling for the FPS, while completly ignoring what was learned in adventure games over the years. The trouble with the Half Life kind of story telling is that its narrative is completly uninteractive, you run through a series of nicely textured corrid

  • by tepples (727027) <<tepples> <at> <gmail.com>> on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @06:02AM (#29821287) Homepage Journal

    Conspicuous from its absence from the article is multiplayer. So let me throw something out:

    Even for as far as PC gaming has come, it still hasn't moved into one niche that consoles currently dominate. This niche is when you have friends over, and they're suddenly in the mood to play a video game. So you want a game that 1. is easy to learn and 2. doesn't need more PCs than you have available (because having to go back home to dismantle their PCs would kill the moment). Console "party" games fill this niche, such as Mario Party series and its imitators. With the rise of HDTVs that allow easy PC connections to the VGA or HDMI input, why hasn't someone outdone Mario Party on PC?

    • Funny how head-to-head (2+ people playing on 1 PC) gaming is evolving... One of the first "console" games, that thing with 4 Pong-like games and two paddles that you hooked up to the TV, already had multiplayer. PC games (and by PC I mean anything from the C64 to Windows-bases computers) quickly followed suit, bringing games with split-screen head to head action or coop modes.

      Modern consoles put an end to that. They're just the thing for when you have some friends over; you don't want to play games sit
      • Modern consoles put an end to that. They're just the thing for when you have some friends over; you don't want to play games sitting in the den crowded around a keyboard

        That hasn't been the case since about 2000. By that time, every new PC came with a port for a multitap that takes four controllers [wikipedia.org].

        and a tiny crt

        Tiny CRT? It used to be the case that TVs couldn't use a PC's video output because CRT SDTVs ran at 15.7 kHz (480i) and PC monitors ran at twice that (480p or higher). But that changed in 2008 when LCD HDTVs with a VGA input displaced CRT SDTVs in electronics stores. At the start of the 2008 holiday shopping season, HDTV had already entered one-third of U.S. households. Two asp

  • Shame it's dying (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ShooterNeo (555040) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @06:05AM (#29821311)

    And, of course, PC gaming is dying...

    The reason is quite simple : consoles games sell a lot more copies. Game publishers have no choice but to make a game for console with maybe a PC port. Especially for AAA titles that need huge teams of artists and programmers to develop the graphics and game engine.

    Why do console games sell more copies? One big reason is reduced piracy due to vastly better DRM with a console. The OTHER reason is much bigger : consoles are vastly cheaper to purchase than a gaming PC. Just $300, and any game works immediately without hassle. The majority of the gamers in the world don't have the patience or knowledge to screw around with the many, many incompatibilities and bugs associated with PC hardware and software.

    This wasn't always the case, PC gaming was huge in the 1990s. However, consoles have 'caught up' to the point that while any given generation of consoles quickly falls behind PCs, the graphics can render to an HDTV which at least approaches the quality of a good PC monitor. Also, current consoles fully support online gaming about as well as PCs ever did.

    The only edge PCs still have is the keyboard and mouse as a controller.

    Yes, PC graphics cards are better than current consoles, but that only applies to a small fraction of the available PCs.

    Of course, console's new reign of domination is only going to last until cloud gaming takes off, which should be over the next few years.

  • Only starts at Doom? (Score:3, Informative)

    by fialar (1545) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @06:20AM (#29821435)

    What about California Games? Leisure Suit Larry? Wasteland?
    Yes, there were graphical games in the 80s. They were CGA, EGA,
    and even VGA, but they existed.

  • by tgv (254536) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @06:25AM (#29821461) Journal

    PONG didn't have a story line either, and what's good enough for PONG is good enough for me!

  • by Shivetya (243324) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @06:37AM (#29821537) Homepage Journal

    and even later the Wing Commander series I am actually disappointed with many of today's games. Haven't found a space game that makes me feel like the explorer that Starflight did and Wing Commander was simply amazing in both story and game play.

    What do we have now? Dozens of games with either space marines or commandos? Yawn.

  • Sadly, iD hasn't seemed to have progressed one iota.

    They conceptualized an entire genre of gaming, yet they can't seem to get out of the basic 'you walk down the hallway and *poof* the lights go out and a monster jumps at you' box.

    Sure, every game is technologically magnificent but you'd think for their millions and millions of dollars, they could afford someone who could breathe a little life into the games.

    Where's Rage, by the way? It could just be selective memory, but it seems like it's been a loooong

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lordandmaker (960504)
      Having grown up with id, I remember being quite startled to find out that in Half Life Valve had managed to make an atmospheric, and at times downright scary, game without just making all the corners dark. Even Q3 Arena was mostly dark, and that wasn't supposed to incite fear. Maybe they've all got really bright monitors at id...
  • Hold on there, Tex (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @06:42AM (#29821563) Homepage
    On the other hand, from a story perspective, Doom was absolutely rubbish. You start in a room, no idea whats going on and you are surrounded by demons. You have to read the manual and supporting media to get a grip on it all something modern games would get heavily slated for doing.

    OK, he lost me there. The entire idea of DOOM was that it was an incredibly technically advanced shoot-em-up. Being able to run around in the levels and shoot realistic-acting guns was great. All that you really had to know was to shoot the demons - the player has no other way to interact with the world other than shooting. Who needs a plot? That always baffled me about the old Japanese Nintendo games...they always had these incredibly convoluted unncessary plots that I read the first few lines of and then forgot it and went on to saving the kingdom or whatever. And I was a manual-reading completist.

    When, exactly, did computer game snobs decide it was cool to call DOOM 'rubbish'? What happened to computer game snobs being polygon and FPS guys? What makes this guy look down his nose at something that he doesn't understand and apparently has no desire to understand?

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