Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Old School Versus New School

My latest Pointless Question ventured into unexpected, but related territory: Old School games versus New School. I tend towards the old guard, but I recognize new potential at times. So anyway, direct all your rants here. Some suggested topics:

New School Sins:
  • Rated "M" for Mindless Gorn.
  • Bonus Content already hidden on the disk for people willing to spend more $$$.
Old School Virtues:
New School Virtues:
  • Endless customization and creation.
  • Player on player interactivity... not that kind. Well, maybe a little.
Old School Sins:
  • Fake Difficulty
  • Excuse Plot


Anonymous said...

I'll respond to there from here. I enjoyed Zelda 2, Final Fantasy, Metal Gear and Metroid. One thing to keep in mind is the fact that that it was that or Eggbert's Quest. The amount I enjoy a game is largely determined by what I have to compare it to, and for the time, those games were some of the best you could get.

That said, I can't stand when someone critizes someone fairly new to games for just not being able to get into some of those classics. Things have changed since then. It's like getting mad at someone for not being able to get into the original King Kong. Yes it was an amazing movie for it's time perhaps, but I for one can't watch it without being horribly aware of the poor quality visuals. That, and well the story wasn't all that amazing. By the same token, I can't expect someone used to each region having it's own unique appearence, in-game mapping systems, and save files, to experience anything other than frustration and boredom with the original Metroid. Those are in fact flaws that new games rectify and rightly so.

That said, I loved Metroid and the joy of exploring it in spite of that. I may look on it a little too naustalgically, like drawing crooked maps on loose leaf being some sort of grand thing (it really wasn't), but I can't deny I loved the experience. Still, I would imagine even the old schoolers would complain if they made a new Metroid game lacking basic features like in-game mapping.

Most old games were pretty bad. No one's going on about Castlelion or Ghostbusters 2. There were a few thousand games for the NES after all, and only a small handful are actually celebrated. As much as my memory is tinted yellow with naustalgia, I do distinctly recall renting a number of stinkers. The Atari too had a number of pretty terrible games, and that's what's generally agreed to be the cause of the "video game crash".

Games aren't "too easy" these days. Well, some are, but it's not some epidemic of modern games. For the most part they just got rid of the bad stuff. Random encounters in RPGs are dying a slow death, but in the end it'll be for the best.

Don said...

Random encounters in RPGs are dying a slow death, but in the end it'll be for the best.


MWchase said...

(Tying back into the original topic somewhat: the fans will be up in arms if they get taken out of the Pokémon games.)

Anyway, I think some of the annoyance might be synergistic. The Unfair Platformer, for example, would be utterly painful if it used lives as anything other than a way to keep score.

This makes me remember that one thing that's changed is that games, like somebody would buy, are losing their arcade influence, which can only be to the best, IMO. Your house or a car or bus or plane, whatever, will never be an arcade, and no amount of button-mashing for credits or running out of lives will change that.

Granted, the style you want can alter things... Eversion pretty much expects you to die. A lot. So there are only mild penalties. A game could penalize players for dying in terms of some overall score, but I feel like lives, in general, should be explicitly obsolete, instead of the joke they usually are now.

Anonymous said...

What? There's a new school? Why didn't anyone tell me?

Games can't be divided into "oldskool" and "new". New games can be simple, and they can have fake difficulty. (Most games have fake difficulty, actually. It's a problem with video games in general, not one specific type.)
Likewise, there are old games with mindless gorn, and there are also old games with suprising amounts of customization.

Anonymous said...

That's another good point. The defining line between "old" and "new" schools is arbitrary and changes depending on who you ask. Some would argue that the moment games went to consoles, it was the "new school", and others would argue that the new school started with the SNES. I know at least one person who got into games late enough that the N64 is "old school" to them. And then there's the crowd who worships Zork. You can't get yon flask. If one is going to use labels like old and new "schools", it's probably best to consider it a gradient. There have been changes over time after all as people eventually ditched, one by one, the conventions that didn't really do much for making a game fun. There's a reason that back in the NES days, during those times I did use a Game Genie, it was primarily to give myself infinite lives. It was the only way to not go insane beating Battletoads for example. Heck even infinite lives never got me past the flying motorcycle stage back then. With Genies and Sharks and Action Replays in tow, kids skipped levels and got past stuff all the time back then, and yet when someone hears that Nintendo may be offering exactly that sort of feature in an upcoming Zelda game, they cry foul. Sometimes I think people forget some of this stuff.

Oh, as for the "art house" style of game, I assume you refer to games like Braid, Flower, and the like. I'll say it now, I liked Braid, but not for the story. I thought the way it managed the flow of time in levels was pretty unique, with multiple "tiers" of time control sometimes controlled entirely by the direction you move. It made for some very interesting platforming puzzles. However, I thought the story was rather pretentious. I suppose it was a love story, or a story about lost chances with someone or whatever and each level was supposed to have some symbolic representation, but I never caught what the levels were supposed to represent. Further, it all came off like one of those college "films" where someone films themselves staring into a mirror while a piano plays and suddenly it shows a lightbulb swinging around and then them staring at the camera while their face morphs into a hotdog and they say "we are all the hotdog, inserted into the bun of society, garnished with our lies" or something equally moronic. In fact Braid's annoying love story I can't really relate to reminds me of the "love" strips of XKCD. When I see that's what that day's comic is going to be like, I skip it.

And still, I'm glad for the experiment at least. Someone with a little more story writing talent could take the idea in a good direction.

Flower I actually really liked. I'm not sure if there was some sort of actual deeper story being told, but for my part flying around as a petal gathering more petals to start spring (my interpretation) has a childish charm to it that I really enjoyed, though it was rather short. Plus it didn't seem to come off as preaching about how nature is "pure" as it did put technology in a good light with those windmills.

And then there's games like Nobi Nobi Boy... You stretch yourself and knot around things while eating other things. Why can't I stop playing it?