Friday, April 6, 2012

Remember How Games Used To Be?

Recently, this little project came to my attention: Shadowrun Returns.

Now, I have long been a fan of Shadowrun in all it's many forms - well perhaps everything but the whole Microsoft 3rd person shooter abomination. I can recall with glee playing the Shadowrun Sega and Snes games as a kid, the introduction plot still grips me. However, by today's standards I am sure many would call the game a relic and well bellow the standards of current video games. Much like other games of it's time, their turn based mechanics and graphics/cgi lacking traits mark them by many younger gamers as without worth or merit.

Growing up, for me, games with depth of story and characters were treasures. I used to spend countless hours playing games solo, exploring their content - games like Diablo, Starcraft, Heroes of Might & Magic to name but a few. I used to relish how a new game could be had for around $10-$20, and once purchased was owned and playable without limit. You could dive into such titles solo or if you chose to with a few friends, playing as little or as much as you wanted to. There was no subscription fees or requirements of being on some server full of strangers. There was just you and the game.

Things were simple. In fact, with regard to turn based games, you didn't have massive chaotic melees leaving you confused or frantically panic mashing keys/buttons. You could actually enjoy the story as it unfolded, make decisions about how to fight that fiendish boss, or simply play at your own pace.

It seems like game designers have all forgotten so many of these things that made games great, and instead focused on the more flashy. So many games these days don't even require imagination, instead farming visual landscapes out to their vast servers. Don't get me wrong, I can see the business sense behind their decisions, and some of the newer games are fun to play.  But the truth of the matter is that the current standard is to build a game that once initially purchased for $50-$60 or more requires players to play on dedicated servers, paying continual fees. Add to that the often overloading flood of visual stimulus coupled with chaotic action mechanics and you have increasingly expensive games that bear little resemblance to their forerunners.

If I buy a game, then I want to know that I can play that game anytime I want as little or as much as I desire. I also want the option of experiencing it alone or if I choose to with a few others. The idea of only being able to play a game on an online server alongside teeming masses of others is not always appealing to me. Sometimes I just want to play around for a little bit and then leave the game. Nor do I need high end graphics to take my imagination by the hand and show me every detail of a storyline.

Games like WinRisk and Solitaire are still shining examples to me. Not everything has to be a billion dollar MMO to be considered a great game. Maybe it's just me. But I can honestly say I welcome projects like Shadowrun Returns, and pray they inspire more games. The fact the project was fully funded within 28 hours speaks volumes to me.

Perhaps I have an anti-social approach to my gaming, maybe I am just looking at things in my own flawed way, but I miss the way games used to be played. How ever was it things developed to their present state?