Extra Punctuation: Golden Era of PC Gaming

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Golden Era of PC Gaming

Deus Ex let you test the game's boundaries.

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Okay, that last bit was fucking hilarious. Seriously.
Good article, but thought I'd just pop by to say that.

Oh that was funny...

Yes you can!

It may have old school elements, but it is just too fun.

Call me unadventurous, but I've always tried to avoid breaking games, even when I inadvertently stumble across the means to do so.

If nothing else, it breaks the good ol' immersion.

I spill my drink!

To add an example of the game reacting to you being a jerk I submit this:

I spill my drink!

To add an example of the game reacting to you being a jerk I submit this:

Damn you! I was going to link that...

OT Good EP post, I agree that time period was great.


Damn you! I was going to link that...

What a shame.

I remember the chief in Deus Ex: Human Revolution also scolded you for wondering in to the ladies' lavatory.

I was afraid that resurrection of a long-dead franchise would completely miss the point of the original (see: the new XCOM.) It's gratifying to see that they got some things right.

I never really dicked around and threw boxes at people too much.

Now, casting fireballs at bookshelves in Oblivion to scatter books everywhere...That I've done.

I remember dicking around in all the HL2 story scenes. Once you've heard everything about ten times those scenes get really boring. Toward the end of Episode 2, right before a certain endgame plot twist, I remember picking something up and tripping Eli as he walked along. Yes, he fell, and didn't get back up. Alyx just stand there with her hand on her hip. I thought the whole scene was kind of funny.

Anyway, I think we all have our ways of dicking around in games that we've beaten a time or ten. Sounds like a great thread to make.

As an Unrealscript programmer, I really, really don't think it has as much to do with the tech being inaccessible and unwieldy as it does with game developers and fans alike being shortsighted and ignorant. If anything the tools have improved to the point that anything we could have done in a year back in 2000, we can do in a few weeks now--and much more reliably. Check out Kismet if you don't believe me. This is a very small example, but a door used to take ten minutes of scripting and trial and error with numbers to make work properly in old Quake engine games, now you just link up some nodes and re-position the door visually.

Go back and actually play Deus Ex for a while, and consider just how wildly different its level design is from 99% of all first-person games, Half-Life included. The sad fact is that nobody imitated it, because it's very difficult for designers to wrap their heads around exploration-driven environments. A level designer's job is to impose a sense of structure, and it's hard to understand how to have both structure and freedom at the same time. It CAN be done, and it's not a technical problem at all; it's an organizational problem; an issue of design.

As long as developers continue to see exploration and narrative as being mutually exclusive, that's the problem we're going to have. I would like to point out that this is a state of mind brought on by Half-Life, which is one of the most railroaded and controlled games ever and began the trend of using scripted events, which demand railroading. The games that have good exploration value don't have these (Arkham Asylum, Deus Ex, Crysis 1, inFamous) while games that feel like they need to hold your hand do (Uncharted, FF13, Call of Duty, Crysis 2, Bioshock to a lesser extent). Such games end up depending on the spectacle of their scripted events over design knowhow because actual design knowhow is difficult even for a really fantastic game designer to possess, while spectacle is often a matter of sheer brute force.

lol "whos thirsty" thats classic man! XD

If you go into the women's toilet in the beginning of the game before you seek out Pritchard to get your eyes fixed, he'll call you out on that. hehe

Man, I have to get Half life 1-2 one of these days... Do they still hold up? Granted, I'm playing Baldur's Gate 2 for the first time now and have no problems with dated games in general so I imagine they would.

The only time I used the vending machines to kill someone in DE: HR was immediately following this dialogue:

EDIT: damn, ninja'd. In any case, it's the little bits that the developers add to a game that sort of comment on the odd behaviors that a character portrays really add that extra bit of immersion for me.

Oh boy do I love Human Revolution's "Jenson Safety Dance" (when you take cover and let him change the direction he's facing quickly enough, it looks a bit like a dance if you're not crouched). But this so far as been the funniest video of just general fucking with the game:

Developers should program in more decision-making when you're not aware you're making a decision. In Human Revolution for example,


One of the things I hate most about modern games are those artifical, sometimes invisible walls and boundaries that prevent you from going places. So there is this teenie, weenie little step that a 3-year old could climb, but no, I'm unable to jump there because the developers decided it's OFF-LIMITS!!!

If I'm not supposed to go there then place a big rock or tree or actual wall there. Just don't put me in an invisible cage.
Crap like this didn't exist in the golden age of PC gaming.

Yes, I'm looking at you, BioWare! And Call of Duty!

I liked how Pritchard calls you out of going in the ladies.
'I know you've had a lot of physical changes lately, but your not a woman'

I always thought the over reliance of cut scenes development rested mainly on Metal Gear Solid's shoulders. Not that I particularly dislike MGS, but to my knowledge that was one of the first. Unless you count that game that came out on the Sega no one remembers. >.>

And also I remember hearing something on the Giantbomb Podcast (I think) about this. Pretty much it came down to someone saying "We've been conditioned to not go off the trail. Because we've learned by now that we'll only be disappointed if we do so." Which I think is true. There has been many times in games like CoD where I just left my squad and went looking for a certain gun. Nothing happened. No game over. They would just fight on until infinity or until I get back and do all the work.

RIP, gaming.

I really like that period. I guess you could say it was the golden era of PC gaming.
I also used to love trying to break the game. With the fragile games we have today I just try not to.

RIP, gaming.

I think it should start in 1993, when Doom came out, and end in 2004, when games using the Unreal 2 engine started coming out.

And this is why I rarely play anything developed after 2004~2006 (along with the fact I can't friggin RUN most games after that period on my shit of a PC).


RIP, gaming.

I think it should start in 1993, when Doom came out, and end in 2004, when games using the Unreal 2 engine started coming out.

I'd say 1992, when Ultima Underworld came out. That was the first of the type of game Yahtzee is referencing in his article. Hopefully Human Revolution, Dishonored, and possibly Prey 2 are signs that the industry is finally ready for those kinds of experiences again.

Nice Douglas Adams reference there, Yahtzee.

We really need more games like Half Life. Being able to dick around and ignore the entire game is truly a priveledge. But it's made even more special the next time you play the game and actually pay attention to the characters and your environment in order to understand the situation, as if it's another level of interaction altogether. I missed so much in Half Life 2 when I strolled through it the first time and I'm still finding things now when I replay it. Of course whenever Magnusson wants to talk to me I just walk away!

Such a great topic but it kinda makes me sad that the industry has lost a lot of what was great about it. I was gonna play COD before reading this (just for a bit of mindless killing), but maybe I'll just fire up an old might and magic game instead.

Okay, NOW I have to buy Human Revolution! xD

I agree Deus Ex was kind of a peak for pc gaming. But one reason is because that was the last of the "PC Exclusive" games before everything started simultaneously being released for consoles. Consoles which need a 10 foot interface and are limited to 8ish buttons and the short attention span of the console players.

However that isn't a reason to despair. Look at STALKER which was released 7 years after DE. It doesn't have the npc complexity or story branching but it does have the same kind of open world immersion and quirky gameplay that made DE and System Shock 2 so memorable. And hey that was a PC exclusive as well.

I think with Steam and the price competition for .99 Ipad games there is a renaissance of PC gaming on the horizon. There are a ton of smaller, memorable, lovingly crafted games indie games available from Minecraft to Gratuitous Space Battles, to E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy which really is a spiritual successor to DE1.

Even venerable Dwarf Fortress, the granddaddy of quirky, do whatever the hell you want gameplay, got a major update a few months ago.

So the future is hopeful and even thought the AAA landscape may never produce another DE the spirit lives on.

apologies double post

I'd also have accepted the mid-80s to early 90s as a golden age of video games. Not so much for player freedom (I'll grant you turn of millennium for that) but for developer freedom. Technological requirements were low enough that the boundary between developer and company allowed pretty much anyone with enough drive and talent to make pretty much whatever they wanted.

LSL, Commander Keen, the early Ambrosia software, and especially the crapload of demos ranging from tiny one-shot developers to people who lasted until today like Epic (Jazz Jackrabbit, anyone?)

Even more than a fight to break and rectify a game, I miss the feeling that a game might both be high quality for its time and surprise me.

I blame it all on the publisher's for getting rid of developer freedom. think about it. I think publisher's have too much interference in the creative drive in the making of games. because they have to change it to allow the publisher to milk all it's worth.

I still say the Half Life style cutscene is actually worse than the standard "cut away and play a video" cutscene simply because the interactivity is so clearly pointless. It's not like an actual conversation, and not even like acting out of place while attending a live theatre presentation. It's more like acting out of place while watching a movie on your couch. Sure, you can throw stuff at the screen or jump up and down but the only desperation is your own (and perhaps that of your neighbours if you have thin enough walls).

A HL2 vignette is no more truly interactive than a "cut away" scene, but at least the "cut away" style scene isn't vainly pretending that you are actually interacting with the game while watching it.

I've never actually tried to do anything like that, partly because I'm not a jerk, and after I accidentally killed the subway hostages I quickloaded as soon as Alex got angry. Pity I didn't just keep playing; I'd probably have had more fun once I mastered pistols and the aiming got better.

Also, as for Half-Life 2's 'pseudo-cutscenes', I actually found myself having more fun trying to fit in with the world rather than try to work around it. I'm just not very good at acting like a jerk in games, and the bit in the Assassin's Creed that says 'thou shalt not kill civilians' isn't helping.

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