Dungeon Siege 2
Nah, even Diablo was far less linear, though I guess it's not the worst "diablo was too hard for us" game.
Diablo 2 not linear? I've not played it in years, but from what I remember it was "move a bit, furious mouse clicking during combat, move a bit more, repeat furious clicking..." until an area was cleared, then move on to the next bit. There was never really any sense that you could just wander off and do your own thing or undertake side quests or self-driven goals without following the main plot.
The only truly non-linear games are those that don't have a plot or winning condition, such as the Sim [Foo] series. Some plot-driven games have a loose structure or allow for a bit more freedom than others -- Baldurs Gate had a load of side-quests that you could pick up on as and when you fancied it, for example, and not all plot points needed to be completed in order to "win" -- bit I've yet to come across a game with a story that doesn't in some way shoehorn you into doing a bunch of pre-determined things in a more or less specific order...
Morrowind is pretty close to being non-linear, although ultimtely let down by the largely soulless population who say pretty much the same thing all through the game.
Have you tried any of the MMORPG games? From what I understand the plots and action in these games are mainly player driven.
I'm deliberately avoiding MMORPGs through fear of them sucking up all my free time. A friend of mine started playing WoW a couple of months ago and we've not seen much of him since then. :)
Heh, that's the same reason I haven't been anywhere near one. That and the hassle of getting broadband set up in the Sheffield area.
I've always wanted a game where you could change allegiances and it would affect the plot. Like - you could kill your team and a few civilians, then go join the bad guys and fight on their side for a while...
Philo, Deus Ex 2 has elements of this.
That was one of the things that annoyed me about Knights of the Old Republic - you can be evil, use all the dark powers etc, but you still end up working for the Jedi.
I haven't got round to playing the sequel yet, so I don't know if this is 'fixed' in it.
i'm curious to see how the AI works out to be..
i saw a demo of it while working at a marketing company (y&r) here in toronto. looked kinda neat how varied the types of strategies used by the different monsters - eg. ambush, retreat, etc.
not sure about the complicated level up system, tho...
The best AI I've seen was in FarCry. The enemy would take advantage of cover, retreat and call for backup, send scouts out to investigate noise, circle round and sneak up from behind, etc. Many's the time I found an apparently safe spot to do a bit of sniping only to be knifed from behind by someone who'd broken off from a group I'd flushed out. They'd still occasionally have their dumb moments and run straight towards you, but on the whole they were irritatingly smart.
For an FPS it was refreshingly loose on how you could approach it, too -- the levels were very open, and apart from a few choke points you couldn't avoid there were normally a dozen or more ways of getting from A to B, and 90% of the game could be completed without engaging in combat at all...
" and 90% of the game could be completed without engaging in combat at all... "
Now where's the point of that?
None, really, although if you turn the AI all the way up and switch on "auto-balance", avoiding combat is about the only way to stay alive. :)
Mat, Far Cry was great fun outdoors, but when you were indoors, it was extremely linear and it lost everything that made the game different. [Plus, I hated the end of the game which was insanely difficult.]
However, for me, nothing beats HL2 for sheer addiction, though.
"Plus, I hated the end of the game which was insanely difficult."
Really? I didn't think so.
Mind you, I turned on God mode whenever those ape things showed up...
I just resurrected Diablo II again. It's definitely more linear than open as far as the content goes, but you are free to go back to the areas and kill whatever you wish as many times as you like. People do this very often because certain things are more likely to drop certain items.
The original Betrayal at Krondor was soooo ahead of its time and is generally overlooked. It was open-ended, yet had a wonderfully engaging plot thanks to Raymond Feist. I waited more than a year to play it because I first had to acquire the whopping 4 MB total of RAM.
You can download it free off some of the classics sites, or at least you could around two years ago. It was a more linear Morrowind with what I thought to be much better plot and character development. For its time, it blew the socks off what SSI was pushing as PC RPGs. It blew the socks off pretty much everything.
The interior bits of FarCry ranged from lame to about average, but the outdoor sections more than compensated. The ending *was* tough (and the plot twist was surprising in a "I can't believe it was so obvious" kind of way)
I have to disagree about HL2, though -- I'd give it a "slightly above average" rating if I were feeling generous. The AI was awful, especially when you pick up your team of idiots who then spend the next several hours getting in the goddamned way -- whoever decided that cramming half a dozen NPCs into a tight corridoor and then giving them a default behaviour of "stand as close to the player as you can" was a good idea must have been a moron, and at one stage (when you're defending Alyx while she's trying to open a gate or something), instead of having the brains to go and defend the two points that the enemy enter through they just follow you about and although you can order them to go somewhere else they just come back after 30 seconds or so like a bunch of fuckwits; the game was so linear it hurt; the plot veered between "nothing" and "WTF"; and although some of the effects in the Source engine were nice the actual building models were flat and boxy. And then the ending... where was it?
Apart from the farce that was DOOM3 I think HL2 is one of the worst performers in the "hype and promise vs actual product" stakes since Rise of the Robots!
I rank HL2 highly because, despite its flaws, it continued to reinvent itself as the game moved on. Both Doom 3 and Far Cry eventually bored me simply because they took a few ideas and drew it out into tedious length. I did not get bored during HL2 and is the only game I have played twice in recent memory.
I still don't understand why Diablo II is so incredibly addictive - if you step back it is clearly just an endless grind of kill-upgrade-kill some more, but there is something so satisfying in getting a weapon that does 2 more damage or trying to get that next level of a skill that you just can't stop.
I've been clean for 8 months now, but I daren't reinstall it again!
I'm looking forward to Oblivion most right now, as it is promising to give a far more refined experience than Morrowind, with the NPCs having believable lives (no more shops open all through the night, or people who spend their entire life without leaving the house)
Apart from the introduction of the grav cannon (and then its (much too late) upgrade) the whole thing felt pretty samey to me. I guess there were the boat and buggy sections, but they felt a bit like padding (and with the agonisingly long and frequent loading points managed to become irritating very quickly), but other than that it was nothing you don't see in every other FPS. The original HL was a revelation -- it felt like a story rather than a load of excuses for gameplay -- but HL2 was just another FPS in an already over-filled market...
Still, lots of other people seemed to think it was good so perhaps I'm just being awkward. I certainly wouldn't play it again, though, and if it weren't for the pain-in-the-ass Steam account issue plus the fact that I play CS now and again I would have sold it long ago.
Mat - we enjoy what we enjoy, if you didn't take to HL2 then that's your business. I like to hear what makes other people's gaming muscles twitch or seize up.
I would have expected a few Thief lovers amongst JoS crowd, but I've never seen it mentioned.
Thief 3 is awesome.
The other two were great as well.
I think I like D2 because it is so great when you see gold/green (unique/set) items drop and run back to Deckard to find out what goodies you snagged.
I think the most unique thing about HL2 were that the puzzles were the most realistic I've ever seen in a game - the cinder blocks to raise the ramp were my favorite, because it required a bit of nonlinear thinking, but it wasn't like "go find the purple pebble and put it in this green slot" silliness.
That and the ability to pin bad guys to the wall with the crossbow...
Joel sez : "I would have expected a few Thief lovers amongst JoS crowd, but I've never seen it mentioned."
I'll say it : Thief is one of the best games to ever use a first-person 3D engine, ever.
The great success was that it made you totally aware of every aspect of the virtual environment. Is there enough shadow for me not to be seen? Is that floor made out of something that will make my footsteps echo? Is that flickering light around the corner a guard coming with a lantern?
It never resorted to cheap scares or throwing wave after wave of enemies at you (I'm looking at you, Doom series), but -man- it got your heart rate up. Never before (or since) has sitting in a darkened corner, waiting for that one guard to pass by, been so intense. Yow.
From this thread alone, I am building an uncomfortable picture of what Philo likes to see in games. =)
Thief? I never have much luck with stealth games; I can cope with being sneaky in games where *not* being sneaky doesn't cause an instant "you were spotted -- Game Over!", but Splinter Cell, one of the levels in XIII, Thief, etc., just frustrated me. One false move or a couple of seconds too long out of the shadows, and it's back to square one.
Chronicles of Riddick had stealth elements, but instead of it being an outright disqualification for setting off an alarm it just meant that you'd have a bit of a firefight on your hands. It suits my impatient nature, I guess -- sneaking about is all well and good providing you can fall back on good old fashioned killing if it goes wrong. :D
Thief was the first stealth game I ever tried out and is still the definitive stealth game for me. The trouble with the games that have "stealth or shooting" is that most people lapse into shooting, and I suspect this happens big time during game development. The stealth aspects seem so broken on those type of games that I have tried (DX, DX2, NOLF2, no Splinter Cell or Metal Gear so far). Thief's system is intricate, natural and forgiving once it's mastered - I just can't accept anything else =)
I thought HL2 was an average single player game. I'll agree the grav gun and the upgrade for it came too late in the game.
On the other hand, HL2 deathmatch is a lot of fun. Nothing like using the grav gun to shoot somebody square in the chest with a toilet. heh heh heh.
Doom3 - Finished single player, thought the graphics were nice, had fun with it.
FarCry - Got bored playing it near the end and gave up, but will agree the graphics and AI were great, especially if you have the machine for it.
Pirates! - (Not really a FPS, but I played it recently). Great game. Lots of fun. Implement the "Duke Of All Nations" strategy and you can do more or less whatever you want after that.
Metal Gear is freaking awesome.
Admittedly, I haven't tried any of the other mentioned games, but I am interested in Splinter Cell.
I'm anxiously awaiting the "Subsistence" version of MGS3, which will have online, multi-player action.
Try the Hitman series, you'd probably enjoy it.
Nothing like stalking a Chinese triad gang member with a chlorophorm laden rag.
Aside from gameplay, games with best writing: Deus Ex, Thief series, System Shock 2, Planescape: Torment.
MarkTAW, if you want you can have my copy of Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow for nothing -- no idea why I bought it as I knew I wasn't going to enjoy it, and it's just been languishing on a shelf for ages. :D
For multiplayer I've been rather enjoying Painkiller lately. It goes back to the old-skool fast and frenzied style that the original Quake deathmatch did so well, and the weapons are ludicrous. My favourite is the stake gun; Philo would enjoy it for the wall-pinning potential, and as long as your aim is reasonable it only requires one or two hits to kill someone with it. Its awesomeness is capped by the fact that secondary fire is a mini-gun. It may be somewhat overpowered for a default weapon, but it makes for some pretty intense battles.
Mat: Serious Sam?
Ah, Serious Sam. Another over-the-top classic. :)
Many of my happiest multiplayer memories are of playing Super Bomberman on the SNES, and it's always nice to find an FPS that captures the same frenetic pace. Unfortunately it seems tactical squad-based games (BF2, CS, CoD, etc.) are the in thing at the moment, but they require too much of an investment of time...
The privateer series had some decent writing.
And what about Zork!?
You are in a maze of twisty passages, all alike...
Oh, and Dungeon Master 'just popped in there' as one of the most purely fun games ever. Build a torture chamber and have dominatrixes torture your minions so they perform better? C'mon!
Infocom were great, they are missed. Some interesting "interactive fiction" is still being created.
I liked this short surreal ride in particular:
Jack's sez : "Try the Hitman series, you'd probably enjoy it ..."
I dunno about Hitman. It's a great concept, and I enjoy the stealth, but honestly -- there's way too much "try X, fail, start over" when it takes fifteen minutes of straight stealth gameplay to even -get- to the point where you can try X. Also, there's such an unforgiving timeframe on a lot of the levels that unless you figu283re out the precise sequence of actions (again, over the course of many many try-and-fail-and-restart segments of fifteen minutes), you'll consistently miss your target.
Thief was great because if you were spotted, you could generally plan out a couple of "safe areas" to hide out in until the heat went down. Also, even though a guard might loop through an area every ten minutes, it wasn't like he only did it -once,- so each segment of your progress flowed into the next in a very natural way, unlike Hitman's vicious and unforgiving time constraints.
I'm sure it's attributable to my laziness, but I far prefer games where you can save progress on your own instead of "checkpoint" type games.
As Snark said, the whole "work your ass off for fifteen minutes just to get killed and start over" thing gets old after a while (HL2 wasn't as bad, though there were a few points like that. GTA:VC has a few long missions that simply SUCK)
I much prefer the "accomplish a bunch of things, grab a moment to breathe, save, move on" method (except for in the original Doom, where I quicksaved over my game progress right before a fireball hit me from behind - had to start over)
Set save points are often used as an artificial means of increasing difficulty in a game, and hence increasing the amount of time they take to finish. If you have to repeat a 15-minute segment four times then the game is an hour "longer" than it would otherwise have been...
On the other hand, allowing you to quicksave willy-nilly can spoil gameplay slightly as it provides less tension. Who cares if I fuck this bit up, I can just have a do-over! There are opportunities for a halfway house: DeltaForce Blackhawk Down gave you a limited number of saves, for example, so you could save whenever you wanted but had to be careful not to get too carried away, and Resident Evil on the Playstation required you to collect typewriter ribbons and take them to specific points on the map to save, so you *could* do it whenever you wanted but it wasn't so easy that you'd just do it whenever things got a bit tough.
Multiplayer fun? My favorites:
- Counter Strike
- Unreal Tournament (the original)
- Super Smash Bros Melee (Gamecube)
- Timesplitters 2 (For MP: I like it better than Halo)
I haven't played much in about two years, which is very sad for me. I can't wait until my kids give me a great excuse to get back into it.
Oh, and ... not to turn this into an all-Thief-all-the-time thread, but in Thief III ("Thief : Deadly Shadows"), the next-to-last level is the most frightening experience ever created for a computer game. Bar none. A masterpiece of scripting through level design.
Yeah, I'll agree with that Snark. Especially if you approach it from the stealth side. The scoring (introduced in the second one) based on conflicting scales of stealth-ninja-master versus Rambo-is-my-bitch was pretty cool though.
The ability to complete objectives by different means was somewhat tarnished as you approached either end of the scoring spectrum. If you wanted it bloody, you had to plot your course appropriately, take out the right people first, run the right ways, etc...
The stealth approach took you toward what you describe of having to get timing down just right on top of actually figuring out what the hell it was you had to do. Knowing you had the perfect plan figured out but having to reload a number of times to successfully execute it was frustrating.
Overall though, I still think I got my money's worth out of that series.
"is the most frightening experience ever created for a computer game"
I had a friend who played Silent Hill 2 on his XBox and wouldn't go near the console for a week...
Philo : The second-to-last level in Thief III makes Silent Hill look like Teletubbies.
Seriously, I don't think I could replay that one -- even with the lights on and a nice sunny day out -- without shrieking a little inside.
With a little Googling, I find that there was a ten-page(!) dissection of the level in PC Gamer. Nice interview with the level designer, too.
I haven't had tried Thief 3 yet. I promised my wife she could do it first. I've been working through DX2 for the last few months... (there you are, that's how much game time I really have)
a lot of you'll disagree, but i think all games should be autosave without the ability to load any other save position.
games should be written so that one is always progressing forward. "time leaps" to a previous point hurt one's sense of immersian with the virtual environment.
you should also be able to go to your last save point and not be stuck because you didn't do "A" several saves ago.
i think this holds true for every genre, from turn-based strategy, to fps, to virtual world "sims" games (especially)...
+++ a lot of you'll disagree, but i think all games should be autosave without the ability to load any other save position.
games should be written so that one is always progressing forward. "time leaps" to a previous point hurt one's sense of immersian with the virtual environment.+++
The easy solution for this is to not restore old saves. Just autosave as you go and don't go back, if you enjoy playing that way. That's what I do.
Believing that everyone should be FORCED to play that way is a bit, well, childish and egotistical. A game should be enjoyable for as many different people as possible.
August 11th, 2005
"but i think all games should be autosave without the ability to load any other save position."
And what about if you find a part of the game that you particularly want to play again, or is so cool you want to show to someone else? Or what if the game autosaves in an unsupportable position -- 1 health, no armour, no ammo, etc?
Sounds like a silly idea to me... :)
I remember playing through Monkey Island 3 and having a save game from just before each point I considered really cool in the game - needless to say that was a lot of saves!
I still laugh at the attempt to use the Jedi mind trick on the cabana boy and the banjo duelling next to the grassy knoll...
There are these freaks of nature who do "speed runs" through popular games. They learn the layout of each level and find the optimum path through it. In stealth games, they'll do it without getting spotted once, and even without killing anyone.
This requires replaying a single level over and over again until you can find the best way through it.
A comprimise, which was used in an old RPG is to save a bit of data when the game _loads_. If that data is there the next time you load, it means the player died, so you let them load a game, but remove a point from one of their stats randomly.
I died well over 60 times in this game, and still enjoyed playing.
The workaround solution is to create a copy of your game each time you save, but this is on a computer that had only a floppy drive, so you had to quit the game, copy it, and reload the game. That whole process could easily take 15 minutes to complete.
Mark, you're talking about Alternate Reality aren't you?
With the time spent copying disks, rebooting and waiting for the whole load-up to complete, I don't think you had time to play any other CRPGs...
(okay, that's not true, I took on Ultima IV too)
Ah, Alternate Reality; with that, the Apshar Trilogy, The Eidolon and Rescue on Fractalus I got very little done in the mid 80s...
Anyone got a functional floppy drive for an Atari 8-bit? I've got a 130XE, two 65XEs, a big stack of disks, and a 1050 that's nothing more than an ugly brown paperweight... :)
I have one, but I'm not selling it. Rescue on Fractalus & BallBlazer was also favorites. There's a store in NYC that has lots of old video game equipment. They used to have a website at multimedia1.com, but that just redirects to some other website that doesn't have any Atari stuff on it.
I almost want to into my closet to find my old PC joysticks and see how well they work on emulator now.
I didn't really copy discs, like I said, I died like 80+ times.
I could go dig up my old floppies and tell you the exact number, but that would be a royal pain in the ass.
I hear one emulator lets you save the state as a file, so no more load times of any kind. Just reload the state and go.
Atari800Win PLus is the dog's bollocks:
I have tried out those emulators, and saving the machine state is a lot easier than using any save game to floppy disk emulation =) I love Atari800Win Plus.
I have a working Atari floppy drive, but I'm in the process of trying to hook it up to my PC. I need to rescue the source code for the only commercial game I made.
Last time I looked at Atari800Win, AR wouldn't play on it, but I think I've read that it will now.
Okay, I don't have _that_ much desire to dig out the old joystick. The only time I play video games now is when my girlfriend is using my computer for The Sims, and that will probably change once I get a laptop.
Go Joel, you're hardcore. ;-)
The first time I looked at Atari800Win, it wouldn't play Alternate Reality. AR used all sorts of bizarre hardware hacks that probably made it hard to emulate, so I played it on XL-IT. I think vesions 0.16 and 0.18 played AR The Dungeon & AR The City.
Back when my drive worked Sio2PC was a real boon in transferring stuff across; the drive had become marginal so I started copying all my disks onto the PC, and managed to get through about 150 of them before it died completely...
Also, just to demonstrate that despite poor sales and an early decline of software support, the Atari was always superior to the C64:
I just have an arcade cabinet in the corner of my living room which runs MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) which runs everything from Asteroids to King of Fighters '99, and emulators for NES, SNES, Genesis, Atari 2600, Intellivision, and a Commodore 64. It has a control panel with a light-up clear acrylic trackball for mousing, a USB keyboard tucked away underneath, and two arcade-quality joysticks mounted in it with 6 buttons each (not including coin/start buttons which double as select/start buttons for the consoles). I wired the thing up myself a few years ago, and rewired the entire thing from scratch last winter (took three days).
Of course, either my serial port (???) or my custom trackball (???) was fried by a lightning strike a few days ago and I haven't been able to use it, since :(.
I can confirm that AR Citadel and Dungeon run just peachy on Atari800Win PLus; I've not actually found anything that *doesn't* run on the current version. Even the demoscene things that make use of really obscure hardware "features" run without a glitch...
Mat, you're not trying to start a
Atari VS C-65 Deathmatch
are you? =)
Mark, I did write a couple of personal utilities which would protect both the AR City and Dungeon characters from "load corrosion". All you had to do was back up a few key sectors on the disk (I think I backed them up near sector 720) and you were away.
I wouldn't say a religious war or deathmatch is needed -- given that the Atari XE was the spiritual father of the Amiga, a platform I'm also fond of, I'm willing to beat any C64-loving freaks to death with their crappy machines should they so wish, but as their machines were plainly inferior an actual argument or discussion would be pointless. :D
This thread which started off about games has made me realise just how much I used to tinker with computers and how much I don't get a chance to these days.
Anyone want to make a synth around the Pokey chip? Someone did it for the C64 sound chip (MOS6581), so now you HAVE to do it for the Atari....
Given that I can hack my stats on emulator and give myeslf 255 stats, 64k hit points, and as many gold pieces, jems or jewes as I want, I don't really need a utility like that, and I'd probably consider it cheating.
Besides, if you go to the nearest stairwell and enter the phone number for Datasoft on the box, you got this spell caused between several hundred & several thousand hit points of damage, cost almost no energy to cast, and didn't even require joining a guild. I mean.. if you're going to cheat you might as well go all the way.
"Anyone want to make a synth around the Pokey chip?"
An interesting proposition. A friend of mine had the dual-Pokey hack (plus the 320K RAMBO expansion) with some sort of synth software on it, and it actually sounded pretty good. The SID did have a slight edge -- the music to the C64 version of Wizkid is awesome -- but once you stuck the Pokey in 16-bit mode the results were satisfyingly squelchy/warbly. Being a sad and pathetic loser I have the entire HV-SID and Atari SAP archives, and quite often sit there humming along to the classics. :)
I used to have this rule. If I felt like a game was being unfair, I would amend the rules. There were plenty of games on the Atari which were fun but became almost impossible to make progress on because of pixel-perfect jumps etc. etc. The punishment that some games would bestow upon you was unfair when all you wanted to do was explore.
AR. Wow, where am I? The Taurean Maze? Cool. What's this? A pack of giant wolves!!?! Time to reboot again...
Ultima III. Enemies would advance on you, able to move diagonally but you could only move N/S/E/W. t and then you couldn't escape combat with a horde of daemons. All characters marked DEAD and the game would not reload them.
These days, many games are far more forgiving of what a player gets up to. (I wish HL2 had been just a little bit harder though) Maybe I should write a book, "The Cheater's Ethic, A Personal Justification"
"AR. Wow, where am I? The Taurean Maze? Cool. What's this? A pack of giant wolves!!?! Time to reboot again..."
You do know that many of the encounters in the Taurean Maze were fixed, don't you?
"I would have expected a few Thief lovers amongst JoS crowd, but I've never seen it mentioned."
Another vote for Thief. No other game has ever gave me such an adrenalin blast as Thief. Playing on a dark room, with headphones, a great near-the-max sound, and I leave the planet for a few hours.
I'm still on the first Thief. I've got the other two, but I'm still enjoying the first one :)
OTOH, if I'm in a more relaxing mood, nothing can beat the Myst/Riven series.
On the map I made, I recall that around the standard teleport-in point to the maze, each direction had a forced encounter with a pack of wolves. That's rather unfortunate if you walk into one of the teleport points by accident. Still, I never walked around the blink minefield recklessly again =)
Hmm, I think there were other blink traps to the maze as well though.
Paulo, you have so much to look forward to.
Augh. The Blink Minefield. I used to drop copper pieces or sticks on the floor just to be sure I cleared a square before I turned.
Mark, I realised my earlier post could have been misinterpreted. I didn't reboot because "death was certain", I rebooted because my low level character was rendered limb from limb by the wolves. What did it used to say? "A wolf slashes you with a claw for 23."
Once I'd moved up a few levels, I had wolf sandwiches for breakfast. And that's some claim from a vegetarian like myself.
Ah. Yeah, my advice was going to be "gain a few levels before exploring that part of the dungeon..." The only creature that, at any level, scared me was the vampire. Those suckers (no pun intended) were powerful. I think I reached level 10 before I eventually got bored. It took months the first time I played, but now I could probably do it in hours.
I wonder if the weather changed seasonally in The City, though. Never having played more than a few game weeks, especially in The City, I never found out.
Paulo sez : "I'm still on the first Thief. I've got the other two, but I'm still enjoying the first one."
It's a classic. There are very few FPSes that I'd go back and play again, but Thief is one. I think System Shock is the other. -Damn- that was some storytelling.
Mark, the AR City was sadly an exercise in masochism. Only once I got a character to Level 7 but then the disk went bad. I never played again after that.
It was. I'm glad I started with The Dungeon.
But you have to admit that the graphics in The City were stunning. The sunsets hadn't been equalled in a game until Grand Theft Auto. At least, in a game that I've played.
Wait, you played RPGs with graphics worth speaking about? Pffft.
My first CRPG was Might & Magic on the C64. It was pure genius and still is.
That was another one of those awesome hardware hacks. The game was rendered rather than pre-drawn, and he changed the color pallette slowly (about one shade per minute), so the sunsets were slow, subtle, and influenced the color of the streets, the walls, everything.
Mark, I still enjoyed the City, there were lots of places to find - although disappointingly useless. It's just that the Dungeon completely upstaged it. I don't blame Philip Price, there's plenty of evidence that Datasoft forced it out before it was ready.
Snark, are you talking about System Shock 1 or 2? I've never tried the original, but the sequel is incredibly well-written with wonderful voice acting and sound.
"Paulo, you have so much to look forward to."
Yes, a friend of mine who has played all three keeps telling me the same :)
"I think System Shock is the other. -Damn- that was some storytelling."
Oh, I've got that one, too, but haven't tried it yet.
I'm a very irregular gamer. Sometimes, I go for months without playing, and suddenly I'll spend weeks doing (almost) nothing else in my spare time.
Off the top of my head, the list of games I've bought but haven't tried yet include: Myst IV, Thief 2 & 3, System Shock 2, Civilization 3, Risk II.
I still have Riven and Thief I to finish (Myst III was a lot easier than Riven). I've also tried Uru, but I didn't like as much as Myst.
Ah well, between playing guitar, hanging out with friends, playing D&D, music & movies, house chores, and the ocasional (OK, rare :) ) date, spare time can only stretch so much...
The original System Shock was pretty freaking sweet (although the end level(s) were complete contrived crap made simply to be HARD without much creativity) but I don't think I could play through it again simply because the graphics were severely limited by the technology and were 3D just for the sake of it without being clever or creative.
I think The City being awkward was a combination of things. Price wasn't that experienced a game designer (he'd made, I think, one other game), so the annoying stuff like "E"ngage "D"isengage "A"ttack "P"arry was probably something he never would have changed. The difficulty, etc. I think this stuff is all pure Philip Price as he originally intended it.
The Dungeon had the benifit of his initial code base, and two experienced game designers. Still, they decided to change his code base so much that you couldn't take your character back to the original game, as was initially planned. The whole series was designed to bootstrap from the main engine.
That, and it getting pushed out so fast that he never even got to put in the plot. The City & The Dungeon were intended as a single item, but had to be seperated because of time constraints.
From what I hear, they actually had a working 3-D engine for the Dungeon that you could walk around in a-la Wolfenstein, but abaondoned it to keep the flavor of The City.
PS - did you know there's a casino & brother in The City that the company made him take out? They're still accessible via emulator & a little teleporting, but they just say they've been closed down by order of The Palace.
If anyone is thinking of playing System Shock 2 again, you might want to consider upgraded models of the Rebirth mod at http://perso.wanadoo.fr/etienne.aubert/sshock/sshock_rebirth.htm
If you haven't played yet, then you might consider it a spoiler so don't click the link.
Mark, that's strange, I remember finding "The House of Ill-Repute" and I believe the casino also. And yes, they were "closed" but then again, so was the fitness academy/gym place.
Last I checked the Rebirth project was dead and incomplete.
The multiplayer patch for SS2 is a must, though.
Hmm. I guess that shows you how little I played The City.
Looks like you're right, but there are still a couple of areas that can only be reached by teleporting to them.
The thing I remember most about the original System Shock (and other older games like Wing Commander Academy) was that they came in sturdy, heavy-stock cardboard boxes with full-bleed printed jackets full-wrapped around them. Those boxes were suitable for display on a bookshelf, and contained a full manual along with the game disks and maybe even a full color map or a poster or something. The average price was about $35 for a new game.
Now you pay $50 for a cheap DVD case with a 50% chance of the mounting stud for the DVD being broken, or if you get a particularly high-quality package you get a flimsy color-printed cardboard box wrapped around a corrugated core with a CD in a paper sleeve, no manual, and maybe a registration business reply card so that they can advertise at you.
But people keep buying the games at the price asked so it'll never be like it was. Bunch of suckers.
Not to mention paying $60+ retail + subscription fees on these MMOs.
A few MMO companies have it nailed though. Distribute for nothing or next-to-nothing (one I tried was $1 to download). Then just charge the subscription. It is a much better model for everyone imo. Gamers get to try more games for fit, and publishers will see more players find and continually subscribe to their games.
It just does not work for publishers that push crap because they would not get that initial chunk to help offset their development costs on a piece of shit.
As for Rebirth, yes it'll never get finished, but there are enough models in there to make a significant difference to the game experience.
As for packaging, Infocom used to be very inventive. I find interesting parallels there with vinyl record album covers - that I was fascinated by as a young 'un - versus modern CD packaging which feels mass-produced and sterile.
GuildWars has taken a different tack with the normal MMORPG pricing model. Buy the game (regular kind of price -- about £30) and that's it, nothing more to pay. I'm kind of worried that it's not really a sustainable business model for the long term -- once the income from new players has dropped off they have no guaranteed source of income to keep the servers going; there's some sort of in-game advertising, but whether that's enough to support it in the long term will be interesting to see.
Plane Shift is an interesting looking free-as-in-beer MMORPG, and it has the pontential to be pretty good. Last time I tried an early build it was a bit rough around the edges, but it's certainly worth keeping an eye on.
Guild Wars doesn't have a subscription because it's not a real MMORPG. It has common areas that are basically big lobbies where you party with other players in order to go out on quests. When you go on a quest, you're in your own instance of the world and cannot and will not bump into any other players. You're probably directly connected to the other players and not even on GW's servers anymore at that point, for all I know. There's no crafting, a Diablo 2 style skill-tree (not even really a tree), and diablo 2 style armor and weapon upgrades. Each type of character only has two or three "looks" available to them.
It's basically 3D Diablo 2 where the lobbies are represented by a 3D area instead of a chat room. Not a real MMORPG at all.
Both System Shock and its sequel were pretty killer. I have fonder memories of the first one simply because it was so revolutionary for its time. And because of the first words that the sentient spaceship says to you (IIRC) : "If you go in that room ... I will kill you." Yow.
Speaking of price models... Thanks to in-game advertisiing, Anarchy Online is now subscription-free also. You need only buy the content. That isn't such a bad model either. They did some great things in it. Instanced content is genius.
Of course, I like the idea of paying much less to try a lot more. The 'good' devs/publishers garnering even more players and the niche crowds still being supported.
Hmm, it would be sort of like a Red Light district of online gaming.