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GoatLord

My personal reasoning for shunning new-school games

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Okay, so it's clear that a lot of people here are turned off by newer games. We all have our reason. I thought I'd share mine because I'm curious as to whether others share it.

Basically, even though I love video games and play them almost daily, I consider them, above all things, extremely entertaining and escapist time wasters. I simply cannot place them in the same category as quality literature and cinema, although I feel the excellent art direction in some games is worthy of being shown in a gallery. Similarly, the excellent music in some games is just as legitimate as that of any skilled recording artist.

However, in the last two decades, there has been a slow gravitation toward infusing games with cinematic elements (lengthy cutscenes, camera effects such as depth-of-field, extensive plot development) as well as literary elements (dramatic dialogue, text from in-game diaries and books), which seems to defeat the purpose of playing a video game. My philosophy? If I want to read a book, I'll read a book; if I want to watch a movie, I'll watch a movie. Gaming, for me, is about quick reflexes and navigating simple labyrinths, not about playing an interactive film.

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GoatLord said:

Gaming, for me, is about quick reflexes and navigating simple labyrinths


And God forbid any developers even dream to take it beyond that

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Craigs said:

And God forbid any developers even dream to take it beyond that


Even though you're being sarcatic, that's excatly my point. Video games, at least for me, cease to be entertaining when they go beyond the fundamentals. I have tried over and over to play modern games, and while some appeal to me, I have not yet seen one in which the dialoge and cutscenes added anything to the experience. In my head I always think, "The writing is pretty bad. I'd rather read a book. The cutscenes are super cheesy. I'd rather just watch a movie."

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GoatLord said:

I simply cannot place [games] in the same category as quality literature and cinema


Sounds like you're not playing the right games then. There are plenty of games I've played that rival some of the best movies and books in terms of plot depth and evoking emotion. And they were more immersive because I was PLAYING them, not just reading or watching them unfold.

GoatLord said:

the excellent music in some games is just as legitimate as that of any skilled recording artist


Game music is quite often composed by "skilled recording artists". Why the hell would anyone question the legitimacy of a song just because it was in a video game?

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Well, it all depends on the individual.Personally, my favorite games are those which have complex stories that make you feel for the characters and the world around the(The Witcher 2 and Dragon Age come to mind).But after days of big choices, complex characters and lots of drama, I find the need to just to kill something without a specific purpose other than seeing demons screaming in pain.

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Vordakk, I mentioned video game music because I wanted to make it clear that while I do not consider games to be legitimate art like cinema and literature (which is what I believe modern games try to be), the art and music are legitimate when created by skilled artisans. I just didn't want anyone to think that I didn't appreciate those particular aspects.

Grain of Salt: I find it incredibly easy to suspend my disbelief with cinema. Even with older movies with dated effects, I can get lost in the world they create. I just don't experience that with games. Instead, I just see a computer simulation with varying levels of detail. I may be incredibly impressed by the level of detail, but I only care about aligning weapons with targets, or completing whatever repetitive task the game requires.

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Although I can agree that lots of game developers are spending too much time and effort constructing a cinematic experience rather than working on solid game mechanics and non-linear levels, I cannot except that games cannot be a valid art form capable of constructing an interesting story and visual experience and still balance good gameplay.

I will admit, I do tire of ridiculously cinematic games. I used to love Final Fantasy before it became a forty-hour cinematic experience, where I move the character from cutscene to cutscene. And many games now blow their load and make asinine (MGS4) plots or stories that are comparable to the Star Wars prequel trilogy as far as depth -No one is fleshed-out in the Halo franchise.

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@GoatLord

Keep in mind that compared to the movie industry, gaming and especially more recent games that have complex and compelling stories are relatively new and let's not start comparing it with literature, which is an even older form of art.

The fact is that there are very few games that ACTUALLY have good writing because it's still very new but I am confident that in a decade or two, games could be truly considered art.

If you want to play a series that really does have a compelling story try The Witcher.Beware though, the first one is a bit sloppy as it was Cd Projekt's first game but the second one is VERY good and you have to finish it at least 2 times to understand what's really happening.

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DooM_RO said:

The fact is that there are very few games that ACTUALLY have good writing because it's still very new but I am confident that in a decade or two, games could be truly considered art.

No, it's because major studios won't allow developers to take new directions when green-lighting and funding projects. It's like why the film industry is boring and stagnant today.

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I think the thing is that more cinematic games are easier for players to get into. Frankly, games like Quake 1/2/3 have huge learning curves if you haven't grown up with that playstyle. However, with a game like CoD, you don't need to spend time figuring out how to get to the best weapons, confusing level design (like a shitty switch-hunt level), or exploits that are pretty much required for some tiers of playing. That's not a bad thing either. Some people don't like maze crawls, and thankfully there are other products out there for them that have what they like.

With plots, I think it can be done right depending on the plot. If a game wants me to care about its plot, universe or whatever, it needs to have something stand out. Dragon Age: Origins was a huge offender for this. Its obvious a lot of thought was put into its universe, but its little more than "Medieval Europe with elves". I'm not sifting through codex logs filled with silly-sounding names and locations if its just going to be "lol its europe with oppressed elves and mages". That's boring and a waste of my time. The only real interesting plot line was "is the dominant religion real or fake" because it wasn't something that was original. Of course, they took a huge dump on that plotline in the Dragon Age 2 DLC, which killed my interest in the series once and for all.

My biggest issue regarding old and new-school games is the assumption that liking one makes you automatically hate the other. I grew up with Doom and Quake, but I can still enjoy Counter-Strike, Call of Duty or Mass Effect just as much as I can enjoy blazing through Doom II or Quake 1's SP or MP modes. Honestly, being able to like old and new-school games makes me feel like I'm unusual among PC gamers.

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I am completely with you Goatlord. I'm then assuming that, like me, you find the idea of games like Fallout 3 shitty. I mean what the heck is the point

i just get depressed (and i mean depressed to the point where i prefer to sit in silence, genuinely) playing a game unless its moddable and/or multiplayer so doom is perfect plus the gameplay is so simple yet so vast in possibilities.

I also used to get really depressed making doom levels before I knew there was at least a couple of hundred other people who made and played doom levels - whats up with that.

I'm not using the word depressed lightly here

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The thing about complex stories/plots is that they invariably breed linearity. The better designed ones take steps to minimize the impact by providing lots of branches, but ultimately this is resource intensive (and expensive from a development POV). It's not just an issue with video games either. In the later days of 1st edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, TSR was publishing all kinds of adventure modules that pretty much expected your party to go in a single direction (prime example was the Dragonlance series) whereas the older modules were more open-ended and had a "sandbox" approach that defined an environment with locations and entities, and it was up to your group via DM-player interaction to weave the actual story.

These plot-heavy games can be fun of course, but the replay value is more limited. They're also nothing new, having been around since the days of Colossal Cave.

In my case, I don't mind the linear stuff as long as it's well done. My reasons for not following modern games is because I joined the Linux/BSD crowd around the time Win95 was released. After having been spoiled by AmigaOS, the Microsoft solutions seemed like a great step backwards. I pretty much haven't bought any games since then (most of them only got released for Win32 at that point).

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hex11 said:

The thing about complex stories/plots is that they invariably breed linearity. The better designed ones take steps to minimize the impact by providing lots of branches, but ultimately this is resource intensive (and expensive from a development POV). It's not just an issue with video games either. In the later days of 1st edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, TSR was publishing all kinds of adventure modules that pretty much expected your party to go in a single direction (prime example was the Dragonlance series) whereas the older modules were more open-ended and had a "sandbox" approach that defined an environment with locations and entities, and it was up to your group via DM-player interaction to weave the actual story.


For video games, I assume that it's easier to develop a linear game because of how advanced today's tech is. The tech behind Doom and Quake 1 are fairly simple, so you have the time and resources to do things like plot out alternate routes. Thew worse thing you'd have to do if an alternate route isn't working is simply delete it, and that's simple. No wasted art resources or anything like that. With a modern game, you need to keep the focus on something linear so that you're not burning up time and money working on something like a detailed alternate path that may not end up working in the end. If you're working on detailed building and tree models for an alternate path, but WHOOPS!, it turns out the path isn't working, you just wasted a fair bit of an artist's time when instead they could've spent more time working on the main path! That's a big problem, and frankly its easier to cut to alternate paths entirely than go for them and risk wasting valuable time and money on something that isn't needed and might not even work out in the end.

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Grain of Salt said:

Forget plot, storytelling, characterization, and so on. The ability to create an explorable environment alone makes gaming an incredible and unique form of art.

I have to agree with this. The potential for immersion and exploration is really what I enjoy most in games, and it's a main factor in why I still play Doom (PWADs offer more levels than I could ever have time to explore), as well as what draws me to many newer games. To use an example fresh in my mind, I've put hundreds (if not thousands) of hours into the Elder Scrolls series, though I don't think I've ever honestly played through the main quest in any one of them.

If newer games make an effort to be cinematic, story-driven, or character-driven, then that's generally fine with me, even if it's not really what I'm there for; I'm there to experience another world that some creative minds have assembled for me, but unless the storytelling severely detracts from my immersion, then I'll even welcome it. Fictional worlds would tend to grow stale (and become boring to explore) if they were all devoid of characters and events living and happening within. I don't expect a game to rival my favorite literature in the strengths of that medium, but that's the whole point. I don't expect a book or a movie to give me the ability to wander around aimlessly, explore and examine things at my own pace, or interact with the fictional world and its inhabitants, either.

There are other games that I play more purely for the action or puzzle aspects, of course, or because the gameplay mechanics are just downright fun, but they're not all what I'd consider "old-school" either, so that sort of dichotomy isn't very useful to me when trying to categorize the sorts of games that I prefer.

phobosdeimos1 said:

I am completely with you Goatlord. I'm then assuming that, like me, you find the idea of games like Fallout 3 shitty. I mean what the heck is the point

i just get depressed (and i mean depressed to the point where i prefer to sit in silence, genuinely) playing a game unless its moddable and/or multiplayer.

Fallout 3 is moddable, so there's that. The point of the game, at least as I see it, is to explore and survive in a retro-futuristic post-nuclear wasteland, while growing from a wet-behind-the-ears kid to a wealthy unstoppable killing machine (or whatever else you want to be). If that's not for you, cool, but I think it's as valid as any reasoning for playing Doom.

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GoatLord said:

"The writing is pretty bad. I'd rather read a book. The cutscenes are super cheesy. I'd rather just watch a movie."


Most awesome cutscene EVER (near 2:00) from the most awesome game EVER:

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Maes said:

Most awesome cutscene EVER (near 2:00) from the most awesome game EVER:


Oh fuck yes. I remember when the first POSTAL came out in like, ummm, '97 maybe? I played it in college all the time. The only other dude who liked it turned out to be a pyromaniac, which explains why he loved the game so much I guess(especially the scene where you torch an entire marching band). Ahh, memories!

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GoatLord said:

My philosophy? If I want to read a book, I'll read a book; if I want to watch a movie, I'll watch a movie. Gaming, for me, is about quick reflexes and navigating simple labyrinths, not about playing an interactive film.

And if that's all you want out of a game, that's your prerogative.

I can't quite see the point of this kind of thread. It's obvious that all of us on here at least like a game which has no cinematic airs and graces about it; we're on a forum surrounding an 18-year-old fps where you do nothing but navigate labyrinths and rely on quick reflexes, with very little story or exposition to even necessitate cutscenes and whatnot. Modern games which have a different approach(es), for better or worse, needn't bother you if you don't want to play them.

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DooM_RO said:

If you want to play a series that really does have a compelling story try The Witcher.

Considering it's based on a series of books that have a very compelling story...

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Vaporizer said:

Cinematic games can have very solid gameplay, Another World for example.


Only that Another World had several things going for it at the time:

  • Never-seen-before quality of cinematics, combined with a novel 3D rotoscoping technique.
  • For the first time (AFAIK), both the cinematics and the gameplay used the same graphics engine (something that didn't become commonplace/done again with equal success until Half Life).
  • Even if the amount of cinematics was impressive, it was still dwarfed by the sheer size and difficulty of the game. I'd say you got maybe a 1:25 or even 1:50 cinematics to gameplay ratio.
  • The fact that all of the above fitted in a floppy made it all the more "WOW" back then in 1992.
Modern games simply don't have the novelty factor in their favor anymore, assuming they don't get the cinematics:gameplay ratio wrong. Cinematics are included more because they are an industry sine qua non than anything else.

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I personally like it when games have a good balance of story and gameplay, like the Half-Life series. But when a game is just endless cutscenes, I'm alright with that too, if the story's engrossing.

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It appears your personal reason for shunning new-school games is often the reason why I shy away from new-school Doom maps.

I can't help but be bored of overly detailed maps when their layouts are linear, or simplistic. I get so sick of killing symmetrically patterned monsters inside confined and detailed rectangular shaped rooms. I don't like restricted movement or puzzles that are too easy to solve, or the lack of secrets, shortcuts, optional areas to explore, or any wads that add more than one new weapon or new monster.

There's plenty people here I know who can never get enough super-detailed architecture, but as long as I keep mapping, my maps have to play nice before they look nice.

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DoomUK, I agree that yes, this kind of thread serves no real purpose. It's impulsive bitching and little more.

40oz, I'm with you on linear new-school Doom maps. That's why Reviere has been so refreshing. It seems that some of these new school mappers also feel that labyrinths should be overly simple while looking pretty. I tend to get tired of those kinds of maps pretty quickly.

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My mother might show a bit of interest if there was less run'n'gun and more role-playing elements, she loves graphic adventures.

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