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You know, yesterday I went to my local gaming store, since I was kinda bored and wanted to spent some money on entertainment. The result: I went back home with nothing, even though I lurked the shelves for an hour or so. It is something that happens to me ever more often in the last years.
I started to be a gamer when Commodore 64 was new, and for about 25 years or so I was a vivid gamer. I love games, I love to follow news, to talk and try stuff. But as the years pass, what is published is less and less interesting for me. It's not that I am burned out; because every time one of those rare pearls is published, I am always playing happily as once. Only it happens less and less. Granted, in the 80ies and 90ies there were considerably less games per year. But overall, not only what type of games are published has changed, but also the games itself.
Much to my dismay, two genres I loved a lot, have entirely vanished from the market. Turn-Based strategy and first person RPGs.
Games like Civilization II, Sims 1 & 2, Sim City 2000, Fantasy General, X-Com, Jagged Alliance, Master of Orion, Alpha Centauri were games I spent YEARS playing. Especially in the case of Sims 2, I guess I rarely invested so much time (and money) into a game as into Sims 2... and then. We got Sims 3. Sure, it looked more fancy. But what a terrible simplification. What a terrible step back. And so it went with most of my beloved sim & strategy games. They either died out, or were followed by new versions I found totally boring. I know some folks want the hyper hyper of real-time. But I just don't believe those who loved the strategical depth of turn based just suddenly vanished from the face of the earth! Games like Jagged Alliance or the old X-Com just allowed a depth and wonderful strategies you just can't do with real time! Why did this entirely vanish?
And why did those first person RPGs die out? Man, I really LOVED Wizardry, Might and Magic (the RPG!) and the like, where you had a party but you played in first person. Can anyone remember how damn many classes a game like Wizardry had? All those classes and races, and not just 4 or 5 classes like many RPGs today. Why do we just get 4 or 5 different classes and races these days? It's all so damn simplified and cut, I always feel like in the proverbial bed of Procrustes. Once in Wizardry we had about 30 different classes and over a dozen of races to pick from! Today, the heirs of Diablo offer us 3 or 4 premade characters and take it or leave it. I don't want to bash SWTOR: but 4 classes per faction? Heck, when did all that change?
My most beloved game EVER surely will for all days of my life remain Ultima VII. The sheer complexity and depth of this game is something I haven't seen before and not ever since. The long dialogue lines, where now the voiceovers are usually not even 10% of the conversation we once had beckons the question if voiceover really is a benefit. Also from a creative point of view, since once dialogue vioceovers are recorded, it is difficult and expensive to re-write the lines, when you want to change some parts of the story. And of course it makes the dialogue shorter and less complex. Look at how chatty NPCs were still in Baldurs Gate and how less NPCs have to say today.
And SIZE... don't even get me started with size! I really defy to pay 40-50 Euro for a game which lasts barely 8 hours! Not only because I feel robbed... but because I don't feel like it. Where did the time go when games like Daggerfall or Baldurs Gate kept me playing for MONTHS? Those games weren't finished like a snack in a half weekend! It is a matter of a good story which can't be told in a few hours. I want a huge world to sink my teeth into for months and months, to discover every nook and edge, to follow the long labyrinthine turns and twists of sideplots, to see dozens of cities, forests and whatnot. I don't want to run through some short quest-tunnel like in the nefarious Dungeon Siege model, where all the time left and right are barriers I cannot cross.
And one thing I have to say is: why the devil is every second game today a modern military game? I mean, ok a lot of games involve killing, I don't mind that. But this sort of modern day warfare is just a tad too much real life world for me. I use games as a means of escapism, to dive into fantastic worlds, even if they are in darkest conflicts. But why did these "fukked up soldiers/mercenaries" type of game pop up like mushrooms in every place? I really wonder what that is saying about our days? I mean, ok, each to his. But what I see is: once modern warfare games where a TINY niche for some super-nerds. You know, those nerds among nerds, who played macho warrior in their dark rooms. I mean hey, each to his. But when today I go to any generic game website, 2/3rd of them are littered with soldiers or other modern war referrences. It's kinda depressing. Isn't there enough war in real life and news already, that we even have to PLAY war and solider? It's something that is just alien to me, as is this entire run-hide-snipe hyper hyper mentality of games where only gritty, dark modern reality is present. Where did all the dreams go? Where did wonderful stories and worlds like from "Lands of Lore" go? Sometimes, when I watch the new games presented at the E3 and in my stores, it's as if I was in coma 20 years and suddenly I awake to a game scene, which just by and large isn't mine anymore.
Games changed. They left me behind, and there are only very few games every year which sort of interest me still. I am profoundly convinced games lost a LOT when they started to move towards a mass market thing, trying to please way too many different people, ending up being only the smallest common ground and simplified to small fast food snacks.
People don't ask questions to get answers - they ask questions to show how smart they are. - Dogbert