Interesting prologue segment from The CRPG Book on Ultima IV and young players...

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Astirian, Jun 30, 2019.

  1. Gregg247

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    I'm 56, and still have all my home-made maps for the original Wolfenstein and Legend of Zelda and D&D, etc. My sister and I would go through these over and over again, looking for all the secret passages. It was fun....

    TBH, I'm not going to blame millennials for their lack of understanding of these older games. I much prefer games of today, where things are more straight-forward and direct. The older games required us to map them out and "think" simply because of the game limitations of the time. They didn't include in-game maps because they couldn't fit them in. They couldn't include mission quest lists because it was too memory-intensive. They required a written manual because those things didn't fit in the game itself.

    Today, I'd rather fire up a game, learn it from the in-game tutorial, make sure the keys/commands make some type of common sense, and play. It is a game, after all. The old games (or "classics") had fundamental shortcomings to them due to limited computer capacity and programming limitations. We older gamers sometimes get nostalgic for this and think of the struggles we originally had with these games as fun and educational. In many cases, it was. I liked figuring things out with my sister in our favorite games. However, I'll bet we would have had just as much fun if those games had all the bells and whistles that current games now have.

    These older games were a product of their time. If suddenly, all computers today got really dumb, and these older games were all that they could handle, I'm sure the younger generation would be able to adapt and learn how to make it through them eventually. Or else, maybe, actually go outside and play (something my parents were always squawking at me to do)! LOL
     
  2. Mishikal

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    I still have a pad of graph paper sitting in my office for this purpose. I used to use them to map out text based games like Eamon, Zork, etc. As much fun as it was, I also prefer the modern abilities to have maps, etc. ;)
     
  3. redfish

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    I never thought that myself, btw, even back in the day. Ultima V was a much better game in many ways, including accessibility to new players. Then, the series continue to improve even more with U6, and U7, although those games were lacking in other areas compared to previous titles.

    But Ultima IV was always severely lacking as a game and not easy to get into. If I were talking with someone who wanted to play the old Ultimas and didn't mind keyboard controls and EGA graphics the like, I would recommend they start with U5. The main achievements of U4 were the new things it brought to the table.

    Also, its easier to understand the Ultima games if you look at them through the perspective of modern survival games (which do have a gaming audience), because even though they have stories and quests, they were really essentially about exploration and adventuring. The quests in Ultima were just an aspect of the world exploration. And the materials in the box -- the lorebooks and maps -- did help jumpstart this, because it got you interested as a player in going out and exploring the world. The temptation to figure out what the "goals" of playing Ultima is based on the assumption that the story is supposed to be central to gameplay.

    I would note that over the course of Shrouds' development, I've had run-ins with new players who liked the experience of open-endedness. I even met someone who said something to the effect of "I'm lost -- I love it."

    At any rate, part of the challenge of the devs is to set the right expectations for new players. And I think the more the devs rely on hand-holding for the NUE, and the more they imitate other MMOs, the more they're not only setting the wrong expectations, but also by doing this working against the game is set up to work.

    One of the things that made U5 much more accessible than U4 btw, is the now dreaded word, 'immersion', and this made U6 more accessible than U5, and U7 more accessible than U6. Its one of the reasons why when a lot of people play Skyrim, they're content to not play the story but just roam around the countryside exploring and finding new things. Because immersion makes a game fun to get into. I mentioned on another thread that its typically old players, not new players, who are asking for less immersion.

    SotA, on the other hand, has gone the other way, and is heavily reliant on UI, windows, numbers, stats. None of this is 'new' to modern gaming. These types of RPGs also existed back in the DOS days. A lot of the things people are saying are 'modern' are not modern at all.

    In any case, I think making SotA work for a modern audience is less an issue of trying to imitate one subset of modern games -- specifically, theme park MMOs -- and more about understanding what its predecessors (Ultima games) were all about and what made them work. And, yes, I continue to think that on many fronts, the devs have been moving in the wrong direction.
     
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  4. Astirian

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    I really miss the big old boxes of goodies!

    I was the Mac kid with the weird black and white games like Dark Castle, Shufflepuck Cafe, Transylvania... The Hobbit. Oh and Glider! I remember my friend gave me Sherman M4 (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6014806/) for PC and I somehow got it running through an emulator on the shiny new color Mac! The game's colors looked psychedelic but it was playable! I really enjoyed figuring out how to play it without the manual. Something about the monkey brain and pistachio nuts.

    To be perfectly honest, I just can't go pre-VGA. My cut-off seems to be around 1993...

    I have a pretty hefty GOG collection and a lot of the time it's just easier to plonk myself down on the couch and fire up Assassin's Creed: Odyssey on the PS4. :)

    But this is why I love SotA, Anno 2205, Battle of Stalingrad, Wasteland 2 etc... I can get a richer/different experience from my PC. I never really liked the whole Console/PC parity thing personally. I guess that paradigm hit in the late 2000's, thinking around the time of Mass Effect and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

    System Shock (1994) is one of my all-time favourite games but I remember the control scheme and although it's a favourite, I can't bring myself to play it. Luckily for me, I backed the remake. :D

    I'm gonna give Ultima VI a crack one day and I'll see how I go... but I'd consider even that exercise to be reasonably retro hardcore at this stage of the gaming landscape.

    Yeah the last thing I want to see is a generic MMO, at that point, I'm out.
     
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  5. Kara Brae

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    When I started playing Ultima IV I was a young mom with a Commodore C64. There were no walkthroughs, no FAQs, and there was no Internet. It was the most fun I have ever had playing a computer game. I took notes, drew maps on graph paper and solved it with no outside help. I went on to solve Ultima V, Ultima VI and Ultima VII with no help other than the manual and even went back and solved Ultima I, II and III. I only stopped when Ultima VIII was released, which I hated because it required manual dexterity, which, alas, I have a dearth of.

    Now I am an old grandmother, and nostalgic for that inspiring gaming experience, I purchased several of the old Ultima games from gog.com. I started with Ultima IV. To my surprise, even without having to put in floppy discs and waiting ages for them to load, it wasn't fun. I am no less literate, but my expectations are different and it seemed like drudgery. There are so many other fun and interesting things I could be doing. I especially hated wasting time talking to every villager in the hopes of learning something significant. (I hated that in SotA, too!)

    It makes me sad that I couldn't re-capture the excitement of the early Ultima days.
     
  6. Gregg247

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    In the final analysis, I think the reason why SotA hasn't become the resounding success that we all hoped it would be all comes down to the earliest design decisions of "Let's make an old-school game that doesn't hold the players' hands, and forces them to figure everything out on their own." Taking computer/programming limitations from 1989 games and making them "features" in a 2019 game was a bad idea.
     
  7. Barugon

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    The no hand holding design was supposed to prompt exploration and discovery. It didn't work out in the instant gratification world we have today.
     
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  8. Cordelayne

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  9. Vladamir Begemot

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    The first game I played took 20 minutes to load on a tape drive.

    No way I'd do that again.

    The game industry has evolved, and so should we.
     
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  10. Floors

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    In my day, we didn't have the internet, we didn't have cell phones, we didn't have uber, we didn't have GPS, we didn't WFH, we didn't have the Cloud, we didn't have ANYTHING.

    But we learned how to play Ultima IV, and beat it, by watching people in the Library on Apple IIs. And by making maps and notes by hand. That is the stuff REAL Gamers are made of.

    Today's mollycoddled, attention-deficit, xanax'd out, triggered zombies wouldn't last a second compared to the weekend warriors of yesteryear !
     
  11. Lord Tachys al`Fahn

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    Weekend? There were weeks at a time where my existence was going to school, coming home, playing Ultima IV (and then V) until I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore, Sleep, Wake, Rinse and Repeat! *laughs*
     
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  12. Fenrus MacRath

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    In Zork 2 , once I figured out that the one area was a baseball diamond, I nearly died. It was so awesome , graph paper mapping is what showed that to me
     
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  13. Lord Tachys al`Fahn

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    How about the Unseen Terror puzzle in Enchanter? One of the first text adventures, or games of any sort, to have an AI of sorts, however limited. ;)