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The Crap Is Back, And The Shit Still Smells
May 1st 2000, 23:03 CEST by jeet

As soon as I stood downwind, I could smell the stench of it. The foul odor oozed forth from every nook and cranny that my adept olfactory sense could enter. I knew the scent immediately. An old friend. A memory not long past, still warm and moist in my squishy gray matter. Ah, the sweet stench of soulful shit. A pungent power, not to be overlooked. Nor could it be missed. I felt it wash over me, bathing me in its seething caress. My thoughts flashed back. Deep. Hard. Home.

I wasn't notified by anyone. No one sought me out. No heralds. No trumpets. No Appalachian banjos. Nothing. Still, I found it. The glorious PlanetCrap had emerged from the steaming pile of shit, like some excrement fetished phoenix, and I wanted nothing more than to leap into that pile of smoldering putrescence to reclaim my rightful place in the bowels from whence it came. And then there was Morn.

In a gesture that would bring blush to Himmler and tears to Saddam, he tormented me. Mocked my advances. Like so many bitches before him, he slinked PlanetCrap up to me - and just as my trembling hand reached out to embrace the unforgotten love - he cackled mercilessly with glee and drew further back. Laughing at my pain and reveling in my exclusion, he eventually let loose the noose and bade me to join, once again, in his reindeer games. Undaunted, I happily leapt back into the fray.

Blah, blah, blah. Ok, enough of that horseshit. Let me get on with posting a real topic here. I only wish I had something nifty and catchy to talk about. Funny thing is, though, nothing freaking interesting has happened in gaming lately. Oh sure, Daikatana went gold....I guess that's news. Then again, I didn't have much interest when the Iceman was unearthed, and he was newer news than the Big "D" any day. Not that I have any preconceptions about the quality of Daikatana, mind you. It might very well turn out to be a great game. Then again, it could end up being more of an Oprah-sized bowl of steaming shit. Point is, I really don't give a rat's ass. Let's move on.

Adventure games. Dead? Yeah, I'd say so. Will they rise again? Sure, everything old becomes new again at some point. Will it happen anytime soon? Nyah. Why not? Many reasons...not the least of which is Lucasarts. Yep. They blow now. With the departure of Tim Shaffer, we've lost the last great bastion of hope for quality adventure games. Come to think of it, Grim Fandango was the last Lucasarts release that didn't make me want to paint up in blackface and take a stroll around Compton singing Al Jolson ditties just to end it all. What the hell happened to this company?

Lucasarts used to be one of the big boys. Contenders. Back in the olden days, we only had a few major players in the PC arena. There were the Big Three - Sierra, Lucasarts, and Origin. Virtually anything these companies produced back then was quality. Must have's. What the ramma-lamma-ding-dong went wrong?

How can you take three distinct powerhouses of the industry and turn them into shivering shells of wasted silicon? I'm not really sure, to be honest. Of course, being the fuck that I am, my first instinct is to blame the hell out of marketing - but only in two out of these three cases. Let's examine them each individually and briefly.

Origin. We create(d) worlds. (Now we create patches.) I always had a love/hate relationship with Origin. Ok, well, that's not quite true. I loved Origin right up until Ultima V. I only had 48k in my Franklin Ace 1000 (that's an Apple ][ compatible for all you kiddies), and U5 demanded that I have 64k. Bastards. So, I upgraded. And so began my love/hate. With each new Origin game released, it was Upgrade-Or-Don't-Play time. Still, their games were great and worth upgrading for. Today, though, it's more like "Buy and Hope You Can Play" time. If you can't, then Origin will be happy to release a patch or two - but that's about it. Hope it helped, get back to your Lincoln Logs (tm). I enjoyed the Wing Commander series, but my true love was Ultima. Oddly enough, the last Ultima considered to be truly great (ie, not suck donkey balls) was Ultima 7 (and Ultima 7 Part Two, which is altogether odd and disturbing being a second part to a part seven, and not a part 8 entirely whole and to itself - but we'll skip that for now). I've said this before, but is it just a coincidence, I'm wondering, that U7 was the last Ultima produced before Origin went to bed with Electronic Arts? Sure, technically EA had ownership during U7.5, but it was too soon to have a great impact on titles. What happened with Ultima 8? A mixture of arcade elements, dumbing down of the RPG aspects, and mass appeal factored in. Mass appeal. Remember that, it will come up later. (Mass Appeal is defined as, "That which marketing has deemed worthy of drawing in a large demographic, no matter how hair-brained or half-cocked the proposal may be.") Origin lost Chris Roberts long ago. Sure, his movie tanked, but fortunately it didn’t put an end to his career. (Unfortunately, though, it didn’t put an end to Freddie Prinze, Jr.’s career either. Dammit.) Digital Anvil looks to have some promising titles in the works. Starlancer, for example, is pretty fun. Weird, though, how many new titles nowadays claim to go back to the roots of something else. It's almost as if some people in the industry think they've been making shit for the past few years. Spooky. Origin has also lost Garriot, who hopefully finally wised up. (Or maybe he just got tired of catching the occasionally brief gulp of air in between EA blowjobs.) What will he go on to do? Who knows? Who cares? Maybe on his next tour of the Titanic, he’ll come up with some spark of ingenuity that will ignite in him, one again, the flames of creative force! (Or maybe he’ll just feel his girlfriend up in the submersible.)

Lucasarts. Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Monkey Island, Maniac Mansion (and Day of the Tentacle), Zak McKraken, Grim Fandango, Sam and Max - the list of old Lucasarts titles is a list of A quality, top rated gaming goodness. Mixed in with their older games are two shitboxes. Pipe Dreams and Night Shift. Granted, Night Shift smelled a bit less than Pipe Dreams, but it's really just comparing ripe shit to shit that's been sitting around for a couple of days (and on low heat in the oven.) These two games were "experiments" in mass appeal games. They sucked. Did anyone heed this warning? Apparently not. Take the latest Indy game. Hack. Remove Indy model, insert big tittied chick with a blue shirt and short shorts. Replay same tired puzzles. Star Wars Episode 1: Racer, and the Episode 1: Episode 1 game. (The first Episode 1, Episode 1 game, mind you. Not the second Episode 1: Episode 1 game known as Episode 1: Obi Wan, which I guess would really be the third Episode 1: Episode 1 game if one factors in the Episode 1: Jedi Power Battles Episode 1 game. Uh....try not to get too confused, my monkey friends.) No substance. Not even very fancy graphics. Mass appeal. Suckshit. Mass exodus from company. Now we have a new Monkey Island game announced. Of course, it’s not only Monkey Island in trendy 3-D – but it’s also Monkey Island minus not only Ron Gilbert (who was absent from Monkey Island 3, the weakest game in the series) but minus Tim Shaffer as well. Maybe we can look forward to a polygonal Guybrush pushing blocks around in an attempt to open the secret door into the polygonal LeChuck’s hideout. Oooh, what splendor!

Sierra. Poor Sierra. They just started making bad games, pure and simple. I don't think it was any real fault of marketing, this time. They just never really caught on to what the new people wanted. Too much of the same, too little innovation. And what was with their "Authentic Flesh Tone" attitude with their characters for awhile? I remember upgrading to VGA so that I would no longer have pink or red characters (that's what you got with EGA....16 colors. Before that, Ye Gods....CGA. Let's move on. Please.) So what did Sierra do? They used the 256 colors to paint in shades of pink and red. Bastards. Sierra’s later adventure games began to give the genre a bad rap. Old school is fun – as long as it stays old school. Making a tired design on a dated “engine” (I use the term very loosely here) adds up to the subtraction of fun from the title. Eventually, and too late, Sierra realized the error of their ways. Still being quite sharp, they realized that they ought to try new designs and ideas. They started to branch out. Now, we have occasional good titles hit like Homeworld and Half Life. It should be said, however, that Sierra isn't actually making these quality titles. They're simply publishing. It would be wrong, today, to call Sierra a development company. They shovel out the work of others. Sadly, this is what had to be done for them to stay alive. At least they realized that they were shooting their own feet and decided to stop pulling the trigger. That's got to count for something, eh?

I may be nostalgic for the old times, but for those of you that were around with me back then, you will remember how it used to be. Sure, there were bad games on store shelves. No one paid for them. You waited until a hot game from one of the Big Three hit, and then you devoured it. There was simply no choice of whether or not to buy one of their releases. You knew it was going to be good. Today, it would seem, it doesn't matter what company’s name is on the outside of the box. Chances are the company you think developed the game didn't. You have no real way of knowing quality outside of pre-release hype. Today, even when a company doesn't have a good track record, if a game has enough pre-release hype - people will buy it. Don't believe me? It's true. People will buy Daikatana. The prosecution rests.

I gots a great big bag of candy right here with your name on it…

Uncle Yes, That Earlier Bit About Daikatana Possibly Being Good Was Sarcastic Jeet
Home » Topic: The Crap Is Back, And The Shit Still Smells

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#1 by "scud"
2000-05-01 23:13:13
YAY first..

Anways..onto posting something useful. As many have noticed Monkey Island 4 is soon to be coming out. Which is all good as that game was damn fun. But where the hell is Sam and Max 2? That game was so goddamn funny I can remember sitting in my chair seriously laughing my ass off at some of the lines in it. It was just <i>that</i> funny.

And now...Lucasart is just churning out crap after crap Star Wars games..hell for as long as I can remember they've been churning 'em out. Can I say Rebel Assault 1 and 2? Bleh...piss poor games with a damn good name attached to 'em. I think around that time Lucasart at least started to go down the hole.

With origin I think it was the Wing Commander series..true they were somewhat good, but goddamn did the cost a lot to make..and well there wasn't anything <i>new</i> in them... :|
#2 by "Rantage"
2000-05-01 23:19:57
Did I miss the point to this thread somewhere along the long rambling road?<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#3 by "scud"
2000-05-01 23:25:15
he's bitching about how nowadays you're never sure which game you buy is going ot be good or not. Whereas in the old-days you were almost guaranteed to get a good game if Lucasart, Sierra or Origin made it....i think.. :|<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#4 by "El Asso Wipo"
2000-05-01 23:31:22
I think the KISS game will be a great game... FOR ME TO POOP ON!
#5 by "Desiato"
2000-05-02 00:50:11
Perhaps, Rantage...perhaps -- but the important thing is Uncle "Sarcastic with a M*****F*****G Capital S" Jeet is back....kickass..

Before I get all suffused with the happy-daffy-nostalgia-gaming-syndrome, I do admit that there were times when you didn't have to worry about cowpies (bitwise) in the games you were buying back then.

However I do remember that there seemed to be a sharp delineation between something that would run, or something that would just crash outright and you could never get past the splash screen...(or maybe that was my hardware...oh well, the rose-colored glasses just won't let me see the flaws...heh)

Now you buy a game and hope it doesn't have something that will break your experience, jarring you from an immersive role in the game.

I would just be happy if a remake (a good one) was made of "Rise Of The Dragon" by Sierra...damn thing was Blade Runner type of city combined with a sharp plot -- I could never save my girlfriend from the mutating-drug-injector, but that's beside the point.

One thing about Star Wars. It pains me to realize that the marketing forces at work can take even a great idea and slowly grind it down into a grey mush. (As I look at my 1979 original die-cast Millenium Falcon on top of my computer tower...*sniff*)

Star Wars is becoming like the Star Trek franchise. It's recycling old material into a fraken-film-licensing-borg entity that just tends to replicate the same old shit over and over.

I liked the original vision George, but take a few hints from other creative people.... TAKE RISKS and BRANCH OUT. I don't think I can stand another treatment of an extended plotline "Star Wars" style. Case in point -- merchandising wrecking what could've been cool....

Star Wars Pod have got to be shitting me. Take the ONE GREAT PREMISE IN THE ENTIRE MOVIE and reduce it to a bunch of poly-reduced whirling vibrators with a alpha-binding beam? You're kidding right? Where's the scale? Where's the feeling that I'm gonna get SUCKED up into the massive ducts of someone gaining ground behind me?

There is SO much that could've been done with TODAY'S technology there that I can't even begin to fathom what happened.

There I am -- playing this game, feeling like I'm trying to get two toy dogs to behave so I can take a quick spin around the rocky backyard. No sense of real speed, and none of the danger that could've made the game great.


Well -- I'm too disgusted to continue, so I leave it to my capable PlanetCraptotians...

#6 by "Bad_CRC"
2000-05-02 00:55:00
<quote>I wasn't notified by anyone. No one sought me out. No heralds. No trumpets. No Appalachian banjos. Nothing. Still, I found it. </quote>
Me too.  Some kind of sixth sense I guess.   Scary.   I just happened to come here just a couple days after it came back up, and I don't know why.
*spooky noises*
#7 by "Seth Krieg"
2000-05-02 01:05:06
Ohhh, that's what the smell is. I thought it was that nasty broccoli my wife had left in the kitchen sink two nights ago.

#8 by "Darkseid-[D!]"
2000-05-02 01:06:40
/me shoots down one of Jeets comments

seeing as Tomb Raider was a TOTAL Indiana Jones rip off.....

kinda hard to rip off a game thats already ripped off your idea isnt it...

Adventure games are still around, but theyre becoming more first person adventure. ALone in the Dark series, System Shock, Haunted Hill and a recent one by Gremlin whos name completely escapes me at the moment.

Blade Runner recently, by Westwood, Simon the Sorcer 1,2,3 .. The Discworld games, the marvelous Mannie Cavelera (in a Lucasarts game).. shit headache .. cant think of name.

THing is, adventure games _are_ still around, but theyre just not as popular any more. Having said that classics like Sam n Max and Monkey Island STILL tickle the old funny bone.  I personally blame the likes of Myst and Riven and the continuation/bastardisation of Zork for their demise.

#9 by "Rantage"
2000-05-02 01:08:54
<b>#6</b> "Bad_CRC" wrote...
Me too.  Some kind of sixth sense I guess.   Scary.   I just happened to come here just a couple days after it came back up, and I don't know why.  

I took the <I>red</I> pill, and found myself here.  I'm still wondering if it was a poor decision. :)<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#10 by "Seth Krieg"
2000-05-02 01:21:34
/me waits for the person is stupid enough to actually get on stage after Jeet's opening act. :P

#11 by "Clorox"
2000-05-02 01:37:46
A nice personal perspective.  Wildly inaccurate and often plain wrong, but still interesting as an amusement.  It's always nice to know the story on companies from those who don't (obviously) know anyone that has worked there.

Regarding the perceptions of the market (everybody loves patches, etc.), that's pretty easy to see, and nothing we haven't heard before.
#12 by "G-Man"
2000-05-02 01:55:55
Anyone remember when Carmack tried to sell iD software to Sierra... and Sierra turned them down?

Talk about a turning point.. I remember Ken Williams quoted somewhere saying something like "We don't think this whole 3-D thing will go anywhere."

Which reminds of when some guys at Infocom, when asked about the rise of graphical adventures, said "We don't think these graphics will go anywhere.. people who want graphics will play pacman."

 - []
#13 by "Rantage"
2000-05-02 01:57:26
<b>#12</b> "G-Man" wrote...
Talk about a turning point.. I remember Ken Williams quoted somewhere saying something like "We don't think this whole 3-D thing will go anywhere."

And why should it, when nobody will ever need more than 640k? :)<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#14 by "seh"
2000-05-02 02:17:33
Bah Jeetah!

Personally I'd say that adventure games are still around, just in a more popular format. We had film noir, now we have Scream, we had Monkey Island, now we have Resident Evil.

Take a look at RE (and games like RE) you'll see a LOT of similarities to adventure games. Even the platform genre has taken in some elements from the "old style" adventure games in it's progression into 3D.

Is this such a terrible thing? IMO (and my opinion is <i>always</i> right *g*), No. Although I'd love to see more games like Sam and Max and Day of the Tentacle, I also think some of the games that are incorporating adventure concepts into games more focused on action and atmosphere are a great mix.

Now for the bit that people will probably shout at me for, mass appeal. Basically, shup jeet :)

Getting anyone to admit to being part of the "masses" aint easy. No one likes to believe they're just one of many (unless yer a Star Trek freak at a Star Trek convention, desperately trying to hold off insanity through boredom by being a Borg or whatever), but in almost all cases they are. Yes Jeet, this means you :)

OK, marketing people do have a tendancy to be bastards, but they wouldn't be marketing people if they didn't know what will appeal to the largest demographic available. By definition the largest demographic available will include you (the average/hardcore gamer) a lot of the time.

If you don't like these "mass appeal" games you surely must be odd, obviously no one's gonna make a game for odd people, when there are lots more normal people with loadsa cash they didn't spend being odd in a left-handed shop to sell a game to (pinch of salt required).

If you play games regularly then quite a few of these "mass appeal" games must be appealing to you, therefore their plan worked and they tricked you no matter how clever and individual you thought you were :)

To sum it up, I'd rather games were developed for mass appeal than Jeet appeal ;)
#15 by "UncleJeet"
2000-05-02 02:19:21
Clorox -
    By all means, tell me where the just plain wrong parts are!  If I was dead-ass wrong, I'd like to know about it.  (No sarcasm here.)  I'll admit, I don't know anyone that has worked at the companies.  (Of course, not many English Professors technically knew Shakespear...yet they continue to talk about him.)  Ok, a tiny bit of sarcasm has to creep in.  Seriously, though.  Two sided discussion is only fun and beneficial when both sides are discussed.  If you see points that are wrong in anything I write, then I want you to point them out specifically and steer me in the right direction.  Don't just get all huffy puffy.

     I love adventure games.  Adventure games, more or less, kept PC's floating as a gaming platform in the dark times when video games were pretty much considered dead.  I know there are still a few games out there that pop up each year - and they can be fun.  However, there aren't really any in the forseeable future that are must have titles.  The jury is way out on Monkey Island 4 for me.  I just don't know if the Lucasarts of now can pull it off.

Come sit on my lap...
<b>Uncle Jeet</b>
#16 by "UncleJeet"
2000-05-02 02:27:34
Seh -

  Brit wanker.  You've got the whole mass appeal concept messed up.  What games, for the past several years, been the top selling titles?  Wal-Mart $20 specials.  Hunting games.  Compilations of recycled games that weren't all that great when they were almost state-of-the-art.  That sorta thing.  That's mass appeal on the one hand.  On the other, we have what you're saying.  Take what's mega-popular now and mix in the "soul" of what our niche market likes.  This is where the truly great stuff comes from.  More often than not, though, it ends up being more like taking a song written for Korn and rewriting it for N-Sync.  It just plain don't work.
    As for the whole, "I DUN WANNA BE A LEMMING" thing....that really doesn't come into play here at all.  I play computer games, therefore I am part of the masses that play computer games.  I'm not talking about wanting to be "different" from the masses and have these special games made for me and the few people out there like me.  I'm saying that, most times when you look at marketing data and demographics and try to turn around and make a game/movie/anything based almost entirely on that - you're gonna make shit.  Remember Crystal Pepsi?  New Coke?  Batman And Robin?  Virtually any movie-license game?  Etc...
    Do ya see the point now?  DO YOU?!  <i>oh, bolocks</i>

Your candy's in my pants...
<b>Uncle Jeet</b>
#17 by "Seth Krieg"
2000-05-02 02:37:00
Ok - points worth argueing.

Sierra doesn't make games anymore - lies.

Extreme Bull hunting, and Kings Quest Mask of Eternity. Buying developers and publishing their games, last time I checked counted as being developed "in house".

It isn't *known* whether Garriot left, or he was fired. It makes more sense that 'he left', but still - we don't know <b>for sure</b>.

Am I off my rocker, or does understanding how LucasArts are naming their Ep 1 games <b><i>not confusing at all?</b></i>

Monkey Island 1 and 2 were 'made' by Ron Gilbert and Tim Shaffer, this is the same pitfall people are chastizing Ion for falling into with calling their games "John Romero's Daikatana" or *cough* "Todd Porter's Dominion"... which easily made back its development costs, btw. There were a *lot* of people responsible for those 2 games. Tell me this Jeety, if Monkey Island 4 turns out to be good, what will you say?

Every Lucas Arts game since Grim Fandango has sucked. Bah, every game that Factor 5 has developed have been incredibly fan. Oh, and X-Wing alliance? You have a way with words Jeet, but you are dead wrong with that point.

/me remembers the days of UnrealAudio being cancelled because the crew couldn't stop playing Ultima Online...

Ironic, eh?<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#18 by "Seth Krieg"
2000-05-02 02:50:49
When I look at LucasArts I see two drastically different companies. I see the company that has developed Jedi Knight, Tie Fighter, the risk taking side. And I see the other side that shovels out crapware after crapware cashing in on their brand.

Lucas will never have underestimate the power of the dark side. :P

As long as Lucas in interested in making titles like Obi Wan and MI 4, they're going to be successful, in my opinion of course. Simply because they can afford to take that risk every so often, they have that singular buffer no other company can lay claim to, they have the Star Wars brand.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#19 by "seh"
2000-05-02 02:56:00
Jeet you texan beast,

I see your point yes. But the fact is that the reason these games are best sellers is because people BUY them.

If people buy them you can assume that in most cases they like and enjoy them.

I'd also be pretty certain in guessing that the last 10 games you bought were all at least top 10 titles within the few months they were released. I can assure you that most of these titles that you bought were also built to an extent, to fit a demographic and conform to what marketing data says will sell.

Gamers in general aren't a very sparse and differing group of people. There's no room for true niche releases as you would find in film or music. There are however, titles which take ideas that may appeal to a small number of gamers and make them into mass appeal games.

<QUOTE>I'm saying that, most times when you look at marketing data and demographics and try to turn around and make a game/movie/anything based almost entirely on that - you're gonna make shit.</QUOTE>

Ok, but pretty much everything <I>is</I> built upon marketing data, often entirely. Maybe that explains why so much stuff is pure crap, but we still buy it, so we must like it.

As for film licenses, yeah. But why should publishers invest money into a game that's gonna sell and chart well whether or not it's any good, what benefits there for them?

One exception is obviously GoldenEye. If GoldenEye had been produced for a system that was already well established and didn't need proving with a real "killer app" I doubt Rare would have found themselves developing it and I betcha it woulda been shite (look at Tomorrow Never Dies on PSX).
#20 by "Apache"
2000-05-02 03:45:57
nice bitch x impression jeet ;)
#21 by "UncleJeet"
2000-05-02 03:51:21
Seth -

    I'll ignore the Extreme Bull Hunting game....*shudder*  But yep, you're right, they did develop Mask.  I personally despised the game, but Sierra itself did make it.  I believe Sierra also made Swat 3 recently in-house.  So ok, you're right, they do still make games.  But the vast majority of their releases are made by other companies.  And no, releasing a game made by another company is publishing, not developing.  Now, if it's a daughter company fully owned by the parent, then maybe.  But that's getting into delicate symantics.  Back in the day, Dynamix was owned by Sierra, but Dynamix games were Dynamix games.  The distinction was clear.

    No, how Lucasarts is naming the EP1 games isn't really confusing....just outright annoying.

    As for the Monkey Island games and who made them....this is personal bias coming through.  I don't consider artists and programmers as "making" an adventure game.  The maker(s) of the game is the person that wrote the damned thing.  I'm all for writer recognition, though, so I'm biased.  However, in the adventure game context (please don't start talking first person shooters and such), the writer is the cornerstone of the game.  Saying that the programmers and artists "made" the game just as much as Ron Gilbert would be like saying that the set designers "made" The Godfather.

    I honestly think everything that LucasArts has put out since Grim Fandango has been severely lackluster.  I have X-Wing was a pale shadow of X-Wing and Tie Fighter, though.  Plus, it was one of the first Lucasarts games I had ever played where I could not get past a play stopping bug.  (Something about taking some piece of cargo someplace....if you dropped it to keep it from blowing up if it got hit, fought off the bad guys, and then picked it back up - it wouldn't register that you had the cargo.)  X-Wing Alliance is more quality than the more recent releases, though - I'll give you that.  Chalk my dislike of it up to personal preference, I guess.  But, given the choice at the time, Freespace was much more engaging for me.

  Yeah, we cancelled a UA episode once because of Ultima Online.  That was my fault.  I killed Sumbry's llama.

Wanna go for a ride?
<b>Uncle Jeet</b>
#22 by "UncleJeet"
2000-05-02 04:05:11
Seh -

  Dammit, limey.  Shush already.  Get thee to the pub!

  Out of the last ten games I picked, only two were in the top ten selling games:  The Sims and Age Of Kings.  Lots of Pokemon games were in the top ten, though....

  Have you ever stopped to think, though, that the *only* reason we buy and play much of the stuff that we do - is because we don't have much of a choice?  I mean, it's kinda like eating Spam.  You're going to learn to enjoy it if it's the only thing available in the bomb shelter.  Look at Unreal Tournament.  It took the deathmatch idea and made it fresh again.  It did what Unreal was supposed to do.  It made people want to play it instead of, or in addition to, Quake.  But, had it not come out - had Half Life not hit, had Tribes never seen the light of day....we would all be content to keep playing Wolfenstein 3D over and over again with each new FPS released.

    I don't agree that everything is built on marketing data.  I don't think that there were any large numbers indicating that the time was right for a suburban life simulator when Will Wright began to cook up The Sims.  I don't think that anyone was crying out for an R/C race game before ReVolt hit the shelves.  What I'm saying - and what you're missing - is that a game made based off of the idea of creating something truly fun that the developers would like to play will, nine times out of ten, be a better game than one made based on and around what current demographic research says will sell well.  Witness Myst clones.  Doom clones.  Full Motion Video games.

    I fully see what you're saying.  Nothing will get the funding if it doesn't hold some sell-appeal.  This is true.  I'm talking about the genesis and the motivation of the product.  I highly doubt that, in the age of deathmatch online demand, a marketing department looked at its research and came to the conclusion that a single player motivated game about a scientist playing soldier would be a sure fire hit.  Rather, I think some creative and talented folks came up with the idea - saw it was good, new, and different - then found the money based of its merit.

    So, yes - every game needs funding.  Funding comes from pleasing the suits.  Demographics motivate the suits.  However, a game spawned from demographics will never be able to compete on the same level as a game spawned from creativity and integrity that somehow found the money.

Is your mommy home, little girl?
<b>Uncle Jeet
#23 by "Seth Krieg"
2000-05-02 04:30:41
Jeet: I suppose that old saying, 'to each his own' applies then. I really liked X-wing Alliance, it was an honest to goodness throwback to Tie Fighter. Probably the most played game I currently own (actually, I don't own it, I have had that came stolen from me two f'n times, by two different people no less) Yes stolen, I've started locking my doors when I leave for work.

So even if XWA was another of the LucasArts "cash in" titles, it gave me enough faith to put the next SW space sim on my 'must buy' list. Then again, I've never played the Freespace games - Hell, I've never played the Wing Commander games, so I guess that makes me some kind of 'mass appeal gamer' who became a 'hardcore' gamer thanks to some 'mass appeal' games. I can't claim to have my roots of multiplayer gaming back in that old Atari game M.U.L.E, the first multiplayer game I played was that downhill marble racing game on the NES. The second MP game I played was Street Fighter. The third, Quake.

And I'd be willing to bet that a fair amount of people who post here are the same way. Sure, the first computer I owned was an 80/86 with some pathetically small amount of ram. Still, the only games I had on that computer were (ta'da) Space Quest 2 (which I didn't buy, a friend lent me) and some really bad space invaders clone. Neither were 'good' enough to really draw me in to computer gaming like I was into console gaming.

Bah, I don't even know where I'm trying to go with this anymore. I think it had something to do with the good/bad game ratio being about the same today as it was ten years ago. We have a lot of good games we can go spend our money on. We have a lot of bad games we can go spend our money on. The only thing that has really changed about that is the quantity, 10 years ago I might have said "We have some good games we can spend our money on, and we have bad games we can spend our money on." A hundredth of a dollar goes to the person who sees the point I'm trying to make. :) <I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#24 by "Jafd"
2000-05-02 05:26:00
<QUOTE>Am I off my rocker, or does understanding how LucasArts are naming their Ep 1 games not confusing at all?<QUOTE>

#25 by "Clorox"
2000-05-02 05:29:48
Jeet, please use lots of sarcasm!  It's about the only way to keep this stuff entertaining.

My carpool companions were haunting my office door and I had to split, I was not trying to one-off in that post.  Huffy puffy was rushed.  Hell, I still thought you were talking about adventure games especially.

Your Big Three makes more sense, constrained by: longtime developers of premiere titles, that still make games, but that now blow.   (How does EA, itself, completely escape when you're actually pointing right at it?)

All three of those companies had spotty records. Someone did say <i>Sierra</i>, didn't they?  Off the top of my head, Strike Commander... Outlaws... Knights of Legend... they sour the flavor of the "good ole' days."  And I wish I was so lucky as to remember a time when bad games didn't get bought.  I also feel that the games you use to illustrate your points, often miss other co-existing titles that do not agree with your timeframes of unhappiness.

But, on a second read, I see where you're coming from and you're not "wrong."  Actually, it's funny how games really are the products of their development teams. I've worked with people from all three; though mostly Sierra, since it seems to be a very popular place to run from. The problems are more complicated and less appropriate for me to talk about, other than generally.  Bad karma.

And in general, I could do worse than to look at the products of their problems, as you have... so... (especially of the soon-to-be-released).

(Hey, you don't even mention Dynamix!)
#26 by "Clorox"
2000-05-02 05:34:17
Um... Knight's of Legend was Origin, wasn't it?  Or was ita New World title?  That would make me feel silly.
#27 by "UncleJeet"
2000-05-02 05:38:03
Clorox -

  Heh, ok....maybe I should take off my rose-colored glasses.  You're absolutely right - all of the three companies had shitty games back in the good old days.  My point, though, was this: today, hardly <i>any</i> of their games hold a candle to the quality of <i>most</i> of their older games.  The whole "soul" of the piece was to say that games made by developers that believed in the concept and in that what they were doing would turn out to be fun and engaging far exceed those games made from and by marketing data.  Granted, I never actually said that exactly in the essay, but I have a habit of not actually outright stating my point.

  The essays that I write should, more often than not, be taken with a hefty grain of salt.  My hand sweeps wide in such large generalizations that only a great fool would take any specifics that I say (most of the time) as gospel.  I just take a point that I believe, at its core, is right and then write a general diatribe on it.  Then I never mention the actual point.  Hrmmm, maybe I need some pills.

  Anyway, point is I agree with you.  There were bad games all along, and I should have done more to mention them.  Still, look at the market today and look at it, at the least, ten years ago.  Much of the <i>spark</i> and <i>quality</i> has fizzled.

Come.  Sit in my magic lap...
<b>Uncle Jeet</b>
#28 by "UncleJeet"
2000-05-02 05:41:19
Clorox -

  Weeeeel, since you mentioned it....Strike Commander and Knights Of Legend were Origin, Outlaws was Lucasarts (though I loved that game...but even then I couldn't say exactly why.)

Come on.  Tell Pinochio a lie.
<b>Uncle Jeet</b>
#29 by "RahvinTaka"
2000-05-02 05:59:13
Isn't it simply a case of selected meory. Since the dawn of time people have been pointing to the past saying how good it was back then. Everyone prefers to remember the god parts and forget the bad parts (rember bat-file hell ? :P).

Any change from the old brings some amount of fear and uncomfort (psychological fact) .... so I guess it not surprising ...

personally while I recognise there was a stage when there was more originality/innovation there was also a lot of crap. The technology race seems to have died down a bit and hopefully we will see some games based on gameplay rather than simulation/technology ... who knows ? :P<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#30 by "Clorox"
2000-05-02 06:13:43
¿Quality?  Wuzzat?

Someone needs to come up with a QA system that works.  I hear <i>having</i> one usually helps.  :)
#31 by "G-Man"
2000-05-02 06:19:22
You guys are clueless. This progression that you are noticing from fresh and innovative works of the heart, to mere imitations of a former glory, can be found in the life cycle of nearly any artist. The world of music offers many examples of bands whose earlier works were a million times better than their later crap. Or how about writers? Ernest Hemingway shot himself because he couldn't write anything but drivel anymore. iD software is quickly drifting down this road. It's the same place that Valve, Bungie, Blizzard et al will end up in. Even the mighty Sid Meier (you try spelling that name correctly) is showing his limits. (Sid Meier's Dinosaurs!)

This is nothing new... move on.

 - []

btw - it looks like Midway is going down the tubes.
#32 by "UncleJeet"
2000-05-02 06:37:40
G-Man -

  True.  But, at some point, everything old becomes new again and you re-start the cycle.  You think the bands you listen to today that are "innovative" are actually doing nothing more than combining sounds that have been around for ages?  I agree with you,'s all a cycle.  I just wish, as RahvinTaka pointed out, that graphics and whatnot would level out so that games are once again designed by design and not by technological splendor and that oft-mentioned (at least by me) marketing hooplah.

  Just to clarify, and to be somewhat of an ass, Hemmingway shot himself for many reasons....the least of which was the writing.  If only we had Prozac in those days....sure, we would have gotten none of his works - but hey, he would have died of old age (or at least from undiscovered side effects of said drug.)

I fill doughnuts with my own cream.
<b>Uncle Jeet</b>
#33 by "Kevin"
2000-05-02 08:09:52
Hmm... Jeet, did you miss a powerhouse?  Lets run through Bullfrogs stats:
Populous II
Powermonger WWI
Theme Park
Magic Carpet
Hi Octane
Syndicate Wars
Dungeon Keeper
Theme Hospital
Populous III
Dungeon Keeper II

Hmmmm... looking back on the list I may have made your point about the current state of developing games.
#34 by "Darkseid-D"
2000-05-02 10:34:22

Why do I have this picture of UncleJeet as the Ronald McDonald figure ... only wearing 'Crow' Makeup, whenever I read 'come sit on my lap'

Augh.... too much coffee

belay that, not ENOUGH coffee

#35 by "Chango"
2000-05-02 13:09:29
Am I off my rocker, or does understanding how LucasArts are naming their Ep 1 games not confusing at all?

-Nope, not confusing, just bordering on the rediculous.  Too many colons for my liking.

please see:  Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantome Menace: Racer

Much lamenting over Lucasart's fall from grace ensues in my household quite regularly.  If you want to know why, then just check out the development timeframes for theie latest batch of stinkeriffic SW:EI:TPM games.  Shee-it, they're banging them out every time George Lucas farts out a new franchise idea.  Don't get me wrong, I'm a big SW fan, EXTREMELY big SW fan, but the what with the new episodes taking a front seat and the games getting shat out with alrming regularity I can't help but feel as though I'm being DELIBERATLY taken for a ride.  What happened to games taking 2 years to put together?  We saw  3, possibly 4 Episode I games hit the shelves within a moth or two of each other.
Although I appreciate that this is down to Lucasarts cahsing in on the new movie, it doesn't excuse the lameness of the products we've seen.

Why has Episode I made so much fucking money?  The film is shit, the merchandising is shit, and the games are shit.  yet we've all bought into it yet a-fucking-gain.  Lucasarts knew they've got a licence to print money with a new franchise as big as SW:EI:TPM - and now I can't shake the feeling that Lucasarts is just a bunch of semi-decent coders and some backwards marketer sitting in the designers chair.

If I wanted a spacey racing game I'm going to buy Wipeout, If I wanted a 3rd person action adventure I go and play around with Lara for a bit.  If I want a 1st person shooter I play UT or Q3.  It seems Lucasarts' designer's job description simply reads "Rip off other people ideas (whatever is selling good at the moment) andstick a lightsaber in there.... oh, and DON'T forget the thememusic and upwards scrolly yellow text thingy".


#36 by "loonyboi"
2000-05-02 17:19:03
<b>#2</b> "Rantage" wrote...
<QUOTE>Anways..onto posting something useful. As many have noticed Monkey Island 4 is soon to be coming out. Which is all good as that game was damn fun. But where the hell is Sam and Max 2? That game was so goddamn funny I can remember sitting in my chair seriously laughing my ass off at some of the lines in it. It was just that funny. </QUOTE>

Yes. Yes it was.

Sam & Max Hit the Road was made because the creator of the strip was working as an animator at the time for LucasArts. He has since moved on, for better or worse, and the short-lived Sam & Max cartoon was the last we've seen of them in the last few years.

I don't know what he's up to now...but if ever there was a game that begged to be made (besides Suspended 2 or Phantasy Star 0) Sam & Max 2 is it. But I don't see it happening any time soon.

Oh least the original is still hi-larious.

#37 by "El Asso Wipo!"
2000-05-02 17:53:22
Yes, I own Sam & Max Hit the Road and it was a RIOT!  No other game has lived up to it's humor, none!
#38 by "Chango"
2000-05-02 18:23:40
I loved Sam And Max.

Couldn't get past that big ball of twine thing though.
#39 by "Ellusion"
2000-05-02 18:44:41
I said it before and I'll say it again, why all the so called 'innovation'. Why not simply run with a popular game for a while instead of continiously trying to re-invent the wheel? Heck, I want my Fallout 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7 - I don't give a rats ass if they use a 3d engine, have 'bumpymap bears' or whatever. Make some new scenery, a new story, and I'll surerly chip out the cash for it since I know what I'm buying. This goes for most games I guess.

And wouldn't this actually put some money in the coffers? I mean, the game is there already - all you have to do is add some new content. When the sales drop, then try something new. No need to make the "game of all times" every damn time you try. And maybe, just maybe it wouldn't take 4-5 years to make a fricking game it takes 10 hours to play through.

#40 by "Clorox"
2000-05-02 20:06:48
<quote>Why not simply run with a popular game for a while instead of continiously trying to re-invent the wheel?</quote>

This reminds me of this time I fell asleep on a bus.  When I woke up, I was disoriented and both legs were completely numb.  Lacking a plan, I stumbled onto the sidewalk and began waiting for another bus to return me; I thought I'd missed my stop by several miles. Still just semi-conscious and waiting for the feeling in my feet to return, I was only dimly aware of where I stood.  When my legs began burning and my head began to clear, I discovered I was standing in front of the building I had been headed for in the first place.

In this way I can imagine teetering here, looking about, and wondering why we don't have more sequels and clones.  Then, slowly, the warm, prickly pain will return, and you'll remember where you've been standing.  :)
#41 by "Rantage"
2000-05-02 22:01:11
<b>#36</b> "loonyboi" wrote...
<QUOTE> #2 "Rantage" wrote...
 Anways..onto posting something useful. As many have noticed Monkey Island 4 is soon to be coming out. Which is all good as that game was damn fun. But where the hell is Sam and Max 2? </QUOTE>

Good question, but it wasn't mine... :)<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#42 by "scud"
2000-05-03 07:03:20
It was me!!!!!<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#43 by "Vexor"
2000-11-24 01:12:53
<quote>I said it before and I'll say it again, why all the so called 'innovation'. Why not simply run with a popular game for a while instead of continiously trying to re-invent the wheel? Heck, I want my Fallout 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7 - I don't give a rats ass if they use a 3d engine, have 'bumpymap bears' or whatever. Make some new scenery, a new story, and I'll surerly chip out the cash for it since I know what I'm buying. This goes for most games I guess.</quote>

Okay then.  Which would you rather play?  Wolfenstein 8 or Deus Ex?  Final Fantasy 23 or Baulder's Gate?  Tomb Raider 12 or Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2?  And would you or would you not start to get annoyed if Diablo IV was still in 256 color 640x480 and still took place in the same big dungeon with three difficulty levels to "extend" the game?  I rest my case.

"I used to trust the media to tell me the truth, tell us the truth
But now I've seen the payoffs everywhere I look
Who do you trust when everyone's a crook?"
Queensryche - "Revolution Calling"

"Do you believe in forever?
I don't even believe in tommorrow"
Type O Negative - "Unsuccessfully Coping with the Natural Beauty of

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