Cruisin' With The Top Down

Posted by dankempster (2252 posts) -
Fuck this game. Seriously.

The last ten days have witnessed one heck of a war of attrition. On one side, yours truly - a twenty-two-year-old white male whose love for games is apparently only outweighed by a masochistic desire to self-inflict horrific gaming punishment. On the other, Grand Theft Auto - the fifteen-year-old great grand-daddy of one of the industry's most popular critically-acclaimed franchises. It's been a hard-fought war, with great numbers of casualties on both sides. Today, however, I finally beat the game into submission, and have just about survived to tell the tale of my great battle. Sit down and get comfortable, folks. This could be a pretty long story.

My first ever exposure to the original Grand Theft Auto was at the tender age of eight years old, when a friend from school managed to sneak it into my house. Despite being the very antithesis of the tear-aways that most eight-year-old boys are, I remember being captivated by the game's premise - being able to steal any car, go anywhere, and do pretty much anything you pleased as long as it didn't abide by the word of law. Neither of us had any idea there were missions in the game, but we were too busy shunting cop cars and blowing up passers-by to care. My mum caught the two of us playing it and threw my friend out of the house, horrified at the content of the game on the screen. Three years later, my parents now considering me informed and mature enough to make my own decisions on such matters, I was allowed to own a copy of this controversial crime-'em-up. Now a more seasoned player, the structure of the game became apparent to me - do missions, get cash, hit target, complete level - but I struggled with the game's imprecision and never managed to make it out of Liberty City. For me, Grand Theft Auto was a fun distraction - something to turn on for twenty minutes just to blow shit up, rather than a game I'd ever seriously think about trying to beat.

I saw a lot of this...

Fast-forward ten years or so to March 24th, 2012 - the day this war began. I picked Grand Theft Auto up on a whim, purely to distract myself while I decided what game to play after finishing Tomb Raider: Underworld the day before. I took on some missions, ran a few errands around Liberty City and before I knew it, I'd cleared the first of the game's six scenarios. "Hmmm," I found myself thinking, "Perhaps there's a possibility of me seeing this through to the end." I threw myself into the second scenario, and managed to beat that with relative ease as well. With the city of San Andreas opened up and my gaming adrenaline pumping, I committed myself to seeing this rampage through to the very end. After all, I'd just powered through the first two scenarios with no trouble at all. And with only four more to beat, how hard could it be?

...and this

It wasn't long before I started to regret making that commitment. The remaining four scenarios posed me countless problems as I stumbled through issue after issue. Some of these were the fault of the game - the imprecision of the controls and top-down perspective making gunfights near-impossible, missions hitting dead ends and not letting me progress, vehicles becoming stuck on something and refusing to come free, and the game completely locking up on me on three separate occasions. Some of them were my own fault - stupidly giving away lives, or needlessly getting arrested two or three times in quick succession and watching my impressive score multiplier plummet back down to nothing. Individually, and with the exception of the lock-ups, each of these problems isn't that big a deal. When you run into several of them in the same scenario, however, Grand Theft Auto quickly starts to verge on either impossible or unplayable.

I think these issues are compounded by the way that Grand Theft Auto was designed. It's very much a product of its time, a fact illustrated by the emphasis it places on high-scores and near-perfect runs. As a result, it's very unforgiving. Fail a mission and it's gone forever, no do-overs. Get arrested without a Get Outta Jail Free Card in your possession and your multiplier is sliced in half, drastically damaging your future earning potential. Want to save your decent progress at the halfway point of a scenario? Forget it, you've got to beat it in one straight run-through. All this makes Grand Theft Auto a challenging game, but also a very frustrating one. At multiple points in my time with the game, I seriously considered just putting it down and walking away from it forever. What's even worse is that I can't tell you for certain what kept bringing me back to it. It certainly wasn't the fun-factor, because taking the game seriously pretty much removes that completely. The best answer I can give is that I guess I didn't want this game to beat me yet again. I'd suffered that fate at its hands far too many times to let it get away with it this time. Thankfully, I managed to beat it before it beat me.

An off-hand knowledge of respray shop locations is invaluable

I may not have enjoyed playing Grand Theft Auto, but there's a lot to like about it. Having to rely on an actual map for orientation rather than simply following a blip on an on-screen mini-map made for an interesting change in a game of this type, as well as being evocative of my recent time spent with Skyrim and my constant references to the paper map pinned to my bedroom wall. Similarly, there was a rewarding element to the trial-and-error approach I found myself taking with the game. Every time I failed a scenario, I at least came away from it with a better knowledge of the map I was on - memorised locations of armour and Get Outta Jail Free Cards, which missions were easy enough to prioritise so I could quickly boost my multiplier - that I could carry into my next attempt. I extracted a lot of pleasure from learning the game, even if that amounted to just rewarding satisfaction rather than actual enjoyment. Another thing I appreciated was the level of detail that went into the game. Attention to detail is something that the later GTA games are lauded for, but I'd never extended that association to the original until now. Little touches like the radio fading as your car passes under a bridge, or each car having an appropriately-themed radio station, are incredible inclusions in a game that seems so shallow and facile on the surface. When everything else about the game had my face contorting into twisted grimaces, noticing things like that was usually enough to relax it back into a smile.

So there you have it, folks - that's the tale of how I vanquished Grand Theft Auto from my Pile of Shame. Now it's finished, I feel I can say with confidence and certainty that I'm never ever going to play it again. It's 1969 London mission pack and bona-fide sequel are still sat there, taunting me, but I think it's going to be quite some time before I'm ready to tackle either of them, if I choose to at all. My next GTA experience will probably be when I pick up Vice City towards the end of the year to celebrate its tenth anniversary. In the meantime, there are other (hopefully less frustrating) games on that Pile that won't play themselves! Thanks for reading guys, I'll see you around.

Dan

---

Currently playing - Final Fantasy XIII-2 (X360)

#1 Posted by dankempster (2252 posts) -
Fuck this game. Seriously.

The last ten days have witnessed one heck of a war of attrition. On one side, yours truly - a twenty-two-year-old white male whose love for games is apparently only outweighed by a masochistic desire to self-inflict horrific gaming punishment. On the other, Grand Theft Auto - the fifteen-year-old great grand-daddy of one of the industry's most popular critically-acclaimed franchises. It's been a hard-fought war, with great numbers of casualties on both sides. Today, however, I finally beat the game into submission, and have just about survived to tell the tale of my great battle. Sit down and get comfortable, folks. This could be a pretty long story.

My first ever exposure to the original Grand Theft Auto was at the tender age of eight years old, when a friend from school managed to sneak it into my house. Despite being the very antithesis of the tear-aways that most eight-year-old boys are, I remember being captivated by the game's premise - being able to steal any car, go anywhere, and do pretty much anything you pleased as long as it didn't abide by the word of law. Neither of us had any idea there were missions in the game, but we were too busy shunting cop cars and blowing up passers-by to care. My mum caught the two of us playing it and threw my friend out of the house, horrified at the content of the game on the screen. Three years later, my parents now considering me informed and mature enough to make my own decisions on such matters, I was allowed to own a copy of this controversial crime-'em-up. Now a more seasoned player, the structure of the game became apparent to me - do missions, get cash, hit target, complete level - but I struggled with the game's imprecision and never managed to make it out of Liberty City. For me, Grand Theft Auto was a fun distraction - something to turn on for twenty minutes just to blow shit up, rather than a game I'd ever seriously think about trying to beat.

I saw a lot of this...

Fast-forward ten years or so to March 24th, 2012 - the day this war began. I picked Grand Theft Auto up on a whim, purely to distract myself while I decided what game to play after finishing Tomb Raider: Underworld the day before. I took on some missions, ran a few errands around Liberty City and before I knew it, I'd cleared the first of the game's six scenarios. "Hmmm," I found myself thinking, "Perhaps there's a possibility of me seeing this through to the end." I threw myself into the second scenario, and managed to beat that with relative ease as well. With the city of San Andreas opened up and my gaming adrenaline pumping, I committed myself to seeing this rampage through to the very end. After all, I'd just powered through the first two scenarios with no trouble at all. And with only four more to beat, how hard could it be?

...and this

It wasn't long before I started to regret making that commitment. The remaining four scenarios posed me countless problems as I stumbled through issue after issue. Some of these were the fault of the game - the imprecision of the controls and top-down perspective making gunfights near-impossible, missions hitting dead ends and not letting me progress, vehicles becoming stuck on something and refusing to come free, and the game completely locking up on me on three separate occasions. Some of them were my own fault - stupidly giving away lives, or needlessly getting arrested two or three times in quick succession and watching my impressive score multiplier plummet back down to nothing. Individually, and with the exception of the lock-ups, each of these problems isn't that big a deal. When you run into several of them in the same scenario, however, Grand Theft Auto quickly starts to verge on either impossible or unplayable.

I think these issues are compounded by the way that Grand Theft Auto was designed. It's very much a product of its time, a fact illustrated by the emphasis it places on high-scores and near-perfect runs. As a result, it's very unforgiving. Fail a mission and it's gone forever, no do-overs. Get arrested without a Get Outta Jail Free Card in your possession and your multiplier is sliced in half, drastically damaging your future earning potential. Want to save your decent progress at the halfway point of a scenario? Forget it, you've got to beat it in one straight run-through. All this makes Grand Theft Auto a challenging game, but also a very frustrating one. At multiple points in my time with the game, I seriously considered just putting it down and walking away from it forever. What's even worse is that I can't tell you for certain what kept bringing me back to it. It certainly wasn't the fun-factor, because taking the game seriously pretty much removes that completely. The best answer I can give is that I guess I didn't want this game to beat me yet again. I'd suffered that fate at its hands far too many times to let it get away with it this time. Thankfully, I managed to beat it before it beat me.

An off-hand knowledge of respray shop locations is invaluable

I may not have enjoyed playing Grand Theft Auto, but there's a lot to like about it. Having to rely on an actual map for orientation rather than simply following a blip on an on-screen mini-map made for an interesting change in a game of this type, as well as being evocative of my recent time spent with Skyrim and my constant references to the paper map pinned to my bedroom wall. Similarly, there was a rewarding element to the trial-and-error approach I found myself taking with the game. Every time I failed a scenario, I at least came away from it with a better knowledge of the map I was on - memorised locations of armour and Get Outta Jail Free Cards, which missions were easy enough to prioritise so I could quickly boost my multiplier - that I could carry into my next attempt. I extracted a lot of pleasure from learning the game, even if that amounted to just rewarding satisfaction rather than actual enjoyment. Another thing I appreciated was the level of detail that went into the game. Attention to detail is something that the later GTA games are lauded for, but I'd never extended that association to the original until now. Little touches like the radio fading as your car passes under a bridge, or each car having an appropriately-themed radio station, are incredible inclusions in a game that seems so shallow and facile on the surface. When everything else about the game had my face contorting into twisted grimaces, noticing things like that was usually enough to relax it back into a smile.

So there you have it, folks - that's the tale of how I vanquished Grand Theft Auto from my Pile of Shame. Now it's finished, I feel I can say with confidence and certainty that I'm never ever going to play it again. It's 1969 London mission pack and bona-fide sequel are still sat there, taunting me, but I think it's going to be quite some time before I'm ready to tackle either of them, if I choose to at all. My next GTA experience will probably be when I pick up Vice City towards the end of the year to celebrate its tenth anniversary. In the meantime, there are other (hopefully less frustrating) games on that Pile that won't play themselves! Thanks for reading guys, I'll see you around.

Dan

---

Currently playing - Final Fantasy XIII-2 (X360)

#2 Posted by believer258 (11800 posts) -

If you enjoy the idea of being asked to figure out where to go instead of being told where to go, look into Morrowind. It doesn't even place a marker on the map - the quest givers give you an objective and directions and send you on your merry way.

Just... make sure to download the Overhaul and a mod that makes you always hit things so the combat becomes bearable.

On Grand Theft Auto, I've barely actually played any of those games. I've played some of Vice City and San Andreas, but I haven't touched any of the others.

#3 Posted by theManUnknown (166 posts) -

Video games may be an art-form, but they always struck me as a rather unique one in how they often get more difficult to appreciate the older they are. Neither books, paintings, nor pieces of music experience this sort of degradation over time. I do think movies experience a somewhat similar phenomenon, however, in that for most modern viewers watching any material from the golden age of Hollywood (not to mention the silent era) cannot help but feel like a chore to some extent.

I suppose this is appropriate, considering video games and film could be said to be the two genres of art most tied to technology. It makes me wonder just how accessible the current generation of video games is going to be several decades or so down the line.

#4 Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw (6155 posts) -

I think I was fourteen-ish when these came out. My parents knew my brother and I were somewhat respectable young adults with decent heads on our shoulders, so the media outrage over the violent content never really bothered any of us. But I distinctly remember being shocked and amused at the game's nose-thumbing towards all things decent. Running over a line of monks to get a score multiplier, trashing cop cars, hitting pedestrians, it was all crazy stuff at the time. I mean, sure, you had stuff like Carmageddon & Postal around that same time, but nothing drew the attention of gamers and the media like those games.

Looking back, as much as I didn't care for GTAIV, all of the "modern" games of the series are stunning leaps in terms of gameplay advancements - and not just in terms of the 3D gameplay, either. As you say, the original GTA games demanded perfection on a level that wasn't even fun. Scrapping that points-based system for the mission-centered GTAIII must have had the developers and publishers holding their breaths when they first developed the ideas. It is, almost without question, the single greatest leap of gameplay advancement in the history of any franchise.

Moderator
#5 Posted by mosespippy (4119 posts) -

It took me 9 years to figure out that you could save your progress in GTA2 and come back later. I thought you had to do what you could in one go and if you got a high enough score to unlock the next area you could but it also meant leaving the current area/progress behind. Now that I know I can save I'll probably go back and finish it at some point. The thing is, the PC version controls so much better than the PS1 version and I don't have a windows machine right now so I can't do it with the free version of the game.

I absolutely agree with the point about the mini map. I recently tried to play through Vice City with it turned off. I was able to do it for the most part but some missions are impossible without it. It's mostly the missions like ambulance driver and vigilante though. I don't think I used it for any single player mission. Maybe that's only because it was my 8th time getting 100% complete and I knew where everything was. I didn't even need to look up a single hidden package, jump or rampage.

I'm also trying to play without the mini map in GTA IV. I can see how they've changed the game from the previous instalments. I'm about 5% complete and I've noticed that every time I start a mission the mission giver will mention a street name or a land mark or both (eg, this guy who owes me money runs a laundromat on Masterson St.). That's made it easier since, unlike Vice City, I don't know where everything is. There are still issues with needing a mini map though. If you need to chase or follow a guy there is sometimes a button to focus the camera on him but it doesn't always work. So for any chase sequence that doesn't have a scripted path if you lose sight of the target then he's escaped and the path will be different the next time.

#6 Posted by dankempster (2252 posts) -

@believer258: I played Morrowind about three years ago (shit, has it really been that long?) and absolutely loved it. The navigation was one of the many reasons why - following directions to reach specific towns and dungeons had a kind of quaint charm to it, reminiscent of the archetypal journeys of fantasy literature. It made a very welcome change to blip-following, and my map of Vvardenfell spent most of that summer on my bedroom wall. I played it on the original Xbox, and frame-rate and dice-rolls aside, found it excellent (although if I ever went back to it, I think I'd have to play a modded version on PC).

@theManUnknown: It's something I find pretty interesting as well, especially as someone who seems a little more impervious to the effects of time's passing when it comes to old games. While I'm not crying out for a new generation of consoles just yet, I am quite excited to see what advancements are made in terms of game design, and whether they'll have a discernible impact on how we come to view the games we're playing right now in the future.

@Sparky_Buzzsaw: I'd be willing to agree with that, although I think it would be closely contested between that and the introduction of a lock-on trigger in (I think) Ocarina of Time. There are some residual elements of the 2D GTA formula in GTAIII (a few missions demand that the player have a certain amount of cash to proceed), but the decision to go with that mission-driven storyline was a bold one that has pretty much established the structural template for every open-world game since. I know a lot of people wax lyrical about the influence of GTAIII on the last ten years of the gaming industry, but it really is completely justified.

#7 Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw (6155 posts) -

Hmmm. The lock-on feature is an interesting nomination. I think I'm going to create a list now of my favorite game-changers. Maybe not limited to franchises, but the idea is solid.

Moderator
#8 Edited by believer258 (11800 posts) -

@theManUnknown said:

Video games may be an art-form, but they always struck me as a rather unique one in how they often get more difficult to appreciate the older they are. Neither books, paintings, nor pieces of music experience this sort of degradation over time. I do think movies experience a somewhat similar phenomenon, however, in that for most modern viewers watching any material from the golden age of Hollywood (not to mention the silent era) cannot help but feel like a chore to some extent.

I suppose this is appropriate, considering video games and film could be said to be the two genres of art most tied to technology. It makes me wonder just how accessible the current generation of video games is going to be several decades or so down the line.

Well, I wouldn't say that literature isn't impervious to time. Cultures, languages, ideas, mores, values, beliefs, etc., all change over time, and vastly too. With the exceptions of the people who are really into studying that sort of thing, The Iliad and Inferno and Beowulf hardly have the same impact on today's society that they would have had then. Especially Inferno and its sequels...

As for how modern games will be viewed in the future - that's interesting. In the very near future, the people whose first consoles were 3D and who never knew a time when 3D wasn't really possible will be coming to young adulthood. Or fifty years from now, when I'm seventy, will my grand kids care to hear about Skyrim? Hell, will Skyrim be playable then?

#9 Posted by theManUnknown (166 posts) -

@believer258 said:

@theManUnknown said:

Video games may be an art-form, but they always struck me as a rather unique one in how they often get more difficult to appreciate the older they are. Neither books, paintings, nor pieces of music experience this sort of degradation over time. I do think movies experience a somewhat similar phenomenon, however, in that for most modern viewers watching any material from the golden age of Hollywood (not to mention the silent era) cannot help but feel like a chore to some extent.

I suppose this is appropriate, considering video games and film could be said to be the two genres of art most tied to technology. It makes me wonder just how accessible the current generation of video games is going to be several decades or so down the line.

Well, I wouldn't say that literature isn't impervious to time. Cultures, languages, ideas, mores, values, beliefs, etc., all change over time, and vastly too. With the exceptions of the people who are really into studying that sort of thing, The Iliad and Inferno and Beowulf hardly have the same impact on today's society that they would have had then. Especially Inferno and its sequels...

As for how modern games will be viewed in the future - that's interesting. In the very near future, the people whose first consoles were 3D and who never knew a time when 3D wasn't really possible will be coming to young adulthood. Or fifty years from now, when I'm seventy, will my grand kids care to hear about Skyrim? Hell, will Skyrim be playable then?

Cultural ideas and influences will shift over time, but one can't really say that the medium literature has experienced this thoroughly linear progression you see in film and video games. Certainly, there are different periods of ideas and values, but I wasn't referring to shifting cultural trends so much as I was to straightforward technological advancement. Ideas that just weren't possible to put in a film or game yesterday are implemented in them today, and the range of possibilities of those mediums will only be expanding as time goes on (though I expect the growth of film at least will be ultimately logarithmic in nature).

People consider films without color or even sound today and cringe at the idea of watching cinema without those qualities, and the manner in which they do so is mirrored by younger gamers today when they consider playing Fallout 1 or 2, or the early Final Fantasy games, or any old game whose graphics haven't aged well.

Indeed, the very fact that I can say a game hasn't aged well technically or graphically and be understood is reflective of a property of video games (& film) that is rather profoundly unique to them as an art-form. When a game hasn't aged well one isn't saying that the values of its creator are no longer relevant to you or me, but that execution of those ideas somehow doesn't measure up to par any longer. Video games (& film) have progressed as a medium in a very linear fashion compared to most art-forms in that they just keep increasing in complexity and capability.

Music & painting/drawing/&c. has gotten very complex technologically, but in neither of those cases is that technological advancement perceived as necessary, inevitable, or even preferable. People continue to paint on canvases, and orchestras continue to perform concerts, but how well received would Space Invaders be were it released for the first time today?

It is natural for works of art to eventually become irrelevant as society shifts and changes and values become radically different to those the work was originally appealing to in the first place, but how exceptional is it for works of art to become irrelevant as time goes by just because?

On another note, your final question is one I've been considering for a while now. Another thing that is rather distinct about video games is the very real possibility they face as becoming eventually unconsumable as works of art. Should we really be okay with the whole reality of abandonware? I honestly think I would be in favor some sort of legislation requiring game companies to keep their catalog of games accessible to modern audiences or risk being forced to relinquish the copyright on those titles and let their fans make whatever effort they can to keep them accessible.

#10 Edited by believer258 (11800 posts) -

@theManUnknown said:

@believer258 said:

@theManUnknown said:

Video games may be an art-form, but they always struck me as a rather unique one in how they often get more difficult to appreciate the older they are. Neither books, paintings, nor pieces of music experience this sort of degradation over time. I do think movies experience a somewhat similar phenomenon, however, in that for most modern viewers watching any material from the golden age of Hollywood (not to mention the silent era) cannot help but feel like a chore to some extent.

I suppose this is appropriate, considering video games and film could be said to be the two genres of art most tied to technology. It makes me wonder just how accessible the current generation of video games is going to be several decades or so down the line.

Well, I wouldn't say that literature isn't impervious to time. Cultures, languages, ideas, mores, values, beliefs, etc., all change over time, and vastly too. With the exceptions of the people who are really into studying that sort of thing, The Iliad and Inferno and Beowulf hardly have the same impact on today's society that they would have had then. Especially Inferno and its sequels...

As for how modern games will be viewed in the future - that's interesting. In the very near future, the people whose first consoles were 3D and who never knew a time when 3D wasn't really possible will be coming to young adulthood. Or fifty years from now, when I'm seventy, will my grand kids care to hear about Skyrim? Hell, will Skyrim be playable then?

Cultural ideas and influences will shift over time, but one can't really say that the medium literature has experienced this thoroughly linear progression you see in film and video games. Certainly, there are different periods of ideas and values, but I wasn't referring to shifting cultural trends so much as I was to straightforward technological advancement. Ideas that just weren't possible to put in a film or game yesterday are implemented in them today, and the range of possibilities of those mediums will only be expanding as time goes on (though I expect the growth of film at least will be ultimately logarithmic in nature).

People consider films without color or even sound today and cringe at the idea of watching cinema without those qualities, and the manner in which they do so is mirrored by younger gamers today when they consider playing Fallout 1 or 2, or the early Final Fantasy games, or any old game whose graphics haven't aged well.

Indeed, the very fact that I can say a game hasn't aged well technically or graphically and be understood is reflective of a property of video games (& film) that is rather profoundly unique to them as an art-form. When a game hasn't aged well one isn't saying that the values of its creator are no longer relevant to you or me, but that execution of those ideas somehow doesn't measure up to par any longer. Video games (& film) have progressed as a medium in a very linear fashion compared to most art-forms in that they just keep increasing in complexity and capability.

Music & painting/drawing/&c. has gotten very complex technologically, but in neither of those cases is that technological advancement perceived as necessary, inevitable, or even preferable. People continue to paint on canvases, and orchestras continue to perform concerts, but how well received would Space Invaders be were it released for the first time today?

It is natural for works of art to eventually become irrelevant as society shifts and changes and values become radically different to those the work was originally appealing to in the first place, but how exceptional is it for works of art to become irrelevant as time goes by just because?

On another note, your final question is one I've been considering for a while now. Another thing that is rather distinct about video games is the very real possibility they face as becoming eventually unconsumable as works of art. Should we really be okay with the whole reality of abandonware? I honestly think I would be in favor some sort of legislation requiring game companies to keep their catalog of games accessible to modern audiences or risk being forced to relinquish the copyright on those titles and let their fans make whatever effort they can to keep them accessible.

This was simply a difference of perspective then - you on evolving technology, myself on changing societies. Your post is fantastically well written, by the way.

EDIT: On the subject of keeping past games accessible, I seem to be stuck with this idea that emulators will always exist for older consoles. But then, this trend is not guaranteed. There is a bit of hope - the HD Collections that have gained popularity are worth looking into, there's the PSN store that keeps some PS1 games available. There's something similar on the Wii. And there's a rumor that Windows 8 will have the capacity to play 360 games. Great computer games will almost always have great computer game geeks to keep them up and working, and then there's always the possibility that groups of people will completely recreate games a la the Black Mesa project for more modern systems to run.

#11 Posted by mosespippy (4119 posts) -

@theManUnknown said:

People consider films without color or even sound today and cringe at the idea of watching cinema without those qualities, and the manner in which they do so is mirrored by younger gamers today when they consider playing Fallout 1 or 2, or the early Final Fantasy games, or any old game whose graphics haven't aged well.

And yet last year's academy award for best picture was a black and white film.

#12 Posted by dankempster (2252 posts) -

@mosespippy: I think he means in terms of general public reception rather than critical acclaim. I'm sure your average Joe would rather watch the latest Michael Bay explosion-fest than something like The Artist. To draw a comparison with the gaming medium, a deliberate throw-back title like Pac-Man Championship Edition DX might win awards left right and centre, but it's never going to be as popular as the latest Call of Duty.

@theManUnknown: Permit me to echo believer258's comments on the quality of your writing. You've got a wonderful way with words and the points you raise are excellent. In particular I really like your last point about the preservation of older games. It's incredible to think a time might come when the likes of Final Fantasy VII, Ocarina of Time and Half-Life might simply cease to exist in a playable form. I'd like to think that with the existence of the internet, such a time will never come, but of course there's no guarantee of that. I'd be all for some form of archive, where games could be preserved for posterity, and then periodically wheeled back out for the public to consume. Of course, there remains the issue of playability (or as you put it, the fact these older games are being rendered technologically irrelevant), but I'd like to think their cultural relevance would outweigh that issue.

#13 Posted by Winternet (8014 posts) -

I agree, remembering every location of the respray shops is essential for survival. Different times, I guess. I remember having tons of fun playing GTA and GTA II.

#14 Posted by mosespippy (4119 posts) -

@dankempster: I'm just saying that there are people who don't care if a movie is black and white or not, as long as the story is good. Just because would cringe at the thought of a black and white or silent film doesn't mean everybody does. I would argue that 2D gameplay is gamings equivalent to black and white film. You know what is bigger than the latest Call of Duty? A 2D game called Angry Birds.

#15 Posted by Claude (16255 posts) -

My first experience with the GTA franchise was with GTA III. I tried to get the free version of the older games from the Rockstar but never received an email from them. 
 
I just wrote that to say awesome blog title.

#16 Edited by theManUnknown (166 posts) -

My apologies for not responding sooner; I am as yet prohibited from posting more than 5 times a day.

@mosespippy said:

@theManUnknown said:

People consider films without color or even sound today and cringe at the idea of watching cinema without those qualities, and the manner in which they do so is mirrored by younger gamers today when they consider playing Fallout 1 or 2, or the early Final Fantasy games, or any old game whose graphics haven't aged well.

And yet last year's academy award for best picture was a black and white film.

Definitely noteworthy, but it must be considered that basically everything about The Artist is exceptional. It's only the second silent film to ever win best picture: the other was the first film to ever be granted that award. If The Artist was attempting to do anything other than highlight the magic of cinema in those early glorious days of Hollywood, I find it doubtful it would have been so lauded. The film is seen as clever in being silent & colorless because of its subject matter. If that subject was any other, its particular cinematic format would unfortunately be perceived as a detriment to the film rather than a benefit.

I'm not happy that this is the case. I'm often frustrated by my friends' reluctance to see Citizen Kane or Casablanca or The Third Man. They're good films! They're worth watching! But, unfortunately, they are frozen in time, and cannot keep and have not kept pace with the standards of today.

By no means do I mean to suggest that there do not exist people who appreciate these older works of art. Rather, I mean to merely observe that such individuals seem to be a minority in the greater media consuming public, and wonder just what implications that holds for video games as a medium.

@believer258 said:

On the subject of keeping past games accessible, I seem to be stuck with this idea that emulators will always exist for older consoles. But then, this trend is not guaranteed. There is a bit of hope - the HD Collections that have gained popularity are worth looking into, there's the PSN store that keeps some PS1 games available. There's something similar on the Wii. And there's a rumor that Windows 8 will have the capacity to play 360 games. Great computer games will almost always have great computer game geeks to keep them up and working, and then there's always the possibility that groups of people will completely recreate games a la the Black Mesa project for more modern systems to run.

I am profoundly thankful that emulators continue to exist and provide access to old games that might otherwise disappear into irrelevance and obscurity. I would be quite content with the model of companies simply re-releasing their games on virtual consoles &c., but what concerns me is the possibility that the corporations involved may simply neglect to ever keep their old games up to date and available through such venues. I'd prefer it if, when such realities occur, community efforts could still somehow be legally freed to make whatever effort available to them to preserve said games. i.e. "Make sure your game is generally available and playable on modern systems, or allow your customers and fans to insure it themselves."

#17 Posted by Red12b (9084 posts) -

Awesome, goodstuff dude

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