Either I’m getting too old to really enjoy PC games or the games have become a lot less interesting lately.
Back in the days when Sierra and Roberta Williams ruled the gaming world (or at least it seemed that way to us in Male’) with the King’s Quest series, and Al Lowe’s Leisure Suit Larry series was a must-play game for every teenage boy, the games and the graphics might have seemed like crap to anyone used to the spectacular 3D graphics of today but in a way I think the blocky 2D graphics actually made things more fun back then. Maybe because imagination had to play a huge part in order to compensate for the lack of stellar graphics.
I remember being amazed by the graphics in King’s Quest 5 and then being completely blown away by the 3D-animated intro for King’s Quest 6! The only thing I could compare it to back then was the ballroom dance scene in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast when the camera swoops down from the chandelier to the ballroom dance floor. The first Role Playing Game I ever played was Betrayal at Krondor, and even back then it wasn’t much to look at, but the gameplay and story was so involving that the parts of the game that I recall now seem to me to be more real than some memories from my actual childhood. The graphics of Betrayal at Krondor seem, in my memory, to be better than the visuals of the latest 3D games available now. I was actually rudely shocked recently when I saw some screen captures of the game and realised that it looked so much worse than I recalled the game to be. Such was the overall experience of playing the game back then.
These days you don’t have to use your imagination much when playing a game since the graphics are so amazing they really leave no room for imagining; in most cases the graphics are far more spectacular than what you could have probably imagined. Controls and interacting with the games have evolved to such an extent that the mouse and keyboard feels like an extension of your arm in the game world. No longer do you have to type commands like “open door” or “pick up rope” to get your character to do things.
I remember a stage in Leisure Suit Larry where you were required to put some bars of soaps into a bra to disguise Larry as a woman to get past a spy. The whole game-playing gang got together at a friend’s house for days to brainstorm a solution and we tried every combination possible (including using a hex-editor on the game executable file to see if we could find a clue in there) but in the end it was the simple “put soaps in bra” that did the trick. Our mistake was that we had never thought of using the plural form of the word ‘soap’. Well, the Internet and downloadable walkthroughs has solved that problem. It’s probably impossible get stuck in a game these days.
Anyway, I was going to rant about how I don’t enjoy playing games that much anymore. The last game I really enjoyed playing was The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion, and the other games I really want to play require a heck of a lot more powerful PC and graphic card than what I have. I can’t play games with a joystick so Play Stations and X-Boxes are out. Wii is really fun but I’m the kind of guy who needs a keyboard and mouse if I really want to enjoy a game. Aside from that, I’ve sadly realised recently that I really don’t have the time to spend on games anymore. There’s just too much work and other stuff that occupies me. But maybe if something like the original Myst or Riven came around again, I would probably be willing to invest some time in a game again.