A Matter of Imagination

Either I’m getting too old to really enjoy PC games or the games have become a lot less interesting lately.

Leisure Suit LarryBack 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. 

Betrayal at Krondor 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.

The Elder Scrolls 3: Oblivion 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.

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9 thoughts on “A Matter of Imagination

  1. Very touching. I understand the nostalgia. I am not much into games (as you all know!) but I was moved by my own memories of playing Doom and The Longest Journey. How things — and we — change.

  2. Inaya says:

    i think my most fav game was Phantasmagoria.. still have nightmares.. dont think i have been that into a game since then..

  3. Shihana says:

    I remember you calling me up in the middle of the night during Ramadan, excited beyond all reason that you finally figured out some puzzle in Myst. I was so glad you finally finished the frikkin game after two years or so of trying.

    Good that you’re finally growing out of such childish things. There’s still hope for me then since, as you know, I’m a Sims addict myself.

  4. penny says:

    i don’t know much about games…except for sim and empire earth … and stronghold. But I get what your saying.

  5. Iya says:

    my personal opinion is that i enjoy games because they put me in situations that i would never find myself in.

    i would never work in a shady research organization called black mesa only to go to work one day and find its going to be over-run by aliens.

    i wouldnt be a space marine on mars only to have the gates of hell open on my first day of work.

    i wouldnt be riddick blending in the shadows trying to escape butcher bay while murdering a fuckton of guards.

    and i most certainly am NOT a corporal in WW2, fighting my way through mission after mission with my trusty machine gun and sniper rifle.

    but i do all these. when i am gaming. you see, azmyst… its not about the graphics. imagination is there, in the experience.

  6. AzMyst says:

    Iya, the point of playing a game, of course, is to be in situations you wouldn’t normally find yourself in. But if that’s the sole reason than you wouldn’t mind playing any crappy game. I can’t do that.

    For me it’s not the situation that makes a game, but it’s the quality that makes it an experience. Half-Life and Far Cry were damn awesome but Doom 3 left a lot to be desired and I just couldn’t finish the game.

    There are many games that I might like the concept for but it just doesn’t work for me when I begin playing it. Doom 3 is probably the best example of that in recent history. I mean I was a huge fan of Doom and Doom 2, and even Quake was mindblowing, but not D3 just didn’t click. Maybe it became too repetitive, and after Half-Life, F.E.A.R and Far Cry the bar was set pretty high on enemy AI. Dumb monsters just aren’t that fun to hunt down.

  7. Iya says:

    i cant play a crappy game either. sure, doom 3 had its shortcomings, but so does most games. trust me when i say this… you need to see the last boss in Doom 3. Doom 3 isnt perfect, but it IS doom.

    FEAR and Far Cry were genre boosters, and i absolutely love FEAR, i keep playing it over and over.

  8. Ever played Ragnarok?. Its a DOS RPG from 1989. I highly reccommend it. Sure, you’ll get killed in hilarious ways early on, but survival is what matters.

  9. AzMyst says:

    No, I don’t think I’ve played Rangarok. I should look it up.

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