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BydoEmpire73
17-12-10, 08:24
Kind of an offshoot of a conversation in the Spiderweb Software thread, what's your favorite era of PC gaming an why? I'm not really sure what hard lines there are between PC "eras" because it constantly evolves, so the lines are fuzzy. However...

For me it has to be the early-mid 90s. VGA/SoundBlaster were de-facto standards. You had a huge development community and a huge variety of games. Tons of quality and innovation, and it was the era of many of my favorite PC games of all time: Wing Commander 2, X-Com, Ultima Underworld, Doom, Civilization, MechWarrior 2. I was browsing some Dragon magazines from the mid 90s and was blown away at just how many RPGs there were. Stuff I didn't even remember, and I love CRPGs. Another factor is that I just had a lot of free time to play games then. In college and just after I graduated I could spend 8 hours on a Civ marathon. No way I'm doing that now.

Before that, in the CGA/EGA 8086 era PC games just didn't look or play as well as c64/Amiga stuff I was used to (even most VGA stuff wasn't up to Amiga quality, but at least it was in the ballpark, and the Amiga kind of died off as the 90s progressed). The quantity and variety of software was amazing.

After that, you had the early 3D era where I felt console games started to take over and the variety of hardware was a challenge to keep up with. The quantity and variety of software declined and in my opinion anyways, there was a lot more interesting stuff on consoles.

Once DirectX evolved and things standardized again there was some hope, but the development community had largely already moved to consoles. Of course, there were some great exceptions like Bioware's and Bethesda's RPGs. Morrowind is in my top 5 all time favorite games. ;)

In the more recent era (2005-2009-ish?), there just hasn't been much going on in the PC market - lots of MMOs, with a few RTSs and FPSs. None of which I'm particularly interested in.

Maybe it's just a wave on nostalgia, but I've been thinking about PC games more and more lately. Steam has really gotten cool, and the upcoming Mac store might be interesting. They've given smaller and indie developers a way to get their games out. I haven't been that impressed with any Facebook games so far, but I see potential.

Dhalamar
18-12-10, 12:19
I don't really have a favorite PC gaming era. I do remember having a hell of a lot of fun playing shit like Pac-Gal, The Zork games, Basic games out of the magazines that we typed up, the original Duke Nukem (on a computer that couldn't even run it full speed :P), Jazz Jackrabbit, Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, etc etc

For me, it was a bit of the opposite when consoles came out because generally when the console got an arcade port that came out on the PC, I was almost always on board with the PC version. Double Dragon (hey, the PC version IS garbage, but at least it has 2 player coop play hehe) Mortal Kombat 1 and 2, T2 : The Arcade Game. The PC as a gaming platform really hit it's stride with the advent of dishing out 256 colors on screen and the Adlib and Creative sound cards only added to the mix. It definitely made the consoles seem dated, which is something the PC platform has always gotten right up until this generation of gaming looking at the games it got in the 90's and early to mid 2000's.

I still remember the first time I ever played Goldeneye for the N64. An amazing console shooter, and it definitely showed that a shooter COULD be done on the console. But by the time I played it I had been playing the likes of Quake, Quake 2 and Duke Nukem 3D. It was just paled in comparison. And the console versions of those games, while playable, are pretty fuckin' bad. heh Kind of the same with RPGs ... the consoles had their comparatively watered down RPGs ... but when it came to PC ports of them they just couldn't do it. Ultima 6 and 7 are good examples there. Even with the Dreamcast/PS2/Gamecube/Xbox era, the consoles were getting their rocking exclusives, but the console versions of PC games always suffered.

And even now with PC gaming being in a bit of a downturn because people would rather spend 300 or 400 on a console than a PC (which, who could blame them. You FINALLY get a PC worthy gaming experience out of them.) of equal power that honestly, anymore, doesn't cost that much more. And it's not even the technology that's slowing things down, because the PC gaming experience is STILL set up to blow the consoles COMPLETELY out of the water, but with the consoles around the PC is just going to get marginally better versions of what's out on them without taking full advantage of it's power capability. Anymore, except for Valve, it's just PC versions of consoles games instead of the other way around. And their working off of the aging console hardware capabilities instead of the PC capabilities that grow by leaps and bounds.

Valve honestly is the ONLY big company making PC games anymore to be perfectly honest. Take Left 4 Dead for example. The basic experience is the same as what's on the 360, but on the PC you get SOOOO much more with the game. Dedicated servers for multiplayer, free DLC (Microsoft forces them to charge for it on the console), HUNDREDS of fan made maps and campaigns, FULL editing capalities. And that's just naming off Left 4 Dead, that capability is there with pretty much ALL their games while other companies like Activision are trying to "consolize" the games by taking away features that games used to have. Modding and dedicated servers support in the Call of Duty games for example. Taking out multiplayer COMPLETELY in games like Ghostbusters. EA made Madden a console ONLY game a while back taking it off the PC all together, which makes sense in the end. Most football nuts wanna see their game on a bigass TV instead of a computer monitor, and a console is much MUCH easier to get going. :)

I tried the PC version of MLB 2K10 the other day ... the fucker DEFAULTS to showing you the controls and how to play the game through an Xbox 360 controller. If there's a ways to play the game with the keyboard and mouse I wasn't able to figure it out. Not that I really care about baseball games, but dammit. lol

Console games are console games, flat out ... though the PC's whether it be the modern PC of the past 10 to 15 years or the Commodore 64 and Amiga from back in the day have always been capable of doing a MUCH better game. It isn't the hardware killing off PC gaming so much as it's game developers (Activision, EA, etc etc) killing it off by putting all of their focus into aging hardware. I'm glad Valve is around though to be honest, at least SOMEONE out there is still behind PC gaming when companies like Activision shouldn't even bother anymore.

As far as "In the more recent era (2005-2009-ish?), there just hasn't been much going on in the PC market - lots of MMOs, with a few RTSs and FPSs. None of which I'm particularly interested in." you just haven't been paying enough attention to what's been coming out. And other places like the indie games scene and the open source community as well. I'm constantly hearing about them, though I'm a flat out FPS gamer. Ever since they started out, I've been an FPS gamer. Which one would think I'd be into the Halos and Call of Duty games ... but no ... they're too damn slow. :) Really the only modern shooters I play come from Valve for the most part. :) MMO's, RTS's and shooters are obviously what gets noticed the most because the PC platform is best suited for them.

And yes, shooter fans out there reading this, they are better on the PC. Play against someone using a keyboard and mouse using your controller and see how quickly you get slaughtered.

I'm not saying consoles shouldn't be out there. Hell, I love them ... though I'm pretty console agnostic. Even with how much of a piece of shit the Wii is, it's got a few good games. Which is what I care about, and I want to have the best experience possible for those games. A lot of the time with what I play, the experience is better on the PC. Other times, it's better on the console. *shrug*

The sad part is, DOS/Windows based gaming on the PC is still a relatively new thing. It HAD games back in the day, but so did everything else. It didn't start hitting it's stride until the 90's when it just started leap frogging consoles in what it could do with the RPGs of the time, point and click adventures as far as complexity and graphical quality. First person shooters were also something that took off on the PC that the consoles of the time just couldn't handle right for the life of them.

And for how relatively young it is, we've got companies like Activision and Ubisoft actively trying to kill it off. :\

But to finally answer the question, the PC didn't really have an "era" till a few years ago for me when the game developers started actively saying "Fuck off." to the PC gamers through either HIGHLY invasive DRM or "consolizing" the experience. :)

BydoEmpire73
18-12-10, 03:45
First, I really don't want to start a whole PC vs. Console thing. I don't see any versus about it - they're both great platforms with a rich history. This is about PC gaming, and which era you like best. That said...


As far as "In the more recent era (2005-2009-ish?), there just hasn't been much going on in the PC market - lots of MMOs, with a few RTSs and FPSs. None of which I'm particularly interested in." you just haven't been paying enough attention to what's been coming out. And other places like the indie games scene and the open source community as well. Haha, I knew someone was going to reply with this, and the fact is I haven't payed much attention to the PC games coming out recently. True enough, but my point is still 100% valid. In the 90s you had every genre - sports, racing, strategy, puzzle, tons of RPGs, shooters, FPSs, arcade ports, even some platformers. It hasn't been anywhere near that for a long time, particularly in the last 5 years. The shift started in the 32-bit console era and has avalanched (is that a word?) since. The fact is that it's been dry in a lot of genres for a while, even RPGs. I bet SSI alone put out more RPGs in a couple years in the mid 90s than we've seen this entire decade. In the last 5-10 years there have been 10 Console RPGs (or FPSs for that matter) for every one on PC (well, not including MMOs). The indie scene is fantastic, but it can't make up for the lack of the Origins, EAs, Sir Techs, Cinemawares, SSIs, etc. An example you already alluded to: EA started outsourcing Madden PC in 2003. Sales were 1/20th the console versions, so it made perfect business sense, but it was a clear example of developers abandoning PC gaming. That was 2003, and EA rode it out longer than many. Even by then much of the focus of the development community had shifted to consoles, let alone a couple years later. The point isn't to dog on PC gaming, it's an analysis of history. I see a lot of signs that PC gaming is getting stronger and I hope that continues. I'm happy to start a new thread on that! ;)


Play against someone using a keyboard and mouse using your controller and see how quickly you get slaughtered.Playing FPSs with mouse/kbd is horribly uncomfortable for me, and my wrists and forearms start burning after ten minutes. I don't care how pixel-perfect my aim is, I'm not going to use a mouse/kbd for a FPS any more than I'd use a 7800 controller for Pac Man. It sucks for me. If other people like it, that's great. Would I get destroyed in a deathmatch using controller vs. kbd/mouse? Sure, no question mouse/kbd gives you more precision control (which was abundantly clear playing Quake 3 on Dreamcast with both setups). But that doesn't make FPSs better on PC. The game design is what's king, not the input method. Level design, story, presentation, variety and strategy in weapons, AI, difficulty ramp - these are what make a great FPS. And you've had a heck of a lot more FPS choices on consoles than PC in the last 10 years. I would also argue that the precision required by kbd/mouse and the sparse layout of keys (not having all buttons instantly at your fingertips) makes that method much more difficult to get good with.

Okay, enough of that, I've said my peace and completely derailed the topic three posts in... Come on, Dhalamar, this isn't about PC vs. Console, it's just about PC games. Throw down and pick an era! ;) Late 80s text adventures and EGA arcade games? Early-mid 90s VGA games? Early 3D stuff? Modern PC games?

Dhalamar
18-12-10, 04:51
Okay, enough of that, I've said my peace and completely derailed the topic three posts in... Come on, Dhalamar, this isn't about PC vs. Console, it's just about PC games. Throw down and pick an era! ;) Late 80s text adventures and EGA arcade games? Early-mid 90s VGA games? Early 3D stuff? Modern PC games?

:P There really hasn't been much of an "era" for me until recently. PC games are PC games purely on the fact that I can run a PC game from 20 or 30 years ago on the laptop I've got right now. Granted, without using DOSBox or a virtual machine of some sort it'll probably run too fast to be anywhere near playable. lol

And my whole rant was about PC gaming and the developers who are trying to kill it in favor of a console that'll eventually be out the door for the next big thing. Backwards compatibility is spotty with the 360 at best, the PS3 removed it all together for the PS2. The Wii is backwards compatible all the way because it's just a slightly upgraded Gamecube. But hand me a Windows game or DOS game from 10 to 15 years ago and I can get it to run on this modern PC.

So there really isn't much of an "era" ... but if you're talking just graphical eras or game style eras ... I still have a soft spot for ASCII, ANSI, CGA and EGA graphics personally. :) It always amazes me how much detail they were able to put into those CGA graphics in specific. And do you remember the ANSI art on some of those bulletin boards? Dayum. hehe

BydoEmpire73
18-12-10, 11:59
So there really isn't much of an "era" ... but if you're talking just graphical eras or game style eras ... I still have a soft spot for ASCII, ANSI, CGA and EGA graphics personally. :) It always amazes me how much detail they were able to put into those CGA graphics in specific. And do you remember the ANSI art on some of those bulletin boards? Dayum. heheKind of - I played a lot of Nethack and Rogue on PC, and text-based games on other computers (Star Flight and text adventures on Apple 2), but I didn't have a proper PC until the early 386s came out and by then the transition to VGA had begun. I'm glad you brought that period up, because it's probably an overlooked era in PC gaming. Like you said, the PC really took over after VGA + Adlib/Soundblaster were kind of standard. I always enjoy the ASCII art in gamefaqs help files. ;)

Check out this site:
http://www.textfiles.com/

There are some good bits of ASCII art in there, like this (possibly NSFW): http://www.textfiles.com/100/angela.art

Hehe.

There's also a thread in the Digital Press forum's Classic Computer Gaming area titled "anyone else prefer EGA over VGA?" which talks about EGA graphics. Can't link directly to the thread, right now it's near the bottom of the page, but it's kind of neat. Might make you nostalgic.

BydoEmpire73
18-12-10, 12:05
And my whole rant was about PC gaming and the developers who are trying to kill it in favor of a consolePYeah, I know what you're saying, but really publishers are just chasing the money. If Madden sells 100k on PC but 2 million on console, where are they going to go? On the plus side, I've heard a lot of chatter about a return to PC games. Direct download is the real driver - no console manufacturer taking their cut (about $10/title), and no distributors and retailers taking their cuts. Broadband penetration, Steam, Facebook, improvements in browser-based games, the global nature of PCs (not many 360s in India or China), and other things are really providing a lot of opportunities. I think we're going to see a lot more PC games in the next 10 years.

Dhalamar
18-12-10, 11:16
PYeah, I know what you're saying, but really publishers are just chasing the money. If Madden sells 100k on PC but 2 million on console, where are they going to go?

Oh, I completely understand that. That, and like I said, it makes a hell of a lot more sense to play something like Madden on a big TV. The Super Bowl nuts, do you see them watching their game on a little computer screen, or a bigass HDTV. One of my friends, when he throws a Super Bowl party, he rents the biggest TV he can get from Rent One JUST to watch that game. heh

The recent Call of Duty MW2 fiasco was another thing. Taking out features that the previous game had (modding, dedicated servers) only serves to alienate the crowd that made the game famous in the first place. And Ubisoft's recent ridiculousness.

chalksalad
20-12-10, 02:11
For me it has to be the 80s and more specifically the 8bit / 16bit generation of computers. I just want to clarify that by saying PCs I'm talking about all computers of the era and not just DOS machines.

The reasons for my preference are as follows:

1. DIVERSITY (Hardware): Dozens of Home computers were released during the late 70s and 80s in all parts of the world. For every C64, Apple II, Spectrum, Atari 8bit, Amstrad and MSX you had an Enterprise 64, an Oric Atmos, a SAM Coupe, a Sinclair QL or a Commodore plus/4.
The interesting part was that each machine had it's own distinctive setup with it's own strengths and weaknesses. Porting across many platforms would generate almost different games. Different colour palletes, resolutions and controls would offer a completely distinct experience rendering the ports similar only by name, and this of course led to....

2. DIVERSITY (Software): The time of the bedroom coder. People made the difference and this was crucial in an era were genres were not yet clearly defined. Any talented person could create a game and get it published taking up shelf space next to offerings by giants like EA and Activision. People were ready to take a risk and eager to push the limits of their hardware, and of course this led to....

3. INGENUITY: Let's face it, designing a game for 16, 32 or even 64K was a feat. Low resolution, limited colours and few on screen sprites could seriously hamper any effort for exciting gameplay. Not only the results were unbelievably entertaining they could offer hours upon hours of fun. The creators of the 8bit era are nothing short of tech wizards in my book. It is my opinion that hardware constrains gave creativity a big push and tickled our imagination in all the right ways making as feel lucky that we were the.....

4. RIGHT AGE AT THE RIGHT TIME: Back in the 80s videogames belonged to us kids. We were the lucky ones as we had a whole industry dedicating it's efforts to our needs and dreams. I read somewhere that the average age of a gamer today is 27. Back then teens and preteens ruled the joysticks and every game was designed to make our hearts beat fast. I can't help but feel sorry for the young ones today who are deprived from some of the best games around as they are clearly designed for mature audiences.

Then again as a mature gamer I say scr*w'em, it's good to be the King!

BydoEmpire73
21-12-10, 04:58
Yeah, I wasn't thinking about non-DOS machines but I definitely liked the 80s for all gaming. I agree with every point you made. Great post.

If we include non-DOS boxes I'd have a really hard time choosing between mid 80s c64 and early 90s PCs. The c64 had so much memorable/nostalgic stuff, so many genres, so much creativity. But the PCs of the early-mid 90s had so many awesome and big games. Hard to choose...

chalksalad
22-12-10, 03:33
Yeah, I wasn't thinking about non-DOS machines but I definitely liked the 80s for all gaming. I agree with every point you made. Great post.

Thanks!
This question has been bugging me for some time now. How many people used DOS computers (IBM compatibles) for gaming back in the 80s? Those computers were designed to be business machines. They were really expensive and even if you spend the extra cash for a CGA or EGA card their performance didn't justify the extra cash compared to the cheaper 8bits (as far as games were concerned).

Furthermore how many software houses did publish games for DOS? A brief search in mobygames.com reveals that for 1985 there were 71 games for DOS, 93 for Apple II, 171 for the Spectrum and 254 for the C64.

Can anyone give me some first hand account of this?

Dhalamar
22-12-10, 04:38
Thanks!
This question has been bugging me for some time now. How many people used DOS computers (IBM compatibles) for gaming back in the 80s? Those computers were designed to be business machines. They were really expensive and even if you spend the extra cash for a CGA or EGA card their performance didn't justify the extra cash compared to the cheaper 8bits (as far as games were concerned).

Furthermore how many software houses did publish games for DOS? A brief search in mobygames.com reveals that for 1985 there were 71 games for DOS, 93 for Apple II, 171 for the Spectrum and 254 for the C64.

Can anyone give me some first hand account of this?

I wouldn't really say this is a "first hand account" but in the mid to late 80's (consider the fact I was born in '81 heh) I was on one of those green screen, dual 5.25 floppy 4.77mhz XT computers. And I was getting on bulletin boards getting a lot of games coded by locals in Basic. And getting simple games in Basic out of magazines and whatnot.

The only reason we even HAD that computer is because it was given to us, after that we had a similar machine, only with a 10MB hard drive and a VGA card that we got for cheap.

BydoEmpire73
22-12-10, 07:37
I got my first PC (DOS box) in 1991 - a 386 with 120 megabyte hard drive and I *think* it had 1meg of ram... maybe 640k. Eventually I bought a low-end SoundBlaster card. I didn't do any gaming on PC before that, it was strictly c64, Apple 2 and Amiga. The games just seemed so much better (especially Amiga, but even c64 and Atari games looked better than CGA/EGA PC games), and PCs were a lot more expensive at the time. I didn't know anyone that played games on PCs before the 90s. I think the VGA + Adlib/Soundblaster "standard" really made PCs a force for gaming, and before they they were just a lot more crude than other systems.

Your moby games search shows 71 games in 1985 for DOS, which is actually more than I would have expected. I remember seeing a lot of game ads in magazines with PC ports in the late 80s and especially 90s, then they took over. Dhalamar clearly seemed to have enjoyed a lot of games on earlier PCs.

Dhalamar
22-12-10, 08:19
Your moby games search shows 71 games in 1985 for DOS, which is actually more than I would have expected. I remember seeing a lot of game ads in magazines with PC ports in the late 80s and especially 90s, then they took over. Dhalamar clearly seemed to have enjoyed a lot of games on earlier PCs.

Well, that's just because that's what I had aside from Oregon Trail on an Apple II at school. The only time I've ever touched, say, a Commodore system was a Vic 20 I had about 5 or 6 years ago, and all I had was the system. No disks, no games, no disk drives, nothing. Just the system itself.

I'm sure it would be much different had I actually either used or had, say, a C64 or Atari 8 bit, but I never did. heh