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Friday, January 16, 2015

Gaming Nostalgia

I've been playing a lot of Resogun, recently. Now usually when I finish  a game, I don't ever go back to it. But Resogun has something that more recent AAA games rarely have, which is that it's very replayable.

Resogun, of course, is a throwback to the original Defender, which was an incredibly tough game. I never got good at Defender, because at a quarter a pop, as a kid I never had the kind of money to get good at any of those games, and my parents never had a game console in the house.

All the old games I have nostalgia for that I actually played, therefore had to come on a PC. What springs out to my mind is the old time infocom text adventure games. Those too, were also incredibly hard, and the only one I ever completed was A Mind Forever Voyaging, which was one of those specifically designed to be less challenging.

I remember once after an all night session of Infocom text adventures Larry Hosken, my brother, and I attended a party at Paul Holland's place on Sand Hill Road. We were playing ping pong next to an air hockey table, and one of the ping pong balls fell into the swimming pool. We looked at each other, read each other's mind, and said, "GET PING PONG BALL. PUT PING PONG BALL ON AIR HOCKEY TABLE. PUT QUARTER IN AIR HOCKEY TABLE." Clearly, thinking let an Infocom game all night had affected our brains.

And yes, I did write TinyMUCK 2.0 earlier while an intern at Bellcore (Jon Blow told me at one point that his first exposure to C was trying to read my code/modification of the original TinyMUCK).

To be honest though, when I think back to the games of that era and compare to the games of today, I'd say that today's games are better. In general, they have more finely tuned difficulty levels, the in-game tutorials are fairly well done, and  of course the visuals are just amazing these days.

So if you asked me what I'd put in my own man crate for nostalgia gaming, I'd stick in a USB 3.5" Floppy Drive and one of the Lost Treasures of Infocom packs. Or, since nowadays you can just pretty much download those games on the internet, if you ask me, I'd much rather have a PS Vita loaded with a big memory card and Resogun.

We live in the golden age of computer games, and there's just no comparison.

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