Monday, September 24, 2007

Ten years change a lot

On Saturday I bought the anniversary issue of my favourite game magazine "GameStar". The DVD inside contained the whole first issue (from ten years ago) in .pdf-format - minus advertisements, of course.

The title was "Hexen 2", based on the "Quake 2"-engine and long forgotten. I played it in 1997 and it was good - but compared to ego-shooters today it's just crap. But it already featured four different types of heroes and it was hub-based (meaning the levels weren't build linear, but connected in a way players could move back and forth between them). Among the demos on the CD (DVD was far in the future then) was "Monkey Island 3" - with which the downfall of the series started, if you ask the true fans.

The games featured in the issue, both in reviews and previews and just as news, are mostly forgotten today, too. There's "Incubation", one of the few games Blue Bytes produced which were not about the settlers. There's "Turok", then a hit, today just ugly. "Lands of Lore 2" might have been a good role-playing game, but nobody is interested in it these days, it's not very smooth and it surely can't hold a candle to today's 3D role-playing games (like "Gothic" or "Two Worlds" or "Dark Messiah of Might & Magic").

"Tomb Raider" wasn't even a series then, part two is featured with a preview. "Unreal" still looks pretty 2D, "StarCraft" was just a preview, too.

Strategy still mostly meant round-based and hexagonal. There were lots of flight simulations (they're almost extinct by now, except for "Microsoft Flight Simulator"). Role-playing games were thought to be dying and it would take another couple of years before games like "Baldur's Gate" or "Diablo 2" were really going to revive the genre.

There was the swan song of the single programmer who could produce a whole game on his own. That was no longer possible in 1997. The first MMORPG was being planned: "Ultima Online". 3Dfx was an important topic - but those additional cards didn't catch on, graphics cards with a 3D-chip on it were going to win. Games also were considerably more expensive then. Today a computer game in Germany usually is around 30 to 40 Euros, then there was hardly a game under 100 Marks (which comes down to about 50 Euros). I've paid up to 120 Marks/60 Euros for a game in the beginning of my gamer career.

Optimum pc was a Pentium 166 with 32 MB RAM, 4x CD-ROM drive, a 3D-card and OpenGL (a 3D standard that has caught on). You couldn't install "Windows Vista" or even "Windows XP" on one of those...

Yes, ten years change a lot, not just in computer games, but there as well.

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