Back To Playing Computer Games

I’m sure I’m not alone on this one.

Life gets in the way. Work, family, demands on your time and responsibilities to uphold, it all burdens us and eats into time that we used to use playing games. Life is important, sure. As much as we’d love to believe that we can all play games and live functioning lives at the same time is optimistic under current socio-economic conditions, maybe one day, one generation, but it won’t be any time soon. I write a lot about games, but over and over again I find I’m returning to the same old examples that I’ve used repeatedly over various articles. Continue reading “Back To Playing Computer Games”

Games: Remastered

Two of history’s best games have had the HD treatment lately. I played one today, and it’s the second remastered game I’ve ever played. The next is on the list for “soon”.

I wasn’t sure what I’d make of HD game updates. You can improve resolution and textures as much as you like, but it won’t improve the quality of the models unless you’re prepared to do a full remake, and any issues with gameplay are likely to remain, so you’re still playing the same game but in nicer clothes, and you’ve paid money to do it. But my gods it’s pretty.

Heroes of Might & Magic 3

I mentioned this in my post about the Ninetees that Heroes of Might & Magic 3 was getting an HD makeover. It released last Thursday, and I wasted no time getting it installed and going, it was a piece of my childhood, and now it looks prettier than ever. The gameplay was always good, and I’ve played it over and over again and this week marks the start of another cycle of nostalgic glee.

Visually, the game is stunning. There are details that I had never noticed before that are suddenly sharp and crisp, for example, I always believed that the red slash on the heads of the imps was their eye. Now I know for a fact that it’s a long whispy eyebrow! Little things to keep me cheerful. The animation still has a low frame-rate, but the cleaner image seems to make it flow that little bit more. Most importantly the map-builder is back, and that can only stoke my passion for games design.

There are a few minor sound errors that will hopefully be ironed out within an update or two, and I suppose it’s sad that we no longer expect games to come out of the publishers perfect any more. Notably absent are the expansions, but they put a hell of a lot of work into the core game, and there’s an entire additional town and perhaps twice the number of creatures to re-create, so there’s time yet.

Grim Fandango

The Tim Schafer favourite finally re-released after years of speculation and featuring a fine and dandy new Double-Fine logo. Seventeen years later, the game still has a heaving fan base that were eager to see it return, and there have been many rumours and false starts over the years. The new version includes more realistic lighting features, and a wealth of control options so that players can choose between the classic and the improved methods of play.

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Physical copies became few and far between, and the only copy I could find in a local shop was gone before I knew I needed it. Thank gods for digital distribution, were it not for my temporarily horrendous download speeds I’d be playing it right now.

realMyst: Masterpiece Edition

Another ninetees favourite, the legendary puzzle-solver got the remastery treatment last year. The puzzles and physical models remain the same, but the Masterpiece edition took the frame-by-frame navigation to more normal WASD (or analogue stick) movement, a simple addition along with the essential graphical upgrade. It lends that extra layer of depth and exploration options that the Myst’s multiple universes richly deserve, no matter that it doesn’t change the puzzles or the story.

Time, weather and ambient effects were added, as were other renewed visuals such as small animals, foliage to really bring the worlds to life.

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What realMyst’s update suffers for is a poorly executed WASD controls. While most (if not all) first person games have a centralized cursor or crosshair that completely controls what direction you face, the only way to turn the camera in Myst is to push against the sides of the screen, and yet Exile – the series’ third instalment – handled the method flawlessly. It doesn’t completely ruin the game, but it does put a damper on enjoyment.


Considering the rate at which computer technology moves on, a lot of classic games tend to be tragically lost under the steamroller of inevitability and mangled in the combine harvester of progress, but many classics are so loved that dedicated and talented people slave to see them reinvigorated to be enjoyed by new generations.

As sculptures need repairs, paintings need cleaning and occasionally brightening, and films are redrawn frame by frame or completely remaking, so too games will occasionally need maintenance to keep them looking as fresh and new as the day they were first released. But standards in the industry have slipped as deadlines are getting harsher, but with updates and patching they can get away with completing games after release. Which in many ways is what a remastered version is: a more complete version than what went before.

What other games have you enjoyed for being remastered? What games would you like to see remastered? Join in the discussion down below!

 

The Nineties

Have you ever uttered the words: “It was better back then” or “They don’t do [X] like that any more”? Well it wasn’t, and that’s just a fact. Things have always been awful, but the good things last forever. A few things slip through the cracks, like disco or Pauly Shore, but for the most part we remember each period for it’s successes because we’d rather remember the good things.

Why bring it up? And what does this have to do with nerd culture?

Continue reading “The Nineties”

Blogversation – Music in Games

Music is important. I’ll not launch into a long spiel here, I’m just going to offer you an example:

If I were to ask you to put together music for a faction of necromancers, what themes would you think of? Really think about it. Death, magic, the interred dead resurrected to fight, vampires, so forth, you get the gist. Think about it for a little while, while I set up my example.

One of the first games I ever played – and certainly the one that I always call “the first game I ever played” when I’m put on the spot – was Heroes of Might and Magic 3 by New World Computing and published by 3DO in 1999 (I was a bit of a late bloomer). It was an incredible game that kick-started my habit of designing games, worlds, creatures and stories, but above all of it’s other elements, I loved the music! I’d always loved classical, and the game tied classical music with stunning visuals in a way that had never engaged me before. To this day I will happily sit and play HoMM 3 over and above it’s sequels, and will even boot up the music files if ever I’m reaching for inspiration.

Continue reading “Blogversation – Music in Games”