Now, I’m not that much of an old-timer, I’m ‘just’ 23. But I’ve got a great bottle of whiskey next to me and I’ve got this incredible urge to rant on about ‘the olden days’ like some ancient demented person. So if you got bored from too long conversations in RPG’s, don’t try to read through my brainfarts. Otherwise, thanks for reading. Feel free to add your own nostalgia. Remember the times when your hand wasn’t held every step of the way? The time when you had to find out things yourself, when you’d find yourself being slaughtered, amused, surprised while trying to find the way to your quest. Instead of just following the big neon ‘compass’ arrows to your destination while mashing the buttons the game recommends. In fact, back then you were forced to find things out yourself because the internet wasn’t as readily available. But hell, it felt great to get through Baldur’s Gate I & II all on your own. You knew you had to leave some things behind, things you couldn’t do because you didn’t count on it, because you couldn’t reach them. But that’s what replay-ability used to be for. Partly, the gaming industry ruined this feeling of accomplishment. The other part was us and all our faqs, walkthroughs and whatnot. I know, you can just not look at them. But part of the fun of finding things out was to actually be a bit frustrated, to actually leave some things alone because you didn’t figure them out this run. To actually not become the super-duper-strongest person in the world because you just couldn’t do everything. To actually struggle a bit. Now, with games holding my hands left and right and often even driving me forwards like I’m not just old and demented but also disabled, patience wears thin with the olden ways. I less and less appreciate this ‘finding things out yourselves’ and more and more associate it with unnecessary hassle. But this hassle was a secret formula to a rewarding fun experience. When you played the first time through Thief on expert setting, when you went through Hitman without killing any civilians, when you played through Baldur’s Gate II on a higher difficulty setting, all without using a faq, or a walkthrough, don’t tell me you weren’t proud of yourself. And you still are. Nowadays this feeling of accomplishment is being recreated through hard work in the gaming world. These are called MMORPG’s and Achievements. Under a veneer of fun actually lies the making of a second job. But once the fun wears thin you’ve suddenly got all these responsibilities, to your friends, your guild. And while accomplishing stuff through hard work is fun, it just isn’t playing a game anymore. Instead of giving yourself some cool target you wanted to reach (like playing through Deus Ex on realistic without killing) the targets are already set, your creativity bound, and suddenly you’re trying to get all those nasty ‘achievements’. But fun already left the premises, leaving a note telling you to install Planescape Torment. And then there’s this development of ‘simpler is better’, entering our world with the instant design-flaw of ‘oh let’s just design for one system and then port from there to the others’. We all know where this ended. The system you design for is the one with the most limitations, because then you won’t have to do any unnecessary work (read: optimize the game). And down went the Baldur’s Gate franchise. Don’t get me wrong, Dark Alliance was a somewhat enjoyable experience, but it wasn’t what Baldur’s Gate was all about. Great dialogue, strategic combat, with a lot of atmosphere. Not mindless hack & slash. And gone was the detailed world of System Shock 2. I’ve never so happily read the page long description of a packet of crisps while my head was being bashed in by some mutant. I’ve never had so much incentive to play through the game multiple times, weapons expert, psy, harder and harder. Nowadays we have Bioshock. Fun and very atmospheric, yes. But it fails with the detail; it fails at being an RPG. It’s just a very easy, creative shooter. And horrible became the Deus Ex franchise. I’m not trying to say that JC Denton had a lot of character, but hell, the young punk they tried to make you play in the second game was simply an insult. Gone were the nice descriptions, enter the ‘new and innovative single ammo-system’, enter the new limitations set by your 'favourite' console. When they say sandbox-gameplay, the dev’s shouldn’t have taken the dimensions literally. And now there’s Fallout 3. It’s not that all games nowadays aren’t fun anymore; it’s just that they can’t seem to reconcile themselves with how games used to be and build on that premises. It’s as if people used to have fun creating a game, as if they got some satisfaction out of creating a detailed world. Nowadays, when we can’t finish everything in a game on our first walkthrough, get all the ‘achievements’, basically work our way through, it’s as if people associate this with a design flaw. Having consequences to your choices has been the holy grail of RPG’ing for a long time I feel. Mostly this was limited because it meant the game-makers would’ve had to do double the work. But entering consequences was always a valiant target. And even if you can’t give real consequences, games should at least give the illusion of a consequence. Hell, it was great to be bad-mouthed by your boss in Deus Ex, to be reminded that you’ve been killing an awful lot of people by your brother. Little things, details. The entire world doesn’t have to change, but give me some NPC’s I can care about in a game, make them complement/criticize me and then give me choices. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still enjoying myself nowadays playing some games. But games should go back to being more fun and being less of a job, make me care more, be detailed if it fits the setting, and be created while enjoying it, for good old fun.