Wasteland (1) too primitive looking? How I got past it

Discussion in 'Wasteland Discussion' started by SilentRiC, Jun 27, 2013.

  1. SilentRiC

    SilentRiC First time out of the vault

    May 19, 2013
    I suppose it's pure poetic justice that I found myself looking at Wasteland on my computer thinking "I...just can't get into this" the very same way many people look at Fallout 1 & 2.

    Well now I look at it and think "la-di-da, is all this detail really necessary?". How did I achieve this? There was actually no lobotomy involved, I simply got really into 'Roguelikes'.

    Rogue was a PC game from 1980 that used only ASCII (or ANSII, I forget) characters to represent dungeons from an overheard perspective. Levels were randomly generated and death was permanent, seeing you explore deeper and deeper whilst levelling up and gaining items. This spawned a genre known simply as 'Roguelikes' and subsequent games added a lot of depth.

    I should point out that tilesets are available and quite commonly used in some Roguelikes (some even use them by default) but there's a certain charm about the text based 'graphics' and after a while you see past the primitive representations and become engrossed in the game.

    Now that I've developed a passion for games that look like this:

    I'm all but salivating over screens like this:

    It's part of our modern conditioning to expect the game to set the scene visually but, as I've learned, we're fully capable of reverting to imagination supplemented by verbal description. The only problem is that I'm playing too much NetHack and Brogue to get around to loading up Wasteland. They're addictive as all hell, you've been warned.[/img]
  2. egalor

    egalor Look, Ma! Two Heads!

    Jun 20, 2007
    Well, I'm getting your idea.

    As for me, however, the things are a bit different. I do like ADOM too (yet another ASCII roguelike), but perceiving pseudographics is more aesthetically satisfying, than "true" but extremely outdated visuals.

    Still, I can play WL1 with no problem, but only because it's one of the games I played in the early 90s, and saw it played by my elder brother even in the 80s. So, it's kind of a second nature for me :) Otherwise, I couldn't have played it long with much fun nowadays.
  3. fred2

    fred2 Where'd That 6th Toe Come From?

    Nov 2, 2013
    Honestly, I don't get rougelikes, as far as I am concerned randomly generated content in RPG equals no content. As far Graphics, as long as the content and gamaplay is solid, the general rule the more the better. The only game I play that considered rougelikes and has ASCII graphics, is DwarfForress, though I only play DF Mode and use a tileset.
  4. valcik

    valcik So Old I'm Losing Radiation Signs

    Dec 20, 2008
    Some of them are pretty good! Try DoomRL, there's optional tileset or ASCII graphics, original Doom music and highly addictive gameplay in this little gem:
  5. 5545Trey

    5545Trey Underground Deviant

    Jun 25, 2014
    Graphics are insufficient when it comes to gameplay and content, but from what I have seen, the gameplay seems uninteresting, and it feels as if the game has very little content.
  6. naossano

    naossano So Old I'm Losing Radiation Signs

    Oct 19, 2006
    Are paitings outdated compared to photographies ?

    It is very rare that i consider video-games graphics as outdated.
    The rare occurences i do it, is when it feel that the area isn't well mastered, at beginning of an era.
    I mention FPS as it is one of the first genre i played many games from different eras.
    I basically sort them in a few eras :
    A - Sprites in false 3D perspective. (like Land of Lore)
    B - Sprites in actual 3D perspective.
    C - 3D model in low-res 3D gameworld.
    D - 3D model in standard-res gameworld.
    E - HD FPS.

    I can hardly consider HD as outdated, but for previous eras, most games i feel the graphics are outdated are games that come early in those eras.
    Before Wolfenstein or Land Of Lore, there are games that try to use that perspective but lack of enough graphics to allow things to be seen clearly or a problem of pace. They haven't mastered the technology yet it can be seen. Then, with Wolfenstein, they mastered it and it feels right. There is a lack of details, but it isn't ugly. Then, they tried to add eight, with Tides or Doom, but in early games to do it, there is many flaws that can be seen. Build Engine FPS (Duke Nukem, Blood etc...) that came very late in the sprites FPS era are still really visually great today. They mastered sprite-based FPS technology. Those games aged far better IMO, than the first 3D based FPS that came in the same time, like Quake. In Quake, the 3D model are rough, ugly, the light are ugly, everything seems unprofessionnal by today's standards. Then, the 3D model are handled in a better way, they trying to make realistic FPS, in realistic context, with people that have an human face. First attempts aren't great, with many clone, lack of lipsing or bad lipsing, like in Deus Ex or Half-Life. FPS that came later, but still not in HD, had a better look.

    The things that affects my vision of graphics aging are if the guys who did those mastered it or were just trying a new toy. Also, if those tools weren't complex enough to handle what they were trying to do. If the appearance of the monster you were trying to make look nothing like your magnificent drawing, and is even hardly recognisable, then rather than have a low-res version of your original monster, you better make a simplier one. Sometimes you have to implie instead of showing. Use the technology you have for what it is capable of. Most of the time, it implies trying to be less realistic in your design, while still being beautiful, or use symbol when you can't use creatures, but it can go beyond that.

    I could say the same for other medium. IMO, the last silent movies have aged better than the early not silent movies, the late black/white aged better than the early color one. For instance, Jurrassic Park 1 was a mix of CGI & animatronics. The animatronics was a technology they already mastered and the animatronics dinosaurs are still fresh. The CGI wasn't as mastered as today, and Jurrassic park CGI dinosaurs didn't aged well. (i am reffering the original version. Not sure about the 3D reedition)

    Of course, it comes from someone who cares to watch old movies, play old games, or see old paintings, and have perspective. But i can't get myself in the shoes of someone disregarding visual/sound because they are old.

    On Wasteland area, i had the opportunity to try out other games from that era, and IMO, the graphics have aged pretty well, as they made the best use of the technology they had. They didn't show pictures that didn't help. You aren't much confused by the land, you always know where your character is on the map, the monster picture can be easily seen in the land and feel monster-ish enough, the portraits are wonderfull, the combat are text-based, but everything is understandable. It is effective most of the time, great on some occasions. Sometime, it implies instead of showing, but it provides enough to feel it.

    My complains are mainly about the gameplay, even thought if other games of that same era have more problems.

    - The basic control are intuitive, but when it come down to management (of skills, party, inventory etc...) it takes some time to get into it. Before you can get into it, you will have to read manuals/reserch on the internet, or play with the menues for a few hours, and not actually play the game.
    - There is no tutorial, no initial quest. You are thrown in the gameworld, without knowing anything about the world, the gameplay, the quest, and there is nothing ingame to explain you. It can seriously put people off early on.
    - Even after you played a while, i am not sure you can do a lot without some kind of walkthrough. Using a specific skill on a specific chest in a specific area to unlock better loot, is not intuitive, it is not something you can deduce from the area. If you want to explore things in depth, i think the walkthrough becomes necessary. There is so many "hidden" options that you could miss a lot of the game and not use a lot of your abilities & settings if you don't take the time to read outside sources.
    - The forced iron-man savegame system. I get why it is there in some kind in which the main feature is the challenge. But in RPG or long games with stories, i rather have the iron-man as optionnal. It is not fun to replay the whole game if you handle poorly an endgame fight. (fortunatly, you can still force a crash of the game, so that defeat isn't aknowledged when you reload)
    - I am glad they corrected this, but their DRM was utterly horrible, forcing you to use an external file (or a book, at the time) everytime the game tell you to look for paragraph X.

    I know it would be almost impossible to have an ingame tutorial or tips during playthrough, but if they could at least allow two save slot by playthrough, it would keep more players on board.

    On a more general note, i can be put off by some gameplay in older/newer games if they seem detrimental to the goal of the game, if they feel cheaty or trying to trap you, if they don't allow setting that they could allow, (when you can't bind for instance), if there is no way to help you to understand the controls, if you spend there is no way to get them while still playing, etc... For instance, most of the plateformers that can be binded, have a fast pace and a correct difficulty can't ever get old. On the other hand, early RPG, or rather dungeon crawlers that relies in advanced calculations, to advance in the next corridor, with little to no story reward, zero visual effect, ask you to remember word in qwerty (if azerty user) to take something from your inventory and give it to your wounded party member, while waiting two minutes for getting the result of your action, because the game is loading five paragraph of actions for the other monsters that are in another room and making noises, which tell you when you are with map coordinates, with no actual ending, and each room is procedurally generated the number of gameplay barriers outweight the rewards, the fun, or the interest of the story (especially if shallow or non-existing). It is a matter of balance.

    Unless factually stated, you have to try if you want to know if the cons outweight the pros.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2014
  7. Gizmojunk

    Gizmojunk Half-way Through My Half-life

    Nov 26, 2007
    I always judge a game by it's draw on the system resources. There is no such thing as outdated; there is only differing methods to use the machine.
    Wasteland only needs ½ a megabyte to run ~not counting the emulator. :smile:
    It manages to impart its experience with no sound and a minimum of 4 colors ~maximum of 16.

    Wasteland 2 is 30 Gigs... and demands a dedicated 3d GPU, and over a gig of ram... Will it impart a better story and game play for that?
    (It certainly won't be a 1000 times better for demanding a 1000 times the ram and storage on the system.)

    There is something to be said for making due with less; adding only what's needed... and it usually demands more skill to do it.
    It can be shown with an easy example:

    The first artist totally captures Hitchcock in 8 lines; does it really need more?
    (Who is the better artist?)

    *I think that the first two are exceptionally good; but I think the first one is the most impressive.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2014
  8. naossano

    naossano So Old I'm Losing Radiation Signs

    Oct 19, 2006
    I prefer the second picture.
    If someone can deduce the first picture is about Hitchock without anyone telling him, he would have psi powers.
    If you get to draw something with only 8 lines, you better try something more simple.
  9. memetics

    memetics ☢ Mysterious Stranger ☢

    Jan 2, 2009
    Actually, I knew immediately that the first picture was Hitchcock - but mainly because the image usually was shown on (US) television at the start of episodes of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," with a silhouette of Hitchcock himself walking into frame with the line drawing.

    Perhaps this just illustrates how telling a good story can be done by drawing effectively on audience foreknowledge and imagination rather than relying on excessively fancy (and gigabyte-heavy) graphics, etc.

  10. naossano

    naossano So Old I'm Losing Radiation Signs

    Oct 19, 2006
    My take on it is that the first picture shouldn't be about Hitcock but a pac-man-like character, far easier to recognize.
    There is nothing wrong with pac-man-like characters and they don't need to be in HD.
    I wouldn't care if they make an HD version of pac-man. He just doesn't need it.

    If the game is about swiming in the ocean, avoid sharks and try to grab little fishes, while avoiding the poisoned one that looks like the not poisoned one, a first-person HD game would be better, as the focus of the game is to decipher details in a moving pictures that has a lot of things in it.

    IMO, if the only change was the graphics, they wouldn't be needed, but not necessary a bad thing.
  11. Gizmojunk

    Gizmojunk Half-way Through My Half-life

    Nov 26, 2007
    You should play it. The re-release is on Steam and GoG, but IMO you should skip the optional graphics update, because ~for some oddball reason~ they removed the animations that came with the depictions of the enemy portraits. :irked: The portraits are [arguably] improved, but lifeless.
  12. 5545Trey

    5545Trey Underground Deviant

    Jun 25, 2014
    I will try it, but I have other games to finish. Maybe I will play on August.
  13. HakuninIsUseless

    HakuninIsUseless First time out of the vault

    Jul 27, 2014
    I can't speak for whatever country you're in, but anyone in my country who is familiar with Hitchcock would have no problem whatsoever in figuring out that the first picture is of him.
    It REALLY ain't difficult.
  14. memetics

    memetics ☢ Mysterious Stranger ☢

    Jan 2, 2009
    I do think that it depends on your age, though. Younger people are much less likely to have a clue about who Hitchcock is. Or Pac-Man, for that matter. (-: We may need to dig deeper for a more recent example.

    Edit: @SilentRiC: Your OP looks to be missing its first image.

    And also on topic: Wasteland was an evolution of more-or-less linear text-only and graphics + text (Sierra) adventure games; when you play it, you have to keep that context in mind. It *is* primitive. Once you're in that mindset, though, to lower your expectations of graphics quality to a context-appropriate level, then it's easy to get into the sheer joy of exploration of the story and the setting. It really is a fun game, even today.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 9, 2016
  15. Moosick

    Moosick cats

    Jul 8, 2015
    The interface I enjoy. Micromanaging I find very satisfying because I am a boring old git, but I find the lack of detail EXTREMELY frustrating when it comes to finding things. I look up the walkthrough for Highpool and some of the hidden things... you may as well be guessing. Or touching every single square of the map and selecting and then using perception on each square. Whereas in Fallout you can look around the map and see key things, and if you have serious problems (like finding the lost gold watch), press left shift. For many older games it's a case of Git Gud, but like tank controls in a fast-paced shooter, there's a line where it's difficult out of poor graphics, controls, writing etc.

    EDIT: oh, necrobump. sorry ._.
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2015