It’s easy to look at the past and say that it must have been better then.  Raids must have required much more strategy and much less reading online to complete when the game launched, compared to the present state of simply learning dance moves and completing them.  The only change has been the design ethos – the past six years have not brought more experience or a more robust network for disseminating strategies.  Things were harder back then, they required more thought, and there was a more enjoyable game in place.

Proving people wrong via experiments such as EverQuest‘s new “progression” server is an exercise in frustration.  If the deliberate throwback experience fails to live up to the image in one’s head, there are countless scapegoats for why the nostalgia server doesn’t properly recapture the glory of yesteryear.  We’re notoriously bad at admitting that our affectionate memories can often grow without outside influence, that in hindsight the things we loved when we were younger weren’t any better or worse than what exists now.  And we’ll construct elaborate rationales for why the Now is bad and Then was better, without stopping to examine that perhaps things have been the same all along.

I remember watching Ms. Lady trying to play through Final Fantasy VI a couple of years ago before giving up and apologizing.  “I just can’t get into it,” she said.  And I looked at a game that had defined so many years of gaming for me, full of characters and story twists and progression that remain etched into my head, and I can see why she would put it down.  It was a marvelous game in 1994, but that was more than a decade ago, and the happy memories of the game are tempered by a selective editing that cuts out every frustrating death or obtuse boss fight or secret hidden in a ridiculous spot.  The game I remember is something so good it stands up to modern standards despite its age; it’s a shame that this game only exists in my memory, not in the present or in 1994 or ever.

About expostninja

I've been playing video games and MMOs for years, I read a great deal of design articles, and I work for a news site. This, of course, means that I want to spend more time talking about them. I am not a ninja.

3 responses to “Lionizing”

  1. Zoso says :

    I tried Fallout 2 a few years after it came out, as it was often mentioned in discussions as a seminal RPG, and just couldn’t get into it at all. I’m sure it’s a fine game, but the early combat was absolutely brutal! Can probably be taken as a demonstration of the ever-declining standards of gamers (back in my day we had to walk uphill both ways to hand quests in!) or of the improvement in games over time, most likely a bit of both.

    I haven’t been tempted to try Fippy Darkpaw, though…

  2. Drew says :

    I, too, tried Fallout 2 rather recently and couldn’t get into it either. I didn’t consider myself much of a graphics snob, really, but I just couldn’t get past it – they’re so bad. I really enjoyed FO3 and FNV, but I think you’re spot-on that sometimes our memories are better than the real thing. I know I couldn’t sit down and play back through FFVII again today, either. For me, though, the biggest thing is that I have limited game time now versus “back in the day” and I’d rather spend it on something new and unfinished than relive the glory of something in the past.

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