On Transiense of Video Games as Media

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Xenon
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On Transiense of Video Games as Media

Post by Xenon » Thu Jul 28, 2011 4:28 pm

Chaladar: It does not matter; in the end, all is transient and fleeting. All of it shall become dust. The judgement of self weighs more than the judgement of others....
Xaax: You make a terrible Protoss.


Recently I was looking for information on the broken music looping in the Intel Mac version of Warcraft III (as it turned out, my attempt at a workaround just made it crash a lot). I found that Blizzard appears to be abandoning support for Mac OS 10.7 with their legacy games.

Although this itself won't affect most of you (and it isn't a huge problem for me since I have an XP partition) it got me thinking about how video games, perhaps more than any other media type, are under threat of being lost to time.

Video games are unique in that they are a form of media that is inexorably tied to the march of technology. The written word is unlikely to go out of style, and video may be converted into any number of newer formats. However, older games get abandoned for ones with newer, flashier graphics, and can eventually be left unplayable due to operating system changes, graphics driver issues, and most harshly, dependence on a central server or a large number of players to be usable at all.

Games that gain enough following may be saved by means of emulation, but for how long? Sprite-based games may retain their aesthetic appeal far longer than 3D games due to the constantly changing standards for "good" 3D graphics. 3D games also are much more subject to graphics drivers and other problems. Even if the hardware is powerful enough to handle far more than the game demands, will it be able to run at all? Even some sprite-based games have sticking points with regards to staying relevant, such as fixed resolution and limited color palettes.

So my question is this: When you spend hours, weeks or months working on a campaign, mod or map, does it cross your mind that there may eventually be a time when it can no longer be enjoyed by anyone? If so, does it matter? Is the prospect of sharing your work in the near future motivation enough? Or is the creation its own reward?

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Re: On Transiense of Video Games as Media

Post by IskatuMesk » Thu Jul 28, 2011 4:43 pm

Well, I can personally tell you that the difficulties in just recording some old games, like Age of Wonders 2 which isn't even that old (only circa 2000), are attributed to bad design from the start (using weird as shit rendering).

For me as a modder, I don't make my stuff to be enjoyed by other people; so long as I enjoyed making it and felt accomplished leaving it, that is all that matters to me. Playing my old stuff years later just makes me mad. I doubt I will live long enough to see something like my UDK project get phased out to the point of being unable to play it.

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Re: On Transiense of Video Games as Media

Post by RazorclawX » Thu Jul 28, 2011 5:11 pm

Xenon wrote:So my question is this: When you spend hours, weeks or months working on a campaign, mod or map, does it cross your mind that there may eventually be a time when it can no longer be enjoyed by anyone? If so, does it matter? Is the prospect of sharing your work in the near future motivation enough? Or is the creation its own reward?
I accepted this as the fate of all my Starcraft campaigns and I'm okay with it. The thing I took away from that is to never build on something that isn't guaranteed to work later down the line (which is why my War3 campaign relies on nothing but what's in the vanilla World Editor)
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Re: On Transiense of Video Games as Media

Post by GnaReffotsirk » Sat Jul 30, 2011 12:25 pm

To the question RazorClawX quoted, my answer is:

I always assume it will be played only once, and if lucky played from start to finish.

I myself easily get tired of either film, comic, artwork, games, or campaigns for that matter. It's not all about if it gets forgotten or not for me, what matters most to me is that moment you were playing/watching it for the first time, and how that moment affects you, every step of the way until you're done with it.

:)

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Re: On Transiense of Video Games as Media

Post by Xenon » Sun Jul 31, 2011 7:06 pm

Mesk> Yeah, I already knew you did it for your own satisfaction. (Kinda like that Chaladar quote, actually. "The judgement of self".) I can understand, having messed around with data for my own amusement, but unlike you I never committed to any serious project even halfway through. Why does playing your old stuff make you angry? Do you just see the flaws you could have improved on?

RCX> Good point, I forgot to mention how external modding programs are even more vulnerable to being broken than the game itself.

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Re: On Transiense of Video Games as Media

Post by IskatuMesk » Sun Jul 31, 2011 7:48 pm

Xenon wrote:Mesk> Yeah, I already knew you did it for your own satisfaction. (Kinda like that Chaladar quote, actually. "The judgement of self".) I can understand, having messed around with data for my own amusement, but unlike you I never committed to any serious project even halfway through. Why does playing your old stuff make you angry? Do you just see the flaws you could have improved on?
In a way, I mostly see a lot of potential that was never realized, or a lot of corners that were cut. My standards constantly raise higher as I learn more and more about how people half-ass their way around game design, so all the little things nag the hell out of me, like the shitty graphics and low quality sound effects. Ultimately most of my mods were just a colossal waste of time, with only a few being completed, and never completed enough to warrant real celebration.

I hope I can make episode 1 at least memorable.

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Re: On Transiense of Video Games as Media

Post by Taeradun » Tue Aug 09, 2011 9:27 pm

it's not just the lack of hardware/operating system compatibility that does it; even back when "StarCraft II" was a phrase associated with Magic's arse rather than a video game, it was clear that sooner or later there would be less of a "market" for SC/BW campaigns (which isn't the reason why I never ended up releasing anything for SC1, lol). This even happened somewhat when Warcraft III was released only six months after I properly joined the SC modding community.

This isn't even restricted to videogames; other media fall out of fashion eventually - even with all the weird "fan fiction" people on the internet, I doubt there's much interest in, say, Saved By The Bell fanfic (though I won't bother verifying this with google because I'm horrified at the possibility of being proven wrong)

Aside from modding potential though, yeah it's weird how unmodded games can become unplayable and may end up "lost to time". Emulation of older consoles or DOS games is easy but games from that middle period that came after that era but are still out-of-date today can be unplayable.
  • Just a few weeks ago I bought Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines in a Steam sale but it didn't work AT ALL in Windows 7 x64 and I ended up having to search for and install a third-party patch to fix it (and yet the publisher still happily took my money - 75% less than normal, but in a promotional deal aimed at encouraging a larger number of sales, and the normal price is still twenty fucking dollars - for a product that doesn't even work, and even in its heyday showed signs of rushed development and executive meddling, where the staff were laid off shortly after its release).
  • A few years I found C&C Renegade bluescreened on my old laptop which still massively exceeded its minimum requirements - I gave up on it then but now that I think of it I feel like playing it again so might see if there's a third party patch or if it works in a VM or something
  • Again on my old laptop, Lego Racers 2 wouldn't install because the installer checked your system setup and got confused when over 2GB of RAM was present - so to install it you had to remove some RAM or otherwise tell Windows to operate as if it had less - but then once it was installed you could put it back and the game would run fine.
Maybe in the future there might be community-driven emulators for stuff like Windows XP and earlier versions of DirectX, like we now have DOSbox etc (at the moment I have a dedicated XP VM which I sometimes use for running old stuff and that works fine though). On the other hand existing software like DOSbox and zsnes will need to be updated for whatever future computing platforms come along - it'd be weird if they weren't and in the future people end up having to do some multi-layered emulation/virtualisation Inception thing to play a DOS game inside Windows XP inside Mac OS 12 inside Oracle Space OS 3000 :P

I guess even that happens with other media though, like movies on decaying film reels or 4:3 VHS recordings
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Re: On Transiense of Video Games as Media

Post by Lavarinth » Wed Aug 10, 2011 1:02 am

I run Dungeon Keeper 2 perfectly fine on Virtual PC 2007. Note: Uninstall Virtual PC for Windows 7, install Vista's Virtual PC 2007. Result: Full screen ability, epicness.
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Re: On Transiense of Video Games as Media

Post by UntamedLoli » Wed Aug 10, 2011 3:24 am

This will be the fun thing with all of these games requiring you to be online lately, if that service ever goes down or they decide they don't want to run the servers anymore. It's pretty much gone unless someone had already made a private server for it beforehand. It's bad enough when a game loses its multiplayer capability because the master servers gets shut down never mind an MMO that you lose everything. Now we're crawling into these games that are not MMO's completely disregarding any kind of local hosting and are purely online that will simply stop existing without the pirate community.

I can't speak for other companies that aren't Valve (Steam) that has stated if they ever go under they will release a patch and all of your games will be unlocked. Majority of the publishers would rather keep it in a death grip when they don't want to host it any longer and let it die off entirely.
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