I have to agree with you, I think good working conditions and passionate developers and staff will certainly help a game excel to be an historic great game. When you have a slew of dev's working on a game and they're overworked, poorly paid, uninterested or uninspired, and just 'hammering it out' you may knock out a game fairly quickly (by today's standards) and it may even be a AAA great looking game, but when you look at all aspects you start to see a severe lack of depth, care, and creativity in many design elements. Luckily, some games still manage to stay popular because where the games lack, are areas the fans of said games are less concerned.KwisatzHaderach wrote:Another thing that evilkinggumby mentions, that I'm sure overlaps with my "soul" aspect of games: how the devs feel when making a game.
Seeing a game that feels less 'manufactured' (in terms of game development, anyhow) and more "baked with care" really can make a difference. Look at cake or pie or muffins. Having a pre-packaged mass produced muffin from a gas station when you are hungry is ok, it gets the job done and it tastes ok and there is no real harm done.
But having a "baked this morning" pastry thats still a little warm from the oven, made by hand with locally collected ingrediants and no preservatives and made with a sense of pride, it just comes through on so many levels. As a consumer, I enjoy it because in various ways (texturally, psychologically, flavor, smell) I can sense the difference. In this day and age, it's getting tricky in some areas of the U.S. (and likely other parts of the world) to find local handmade goods, so more and more people are being raised on JUST manufactured goods made on the assembly line.
With gaming, think about how many youth and new gamers enter the market and all they know and see is modern gaming, where a lot of the "best" and "most popular" games are of this assembly line process. Created across hundreds of devs, without passion, without "soul" (to use Kwasatz term, because it really is true) and without the care and pride a smaller dev would have. These poor gamers don't know just what they're missing.
Then they go looking back and checking out "retro" gaming and seeing how things once were. Games released with all kinds of "feelies" in the box, with tons of content upon initial release. Less buggy, more diversity, tons of imagination and experimentation. It's no wonder we've seen a fair surge in retro appreciation for gaming and a shift in modern gaming design to try and emulate and replicate those old games made with pride.
Sadly, a lot of modern devs (indie and big box alike) are just "emulating" that vibe, not actually producing it. Those games end up feeling "like" the older games we appreciate, but not necessarily something truly akin to the old games, or destined to become "timeless". AGain, they are still manufactured, rather than crafted.
I am curious if people understand what I mean, and can cite a recent (last few years) game that manages to feel like old school games in terms of soul, pride of craft, passion for their medium, and overall fun presentation?
One that I think captured this (imperfectly, I will say, but damn close) was Torchlight. Sadly the first game never got multiplayer implemented, which would have made all the difference, but Torchlight II fixed that and continued some of the fun of the first (though not quite as well). The game had a nice art style, so didn't need to be a graphical powerhouse, had great music and sound, voice acting, easy to use (but tricky to master) controls and gameplay, loads of maps to explore and battle through, characters to try, loot to get, pets to customize, and even random generated treasure maps so after beating the game you had more to do for fun. And really it came with no DLC or micro-transactions or ways to gouge the consumer. It was just a right adorable, whimsical (but also dark)yet lengthy game. I really loved playing both games (possibly the second was funner due to playing alongside my friends).