Modern Retro Gaming

Started by republic, February 28, 2012, 05:28:24 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


I and I'm sure many of you, remember gaming before 3D was photorealistic.  I remember when texturing polygons began, I would often turn the textures off because it muddled the scene.  Some of my fondest early gaming memories are from games like Aces of the Pacific, SU-27 Flanker, Falcon 3.0, SVGAHarrier and many others.

I think in today's "Indie Retro" era, there is a real market for a throwback to the untextured days.  There are a few games out already that use this 'art style'.  Flotilla, Frozen Synapse, Darwina come to mind.

Anyhow, the point of this post is that the excuse we often get when asking for a niche game to be made, or remade, is the costs associated.  However, I submit that with little work in the art department (much less than creating textures) a game could be worthwhile with shaded polygons alone.  I'd rather play an updated SVGAHarrier at 1080p resolution, with a 3d cockpit and support for modern hardware (TrackIR, HOTAS, etc) today...would be better than a photorealistic every button modeled DCS: Harrier 10 years from now (or never depending on the marketing department).

Just imagine the possibilities...

Sigh...maybe I'm just being nostalgic.


I like the gist of your post and I don't think you're being nostalgic.

One of the things that is really troubling to me, lately, is the extremely long development time for the lastest combat flight simulators.  You use DCS as an example and I can agree with you in principle.  There are several simulators that I've been watching for a few years now, I want to play them, and I am increasingly worried that development creep will prevent their release....

1.  Fighter Ops
2. Jet Thunder
3. Combat Helo
4. Yankee Station

In fact, Yankee Station officially quit on the SimHQ forums this week, and I'm pretty sure that FO is vaporware.  Jet Thunder is on the ropes and apparently Combat Helo ran into a significant problem with its 3D models that may require an engine rewrite, or something to that effect.

It is frustrating to me because, in some ways, I think that while flight simulators are arguably getting much, much better (BMS Falcon, DCS: A-10), we are losing some of the gameplay innovation in the process.  For example, still no simulator to date has come up with a dynamic campaign engine to rival Falcon 4.0...a 13 year old sim now.  And, having spent a few years digging into the Falcon campaign engine, it's not even that remarkable...well, it is remarkable, but I read once that it uses something like 1% of the sim's resources!  It has very significant limitations. 

You touch on a subject that I have been recently considering, specifically that I think we're reaching a point (in both game and simulator development) where the development costs/manpower/whatever are reaching a point of diminishing returns.  You invest so much in ensuring the graphics, fidelity of the simulation, etc. are at such a high level that you run out of ability to take the game/sim to the next level. 

I'm not explaining myself well.  Consider a pair of games- War in the Pacific and Il-2 Pacific Fighters.  There is no reason at all why those two games could not be married to one another.  Or, even WiTP and Carriers at War.  Technologically, nothing prevents that- you should be able very easily to tie one game to the other such that a "combat" in WitP exports to another game/sim; you actually fly a sortie in Il-2 or drill down to tactical combat in CaW.  The problem isn't that the capability isn't there, but that in order to do it "right" would be so manpower intensive and expensive that it just isn't worth it.  Would you accept a flight simulator that looks like Aces of the Pacific tacked onto WitP such that you could fly missions that directly fed into your WitP combat results, in a limited way?  I would.  But who's going to take that risk?  When you have Il-2 hanging around out there (or, now, ClOD) it's very hard to take the massive step backward in the graphics department.

But, I see the merit in doing that for gameplay purposes.  And, furthermore, by NOT going retro like that we are feature-creeping ourselves right out of "fun" gameplay. 

You're not alone.  It's just disappointing that in some ways the power of our computers is having the negative effect of requiring such an investment to meet the perceived level of visuals that gameplay innovation is now suffering.  It's not that our hardware won't run it, it's that it's too expensive to program.

There are exceptions- Skyrim comes to mind- but there are more that suffer this creep than don't, in my opinion.
"If you had a chance, right now, to go back in time and stop Hitler, wouldn't you do it?  I mean, I personally wouldn't stop him because I think he's awesome." - Eric Cartman

"Does a watch list mean you are being watched or is it a come on to Toonces?" - Biggs


I'm in complete agreement with you Toonces.  I've been following the games on your list as well (though I hadn't heard of Yankee Station).  I'm not a programmer, but I did take a few courses as required by my degree.  My instructors always stressed us "don't reinvent the wheel".  It seems that every flight sim starts from the ground up with a engine that takes 3 years to refine.  Why not use an off the shelf engine.  In the process you would sacrifice 10% of sim fidelity to gain a 80% reduction in production time.

There ARE people who revel in having every button in the cockpit mapped.  But then there are a lot more who simply don't have the time or patience for that.  I've said many times before, I think Thirdwire to this point has mastered the Realism vs Fun metric.  Plus, having the sim be easier isn't exactly not realistic.  Someone here posted before that by, for example, making targeting a single button simulates a pilot who has hundreds of hours of training in that airframe.  Or in some airframes simulates having the GIB (guy in back).

I am hoping that Kickstarter will bring us innovative games with dynamic campaigns.  I'd love to see, as you mentioned, a game that mixes turn based Witp with tactical Carriers at War combat.  In fact, I'd be more than willing to donate (what little I can) to see something like that happen.  Heck, maybe the success of Kickstarter will see companies like Matrix and the like put some new idea out there to test the waters.


I love Microprose the dynamic campaign engine for Microprose's F-19 Stealth Fighter, F-117 and F-15 Strike Eagle II & III. I load these oldschool games from time to time thru DOSBOX to get the feel and compare with today's eyepoping sims "dynamic" (if any) game campaign engines. And this is just simulations, strategy and wargames are a different subject. Nothing wrong with Nostalgia  :'(


Retro gaming that emphasizes gameplay over eye candy really appeals to me so I have just started to replay BattleTech The Crescent Hawks Inception using Dosbox on my netbook!
"Just because something is beyond your comprehension doesn't mean it is scientific."

Dean Edell


I salute your approach and commend you on your dedication to gameplay over graphics - you sir are the Groghead of the Week !  ;D


I've always wanted to see Aces of the Pacific by Dynamix re-done and modernised.  Dynamix, with Red Baron and Aces of the Pacific, were the only one's to get career mode in a flight sim done right.  Because of those two games, I have never been able to get into flight sims again because everything else is lame. 

What I like about the career mode in Dynamix's games is that you get promoted, receive medals, get new aircraft when they become historically available, spend time in an enemy P.O.W. camp before eventually escaping and rejoining your unit.  The list goes on. 

Some might argue that all those features exist in many games today, however Red Baron and Aces did it in such a way, and unfortunately I can't put it into words, that you couldn't get enough of the game. 
"You and I are of a kind. In a different reality, I could have called you friend."

Romulan Commander to Kirk


Related to this thread, sort of, is the move from sprites to 3d.

I remember when I first got into modern PC gaming (1998) that games I loved at the time, like Age of Empires, used tons of sprites. Then the move to 3d slowly began and I remember thinking that the sprites looked better...why would anyone move to 3d?

I originally played MicroProse games on a C-64 (F-19, Gunship, M1) when I was a kid but I don't think I could go back that far. The games republic posted above are doable for me. But going back 25+ years to wire frames and such would be too much for me.
слава Україна!


I originally played MicroProse games on a C-64 (F-19, Gunship, M1)

Oh man..I remember playing these. F-19, the plane was shaped like a bell...a-la Tom Clancy Red Storm Rising. Great game though. All the old Micropros sims were....F-19, Gunship!, F-15 strike eagle....
"A government large enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything you have."--Thomas Jefferson


^I really wish MicroProse was still around. I think I miss that company more than any other.
слава Україна!


Quote from: Gusington on March 02, 2012, 12:14:24 PM
^I really wish MicroProse was still around. I think I miss that company more than any other.

+1 MicroProse name was pretty much a guarantee of quality for me!
"Just because something is beyond your comprehension doesn't mean it is scientific."

Dean Edell


слава Україна!


Quote from: Gusington on March 02, 2012, 12:14:24 PM
^I really wish MicroProse was still around. I think I miss that company more than any other.

MicroProse and SSI were my two favorites. I bought nearly every RPG and strategy game they published.
Regardless of how good a PC game may be it will always have its detractors and no matter how bad a PC game may be it will always have its fans.


Quote from: Greybriar on March 03, 2012, 05:45:22 AM
Quote from: Gusington on March 02, 2012, 12:14:24 PM
^I really wish MicroProse was still around. I think I miss that company more than any other.

MicroProse and SSI were my two favorites. I bought nearly every RPG and strategy game they published.

What he said.
Microprose put out M-1 Tank Platoon which, despite its very outdated graphics, has to be my most
fond memory of racking my brain trying to guess where the OPFOR would make it's move. The Helocam
- when available- was an amazing bit of icing on the cake.

Vituð ér enn - eða hvat?  -Voluspa

Nothing really rocks and nothing really rolls and nothing's ever worth the cost...

"Don't you look at me that way..." -the Abyss

'When searching for a meaningful embrace, sometimes my self respect took second place' -Iggy Pop, Cry for Love

... this will go down on your permanent record... -the Violent Femmes, 'Kiss Off'-

"I'm not just anyone, I'm not just anyone-
I got my time machine, got my 'electronic dream!"
-Sonic Reducer, -Dead Boys


A lot of the nostalgia probably is based on the satisfaction of playing well designed games.
There was a lot of complaint about how limited the gameplay was, but the visuals of the time and the ability to play all those games solitaire, made most folks happy.
Republic, I think you have identified something that may be a generational thing.
Most of us grew up with either boardgames or early computer games with limited graphics.
We are willing to accept poor graphics in games, because we see them as better than before.  Todays gamers started with much better graphics and expect this to keep improving.
The early game companies could not do much to improve the graphics, but knew that boardgamers (their targeted audience) wanted good gameplay.
All in all, gamers will compromise if it feels right.  To us, we want a better game.  A poor game with superb graphics loses us.
Many gamers today seem to want the eye candy more than the core gamplay.
Or at least that is what the companies seem to think.
"Most gods throw dice, but Fate plays chess, and you don't find out until too late that he's been playing with two queens all along".  Terry Pratchett.

During filming of Airplane, Leslie Nielsen used a whoopee cushion to keep the cast off-balance. Hays said that Nielsen "played that thing like a maestro"

Tallulah Bankhead: "I'll come and make love to you at five o'clock. If I'm late, start without me."

"When all other trusts fail, turn to Flashman." — Abraham Lincoln.

"I have enjoyed very warm relations with my two husbands."
"With your eyes closed?"
"That helped."  Lauren Bacall

Master Chiefs are sneaky, dastardly, and snarky miscreants who thrive on the tears of Ensigns and belly dancers.   Admiral Gerry Bogan.