Prey vs. My Nostalgia

By Shamus Posted Sunday May 14, 2017

Filed under: Video Games 72 comments

It has been bugging me for years: maybe the problem isn’t the games. Maybe it’s me.

I didn’t like the Thief reboot. I was tepid towards BioShock. The new Deus Ex games have some charm, but they never engrossed me the way the original did. Dishonored was kind of amusing, but it always felt like classic Thief with the best parts ripped out. Most other people loved these gamesAside from the Thief reboot. Nobody liked that.. Reviewers like them, the public embraces them, but they just don’t blow me away like in the good old days.

Maybe I’m getting old. Maybe I’ve just played too many games. Maybe after rolling over the same tropes and gameplay for years I’ve just lost the ability to give myself over to a game like I did back in my 20s. Maybe what made those games so magical was my own sense of wonder.

It’s been bugging me for years, but Prey proves that this isn’t the case. My fondness for those old titles isn’t blind nostalgia. Modern games really have been missing something special that I’ve been craving. I know this, because Prey has these things and I’m suddenly experiencing a game in a way I haven’t since I was 28. Prey is the real deal.

Prey is the Real Deal

Slight spoiler: In this game sometimes you might shoot a gun.
Slight spoiler: In this game sometimes you might shoot a gun.

It’s always bugged me that I have this reputation as “the guy who is always looking for an excuse to complain about something”. Some people don’t like that I’m “nitpicky”. I like to think I write all these words because I love games, and not because I enjoy whining and pointing out the faults of others. On the other hand, I can see they have a point. A lot of my analysis is focused on things that are wrong.

But now? Now I finally have a game I can gush about. A game I can praise without a bunch of qualifying asterisks and historical references to older, better things. A game that’s highbrow without being pretentious. A game that’s challenging without being tedious. A game that doesn’t need to make a big deal about offering me a choice. A game that knows that the key to a powerful ending is all the moments before the ending, and not just having the player fight a giant lava monster to save the universe. Prey is a game that’s bursting at the seams with vibrant new ideas.

I finished my initial run-through of Prey on Friday night. I actually stayed up four hours past my bedtime because I didn’t want to stop playing. I can’t remember the last time I did that. Even as I drifted off to sleep I was still thinking about all the little moments that stuck with me.


This particular scene has a kinda BioShock vibe going on, but most of the game isn't like this. The scenery is more Mass Effect + SOMA.
This particular scene has a kinda BioShock vibe going on, but most of the game isn't like this. The scenery is more Mass Effect + SOMA.

On Saturday morning I wake up, start a brand-new game, and proceed to play for the next eight hours straight. Again, I don’t think I’ve done this sort of thing with a first-person game since the 90s.

My first trip through Prey was a bit of a rush job. The side missions were interesting, but I was really curious about where the main story was going so I couldn’t bring myself to take a break from it. But now we’re into the second playthrough and I can linger. I can hunt for all the secrets, do all the side missions, and explore the other major ending. (There’s more than two, but breaking it all down would involve huge spoilers.)

Spoilers for the curious:

In my first game I went with January’s plan all the way. Nuked the station. I parked my ass in the captain’s chair and died with everyone else.

(Please remember to spoiler-tag your comments below. The game is still pretty young. The rest of this article should be spoiler free aside from the names of missions and locations.)

Now that I know the mechanics and I know what’s good, this is going to be my “perfect” playthrough. I comb the station for loot. I crack every door. I loot every container. I kill every monster. I listen to every audiolog. At the end of seven hours I’m just finally reaching the G.U.T.S.A long shaft the runs the length of the entire space station., which is barely a quarter of the way through the story. I pop open the airlock and begin the first extended spacewalk of the game.

There’s something odd going on here. January – my robot buddy – narrated my trip through the G.U.T.S. in the last game, but this time Jan is silent. Also, all of the lootable containers are empty. This includes dead bodies that should have audiologs with more exposition. And I feel like we’re missing some foes. I remember there being a lot of opposition on my first playthrough, but here I’m just flying through an empty tunnel. The game is still on Normal difficulty, so everything should be the same. Am I remembering this wrong?

I reach the Arboretum and the door is… unlocked? It’s supposed to be locked. There’s a little five-minute sidequest to get the keycard, but here I can just roll up to the airlock and breeze through. Inside, it’s more of the same. No dialog. All the containers are empty. January never speaks. My mission log hasn’t updated.

The game is broken. I can’t progress.

I’ve got about ten saves. Some are autosaves, some are quick saves. I go back to the oldest one, which is from about an hour ago. I reload it and play through the entire Psychotronics section again.

Same result. All quest progress stops the moment I leave Psychotronics. I just sunk eight solid hours into this playthrough and it’s completely dead.

Yes I tried re-launching the game.

Yes I’m using the latest public beta patch that promises to fix all the progress-killing bugs.

I don’t want to start another game only to run into this problem again. Is this it? Did this bug just kill my ability to enjoy this game?

This was going to be the big moment. This was my chance to be positive for once.

And you ruined it, Bethesda. You world-class jackasses.



[1] Aside from the Thief reboot. Nobody liked that.

[2] A long shaft the runs the length of the entire space station.

From The Archives:

72 thoughts on “Prey vs. My Nostalgia

  1. Dreadjaws says:

    “And you ruined it, Bethesda. You world-class jackasses.”

    Funny. As I mentioned in your previous article about playing 4 games at once, I made the decision not to buy Prey because Zenimax, the parent company, is trademark bullying indie developers because of this game.

    To reiterate: despite the misconceptions, they don’t need to do this for legal reason. They’re doing it because they can.

    So yeah, I refuse to support a company that bullies smaller companies, specially if they don’t even have anything close to a valid reason to do so.

    That’s why I was a bit upset at all the praise the game was getting. I felt sad for the developers, they weren’t at fault for what their parent company was doing. But now I don’t feel sad anymore. Thanks, Shamus!

    1. Galad says:

      And I decided not to buy it, because I’m apparently one of the 14 or so people that still care about the Bethesda paid mods failure. I think it’s bigger than Skyrim, for whom the paid mods were supposed to be, I think that if this had taken off, it would have gradually stifled and killed off a lot of mod support.

      Still, glad to hear Shamus finally found a game he can be completely positive about, after Half-life 2. :>

      1. Galad says:

        damn, guess my boycott on Prey and Bethesda lasted a whopping three months..Oh well, at least I can confirm the game’s worth the praise Shamus gave it.

    2. Tektotherriggen says:

      They’re bullying people about the trademark “Prey”? Even though it’s named after a completely unrelated 2006 game? That’s low even by the usual standards of trademark bullies.

      Edit: And, of course, a Michael Chrichton novel, at least three movies, two albums, a “Voyager” episode, a “The Walking Dead” episode, and two TV series. Wikipedia: Prey (disambiguation)

      1. Rax says:

        Movies, novels and TV series don’t matter. Their trademark is only about ” information relating to electronic computer games via the internet.” and “clothing, namely, shirts”.

        1. Tektotherriggen says:

          > “ information relating to electronic computer games via the internet.”
          Which “Prey” has already been used for. My second paragraph was just taking the piss a bit, about how it’s a pretty generic title in media in general.

          I’m afraid your links don’t work (“This search session has expired. Please start a search session again by clicking on the TRADEMARK icon, if you wish to continue.”).

          1. Rax says:

            They own the rights to the 2006 game, so that’s not a problem. I didn’t know those links would expire. You can check yourself by clicking the “Search Trademark” button on this page and searching “PREY”.

            1. Tektotherriggen says:

              They own the rights to the 2006 game…

              Huh, I didn’t realise that.

    3. Echo Tango says:

      “they don't need to do this for legal reason. They're doing it because they can.”

      Actually, they do need to protect their trademark. The way trademark law is set up in the US, if you don’t protect your trademark against everyone, then you can lose the right to defend it in the future.[1][2] As for things that didn’t need to happen, the trademark could have been rejected in the first place, since it would obviously lead to this situation. The company(ies) could have also just not have filed for such a generic trademark. In either case, it’s a common English word, so this conflict over trademark is inevitable. You can totally be mad at them for trademarking something that would so obviously lead to conflicts like this.

      [1] See this article on the current Prey case.
      [2] I’m not a lawyer, but everything I’ve read about trademark indicates, that you need to defend it constantly. Otherwise, the next time you do want to defend it, the opposing side in the court case can just point to the time(s) you didn’t defend the trademark, as proof that they also should be able to use a name that infringes on your trademark.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Except practically no one other than zenimax is doing this.And its not like there werent plethora of opportunities to do so.Blizzard versus all the “-craft” games.2k games versus galactic civilizations and precivilization games.Microsoft vs anything that has “window” or “office” in its title.And so on,and so on.

        So no,zenimax did not have to do this.They did it because they are dicks.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Check out what CD Projekt had to say when they trademarked “cyberpunk”.More specifically,this part:

        Use of a protected word in a title may be prohibited only if it could confuse the customers

        No one is going to confuse “prey for the gods” for “prey”.Not only because the two titles are significantly different,but because the two games are nothing alike,and their logos are completely separate as well.The only reason this succeeded was because the developers of that game are a small 3 man team who does not have the time or especially the money to deal with a big legal battle with zenimax.

      3. Nimas says:

        Edit – the tone here came off as being too aggressive and I apologise, but the “must protect their mark” fallacy is one that I see everywhere and it annoys me. Please assume any negative tone is simply a case of weariness with regards to it and nothing directed at you.

        No. They are being Jackassess in this respect. The entire basis of Trademark law is that it is designed to protect *consumers* not companies.

        So the “must protect your mark” requirement in the law is *only* when there is a significant “Likelihood of Confusion” between 2 marks.

        In this case, the very fact that the people behind ‘Prey for the Gods’ (or now Praey for the Gods) are not being required to change their logo and the fact that all they needed to change was adding a pointless a in the word Prey gives a fairly good indication of how weak a claim this actually was.

        Also, the standard by which this stuff is judged is “an idiot in a hurry” and one very basic look at the box art will pretty much tell you that these 2 games are in no way related, from space to a bleak winter in some ruins to completely different font and the like.

        Now do note, I too am not a lawyer, so don’t base any legal decisions off this, but I am quite interested in both Trademark and Copyright law, so I have a slightly better understanding than most laypeople.

        For an example of something likely to cause confusion, I could see if the Title was something like Prey: For the Gods, as that does fall into some usual tropes for sequel naming in the games industry. I would however think Bethesda would lose the case in that instance due to all the other wildly differing imagery and gameplay and such, but at least they would have a more solid claim.

        1. Echo Tango says:

          Having Googled, read, and thought about this more, it seems that both customers and companies both have to be protected, in order for trademarks to work. Assuming that trademarks original intended purpose was to protect customers[1], I think it comes as a logical consequence that companies also need some protection from trademark law.

          For example, a customer is protected, because they know that when they purchase a distinctly-shaped, distinctly-colored beverage bottle with the words “Coca-Cola” on it, they know it’s of a certain taste and quality. However, the Coca-Cola company needs to be protected too, so that if a particular store has complaints about poor-tasting beverage, they know that it’s from one of their factories that needs fixing, and not some other company making a cheap knock-off beverage. In order to guarantee the quality of the beverage, Coca-Cola needs the ability to stop other companies from using their marks.

          Note however, I’ve already been convinced by you (and Daemian Lucifer), that their defense of their trademark was overly agressive, since “Prey” and “Prey for the Gods” are easily distinguished. Note also as previously stated, I already think the company in question deserves some amount of anger or frustration directed towards them, since they chose to trademark such a trivially short name. A single-word name, that’s a common every-day word in the English language, which is practically guaranteed to lead to situations like this. I’m also annoyed with the governing body(ies) who didn’t reject the trademark application because of those same reasons. :)

          [1] I’m not a historian, so I’ll just take your word for it, since my argument doesn’t rely on the original purpose.

          No offense taken. Even without your disclaimer, your comment sounds like somebody defending a viewpoint, and not making a personal attack. :)

      4. Dreadjaws says:

        “I'm not a lawyer, but everything I've read about trademark indicates, that you need to defend it constantly.”

        And have you actually read the legal stuff instead of simply comments from random people on the internet who like to spread BS?

        As I said before, this is a misconception, and one sadly very, very spread, to the point that even the spokesperson for Zenimax claimed such thing. Though, to be fair, he could have simply been lying, since as we’ve established they’re a bunch of jerks.

        Let me give you a little rundown. There are two ways a trademark can be lost (and please understand that there’s a difference between copyright and trademark, which further confuses people, but that’s another discussion): abandonment and generification.

        The first one occurs when a company stops making use of their trademark for several decades, which is very, very rare, and clearly not something Zenimax is in risk of. The second one occurs when a trademark starts to get used as a generic term (for instance, did you know that the word “thermos” used to be a brand?). This is also very rare because it generally only applies to new products.

        As you probably realize, videogames are not a new product. Furthermore, even when FPS were new and very popular thanks to Doom and the term hadn’t been coined, they tended to be called “Doom clones”, and not “Dooms”. So even when there was a chance that the genre of this particular game could generify a trademark, it didn’t happen. So this is yet another way Zenimax isn’t in risk of losing the trademark.

        Going back to the example above, note how after all these years id Software never lost the trademark to Doom despite they never bringing legal action against games that had the word “Doom” in their title.

        So, again, no, they don’t need to do this. They’re not in a situation in which they need to do it, they’re simply being a bunch of jerks because they can. If it was a large studio like, say, EA the one they had to fight they wouldn’t be doing it because they know they have no legal basis for it. The only reason they do it is that they know the small indie studio cannot afford the legal battle whether they’re in the right or not. It’s legal bullying, and it’s the kind of stuff I refuse to forgive companies for doing.

  2. Ilseroth says:

    At this point it’s a curse. Even if a game isn’t made by Bethesda, having their name as the publisher will somehow leech bugs into the game.

    As for the game, I’m glad it’s a proper system shock style game, I missed the boat on them. The only PC game I played in 99 was Everquest really, I was a bit younger and I’m not sure I’d have been able to really enjoy them at the time. That being said, hearing all the good things about System Shock made me buy the hd re release on steam, but it just didn’t grab me, and while I thought Bioshock was a decent set of games. I didn’t fall in love with them like some folks (Minus the aesthetics, the art deco environment+ underwater + a dash of steam punk was lovely)

    Granted at this point I have no spare money, no income and extremely limited free time (switching to indie game dev full time will do that), so I may not be able to experience Prey for some time, but hey, by that time maybe (I know I’m an optimist) they’ll have patched the bugs by then!

    Looking forward to when you have more words to write about it, as I’m sure you will.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      By “hd re release on steam” do you mean the enhanced edition? That’s not HD, it’s just had the worst parts of the UI / control-scheme fixed up a bit. It’s actually still really janky to control, compared to modern WSAD + mouse, + QER, + 12345, etc buttons. System Shock 2 is actually pretty damn playable, especially since you can basically remap all of the important buttons to their modern-day / standardized positions on the keyboard or mouse. Plus, it’s got better graphics, and cool gadgets. Just stick with “standard” guns skill – the rest of the guns aren’t balanced properly. :)

  3. Droid says:

    Maybe, just maybe, Bethesda just wanted to really up the ante when it comes to survival horror: Can your savegame survive the playthrough?

    Yeah, I know, it’s Bethesda, in reality they’re just producing bugs with the minimal obligatory gameplay attached.

    1. Sunshine says:

      Survival horror in a game that’s falling apart sounds like a good idea. Just imagine what it would like for the characters inside it: I opened the door to the basement, but there’s just a formless void. If I go upstairs, will I still be able to come back down? All the cupboards, fridges, bags and such are empty of the things I put in them, or worse the contents are missing their details and I fear that touching them spread the corruption to me. Everyone seem to have lost their minds and are just repeating the same sentence.

      1. King Marth says:

        Welcome to Corneria!

        I will note Chris highlighted a game with this general plotline, Continue?9876543210, where you play an orphaned reference trying to avoid the garbage collector.

        1. Sunshine says:

          I like swords.

          I remember, that was a good video. I still haven’t played Continue9876543210. I should fix that sometime.

      2. droid says:

        I have a few games with the setting of a glitchy computer world. I wish there were more of them.

        Transistor – You are in some computer world that is undergoing an apocalypse.

        Axiom Verge – almost fits, it is a metroidvania that features a weapon that will corrupt the sprites and behaviors of objects in the game. But in the game’s fiction I don’t think you are in a computer.

        Hack ‘n’ Slash – This one is not a horror game. It is like zelda but your sword is a usb hacking device that lets you modify the attributes of things. A later item is called a breakpoint bomb. I remember trying to use the bomb on a write protected thing, failing, then recursing into the thing that stopped me to trash the check for write protection.

        The Magic Circle – sort of like Hack ‘n’ slash but slightly less retro and slightly more pretentious art game.

      3. Tever says:

        You might like Eversion. Also Anatomy.

  4. el_b says:

    for a second at the end of the review there i thought the new game was going to be nier like, an extra playthrough with a different experience that unlocks the true ending…but nope it was just broken lol

    1. Tizzy says:

      I thought it was more along the lines of the game dynamically responding to your actions: spend too long with the beginning and someone is progressing ahead of you and looting everything.

    2. Nick-B says:

      I thought that maybe the game world persists when he made a new game. That he didn’t mention that the story he already did is missing and the only new story is what he didn’t collect the first time.

      Or maybe… The game randomizes loot/mobs! If you do well, maybe the monsters don’t progress that far into the station! It’s like what STALKER was supposed to be!

      Then he clarified that it was just the story stopped showing up after a point. Nuts.

    3. Mephane says:

      I first assumed it would turn out as intentional. For example, doing some of the side quests and extra bits may have killed the very enemies that you would meet in another location – the game trying to simulate a real place where your actions can have such drastic consequences. Sadly it was just a bug.

  5. LCF says:

    Best part of the game was the Illuminati teaming up with Skynet to kill Trinity but narrowingly failing, thanks to the timely use of the Spear of Destiny. Adding Ner’zhul to the mix was just the icing on the cake.

  6. I also sometimes wonder about the same issue. Then Persona 5 comes out, which is an 80-100 game that I am playing as quickly as I can and will likely be sorry when it leaves. Or Bayonetta gets rereleased on PC and I am reminded just how good it was and how fun it still is.

    I think it is inevitable that at least one of two events will be in play as you grow more experienced: Either you will indeed tire of what is on offer, or you will get more selective. My still-young children are playing Mario Party 8 on the Wii lately. I can barely stand to play it; so much paperwork between anything that looks like gameplay to me. (I think the game, indeed the entire genre, desperately needs a “fast mode” that skips everything possible to skip.) But they love it. And they’re not wrong. But neither am I.

    1. Tizzy says:

      As you have more comparison points, it’s harder to ignore the flaws that must be there in even very good games. Especially since we tend to remember the high points of good games a lot more vividly than their flaws (think Fallout’s atmosphere and feeling of freedom vs its atrocious interface).

      Also, this may be just me, but I remember my younger years as having a lot of free time and very few games to fill it with. You have to get good at seeing the positives in games in such circumstances.

  7. Corsair says:

    Shamus, you actually liked the ending?

    Ending spoilers

    I felt like the ending was absolute garbage – it’s all just a simulation, really? Nothing I did actually matters because this was all basically on the Holodeck and the actual important stuff already took place in ways nothing like what I did? What the hell is even the point? And the thing is, they could have had the same ending twist without the whole simulation thing – hell, it’d make the endings a lot more interesting if Morgan found out her true nature before the end, and it had been real events with Morgan being an impostor – the Nullwave is a surefire way to stop the Typhon, but you -will- die. The self-destruct -might- destroy the Typhon, there’s no surety, but you can escape.

    But what they actually went with – a stinger twist ending that it was all just a dream? I was -pissed-, personally.

    1. Ninety-Three says:

      The game gives away the ending reveal early if you ignore the main plot and get on the escape pod at the first opportunity. You get a cut to black, voice saying something to the effect of “Damn, it’s not the one, pull the plug”, cut to game over screen. Similarly, Morgan’s true nature is hinted at really strongly by the flashes you get when entering coral.

      I have no idea what they thought they were doing, it’s not clever foreshadowing, it’s just giving things away early.

  8. Ninety-Three says:

    I encountered a lot of weird quest trigger bugs in my first run through. First the December quest triggers got messed up and I met December before finding the stuff stashed for me. Then the Nightmare triggers got messed up and January told me that the Nightmare was following me because I had installed alien neuromods (I hadn’t). Then I got a radio message asking for help, from someone whose corpse I’d already found (no it wasn’t a trap, just a broken quest).

    If those were just the glitches that were obvious, it makes me wonder how many more quests broke subtly.

    1. Shamus says:

      You met December? I tried to meet him and January had destroyed him before I got there.

      1. Ninety-Three says:

        I played it twice and it seems that in addition to the scene sometimes triggering out of sequence sometimes January zaps him before you even lay eyes on December (which was damn confusing the first time I played), and sometimes you’ve got enough time that you could shake December’s hand if he had one.

        1. Corsair says:

          You can also kill January before you go to meet December, which saves December’s life.

    2. Redingold says:

      The Nightmare did that for me, too. Particularly curious was the fact that after it first turned up, I found that 4 of my psi points were missing, even though I hadn’t used any psi powers at that point. Still not sure where those went.

      1. Ninety-Three says:

        Getting zapped by corrupted med bots drains a little psi.

        1. Redingold says:

          Ah, I never noticed that. That makes sense.

  9. As soon as the unlocked door scene hit, and right after you said the door was supposed to be locked, I knew the game had taken a turn for the worst.

    Well-done. You satiated everyone’s curiosity for the game. I’m still going to play it eventually.

  10. Cinebeast says:

    This post has actually got me really interested in the game. Not that I’ve ever played the old titles it’s reminding you of, but it sounds cool.

    I think I’ll wait a couple of months before I pick it up, though.

  11. pranav135 says:

    I can almost imagine his wife asking “hubby, why are u crying?” And shamus replying “I- i just wanted to be happy “

    1. Gruhunchously says:

      Shamus Young: A Tragedy

    2. Sunshine says:

      Someone at Bethesda took offence at his bashing them, and bugged his copy in particular to hold out hope and snatch it away.

  12. Sunshine says:

    “It's always bugged me that I have this reputation as “the guy who is always looking for an excuse to complain about something”.”

    Is that really how you’re seen, or it is a running gag, like “The guy who’s always asking ‘What do they eat?'”

    1. Syal says:

      You know he only said that because he’s looking for an excuse to complain about something.

      1. Sunshine says:

        Endless content generator: complain about the complaints about your complaining. It’s possible that’s just called “the internet.”

  13. Tonich says:

    You know, I used to think it was mostly nostalgia that makes some people say, “They don’t make games like that anymore”. I thought I really liked Bioshock when I first played it. I missed out on System Shock, as only got my first PC in 2002, and there was no one at the moment to introduce me to the series.
    Two years ago a friend of mine sold me on System Shock 2. He told me Bioshock was just a dumbed down SS2. At first I didn’t believe him, but started playing anyway. Then I found out it was one of the most brilliant first-person games I’ve ever played. THEN I replayed Bioshock and… yeah, it was just as my friend said.
    Dammit, they really don’t make games like System Shock anymore. :)

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      You know, I used to think it was mostly nostalgia that makes some people say, “They don't make games like that anymore”.

      Nah,it is just nostalgia.Yes,there were brilliant games back in the day.But people forget that back in the day there were also a shitload of utter drek as well*.So we think of those days as “just the gems,no shit”,while we are more aware of both the good and the bad of the present.There still are occasional gems these days,and Id be surprised if the ratio of brilliance to shit has actually changed significantly.

      *Just check any of the reviews of older bad games like AVGN and youll see just how prevalent bad games were.

      1. Syal says:

        So we think of those days as “just the gems,no shit”

        Well I for one will never let people forget about Milon’s Secret Castle.

      2. evileeyore says:

        “Yes,there were brilliant games back in the day.But people forget that back in the day there were also a shitload of utter drek as well.”

        Which has no bearing on the statement: “They don’t make games like SS2 anymore” which was the lament. Not that “All games back then were awesome”, but that Thief 1, SS2, etc haven’t seen their like in the modern day.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          But this very article says that they do.Its just that they dont make such games year after year.

          1. Leocruta says:

            It is true that we get less gems these days than in the past though. I think some guy wrote about it a while ago.

          2. evileeyore says:

            Right, now that a single modern game that lives up to SS2 has been made we never again need to lament.

            Oh no… I’m still waiting on a Thief-like…

      3. Sunshine says:

        Still, it’s a young medium getting more complex and (in parts) more expensive as time goes on. So like film, there are old gems that would never get made today, and there’s also old dreck that would never get made today and rightly so. Swings and roundabouts, but “nostalgia is bunk” is a flawed statement. Less than “better in the old days”, though.

      4. Tonich says:

        Oh no, by no means I’m saying all games were good then. Likewise, there are quite a few games from the current era I love just as much. What I’m sayng is, if someone can still be baffled by playing an almost 20 year-old game for the first time (as I was), you can’t blame nostalgia.
        I do think there was something in the late 1990s – early 2000s games that modern games lack though. I had the same sensation playing Jedi Outcast fifteen years after its release. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t brilliant games now. It’s just that they are… different, if you know what I mean.

        1. Bubble181 says:

          Modern games tend to favor “accesibility” far more than older games.
          To take a fairly inoffensive example, User Interfaces. Used to be crap because they were too cluttered and unintuitive. Now they tend to be crap because they’re too slimmed down and don’t give enough info (Daggerfall vs Skyrim).
          The same holds true in many other aspects, too, though. This isn’t always bad – far from it. Being able to easily engage with a game (which is NOT the same as saying the game is easy!) can be a great benefit. Being obtuse and hard to get is usually a flaw. But in the interest of being easy to understand, often things got….not dumbed down, necessarily, but reduced. Sometimes things just got hidden, sometimes they became more clearly stated, sometimes they just disappeared in toto.

  14. Dreadjaws says:

    Hey, Shamus, since you like Factorio, have you seen this?

    Factorio’s Final Form

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Hmm. THat was made before the game had an in-game speak-unit you could build. I assume it was using a modded item? :)

      1. silver Harloe says:

        I think that was before colored lights was in the base game, so there was a mod for those.
        The sound was added to the video, though – it didn’t generate in-game.

        1. Echo Tango says:

          Now we just need to wait for somebody to remake it, using in-game (as of 0.15) speakers and lamps! :D

  15. Christopher says:

    I was real hype for some positivity here! Wasn’t expecting the whole game to break.

    1. Sunshine says:

      Joy is fleeting and illusionary in this broken, sorrowing world, like images flashing acrossing a screen.

  16. Dev Null says:

    Oh Shamus; you played a game that’s less than six months old? Why would you do that to yourself?

  17. Jack V says:

    I’ve mused on why I don’t tend to find stuff as electrifying any more.

    I think it’s partly, when I was a teenager, there was a backlog of stuff sufficiently recent enough it was accessible to me without a lot of historical background, so I could absorb 20 years worth of the best games, films, books in five to ten years. Now, I need to wait for new stuff or go spelunking for existing stuff I didn’t know I’d like.

    And partly, I’m familiar with more stuff. Lots of games, films, etc, are really really good if they’re the first film you see, but now I’ve already seen some of those common tropes. I’ve noticed, I show something I used to love to someone who hasn’t seen many films, they sometimes LOVE it, and I forget has electrifying it is when you don’t take for granted stuff your genre awareness makes you certain of.

    So it still seems unlikely “the best games” were from 20 years ago. But it may be “the best games in genre X” actually were from 20 years ago. It does seem like, a lot of the time, people screw up basic stuff i don’t know how they fail to get right — but I think there were just as many clunkers 20 years ago, I just don’t remember them, or loved them for other reasons.

  18. Ardis Meade says:

    Something adorable about a guy old enough to be my father saying “I stayed up past my bedtime.”

  19. I think video games are one of the few arenas that you can objectively say, quite clearly, “They don’t make ’em that way anymore”. Not only do you have the standard cycle of genres, but changing technical abilities means that games change in their approach. If you liked Final Fantasy prior to 6 or 7 or 9 or 10, those games just aren’t the big sprawling masterpieces they used to be sans cutscenes: either you get a AAA one with long cutscenes and the increasing JRPG nonsense (that was always there but less noticeable on blue dialog screens), or you get a smaller one. If you like FPSes like Quake, the broadening of the market to casual players has just made that less common.

    I think that, once video games really entrench themselves, we’ll see a return to a lot of older genres, the way Walking Dead, Prey, etc. did.

  20. methermeneus says:

    I’ve actually had this problem before with other games. It happened once with Skyrim (Steam install) and with Vampire: the Masquerade both Redemption and Bloodlines (very different games with very different engines). In every case, the fix was to delete (or move) my saved game files.

    For Skyrim, it was a problem with having two Steam accounts on the same computer (my roommate and I had different Windows accounts, but Steam saves were in shared files). The other two were probably weird interactions with mods that specifically affected saving: Redemption had a mod to let you save anywhere instead of waiting till you returned to your haven (think like safe rooms in Resident Evil, but no typewriter mechanic), and Bloodlines was released in a very buggy form due to business nonsense and required a patch to save without crashing in later levels. I don’t know what Prey’s excuse is.

    Edit: “crashing”got autocorrected to “ceasing” for some reason. To be fair, it’s not reallyincorrect, per se.

  21. Jabrwock says:

    What are your thoughts on Bethesda claiming that the Steam refund system is why they haven’t done a PC demo? Seems like a sketchy policy to encourage users to abuse a return policy.

  22. poiumty says:

    “It's been bugging me for years, but Prey proves that this isn't the case. My fondness for those old titles isn't blind nostalgia. Modern games really have been missing something special that I've been craving. I know this, because Prey has these things and I'm suddenly experiencing a game in a way I haven't since I was 28. Prey is the real deal.”


    Finally, someone knows how Dark Souls made me feel.

    I played Chrono Trigger for the first time a few years ago, in college. An unequivocally good game, a game that is good beyond the lukewarm milquetoast of most newer titles.

    Yes, it’s not nostalgia. It’s quality.

  23. lolox says:

    Really? Dishonored is like Thief with the good parts taken out? An action/stealth game where your purpose is to assassinate people and where you can go out guns blazing is like a stealth game where you only hide and move slowly, with barely some lore and almost no fighting system?

  24. Alec Wilson says:

    Hey Shamus.

    I am so very glad you popped the “it’s not me fallacy”.
    I managed it years ago, after being very sad for more than a decade that I had lost my soul of fun and gaming…and then realised IT’S NOT ME :)

    BioShock was the watershed. This game should be everything I wanted … right? But then I compared it, really compared it, and realised innovation, depth and immersion were NOT that high despite the games critical accalaim. The guys reviewing that game had never been to Citadel Station, or had forgotten why they liked it so much.

    Pillars of Eternity helped that – this game is as good as the great 90s CRPGs and I like it as much as I did them. So did playing recent games that I *liked*, and wanted to love, like Deus Ex and Doom and Dishonored etc…and realising they weren’t nearly as ambitious or innovative or pure a creative act as Half Life or Diablo or well, *any* Looking Glass title was.

    I have high standards yes, but I haven’t changed. The games have.

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