Here's my thought.
What's the official (or unnofficial) Q2T viewpoint on abandonware?
I tend to waffle on the issue myself. I'm in more of a "it's fine by me" stage right now.
Well, at least it's my greatest game of all time.. the 1st one that is (Shock2 isn't too far behind though).
I just wanted to see if you all, being more than casual gamers, have experienced this masterpiece in digital storytelling.
If not, head on over to http://www.the-underdogs.org and download the CD version (its around 120 megs) and play it right away! As you are definitely missing one of the greatest games to grace our PCs.
Through the Looking Glass -> http://www.ttlg.com
The Network for all things Looking Glass
Here's my thought.
What's the official (or unnofficial) Q2T viewpoint on abandonware?
I tend to waffle on the issue myself. I'm in more of a "it's fine by me" stage right now.
I never played it, but I've heard everyone rave about it. Unfortunately, technology has reached the point that the graphics are so bad I can't stand to look at it.
This doesn't apply to all old games, wierdly; there's plenty before and after that don't age as badly.
Most of the games made in the 320x240 era just make my eyes bleed now.
I think game companies that ask that older titles not be given away by sites like the Underdogs are within their rights, but I don't think anyone downloading the original System Shock is doing EA any financial harm.Originally Posted by asspennies
In fact, I'd think it would be a smart move for EA to allow it to be downloaded for free. It might increase sales of System Shock 2.
Actually, the CD version has a 640x480 mode. The only downside is that you can't reconfigure the controls, a shortcoming that Warren Spector himself lamented. Shock 1 is great, as is Shock 2 in a completely different way. It's sort of like the difference between Aliens 2 and Alien.
On abandonware, I'm all for it with the caveat that it's only truly abandonware if the developer or publisher is no longer making money off of it. It's a fine line to toe, but Shock 1 is no longer obtainable through retail channels.
That alone was reason enough not to play the game. My memory is as fuzzy as the graphics on what else I didn't care for - but the word cyberspace sticks out.
>On abandonware, I'm all for it with the caveat that it's only truly abandonware if the developer or publisher is no longer making money off of it.
Abandonware is a misleading term since, of course, a company can never "abandon" a copyright. No one ever has the right to use a copyrighted product without the permission of the copyright owner. That said, as others have stated, it's difficult to see how a copyright owner is damaged when the product is no longer, and likely never to be again, commercially avaiable.
Fantastic game, Desslock. I got SS when it first came out and was amazed at how intricate it was. Perhaps I became jaded as I grew older, but SS2 didn't have quite the pizzazz for me. Although SS2 was a good game, it seemed to have a bit less passion in it -- for lack of a better word. But as I said, I'm older now, and probably a bit more cynical. :-)
Jason, I think you would be doing yourself a great deed by downloading the game and playing it in all of its 640x480 glory, as Alan stated. Without bias (and it's hard not to be biased for Shock1!), it really was ahead of it's time, both on a technological and gameplay standpoint.
Chet, the cyberspace parts of the game were so darn innovative, I can't believe you didn't like it! However, even if it was not to your liking, I really think the rest of the game (as cyberspace can be less than 5% of your gameplay in Shock1) is far and away different than C-Space. Give it a shot, yeah? ;)
Shock 2 had some terrifying moments (those damn monkeys, for one), but I just got frustated fast.
The weapons modeling sucked beyond compare. If the military today can make a rifle that can fire thousands and thousands without breaking (okay, it might jam, but you can clear that in about 5 seconds. but the rifle won't break outright), i can't believe the assault rifles in system shock 2 are so friggin' fragile. You sneeze on the damn thing and it's worthless. You fire 20 rounds and it goes from brand new to totally worn out.
That and the paucity of ammunition was embarassing. If you're gonna let people choose their method of gameplay (sneaky, hacker, rambo), give the rambo option more than 2 clips of ammunition.
I can suspend my disbelief, you have to do that to enjoy virtually any entertainment medium, but System Shock 2 asked me to suspend just too much disbelief.
Few spoilers here...
Cyberspace blew - I never quite knew what I was doing there, I just bouced around until something happened. I never even really understood how I won at the end in there - I was just floating around mashing buttons like mad. Funny, SS2 had a similiar sucky ending for me - I never made it through that organic mess at the end and just gave up.
But the game as a whole blew me away - I still remember much of it, and it's been years since I played it.
I remember leaning out the elevator door trying to see what's out in the corridor when I arrive at a level .... After I blow up the first power nodes, Shodan speaking for the first time "wh - wh - who are you?". I lived that game for about 3 weeks.
"I can suspend my disbelief, you have to do that to enjoy virtually any entertainment medium, but System Shock 2 asked me to suspend just too much disbelief."
SS2 was NOT a shooter. The weapons were a very small part of the game. The game has to be balanced for more than one type play(yes you could get through it without having to shoot everything). SS2 isn't Quake.
Bullshit. SS2 is just Quake with Cyberspace.
I didn not like SS, but SS2 was complete crap. At any point in the game if you came to a section with three paths, here is how you had to continue. Go down path one until blocked, get a hint that the block on path 1 could be overcome by going down path 2, go down path 2 until blocked, get a hint about path 3. And shoot stuff the whole time with whatever slingshot you were allowed to have mastered.
The idea that a 3 year old can shoot his cousin, but my marine could not even operate a shotgun?
SS2 sucked, one of the worst praised games ever. It made telengard and its multi-colored cubes look like Shakespeare.
Spector is an idiot. He has made a career out of gamasutra's what went wrong.
I know you are not allowed to say that because he is a genius - but every game he has ever created makes you go "okay... i will allow this because it is the limitations of playing a game" that is not good design or genius, there are too many games that never stick the fact that I am playing a game in my face as an excuse for poor design. He does not know how to make video games. In half-life they limited their ambitions because they understood their medium, not understanding the "art form" that you work in does not show you are pushing the limits, it shows you are ignorant and want the players to swallow a giant pill of shit to cover up your inability to work within the means of your medium.
Hell, when I played kaboom I never had to pause once and go "okay, that works because this is just a game." The designers knew how to be engaging without making excuses.
Exactly... your start-of-the-art Marine starts off in System Shock 2 with a toddler's knowledge of basic firearms. What the hell???? And they didn't even bother trying to give an excuse for that.
I don't care if it's not supposed to be a shooter. If mankind can build interstellar starships, then why the hell has his assault rifle technology taken a giant leap backwards and become a totally unreliable POS?
Chet, did Spector violate you when you were a child? BTW, he had nothing to do with SS2, Jonathan Chey of Irrational was head designer ... duh. You might be thinking of Deus Ex. Which even then, was still a good game.
"I know you are not allowed to say that because he is a genius - but every game he has ever created makes you go "okay... i will allow this because it is the limitations of playing a game" that is not good design or genius, there are too many games that never stick the fact that I am playing a game in my face as an excuse for poor design. He does not know how to make video games."
Huh? I can understand that you dont like the game. But bad game design? How so? Respawning? please, SS2 is the only shooter where respawning actually makes it better! FYI, SS2 gameplay was/is the best hybrid shooter... combining thief, a bit of UU and some crpg. And the GREAT thing about SS2 (one of my fave games ever!) is that you dont notice all the mixtures. And for its 'complexity' it STILL had the best gui for a 'shooter'.
Its just like the arguement with Pikeman taking on tanks in Civ 3... its a friggin game. And if it bothers you, there were very easy ways to turn off weapon degrading (or add weapon skills) in the config files.Originally Posted by Kale
Thank you, Chet! You just made my own opinions seem that much less insane.Originally Posted by Chet
"In half-life they limited their ambitions because they understood their medium, not understanding the "art form" that you work in does not show you are pushing the limits, it shows you are ignorant and want the players to swallow a giant pill of shit to cover up your inability to work within the means of your medium. "
I think Irrational (NOT SPECTOR) knew what they were doing with SS2 and made a great game by bending the boundaries a little. I would hardly think of it as swallowing 'a giant pill of shit'. And its still the only game, besides the Thief games, that gives me the creeps. Hard to do.
BTW, I dont think Irrational ever considered themselves pusing the limits of gaming with SS2. I've read some interviews where there prime objective was making a beleivable open ended first person experience ala Ultima Underworld...
And yeah, SS2t may have some questionable elements like respawning or degrading weapons or learning weapon skills. But ALL these things are in crpg's and SS2 is a shooter/thief/crpg hybrid, and tey all work well in the game too! If you have a problem with SS2 then you probably have a problem with one of those genres... and with Chet it sounds like hes not really a crpg player... or doesnt think a crpg and shooter are a good mix or maybe he just hates Warren Spector and Deus Ex, like Tom?!? :lol:
I dont like it when someone hates a game I like! :twisted:
Warren Spector is a frekin game god... And Deus EX is a masterpiece!! It's like watching a great AAA movie.
Quote frome Deus Ex, After JC Denton gets killed:
I shudder to think about what you would call another "great AAA movie."Originally Posted by AIM
Has the whole world gone crazy?!
Wumpus? "SS2 is just Quake with Cyberspace"? There *was* no Cyberspace in SS2. If you meant SS1, then, well, it also came two years before Quake. AND it had leaning (and crouching, etc), which didn't resurface until... Thief, I'm guessing.
Chet? I agree with some of your criticisms (although they're better applied to Deus Ex), but: "Go down path one until blocked, get a hint that the block on path 1 could be overcome by going down path 2, go down path 2 until blocked, get a hint about path 3"? Sure, it sounds ugly like that, but what I appreciate is that those hints were integrated into the narrative (through sound journals) and that the challenges were integrated into the environment. You have to be pretty detached to think in terms of "path 1 is blocked, but could be opened by path 2". Instead, it was "the reactor core is locked; ensign so-and-so went to find chief engineer on Deck 3." I tend to be in the Geryk school of game stories, and I thought SS2 is a major success in that area because the story was both pretty engaging AND conducive to the gameplay.
mtkafka's right. The game's partly an RPG. Maybe you don't like your shooter chocolate in your RPG peanut butter, but this explains the limitations on weapon use. Come on, isn't this same kind of system used in fantasy RPGs all the time? I can't use the Broadsword of Smiting or cast Grul's Swirling Distraction until Level 8. Somehow disallowing a machine gun until you get Guns of 5 is so terrible?
The SS games are a lot like Deus Ex. I don't like DX; I do like SS. I think perhaps the main reason is that Irrational solved many of DX's problems (which is why it's pathetic that the later game has more of the problems) by controlling the environment more -- eliminating NPCs, creating true puzzles instead of attempting "emergent" puzzles, and giving direction to the player through journals and communiques.
There are weaknesses to both System Shock games. I didn't like the degree to which weapons degraded, either. In SS1, I found Cyberspace less innovative and more annoying. But they're still some of the best gaming experiences I've had and my favorite brand of shooter. They're not the everyman's shooter, though, so maybe Chet should go back to his Return to Wolfenstein or his Metal of Honor.
Ok, I actually thought they did a good job with some of the game. I thought it did a nice job with the general look and atmosphere, and the game definitely scared me at times. Though I think it was Bauman that made a great argument that often what you think of as being 'scared' in games is really being 'startled'; a panel exploding on the wall next to you isn't really scary, it's just sudden. But yeah, those damn monkeys...Originally Posted by mtkafka
However, I found the level design didn't consistently convince me I was on a ship, and I can't quite fully share your enthusiasm for the interface/gui. In a game with combat, buttons slaved to key functions ought to stay that way. IIRC in SS2, you had to press a key to shift from inventory mode to fighting mode. I got frustrated a couple times when I'd be working on managing some detail on the inventory or character management side, then have to fight. I'd be mashing the shoot button but nothing was happening...not fun. It's not an insurmountable obstacle, but I thought it was too clumsy for a game with action elements. Maybe that stuff was configurable and I just didn't get to mucking with it, but that was one part that bugged me.
The game had a little humor too, though. After getting beat by one of the zombies, I could have sworn I heard him say, "Sorry" as he walked off.
SS2 was a good game with some very interesting storytelling, which is what Irrational is, IMO, really good at. It also let you problem solve and take different approaches to whatever the game threw at you - that isn't done near enough, especially in shooters.
To my mind its great fault is the Dark Engine. That thing was good for Thief, it was built for Thief, but it made SS2 needlessly clunky.
Whomever said it above is absolutely right about weapon degradation being an annoyance and especially about the stingy ammo placement, but man did that game get the tension right in places.
I'm looking forward to The Lost, and not just because I likes me some Dante.
I'm not a big fan of the Dark Engine -- great sound propagation model but never quite up-to-date in the graphics department -- but I thought SS2 didn't suffer too much from it. The only NPCs you meet are monsters, and partly mechanical at that, and the surroundings are composed of rectangular metal structures -- even the Dark Engine could render this stuff at sufficient quality. Things did start looking silly in the organical environments of the end game, though...Originally Posted by Bub, Andrew
No, sorry... I didn't mind the look of the Dark engine with SS2, I'm not really a graphics junky to tell the truth. But the Dark engine is a slow paced engine that doesn't work well with run n' gun gameplay. With sneaking and hiding its fine, I even loved the Thief swordfighting, but I found it very imprecise and sluggish with SS2 gunplay.
In Civ, they're abstracting combat between thousands of units and a battle into 2-3 seconds. In System Shock 2, a gun is a friggin' gun.Its just like the arguement with Pikeman taking on tanks in Civ 3... its a friggin game. And if it bothers you, there were very easy ways to turn off weapon degrading (or add weapon skills) in the config files.
By the way, I tried that weapon degrading cheat. It friggin' didn't help. Maybe halved the degradation rate, but the thing still went to pieces in a really short amount of time. And yes, I did insert the correct number to achieve "the least amount" of degredation.
I don't really care if I got what game warren worked on wrong - it is the same design philosophy and I still blame warren.
This is the crutch of bad game design. The designer does not know how to drive the action forward, so he creates this penalty to force the player to move forward. A well designed game (which ss2 is not) would not need this crutch, but when one of your tasks is to recross the entire shipped you just traveled through, and the graphics are so damn ugly, i guess you have to keep the player busy doing something.
there were very easy ways to turn off weapon degrading (or add weapon skills) in the config files.
Editing config files? Maybe I should have dropped down into dos and edited some batch file to create the right environment to play? Give me a break. Also was this editing even supported when the game first came out?
I thought SS2 is a major success in that area because the story was both pretty engaging AND conducive to the gameplay.
Argh, I totally forgot about having to read those little journals. Yay, a game that makes me read blogs. Today I at fish, tomorrow I will eat chicken and by the way mr greenjeans is the evil lord and must be killed by...aahhhhhhhhhhhh.
In SS2 I always, always felt forced when moving through the levels. Looking back to half-life (which really still did this better than anyone) the simple story drove the action and I never felt forced. Often some action would happen, i would run for cover, jump down a hole or go through a closing door not allowing me to return. When it happened i would think, wow i bet I missed alot of stuff up there, I should go back and explore. When I did, i normally found very little left unexplored, but the action and level design created this environment and action that made the actual levels seem bigger.
DeusEx (which I did solve and didn't hate, hate, hate) even handled this better. In SS2 when I walked past a locked door, the only thought i had was - how much longer am I going to have to walk before something tells me I have to go find some key and go back to this locked door?
And the hacking? That was so Castle Wolfenstein opening crates.
Wow, it's very cool to see some discussion of SS1 and SS2 still going on somewhere in the Universe!
A bit of background, and bias: I was one of the core game programmers on SS1, the lead programmer on the CD conversion, and the lead programmer on SS2. SS1 was my first-ever professional game, so it has a very special place in my heart. :-)
I must admit I feel a bit uncomfortable about the fact that SS1 is on underdogs... while I personally receive not one red cent from sales of the game, and none of the relevant creative entities for the game even EXIST any more, you *can* still get copies of SS1 in used bins if you look hard enough and on ebay. But it's an interesting ethical dilemma.
SS1 and SS2 had a million problems I would love to fix with them if I had a time machine or a way to tell my past self not to be such a bonehead. :-) Lack of customized controls and a god-awful interface in SS1, and the too-hard difficulty and lack of good support for the Marine player in SS2 (as well as the whole MP debacle). But still, I feel those games did what they set out to do, and stand up pretty well as creative experiences.
Neither game was really about technical superiority, and that hurt us with a certain market of the audience, no doubt. And many more just either never heard about it, or were turned off by the fact that it *wasn't* a simple shooter. But for people who "got" it, I think those games worked pretty well. I'll certainly admit it isn't to everyone's tastes; we made a game we thought would be cool for ourselves. :-)
Anyways, glad to hear y'all discussing it... hope those of you who haven't tried either game give it a whirl!