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| The Other Side of PC Gaming (4 comments )|
by: Itchyeyes (77) | Posted in cluster FiringSquad Editors Challenge Round 1 Prelim 1
Posted 76 months ago ( edited 76 months ago ) in category DEFAULT
PC gaming is widely know as the most difficult, but also most rewarding of the various ways to experience the medium. By almost any account, it's significantly more expensive, and ease of use isn't exactly a big selling point. However, the payoff is bigger too. Pick any game and 99.9% of the time it will run, look, and sound better on the PC. Features, like online, that are just starting to come into their own on consoles have existed on the PC for years. Furthermore, there's a third, less quantifiable, benefit to PC gaming. It takes a special type of person to make that kind of investment into this particular hobby. If you happen to be one of those people, you'll find that games are often targeted with you in mind as the customer. In contrast, console games will frequently cater to the lowest common denominator due to their more mass market approach.
There's another side of PC gaming though, one that's much less glamorous. This is the realm of low end systems. I'm not talking about the average mid-range system where you just have to dial down the anti-aliasing to play most games. I'm talking about the clunkers, systems that won't run 4 year old games no matter how much you tweak them. Due to circumstances outside my control, I've had to rely on two rather middling laptops and even a brief stint on a Mac to supply my PC gaming needs for the last 6 years now. It hasn't been easy, but I've struggled through and found a whole different experience.
Most gamers probably think of this as casual game territory, a space reserved for soccer moms and others just dabbling in the hobyy. How could any self described hardcore gamer survive in this space?
The first thing I had to do was train myself to think differently about what I want in a game. The old gameplay vs graphics debate is settled here. Games have to survive on gameplay alone. While everyone else in the industry is going for bigger, flashier, more detailed graphics, I had to turn off that impulse to follow the crowd. 3D was, and still is, the enemy. Forget about anything twitch based. The frame rate just isn't there. Turn based strategy has been my bread and butter genre, as it's pretty much the only one that I could keep current in. The key here is the replayability. The games are different each time you play them, so you get a lot more mileage than your standard action adventure. Unfortunately, this genre has seen better days and the releases can be few and far between. The ones that do make it out, though, can be pure gold. It's easy to forget about how you don't have the latest graphics cards when you're staring, bleary eyed, at Civ 3 at three in the morning.
When the TBS gets old, it's time to jump in the way back machine. Retro games can be pretty hit and miss. A game that was considered top of the line back in '98 might be run of the mill these days. Some titles age better than others. I've found that a good story is the best defense against aging. Graphics tire out fast and innovative gameplay is recycled and improved upon, but a good story with solid characters is timeless. Games like Starcraft, Deus Ex, Fallout, and Grim Fandango still have what it takes to hold my attention. Nobody ever has enough time to play every game out there and it can be an enlightening experience going back and seeing what you've passed over in previous years.
The third pillar supporting this rickety platform is the indie games. With gems like Defcon, STEAM and other online distribution services have been a godsend. They've blown open a whole new world of gaming to me. Like the retro games, these may not always be much in the looks department, but unlike retro games the gameplay is often very innovative. When I'm really desperate I'll turn to flash games, but that's more of a last resort. They've always felt more like time wasters than fully featured games to me.
In the end I've always kept a console or two to fall back on. Consoles can satisfy a lot of that gaming itch and they can do it cheaply, but for someone who got his start with games like Prince of Persia and Monkey Island 2 they've always left me wanting for something a little more cerebral. There are certain genres you just can't do on a console. Perhaps one of these days, I'll finally pony up the cash for a decent gaming rig. Until then though, I'll keep doing things a little differently on the other side of PC gaming.
|4 User Comment(s) • 4 root comment(s)|
| Tectonic (3) Feb 18, 2007 - 09:27 pm|
|» Try Quake 1|
Since you mentioned gameplay vs graphics, if you're up for a super challenge, try finding some folks to teach you how to play Quake 1 online (Quakeworld). You may have to look on IRC (quakenet) to find someone to help you download a client and start learning, but I believe the gaming experience would be deeper than anything you've mentioned (although maybe Civ 3 has some good depth). There are people still dedicated playing Quakeworld for a reason :)
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