List Me some Vintage Games!

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I was born 1993. I’m 19 if you can’t do the math quick enough.
I grew up with the first playstation, and when computer games started really taking off. Like with Diablo, Dungeon keeper, ect.

I want to be a very successful game designer, and I make steps toward it everyday of my life, and have for a long time.
The day has come that I realize something.

I need to know the past.
So help me make a list of the best vintage video games you can think of.

I consider playing games literal field research after all.
I’ll post a short description of what my opinion on it was, what I thought at first glance, how easy it was to pick up, how hard it was to put down, ect. For those in the same boat as me that would benefit from what I put together.
Of course this is the Game Design forums! I’ll be using my programmer/designer eyes to point out what I believe they did right, and where they went wrong.
I’ll even take a step further and dig as much as I can to learn about the history of the development. For example I heard that the first game I’ve chosen to play was never really “finished”, it was supposed to be a lot more complicated in regards to the politics between different organizations.

To start us off I currently started playing X COM: Apocalypse!

Platforms
currently I only have a PC to work with, but if I get a lot of requests for something I can’t emulate (i know its not the same as having the controller in hand!) I’ll see if I can get a hold of the console!

 
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The Games!


X COM: Apocalypse

Game description
“X-COM: Apocalypse is the third game in the X-COM series of computer games. It was developed by Mythos Games (the creators of the original X-COM game), and published by MicroProse in 1997 for DOS and Microsoft Windows.” – wikipedia
In this game your basic goal is to be the organization that helps protect the city from an alien invasion through triangular portals. Aliens will attempt to sneak through the portal and drop aliens down into different buildings belonging to different organizations. This will cause the organizations “alien infiltration” percentage to increase, determining how much more control the aliens have over the city or at least thats what I presume. It is not only your duty to defend against these aliens, but to go to these buildings and attempt to root out any alien presence. If there isn’t any aliens found, this will cause the organization to be a little upset with your unwanted intrusion.

My first thoughts
“What am I doing?”, “I wonder if this is the game my uncle would play when I was a kid”, “When he played there was flamethrowers!”, “That cop just destroyed that car!”, “holy shit an alert?”, “…I have no idea how to shoot”

How steep the learning curve was
There wasn’t a tutorial, which is fine, its not extremely difficult to play, but I became frustrated when I couldn’t even figure out how to control my units in turn based combat, so I turned to watching a few lets plays on youtube about it. By the 5th video I had pretty figured out everything I needed to know, and was able to immediately play with minimal fuss.

Addictibility
Its a very fun game, I was able to play it for a few days spending several hours playing it, I’m now growing a little bored of it, but I blame that on overplaying it, and that I feel it would be beneficial to start over again. I can see myself playing this years down the road assuming I can still find ways to play it.

What I loved design-wise
I feel highly immersed in this game. The developers really went all out. There must be a few hundred different “tiles” for this game, the levels are so different and offer a lot of fun strategically. This also forces the player to really need to think things over. A combination of semi low maintenance politics that are constantly buzzing under the surface as you accidentally destroy a certain organizations equipment while trying to kill aliens. For example, being in a police HQ office and several desks and chairs being blown up by a grenade. This forces the player to be more strategical about how they use explosives and to attempt to subdue certain enemies that will use explosives themselves as quickly as possible.
The game starts you off with an organization that already hates your guts, and gives you good reason to hate them to! The cult of Sirius is an organization that believes the aliens to be good guys and will attempt to help them any way they can. You can “raid” buildings of any organization, which will cause them to be unhappy with you, but garner you some more equipment and funds to work with. Its very fun to raid the cults buildings.
The game is pretty difficult to play effectively, and I lost several people again and again, forcing me to recruit new blood. I don’t like super easy games.

What I would have done differently
Unfortunately I hear that they were unable to develop all the things they wanted to into this game. The politics for instance were supposed to be more advanced and alive. I don’t have much to complain about. I did get frustrated quite a few times, accidentally sending a soldier here or there when I meant to select someone else or attack an alien instead of moving up to them. This also happened with grenades somehow, with throwing the grenade in some weird direction when I had believed to have not even told it where to be thrown to yet. All in all it was very impressive though.

Overall rating
8/10
Often if you find the aliens they will be grouped up all in the same area, which makes it a little bit more difficult to take them out, but can lead to very boring missions of wading through lots of empty map without finding anything. You have to wait for any civilians to run around in circles inbetween your men and the enemy taking turns, one by one. This is exceedingly boring. This game deserves a very high rating, but its stunted development small gaps and it wasn’t polished very much.

 
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My favourites:

Archon
Archon II
Star Control
Star Control II
Masters of Orion
Gridrunner (IIRC… Centipede-esque game)

 
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Originally posted by dragon_of_celts:
Masters of Orion

you bastard! haha I knew somebody was going to eventually suggest this : D
I look forward to playing it, the complexity is insane though.

I love complexity though, its part of the allure for me. I most certainly will be taking an in depth look at this game.

 
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??? I don’t remember it being all that complex…

If you’d like some more recent ones:
Thief: The Dark Project (Demo. Good luck getting it to work, though; I understand it has… “issues” on newer computers (YMMV). I played this way back when it first came out because my friend was into it. It’s basically a FPS where “S” stands for “sneaker” instead of “shooter” — though you do have a bow you can use)
Lost Labyrinth (rogue-like) (not exactly the one I play, but similar… Don’t recall where I got the one I have)

Oh, how could I forget (for the older list above):
The original Castle Wolfenstein (Mono-colour 2D game, not the famous 3D FPS… Actually, the sequel, Beyond Castle Wolfenstein, was, IIRC, basically the same as the first one but with a few upgrades, so you should go with that one)

 
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Originally posted by dragon_of_celts:

??? I don’t remember it being all that complex…

In the third one it seemed pretty complex, but I only vaguely watched my uncle play it, and tried it out a bit for myself.

 
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You can start there. Obviously given the selection criterion, the sampling is heavily biased toward recent games, but the organisation by platform means you should still end up with a good list of “classics”.

Also look for games that, if they did not start a genre, were at least emblematic of it and inspired countless clones. Pitfall is listed in the above link, I believe, but the list’s careful avoidance of the older computer generations (C64, Amiga, etc…) means there are gaping holes.

I’ll suggest Boulder Dash, Maniac Mansion, Ghosts’n Goblins, Lemmings, Paperboy, Populous, Dungeon Master, Civilization, Sim City, Bard’s Tale, Ultima I, Barbarian, Gunship, Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe, Jagged Alliance, Dune II off the top of my head, in no particular order, and just to name a few. Some (or a lot!) of these might be hard to find and even harder to convince to run, but I’m sure you can at least find Let’s Play videos of some of them on Youtube.

Which would be a good way to get familiar with a lot of older games, come to think of it…

 
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my favorite was pitfall the mayan adventure and cool spot.

 
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After I’ve submitted my thoughts on a particular game, I’ll seek out if there is a game that has been suggested multiple times. The more people that suggest it, the more likely I’ll play it. If theres an even amount of games, I’ll try to play at least one suggested game per person.
If suggestions are slow, I’ll most definitely go back and play more. Hopefully eventually I’ll play every game suggested.

 
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Originally posted by alecz127:

After I’ve submitted my thoughts on a particular game, I’ll seek out if there is a game that has been suggested multiple times. The more people that suggest it, the more likely I’ll play it. If theres an even amount of games, I’ll try to play at least one suggested game per person.
If suggestions are slow, I’ll most definitely go back and play more. Hopefully eventually I’ll play every game suggested.

I’m hoping you’ve played cool spot before… it’s such a cute game.

 
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Originally posted by alecz127:
Originally posted by dragon_of_celts:
Masters of Orion

you bastard! haha I knew somebody was going to eventually suggest this : D
I look forward to playing it, the complexity is insane though.

I love complexity though, its part of the allure for me. I most certainly will be taking an in depth look at this game.

Originally posted by alecz127:

Originally posted by dragon_of_celts:

??? I don’t remember it being all that complex…



In the third one it seemed pretty complex, but I only vaguely watched my uncle play it, and tried it out a bit for myself.

I’ve only ever played the first one, but I’ve read many times that the third one wasn’t very good (I can’t recall why that was said, though). Going back and playing MoO1, though, it isn’t very good, either. However, as an inspirational/instructional (game-making) source, it is great (because of the ways they got it wrong probably about as much as those that they got right).

 
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Originally posted by alecz127:

I want to be a very successful game designer

Read it; you’ll thank me later.

 
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Originally posted by GameBuilder15:
Originally posted by alecz127:

I want to be a very successful game designer

Read it; you’ll thank me later.

If I see this link from you again I’m going to personally write a plugin to block you and any posts that contain this link. This is getting cultist-status. Seriously. + Spammy now, borderline advertising. How about PM’ing people the link from now on?

 
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Originally posted by RTL_Shadow:
Originally posted by GameBuilder15:
Originally posted by alecz127:

I want to be a very successful game designer

Read it; you’ll thank me later.

If I see this link from you again I’m going to personally write a plugin to block you and any posts that contain this link. This is getting cultist-status. Seriously. + Spammy now, borderline advertising. How about PM’ing people the link from now on?

Lol maybe it’s a game designer thing.

 
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Originally posted by RTL_Shadow:
Originally posted by GameBuilder15:
Originally posted by alecz127:

I want to be a very successful game designer

Read it; you’ll thank me later.

If I see this link from you again I’m going to personally write a plugin to block you and any posts that contain this link. This is getting cultist-status. Seriously. + Spammy now, borderline advertising. How about PM’ing people the link from now on?

hahaha! Shadow. I’ve never even seen him post that before!
Well at any rate its surprisingly cheap. 30 bucks.
Confused though, its says “print version through amazon” and I just woke up. Can’t tell if it means I’ll print out the book page by page through a printer, or the printed book will be delivered to me. If its the last one why would they just say “available on amazon”.

 
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I tihnk it means digital version buyable on amazon.

 
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After I read that book, almost all the games on Kong (including my own) look like garbage.

And alecz, have you played the original Unreal game? I only played the demo, but I got about 8 hrs of fun out of it. It was amazing. I should really get the full game.

 
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Originally posted by GameBuilder15:

After I read that book, almost all the games on Kong (including my own) look like garbage.

In other words: “That book ruined games for me, and I recommend it to everyone so it can ruin games for them too. Misery loves company, and all that.”

:p

 
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Originally posted by Ace_Blue:
Originally posted by GameBuilder15:

After I read that book, almost all the games on Kong (including my own) look like garbage.

In other words: “That book ruined games for me, and I recommend it to everyone so it can ruin games for them too. Misery loves company, and all that.”

:p

No, the book did not ruin games for me at all. It just raised my standards.

 
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Watch Sequelitis on YouTube, Egoraptor has very good opinions on game design (The games he analyses are retro as well). As for the book, I’ve never read it, but I’m assuming it had a section on achievements and upgrades. The problem with Kongregate is that a huge majority of top rated games are completely centered around grinding for upgrades to win the game, or unlocking achievements to get upgrades faster. These aren’t bad things (as long as the game is built well around it), but it is waaaaay too overused. Number 3 of this episode of Sequelitis, or 12:30 especially, sums up the problems most Kongregate game have fairly well.

Edit: I guess I should mention the video does contain some language.

 
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Originally posted by Gharrot:

Edit: I guess I should mention the video does contain some language.

I’ll say. It didn’t seem like a very professional video.

Anyway, when I used to make games, I used to have some idea of what I wanted to make, and then I designed the game as I went along. That’s really not how it should be done.