We’ve talked about this before, and discussed a little on why most games today aren’t as satisfying. Or at least as satisfying as we remember the old ones to be.

Of course, it was reading the Moriarty interview that brought this to mind, though the “good old days” have been in my thoughts for a long while.

Enough of us here go back to the beginning, so that’s a good place to start. Everything was new then. Not just new to us, but new in and of itself.

Something really new is always wonderful. There are no rules, no precedents. Everything is open. Development can go in any direction. Creativity is at a premium. The industry is full of energy and excitement.

Read the memoirs of anyone who was in on the “ground floor” of a new industry, and you’ll see it’s true. So it was with games, as well.

Small companies seemed to be everywhere, putting out product. The key here is “small”. Often, the business was no more than a couple of programmers. Their games were labors of love.

They toiled on their own, at their own pace. There was no corporate atmosphere, no heavy-handed management interference. Those early designers were free to do as they pleased, and it pleased them to put themselves into their games – because they really wanted to.

That is a quality that comes through, even when we don’t realize it consciously. Ultima VI is a case in point. Somehow, it didn’t quite feel like an Ultima to me, and that wasn’t just because the graphics were different. U6 was the first Ultima that wasn’t programmed by Lord British. He didn’t have the same involvement with it as in previous games. That came through to me almost immediately.

There is a personalization factor in those early games that is missing today. Read the credits in any manual. The list is almost as long as for a movie.

With so many people involved in the production, the personal touch is lost – and that’s not even counting any changes in the design team that might occur.

I believe that one reason – a major reason – the old games are so dear to us, is that we responded to that part of themselves the designers put in. It isn’t something that can be defined or described. But it’s there, and we know it. We also know when it’s missing, and there’s a lot missing from today’s games.miniscorp