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Maitrek

Why were HalfLife and SS2 successful?

16 posts in this topic

Okay, this post isn''t about me saying why I think theyw ere succesful, to be honest I don''t know why they were succesful and that''s why I''m asking you? I personally found both games to be fairly dull, and I found SS2 to be annoying with the character not being able to pick up a certain heavy weapon etc cause my stats weren''t high enough, and I found half-life to be considerably boring as I just walked through what was basically a side-on platformer with fancy 3D graphics and scripted events? I''ve been around since the golden days of gaming and why is it that games just seem to be sitting into a formula nowadays. Since when was a plot to a game a feature (Half Life, apparently that''s what made the game so good) I always thought a plot was standard? Obviously gamers nowdays have only been playing games since the birth of Quake and don''t know what a plot is, or "real" interactivity. I''m only 16 - I almost feel outdated. ARGH!
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The golden age of gaming? I hope your not refering to things like Mario Brothers, or better yet Space Invaders. Plot is actually a reasonably new thing in the gaming world. I greatly enjoyed Half-Life. Mostly because it kept me wondering where the story was going. The run around and shoot stuf part was a secondary aspect.

Just to keep you from feeling outdated - I am 25. My first computer was a Commodore VIC-20. Hooked it to my TV!
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Actually, System Shock 2 sold rather poorly despite the critical acclaim. My guess is that it''s because it was too focused at the hardcore gamer. But thats a whole different topic .

Anyway, the reason why Half-life was successful was because it gave gamers what they wanted. Although you might not have liked it, it was perfect for most gamers. On sort of a side rant, I find it funny that gamers are always complaining that companies never create any original games, all the while ignoring just about every truly original title that comes out. If gamers truly want something new, they needed to vote with their money -- not just their mouths.

Well, I guess thats enough from me

--TheGoop

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I have no clue why exactly Half-Life was popular, as I didn''t get it until it was already popular and then only as a result of looking at the demo. But I can say that, had the game lived up to the demo I would be singing it''s praises to this day. I had so wanted to pop that CD in and find an playable story with that much detail throughout -- instead I got the weakest hint of a plot and a bunch of abstract puzzles (unlike the perfectly integrated situations used for puzzles in the demo). The demo shows what is possible with the engine and enough forethought, and what Half-Life could have (should have) been.

However, the engine is also quite specialized and difficult to access by comparison to the alternatives available to developers looking to license. Therefore it''s no longer on my hard drive and I rarely even glance at the box.
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On "story" in games. This has been a subject of many articles on game design and theory. Certainly Pong didn''t have a story. But the rudiments of story have been part of popular arcade/computer games going way back... Space Invaders perhaps seems more satisfying than Breakout because it is possible, by stretching the imagination, to get into the "defending Earth from wave after wave of UFOs" when breaking down a wall, though essentially the same task, is more difficult to get excited about.

As games advanced this line of thought seemed to gain popularity: developers worked harder to help the player identify with game tasks or made rewards less abstract. Pac Man got married and had Pac Babies. Text adventures gained popularity on story alone and thus became graphical adventures, ushering in a huge movement in games on the PC.

But nobody could deny the popularity of the purely abstract, either. Tetris, PipeDreams and other puzzles sold record volumes. Therein is the split. Story elements aren''t neccessary to compete, even in a glorious world of 16-colour graphics, after all.

Watching all that from the sidelines, I have come to my own conclusion about what "I" like. And I feel that this is what all developers should do -- gamble that there are others who like what you like. And pursue that.
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Fun is good. Fun sells.

Tetris was fun. Every game that did well was fun. If a game isn''t fun, it becomes a chore, doesn''t it? Let''s elaborate:

Tetris: Reflexes, speed, situational-planning. You always had to be one step ahead.

Now that is fun. Seeing how many times you can press space-bar isn''t fun, however. It requires no skill. There is no thought. The player isn''t immersed in the experience.

Trying to escape from a collapsing science lab, with chaos all around, complete with two races and many teams, with no idea where you''re going to end up, just the knowledge that you must run, on the brink of death, is fun. It takes the player to a world he could never be in. Allows him to do things he could never do. This is fun.

Running around an empty level isn''t fun.

Do you see where I''m going here?

The_Minister
1C3-D3M0N Interactive
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I enjoyed half life emmensely the first time i played because of the way the story was presented to the player. you aren''t made to watch some cutscenes of action taking place in some lost part of the game world. everything the character sees, the player sees, and no more. the game is revealed by playing the game. the experience of the player very much mirrors that of freeman; neither knows exactly what is going on or where it is going, but what must be done in the imediate future. the tension kept the pace going.

the second and subsequent times throw the game, it became less fun and more a chore, siince i knew where to go and what to do. and i hate the end levels on xen. that is so gay...

i have only played the demo of system shock 2, but i had a great time with that too. what struck me most was 1-the atmosphere, and 2-the way the story was relayed to the player. I felt the atmosphere was awesome, very very creepy. They moans and screams in an empty room, monsters shouting distrubing things; all creepy. I must say that i felt the engine and controls seemed a little sluggish, and this seems to be the case in thief 2 as well, which uses a newer version of the dark engine ss2 uses. i dunno if this is a diliberate move or not, but it did give the game a bit slower a pace.

I thought the way the story was presented in ss2 was very innovative. Again, instead of watching cutscenes, the player uncovers the story by playing and exploring, picking up logs and what not.

One last thing. In both cases i felt the levels were fairly non-linear, but less so in half life. there are some linear sections in half life, but that is done to keep the game moving forward.

<(o)>
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Hey, Final Fantasy had story...

Personally, I subscribe to the "gameplay first, technology (and graphics) second" school of thought. I always design my games with an involving story and lots of gameplay. And due to certain things, I always end up releasing games with the mass market in mind, not just hardcore gamers.

BTW, I have a 2 inch thick book that covers how to DESIGN games, not how to code them. Ever heard of "Game Architecture and Design"?

I guess since I''m young, I can adapt to change and new ideas much faster than those old farts who still go with "flying on by the seat of the pants on the cutting edge of technology" and don''t get the fact that formal design process just might be good for them...

P.S. I DON''T WANT A FLAME WAR (just in case you got offended in any way)

- DarkMage139
"Real game developers don't change the rules. Real game developers don't break the rules. Real game developers make the rules!"
"Originality (in games) is the spice of life!"
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Half-life had the most incrediable single player experience. Personally, I believe it is the best single player PC game (and of course the multiplayer Mod addons increase multiplayer gameplay).

Thats why it did so well...great combination of single player and multiplayer.


---------------
Ibuku
AmaDev
www.amadev.net
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Ok, this is a little late. Sorry.

Landsknecht, you had a VIC-20 you''re luckey! I wrote my first program in a TRS-80 model 2 at my grade school. I later bought a TRS-80 model 3 which hooked up to the TV, and later upgraded to a Commadore 64.

The first game I ever played was Pong. I remember that back in... I think it was ''82. I still have it somewhere.

Back to the topic, most of the game players I know aren''t serious gamers. Most of them have to turn off the high quality graphics to get the game to play fast enough. So I''d say in most cases, graphics arn''t going to be as impressive durring play as plot is. Sure it looks good on a box though.

I miss those old text adventure games. Sometimes the funnest thing was to figure out what you''re suppose to say. (ie. in one game, you''re underwater. A mermaid keeps swimming up to you and then swimming away. You need to say "follow mermaid", not "go north", etc.)

E:cb woof!
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See this is my problem - I want to know exactly when games started to have to become "interactive movies". Half Life was successful because it filled that kind of criteria - even though it didn''t even touch most movie''s plots.

And secondly, System Shock 2 didn''t really have much on System Shock 1 except for graphics, infact after playing System Shock 1 had no sense of creepy-atmosphere in System Shock 2. It was weak and Shodan was a wuss, she didn''t even try to touch you during the game wheras in SS1 if she said "Don''t go in that room" she MEANT don''t go in that room. I felt her lack of regard to your importance kinda made the player feel like he really didn''t matter at all and all he was supposed to do was be scared by "the many" who I though sounded so pathetic I couldn''t take them seriously.

When I got to the level "On A Rail" in Half Life I thought to myself "If this is how good some of the levels in the greatest game of all time on PC is, then why aren''t I playing consoles?"

I think Half-Life could''ve been alot better, the reason I like SS1 even though the graphics are dated (by new-age terms) it is fun, and that''s what comes first, and these vague attempts at interactive movies (scripted events while shooting things) really don''t cut it as a pc GAME and I think designers need to focus more on the GAME part of it.
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Maitek : When did games start becoming interactive movies? Hmm... I would say around the time when CD-ROMs came into fashion, some IMHO are quite good :- Under A Killing Moon, Wing Commander 4. And some just plain pathethic :- Dracula, etc. etc.

I loved Half Life... until you got to the other side... that''s when it became a platform game.

I loved SS2.... until I got to the other ship.... then it became Doom all over again.

Plot was ALWAYS a game feature, you had a plot in space invaders, Doom, Wolf. It sort of gives a sense of purpose to the gamer.

-------------------------
-Now Working on Pokemon like Engine!
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Actually, I don''t think Half-Life''s popularity had much to do with the single player part of it. I used to play it a LOT, and loved it, even as a Quake2 Clan Leader.

I played the single player part for about half an hour and got bored, I hate watching stuff happen! I''m more of a deathmatch-give-me-more-gore person.

HalfLife Deathmatch was, well, refreshing! A single good hit with even the most pathetic of weapons could lay down your enemy, you moved slower than a snail, and you could use weapons to shoot THROUGH walls, lay ambushes, the whole diddley.

HOURS and HOURS we spent blowing the gibs out of eachother at Uni, my whole quake-clan considered Half-life a form of relaxation...
Why was it good? Decent balance. Even a pistol can kill, and a half-dead player with a single tripbomb could still get you half an hour after you shot him to pieces. Magnificent stuff.


#pragma DWIM // Do What I Mean!
~ Mad Keith ~
**I use Software Mode**
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Half life was cool because the whole game was basically one big cutscene, with you as the starring character. You could take control of what happened, as a storyline unfolded around you.

Another FPS with a great storyline is Jedi Knight. That was good because you could even influence which levels you played at the end!



- Daniel
my homepage
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a big problem i found with halflife is, like deakin says, the whole thing is like a big cutscene. The player is not a player for a lot of the game, but an observer who must walk from show to show, killing things occasionally. that of course is a bit of an overgeneralization, but basically it is true. This is where doom or quake would could been seen as better; at least in those games you were doing stuff (until all the monsters died and you have to search for that last goddamn key!!!!).

<(o)>
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Half-Life was so sucessful because of a great storyline and the mod community. Right now Counterstrike is one the most played games on the net. Before counterstrike there was TFC(not to say that TFC is not popular or not good). Gameastura has a great article on how half-life was designed. I highly recommend it.
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I sort of liked half-life. The only big downside was the MASSIVE amount of puzzles. I spent about three hours trying to kill the first tentacles, and another 5 trying to figure out "On a Rail".
But on another hand, does anyone realize that all the great Single-Player games are Quake2 engined? But yeah, the only thing i use HL for tho'' is the mods, CS and TFC are excellent and there are a few interesting ones coming out in the next couple of months.


-Run_The_Shadows
-Run_The_Shadows@excite.com
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