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We are living in the lamest of times, a look at the completely insane videogame evolution of older days

Bragr

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Modern Warfare 2 and Assassin's Creed II was released in 2009, 11 years ago, Bioshock and Mass Effect released 13 years ago. 10 years ain't that much these days in terms of evolution.

In contrast, look at this complete mind-blowing iteration of first-person shooters. In 10 years the industry went from Doom II to Half-Life 2.

1994 - Doom II
1995 - HeXen
1996 - Quake
1997 - Quake II
1997 - Goldeneye 007
1997 - Turok: Dinosaur Hunter
1998 - Half-Life
1998 - Turok 2: Seeds of Evil
1998 - Unreal
1999 - Quake III Arena
1999 - Unreal Tournament
2000 - Counter-Strike
2000 - Perfect Dark
2001 - Halo: Combat Evolved
2003 - Call of Duty
2004 - Halo 2
2004 - Half-Life 2

Plenty of other genres also exploded. For example real-time strategy games. From WarCraft II to Rise of Nations in 8 years.

1995 - WarCraft II: Tides of Darkness
1998 - StarCraft
1999 - Age of Empires II
1999 - Homeworld
2000 - Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2
2002 - WarCraft III: Reign of Chaos
2003 - Command & Conquer: Generals
2003 - Homeworld 2
2003 - Rise of Nations

3D platforming games in a 4-year span.

1996 - Super Mario 64
1996 - Crash Bandicoot
1997 - Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back
1998 - Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped
1998 - Banjo-Kazooie
1998 - Spyro The Dragon
1999 - Donkey Kong 64
1999 - Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage!
1999 - Rayman 2: The Great Escape
2000 - Spyro: Year of the Dragon
2000 - Banjo-Tooie

You can look at virtually every genre around that time and see an explosion of evolution as new tech became available. It changed as much in 2 years as we see in 15 years because of the smaller and cheaper development times and less corporate pressure. Best of times.
 

Kataploom

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Games got overwhelmingly more complex and many things already got standard in 7th gen, change that and people will complain. Try looking at how much 2D platformers evolved from Super Mario World to these days, the base was already perfectly cemented and there was no need to re-invent the wheel.
 

namekuseijin

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it's the lamest of times indeed when the biggest step forward (and inwards) ever in gaming has not gained any traction and meanwhile gamers are going back to pseudo 8-bit and pseudo early-90s indies instead because it's what runs best in their cheap steam-powered master race laptop...
 

Captain Toad

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The last really big jump for me came with going from PS2 to PS360. PS4 didn't feel like a reinvention of what video games could be (with the exception of VR), like every prior generation.

As awesome as the DualSense and near-instantaneous loadings are, PS5/Series X don't feel that way either. Nor do I expect another generation to come will.

Those of us who were just old enough to start playing games when Atari or NES came on the scene, were born at a really cool time to grow up with the medium.
 

CloudNull

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Turns out things move forward a lot more quickly when you don't need 500 people and hundreds of millions of dollars to make an AAA game.

Better remember those times well, because they're never coming back.
I would agree that they are never coming back for traditional gaming but we are seeing similar jumps to what’s referenced in the OP in VR. People will need to look elsewhere to experience those types of gains.
 

Sejan

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We will never see another jump as large as the jump in the 90s.

As I get older, I'm starting to realize that the 90s was the peak of our society.
The trouble with generational leaps in modern gaming is the inherent diminishing returns of graphics and the like. The push from 1080p to 4K is barely noticeable when you play a console from across the room, but it requires significantly more computing time. Same is true with increased 3D modeling fidelity and textures. We have gotten so good at faking lighting and shadows that they often look essentially the same as ray tracing to the untrained eye. Linus tech tips just did a video testing this idea for ray tracing.

I doubt my wife could even tell the difference between a late gen PS4 game and a crossgen PS5 game at the moment.
 

Trogdor1123

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Snes is the all time best console so it makes sense it would have so many gems.

So far, the jump to ps5 has seemed much larger than the jump from PS3 to PS4, at least for me.
 
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AJUMP23

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Going from SNES to N64 is probably the greatest technological leap in gaming. Controller and graphics were all new in the N64. I don’t know what will compare to leaving 2d gaming for 3D gaming.
 
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Fafalada

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meanwhile gamers are going back to pseudo 8-bit and pseudo early-90s indies instead because it's what runs best in their cheap steam-powered master race laptop...
Mainstream industry stopped innovating over a decade ago - the pseudo-indies are the only thing that actually drives the medium forward in meaningful ways. Including in VR space (Which I assume is the unadopted evolution you referenced, but even if not).
 

levyjl1988

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Modern gaming: Tack on as many preorder bonus DLC, store exclusive preorder bonuses, microtransactions.

and make very few Collector's editions, scalpers buy it all up and resell at double the price pissing off fans.

I think that pretty much sums up all of it.
 

Represent.

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I was literally just gonna make a thread on this subject.

Game design peaked in the PS360 gen and has remained stagnant since.

Geme design created in that gen is now, still, status quo. Nothing new sinse.

I dont know what it will take to break the Open World formula specifically. Its been the exact same since GTA 3.
 

Ian Henry

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I remember reading an article from either Forbes or some big name journalism. I forgot who it was but they were interviewing the main actor of RDR2 and he said at the time, that we are living in a golden age of gaming. I was shocked cause it seemed like he didn't play games that much or probably was told to say that.

Anyways we already had a a few golden ages and they still have yet to be topped or redefined. There are still some great games coming out but nothing compared to the creativity and versatility we've seen in previous gens. I think the industry already hit its peak around the Fifth-Sixth Generation in terms of 3D gaming.
 

Optimus Lime

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The truth that nobody wants to admit is that in the 80's, 90's, and early 2000's, video gaming was a hobby by and for nerdy guys, for the most part. And, not 'nerdy' in that OMG I AM STREAMING WOW ON TWITCH AND I LIKE ANIME LOL SUCH A NERD. I mean, there were 'computer clubs' all over the world, mostly populated by engineering students, electronics hobbyists, and assorted weirdos who often loved Nine Inch Nails. They were the audience, and so, games were tailored around their tastes - complexity, challenge, patterns, systems, and sophistication.

Then, around the time of the late 360/PS3 era, and during the major rise of Steam, the audience shifted, as gaming became mainstreamed. All you needed to be a 'gamer' after that was a half-functioning brain stem, and a PC or console - both of which had been streamlined to make them as effortless as possible. The games that came afterwards reflected that mindset - ease, comfort, simplicity, conformity, and a new approach which had more in common with Hollywood blockbusters than with ZZap! 64. 'Golden age of gaming'? In your fucking dreams. This is gaming's lowest ebb. Sorry to the kiddies who missed out on what it was like back then, you would have enjoyed it.

So, yes. OP, you are correct. The timeline we are currently living in is absolutely shit, for everything - not just gaming - unless you have the IQ of a house plant, or you are such an always-online internet meme spewing fuckwit that you just don't care.
 
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Personally I think gaming has never been better, and comparing the most annoying things of the current gen with the greatest hits of previous gens will always lead to a biased comparison. And I think a lot of people are living on nostalgia tinted goggles. Don't get me wrong, the late 90s-early 2000s were great for games, but so have the past 10 years. Games have begun to finally have good stories in a much larger scale. Indie devs have came onto the scene in a big way. Graphics are closing in on full realism, and we're about to start seeing things like advanced physics and AI thanks to a competent CPU for once on consoles. Not to mention emerging things like VR or streaming, or the effect that SSD's can have on games. Sure there will never be the same level of obvious "advancement" as those times, but that's because the gap between current graphics and REAL LIFE isn't as big as the gap between the SNES and the Gamecube.
 

iHaunter

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You think that's crazy, look what released in 1998 alone:

Resident Evil 2
Panzer Dragoon Saga
Xenogears
Tekken 3
StarCraft
Unreal
Banjo-Kazooie
F-Zero X
Metal Gear Solid
Grim Fandango
Half-Life
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Baldur's Gate
Street Fighter Alpha 3

Some of the greatest games ever made released in one year.
They were the greatest because they were some of the first. Everything seems better than it is when it's done for the first time.
 

SlimySnake

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I simply cannot agree.

Most of the games on your list are games that were moving from 2d to 3d. Of course, they were going to have the most "evolution".

While it's true that we haven't had much evolution since the PS360 days, I find the suggestion that we haven't seen evolution recently absolutely absurd. We literally had our first AAA rouge-like AAA game come out. A genre that is still relatively new. FTL is one of the best games of all time, and Hades won dozens of GOTY awards last year, and the prestigious DICE award from the industry just last month.

You are also ignoring the Souls genre which completely revialitized the action adventure RPG. The difficulty and challenge it brought back to gaming cannot be overstated. Sekiro is a masterpiece in game design. It plays unlike any other game out there, and is by far the best action game in its genre. Go back to the mid to late 90s and show me a game that can compare.

You are ignoring Battle Royale. Easily THE most popular online multiplayer mode out right now. You start with MW2, and fail to mention how Warzone revolutionized Battle Royale and online multiplayer in general.

You completely ignored how bad the movie tie ins used to be back in those days. Arkham played unlike anything else out there, and did not feel out of place in a time when The Dark Knight had just come out a year before. Spiderman took it to another level telling a story better than most spiderman movies.

And thats just the new games. While I dont quite love the fact that everything has gone open world this past decade, there is no denying games have never played better. The devs have gone out of their way to make combat fun, deep and engaging. FF7 remake plays unlike any RPG out there. TLOU2 can be faulted for many things, but combat design is not one of them. GoW completely threw away its combat engine and started from scratch. they didnt even evolve, they completely revolutionized their combat system. Capcom also switched up their 3rd person RE games and produced two of the best first person horror games of all time. RE7 especially played like this cat and mouse survival horror game that you could only imagine in the 90s.

There has been a pretty concerted effort to tell better stories and while I will concede that gamers dont want to see storytelling become the focus, I fail to see why anyone would look at genre defining games like RDR2, Witcher 3, The Last Guardian, GOW, Death Stranding and TLOU2 and think we live in the lames of times. You must really fucking hate video games to even think that.
 
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ACESHIGH

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Well, every medium hits it's apex on creativity then stagnates and slowly declines. It happened to jazz in the 50s, rock music peaked in 1973 and gaming had it's absolute best year in 1998.

But the difference is that thanks to advances in technology I can still enjoy and discover the great games from the past as well as the latest and greatest. If 14 year old me would have seen something like my retroarch setup he would have thought it was something from an alien or black magic.

I do agree that there is a certain lack of talent, class and attitude in gaming these days though. Indie devs keep releasing 8bit trash thinking they are original and AAA studios are slow as molasses releasing sequels to age old franchises.
 
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Men_in_Boxes

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2016 - PSVR + Oculus Rift
2017 - PUBG
2018 - Fortnite
2019 - Apex Legends

A four year stretch that's arguably more momentous than anything post 1996. Doom was indeed a pretty big deal.

This industry is about to mature out of it's infancy phase. The next few years are going to be nuts.
 

MrA

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old man yells at cloud, calling this the lamest of times is absurd, we are getting more variety and unique games in all shapes and forms than ever before, game design continues to be interesting and unique,
the lamest of times were probably mid-gen 360/ps3 where everything was call of duty and fortunately, the damaged halo did to first-person shooters finally dissipated (2 weapons, mindless regen health/effectively infinite ammo encounters, no boss fight trash)
we are getting more variety than ever before, niche titles from around the world see wide release, every genre, style,
and lemmings stupidity seems to have stopped, just because Fortnite is making all the money, everyone else hasn't decided everything needs to be Fortnite
some genres are in a lul, but if there is a demand they will eventually return.
the only thing that is currently lame is zen pinball making Williams tables.
 

Yoda

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I agree w/the premise; sadly publishers have near full control of the purse strings and innovation == risk which most corporate types prefer minimizing risk at all costs.
 

MistBreeze

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the golden age for me was ps2- xbox- gamecube gen for sure it was the gen of 3d gaming with good graphics and great games

ps360 was ok but mostly fps grey gen was not for me

ps4- ps5 - switch is really great with gaming back to form mostly but yet not ps2-xbox-gamecube great
 
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harmny

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boomer thread. what you remember so fondly is your youth. now you grab a controller and your fingers hurt. you play for more than 2 hours and your back hurts. that is if your kids let you play at all. in the 90s you could play all day without a care now you need to pay the bills and worry about a million things.

gaming is better than ever and there is no question about it.
 
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Optimus Lime

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boomer thread. what you remember so fondly is your youth. now you grab a controller and your fingers hurt. you play for more than 2 hours and your back hurts. that is if your kids let you play at all. in the 90s you could play all day without a care now you need to pay the bills and worry about a million things.

gaming is better than ever and there is no question about it.
Counterpoint:

What you are currently experiencing is generally the thing that you believe to be 'the best', since it is too painful to consider that you missed the peak of the thing that you love.

If you didn't live through those eras, it is just unimaginable that you missed out on anything. After all, you're a hardcore gamer, right? The notion that you're going to miss out on a massive slice of gaming history, experiencing it firsthand, and being a part of the cultures that provided it is just unacceptable to you.

So, you post things like 'gaming is better than ever and there is no question about it', despite the presence of microtransactions, subscriptions, DLC, endless sequels, overpriced console games, a lack of innovation, a lack of new genres, and an overwhelmingly corporatised and conformist approach to the entire sector, which isn't about hobbyists and enthusiasts anymore, and is more about housewives, 'influencers', and the jocks who used to beat up the nerds at school.

As I said, you can tell yourself that 'gaming is better than ever' all you like. I get why you'd do that. But there is very much a lot to be questioned about that statement. As I said earlier, I'm sorry that you missed out on how exciting the industry was years ago. You would have enjoyed it.
 

Lethal01

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Counterpoint:

What you are currently experiencing is generally the thing that you believe to be 'the best', since it is too painful to consider that you missed the peak of the thing that you love.

If you didn't live through those eras, it is just unimaginable that you missed out on anything. After all, you're a hardcore gamer, right? The notion that you're going to miss out on a massive slice of gaming history, experiencing it firsthand, and being a part of the cultures that provided it is just unacceptable to you.

So, you post things like 'gaming is better than ever and there is no question about it', despite the presence of microtransactions, subscriptions, DLC, endless sequels, overpriced console games, a lack of innovation, a lack of new genres, and an overwhelmingly corporatised and conformist approach to the entire sector, which isn't about hobbyists and enthusiasts anymore, and is more about housewives, 'influencers', and the jocks who used to beat up the nerds at school.

As I said, you can tell yourself that 'gaming is better than ever' all you like. I get why you'd do that. But there is very much a lot to be questioned about that statement. As I said earlier, I'm sorry that you missed out on how exciting the industry was years ago. You would have enjoyed it.

If only there were a way for kids to play the games we grew up with and decide themselves if they were better. Seeing the evolution in the early days of gaming is neat but gaming is better than ever right now.
 
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Optimus Lime

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If only there were a way for kids to play the games we grew up with and decide themselves if they were better. Seeing the evolution in the early days of gaming is neat but gaming is better than ever right now.
If I listen to 'Abbey Road' in 2021, do you believe I'm receiving the exact same experience as a person who listened to it when it was released in 1969?

To me, such a claim would be completely ridiculous. I missed out on that era, sadly. That's how it goes. Same with the angry 21 year old who can certainly play Doom right now, but will never know how it felt to download the shareware version in 1993/4.
 

harmny

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Counterpoint:

What you are currently experiencing is generally the thing that you believe to be 'the best', since it is too painful to consider that you missed the peak of the thing that you love.

If you didn't live through those eras, it is just unimaginable that you missed out on anything. After all, you're a hardcore gamer, right? The notion that you're going to miss out on a massive slice of gaming history, experiencing it firsthand, and being a part of the cultures that provided it is just unacceptable to you.

So, you post things like 'gaming is better than ever and there is no question about it', despite the presence of microtransactions, subscriptions, DLC, endless sequels, overpriced console games, a lack of innovation, a lack of new genres, and an overwhelmingly corporatised and conformist approach to the entire sector, which isn't about hobbyists and enthusiasts anymore, and is more about housewives, 'influencers', and the jocks who used to beat up the nerds at school.

As I said, you can tell yourself that 'gaming is better than ever' all you like. I get why you'd do that. But there is very much a lot to be questioned about that statement. As I said earlier, I'm sorry that you missed out on how exciting the industry was years ago. You would have enjoyed it.

i didn't miss it lol.
 
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Optimus Lime

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sorry to dissappoint you. it was a good post, just completely wrong. i did miss the 80s though. but from 94-95 which is where this list starts i didn't miss a thing.
I'm not disappointed, I couldn't care less. I'm responding to someone rambling about 'boomers'. You can claim whatever you like on the internet, friend. Your words tell a very different story.
 

nkarafo

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I don't see the FPS list as an evolution of DOOM/Quake. Or Duke Nukem 3D. They ditched the complex map level design and the concept of "solving" the levels for much simpler maps and in the case of some games, completely linear ones.

Basically All games between Wolf3D and Quake 1 are a completely different breed of FPS games that pretty much died after the mid 90's, with DOOM 64 being the very last one. And the only modern equivalents are a bunch of indie games.
 
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Someone out there may say it's not fair to compare old systems with 2D sprites vs 3D capable machines, since modern day is just 3D vs 3D with who can process the most gpu power. There's a much bigger jump automatically going from 2D to 3D.

Never the less since that other thread reminded me:

Ultima 6 1990


Ultima Underworld 1992
 
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nkarafo

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gaming is better than ever and there is no question about it.
Nah.

FPS games were better back then IMO. I explained the reasons in my previous post.

RTS games also peaked in the late 90's/early 00's.

Arcade Racers also.

2D platforms as well. Sonic 3 & Knuckles/Yoshi's Island peaked the genre.

Some games like Dungeon Keeper haven't been beat yet.

I would argue that 3D platformers also peaked in the mid/late 90's on the N64.


The 'only' modern equivalents? Doom Eternal? The Wolfenstein games?
Doom (2016) retains some elements from this design yes. DOOM Eternal less so.

The later Wolfenstein games have level designs similar to arena shooters. They kinda suck.
 
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Optimus Lime

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Someone out there may say it's not fair to compare old systems with 2D sprites vs 3D capable machines, since modern day is just 3D vs 3D with who can process the most gpu power. There's a much bigger jump automatically going from 2D to 3D.

Never the less since that other thread reminded me:

Ultima 6 1990


Ultima Underworld 1992
Off topic, but jesus fuck Ultima Underworld was a goddamn amazing game.
 
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Game-design hasn't evolved since the Xbox 360 was released. Everything is pretty much the same as it was back then. Pretty disappointing indeed.
Agreed.

Graphics got better. I'm not a sound expert but with all the Dolby shit tossed around, I'll assume audio is better if you got a good sound system or headset.

But in the past 15 years, the biggest changes to gaming aren't even graphics, sound or core gameplay. It's been microtrans, F2P and BR shooter genres and the trend to digital. Sad.

Where's all the asstard devs who'd claim in the past "we can't do advanced physics or AI because the power isn't there!" We'll were in 2021. Aside from some impressive stuff like Frostbite destruction, where's all the awesome physics and enemy/NPC AI? Improved visuals are there.

Got to wait till 3021 on Playstation 20 get get some decent non-visual improvements?
 
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Optimus Lime

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Doom (2016) retains some elements from this design yes. DOOM Eternal less so.

The later Wolfenstein games have level designs similar to arena shooters. They kinda suck.
They all draw on classic FPS design to differing degrees. That doesn't make them good, and the Wolfenstein games in particular have been very hit or miss, but they do constitute a continuation of the approach to classic FPS level design.

I do take your point that Wolfenstein kinda sucks. That last one was horrible.