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Orson Scott Card on Games, 21 Years Ago 121

MilenCent writes "Long long ago, Orson Scott Card wrote a game opinion column for Compute! Magazine. In the November 1983 issue, he had some interesting things to say about the essential ingredients of a great game, all arguably still important today. He picked out one company that, at the time, consistently excelled in most of these areas--try to guess which one! Additional commentary over at Curmudgeon Gamer."
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Orson Scott Card on Games, 21 Years Ago

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  • EA... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 18, 2006 @07:48PM (#14752155)
    "The software firm Electronic Arts has added a fifth requirement for itself: The game must be truly original. No Donkey Kong or Pac-Man clones in this group, of games. Even though each of their games has roots in gaming traditions, the object has not been to recreate a favorite board game, or duplicate a sport, or translate an arcade game." Oh how the mighty have fallen.
  • Madden 2015 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Forrest Kyle ( 955623 ) on Saturday February 18, 2006 @07:50PM (#14752164) Homepage
    "The software firm Electronic Arts has added a fifth requirement for itself: The game must be truly original."


    Other company mission statements from 1983:
    Mac: Our computers must run everyone's software and be affordable.
    Microsoft: By 2006, all bugs and security holes must be eliminated. Also, we will open source everything.
    FCC: By 2006, ABC will be required to show boobs at the top of every hour, all day long. Also, Howard Stern will host the Oscars.
  • by jdwilso2 ( 90224 ) on Saturday February 18, 2006 @07:53PM (#14752183)
    Killing Origin Systems was the beginning of the end of my respect for them.

    Now they've evloved into more of a video game sweat shop than anything else. The games they publish that are still good are designed and written by third partys.

    Reading this article really hightens my sense of loss for one of the great companies of my generation.
  • by derek_m ( 125935 ) on Saturday February 18, 2006 @08:05PM (#14752249)
    The software firm Electronic Arts has added a fifth requirement for itself: The game must be truly original.

    Clearly that one was forgotten about long ago, these days its just endless sequels each containing fewer differences than the last. Originality was forgotten about long ago in favour of squeezing every last dollar out of a 'franchise'.

  • by Spazmania ( 174582 ) on Saturday February 18, 2006 @08:32PM (#14752347) Homepage
    The sports games like the Madden series were the beginning of the end for EA. They made hunks of cash with minimal creativity required. As a result, their production rules got applied to everything else EA made with devastating results. By the time they bought Origin there was no longer any room for out-of-the-box thinking.

    Then again, Origin was already half-dead. Starting with Ultima 7 they did just what Card lambasted in his article: "I have little patience with games that play me, forcing me to follow only one possible track or learn one mechanical skill if I hope to win." I remember I lost my first attempt at Ultima 7 because I started wandering around and hit the story elements out of order. U7 part 2 fixed that: you simply couldn't wander beyond the nearby area until you had completed the story-line there. A double-whammy for Ultima 8 which was both strictly linear and required a lame jumping skill to win. Even the beautiful Ultima 9 was nastily linear for the first half of the game, opening up only when you got a control of the ship.

    Origin was already in trouble. EA just finished the job.
  • by FromWithin ( 627720 ) <stuff@NospAM.fromwithin.com> on Saturday February 18, 2006 @09:11PM (#14752465) Homepage

    Hurrah! Evidence of the existence of the computer games industry. It's not something you see often on here. Not the video game industry, the computer game industry: The one that almost all of the major players in the current game industry were borne out of.

    Video game crash in the U.S? Irrelevant...computer games never stopped. They went on from strength to strength via the C64, ST, Amiga, and then the PC (when it's CPU speed finally came up to scratch).

    It's getting harder and harder these days to find any sort of real history of games due to revisionists re-writing everything and putting such huge importance on video games, Atari, and Nintendo.

    Let's have more articles like this.

  • by Xshare ( 762241 ) on Saturday February 18, 2006 @09:23PM (#14752489) Homepage
    Bullshit about the sports games. I keep hearing people saying this, yet I can't agree. Every year, the AI gets so much better, the ability to play more realistically gets much better, playcalling gets better, and the ability to change things on the fly gets better. I'm afraid of this stopping now that EA has exclusive rights on almost every sport, but sports games HAVE gotten much better over the past 5-6 years, and it hasn't been just graphics.
  • by despisethesun ( 880261 ) on Saturday February 18, 2006 @09:40PM (#14752547)
    If you compare a sports game from 2006 to one from 5-6 years ago, yes, there's usually a huge improvement. Thing is, the improvement doesn't look so big when you compare, say, Madden 2001 to Madden 2002. While the changes and improvements do add up over time, they're not huge from year to year and so the criticism is still mostly valid.
  • Re:End Game (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @02:53AM (#14753427) Homepage
    No offense to Orson, but I take a touch of dark satisfaction when someone from another medium comes into gaming and falls on their face. It ISN'T easy to create great games. It doesn't just take vision, creativity, and a budget the size of texas. It takes compromises, a willingness to give the player control when the experience warrants, a willingness to take control away from the player when the experience warrants, a sense of the aesthetics of play, a team full of skilled people that you are willing to give control to, an ability to shoot your own ideas in the head when it is time... And even if you create one of the greatest games of all time, it may still fail in the marketplace... just because.

    No offense intended to Mr. Card, as if it wasn't for Ender's Game I may not have decided to become a game designer. But there is a big difference between ivory tower thinking about great gaming and the actual down and dirty process of making them.

  • Re:EA... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 19, 2006 @03:22AM (#14753489)
    You mean marginal third in console sales, undisputed first in handheld sales, and undisputed first in overall profits, right?
  • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve ( 949321 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @09:44AM (#14760522)
    I have forgotten the link, but some woman with a serious chip on her shoulder has decided that _Ender's Game_ is an apology for Hitler. Although I think 99.99% of the people who have read the book would not agree, she has twisted everything she could into proving her hypothesis. She has also alleged that Card does not write his own books.
    The problem is that Card is not politically correct and holds some opinions that are not well liked by some people, particularly about homosexuals. Card is also very religious, which makes him a threat to some people. I think much of the criticism against him has to do with people who are threatened by his politics, so they attack his writing. Politically, he is pretty close to former Senator Zell Miller - both claim to be Democrats, but are big fans of the current president.

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