Disclaimer: Any similarities between this kid and you as a kid are purely coincidental
So, this is my first blog. And it's kind of random. But whatever. We'll just walk through this step by step and see where it goes.
Lately, I've gone back to some of the games of my childhood. Mainly, the Spyro the Dragon series, and I got to thinking. These games that I spent hours upon hours playing as a kid played quite a large part in shaping me into the 'gamer' that I am today (I hate using the word gamer, since as another blog described it feels derogatory, but I can't think of another word), as well as my views on different aspects of games and what a game should strive to achieve. Makes sense, I suppose. Many of the experiences we have as children have an impact on who we are as a person and who we become later in life. I had never thought of that in terms of games, though, before today. I'll elaborate with my own experiences and thoughts.
We'll keep coming back to haunt you with our complex levels...and our costumes.
The Importance of Level Design and Difficulty
Spyro the Dragon and Crash Bandicoot are not exactly difficult games. I mean, yeah, they have their moments (especially Crash Bandicoot), but looking back, I can beat them fairly easily. Still, they molded my views on level design and difficulty curves in games. In the beginning of both games the levels are fairly linear and simple, with few threats and enemies in your way to impede you. As the games go on; however, the difficulty ramps up and the levels become more complex and complicated. I'm looking at you Tree Tops (from Spyro 1). *cough*
Anyways, a 10 year old kid can easily breeze through the first few levels. But get in towards the middle of the games/the end and the kid might have trouble. I recall specifically not being able to some of the levels on the second island in Crash Bandicoot as a kid, which I can easily do now. That's not the point, though. The point is that through these experiences I came to discover and believe that it's important to start slow and simple and then gradually increase the difficulty and complexity of levels so that the player doesn't get bored of how easy it is and is faced with a challenge. I believe now that many games should strive to create that sort of experience for the player.
I just gotta believe!...in everything but the graphics.
Graphics Aren't Everything
I didn't just play Spyro and Crash a lot as a kid. I also played a lot of Rayman and Parappa the Rapper (mainly its spin-off Um Jammer Lammy, but who's counting). They both looked fine graphically, then, but by today's standards the graphics are pretty low-par (except maybe Rayman 1's since that's sprite art, but whatever). That doesn't matter to me, though. I couldn't have cared any less about the graphics of a game as a kid, and I don't really care now. Don't get me wrong, if a game looks like garbage, it looks like garbage. But for the most part, I don't really care about graphics, now, like some people do.
For me, it was never about the graphics. It was only about the fun. As long as I was having fun playing a game, who cares about the way it looks? I felt that way with every game I played as a kid, whether it was on the Nintendo 64, the Sega Genesis, the Playstation, or whatever. I couldn't have cared less whether I was playing a 3D game or a game with 16 bit graphics. That still holds true for me, today. I can go back and play and game I played as a kid and not give a rat's ass about the graphics. The same is true for games being released these days. It's nice for a game to have good graphics, but it's the least important thing to me.
OBLIGATORY CHEMICAL PLANT ZONE REMIX TIME.
Music is Awesome
I know I'm dragging on a bit here about my own experiences, so I'll make this quick. So, the games I played as a kid basically made me like music, in a nutshell, which led me to believe that it's important to not half-ass music in games and to have nice sounding music that's awesome and memorable. Sure, everyone's taste in music is different, and I might not like a track in a game that someone else does, but as long as it doesn't sound like it took five minutes to slap together, I'm happy. I can point to basically every game I've played as a kid to show how I came to like music. Just listen to anything from Spyro, Crash Bandicoot, Sonic, Parappa the Rapper, Disney Games, and so on. It's freaking amazing! Today, I can hear a snippet of any Spyro song and say 'that's from a Spyro game'. The music is that memorable.
Disclaimer: This guy is probably faking it.
Ok, we're finally at the point of the matter! Which is what I've been saying this entire time. Some of our first experiences, for many of us during our childhoods, with games shape our mindset and views on aspects of games and what makes a great game. Sure, there are people out there who are adults and had pong when they were a kid who probably weren't influenced much by that. I don't blame them. Pong is kind of too simplistic for that (sorry Pong fans, no offense). But for many of us, we spent our childhoods playing games and we are the 'gamer' we are today because of that.
NOW GET READY. THE POINT. IS COMING.
You mean, there's a point to this pointless rant about your beliefs?!
So, I know there are plenty of you people out there who have played games as a kid which have shaped you into the 'gamer' you are today and molded your beliefs in regards to games (I've said this a thousand times by now, haven't I). What games? And how have they changed you? Heck, I don't care if it was in your childhood or not. Maybe you played a game the other day that forever will change your views on an aspect of a game. *insert questions asked a few sentences ago here*
That's all. I hope that wasn't too boring. Thanks for reading. And I hope I can think of something more interesting for my second blog post. In the eternal words of Handsome Jack...