Community Spotlight: Hardcore Isn't Oldschool Part 2
by Kei Beneza (dividelife), OnRPG Journalist
Welcome back to part 2 of my analysis of the debate between veterans and casuals over the validity of hardcore oldschool games. For those that missed Part 1 in which I built up how this debate came about, check it out here. Now on to a look at how this connects to MMOs.
Now For MMOs.
To learn more of the two gaming preferences I spoke of, I did a small research project on the MMO spectrum here in the Philippines. Might I say that I actually saw what I was looking for. According to my research, most of the players in this country dislike modern MMOs. This includes WoW, Warhammer, DC Universe Online, and RIFT. No matter how broad or awesome an MMO is, 90% of the gamers here would rather grind in Ragnarok and RF Online than embark on an epic quest to save Azeroth from certain doom. I myself enjoy modern MMOs and the cutting-edge features they offer compared to the grindfest some oldschool MMOs bring.
For this section, I interviewed Roan41, an RF Online player who claims that new MMOs are NOOBish and trash (feel free to shoot him). According to him, questing makes the game extremely easy, and that grinding levels your personal skill level far faster than running around on delivery missions. I can't deny that a lot of people share the same insight regarding MMO gameplay, though it is sad that most people deny themselves of MMO evolution simply because they are fully satisfied with a game from the past. I have nothing against RF Online; in fact, I love it. But if we aren't open to change when it comes, the good changes are never going to survive and evolve the industry.
What Does The New Age Of Gamers Think?
To expand my research, I asked my 13 year old nephew to play a couple of classic games. Note that he is quite good at games like Halo, being able to finish the darn thing at the legendary difficulty. After purchasing a second hand NES console for our little experiment, I quickly asked him to play the first Contra game. I was utterly shocked after seeing him die two times after the first bridge. He ranted a lot, and like any good uncle, I was there to write down everything he said. First off, he said that the graphics were pure trash, and that it was really hard to see the bullets even though the game was being played on a 50" screen. The lack of lifebars was also a big issue for him (and no, I did not teach him the 30 lives cheat). After wasting all three continues, he said that the game was pretty impossible to finish, and that it was purely ugly aesthetically.
He did seem pretty surprised after I finished the entire game in front of him (I did not cheat ), and told him that Contra was one of the most iconic games to ever grace the gaming scene. The results were also the same when I let him play Earthworm Jim 2 for the Sega Genesis, although this time, he did not curse the game's graphics. One thing I remember him saying was that he felt challenged, and that he was willing to play the game for countless hours until he finishes it... which he did. I showed him more oldschool games and he was absolutely enthralled by the other titles like Double Dragon and Adventure Island. Like any modern-day gamer, he said that the game would be a lot better if everything didn't look like a cheap PS1 game (if only he knew how much older this console was compared to the PS1).
Stay Hardcore or Embrace Change?
Yes, everyone has their own preferences. While some people enjoy beating the hell out of soldiers in games like Dynasty Warriors, others prefer to be the ones getting beaten in games that require utter patience and a lot of trial and error moments. It solely depends on the gamer's preferences; however, games continue to evolve, and people will have to open their minds and their wallets to test out the new if we are ever going to see progress. Each game, whether classic or modern, has its own charm. While classics may not have graphics that allow you to see the pores on their skin, I would never trade my classic experience with next gen titles. But that's all it is, nostalgia. I love my memories of how good it felt back in the day but realize how inefficient the controls and game design was by today's standards.
There ARE some games that bring the same classic feeling in a nextgen platform such as: Hard Corps: Uprising and Megaman 9-10 (hurray! A saving system), so I guess oldschool elitists still have something to look forward to. I really understand their point of view regarding the difficulty lengthening a certain game's lifespan, but we must all understand that in the post-Wii world, not all gamers are hardcore anymore. What might lengthen the difficulty for some results in a quick uninstall and rage quit by others. Game marketers are better off catering to one audience or the other, because trying to win both will result in a game that pleases almost no one.