I have recently been playing some of Blizzard’s classic games, with Diablo 1 and Warcraft: Orcs & Humans having been added to GOG. I was shocked when I loaded them up. Not by the graphics, but by how much has changed in the two genres that those games come from. So many quality of life improvements and design decisions that didn’t bother me at the time but in
Big bug in the game? Sorry it is there for good
Nowadays, many games have patches. Actually, most games have a day one patch because the developers keep working on the game after the game has gone gold, getting some extra time to polish, improve, add things and the like. But long ago, there were no patches. Bugs would live on and be a stumbling block forever. If a game had a terrible bug, sometimes there would be a product recall so that the cartridges could be replaced with working code but for the most part, any bugs you found were there to stay.
Multiplayer meant same couch
Want to play a game with a friend? You better get on your bicycle and go visit them, because that was the only way to play multiplayer. Did your friend that also liked videogames live too far away? Well, better organise a playdate or get used to everything being single-player. Sure playing on the couch with a friend is great, but sometimes your friends live very far away
No achievements/trophies (okay, bring this back actually)
Okay this one I am in two minds about. Nintendo games still don’t have that Pavlovian dopamine-inducing sound that trophies and achievements have. You decided when you had finished a game and got absolutely everything you wanted out of the experience, not the developer using gamification and some arbitrary measurement of how much of a real gamer you are. We just played games for fun’s sake and while some people enjoy the hunt to get those trophies and achievements, it also has a weird warping effect too.
4:3 aspect ratio
Remember how all the old TVs and monitors looked like a square? No panoramic vistas, no seeing a little bit further ahead in a platformer. Nope, everything was very much close to square. Oh and those old CRT monitors could reflect just about any light source to make a horrible glare right in the middle of your game. *shudders*
Manual saves only (or none at all!)
You have been playing for a while, grinding monsters to prepare for the big boss fight. The enemies here pose no real threat, so you don’t bother running back to the save point, which is a few rooms over where there is a higher chance of fighting some really annoying enemies. Then the power trips, or your console freezes and oh no! How long has it been since you saved? HOURS?!? NOOOO.
Left click to issue commands
This one I was reminded of when playing Warcraft: Orcs & Humans. In RTS games of long ago, you would left click on a unit, left click on move or attack or harvest, then left click on where you wanted that unit to move/attack/harvest. No right click to get a context sensitive command, right click is for deselecting things. So many games used this control scheme and as soon as you reached a game that used left click to select and right click to command, going back to left click for everything just feels so clunky.
Picking everything up manually, one by one
Some games still make you pick things up one by one, but a lot of games have made the looting process easier. Diablo 3 vacuums up gold if you run nearby now, for example, and some games will pick up all nearby gold if you click on a single piece on the floor but there were games were every single thing on the ground, every body had to be looted one by one. Slow, methodical, and possibly taking a lot of time away from what you were really there for: killing things.