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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2015 7:49 pm 
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This list is neato. Thanks for organizing this Victor! It's clear an update was needed.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2015 7:53 pm 
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jbdyer wrote:
Is the lack of older games more of a lack of nostalgia or a lack of having played them in the first place?

Distinction without a difference? Seems as though - unless one is Borges - one can't be nostalgic for something one doesn't know about.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2015 8:18 pm 
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Thanks for doing this, Victor!

1. Any chance you've compiled, or are compiling, a list of the games that got less than four votes? It would be interesting to see what didn't quite make the cut.

2. I've played 39 of the 50. Anyone played all 50? I'd very much like to play the rest, though, alas, I own none of the devices that would run 80 Days. (Also, for those who missed the '80s, many of the Infocom games are now available in the Lost Treasures of Infocom IPhone app--though not Hitchhiker's; I don't know of any way to get that legally.)

3. 1998 was quite a year--three of the top four. And 14 of the 50 were released between 1998 and 2000. I think all of those choices are strong on the merits, but it's possible that the nostalgia has just been transferred/updated to a different era.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2015 8:32 pm 
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Duncan Stevens wrote:
-though not Hitchhiker's; I don't know of any way to get that legally.


You can play the 30th Anniversary edition of Hitchhiker's for free at the BBC radio website here.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2015 9:03 pm 
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I've played 45/50 to completion, and started but not finished each of the others. (I never did hack my way all the way through All things devours, but given how much I enjoyed Fifteen Minutes, I should probably give it another try.)


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2015 10:53 pm 
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maga wrote:
jbdyer wrote:
Is the lack of older games more of a lack of nostalgia or a lack of having played them in the first place?

Distinction without a difference? Seems as though - unless one is Borges - one can't be nostalgic for something one doesn't know about.


I consider a "nostalgia pick" to be the "rose-colored glasses" variety -- that is, it gets picked because it is what one grew up with but not necessarily because of a fair comparison of quality. It is possible someone might be familiar with most of the work from that time but consider it rubbish compared to modern improvements.

Let me rephrase.

I guess what I'm trying to say if there's actual historical amnesia going on, that's a problem. But maybe the amount of quality work pre-1995 is really that short a list.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2015 11:38 pm 
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Quote:
I guess what I'm trying to say if there's actual historical amnesia going on, that's a problem. But maybe the amount of quality work pre-1995 is really that short a list.


Complicated question. I don't think it's quite as short as this might suggest. Much of the pre-1995 era is mostly forgotten by the current IF community--to a large extent, deservedly, but not in all cases. For instance, the Magnetic Scrolls games are fondly remembered by those who played them (not me), but none of them cracked this list. Ditto the Phoenix/Topologika games (I played Sangraal and gave up on a few others pretty quickly), Legend, and Level 9. (One Mag Scrolls game, Guild of Thieves, and one Legend game, Eric the Unready, made the 2011 list.) Others from that era include the Synapse games (notably Mindwheel) and Activision's Portal. Infocom has five titles on this list (out of the 35 they released), which is not a bad showing; there are other Infocom games that are in this general class, but it's not a crime that they're not here.

Since IF went (mostly) freeware in 1994-95 or thereabouts and games started becoming available by FTP/HTTP, a lot more IF has been written than was previously out there. Whether the signal-to-noise ratio has gone up or down relative to the 1980s and early 1990s, when there were some amateur games, almost uniformly bad (the tools available weren't so hot), and a fair amount of commercial stuff, better than the amateur games but still, in a lot of cases, not very good (tools, ditto), is virtually impossible to say unless you're so incredibly voracious in your IF playing that you can claim to have tried the bulk of games from both eras. But the volume of more recent efforts is greater, the tools are much better, much of the earlier stuff is no longer accessible, and as a result there's a bias toward the recent that outweighs the nostalgia factor.

At least, that's my guess.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2015 12:17 am 
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Duncan Stevens wrote:
Quote:
I guess what I'm trying to say if there's actual historical amnesia going on, that's a problem. But maybe the amount of quality work pre-1995 is really that short a list.


Since IF went (mostly) freeware in 1994-95 or thereabouts and games started becoming available by FTP/HTTP, a lot more IF has been written than was previously out there. Whether the signal-to-noise ratio has gone up or down relative to the 1980s and early 1990s, when there were some amateur games, almost uniformly bad (the tools available weren't so hot), and a fair amount of commercial stuff, better than the amateur games but still, in a lot of cases, not very good (tools, ditto), is virtually impossible to say unless you're so incredibly voracious in your IF playing that you can claim to have tried the bulk of games from both eras. But the volume of more recent efforts is greater, the tools are much better, much of the earlier stuff is no longer accessible, and as a result there's a bias toward the recent that outweighs the nostalgia factor.


Not of a fan of The Quill, eh?

TADS first came out 1988, although the games didn't start rolling until the early 90s.

I probably have a stronger claim to "trying the bulk of games from both eras" than most (I have played every Infocom and Magnetic Scrolls, most of Synapse, most of Phoenix, some Level 9, a whole bunch of other more obscure games) but I still feel like I'm lacking enough to really answer that. Not enough Quill and Eamon games for one thing-- speaking of amateur tools available at the time. Plus, I've yet to even touch Knight Orc (which is allegedly Level 9's masterpiece).


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2015 2:41 am 
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jbdyer wrote:
Is the lack of older games more of a lack of nostalgia or a lack of having played them in the first place? The commercial games in particular are hard to get access to these days.

Even not including that, I'm guessing the years 1987-1994 or so are pretty nebulous for most modern IF people.


I think a lot of the problem with old games is that you really had to be there and played them at the time to appreciate them, and if you're playing them 20 or 30 years after they were first released it's hard to understand all the fuss kicked up over them. I've always considered The Hobbit to be a truly amazing game but I never played Zork at all when it was first released and when I tried it about 10 years ago, I wasn't that impressed with it.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2015 3:51 am 
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jbdyer wrote:
I guess what I'm trying to say if there's actual historical amnesia going on, that's a problem. But maybe the amount of quality work pre-1995 is really that short a list.

Obviously, there are selection effects going on. Many people will never have played the Infocom games, which means that they don't stand a fair chance of getting elected; let alone the games by more obscure companies.

But what I meant by my comment about nostalgia is that the days are over (and probably have been over for a while) when writing interactive fiction was primarily seen as a way to recapture the qualities of a golden age. It is evident that the current community no longer thinks of the commercial era as a golden age. And I'm pretty sure -- not from this list, but from knowing the community in general -- that there is not now and has not ever been a widespread idea that we have to recapture another golden age, e.g., the late nineties.


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