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Old 16 January 2015, 05:18   #572

Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Montreal
Posts: 129
Originally Posted by lordofchaos View Post
I know exactly what you mean. I never felt that games had to be forgiving and lead you by the hand back then, I thought it was the norm having frustrating controls and insane difficulty spikes, that was certainly my experience with lot's of c64/amiga games. As I got older I would just play those ones less.. The sheer effort in trying to finish some of these old titles was really quite something. Maybe it's a generational thing? Having started from the gaming school of hard knocks :-)
I don't think it's generational. It seems to me that we did not have much of a choice at the time. Very few Amiga developers cared about playability, because very few *knew* that it mattered.

I recall spending months on Shadow of the Beast, memorizing stupid surprise after stupid surprise in order to be able to discover what lied next. I clearly remember that the only thing that kept me going was the hope to see more beautiful sceneries and monsters ahead. Had there been an equally beautiful but appropriately playable game I would likely never have played SotB much but there wasn't much competition back then.

Also note that bad playability was not limited to Amiga (or console) games at that time. The arcade game Rastan ( which was mentioned recently in another thread is relatively nice to look at (a few levels only though, some are pretty bland) but is dreadful to play: jumps and shots are not easy at all to master and must be executed perfectly. As Mrs Beanbag mentioned, people were experimenting with gameplay ideas at the time and playability wasn't too visible on the radars.

There must be some good examples of Amiga developers using these techniques? Can't think of any off the top me head though. Ah, chaos engine had some pretty cool design, especially the music changing dynamically throughout the levels.
The fact that many Amiga developers were clearly hired guns by unscrupulous publishers (Probe with US Gold is the best example) certainly didn't help generate productive and gameplay focused teams. The Bitmap brothers certainly stood out because they were indeed a self constituted team of like minded creators but even them made their share of gameplay errors (cf the Gods's issues listed by Mrs Beanbag).

But I think the main factor is experience:
It took reflection two iterations to approach acceptable gameplay for SotB so it shows that teams get better at playability with practice. Another good illustration is that Turrican I and II have fantastic gameplay which draws directly from the experience of Manfred Trenz who was a seasoned and mature C64 developer.

It's possible that the arrival of consoles took away enough programmers from the Amiga development scene that this prevented experienced ones to create outstanding Amiga games and we were left with more beginners or simply bad ones than should be expected.

Originally Posted by dlfrsilver View Post
yes Retro. Japanese devs spent a lot of time polishing the game logic, while Euro devs were all running after a short deadline.

It's evident that when work is polished, it's obviously better than when it's rushed

But it's true that crap games can be found on all platforms
It's true that the Japanese teams gave more attention to playability but they were also running like mad after even more ridiculous deadlines. The main difference was that the Japanese had enough arcade experience to know that playability mattered while the European/US ones were still learning the ropes.
Nintendo had arcade and handheld experience long before the Amiga was even born so they could afford structuring teams more professionally.

Work that is polished and rushed is better than just rushed.

There are exceptions though: Jordan Mechner's clearly did put a lot of attention to the gameplay even for his early games. His diary from this era is quite instructive in this regard.

Last edited by TCD; 16 January 2015 at 07:28. Reason: Back-to-back posts merged.
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