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Nero D. Ace

Where did the design go? *an ode/rant (though mostly rant)* *also a tale about zelda*

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Games used to be games. They used to have design. Now they don't. Well ... at least not most of them anyways.


I'm gonna level with you fellas here. I went through a series of events last year that made me realise just how low the "quality" of games coming out is. Now, just because the quality drops doesn't make it bad. Hell, some might just call it a different preference.

For me, nuts in chocolate were a quality drop. For my sister, it was awesome.


Anyways, last year, in college, I had gotten used to a pretty powerful PC. It had the latest specs in processor, graphics card, etc. It was the first time I was able to run shit like this -




- and be blown away. LOOK AT ALL THAT HD-NESS!


Of course, my shooting skills were always sub-par and I never actually finished anything major. Till then, the only shooter I had actually finished was BioShock.


Over my first year at college, I was determined to play only the "fanciest", the most "gorgeous" looking HD frames I could get my slutty paws on.


I played single player campaigns of Battlefield 3, Call of Duty (modern warfare through black ops), ResEvil 5, Rage, Skyrim (with every god damn beauty mod I could find), Saints Row 3, the year's AssCreed and what not.


I didn't care how the game played, what genre it was or if I was good at it. I just wanted to see a gorgeous world on this powerful-as-god system regardless of whether I was having fun or not.


And then ... the year ended. I returned home. And I couldn't run the first Deus Ex at a steady 60 frames.

My heart fell and I groaned and moaned and trembled all over.


I had my PS3, yes but how many times could I revisit Uncharted 3?


Then, one day, I read an article debating about how Skyward Sword may be on par with the classic Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.


Bah, I thought. Zelda. Ugh. Yikes.


Yes, I had played the first 20 minutes of A Link to the Past on a GBA emulator on my PSP before closing it forever because ... "graphics are dated, yo".


nostalgia_a_link_to_the_past_03.jpg"Ugh, no thanks."


Yes, I had admired the artwork of The Wind Waker, the mature style of Twilight Princess and the control scheme of Skyward Sword before waving it away as "childish".




Fuck that franchise.


But ... a feeling kept nagging at me. I had no games to play, my internet speed was shit and I was getting SO ... FUCKING ...






I googled "Ocarina of Time", saw that it pre-dated my wooden PC and checked if a PC port ever got made. After 30 seconds, I found a Nintendo 64 emulator (10 MegaBytes), an "Ocarina of Time" ROM (25 MegaBytes) and I booted the damn thing.


I closed the emulator in all of 5 seconds.

... I had forgotten to plug in my controller.


*5 minutes later*

Righto, XBox controller plugged in, optimal emulation controls applied, Take 2.


I pressed Alt-Enter and went full screen, the N64 logo appeared in front of me and right from the get go, I praised the game for getting it's "average" looking visuals and sounds into a 25 MB file. (You may all stone me later. I will in fact, direct you towards the quarry.)


I went through the standard "getting used to the controls". The lack of a Right Analog Stick was sort of annoying. At least I was getting a full 60 frames.


Right from the get-go, I could see why the internet was so annoyed with this "Navi". Bloody bugger never knew when to shut up. No way to fast forward through her (or him? I never really found out.) either.


hey-listen-490.jpg"Shut Up!!!"


So there I was, a pitiful sight - complaining at every single lack of feature that I had gotten so used to, sitting in front of an ancient laptop, middle of the night, controller in hand trying to play a sad replacement for Arkham City.


Now I won't go and say that 2 hours into the game I loved it, because I didn't.


I finished the first dungeon, left the forest, met the princess and did a bunch of fetch quests across the land. I did those over a period of 10 days. And I was feeling really really meh. Sure, the gameplay was solid, the ocarina playing was dandy, and the bosses were kind of fun but I still couldn't put my finger on what made this game "legendary".



"I'm kidding, this shit was AWESOME!"


And then, I think what may have been the game changer happened - I grew up. As Link, I took out the Master Sword and time fast forwarded to many years later.

Everything in the last 15 minutes had been pretty fucking dramatic. The princess got kidnapped. My fetch quest items were useless and after growing up, the town was in worse shape than a battlefield.


So now what do I do? I had slept through the task I was given, years worth of puberty was about to hit in a second and I had been woken up by a possible pedophile.


For some reason, and I can't explain why - it was the revisiting that made me fall in love with this game. Till then, I had believed there was one major female character - the damsel, Zelda.


As a child, Link had met 3 dynamic female characters -

1) Saria, the forest dwelling innocent girl who's sad to see Link depart but knows that he has a bigger destiny.

2) Malon, the tomboy-ish rancher who dreams of a more colorful future but gets along well enough with her horses.

3) Ruto, a classic tsundere who has the determination to do things on her own but comes to learn to accept help from others.


As I was playing, I felt all of them had a strong connection to Link. And then, after growing up and visiting them again, it had a deep impact on me. Here's why -


1) Saria had the tragic age syndrome. She was destined to stay forever young while everyone else grew old. LOVE INTEREST DENIED!

2) Malon had grown a bit mature but the seizure of her ranch by their former employee had an impact on her and now she wanted to rebuild it again. LOVE INTEREST DENIED!

3) Ruto still liked Link but knew her duties as a sage came first. DENIED!


jqSqC.jpg"Right ... friends."


At this point, my immersion in the game was at an all time high. For a change, I was thinking - "Fuck graphics! There's no lag!"

The time between pressing a button and seeing a reaction was none. I was free to jump around, run around, play an ocarina, ride a horse, cut grass, break pots! WHEEEEEE!


Every enemy had a weakness, a way to take them down. Over time, Link became possibly a better tactician than Batman, hardly taking any damage when engaging enemies. All my gadgets had a purpose and I would use them optimally.


When not in the open world admiring the controls, I would be in dungeons, admiring the level design.


"OMG! If that lever had been slightly to the left, I could shoot it and unlock the gate!"

"Whoa, this makes the lever come to the left!"

"Ah, I need to explore for an item first!"

"Cool, a hookshot! I know just the place to experiment it on!"


I was a diddly little child with a new toy.

Zelda is awesome! How come I didn't play this before!? 


And then came the final seal, all I needed to make this one of my favorite games of all time. This -




This battle ... just screamed of design.

It was made for you ... as the player and as the character.


Suddenly -

1) You, the player didn't know what to do. All the enemies till now had a weakness, a way to fight them. Who is this dude? He looks like you, fights like you, blocks like you. How do I engage hi ... holy shit! He just took away a couple of hearts! Focus!


2) You, Link don't know what to do. You're seeing yourself, but a darker part of yourself. Perhaps it's all the regret you're feeling about being unable to stop Ganon. Perhaps it was always there and now it's coming out now that you're of age. How do you fight it?


And it delivers ...

Dark Link is defeated ... but what the FUCK was that? The hardest boss I've fought so far - myself.


And then I finished the rest of the game, loving every moment of it, HAVING FUN while doing it.




And then Year 2 of my college started. I was back. My PC was again the highest specs available. It was time to game. Oh yeah.


And I proceeded to download a GameCube emulator and play Twilight Princess.


At that point, I COULD NOT, I WOULD NOT be able to play "design-less" games anymore.


Call of Duty was a shooter which gives you high production values with aesthetics and let's you feel like a bad-ass for minimal effort, rewarding you with glorious explosion-porn while you do so.


Final Fantasy XIII-2, which I borrowed from a friend, which played that god-awful J-Pop track right from the get-go and made me feel so restricted I couldn't understand why people where giving it such high reviews.


Skyrim ... fuck that. Random quests with no proper dungeon design. I've played 20 hours. I'm an unstoppable Warrior Mage now. Progression? Down the drain.


In fact, the only game I fell in love with this past gaming year was Dark Souls. That game screams of "old school Zelda" design. It rewards me when I've earned it and punishes me when I act like a doofus.

A damn good control scheme, properly utilizing the controller, a damn engaging universe and a better story than the last 3 BioWare games I've played. From Software - I salute you, sir.




Now, I'm near the end of my rant, so I'll point out that question in the title - "Where did the design go?"


Frankly, it didn't go anywhere. It just changed. The gaming audience changed, the people in charge of publishing changed, the developers changed.


Some still cater to the style of "old school" design, Some go in the way of "Games as Art", Some go "Bang Bang ... headshot ... 50 XP ... "


All of them are their own style and all of them are good ... except maybe the last one.


Now, one final thing, if you're reading this, then -



2) If you've played Ocarina of Time, I KNOW THAT FEEL, BRO! I WANT A GOOD ZELDA GAME AGAIN! (Psst, try out Dark Souls if you haven't yet.)

3) If you haven't played Ocarina of Time, GO PLAY OCARINA OF TIME, MAN! I'M BEGGINA YA!

Edited by Nero D. Ace
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Welcome to Nintendo!


Seriously though why did you play a lousy emulator of the game!!!


Should have played this one for the 3DS!




Also I'd give SS another chance.  I enjoyed it a lot and even liked it better than OoT.

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If you thought OoT was good, wait until you try the Game Cube version; Orcarina of Time Master Quest! Its the hard version that makes it even more intense.


As for the degradation of games, its because people like to win. Once gaming companies realized that a lot of people are more satisfied when they win, they just cater to it. More sales, less thought into the games.


Either way, I make sure that I research a game before I buy. Some games like Serious Sam are super fun even though its just shoot and never stop, and some are devilishly hard like the Rainbow 6 games. As long as it seems like something that is fun, its normally worth a buy even if it is mind-numbingly easy.


If you want a game that's easy and yet also devilishly hard, try out Recettear. Great game with a super simplistic design, yet also strangely addictive and has just as charming character interaction as the Tales series.

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i absolutely love the zelda series. graphics are not what makes a game. its only one aspect of a game. ive seen enough lets plays of horror games to tell you that you can find a few incredibly scary games and the games look like they were made from minecraft or for the gameboy advance. Nuff said =)

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I've always considered the Zelda franchise a fun play. It is by no means my favorite game or games of all time but, the series has always been there to cheer me up with a challenging quest to save the princess and win the day.

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Haha, I don't own a 3DS ... yet.


Although I actually wanted to buy the game but Nintendo really isn't good at marketing it's products in the Middle Eastern and South-East Asia regions. As a result, any Nintendo product has to be shipped in from overseas and is RIDICULOUSLY expensive.


Skyward Sword is at the top of my "Must Play" list at the moment. Sadly, it's also one of the least accessible. i tried playing it on the Wii emulator and finished the first dungeon and such. I even found a controller config file that let me use the Nunchuk motion with a right analog stick.

However ... then came the flying areas. Those things are friggin' impossible. I barely managed to finish the tutorial for the bird flying and from what I've heard, it's a pretty important thing in the game so I was gonna have major problems just doing basic functions in the game. I might play it again, but only on a proper Wii/ Wii U.



I finished Wind Waker and a giant lot of Twilight Princess but I don't think I'll go back to Ocarina of Time for a while now. Second year's ended and I'm back home again and going through my backlog of PS1/2 games I haven't played yet, but I'll definitely make time for it if you say so.


Yeah, I've played Recettear and I agree, that game also has phenomenal design ideas. Sadly, it didn't have the fanbase or marketing to gatherer more attention than it already did.


As for the "making people wanna win" part, that might be kinda true. I think statistically speaking, I've finished more games on the last gen (Has the PS4/XBone gen started yet?) than the one before that. I've played a shit load of PS2 games but only finished about 40% of those compared to an almost 90% on the PS3 (No, I haven't finished FF-XIII-2 yet. I ran out of puke bags.).

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Yeah I agree fully a lot of games have become more generic lately.  The way I see it is that the companies worry more about money then risk, then less about there craft and more about crowd pleasing.  The need to open a game for "all" players is a huge requirement.  The problem is to get more people they must have more gimmicks and easier to get into game play.  First person shooters are a good example.  Now nicknamed "spunkgarglewewe" (Zero punctuation) They all strive to have the same elements that are considered popular in the current market and nothing more.  Most of them are the same, just different packaging. 


From what I've seen of newer players like my 15 year old nephew and others his age is that new issues seems to pop up.  Now a days a lot of people never played games as old as Ocarina or even know what the N64 is.  Because of this they don't know  about what could be better because they just haven't played any thing else.  So for many younger gamers that is the best.


The only way things will change is if the current market ups there expectations and stops buying these kind of games.  Same with other things like DRMs.  How ever a lot of individuals won't take a moment and decide not to buy a certain popular game just to send a message to the game maker that low quality isn't welcome. 

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Yeah I agree fully a lot of games have become more generic lately.  The way I see it is that the companies worry more about money then risk, then less about there craft and more about crowd pleasing.  The need to open a game for "all" players is a huge requirement.  The problem is to get more people they must have more gimmicks and easier to get into game play.  


That is exactly why I'm rooting for Nintendo during this conference. I got carried away on Day Zero of the E3 and started yelling "SONY! MARRY ME!" when they showed off their low console price, low restrictions and after years of waiting - Final Fantasy versus 13.


But then the excitement started wearing off and as E3 kept going on and I watched the GameSpot streams of developer interviews, filled with technical issues and some devs cancelling their appointments/not showing up on time and the games themselves months away from release and development, I started thinking to myself -

"There's no reason to buy a PS4 for the next ... 9 months. Huh. Why was I so excited then?"


Then after running low on internet speed, I decided to tune in to Nintendo Direct and by god, those guys KNOW games. I mean, seriously - look at this video -



That is a video about a guy who is passionate about one thing - making fun games.

Making sure people can play them.

Making sure people can enjoy them.


Look at all those games that are coming out very, very soon -

Pikmin 3

Sonic: Lost World

Bayonetta 2

The Wonderful 101

Wind Waker HD

Xenoblade 2

Super Smash Bros.


All of them exclusive to one console - Wii U


Sure, the PS4 may have games but most are coming to the PC as well. And of the ones that are exclusives, it seems they're offering the same thing as playing on a PC with a controller.


Maybe I'm weird but Infamous: Second Son looked like an okay game to me.

Yeah, the design looks solid. It plays really well too. The aesthetics are awesome. But ... that's it.


I'd honestly much rather see how The Wonderful 101 plays.

Edited by Nero D. Ace

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Right now I think its a little to early to make a proper call about any of the next gens games.  I would at least try to stay positive but you do have a point right now the ps4 and wii u look like my systems for the next gen.

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