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The Golden Age of PC Gaming

By Shamus
on Friday Sep 5, 2008
Filed under:
Column

 
 

In my earlier rant against the current-gen Frankenstein graphics cards, a couple of people were quick to point out that while modern-day system-specs are indeed impenetrable to most people, the good old days of PC gaming weren’t much better. In the early 90’s, we had to fiddle around with config.sys and autoexec.bat to get games to work, make special boot disks, and know what freaking port and IRQ thingjigger our soundcard was hooked into. It was appalling.

She’s not a 10,000 polygon bump-mapped model, but Cate Archer of No One Lives Forever 2 manages to look pretty dang good.  Okay, her outfit is over-the-top, but that’s the fault of the 60’s spy movie heroines she’s sending up, not the graphics engine.
She’s not a 10,000 polygon bump-mapped model, but Cate Archer of No One Lives Forever 2 manages to look pretty dang good. Okay, her outfit is over-the-top, but that’s the fault of the 60’s spy movie heroines she’s sending up, not the graphics engine.
Those were the rough and tumble years before the new technology settled into place and was packaged and distilled for the average consumer. PC Gaming was a niche back then. And as much as I hate to say it, I think Windows was good for PC Gaming. It handled that stupid memory management / soundcard nonsense and gave developers a “stable” platform on which to build. Once you’ve paid the overhead in memory and performance, having an operating system there is actually pretty nice. It eventually made it possible for non-technical people to play some PC games.

About the time TV commercials for videogames start showing up you can say the hobby has come into its own and it’s time to start acting like responsible producers. If you’re advertising to the Average Joe, then Joe had darn well better be able to use the thing when he gets it home.

And there was a period of time where that was (mostly) true. PC Games peaked somewhere between 1997 and 2002. That was our golden age. It was after the stone age of DOS, but before the four horsemen of bugs, DRM, graphics fixation, and console-itis came in and made a mess of things. We had graphics cards that opened up a new age of 3d, but they were simple to buy and would last for years. (They could arguably outlast your PC. Mine did.)

Check out the games of 1998:

1998

StarCraft, Unreal, Fallout 2, Grim Fandango, Half-Life, Thief: The Dark Project

Four franchises saw their beginning in 1998. The only sequel of note was Fallout 2. (It was, sadly, pretty buggy. But ONE buggy sequel and FIVE incredible new games is a complete inversion of what we’re getting these days.) I played four of those games again this year.

1999

System Shock 2, Quake III Arena, Unreal Tournament, Planescape: Torment, Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings, Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, Homeworld, Outcast, Kingpin: Life of Crime, Rollercoaster Tycoon

I own every single one of those. I’d call most of them classics. I could fire up any one of them right now and have a blast. (Okay, maybe not Kingpin, but still.. that was a really good year.)

2000

The Sims, Deus Ex, Diablo II, Escape from Monkey Island, The Operative: No One Lives Forever, The Longest Journey

Another banner year. Again, this is ignoring the lesser games, and expansion packs.

I think what makes the Golden Age of PC Gaming so special is that we were in a sweet spot, visually. Graphics were at the point where games could be immersive and atmospheric, but they didn’t cost a fortune to produce. As development became more complex and costs rose, other aspects of the game had to be cut to pay for the bling-mapping. I can’t imagine ever getting another game as immense as the original Unreal. I can’t imagine getting another game as deep as System Shock 2 or Deus Ex. (Both BioShock and Deus Ex 2 were greatly simplified when compared to their predecessors.) We have less room for risky new ideas like Thief.

pcgames_timeline.jpg

Sure, graphics are better now, but we have sacrificed almost every other aspect of gameplay to get those graphics. A few games manage to get good graphics, and gameplay, and stability, and half-decent backwards compatibility (Half-Life 2 comes to mind) but most fail to deliver on at least two of those.

Sometime around 2002 backwards compatibility began to shrink, so that you needed to stay a little more up-to-date to be able to shop in the “New Releases” section. Graphics cards started to get harder to understand. Release & patch became the common solution to dealing with the expense of playtesting. Games got shorter & shallower.

Every time I bring this up I get people posting helpful suggestions like, “Yeah it sucks buy a console and stop whining.” Which misses the whole point of these posts. I’m not complaining because I can’t figure out where in this great big world I have to go to get more games. I’m talking about this stuff because it needs to be said. Look at titles like Haze, Crysis, and Quake 4. Think of the millions and millions of dollars being wasted on these short, dull tech demos. Think of the games we could be playing with that kind of cash being thrown around.

I played Quake 4 a while back. It was shallow, but amusing. But I’ll bet for the budget of Quake 4 you could (if you dialed back the graphics to 2002 levels) build a breakthrough along the lines of Thief or System Shock 2, with the added bonus that just about every PC out there would be able to run the thing. Imagine, you could spend the same money and make more money and give customers more value.

As always, I’m watching what the indie developers are doing. They don’t have the luxury of making these kinds of mistakes once, much less year after year. Indies don’t quite have access to cheap tools that can give us Golden-Age graphics without a lot of additional work, but the tools are getting better every year, and the gap left by big-name publishers is getting ever-wider.

It’s also worth noting here that Good Old Games is a new site that will be selling DRM-free versions of the classics for cheap. The public beta starts soon. I already own most of those games, but once the place opens up I’m going to go fishing and see if there’s anything I missed. For $5 – $10 USD, you probably can’t go wrong.

Just for fun: Name a few of your favorite games. I’m willing to bet if we collected a list of favorite PC games from people old enough to remember all three ages of PC Gaming, we would see that the games form a Gaussian distribution somewhere around 1997-2002.

Here’s to the Golden Age. May our emulators never fail us.


 
 
Comments (177)

  1. David says:

    My favorite ever was Majesty. And, well, it was published in 2000, with its expansion in 2002, if you believe Wikipedia.

    Then there’s the Total War series: Shogun (2000), Medieval (2002), Rome (sorta a flop, 2004), Medieval 2 (2006)

    Civilization series: 1991, 1996, 2001, 2005

    MOO2: 1996

    Total War, Spore, and the indies give me hope that you’re describing the *first* golden age of computer gaming, but I guess we have to wait and see on that one.

  2. Jeremiah says:

    Some favorites off the top of my head:

    Diablo 1 & 2, the original Pool of Radiance (1988), Planescape: Torment, System Shock 2 (currently playing through for my first time ever), Baldur’s Gate 1 & 2, Icewind Dale 1 & 2, Neverwinter Nights 1 & 2, Myst, Deus Ex, Warcraft 1 2 & 3, Morrowind, Oblivion.

    There’s probably more, but that’s a good start.

  3. Divra says:

    I will happily join you in that toast.

    I would however like to make 3 additions.

    1998 Baldur’s Gate.

    1999 Freespace 2

    2000 Baldur’s Gate 2

    I know the last two are sequels, but they are absolutely awesome games.

  4. Kevin says:

    Heh heh… you said Windows was stable.

  5. MikeSSJ says:

    Completely agreed.

    While there are some gems that were created in the “Dark Age” (Star Control 2 comes to mind, for example), as well as some very good ones from what you call the “Stupid Age”, there’s no denying that most of the REALLY good stuff comes from the late 90’s and early 2000.

  6. Hal says:

    You know what games I loved that I just can’t play anymore? The Quest for Glory series from Sierra. Yeah, they were the old pixel-hunt style adventure game, but they brought me into PC gaming, and I still remember them fondly.

    I haven’t played them in years, though. They relied on the processor to determine certain functions, so playing on a Pentium 2 or higher results in a game too fast to be playable. *Sigh*. I guess those disks can just keep collecting dust.

    • MidnightDStroyer says:

      Yeah, I’d consider the whole Quest for Glory series to be classics, that took us from stone-age DOS-based 8-bit graphics with arrow-keys character movement & text-parser commands all the way into 32-bit point & click navigation combined with drop-down menus with the first generation of 3D animated modeling & animation. The whole series had not only the greatest use of graphics of their time, but the gameplay itself was full of high-quality context & in-depth development of plots & storytelling with real substance mixed with it’s own humor. I have yet to see or hear of any series of games that pretty much set the industry standards for computer gaming so consistently throughout its entire run. there was even some real character development that required the player to actively improve the character’s skills to gain levels, rather than most other games that required gaining levels to improve skills that you might never have need for or use. The amount of character customization was astounding, in that I was able to build the character in a way that could utilize skills from all of the various classes, so that I could improvise & experiment with different ways to do the various tasks & actions. Not only that, but you could import your customized character from one game into the next of the series, and continue customizing the character for each new part of the series with newly-gained skills & continuing to improve old skills for better effectiveness.

      I’ve found that an emulator known as DOS Box is quite capable of not only running all of the QFG series that still relies on DOS to work, but as PC hardware improved, the older games would wind up running the animations so fast that you couldn’t see anything but a blur…But DOS Box solved that problem by including an adjustable timing delay to slow the processor down to whatever speed you like.

      I don’t care what anyone else says, the Coreys were geniuses in the concept-development of the QFG series.

  7. Shamus says:

    Hal: Recently someone sent me a link to this:

    http://www.agdinteractive.com/

    Which is a re-release of QFG2. I haven’t tried it myself, though.

  8. Adam says:

    The Command & Conquer series. Early 90’s to present. With the exception of the latest two proper games in the series (Read: the first two created by the EA-controlled studio.) they were excellent examples of what could be done with nothing but 2d sprites. And they were REALLY FREAKING FUN to play.

  9. Jeysie says:

    You’ll get no argument from me on that factor… pretty much all of the games I own are adventures, RPGs, and a few strategy games from that Golden Era. (Well, and Wing Commander.)

    The “Golden Age” phenomenon was brought to my attention most sharply recently when I finally played the Tex Murphy games. Being an adventure gamer, the decline of the genre is a semi-popular topic. I commented that I’d like to see adventure games evolve to where 3D is actually used (looking over, under, behind, etc), borrowing from RPGs where dialogue choices matter, puzzles that are logical and fit in the narrative/enviroment, etc.

    Then I played Under a Killing Moon and The Pandora Directive and discovered that Access Software already did that, you know, 14 years ago. And with 3D graphics that were actually pretty nice considering there was no fancy texture mapping back then (certainly better than most 3D of that era). They’re not perfect games, but they’re still ahead of their time in many ways, at least in the realm of adventure games.

    But yeah… Torment, Fallout 1 & 2, pretty much all of LucasArts’ adventures, Beneath a Steel Sky, Wing Commander, Alpha Centauri, Gabriel Knight, The Space Bar… not to mention all the games from that era I haven’t played yet but people tend to universally say are good.

  10. Carra says:

    I played Planescape Torment & The longest journey last year, never played them before. They were awesome. And both still looked good! Besides being the most fun games I had played in quite some time.

    And yes, some of my favorite games:
    -> 7 kingdoms (1997)
    -> Anno 1602 (2000)
    -> Starcraft
    -> Medal of Honor: AA
    -> Majesty (2000)
    -> Diablo 2
    -> AoE2
    -> Broken Sword (1997)
    -> Rollercoaster tycoon
    -> Carmaggeddon

    Although I’d add some newer games too:
    -> Warcraft 3, Bioshock, World of Warcraft, Knights of the Old Republic.

    Some older too:
    -> Monkey Island
    -> Caesar 2

    None the less, the majority is from about 1997 > 2001. Also the period where I *started* playing pc games. Or, not much things to compare with.

    Ah, it’s just nostalgia :)

  11. Deoxy says:

    Heh heh… you said Windows was stable.

    Which is ridiculous, even today (though less so). I think a better term would be consistent.

    If you could get Windows running decently well on your system (and you reboot regularly, and defrag regularly, etc), most everything that ran in Windows would as well. Mostly. Most of the time.

    The alternative was each game being a roll of the dice – some might actually be stable (much more than Windows), but many would be just as bad or worse, and they would each have their own issues, as opposed to all sharing the same set of issues in the Windows world.

    One set of issues, even if just as bad or worse, is often better than many different sets of issues, even if they individually aren’t as bad. That’s the point, I think.

    Oh, and I agree with Shamus’ main point, as well.

  12. Deoxy says:

    The Command & Conquer series.

    You mean the Dune II series?

    Seriously, go look for the game “Dune II”. Same company, late 80s, I think it was, maybe early 90s?

    Command and Conquer is the SAME GAME. The graphics even look similar.

    It also explains where the whole silly resource concept in C&C came from – harvesting The Spice.

    Edit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dune_II

    At least some of that article is wrong (you most certainly COULD select multiple units, for instance, but it was limited to 9 at a time), but it gives the general idea.

  13. Nixorbo says:

    I would like to add X-Wing Alliance to the 1999 list.

  14. Corvus says:

    1992 – Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss
    1992 – Ultima VII: The Black Gate
    1993 – X-COM: UFO Defense
    1997 – Fallout

    Hm… I seem to be a fan of the Dark Ages. ;)

  15. ajw says:

    Heh: I remember making special Novell boot floppies just to play the newly-released Quake. That’s one step away from chasing kids off the lawn.

    Grim Fandango FTW

  16. Fritha says:

    The combination of Baldurs Gate 2 and Civilization II added a year (at least) onto my PhD. While Civ IV has replaced CivII in terms of hours played, BG2 is still a constant on my hard drive, and probably gets replayed every 6 or so months. Alpha centauri also gets played fairly regularly – I’d pay good money for a remake of that!

    One other game that I would add onto the list above would be Riven (1997). Beautiful game, and definitely a highlight for me.

  17. Strangeite says:

    The original Pools of Radiance (1988), although to be honest I should include all of the old TSR “Gold Box” games, Roadwar 2000 (1986), all the Civilzations, Blue Max (1983), Homeworld (1999) and SimCity 2000 (1993).

    Looking back at my list, I realize now how influenced my gaming habits were by the old Commodore games.

    Edit: Oh yeah, and Colonization.

  18. Nilus says:

    Man the dark ages. Having to figure out how to get more ESM memory, having to fiddle with drivers to get the CD-Rom to work. Man half the fun of playing a game was getting it to run.

    Of course looking back at the Dark Ages of the mid-90s, it was heads above the stone ages of the late 80s. At least VGA had become a standard. Am I the only one who remember CGA(4 colors that all seemed to be shades of orange) and EGA(8 colors this time, with a lot of developers loving green and blue).

    I look back 20 years and am shocked at how much has changed, then I look at my infant son and think about what he is going to think of all these technological marvels we swoon over now.

  19. Shinjin says:

    Not sure where to find the year a game was published. Off the top of my head, these are some that I spent an inordinate time playing (and replaying):

    Jagged Alliance 2
    X-Com: Ufo Defense
    Caesar n/Pharaoh/Zeus
    Star Control 1/2

  20. Mari says:

    Favorite games? The ones I keep going back to and playing over and over again? Or at least did until I got a bleeping 64-bit OS in pursuit of the shiny? Hmmmm…I know some of these have already been mentioned, but I’ll repeat since this is my list:

    Baldur’s Gate – 1998
    Majesty – 2000
    Dungeon Keeper 2 (never did play 1…probably a shame)- 1999
    The Sims (to my eternal shame)- 2000
    Zoo Tycoon – 2001
    Rollercoaster Tycoon – 1999
    Sim Tower – 1994
    Civilization 1&2 (never could cotton to 3 or 4, but I’m old-fashioned like that)- 1991
    Tetris and its many, many, many clones and spin-offs like Collapse and Bejeweled – circa mid-1980s
    You Don’t Know Jack (somehow as embarrassing as The Sims) circa mid-1990s
    Scholastic’s Microzine games circa mid-1980s
    Oregon Trail (not the ungodly bug-riddled, resource-intensive “updates”) 1971 (pre-dates my birth, but I was playing it from the early 80s to the late 90s)
    Doom (not the franchise, the original Doom) – 1993
    Castle Wolfenstein – 1981 (I didn’t start playing until the mid 80s)

    Obviously, many of these aren’t even playable on modern boxes. Until not too many years ago, though, I actually still had original 5.25″ install disks for some of them.

  21. Tim Skirvin says:

    Starcraft, X-Wing/TIE-Fighter, SMAC + Civ 1/2/4, X-Com, Star Control II, Wing Commander I/II, MOO 1/2, Starcraft, Scorched Earth, the EGA-days of Sierra On-Line, the Gold Box games. Those are the Games Of Yore to me. And it’s been a nice reminder lately that I don’t actually have to stop playing them.

  22. Duffy says:

    Interestingly enough my favorites do tend to be older:
    TIE Fighter
    Dark Forces
    Civ II
    Full Throttle
    Day of the Tentacle
    Commander Keen
    Quake 2 (my favorite in the Quake series for both single and multiplayer)
    Dark Reign (basically a C&C knock off)

  23. Tim Skirvin says:

    I did miss the Lucasarts days, specifically the Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis game.

  24. Matt K says:

    Oddly, I didn’t really get to play PC games until 2000 (in 1997 my family finally got a PC and it was good enough to play Doom but Fallout was well beyond the system specs). Then again, I’ve been playing catch up ever since (and that seems in not include recent games).

    My List:
    Great Games:
    Deus Ex
    Planescape: Torment
    Civ 2 (and I recently got a hold of Civ 4 and enjoyed it almost as much)
    Fallout (never got around to finishing Fallout 2)
    Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines (playing now, but great so far)

    Good Games (not quite as good in my opinion):
    Morrowind
    Dungeon Keeper 2
    Legacy of Kain: Defiance (yes, I played it on the PC and actually the series itself was pretty enjoyable minus Blood Omen 2 even if it wasn’t exceptional in any way)
    Temple of Elemental Evil
    Arcanum

    That said, oddly there have been some incredible console games fairly recently such as Prince of Persia Trilogy, Beyond Good and Evil, God of War and Shadows of the Colossus. Shadows especially is such a unique game that I have to wonder why we don’t get this kind of experimental games on the PC anymore (same with Katamari)

  25. Rubes says:

    What? No Marathon from Bungie yet?

    Oh yes. Sweet, sweet Marathon. 1994.

  26. Joel says:

    I have to point out Myth: The Fallen Lords, and Myth II: Soulblighter. Both of these were produced by Bungie before Microsoft acquired them, the first hitting the shelves in 1997 and the second in 1998 (I think).

    I still play Myth II today every few weeks with a bunch of friends who I’ve managed to convince over the years to give the old game a try. It has great multiplayer strategy, lots of plugins developed by the fanbase, and a captivating simgle-player campaign (with co-op). If I were to describe it in a nutshell, I’d say it’s like Warcraft, but better graphics, physics, and none of the resource collecting or building.

  27. Nihil says:

    But I'll bet for the budget of Quake 4 you could (if you dialed back the graphics to 2002 levels) build a breakthrough along the lines of Thief or System Shock 2, with the added bonus that just about every PC out there would be able to run the thing. Imagine, you could spend the same money and make more money and give customers more value.

    Interestingly, Tilda Swanson* said exactly the same thing in a recent interview, while talking about big-budget Hollywood productions versus underground/indie/art films.

    * the Witch from the Narnia films, whose entire career up to that point was spent in the underground scene.

  28. supermank17 says:

    Ah yes, the good ol’ days when everything LucasArts touched seemed Golden. Some of my favorites are still their adventure games (all of them, but Full Throttle, Monkey Island 3, and Sam and Max stand out), the X-wing series, and one of my favorite shooters of all time, Jedi Knight 2.

  29. Factoid says:

    It blows my mind to see those games lumped together by year like that. I can’t believe that Homeworld really came out the same year as Alpha Centauri. Looking at the two games today you’d swear that Homeworld was at least 3 years ahead because of graphics alone. Goes to show we really weren’t that obsessed with graphical minutia back then.

    I kind of blame Half Life 2 for starting the graphics arms race. Gabe Newell became a shill for the Radeon 9800 by saying that HL2 would run “best” on that card. So nVidia’s response was to start working with major developers on major titles to gaurantee “best” performance for nVidia cards.

    This led very quickly to graphics programmers and chipset designers getting together to create esoteric systems to make cooler, more impressive graphics. Which began to roll out into new production cards.

    That in itself isn’t a bad thing, but it snowballed out of control and we’d get some new version of the same old card that had some minor new feature but it somehow necessitated a new product number, so thats how we got cards called “Beefycard 6636TA” (TA stands for ‘teh awesomez’)

    I know it wasn’t all Gabe’s fault. Certainly this had been going on to various degrees before hand, but that was really the tipping point.

  30. mockware says:

    I can’t remember what year these came out in but I have to say that the PC game industry has left me behind due to their obsession with RTS and FPS.

    Ultima Series III, IV and V
    Warlords 2, 3, 4
    Nox
    Freedom Force 1 and 2
    Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2
    Icewind Dale 1 & 2
    Panzer General, Fantasy General, … General
    Civilization Series

    Funny enough I am finding all my gaming needs are filled with the DS – I only bought it so I could play PuzzleQuest but now I have found all these new games that play like the old PC games I loved. They are even doing a lot of conversions from tabletop and old PC titles.

  31. Nickless says:

    My favourite games:

    Neverwinter Nights (2002)[The persistent worlds are addictive and a lot of fun, even now. Escape From the Underdark is win]
    Baldur’s Gate 2 (2000)
    Planescape:Torment (1999)
    Fallout (1997)
    Mount and Blade (????)
    Civilisation 2 (1996)
    Diablo 2 (2000) [At the time it was addictive, although now I can hardly stand the grind]
    Morrowind (2002)
    Civilisation 4 (2005)[It is a lot of fun, especially the multiplayer, but my machine can’t handle it after the industrial age]

    As for games nowadays, I’m really looking forward to Age of Decadence, which looks like it will be as good as, if not better, than Fallout.

    • WWWebb says:

      Reading through old posts, I started wondering about this “Age of Decadence” game being anticipated in 2008. Apparently it finally came out in Q4 2015.

      I wonder how it stacks up against the more publicized Kickstarter RPGs. Thinking about those and the main article makes me wonder if we’re in a another golden age for RPGs. That could be a fun post since there have been at least 3 “golden ages” of RPGs. Someone makes a really good engine for people to design games around, then you wait 2-4 years for people to push it as far as it can go.

  32. ThaneofFife says:

    My top ten PC games of all time:

    10. Master of Orion (the original)

    9. Alpha Centauri (all the fun of Civ II, and with a plot!)

    8. Journeyman II (one of the best uses of full-motion video I’ve ever seen, and lots of great atmospherics)

    7. XCOM (and Terror from the Deep, which is basically the same game)

    6. Millennia: Altered Destinies (a seriously-underrated time-travel role-play, puzzle adventure)

    5. World of Warcraft

    4. Grim Fandango (and I never beat it! Got close though)

    3. Warcraft 3 (and the Frozen Throne expansion; loved the user-made scenarios, especially Gem Td; I beat the game on hard, and once got to the top 100 on the East Coast for a couple of weeks)

    2. Sanitarium (probably the best adventure game ever made (though Grim Fangando gives it competition there) also probably the best atmospherics and weirdness of any game I’ve ever seen or heard of)

    1. Betrayal at Krondor. This is hands-down the best RPG ever made for the PC.
    It’s first-person, but with a party, and is largely text-dependent, which seriously ups the immersion in this 1993 release. It also introduced me to the world of Raymond E. Feist, which has given me additional reading pleasure. Best part: it’s been free-ware for 10 years courtesy of Sierra. Wikipedia should be able to point you to it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betrayal_at_krondor

  33. ngthagg says:

    I’ve spent a significant amount of time playing Caesar III and Heroes of Might and Magic III. They were published in 1998 and 1999, respectively, more confirmation of your theory.

  34. Tacoman says:

    Hands down, Age of Empires I & II. Also, Starcraft was pretty awesome. Those are pretty much my favorite games for the PC, even now that I’m addicted to WoWcrack.

  35. LintMan says:

    When Half-Life came out, it refused to work properly with my Matrox video card/Voodoo2 3D card set. (It was a Matrox driver issue and they had already stopped supporting my high-end 1.5 year old card, so no fixes were coming. I’ll never buy from them again). So I ended up buying one of those new-fangled 2D/3D Riva TNT cards just so I could play Half-Life.

    I felt like an idiot at the time, buying a new video card just so I could play one game I’d play for a month and uninstall. But, then, with all the expansions and mods – especially Team Fortress Classic, 5 years later HL still was sitting on my system and had outlived the video card I bought to play it. Not bad after all.

    My point to that story? Not much of one, really.

    But I do have a point to make. Shamus mentions the dumbed-down Bioshock and Deus Ex 2 vs their predecessors in the context of graphics fixation, but I’d place 100% of that particular blame on them being console-centric designs. For some inexplicable reason, developers seem to think that console games don’t want or can’t handle game depth.

  36. Patrick says:

    One thing I noticed on all these lists (and for which I think Shamus should do a special column) is that a lot of the games need no 3D component. It’s irrelevent to most Strategy games and RPG’s. However, even these games feel the need to invest in huge 3D budgets which really don’t do much. Are we really getting much by having a 3D Civilization? You could do very detailed 2D graphics which do the same thing. The Total War series put it to good use, although I was never entirely happy with somewhat messy Rome: Total War world map.

    In a related matter, I find I enjoy handheld DS games as much or more than big-name, partly because they’re 2D. Sprites tend to be relaxing, cute, and fun because the focus is not on the graphics. The game must be punchy and fun because gamers may only be paying in 45 minute intervals. I think the lesson here is that your graphics ought to be as good as they need to be, and no more, and always prefer useful detail over exotic but marginal gains.

  37. The people here who are complaining about Windows’ apparent instability are completely doing it wrong.

    I’ve been using XP x86 since it came out and Vista x64 since this past April and both of them have seen uptimes well past 30 days. My record was over 100 days, broken by a power outage.

    If you’ve experiencing BSoDs and/or crashes with a modern NT-based OS you only have third-party drivers, your hardware, or yourself to blame for it.

  38. JB says:

    The golden age of gaming was for me earlier than that, it was when I had my Amiga. Those were the days. I am lucky to have been young at that time. :)

    • MidnightDStroyer says:

      Heh! I still remember the original Sim City, for the old Commodore 64…Back when that was the top-o-the-line in home computing. I still remember the days when an internet connection required a telephone modem for dial-up connection & the only way to navigate online was Compuserve & Prodigy. I never did enjoy anything of Sim City past #2 though.
      A lot of what I still enjoy most has already been mentioned, such as Planescape: Torment, Dungeon Keeper 2, the Gold Box series of the AD&D adventures (Pools of Radiance, Curse of the Azure Bonds, etc), Civilization games up to Call to Power, Unreal, Jedi Knight II: Jedi OUtcast & a bunch of others, but my all time favorite has to be the entire series of Quest For Glory…All 5 games; they carried us from out of the stone-age DOS with CGA graphics all the way into the first generation of 3D animated modeling, doing so while combined with prodigious levels of game/story-telling content & RPG character-development.

  39. xbolt says:

    SimCity 2000 – 1993
    Myst – 1993
    Riven – 1997
    MDK – 1997
    Half-Life – 1998
    MDK2 – 2000 (The absolute best)
    Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force – 2000
    Return to Castle Wolfenstein – 2001
    Ominous Horizons – 2002
    The Hobbit – 2003
    Half-Life 2 – 2004 (And all sequels)
    Oblivion – 2006

  40. Ingvar says:

    I remember Hexen as being astounding. But, then, I replkayed it recently and it wasn’t nearly as brilliant.

    However:
    + Forsaken (the PC version; the PS version is, erm, not good)
    + Half-Life, Opposing Force and Blueshift
    + Return to Castle Wolfenstein (though, it has some issues, in that it contains some rather tougher than ideal bossmonsters)
    + Safecracker (this is, alas, fraught with issues, trying to run on a modern machine, as it refuses to start due to too much RAM being available).
    + Dungeon-keeper

  41. Deoxy says:

    Windows has problems FAR beyond BSoD.

    The most obvious is that it does not control memory worth a darn.

    The OS should OWN memory. That’s one of its primary jobs. Windows leaks, in every version yet put out.

    That’s why making it 30+ days without a reboot is so impressive for Windows. Unix and Linux systems NEVER need to be rebooted, unless you are changing out the hardware or some vital system software issue.

    Third party stuff should be INCAPABLE of breaking the OS, as the stuff that can break the OS should be inaccessible to them. Windows has never done that.

    And that’s without getting into the impressively bad registry management (if you want to call it that – the registry is essentially unmanaged, really). That’s a whole different pile of problems.

    Building an OS is hard work (I know, I’ve done it – small scale, in college), but Microsoft is the biggest software name on the planet, with the largest OS budget that has ever existed, and they can’t accomplish the basics? Don’t get me started on security (at least it has a little bit now)…

    And yes, I’m a Windows user – work and home – so it’s not just fan-boy raving, here.

  42. The Fallen says:

    I totally agree with you Shamus. Although I fondly remember the pre Windows era (I was mostly into Amiga games though) you can beat the number of defining, innovative or just plain awesome games that came around in the 1997-2000 period.

    Most of them were mentioned already by other people, so I would add one that is absent from their lists: Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight. Not only is one of the best Star Wars games up to date, but also did a lot for the FPS games.

    Of course Half-Life really set the standards two years later, but a lot of things were already present in Dark Forces 2 (massive and very complex levels, interaction with objects, a lot more plot than was normal for shooters of that age)

  43. ThaneofFife says:

    I didn’t click edit on my original post as soon as I should have, so here are the dates for my games (all dates from wikipedia):

    Master of Orion (1993)
    Alpha Centauri (1999)
    The Journeyman Project 2: Buried in Time (1995)
    XCom (1993); Terror From the Deep (1995)
    Millennia Altered Destinies (1995)
    WoW (2004)
    Grim Fandango (1998)
    Warcraft 3 (2002)
    Sanitarium (1998)
    Betrayal at Krondor (1993)

    Looking at this, I’d say that 1995 was my best year for gaming. However, I had a pentium 133 with 64Mb Ram and no video card from 1996 until 2000. Before that, I had a 486 DX/2 50Mhz with 32Mb RAM. So, I couldn’t play most of the games that were coming out in the late 90s.

    Also, I can’t believe I made this list without including:
    Master of Orion II (1996)–by far better than the original; can’t believe I forgot to include it
    X-Wing (1993)
    Tie Fighter (1994)–by far the better of the two space sims
    Warcraft II (1995 again!)
    Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight (1997)
    Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (2002; Jedi Academy was pretty good too, but no an all-time great)
    Starcraft (1998)

    Clearly I need to make a top 20 list.

    Shamus: a suggestion. Why don’t you make an online poll where readers will select the top 25 or 50 or 100 PC games of all time. The results could be interesting…

    As for the Diablo series, I’ve never played it, but listening to the people here, I’m beginning to think I should go back and play it. Same for Fallout. So many games, so little time…

  44. Strangeite says:

    Ian B: That is impressive; but, my G4 running OS 10.4 has not been restarted in almost three years. It is about two months shy of the anniversary. Granted it is now mainly a file and iTunes server.

  45. onosson says:

    2 questions:

    Does the Commodore 64 qualify as “pc gaming”?

    And, does anyone else have fond memories of Amerzone (1999)? I absolutely loved that game. True, there was no way to deviate from the path, but that path was so beautiful that it didn’t seem to matter (except if you wanted to replay it).

    Others on my personal list:

    Civ III (2001)
    Morrowind (2002)
    Shogun: Total War (2000)
    Medieval: Total War (2002: the first one, I replay it constantly!)
    Ultima III (1983: my first experience with Windows gaming)
    Tropico (2001: it’s a light game, but very replayable)

  46. Alan De Smet says:

    I happen to be re-playing No One Lives Forever 2 right now! And I must say, it’s aged really, really well. Having a modern machine means I can run it with all the knobs turned up. (Well, the shadows only at medium, but they look great there. Something about high quality shadows causes my high end gaming rig to crawl. *shrug*.) The gameplay is polished and solid. It’s funny. It looks good. They included surprisingly high resolution textures. NOLF1, which I just re-played, did not age so elegantly. It’s still fun and I’d recommend it, but it looks old and the mechanics are clumsy and unpolished. NOLF2 hit it out of the park.

    On the down side, I got regular crashes when trying to start it up. Lowering the resolution to a mere 1024×768 appears to have fixed it right up. A shame, for those few time I got it running at 1440×1080 it looked great.

    I hope Good Old Games has a good selection. There are a few holes in my collection I’d like to fill. In particular, my copy of System Shock 2 disappeared a few years ago, and I’m yearning to replay it. Quick searching online finds used copies… for $80. I think not.

    (Oh, and Escape From Monkey Island a Golden Age treasure? It’s far as away the weakest of the series. I replayed almost every LucasArts adventure game in the last few years, and EfMI is a pretty low point. It’s better than no Monkey Island, but only marginally so.)

  47. potemkin.hr says:

    My all-times favorites list:

    Heroes of Might and Magic 3
    Age of Empires 2
    Neverwinter nights (still playing it sometimes over the internet)
    Baldur’s Gate 2
    Morrowind
    C&C: Red alert 2
    Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars
    Splinter cell: Chaos theory

    Soon I hope to play mass effect, another game that could be good is dragon age (if bioware doesn’t mess it up…).

  48. onosson says:

    I forgot to add Far Cry (2004) to my list. I know why Shamus didn’t like it so much, but I actually enjoyed it a lot and played it several times. That being said, it does stand as a good example of the Beginning of the End of the Golden Age.

  49. Nazgul says:

    Somewhat OT (or ironically on-topic): the Xbox 360 price cuts you were waiting for have officially arrived…

    Back on-topic, my fave oldies that still stand up are Myth II, the old Warcraft (pre-WoW), the original couple of Tomb Raider games, and perhaps most importantly Bungie’s “Marathon” on the Macintosh in 1994(!) as well as its later sequel. Marathon may not look as good as Halo 3 but the play was almost the same and it was just as much fun. Hard to believe it was 14 years ago….

  50. geogscott says:

    Baldurs Gate 1 and 2 (the splatter kills were awesome)
    Neverwinter Nights
    Icewind Dale
    Diablo 2
    Sacred (diablo 2 knockoff)
    Civilization series
    Dark Age of Camelot

  51. Mari says:

    Onosson – YES! Commodore 64 is totally PC gaming. I even included some games on my list that only ever ran on the Apple IIC, so I should think your Commodore counts way more than that. I feel kind of old now. And a little bit geeky.

  52. onosson says:

    OK Mari, in that case M.U.L.E. is my #1 game of all time, on any platform. Also memorable were: Boulderdash; Seven Cities of Gold; Heart of Africa; and of course, the Summer and Winter Games series!

    For those too young to remember it, I think the equivalent of M.U.L.E. these days is ebay.

  53. Spam says:

    I remember firing up my Apple 2 GS to play Kings Quest…
    I also remember almost failing out of college because I was playing Baldur’s Gate too much to bother going to classes.
    Good times.

  54. Don J says:

    My list (roughly chronological):
    Zork I, II, III, and Zero
    Bard’s Tale I and II (the Amiga versions only, though — sound and graphics were CRAP on the PC, as I learned years later buying the collection)
    Emerald Mines (apparently a Boulderdash clone?)
    Rocket Ranger
    Civilization I, II, and III
    Quake
    Heroes of Might and Magic 2 and 3 (especially 3 — one of my all time favorites there)
    Baldur’s Gate
    Diablo 2
    Half-Life 1 and 2

    All of these are games I would happily play again if I had time and access. I especially miss the Amiga games — Bard’s Tale, Emerald Mines, and Rocket Ranger. I have spent time trying to get them working again in emulation, and looking for ways to buy them. I really miss the good music and colours on the Amiga Bard’s Tale games. Loading up the PC versions makes me very, very sad.

    I also kind of miss the sounds the old C64 drive would make when loading Zork. I can still hear them in my head. But that really has nothing to do with the games.

  55. Galen says:

    Morrowind, Starcraft, Baldur’s Gate, WoW. ’nuff said.

  56. Some random comments:

    Of the 23 `98 – `00 games you listed, about 10 of them used “obsolete” 2D graphics. And people have named plenty of other great games from that timeframe which were also 2D. No wonder you didn’t need to upgrade your video card as often back then! Gee, I wonder how many great 2D games came out this year…

    We had graphics cards that opened up a new age of 3d, but they were simple to buy and would last for years.

    Maybe you did, but since 1996, I’ve owned a Voodoo1, Voodoo2, Voodoo3, Voodoo5, GeForce 3, GeForce4, Radeon 9800, GeForce 6800, GeForce 8800, and now HD 4870; or an average of 1 new video card every 1.2 years. Granted, those upgrades were motivated as much by technolust as spiraling system requirements. Even so, some of us have been on the GPU leveling treadmill for a very long time. :-)

    I think some of the key factors back then to a GPU’s longevity were (A) plenty of great 2D games which didn’t require a 3D card; (B) id, Epic, and Valve – the Holy FPS Trinity of Yore – were pretty good at making game engines capable of running on a broad range of HW and those who licensed their engines benefited from that; and (C) GPU inequality (i.e., the difference between the slowest and fastest) wasn’t as pronounced as it is now. Also, as consoles eroded the PC’s dominance of FPSs, I think PC-only FPS developers chose to focus on what they saw as the PC’s strengths – namely complexity and the availability of higher-end HW – which partially drove the GPU arms race.

  57. freykin says:

    Master of Magic, Diablo II, Warcraft III(mainly for the map editor, but what a map editor!), half-life, and a million various rogue likes.

  58. Rhykker says:

    Favorite games:

    – StarCraft
    – Diablo II
    – Unreal Tournament
    – Unreal Tournament 3 (Sorry, Shamus. Yes, it’s got some serious issues, yes, Epic and Midway messed up big time on a lot of things, but I still really like the gameplay, and it’s the game I play most often presently – perhaps, to me, it’s a sort of “best of the worst” with regards to this current age of gaming.)

    Runners up include:

    – WarCraft II
    – WarCraft III
    – Duke Nukem 3d (the first game I ever played, at 8 years of age – probably not appropriate…)

  59. Mark says:

    I wasn’t ever much of a PC gamer. Probably too young. I loved TIE Fighter and The Incredible Machine, and miscellaneous shareware games that I can’t even remember how they got on the family computer before we got Internet access.

    Oh, and Chex Quest. Can’t forget Chex Quest.

  60. Tizzy says:

    Completely agree with the main point (predicatbly; my top faves: Baldur’s gate, planescape, warcraft2, half-life, fallout, starcraft)

    I’ll call you out on Quake 4 though: if I remember correctly, one of your posts pointed out how amazing the ally AI was. To me, it really made the game, gave it its own identity and made it stand out from the other FPSes. You have to give them innovative credit on this, *and* on some plot points, even if the overall gameplay wasn’t stellar. (But then again, my taste for FPS-type gameplay is not that strong.)

  61. Evan says:

    My favorite games would include Age of Empires II and the Total War series (particularly Medieval I and Rome).

    And I agree with David in the first comment: the Total War series gives me hope for the future of PC gaming.

  62. Tizzy says:

    And an unrelated comment: game companies probably have about as much leeway in what kind of games they design as filmmakers do: either you’re indie and easily ignored or you work in the establishment and so many people have a say in the final product that you can’t realize your vision even if you had one. With the financial stakes this high, trying to buck the established formula is simply not an option.

  63. Sludgebuster says:

    Most of my faves have already been mentioned: MOO2, AOE, Civ1+2, XWing, TIE Fighter, yadda, yadda….

    One that was buggy-but had a few features that were incredible was Frontier: First Encounters…

    Okay, from the start, the game was buggy- missions sucked, the time compression was, well, flawed; and combat was more on the shoot-and-pray method than anything else: One big ship with a large laser could really mess up your day…

    but the immersion was incredible! Flying around a solar system FELT like flying around a solar system: Nobody around, no traffic, and if you didn’t have some time bending technology to shorten the time, you’d go bonkers waiting for something to happen….

    One of myy favorite stunts was Sling-shotting around stars- especially white dwarfs. It FELT realistic- powering into a star to slingshot out the other side.

  64. Moridin says:

    Red Alert, Fallout(1 and 2), Morrowind.

    Of course, I haven’t had machine to run newest games since…2004? This laptop can’t run Oblivion in default settings either(128MB gpu)

    Original Red Alert is much better than Red Alert 2 IMO.

    Just recently got Fallout working on virtual machine(my laptop (with Vista) has some ATI graphics card which doesn’t support 256 colour graphics)

  65. Mike Oldham says:

    Myth II (1998) is still my favorite game. Although the original (1997) was excellent as well.

    I also loved warcraft II. Gonna have to dust it off and play again I think.

  66. Russ says:

    So true, so true. Now if only this hadn’t come during my college years perhaps my GPA would have been better.

  67. Rev.Blacky says:

    Dungeon Keeper 1 & 2, Carmageddon 1 (but not 2 & 3), all of the Monkey Island games, Grim Fandango, Discworld 1 & 2, Discworld Noir (the best of the three!), Phantasmagoria 1 (not 2), 7th Guest, 11th Hour, Clandestiny, Uncle Henry’s Playhouse, Starship Titanic, Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon, Thrill Kill, Muppets Inside, Monty Python’s Holy Grail, Monty Python’s Complete Waste of Time, Monty Python’s Meaning of Life, MDK 1 & 2, Nethack, Thief 1 and to a lesser extent 2, Blood, ZPC, all the Zork games, and the text based early Infocom games…

    Yep, a lot of oldies there…
    Funny that…
    And yes, I do still play all of them on my XP box.

  68. Matt` says:

    In one sense it feels like I missed out on an era by being born too late for all these classics to ever be new and exciting and cutting edge.

    On the other hand, I can now get them for super-cheap and still enjoy them, while also occasionally enjoying the fruits of the modern industry when they get one right :mrgreen:

  69. theonlymegumegu says:

    “In the early 90's, we had to fiddle around with config.sys and autoexec.bat to get games to work, make special boot disks, and know what freaking port and IRQ thingjigger our soundcard was hooked into. It was appalling.”

    I’ve said in the past, “Everything I know about computers comes from learning to install games.” XD

  70. Tuck says:

    Hmm…some favourite games:

    1985-1994: Ultima IV-Ultima VIII. Yay Richard Garriott!

    1990-1991: Worlds of Ultima: Savage Empire and Martian Dreams. These are my favourite RPGs ever.

    1993: Discworld MUD! Played this one 2002-present, over 250 days gaming time, not planning to quit any time soon! :D

    1994: Colonization — this game has the nicest graphics (14 years old and they don’t look any worse), music, and gameplay of any I’ve ever played. It is the apex of turn-based strategy and every time I go back and look at it again I practically weep with admiration for the designers.

    2002: NWN (well, not really a favourite, but I’ve played it a lot thanks to excellent persistent worlds!)

    2004: Far Cry. I think I’ve spent more time having fun on this shooter than on any other…free roaming (of sorts) FTW!

    2004: City of Heroes: just started playing this with some friends…good fun, a current favourite, won’t last more than a couple of months though — damn subscription fees.

    2005: Guild Wars: when I get Eye of the North I’ll be going back and spending a heap more time on this one…probably not till after I’m done with CoH.

    Tuck

  71. Osvaldo Mandias says:

    X-Com
    Civ1 and Civ2
    MOO1 and MOO2
    Colonization

  72. Osvaldo Mandias says:

    What’s the Golden Age of Science Fiction?

    13.

    What’s the Golden Age of PC Games?

    Well, I hesitate to say this, but the answer probably isn’t 1997-2003. The answer probably is “when I was in high school and college.”

  73. Jim says:

    @Hal #6 – Try DOSBox to run the old Sierra Adventure games. I’ve had a ton of luck with it.

    And the new version of Quest for Glory 2 is nothing short of brilliant. 2 was always my favorite game in the series and AGDI managed to improve it in nearly every possible way.

  74. Jeysie says:

    I can’t believe I forgot to put Sanitarium and Jagged Alliance 2 on my list… consider them added.

  75. Osvaldo Mandias says:

    Oh, and also: Doom. Multiplayer mode. Ethernet cables strung between dorm rooms.

  76. ehlijen says:

    Favourite games:

    Fallout (2, 1 and tactics, in descending order)
    Baldurs Gate 2
    Jagged alliance 2
    XCOM (1 and apoc, in desecending order)
    Master of Orion 2
    Freespace 2
    Tie Fighter

    Lot’s of sequels in there, but most of these were worthy of their predecessors, I think, by virtue of actually improving the concept.

    Also, I miss turn based being an actual genre…

  77. Plasma says:

    I made a list of all my favourite games, and they all fell within a very narrow time span, between 2003 and 2005, so I was going to dispute your claims that the golden age of PC gaming ended in 2002. Then I realized: all but one of my favourite games is a sequel. They take the same game, in some cases the same engine, and improve it. I also find that, once I have played a sequel, I can no longer stand to play the original.

    All the games that I actually still play on a regular basis:
    City of Heroes/Villains (2004/2005, still getting updates)
    Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy (2003; earliest game in the series that I enjoyed: 1997)
    Warlords Battlecry 3 (2004; 1999)
    Age of Empires 3 (2005; 1997)
    The Sims 2 (2004; 2000)
    SimCity 4 (2003; 1989)
    Civilization 4 (2005; 1999) I actually don’t find civ4 particularly enjoyable, I only play it because it’s one of the only games I have in common with some of my friends.

    StarCraft would be on the list, but it is showing its age much too badly (I can no longer stand the dinky little screen that’s zoomed in way too far or the fact that you can select hardly any units at one time), but I expect I’ll pick up StarCraft 2 when it comes out, unless it has onerous DRM or something, and it’ll probably make its way onto my list (so that’ll be a 2009 sequel to a 1998 game).

    The Neverhood (1996) is also an amazingly fun game. I no longer play it simply because there’s only so many times you can play an adventure-puzzle game before you’ve got the whole thing memorized. I also have the soundtrack on CD and in my playlist.

    As a side-note, the only non-PC game I’ve ever enjoyed is Super Smash Brothers Melee, which I used to stay up ’til all hours of the day and night playing with the awesome people in my dorm hall on my roommate’s gamecube. Someone would shout down the hall, “SMASHCUBE!”, and everyone would come running to play. It was great.

  78. Jen says:

    Most of mine have already been said, so I’ll just add the others that I sunk way too much time into as a young ‘un:

    Uncharted Waters: New Horizons (1994)
    Genghis Khan: Clan of the gray wolf (1993)
    Total Annihilation (1997)
    Daggerfall (despite or maybe because of the bugginess.. the patch that fixed or mitigated most of the problems also had a few cheats included like being able to teleport around the ‘quest points’ in a dungeon)

    I also miss, in a weird nostalgic way, messing around with DOS back in the day, and the countless games that were made for DOS and which can’t be found anymore (plus I can’t remember half their names anymore either)

  79. Suzene says:

    If Good Old Games puts up the Dungeon Keeper games on their site, they’ve got my money.

  80. Ericc says:

    I’d say any of the Gold Box Series from SSD. I lost countless days, that’s days where I spent more time at the computer playing those games and not sleeping. Also I’d throw my vote towards Betrayal at Krondor, Civ I and II, Railroad Tycoon, Diablo I & II.

    I switched to consoles and a Mac because I was tired of spending more on my computer every two years than on a new car.

  81. Snook says:

    No one is gonna read this, but…

    TIE Fighter (1995)
    Homeworld (1999)
    Pharaoh (1999)
    Medieval Total War (2002)
    Age of Empires II (1999)
    Battlefield 1942 (2002)
    Freelancer (2003)
    The Sims (2000)
    Civilization III (2001)

    These are all games I played excessively. I loved, and still love, each and every one of these for a variety of reasons. Innovative gameplay is pretty much the defining reason I remember these games so well. Each introduced something new or some novel twist on an old idea.

  82. Meatloaf says:

    Blizzard does seem to know what they are doing though. They make games with a strong stylization, but less over-the-top graphics. The games still look good, and no matter what computer you have, you will be able to run them. It’s very smart.

  83. Ragnos says:

    Geez…now that I think about it, the best games really are from those years! Empire Earth (2001) isn’t a spectacular game, but I love it. The Command & Conquer and Red Alert series were also fabulous, as was Age of Empires.

  84. Allerun says:

    Hunt for Red October (1990)
    Nethack (1987)
    Bard’s Tale (1985)
    Myst (1993)
    Strahd’s Possesion (1994)
    Jagged Alliance (1994)
    Gender Wars (1996)
    Z (1996)
    Command and Conquer (1995)
    7th Guest (1993)
    Master of Magic (1993)
    Master of Orion (1993)
    Warcraft (1994)
    Populous (1989)
    Baldur’s Gate II (2000)
    Doom (1993)
    No One Lives Forever 1 & 2 (2000, 2002)
    Homeworld (1999)
    Sim City 2000 (1995, I played it on Windows)
    Fragile Allegiance (1996)
    Tie Fighter (1995)

    I remember the days of DOS config manipulation and custom boot menus for games. I think half the fun was tweaking the settings so you could run the game. And many times it was more fun to tweak settings on a computer that didn’t meet the minimum requirements and get the game to work on it anyway. I remember many weekends with friends combing over autoexec and config settings to get to that sweet spot so you could get the game running without crashing. It may have not run well, but it ran.

  85. journeyman says:

    Only slightly on topic, but have you seen this yet? Comments?

    http://www.gog.com/en/intro

  86. Allerun says:

    @Osvaldo: Yeah, we used to cram six of us in a small apartment for three days (Friday Saturday and Sunday) and play Doom until we dropped. Coax network cable everywhere, Dr. Pepper consumption through the roof, and food from anyplace that delivered. Those were the good ol’ days.

  87. Allerun says:

    @Journeyman: Not off topic since Shamus mentions the site in the article.

  88. Smileyfax says:

    I think I’ll keep my list short by only listing the games I played when they were new:

    Doom — A true classic. I never played the multiplayer aspect, but I loved getting a ton of WADs and running through them. If only the dudes who had made Invade1 and Invade2 had finished with Invade3 and Invade4.

    Duke Nukem 3D — I had even more fun with this one — I also happened, by chance, to get a signed copy of the official strategy guide. I was also big on the user maps for this game — Betatwo was my favorite.

    Civilization II — I inadvertently pirated it, and when I played it I loved it so much I put down money for a legit copy. (When I first played it I thought I had to be historically accurate or something, and so I was irritated at the computer for messing up and giving cannons to the Sioux.)

    Half-Life — I don’t remember precisely what drew me to Half-Life in the first place…I do remember being irritated that Babbages had lied about having a copy when I asked around the time of its release, though.

    Fallout 2 — I first heard about it from a review in PC Gamer. The reviewer mentioned having to steal from prostitutes and children, and my deranged mind instantly fell in love. There’s a really great fanpatch that was released in recent years which smites sooooo many bugs (but unfortunately removes a beneficial glitch or two).

    Morrowind — I got so addicted to this game just from reading about other people’s adventures playing it. The summer after I graduated from high school, I ordered a computer from Alienware, and it arrived busted. To compensate, Alienware offered me a free game — I chose Morrowind, natch.

    Supreme Commander — Supreme Commander was the first RTS I ever loved. (The only other RTS I’d ever played was Warcraft — yes, the very first one. And I cheated like hell at it, just so I could get a group of wizards to spectacularly fireball a town). The game was so epic and fun and awesome…thank God I played it before I played Command and Conquer 3, otherwise I may have rejected the entire genre forever.

    Dishonorable mention: I hated No One Lives Forever. I recall the stealth mechanic being completely broken/useless, and I stopped playing the game as a result. The only fun I got out of it was when I inadvertently left the soundtrack disc in the drive when I fired up Aliens vs. Predator. Listening to upbeat 60s era-type music as xenomorphs rush to murder me was a hilarious experience.

  89. morpork says:

    I liked Liberation Day from I-Magic. Can’t remember when it was made. I still have the disc but it don’t run no more. It had some bugs but the turn based game was great. Plenty of units, plenty of enemy units, nice tech up system, call in abilities and no dull objectives. And the turn limit per battle is not too few that you can’t win, and not too many you have time to twiddle your thumbs.

  90. Kaeltik says:

    The games that ate my life:
    The Oregon Trail (1985 version)
    Ultima VI: The False Prophet (1990)
    Wolfenstein 3D (1992)
    Doom 1 & 2 (1993 & 1994)
    Colonization (1994)
    Warcraft II (1995)
    MOO2 (1996)
    Quake (1996)
    Sid Meier’s Gettysburg! (1997)
    Heroes of Might and Magic II (1997)
    Starcraft (1998)
    Team Fortress Classic (1999)
    Civ III & IV (2001 & 2005)

    Wow. Guess I’ve been in a drought.

  91. Kevin says:

    Escape from Monkey Island? Never heard of it. Doesn’t exist. The series so far has ended with Curse of Monkey Island (which came out in 1997 and isn’t on your list why?) and there’s no such thing as a fourth game. You’re clearly delusional.

  92. The Lone Duck says:

    Heh, sorry for my “buy a console” statements. That’s the form of gaming I pursue, along with casual flash games. Historically speaking, every society has a “golden age” considered before it. Does that mean that games were better than they are now, or only that nostalgia affects our memories? Or both? For me, the Golden Age was Windows 95. When I bought Grim Fandango back in the day, my computer couldn’t run it.
    Anyway, list in no particular order:
    Dark Forces 2:Jedi Knight
    Sim Tower
    The Dig
    Yukon Trail
    Curse of Monkey Island
    The Neverhood
    The Journeyman Project (1,2,3)
    Torin’s Quest
    Afterlife
    Neverwinter Nights (Obviously later, but equally easy to run.)

  93. The Lone Duck says:

    PS. The Journeyman Project games rocked! I really hope someone will re-release those.

  94. =Dan says:

    Of all the games listed above and probably below the three that I miss the most are:

    1) Betrayal at Krondor: I loved that game. The storyline was great and involved and there was a ton you could do while wandering around. Before all these “open world” games came along BaK allowed you to wander around completing side quests and opening riddle chests.

    2) System Shock 2: Bioshock was crap compared to System Shock 2. Bioshock had a lot of pretty picture moments, but the gameplay and story were gimmicky and boring. I was so excited that I pre-ordered the special edition. I didn’t even finish it. I want SHODAN back!!!

    3) Tie Fighter: I suck at flight sims…But with the fact that there was no horizon I rocked…

    Bonus mention: Mechwarrior 2. I played this game forever..Until my computer could no longer run it..The fact that consoles destroyed the series (Mechassault) and the company (Fasa Studios was bought out by M$) has made me unhappy with the current dreck of games available for my PC.

    When will we get games that are more than merely pretty?

  95. July says:

    My favorite PC game ever? Two words, or one word in the title; StarCraft.

    It’s a great example of what you’re saying. Graphics aren’t good, but the incredible depth of gameplay has kept it alive for ten years, and spawned an extensive professional scene in Korea. The leading complaint about what we’ve seen of SC2 is that the graphics are TOO good, in other words, too many lighting effects between the player and the information they need to see.

  96. kh_hawkes says:

    The games I crave and wish I could find for those trips overseas. Heavy Gear1 2, Battletech Hawks inception and Revenge. Miss those two. Xcom I got thanks to Shamus. That will eat days of deployment up. Homeworld… Got that one. Love that one. TSR gold box series. I don’t know how much time that will eat up. It has been a long time since I did a run. Will find the rest. Must have good games for deployment.

  97. Kalil says:

    Hmm… Myst and Riven both predate your window (myst was ’93, and Riven ’97), but remain among my top games. Schism, another excellent game in the same genre, was released in ’01. As mentioned above, Homeworld (released in ’99) deserves credit as a breathtaking game with some rather unique elements of strategy (to my knowledge, the Homeworld series remains the only true 3d RTS) and an amazingly deep backstory, but also some blame – it was pretty cutting edge, at the time, and sold heavily on its graphics.
    And, of course, StarCraft and DII remain some of my favorite and most beloved games. <3 Blizzard.
    It’s not a PC game (well, sort of – the Eidos PC release was horrendously bad), but FF7 deserves mention as a revolutionary low-graphics game.

  98. Helm says:

    Can’t believe nobody has mentioned Syndicate a game where you could set people alight has to be there

  99. @Strangeite:

    Ian B: That is impressive; but, my G4 running OS 10.4 has not been restarted in almost three years. It is about two months shy of the anniversary. Granted it is now mainly a file and iTunes server.

    Very nice!

    My uptimes generally get broken when I reboot into other operating systems or when I install updates. One thing that I do like about Linux is that you can do just about anything, barring a kernel update (well, technically, you could avoid doing a full reboot by utilizing kexec), without rebooting the system. That is a minor inconvenience in Windows and OS X, but given how the Internet is nowadays it’s a necessary evil.

    @Deoxy:

    Third party stuff should be INCAPABLE of breaking the OS, as the stuff that can break the OS should be inaccessible to them. Windows has never done that.

    Yes, yes it does. That’s the whole point behind UAC.

    You can easily bring a Linux system down if you have root access or a faulty kernel driver. I’ve seen several kernel panics for various reasons on perfectly good hardware.

    Unix, Linux, and Windows systems are all essentially monolithic kernels. As such, anything running in ring 0 (pretty much any driver, barring something that’s specifically run in user space) can take ANY of those systems down.

    A microkernel architecture is pretty much the only way to effectively protect against that from happening.

    The OS should OWN memory. That's one of its primary jobs. Windows leaks, in every version yet put out.

    That's why making it 30+ days without a reboot is so impressive for Windows.

    Then why do some Windows Server machines have uptimes measured in years?

    If all versions of Windows have this “issue” and the home and server editions share the same code base, wouldn’t a memory leak in one adversely affect the other?

    At my previous place of employment the new Windows servers were running 24/7 and were only given a break when we had to physically move them between buildings. Their uptimes were in the hundreds of days and the only reason I didn’t see them hit a full year was because I wasn’t working there when they did.

    High uptimes in Windows, even consumer versions, isn’t really all that uncommon. Google around and you’ll find plenty of people who have uptimes greater than a year on their 2000 or XP machines. If the OS really had that bad of an issue with memory management, don’t you think that there would be significantly fewer people saying things like that?

  100. Danath says:

    The Realm… Kings Quest V (Heir Today, Gone Tommorow!), good old Sierra… Full Throttle, Dark Age of Camelot, EVERY Monkey Island game, Wolfenstein 3d back in the day too, hmmm.

    I dont even remember anything, but these are the oldest I can remember that I really enjoyed, for more modern games, Counter-strike, Half-Life 1/2, Team Fortress 1/2, Starcraft, Warcraft 1/2/3 (ok, 1 isnt modern), C&C, the Age games from microsoft… Stronghold annnnd Diablo 2… I wasnt a fan of #1.

    As for the MOST recent games, Mass Effect (which I hope to god they drop the DRM for… I almost bought it today till I remembered the DRM), The Witcher, and thats it… most of the cutting edge games just make me snort and I ignore em nowadays, noticing a distinct lack of FPS’s in the most recent section (although im looking foreward to Dead Space if that comes to PC).

    Oh yeah.. and Riven, its the only game from the Myst series ive actually played unfortunately and it was INCREDIBLY confusing in its gameplay because it was new to me, also, Myth… go dwarves, blow yourselves up with your dynamite!

  101. Danath says:

    Oh yeah, that Good Old Games is being started up by the same people who made the Witcher, huh, didnt expect that till I was browsing 1up.

    http://www.1up.com/do/feature?cId=3169758

  102. Murphy says:

    My list:

    Neverwinter Nights (1991): Never has the grind of a MUD been so beautifully rendered using Goldbox technology! To this day, I think about my ranger named after a lame fantasy novel character dual-wielding +1 flails and get shivers from how wicked sweet it was. I was on the internet, -killing giant frogs-, with people I’d never met.

    Sam and Max Hit the Road (1993): “I hope no one was on that bus.” “No one we know or care about, anyway.” ‘Nuff said

    Ultima VII Part 1: The Black Gate (1992): The amount of time I spent getting a boot disk that worked on both my mom’s computer and my dad’s computer (woo, broken homes!) and that could carry my save game was… possibly epic. Or possibly depressing. Either way, it rivaled the amount of time I spent baking bread and then murdering specific groups of people in each playthrough (purple clothes! DIE!)

    Wing Commander II (1991): The best story plus space dogfighting game until Freespace 2. The X-Wing/Tie Fighter series are fun, but its impossible to really connect with the missions. When that fucker Jazz needed putting down, every time, I viscerally enjoyed it in a way I haven’t many events in my life, let alone in video games.

    Starsiege: Tribes (1998): The best team based first-person shooter ever created. Forgot about counter strike, or team fortress, or unreal tournament. Just forget them. Nothing can possibly compare to the experience of skiing perfectly down a hill, angling through an enemy base, snagging the flag and nailing two jerks in the face with a thunderhammer as you catapult through the air at mach 2.

    Some Big Dogs that don’t need any explanation:
    Fallout (1997)
    Colonization (1994) and Alpha Centauri (1999)
    Age of Empires 2 (1999)
    Planescape: Torment (1999)

    There is definitely a window in the start of the 90’s that I feel is mis-defined as a dark age of any kind. I was playing more, better, -interesting- games than I was a decade later. It was also in the heyday of Sierra adventures and well, anything Origin made was golden. Don’t dig on the silver age of gaming! (Or is that the golden age, and the 98-00 bubble is the silver age?)

  103. Simplex says:

    It’s amazing that no one mentioned Max Payne 1 (and 2) ;)

  104. TSED says:

    No one will mention this but me, but:

    EverQuest. 1998.

    The game basically stole 7 years of my life, at least. Not saying that bitterly, saying that nostalgicially. After WoW made it big, SOE tried to begin moulding EQ into WoW. This was its downfall – instead of being EverQuest, it became a third rate WoW. No thanks.

    But EQ? Oh man. People complained about the difficulty, but they don’t realise that’s what gave the sense of accomplishment. Sure it could be frustrating but it’s just a game and its difficulty was right where it should be 90% of the time. People complained about the many expansion packs. HELLO? It is just more content. People get bored with MMOs and EQ kept a steady stream of fresh things to do. People complained about it being ‘generic fantasy’ but… They obviously never played it. EQ doesn’t have demons. It does have magic. I challenge you to name another swords and sorcery world with magic but not demons. Do it. I dare you.

    Anyways, some others:

    Might & Magic 4, 5, & 6. NOT heroes of. Might & Magic. It was great, but something went downhill as it approached the “golden age” of gaming. Should be abandonware since the company went under (I know for a fact 1 through 5 is, haven’t seen 6+ around though, for whatever reason).

    Anything by Tim Schafer. Psychonauts? Yes please. (Never played Full Throttle or Day of the Tentacle, watched an LP of FT on the internet though).

    Crusaders of the Dark Savant. I never got far because I was playing it as a kid, but it left its mark.

    Beyond Good & Evil: Along with Psychonauts, a classic example of “this game was amazing and beat all of the current generation blues, but no one bought it.” Maybe the two weren’t the most innovative of games, but does a game have to be innovative to be EXCELLENT? No. If it does, you’re just being a prissy snob (Note how I didn’t mention how EQ was so frigging innovative as one of its good points. Instanced content done first, a 3D MMO done first, etc. etc.)

    I’m not sure how long this will last, but I recently got Disgaea 3 (last thursday actually). I can’t remember the last time I was so engrossed with a game. I think it will become an all time favourite, but 8 days of play time isn’t the best of judges. It’s just a feeling I’ve got.

    Crystalis: my first favourite game. For me, along with M&M 4 + 5, this will always be THE great game. Nothing will ever rival these games in sheer mind blowing ecstacy, just like no MMO will be playable after EQ. (Guild Wars doesn’t count as an MMO. It’s just an MORPG, not an MMORPG).

    As has been mentioned, Pool of Radiance, only for the NES and not the PC version. That was a great game.

    Planescape: Torment. Every one reading this comment knows this game and why it’s great.

    Been gaming since 1990, and out of about 14 only three (no clue when M&M6 came out; too lazy to check, but 5 was from 95 so it could be in there) came from the so called “Golden Age.”

    I certainly agree – the general quality of games during that time period was greater, but a true classic is timeless. I question how much of it was ‘great games’ and how much of it is nostalgia, because I can sit people down to play some of those games and they do NOT have fun.

  105. mephane says:

    My personal favourite of that time is Freelancer. I probably have spent more time on that game than on any other game, (well, except WoW, I suppose…^^).

  106. Midnight Thunderboy says:

    Yup, I noticed the entry too to the stupid ages some time ago. The time when multiplayer went from the nice extra to the game towards the number 1 priority it is now. The time when I finaly got fed up and switeched to a PS2 and decided while playing FFX: Ok, the graphics in this game rock. No need to improve that anymore guys. The time were good immersive RPGs started to become extinct.

    My favoroute list :

    Baldurs Gate II: Allthough I played the first one, it was this one that really gave me a good time. Cool story, fun NPCs (Mincs and his hamster, Jan Jansen..), good gameplay. The only thing I hated is this game was that every mage and his dog cast the “summon every shield in the core rulebooks” spell. That is the reference I use when comparing RPGs. Only Planescape Torment is equal and Mass Effect (despite the crime against humanity that is DRM) comes even close.

    Planescape Torment: Baldurs Gate II, but in a wacky dystopian inter planar world place. Only in this could you play a guy who has god mode on and still struggle play. Only in this game could you have the follwoing npcs: a floating talking skull, the gith version of Bhuda, a foul mouthed cute tiefeling rogue, a succubus (who ironicaly, isn’t a player), the chaotic evil human torch, the ghost of Judge Dread….

    Grim Fandago: The Casablanca of videogaming, with skellies.

    Half Life 1: Despite Half Life II being really good, my love is still with the first one. Ok, the plot wasn’t quite as epic as the second one, but the gameplay in it rocked boats .

    Starcraft: Blizzard is an interesting case. They are among the few big developers that are somehow able to bring games that are both able to make happy multi freaks and story driven geeks like me. Starcraft was their crowning achievement in my opinion. Great characters, gameplay, music… has it all.

    Diablo 1 and 2: One of the few games I actually enjoy in multiplayer. The story and gameplay is cool. I get to have hours of fun with some friends playing the campaign while yelling on skype: Gaahh!!! It’s getting to me ! Help !!!.

    Legend of Kyrandia 3: Malcom’s Revenge. Good ol point’n’click game. Was really made worthwhile by the main character… who happpened to be the first game’s villain.

    For those who are saying “get a console”, forget it. The stupid ages have started there when the Xbox live came out. Now console developers have realised they can be as lazy as pc ones on the bugs/story… without the risk of being pirated. The only platform left is portable consoles. And with wifi it’s only a question of time until the stupid ages come their too.

  107. Seb says:

    My favorite games of all time ?

    – Baldur’s Gate 1&2
    – Age of Empire 2
    – Starcraft
    – Warcraft 3
    – Caesar 3
    – Heroes of Might and Magic 3
    – Morrowind

    I spent a huge amount of time playing WoW, but the game itself does not rival these older ones. Played for the online part mostly.

    I also enjoyed KotoR 1&2 a lot, aswell as Vampire The Masquerade Bloodlines, NWN 1&2, W40k Dawn of War and expansions …

    Ok Shamus, now that you have some raw data, you owe us a chart, and a nice graph proving your point. You know, this nice little bell curve …

  108. Brandon says:

    Arcanum (if you haven’t played this Fallout-reminiscent RPG by Troika you are truly missing out)

    Unreal Tournament (spent many an hour in college with this)

    Quake

    Marathon 2 (on the Mac, rocking cool)

  109. James Pony says:

    I bet you won’t even read all 106 comments before leaving your own.You bet your ass I won’t!

    Anyways, if EVIL GAME-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX FASCISTS used their current budget and manpower to, say, make a game like Half-Life, with that engine, and to a similar quality, would it be safe to assume that they could make the game’s lenght go into the TRIPLE DIGITS? Or would they just curl up and cry themselves to death because THERE’S NO SPECULAR-DYNAMIC BALLISTIC EXCREMENT TRAJECTORY LIGHTNING ENGINE (no, I just made that up. I don’t even know what those words could possibly indicate in this particular context)?
    If you think about the original Half-Life, it’s pretty damn long. And that’s LINEAR gameplay. Think about Fallout 1 and 2. You could theoretically play those through in one go, in less than 10 hours, but if you start mucking about, you can play for hundreds of hours – and not just because you like running circles in the desert and killing over nine thousand radscorpions or mantises, as there actually is lots of stuff to do.
    Starcraft? Three (plus three, with Brood War) unique campaigns, where the story progresses constantly, even if most of the in-game scripted events mostly happen only in those pesky indoors maps. Oh, what’s that I’m hearing? What? Timmy fell down the STARCRAFT MAP EDITOR THAT EVEN A RETARD SUCH AS MYSELF COULD MAKE COMPLEX TRIGGER EVENTS WITH? What, Lassie? Oh, Timmy fell down the INTENSE AND EXCITING MULTIPLAYER MODE ONE CAN ENJOY THOROUGHLY EVEN WHEN LOSING PATHETICALLY? Oh, Timmy fell down the well? Well, you can go tell Timmy to go HAVE EPIC MOMENTS WITH YOUR FRIENDS AGAINST AI-CONTROLLED ZERG ONSLAUGHTS.

    I admit it, I want all materials (steel, wood, dirt, water, etc.) to act just like they do AFK (there’s no IRL, only AFK). I want all the dynamic lights and POOP. And yes, it is a good thing that people work on those.
    The advancements in such things as writing and art direction are, I believe, a direct result of the expansion of the industry, with which came the substantially enlarged budgets and increased manpower.
    The problem I have is that they use most of that manpower to tweak the engine that crushed even Skynet with its insane requirements to be able to crush TWO Skynets at once AND set fire to a thousand unicorn orphanages, instead of taking any of the existing tested and stable engines and redirecting that manpower to make more maps (and thus lenghtening the single-player campaign) and character, NPC etc. models and skins and such (to mask the Attack Of The Clones-effect atleast a bit further). Oh, and…

    …Wait for it…

    …ART DIRECTION. I’ve read comments about why 3D models will always look wrong because it’s just not the real thing and technicalities and such, but…

    …Why do I NOT get that “gee, that looks awkward”-feeling EVERY TIME when looking at models in Half-Life 2 (and Episodes) or Team Fortress 2? And the cutscenes in GTA San Andreas worked great with the motion capture – and while some in-game animations were awkward, most of the models looked proper – as well as Call Of Duty 4 on the whole. Which was to the contrary in Oblivion, with horrible faces and crappy animations.
    That’s art direction. Doing things properly leads to proper results.

    I hope I’m still atleast technically on topic.

    …Am I?

  110. Jonathan says:

    You left Baldur’s Gate & BGII off of your 1998-2000 range.
    Best game ever, still playing it.

    Favorite games of all time:
    MechWarrior II (95?)
    Baldur’s Gate II (99?)
    Fallout (97?)
    Fallout 2 (98?)
    Red Alert (95-96?)
    Infantry (online-1998-2000 originally?)
    KOTOR (2002?)
    Age of Kings (1998?)

  111. Patrick the Impudent says:

    97-02? screw that! NETHACK BABY! NETHACK!

  112. Jonathan says:

    Also
    Descent
    Descent II

  113. Garfnobl says:

    Over 100 comments and no mention of the original Pirates! game? What’s the world coming to? The remake was quite good but didn’t feel the same to me.

    I know a lot of people won’t read this, but also on my favorites list:

    Fallout & Fallout 2
    Baldur’s Gate & BG2
    M.U.L.E.
    Planescape: Torment
    Homeworld
    Populous
    X-COM
    MOO 2
    Master of Magic
    Civ 2

    All of these provided numerous hours of enjoyment on my PC (or my Commodore 64, or my Amiga) and I wish I could run some of them on my new hardware.

  114. Nathaniel says:

    I don’t think I could fit my favorite games in any specific order, but here they are:

    Pre-CU Star Wars Galaxy
    Deus Ex
    MOO2
    X-COM
    Diablo 2
    Dwarf Fortress
    Age of Empires 2
    Morrowind
    Warcraft 3

    All of these on PC

  115. Sitte says:

    I agree that Sanitarium was amazing – I remember being horrified and left in awe just by the demo. I immediately bought the game and loved it. A few months later, I read the PC Gamer review, which gushed about it but slammed it for the terrible voice acting. Since I hadn’t noticed anything wrong with it when I played the game, I went back…and, yeah. The story and setting were so immersive that I hadn’t realized how bad the voice acting was.

    I can’t play that game anyomre, it’s so terrible.

  116. illiterate says:

    What I loved about Beyond Good and Evil is that everything WORKED. Every single mechanic in the game meshed together, they all were controlled the same way, and they tied together in an aesthetically and kinesthenically pleasing way.

    I haven’t read all these… Did anyone mention Pharaoh?

    Ah, Shinjin and Snook. Thank you, Control-F!

    Homeworld nearly caused an injury in my family because I was ENTRANCED.

  117. Ben says:

    Not all these games quite fit the Golden Age; Zork has been around in one form or another since the mid-70’s, and some of my older choices were, as you noted, occasionally a pain to get running. Nevertheless, these are my favorite games of all time:

    Zork (1980)
    Castle of the Winds (1989)
    Lemmings (1991)
    X-COM: UFO Defense (1993)
    Scorched Earth v1.5 (1995)
    C&C: Red Alert (1996)
    Tomb Raider II (1997)
    Homeworld (1999)
    Diablo II (2000)
    Portal (2007)

    Your time estimates are just about right; here’s the distribution of my list: http://crazybob.travisbsd.org/files/gamestat.png

  118. Lost Chauncy says:

    Previously Mentioned

    Star Control II (1992)
    Curse of Monkey Island (1997)
    Baldur’s Gate II (2000)
    Civilization III (2001)
    Morrowind (2002)
    Freelancer (2003)
    Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (2003)
    ———————————————————

    Not Previously Mentioned

    Pro Pinball: Big Race USA (1998)
    Worms Armageddon (1999)
    MechWarrior 3 (1999)
    Risk II (2000)
    Battle Realms (2001)
    Tribes 2 (2001)
    Syberia (2002)
    Call of Duty (2003)
    Rise of Nations (2003)
    Sim City 4 (2003)
    Hoyle Majestic Chess (2003)

  119. I’m hoping they bring back the Wing Commander games. I had Kilrathi Saga until we were burglarized. The idiots sold it, along with a number of other things, for around five dollars.

    This is an interesting looking project, I wish them well.

  120. Chris Arndt says:

    I got a Tandy 1000 HX, my first personal computer, back when hard drives were just sorta becoming a norm.
    I got my Packard Bell with an 812 MB Hard drive the week before 1 GB hard drives were the standard.

    Trust me when I say the Upgrade treadmill always existed, the steepness was and is just never steady and/or constant.

    X-Men: Madness in Murderworld

    Dark Forces 2

    Rebel Assault 2

    Descent Freespace

  121. Vacca says:

    I’ll only include the games that made me stay up all night, or that I played over and over again:

    Doom
    Dune 2
    XCOM
    MOO 1 and 2
    Warlords 2 Deluxe
    Warcraft 2 and 3
    Heroes of Might and Magic 1,2 and especially 3
    Unreal Tournament 2004
    Far Cry
    Half Life 1 and 2
    Starcraft
    Jagged Alliance 1 and 2
    C&C – The entire series up to, and excluding Generals
    Unreal 1 and 2

    The only online games have been Fighter Ace 1 and 1.5, and Counterstrike.

  122. Alter-Ear says:

    My favorite games?

    Well, my life has a bizarre game-availability distribution, with my marriage immediately connecting me to a whole series of titles that I had missed because my parents were That Kind. You know what I mean: the sort of parents who deleted the Oregon Trail exe file and claimed it was a “virus” (they didn’t know there was such a thing back then as Undelete. Yeah! What happened to Undelete?). And of course there was the time I was entirely and solely into online MUDs.

    So my favorite games:

    Before marriage:
    The Oregon Trail (the original)
    Warcraft II
    Starcraft
    Falcon 3.0
    Quake 1
    Civilization II
    The Sims
    Red Alert 2

    After marriage:
    Monkey Island 1
    Portal
    Half-Life 2
    Falcon 4.0: Allied Force
    Baldur’s Gate 2
    Assassin’s Creed
    Worms World Party

    Some notes:
    – I’m surprised none of the Falcon series showed up before. I guess people here don’t like flight simulators…
    – I played Diablo 1 (not 2) and wasn’t all that excited by it. In the very last battle I found a place to stand around the corner of a wall such that I could hit Diablo but he couldn’t hit me, and defeated it a little too easily…
    – I’m playing Neverwinter Nights now. I’ve only just started it but I’m so far enjoying it…
    – I hated the original Half-Life. Yes! Why? Because of the GODDAMNED HALF AN HOUR YOU HAVE TO SIT IN THE RAILWAY CAR WHEN YOU START THE GAME. The first time I tried to play, the game crashed less than five minutes into the actually-moving-around-and-killing-things part of the game. And I dreaded having to sit through that first half hour again, because I had nowhere to load from. A year and a half later I worked up the courage to try again. And after sitting through the half hour of railway car, I got stuck in a room with a non-opening door EARLIER than the previous crash. With, of course, no save. So yeah. I never played the original Half-Life. And until somebody can tell me how to skip the bloody opening, I never will.
    – The opening to Baldur’s Gate 2 is equally annoying when it comes to unescapable do-nothing-for-ages scenes.

  123. Christian Groff says:

    As I said before, I’m a big fan of The Sims 2. However, after getting into a course on game design, I realized that this isn’t a game, it’s a toy – a “software toy” or “god game.” I am a big fan of god games, take Black and White or The Movies, Peter Molyneux’s two biggest successes. I’m not as big a fan on the Fable series – first off, where is the option to be a female? Peter could have gotten more fans like me if we could have lesbian heroes.

    But I did like earning a humanoid animal pet who would wander around the world and help or hurt your followers in Black and White. Yeah, he drops dung, but then all animals do. I didn’t get through the second level because I had harder problems with gameplay, but it’s fun.

  124. Simply Simon says:

    Baldur’s gate 1998

    Age of empires 2 ,though now my cd is probably scratched beyond repair.

    Recently I found Fallout (the screen goes black at times, but it clears up) and freespace (crashes every 30 minutes) in our old pile of demo games and loved them after the first 10 minutes.

    robin hood: tlos from 2002, but I haven’t played it since our old Windows 98 died.

    counterstrike (fun when playing with players on the same skill level)

    Warcraft 3 RoC and TFT

    STALKER

    probably forgetting one or two

  125. DosFreak says:

    For Freespace you want the Freespace Open Installer:
    http://www.hard-light.net/wiki/index.php/FreeSpace_Open_Installer

    For Fallout 1 and 2 to fix the black screen issue you need to downoad TimeSlips sfall utility:

    http://timeslip.chorrol.com/sfall.html

  126. TSED says:

    “- The opening to Baldur's Gate 2 is equally annoying when it comes to unescapable do-nothing-for-ages scenes.”

    There was a fan-made mod where as soon as you are given control of your guy, a dude shows up with SFX and is all “hey want to just skip this dungeon? You can A: not. B: Skip with nothing. C: Skip and get handed everything to you that you would have gotten if you had played it completely (wands, XP, gold, etc.)”

    It was a really, really, really popular mod for BG2.

  127. Illiterate says:

    Good news everyone! Apparently we’re currently in a golden age of gaming! http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/editorials/op-ed/5214-Press-Released-The-Golden-Age

  128. Shamus says:

    Illiterate: I just noticed that yesterday. That article went up the same day as this one, strangely enough.

    It was going to be this morning’s post, until this Spore business bumped it. Which, now that I think of it, is really fitting.

  129. scarbunny says:

    I was about to post the escapist article.

    However they seem to be cofusing hype with quality. Sighting Bioshock, GTA4, and MGS4, all good games in their own right but are they really as good as the classics of the 90s?

    I would rather play planescape than any of these.

  130. Stranger says:

    Favorite games? Worth it to note I specifically learned how to make a multiple-boot autoexec.bat because of memory management and boot disk issues. But you asked for it, so five games which I was playing the most in that time period.

    – X-Wing vs TIE Fighter (The whole series in fact. The CDRom version still is in my hands, and was where the multiple-boot started. )
    – Eye of the Beholder 2 (I liked it more than the first game, for some reason; I just finished it again earlier this year.)
    – Master of Orion 2 (Psilons over all, and who needs custom races? Again . . . still playing it!)
    – Diablo 2 (Which, mind you, I don’t play now; I had my fill . . . brother and I decided Hell difficulty was TOO unfair and moved on to other games.)
    – StarCraft (Yes, yes, my brother and I would play on BattleNet and specifically go out to screw with people. One time we joined a game and just hid our SCVs in the map corner. Why? Because it pissed people off!)

    Honorable mentions

    – Counter Strike (“Hey, AWP is banned on this server . . . okay you’re not allowed to use the Scout anymore . . . okay, don’t use anything other than USP . . . you MUST be using aimhack, cheater!” Bonus points because I know my brother wasn’t; he was playing it on my machine.)

    – Neverwinter Nights (Because it was just that damn good, yes. I’d still be playing it, if I could find my discs.)

    – X-Com: Terror From the Deep (Yes I was still playing it earlier this year. No, I haven’t beaten it yet.)

    – Morrowind (Okay, technically shouldn’t be on here since I started playing it in 2004 and SERIOUSLY started on it in 2005. No, I haven’t beaten this one either.)

    – Riven: The Sequel to Myst

  131. Groboclown says:

    Shamus: It wasn’t all flowers and bunnies. Remember Ultima IX? 1999. Ugh. I bought my Voodoo 3 card just for this game.

    However, It’s interesting that you bring this up. I just upgraded my home PCs, and I’ve been recently pulling out my old games to see if they work or not. Here’s my current been played / playing / to-be-played list:

    – Grim Fandango
    – Escape from Monkey Island (use D3D on current machines, because in OpenGL mode, the graphics switch to the desktop doesn’t work)
    – Half-Life (use OpenGL here, as the D3D has issues switching back and forth to the menu)
    – System Shock 2 (never finished it)
    – Vampire: Bloodlines (with the right bug fixes, it’s actually rather good)
    – The Little Big Adventure series (Relentless and Twinsen’s Odyssey are the US titles; LBA Win allows you to play Relentless on modern PCs, fixes some of the bugs with the original, and make the game generally more playable).

    One thing I really like about the state of the PC now is the emulator support. I’m able to play classics like the LucasArts SCUMM goodness, along with the older console games. Some of these games I wouldn’t be able to bear playing (such as any of the NES or SNES Final Fantasy games) except that the emulators allow me to save the state of a game, which keeps me from having to fuddle with the save point junk.

  132. Stranger says:

    Whomever has posted “Nethack” has mistaken a masochist experience for a game. You don’t “play” Nethack, you survive it. Yes, thank you, I have given it a spin. Yes, it is an extraordinary piece of work. No, I will not call it a “good game” :P it is an EVIL game, one of the only ones which I died in 3 moves.

  133. Jeff says:

    Anyone remember Crusader: No Regret?
    That was fun…

    That game, and Jagged Alliance 1, were really the games that got me into games, I think. Which is not to say I haven’t played anything prior, but those two games and a little game called Star Reach were the first real games I remember.

    And they ROCK.

    I feel old, yet I also vaugely wish I was born earlier. So that the golden age would coincide with my “have income” age.

  134. Deltaway says:

    1. Homeworld
    2. Portal
    3. Starcraft

  135. Vao Ki says:

    In the Dark Age of gaming (DOS) I used to play Dig-Dug and (I think it was called…) Wizards and Warriors. Dumb games, but they worked. What made my old Atari 800 XL worth having though was learning to make my own games in Basic.

    Anyway, this is supposed to be about really good, memorable games so on with my personal list:

    Doom & Doom II
    Warcraft series (It just got better and better)
    Starcraft
    Might and Magic (First 1st person I played I think)
    Ultima part anything
    Halflife (Outstanding gameplay/story)
    Diablo I, II and I’m sure III
    Wizardry part whatever
    Final Fantasy series once it came to PC
    Original Pool of Radiance, as mentioned above
    Dungeon Siege I & II (My daughter loves these)
    Dungeon Keeper (Turned the tables on the genre)
    Once Upon a Knight (Send in the Mother-In-Laws!)
    Arcanum (Ugly game by current standards, but it had
    an interesting take on character design.
    Will you master magic or machines?)
    King’s Quest series (esp. the early ones)
    Vampire: Bloodlines was really good too

    I’m sure I missed a few I just can’t think of at the moment.

    Then there are the MMOs…

    Everquest (Instant classic)
    Dark Age of Camelot
    City of Heroes/Villains (Awesome character generator)
    World of Warcraft (Of course)
    Guild Wars (My current obsession, still)

  136. ryanlb says:

    Diablo II
    Jedi Academy
    JK2: Jedi Outcast
    Red Alert 2
    Tiberian Sun
    Hitman 2, 3, 4
    Warcraft 2, 3
    Knights of the Old Republic
    Total Annihilation

  137. Zaidyer says:

    Funny how the Golden Age of PC games happens to take place during the years when computers were more unstable than they had ever been, or would ever be again, thanks to Windows 98 and ME.
    I would argue that the Dark Ages (Specifically 1991-1997) were more interesting. DOS wasn’t easy, but at least it didn’t crash randomly without warning. Game developers were small-time companies staffed by huge nerds, more willing to be creative and take risks. Most games back then were labors of love. It was a time before every developer got it into their head that IPOs were a good idea, and we all know how well THAT turned out. I can name at least four companies now that are all Golden Age LucasArts/Westwood/Origin/etc in disguise, having been unflinchingly fired EN MASSE (Usually by EA of course) from the company they made great.

  138. tussock says:

    Hmm. Interesting.

    90 Speedball 2
    92 Darklands, Dune 2, F1GP, Populous
    93 Doom, Sim City 2000, UFO
    94 Cannon Fodder, Doom II, Masters of Magic, TIE Fighter
    95 Dark Forces, Descent, Transport Tycoon Deluxe
    96 Abuse, GP2, Quake, Worms
    97 Carmageddon, Diablo, Fallout, Incubation, Jedi Knight, MoO2, Myth, Shadow Warrior, Theme Hospital, X-COM 3
    98 Dark Omen, Grand Prix Legends, Grand Theft Auto, Starcraft, Total Annihilation
    99 SMAC, Freespace 2, Rollercoaster Tycoon, ToCA 2
    00 CMR2, GP3, Q3A
    01 Serious Sam
    03 Galactic Civilizations

    Other than that, mostly non-commercial rogue-likes, or endless remakes of tetris or breakout. Perhaps the odd scrolling shooter, like Swiv 3D or something. And the remakes of all the above that keep turning up to make use of modern grunt.

    Fancy coloured lighting, complex transparencies, and detailed shadows killed PC gaming for me. Too many layers of this and that to pimp the multi-channeled graphics cards means more work for the same content, which means less content. But content is King, and fan content that is easy to build is the ultimate for any game.

    I recall when it was awesome that a computer game could sustain 20 FPS, then when it was shameful that they couldn’t hold 30 FPS on a two-year old box, and now how awesome it is if they don’t periodically drop to 7 FPS on this week’s new $1000 card.

  139. DaveMc says:

    A little off the main topic, here, but …

    Deoxy wrote (*way* back in comment 41):

    The OS should OWN memory. That's one of its primary jobs . . . Third party stuff should be INCAPABLE of breaking the OS, as the stuff that can break the OS should be inaccessible to them.

    I agree, but I wonder if you (or someone) might be able to clear up a mystery for me: why are applications apparently able to crash Mac OS X? It’s a Unix core (that’s what got me to switch away from Linux), but every once in a while it hangs (not often, but not *never*), and it appears to be the fault of an application that has somehow managed to bring down the entire system. My understanding, like yours apparently, was that this should be impossible, not merely unlikely. Does this mean that I’m wrong, it’s actually not the application causing the hang, or is there some way for applications to get around the OS’s control?

  140. Tesh says:

    @133 Jeff,
    The Crusader games were awesome. A bit graphic for my taste, really, but the gameplay was just so much fun that I soldiered on.

    Erm… I’m sure that I could make a huge list, but just a few off the top of my head:

    Star Control 2 (my first major time sink as a computer game, and it’s still the best in its class)
    Master of Orion (1 and 2, for different reasons)
    Master of Magic
    MechCommander (any of the “three”, each were great for different reasons)
    Privateer
    Descent (1 & 2… I never played 3)
    Conquests of the Longbow
    Myst
    SimCity 2000
    Civilization
    Alpha Centauri
    Warcraft (each for different reasons)
    Starcraft
    Tron 2.0
    …and I much prefer Titan Quest over Diablo, but that’s more recent.

    …but I still haven’t found anything on a PC to match my love of Final Fantasy Tactics. Any ideas?

  141. K says:

    You listed all of my top ten there. I could not agree more to those being the golden years of PC-gaming.

    Torment (hell, the box is on my desk *right now*), Starcraft (Broodwar), Diablo II, Total Annihilation, System Shock 2 (I can see the box from here, it’s on my shelf), Halflife (with TeamFortress), Age of Empires 1+2, Master of Orion 2, Warcraft II, Super Smash Brothers Melee (bought a GC for that one!) the list is quite long.

    Most of them have sequels, and nearly all (except the Blizzard and Valve titles possibly) sequels are worse than the original, only look fancier.

    There are a couple current ones (Zelda Twilight Princess, TF2, WoW) but those are the rare exception.

  142. ASSASSINO says:

    Diablo 2 one of my most played games.

    ufo 1 i loved playin this game, my limit were my eyes that become red after some massive hours of playing.

    warcraft 1 was a total innovation in rts games for me.

    then castle wolfenstein and doom 1, tie fighter, this were some of the games that were a complete revolution.

    Nowdays titles don´t bring anything new, it´s play for 10 hours then you will be bored.

    only company of heroes is something nice online,

  143. Tom says:

    Lots of good games on the lists, here. I’ll add Another World (1991). Not the best of all-time, but definitely worth mention.

  144. Osvaldo Mandias says:

    Oh, yeah . . . Pirates! Scorched Earth! Lemmings! How could I forget you?

  145. Bryan says:

    So, there are still people who remember the Commodore 64, eh? It was my first gaming computer. It was slow and the graphics was cheesy, but that didn’t stop people from making good entertaining games. My favorites from that era are the ultima series, Druid, and the Flight Simulator. By the way, I still have my C<64, still in working condition, and I still play the old games once in a while. I also have a PC with XP, which I use much more often.

  146. JoCommando says:

    WarCraft II ““ my first real PC game ““ delayed my learning long division for almost a year. The game's presentation was just perfect and StarCraft (“WarCraft in space!” as one of my young friends eagerly described it before it was released) refined it so well.

    WarCraft III never resonated with me the same way because you the player were removed from the storyline, unlike in the previous two where you were addressed during mission briefings. Such a small, classic element and yet so essential to immersion that I resented WC3's big-budget “this game is too good for you to be a character in it” attitude.

  147. froogger says:

    Wow, all these great games of yore and here’s me thinking I have nothing to add. Well, yes I do:
    Magic Carpet (1994) – challenging but definitely worth the effort. In fact, I don’t remember Bullfrog ever producing a dud, they were a gem-mine of stellar proportions (Populous, Syndicate, Theme Park, Dungeon Keeper). Actually, I reckon the golden age of PC gaming was areound mid-nineties, bootdisks be damned.

    Seeing that someone cares enough about the oldies to venture into that market (GoG) I will abandon my old pirated collection and buy from them. I certainly will get Colonization, Tie Fighter, Carmageddon etc if they’re available. Oh, and there’s so many mentioned above that I never got to play. Where will I find the time?

  148. The Poet says:

    In no particular order:
    Age of Empires 1&2, especially Conquerors expansion
    Civ.net, Civilization 1
    C&C: Red Alert 1
    Quake 1
    Counter-Source Strike
    Half-Life 2 series
    BFME1 pre-patch 1.03
    The Longest Journey & Dreamfall
    Jedi Academy
    Oregon Trail
    Warcraft 1&2
    Worms 1

  149. Kell says:

    I shall refrain from adding to the extensive verbiage by listing my own golden age games without further elaboration, and instead post to say only this:

    “bling-mapping” is pure gold. Sweetly succinct, yet satisfyingly scathing. I’m going to be using the term myself from now on.

  150. Kel'Thuzad says:

    I was about 7 at the time of the Golden Age, so I hope you’ll forgive me if I’ve played none of the games you’re talking about.

  151. TainInfernus says:

    Doom and those old demos that came with Duke Nukem 3D, plus that game itself will always live on in my heart as the originals.
    Doom, and the user-created tools from the released source code, really did INVENT the idea of modding a game as we know it today. That’s one thing I really do like about the gaming industry today: the modding community is actively supported. Custom content is helped along by providing SDKs along with the game.
    If only they had a map editor for Stalker, then I’d be in heaven.
    But with these multi-million dollar tech demos, throw it over to the guys on their couches, they make great stuff all the time from the potential wasted by these games.
    If it’s possible to create an entire game in 97 kilobytes (see .kkrieger) then imagine what this industry could do if they had really imaginative people behind the wheel.

    My nostalgic games consist of SimTown, Doom, Duke3D + demos, Dr Brain, every id Software game, Half-Life, etc. I was alive and gaming through the DOS phase, all the way up to today. I remember when I was 6, playing King’s Quest 5 on an old 386 with DOS, having those freakin huge floppies, and having to learn command-line language to run those damn things.

  152. Brian Durbin says:

    Lets see my favorites were Baldurs gate 1&2, Icewind dale, Planescape: Torment, Fallout 1&2, Empire earth, Civilization 3, Dues ex and Age of empires 1&2. However there are tons of games i love that didn’t come out in that time. Particularly interplay and id games. I enjoyed wasteland and dragon wars just as much as Baldurs gate 2. Other games that were awesome that didnt come out in 1997-2002 were alone in the dark, Doom 1&2, Quake, Out of this world and Wolfenstein 3d. There were tons of great games in 1997-2002 but i liked the ones from 1985-1995 Just as much.

  153. Klay says:

    I gotta go with Starcraft.

    Yeah I know the AI sucked a rusty nut(by today’s standards, but good God was that game ever fun.

    I’ve put more hours into playing the Original and Brood War (single and multi-player) than I have anything that came after combined.

    The only other game which come anywhere close to that is Oblivion.

  154. Anym says:

    I think I’d call the period around 1998 (preferring 1997 over 2000) period probably the Silver Age of PC Gaming, with the Golden Age occurring earlier, probably around 1994, during the last days of DOS before Windows 95 took over. You call it the Stone Age, but keep in mind that unlike the early nineties, memory woes and boot disks were largely a thing of the past thanks to 32-bit DOS Extenders (remember the line “DOS/4GW Protected Mode Run-time Version 1.97”) as were soundcard troubles thanks to well-working auto-detection in installers (remeber the line “HMI module Alpha-Humana on approach to space station Mercury”). I won’t argue that Windows was good for PC gaming by further simiplifying matters.

    Check out the games of 1993:
    Betrayal at Krondor, Doom, Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers, Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle, Master of Orion, Sam & Max Hit the Road, Syndicate, Wing Commander: Privateer, X-Wing

    Only one of those games was a sequel and all the others spawned sequels of their own.

    1994:
    Beneath a Steel Sky, Doom II: Hell on Earth, Master of Magic, Panzer General, Realms of Arkania: Star Trail, Sid Meier’s Colonization, System Shock, TIE Fighter, WarCraft: Orcs & Humans, X-COM: UFO Defense

    All of these games are still as fun to play when they first came out, most of them have aged surprisingly well and some of them are still unsurpassed in their respective areas.

    1995:
    Dark Forces, Command & Conquer, Crusader: No Remorse, Full Throttle, Jagged Alliance, MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat, The Dig, WarCraft II: Tides of Darkness

    Quote: “Another banner year.” ;-)

    Interestingly, I also think that this Age was also due to being in a sweet spot, visually. For several years, state-of-the-art graphics were relatively stable. Starting around 1989 until about 1995, with the first big SVGA titles and a slew of “Doom clones”, Mode 13h (320×200 in 256 colours) graphics were simply the best you could do. Quote: “Graphics were at the point where games could be immersive and atmospheric, but they didn't cost a fortune to produce.” ;-)

  155. El Quia says:

    These are my favorite games:

    X-COM I, X-COM III, Monkey Island I-III, Fallout I-II, Starcraft, Master of Orion, Quest For Glory I-IV, Civilization I-II, Pizza Tycoon, Star Control II, Full Throttle, I Have no Mouth and I Must Scream, the LucasArst Indy Adventure Games, Alpha Centauri, Morrowind, Gabriel Knight I (I haven’t played the other too :( )…

    I’m sure I’m forgetting a couple of games, and I tell you: that doesn’t mean they are awesome!

    As you can see, I’m a bit old school, sometimes…

  156. Calthaer says:

    Wow. So many of the greats have already been covered here – all of my “greatest games of all time” games like Deus Ex, System Shock 2, StarCraft, etc.

    Even EverQuest has been mentioned – let’s not forget that MMOs had their beginning during this time. The games were rough, and somewhat unpolished compared to today’s fare, but just think – for the FIRST TIME you could interact with dozens of other players in a graphical environment. That in itself was magical. I’ll never play another one of those games again, but the initial wonder of logging in to those worlds is something I’ll never forget.

    One other thing to mention: emulation. Around 1996-2000, the first console emulators were coming on to the scene. This is a good ten years before Nintendo founded the Wii channel for buying classic games on a console. Suddenly the list of available games for the PC was doubled, tripled, or more. You could play all the old NES games, all the old SNES games, Genesis, MAME was getting its start. PCs were finally getting decent gamepads (from Gravis and such). ROM sites didn’t have complicated logins and crap like that, and console companies weren’t yet wise to the fact that their content was being publicly posted everywhere – so it was possible to actually find decent (albeit older) games to play. If you really enjoyed something, FuncoLand and Gamestop and other stores still actually had the games for sale, so if you enjoyed ’em you could go out and purchase the cheap older console and the game at a local store.

    And furthermore, with Windows 95 / 98, you could still run most of the old DOS games with little trouble, as long as you had a Sound Blaster compatible card – and even some of the other ones had good SB emulation. A lot of them, like X-COM: UFO Defense, were being released as Windows 9x versions so that you didn’t have to fool with memory and whatnot in DOS. Quest for Glory, Ultima, and other classic “stone age” franchises were being re-released on compilation disks. It was all the best of the “Stone Age” without the headaches.

    On top of everything I’ve just said, console games – big, system-selling ones – were actually being ported to the PC. For crying out loud – Final Fantasy VII and VIII were released for the PC. So was Metal Gear Solid. Those were huge; I can’t believe nobody’s mentioned those yet. For a brief period in time, PC gaming was EVERYTHING, and even the console companies wanted to get in on the action.

    Then you needed DOSBOX in Windows XP to run old DOS games, and PC games started to be buggy, laggy, bloated, graphics-heavy pieces of garbage that really weren’t any fun to play. The focus on graphics is one of the big killers of PC gaming. I, too, now play my Nintendo DS most of the time…when I’m not catching up on good PSOne games which I play on my PS2. Modern Flash games are also loads of fun. I really miss the Golden Age.

  157. ARJUN aggarwal says:

    Hello friends… Do you feel an overwhelming sense of nostalgia when you think about the arcade games which were immensly popular from the late 80’s to the mid 90’s ? People of my age grew up playing games like Super Mario , Street Fighter , Virtua fighter . Back then the gaming industry was at a developing stage , not that it still isnt but the quality of graphics has improved remarkably . Unfortunately I cant say the same about the storylines/plots on which most of the games are based these days . I feel that idea’s like aliens , droids , robots , zombies , First Person Shooter (FPS) , World War scenarios have been over-used . These days so many games belonging to the same genre are being dumped into the market that nearly all the ideas have become mundane/overused. Some of the questions which are going through my mind right now are : Are the developers paying special attention to the graphic quality of games and less attention to the gameplay? Is the gaming industry heading towards a new S-curve ? . However I dont want to take away credit from some new-age developers who have developed Kick-ass games ( please excuse my language , I just cudnt resist) like Halo (Bungie) , Grand Theft Auto ( Rockstar games) , Company of Heroes ( THQ) , Sims (Maxis) , Gangsters ….and list goes on and on! These games are truly unique both in terms of gameplay and graphics : the ideal combination for a gamer like me who has seen two different periods of the video-game industry. My main problem lies with the developers who dump games with a loose plot in the market . I believe that game-play is an intergral part of the gaming experience and should not be compromised for better graphic quality . Nowdays this is clearly not the case. I would like to have some feedback from you guys .What are your views on this ? Just want to initiate a healthy discussion.

    Peace

  158. Jenx says:

    Favorite games huh? Let’s see:
    Diablo 1 – 1996 (first “real” electronic game I’ve seen in my life. I fell in love the second I saw it)
    Diablo 2 – 2000 (I’m still reluctant about playing it in fear of getting addicted once more)
    Planescape: Torment – 1999
    Baldur’s Gate 2+ToB – 2000/2001 (I never got into the first game but the second one holds a very special spot in my heart)
    Icewind Dale 1/2 – 2000/2002 (I played these a lot later than they were released but I still enjoy them as a form of relaxation)
    Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings – 1999 (Fuck your aliens and space marines, I want vikings and samurai!)
    Fallout 2 – 1998 (While I really like the first one, it’s the second one that introduced me to the Fallout franchise)
    Red Alert 2 – 2000 (Because FOR MOTHER RUSSIA!)
    System Shock 2 – 1999 (I never finished it. I probably never will. I still love it)
    Heroes of Might and Magic 3+Expansions – 1999+ (Not the best turn based strategy game, but definitely the one I’ve played the most)

    Aaaand I’m probably missing some, but those are pretty much the games I grew up with and enjoyed. Also keep in mind that I played almost all of these games several years after they were released and when I had supposedly “better” ones available. And while some people might say “oh well this is just nostalgia speaking” – I’ve replayed these games in the last few years and they are STILL as good, if not even better now. So to hell with all of the kiddies with their pimped up PCs and uber-powerful consoles! I want back my gems of gaming!

  159. jtt25c says:

    1999 – EverQuest

    How could you forget such a game changer? this introduced 3d mmorpg’s to the masses! This game is responsible for the HUGE surge in computer gaming (WoW) that we see today. Classic game and I know thousands and thousands of people share fond memories of this game.

  160. Bionic Moses says:

    What about Tyrian huh? i might have missed a post but that game is SOOOOO good. its one of them 2d airplane games were you shoot up the screen at stuff and it dies. im sure that genere has a name but i cant think of it at this time. ANWAY that game is sooooooooooooo AWSOME it was my first video game and to this day is one of my all time top games of ever. and i do own a xbox 360 and a very high end gaming rig i built (saved about 1400$) so im not out of touch or anything. Tyrian is now freeware for those who are interested. you might need to use dos-box to get it too run though =P

    but anways i gota say i have been super disapointed with computer gaming as an industry as of late. from printed system specs that are wishfull thinking at best (bioshock DOES NOT run on a 128 meg card if it chuged on min specs on my old 256)
    to the parade of games that are second rate at best. i do have to say that i like hellgate london. i recently got it used and have been playing it and i love it. its plagued by bugs becuase it was early released and they tried to force multi player, so dont get it if you cant stand trouble shooting to the Extreme. (wich is actully borderline fun for me in the same way getting dos games was fun for others)

    and lastly my arbitrary list of games wich no one cares about but will read anyway if they are reading posts here.

    Diablo 2 (SO MANY HOURS INTO THE GOD DAMN ONLINE ITS STUPID)
    starcraft (bought it late so i didnt get into it as much)
    warcraft 3 (gota love that developer level map editor)
    Cube and Saurbraten (those games are freeware Quake style shooters that are pretty fun. Saurbraten is actully Cube 2 but by other people)
    C&C generals (plague tractors LOL)
    Oblivion (i guess…..)
    Doom 2 (getting multiple kills with one shot outa the double barrel shotgun is sooo cool. or at least was XD )
    civ 2 and 3 (i dislike how the ai simply cheats in civ 3 instead of playing the game. it gets apparent if you play alot and made me quit….eventualy)
    warhammer 40k wasnt bad either but got boring a bit too fast for an rts…..
    Zeus master of olympus was realy good too. still love that game.

  161. FlakAttack says:

    Starsiege: Tribes (1998)

    This game blew my mind. Forefather of all team-based multiplayer gaming and way ahead of its time. The graphics aren’t even terrible, they just aren’t good, compared to modern gaming. They were quite amazing at the time however.

    Operation Flashpoint (2001)

    This game was a pretty good simulation of infantry, vehicle, and air combat in a sort of modern time period on a fictional island. Very cool game, very tactical and realistic. At least this one has had good follow up with Arma and the already released (in some countries) Arma 2

  162. jubuttib says:

    Most of my favorites have already been mentioned, but probably the game I spent most time playing through 1998-2004 is the original Rainbow Six (1998). The first proper tactical shooter. Pretty much the first “realistic” shooter. One mistake and bang, you’re dead.

    I’ve yet to love a game as much as I loved Rainbow Six.

  163. savegameoften says:

    Many of the games mentioned here were indeed part of the “golden age” of PC gaming. But in my opinion a new golden age has arrived…on the iPhone. After the kids are in bed, chores are done, and I have the rare 30 minutes to myself, I put in the earphones and fire up The Quest, or Underworlds, or Real Racing. If I really don’t want to use my brain at all, Hero of Sparta and Doom Resurrection can also be loads of fun to play.

  164. asdfffdsa says:

    Yes, that was the golden age of PC gaming–and, for many, gaming in general. Not only were the games unbelievably fun, but the community was huge–there was *always* something going on. Sure, I may have been a Counter-Strike nut back in those days, but I was as diversified as Thief 1/2 and Asheron’s Call (most PC gamers of that time probably didn’t even know those games existed, but I’m sure there were many even I wasn’t aware of. It was that big). Hell, even no-name modifications for Half-Life, such as “Scientist Hunt” or “Wanted,” consistently had at least 10 to 20 servers or so running.

    It’s very hard for modern gamers to understand why PC gamers of this golden age look at the current generation consoles with scorn. These platforms are quite limited downgrades from what we’re accustomed to–it’s NOT because the PC can churn out better graphics. Not only that, but 99% of current games are bland and cliched. If one looks past the dated graphics (surprisingly hard for a typical current generation console gamer), one can see the difference between the old and the new: there is a definite artistry in the older games (where the minds behind the *actual* development–the original source of the passion for creating games–were not separated from those responsible for generating ideas), whereas the new games are simply products of some shallow parameters defined by marketing teams–a very simple formula with no room for innovation.

    A note on the Old Steam to put things into perspective for more recent gamers:
    Steam really did mess up the enormous Half-Life Modification communities. The newblood may not understand this given the greatness that it is now, but Steam was an utter disaster in that time, and it should have been optional; a lot of people just stopped playing. Valve recognized the immensity that was Counter-Strike, and forced this massive community onto their Steam platform. Shortly after it secured the millions of Counter-Strike players onto this platform (so they could advertise to them), Valve simply stopped providing content updates to Counter-Strike–it became a stagnant game. Yet Counter-Strike was such a great game that only until up to about a year ago, it maintained the greatest number of players on Steam (That is, according to Valve’s *own* statistics; a supposed “elimination of bot counting” was implemented, and this is after they mysteriously stopped reporting CS 1.6 player counts for a good few months). As a result of this, Valve is widely credited with killing the greatness that was CS 1.6. If Valve had continued their content updates (giving something in return for their compulsory advertising platform), Counter-Strike would still be thriving to this day. It is very sad.

  165. Kdansky says:

    I don’t think Doom would still count as a “greatest game of all time”, because it is not playable anymore without nostalgia goggles. Yes, it was a breakthrough, but it is a horrible game compared to later titles. System Shock 2, Starcraft, Deus Ex, Half Life 1 or Unreal may not look like current games, but they are still a blast to play.

    I would add: Sacrifice (2000) and Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver (1999, Although the final one was released in 2003, and it was still quite awesome, after a mediocre (but far from bad) second title), Starsiege Tribes (1998) was incredibly good too, the first game to be playable online due to decent network code, and still the only shooter where your impulse affects the movement of your projectiles, proper physics, so to speak.

    A while ago, I made a montage for a puzzle with some of my favourite games, have it here: http://img443.imageshack.us/img443/9731/ferienquiz.jpg
    (You may use it however you see fit)

    I have also bought the Guild Wars Trilogy (released in 2005) this week. Because that might only look 10% as pretty as Aion, but it sure as hell has better gameplay during the tutorial alone than Aion during the whole game.

  166. Chris says:

    I think you mean hardware accelerated virtual machines.

  167. […] ever going to see an indie developer give us the kind of depth we saw during the beloved “PC gaming golden age,” but at least some people are getting to relive their glory days. Possibly related posts: […]

  168. Viktor says:

    I honestly feel as someone who grew up with the likes oblivion, call of duty: MW (Original), Halo combat evolved, that i honestly missed the golden era of gaming. I really wish that modern gaming industries would follow the likes of indie developers and make games that focus on the actual game play no the visual aspect. Many games feel so restricted. Modern games are just to short, lack any replay value (Yes including the likes of Skyrim, which claim to have 400+ hours however people only really can stand for about 50).

    I prey that games like Project zombiod, mine craft, Day – z (yes i know the graphics are more advanced than the previous two(and yes i know its a mod)) achieve and bring graphics back down to 16-bit/32-bit and force developers to pass on realism and go for game play. Oh finally, game developers please stop making games were the idea is to kill everything that moves for no other reason than it moves. A good story is far more important (please/thank you).

    Let’s get back to community driven, low graphics, high game play games.

  169. brianmlwa says:

    Yea, was when I first got into gaming. Still have and play the games I had since 96 or later… though a few I have to play on an XP or earlier VM (Everquest on a Windows 98 VM).

    Age of Empires (1 and 2 + Exp. Packs)
    Starcraft & Brood War Exp. Packs
    Half-Life (Most notoriously, Counter-Strike)
    Delta Force (1,2,& Black Hawk Down)
    Everquest
    Diablo 1 & 2
    TES 3: Morrowind
    Warcraft 2
    Battlefield 1942 + Exp. Packs
    Call of Duty 1 + Exp. pack (Mostly non-updated version though).
    Neverwinter Nights
    Baldurs Gate: Dark Alliance
    Command and Conquer: Red Alert
    Army Men series…

    Really kind of miss these games, most of them have almost noone playing multiplayer any more… but remember having fun for hours at a time shooting people on Delta Force or building for hours at a time on a good ol’ fashion AoE multiplayer game with 4+ People… ahh, the good ol’ days…

  170. When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added
    I get several e-mails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove people from that service?
    Thanks a lot!

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  172. Best games ever:

    1993 X-COM: UFO Defence aka UFO: Enemy Unknown aka UFO: Terran Defence.
    1993 X-Wing
    1994-5? TIE Fighter.

    And mention to Monaco Grand Prix Racing Simulator 2. It had all: virtual car with best lap previous so you could train on each circuit, saving anytime during the weekend and even during the save, a career mode where you began on Minardi (the rename, it had not the rights but it was easy to rename cars and drivers, even reskin the cars) and then would move on according to the season’s results.

    Then later came EA’s F1… which stopped saving during races and had no virtual car to train at F1’02 or F1 99-02. Recently the new F1 series doesn’t even let you save during weekend, so you’re forced to run free practices, qualification and race in a go. The result since the 99 games is that if your time is limited (or you have physical issues that prevent you from working the wheel for long) you can’t run full races and it’s run an arcade version more than a simulated season. And no career. The F1 99-02 I think had it but only between those years, if I didn’t misunderstand something about F1 2009 or 2010, its career mode lasts only three seasons. From MGPRS to F1 ’02 graphic requirements multiplied exponentially to provide only slightly improved graphics (including fully 3D cockpit as opposed to MGPRS2’s bitmap overlay) and reduced features. Therefore, for me, 1997 MGPRS2 remains as the top F1 simulator. Pity I can’t get it to run in my Windows 8.1 64-bits :_(

  173. DayFly says:

    I wouldn’t call these my favourite games, but they have yet to be mentioned here.

    Age of Wonders
    Heroes clone that I liked more than Heroes, for some reason. The series is still ongoing, but the first game resonated with me most.

    Crimson Skies
    A pulpy, dare I call it flight simulator with great voice acting. I was sold on the setting alone but the designers made effort to keep the missions unique, varied and fun.

    AquaNox
    Probably unfamiliar to most readers here. The game was only popular in Germany. Nothing too interesting in terms of mechanics but the post-apocalyptic-under-the-sea setting was unique enough for me.

    Gothic
    Again, mostly popular in Germany. The first game is by far the best in my opinion. At times I wonder if the game designers were truly aware of how perfectly the setting and mechanics fit together. An open world game in a prison colony surrounded by a magic barrier, it simultaneously gives the player complete autonomy while providing an appealing narrative.

  174. […] described as the golden age of video gaming. Computer games was another platform that had some amazing concepts. During this time, I was introduced to gaming by my cousins. Fully fleshed out stories were being […]

2 Trackbacks

  1. By Old School Gaming and Super Meat Boy « Ninja Game Den on Saturday Apr 9, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    […] ever going to see an indie developer give us the kind of depth we saw during the beloved “PC gaming golden age,” but at least some people are getting to relive their glory days. Possibly related posts: […]

  2. By Blog #6 Games Past/Present – AndrewDoesGames on Thursday Dec 1, 2016 at 6:47 pm

    […] described as the golden age of video gaming. Computer games was another platform that had some amazing concepts. During this time, I was introduced to gaming by my cousins. Fully fleshed out stories were being […]

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