Episode 19 - "Retro" Games

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Justin_Case001

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Y'know what really grinds my gears?  When people call a game old, dated, or retro just because it's like two friggin' years old.  Maybe it's just me, but I have a pretty wide range of what I consider "modern" when it comes to games.  When I think old and retro, I think 8 and 16 bit Nintendo era or older.  The other day I saw some website talking about Halo 3 as being a "retro classic".  I know it probably just makes me sound like an old fogey, but Halo 3 is not a retro classic.  I'm sorry, it's just not.  It's a modern game.  It's not new, but it is modern.  If you're gonna call Halo 3 a retro classic, then what are you gonna call Super Metroid, or 8-bit Super Mario Bros, or Legend of Zelda, or friggin' DOOM?  I tend to think of the modern era of gaming being at approximately PS2 and newer.  I'm fine with Ocarina of Time and FF7 being called retro classics.  Yeah, they are.  But nothing on 360 or PS3 should be called retro or oldies.  Gimmie a break, dude.  I know games move quickly, but have a little perspective, man.

I'm sure it does make me an old fogey, but I'm still blown away by the graphics of PS3 and 360 games.  I play newer games, too, but every time I play Halo 3 or God of War 3 or Final Fantasy 13, I always just think, "Wow, this is just so gorgeous!"  Most people probably look at Halo 3 today and think, "Ugh!  What a muddy, pixel-y piece of garbage!  I can't believe games used to look like this!", and that just kinda bugs me.  Maybe it's just a generational thing that has to do with what gaming era you were born in, but I don't think I'll ever lose my appreciation for how good PS3/360 era looks.

Well, that was just meant to be a quick, fun little thing, but somehow I could see this one getting me in a bit of hot water.  Apologies if I ground anyone else's gears.

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Merram Webster at www.merriam-webster.com/ defines retro as "relating to, reviving, or being the styles and especially the fashions of the past". Retro gaming is any game from a previous console. That makes Xbox 360 a retro console.

What is your criteria for saying that PS2 is the cutoff? What categories are there? Retro and modern? Is it the case that every system must fit into exactly one category, or can systems be in 2 or 0 categories? In other words, can a console be neither retro nor modern? Or both retro and modern?

If Xbox 360 is not retro today, will it be retro at some point in the future? Is that PS2 cutoff static or moving?

What about a game made today done in a "retro" style? In this case, I would say it is a retro style if it was done with the intent to look like an old system, or using cheaper software. A game made with a previous, cheaper engine would be unintentionally retro.

What if video games were never invented until last year, and a PS4 or Xbox One (Xbox 3) were the first systems ever made. And then someone decided to make a game in 8 bit, just for fun. That could not be retro because it is not referencing anything because nothing existed before now. What would you call that?

Your opinion on the graphics of the PS3 is interesting. There are games that were released on both the PS3 and PS4 and I think it would take a very trained eye to tell the difference. I think we have reached the point of diminishing returns. But I would not use this criteria in a definition of retro. By my definition, PS4 is retro because the PS4 Pro supersedes it. I therefore declare that PS4 an Xbox One are retro consoles. :P

Edited by Totally Spicy BronyNumber 2A
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I personally don't think the 360 and PS3 are quite retro yet. The PS2 and XBOX are retro early 2000's and that is my definition of Retro. I had a PS2 for the longest time retro games for that were like Jak and Daxter and Crash. The PS3 had some older games for it but also some newer games as well. I think the 360 and PS3 will be retro in just a couple years once they release a new play station but until then I think they'll be somewhat modern to me.

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I think that anything younger than 10 years is not retro, that's the way Ii look at it. According to that definition, though, a good chunk of the DS library is retro now, and that makes me feel old.

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Here's why I don't think PS3/360 era can ever be retro: it has to do with dimensions.  Games made the jump from 2-D to 3-D, but now that game development is looking at that awkward transition phase in the rear view mirror, there will come a point of diminishing returns, if it hasn't arrived already.  There's no dimensions left to go to.  We're not gonna have 4-D or 5-D games, so from here on out, they will just continue to get shinier with more pixels, more ambient occlusion, and more fancy reflect-y light.  At some point, games will become indistinguishable from real life, and then there will be nowhere left to go, graphics-wise.  In a hundred years, games will still be 3-D (I mean, in addition to new games intentionally done in 2-D or iso styles.  You know what I mean.)  Therefore, I tend to define the modern era of games as being when we started having a fully 3-D world with movement and a free look separately defined.  I.e. a fully free look with one control stick and movement with the other, or a free look with the mouse and movement with the keyboard.  Something like FF7 is retro to me because it wasn't fully 3-D.  You could rotate the camera in some parts, but it relied heavily on static screens with no free look.  When you go back and play it today, you feel like, "Omg, this is so goofy!  I can't even see where I'm trying to go!  Is that a door or a smudge?!  Why can't I walk the direction I want to!?"  I don't think a game like Halo 3 will ever feel like that.  It's a 3-D world with 3-D models, with a free look, long after they had refined such games, so I just don't see ever going to back to that era and saying, "This is so goofy!"  Games will continue to be refined, but I don't see how there would be another revolutionary leap like from 2-D to 3-D, because there's no dimensions left.  It's all very subjective, of course.

Well, there you go.  That was more in-depth than Grind My Gears is ever meant to be.  :P

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So Xbox 360 will never be retro? Assuming consoles continue to get made, that would mean in another 40 years, games up to 360 will be retro, but a 40 year old PS3 will not be. I understand the definition being based around this 3D environment. Some SNES and Sega CD games had 3D environments, but not very good. PS1 had fully 3D environments. What about VR or a holodeck? Those would be quantum leaps forward, thereby creating a clear distinction between generations. Would that make older 3D games retro? 

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On 8/14/2018 at 7:15 AM, Totally Spicy BronyNumber 2A said:

What about VR or a holodeck? Those would be quantum leaps forward, thereby creating a clear distinction between generations. Would that make older 3D games retro? 

I don't know.  We'll have to wait and see.

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Why would you have to see? Apply the same standard you have been applying. If someone in Star Trek plays PS4 are they playing a retro game? 

Edited by Totally Spicy BronyNumber 2A

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On 8/20/2018 at 11:40 PM, Totally Spicy BronyNumber 2A said:

Why would you have to see? Apply the same standard you have been applying. If someone in Star Trek plays PS4 are they playing a retro game? 

I don't know.  But it makes me feel like there must be gradations of retro.  It seems to me that retro can't just mean the same things all the time.  It can't just mean "older than X years", because then if you say you're making a game in a retro style, does it mean Halo CE, or Space Invaders, y'know?  Both are retro by most standards today, but those games are light years apart.  It just makes no sense to me to call them both retro in the same sentence and in the same way.  If we do that, then the term retro starts to become foggy until it loses nearly all meaning.  Maybe we need more terms, like "semi-retro" and "uber-retro", or maybe "not-so-retro" and "totally-retro", or "way-back-retro."  I dunno.  :laugh:

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The simple solution is to name the generations or the time frame they were made. Early 1990s for example. Or SNES/Genesis. There is also a matter of style and what has come into and out of fashion. Early CD games used digitized footage of real actors in FMVs. Then, as computer modeling got better, we saw cg models, and now motion capture. There is a certain charm about the old FMV games. So we can refer to game types.

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