Thursday, July 09, 2009

Atmosphere and Elegance

In commenting on this post over at the Grog I said the following:

I got closest (to the epitome of 'elegance and atmosphere', minimal rules, maximum affect) when I used the philosophy of cutting, not adding, elements in the rules and campaign setting. I boiled it down to a couple pages of charts. All was taken from AD&D (1.00000). The emphasis shifted from books and paper to dialogue, imaginings and the dice. With less dice rolled, each became more important. It was great.

When I walk into a game store these days that stocks the latest morph of D&D I never cease to be amazed at the number of volumes available, their expense, their quality of production and the amount of shelfspace they consume. Adding it all together I come to the conclusion that, besides being much more affluent than me and my 1e gaming friends were, modern gamers seem to be much more 'thing' oriented. I won't rant about the consumer society, but it worries me when I see the concentration on this vast profit making enterprise to the exclusion of home made fun and backyard businesses.

This isn't just about AD&D, RPGs, mass market computer games and so forth, but includes the other types of game as well. For example, in my little history of flight simming I have played on something for the Super80 way back when (!) right up to my present IL2 passion. I have tried maybe two dozen flight sims in my time. My favorites were 'wings' on the amiga, '1942 - Pacific War' on windows 98 and IL2 on XP. Each of these games faced off against more action oriented or more extravagent simulations, yet it is these to which I continue to return (in the case of IL2 and hopefully one day in the case of the others). Why?

Because they work well (elegant) and you can 'smell the avgas in the morning' (atmosphere).

It's like comparing the joy of the orginal squad leader game with the monster that it became - one is beer and pretzels , the other is abstract literary expertise. Both are fun, don't get me wrong, but you can probably guess which one I prefer.

1 comment:

The Dale Wardens said...

I recall that any artist picture in the old D&D books looked great to me. Now I suppose many of them would not make the quality cut...

The first set of wargames rules I purchased was printed on an offset press!

Things have really changed. Hopefully the new players, who twenty years from now will pull out a dusty old copy of their first rpg - D&D 4ed., and get the same nostalgic feelings that we do.

The look and professionalism of the pubs have changed, but hopefully the fun and adventure and memories that they will bring haven't.

take care,
Dave S