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Forums - Gaming Discussion - Is Nostalgia Just Stubbornness?

I wrote a definition of nostalgia some time ago and I think it fits this thread:

Nostalgia is the painful realisation, that something you had an attachment to is already and firmly in the past. When we form attachments, we create a part of us, that is attached to something. And when we realise that that something is in the past, we also realise, that this one part of us is in the past. The thing we are nostalgic about might still be around, but it came from a different time, its presence is no longer there, it is not, as it was. That is because we are no longer as we were. The part of us, that was attached to it, cannot be there anymore. It is dead. Things we are nostalgic about make us realise our own mortality, make us realise how we die with each passing second, for we cannot engage with them as we used to.
But even if our own mortality pains us, in the case of nostalgia, we like to bask in it, since we like being remembered who we were. The hope that we might feel as we felt, think of the world as we thought of it, become innocent again before our own judgement and that we, even if it is only for a fleeting moment, could forget the worlds pain as we know it today, a pain still greater than the one inflicted by the realisation of our own mortality; that hope is what makes nostalgia so bitter sweet, so very deliciously heartwrenching.

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I have difficulty placing nostalgia.
It hinders me from playing new games because that one game a few years back was just better,
I do not however connect it to stubbornness, since when I start to play that other game I enjoy it a lot more then the new game that did not match.

I wish to expand with new experiences that one day will be the one I look back on with fondness. But at the same time, if I enjoy it that much, do I even need new experiences? I find myself daydreaming a lot more about replaying some old game than the new big hit. Maybe I just look for a feeling that I can't find anymore, but when I play them a spark ignites part of the feeling and that hits stronger for me than the new experience.

Pajderman said:

I wish to expand with new experiences that one day will be the one I look back on with fondness.

That's the point the video misses.  Not every "new experience" is particularly special.  There are probably only two really good games a year.  Between Zelda LTTP and Ocarina of Time games were five years of mediocre games that people don't bother remembering.

It's like all the people raving about the latest Pop music fad.  In reality very little of it is good enough to survive the test of time.  That's why Elvis, the Beetles, Queen, ABBA are remembered while so many others are not...  ...they represent the best of 80 years of otherwise pretty average music.

Maybe just turn it around:  How many games were all the rage last year... and now completely forgotten?  Isn't that just the opposite of nostalgia?  Completely forgettable, waste of time games?

90% of everything is, always has been, and always will be crap. There were plenty of stinkers back in the 8-bit & 16-bit days as well. Hell, AVGN made his entire internet career off of reviewing horrible old games. For every Super Mario Bros. 3 or Contra or Mega Man, there were a half-dozen other games that weren't even worth renting. This has continued on up to the present. The truly great games are a minority in a market filled with games I wouldn't wasted any time or money on. Like you said, gaming hasn't gotten better or worse, just different.

That being said, to me one of the biggest differences between then and now is the scale of games. As the tech has improved so has the size of games. Worlds keep getting larger, and overall experiences keep getting longer. As a result, the average time commitment for a single playthrough of a game has increased by an entire order of magnitude. Gone are the days when the average big-name title could be beaten in one to three hours. Your average single-player "AAA" title today is going to take anywhere from ten to sixty hours to complete, and that's just for the main story if there's side stuff. What used to be an exception limited mainly to JRPGs is now the norm.

While many gamers have actually demanded that games get longer, having long since boiled down how they value a game's worth to a simple "cost ÷ hours to beat" formula, I personally have found some of the larger games to be very intimidating because of how much time they demand. I value replayability over playthrough length, and it's always easier for me to boot up a Mega Man game and blow through it in a single 60-90 minute session than it is to slog through some gigantic open world. Too many games this century have been one-and-done affairs to me. The games that have gotten me to come back are the ones that are shorter, more linear, and more focused titles, but even those games are on average something I've replayed far less often than older games from the 2D era.

There's been many 21st century games I absolutely loved during my time with them, but just because I liked them doesn't mean I want to replay them on anything approaching a regular basis. Replay value has diminished as a single playthrough of them demands vastly more time than what was the norm 30 years ago. That's time I could spend playing other games, or enjoying other things, and considering how saturated we are in media, there's a lot of stuff to enjoy. An RPG or open-world game can demand as much time as 10-20 movies or 20-80 episodes of a TV show.


In accordance to the VGC forum rules, §8.5, I hereby exercise my right to demand to be left alone regarding the subject of the effects of the pandemic on video game sales (i.e., "COVID bump").

pokoko said:
Spike0503 said:

Offtopic but speaking about your example: Curiously enough, a similar situation happened to me but with F3 and NV. Before I got a 7th gen console (or a capable PC) and being a big classic Fallout fan I could only dream of playing F3. When I finally got it I enjoyed it a lot (with some exceptions) yet when I got NV it was like a revelation. Same engine and basically the same gameplay yet the changes in NV made F3 basically "obsolete" for me. I haven't played it since (though maybe I should) just cause I'd rather play NV again.

All that being said, I have yet to play F4 due to the criticisms I've heard on the gameplay and the story. As someone who LOVED NV, do you think it's possible I could like F4? Specifically the story and if the story isn't good, can it still be enjoyed regardless?

Depends on your mindset.  If you go in with the preconception that "Bethesda sucks, I'm gonna hate this because it's not exactly like New Vegas" like some of the vocal "old school RPG" people then, no, you're not going to like it.  The Fallout message boards were full of people who hated Fallout 4 before it even released and were trying to convince everyone else to follow their lead.

Assuming you're not that type, then you should like it regardless since it's the same template.  I really can't understand someone liking one but not the other.  How much you like it depends.

If you love exploring open worlds filled with lore and interesting encounters, like me, then Fallout 4 is incredible.  In that regard, you can't really compare the two games because of the massive content differential.  In NV, you can see pretty much everything in a few hundred hours.  In F4, it would take you THOUSANDS of hours to see everything.  Plus, F4 has all these details about the people who lived and died before you ever showed up that I absolutely loved.  I think of it as "environmental storytelling."

Pure gameplay, again, F4 is a massive improvement.  Same with QoL features.  SO MUCH more fun to fight a gang of Raiders or Super Mutants and there is always something around you calling for your attention.

As for the story and main quest, it's kind of funny, but F4 and NV are really opposites.  New Vegas starts out with this fantastic premise where you're shot in the head, left for dead, and then go out seeking revenge.  Total cliche but it's obviously supposed to be a nod to the classic western.  Then there is a turning point where things go straight downhill--there are goofy Roman soldiers, laughable climactic battles, shoe-horned events that come out of nowhere, and the eye-rolling revelation that it all revolves around the worn-out "hidden cache of super-weapons" plot.  I will never not hate how it devolved near the end.

On the other hand, Fallout 4 starts out with a prebuilt character history (annoying--I always use a mod to change that now) and the lame motive of rescuing your kidnapped child.  Now, if this were a book, F4's premiss would be more interesting, but this is a GAME, so it just ends up feeling like baggage that you don't actually care about.  However, once you get that out of the way, F4's story of an inevitable confrontation between three different groups who can never see eye-to-eye actually starts to pay off.  The endings are FAR more fun to play through and can vary greatly depending on which side you choose, with some really tough final battles.

Either way, the 'story' in both games is just fluff designed to move you from one event to another.  Neither are very good beyond that.

That being said, if you are one of the "role-playing has to mimic pen & paper conventions" types and you want your game stuffed with "RPG systems" where the developers set everything up for you like a DM then you'll probably like New Vegas a lot more.  I'm more of the free-form type, I prefer to make my own rules and use my own imagination to govern my character, so F4's settlement building system was a god-send.  FOR ME, it was the best role-playing game I've ever played--I built settlements the way I WANTED and played as much in my own imagination as in the game.  For instance, I did a dark play-through where I cast the Minutemen as fanatics and placed things like torture rooms, holding pens, and execution pits in their home settlement (using mods to add more flavor).

Then again, Fallout 4 does have a Survival Mode that a lot of old-school RPG gamers love.  You have to sleep, eat food and drink water, fight off disease, and deal with a lot more of the details of surviving.  No quicksaves or fast travel, either.  I found it tedious but it's very popular.

In short, I think if someone hates one and loves the other then it's probably because they're a sucker for their own propaganda.  Fundamentally, they're far more alike than they are different.

Thank you for such a detailed response. While I do prefer the classic Fallout games (1 and 2) and NV as opposed to F3's Bethesda style, I do admit that I had fun with that game so it's not like I think Bethesda is completely incapable of making great games (Fallout 76 seems to be a BIG stain on their record though)

I'm definitely willing to give F4 a try and I'll be looking to get the GOTY version soon due to your recommendation. Cheers!

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I want to start by saying thank you to all the people who took the time to really put their thoughts out on the matter.  If I quote each one, this post will be long-cat, but know that I read them in their entirety!

Which leads me to telling you all a story in response that kind of highlights my more general response to you all.  When I was back in season 1 with the Wii U, I went on a bit of a nostalgia bender (and some of those retro games were even reviewed!).  Some games really did stand the test of time while others... did not.  For example, Chrono Trigger's first trip to the Corridor of Time STILL gives me goosebumps with that music!  Super Metroid's music STILL made the adventure more interesting, and Norfair highlights just how "background" music has become, now (except in Genshin Impact where the music is actually top-notch!).

And that's the thing, I appreciate the nostalgia and enjoy it.  But when I go back and play some of those games having spent enough time in modern gaming, there's both a comfort but a stark reality that things really are different, now.  Some people find comfort in simple, known things, and even I can, too.  The only difference is that I don't gravitate towards one or the other, I simply go with the flow.  Modern gaming CAN be worse, but it CAN also be better.  Retro gaming CAN be worse, but it CAN also be better.

Lastly, in order for the video to fit in 5 min, I actually REMOVED a section discussing modern gaming not being "broken" and "unfinished, buggy games" since I somewhat covered that by talking about bad games.  Many modern games are VASTLY more complex and prone to more bugs, sure, but they're also fixable in ways that were never possible before.  Many modern games aren't "unfinished" when you consider many retro games contained a FRACTION of that "unfinished" game's content for full price, and yet many modern games can have content continually added for YEARS.

If you're out there still thinking there's a one-way-or-the-other to this, you might just have the very era-bias you pretend not to have lol

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