VOGONS

Common searches


First post, by Jo22

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++

Hello everyone,

Back in the late 20th century, I was very fascinatinated by games using vector graphics.
Games like Star Wing (SNES), 3D Monster Maze (ZX81), MIG-29 (DOS), Myst (Win/Mac) or AlphaWaves (DOS) totaally blew my mind.

Up until now, I thought this solely was because of the flat, non-textured vector graphics that contributed to the atmosphere so much..

But there's more, there's much more depth to it..

A few days ago, I found out what was the true reason that makes early virtual worlds so addicting. At least to me, at least.

It's the concept of 'liminal space'.
An area that's between reality and non-reality, so to say.
Early games try hard to replicate our world, but the outcome is a world that's cold, fake, surreal and dead.

It's like you're looking in the mirror and you're being looked at back by an distorted, unsettling face that's mimicking you.
But it doesn't look life like, rather it looks like a mask.

I think that's exactly what separates early 3D games from modern day games.
Today's games are usually (successfully) aiming to create an ambient, living atmosphere that is more and more barely distinguishable from the real world.
NPCs act like real people etc etc.

Not so the early ones. They create a 'dead', synthetic world, with no friendly NPCs all around.

Early virtual worlds are quiet, flat and slower paced.
They inherent an 'out-of-dimension' feel that's eerie, lonely and mysterious.

Just like two of my favorite movies do, 'The Fog' and 'The Langoliers'.

Here's a YT video that I found that sums up everything quite well, I think:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEtTpkzv50c

I hope you enjoy!

Best regards,
Jo22

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

//My video channel//

Reply 1 of 17, by Caluser2000

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

You had to use your imagination to fill in the dots back then.................

There's a glitch in the matrix.
A founding member of the 286 appreciation society.
Apparently 32-bit is dead and nobody likes P4s.
Of course, as always, I'm open to correction...😉

Reply 3 of 17, by Shagittarius

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie
Jo22 wrote on 2021-08-09, 05:47:
Hello everyone, […]
Show full quote

Hello everyone,

Back in the late 20th century, I was very fascinatinated by games using vector graphics.
Games like Star Wing (SNES), 3D Monster Maze (ZX81), MIG-29 (DOS), Myst (Win/Mac) or AlphaWaves (DOS) totaally blew my mind.

Up until now, I thought this solely was because of the flat, non-textured vector graphics that contributed to the atmosphere so much..

But there's more, there's much more depth to it..

A few days ago, I found out what was the true reason that makes early virtual worlds so addicting. At least to me, at least.

It's the concept of 'liminal space'.
An area that's between reality and non-reality, so to say.
Early games try hard to replicate our world, but the outcome is a world that's cold, fake, surreal and dead.

It's like you're looking in the mirror and you're being looked at back by an distorted, unsettling face that's mimicking you.
But it doesn't look life like, rather it looks like a mask.

I think that's exactly what separates early 3D games from modern day games.
Today's games are usually (successfully) aiming to create an ambient, living atmosphere that is more and more barely distinguishable from the real world.
NPCs act like real people etc etc.

Not so the early ones. They create a 'dead', synthetic world, with no friendly NPCs all around.

Early virtual worlds are quiet, flat and slower paced.
They inherent an 'out-of-dimension' feel that's eerie, lonely and mysterious.

Just like two of my favorite movies do, 'The Fog' and 'The Langoliers'.

Here's a YT video that I found that sums up everything quite well, I think:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEtTpkzv50c

I hope you enjoy!

Best regards,
Jo22

I think you need to watch Coherence.
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2866360/

Reply 4 of 17, by 386SX

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

I never heard about that definition of such spaces usually I'd have called them in different common ways. I don't remember many pc or console games that gave me such emotional feelings beside some that was meant probably for that like Thief The Dark Project where some levels mixed the magic ancient enviroment and strange architectures, the concept and the sound or also Alone in the Dark for the PS1 console with its never ending fog.
But as a unvoluntary effect I'd not remember many retro games having that. I suppose is so much different for each person with its own experience, is difficult to say what feel familiar or strange or surreal in some enviroments where others might have a different opposite view of the same place.
Maybe modern games like GTA V for example as one of the most modern games I played, considering I never followed the main mission storyline but only basically driving and exploring that world, there were places that felt even when realistic enough sort of strange like don't intended to be visited, like the top of a mountain that the player might not be interested to drive to in the game logic.
Instead I'd find some realistic example of that concept in the real world; much time ago I remember a classic thing that felt somehow uncanny while many would just not care, were giants reflective street signs illuminated by car lights at night with no others lights close, giving a sense of "abandoned world" close to that "liminal space" concept and similar to a gas station in a winter highway or an abandoned shopping mall hypothetically visited.

Last edited by 386SX on 2021-08-09, 18:27. Edited 4 times in total.

Reply 6 of 17, by Zup

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

Don't you forget about all those freescape games (i.e.: Driller, Total Eclipse). They were truly pioneers... and quickly forgotten.

I have traveled across the universe and through the years to find Her.
Sometimes going all the way is just a start...

I'm selling some stuff!

Reply 8 of 17, by gerry

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

interesting post, those strange 'alien' environments of earlier games were indeed part of the draw, they were strange places to be. games that tried to create 'realism' we're the most noticeable in this regard. Duke 3d with its apartment buildings, shops and pool tables - but all strange, empty and odd with hidden compartments and strange entry/exit points - it never felt like an attempt at a real world but as an interpretation of real elements in some other place, for all the fun it was always a strangely spooky place to me!

Reply 9 of 17, by shamino

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

It is an interesting idea that as graphics get more realistic, the worlds they create become less interesting, perhaps because they feel less exotic or leave less open to your imagination.

I think text vs voice dialog can also contribute to this. Text has multiple advantages over voice recordings. Text greatly streamlines the development process so the game can have more depth. Each individual conversation can also be more complex without becoming annoying, and it leaves more to the player's imagination. That imagination can add to an "otherworldly" feel of the game, which might be lost if you're listening to the voice of some guy from New Jersey.

Star Control 2 has this issue for me. I originally played the floppy disk version, which was all text. Much later I saw the modern version which uses voices from the 3DO release. Some of the voices are good, but overall I think they hurt the game by taking away my own imagined sound. The worst IMO is the voice they used on the endgame Dnyarri ("talking pet"). I thought it ruined that species. There's probably no voice they could have used that would ever make that creature feel as ominous as when it was just text.

One game that impressed me for it's "otherworldliness" was actually a console game - Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land on PS2. It's dialog was cheesy, but graphically the NPCs in that game look a little off, especially many of the humanoid characters that you fight in combat. It wasn't only technical limitations, it was also an artistic choice with a reason behind it, and it's pretty surreal.

Not to get political, but I sense a trend in modern games to make alien worlds conform to today's popular social viewpoints. This robs them of their potential to be exotic. I don't play a game to live in the modern contemporary world, I'm more likely to get fascinated with a world that's different from ours and, very likely, has a different value system or social structure. Unfortunately, too many people today would take offense at this and so these worlds have to be watered down. I think older games generally weren't as compelled to be politically correct.
The most immersive way to depict a foreign culture is by letting it speak in it's own words, and resisting the desire to inject Western 21st century opinions into the material.

Reply 10 of 17, by Zup

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie
leileilol wrote on 2021-08-09, 19:19:

I haven't! And I haven't forgotten the attempts at making interactive homes in them!

VRML tried to recapture this similarly, but now that's just considered memes.

Sorry, I only read the message and I didn't see that there was a video linked.

The "meme" part hurts because they could run on 48k and 3.5Mhz... and, as somebody said, most programmers won't even fit an icon on 48k.

IMHO, besides graphical advances, three games deserves to be mentioned and they should be played by anyone that wants to make their own virtual world:

  • Duke Nukem 3D: Very interactive, although not very realistic. Light switches, cracked walls, TVs... in other games they were included to make a sense of "reality", but in DN3d the player could interact with them and they worked. OK, maybe extinguishers don't explode and break walls, but they're better than non-exploding items.
  • Half-Life: The scenery was very credible, at least the parts that happened on earth. Although not as interactive as Duke Nukem 3D, every time you walked into an office room you found every single thing that you should find on real world. Just forget about blood stains and those things.
  • GTA 3: It brought "life" to 3D environments. People walked minding its own business, cars came and went, garbage trucks took the city on the night... did you blew up a car? Fine, a fire truck is on the way. There were games (mostly RPG games) that did the same earlier, but seeing a city that worked in real time was shocking.

I have traveled across the universe and through the years to find Her.
Sometimes going all the way is just a start...

I'm selling some stuff!

Reply 11 of 17, by antrad

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member

I could have written the first post myself. It is the same reason why I think old horror games leave a much deeper impact than new ones. The environments are ugly, surreal, empty and DEAD. Same goes for the characters and it is even more enhanced with their limited animations. It is mostly because of hardware and budget limitations of the time, but it created something unique and no matter how much they improve the graphics, ray tracing and physics these days, trying to make the story deeper, they are completely missing the mark.

I would also mention stop-motion animation. No matter how fancy the graphics are in modern 3D movies, it is just a computer animated image, but with stop motion they are making a puppet that you know is non-movable and "dead" object suddenly "alive" and there is more magic in it compared to 3D animation.

I also love Langoliers, it might be the first "horror" movie I ever watched and it left a permanent impression on me. It is around 3 hours long, but Langoliers only appear for few minutes in the end, the whole horror is in that dead emptiness. I have never watched The Fog and now you have set my expectation very high.

https://antonior-software.blogspot.com

Reply 12 of 17, by Jo22

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++

Thank you! ^^ I feel the same about it.

Stop motion.. Yes, it's truely magical I believe. I mean, the creatures literally come to life through the animator's hands.
This is hard to beat, I admit, as much as I like computer animation in general.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DgdJyOBN9Q

That's why I think that both should be used, maybe even combined.
Same goes for animatronic. It can also be used with CGI.
The original Jurassic Park movie was good at doing so, for example.

I guess the art of stop motion is also a bit related to old Special F/X.
Making physical effects and stages really was (is) a craftsmanship in its own reign.
Perhaps that's why films like, say, Alien (1979 or The Andromeda Strain (1971) are so timeless.

The Fog (1980).. I've seen it in my childhood first time, so it's kinda special to me.
Because, it must have given me quite a few sleepless nights, I guess. 😉
We've still have a VHS recording from the 80s here, I believe.
But that was a bit before my time.

Here's the trailer in my language, to give an idea about the atmosphere (mono audio).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yTOb6woNgc

The original English voice acting is also very fine,
as far as I can tell, but the atmosphere might feel a bit different.

That's another thing that I learned a few years ago.
It seems that the mood/atmosphere is perceived differently depending on the type of audience:

It seems to me that people perceive films in their own language as much more powerful,
as far as the voice acting goes.

Anyway, maybe I also overreacting a bit. 😅
(More than often, anime feels more vibrant with Japanese voice acting,
for example, even though you can't understand a single word.)

In terms of audio, the original English counterpart of the same scene feels
darn good (spooky) even for a non-native speaker such as me.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwSbRKd_J8k

I'm not sure if the English version has a stereo track, but if that's the case,
I highly recommend watching the film in mono audio first if possible.

Because, the monotone audio greatly adds to the atmosphere in a film like this:

The story in "The Fog" is all about an impeding danger that's not concrete, but comes closer and closer..

The slowness with which the story unfolds itself is also a part of this atmosphere.
It's highly thrilling without involving "action".

Unfortunately, modern films aren't like that anymore.
They rather focus on the action element, it seems.

Maybe also because the audience is nolonger used to longer scenes
and film makers fear that the audience gets bored too soon.

So yeah, watching old films requires some patience, I guess. 😉
Especially for younger generations this might require a bit practicing in order to get used to these classics.

Edit: Formatting fixed.

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

//My video channel//

Reply 13 of 17, by subhuman@xgtx

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie
Jo22 wrote on 2021-08-09, 05:47:

It's the concept of 'liminal space'. (...)
Early virtual worlds are quiet, flat and slower paced.
They inherent an 'out-of-dimension' feel that's eerie, lonely and mysterious.

Have any of you ever had this kind of surreal feeling while setting up a clean install of Win95 (pre Desktop update)?

The old and barebones explorer shell. The lack of bloatware. The vague "Pentium(r)" cpu identification. The relative lack of default icons on the desktop. Nothing besides the volume control icon on systray.

It feels empty and lonely in there.

7fbns0.png

tbh9k2-6.png

Reply 14 of 17, by Nexxen

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie
subhuman@xgtx wrote on 2021-08-12, 08:16:
Have any of you ever had this kind of surreal feeling while setting up a clean install of Win95 (pre Desktop update)? […]
Show full quote
Jo22 wrote on 2021-08-09, 05:47:

It's the concept of 'liminal space'. (...)
Early virtual worlds are quiet, flat and slower paced.
They inherent an 'out-of-dimension' feel that's eerie, lonely and mysterious.

Have any of you ever had this kind of surreal feeling while setting up a clean install of Win95 (pre Desktop update)?

The old and barebones explorer shell. The lack of bloatware. The vague "Pentium(r)" cpu identification. The relative lack of default icons on the desktop. Nothing besides the volume control icon on systray.

It feels empty and lonely in there.

It was pretty devoid of anything, that's a fact.
You had to install everything to have a usable system.
Add that back in the day you couldn't just look up on the internet, there was nothing.

Today is better IMO. But the feeling is there and I can recall it perfectly.

PC#1 Pentium 233 MMX - 98SE
PC#2 PIII-1Ghz - 98SE/W2K

Reply 15 of 17, by leileilol

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++
subhuman@xgtx wrote on 2021-08-12, 08:16:

Have any of you ever had this kind of surreal feeling while setting up a clean install of Win95 (pre Desktop update)?

I sometimes get a surreal feeling whenever I try some once-popular Win95-era shareware utility i've completely blanked out but have definitely seen and tried before that I deemed completely useless after some point in time, like Drag and File, Talking Clock, etc.

apsosig.png
long live PCem

Reply 16 of 17, by Jo22

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++
subhuman@xgtx wrote on 2021-08-12, 08:16:

Have any of you ever had this kind of surreal feeling while setting up a clean install of Win95 (pre Desktop update)?

Now that you mentioned it, yes, a bit. 😀
The grey on gray, the washed-out 16c icons etc. do remind me of a landscape with old brick walls, brittle buildings made of concrete, abandoned alleys etc.
All in all a bit like an abandoned playground or airport field on a cloudy day, where the clouds never move.
(^Fits the airport scenes from Langoliers.)

Btw, I'm often in a similar mood when watching the "Shell Beach" scenes in "Dark City" (1997).
It's a mixture of faded memories, nostalgia and loneliness, I think.
I guess that's why I do associate this with the long-gone Win95 days.
https://www.joblo.com/the-test-of-time-dark-city-1998/

dark_city_2.jpg
Source : http://oculusdrifter.blogspot.com/2014/03/she … -beach.html?m=1

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

//My video channel//

Reply 17 of 17, by Joseph_Joestar

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t
subhuman@xgtx wrote on 2021-08-12, 08:16:

Have any of you ever had this kind of surreal feeling while setting up a clean install of Win95 (pre Desktop update)?

The old and barebones explorer shell. The lack of bloatware. The vague "Pentium(r)" cpu identification. The relative lack of default icons on the desktop. Nothing besides the volume control icon on systray.

I don't like the desktop update since it includes the newer shell which feels more sluggish on older computers. The original shell may not have ease-of-use stuff like Quicklaunch, but I'll happily trade that in for some extra performance.

That's why I like to use Win95 OSR2.1 which has FAT32 and USB support but doesn't include the desktop update. It's great for slower systems.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / Audigy1 / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3400+ / Asus K8V-MX / 5900XT / Audigy1
PC#4: i5-3550P / MSI Z77A-G43 / GTX 650Ti / X-Fi