Does the world really need another website / blog about gaming? No, not really. But since I’ve made up my mind to create one anyway, I thought I’d make one with my own – hopefully unique – perspective. That being said, Raving Luhn is built on three pillars:
- PC Gaming doesn’t have to be expensive
- There is no age limit on games that are worth playing
- Games change over the years, except when they don’t
PC Gaming Doesn’t Have to be Expensive
If gaming on a PC is a new concept to you, or even if it isn’t, you’ll find that one of the biggest perceived roadblocks to gaming on a PC is expense. It gets a bad rap as being a cost-prohibitive thing to do. While the hardware required to play PC games does require an initial investment, it’s well in line with the minimum buy-in costs associated with modern gaming consoles. If you try to do the smart thing and research what kind of gaming computer you want to buy, there’s a high probability you’ll be overwhelmed by information sooner than later. A quick look online will confirm that there is almost no limit to the number and types of systems available for purchase. Various publications and websites will post articles and comparisons with valid but often contradictory recommendations, and it can be hard to know who to trust. Online forums, though potentially useful, often devolve into popularity contests about which brand is better than another. The vast majority of forum advice about hardware purchases ends up with posts that read like this: “Well, you could spend $xxx on a video card, but if you’re going to do that you may as well spend and extra $xxx and get this video card instead!” Before you realize what happened, you’ve been told to buy nothing than the most expensive piece of hardware available, and even thinking of doing otherwise reveals imbecilic tendencies.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can build a good gaming computer that will last several years for less than $600. In addition, it will also do everything else you need a computer to do. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not a lot of money. In time, I’ll post a few guides that helped me make decisions about the computer that I use.
Though sorting through the maze of options for a gaming PC may require a little bit of effort, it will all feel worth it when you stated exploring the gaming catalog. And what a gaming catalog it is! PC games have a rich and varied history, and with a certain number of exceptions the majority of those games are still available to gamers today thanks to digital distribution outlets such as GOG, Steam, and Origin. Those outlets are almost always running sales on titles that are already reasonably priced. Generally speaking, the older a game is, the more affordable it will be. This brings me to the second pillar of Raving Luhn:
There Is no Age Limit On Games That Are Worth Playing
As much as I love some of the classic consoles, it can be rather difficult to play some of the games I remember from my childhood today – main reason being that I just don’t have them in my possession any more. Even though connecting consoles from the 1980’s and later to the HDTVs of 2015 isn’t difficult, the ability to play older games depends on one still possessing and having a place to store all the gaming equipment of bygone decades. It’s not something everyone can do easily. One of my favorite things about gaming on a PC is that there’s no need to hang on to old hardware or obsolete technology. Digital distribution has ensured the preservation of nearly all of PC gaming’s historical catalog. If you could play a game ten or twenty years ago, with a few exceptions, you can play it today.
When games are viewed through the lens of time their attributes, both good and bad, are magnified. Good games remain passable, with perhaps a few idiosyncrasies that are more apparent now than when it was released. Bad games somehow become worse, being remembered only for broken promises and failed visions. A scant few have managed to transcend the barriers of both technology and time, earning the elite status of “timeless”. The vast majority, however, have been lost to the winds of time, buried under visual design that’s just too painful to deal with, hamstrung by bad or outdated gameplay mechanics, or were simply the victims of poor design decisions.
Funny thing is, in every category of game; timeless, good, bad, or ugly; there are still plenty that offer an experience worth having today. Experiences that are just so addictive, fun, or immersive that the latest big-budget releases of today can’t compete with. So the question to the PC gamer becomes not one of ability, “can I play this game?”, but merit, “why should I?”
Welcome to Raving Luhn, for the best in game recommendations! It’s my goal to sift through the games of PC past and present to pull out which ones are worth experiencing today, and which ones are best left remembered through rose-tinted glasses.
Games Change Over the Years, Except When They Don’t
Since PCs allow us to play games that were released years and decades ago, the accomplishments of those early games will be thrown into sharp relief with the games of today. Oftentimes what will stand out is not how much different or necessarily better contemporary games are, but just how much older games got right. The casual observer, myself included, might get distracted by the glitz and glamour and visual prowess of the newest games and think they tread new territory not yet seen. But here’s the thing: Though games today might, or might not, look a lot different than they did twenty years ago, a lot of the underlying mechanics are still exactly the same. A shooter still plays like a shooter. A driving game still features the player, you, in control of a vehicle. Real-time strategy still gives control of military forces to the person clicking the mouse. Everything has changed, but nothing has changed.
Take first-person shooters for example: The player assumes a character that has a limited amount of hit points or “health”. Upon receiving damage from enemies or environmental hazards, the player’s hit points will decline and if the number of hit points reaches zero: game over. Since there’s not necessarily a realistic way to mitigate this, developers put items in the game world such as medpacks or other items to pick up which allow the player to recover hit points and prolong their life. Most shooters used this system from the early 1990s until the mid-2000s when the mechanic of “regenerating health” was popularized by games like Call of Duty 2 and Halo 2.
Another example from first-person shooters is the necessity for supply drops. In video game locations, there’s no plausible reason why a character would find guns, ammunition, armor, or other supplies just lying out in the open, waiting for someone to pick them up. So what do game developers do? They drop a wooden-clad present in the game world, a crate, waiting to be smashed open to reveal the goodness inside. As many times as I’ve looked, I’ve never found a crate containing a rocket-launcher in real life…
My point in all this is that there are certain elements of games that we’re meant to accept without asking any questions. A player’s character can be revived by walking over an item or waiting under cover for 30-seconds. Your RTS army can only grow in strength by harvesting raw resources on the battlefield and then creating new units from buildings next door. Depending on the game the player’s character might not speak a single word, their sole contribution to the story is that they shoot lots of things. Some games tell story in an active manner, forcing you to watch cutscenes or cinematics that contain the plot details. Others opt for passive storytelling, which is dependent on the player pursuing optional text and audio logs in order to fully understand what’s going on. Some games have absolutely no story and are proud of it, consistently highlighting their own fun or addictive gameplay mechanics.
We as players accept these things because in spite of the absurdity or plausibility of the premise, the game still has us doing things that are fun. Games that succeed or are fondly remembered are not always those that redefine the genre, perhaps they just excel at being a game.
One thing I hope to do here at Raving Luhn is explore some of the gaming mechanics, tropes, idiosyncrasies, and absurdities that have been taken for granted or just unintentionally accepted over the years.
So There You Have It
This is Raving Luhn: Sifting Through the Past and Present of PC Gaming