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Oldschool Gaming on FreeBSD (vermaden.wordpress.com)
118 points by vermaden 11 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 45 comments

I find you don't actually play retro games, you visit them for 5 minutes - driven by nostalgia. Then you realize the evolution of gaming has come a long way.

Depends on the game. Just like some modern games will hold your attention for longer than others. There's some retro games I still clock up a great many hours on.

Pac-Man and Tetris are still my favourite all time games. Doom 2 is still my favourite FPS. Soulcalibur on the Dreamcast is still my favourite beat em up. System Shock 2 is still my favourite survival horror. All of these games were released > 20 years ago (30+ in some cases).

Great points. Also you can dip in and out of Doom quite easily - the original’s three episodes (or five if you include Thy Flesh Consumed and Sigil) can each be comfortably finished within an hour so starting a new game isn’t necessarily a huge investment of time. You also mention System Shock 2 - which is arguably better enjoyed second or third time round.

I guess it depends on the Type of Games?

I still love good old 2D RPG. May be making 3D RPG is easier or cheaper so no one is making 2D anymore. But i still love 2D. Even in pixelated form. Good Old Zelda, Sword of Mana, Chrono Trigger

In fact even old Championship Manager ( now called Football manager ) was lots of fun. And Pro Evolution Soccer ( or Winning Eleven ) during Playstation Era.

Some of the fun part are lost in modern gaming. I reckon they introduce too much complexity and Real Life simulation into it. Or may be they care WAY too much about graphics, and not enough about Game play dynamics and Story telling ( Apart from Nintendo ).

I'm at the opposite end. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to play new games if I ever had the time, then realize the chore of making accounts, buying into walled gardens, installing platforms just to download 50GB+ games with only a couple of hours of playtime sans multiplayer and it is an instant turn off.

Or the obligatory 20 minute tutorial which starts off with a cutscene filled with cliches, uncanny or wooden characters, and amateurish dialogue, followed by your character running comically around some dramatic scene like a headless chicken as you learn the controls.

There are more than enough games not fitting that description. But there's also a reason some of the most popular games of all time fall into these categories.

In some respects I disagree - there are games I return to every now and then and enjoy thoroughly. However there’s definitely some I find are quite disappointing to go back to - related Limmy clip: https://youtu.be/DjikLCPeUdo

The very best retro games can be better than most above average modern games, especially if you like particular genres. For instance, the other day I played Fallout New Vegas (11 yr old) for 50+ hours and had an experience I wouldn't trade for any modern game available at that moment (please note I had already played Fallout 4 for 100+ hours, all expansions etc)

That is often the case, yes, but every now and then one finds a gem that is still worth playing. I have an entire emulator setup solely for playing Sub Trade: Return to Irata. :D

Oh, I don't know. I recently played through the Eye of The Beholder series (available on GOG) with as much enthusiasm as I had when playing a recent game. I've done the same in the past with beautiful SNES RPGs. I will play Battle Squadron on the Amiga for ever.

I also find that if I want a quick blast to clear my head, then a five minute game of Defender, R-Type, or a round of Bomberman does the trick far better than contemporary so-called casual games, which for reasons I can't explain, often give me unpleasant mental sensations.

Then again I am a strange person. If something from the past was meaningful to me, then it is still the same when I revisit it. I sort of live in a "long present", accumulating things of meaning and only setting them down when I'm finally done with them, whatever the vagaries of fashion.

(As an aside, if the author of the article wants a better Amiga racing game that hasn't been ported to DOS, then check out Super Skidmarks. I used to carry my Amiga and TV set to my friends house to play this over a null modem link; its an amazing party game)

>contemporary so-called casual games, which for reasons I can't explain, often give me unpleasant mental sensations.

Contemporary as in "of that era" or "current times"?

If the latter, I'd have to argue this is because modern games have become very, very good at being blatantly addictive and shamelessly peddling in-game purchases that it becomes obvious the purpose of the game is not entertainment, but to engage your eyeballs.

Yes, I mean current times. I have wondered if the games that make me feel like that, are ones that have been "psychologically engineered" to be addictive.

A better wording would be "I find I don't actually play retro games, I visit them for 5 minutes - driven by nostalgia. Then I realize the evolution of gaming has come a long way."

That may be true for you, but I've played through games like Quake 1, SMB3, and Super Mario Land II this year. I love retro games and enjoy them more as an adult than when I was a kid. Plenty of us play retro games legitimately and not just as a 5 minute nostalgia hit. Modern games are not necessarily better or worse than older ones

In most cases I'd agree. Many games I absolutely adored years ago really have not aged gracefully. I find classic RPGs especially a huge grind now.

Some game have proven timeless though. I'm currently hooked on Super Mario Bros. 35 and since it launched have been playing it exclusively. Mind you it does have a few quality of life improvements compared to the original, and the online competitive component makes it extremely fun.

I disagree; but that doesn't mean there's only one category of retro games. What you say is true for some, less true for others, and will never be true for some others still.

Which is true for any artistic medium.

Isn't Tetris ageless? Chess? I bought a Pocketsprite specifically for my kid to play old games. Simplicity is strength, especially for youth.

Depends how retro you're talking. Many GBA games still hold up excellently today.

I like this article, and niche hackery on OSS is a lot of fun—I’m partial to running this sort of thing on old//limited hardware

It does seem funny, tho, that this kind of article spends so much time on ‘planning to play games’. And this sentence seemed goofy:

> I do not play games a lot, but when I do I make sure that they are the right and best ones.

I mean, part of the fun of classic computer gaming is getting the game to run. Sometimes that's more fun than the game, at least for me.

I feel like focusing on the classic games of the past so heavily like this means missing out on so many great newer games. Sometimes it pays to take off the nostalgia goggles and try out some newer offerings too.


I have tried some of newer games but often were very disappointed.

I have tried to play what Bethesda made as 'Fallout 3' but I really do not like it. Its just not Fallout and they should have chosen different name. I really like Fallout 1 and 2. I always disliked Fallout Tactics for what they have done to battle mechanics in 'turn based' mode (they broken it generally) but recently I even got to finish it and even started to like it a little, but not to the point to play it again.

I have similar thoughts with Heroes of Might and Magic III (especially with new Horn of the Abyss addon). I have tried Heroes IV and Heroes V but VERY disliked them. I still like Heroes IV music a lot but the mechanics of play are terrible.

From more modern games I really enjoyed playing Shadowrun Returns series.

I also plan to play these some day (in no particular order): - Art of Rally (as Colin McRae Rally 2.0 replacement) - Mewnbase - Wasteland 2 - Wasteland 3 - Dreamscaper - Pillars of Eternity (all of them I and II) - Expeditions: Viking - Pathfinder: Kingmaker - Disco Elysium - Into the Breach - Xenonauts - Opus Magnum - Metro Exodus - Invisible Inc.


Pillars of Eternity is fantastic - I'd also recommend Divinity Original Sin in a similar "spiritual successor to Baldurs Gate" tone (the same developers are actually working on Baldurs Gate 3, although I would say Pillars felt more like a pseudo sequel than Divinity does). I haven't played Wasteland 2/3 but according to others they are worthy successors to Fallout 1/2 (and the same guy wrote the soundtrack!)

You should check out Dirt Rally 1 and 2 (not Dirt 1 and 2, they're different) if you liked the older Colin McCrae Rally games but hated the transformation into Monster Energy sponsored arcade racers when they dropped the Colin McCrae branding - they're a return back to the semi realistic simcade style and are actually really good.

I also highly recommend everything made by Zachtronics games (the dev of Opus Magnum) - also try Shenzhen IO if you want to go further into the "it's just programming with more concrete goals" style of puzzle game, or Infinifactory if you want something that still has the same design optimization feel but feels a bit less like your day job.

I don't know if you ever played the Age of Wonders series back in the day, but I recommend those as something along the lines of HOMM, for the more recent titles Age of Wonders 3 seems to be well received, but the sci fi spinoff Planetfall has less positive reception.

I also don't know if you were ever in to business sim games, but Cities Skylines, Planet Zoo and Planet Coaster are all worthy successors to Sim City, Zoo Tycoon and Rollercoaster Tycoon respectively. Transport Fever is also a good Railroad Tycoon esque game, although if you were heavily into the latter I don't know if it will quite feel the same.

I find this third party steam search tool very useful for finding games: https://www.lorenzostanco.com/lab/steam/store/ - type in a mix of genre tags you're interested in, specify > about 50 user reviews, sort by user rating. If the results look a bit too low budget to you bump the minimum user rating.

EDIT: Oh and I forgot Factorio. Although maybe stay away from that one if you value your free time... it might suck you in hard.

Hi and thanks for very in depth comment and all these recommendations.

I have seen Dirt Rally 1/2 gameplay on YouTube and I really liked it. Unfortunately it will probably not run on FreeBSD ... and even if then my graphics card would not like it that much :)

I also read some good things about Divinity Original Sin, thanks for adding another small part to making me finally play this game sometime.

I will check other Zachtronics games as per your recommendation.

I played Age of Wonders about 17-18 years ago and I liked some of their concepts, I also liked Disciples 1 and 2 games. Also quite similar to Heroes of Might and Magic.

From the 'Tycoons' I played Transport Tycoon and Airline Tycoon. Also liked the first Theme Part and Theme Hospital.

Also first Portal was really nice.


Just an addendum - when I said Railroad Tycoon I meant Transport Tycoon - I was getting the two mixed up.

And no problem :)

Thanks :)

From my more up to date gamers at work, new games sound full of dark patterns.

There's a handful of big game publishers (EA and Activision mostly) that put out big AAA games full of microtransaction nonsense. But after you subtract those the market of quality games without those dark patterns is still massively bigger than it ever has been in the past.

(I am talking solely of the PC market of course. Mobile games have way more widespread crap, and all the app stores have discoverability issues that result in all the good games basically being impossible to find unless you find out about them from somewhere else (yes there are actually good, non microtransaction based mobile games too)).

Many are, and many aren't. Sadly, you can't just pick something up and expect not to be exploited for it

Is there a good website or somebody who logs this stuff?


I linked this steam search tool in another reply - I like to specify a minimum number of user reviews and sort by user review score after adding some genre tags I'm interested in. I find the steam community doesn't look particularly favourably on microtransaction/loot box gambling heavy games (at least ones where the microtransactions make you more powerful, as opposed to just being extra single player content a la expansion packs or whatever.) So generally you end up with some good recommendations.

Setting the minimum user review score higher or lower tends to filter out/let in lower budget/more niche indie titles depending on your preferences.

Also just avoiding the major AAA publishers is a good strategy - EA and Activision are by far the worst. I don't really want to say to stay away from Ubisoft because they put out some great games (check out the Anno series) and almost always don't employ the same tactics as EA and Activision, just be aware that some of the most recent Assassins Creed games do have some weird microtransaction stuff, although you can completely ignore it and still see all the content.

> And this sentence seemed goofy [...]

It sounds like it’s riffing on The Worlds Most Interesting Man [0]

[0] https://youtu.be/IxgiTeXKOOc

Yes, that was the idea :)

"classic" games on BSD used to mean rogue, sail and dungeon/zork

I’m partial to hangman and hunt the wumpus as well. The trek game is ok, if a little tedious.

yea, killed a lot of time in hangman. wumpus somehow I didn't bond with. Sail, if you fought at least one battle (midway?) it had a typhoon in-game. oops. half your fleet gone!

Trek was fun, I'd worked on analogous games on CP/M hosts.

mostly, for me, it was the idea of having games which kept it fun. Even the manual pages had jokes. make love; cat 'tin of catfood' &c &c

Ie the bsdgames package.

... which is still available on FreeBSD today.

* https://freshports.org/games/bsdgames/

It's almost like "classic" is a subjective term or something.

Some old games worth playing, in no particular order:

- Prince of Persia

- The Lost Vikings

- The Incredible Machine

- Commander Keen series

- Descent

- Magic carpet

- SimCity 2000

- Tyrian 2000

- Worms

- Lemmings

Most lucas arts adventures, and most sierra too.

I always liked these

- Pool of Radiance

- Civilization I & II

- Age of Empires II & III

Older Sid's games that I like: Civ I, II, Colonization and Alpha Centauri.

FreeCiv and FreeCol are closer to the original games than their modern succesors.

I have a few hundred cds with games. Still keeping an old ms dos machine to play them.

Isn't it easier just to run an emulator?

I grew up with an Amiga 500, and had hundreds of floppy disks, but it's slow, error prone, noisy, cant freeze arbitrary state or fast forward ... I find the emulator is better in every way

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