All C64 games suck!!!

Ha, got your attention with this vocal headline? It is obviously not true that C64 games suck, well at least not all of them. But when I started thinking about making a C64 game, the first thing I did was reflecting about what I like and what I hate in existing C64 games. And to be honest, the things I hated were an overwhelming majority. I realized that I am actually hardly ever motivated enough to play through an adventure or RPG game on the C64, although I do this pretty frequently for PC games. So I made a list of things that I really hate and that I want to avoid in a game I am writing myself.

  1. Cumbersome user interface. The C64 has so many keys, so let’s use every single one of them! Many old school adventures really made use of this and made me pull my hair off on the desparate search for this darn key for the Fireball spell. Sure, this was documented in the manual, but who plays still with a manual on his knees nowadays? A user interface should be simple and follow the habits that people are used to today. E.g. run/stop could be a replacement for escape and interrupt a cut scene, or cursor keys and return can be used for selecting options.
  2. Frequent and eternal loading. I have especially fond memories of the game “Knights of Legend”, that would require two disk swaps and several minutes of loading to show the inventory (this was cleverly combined with the cumbersome user interface of point 1, so it happened frequently that I would accidently hit the inventory key and needed to follow this procedure without any chance to cancel it). This is a tough one, as the C64 really has a small memory and loading is slow, even with fast loaders. So what can you do? At least try to load, when there is a break in the story anyway. I read an interesting paper about the psychologic effect of progress bars. Not only do progress bars make the waiting feel shorter, but adding an animation makes them even feel progress faster! And finally, if there is the need for a long load, well then at least it should be worth it and reward the player with as much new stuff as possible. New music, new tilesets, etc. Knights_of_Legend
  3. No in-game explanation of background story. Although I love the presence of additional printed material for games, I think a story should be understandable without reading hundreds of pages in the manual before you start. A cut scene here and there and a bit of in-game text can really make a game much more immersive.
  4. Instant death. We all know it from 80s games and hate it. Full stop.Labyrinth_-_C64_-_Game_Over
  5. Starting over and over again. This surely depends on the genre, but for most games I think a save/restore mechanism is not hard to do and can save the player from a lot of frustration.
This is only my personal view and it is probably very focused on adventure/RPG style games. There are absolutely great games that happily ignore these rules. But I will try to follow this vision and hope to make life at least a tiny bit more comfortable for C64 gamers today.

4 thoughts on “All C64 games suck!!!

  1. Just to add my opinion to the last point:
    I don’t want to have to save before entering each and every new area.
    Of course I’d like to be able to save so I can continue the next day. But I loathe having to save every few minutes, because there could be dead ends, missing items or instant deaths…
    Just my 2 cents…

  2. I totally agree on what you put together. However I would add 2 things:

    1- playable: I mean todays game has usually 2-3 difficulty lvl. I know RPG but make it possible to play from start to end on easy version (not to easy). I left so many games at 30-40% back on C=64 or amiga becasue I got stuck. Or I get killed and did not wanted to go through again on that 30-40% and find the missing 1-2 items what could help me.
    Make chapters in the game, like you said cutscene. Even it’s an rpg and you create a sandbox world, it has a sotry line and side quests. At big event of story line can the story saved, and well… flipped to the nex disk (even if you get like 10 disk version of the game). So not needed to be a DJ. If player moves to new zone it’s acceptable to move to other side of the disk. Make the game able to use multi drive, as many of us have multiple 1541,71 or emu.

    2- save: what I enjoy the most on todays game is autosave. Like assassins creed, anno 2250, gta5, world of warcaft. All of them on autosave, which can be impelmented into a c64 game. Yes it’s more complicated but an amazing thing. You might end up to create a game where you have to ask people to instal the game on floppy disks… But think it thorugh. If you can’t save because it’s on autosave and it does save for you before boss fight or every 3 min or something, you no longer have the urge to hit the save button every single time you see something comes down on the road. I enjoyed assassins creed black flag so much you won’t believe it. Of course if you get killed you won’t spawn front of the boss but in the closest inn with all your equipment, proly damaged and need it to repair before you head back. But not like “you died and your soul is mine for the eternity…”

  3. Nice to see a second part in development. I love this kind of RPGs and I, as a c64 lover, miss a lot in the RPG Adventure games the easy way to do things….and speed in the scroll…and nice graphics…and the first part has all of this. The first part enharced will be a really TOP game and I’m sure the second will be so.
    Waiting for more info about this next jewel ;D

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