When I think back to the first video games I ever played I think back to my dad’s old PC. The first games I ever played were played on an old Dell desktop computer. The games I remember playing the most were the original Rayman, Risk, and a strange little military game where you shot waves of enemies coming at you. These were the main games that I played, though there were many others whose names escape me, games that were meant more for kids than anything else. These games stay, in my mind, as simple fun nostalgia and they will always hold a place in my heart.
I’ve come a long way from here, going full circle through a variety of different consoles and handheld devices, back to the PC where games are a very personal thing that you enjoy by yourself at your own leisure. Today I’d like to take the opportunity to talk to you about nostalgia, GOG.com, and the Dungeon Keeper series (though not necessarily in that order).
Dungeon Keeper was released in 1997 by the development team of Peter Molyneux and Bullfrog Productions, and produced by a much kinder and less mainstream EA. In Dungeon Keeper you play as the Dungeon Master an unseen godlike figure who orders every action undertaken in the dungeon. Your job is to build up an army of creatures to defend your dungeon from invading heroes. To do this you have to manage resources, mine, and build up your dungeon, fighting against waves of invading heroes as you go. As you go you train monsters, hoard gold, breed chickens, and slap around imps (your workforce) in a dark and eerie environment. The game featured sprites that ran around a stylized grid-based world open to discovery and open tunneling/building. Dungeon Keeper was a very interesting and unique game for those around to see it and play it when it first came out; leading to a cult following that lasts even to this day. In 1999 Dungeon Keeper 2 was released to the immense joy of Dungeon Keeper’s large fan base. The sequel featured all 3D models and a variety of improved features. Dungeon Keeper 2 was not held as highly as the original though in many respects it is still a great game. Plans were announced for a third installment in the Dungeon Keeper series, though none came about to the detriment of the series’ fans. The story behind this cancellation had to do with the fact that Bullfrog Productions had fallen onto hard times after Molyneux left to start Lionhead Studios. After the second Dungeon Keeper failed to meet up with expectations EA turned the Bullfrog Team onto a series of movie-tie-in games (most notably the Harry Potter series) and cancelled any future installments of Dungeon Keeper. To Dungeon Keeper’s many fans hope seemed lost, but late last year EA announced that they were developing a new Dungeon Keeper game and fans everywhere became ecstatic. Later EA went on to announce that it would be a mobile game and fans everywhere sighed with the slightest shreds of hope that the game might not be all bad. Dungeon Keeper Mobile was recently released and it has proven to be nothing but the greatest of disappointments not just to Dungeon Keeper fans but to the gaming community as a whole. Dungeon Keeper Mobile is the awful pinnacle of how bad the free to play model can become, where gameplay is sacrificed for monetary profit and all that remains is the fragile shell of a game. There are countless videos online that can explain exactly why this game is bad, I urge you to check them out if you haven’t already.
What the recent Dungeon Keeper fiasco has to show is just how big game developers (like the current EA) are looking to capitalize on people’s nostalgia no matter what the cost. Much loved franchises are being used and abused to no one’s gain, and it’s severely depressing. It shows the start of a trend that may end up destroying much beloved characters and franchises and driving gamers to embrace games that lack a strong emotional connection to their own childhood and memories.
Now I have taken the time to play through the first few Dungeon Keeper games and I have had nothing but fun with them, they provide a unique experience that can still stand up to the vast majority of modern day games. Now the graphics in these games do not stand up to even the simplest modern day game, but that’s to be expected when you look at the age of these games and for their day and age they have pretty decent graphics. Additionally the controls take a little while to get used to. They rely more heavily on the older default than what we have come to expect in newer games, but like I said it’s nothing that can’t be dealt with. At the heart of it, Dungeon Keeper and Dungeon Keeper 2 are absolutely filled to the center with good solid gameplay and fun. I honestly think you should give this series a look, which brings me to my final point: where do you go to find older games?
If you were to at this moment log onto Steam in order to find a game from your childhood you might get lucky, they have a couple of older games (most apparent are Valve’s own Half-Life games), but for the most part older games are amiss on Steam and those that are available have many problems. These problems mostly arise from the fact that these older games were made and played using older operating systems on older computers, meaning that most newer computers are too advanced to run these games without some sort of additional program (which Steam does not provide). Because of this you are limited on first of all finding the game you seek and then also on properly running it, which is a real shame because it limits the everyman, people who aren’t experts on programming and computer “hacks.” Additionally you run into some of the many problems of Steam itself and by that I mean Steam’s lack of DRM-free games. Now Steam is a great platform for buying games (I personally love it to death faults and all), but when you buy a game on Steam you are not truly buying it, instead you are merely renting it for as long as Steam is willing to carry it/let you play it. This all falls under Digital Rights Management (DRM) laws. Now there are many outlets out there that allow you to buy games DRM-free (meaning that when you buy the game you are buying it for good and no matter what it will always be yours) amongst them are buying off the Humble Bundle and purchasing games directly from the developers. So when it comes to older games that will run on modern day computers that are available for DRM-free, there is only one place to go GOG.com.
GOG or Good Old Gaming is a website which like Steam provides digital downloads of games, though with the difference of specializing in older games. GOG offers a variety of games DRM-free and with added support to make sure they work on most modern day operating systems, meaning that you can play them as soon as you download them without the busy mucking about in file folders and forum pages from 1999. On top of that GOG offers a decent selection of more modern games, most of which are considered to be the best of the best (meaning you don’t have to dig through Steam’s large piles of worthless games. Like the older games, these games too are offered DRM-free. GOG has a pretty good system going on, though they don’t have Steam’s accessibility or application, and they don’t have sales as often, but they provide a niche service which cannot be matched anywhere else in the digital gaming market, and you can’t argue that they are providing a great service for the gaming community.
There is a dire fallacy in the idea that newer is better and it is clear through any small amount of observation that this is not always true. It is important to support new and upcoming games as well as cherish the games that inspired countless generations to go out and make outstanding games. So give GOG.com a look and relive a piece of the past and things gone by. And if you’re willing to give Dungeon Keeper or Dungeon Keeper 2 a chance you can pick them up separately on GOG.com for $5.99 each or together for $9.98 (that’s 16.61% off).