In re my tweets a while back about the X-Wing series: not only were all star wars flight combat sims made by one company in the space of a few years, space combat sims in general were never a popular game genre at all, even beyond Star Wars
i think about this sort of thing a lot. there's genres like the first person shooter or 2d platformer where if I asked you to start listing games, even as a fairly casual player you'd probably keep going until I asked you to stop - you'd even have to summarize franchises
But then there's a couple where you'd *think* there were a lot of entries (or, at least, a lot in a particular period) but if you try to name them you come up with four or five, tops, and research doesn't really expose much more.
Particularly as regards the IBM PC - how many platform games, for instance, came out for the PC? They were virtually impossible to make prior to 1990, and in my perspective there's maybe... a dozen decent ones, and then shovelware, basement shareware projects and amiga ports.
"decent" is bearing a lot of weight here - I remember Jazz Jackrabbit with intense fondness but it was not a very good platform game if you ask me. Super Mario Bros. is a comparative masterpiece in terms of level design and gameplay physics.
Footnote/tangent: Most platform games for the PC were nauseatingly nonlinear, to the extent that every time I played Commander Keen I found it very unsatisfying because most levels could be skipped in almost their entirety, and the game didn't explain why.
In Commander Keen 4, the first couple levels can be literally jumped over. You just begin pogoing and move forward, and if you take none of the proffered paths downward, you reach the exit in less than fifteen seconds with no enemy encounters.
Duke Nukem, Secret Agent Man, Hocus Pocus - all of these games required you to spend eons and eons wandering back and forth in a maze trying to figure out what was expected of you.
Exits are strewn throughout levels - sometimes in the middle, sometimes on the left or right. Keen 4 even has some right to left levels. They just blatantly reject any option for making your goals clear.
Super Mario Bros. 3 opened up the levels for vertical movement as well as backtracking, but at most times the path forward was still clear. I, personally, just found it easier to remember where I'd been and not been.
I'd have to do some side by side comparisons (i've been kind of meaning to do this for eons) but I believe that PC platformers typically have a much smaller FOV, so you can't really see as much level context.
A way I've always described it, although this isn't quite fair, is that the level design in the average NES game has a certain feeling of purpose and humanity to it that PC platformers rarely achieved.
I don't know why this is, I can't quantify it. I have no strong affinity to the NES - I played more PC games than Nintendo growing up, even within the platform genre, and I actually didn't really like the Mario games as a kid. The PC games just felt empty and inhuman.
Returning to my original topic - my thesis is that the space combat sim is a recurrent flash in the pan. Every 8-10 years there's a significant title or two, but by and large it's not a major genre. Franchises Georg threw things off with a couple series that released yearly.
X-Wing had five or six titles, Wing Commander had five or six, but if you look at the number of unique franchises it's pitiful compared to virtually anything else.
And what's interesting about this to me is that if you'd asked me - or if I'd asked a lot of you - how often games came out in this genre, before I put this much thought into it, I would have said at least every couple years.
I still can't get over how bad the *flight sim* genre is as far as this goes. Unless I'm missing something, the last serious flight sim that was released was Flight Simulator X in 2006.
X-Plane doesn't really count, I think, since there's virtually no difference between, like, the 2002 version and the 2020 version.
Lockheed Martin Prepar3d is just a modified FSX. FS2020 was basically the first significant step forward in flight sims in 14 years, as far as I can tell. There's just been... nothing.

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More from @gravislizard

25 Nov 20
here's an opinion i've had about retrocomputing / nerd culture for a long long time
the overwhelming majority of "cool" computers that everyone "wishes they had" were created to perform dreadfully boring tasks, by people who wished they were anywhere else, in the service of people who did a ton of coke and left our economy a smoking husk that can't support life
you do not want a cray-1. all they are is calc.exe but very fast and you can't even touch the buttons, you have to write a program that touches them. the purpose of a 'supercomputer' is to sit humming for 24 days and then produce a single integer, or 25 million integers
Read 23 tweets
24 Nov 20
unboxing a protogen. lifting them out of the styrofoam blocks. peeling the plastic film off their faceplate
throwing away the 6" USB cord that came in the box and digging a nice 10' anker with a velcro strap out of a drawer, plugging it into their ear. CHARGE COMPLETE IN: 116 HOURS. you dejectedly sit on the edge of the bed and look at your phone
series of snapchat screenshots
"unboxing my protogen"
"man they used those packing peanuts ugh haha"
"nice long cord"
"here's his d*ck"
Read 4 tweets
20 Oct 20
imagine if microsoft offered professional services to anyone who could pay. i would pay $300, one time, to have someone at MS who actually knows something log into my PC and figure out why explorer can't render thumbnails
no sfc /scannow bullshit, i mean they raymond chen that shit, they get in and coredump explorer and go "okay you have a png library that installed, that's the problem"
honestly, i'd pay any company for that if they were trustworthy, but "repair windows pc" is basically a stopword. there are hundreds of millions of people who think they have complicated and interesting problems, but don't, and millions of amoral vultures preying on them
Read 21 tweets
18 Oct 20
i'm watching the first episode of house m.d. out of curiosity but almost the entire episode is in monochrome other than flesh tones and i swear to god the house m.d. i watched on hulu in 2007 didn't look like this. i love the revisionist history of rereleases
this is absolutely not how it looked when i watched it 15 years ago. what the fuck is this war crime color grading it looks like i died in a 1950s hospital and my ghost still haunts that place @Emoji_Nakamoto ImageImageImageImage
the last movies i watched were 300 and sin city and they had more life and saturation in them than this. this is *not* what i watched in 2008.
Read 18 tweets
27 Sep 20
occasionally i try to play a diablolike - i apparently bought grim dawn ages ago? i have no memory of this. but like. do you like this game? i have a question: when you look at this, do you... see something? not just a blur?
i don't understand how a human brain can contain this many numbers simultaneously unless you're a math savant. this is what every single diablo game (including current-patch diablo ii) looks like now and I just don't get it.
i don't understand what's fun about having 9 things side by side that have literally 20+ attributes i need to compare, all of which differ by a percent or two, and no shorthand whatsoever for deciding which i should use
Read 22 tweets
26 Sep 20
power outage selfie
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Read 4 tweets

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