March 3, 2009

Retro Game Appeal?

Filed under: General — Tags: — bilbo @ 10:28 am

As a game designer, I try to follow what people like in games. Makes sense right? I have been a bit baffled by this trend towards retro games. Now, admittedly, I am not tied into this movement/fandom/whathaveyou but it seems like you would just play the old game, right? I have heard the reasons most commonly given:

1. It is out of print and my copy was destroyed/sold/never had one. So, remaking of these into new versions allows me to repurchase.

2. The new old games are mostly OGL and allow for new supplemental material to come out. Really? One of the things I loved about Fantasy Palladium was the absolute lack of need on my part for any supplements.

I can kind of see the first but the second is just superflory to me. However, the FAR more interesting question to me is “Why”? What is the appeal? Is it a simpler system? Is it nostalgia? The former I can duplicate, while the latter you can only attempt to capture or simulate;i.e. make a game so like it that the fan of it buys it and gets the same feel for the game.

In the end, I have not seen a real good answer beyond 1 or 2 listed above and these are more a question of availability, not why someone buys retro games. So, why do they?


  1. Mostly nostalgia, IMO. Yes it’s simpler, but a simple modern system made to play like old school play is not appealing to them. Trust me, I went there with FtA!, and I have more buyers with Forge leanings than Old School grognards. They want an old system – the one they grew up playing, not some new, slick game. As a person with zero nostalgia, I just have to accept it. They want their old system, warts and all. They like the warts. There is no market there for you, Bill. For me either.


    Comment by clash bowley — March 3, 2009 @ 11:52 am

  2. If only considering the clones of pre-3rd edition D&D, they excel at style of play not well supported by most modern games. Strategy-focused, rules-light resource management with the GM making sure that the setting stays consistent, from what I’ve read. That rules are not very comprehensive especially ties to GM being able to judge things based on “how the fictional world works”, hence forcing players to think about the same. This is contrasted by focusing on what the rules say would happen and focus on manipulating those rules.

    I may be totally wrong, being a youngling with only slight experience in running a game in this style.

    Comment by Tommi — March 3, 2009 @ 1:41 pm

  3. hmm, see, I played Basic DND back as far as ’78 but I have found memories of the games, not the systems. Well, we have already determined I am not much of a systems guy and more of a settings guy…

    Comment by bilbo — March 3, 2009 @ 2:29 pm

  4. Hi Tommi:

    That describes Old School play very well, but doesn’t describe retro gaming. A new game which encourages Old School play style is not at all interesting to the retro-gaming bunch. They want their old games, the way they used to be. Old School play style is a perfectly legitimate target for a new game, but the retro-gamers are not the market to address with it.


    Comment by clash bowley — March 3, 2009 @ 2:33 pm

  5. clash;

    At least one new game was of interest to the old school community: http://grognardia.blogspot.com/2009/02/review-epees-sorcellerie.html . So I’d say that new games are of interest as long as they share enough similarities with the old ones. (What “enough” means is another question entirely…) There’s also the entire Carcosa-controversy; that “supplement” is fairly distinct from standard D&D, especially as far as setting is concerned.

    Comment by Tommi — March 4, 2009 @ 5:14 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by WordPress