I believe Warren said not too long ago something to the effect of (and forgive the paraphrasing), 1994 gamers were hardcore gamers but now that we look back at SS1 it’s like what were we thinking???
I get that the context of the comment was aimed at the over-complicated control interface but in general I also sensed a desire to go back to this idea of making games more “accessible” a la Ken Levine. To me that has always meant sacrificing the game to make it easier for what is unfortunately a new breed of gamers from a different generation of younger people who didn’t grow up with DOS like many SS1 players did.
I feel that people who grew up in the old days of computers, who played SS1 when it came out… we are right at home with games that require a bit of enterprise to fully unlock all of its awesome widgets and features. We like to be able to control everything. We like configurability. It’s the same reason old guys like the older versions of windows and young kids don’t understand why we hate Windows 8 and 10. We grew up with the simple, yet extremely powerful ideology of putting power in the hands of the user to do whatever he wants with his software rather than simplifying everything and telling him how to use it instead… with a big bright red f*ckn arrow button thingy.
The important thing to note, is that while gamers are changing and do have different values today, it’s easy to make the mistake of tracking change/growth by looking at the average. You have to remember who you’re making this game for. It’s for people who love System Shock. People who love system shock, by and large, are not 16 year olds who picked it up last week from GOG. They are 30 something year olds who have been obsessing over it for the last 20 odd years. THOSE people haven’t changed their values all that much. They still like “hardcore” games. And hardcore doesn’t mean Dwarf Fortress sort of autistic-requiring patience. It just means designing the game with the same sort of fit/form/function design strategy which was the status quo of the 80s and 90s.
What’s wrong with that? I don’t see a huge loss in commercial value because of making the game appeal to an older crowd, who probably constitute most of the target market anyway.