Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

What Would You Update?

Posted by Rampant Coyote on January 25, 2012

In the spirit of the the TWO X-Com “re-envisionings” and the hope and horror that the reports on these games have inspired, I thought I’d push a little experiment today and see what the expert gamers of this site would do in a similar situation.

Let’s say you had the option to pick a classic game that’s at least ten years old, and have it remade. Any game, any publisher. It doesn’t need to be an RPG or adventure game, though I know most of us here have a liking for those genres. Assume a graphical overhaul and UI improvements are a given.

What game would you choose? What other changes would want to see made to the game? How should the designers make sure those changes stayed “true to the spirit” of the original? Or would you care?

Me? I’d be terrified about it, but I’m going to pick Ultima 7. Knowing full well that some folks will accuse me of heresy, what I’d like to see changed beyond upgraded technology and UI would be the combat system. Something more like “turn-based with pause” from the Infinity Engine games (Baldur’s Gate, etc)  with better AI and a slower pace so things like actually casting spells in combat would have a chance to succeed.  Since nobody ever seemed to feel that combat was really that good in the first place in Ultima 7, I don’t think that sort of thing would violate the spirit of the game, or the series.  I would also like to see stat-check style mechanics supplement (not entirely replace) the elements of the game that were more twitch-driven… dodging fireballs and that kind of thing. This way even those who prefer a more thoughtful pace in their RPGs wouldn’t get badly penalized for not playing it like a an NES game. And really, what made Ultima 7 work so well was the world and the story, not the RPG mechanics… which to me always felt a little half-baked.

Anyway, that’s my candidate, and what I’d change.

What about you?


Filed Under: Retro - Comments: 38 Comments to Read



  • Tesh said,

    Master of Magic.

    I’m still waiting for a good sequel, I’d settle for an update. Elemental tried, apparently, but I’ve heard it didn’t work all that well.

    I’d also settle for a Star Control 2 update.

    …that said, I like the innocence of those earlier games. I really don’t like what I see in the shooter X-Com “reimagining”, so I’m not sure I’d wish that on my beloved older titles.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    The funny thing is, I could *TOTALLY* see X-Com done as a shooter, but by way of the old Rainbow Six / Rogue Spear games, NOT the way Enforcer or what looks like 2K Marin is handling it. A tactical shooter.

    I’m cautiously optimistic about the Firaxis X-Com game, though.

  • Tesh said,

    I think Firaxis could do it right, but I still want to see what the Xenonauts crew come up with.

  • skavenhorde said,

    Starflight 1 & 2. I want to be Captain Kirk again exploring strange new planets.

    Barring that then the Quest for Glory series could do with another of it’s kind. That last one was not that bad. Couldn’t hold a candle to QFG 4, but still not that bad.

    Barring that then X-Wing. Not this prequal nonsense. Give me the old X-Wings. I spent many an hour in that game and would like nothing better than piloting one of those again. I’d even hunt down and buy a Thrustmaster joystick just so I could feel like I was actually piloting one of those beauties from my childhood.

  • Rob said,

    I’d like an update of “Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain”. I loved the setting, story and voiceacting but the graphics were underwhelming even back when the game was released, and the dungeons and overall gameplay certainly could use some polishing. As long as it doesn’t turn into an action game like the “Soul Reaver”-series.

  • Shpuld said,

    Although there are quite many classic RPG’s I’d like to see with a new outfit, I”m gonna have to choose Quake 1 all the way with it’s own medieval and lovecraftian quirks. Preferrably, the gameplay should be mostly unchanged.

  • Bluddy said,

    What would be really awesome is if it were possible for old games to be ‘repaired’ rather than ‘remade’. Spending resources on rebuilding engines and such is wasteful. Seriously, do you really need somebody to re-implement the graphics, sound and engine? Instead, companies should fork over the source code for classic games (if they have it. I know most don’t) and allow either specialized companies or fans to fix the broken or weak systems.

    There are many examples of such weak systems. The Infinity engine made the thief silly. You just tried to pickpocket and if you failed, everyone would attack you, so the only option was reloading. Thief I and II had exploits where you could beat the AI by standing on tables, and the AI cheated to find you when you were hidden. Dungeon Keeper 2 was awesome but had hopeless AI for the other keepers.

    This kind of thing is being realized via fan remakes like Exult (which does allow you to pause combat) OpenXcom, JA2 1.13, and gemrb and through some clever hacking of game resources and executables such as Quinn’s patches to Planescape Torment. I just wish companies cared about their property enough to want it to be perfected.

    On a related note, I think all Indie devs should open-source their code and allow other Indie devs to reuse their assets. It’s hard enough to be an Indie dev — why shouldn’t the community help one another?

  • Andy_Panthro said,

    I do like the idea of the Ultima series remade in a more modern engine (not sure what you’d do about the first three though, they’re not quite the same as the rest).

    The X-Wing and TIE Fighter games could surely be updated pretty easily. I keep hoping Lucasarts comes to GOG.com so that we can see them (and some multiplayer X-Wing vs. TIE would be amazing!).

    I’d like to suggest Megatraveller, but with better graphics and interface. That’d be pretty good.

    @Tesh:

    I’d suggest keeping an eye on: http://www.paradoxplaza.com/games/warlock

    It looks similar to Master of Magic in a few ways.

  • Vatec said,

    @Tesh:

    I thought the Age of Wonders games came pretty close to capturing the Master of Magic vibe. The one I played the most was called … Shadow Magic, I believe.

    As for the original question, there are several games I’d love to see redone. In no particular order:

    Wing Commander: Privateer
    Sundog (this one is ancient and probably never came out for the PC at all; it was an early Sir-Tech game in the same vein as Elite and Privateer)
    Baldur’s Gate (not sure it’s old enough to technically qualify, but I’d love to see the graphics and party interaction brought into the 21st century; NWN2 and Dragon Age just never captured the tactical approach of the earlier D&D computer games)

  • Amit Patel said,

    If I had to pick one I too would have to say Ultima 7. The Elder Scrolls series is the closest thing I can find (interesting not for combat but the neat world and lore, and lots of side quests)

    But there are several other classics that I feel aren’t well represented today: Transport Tycoon (I admit OpenTTD is lots of fun but new games in this genre have little depth and thus little replay value), SimCity (again, the new games seem to have pretty graphics but little depth), SimTower (and other Sim games), Populous, Dungeon Keeper (Evil Genius was the last good one I saw), Theme Hospital.

  • Wilhelm Arcturus said,

    I could make a long list of game that I would like to see upgraded from a tech perspective, which often amounts to support of more/bigger screen resolutions (Alpha Centauri, Age of Empires, Age of King) or better online connectivity since the default services they came with no longer exist. (Though Game Ranger is a sufficient work around for a lot of games.)

    But games that I would want to go back and tinker with the mechanics… that is much tougher. I could go back to Wizardry or Ultima III and pick on things I think could be improved, but some of those things kind of make those games the games I remember.

  • Fumarole said,

    Since the graphics and UI are a given I’d do would be to update Tie Fighter:

    -more missions

    -make it available via a download service so I could store my CDs somewhere safe

    -ditch the chiptunes and put in full orchestral renditions of the music

    -multiplayer?

  • LuckyCarbon said,

    @Vatec

    You might be interested in Unfettered. While not a straight remake of Privateer or elite it’s definitely in the same forgotten Space flight open universe genre.

    http://www.unfettered-game.com

  • Vatec said,

    @Wilhelm

    Oh, I’d really love to see Alpha Centauri redone with state-of-the-art graphics and Civ 5′s hex-based movement. Nothing else, really. The rest of the game was superb. Just those two changes ;^)

    @LuckyCarbon

    Thanks, I’ll check it out. There have been a few attempts at Elite-like games over the years, but none has ever captured the “feel” of Privateer, for some reason. Heck, I’d be tempted to try EVE Online if it weren’t for the heavy focus on PvP.

  • Xian said,

    My choice would be Ultima Underworld and System Shock with modern controls. Both were among my favorites but feel a little clunky now if I try to replay them. I know there are some patches for System Shock to allow Mouse Look and WASD controls but a remake from the ground up with that in mind would be be great. The textures could be updated too, though the controls would be the most important.

    If I had a second choice, it would be the Wing Commander series using the Freelancer controls.

  • Aelfric said,

    Definitely the Gold Box games. Put them in a more modern engine, work in some bits of randomization, for replay, and, then, perhaps most importantly, give me one seamless game that incorporates Pool of Radiance, Curse of the Azure Bonds, and Secret of the Silver blades. I want one, sweet, 200-hour masterpiece, mostly because level caps frustrate me. I thought Temple of Elemental Evil was a neat attempt at this, but boy would this be awesome. I know I’m a madman, but that’s what internet comments are for.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    As a side-note, I do have mixed emotions suggesting these kinds of things (which is why they are more mental exercises than real requests for remakes). As much as I loved some of these games and would love to play them again in newer, modern technology, I do fear for what is happening in Hollywood where it seems half of the movies coming out these days are remakes / re-envisionings of existing properties.

    Come on, give us something original!

    But as a purely thought experiment, it’s interesting to see what it would take to bridge the gap between the old and new, and to take a close look at classic games from a modern vantage point and see what really COULD be done to improve upon the design.

    It’s tricky. Especially when you have a tendency (as I do) to put some classics on a pedestal. Though I’d prefer that tendency than its opposite, which is all too prevalent amongst modern young designers, which is that everything that was ever released before they started playing games was utter crap and worthy of derision.

  • shaf said,

    I never did play the earlier Wizardry Game before Wizardry V (Bane of the Cosmic Forge) I’d like to see a remake of those.

    Dragon War’s is another one that could be fun.

  • Dave Walls said,

    I’d love to see “Seven Cities of Gold” updated. It is hard to say what updates I would want, but some suggestions would be a browser-based game, multiplayer with competing explorers,politics, or even AI controlled explorers.

  • jaes said,

    Final Fantasy VII:
    I would make the maps – the world map, the area map and the battle map – work in a more seamless way, or maybe even better, change the concept and create the game with a single map instead. Especially the world map is pretty bland and boring, nothing really happens besides endless random encounters. Actually I would remove random encounters entirely.

    Some of the mini games were a bit rough, so I would adjust those as well.

    On a (even more) subjective note, I’m not a big fan of the battle system. It’s not bad, but I would create a new one. The fact that I love the game anyway, is due to the characters, the story, the Art Direction and the world design (I never did finish it, though) :)

  • jaes said,

    PS. The third sentence in the last paragraph should have read more like “The fact that I love the game in spite of all the changes I would make, is due to(…)”.

  • delve said,

    Magic Carpet. Improved graphics of course, the UI could probably take some tweaks, and clearly modern multiplayer support is a must.
    For gameplay changes some new environments would be nice. Something more than just retextures. Jungles that spawn hornets until you burn them; lava worlds with random tectonic events (not the scripted triggers already in the game), ice worlds with random blizzards the blow you around and obscure sight, etc. Without sacrificing the existing level design features, of course.

  • Drav said,

    Ultima would make an awesome FPS. Except instead of a gun you use medieval weapons, and instead of levels you could have like, giant labyrinthine dungeons or something. I’m gonna be rich!

  • jwmeep said,

    Mechwarrior, or the Earthsiege, Starsiege games. I am aware of Mechwarrior online (shame the proposed reboot never went through) but I’d love to see some classic mech games taking advantage of destructible terrain, newer graphics and a strong single player campaign.

    I’d also like more Shogo, even though that’s more of a FPS that features a giant robot.

  • jwmeep said,

    Also if anybody knows of some indie mech games in the works, let me know.

  • Spaceman Spiff said,

    Guess what? This is a few contractual details away from being merely a mental exercise for me. :)

  • EHamilton said,

    I’d second what Aelfric said. I’d be overjoyed if someone would implement an update to the old Gold Box series, using a 3.5/Pathfinder ruleset and with graphics on par with ToEE. They could be straight remakes, or they could be adapted from any of the classic Gygax-era modules. I’ve been waiting years for that, and I might end up waiting the rest of my life. Even the graphics-lite KotC2 project seems to have gone on hiatus.

    The first indie studio that starts producing a steady stream of releases along those lines is essentially opening a pipeline straight into my bank account.

  • Andy said,

    I like the Starflight and Seven Cities of Gold suggestions!

    I wouldn’t mind seeing an update of Castle Wolfenstein/Beyond Castle Wolfenstein. Much as like the id Wolfenstein 3D, to me the original games are still the best of that name, and I think it would be cool to take that basic stealth/infiltration concept and update it. I’m thinking it would probably come across sort of like the Hitman games, in which there’s stealth and some action, but also a lot of hiding in plain sight, hoping your disguise and behavior don’t attract too much suspicion.

  • Lilith said,

    Loom! I was so sad how short the game was after reading the included game manual. I want to see more of that world setting, all the guilds, how they interact with each other, the weaving, etc.
    So awesome.
    I wouldn’t weep for a Final Fantasy VI update either.

  • nyxalinth said,

    I’d like to see the SSI Gold Box games get a reboot, and Daggerfall as well.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    The SSI Gold Box games were high on my list, too. Though then I remembered the attempted reboot with The Ruins of Myth Drannor, and thought, “Wow, maybe not.”

  • Groboclown said,

    @jwmeep
    I was thinking along this line as well, but specifically of Infocom’s BattleTech: The Crescent Hawk’s Inception. This was a really, really good open sandbox world game that would work really, really well on modern hardware and graphics.

    For most of my favorite old games, I’d say that because of the limitations, rather than in spite of them, they worked well. The old text adventures cannot work as a modern game. Ultima lost so much of its joy when you could see the sky.

  • Marcomon said,

    I’d like to see an update of Tie Fighter, Deus Ex, Daggerfall, Sistem Shock.
    X-COM is already on the way…

  • noname said,

    Most of what I’d love to see remade was already posted (System Shock, UU, MoM, QfG, X-Wing/Tie Fighter, Krondor)
    so I’m gonna go with Emperors of the Fading Suns.

    And FWIW @ RC My thoughts exactly about U7.

  • Barry Brenesal said,

    Darklands.

  • skavenhorde said,

    The goldbox games don’t need a reboot. There are hundreds of modules out there for Forgotten Realms: Unlimited Adventures (FRUA). Sure the graphics are only improved slightly and the GUI still is….well it’s goldbox, but the fans have managed to outdo some of the original content.

    There are still fans making modules for even after all these years. If you’re interested then head here: http://ua.reonis.com/

  • Dan Barber said,

    Either TES:Daggerfall or TESA;Redguard. Daggerfall was just too buggy for me to ever get around to finishing. Redguard seemed a bit more stable at first but I ended up running into a bug that made it impossible for me to proceed further.

  • Wraith711 said,

    If I had one wish, it would be Ultima Underworld II: Labyrinth of Worlds! It is IMO still the best and most athmosperic RPG around.

    If I had two wishes, also Crusaders of the Dark Savant! (Though an iPad version would be enough to satisfy me for a few months… :-))

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