Stellaris was what I thought of before I even clicked the thread to read the OP. Maybe it didn’t ruin everything for the game and its audience, but it definitely ruined it for me.
Already the game was starting to become too much for me to deal with, with sectors being crap forcing the amount of micromanagement needed to grow as the game went on and my empire got bigger. Then they did the big UI change and now even the micromanagement is incomprehensible to me. I cannot understand the basic functionality of planet management, and i’ve tried. They basically went the ultimate Paradox Grand Strategy route and made it an actual spreadsheet simulator.
And it really sucks because I love Stellaris. Space is my jam. I didn’t even care that the AI was terrible and incapable of keeping up past the early game, I don’t really play games for challenge I just liked building my space empire. Not anymore though I guess.
I envy the console players, that they get to spend time with the planet grid. Because as bad as the grid was it wasn’t nearly as terrible as what they replaced it with.
I never hung out in the wilderness but I remember hating the new trading restrictions. When I was starting out I had picked up a simple iron scimitar from the ground before someone else did and they really really wanted it. They traded me 40 lobsters, 10 law runes, some green dragon hide chaps and dozens of other runes, just for this one trash item that any one of those things is more valuable than. Once the market came along and established a market value to items and displayed that market value in the trading window then deals like that went extinct. I had people selling me everything they collected suddenly stop because they learned I was ripping them off. They would have been perfectly happy to continue if no one had told them otherwise and now it was impossible for them not to know.
Another big problem with it was that it killed off any player interactions in populated areas. You no longer had people at every bank and store trying to by or sell items to whoever was passing by. They all just posted their items to the market and logged off. Everywhere was suddenly a ghost town.
The same way we preserve things like plays or other non permanent work. We still have video, articles, and people’s memories we can reference. I don’t think that even if you managed to preserve every version of Fortnite it would hold it’s historical value when so much of that game is based around what has happened around it and the memories it created.
To some extent I agree, but…I dunno. Like, if I think of Fortnite as similar to a concert or an art installation then yeah, you’re totally correct (and Fortnite contains both of those lol). But if I think of it like a play, that’s different. Plays have scripts-- they can be preserved, textually studied, reperformed. Even staging can be kept and archived. It won’t be the same, but it isn’t as far away. Is there a good way to keep the staging and scripts for Fortnite?
Also, let me stress that I don’t actually know anything about this; it’s just a thing I’m curious about.
I can think of a few games that were ruined by updates, I’ll share one game that was temporarily ruined and another that I just never returned to: Warframe: Update 7. Update 7 was a whole ordeal that temporarily ruined everything, but eventually became the foundation for a much neater game. Before update 7, when you leveled up a weapon or frame in the game, you’d navigate a skill tree for that object, similar to upgrades in most any game. Update 7 completely changed that, as that was when the card system that is now used in the game was first introduced. The problem being, upgrading cards was too expensive, and some common cards (like ones that could upgrade your health) were incredibly hard to find. For a little while, it made the game incredibly tough to play, but thankfully they fixed these issues almost immediately and provided rewards to those who spent tons of currency upgrading cards.
PAYDAY 2: I don’t know which update it was, but whatever update added the safes just did not sit well with me. For a game that was already a grind, adding more additional grindy mechanics that also added microtransactions just felt bad.
Speaking of Runescape. I played it super long ago when it was still using 2D character sprites and when they made the huge 3D graphic overhaul in 2003(4?) our toaster of a PC was no longer able to run it. Not saying they ruined it or whatever. It’s just really funny looking back how a game became actually unplayable for me.
We later got a better family PC and I would spend my middle school years playing GunZ: The Duel of all fucking things.
A similar thing happened to me when they did that in 2011 or 2012. I was still checking in on Runescape maybe once a year and one day they had re-done the graphics, added cutscenes with voice acting and overhauled the combat so that it was like WoW with abilities and cooldowns. It had me go through the tutorial again and the voice acting was busted on the cutscenes, playing twice per scene and it was such a drag I never logged in again.
I think there’s actually a lot of solutions to this. George Weidman (aka Super Bunnyhop) has been a pretty big advocate for bot matches (see video), especially in the context of online games. I think this could provide an emulation of an experience. Alternatively, you could always set up LAN parties, but that does require a volume of players.
But like… the goal of archival is not to preserve the experience a piece of media created at the time. The goal of archival is to preserve the cultural artifact itself. On some level, it’s not important whether or not we can recreate the “feeling” of playing Fortnite at its height. Bot matches and LAN parties help, but there’s a part of me that doesn’t feel these are prerequisites to archival. The reason we need to preserve these games is because they are massive parts of our culture. And preserving their individual builds is to keep track of the history of a game’s design and structure, which I think is culturally important.
My guess would be that 9 times out of 10, these were less Updates that Killed the Game and more Updates that Failed to Stop the Game’s Rapidly Approaching Demise.
Sure, there may have been a dedicated group of fans, but somewhere in the corporate chain came the mandate to get the numbers up or shut it down, and these were last-ditch attempts at the former. As hard as it can be to accept, a small group of dedicated players is probably not enough to keep the lights on at most studios, and can sometimes discourage a wider audience from picking the game up, whether through self-enforced insularity or just insurmountable skill differences.
Playing WoW has been harder for me in recent years, but its less one update and more lots of updates over time.
Without even getting into the broader systems: I started in Wrath of the Lich King. My main was a Warlock. I loved my Warlock. Every single RPG I’ve played sense I try to figure out if there’s a playstyle somewhat similar to WoW’s Warlock as it was from Vanilla to WOTLK. I can not play a Warlock in modern day WoW. I hate it, its actively painful. They trimmed away entire spell subsystems for lots of classes, and in the Warlock’s case that was Curses, a type of debuff unique to them. There could only be one Curse on a target per warlock, and you had a lot of them. It was class-defining in PVP and choosing the right one at the right time was a huge part of it’s gameplay. But because WoW is laser-focused on raiding, and these kinds of utility abilities are a headache to design around and usually not useful there or satisfying for people who want to top the damage meters, they were cut.
Likewise I can’t really play any class at all that I leveled past like 30 in WOTLK. In Cataclysm they scrapped the old talent trees and introduced a system where you pick a Specialization at level 10, one of three, and get abilities related to it.
For players who had been around before this point, what this meant was that you lost over half of your abilities because now they’re locked behind particular specs. On top of that the new talent system, where you choose single ones out of 3 options at given intervals, rather than putting points in a tree, often contains abilities that you just used to get. Playing a class you knew before all this happened feels like one of your arms has been cut off. It’s awful. Again this is not as bad for PVE but it makes PVP feel terrible to me.
Cataclysm also ruined what little was interesting about the setting by choosing to go the most boring possible direction with the Forsaken and making them lulz mad scientist evil zombies Scourge 2.0. Their towns have also looked like shit since then, Tim Burton-ass fuckin tesla-coils-for-no-reason garbage. Spit. The talent system and removal of abilities felt bad there too but it got worse as the years went on.
EDIT: Should also note when I say “not as bad for PVE,” I mean “not as bad for raiding.” Because you totally got to use all your utility stuff and stray from your standard damage rotation more in dungeons. Raiding OTOH has always been awful because stretching roles across 40-25 means a ton of you cool abilities become totally pointless and all that matters is Max Deeps for anyone but the healers. IDK why they looked at the game mode that in Vanilla consisted of, for most people, pressing 1 button, and then sometimes not pressing that button, and then pressing a less powerful version of that button, ad nauseum, for hours, was what should be the focus of their game. No turning back now though.
This is less of a games-as-a-service update, but Hyper Light Drifter had an update (the Invincibility Update) which allowed you to refill on health kits when you used warp pads, at the cost of enemies respawning when you warped. You know, like Dark Souls.
I bought the game before that update came out and was having difficulty getting anywhere since it didn’t really give you a skill level you should be at before trying an area or boss; it worked off the idea that you could do any area first technically, as long as you had the skill–imo, that’s the worst way to organize your game, but whatever. I played a lot when they put out the Invincibility Update, and then people complained that it made the game “too easy” and the developers took out the ability to refill health at warp pads. The switch to and from is what killed that game for me, and until something changes or someone mods that back in, I don’t see myself picking it up again any time soon.
The thing that really gets me about it is that recharging health kits at warp pads never made the game “easier”, because you could just go to one of the low level intro areas to grind out health packs. All it did was make the game less tedious, so you could spend time actually playing it and progressing instead of having to leave the area and grind out resources again.
Similar-ish issue for me with Path of Exile. The way that each new league (season) bolts on a new set of mechanics to interact with. I started playing properly during quite a fun league so it is super disheartening to run into the mechanic very infrequently, but generally the issue is there is just so much cruft now.
When I was playing, you had your map of waypoints for each zone/act, and then at a certain point you would unlock a hideout which would always be available on the LHS of that screen which provided an easy location to collect all the different vendors that you might want in one place. The only other thing that would be added there was a specific randomised dungeon that you would only interact with at specific times, but was rewarding enough to feel worthwhile.
Now there are four new options on that sidebar, and all these new things that pop up in the game themselves, none of which are particularly interesting or compelling. I would love an option to play either straight vanilla, or with a subset of league options enabled.
On a GaaS note, I really dislike the new battle pass mechanic that Warframe has started up. I really liked the fact that whilst things would disappear in game, you could always trade for them, which meant you could be quite picky about what you wanted to chase. Now the pass means that you have to do a minimum amount of content each week and I can feel myself burning out on it, because I’m sort-of-worried that once the rewards are gone they’ll be gone for good.
I’m not sure that the new update is even good for new players which was ostensibly who it was aimed at, since it significantly kneecaps a specific endgame resource which was hard to get before, and now is far more easy to get, but in very limited quantities.
I haven’t played Overwatch in several months now, outside of one play session to try out Baptiste. I am not sure what update specifically did it but with changes like the addition of Brigitte and Mercy’s rework the game just doesn’t feel like an FPS anymore. Its just a lot of stalling and healing (with the new hero literally having an ability that drops a 200 hp box that you have to destroy before you are able to kill anyone else). It’s the coldest take in the world at this point and most people have moved on to other games but I still miss the super chaotic and fast-paced matches of earlier Overwatch and I haven’t found a good replacement yet.