There are plenty of mods that are building old games in new engines but how about building some new games in old engines? I propose a team starts to build Half-Life 2 in the original Half-Life engine! Why? Well, making comparisons between games is almost impossible, there are too many variables, it’s just like asking who was the greatest boxer of all time or is Michael Schumacher better than Ayrton Senna da Silva? We each have our own opinion and that’s fair enough. But wouldn’t it be fun if we could compare them though?
Now, imagine a team creates HL2 in the original HL engine and see how it compares. I have a feeling that Half-Life 2 is considered one of the greatest games of all time partly because of the incredible graphics. But is that really what we should be judging it on? I don't think so. Of course there would be a few technical problems regarding the physics and some of the puzzles but I'm sure good alternatives can be found. Another point is the fact that HL2 continues the story of HL1 but again we could rename Gordon Freeman in both games, so that the subjects don’t recognise a connection.
Now onto the experiment, first find 500 or so subjects who have NEVER played a computer game in their lives (I'll explain why in a moment). Make sure the ages vary, as should the nationalities. Half of the subjects play HL1 followed by HL2 and the other half the opposite. Remember, the subjects won't know one is a sequel to the other. Subtle changes could be made to ensure the sequence is not even hinted at.
At the end the trial the subjects simply put the games in order of preference. I believe that more than half would choose HL1 but I could be wrong and it's unlikely I'll ever find out. Even if I were to conduct this experiment 500 players isn't exactly conclusive proof!
Where the hell do you find them? Does that matter? Possibly because their culture will have an effect, however small, that could influence the players' feelings about the games. Much more importantly is their game playing experience BEFORE the experiment. I believe the order you play games in has a very strong effect on how you feel about a game. If you were to play Half-Life 2 and then try and play Doom, both for the first time, there would be no comparison. The graphics along make it impossible to compare. However if you played all the games ever released in the order that they were released in, you stand a chance of making a fairer comparison.
Why bother to make HL2 in the HL1 engine when as I've already said teams are doing the opposite? Well, perhaps the best way is to use the lowest graphical engine, this takes away the graphics and leaves more of the “game” itself. Of course it's simply a thought experiment and I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.