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The State Of Video Gaming...


Anomaly
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Believing that all of us here have at least a little bit of an inner geek, I think a discussion on the state of video gaming is appropriate. I'm going to start off by repeating a post I'd made in the What Games Are You Playing Right Now? thread. Not that I necessarily want to repeat my post, but I think the the points I brought up deserve their own discussion. My original post was in response to one from Taperoo, that read...

 

 Mass Effect 3 had too many options to make the gameplay easier. But I love the overall story. It's fun to play

on the Wii U.

The stangant thing probably stems from the fact this cycle of consoles has lasted a lot longer than the likes

of Ubisoft and co expected. Thus they've held back somewhat on the investment and probably why

Ubisoft has been churning out Assassin's Creed games.

 

My response to this (the section I've boldfaced) was this...

 

No, that's not what I mean. Gaming is just too cookie-cutter nowadays. It's not that the generation has gone on too long, it's that the generation has been pretty lame from the get-go. Walk into any game store, and it's shelf after shelf of a very few genres (mostly FPS), with little variety within as well as outside of those genres. Even other genres (especially RPGs) are starting to look like shooters (Mass Effect is a prime example). Gameplay has been severely dumbed-down, to the point where there's hardly any actual play left or skill needed. Too many aspects are automatic and too many games lead the player by the hand far too much. Hell, there is no such thing as a GAME OVER screen anymore. Players just spawn & continue from wherever they left off. Given enough time (not skill or growth), anyone can beat any game.

 

Another thing is that developers are compromising the core game-play for the inclusion of multi-player. Here's just one small example... Forza Motosport. Not that Forza is that realistic or the AI even mildly good, but if you know anything about racing, you know that drafting is a legitimate part of it. In Forza 3 & 4, there are even achievements for getting perfect drafts. That's all well and good, but if the player actually drafts during a race, he/she is penalized for cheating. Drafting is not cheating, it's a legitimate part of racing. It has been made cheating in an attempt to keep online players from using it to get better lap-times. Anyone who has drafted gets their lap-time flagged with a little "dirty lap" marker and sent to the bottom of the leader-boards. There's an achievement for it, yet doing it is cheating. Developers need to start concentrating on making either great single or multi-player games, but trying to do both is simply watering both sides down.

 

But back to my original point, there's just too many of too few types of games. Not everybody wants to play 100 different shooters and nothing else (though sadly some do). I like variety and I like diversion. To me, there is no difference in walking around shooting soldiers as opposed to walking around shooting zombies, aliens or whatever else developers want to throw at me, calling it  a "different" game. Even outside of shooters, other genres are extremely stagnant, with each game trying to be a clone or "better version" of some other game. Where are the one-off titles that don't look like anything else? They hardly exist anymore. Sure, there have been a few, but they are few, far between and go largely under the radar. I'd love to see some great point-n-click adventures, platformers or anything other than the shooters & shooter hybrids that litter store shelves today. The thing is, if you've played a handful of games today, you've played them all.

 

One huge issue (especially at Microsoft) is the lack of exclusives. This has severely cut down on variety, creativity and the development of new IPs. It has also homogenized the industry. There used to be differences (game-wise) between gaming on a Sega as opposed to a Nintendo or a Sony console. Sega had Sonic, while Nintendo had Mario & Sony had Crash, or Nintendo players would be playing Final Fantasy while Sega players would be playing Phantasy Star. Had Nintendo not had Mario, Sega would probably never have developed Sonic... And that's the real issue. From a game standpoint, the rivalries are gone. There is now very little separating or special from one "camp" to another. Seeing that you play on the Wii U, you can say Nintendo does have exclusives and is different from Sony & Microsoft... And you'd be correct. Unfortunately, Nintendo has different issues. Just as Sony & Microsoft have concentrated too heavily on too few genres, Nintendo has focused too heavily on cute, colorful games. Not that I have any issue with cute, colorful games. Remember, I like variety and love a game like Animal Crossing just as much as I love one like Dragon Age Origins. But Nintendo has it's own narrow focus issues. It also has the Wii-mote, which IMHO is an asset turned liability that has separated the Wii from gamers.

 

Yes, Ubi & a few other developers churning out sequel after sequel is a big problem, but today's sorry state of gaming goes well beyond just that.

 

With that, I'll open the discussion...

Edited by Anomaly

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You are right about video games being very main stream oriented.

 

However, I have played a lot of quirky and weird and different games on hand helds and PC, and the thing about those games is that they are fun only for a short time.

 

The main stream genres that are used for big console games, are the genres where you can make a really big and long game with good narrative.

-You know, a game that is an adventure.

 

Roleplay and shootemup, or a mixture fo both, are the best way to give an long and interesting adventure for a player.

-Or a point and click adventure.

 

Weirder games just cannot do this. They are fun for only a short time, and therefore they will remain on hald helds, mobiles and PC downloads.

 

Which is fine by me.

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I'm not necessarily talking about weird games, I just want games that aren't all alike. In past generations, when you walked into a game store, the shelves were covered with a huge variety of games. There were Shooters, Platformers, Racers, Fighters, Point-n-Click Adventures, Puzzlers, Survival Horror, etc, etc. There were even games that defied being categorized  Now when you go into a game store, you've got FPS, FPS with an alien theme, FPS, FPS with RPG elements, Sports, Racer, FPS, FPS with a Horror theme, RPG that plays like a FPS, Racer, Shooter, FPS, etc, etc. Genres & even specific franchises that used to be their own are now being homogenized into a giant ball of sameness. Look at Resident Evil. It went from the premier Survival Horror franchise into just another shooter with a somewhat Horror theme. Or look at Final Fantasy. It went from the premier JRPG franchise to a walk along, slash'em up with severely dumbed-down RPG elements. Then there's "Mess Affect", which is nothing more than a Shooter disguised as an RPG. As I said in my original post, if you've played a handful of today's games, you've played them all.

 

Beyond that, I'd like to know where these big, long games you're talking about are? Games are way shorter than they used to be. Back in the 16 & 32-bit generations, there actually were 30-40 hour games. Not 8-10 hour games that could be dragged out for 15 hours if you steered clear of the main story or mapped every nook & cranny of the world. I hear about all the so-called epic games that are out, then when I talk to real people who have actually played them, it turns out they beat the game in a day or two. I know there are exceptions, but short main campaigns are definitely the norm. 

 

The thing is, the mainstream games you speak of for consoles, have changed & been dumbed-down over the years. It used to be that all the different genres that I mentioned above (and more) were mainstream. Players used to demand variety, innovation & creativity. That is not the case anymore, and gaming has suffered. Today's players don't want variety. They just want something different to button-mash at. I'm not blaming the players for this. It's what they're used to. Developers aren't willing to break any molds because games cost so much in money, time & labor to make, they're afraid of innovation & creativity. So, what we've got is an entire generation filled with dumbed-down, cookie-cutter games.

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I am not an expert as you are, Anomaly, mine are only observations :) from a watcher... as I do not play those games myself  Although as a parent I had to supervise my son play some of them. So I can follow what you say.

My questions: are these games somehow increasing violence or are they educational to what means?

However games have been around as long as I can remember (I am not spring chicken anymore!) and I've noticed big movies are becoming features with plenty of action and much of it is CG-heavy, which is par for the course in features of this size and scale these days. Often with results in sad sequences looking more like video game cut-scenes than anything more believable, a trait that takes out of the movie.

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Ranting about stagnation:

 

Yesterday I went through my old commodore64 and Amiga games (I have over hundred of them left) And noticed something interesting:

 

All these old games fitted into the following gategories:

-Simulators (driving and flying)

-RPGs (light and hard core)

-Shooters

-Beat em ups

-puzzles

-platformers

-sports games

-Movie based games (remember the Friday 13th games???)

 

So, this means that even 30 years ago, the industry was focusing into the same genres that they are focusing today!!!

 

So we cannot say that industry is in srtagnation because it is focused into these abovementioned genres, because the industry has always been focused on these genres!!!

 

 

But IMO, there is no staganation. Instead, the game genres are in constant evolution and change.

 

Let me explain what I mean:

 

Every new game brings something new to it's genre. It might have a new way of controlling the game, or a new angle to an old story, or even a totally new weapon system that makes even us jaded veterans stand up and take notice.

 

These new innovations are marked by other game compaines, and are used in their future games.

 

This is how our games, and game genres, evolve, continuously, as they have always done.

 

Another similarity to evolution is mutations.

 

In real evolution, a radical mutation sometimes happen. This mutation changes the species in question in a dramatic way.

 

So it is in game evolution.

 

Now and then comes a game that changes the gaming scene in a revolutionary way. And this changes the way we play and make games in a Big Way.

 

Examples of such revolutionary games that changed the gaming scene radically:

-Doom

-Baldur's gate

-Monkey Island

-GTA series

-Deus Ex

-Sims

-Metal Gear Solid (psone)

-Gran Turismo (psone)

-Resident Evil (psone)

 

And more recent, if not as revolutionary, LA Noire.

 

So, there is really no stagnation. Our games do change and evolve, and usually for the better. And every new game gives us something new.

 

Rant over.

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To add to the nonexistent discussion:

 

Difficulty:

 

Somebody earlier said that games used to be more difficult and challengin in the good old days.

 

I disagree.

 

Todays games are much more challenging!

 

I mean in the old days, games only challenged you in physical level. You had to have lightning fast reflexes so as to jump or dodge or press button just the right moment. And that was that. Old games rarely challenged your brain.

 

Modern games give both physical and mental challenge. You have to use brains to complete modern games. You have to think forward and you have to plan your actions. And you have to make moral decisions too. In how many old games did you make moral decisions???

 

I really prefer the way modern games challenge me in a wholesome way. And I do not miss the brainless button bashing of the old games.

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As a future game-developer; it's not our faults. The companies often brief us on what they want us to do. The briefs are generally very typical and just what they know to sell, which is pretty much FPS and open-world/roaming games. 

 

If you want (not so much original) but a fun, old-RPG roots video game; play Ni-No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch.

 

Anyway, I just thought I'd put that out there. 

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Luckily there are many game developers who can still work without ready made plans, and thus come out with very good and original concepts.

 

Still, it is a bit weird to whine about being restricted to do FPS or open world game. Even with that limitation, you can still come up with brilliantly original game. Just look at Deus Ex or LA Noire.

 

So you do not have to make another Quake 2 clone, unless you really want to.

 

 

BTW, one great thing about modern games is that they engage us emotionally too.

 

I cannot remember any really old games that would have made me feel strongly, apart from the first monkey island games.

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The day Capcom patched an easy mode into Dragon's Dogma because the casuals complained about the starting area being too difficult reminded me that today's gamer is no longer interested in a challenge.

Unfortunately Demon's Souls/Dark Souls mistook the term "challenge" for "cheap rage quit"

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I do not think mainstream gamers have ever been interested in challenge, Netmouse.

 

But to me, challenge should be something else than just being killed all the time.

 

I mean in most games the challenge is too tough enemies. Which is just boring.

 

The challenge should be in the environment, or in the plan, or in the plot. Something that would require thinking.

-too tough enemies do not require thinking as such, just patience and a good reflexes.

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Sherminator,

 

Without quoting your previous posts, I'll address your three basic points...

 

1) Genre Evolution: I hear what you're saying about the genres that were being concentrated on in the past and their evolution, but the problem is that many of them are "evolving" into one does-all genre. Like I said, genres like Survival Horror (Resident Evil especially) and RPGs (IE: Mass Effect) are becoming more like shooters. Even the once great Final Fantasy is barely recognizable as an RPG today.These aren't the only examples, but they are the among the most noteworthy. What used to be different, distinct genres, are now becoming fewer & less recognizable. This is happening across the board. This brings us to...

 

2) Yesterday's Games: By this, I'm talking about the statement you made regarding going through your old Amiga games. If I were to go through my old PSone, Genesis/Sega CD or even Dreamcast games, there was much more variety, diversity, innovation & creativity on those consoles than exists now. Not only was there more variety, but their overall libraries weren't dominated by a small handful of genres, with others being only sparsely represented. Hell, even the sports genre is now dominated by one single developer. I could rattle off a list of original Playstation and Dreamcast games that offered either diversity (compared with what we have now) or were in some way groundbreaking. Here's just a few

 

Tecmo's Deception

Jumping Flash

Resident Evil

Tomb Raider

Treasures of the Deep

Discworld

Shenmue

Space Channel 5

Jet Grind Radio

Crazy Taxi

Tail of the Sun

Seaman

 

Titles that weren't that unique or innovative at least fit into an identifiable genre, rather than this homogenized, hybrid ball of cookie-dough that exists today.

 

3) Difficulty: Sorry, I just don't see the difficulty anymore. I definitely don't see the need for much thinking with today's games. Most of them lead the player by the hand, telling him/her exactly what to do the entire way through. Almost extinct are games that require logical thought. Genres like Point-n-Click (Myst, Monkey Island, SNATCHER, etc), Survival Horror (Resident Evil) and other games that couldn't be easily categorized, like Tecmo's Deception all required thought & reasoning. Today, these genres either don't exist, are severely underrepresented or have been dumbed-down to the point where they no longer require thought. So long as the player can mash a fire button and read the on-screen prompts, he/she can get through almost any of today's games. Look at a game like Forza, which is not only a racing game, but is supposed to be a simulator. It has a rewind feature in case the player messes up. If the player takes a turn wrong, gets passed, anything... He/she can hit a button and rewind the game just like a scene in a movie. This says a lot about the direction of games and is IMHO utterly pathetic. Or take a franchise like Fable and how it "evolved" from one game to the next. The first game had tutorials on weapons & magic, with required practice sessions. This was because the use of weapons & magic required skill and thought. This was eliminated from Fable II because the skill & thought were taken out, replaced by an automated system & aiming that required only button mashing. Fable III went on to further dumb-down the rest of the game. If you ask me, your take on difficulty is way off base. 

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Anomaly:

 

Thanks for your points.

I think that games are does all- genre these days, because simpler games might not sell very well, not at current prices anyway.

 

But as for challenge, I've been challenged well even on xbox360.

 

Games such as Sleeping Dogs and GTA4 have given me a lot of challenge, more than I remember from previous consoles.

-there have been lot of others too, such as F1 and Grid and Test Drive 2, in driving front.

 

In PS consoles, Metal Gears were the biggest challenge. Not much else.

 

On nintendo, Metroid Prime was cruelly challenging. Not much else.

 

But on the whole, xbox360 has given me the most as console.

 

I played fables, and did not find them at all challenging. Sacred 2 was lot better IMO

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BTW: Have you noticed that most game companies are obsessed with:

 

Gritty Realism!!!

 

and so most games have realistic weather, realistic physics, realistic weapons, realistic AI and realistic environments and even realistic monsters on them.

 

And this might be the reason games today resemble each other so much.

 

 

In the good old days, realism was not so important issue, except for simulators. So we had a lot of surreal and wonderfully fantastic games.

 

But luckily Nintendo still makes surreal stuff. Although with WiiU they might get on the Gritty Realism -train. Hopefully not, though, because we need surreal games.

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