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Why Are Games Nearly Always The Same Ole Thing?

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by GarBenjamin, Feb 2, 2015.

  1. GarBenjamin

    GarBenjamin

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    I often find myself reflecting on the state of games. The potential they had and how they have seldom come close to reaching it. When I was a teenager arcade, computer and video games were just starting to take off.

    The days of Lunar Lander, Pac Man, Moon Patrol and so forth. At the time games seemed so cool. On one hand they were just an activity. A game to be played. Yet part of them seemed magical. Like they allowed us to participate in a different world (many times one that seemed like it couldn't possibly exist). There were tons of different types of games. And we imagined a future where the game environments would be richer, more interactive and so forth. Yet now some 35 years later I look out across the gamescape and I see games that are very much like those from three decades ago and others that seem to all be the same basic game with a new name.

    And I wonder why it is this way. I have stated many times I think a big part of the reason is due to placing so much emphasis on presentation. I think as developers gained access to more and more powerful hardware they basically wasted all of that increase on presentation instead of using it to make highly interactive worlds and other things we imagined decades ago.

    Then I wonder if it is more than that. Maybe there is simply little creativity now compared to before. Maybe it is simply because in the desire to make money developers continue to make rehashes of FPS and RPGs.

    We see games from Indy devs that show a lot of creativity in character design and such. Yet the games themselves are basically no more involved than games we have played before. Many times. How many games these days even have enemies with the "intelligence" of the ghosts in Pac Man or the aliens in Defender? And as awesome as modern RPGs appear, interacting with the NPCs and objects is no more (and often no where near as) fulfilling as interacting with characters and objects in the old Infocom text adventures.

    Even the great Indy games of recent years when you really look at them seem to be great not so much because they are truly great in themselves but more because they are solid games that are not just another FPS and RPG game like the AAA studios generally put out. In fact, many of the popular Indy games seem a lot like games from long ago.

    So... what do you think happened? How did we get here? And will games ever evolve beyond just continually improving the presentation tweaking lights and shadows and so forth?
     
  2. LaneFox

    LaneFox

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    In some way or another this sort of topic is brought up super regularly.

    I'm starting to think its just because there wasn't much history to work with. When making Pong, the idea was probably something like "Lets make a tennis game, but not call it tennis... and we can only work from top-down so there's no net... and.. we cant do humans so um... lets just make these big block things bounce the ball." and whence came Pong...

    It seems like they had to innovate new ideas because there weren't and proven ideas to extend... whereas nowadays if another CoD sequel comes out then its basically guaranteed to break even or profit well so its considered a lucrative franchise to continue while new ideas are much more risky... 30 years ago new ideas were all there was, so it was just a matter of throwing down something that works and raking in the cash until the closer to the 90's when there came to be a lot more saturation and the genre patterns starting getting clearer.

    Risk probably is the biggest factor. Mainstream games have a lot of development behind them and its risky business to innovate entirely new styles and throw it into the ocean to see if it floats.
     
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  3. GarBenjamin

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    I can see the part about risk especially as the industry moved from primarily Indies at the start to big business bean counters.

    Still... even in those genres they focused on... just using those as an example... for all of the years that have passed the games themselves as hardly changed in most ways except for presentation. Not entirely of course. We have seen FPS that allow players to also use vehicles for example. That was cool although I am quite sure I played 2D games that had that same game play long ago. Anyway, when I look and play games from long ago and games from modern times the thing that really stands out is the presentation. It seems like the presentation has advanced each year to some degree. Yet the games themselves have advanced at about 1/10th of that rate. I don't mean new mechanics and such.

    I mean, for example, take an RPG from the N64 days and one from modern times. Yes there are some advances but beyond the huge advance in presentation the games themselves are basically the same. A tree is either not really there or is an obstacle to move around. It is no more of a tree now than it was back then. Yet the processing power and memory available has increased significantly. So I wonder if it is simply because games don't need to be any more interactive than they have been or if by the time the updated presentation is implemented there is no time/space left to implement a better game world?
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2015
  4. Steve-Tack

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    One similarity to the movie industry is that you can throw money at artists and they can come up something that looks and sounds amazing. Cool designs, costumes, lighting, cinematography, a good score, visual/sound effects, and so on. But one of the main things that separates a compelling experience from a dull one is the writing. It would seem that the writing is actually the hard part, if not necessarily the most expensive part. There just is no easy formula to it.

    The reason I think that high budget games tend to look and sound great, while the level of innovation doesn't always match is that we know how to throw money at artists to get high production values. We don't know how to create sophisticated software (not just games, but in general). Very high levels of interaction and/or AI that's convincing only really happens in very specific domains.

    Software development is in its infancy more than we like to admit.
     
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  5. GarBenjamin

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    I think you are spot on! One of the things I have been considering is exactly this! The reason the focus is on presentation is because it is such an easy way to make a positive impact. Well I mean easy if you have the art skills or can pay for quality art I mean. Not taking anything away from artists. Just saying that to actually improve the game world beyond the presentation quality is a hell of a lot more difficult and it is quite likely the majority of game programmers even in AAA studios aren't able to do such systems at least not within the constraints of the deadlines.

    I think the same way about software engineering. We have many methodologies and design patterns but the problem is when following them to the letter it becomes such a huge time sink and can end up making everything more complicated than it would be if you had not followed them. Not always of course but in many cases it does. And it is quite common for people to end up over-engineering everything resulting in systems that are way more complicated than was necessary.

    However, I do think it is certainly possible. One of my main goals for games I create is to do exactly these things. To focus on the game world more and make them a richer environment. This is one of the reasons I do not use Unity Physics. To me it just gets in the way of my goals. I don't want things automatically interacting according to the physics without me even knowing about it. My own programming needs to be aware of and in control of everything.

    Anyway, this might well be the biggest factor: people just don't want to invest the time required in the software engineering necessary to improve the games insides to match their outside.
     
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  6. Kiwasi

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    Did we just get old? I'm finding myself less and less inclined to play the newest games, for much the same reasons as mentioned in the OP. But you talk to the teenager today and they are just as excited about new games and capabilities as you were 35 years ago, and I was 10 years ago.
     
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  7. RockoDyne

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    Twenty bucks says if I chose something at random from the full catalog of NES games, I'll end up with a generic action platformer. I bet you'll have smaller odds finding an FPS on a modern console. Is most of this analysis anecdotal or based on statistics, because it's real easy to walk into a store and have your soul crushed by the crap that's on display?

    Just watch this an tell me if everything's so bad.



    I suppose if you really want to find an answer, it's easy enough to point out that prototyping is expensive. It's really unproductive to have a large portion of your staff doing nothing, while another is playing around. On the other hand, it's not the best thing for morale to start off by tossing out a few months of assets because the new project ideas need a totally different perspective.
     
  8. DanSuperGP

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    I don't think software engineering or built in physics has anything to do with lack of originality in games.

    Truly distinctive design doesn't require any engineering at all, it happens on paper before the programming starts. If you're trying to make your game distinctive with your software engineering... you're already too far along in the project.
     
  9. GarBenjamin

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    What am I supposed to be seeing in that video? It has a cool presentation. I can see that. But this seems to be everything I was saying originally. lol
     
  10. DanSuperGP

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    Prototyping is CHEAP.

    Pivoting during production... that's EXPENSIVE.
     
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  11. DanSuperGP

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    Like just another survival horror game... with cool presentation.
     
  12. GarBenjamin

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    I get that. What I am talking about (and giving credit where due what @Steve Tack was talking about) is that it takes software engineering to pull off these things. I am not talking about originality in games as far as coming up with new paradigms and such. I mean the stuff that has been in games for decades has basically been unchanged. Not always in all cases of course. But for the most part. The design of course is the key. To say hmm... instead of trying to make a forest of 10,000 beautiful trees let's make a smaller forest of 1,000 trees but each tree is "a tree". It can be climbed. Carved into. Cut into. Cut down. Branches removed. Etc. Not necessarily all of these things but more than the tree is not really there (you move right through it) or the tree is a brick wall (an obstacle that must be moved around). To take that design goal from paper to the game world requires software engineering.
     
  13. RockoDyne

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    If you've got a two hundred man studio, but only ten people are really needing to come in for a few months, it's really expensive.

    All hope is lost then. Who knows, maybe we've just explored the current technical limitations of spatial simulation, and the best we can do is a voxel based, survival sandbox which spawned an entirely new genre of it's own in the last five years.
     
  14. DanSuperGP

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    If you have a 200 person studio, and you have ten people spend a few months prototyping.

    You have no idea what you are doing.

    Look at how Double Fine does it.
     
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  15. GarBenjamin

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    Minecraft was/is excellent. It is the opposite of nearly all other modern games and is the best example of what I think games should be like. Granted he did not focus on the kind of presentation most modern games have but what he did was to make a sort of alternate world. Highly interactive. But it stands out so much not so much for it being voxel-based blocky looking but because of the depth and high degree of interaction and control it gives to the player. It would be as much fun even if it looked like other modern 3D games with high-res graphics. But he probably was not able to do that. So he focused on the game first and foremost and the graphics were the best they could be to make the kind of game he wanted to make run at a decent speed. At least that is what I think happened. Not 100% certain.
     
  16. Kiwasi

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    I can't speak for the game industry, but in other industries its perfectly normal to have a discovery group as part of your R&D. Their only function is to build prototypes, screen them, and throw them at the production group.
     
  17. DanSuperGP

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    Oh, I agree... but you don't idle your entire team whole that discovery group is prototyping
     
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  18. GarBenjamin

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    That makes sense. For the modern day teenager the stuff is "all new". For some of us it is the basically the same ole thing with a facelift.

    Some people get old others just get better. ;) lol
     
  19. Aiursrage2k

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    We should have like a weekly weekend game contest
     
  20. RockoDyne

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    Has Double Fine ever actually made a profit off of any of there games? Sure, they are much beloved by those who care about quality, they just don't seem to care much about running a business.

    Really? You don't think it wasn't a very conscious decision to make the world blocky to clue people in and reinforce that the world is made of blocks? Even if they didn't care about the model quality, I'm pretty sure there were/have been at least three major revisions to the lighting model, so it's not like everything they did was just in service to the gameplay either.
     
  21. GarBenjamin

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    That is why I said "At least that is what I think happened. Not 100% certain." I can imagine making such a game especially at the time he made it getting it all to run at a good speed was a challenge. So it makes sense to use the blocky style in that regard. It made it simpler to do the entire game in a more timely manner as well as keeping the frame-rate up.

    But this is kind of getting off track. I am not saying the graphics cannot be great. The reason for this thread is just to get some additional opinions on why the presentation has advanced so much more than the internals/mechanics/interaction/game play of games.

    I just found your example of Minecraft interesting because it certainly does show advances in those areas yet on the presentation side it did not.
     
  22. GarBenjamin

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    Just to reiterate the purpose for this thread...

    All of these cool things found in the presentation of modern games are.... well cool. Muzzle flashes, reflections in the water, mist / fog rolling around, lens flares and so forth. But at the end of the day we are still talking about just presentation.

    In 1981, a game was created named Defender. Of course, in presentation and overall scope it pales in comparison to modern games. However, even in this simple game the alien invaders have a mission. They are trying to abduct the astronauts. If they abduct an astronaut and carry them to the top of the screen, the astronaut is transformed into a mutant joining the alien army and attacking the player. Yes it is very simplistic, yet the aliens have an objective beyond just existing for cannon fodder. 34 years ago.

    In 1982, a game was created named Sinistar. Again, presentation and overall scope pales in comparison to modern games. Yet what is actually going on in the game is quite interesting. You are flying around space in your ship destroying enemy ships and shooting asteroids to mine crystals which are collected to create bombs you need for the primary enemy, Sinistar. The enemy ships are also collecting crystals and returning to their "base" where they are building Sinistar. It does not actually exist when the game starts. Eventually they complete construction, "BEWARE... I LIVE!" and Sinistar is born. The enemies in the game had their own objective they were working toward (although ultimately it is to destroy you via Sinistar). You collect crystals. They collect crystals. They build Sinistar. 33 years ago.

    These are only two examples of depth from games 3 decades ago and both are arcade shootemup games even. If this kind of design and programming was being done over 30 years ago, it just seems like all modern games would have far more depth to them. I am not saying none do. I am just saying there are plenty of modern games that have amazing presentation yet the actual game itself has little more than was being done 30 years ago. They just have more of it going on and in hi-def with gee whiz effects.

    Moving forward in time we see the early 3D games. Obviously presentation-wise (and probably in scope too) they are blown away by modern games. But when you play them they are basically the same as today's games as far as the game play and interaction. You can interact with things in those early games about as much as you can today. Many things were just what I call decorations. Trees, rocks, etc. Things just stuck in to make for a more immersive experience. Normally these decorative objects are not really "there". They may be simple obstacles blocking movement. Other times it is like they do not even exist. This is basically the same way in modern games. Although physics systems have added some automatic stuff such as walking into a crate may cause it so slide or bounce around a bit. But ultimately, there is no more to these objects than there was back then. Characters are basically the same way.

    I often think about such things and wonder why there has not been as much advancement in these areas as there has in presentation. So, I threw this thread out here to get some opinions on it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2015
  23. SteveJ

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    Just randomly spotted this post. This is a cool idea - has the Unity community ever run its own little "Game Jam"? Not that I've ever seen... at least not something "organised" and recurring, with defined rules and themes and time limits etc. It would be quite cool I think - 48 hour challenge (or whatever), post links to Web Player builds, etc etc...
     
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  24. RockoDyne

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    Thing is it's pretty telling with that that you don't see the value of visuals, or rather the value visuals add to a game.

    In Majora's Mask, you play a twelve year old who masquerades as dead people in order to bring a glimmer of hope to people whom look up to see doom glaring down on them. It's presentation was vital to it's tone and atmosphere, which is reflected on just about every aspect of the game. But that was the N64.

    These days, the things being presented to you are context. Grab a random NPC and tell me their approximate age, race, social status, occupation, and current demeanor. Unless you're looking at a suit of armor or the most generic NPC you could find, you can probably come up with some reasonable answer for all of those.
     
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  25. Steve-Tack

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    Yeah. The single player campaign in the latest CoD has a sequence where you have to run across a street avoiding cars. So... Frogger. Assassin's Creed IV in the future sequences has computers you can hack. Some of those mini-games are just riffs on... Frogger (you move the dot from left to right - the red lines move vertically):


    To me, one of the big milestones in increased interaction and a sense of player choice in single player games is the original Deus Ex. Instead of the developers very carefully funneling you down a specific path where you see and hear all of the expensive production values (but feeling like you're on a theme park ride), you could finally feel like you were solving problems creatively and taking your own path. Many of my favorites today have that same feel: Fallout 3, the GTA series, the Far Cry series, the Elder Scrolls series, and even Assassin's Creed IV (the pirate one). The individual systems aren't that complex, but when combined, you can get some compelling interaction. So I wouldn't go as far as saying that there's been NO progress in 30 years in that sense.

    I think for now, the best we can do is take simple systems and combine them in interesting ways. I agree that eventually we'll be able to do far more with software, but it's going to take time. We may not see significant advances in our lifetimes, but I have no doubt that future generations will get there.

    In another thread, someone voiced their disappointment that interaction with NPC's isn't more sophisticated. Well, AI just hasn't gotten to that point. If you ask Siri "How do you feel?" she'll spit out a canned response like "Excellent!" or "Very well!" Not exactly engaging.

    In the mean time, we have casual games where players only *want* basic interaction and multiplayer games where interaction comes from other people. I can see both of those types of games doing well for a long time, given that you don't need massively sophisticated software to pull that off.

    Though I admit that I'm totally looking forward to playing Far Cry 4. :)
     
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  26. GarBenjamin

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    Oh yeah I agree with that. I am not saying there has been NO progress. ha ha. Just that presentation has progressed much more at least from what I can see. Assassin's Creed IV did look very interesting. I need to buy that one.

    And also, just so people realize, it is not that I do not value presentation. It seems like when I make comments about games and the focus on presentation people think I see no value in it. I can appreciate awesome graphics as much as the next person. The games look great. Sound great. You could tell the approximate age, race, occupation and so forth of characters since early days. If it is important to the game then I get spending time on that. If not then I don't care about how they look and sound. The ideal would be to have the awesome graphics and the same level of detail put on the other things in the game. That is what I am saying. It seems like it has become very off balance with the presentation advancing way more than the rest of the game has. If it comes across like I am saying I would much prefer games to have the presentation from 10 to 15 years ago but have the actual game world be far more involved then yes, that is very true. I want a game not a movie.
     
  27. Kiwasi

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    The civilisation franchise is a good example of one that kept gameplay features above graphics. That's slowly catching up, but game play is still ahead. At the same time the gameplay is highly complex, and as such has only appealed to a subset of gamers that like complexity.

    On the other hand graphics can be increased many fold without adding significant complexity to the game. Witness the FPS genre. It's still basically the same as wolfenstien. However you can't sell wolfenstien again.

    In general gamers aren't looking for complexity. Putting new graphics on an existing game has been a successful marketing strategy. So that's what everyone has done.
     
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  28. imaginaryhuman

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    It all starts in the mind. So you have to look at what happens in people's minds. Generally speaking, not speaking for everyone, but most people are victims. They live lives where they perceive stuff `out there` happening and then they respond to it, or react, somewhat unconsciously. It is much harder to fly in the face appearances and to instead express creative artistry that comes from within. If you are not an authority, not an artist, not inventive, then your form of creativity is going involve a lot of copying and 'relaying' of what is already outside of you. I guess simon cowell on American Idol would've said, the person is 'affected'... when their art is heavily influenced with attempts to `be like` someone else, rather than to bring forth creation from within. Most of the world is filled with people who aren't exceptionally creative. Humans are social, pack animals. Look at how many people refer to other people's opinions, reviews, etc online before they buy stuff. Who out there can really say there are absolutely independent not only of the opinions of others, but of every aspect of society or everything that has been perceived in a world that already exists? It takes ... enlightenment.... to take your head out of the clouds and see things with a new vision. So what you see as the state of affairs, the gaming landscape... that's what you get from the kind of minds that humanity is mostly made up of right now.
     
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  29. screenname_taken

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    Iiii don't think it's that bad. I mean we are only hearing about the games that have the budget to market them selves.
    You get different games especially now. I mean was there a game before that the gameplay revolved around people writting short stories/ diary entries?
    The other thing is that we keep saying "we want smarter/ new ideas in games" and when someone tries something most replies are "that's not a game, i just want to shoot ppl". so the next game ends up being a shooter...
    Just have a browse through unity's catalog of selected games and you'll find different games.
     
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  30. GarBenjamin

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    There is a lot of truth to this. I even ran into it in a very early WIP platform game I was working on last summer. The enemies had some decent intelligent but could only be knocked out not killed. People wanted to be able to kill them.
     
  31. GarBenjamin

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    Thanks for all of the input. Based on all of these thoughts my take-away is...

    Presentation has advanced faster than game play / depth due to a number of reasons:
    • Reskinning basically the same game allows game devs to easily show what appears to be "something new" in a genre that is a proven seller
    • Many players feel the presentation is as, or more important than, the actual game play/true detail of the game world
    • It takes a lot more work and more sophisticated software engineering to add real details to a game than it does to add surface detail (presentation)
    • Most gamers will notice the presentation advancements more than game play/details advancement
    With all of that in mind (and many seem to be related) I think I have the answer:

    It is not worth it.
     
  32. LaneFox

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    I think thats a pretty reasonable conclusion.
     
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  33. imaginaryhuman

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    Yah, the presentation thing... another word for that is 'appearances'.... most people take things on face value and don't look deeper. How it appears on the surface is easy to see. Looking past appearances is harder, and you have to be less of a reactive and more of a proactive/creative person to not buy into the surface appearance. When all you see is the surface, then you try to emulate the surface, without digging into it to find out WHY it's there. I don't think people ask enough questions as to what decisions developers made, why they made them, and whether it was a good decision or whether there are alternative decisions that could've been made. It's much much easier to just copy appearances and apparent behaviors than to have to THINK for yourself.

    In a word, sheep :)
     
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  34. GarBenjamin

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    My cousin calls them sheeple. Lol
     
  35. screenname_taken

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    Hey. Don't badmouth my pic... :p

    @imaginaryhuman Most probably that is why a lot of the sequels end up being the same and a bit worse than the original.
     
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  36. Steve-Tack

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    Pretty much. I'm embarrassed to admit that I've never played Minecraft, but the popularity of that game gives me hope that at least some players understand that interaction and expression within a game world can be more compelling than simplistic (but pretty) experiences.

    I think we'll always have "cotton candy" type of games with high production values, but perhaps little depth, in the same way we have action blockbuster movies. Those can be really fun, but that can't be all there is.
     
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  37. Kiwasi

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    We are talking about games here. Nine tenths of the audience are in it just for fun. Even more so then movies. No matter how much you wish gamers were more intellectual, its not going to happen.

    For example, the one place significant advances in interactivity have occurred is destructible objects. That's because blowing up things is fun.
     
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  38. RockoDyne

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    That could be, or it makes a lot of sense to have a house collapse when an rpg is fired into it. Being able to apply modern military tactics and strategy in a game seems to be something people want to do, even outside of the simulator space.
     
  39. Billy4184

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    I really think that game developers need to understand how little they have in common with most players. The players want enjoyment for themselves without having to think, the developers have to think about someone else's enjoyment. Totally different carrots.
    In a simple game like Minecraft, where there are no right or wrong moves and no punishment, people can be creative and enjoy themselves. In more realistic games, that appear more similar to this real world that gives us so much anxiety and confusion, the enjoyment comes from having clear objectives and rewards, so we can pretend that the real world is really like that.
     
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  40. Steve-Tack

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    I don't think of player choice and high degrees of interaction as an "intellectual" thing any more than playing with LEGO bricks is intellectual. The strength of games is the interaction.

    To be clear, I love blowing things up in games. But I like to decide WHAT to blow up and when.

    In the context of a particular episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Joss Whedon talked about two important elements of his writing:

    1. Emotional resonance.
    2. Rocket launchers.

    Replace "emotional resonance" with "deep interaction" (or even really just keep emotional resonance for some game types) and it's the same sort of thing. You can have a deeper experience and still have rocket launchers, not to mention at least as much fun.
     
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  41. RockoDyne

    RockoDyne

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    I don't think you need to replace emotional resonance at all. The way I've started seeing things, mechanics tell a story. It just doesn't happen to be set to words, so it's easy to not see that it's told a story until you try to recount it. The job of the ludomancer is then to make mechanics that tell an interesting story, so yeah, emotion resonance is still pretty important.

    Just replace Jesus with a line block and most of that book will be an accurate interpretation of most people's experience with tetris.
     
  42. Steve-Tack

    Steve-Tack

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    Yes, well put. It seems there isn't a good word for the concept of "making your own story" with actions as opposed to the more traditional static story concept.
     
  43. ostrich160

    ostrich160

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    I guess long story short, its more commercially 'viable'. This is very true with MMO's, you see a lot of people scared to take a risk with a different idea because theres no proof that it will be successful, so people try to stick to generic ideas to make sure people will like it
     
  44. Aiursrage2k

    Aiursrage2k

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    I saw this game on giant bomb quick look at seems cool (but it was actually a copy of banjo and kazooie).
     
  45. RJ-MacReady

    RJ-MacReady

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    I've really been thinking about this whole games thing deeply lately, and this thread actually made me more depressed than I've been in a while about it. Which must have knocked something loose because I had a little self-realization, here.

    How come you didn't eat Linguini with Squid Ink, Shrimp and Scallops for dinner, tonight? No really... you could have. Why didn't you? Why did you just have the same old thing you always have for dinner?

    Because... because, it works. It's good enough. It's convenient. And, the really weird thing... you like it. You like your bed and your shower. You prefer to use your own toilet. You like things the way you like them because... because, because, because that's just he way human nature is. You like the same old thing more than anything else. You're convinced by constant bombardment of cleverly placed advertising that you shouldn't like it, because that's too pedestrian... that's what the proletariat busy themselves with, taking comfort in the same old mundane things. Like any good car commercial will tell you, you have better tastes than those poor slobs in their 2011 Ford Sedans... do you? I mean... do you, really? Do you even want to? Or is it just been conditioned into us from drivel like Catcher in the Rye all the way through to anything Kevin Smith writes that we shouldn't be satisfied, that it's all crap and that you're only really cool if you're counter-culture?

    EXAMPLE:
    It's not a bus... it's a metal cage full of mindless automaton sheeple... or maybe, I would submit, it's a bus. What if a bus is a bus and a burger isn't some trashy chemically infused fast food for lower middle class idiots, what if it's just a yummy burger.

    Did you ever think of that?

    So, people like the same old thing, slightly re-skinned just to keep it from feeling too old and stale. People like the same old thing, made fresh to order, over and over again. And you know what? Good never gets old. I will never stop drinking Earl Gray tea with sugar and half n' half. I will always love Thai food. I have fond memories that can never be un-remembered and they will always instill good feelings inside of me.

    I say this to remind us all that sometimes, new isn't better. Sometimes new is downright crap, rubbish. It's not bad.

    I am currently watching Pokemon Black and White with my toddler. I don't know who enjoys it more. I still like cartoons. I still like everything I liked when I was a young kid... and, I'm starting to be o.k. with it. And a lot of other people are o.k. with it, too, because a lot of other people don't overthink everything the way we do. They are too busy having a good time playing the same old thing. :)

    I have watched Step Brothers 8 or 9 times and I've watched Bridesmaids at least 5 times.

    That **** never gets old.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2015
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  46. Billy4184

    Billy4184

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    The problem is, we're all too human and Skinner was right. What works today, works tomorrow because we're the same animal we were yesterday. Unfortunately Nature never devised a way of stimulating the evolution of something new that doesn't involve a lot of the things we'd rather not experience, and right now more than ever we have the opportunity to not experience them. Let's hope one day we gain enough control over ourselves to be able to rationally direct our own instincts without self-destructing.

    In the meantime, let's make games ;)
     
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  47. RJ-MacReady

    RJ-MacReady

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    I agree. Seems to be getting me nowhere to keep trying to outsmart life.
     
  48. Billy4184

    Billy4184

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    It seems like everyone feels it, everywhere, a sort of jaded doom and gloom outlook about the state of the world and the human condition. Of course, it could be either that history has always looked better than the present to anyone at any time, or maybe there's something going on.

    If you'll bear with a long boring post, my theory is pretty simple. Up until relatively recently (last few centuries), we've been able to live our lives the way that Nature intended, with plenty of singing, dancing, fighting and youknowwhat. Lives were a dime a dozen it seems for a lot of history and the horizon you saw was the frontier of what you knew. There was always something new just around the corner. And now we have a pretty safe environment, with very little stimulation other than what we decide to give to ourselves, and what stimulation there is, is out of context and left in our own hands and makes us feel confused and depressed. And we have a sense now of what we are, just a tiny human being in a vast universe probably not even made for us, full of triggers and impulses we are beginning to understand but have no way to control, and the romance of life which gave rise to all sorts of creativity is going down the drain. We live closer to eachother than ever before, but, without mercy for the legacy of our territorial instincts, society commands us to rub shoulders with all the people around us, whether we like them or not, and we are constantly directed on how to behave and tone down all the feelings that we would like to set free.

    Now that probably seems a bit negative but, when you think about it, what is the problem? The problem is not that Nature has abandoned us, or has removed the path, through creativity, that leads to things we've never known before, but rather it is continuing to make us change. We simply have to be a different sort of human being than we ever were before, and we have to find a way to do something collectively because with the current state of affairs, a human being could spend a lifetime just understanding one part of one piece of the technologies we have today. What chance does one person have of commanding enough knowledge to single-handedly move another rung up the ladder and test the waters of something new?

    Now to return to games, even when I used to play hours and hours of Counter Strike, I used to think games were bad, that they took us away from reality and into some stupid universe (and they often do!). And also, games are more often than not used explicitly to return to a primitive time and do primitive things. But they can be used for anything. When a physicist chalks around on a blackboard, isn't he playing games with himself? My favourite philosopher talks almost exclusively in terms of movies, which is just another kind of 'distraction' and I learned a lot about people and got a new respect for some (very few) kinds of movies. So there is nothing preventing games from being some sort of tool of imagination to be used however we like.

    Now here's the crunch, games can be anything we want them to be. When a cube bumps into another cube and Destroy(gameObject) is called, that stimulates our imaginations about what the cubes represent. And like a dog to its...last lunch...our instincts take over and start dwelling on all sorts of simple, primitive things, and because there is no context, there is never any thread to follow into something new. We are free to feel stupid, simple, primitive things because the universe that the games create is constructed from within and we don't learn anything new (from outside). We have to make games that help us learn something new about reality, about something outside of ourselves, because all they really do is invoke a self-constructed reality that is pleasant but useless and like any drug, ultimately harmful if the dose is enough.

    So what we have to do is make games about all the things we don't fully understand, so that we can use them to court new ideas and different world concepts. We have to FIRST read about things and see things that we don't fully understand, and then make games about them to explore them. But unfortunately, its hard enough making a living making the crack cocaine of video games, much less something more subtle ;) and so I won't go into where this leads (about capitalism) because this is just getting way too long.

    Anyway, congratulations if you made it this far, sorry but I won't give a tl:dr :D
     
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  49. GarBenjamin

    GarBenjamin

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    Excellent points. I have considered it. Simply because there has to be some reason why a company can make a dozen different FPS games named Battlefield something or other and sell tons of each. lol And others as well.

    And I have even thought this about games when I see someone asking another person "what is the unique thing in your game that makes it different?", "what makes your game special?" and so forth. I see what they are asking and I know what they mean (in business we should have a USP) yet at the same time I always think "they don't need that they just need some good marketing". The reason I think that is because why can't 100 people here make a MMORPG (I mean assuming they actually have the skills to make one) that looks and plays like all of the rest? AAA studios have been doing it for years and people still buy them by the hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions.

    I also agree that maybe we all just spend way too much thinking about this stuff. So much time analyzing things and having deep discussions about it that we overlook the facts.

    The facts, based on what I have seen happen in recent months are that in 2015:

    You can make a game with excellent presentation and very simple game play players have seen a thousand times before and it can be a top seller.
    You can make a game with excellent presentation and very simple game play that is unique in some way and it can be a top seller.
    You can make Infinite Runner games and be successful because there are tons of people who love IR games.
    You can make RTS games and be successful because there are tons of people who love RTS games.
    FPS, RPGs, puzzle games. Same old things seen a thousand times before or something that seems very unique. There is a market for them all.

    You can make games for the PC, consoles or mobile and all can be a success.

    You do not need to innovate to make something "different". Because like you have made very clear people don't need something different. Many of them probably don't even want something different. They just want more of the same kinds of things they have been playing for the past 5, 10, 20 years. lol

    At the same time feel free to innovate because there are people out there who are tired of the same old thing and want something different.

    You can make card games, turtle racing games, FPS, a square on the screen that each time you click it you hear one of 20 different sounds and score a point, a RPG, whatever.

    It is not the type of games or simplicity of the games or uniqueness of the games... heck you could almost say it is not the games themselves at all that matter.

    You just need to figure out how to cut through all of the noise of all these games that are being made. If you can do that then you can succeed with your Laundry Simulator, FPS #1,983 or whatever.

    I agree with you and I think I finally "get it" now why the presentation seems to have advanced 10 times faster than the rest of the games. It was probably fun to do. It looks cool. Makes it seem new. And they really didn't need to do anything else anyway.

    That all being said I will still be focusing on enhancing the other aspects of games besides presentation. Because I am sure there is a market for that as well.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2015
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  50. screenname_taken

    screenname_taken

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    Well i guess if you eat that squid thing everytime, it'll lose it's value.
     
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