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The Perils of Pointless Innovation In Games

Soulskill posted about 5 years ago | from the why-does-my-rocket-launcher-have-reloading-minigame dept.

Games 260

Negative Gamer is running a story discussing the need felt by the major game developers to create the next huge blockbuster, which often leads to innovation and change for their own sake rather than simply focusing on what makes a game fun. Quoting: "There seems to be this invisible pressure to create something that is highly 'intuitive' and incorporates the highest level of innovation that we have ever seen. The problem is that the newest ideas put into games are either gimmicky, terrible in execution, or blatantly ripping off another title. On the other hand there are series that feel the need to completely revamp a game that played perfectly fine before into something completely new that falls flat on its face. ... There's a critical problem with popular, mainstream video games that isn't as large with other mediums; they are expensive to make and require a lot of time and effort put in to create something masterful. With that, games must take cautious paths. I fully understand the risks, but adding unneeded material to certain games is not justifiable."

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260 comments

Hmm have I seen this before?? (5, Insightful)

OzPeter (195038) | about 5 years ago | (#27549679)

Ah .. yes .. office suites!

This sort of shit has been happening ever since there were companies competing for market-share of the same domain.

And I doubt it is even related to software alone.

Dead on.... wish I had mod-points... (5, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | about 5 years ago | (#27549695)

The thing is, though, even though 98 out of 100 improvements turn out to be flops, those 2 out of 100 seem to have carried humanity from flint tools all the way to nuclear weapons and internet porn. Well, that's some improvement!

Re:Dead on.... wish I had mod-points... (3, Funny)

maxume (22995) | about 5 years ago | (#27549935)

Wait, then how did we get to flint tools?

Re:Dead on.... wish I had mod-points... (5, Funny)

BobisOnlyBob (1438553) | about 5 years ago | (#27549981)

An eleven-foot long black cuboid.

Re:Dead on.... wish I had mod-points... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27550321)

ummm, don't you mean monolith?

Re:Dead on.... wish I had mod-points... (4, Funny)

Xaoswolf (524554) | about 5 years ago | (#27550477)

I knew I was doing something wrong...

My 9 foot long orange rhombus would only teach me how to make paper throwing stars...

Re:Dead on.... wish I had mod-points... (1)

Jurily (900488) | about 5 years ago | (#27550585)

and internet porn. Well, that's some improvement!

Telltale Signs You're On Slashdot, Vol. 3.

Re:Hmm have I seen this before?? (0, Offtopic)

ScentCone (795499) | about 5 years ago | (#27549697)

Ah .. yes .. office suites!

And "progressive" politics.

Re:Hmm have I seen this before?? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27549839)

Boy, I wish I had some points. At least with progressives they're trying to make people's lives better. Forcing people to regress into a time that never actually existed is hardly the sterling achievement you seem to think.

There's a hell of a lot of progress necessary before we can consider it in the same realm as pointless. These are tough problems that absolutely have to be solved.

Just continuing the same regressive, bigoted ineffectual policies because a few hicks can't learn to live with others is hardly a worthwhile pursuit.

Re:Hmm have I seen this before?? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27549965)

Boy, I wish I had some points.

You'd just love to mod him down wouldn't you?

Hey, I've got an idea.

Maybe you could get some legislation passed to levy a mod point tax on Slashdot moderators. That way those moderators who have too many mod points are taxed a percentage of their mod points so that those mod points can be redistributed to ordinary posters without mod points resulting in a more equitable distribution of mod points for all.

Re:Hmm have I seen this before?? (1)

stonewallred (1465497) | about 5 years ago | (#27550405)

Speaking of mod points. They have given me mod points a couple of times. I figured since RTFA would get you banned here, that rules and stuff were the same. How do they give them out and how often? Thanks and in return I give you.... oh, wait, this isn't 4chan. Thanks anyway.

Re:Hmm have I seen this before?? (3, Funny)

Xaoswolf (524554) | about 5 years ago | (#27550467)

but most of us are still horny nerds, you could have at least posted a link...

Re:Hmm have I seen this before?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27550061)

making lives better? Oh, yes, by not allowing people to make their own choices. Well, I guess some simpletons (such as yourself, apparently) need someone to do everything for you, but stop fucking it up for the rest of us who are competent.

Re:Hmm have I seen this before?? (5, Insightful)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | about 5 years ago | (#27550619)

making lives better? Oh, yes, by not allowing people to make their own choices.

Gay marriage forced me to choose between my faith and not being an asshole.

Re:Hmm have I seen this before?? (2, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | about 5 years ago | (#27550155)

At least with progressives they're trying to make people's lives better

Which people? At whose expense? Be specific.

Forcing people to regress into a time that never actually existed is hardly the sterling achievement you seem to think

Ah. If you would, please point out where I mentioned anything like that, OK?

There's a hell of a lot of progress necessary before we can consider it in the same realm as pointless

Change for the sake of change doesn't identify a specific problem, propose a specific solution, or identify a goal - a situation when a given change will no longer require action. But the legions of people who simply can't stand a status quo in any form, in any area of culture or human activity, for any reason ("Change! Never mind to what, or how!") fail miserably to ever articulate an actual, rational, intellectually coherent set of ideals for a freely functioning society. For example: they can't stand the First Amendment, because it provides for politically incorrect, "unfair" speech (see the "progressive" call for the restoration - regressively, one might say - for the hillariously mis-named "fairness doctrine"). When the progressives can't rid themselves of a large contingent that wants that sort of "change" to a status quo like freedom of speech, don't talk to me about the rest of noble work they have in mind.

regressive, bigoted ineffectual policies

Such as? Which government policies are bigoted? Are you referring to the ones that favor students or businesses based on gender or the color of someone's skin? That sort of bigotry? But that's exactly the sort of thing that progressive politicians enact and celebrate at every opportunity. Progressives absolutely thrive on dividing society up into grievance groups, skin pigment groups, and newly-minted-victim groups. Divisiveness, economic class baiting, resentment and exploitation of actual taxpayers - those the badges of honor among progressive politicians. The "hicks" you love to hate are far less of an issue than typical grievance group activists.

Re:Hmm have I seen this before?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27550345)

AC was almost a waste of a mod point... almost.

Re:Hmm have I seen this before?? (4, Funny)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | about 5 years ago | (#27549931)

Yup, it's been downhill since we abandoned feudalism.

Re:Hmm have I seen this before?? (0, Troll)

ScentCone (795499) | about 5 years ago | (#27550041)

Yup, it's been downhill since we abandoned feudalism

Are you kidding me? The current congress and administration couldn't be trying harder to make serfs out of the people who actually work and pay taxes, and to be certain that their offspring are in the same boat. The Orwellian use of the work "progressive" has got to be one of the best running gags of the last hundred years.

Re:Hmm have I seen this before?? (2, Informative)

caerwyn (38056) | about 5 years ago | (#27550055)

I think you need to read some more history books- the pastel view of feudalism that shows up in fantasy novels doesn't count.

Re:Hmm have I seen this before?? (3, Insightful)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | about 5 years ago | (#27550453)

Yes, it is truly horrible. I'm paying more in taxes than my parents ever earned. Of course, I do so because the government payed for my education, which has given me valuable skills, but I see now how selfish its action were. The government only lifts people out of poverty to expand the economy in order to produce more tax revenue, which it uses to continue to raise the standard of living of all Americans. It's a vicious cycle!

Re:Hmm have I seen this before?? (5, Interesting)

CyberLife (63954) | about 5 years ago | (#27549829)

The problem is that the newest ideas ... are either gimmicky, terrible in execution, or blatantly ripping off ...

This describes the majority of products marketed by infomercial. It is (once again) not unique to software.

newest ideas - LOLWUT? (4, Interesting)

IdahoEv (195056) | about 5 years ago | (#27549891)

The problem is that the newest ideas put into games are ... or blatantly ripping off another title.

Newest ideas. Blatantly ripping off another title.

One of these things is not like the other.

Re:newest ideas - LOLWUT? (4, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | about 5 years ago | (#27550079)

Yep. Particularly because you're also hounded if you haven't brought along the good stuff from the last generation. I particularly noticed it in RTS games which I played from Dune to many of the C&C series, Warcraft and so on. thinkgs like smart queues, formations, configurable hotkeys, command groups, AI tactics and so on. I went back to play the original Dune II once, it was still cool but damn how many annoyances it had with things you just expected in newer games. And I say this as someone that loved it and finished the campaign with all three, even the useless Ordos. You can't make a stunning good RTS without "ripping off" a lot of what's already been done. Then you can add something extra spicy on top...

Re:newest ideas - LOLWUT? (1)

atraintocry (1183485) | about 5 years ago | (#27550353)

It's not quite the same thing, but I went back and played Mario 64 recently and was frustrated by how primitive the camera system is compared to newer 3D games. You feel like you're fighting with it the whole time. It's still one of my favorite games, but hey, progress is progress.

Re:newest ideas - LOLWUT? (2, Funny)

stonewallred (1465497) | about 5 years ago | (#27550417)

Hell I play space invaders all the time, and this new fangled games just don't have the same thrills and excitement. graphics have improved a little, but the spine tingling chills you get as those frickin aliens come closer and closer to your bases can't be beat with today's crappy video games.

Re:newest ideas - LOLWUT? (1)

atraintocry (1183485) | about 5 years ago | (#27550481)

The game I've logged in the most hours on recently was Road Rash 3, and before that it was Cool Spot. For whatever reason I just never got over the allure of 16-bit gaming, especially platformers and beat-'em-ups.

But I think you could make a clear case that the camera systems in 3D platformers have come pretty far since the early ones. The checks against "is the camera about to end up somewhere really stupid?" have gotten more involved. I don't remember even noting the camera in, say, Okami.

Re:newest ideas - LOLWUT? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27550487)

Play Sonic Adventure, and see how much worse it was across the way... Mario 64 was actually very ggod for the time.

Having said that, the later Sonic games didn't get any better... or at least not until after I stopped playing them. Due strongly to the camera problems.

Re:newest ideas - LOLWUT? (3, Funny)

atraintocry (1183485) | about 5 years ago | (#27550521)

What are you talking about, they never made 3D Sonic games.

Re:newest ideas - LOLWUT? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27550651)

Erm yes they did:

http://uk.gamespot.com/dreamcast/action/sonicadventure/index.html

It's not to bad on the Dreamcast except for the camera issues and needing reactions of a ninja cat on catnip :)

Re:newest ideas - LOLWUT? (1)

dblackshell (1450807) | about 5 years ago | (#27550653)

Newest ideas. Blatantly ripping off another title.

Just think of Crysis... Some said it was a fresh idea, even if it had many similar aspects to AVP (Alien versus Predator); especially the skills of the suit, compared to the Predators skills.

Better Than Stagnation (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 5 years ago | (#27549691)

There seems to be this invisible pressure to create something that is highly 'intuitive' and incorporates the highest level of innovation that we have ever seen.

Well, this is certainly the first time I've heard someone complain about innovation and change in gaming.

The picture of the ... blogger? looks pretty young on this article. I wonder if he recalls playing 2D sidescroller after 2D sidescroller? Or if he realizes that a lot of games come out based on the same engine and it really bores me when I realize that I'm just playing a re-textured version of Doom 3 (or whatever the first game was that used that engine).

On the other hand there are series that feel the need to completely revamp a game that played perfectly fine before ...

Then play the first game over and over. There are some people that prefer to play something different. Yes, at some point you should draw the line but there are so many games out there you should just read the reviews or rent it and avoid it.

Given enough competition, innovation is a very good thing regardless.

The problem is that the newest ideas put into games are either gimmicky, terrible in execution, or blatantly ripping off another title.

What you are complaining about does not sound like "innovation" but merely something that annoys you. How is it innovative to do any of those things? It sounds more like you're just upset about some franchise being ruined for a title or two so you needed to vent. This isn't "pointless innovation," it's copycatting.

Re:Better Than Stagnation (4, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | about 5 years ago | (#27549873)

You're missing the point. Innovation when done well is fine by the author, it's the half baked interface tweaks that add nothing to the experience which he's labeling pointless.

Over time there have been a relatively large number of really interesting mechanics added to games which have made for a good time. But change for the sake of change isn't what causes that. These are developers that had an idea and integrated it into the game in a way that people could handle without a lot of hassle.

Sometimes it's a graphics technology which just adds a wow factor, other times it's more complicated to integrate such as a 3rd race in an RTS or the ability to interact with the environment the way that one can in Assassin's creed or Crysis. Sure one could do a lot of that before, but not to that extent.

But what those all have in common is that the developers thought things through and made the changes work into the game so that they fit.

Re:Better Than Stagnation (1, Insightful)

RoFLKOPTr (1294290) | about 5 years ago | (#27549943)

Who cares? Innovation is innovation. If a game developer doesn't wish to take the time to make sure their innovation is executed properly, don't buy the game... but other developers will be getting ideas from these half-assed innovations and they will be able to improve upon them and maybe make a halfway-enjoyable game. Innovation in any field is NEVER something to complain about... EVER.

Re:Better Than Stagnation (5, Insightful)

nEoN nOoDlE (27594) | about 5 years ago | (#27550037)

Or if he realizes that a lot of games come out based on the same engine and it really bores me when I realize that I'm just playing a re-textured version of Doom 3

I don't think it's the game engine that bores you, but that the story and gameplay is boring and isn't keeping you compelled. Who cares what the engine is? Once I'm running through the same mazes, trying to find the same keys, the game gets boring. Take Assassin's Creed. The first city was amazing. There was a ton of stuff to do, people to save, soldiers to fight. Then you beat them and find out the next 9 levels are exactly the same, down to the mission structure and number of guys to save, etc. It hits boring almost immediately after that realization comes. Other games, however, have new things for you to do every level, even keeping it within the structure of the game - such as God of War. It never feels like you're doing the same thing twice. That kind of stuff is independent on whether they've licensed the Unreal engine to do it, and there's nothing really "innovative" about it. In God of War, the mechanics of the big boss battles are taken straight out of Dragon's Lair from 1983. Hit a point in the path, press a button. If you get the button wrong, try again.

Re:Better Than Stagnation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27550285)

On the other hand there are series that feel the need to completely revamp a game that played perfectly fine before ...

Then play the first game over and over. There are some people that prefer to play something different. Yes, at some point you should draw the line but there are so many games out there you should just read the reviews or rent it and avoid it.

This is a simplistic solution that does not consider wants and needs of the target market. A sequel to any media product is expected to include certain fundamentals which made the original version successful; as well as add new features and innovate upon certain aspects of the product. The problem is that certain developers are putting too much emphasis on innovation, and it is at the sake of sacrificing what made their game good in the first place. In some cases, sequels turn into entirely new products which don't resemble their predecessors because of this "over-innovation".

Game developers need to recognize what made an original game a success and adhere to it, because that is what keeps a loyal playerbase.

Of course this is not to say that developers should not try to generate entirely new concepts. Just that they need to do it with a fresh start in a new game series.

Why Do We Read Novels? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27550563)

Why do we read novels? How could we play games that only had ascii characters and spend hours upon hours playing them? Fighting the Klingons in Star Trek, Killing the H's in Beast or trekking the dungeons in Rogue, Hack and NetHack.

The imagination is far more powerful than any graphics on a screen could be. Most people would probably take a well developed plot line over graphics any day. That is why games like LOTR or Harry Potter even make it to the stores. People already know and like the plot line. If they had been books that flopped they would have never been made into games.

Good game developers put out tools with their games like Blizzard with the Warcraft/Starcraft series because they know that people will imagine ways to do things that they never would have thought of to begin with.

Lets see better overall story/game development and less focus on the graphical aspects.

fail early (4, Insightful)

acidrain (35064) | about 5 years ago | (#27549701)

With our budgets the conservatism is understandable. At the same time when you are trying to make a new product there is also pressure to be the one that stands out. So the creative process demands that you try new things, preferably early on in the project. I think the real problem here (sorry to parade out an industry truism) is not failing quickly enough. If a new feature or mechanic becomes a *big deal* and is not allowed to fail when it starts to suck, the investment of money and ego may require it to ship. However, trying new things when you have time to take the risks, and are not overly committed to shipping them, is the thing that keeps us evolving.

Damned if they do, damned if they don't. (5, Insightful)

Cinder6 (894572) | about 5 years ago | (#27549719)

Every time a sequel for a popular game comes out, fans (and detractors) will cry out if it uses the same gameplay as the previous game. "There's nothing new!" But if the developers change it up, then the fans will cry foul, saying they're "ruining the experience" or "fixing what isn't broken".

But, it seems like the video game media likes (and praises) innovation quite a bit, which could be why the developers do it. The fans will be upset no matter what, but at least they can try to get the media on their side, regardless of whether the innovations in question are any good.

Re:Damned if they do, damned if they don't. (4, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | about 5 years ago | (#27549787)

Bingo, at least on your first point.

If they change it people bitch: "I loved X, the changes in X-II make it completely different game!" If they don't change it people bitch: "Why should I pay $50 to play X with a new skin?"

However, you talk about the 'media' praising change and innovation. I disagree. The 'media' is as obnoxious as the fans. I think its actually more obnoxious. They love utter shit, they shit on true genius. Gaming media for the most part doesn't have an objective bone in their body, their just balancing the fans with the advertisers and they say whatever generates the most revenue. Whether its pooing on a triple-A title to generate a shitstorm (and boost ad impressions) or passing off poo as pure gold to appease their advertisers.

The developers themselves pretty much do a little of everything. Some innovate, some imitate, and the reality is that the market genuinely wants some of each, so its no real shock that we get just that.

Re:Damned if they do, damned if they don't. (1)

Cinder6 (894572) | about 5 years ago | (#27550009)

However, you talk about the 'media' praising change and innovation. I disagree. The 'media' is as obnoxious as the fans. I think its actually more obnoxious. They love utter shit, they shit on true genius. Gaming media for the most part doesn't have an objective bone in their body, their just balancing the fans with the advertisers and they say whatever generates the most revenue. Whether its pooing on a triple-A title to generate a shitstorm (and boost ad impressions) or passing off poo as pure gold to appease their advertisers.

I agree the media is obnoxious as hell (so are, well, most gamers), but they seem more forgiving of change, even if it's crap change, than fans of a series will. Then again, maybe I'm reading the wrong sites, or the wrong reviews, or maybe I just live in some magical candyland where everybody's happy.

Re:Damned if they do, damned if they don't. (3, Informative)

MBCook (132727) | about 5 years ago | (#27550127)

The implicit assumption you've made is that there is a need to make X-II. Very often, that's not the case at all, and that's where the problem often comes in.

The article makes a great point: games these days are often planned to be series, not just good games. That leads to the assumption you made.

Let's take Full Spectrum Warrior. That was an amazing game. It had a sequel, but I never got around to playing. I didn't feel any need, the first game was all that it needed to be. The sequel would either be more of the same (fun, but not enough for me to go buy/rent instead of another game) or have some kind of "innovation" that may have ruined it.

Even the games that get this all somewhat right (like Advanced Wars, which in the end added too many units ruining the simplicity) wear out their welcome by cramming so many sequels out (I know it's a long series in Japan, but they had time between releases some times didn't they?).

Re:Damned if they do, damned if they don't. (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 5 years ago | (#27550365)

Even the games that get this all somewhat right (like Advanced Wars, which in the end added too many units ruining the simplicity) wear out their welcome by cramming so many sequels out (I know it's a long series in Japan, but they had time between releases some times didn't they?).

To answer your comment about time between releases, not really, 4 games were released within a few years of each other, Game Boy Wars II and Super Famicom Wars were both released in 1998 and Game Boy Wars III and Advance wars were released in 2001, but on the rest of your comment Advance Wars is one of those games in a genre where each new game will feel more like an expansion pack then a new game. There are a few reasons for this:

A) The hardware is advanced enough to provide all the gameplay without sacrificing anything save graphics unlike NES-era RPGs were even some words could not be fully spelled out (for example, the lightning spell on Final Fantasy I displayed LIT whenever it was cast).

B) Adding any extras to the gameplay would kill it, anything beyond a few new CO powers would either diminish the realism of the game or make it unplayable. The game has effectively reached its "fun peak".

C) There are only so many things you can do with the storyline when the characters are impersonal like the units of Advance Wars.

A similar game series Fire Emblem takes the strategy elements of Advance Wars and puts them in a medieval RPG. The 3 Game Boy Advance games (Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade was only released in Japan), have the same engine as Advance Wars but the storyline adds much more to the gameplay making them seem more "innovative" even with little more then new missions and units.

Re:Damned if they do, damned if they don't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27549807)

Nonsense. Look at all the big selling games. They're just rehashing the same old formula, so clearly the fans a happy. Just like movies. People know what they like and aren't interested in trying something new.

Re:Damned if they do, damned if they don't. (1)

Cinder6 (894572) | about 5 years ago | (#27549995)

The fans whine and whine--and then buy it anyways. But they do get a lot of whining done first.

Re:Damned if they do, damned if they don't. (2, Interesting)

jdbausch (1419981) | about 5 years ago | (#27550295)

the video game media needs to create content. writing about the new features is much easier than trying to spin "it is more of the same" into a full article.

Re:Damned if they do, damned if they don't. (1)

WDot (1286728) | about 5 years ago | (#27550531)

They should listen to what their customers want.

For example, many Sonic the Hedgehog fans have been begging for a Sonic game with absolutely no innovation whatsoever, just pretty graphics and genesis-era gameplay. Sega acted ridiculous by announcing that Sonic Unleashed would be old-school Sonic gameplay--with the innovation that Sonic could now turn into a werewolf that punched things. Seriously, if somebody shoehorned in Sonic 2 game logic into a modern graphics engine, I wouldn't mind, just stop the innovation!

On the other hand, Half Life 2 Episode 2 felt pretty stale, especially compared to the rest of the Orange Box. Episode 1 was exciting because Alyx Vance felt chillingly like a real person, so I didn't mind playing what was basically more HL2 levels. However, the innovations in Episode 2 were mostly graphics and animation related, the one gameplay change (the "strider buster") was too minor and came too late in the game to make the game feel fresh.

If a publisher asked its customers whether it wanted innovation or just rehashing in several upcoming titles, they'd find that the answer really depends on the title.

Get your definitions straight. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27549729)

M-W.com defines:

Intuition:

1: quick and ready insight
2 a: immediate apprehension or cognition b: knowledge or conviction gained by intuition c: the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference

Innovation:
1 : the introduction of something new
2 : a new idea, method, or device : novelty

These two things, although they often overlap, are not the same thing. Intuitive means something is easy to use without having to work hard at it (Boy, this point and shoot interface in this first person shooter game is intuitive!). Innovation means that the idea is new (Wow, I never knew it would be fun to roll a ball of trash around and make it as large as possible until I played this game, katamari damacy!). You can innovate without having an intuitive interface. You can make a new game with an intuitive interface without bringing anything new to the table.

Re:Get your definitions straight. (2, Insightful)

jalefkowit (101585) | about 5 years ago | (#27549951)

There's a saying in the world of user interface design: "The only truly intuitive interface is the nipple. All others are learned."

Re:Get your definitions straight. (2, Insightful)

jdbausch (1419981) | about 5 years ago | (#27550315)

just more proof that the article is just another ill-informed rant from some idiot blogger who we are all dumber for having read.

If it ain't broke... (1)

Starteck81 (917280) | about 5 years ago | (#27549737)

If it ain't broke...don't fix it.

Re:If it ain't broke... (1)

joocemann (1273720) | about 5 years ago | (#27549937)

One of the biggest problems with US Game developers is that they are constantly outsourcing artwork to generic the chinese artists and then asking their talented US artists to 'fix' it.

If the management/developers would put more into their own artists and programmers (by hiring appropriately instead of putting them in 'CRUNCH' mode constantly), than they put into expense-covered corvettes and parties --- maybe the games will come out more REFINED and of some form of actual QUALITY.

One thing I am sick of as a gamer is the constant production and release of games that should still be in BETA and have unrefined artwork. It seems the first year after any game release is where the public, who paid good money for the game, is treated like beta testers because the developers had some deadline and squandered their budgets in ways that didn't give them a responsible level of real workers --- and then the release is shitty and the consumers can tell.

Gamers are picky and we quite easily pick up on a shitty game whether it is unrefined/inconsistent art, or heavily bug ridden. A couple great examples would be SOCOM: Confrontation.... The game is actually an amazing game, but because it was released with so many bugs it got poor reviews and gamers ignored it because the game was unreliable. The game, in actuality, only needed a few more months of serious work, but they pushed it to market like idiots and wasted all the money and effort that initially went into it on the gamble that the consumers are stupid and would buy it anyway.

Re:If it ain't broke... (1)

Urkki (668283) | about 5 years ago | (#27550023)

If it ain't broke...don't fix it.

Except if it's an airplane... Because if it breaks, you might be too busy screaming on your way down to fix it then.

Same actually applies to many businesses, including game business. The trick is to know when to fix it. Fortunately airplane service manuals and air traffic regulations tell when to fix an airplane. Unfortunately there aren't such manuals for running a business.

Re:If it ain't broke... (3, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 5 years ago | (#27550067)

The problem is it IS broke, the developers are just trying to bury the broke under lots of pretty. let me give an example from my favorite Genre: The FPS. Do the FPS of today look more realistic? Yes, in fact they have probably gone overboard and made the specs too high, cutting a good chunk of their market out of buying their product. Riddick:EFBB frankly is about as pretty as you need to have good realism and still work on older hardware, but that in itself ain't the problem. What is the problem?

The problem is while the graphics have gotten some kind of pretty the AI has not only NOT gotten better, in more and more games it seems the bad guys are as dumb as a bag of hammers. And trying to cover up your totally pisspoor AI with multiplayer don't help. If your single player blows ass I'm not going to even bother firing up the multiplayer. In the old days it was easier to cover up pisspoor AI because the environments were sparse. You were in a hall, the bad guy was in the hall, pretty much all you could do was blaze on each other. Nowadays we have realistic environments which just make the pisspoor AI stick out like a sore thumb and kill the suspension of disbelief. If the enemy is some elite merc/Nazi/commando, whatever, and he doesn't notice when he walks into a field where I have piled his buddies up like cordwood? Kinda kills all that realism you are striving for. Or when I am standing in broad daylight not 30 yards away and drop his buddy not 2 feet from him and he just keeps tiptoeing through the tulips without even getting cover or opening up on me? Lame. Hell I've listened to my 15 year old play games and what I usually hear is "Who designed this thing? DUCK YOU DUMMY!"

Look, myself and the other gamers ain't asking for rocket scientists here. And we know how expensive graphics are. Most of us would be more than happy with 2003-04 graphics if they game was actually fun and gave us a good fight. But it seems like everyone is on a "my epeen is bigger than yours" graphics contest that ends up pricing many potential customers right out of your market. My machine is currently a 3.6GHz HT enabled P4 with a 7600GS. You would be surprised at how many machines there are out there with similar specs. It runs Bioshock and FEAR and most importantly lets me get my work done without needing to spend $$$$ in a dead economy on a giant epeen. Talking to lots of my fellow FPS players we have come to the same conclusion: most of the new games ain't fun. Sure they are purty as hell, but they are about as enjoyable as an Excel spreadsheet. The AI sucks, the collision detection is shoddy, weapon balance is shitty, etc. It just ain't fun.

You want to be innovative instead of trying to build the biggest epeen how about trying to build the most fun FPS? Serious Sam? fun. SoF I&II? fun. NOLF I&II? VERY fun. Deus Ex? FUN. See a connection here? None of these games were top of the graphics charts when they were released, yet folks still keep talking about them and coming back for another round because they were F.U.N. with a capital F. Quit trying to build games that need a fricking supercomputer just to get more than 6 FPS because in this economy folks ain't buying that many space heating "sorry about your penis" rigs. Focus instead on getting the graphics just "good enough" that they support your core gameplay which should be FUN. These new games feel like they been designed by committees using bullet points from what was a hit last year. But if at the end of the day you end up with a game that needs to have a quad core to play but is about as fun as sitting in on a staff meeting at Kinko's don't be surprised when myself and the other gamers refuse to plunk down $50+ for it, because it simply ain't worth it.

Re:If it ain't broke... (2, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | about 5 years ago | (#27550399)

You want to be innovative instead of trying to build the biggest epeen how about trying to build the most fun FPS? Serious Sam? fun. SoF I&II? fun. NOLF I&II? VERY fun. Deus Ex? FUN. See a connection here? None of these games were top of the graphics charts when they were released, yet folks still keep talking about them and coming back for another round because they were F.U.N. with a capital F.

Games are becoming more and more like movies in this regard. Back in the day, just showing a train coming into a station was enough to wow the audience. But as the audience got more sophisticated, more was required to impress them. Then you ended up with market segmentation. There's the people who want tits and splosions, there's the people who like Woody Allen movies, there's the people who like screwball british comedies, etc. But even within those genres there's good work and bad. Everyone can do explosions, everyone can do costume dramas, but not everyone can do those genres well. And that's the difference between a good movie and by the numbers crap -- giving a shit and doing it right.

These days pretty much every game can look pretty. The ones in the past that always impressed me were the ones that either took what we've seen to a new level or did the same stuff better than anyone else. And much of that comes down to storytelling. I'm attracted to RPG play mechanics but am usually bored out of my mind by the derivative and uninspired storytelling. Shooters tend to have poor storylines as well but man, when they're done right it's engrossing. I enjoy the gameplay and I'm also wanting to see what happens next.

What I find interesting is that there's been a resurgence in the development of games that feel a bit more old school. The name used for them is casual gaming but it's really about making a game that's not quite modern -- modern games are $20 million epic events that suck up a ton of time. The casual games are more built like the old atari ones -- you pick them up, have some fun, can set them down whenever. Doesn't take a million bucks to put one together, doesn't take a hundred thousand units sold to break even. And with the electronic distribution available on consoles, it's easier to take a chance with them.

100% true (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 5 years ago | (#27549745)

If you're trying to fit a mechanic into your game instead of building a game around a mechanic you will fail. If it doesn't fit, don't shove. Honestly I think I'd be happier playing Twilight Princess with an ordinary gamepad, ala 'Cube, than with the Wiimote.

Too True (1)

Magreger_V (1441121) | about 5 years ago | (#27549895)

If the game were designed with the wiimote in mind than there would not be an almost identical version for a game pad.

i just got off the toilet (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27549791)

i shit out an obama.

plop!

And in other news (0, Offtopic)

hedwards (940851) | about 5 years ago | (#27549879)

AC still hasn't been able to scrounge up the money to get treatment for his poop fetish. Perhaps the President can spare some change to get AC some treatment.

Problem... (3, Interesting)

blahplusplus (757119) | about 5 years ago | (#27549813)

... the author makes some good points but when he started lauding MGS 4 as the pinnacle of what good game design is I had to take a step back.

The amount of cutscenes in Japanese games is offputting while the gameplay is often lacking (or the companies don't have a clue of what was fun about it).

You can especially see how stale the JRPG genre has become by going "simple" (read: cutting corners, cutting the best parts out they had in previous games going way back to the early 1990's). I would love to run a JRPG company and kick a lot of crappy developers and so-called visionaries out, some JRPG dev's are seriously stagnating and backtracking in RPG's in recent years.

Also I couldn't stand FFX and MGS 4 for same reasons, too much cutscenes too little gameplay options. In FFX they simplified the weapon and armor system so radically I felt cheated. They also reduced the number, variety and quality of NPC monsters and did a worse job in terms of art for them, etc.

When "simplicity" means cutting corners it's bad game design.

While I enjoyed Shadow of the colossus, it too had major problems with the land being so barren and having to waste a lot of time travelling back and forth from boss to boss without much happening in between could be a real drag after the novelty of the big world wore off.

Truth be told many game developers don't really have much insight into what works and what doesn't in their games. I can't be the only gamer that feels like game developers of late are flailing around blindly in many regards in terms of what made their games fun.

Re:Problem... (2, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | about 5 years ago | (#27550153)

That's the way people seem to like FF games and MGS games. It seems to be the way the developers want it and they do it. But they try things. The Gambit system in FF XII was good, it wasn't FF6's battle system for the 18th time. And while new things are added to Metal Gear Solid, they usually don't feel like they were just added to be a bullet point in reviews that turns out to be really obnoxious in real life (I'm looking at you friend system in GTA IV).

As for the vast emptiness of Shadow of the Colossus, it seemed very appropriate to me. It gave you the feeling the world was lonely and there wasn't much life, which made the Collosses stand out all the more, and it all the more heartbreaking when you had to kill them. If it was all a dense forrest or there were herds of elk running around, I'm not sure it would have the tone it needed.

I've played most FFs since VII, and I'll agree that they are changing it. I'm kind of glad. The Gambit system made all the little battles easier since you didn't have to spend as much time going through menus during small fights. I'm actually kind of glad they are simplifying things, having 70 kinds of armor is just obnoxious to me. I don't care. I wish they would fix the grinding problem though, the games always have sections where you basically have to stop and grid which just feels like padding the games hour count. Maybe XIII will be better. We'll see. I doubt it.

Re:Problem... (2, Insightful)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | about 5 years ago | (#27550401)

MGS4 had plenty of gameplay. It's just that the Solid part of the Metal Gear series has been since 1998 dedicated to gamers who now have lives and professional careers and can't spend endless amount of hours crawling through games anymore. Play it in a weekend and be done.

The only aspect of gameplay cut from MGS3 to MGS4 was the healing and feeding systems. Which given the time elapsed from the start point to end point of missions, the food requirement made no sense. The sneaking suit's already camo, and temperature regulating, might as well take care of things like broken bones, and bleeds.

Also, play MGS4 on Boss Extreme difficulty. You're spending more time crawling through from point to point than watching cutscenes.

Five minutes and no mention of hating the Wii? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27549837)

Cue the requisite hundred or so haters chiming in, in perfect unison, with bitching about the Wii's control scheme and how this blog post proves it should stop selling well immediately so they can get back to their manly video games.

In 5... 4... 3... 2...

Another area where developers fail (2, Interesting)

Mystery00 (1100379) | about 5 years ago | (#27549849)

Another area where developers fail constantly is that they don't seem to look at prior solutions, it's almost as if some developers don't actually play games themselves.

Only fools learn from their own mistakes.

Different Strokes for Different Folks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27549861)

I loved every one of the games that the article cites as suffering from too much innovation. Some people like to play perfected versions of something they've played before (Gears 2, Halo 3), while others would prefer to play a flawed-but-new experience. Thankfully, both tastes are catered to in this industry.

I second that (1)

unity100 (970058) | about 5 years ago | (#27549877)

4 things broke game industry in mid 90s :

* advent of 3d and easy, mass production of games through usage of 3 - killed strong story and fun : everyone took easier route for competition - 'hey our game has more polygons'.

* pointless innovation of the type described in the article

* 'challenge' disorder. each game has been made into major struggles you have to take on in the still of the night at your home, instead of entertainment.

* 'play time' bullshit. it become added to a game's 'value' as a measurement - but fun was dropped from the equation. so its fairly how long you spend in front of the game now. it goes hand in hand with the shit in the item above.

not a priority (1)

rarel (697734) | about 5 years ago | (#27549885)

I'd rather they look back at stuff that worked and try to emulate that. Instead of Halo clones, take Thief, Deus Ex, System Shock, study them and try to find the formula. Blend genres. We'll see how DX3 turns out, hopefully they'll get the right clues.

That said, building a brilliant game around one single innovative feature can be done: the concept behind Portal was absurdingly simple and the end result is awesome and more importantly, it's tons of fun.

Oh yeah, because Portal was a huge flop... (5, Insightful)

MBoffin (259181) | about 5 years ago | (#27549907)

I can see what's trying to be said, but look at games like Portal. They took a simple concept, portals, and built an entire game around this one simple idea. Sure the game is not long, but it's a brilliant game. It's loved by almost every single person who plays it. Not just enjoyed... loved. And if you listen to the commentary while playing the game, you can really see just how much thought and effort they put into even this simple game.

I just don't see the problem with this. Game creators should continually try to innovate. No, they're not always going to hit their mark, but occasionally they will totally nail it, like with Portal, and gaming as a whole will take one more step forward. That's a Good Thing.

Re:Oh yeah, because Portal was a huge flop... (1)

Requiem18th (742389) | about 5 years ago | (#27549957)

If Only I had mod points!

  Trial and error is a remarkably good way to discover good new tricks. So let's try and try until something good comes out!

Re:Oh yeah, because Portal was a huge flop... (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 5 years ago | (#27550179)

The indy game devs are kicking some ass.

Portal is one example, another is World of Goo.

Left for Dead isn't exactly cookie cutter either. Sure there have been other survival horror games, but L4D really made it blossom.

Of course, some of my favorite games (like Mindrover) were never a big hit.. so maybe my opinion isnt exactly representative of the market.

Re:Oh yeah, because Portal was a huge flop... (2, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | about 5 years ago | (#27550247)

Right. They innovated. They perfected the thing they made. THEN THEY STOPPED.

Portal was short, and they were fine with that. But if it was most companies, it would have been padded out to 2-3x that length. We'd have had at least one sequel by now that "innovated" in some pointless way (like the one-way green portal and the come-out-upside-down purple portal, and the...).

Valve did what they needed to. They made a fun game, planned it to be one game, and balanced it well.

Most companies just plan to make sequels no matter what. I refer you to the 50 Cent games, Mercenaries, etc. They are designed to be trilogies. So even if they had good ideas, they store them up for the other games, making the first seem bland. If big problems are found in the first, they often aren't corrected until the third due to the parallel development.

Pointless innovation often isn't tested until it works well either. Let's take the friend system from GTA IV. It was interesting, but took WAY TOO MUCH TIME. The people were way too needy. Everyone I know just gave up on that aspect of the game because of it. It was a good/interesting idea, but it wasn't finished when it was put in.

As a final example of what goes on, let me mention Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. That game was basically perfect. The combat wasn't great, but the rest of the game more than made up for it. The graphics were good, but the platforming was sublime and the story was so well told (especially the ending). It had a good tone.

The game innovated. It took the rewind-time mechanic we had already seen (unfinished or gimmicky, see Blink: The Time Sweeper) and perfected it. The platforming worked extremely well and the level design complemented it perfectly. The game was done. Unfortunately, it sold well.

So they made a sequel. And it innovated. It made the prince EMO. There was no reason. Arguably it was completely counter to his character in the first game. But that was the innovation. Otherwise the game wasn't supposed to be much different or that much better. This stupid "innovation" prevented me from playing the game.

And then they made another sequel. And the prince was still angry and emo. It didn't matter that Ubisoft took so much flack for taking a great game and trying to make it "trendy", taking away much of the great family-friendly mood. In this game they were supposed to have improved the combat quite a bit, but it still wasn't a game I wanted to play.

There was no need for sequels, the first game was complete. They just tacked on new adventures and "innovated" until their excellent game was a slightly confusing series that didn't have much of a reason to exist.

Very few games should ever be planned as a trilogy. Shenmue was a great example (I wish it was finished). It was one cohesive story in three parts, because it was so detailed and the story so long. Having it be a trilogy made sense. But when you go design the next generic FPS game and from the start deem it a trilogy so you can sell more units... you're not helping anyone.

It's the cool peoples fault (1)

Magreger_V (1441121) | about 5 years ago | (#27549923)

Games were great until the *cool* people started getting into them. Games used to be a niche market for nerds. Now the games are dumbed down for all the jocks. The scene is too blown up and now it's all about money and pleasing everyone.

Two weeks late (1)

S77IM (1371931) | about 5 years ago | (#27549929)

Shouldn't this have been an April Fool's joke?

The last thing the gaming industry needs is to be cautious and spurn innovation. Games these days (get off my lawn, etc.) seem like they are mostly retreads and clones of past successes. Do we really want every game to have the exact same game play as last year's, only with better graphics?

TFA points out several flaws in recent games, but not one of these flaws is novel, or a direct result of innovation. Gaming critique fail.

  -- 77IM

Re:Two weeks late (1)

F34nor (321515) | about 5 years ago | (#27550095)

Then why don't they just remake old good games with modern engines?

Marathon on the Halo engine!
System Shock on the BioShock engine!

Some Examples (1)

IceDiver (321368) | about 5 years ago | (#27550001)

Might and Magic IX - Went for eye candy over game play.

The third Krondor game - More eye candy, virtually no game play.

Thief 3 - "Consolized" the game. Missions were composed of several small linked play areas instead of large rambling areas to explore. This was done to adapt the game to console hardware limitations.

MOO3 - An example of change for its own sake. Did anyone actually like this game?

Wing Commander III and IV - Examples of challenge disorder. There were too many missions in these games that were virtually impossible to beat, and the dynamic difficulty setting system made it impossible to adjust the games to your personal skill level.

SimCity 2 and later - Added too much complexity, ruining the game experience. Remember: KISS!

Civ3 and 4 - More challenge disorder. Even at the easiest difficulty settings these games are very hard to beat.

There are more, I am sure, but I'll let other Slashdotters come up with them. And yes, I am aware that many people enjoyed many of these games but, speaking from my own knowledge (from conversations with other gamers), each of the games I have listed lost a large part of their audience, with only the hard core fans of the franchise claiming to like them.

Re:Some Examples (1)

coffeechica (948145) | about 5 years ago | (#27550103)

Absolutely with you on Thief and Civ 3&4.

The Caesar series is another one. C2 improved on C1 with new possibilities, C3 took it to perfection, and anything that came after that, along with all the spin-offs, did nothing but "simplify" the bits that were so much fun in C3.

Re:Some Examples (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27550113)

There's a third Krondor game? I know there's Betrayal at Krondor, Return to Krondor and Betrayal in Antara, which isn't set in Midkemia at all.

Re:Some Examples (1)

caerwyn (38056) | about 5 years ago | (#27550183)

I'd disagree strongly regarding SimCity 2 and later, and Civ3/Civ4. For SimCity, the earliest simcity games were far too simple; the mid games in the series brought it to an appropriate level. It's when the went for Sims tie-ins that the series collapsed, at least from my view.

And as for Civilization- every Civ game has at least a couple low difficulties that should be trivial for anyone who enjoys that sort of game. Challenge disorder is when challenge gets added for no apparent reason, but I can't see any problems with the availability of increased challenges for players who have the skills to play on that level. It's like asking for a chess game that only has "absolute beginner" as an option- the others are just needless challenge, right?

Civ and SimCity (1)

KingAlanI (1270538) | about 5 years ago | (#27550635)

I'd be inclined to agree with you on Civ3 and Civ4...I've kept to Civ2 myself.
Civ 1 --> Civ 2 is a great example of where *useful* things were added (the fixed combat mechanics, and a few novel new units; my favorite of the new Civ II units was/is the Marine). The AI was still dumb, but not *as* dumb & trickable. (cough diplomacy cough) Hell, "Civ 1 with isometric graphics" would have been a useful upgrade by itself.
Colony micromanagement I don't recall being any worse in Civ2.

SimCity 1 to SimCity 2 was just fine to me, for similar reasons, including the graphics-approach change.
I liked the addition of a few more mass-transit types; I liked some of the city ordinances, but a lot of the ordinances seemed obvious one way or another

SimCity 3 also added a few useful features, but I can see the series starting to go down there.
Garbage system, realistic issue for city management, was a good addition
Local power/water deals seemed stupid, though

Landmarks weren't necessary, but they were fine as a side activity, which is exactly what they were set up as AFAIK.

I repeatedly hit a weird bug in SC3 when my city was big & well-managed that caused the city to plummet in pop and such, that's the main reason I put that game back down, not any feature changes

Same thing elsewhere (2, Insightful)

4D6963 (933028) | about 5 years ago | (#27550045)

There's a critical problem with popular, mainstream video games that isn't as large with other mediums; they are expensive to make and require a lot of time and effort put in to create something masterful.

Like.... movies?

Games that cost hundreds of million dollars to make aren't the best place to experiment. I think big game studios should create R&D departments where they'd make small games to test a new concept and give it to a number of people to test.

I believed the are different categorie of gamers (1)

godrik (1287354) | about 5 years ago | (#27550047)

Some people just play a game to let the time flow. So they are playing yet another RPGs while other people watch soap opera. These players enjoy the repetitive monster bashing in a JRPG.

Some other player (like me) do not play often but are no casual gamers. They will take one game and really play it. They are not conscious that some characters could have had a previous life. Or that this game mechanism has been used 20 times.

There are player that search for the graal of video games (like the author) that are extremely critic over the innovation and fine tuning.

I haven't even seen that much??? (1)

Jettatore (1505857) | about 5 years ago | (#27550069)

I don't know what games Angry Gamer is talking about, because all I see are clones, everywhere. 99.9% of all major releases are clones and re-polished turds. Where he gets the idea that the industry is going to far in the innovative department is beyond me.

Consider Mirror's Edge (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | about 5 years ago | (#27550111)

Yes, the game still has its flaws, but the parkour interface is very innovative (and fun) and will likely be copied by other games. Assassin's Creed attempted something similar, but ME shows how it can be done right.

Also consider Portal. At heart a very simple concept that was quite difficult to figure out how to implement, but in gameplay led to really interesting and innovative puzzles.

On the other hand, there are failures. For instance, setting the grass on fire and needing to take the prevailing wind into consideration in Far Cry 2 was an interesting novelty that probably took a lot of time and effort to develop, but didn't really add much to the game.

Author is a console gamer (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27550199)

...which explains everything. With a console you just want to insert a disc and have pure fun immediately.

You don't want to read a story more than several sentences long, or learn a huge manual with tables and charts, or get used to the interface for hours. The more similar games are the better, so you don't waste time learning instead of playing.

It's not bad, but it's not all about gaming either.

FPS - add useless, remove important (1)

dindi (78034) | about 5 years ago | (#27550263)

I focus on FPS. These are getting dumber, dumber and simpler with every release

Rainbow six :
1. team of 10 -> team of 3.
2. full FPS with lean -> cover system 3rd person

Battlefield :
1. drive everything, huge maps, many players -> maps with mostly tanks and cars only
2. sniping game too - now you cannot even lie down

Ghost recon :
1. teams - one team
2. planning, positioning - run and gun

As the flight simulators died out almost completely people do not feel the need to have a good team experience and choose the fast paced run and gun gameplay where it is not needed to lean, go prone and plan a mission.....

Then again, socom, cod4 are still OK, but battlefield and all the clancy games are down the drain bigtime .... for me at least

Blatent rubbish (1)

YourExperiment (1081089) | about 5 years ago | (#27550333)

Innovation in games, pointless or otherwise? Point me at it. Yeah, there's the odd exception like Portal, but generally you have to head for the indie sector to find any innovation at all. God knows what the author was thinking, except maybe: -
  1. Write article which describes exact opposite to reality.
  2. Somehow get posted to front page of /.
  3. ...
  4. Profit.

I hear you on this (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | about 5 years ago | (#27550343)

I can think of a couple of great examples of this.

Back in the early days of the RTS, the formula was that you had one resource to harvest. In order to create complexity, games started adding more resource types. This ultimately made the game more cumbersome to play without adding as much material benefit. The counter to this is what newer games like Dawn of War does with adding strategic locations to the map, hold the location and you get request points for more units.

The original Master of Orion was an excellent 4x game. The sequel sought to add more depth by giving each star planets and you now had to build things on each planet. Instead of adding depth, it just made the game more tedious. This same problem could be seen in typical 4x games like Civ where it was great fun to tweak the cities in the early stages but became increasingly monotonous as empires grew. The problem here was driven home to me when I played an ultra-minimal space game on my Palm. You have one type of planet, one type of ship. You can invest in ship production, factory production, and research. Research will put your ships up to the next tech level. Combat consists of a stack of your ship and a stack of their ships going at it one on one. The tech is weighed between your ship and the enemy's and it does a coin toss. God is on the side with more ships and higher tech. A map on this game that would have taken hours in Master of Orion can be swept in 20 minutes. The core elements of the game are there, just stripped down to the most minimal.

It's very easy to add more crap to a game and far more difficult to add something useful. And sadly, it can be rather subjective as to what truly adds depth and what's simple tedium.

Confuses "innovation" with "number of features" (4, Insightful)

TRACK-YOUR-POSITION (553878) | about 5 years ago | (#27550369)

Citing Shadow of the Colossus as an example of why we don't need innovation is confused. SotC doesn't have a huge list of asterisks on the back of the box (you know, *Multiplayer! *Online Player! *User Modications! *Physics simulator!). Nonetheless, SotC stands out from the pack. SotC's innovation was omission--like it's wikipedia entry says, "The game is unusual within the action-adventure genre in that there are no towns or dungeons to explore, no characters with which to interact, and no enemies to defeat other than the colossi." It was unusual because of what wasn't there. Well-designed simplicity is innovation.

If you just re-worded this rant to be against adding stuff for the sake of adding stuff instead of against innovation, then it would been making a rather insightful point. As it is, it's just flamebait.

Maybe you didn't like Mirror's Edge, but whatever problems it has are unique problems. Citing it as an example of what's wrong with the industry is deeply obtuse.

Limted shared resources. (1)

arthurh3535 (447288) | about 5 years ago | (#27550385)

Another problem is that in most games they are having to rewrite their engine, create all new artwork and figure out new ways to stand out.

It's actually really horrible that every single new game has to just about recreate everything. It would be like every new book requiring that the rebuild presses and typefaces to print them. Sadly, copyright infringements 'threats' are being used to make things harder. You can't use an actual car in a game, so they have to make a car that *looks* similar to the real thing.

Then appy that to basically just about everything. So much needless work being done over and over. So much wastage.

Easy.. (1)

Composite_Armor (1203112) | about 5 years ago | (#27550553)

Microsoft should finish what they started,

or at least, try again;

Allegiance~2

I believe the original cross-class, fps/sim/rt.strat game could expand to cross platform, massive multiplayer, etc,

check out Alleg [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegiance_(computer_game)]
and the community [http://www.freeallegiance.org/]

however, this would ruin the best thing alleg' has going for it; the fact no one knows about it.

Be Warned; the learning curve in this game is tough. dont expect to even know what's going on, even after a month of daily play.

innovation is progress (4, Interesting)

Deanalator (806515) | about 5 years ago | (#27550567)

Maybe because without innovation, any art form dies?

People who start thinking innovation is pointless are entering what is called the "old man" stage of their life. What they fail to realise is that it is hard to motivate a group of artists to do the same shit they did last year, and artists almost always are the ones driving any successful project. Of course you need to get your fundamentals right, but without innovation, there is no progress. Even if innovation flops, it still progresses the art.

While we're at it, why not ask why physicists work on pointless theories that won't pan out in the end, or ask why mathematicians design models that no one will ever use? The reason is because every once in a while, something catches fire and changes the way we think about things, and the only way to know if that will happen is to publish.

Yep, yep, yep. (2, Interesting)

jonadab (583620) | about 5 years ago | (#27550613)

Jazz Jackrabbit was fun to play. It was zippy, on the hardware of the day. (First time I saw it, my immediate reaction was, "I didn't know a 386 could *do* that." On a 486 it *flew*.) It has interesting music. The characters and artwork were well-drawn. I don't know if it was _innovative_, but it was a good, fun game.

So then what did they do for the sequel? They decided that they just had to make it *different*. It used DirectX and ran on Windows 95, so it was *not* particularly zippy -- slower on a Pentium II / 233 than the previous game had been on a 386 SX / 16. The artwork and characters, if you compare them side-by-side, look like they probably took more effort to create (more shading, TrueColor, twinkle effects, blah, blah -- higher technical quality), but if you just sit down to play the game, the art in JJ2 doesn't look as cheery and fun (it uses duller colors), isn't in at all the same visual style, and, generally, fails to impress. It's not innovative, it's not particularly interesting, it doesn't bring anything particularly worthwhile to the table, and on the whole it's not as *fun* as the original.

Descent was a really fun game, addictive even. It was innovative -- the first truly 3D game. Not 3D as in flat sprites in a flat maze seen from an internal perspective, like Wolfenstein and Doom, but *actually* 3D: three-dimensional maps, three-dimensional robot enemies, three-dimensional controls, the works. And it was fun to play. Descent II was more of the same. A few new weapons, a bunch of new robots, some new textures for the mine walls, and now you could shoot out lights and darken a room, but basically it was the same game. And lo, it was a good, fun game.

Then they sat down to make Descent 3, and they said unto themselves, "We must not make another game like the first two. We must make this one New and Better and Different and Innovative." So they abandoned the efficient level architecture and rendering engine that made the first two games play smoothly on the hardware of the day, and they built an entirely new game engine that required a high-end (for the day) graphics card, with 3D acceleration. They introduced new weapons again, but they also introduced an entirely new look and feel, and it fundamentally no longer felt like the same game. When fans of the series complained about the onerous new system requirements, they were told, "If your hardware doesn't meet these standards, you are not part of the target audience." Apparently the "target audience" consisted of hardcore gamers only. And behold, Descent 3 flopped.

These are old stories now. Today you can buy hardware that will run Descent 3 smoothly for a beggar's pocket lint, plus shipping, on ebay. I suppose you can probably also get Descent 3 on ebay for $notmuch, but who would want to?

My personal bugbear (1)

AAWood (918613) | about 5 years ago | (#27550657)

Slightly offtopic (on Slashdot?!?), but my own choice for worst innovation in modern gaming is regenerative healing in FPS games.

Its not always bad or wrong... It made sense in Halo to have regenerative shielding due to the setting (and didn't make sense in The Getaway, which I KNOW isn't an FPS but I have to mention it before someone pipes up to mention Halo isn't technically the innovator of the concept), and a lot of Sci-Fi games benefit from it for similar reasons. I also quite liked how FarCry 2 handled it... Tiny wounds get shrugged off with time, if they accumulate you're stuck with them, and magic healing syringes are plentiful to carry, but not easy to find in the field.

But I'll be damned if I can find a single excuse for current-era or WW2-era FPS games having regenerative healing. What is that? A WW2 soldier takes a rocket to the face, but hey, all he has to do is hide around the corner for a few seconds and, BAM, fit as a fiddle? Really?

And OK, I know the old stalwort of FPS games, the Health Pack, doesn't make *much* more sense ("It's OK, we'll reconstruct your landmine-kicking leg using bandages! All done!") But at least it feels slightly more sensible thematically.

"Ooooh, but it aids the flow of the game! It's all about the flow!" Don't give me that. With autosaves and checkpoints being ever denser, it doesn't really matter if I lose 15 seconds from having to replay a small section of level or from hiding in an out-of-the-way corner waiting for my health to come back. Or hey, here's an idea, why not come up with some innovative new approach that doesn't rely on instant healing packs OR regenerative healing?

Now hey, it's not my job to come up with that new approach... It wouldn't be innovation if you got it from some random Slashdot poster... But I do have a couple of ideas, if you want to hire this gorgeous little brain of mine.

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