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Game Genres — Descriptive Or Restrictive?

Soulskill posted about 3 years ago | from the still-waiting-on-a-tetris-mmo dept.

Games 87

An opinion piece at Rock, Paper, Shotgun questions whether the way we classify video games limits creativity and innovation in game development. "If the next Modern Warfare introduced dramatically different themes, there would be uproar. Sure, set it on the moon, but make sure I’m a grunt following the NPCs who get to play the game, or I’ll swear at you on the internet." The author suggests that the rise of casual games may in part be attributable to their creators' willingness to break with established themes and blend together different types of play. "There's huge risk to blurring. It makes the game more difficult to market, it defies customers’ expectations, and it requires educating the public. It’s safe to make yet another COD clone, because we all know them and what they do. And they're what we want! But like the child who's never tried a new food, refusing to eat it because it's different leads to a very limited and dull palate."

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87 comments

No more sequels (1)

bonch (38532) | about 3 years ago | (#35795488)

If the next Modern Warfare introduced dramatically different themes, there would be uproar. Sure, set it on the moon, but make sure I’m a grunt following the NPCs who get to play the game, or I’ll swear at you on the internet.

Then perhaps it shouldn't be another damn Modern Warfare game. How about--gasp--a brand new game. I get that not making sequels each year requires creativity and risk, but think of the reward.

Re:No more sequels (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35795592)

Well, if there were no sequels to the original Call of Duty, we probably wouldn't had seen Modern Warfare or Modern Warfare 2. And those were both stunning games as a single player and multiplayer (I'm sure someone is going to respond to this about the whole server thing, but regardless that)

Re:No more sequels (1)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | about 3 years ago | (#35796258)

I enjoyed CoD and its expansion pack far more than any other CoD game. The "hide behind a crate to heal" mechanic ruined CoD2 for me. All games break with reality, but that break is just too big for me to be able to accept, and IMO not very fun.

Re:No more sequels (1)

Dhalka226 (559740) | about 3 years ago | (#35796430)

I'm going to complain about the server thing, though not from the angle you're expecting.

The very first thing any good programmer learns is not to trust user input. With dedicated servers, that is less of an issue because the server itself is under your control. With P2P "servers," every client is potentially a server -- meaning hacks on their end are "the truth" because the server says so.

I don't believe I have ever experienced a single level of prestige in MW2 that I was not at least partially prestige hacked, just by clicking "Find Game" and happening to be dropped into a server that wants to do it to me. Often times, this has occurred even without my MOVING much less making a single kill. I remember one in particular where I logged in and heard nothing but tubes detonating, but it sounded like they were coming out of a freakin' chain gun. I looked down and saw the score was something like 1 million to 800,000,000, so I left the server. That was enough to be prestige hacked. With custom servers supposedly prohibited, can anybody explain to me why my client can't know that a Team Deathmatch game has a maximum possible 75 kills I could have made?

Now, prestige hacks are annoying--one of the reasons I prestige is to play my way back up--but ultimately they're a positive occurance (the only real difference is that I suddenly have access to all my guns and equipment instead of a subset of them) so I can overlook them slightly.

But please explain to me why, other than "Infinity Ward took the cheap-ass non-server route and then took the cheap-ass don't-validate-against-idiocy route to compound it," that the last hack server I was on TOOK AWAY EVERYTHING I HAD? I was the same rank, the same prestige -- but I had no titles, no icons, no lifetime kills on any of my weapons. My lifetime kill to death ratio was 0:0. My lifetime won-lost ration was 0:0. They forgot to clear my lifetime assists and lifetime ties, which made for an amusing sight. Why in the bloody fuck should my client possibly accept the notion that I played a game where I not only killed nobody (unlikely but plausible), but had negative kills? And deaths? It even changed the name of my first custom class to "WTF??????" Why the hell would a P2P server even have access to that fucking information, much less be able to write it?

Then, yes, there are the regular concerns with a lack of dedicated servers. The game becomes progressively more unplayable as the night drags on. I'm alright up until about 7-8PM Central time. At about 10pm, my ping doubles to the point where I will just mysteriously die, like when I fire shots or knife somebody and watch their killcam and I did none of those things. If I play into the early mornings, 2-3 AM, it becomes unplayable in nearly every game. Occasionally I stumble into a game with a good host, but that's pretty fucking rare when the people you're playing against are suddenly comprised almost entirely of Russians, Australians and Asians, many of whom I am convinced have a tin can with a string as an Internet connection.

They had an awesome concept with their multiplayer, one I really enjoyed, but they blew it. I didn't buy Black Ops, partially because of this (partially because it is from a different creator and partially because I know the entire Infinity Ward crew is gone from the series). There's an excellent chance I will not be buying Modern Warfare 3. Even if it has dedicated servers. Because they've simply ruined my goodwill with their cheapass tactics and terrible coding.

I enjoy the multiplayer, I really do. But if there is anything "stunning" about it, it's how many gaping holes there are.

Re:No more sequels (1)

haystor (102186) | about 3 years ago | (#35796514)

You leave off that the largest multiplayer was 9v9. Quake I had 8v8 and larger maps. There is no excuse for a PC game playing anything less that 32 player.

I went back to TF2 until BC2 came out.

Re:No more sequels (2)

DragonTHC (208439) | about 3 years ago | (#35796772)

I'm not going to respond about the server thing, just this...

MW2 was not stunning. It was most of the same with a side of the same.

Modern Warfare was truly stunning. MW2 was "just a sequel" Unfortunately, the format changed slightly. The formula didn't produce the same results as the first in my opinion.

That's much the same as Madden 2011, which is just a sequel which changed the format slightly. It's a safe ROI. That's not restrictive, it's business.

Re:No more sequels (1)

Torinir (870836) | about 3 years ago | (#35795672)

If the next Modern Warfare introduced dramatically different themes, there would be uproar. Sure, set it on the moon, but make sure I’m a grunt following the NPCs who get to play the game, or I’ll swear at you on the internet.

Then perhaps it shouldn't be another damn Modern Warfare game. How about--gasp--a brand new game. I get that not making sequels each year requires creativity and risk, but think of the reward.

They won't do it. Not as long as Call of Duty can rake in billions of dollars a year for a sequel that is almost identical to its predecessor. Hell, they haven't had a new engine for the entire series, they just keep tinkering with the old modified id tech 3 engine. It would take having the CoD series flop massively to get Activision to actually look at new IPs. They ran all of their other major IPs into the ground, why would they break from standard operating procedures now?

Re:No more sequels (1)

Golddess (1361003) | about 3 years ago | (#35796386)

Not as long as Call of Duty can rake in billions of dollars a year for a sequel that is almost identical to its predecessor.

Except OP doesn't seem to be talking about making a new game instead of a sequel that is almost identical to its predecessor. Sounds more like OP is saying that if you are already planning on making a game with drastic changes from what you've done before, instead of making it a sequel, make it a brand new franchise.

I'm not saying such a plan is viable, only that that seems to be what OP meant.

Re:No more sequels (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 3 years ago | (#35796642)

That's a pretty silly example. An FPS is an FPS, whether it's set in Iraq or on the Moon. This in no way demonstrates how genres can be restrictive.

Re:No more sequels (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35799240)

An FPS is an FPS, whether it's set in Iraq or on the Moon.

There is room for variation among FPSes. Watching over someone's shoulder, I don't know BC2 from CoD, but there's a pretty significant gameplay difference between, for example, Shattered Horizon and Battlefield 1942. You might as well say, "a video game is a video game."

Re:No more sequels (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | about 3 years ago | (#35796708)

one of the most compelling reasons to make a sequel is the almost guaranteed ROI.

New IP requires great risk.

There's no lack of creativity in the industry. There's a lack of willingness to take risk.

me personally? I'd like to see them tell a great story, rather than introduce 10 new features.

They have found winning formats. They need to tell different stories now.

Imagine all the stories that can be told with the Red Dead Redemption game format. Pirates, Knights, Astronauts, Zombies, Robots, (ahem) Film Noire. There's a million stories waiting to be told in that award winning and customer preferred format.

FPS... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35795532)

Frist Post on Slashdot

Hey! (1)

wjousts (1529427) | about 3 years ago | (#35795594)

But like the child who's never tried a new food, refusing to eat it because it's different leads to a very limited and dull palate.

I like my dull palate, thank you very much! (for food at least, not so much for games)

But seriously, the real clamp on creativity is business. Publishers don't want to take risks developing increasingly expensive games only to see them not sell. They want a pretty good feel that they will make a profit and the best way to do that is to ape an existing, successful game. It's not right, it's not good for the long-term health of gaming (or even the publishers themselves), but from a purely capitalist POV, it makes sense.

All to Common (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35795600)

I noticed this a lot when Civ V came out. Everybody kept complaining that "x was included in Civ IV, but not in Civ V." If you want to play Civ IV, go play Civ IV. Why would I want to spend $50 to buy Civ V if it's just Civ IV with updated graphics?

Re:All to Common (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | about 3 years ago | (#35796148)

I've honestly had problems with this as well, actually. I've never played any of the Civilization games (excuse me for a moment while I put on a flame-retardant suit.), but I have seen sequels that inexplicably remove a feature that worked fine in the previous game for apparently no reason. Games should *add* on to the existing framework, not take things away. The one exception, of course, is if the concept just won't fit in with the current game, but there are a lot of things that are flat out inexplicable.

Re:All to Common (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35796930)

Ignoring the fact you haven't played any Civ game (heathen), I'll disagree that you should only add to the game. The problem is that if you just keep adding, then the game gets completely overwhelmed with features and you lose some of what makes the game fun in the first place.

Take the Heroes of Might & Magic (HoMM) games. HoMM 3 was the peak of the series for me. It had more detailed heroes than the previous games, more interesting setup, better story, etc. But thhen HoMM 4 comes along and tries to add more. And, frankly, it didn't work.

Game design is a balancing act, and I think at some point you do have to remove some features to make room for others. This also allows for experimentation in the features a game offers, which can be important for a more involved game like the Civs.

Re:All to Common (1)

damiangerous (218679) | about 3 years ago | (#35797542)

That doesn't make sense in a strategy game at all. The whole point of a new iteration is to refine the rules. That means trying new things, but it also means drastically changing or removing concepts that weren't ideal.

it take time for people to like new stuff (1)

softWare3ngineer (2007302) | about 3 years ago | (#35795630)

People dont like new right aways so companies loose in sales, thus people dont make them all that often. if you want new games vote with you wallets and dont buy remakes. to bad that is never going to happen. you almost have to trick people into liking new things by making gradual changes from the old stuff.

Re:it take time for people to like new stuff (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35796448)

How can someone who is able to correctly use the word 'thus' also able to misspell 'lose'?

Re:it take time for people to like new stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35798952)

You know, this is why I buy remakes.

dead /.er? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35795634)

whatever happened to pojut? kinda fell off the earth

What? (2)

YodasEvilTwin (2014446) | about 3 years ago | (#35795650)

Yeah, if the next Call of Duty game was a third-person platformer or something there would be an uproar ... BECAUSE IT WOULDN'T BE CALL OF DUTY. It would be some other game with the name slapped on. That has nothing at all to do with genres limiting games. If you make a different game, call it a different name. That way names are actually useful information, y'know? Remember how language is for conveying meaning? Jeez.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35795808)

Yeah, I'm totally confused by this argument as well. When a game adds features that revolutionize the genre and make some new conglomerate it can only increase sales.

See: Borderlands, System Shock, Half Life 1, etc.

Re:What? (1)

WraithCube (1391567) | about 3 years ago | (#35796934)

The problem is that a lot of the times a game will try and do that they will add features but it won't revolutionize the genre. For every half life or portal game there are hundreds of titles that try something risky and completely flop.

Look at all the games that have tried to blend RTS and FPS games as examples (which in theory would work together well but is terrible in practice for a variety of reasons. Raven Squad on the xbox360 got terrible reviews. Battleswarm [battleswarm.net] is a free to play game and seems fairly well done and is having difficulty gaining an audience.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35795904)

Depends on what you're using the define Call of Duty. If it's "Call of Duty is an FPS", then sure. But if it's the world, storyline, and design than Call of Duty can be anything it wants in terms of gameplay. Similar to Halo versus Halo Wars. If they made a Call of Duty strategy game where you did the higher level strategy of the missions that CoD generally plays out, and the theme and settings were all in CoD, and everything felt as epic or whatever as CoD tries to be, is that not CoD?

Re:What? (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 3 years ago | (#35796714)

You know, Killzone on the PSP was an overhead isometric shooter instead of an FPS. Nobody complained, since it's an awesome game.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35804122)

*facepalm*

Really? They changed a game for a low powered handheld? And both of the people who own one didn't complain? I'm SHOCKED!

eh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35795796)

Well, sure if the next Modern Warfare veered drastically from the pattern set up by previous games in the series, people would complain. But I think you could break any rules about FPSs that you wanted if starting a game unconnected with existing series.

Well... (1)

Lunaritian (2018246) | about 3 years ago | (#35795860)

One reason why these "genre-blurring" games are not so popular could be that they're really hard to advertise. If you make a new FPS for example, it's easy to list out things which makes your FPS better than others. But if you make a totally new kind of game, there's nothing to compare it to. These games may become huge successes, but it usually takes time (like Minecraft - under 20k sales in the first year, 100 times that in the second), and companies rarely seem to think about the future - they want profit NOW.

Besides, if a game costs 50$, gamers rarely buy it if they have no idea of what they're going to get. Cheap casual games are much easier to sell.

What we want? (1)

jaymz666 (34050) | about 3 years ago | (#35795864)

COD may be what you want, but it sure isn't what I want. I would love something new and fresh, or even an update of OLD titles that were great but weren't from the same 4 or 5 different type of game. FPS games are not that much different from each other in the grand scheme of things.

Re:What we want? (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 3 years ago | (#35797492)

I would love something new and fresh, or even an update of OLD titles that were great but weren't from the same 4 or 5 different type of game.

Its time for a modern remake of Elite.

Not Restricted to Games (4, Insightful)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | about 3 years ago | (#35795900)

Creator Strategy #1: Give people more of what they have demonstrated they want. Reality TV Show Model 7B, Over-Loud Snarky-Catch-Phraseful Hero Summer Popcorn Movie 6A, or the latest Honor Harrington book. It amuses me, you make it, I buy it, you get paid and feed your family. Repeat. It's called "The Entertainment Business," and Joss Whedon is secretly laughing at all of you who are writing deep existential doctoral theses about Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Creator Strategy #2: Come up with something Entirely Brand New That Has Never Been Tried, convince a studio or publisher to invest millions into it, and hope to God someone besides you wants it. It's called "Art," it requires those dicey things "Risk" and "Vision," and lots of perfectly lovely and talented people who practice it are eating their one daily meal of ramen noodles as I write this. If they're lucky, their art catches on, it gets assimilated into The Entertainment Business, and the creator can kick back in preparation for becoming rich and laughing at the nerds earnestly considering writing deep existential doctoral theses about their game/movie/book/new Pez flavor.

Re:Not Restricted to Games (2)

c0d3g33k (102699) | about 3 years ago | (#35796180)

Joss Whedon is secretly laughing at all of you who are writing deep existential doctoral theses about Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Oh, I don't know about that. The "high school as hell" metaphor that the show was based on seems pretty danged existential to me, so further analysis by the fans isn't a huge stretch. Besides, he wouldn't secretly laugh - he'd publicly make a snarky yet witty metaphorical comment about the whole Buffy Studies thing and maybe weave it into a future storyline.

Re:Not Restricted to Games (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35796228)

So, Joss Whedon may or may not be laughing at you, but I sure am.

Re:Not Restricted to Games (1)

c0d3g33k (102699) | about 3 years ago | (#35813930)

Yeah - I deserve it. Should have written my thesis about something useful like Buffy instead of molecular transport across cell membranes. What a waste of time that was. :-)

Re:Not Restricted to Games (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35796328)

Your deep cynicism and amusing egotism make up for some of the more ignorant remarks you make.

Posts like this remind me why I keep you on my friends list.

Re:Not Restricted to Genres (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35796410)

Genre templates are merely a symptom of the larger disease. Turning any creative endeavor into a business ultimately leaches the creative qualities from it.

Trying fresh, new ideas is risky. Business is risk-averse.

No (1)

LainTouko (926420) | about 3 years ago | (#35795908)

We've classified games into genres almost forever. The modern complete lack of innovation is a more recent phenomenon, probably brought about by the graphics arms race and the greater budgets which have resulted; the more money you're spending, the more corporates and committees need to be convinced it's going to bring in a return.

I think it started happening at about the same time that it started to become common for games to have multiple sequels. I remember once observing that you never saw fourth versions of things. See them all the time now.

Re:No (3, Interesting)

Gravatron (716477) | about 3 years ago | (#35796056)

Sorry, but this 'lack of innovation' is nothing new. even if you look back to the NES era, a lot of games were just generic shooter/platformer/mascot games. This is still true today, as most games are just clones with a small twist of some other game.

New, untested IP is something you don't see a lot, but it happens. Sony, for example, seems to start each new generation with some new IP, and MS seems to like that as well. Ninetendo tends to stick with established characters whenever possible though, even if it puts them into a new genre.

Re:No (2)

LainTouko (926420) | about 3 years ago | (#35796608)

Hordes of derivative and uninspired entries in the lower half of the market is a given in practically any media market and age. You ignore them, and pay attention to what the top guys are doing. And once upon a time, untested "IP" as you call it was frequently found. I don't know much about the console scene, but I'm sure today, if a game such as, say, Gods arrived, with rarely or never seen ingredients on the level of its "help bonuses" for struggling players, and monsters which avoid firepower and pick objects up, its level of innovation would be regarded as most acceptable, even rather praiseworthy. In its own day, the Bitmaps were criticised for not pushing the boat out as much as other developers of similar levels of talent.

No way! (3, Funny)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 3 years ago | (#35795914)

If EA releases Tiger Woods Gold 2012 there would be complaints if it was actually a NASCAR simulator?
If the next Modern Warfare was a turn based role playing game there'd be complaints?

No shit, sherlock.

But if the new game isn't given the same damn name and put in the same damn franchise then it can be completely different. If you want it to be "blurring" but within the same main gameplay then give it a name that indicates that and no one (well there will always be someone) will complain

Re:No way! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35796142)

If the next Modern Warfare was a turn based role playing game there'd be complaints?

Not from me. I'd love that.

Re:No way! (2)

BlaKnail (545030) | about 3 years ago | (#35796818)

If EA releases Tiger Woods Gold 2012 there would be complaints if it was actually a NASCAR simulator?

Actually, I think they could successfully pull off a Tiger Woods dating sim.

Re:No way! (4, Funny)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about 3 years ago | (#35799662)

I know what you mean. If someone took WarcraftIII and made a RPG off of it nobody would ever play it.

Re:No way! (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 3 years ago | (#35804192)

Of course they would. If you did what I said and gave it a suitable name. Say World of Warcraft. If you called it Warcraft IV I'm pretty sure you'd see some complaining

Just Try (3, Insightful)

Arthus (2025474) | about 3 years ago | (#35795960)

I try new genres every year and can never actually enjoy them all but it is important to try new things. It brought me to Shadows of the Colossus (the most amazing game). You should play it.

LA Noire (1)

dingen (958134) | about 3 years ago | (#35795978)

I feel LA Noire should be mentioned here. Combining a sandbox game with elements from classic adventure games, and releasing it as a pure single player only game in 2011 sure is bold!

Re:LA Noire (1)

jakobX (132504) | about 3 years ago | (#35796342)

But releasing it only on platforms that dont support the only sane method of control for that type of game is just awful. The same happened with red dead redemption and Alan Wake. I have an xbox but im not going to play such games on a controller. But then again its a rockstar game and we all know how awesome their pc ports are so maybe its good thing its console only.

Re:LA Noire (1)

dingen (958134) | about 3 years ago | (#35796866)

I'm not with you there. I have no problems whatsoever playing these type of games with a controller and I fully understand their choice of releasing it only on consoles.

Re:LA Noire (1)

Emetophobe (878584) | about 3 years ago | (#35796872)

Thanks for bringing that game to my attention, I've never heard of it. I absolutely love adventure games and murder mysteries. I recently just finished playing Heavy Rain and I absolutely loved it. I wish we could see more games like that.

New is risky, old is a sure bet (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 3 years ago | (#35795996)

It can be condensed to this. Try something new and it might bomb because it's either not delivering what it promised (Spore) or because it simply ain't what users are used to. Also, let's not forget 60 bucks is quite an investment for the average gamer. He is kinda shy to dump that on a game he doesn't know whether he'll enjoy or not. He has no problem sending those 60 bucks the way of Whatevergameheliked II. He liked the first, so he'll buy the second.

Of course, the sequel MUST NOT diverge from the original, or our gamer will be pissed, even if the game is halfway decent but simply not a "true" sequel (Supreme Commander 2), or he will be completely disappointed and your franchise tarnished forever if you managed to pull a complete dud (Perimeter 2).

So the formula for sequels is to keep the original "taste" but add some "flavor". And that's pretty much what is done in most (successful) sequels. They reiterate the gameplay of the prequel and add a facet to it. Be it more options (Mass Effect), a different setting (Battlefield, CoD) or simply a continuation of the story and a few goodies thrown in (Halo).

Rather than a big studio trying something completely new, you'll first see something like this emerge from an indie studio on a 10 bucks bargain bin game, and if the formula fits a studio will pick up the idea. Unfortunately, this does not really lead to "epic" games, unless they just wrap the new gameplay style in some "epic" story element. Which often doesn't really work THAT well...

More restrictive than descriptive (3, Insightful)

eepok (545733) | about 3 years ago | (#35796120)

When I was beta testing DC Universe Online, every new batch of testers to be allowed in had a hand full of people who would invariably complain: "If you don't add X, Y, and Z, you'll never be able to beat WoW!" or "Clicking in your own combo moves is ANNOYING! Where's the auto-attack?"

While DCUO labeled itself as an Action MMO (heavier on the action), that MMO(rpg) label still carried with it some pretty hefty preconceived notions regarding game mechanics and even story progression. It was the basis of a massive amount of discussion which, in my opinion, would have been better used as testing the beta instead of arm-chair developing.

The summary - take two (1)

Hultis (1969080) | about 3 years ago | (#35796134)

An opinion piece at Rock, Paper, Shotgun questions whether the way we classify music limits creativity and innovation in the music industry. "If the next Britney Spears album introduced dramatically different themes, there would be uproar. Sure, set it on the moon, but make sure I never need to hear something that sounds different, or I’ll swear at you on the internet." The author suggests that the creators' willingness to break with established themes and blend together different music genres may in part be attributable to new distribution channels. "There's huge risk to blurring. It makes the music more difficult to market, it defies customers’ expectations, and it requires educating the public. It’s safe to make yet another Lady Gaga clone, because we all know them and what they do. And they're what we want! But like the child who's never tried a new food, refusing to eat it because it's different leads to a very limited and dull palate."

Portal (1)

Megahard (1053072) | about 3 years ago | (#35796162)

This is why Portal was packaged in the Orange Box - as a genre-breaking game it was too risky to release on its own (beside being too short). Interesting to have this discussion on the eve of the release of Portal 2 as a mainstream game.

Re:Portal (1)

ifrag (984323) | about 3 years ago | (#35797010)

Yes, but Valve is really one of the very few major developers actually doing any appreciable amount of experimentation. The vast majority of the innovation is still firmly seated in the Indie projects. That is until Valve hires them anyway.

Re:Portal (1)

lennier1 (264730) | about 3 years ago | (#35797616)

It doesn't hurt that Valve has realized the advantages of making your software accessible so you can buy up promising unusual indie projects based on it and more than recoup your initial costs.
And that's coming from someone who usually prefers the "nuke it from orbit" type of games (Fallout 3, Crysis, Doom, UT, ...).

Re:Portal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35799348)

What exactly is Valve up to these days? I never see anything other than Portal 2 and selling new TF2 swag.

Of course it's restrictive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35796164)

ANY kind of labeling is restrictive. When you move away from the particulars (shooting, powerups, multiplayer, first person) and create an abstraction like a label ("FPS"), you're at best trying to pick and choose particulars to build your label. Unfortunately, something will always be left out. If you want unbounded creativity, eschew labels.

well (0)

gelu (2038836) | about 3 years ago | (#35796224)

I try new genres every year and can never actually enjoy them all but it is important to try new things. This is why Portal was packaged in the Orange Box - as a genre-breaking game it was too risky to release on its own (beside being too short).

Genres aren't the problem. (2)

MaWeiTao (908546) | about 3 years ago | (#35796244)

Why are genres restrictive? Adventure, first-person shooter, role-playing, platforming... Those are all extremely broad. They're as broad as genres in movies or novels might be. Just because Hollywood as chosen to restrict sci-fi to alien invasions the last few years doesn't mean the genre itself is limiting. What's limiting is the creativity of the developer.

But then the real problem is that those tired old themes evidently sell. We can harp on how derivative games have become but the fact is that as with Hollywood blockbusters, they sell. It's no secret developers and publishers are risk averse. These games cost a fortune to produce, with their bloated production values, but they're guaranteed to sell. And every couple of years someone takes the plunge and does try something different which turns out to be a big success. And that's inevitably followed by everyone else jumping on the bandwagon. However, the fact is that different and creative isn't always better, especially in gaming where gameplay should always be the core focus.

My fundamental problem with a lot of American gaming is the over-the-top machismo, guy with gun trope. I think it's this obnoxious ego-fueled culture which has inhibited real creativity. Although, Nintendo has been a nice balance to all that. However, I'm convinced that in Japan you'll find far more creative gaming because culturally they're not so fixated on ego. And it's certainly not restricted to gaming, look at popular music.

That said, there is a massive amount of variety out there, probably more than we've ever had before. We do get a lot of gaming from Japan. And indie gaming has dramatically expanded our gaming options.

Re:Genres aren't the problem. (1)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | about 3 years ago | (#35797232)

My fundamental problem with a lot of American gaming is the over-the-top machismo, guy with gun trope.
Yeah, you raise a good point, I really can't stand those films by that American Director John Woo. Why couldn't he be more sophisticated like those Asian directors. Instead of an over the top machismo, guy with gun, I prefer the androgynous, emo guy with big ass sword trope. PS. Dragon Age 2 is consolized crap, which is what happens when you try to blend different genres quickly and under budget.

Re:Genres aren't the problem. (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#35797718)

Probably for the same reason that people hated FO3, it wasn't a Fallout game. The same reason that I hate the "new and imporoved" Lara Croft, it's not the same character as before.

It doesn't mean that it's wrong to do it, just that people form expectations even before they start playing, and if those expectations don't set them up for the game, you can ruin a perfectly good experience.

Music Genres, Descriptive or Restrictive? (1)

goruka (1721094) | about 3 years ago | (#35796334)

Music Genres, Descriptive or Restrictive?
Movie Genres, Descriptive or Restritive?

We all know that human beings try to fit everything into different categories as a way of discerning and understanding. This process can be positive for many things such as science, but negative in other aspects such as social (leading to racism or discrimnation). Artistic genres exist so people will watch, play or listen to something they understand, something they are most comfortable or familiarized with, or simply, that it has elements that they know they like.

It's the same as with most youngs today, they will rather listen to Justin Bieber than Led Zeppelin, it's not so much about "quality" as an objective measure, but what they are familiar and comfortable with.

The rise of casual games, I believe has more to do with games being more available in general (most people will definitely not pay $50 to play a game genre they never played). The same phenomena can be observed with music, movies and tv series thanks to piracy, which allows viewers to check out and explore new content with little effort (not waiting for a specific broadcast time, or paying for a dvd/br release), while still being able to follow trends and socialize about it.

In short, make content more accesible, and people will be more prone to leave their comfort zone..

Only for existing series (1)

Wiarumas (919682) | about 3 years ago | (#35796338)

Mass Effect - what is it? RPG? FPS? Adventure? It didn't matter - it was awesome. However, taking CoD and turning it into a Mass Effect type genre would be a disaster only because people expect a certain genre from the CoD series. Example - Sim Societies. If you want to create something new, make sure it is good and has an original title. So yes, Modern Warfare shouldn't be taken in a new direction, but naming it XYZ, from the creators of Modern Warfare, might do extremely well if its a good game.

Re:Only for existing series (1)

lennier1 (264730) | about 3 years ago | (#35796460)

Mostly I have to agree with you. You need a story and a basic premise which supports the choice of game types. Like turning the newer Fallout games into a FPS with close integration of RPG elements.

Re:Only for existing series (1)

dstyle5 (702493) | about 3 years ago | (#35796552)

The first ME was more RPG than FPS, while ME2 focused more on "streamlining" out the RPG features and making it more of a FPS than an RPG. I hope they bring back more of the RPG depth of ME1 to ME3 since in their haste to streamline they overdid it, IMO. I also hope they focus the story more on a few central characters, I found ME2's to be too broad and therefore bland. Quality not quantity please BioWare.

Re:Only for existing series (1)

Dorkmaster Flek (1013045) | about 3 years ago | (#35796890)

Personally, I found the elements that were streamlined in ME2 were the ones I disliked in ME1. Mostly micromanaging your team's inventory. That spreadsheet aspect of most traditional RPGs can go fuck itself as far as I'm concerned. I also felt like ME2 had a bigger main story but less side quests. I personally liked this, as it meant that I saw most or all of the game more easily. In ME1, I was bombarded with random side quests triggered by overhearing announcements on elevators that I didn't give a shit about, filling up my quest log. In ME2, the loyalty quests were optional, but they tied directly into the suicide mission at the very end. I liked that a lot more. I also enjoyed the characters more in ME1. Well, Tali is still the same and you get Grunt instead of Wrex, but Kaiden and Ashley were lame. I never liked either of them much. Garrus I loved and was thrilled when I found him in ME2.

Re:Only for existing series (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35797290)

Playing back through ME2 now and I can agree with you. One of the issues with side quests that always irked me was this notion that, "OMFG we gotta save the world! But do you have time to swing through this place first and pick up some milk?" Too much side questing dilutes the immersion factor of the overarching plot, mainly because it can feel like the game is just saying that oh so important apocalypse you're supposed to stop isn't that important after all. ME2's side quests are tied into the overarching plots nicely, and I always felt like the main story was even close to important.

Game classification has always been flakey (3, Insightful)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 3 years ago | (#35796496)

Any classification system, whether its writing, movies or games is inherently limiting. There have been constant attempts, even by big companies to blend genres. The 'action -rpg' which has more or less replaced the pure RPG of years ago. All of the first person shooter technology folding into action/rpg games. Then there's the whole notions of strategy, grand strategy and so on. Even older games like X-com blended economics, tactical games and a strategic overview (sort of a crappy RTS) with city building. Star wars galaxies glues space shooter onto whatever you want to call the ground combat side of things. Those are more combined genres, it is both A and B just in different places. But something like dawn of war is half RPG half RTS at the same time (Warcraft III did this as well, and to a lesser extent WC2).

None of these classifications in gaming are particularly firm. One could also envision different (presumably better) classification systems. But changing how you define games comes with a huge consumer cost. I think you see more genre innovation in the casual space because 95% of them can fail. If you do that with call of duty, you take a big risk. Consumers have come to expect a particular type of experience, that's why they bought your product, don't mislead them into something else. And creating new IP is both hard and risky.

meh (1)

argStyopa (232550) | about 3 years ago | (#35796614)

I'm not sure it's quite as dogmatic as the RPS article makes it.

"Genre" descriptions are just that, generalizations that give you SOME idea of what you can expect in the package. If someone designs, say, a "racing" game, then yes, it's going to follow some of the genre tropes of racing. If it doesn't, then it self-evidently wouldn't be called a 'racing' game, no matter how much you wanted it to be so.

If you design a racing game that's in a persistent world, where you level up your toon by participating in races, and you get more abilities the more experience your character gained, that would be a 'racing mmo'. If the 'racing' bit was taken out - and you just raced by clicking into a race event and it was resolved for you - then it would simply be a 'race-themed mmo'.

To suggest that describing a game by genre is somehow lazy is just silly. It's one of the essential characteristics of things and humans' approach to identifying them that they are classified in sets, general to specific. No, not every game is unique, many (if not most) share gameplay elements with other earlier games, and this is useful to a consumer who is looking to drop $50 on a new title. Ooh, I hated the way Game X handled combat, if this is described as like game X or genre X, I don't waste my time on it. Did I give the game a fair shake? No, but my resources (including time) are finite, and one has to draw the line somewhere.

Yet another film comparison. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35796704)

Was Hitchcock restricted by always working in the same genre? Of course not. There's nothing inherit to genre work that prevents a producer from creating something good. Only the quality of the talent behind it matters.

AKA, Labels: Good or Bad? (1)

DarthVain (724186) | about 3 years ago | (#35796764)

Is a Tree a Tree, a Rock a Rock.

Sorry to get all philosophical on you, but that is basically how we identify stuff and communicate with each other. Pretty basic stuff.

The question if a good description is a good description is left up to the user.

MMO (1)

Dunge (922521) | about 3 years ago | (#35796862)

And when did the Multi Massive Online term became a synonym of WoW-type gameplay (rpg with spells, cooldown, no physical contact)?? When will MMO regain their original hype that we could have ANYTHING massively online?

Modern Warfare DID Blur Genres (1)

Rotag_FU (2039670) | about 3 years ago | (#35797138)

I found it amusing that the key example the author of article chose as a game that cannot change is the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series. This is one of the recent success stories of mainstream genre blurring! The Call of Duty series was growing stale, then the Modern Warfare branch was created which introduced persistent RPG elements (leveling, etc.) into the FPS genre (peanut butter meet chocolate). Far from an uproar, there was wide acclaim and commercial success. This is why Modern Warfare and its successors have been so successful: they completely revitalized the genre by performing so called genre blurring. In terms of other triple A games, Mass Effect started off as an RPG with FPS elements and Mass Effect 2 was more of an FPS with RPG elements, both were great and widely acclaimed. I'm not saying that genre blending isn't risky and that once a formula is established there aren't plenty of imitators (especially amongst triple A titles), but acting like mainstream titles have not been successful at genre blending and that it doesn't happen is ludicrous.

Magic Carpet is a good example (1)

roguegramma (982660) | about 3 years ago | (#35797298)

Magic Carpet is, or was, a good example for a game that really was unique and would neither fit the FPS tag or the flight simulator tag or strategy tag.

just like music (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 3 years ago | (#35797406)

Just like music, classification of a style allows artists to peruse that style within a set of guidelines to refine and perfect that style. When blues was first introduced, it was very much flapping in the wind with little form. Over the years it has become very ridged and an perfected.

There is still plenty of room for experimentation and much like music there are indy artists trying to push the boundaries. Most sounds/plays like crap. But eventually something new and interesting will pop up... Which will again get defined as a style... perfected... it's all part of a cycle. Genres/Styles and independent work are all good and all part of the same process.

They're what we want? (1)

parlancex (1322105) | about 3 years ago | (#35797702)

I use to find it hard to imagine the type of person who seriously gets excited about each and every single realistic first person shooter that comes out, thinking that it was just the game developers who were out of touch with reality, then more and more I found there was a huge overlapping audience of people who are basically just gun nuts. They get off on the realistic sounds and models based off real fire-arms in games, and that is seriously enough for them to want to play these games.

Speaking for the rest of us gamers, would all you gun nuts please do us a favor and kill yourself? Or stop playing games, you know, whatever.

They aren't restrictive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35798148)

Game genres do not restrict innovation in new games. If you are creating a new game, then the creators should create it as they want and not try and stuff it into a genre. If the developers and designers do not create new concepts and ideas in gaming, then it should not be blamed on the concept of genres. Instead it should just be taken as an instance in which the developers did not want to risk profit loss by straying from a proven concept.

I have a problem with your Modern Warfare example. If you create a new game in a series, then it is expected to follow the lead of its predecessors. Fans of a series became fans because they liked what the previous games offered. It is expected that they are going to criticize games when a new game is released, claiming to be part of a series, but strays from original concepts. That is common sense. This may limit innovation in a series... but this has nothing to do 'genres.' This has to do with the series.

Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35798790)

I really don't give a crap about this. All I care is that PORTAL 2 IS AWESOME!!!one!!

simple solution (1)

Khashishi (775369) | about 3 years ago | (#35800078)

If they wanted to change the motif, instead of calling it Modern Warfare X3, they could just call it, "World of Modern Warfare"

RPGs (2)

crossmr (957846) | about 3 years ago | (#35800724)

RPG hasn't meant RPG in..well..basically forever. Very few games that carry the RPG do so for any other reason than to try and lend credibility to their game. A very long time ago there was a great definition of RPG in a magazine, paraphrasing it went something like "An RPG is a game where you can make choices that have a meaningful and lasting impact on the game world"
Buying a chair doesn't count.
nor does picking whether your character uses a sword or a staff.

From TFA

“What if we were to include a way the player could develop their conversation skills, and open different paths?”

This unfortunately is also not an RPG, but is what is passed off as one these days. Choosing to go down the left or right hallway isn't much in the way of roleplaying. Roleplaying has basically come to meant that you have stat points or a skill-tree. These unfortunately have nothing to actually do with roleplaying. They're a mechanic often used in a genuine roleplaying game, but roleplaying games exist without them, they don't make the game itself a roleplaying game.

So if we've blurred genres, it may be because we have no idea what they are. Some are a very simple definition "First person shooter", but what if we're not shooting? What if it was a first person melee game?
I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with genre blurring or games belonging to more than one genre. I think genres often simply describe the main gameplay mechanic, except for RPG. RPG gets passed around like a party favour at a biker rally, and garners about as much respect from the game industry.

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