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Carmack Addresses FPS Creativity Concerns

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the if-you-build-it dept.

First Person Shooters (Games) 280

donniebaseball23 writes "id Software co-founder John Carmack defended the creativity of first-person shooter games in a recent interview. The legendary programmer, who was a pioneer in the shooter genre with Doom and Quake, said he doesn't like hearing from developers that shooters aren't good because they're not reinventing the wheel. 'I am pretty down on people who take the sort of creative auteurs' perspective. It's like "Oh, we're not being creative." But we're creating value for people — that's our job! It's not to do something that nobody's ever seen before. It's to do something that people love so much they're willing to give us money for... you see some of the indie developers that really take a snooty attitude about this,' he lamented."

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280 comments

Still doesnt excuse (2, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 2 years ago | (#36819034)

Doom III. I'm sorry but Doom III wasnt a game, it was a tech demo. While I understand what you are getting at, you have some big skeletons in your closet regarding this particular complaint.

Re:Still doesnt excuse (0, Flamebait)

MichaelKristopeit422 (2018884) | about 2 years ago | (#36819148)

if it wasn't a game, then what did i spend so many hours playing against others utilizing strategy to win?

you're an idiot.

your idiocy doesn't excuse your choice to cower behind a pseudonym, feeb.

you're completely pathetic.

Re:Still doesnt excuse (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#36819274)

I absolutely hate when people don't capitalize words properly. Fuck you.

Re:Still doesnt excuse (2)

jampola (1994582) | about 2 years ago | (#36819378)

i completely agree with u :D

Re:Still doesnt excuse (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#36819646)

i and i agree with you, mahn.

I'd like to see a shooter game mixed with Sims. People living their normal life and I can walk around like God or Rupert Murdoch fucking with them in ways they don't notice but directly makes their computer lives even worse. More than just destroying a town with a hurricane, I want to see computer faces breaking down and crying as I give their computer daughter cancer. Then switch to Murdoch Mode where I write headlines saying cancer is cured, so I can see their faces light up before they realize they've been scammed and they have to kill themselves.

I'll call the game, Cunts are Still Running the World, with a hat tip to Jervis Cocker.

Re:Still doesnt excuse (1)

Count Fenring (669457) | about 2 years ago | (#36819752)

I think I've never been made happier by an anonymous coward. God bless you, crazy-ass rasta supervillain. God bless.

Re:Still doesnt excuse (2)

grumbel (592662) | about 2 years ago | (#36819164)

I don't quite see the problem with Doom III. It did actually do a few interesting things beside the graphics. The sentry bots were pretty cool, the highres terminals that you could use directly from FPS viiew are something I still haven't seen replicated anywhere else and it was the first game I can remember that didn't allow shooting civilians by changing your cross-hair into a talk-symbol. Those aside, yeah, the whole flashlight thing was a bit annoying, it did have its fair share of monster closets and running through the same corridors could get a little boring, but that doesn't make it a techdemo.

Re:Still doesnt excuse (1)

bonch (38532) | about 2 years ago | (#36819180)

I thought the first hour was great, but unfortunately, the rest of Doom III became an unmemorable blur of repetitive metal walls and monster spawns, broken up with an excellent Hell trip. At one point, I began to predict where monsters would appear when I entered a room.

Re:Still doesnt excuse (2)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 2 years ago | (#36819292)

Turn off the lights with no one else in the room. Ensure that it's quiet except for your PC speakers. Soak up the ambiance and enjoy.

I for one thoroughly enjoyed the game even if it was overly hyped as a tech demo. So much so that I must have played through it all over two or three more times. I admit, Doom III wasn't the best of games in the genre , but it wasn't nearly as bad as others claim it to be.

Re:Still doesnt excuse (1)

bonch (38532) | about 2 years ago | (#36819394)

I played with the lights off. That got old after an hour. The game is just very, very repetitive in almost all aspects, to the point that you can barely distinguish one level of shiny metal walls from another.

Re:Still doesnt excuse (1)

Moryath (553296) | about 2 years ago | (#36819478)

The problem with the FPS genre is that a hell of a lot of it has been done already. And so many designers aren't willing to break the mold, because the people bankrolling them don't WANT them to break the mold: they want Derivative FPS #56 to flesh out this fall's part of the EA or Ubisoft lineup because Derivative FPS #55 still sold well.

The secondary problem is that designers keep insisting on trying to put in lame-ass "puzzles" that just don't work in an FPS environment. The best example is jumping puzzles: when I got to the point of Duke Nukem Shoulneverhaveplayedit where there were fucking jumping puzzles, I just about screamed.

The final point... FPS design has regressed. Used to be, it was about exploration and options. Wide-open areas in Doom, Deus Ex, Duke Nukem 3D. For the last decade, though, it's just been one after another in a long line of goddamned corridor simulators.

Re:Still doesnt excuse (2)

Miseph (979059) | about 2 years ago | (#36819610)

Half-Life had some jumping puzzles. Indeed, the best parts of the game were the puzzles... a lot of them just happened to involve shooting things or lobbing grenades. The difference, of course, is that they did it right, while DNF did not.

Re:Still doesnt excuse (4, Interesting)

Count Fenring (669457) | about 2 years ago | (#36819776)

There's an interesting article on FPS design, using Doom as the canonical example. http://vectorpoem.com/news/?p=74 [vectorpoem.com]

The thing I find most interesting is his discussion of relative speed, and what that does to the feel of the game. The Doom guy runs 50 scale miles per hour!

Re:Still doesnt excuse (1)

VanGarrett (1269030) | about 2 years ago | (#36819354)

... broken up with an excellent Hell trip. At one point, I began to predict where monsters would appear when I entered a room.

I found that I hit that turning point about the time I got back from Hell. I honestly thought that effect was done intentionally-- after all, once you've literally been to Hell and back, what then should scare you?

Re:Still doesnt excuse (1)

after.fallout.34t98e (1908288) | about 2 years ago | (#36819582)

That was the same thing I thought too. My second play-through identified that the whole game was like that though. It took me to hell to acquire the taste for where the monsters were going to spawn, the ideas were there right from the beginning.

Re:Still doesnt excuse (5, Insightful)

black3d (1648913) | about 2 years ago | (#36819174)

I don't understand what you're getting at. He only made two real statements, neither of which yours seems to counter.

He said that developers need to create value that people are willing to pay for. Doom 3 sold well, despite it not living up to some's expectations, it certainly fulfilled this statement.

Then he said that indie developers take a snooty attitude about this approach (implying in context that, rather, indie developers believe every game DOES have to be something that's never been done before). This has no relation to Doom 3 at all.

It sounds like you're just taking the opportunity to bash Doom 3. Understand, Carmack is arguing here FOR on-rails shooters. He's saying that games don't need to be incredibly creative and new every time they get released, they just have to do their job - provide entertainment that people are willing to pay for. And you're arguing against that by marching out a game which... provides entertatinment that people were willing to pay for. ..

Re:Still doesnt excuse (1, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | about 2 years ago | (#36819452)

It sounds like you're just taking the opportunity to bash Doom 3. Understand, Carmack is arguing here FOR on-rails shooters. He's saying that games don't need to be incredibly creative and new every time they get released, they just have to do their job - provide entertainment that people are willing to pay for. And you're arguing against that by marching out a game which... provides entertatinment that people were willing to pay for. ..

You're missing the point that Doom 3 was widely panned for not straying from a formula. Doom 3 is the most recent game from id Software, so naturally, it's going to be brought up. The damn thing had monster closets. It wasn't retro in an ironic way, either.

Incidentally, someone else made the point that the arguments Carmack is using to justify formula shooters are the same that Uwe Bowell and other directors use to justify their generic movies. Carmack is one of those guys who will tell you that big, dumb movies like Transformers 3 are just "doing their job" and that filmmakers making movies nobody has seen before are "snooty."

Re:Still doesnt excuse (4, Insightful)

Miseph (979059) | about 2 years ago | (#36819816)

And those guys are right, even if you don't like it. Transformers 3 made more money in a day than most movies will ever make. Nobody on that project was being paid to do anything particularly original or interesting... they were being paid to crank out a movie where robots blow shit up. They did their jobs, they got paid, the execs got precisely what they wanted from their employees... and hopefully a chunk of the money that the genuinely creative people who worked on it were paid for churning out the money-making-sequel de jour will go toward creating new and exciting works of art which will genuinely contribute to our culture.

What he's saying is that anyone who criticizes those games or movies simply on the basis that they have failed to do anything particularly new or groundbreaking or edgy are just being pretentious. Who really thought Doom III should have been chock full of "original" FPS gameplay, anyway? If it had been a stealth-based puzzle game designed to comment Kantian philosophy, that just happened to be an FPS, nobody would have praised it for being "groundbreaking" or thought it was great that id put a new spin on the franchise: they would have called Carmack a goddamn moron for shitting all over what everyone expected with some random bullshit. They would have been right, too.

Maybe you think it was shit, but it was still what you thought it would be, and you still bought the game based on that. If you see Transformers 3, you aren't expecting to have your mind blown by complex writing (it does feature some enjoyable snark, but every time Optimus speaks it makes you long for the depth and wit of a GI Joe PSA) or an intriguing plot (unless your definition of "intriguing" is XBox huge plot holes and characters behaving without any sort of consistency or logic), you're expecting to see giant robots that turn into cars and blow shit up. If, instead, you got Crime And Punishment, you'd probably be more than a little bit pissed off, regardless of how "original" it would be for Transformers to go in that direction.

Re:Still doesnt excuse (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | about 2 years ago | (#36819868)

Doom 3 is not their most recent game from ID, it's not even their latest FPS game. There have been many many titles since Doom 3 was released in 2004. Quake 4, Enemy Territory and 'Orcs and Elves' come to mind straight away.

he --was-- an indie developer (3, Interesting)

decora (1710862) | about 2 years ago | (#36819818)

him and that wild man Romero, tore the gates off the entrance to the PC graphics and game industry, and stomped on them. they were years ahead of their time, only a tiny tiny handful could do what they did. what they did was absolutely pioneering.

Romero's creative angst ridden genius + carmack's technical skill = compelling nightmare world

you take one of those and separate it from the other? well, maybe you have to at some point,, they couldnt be shareware cowboys forever.... but sometimes 1+1 is much more than 2 and if carmack can't see that i dont know what to say.

Re:Still doesnt excuse (1)

deathguppie (768263) | about 2 years ago | (#36819866)

This always kind of weirds me out. I mean the way people talk about doom 3 as if they played it for the first time 3 years after it came out and then compared it to other games of the time.

Doom 3 gave people a first glimpse of what every other game that came after it had to aspire to. Yes I agree that some aspects of the story/gameplay could have been more thought out, but again, for it's time it was totally state of the art. It was the most visually compelling game out there. And that first scene when you could hear the other marines screaming over the radio for help, having the world falling in around you.. scared the hell out of me the first time I played it.

2004 GTA San Andreas;
http://www.helloclan.eu/images/reviews/images/gta-san-andreas.jpg [helloclan.eu]
Halo2
http://www.bungie.net/images/news/inlineimages/halo2cine2.jpg [bungie.net]
Doom 3
http://www.ixbt.com/video2/images/r9700pro-oc/doom3-2.jpg [ixbt.com]

Take a look at those images and tell me you don't notice the difference.

Re:Still doesnt excuse (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | about 2 years ago | (#36819968)

>>He's saying that games don't need to be incredibly creative and new every time they get released,

At this E3 or maybe last year's, they did a side-by-side comparison of three of the shooters. Each had identical weapons on screen, with identical blood effects on the borders indicating health.

It was quite depressing.

Re:Still doesnt excuse (2)

SudoGhost (1779150) | about 2 years ago | (#36819978)

To be fair though, if I see one more indie tower defense game, I'm going to scream (queue the screams). Most indie games seem to take one approach or the other, either be a clone, or be completely different than anything else (or a clone with a *twist*! that might as well be a clone).

FUCK ALL THAT (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#36819184)

I just wanna' shoot brown people!

J. Romero was 1st to die, & ID Software suffer (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#36819332)

Just remember what ID Software was before Carmack booted Romero. DON"T YOU FORGET IT! ID Software was once an inovator of both Science and Art, married together by a glue of fanbase, and ever since the Johns wparted ways it just resolved to be nothing more than a stock ticker. Sure Doom3 was nice, but so is Planet Earth without water. A Slideshow of artwork could have been presented by Romero with a multiple-choice question on how to continue, and it would still be cooler than Doom3.

Doom3 the engine was an attempt to synthesize John Romero back into ID Software, but it had no soul and was void. It was void just like all the other game engines that built their fanbase on multiplayer hoping activity and some AI would make it fun, but nope -- nothing that Romero couldn't do with a stroke of a brush.

I hear ID Software was sold to another company since about 3 months ago, and Carmack was reduced to a mere production manager while an entire pigeon-coup of naturalized illegal aliens were imported to do the work of him, but none of them could do as Romero because:

Our Father who Arteth in Purgatory,
unwritten be thy name!
Thy commode come!
Thy pallet never done!
On lucid canvas between the heavens!
Give us this Turtle our daily waypoint,
and chart us a segment,
and Forgive us our Undo as we redo those that made better to us whom were silenced by the Adversary.
And lead us not into a Microsoft Compiler but deliver us from
the Aquisittor for thine is the Independence and Beauty and Strength forever! Humen!

Re:Still doesnt excuse (1)

fermion (181285) | about 2 years ago | (#36819726)

Pretty much all good games are tech demos. Games are the one way that developers can push machines to the extremes because games do not have run perfectly. If a game flakes out it is not nearly as bad as a business application flaking out.

That said then, the games have to be something consumers will pay for. I don't think the games have to be violent. Prince of persia, pong, donkey kong, were not particularly violent, yet they were successful. What we are seeing is the rise of very realistic games, and those will take two forms, either sex or killing. Because sex is frowned upon, the killing games are winning out. It is ok to dismember and disembowel a girl, but not make love to her. In any case, it is fantasy and only time will tell what effect it has. What is for sure is creativity always challenges the world view of the uncreative.

Re:Still doesnt excuse (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | about 2 years ago | (#36819804)

Well, Half-Life 2 and each of the episode were tech demos. (Episode 1 introduced HDR, Episode 2 introduced improved particle something-or-other.) Team Fortress 2 premiered Valve's facial manipulation technology (Meet the Heavy was basically 90% tech demo of this stuff). Even so, they're all fantastic games.

Re:Still doesnt excuse (1)

dudpixel (1429789) | about 2 years ago | (#36819820)

Doom III. I'm sorry but Doom III wasnt a game, it was a tech demo. While I understand what you are getting at, you have some big skeletons in your closet regarding this particular complaint.

Yes it was a tech demo in some ways, but that's just a compliment.

It absolutely was a game, just obviously not the one you wanted it to be. I think it was mostly destroyed by hype (some of which can be attributed to id), because there was so much that the game could never possibly live up to it.

The other problem was that HL2 came out around the same time and had an actual storyline. Hardly hear much of either game these days - they both seemed to die quickly in the public arena.

I believe Doom 3 could still be entertaining in its place.

"if the movie stinks, just don't go." (2, Interesting)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | about 2 years ago | (#36819058)

He's placing the blame on shitty games on us, the gamers.

Rightfully so. When a COD game can sell millions just on it's name alone, something's wrong.

Although I think that his take on it is a little wrong. But I think Rage is kind of the right direction away from just the traditional walk, shoot, maybe hide behind some cover paradigm. If Rage for iOS is anything to go by, it'll not only be rich and fun with a good sense of humor but the racing aspects will be a nice touch.

Yes, HL2(and ep 2) had those annoying boat and car scenes, but I trust Carmack and co to get this one right.

Re:"if the movie stinks, just don't go." (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#36819158)

"Rightfully so. When a COD game can sell millions just on it's name alone, something's wrong."

Same can be said for Doom.

Same can be said for Quake.

Carmack is an overrated douche bag.

Re:"if the movie stinks, just don't go." (4, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | about 2 years ago | (#36819196)

To be fair, COD has a multiplayer component driving it, so when people pick up the latest COD, you want to pick it up too so you can play with everyone else online and take advantage of the latest multiplayer additions. That said, even a multiplayer game can be creatively unique--Team Fortress 2 is fantastic.

Re:"if the movie stinks, just don't go." (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | about 2 years ago | (#36819220)

the problem with COD multiplayer since COD4 from a gameplay perspective is that unless you pick it up RIGHT AWAY and grind like mad, you're not going to really have a fun time. Unless you think eating unbalanced unlockable weapons for dinner is a good time.

Re:"if the movie stinks, just don't go." (1)

RockoTDF (1042780) | about 2 years ago | (#36819444)

And kill streaks. COD4 was bearable in that department, but MW2 was over the top. TWO harriers? The AC-130? The ability to have multiple aircraft in the air at once drove me mad. I'm so glad they added the "airspace full" rule in black ops.

Re:"if the movie stinks, just don't go." (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#36819498)

Eh, it's nowhere that hard. They might give a slight advantage, but that's mostly from the fact that people have the possibility to modify their class to play the way they like, which I absolutely love in CoD series and hope it comes more and more to other games too. Battlefields unlockables are laughable compared to CoD. Homefront has the same kind of system, but theres too few choices to really adjust your class.

The modifying classes to your gameplay and levels are absolutely one of the greatest parts of CoD multiplayer. It mixes FPS with some RPG elements, and to be honest is pretty innovative. What would you do with all those weapon and perk choices if you had them all to begin with, since you wouldn't even know how to play them?

Re:"if the movie stinks, just don't go." (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 2 years ago | (#36819268)

When a COD game can sell millions just on it's name alone, something's wrong.

It may not be your cup of tea or very original, but the games aren't bad. I know there's a tendency to see lots of people going nuts over something and have high expectations for it, and then be disappointed when it's not God's gift to the earth, but the games are well suited to their target audience.

And to be fair the PC versions sounded like abominations...

Yes, HL2(and ep 2) had those annoying boat and car scenes,

I actually really liked those parts too.

Re:"if the movie stinks, just don't go." (1)

filthpickle (1199927) | about 2 years ago | (#36819976)

I loved the boat and car part of HL2 also.

I don't really play shooters single player anymore...but I can't stand the multiplayer in CoD. So many people like it that I guess maybe it's just me....but there is rarely any sense of distance, it's just running around in mostly cramped maps going full auto on any target you see. Full disclosure....I was downright awful at CoD multiplayer. I played it on the PC, I never heard that there were any problems with the PC version compared to the console. I would never play a shooter on a console anyway.

Ugh (3, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | about 2 years ago | (#36819086)

It's not your job to do something nobody's ever seen before, sure. But raising the bar should be your goal nonetheless. Visuals are a solved problem, and the days of the tech demo are over. Even the hardware race is over--id's new game Rage is targeting six-year-old console hardware. So what else is there but to push creative expressiveness in a genre that's crying out for some artistic legitimacy on the level that movies and novels enjoy? It's clear that a game like Portal 2 would never come out of id Software.

Re:Ugh (2, Insightful)

bigpet (1695756) | about 2 years ago | (#36819120)

>Visuals are a solved problem

Psssh, don't tell that to the SIGGRAPH attendees or engine developers because they'll smack you square in the face.

Re:Ugh (3, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | about 2 years ago | (#36819224)

I wouldn't need to say a thing. I'd just hold up the sales figure chart for Minecraft and watch them blink in astonishment.

Re:Ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#36819336)

Minecraft's style is simple, but there's some serious vertex-pushing happening under the hood. And even the simplest visuals always benefit from being faster.

Re:Ugh (1)

bonch (38532) | about 2 years ago | (#36819488)

The point is that Minecraft has graphics straight out of a 1993 DOS game, written by one guy in his spare time as a hack for his friends to play with. Console games are running on hardware that's over five years old. The days of the graphics-driven video game market are long gone.

Re:Ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#36819532)

No, it's just that people put up with Minecraft's graphics because there isn't any other game like that. There is a one interesting project called Lords of Uberdark [kickstarter.com] coming (see the alpha video), but it still uses vortexes and doesn't look as pretty as current other games. But at least it's not just blocks anymore. But the truth is, when you get the same options and things you can do in Minecraft but with better graphics, people will move to it.

Re:Ugh (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#36819436)

Minecraft is done that way because it's the only way to do it - with vertexes. But they always look a bit uglier than the hand-made rooms and game objects made with polygons. Vertex makes the Minecrafts huge modifiable world possible, it's something you can't do with polygons and pretty graphics.

Re:Ugh (1)

bigpet (1695756) | about 2 years ago | (#36819722)

Maybe we have a different definition of "solved"

My point was that there is a remarkable amount of people trying to solve a problem that you claim to be solved.

If there were a successful movie shot with a cell-phone cam would you call cinematography solved? What I am saying is not that "better looking" games make better games but that there are games that gain tremendous value from new technology that allows them to look more believable.

Re:Ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#36819894)

Mine craft used someone elses game idea and engine. Where is the creativity in that ?

Re:Ugh (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#36819916)

I wouldn't need to say a thing. I'd just hold up the sales figure chart for Minecraft and watch them blink in astonishment.

1) SIGGRAPH has more than just game designers. I'm sure the medical and data visualisation people will be impressed!

2) Would it surprise you to learn that "looks like ass" is one of the reasons I don't like Minecraft personally? I don't think I'm a unique and precious snow flake so there must be other people like me. Visuals will only be "solved" (as if the concept even applies to something so abstract) when it is possible to express anything you can imagine in real-time, it doesn't need to be realistic, impressionism works well, cell shading too, but it does need more vertices, textures and better lighting algorithms.

It's really quite amazing how people insist "graphics don't need to get better" even when you can't even render 1000 NPCs fighting each other in real-time at decent visual quality, there are plenty of flaws that are easy to see yet they are readily ignored. This crap has been happening since the PS1's "photorealism", "we don't need better graphics" and yet the PS2 ate the PS1 and on and on, so much for that delusion. This really just feels like another "get off my lawn" type statement from people who grew up with 8-bit NES or even Atari proclaiming that "in my day graphics were blocky and pixelatted AND WE LIKED IT". Well, guess what? I grew up with that stuff too and it just makes me appreciate how far we've come more than anything else.

Re:Ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#36819974)

Well, obviously, not everything needs great graphics. Some games rely on function alone for their fun. But some need art. And I might claim that Minecraft WOULD be a better game with better graphics... exploration would be twice as fun if there were something nice to look at beyond blocky grass fields and trees.

What about RPG's and other story-based games where graphics (and music/sound) are part of the experience? My crush on Celes in FF6 was based on textual descriptions... in FF10 I don't need my imagination, the girls are cute on screen!

Re:Ugh (4, Interesting)

Fluffeh (1273756) | about 2 years ago | (#36819246)

Being creative is a terribly subjective phrase. As a level designer (I worked with Epic on the Unreal Tournament projects) I think I have a good perspective of this. Most games that come out do follow the general genre that it is made for - but you know what, so does everything else. You don't see Ford lamenting that they aren't "designing a totally new car..." It's a CAR. People expect it to have four wheels, seats and all the usual stuff inside a car. FPS developers are making a game that people who want an FPS will buy. Can you be creative? Absolutely. Look at titles like Theif [wikipedia.org] for example. It is esentially a FPS, but with a brilliant twist. Same goes for Assassins Creed [wikipedia.org]. You run around and (for the most part) kill folks.

The sign of a truly innovative game (and therefore truly amazing developers) is to take a genre, like FPS and make subtle transformations to it to make it a more enjoyable experience for the gamers. Innovation is great, but making something TOTALLY different is a huge risk. Just look at Black and White [wikipedia.org]. While very well done, it was so totally different in UI and concepts that it never became the smash hit that it should have.

It takes a BRILLIANT game to push a genre a few steps to the left or right. You simply can't expect to make a title that is way out in left field and expect it to become an overnight smash hit. Not saying it simply cannot happen, but most of the time (especially when it comes to publishers financially backing games) you need to take small steps in the direction you would LIKE to get to.

Re:Ugh (1)

bonch (38532) | about 2 years ago | (#36819330)

I disagree with the car analogy because, for most people, a car is little more than a tool to move them between locations. Games, on the other hand, are purely entertainment. Black & White's problem wasn't its attempt to be innovative (the reviewers who barely played past the first world rated it highly for that)--it's that it turned out to be a buggy mess that didn't live up to the promises Molyneaux made.

You don't have to come out of left field to make something that pushes a genre forward. Taking what exists and adding enough innovative twists on it is also good enough. World of Warcraft did that with the Everquest formula, for example. "Creative" refers to something that the developers care about on an artistically expressive level, that they want to present something that will make it stand out and not just make something that fits an expected standard in order to make money for a publisher.

Re:Ugh (1)

Draek (916851) | about 2 years ago | (#36819742)

And yet the same World of Warcraft you defend was, and still is, blasted left and right as another "me too" MMO only with Warcraft characters and less demanding graphics.

As the GP said, being creative is a terribly subjective phrase. So much, that in the eyes of anyone who thought WoW was generic, your post comes across as a defense of Carmack's position rather than an attack on it.

Re:Ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#36819594)

Ford may not be the best example. They failed to innovate for so long that they lost their competitive edge to the Japanese. When you look at it year to year cars don't change that much, but over the long run failing to innovate can have serious consequences. The gas crises of the 70's should have taught Ford (as well as all the other American manufacturers of vehicles) that it was time for a paradigm shift, people want fun powerful cars but gas is an unreliable and increasingly expensive resource. Instead of creating something like Nissan's Z car they were forced to basically chop up their boats in hopes of saving a few puny mpg. The result was a decade of boring ugly cars with piss poor handling that got almost the same gas mileage as the muscle cars did. Even today as SUV sales drop, car makers say "we don't want to stop making SUVs, we're all tooled up to make them". So we end up with the crossover which is kind of like the methadone of over sized gas guzzlers. Yes its a small step in the right direction but its also a long way from where we are going. The same holds true for games. If consumers get tired of the same old thing sales will drop and the first person to hit on something new will dominate the market. Not everyone is going to come up with the next big thing, but I sure am sick of the copycat phenomenon. Too often game developers look to each other and say things like, "hey Starcraft is fun lets make a game like that because we want a piece of the RTS market". Then you have to sort through a thousand shitty Starcraft clones for the next few years until something else captures the market. I am sick of games that are simply a profit formula. Of course its about money, but once you are in Carmack's position you can afford to take some risks. At least have a skunkworks department to try out your crazy ideas. Personally I think the biggest limiting factor to games being fun is the interface, and that is where we need innovation the most.

Re:Ugh (1)

Boona (1795684) | about 2 years ago | (#36819434)

If he creates a game that sells millions of copies it's because he's created experience that people want. It may not be re-inventing the wheel, but if people purchase it, it's because they want the familiar experience but in this new and creative perspective. It's precisely this bizarre sense of entitlement, of him needing to cater to your view of what he should produce or what you believe would give the industry "artistic legitimacy", that he's saddened by. Each time a new ID game is released, millions of people show they appreciate the creative direction his company is taking whether it fits your own narrow minded notion of creativity or not.

I personally love ID games, they are fun, thrilling and they games they produce have a better and more polished feel each time around. It's amazing that they can take the same concept, FPSs, and continuous reinvent them that they blow you away each time.

> Visuals are a solved problem, and the days of the tech demo are over.

Who wasn't blown away by the new Battlefield 3 previews? "Visuals are a solved problem" my ass!

Re:Ugh (1)

Skillet5151 (972916) | about 2 years ago | (#36819604)

Efficient real time rendering is a pretty interesting subject from my nerd perspective and I for one hope that games companies continue to spend some time and money on it even though it isn't the most important factor in making a game fun.

Re:Ugh (2, Interesting)

Ihmhi (1206036) | about 2 years ago | (#36819840)

Well, Portal didn't come out of Valve. It was originally a student game from Digipen [wikipedia.org].

A lot of publishers have the following cycle:

1) Snap up a small team/company/indie that made a great game. Have them sell it at the company, or make a better version. Valve has Alien Swarm, Counter-Strike, Day of Defeat, Team Fortress, etc.

2) Either move the team on to other projects or run it into the ground with bad sequels.

3) Lather, rinse, repeat.

I think the best thing is a mix of the two. Bring in the good works of people from the outside (like how WoW encourages UI mods that can add a lot of value to the game), but also do a lot of work in-house. Sticking to either exclusively doesn't always work well.

Indie anything = whiner (3, Funny)

dave562 (969951) | about 2 years ago | (#36819122)

Of course the "indie" developers are whining. That is what "indie" people do. They whine about how everything is not good enough and how they could do it better. Maybe some indie developer can come up with a revolutionary game where you ride around on a Vespa and go to poetry readings at various coffee shops.

Re:Indie anything = whiner (3, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | about 2 years ago | (#36819154)

Not really, indie developers claim that they can do better and actually try to do better. It's pretty clear from your tone that you know precisely zip about what you're talking about. Otherwise you'd realize that indie developers do put their money where their mouths are. Often it doesn't work out well and sometimes you get something that nobody has seen before.

But to dismiss it as whining when folks point out that the quality of games could and should be higher is just as ignorant as your suggestion of a game involving that vespa and coffee houses.

Re:Indie anything = whiner (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#36819212)

Pissed cause your fixed gear bike broke?

Re:Indie anything = whiner (2)

powerlord (28156) | about 2 years ago | (#36819160)

... Maybe some indie developer can come up with a revolutionary game where you ride around on a Vespa and go to poetry readings at various coffee shops.

Grand Theft Goth?

Re:Indie anything = whiner (2)

sammyF70 (1154563) | about 2 years ago | (#36819202)

... or with a game in which the world is blocky albeit completely de- and con-structable, a run and jump game including altering the timeflow to solve puzzles, a fighter adventure game involving rabbits and wolves, ... ah silly indy developers! Thankfully one can still count on formulaic games from the major outlets.

Re:Indie anything = whiner (1)

bonch (38532) | about 2 years ago | (#36819240)

You don't seem to understand what "indie developer" is describing. It doesn't suggest anything about their personality. It's simply someone who's not selling through a traditional publisher. One of the reasons innovation is so important to them is that it's one of the ways they are able to compete in a market dominated by EA, Bethesda, and other tie-wearing behemoths.

Re:Indie anything = whiner (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#36819272)

You mean like when John Carmack (then an indie developer) decided to start his own company with a couple of friends to make games (Wolfenstein 3D, Doom) that were different from almost anything that existed back then? Or when independent developers created Counter-Strike, Team Fortress, or Narbacular Drop (a.k.a. Portal)?

What part of "independent developer" makes you automatically think "Vespas and poetry"...? Is there something you need to get off your chest?

Carmack at least still innovates in terms of technology (even if id's games are boring as hell). Most big studios just reuse some existing engine, make a few new maps, change the weapon textures a bit, and call that "a new game". It's as if Hollywood was stuck doing endless remakes of "Rambo".

Re:Indie anything = whiner (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#36819310)

Because dave562 is a developer who knows EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT. He works for a big name developer company and he knows that's the way it is! He's got his pulse on the vein of the gamer demographic and he's going to shovel out MORE OF THE SAME to all you gamers out there! And he's a REAL DOCTOR! From AMERICA!

Get over yourself, punk.

Re:Indie anything = whiner (1)

jemmyw (624065) | about 2 years ago | (#36819858)

Maybe some indie developer can come up with a revolutionary game where you ride around on a Vespa and go to poetry readings at various coffee shops.

That sounds brilliant!

id makes and sells gfx engines, not games (3, Informative)

hardtofindanick (1105361) | about 2 years ago | (#36819132)

Interestingly it seems /. agrees that a company that made wolfenstein, doom, doom, quake, quake, quake, wolfenstein, doom, quake should not be the one to comment about FPS creativity.

Thanks for the technology, but their gaming experience is still where it was 15 years ago. To top it off, visuals have come a long way since Q1 that it is really hard to sell a game purely based on "pretty" gfx.

MOFO !! :id makes and sells gfx engines, not games (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#36819182)

Ah-ha, you da mofo, mofo !!

And the only one that was any good was the first quake. Scared me me a few times !! Nothing since !! The sword unsheathing !! Those damn zombies, especially !!

Re:id makes and sells gfx engines, not games (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | about 2 years ago | (#36819926)

their gaming experience is still where it was 15 years ago

You've obviously not seen anything about their latest game rage to make a comment like that. Also you're missing the point. Carmack is saying you don't always need to innovate, seeming as they're still in business doing the same gaming experience you seem to have proven his point.

Doom and Quake? 1993 & 1996... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#36819138)

> pioneer in the shooter genre with Doom and Quake

When you're still known best for things done 15 and 18 years ago can you really claim "creativity" as one of your strong points?

Re:Doom and Quake? 1993 & 1996... (1)

cob666 (656740) | about 2 years ago | (#36819456)

Just because they are well known for something they CREATED 15+ years ago doesn't make them any less creative.

Re:Doom and Quake? 1993 & 1996... (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | about 2 years ago | (#36819854)

Seeing as other FPS games were initially called "Doom clones" for many years after Doom's premier, I would say yes. That is indeed a strong achievement that you can be proud of for decades.

it's a bit hard to predict, though. 20 years from now we might be looking at games where the user can heavily modify the environment cooperatively and look back at Minecraft as the game that popularized it - or, it might end up just being a fad. Who knows?

It's 2011 (5, Interesting)

Hsien-Ko (1090623) | about 2 years ago | (#36819150)

Where's have the cool brackets+enter inventory system and use keys from 1994-97 gone to? We were doing so well until Halo came.


Duke3D wasn't just fun for the 'attitude' and "THE BOOBS ON E1L2" you know, Heretic/Hexen also explored the more tactical FPS elements no one cared about (and no one really did still anyway. fps cockfighting wasn't seen again until 15 years later when ArmA 2 came out).

Let's not forget that one '1993 vs. 200x level design' picture, the strict lameness of oververbose design documents written by a dedicated 'game designer'. I remember people saw the little GTA design doc here months ago as offensive for not being a "proper design doc" because it left a lot of room for the rest of the team to get creative by themselves to make the game by featuring little detail outside gameplay. It's getting so 'by the book' these days to make/sell linear one-track experience by linear one-track experience, we can't even have clever easter eggs anymore either.

Let's also not forget the whole "DLC" movement, clamping down on custom content opportunities, destroying potential modding communities in the name for money.

Re:It's 2011 (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | about 2 years ago | (#36819888)

Honestly, I think the best way to do things is to give the individual team members a set of specific goals and then let them fill in the blanks.

If you told a class full of 30 film students to make a 2 minute short film involving a tortoise and a traffic cone, I imagine that every one of them would be quite different. Some would be comedic, some would be dramatic, and some would be so over-the-top dramatic that it goes back round to the comedic side.

Too many cooks spoil the broth.

Summarized (2)

Gideon Wells (1412675) | about 2 years ago | (#36819166)

Current state of affairs

Indie: We need more creativity!
Nostalgia: We want doom level newness!
Carmack: We made some creative stuff, but now we are doing it for the cash. Here, have another COD where you can endlessly fight each other in the same maps.
Nostalgia: *whimpers*
Steam: Here, we have hats!
*It is super effected, Nostlagia feints*

Indie: Art matters. Art... *stomach growls*
  Steam: We'll package your stuff together and drum up sales.
Indie: Can't make art if dead from starvation....

Re:Summarized (1)

Hsien-Ko (1090623) | about 2 years ago | (#36819284)

Carmack: We made some creative stuff, but now we are doing it for the cash. Here, have another COD where you can endlessly fight each other in the same maps..

Carmack != Kotick.

Portal And other musings. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#36819168)

So Portal wasn't creative or new idea?
Sure the original game was out in 2007 but the concept was new (AFAIK).
There have been FPS games where you can completely move in 3 dimensions but they haven't been as commercially successful, so of course development studios are going to target as large an audience as possible. It is more economical for them to refine a current idea rather than reinvent the wheel.

Blizzard have built their name off taking popular ideas of games and refining them to be marketable to the masses.
Shakespeare based his plays off of other plays around at the time does it make his contribution to literature less important?

Re:Portal And other musings. (-1)

Hsien-Ko (1090623) | about 2 years ago | (#36819242)

I'm shocked no one acknowledges the existence of Prey and its 10 years of "portals" hype before Portal was even announced. Sure, Prey's portals were static (there's a fun portal wrench mod though), and Unreal had warpzone 'portals' (play DM-Radikus for example), but when Valve does it, they 'invent' it as if it were done for the first time ever, apparently... like when they invented HDR back in 2005 with HL2 Lost Coast, nevermind that SIGGRAPH paper about it years before.

Re:Portal And other musings. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#36819288)

...Are you serious? No, just no. No one is suggesting that Value invented the concept of a portal leading from one place to another. It's the first game (second if you count where the gameplay came from) that actually based the entire gameplay mechanics on manipulating portals.

Re:Portal And other musings. (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#36819304)

Yeah that SIGGRAPH paper was such a fun game, wasn't it?

The people who wrote the paper helped on the implementation for Valve. Idiot.

Oh Carmack (4, Insightful)

atomicbutterfly (1979388) | about 2 years ago | (#36819278)

Carmack, I like you. I respect you and appreciate what you've done for 3D gaming. But it's clear your strength is in engine design and not game design. Stay in your niche please, and don't pretend to believe that indie developers are somehow being 'snooty' so much as in offering an alternative gaming experience compared to the big-budget studios who are afraid to risk trying anything different.

Re:Oh Carmack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#36819352)

don't pretend to believe that indie developers are somehow being 'snooty' so much as in offering an alternative gaming experience compared to the big-budget studios who are afraid to risk trying anything different.

I think he meant their opinions, not their games

Ironic (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about 2 years ago | (#36819308)

we're creating value for people — that's our job! It's not to do something that nobody's ever seen before. It's to do something that people love so much they're willing to give us money for

Wow, he's using almost the same argument for making DOOM 3 as the producers did to make DOOM the movie. Or Uwe Boll used for every movie he ever made. Say it ain't so, John!

Re:Ironic (1)

RazorSharp (1418697) | about 2 years ago | (#36819602)

we're creating value for people — that's our job! It's not to do something that nobody's ever seen before. It's to do something that people love so much they're willing to give us money for

Wow, he's using almost the same argument for making DOOM 3 as the producers did to make DOOM the movie. Or Uwe Boll used for every movie he ever made. Say it ain't so, John!

While I disagree with Carmack's statements, I must point out that the DOOM movie was actually pretty damn good. It certainly exceeded all of my expectations, and it was more creative and entertaining than DOOM 3.

Re:Ironic (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about 2 years ago | (#36819760)

Wow, I thought the DOOM movie was horrible. But I have to say at least I managed to finish it, unlike DOOM 3. And I paid a lot less for the movie...

Carmack's creativity (4, Insightful)

br00tus (528477) | about 2 years ago | (#36819326)

Obviously Carmack is not the sole fount of creativity in the world. But his output is amazing. I still know people who talk about Commander Keen. As far as Doom, Quake and the like, the market has spoken. I have spent many hours playing Doom and Quake deathmatch. There was a time the Internet component of Doom's deathmatch was seen as innovative. As far as I'm concerned, Doom and Quake set the bar for FPS, the way Age of Empires set the bar for RTS (I'm biased against Starcraft...)

Carmack released id Tech 3's code as GPL. Go look at that code. I spend so much time looking over other people's crappy code. That code looks real nice. I couldn't believe how good the code looked. Clear as a bell what everything does. It's also amazing so little code can do so much in games like OpenArena.

Reading the book Masters of Doom made me admire Carmack all the more as a coder. I don't know who was wrong or right in the office politics with him and Romero at I.D., most people I know who have met Romero say he's a nice guy. But there's no taking away Carmack's technical prowess.

Re:Carmack's creativity (1)

bonch (38532) | about 2 years ago | (#36819368)

You're referring to a multiplayer era that existed almost 20 years ago. id Tech 3's code is neat, but how is that relevant to a discussion on FPS creativity?

Re:Carmack's creativity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#36819862)

noob, carmack created the fps genre, in case you didn't know. he IS a respected name in the gaming business and when he speaks, it's not some uninformed talk of some has been, it's from the experience when they pushed "gaming" to what it is now. at least give him some merit and listen to what he says.

Re:Carmack's creativity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#36819998)

You're referring to a multiplayer era that existed almost 20 years ago. id Tech 3's code is neat, but how is that relevant to a discussion on FPS creativity?

Because surprisingly enough with all the eye candy in games today some of those old game engines run smoother and handle net play far better. This equates to great gameplay.

Re:Carmack's creativity (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#36819970)

Carmack wasn't the cause of creativity at id software. He was the tech guy, the creativity came from Tom Hall, John Romero, Adrian Carmack, Amaerican McGee.

CoD sucks.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#36819370)

CoD sucks single player. Doom & quake were both comelling wether solo or multiplayer. Maybe because the doom/quake maps weren't a single line you were forced to navigate along while pretending you had any real freedom in the game.

People still buy Coca-Cola even if it's not new (1)

Marurun (1938210) | about 2 years ago | (#36819382)

If the game is successful and people like it, companies sell more of the same thing. If it's not selling as well they create a variation to gather some more appeal. That's sorta how any form of product marketing works.

you kids... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#36819410)

lol @ noobs who don't understand gaming

one of carmack's masterpieces, quake 3, was a generic, uncreative, derivative, limited in scope game

yet 12 years later it is still the king of the genre

the pinnacle of game design is when simple ideas combine to form interesting gameplay. it's not about spamming you with hundreds of features or complex mechanics or innovative gimmicks. it's about merging together time-tested ideas into an experience that creates the dynamic and strategic gameplay that lasts decades

Re:you kids... (1)

RazorSharp (1418697) | about 2 years ago | (#36819708)

1. Quake 3 was never king of anything but as a test for hardware. People would say things like, "sure, the specs are nice, but how well does it run Quake 3?" That contributed to the game's sales big-time. When you spend over a grand on your computer, spending $50 on Quake 3 to push it to the limits and show it off to your friends was no big deal.

2. Quake 3 was a shitty game. It's actually a good example of why people have mostly played such games on consoles since the XBox came out: those with the largest monitors, fastest hardware, fastest connections, and most twitchy mice had distinct advantages. Not that it mattered. The battles were so chaotic one was liable to be blasted by a random rocket at any time.

3. The pinnacle of game design is the exact opposite of what you described. It's Metal Gear Solid. Complex, gimmicky, creative and meaningful storyline, full of strange and sometimes useless features, and always taking risks. At the very least, if you want to put all the emphasis on 'dynamic and strategic gameplay' and 'time-tested ideas,' then Starcraft would take the crown.

lol @ dumbasses who call others 'noob' as if it's a real insult

A lot of great indie games. (1)

Beelzebud (1361137) | about 2 years ago | (#36819412)

I've had more fun with indie games in the past few years than every id game since Quake 3 combined...

Not for the single player component (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#36819774)

Apart from a few games that have a die-hard following, I believe the reason why many people buy these newer games is so that they can play against a proper pool of people.

Take things like the NHL/NFL games; a load of people buy the updated roster and the slight graphics upgrade. If they're all playing 'XX 12' then they aren't playing 'XX 11' as well, are they? So you buy XX 12 because, if you don't, you'll be playing against the massively reduced pool of people who can't afford/haven't gotten around to buying the next version. There are a number of games that essentially have no single player component; it's multi-player against bots.

If the next Modern Warfare title did away with the multi-player component in an obvious way (big announcement, etc), how many people would actually buy it?

Re:Not for the single player component (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | about 2 years ago | (#36819980)

It's because as a consumer it's a safe bet. You enjoyed game Y 3, so you know game Y 4 will be good too. As a consumer you have never played game X so you have no idea if you're going to like it or not. There is a risk in departing with your cash.

Don't start again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#36819812)

Not the "are video games art" debate.

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