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Innovative, Original Games Have No Chance

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the dear-tim-schafer-do-you-like-me-check-yes-or-no dept.

Games 225

In interviews with game developers this week, the tone seems to be that innovative, original thought is no longer welcome in the games industry. That definitely seems to be the tone behind IGN's interview with Okami producer Atsushi Inaba, and MTV's interview with Bioshock's Ken Levine (distracting flash site). Atsushi, speaking about the art style in his critically acclaimed but poorly selling adventure game, had this to say about originality in games: "You use the word 'difficult', but I think that it is becoming almost 'impossible' for an original game to succeed financially. This can't be blamed on anyone but it's a simple fact that an original game doesn't appeal to the majority of gamers." Meanwhile Levine, talking mostly about the level of art he's trying to create with the title, had this to say about some of his fellow designers: "Most video game people have read one book and seen one movie in their life, which is 'Lord of the Rings' and 'Aliens' or variations of that. There's great things in that, but you need some variety." While most of the rest of his comments are somewhat mild, he reiterates throughout that they're trying to do something that gamers may not "give a crap" about. What do you think? Has the industry gotten to the point where retreads are all that will sell, or is there still room in the marketplace for original ideas?

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225 comments

ok. if you say so. (3, Insightful)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#17834842)

Innovative, Original Games Have No Chance

Well then. Since that's settled, Let me get back to Madden 2008: Platinum edition.

Re:ok. if you say so. (4, Funny)

MasterGwaha (1033282) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835118)

You do that. I'm going to revive my girlfriend by killing these Colossi!

Re:ok. if you say so. (1)

Shads (4567) | more than 7 years ago | (#17836572)

Wish I had some Mod points for you ;)

That was a hell of a fun game and innovative too.

Re:ok. if you say so. (2, Insightful)

Shads (4567) | more than 7 years ago | (#17836542)

Bleh. The line that bothers me though isn't so much his thoughts that innovative games have no chance, but rather "Most video game people have read one book and seen one movie in their life, which is 'Lord of the Rings' and 'Aliens' or variations of that. There's great things in that, but you need some variety."

Which reads to me as bullshit of the first order, most of the gamers I know are geeks and geeks in general tend to be movie buffs and/or book readers. Those may well be two of their *favorite* icons but its not all they know.

Honestly, I think there will always be some room for retreads of the same ground, incremental refinement, like well, madden or final fantasy... but there has to be innovation too, the mmorpg sector is a good example, people are going to have trouble detrowning blizzard as the mmo king with wow because every game they keep making is "just another wow with a different skin." Using his logic lotro should kill wow... but it has -zero- chance of doing that because it plays... just... like... wow.

I think the nintendo controller says a lot. It's innovative to control your games that way and its fun, it adds another element to game play to refresh it... games like katamari damacy are a good example too... they were cheap, they were innovative, and while they didn't sell final fantasy numbers, largely because NON-GAMERS never heard of them, gamers were there snapping them up... because they're bored with repeats of the same ol shit.

Shrug.

Shovelware FTW! (1)

F-3582 (996772) | more than 7 years ago | (#17834856)

Guess how EA made its billions...

Re:Shovelware FTW! (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835064)

Advertising in Splinter Cell and Battlefield 2142?

Re:Shovelware FTW! (1)

F-3582 (996772) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835278)

No, I was thinking of advertising in Ski or Die and Skate or Die, actually...

Suggestion (2, Insightful)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17834872)

The overwhelming majority of the cost of a game now, seems to be having ever-more-detailed graphics, higher-paid actors, etc. If you want innovation in the game structure itself, it shouldn't be costly (it seems), to do a sort of "proof of concept" in Flash or C# or whatever works on a PC, and if that gets popular, then you know that that's the kind of thing gamers want.

Re:Suggestion (1)

jpardey (569633) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835088)

Like Narbacular Drop? Or however you spell that?

Re:Suggestion (3, Insightful)

Shados (741919) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835522)

Indeed. While making complex AIs and mechanics can be difficult and require brain power, graphics need pure -time-. Making a higher definition model isn't systematically harder (it is, but people have had the talents for a while), its just...long, and time consuming. You need the same level of skill for making the textures, the meshes, etc. You just have to make more of -everything-.

Thus, it becomes incredibly long and expensive... I remember when Rogue Squadron for the Gamecube came out back then... they had a small team mind you, but making the model for the larger star destroyers took 1/6th of the time allocated to make the entire game (of course, it was in paralelle so its not like it was slowing down the other parts of the game, but still).

I just can't begin to think how long a game like a FFXIII will take in raw man hours (everybody added together). It must totally insane.

Re:Suggestion (2, Interesting)

ClamIAm (926466) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835532)

Line Rider [official-linerider.com] is a pretty good example.

Re:Suggestion (3, Insightful)

adam31 (817930) | more than 7 years ago | (#17836046)

Around half of a successful game's budget is actually marketing. So while next-gen ups the remaining budget allocation towards engines pushing high-end graphics and artists to create the content, there is an opportunity now for innovative games to undercut a marketing $$$ disadvantage.


First, E3 is dead. Thank the lord. But what has risen from those ashes is the downloadable demo as a way to reach gamers. It's like we've taken all the work that goes into dropping demos on E3 machines and pushed it into the living room for a fraction the cost! Among XBox 360 gamers I know, they all love demos (well, at least they love having the ability to try demos).

The day may come very soon when innovation can compete head-to-head against hype-only games because the battle arena isn't banners on the web and TV commercials, but live on the console with controller in hand.

Re:Suggestion (2, Insightful)

marshallbanana6 (992780) | more than 7 years ago | (#17836738)

Actually I think a better example of this would be Geometry Wars.

I'd like to think..... (1)

Samalie (1016193) | more than 7 years ago | (#17834878)

Originality and creativeness in video game design should still be rewarded by the consumer.

I still remember my first time picking up SimCity, or Dune 2 or Wolf3D. Hell, even The Sims was original in its time, not that it was something I personally enjoyed

The problem is nobody seems to want creativity or originality anymore. The gaming market seems to want nothing but FPS's or WoW addons anymore. And quite frankly, its a damn shame.

I have high hopes for Spore, but will the average gamer give 2 shits about it? Probably not....but I REALLY hope I'm wrong about that. Of course, its yet to be shown wether Spore will be fun to play - time will tell.

Although in the grand scheme of things, I believe that the problem isn't that the consumer won't buy originality in gaming. Its that the studios suck at doing anything original.

Yeah, that's ONLY a problem with games (2, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835022)

Face it, the entertainment industry thrives on mediocrity. Whatever works is endlessly ripped off and stripped of whatever made the original good by committees of overeducated, undertalented hacks. Anything new is shunned and mocked, until it becomes popular at which point everyone is suddenly it's biggest fan.

Re:Yeah, that's ONLY a problem with games (1)

F-3582 (996772) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835212)

It has always been a problem with every new genre. Back in the old era of small movie companies getting rich over night in Hollywood, the movie world was full of plagiarism. Everyone tried to make slapstick stuff like Hardy&Laurel or Chaplin did. It took years before film was really considered an art and a medium to formulate more complex thoughts.

While the (mainstream) games genre technically has evolved rapidly (seeing the little time it took from seeing an 8x8 pixel model of General Custer raping an 8x8 pixel model of an innocent squaw to seeing a highly polygonized model of an average pervert raping highly polygonized models of innocent school girls) the audience is still far too mainstream-oriented. It will take some time until video games will be really considered art and get to fill niches like those art movies do. Give them some time.

Fantasy is the worst (2, Insightful)

Aeonite (263338) | more than 7 years ago | (#17834892)

All fantasy games are the same fantasy game. Vanguard, DDO, WOW, Everquest...

Elf? Check.
Dwarf? Check.
Fighter? Check.
Rogue? Check.

People don't want fantastic fantasy. They want familiar fantasy. The equivalent of peanut butter and jelly on Wonder Bread or a hot dog while mom and dad eat that weird lasagna stuff. Fantasy gamers have the taste of a 4-year-old.

Re:Fantasy is the worst (1, Insightful)

mandelbr0t (1015855) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835470)

All fantasy games are the same fantasy game.
Well, at least the ones that are based on the d20 system. The Open Game License [wikipedia.org] has made it even easier to base games on this system.

They want familiar fantasy.
Yes. Personally, I like the d20 system. It can be applied to many different fantasy worlds, and provides familiar gameplay.

Fantasy gamers have the taste of a 4-year-old.
That's where I start disagreeing with you (unless you are referring to the child's near-infinite curiosity). Even without leaving the fantasy worlds published by the Wizards of the Coast themselves, I have an entire bookshelf devoted to manuals and magazines containing new places to explore, new magic spells, new character classes, etc. These are often written by freelance contributors and are released under the OGL I mentioned above. But d20 has been applied to countless other worlds as well. d20 Modern fits into a less fantastic, more contemporary world. Completely new RPGs and game worlds have been created based on this system. It's been nearly 40 years since the first d20 has been rolled, and millions of people have contributed to make it what it is today. I don't think that having a consistent system for gameplay can be equated to a lack of originality. Think of it more as a framework for dealing with the nitty-gritty details, leaving the game author to concentrate on the design and visual aspects.

Re:Fantasy is the worst (2, Insightful)

Aeonite (263338) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835654)

My point ultimately is even the wide variety of fantasy games all come back to the same core clichés. Every game has its elves, dwarves and halflings. They all have swords and armor. They all have spellcasters and healers and rogues. The variations seem to be along the lines of "well our elves don't live in trees, they live in the desert" most of the time. You may have a shelf full of books (I have one myself) but it doesn't change the fact that most of those books are built upon the same foundation of elves and hobbits, of fighters and wizards. Hot dogs and Wonder Bread.

There are no popular fantasy games (pen-and-paper or computer-based) that I am aware of which deviate from the norm, to any measurable degree. Talislanta's boast that it "has no elves" doesn't change the fact that it adheres to dozens of other fantasy tropes. WoW adding Blood elves recently only goes to show that even the expansions stick with comfortable territory. And why? Because most players don't want to play a Xzflrbg or a Gbrhsts. They want to play an elf or a dwarf or a human. Why? Because they understand it. It's a familiar taste.

Re:Fantasy is the worst (1)

PresidentEnder (849024) | more than 7 years ago | (#17836188)

Yes, but Xzflrbgs or a Gbrhstses are stupid. If your Xzflrbg is an orc, only he uses magic and lives in snow, why don't we just call him that? Furthermore, if a Gbrhsts is something completely new or weird (like the Tojanida (sp?) in D&D 3.0), nobody will want to use it. It's not necessarily Hot Dogs vs Lasagna; I'd say it's more like Hot Dogs vs either Sausages or Indian Cuisine.

Re:Fantasy is the worst (1)

Cecil (37810) | more than 7 years ago | (#17836274)

Ultima and Wizardry are two excellent and long-lived fantasy series that do not incorporate almost any of the standard fantasy cliches (except magic, which is almost a requirement of the genre -- it would kind of be historical fiction otherwise). You're right, however, that they do not seem to achieve quite as much in the way of popularity.

Re:Fantasy is the worst (1)

Newfangled (1058238) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835974)

Agreed. I would love to see some fresh ideas here. Especially in the MMORPG genre. God am I sick and tired of playing a elf, dwarf or orc.

Re:Fantasy is the worst (1)

horn_in_gb (856751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17836022)

wholeheartedly agree. can't stand it myself, though plenty of people enjoy it I guess. maybe to them, having played fantasy games so long, the rogue/dwarf/wizard whatever is familiar turf like PBJ on wonderbread.

Nintendogs (3, Insightful)

HappySqurriel (1010623) | more than 7 years ago | (#17834902)

One word ... Nintendogs

The fact is that most "inovative" games break the standard rule in any creative pursuit ... "Know your audience"

If you're trying to make a game that is different then you should probably look into who the demographic that will be interested in your game is and focus on making the game good for them.

Re:Nintendogs (3, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#17834960)

One word ... Nintendogs

Dogz was out first, and Tamagotchi before that.

Stop spending millions on them then... (5, Insightful)

cliffski (65094) | more than 7 years ago | (#17834906)

The problem is that if you need 200 people to make a game, you need to persuade so many committees of finance experts to give you the money that the chances of finding someone who will panic at your idea are stupidly high.
Finding the money for a game that needs 20 people to make is a lot easier and less risky, because even if it's a flop, you aren't taking the whole publisher down with you.
Of course, ideally, you do the whole game yourself, on your own, sticking 100% to the creative vision you had, without needing to persuade *anyone* about the validity of the idea, and taking all of the risk yourself. I've gone many years reading big name industry celebs saying how that's not possible any more, despite the fact that I do it for a living, and I know a fair few others who do so as well.

Of course, if you would rather not make a game at all, than make one on a low budget, then that's a different matter. But personally, if I could make a 'triple a' WW2 FPS clone with 100 people, or an original, inventive 2D budget game on my own, I'd do the latter, even if it will never make me rich.

But generally, he's right, there is a lack of originality in mainstream games (spore is a good exception though).

Re:Stop spending millions on them then... (1)

happyemoticon (543015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17836474)

I would say that you are basically right, with a corollary: if you're influential and wealthy enough - a rockstar game designer like Cliff B. or Shigeru Miyamoto - you can still be pretty creative.

It's not like this is a new or novel phenomenon, either. I mean, most of the movers and shakers of the art world throughout history have started with a fairly conservative style and moved to the fringes gradually. Picasso did not start doing cubist drawings. The reason that this is now incredibly apparent in the games industry as opposed to twenty years ago is partly the amount of labor and craft necessary for one game to be produced, and also the fact that a great number of idiots buy things like Madden 2008. The industry is effectively clogged by those nothing blockbuster titles, and huge channels of distribution and advertising and production are built around them. Just ask any Best Buy employee how many units of The Burning Crusade they recieved at their store - it's probably in the thousands. And even if you distribute via the internet, Verizon and Sprint are fighting to put a toll booth at your data connection, and huge amounts of promotional labor, from viral marketing to professional blogging, are devoted to making sure that people are talking about the games that the industry wants them to talk about.

Re:Stop spending millions on them then... (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 7 years ago | (#17836862)

On consoles this just isn't going to happen -- the barrier of entry is just too high (how many programmers are able to write a complete rendering + physics + ai systems?!) -- MAYBE with MS now offering XNA, but we'll have to wait and see...

On PCs, this idea is becoming less and less feasible, unless you limit yourself to "simple" games. Nothing wrong with them, say like the 80's 8-bit games or 90's web games, but people expectations have moved on, such as full 3D environments, physics, multiplayer, etc.

Of course there are exceptions, such as Darwinia, FlightGear, etc., but without graphic and sound artists, most lost budget games just don't have the sex appeal to get them selling. Quality content just costs too much, on TOP of the programming budget, not to mention having a game designer that knows what he is doing.

I wish there was a good open source game engine that didn't suck. Written by _professionals_ that know what the hell they are doing, and written with a _good_ coding standard. We got OpenGL, we have ODE, we have OpenAL, why isn't there an engine that ties everything together. (Yes, I've heard of Torque) I suspect because we're still a ways off from having a "good engine" that is "good enough", instead of highly tuned engines for the game at hand.

Cheers

Must Not Be a Good Enough Idea (1)

KermodeBear (738243) | more than 7 years ago | (#17834910)

"You use the word 'difficult', but I think that it is becoming almost 'impossible' for an original game to succeed financially. This can't be blamed on anyone but it's a simple fact that an original game doesn't appeal to the majority of gamers."
There are a lot of original ideas. Just because a game is original doesn't mean that it is a good game. If you want your game to sell it has to be both good and likable by a lot of people. That's just business. No use complaining about it; Either reduce your costs so your original, unpopular game can make some profit, or temper your original idea with some more popular ones. I have no pity for this guy, sorry. Like any piece of software, you have to be willing to make compromises.

Re:Must Not Be a Good Enough Idea (2, Insightful)

JoshJ (1009085) | more than 7 years ago | (#17834976)

Have you even played Okami? It's an incredible game that didn't sell well because it's not called Zelda. Had Nintendo put it out, renamed 2 characters, and named the game Zelda it'd have sold over a million copies in one day. Gamers are, as a group, a bunch of fucking brand-obsessed idiots. Look at every console flamewar since the 16-bit era for proof.

Re:Must Not Be a Good Enough Idea (1)

sqlrob (173498) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835048)

I'm in the middle of playing Twilight Princess, and , quite frankly, Okami has out Zelda'd Zelda. It's a shame Clover was canned.

Re:Must Not Be a Good Enough Idea (1)

JoshJ (1009085) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835200)

I haven't played Twilight Princess yet, but Okami's even topped Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time. But it's not called Zelda, so it doesn't get the recognition it deserves.
Gamers as a whole need to get off their moronic brand addiction and actually think for themselves worth a damn. I'm sure that right now there's upwards of 10000 PS3/Wii/360 console flamewars on various gaming websites, and still 100+ flamewars over whether the SNES was better than the Genesis. So people end up rejecting extremely good games because they're not called "Zelda" or "Mario", buying crap because it's called "Sonic" or "Final Fantasy", and so forth.
It's pathetic.

Re:Must Not Be a Good Enough Idea (1)

Nevyn (5505) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835256)

Okami is good, but there are some obvious problems with it. The most obvious being the stupid UI for talking with characters ... that was just painful, certainly if I hadn't been waiting for the game for 6 months anticipating the things it did differently, and got right, I wouldn't have got past the intro.

While Zelda isn't as original, it's a better complete package ... but then I'm playing Link to the past for the first time, on VC, and as a complete package that's better than both, IMO.

Re:Must Not Be a Good Enough Idea (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835556)

What was wrong with the UI for talking? Walk up, press a button, listen to lots of really hokey dialog. The content may not have been the best, but the UI was fine. Okay, occasionally you'd jump and frighten them instead, but that didn't have real consequences.

Okami's visuals and music were just phenomenal (though on the visuals front, all of Kamui looked like it was rushed, compared to elaborate locales like Kusa Village). The game was ... meh. For me, Prince of Persia raised the bar for combat-oriented platforming gameplay, and Okami definitely did not measure up. Combat in the featureless tiny circular arenas was especially repetitive, and the brushwork mechanic felt far too separated from the rest of the gameplay experience (but I guess it'd be impossible to make it a usable realtime thing with joystick controllers).

It's a beautiful art piece, I fire it up just to look at it, but rather a middling game.

Re:Must Not Be a Good Enough Idea (1)

Rycross (836649) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835612)

Mostly, I just found the rate at which the text appeared intolerably slow, with no way to configure it. Especially in cutscenes.

Re:Must Not Be a Good Enough Idea (1)

Rycross (836649) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835258)

I've played Okami, and I found it to be mediocre. I realize this isn't a popular opinion, but while the whole brush-to-use-special-powers mechanic was wonderfully innovative at first, it became old very quickly. The dungeons were poorly designed and much too straight-forward. The puzzles were incredibly simple, but practically every time you messed up, your sidekick launched into a stupid and even more obvious explanation. Finding hidden items was monontonous, and gave little reward. It often involved crawling the map to find that one little mound of dirt on the ground that you remembered seeing 3 hours ago, so you can get an item that is only useful for selling for money. It didn't have the wonderful assortment of items that Zelda did, which means I found myself using the same items and powers over and over, and growing incredibly bored with it.

Levels were dull. Advancing your character was dull. Exploring was dull. The rewards you were given for going out of your way and exploring were lame. The plot was simplistic. Puzzles were simplistic. Your sidekick treats you like an idiot.

Yeah it had pretty graphics. And the brushing mechanic was great... for the first 5 hours. But at 10 hours I had to force myself to turn on the PS2. It just wasn't that great of a game.

Cheap knockoff of Zelda with a couple of gimicks. The problem isn't that gamers don't like innovation. Innovation for the sake of innovation isn't good enough. You have to deliver a solid game too.

Re:Must Not Be a Good Enough Idea (1)

JoshJ (1009085) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835358)

I've played Okami, and I found it to be mediocre. I realize this isn't a popular opinion, but while the whole brush-to-use-special-powers mechanic was wonderfully innovative at first, it became old very quickly. The dungeons were poorly designed and much too straight-forward. The puzzles were incredibly simple, but practically every time you messed up, your sidekick launched into a stupid and even more obvious explanation.

I take it you forgot Ocarina of Time? Navi and Issun are the same. damn. character.

Finding hidden items was monontonous, and gave little reward. It often involved crawling the map to find that one little mound of dirt on the ground that you remembered seeing 3 hours ago, so you can get an item that is only useful for selling for money.

Finding hidden items was monotonous, and gave little reward. It often involved crawling the map to find that one hookshot target/block you couldn't lift a few hours ago/whatever that you remember seeing 4 hours ago so you can get 100 rupees.
"Advancing your character was dull"? No moreso than in Zelda, where all "advancing your character" meant was crawling the map to find 1/4 heart containers.
I could continue, but I'm not going to bother. If you can't see that there are a lot more similarities, then take off the fanboy goggles and look at the real game.

Re:Must Not Be a Good Enough Idea (1)

Rycross (836649) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835562)

I take it you forgot Ocarina of Time? Navi and Issun are the same. damn. character.


Nope, I didn't forget it. Yeah they're the same character. The difference is that Navi didn't bug you nearly as much, and when she did you had an option of listening (you had to press a button to activate), and usually had semi-useful advice. Issun just interrupts you, using the god-awful slooooooooow text boxes.

You also forgot how I mentioned level design. It's important. Okami's levels were very very straightforward. Maybe one or two puzzles, and very linear. Zelda's, by comparison, are much more complex and interesting.

Finding hidden items was monotonous, and gave little reward. It often involved crawling the map to find that one hookshot target/block you couldn't lift a few hours ago/whatever that you remember seeing 4 hours ago so you can get 100 rupees.


No, the difference is that if you had to backtrack to something you saw 3 hours ago in Zelda, it gave you something substantial. At least a heart piece. And they used these kinds of things sparingly, and were often easy to remember, like big boulders you could bomb. Okami's equivalent is a little patch of dirt.

"Advancing your character was dull"? No moreso than in Zelda, where all "advancing your character" meant was crawling the map to find 1/4 heart containers.


Thats better than trucking around seeds and spending tons of time feeding every little animal you see just so you can get points to increase your life. With Zelda you got some interesting powers. Okami had 3 weapons, where you pick a main and a sub. The other items were useless. The brush powers added some variety, but they were such a pain in the ass to use, and quite often had limited usefulness. I felt Zelda had a lot more variety.

I could continue, but I'm not going to bother. If you can't see that there are a lot more similarities, then take off the fanboy goggles and look at the real game.


That's ok, I'll continue. Besides the sub-par level design I mentioned, Okami really liked to rub its story and characters in your face using freakin slow text boxes, instead of keeping the story mostly out of your way like Zelda. The level design leaves a lot to be desired. The brush skills get very monontonous very quickly. This game really needed the Nintendo DS's stylus.

It had a nice unique graphics and made a great attempt at a new gameplay mechanism. Unfortunately, the brush thing wasn't very well suited for the Playstation 2, and they severely neglected the level design. Given how much they wanted to rub the story in your face, they should have spent a lot more time on it to make it actually interesting.

Feel free to label me a fanboy though. I realize its hard to accept that some people might have valid complaints about a game you like, but I find it hard to swallow that Okami was just this beautiful misunderstood flower that people failed to appreciate, when other niche games like Katamari and unique games like Shadow of the Colossus did so well with just as much critical acclaim. All I know is, that 10 hours into Okami, I realized that I could be playing something I actually enjoyed. So I switched to FFXII.

Re:Must Not Be a Good Enough Idea (1)

kmac06 (608921) | more than 7 years ago | (#17836716)

If I'm a casual gamer, and only buy say 3 games a year, should I go buy some game I've never heard of, or the next title in a series that has already made 6 games I enjoyed?

Re:Must Not Be a Good Enough Idea (1)

Com2Kid (142006) | more than 7 years ago | (#17836856)

I *HAVE* played it.

It stinks.

Aside from the 5 minute text intro, the boring fighting, or the incessant 5 minute text breaks?

Feels like an interactive novel...

Another bleh Zelda clone.

What an ass... (1, Informative)

MaineCoon (12585) | more than 7 years ago | (#17834924)

To talk about his peers in the industry he does, and paint with such a broad brush. If he wants to make himself look better than his peers, perhaps he should do so by proving himself, rather than trying to stand apart through pointless and insulting talk alone.

As someone who works in the industry, I know many designers, artists, and engineers, and in general they love all kinds of fiction - SF, fantasy, action, horror, drama. Tastes are quite varied... there is no extreme focus on Tolkien or Aliens. In fact, many of them are quite tired of Tolkien.

Re:What an ass... (3, Insightful)

iantf (532238) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835866)

Dude, Ken Levine doesn't need to prove himself. He designed Thief and System Shock II, and he executive produced Freedom Force [mobygames.com] , three of the most innovative big-budget games of the last decade. If he has criticisms of the rest of the industry, the man has earned the right to speak up.

(No, I have never met Ken Levine. I have nothing personal invested in this. But to say of the lead designer of System Shock II "If he wants to make himself look better than his peers, perhaps he should do so by proving himself"...well, you should be embarrassed, frankly.)

Re:What an ass... (2, Insightful)

Locke DieDrake (1053478) | more than 7 years ago | (#17836208)

I think he was using hyperbole to make a point. A point that inside the games industry, games tend to stick pretty closely to a group of preconcieved ideals. Ideals that are more or less based on Tolkein and Aliens esq sci-fi movies. Incidently, your sig rather strongly invalidates your own point while validating TFA. I'll give you a hint. When someone says a certain [i]thing[/i] is over used in the games industry, you should remove ads for such a [i]thing[/i] before you try and call bullshit.

Re:What an ass... (1)

cyrax256 (845338) | more than 7 years ago | (#17836268)

You should read the article again... It's not that the game makers are illiterate. It's the gamers that don't read anything else that is not Tolkien-related, so they tend to discard anything that doesn't fit those parameters.

Re:What an ass... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17836356)

He definitely sounds like he's progressed to full "pretentious, boring, Vassar-educated twit".

Developing for the the 360? Most of the non-hardcore gamers I know treat consoles as pick up a controller and play systems. They want to plop down and play a quick game of Madden. They don't want a game they can't play in short periods of time or put off playing for a long time without being lost when they return.

The PC still hosts original thought (2, Insightful)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 7 years ago | (#17834936)

While I can't speak for consoles, original ideas still find their way to PC, I always find a handful odd, little known company's games on PC shelves (or rather lists as I shop mostly online.) Defcon and Darwinia spring to mind. Those games were both etail and limited retail before they also came to Steam. Steam provides a plethora of indie games, many of which are unique and intersting like The Ship. Steam has so many indie games that they infact have their own browsing tab.

Re:The PC still hosts original thought (1)

cowscows (103644) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835190)

I think it's really a matter of unrealistic expectations. Something completely new is likely going to take some time to build up the critical mass/mind-share needed to really take hold in the mind of the public and become the next big thing. The problem with games is that that there's such a quick and constant flow of new games that any new game is yesterday's news just a couple months later.

If you understand that reality, then it becomes a question of how do you work around it. There are a couple ways. One, you start small, sharing your idea in a more limited, cheaper to develop way. Then as things get going, you expand and improve and eventually you get closer to your original grand vision. A lot of MMO's seem to be working this way. There's only one WoW, selling 6 zillion copies on the first day, but there are dozens of other MMO's with stable and profitable fanbases. Another option is to somehow connect your game with some already existing mindshare. Nintendo does this by sticking new game types into existing franchises. I'm much more likely to take a good look at Mario Ice Hockey than at a cartoony hockey game with random anime characters or whatever all other things being equal, because I'm familiar with the Mario universe and I've enjoyed those games before. (Also because I'm a nintendo fanboy, but it would work with some non-nintendo franchises as well.)

Re:The PC still hosts original thought (1)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835786)

Steam isn't the only way either. You can download and boot up a copy of Stardock Central (the integrator behind Object Desktop, the platform WindowBlinds is a part of) and hit the games tab of it to see plethoras of games by all sorts of people you've never heard of - some of which are indeed unique and interesting as well.

Re:The PC still hosts original thought (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17836490)

Wait; Darwinia = Cannon Fodder [wikipedia.org] , Cannon Fodder = Darwinia. Everybody knows this, especially Introversion.

Market Differently (1)

CDarklock (869868) | more than 7 years ago | (#17834978)

I think the video game industry needs to stop bankrolling projects off a few blockbuster titles, and instead bankroll them from a massive library of reliable inexpensive titles.

Just a thought.

Re:Market Differently (1)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835626)

I think the video game industry needs to stop bankrolling projects off a few blockbuster titles, and instead bankroll them from a massive library of reliable inexpensive titles.

Ah yes, the gaming equivalent of the Long Tail [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Market Differently (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835780)

People buy console games used (I almost always do), which fairly demolishes the Long Tail.

Re:Market Differently (1)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#17836228)

People buy console games used (I almost always do), which fairly demolishes the Long Tail.

Ah, but the long tail is alive and well with the X360 Marketplace, Wii marketplace, and so on.

Only going to get worse (1)

Ohio Calvinist (895750) | more than 7 years ago | (#17834982)

I'd have to say... with razor thin profit margins video games have to meet, it is infinitely safer for companies to launch lines on next-gen consoles with proven game francises. I mean, no matter how bad the next Sonic re-hash is going to be, its going to outsell a cohort of obsure, but avant-garde games whose developers' venture capitalists might already be wary of the business model the industry is following. Its easier (and safer) to bastardize previous works for a C-/D+ than risk "original thought." But with that said... it disappoints me that there is no real venue for low budget/indie games on consoles like MP3 and FOSS has given underdogs a fighting (and sometimes winning) chance despite the odds.

Guuuuh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17834984)

Has the industry gotten to the point where retreads are all that will sell, or is there still room in the marketplace for original ideas?

Yes. Where the fuck have you been? Take a look at the list of all-time top selling games. It's mostly sequels.

It's not cost-effective to take a chance with original ideas at present because game development is so expensive. Maybe that will change in time, maybe XBox Live marketplace or whatever Sony and Nintendo call their efforts will change that, but right now, it's all about existing paradigms and sequels.

This issue has been rehashed how many times already.

Re:Guuuuh (1)

Maxwell (13985) | more than 7 years ago | (#17836074)

Sequels to what? Oh yeah, successful, original, innovative games. Version 1 gets the market interested, version 2, etc proves the concept. I am sure Quake II outsold Doom, but if it wasn't for Doom...

JON

Market Share Myth (1)

jythie (914043) | more than 7 years ago | (#17834994)

One problem I have witnessed a few times,

Say the total gaming market is 100 people, an whatever you sell with appeal to 50 of those people. People would say how well the game did and marketing calls it a sucess.

Wait a couple years and say the market is 1000 people, the majority of which like some common formula. You release again and get, say, 75 people. Now marketing calls it a failure because it didn't appeal to the _largest_ group, even though the total viewership increased.. it just didn't increase as fast as the full market.

Too many companies end up all aiming for the big demographics rather then targeting the smaller groups where there is less competition. Everyone wants to be the 'best' even if 'third' would result in more profits.

Okami Rocks (1, Insightful)

jonabbey (2498) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835028)

My wife and I are playing through Okami now. It's one of the most fun games I've played on the PS2, with lots of interesting things to do and see, and the art is just beautiful.

Kudos, guys.

Independant Publisher (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17835058)

Go through an independant publisher like Shrapnel Games http://www.shrapnelgames.com/ [shrapnelgames.com] though they are an indy publisher they reach a large ammount of people. Also Valve and Steam seem inclined to take risks with orginal ideas. Anyone who says creative original games are dead is either stupid, lying, or both.

Build it...and we may come (1)

scuba_steve_1 (849912) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835140)

Did people want plumbers hurling turtles? A happy face eating dots and running from ghosts? Sure, two older examples, but what people want generally falls into one of two categories:

- Mindless fun that you can start and stop at any time
- Epic quests that reward you for having no life

Me? I want to shoot things. Plot? I need only need this - it moved, so shoot it. Sure, I'll expand that preference to TDM, CTF, Search & Destroy, etc. versions of FPS, but I really just want mindless carnage. I'm a guy, and most of my ilk want to experience a testosterone-filled thrill ride - cars, guns, planes, etc. Basically, the opportunity to be tough perhaps, clever maybe, but superior...definitely. Plot? Perhaps that's what you need to bring in female gamers.

No new innovation? Uh, I believe a game came out in the not too distant past where you get paid for dropping a hooker off at a party...and it sells like hotcakes. Not my thing, but someone is thinking out of the standard game box.

Your mileage may vary.

Re:Build it...and we may come (2, Insightful)

JoshJ (1009085) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835270)

No new innovation? Uh, I believe a game came out in the not too distant past where you get paid for dropping a hooker off at a party...and it sells like hotcakes. Not my thing, but someone is thinking out of the standard game box.

Yeah, Crazy Taxi was damn fun.

Re:Build it...and we may come (1)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 7 years ago | (#17836760)

GTA?

the same for all art forms. (1)

nEoN nOoDlE (27594) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835152)

This is not news as the basic premise is hundreds (or thousands) of years old. New and original art is never in the mainstream. Every so often, new forms of art and ideas are created and the current ideas and art styles fight tooth and nail to suppress the new stuff. Then the new stuff eventually becomes mainstream and boring and the cycle repeats with a new wave of artists pushing the mainstream. While Okami might not have sold well, it will probably be an influence to many incoming game designers who will incorporate some of the unique elements of it into a game that may appeal to a wider audience.

Really now? (1)

daddyrief (910385) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835174)

That's funny...I'm a gamer, and the reason I haven't bought a game for awhile is due to the lack of innovation and originality game publishers put into their work. These big game publishers will sometimes take a game or studio that may have had some promise, buy it outright, and release a rehash of the same old shit. (Microsoft? EA? Many more I'm sure.) I would rather take a chance on an original game (Katamari, Frequency, games of that nature) than pay for the next WWII FPS...or almost any FPS anymore for that matter.

This lack of innovation is simply due to the consolidation that's occurred in the game industry, among many other industries in America. Selling games today is strictly about profit. In the earlier days of video gaming, people were making games out of passion, and the people actually working on the game had more say-so. Certainly, passionate individuals are still around, but in much smaller numbers, and their insight/dedidcation/passion is outweighed by corporate deadlines and the knowledge that yes, unfortunately, people will pay for garbage games. (Sequels, movie spinoffs.)

It's like the music industry -- If these publishers keep selling "pop" games (i.e. mass-production based on a selling formula) then sooner or later something will inevitably happen. My two cents.

It doesn't need to appeal to a majority (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835184)

It just needs to appeal to a large enough minority. How popular are train sims? Or even Civ type strategy games? Most gamers really aren't interested, and for perectly legitimate reasons. Some people love them though. And there's a lot less competition at that level. Rather competing with 100 other titles for 90% of the market, you could compete with a handful for 10% of the market. It's a safe investment. Niches can be profitable.

And original games often have a much wider appeal than the games types I mentioned. Everyone loved Lemmings. They liked Pikmin too.

You know why we don't get original games? Because they don't let game designers design them. All the ideas come from studio chiefs or publishers wanting to make the next Doom or Half-life. If you have an original idea what do you do with it? If you work for EA, you'll be ignored. If you work for a small studio, everyone, including the big boss might love it, but nobody's going to publish it.

What about the Wii? (2, Insightful)

Secret Rabbit (914973) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835244)

I know that a platform isn't a game, but the Wii has really thrown out what home gaming has mention. Not to mention that it's gotten... rather good reviews; people seem to love it. So, originality seems to be not entirely out of the question for something in the industry to sell well.

I'll also point out that "gamers" is a rather illusive term today. Nintendo among others have realized that female gamers have different ideas of what makes a good game as well as "older" gamers as well. And that's only two of the markets that are only beginning to be tapped.

Basically, although it may be true that the traditional "hard-core gamer" may prefer to stick with the same type of game over and over, other types of gamers may actually prefer more original content. Of course, we won't know for a fair number of years if this is true, but I wouldn't count original content out just yet.

Re:What about the Wii? (1)

Chr0me (180627) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835732)

Good point about "gamers." I find it really odd that the "hard-core gamer" title goes to the people who stick with the same type of games over and over. FPS, Madden, and WoW all have their place, but the guy who spent hours (days?) waiting to play Madden with purtier graphics isn't really my idea of a "hard-core gamer." Trolling ebay and the dearly departed lik-sang for an import title () that'll never reach the shores of your particular nation is more of my idea of a hard-core gamer. [fortunecity.com]

that or the guy who died from playing too much in theR.O.K [bbc.co.uk]

Re:What about the Wii? (1)

Dave Parrish (1050926) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835816)

Exactly what I was thinking when I wrote this. Nintendo is essentially the one company still trying to be innovative in the industry, and they're not going anywhere soon. (Nexgenwars.com, anyone?)

Also, I argue the older gamers are really the only true ones, anymore.

"Hard-core" gamers have become mindless Sony drones, Grand Theft Autoing into eternity. For these people, these are the required components for a game to be fun: The best graphics ever, blood, sex of some kind (women with large breasts, etc.), and an M or higher rating. In my opinion, this is not being a gamer at all.

Going back to what I said about older gamers... You cannot truly appreciate FUN games unless you started out on, say, the SNES or Sega Genesis (or older). In those days, games were purely about having fun. Graphics was not even an issue.

And I use the SNES as an example there simply to lead into the fact that this is still Nintendo's philosophy. While we have Sony badmouthing its competition and developing $600 console powerhouses, Nintendo is in their little corner seeing what they can do to actually make things more fun.

And this is what the gaming industry needs. If I wanted to WATCH a game (stare at pretty graphics), I'd have bought a DVD instead of a video game.

Sad but too true... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835320)

Most video game people have read one book and seen one movie in their life, which is 'Lord of the Rings' and 'Aliens' or variations of that. There's great things in that, but you need some variety

When I was a lead tester at Atari, I was considered a freak since had boxes from Amazon delivered straight to my cube. Most people couldn't believe I had time to read books. (Remembers, kiddies, you must sacrifice your personal life to the alter of the video games gods.) Or it might have been the Norman Rockwell posters that scared them off. :P

Oh come on! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17835326)

Did that just say that gamers don't want new original games? I call BS.

No, the people with the development money don't like new, original games. The reason is that gamers don't like them. Oh, did I say that? What I mean is that a single game that has no history stands a good chance of bombing. Odds are your original concept won't make money. If you make one that *doesn't* suck, though, you'll make plenty of money.

There is too much risk in making a new original game. It might work really well, it might sell 10 copies. Either way it costs millions of dollars to make. A graphics buff to a game people liked *will* re-make its production costs, and at least a bit more. And so that's what happens. There just isn't enough *extra* money for an original game, while there is plenty of excess risk.

Too Original or Badly Timed? (3, Insightful)

Babbster (107076) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835336)

First off, I haven't played Okami (I haven't played any home console games for a couple months). With that out of the way, I would only wonder if the release of Okami was just badly timed, at least in the US. With the ridiculous amount of press surrounding the releases of the Wii and the PS3 (not to mention the big 360 game, Gears of War), is it really a surprise that a new PS2 title hasn't gotten the attention that it perhaps deserves? Had the game been released at the same time in the US as in Japan (April), it might have had a better shot at getting traction. As it is, it came out in September when seemingly the entire US market was frozen in anticipation of the new consoles.

As for originality selling, Katamari Damacy (to name one) has had enough success to get not only a PS2 sequel but a version on the PSP. Even more recently, Nintendo has seemed to be all about originality with the DS and Wii, and they certainly aren't suffering.

Unfortunately, new home console titles cost $50+ a pop. That's a lot of money to invest, and I don't think it's unreasonable for gamers to go with "safe bets." I also suspect that if an "Okami 2" was released on the Wii (the painting aspect would seem tailor-made for that console), and of course it was good, it would sell like gangbusters. Then again, at that point the same complaints would be made by someone else that people are only interested in sequels...

Re:Too Original or Badly Timed? (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835482)

Well Okami has not been released in europe yet, so much for success, besides that it probably would have gotten a few sales more if it was not Playstation only, the Wii basically screams for this game, so does the pc, with the way better input methods suitable for it. I dont think the original content is the problem, the playstation only, not having it released in the second biggest market worldwide and having it released during a next gen console promotion time, might play into it. Speaking of original games, Wii Sports, Rayman Raving Rabbits on the Wii, Nintendogs all big sellers, highly original.

Re:Too Original or Badly Timed? (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835628)

> Katamari Damacy (to name one) has had enough success to get not only a PS2 sequel but a version on the PSP.

Sequels, as opposed to original developments. The developer didn't even want to do a sequel. The PSP version is especially horrible.

> Unfortunately, new home console titles cost $50+ a pop.

So wait for the price to drop. It's not like the movies where you miss seeing it on a big screen. It's just as much fun six months later, and usually just as available if not more so.

Re:Too Original or Badly Timed? (1)

Babbster (107076) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835912)

Sequels, as opposed to original developments. The developer didn't even want to do a sequel. The PSP version is especially horrible.

I wasn't testifying to the quality of the sequel or the PSP game. I was simply pointing out that if the first game had not sold well then the other games probably wouldn't have been created.

So wait for the price to drop. It's not like the movies where you miss seeing it on a big screen. It's just as much fun six months later, and usually just as available if not more so.

And I'm sure many people will do exactly that - I do it all the time. In this case, though, we're talking about a game only 3 months old (in the US at least), and that wait-and-see attitude costs game developers money - a game that sells a million copies at $50-60 isn't going to excite publishers as much as a game that sells a million copies at $20-30 (well, that's probably hyperbole, so make it 100,000 ;]).

In other words, a game's failure - from the perspective of the developer/publisher - can typically be determined within the first three or four months of release. Apart from the "huge" games (Halo, Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid, Oblivion, etc.) that can sell well for long periods, after that point there are progressively diminishing returns, either from reduced interest (the "if it ain't new, I ain't interested" factor combined with shifting marketing focus to newer games) or from reduced prices. It doesn't mean much to the consumer who decides to buy the game late, but it can mean a great deal to what happens to the game developer (did they want to do a sequel and now can't, can the studio stay afloat, will they have to switch publishers, etc.).

Of course... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17835360)

...when originality strikes gold, it suddenly becomes mainstream and derivative. The first experience with the Battlefield series, the Metal Gear series, Devil May Cry, Deus Ex, Max Payne, etc., is a unique one, because they all have a new take on an "established" genre -- action. Funny thing is, they resonated with what people wanted, and thus sold well.

And yes, Okami is awesome. So are the Harmonix games. Harmonix doesn't seem to be doing too badly, though. It could be that their "innovation" was simply more along the lines of what people like.

God forbid that if you experiment, you fail.

Second verse, same as the first? (2, Insightful)

Americano (920576) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835362)

It seems like you could substitute ANY form of entertainment for the word "games" in that title. The companies chase money... if they see a blockbuster, they're going to rush to produce their own copy of that blockbuster's "formula." Same as with movies. Same as with music. Does it dumb down the landscape? Sure. Does it mark the "end of gaming as we know it"? I don't see why it should. Did Britney Spears & her million clones mark the end of music as we know it? Nope, not at all... it dumbed down commercial radio into a monotonous "sameness", but there's still people out there making interesting & innovative music.

Ode to Clover? (1)

not-enough-info (526586) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835386)

As nice as Okami and Viewtiful Joe were, I hardly think they're indicative of the ultimate fate of "original games". It really depends on how you measure success and how that metric is balanced with the production investment. If you are expecting a Zelda-esque game like Okami to be Zelda you're deluding yourself. I don't think there's any reason not to believe games won't follow movies in this regard. We'll see "original games" come down in cost, fill niches, and find a nice equilibrium between development cost and returns.

Now only if we could get foreign games as easily as foreign films...

Games and Movies (1)

haakondahl (893488) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835390)

I got to thinking about why original and creative movies are (it seems) better-received than games. Movies are passive, but gaming requires action from the user, and now we're in the realm of habits and comfortable ways.

I believe that the majority of the problem is this: How do I know if I will like a game, if I have never played one like it before? I don't think that any of us consciously consider that question (as it's pretty stupid when you ask it out loud). Most people are simply more comfortable with what they know, and will give that a lot of weight, even at the expense of new and more enjoyable features.

This document was created in WordStar 3.3

Try before buy? (1)

crashnbur (127738) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835394)

The problem with the "innovative, original games" that don't sell is probably some combination of insufficient marketing and a modern crop of ignorant and/or reluctant gamers. People who buy video games don't like to take chances on something they've never tried before, especially not for $50-60 a pop.

You want innovation to sell? Release your "innovative, original games" for free as downloads and give the public a chance to figure it out. Try-before-buy works really well, or has no one learned from MP3/music industry? Oh, wait...

Re:Try before buy? (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835524)

In case of okami it was several factors, it has not been released in Europe yet, so the second biggest gaming market has been blatantly ignored. It should have gone multiplatform, the gaminc concept screams for a mouse or the wiimote, Playstation only was its death nail, while the playstation has a sheer number of consoles, its gamers are not too open minded and feel happy to be fed with Tony Hawk #19 also add to that the next gen hype going on which drowned everything. Probably if Okami would come out on the Wii now, it would get excellent additional sales, but as it seems the game is basically still drowned in brain dead marketing and release dates!

Try before buy?-Then pirate after. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17836500)

"You want innovation to sell? Release your "innovative, original games" for free as downloads and give the public a chance to figure it out. Try-before-buy works really well, or has no one learned from MP3/music industry? Oh, wait..."

The only thing that "try before buy" has taught me, is that people talk out both sides of their mouths. We give them demos via various means and they still pirate the full game. So no it's not "the game developers fault". It's the publics fault.

"The problem with the "innovative, original games" that don't sell is probably some combination of insufficient marketing and a modern crop of ignorant and/or reluctant gamers. People who buy video games don't like to take chances on something they've never tried before, especially not for $50-60 a pop."

Psychonauts is siting at a nearby store at $10.00. TEN DOLLARS! And it's been there for over two months.

really? (1)

yoprst (944706) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835410)

Once the innovative game gets popular, it's cloned and bang! - it's ubiquitous. No innovative games anymore...

The Sky is FALLING!!! (2)

Purity Of Essence (1007601) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835448)

Calm down. Video games are a very young industry. When video games finally go mainstream there will be plenty of demand for new kinds of games. Unfortunately, it's a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation, without the new games how do you attract the new customers? The truth is, the only real problem area is in consoles which have been utterly hardcore oriented since they went 3D. Fortunately, PCs have become so ubiquitous that smaller, weirder games actually have a fighting chance of finding an audience -- and even a niche audience in the PC realm is HUGE. The current deluge of me-too-itus shovelware is not the end of the world, it's just a phase, and companies that never grow beyond it may find themselves phased out. The only reason it works right now is because the audience is so small and there is a severe limit of consumer dollars to fight over. These games are very expensive to make, so the money-men who fund them stick to a risk-averting formula based on rehashing past successes. But if you invest in growing the market there's a lot more money to go around, and there's a much better chance for less traditional games to get off the ground. Nintendo is one of the few big game companies that actually gets this and is doing something right by expanding the console market with innovative hardware and software, instead of catering only to the same game players with the same games year after year. I think Nintendo's example (and ultimate success) will not go unnoticed within the industry. Even Microsoft will eventually figure out that they just can't sell Grandma (and often not even Mom and Dad) on Dead Rising and Gears of War. As much as the game industry likes to ape Hollywood, they still have a lot to learn about making art, pleasing the audience, and making money doing both.

Original Innovative games (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835518)

Just because a game is original and innovative doesn't mean that it's any good.

I used to have a game called KKND. Krush, Kill 'N Destroy was among the first RTS games to incorporate reactive pseudo 3d landscapes and the concept of unit rank and improvement through experience. It was original and very innovative, but it wasn't as much fun as Red Alert 2 that came out later.

LK

Originality is not enough. (1)

Vexinator (253312) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835536)

Let me preface by saying I have not played Okami (and I don't have a PS2, so it's not likely anytime soon)

Pushing the envelope is a sometimes embittering experience. Not everything that is truly innovative is of good quality. Not everything of quality will find mass appeal. Not everything that eventually finds mass appeal has an explosive introduction to the scene. These are universal truths.

But saying that people don't want innovation is a mental surrender: the old sour grapes thing. This year Nintendo has proven without a shadow of any doubt that innovation is still viable in the games domain. Their focus on an innovative means of game interaction has propelled them back into viability within the console market... and the truth is that even players of other consoles will reap the benefits - Nintendo has shown that eye-candy is not the only thing that sells games, that people are still interested in the "fun factor," and the other consoles will ignore that at their own peril.

I am not completely obtuse to the financial concerns of his situation. Likely a large sum of cash was gambled on the development of this game, and by his reaction I assume that it was not a $$ success. He can either scrap the idea or gamble further that he can develop it into a success.

It's a big risk, but damn it you know the option that is the most rewarding every bit as well as I do.

Losers always whine about their best, winners go home and fuck the prom-queen. Right?

Hogwash... (4, Informative)

bynary (827120) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835554)

I list for you a few games that are "original" that are also selling well: Brain Age Katamari Damacy Loco Roco Cooking Mama Trauma Center Phoenix Wright Shadow of the Colossus I'm sure there are others that I'm missing. Once upon a time FPSs were original. Platformers were original. Q*bert was original (I still don't understand that game). I think we're missing the big picture here. Innovation (as I understand most gamers referring to it as) just doesn't happen much in the real world. If you want an object lesson, type out a sentence in a word processor increasing the font size by 1 for each line. From one line to the next there isn't much difference. However, if you compare every fifth line you'll see a rather distinct difference. If you compare the first and last lines they won't look even remotely the same in size. That's how I like to look at gaming. Look back at games from 2007 in 2017 and tell me that the market was stagnant. The truth is it's not, it just seems that way right now.

Depends what your market is? (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835702)

It really depends what your market is:

  - If your market is those people who must have things the way they always were, then innovation will fail.
  - If your market is people who will accept innovation, as long it is not too far off, then some innovation is possible.
  - If your market is people who like try new things, then there is a chance innovation will work.

For the case of where innovation is possible, it can't exist on its own. The promise of a new improved gaming experience still needs to be there. Nintendo innovates, but doesn't always get it right, but with the right market and developer support, then these products work.

Two Words: Guitar Hero (3, Insightful)

AspectRatio (951328) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835862)

#1 selling game in December, and the second-biggest franchise last holiday behind Madden, even though it only came out on one platform. Innovation and originality dead? Sorry guys, just because Okami didn't appeal to an American audience because of it's heavy reliance on Japanese mythology doesn't mean that originality and innovation in gaming is dead. Is Twilight Princess on the Wii not innovative? Someone already mentioned Nintendogs, but what about Phoenix Wright, Dance Dance Revolution, Lego Star Wars, Rayman Raving Rabbids, SingStar and Viva Pinata? Those were all top-100 selling games over the holiday. Just because "insert game here" didn't sell doesn't mean originality in gaming is dead. The rewards for making an innovative blockbuster have never been higher... just ask Red Octane.

Original? (2, Insightful)

cryocide (947909) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835884)

Okami is hardly original in that they added a paintbrush gimmick to a Zelda-style adventure game. Same thing goes for Viewtiful Joe with its side-scrolling brawler style, except that the Bullet Time gimmick had already been played-out with Max Payne.

Two things come to mind: (1)

paulxnuke (624084) | more than 7 years ago | (#17836050)


A few years ago the NY Times got a new crossword editor, who started making puzzles with new words in them. At the time the clues and words had become so standardized that anyone with a few years experience could mechanically fill in most of the Sunday puzzle. The in-crowd wrote furiously to the paper and complained about being forced to think (like noobs!)

An editor with a big publisher, speaking at Purgatory (writers' workshop), made the comment that the best way to get published was to pick a book that was selling well -- and write something exactly like it.

Come on guys... the Romans at least had those virile barbarians to fight. We're sinking into the muck voluntarily, and as fast as we can.

Another perspective (1)

Metasquares (555685) | more than 7 years ago | (#17836058)

Let's consider this from some other perspectives. Other aesthetics change throughout time in a kind of punctuated equilibrium - art, music, and architecture all have "periods". Typically, these periods have a few exponents who are themselves involved in catalyzing change by introducing something:

  1. Appealing to the new aesthetic, but usually not the old one (what the author is bemoaning, I suppose).
  2. So revolutionary that it no longer fits into the same style of the old period.

Ultimately, this is going to happen; it has happened many times in the past in every artistic field, including gaming itself. The only question is who will be the radical game designers that manage to change the dominant aesthetic? Obviously people who continue to develop their own style of games despite the current demands of the mainstream.

In other words, if you're interested in creating innovative games, keep at it. At some point, people will want something else (whether this happens anytime soon is still up for debate, and if you want to make some money now, you might be better off conforming).

Two Word Rebuttal (1)

Szynaka (65273) | more than 7 years ago | (#17836070)

Katamari Damaci

Original and Innovation does not imply good (1)

Astarica (986098) | more than 7 years ago | (#17836098)

They may be desirable traits in a good game, but their presence along does not guaranteed a good game. If you look at a Zelda game, it is never going to be original enough such that the story doesn't involve a hero named Link and a princess named Zelda and a villian named Ganon. It is never going to be innovative enough that the game won't involve some kind of combat with a sword, arrow, boomerang, and a random grab-bag of tools. However there's far more to a good game than just having an original idea or an innovative feature. Doing a boring feature, like hitting something with a sword, but doing it extremely well, is what separates a good game from a normal one.

Bad timing (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 7 years ago | (#17836110)

I think this is a poor statement to make, or at least not very visionary, on the cusp of three next-gen consoles offering strong on-line game stores, and seeking to use those online games as strong differentiators between the platforms since so many games are cross platform now.

Online games is where those with really unique ideas should seek to test them in the open market, where I can splurge for $5 to $20 on a fun looking game I may well never see at $50.

Lack of Innovation (2, Insightful)

Newfangled (1058238) | more than 7 years ago | (#17836332)

The severe lack in innovation in video games today is caused by the game companies being tied to making games for the old, tried & true genres. These genres are now so full of titles that there is no longer any room for originality. Take the first person shooter (fps) genre. IT HAS BEEN DONE TO DEATH. There are so many fps games out there that you can choose any setting, play-style, weapons that you want to play with! And yet every time a new fps game comes out the developers try and call it innovative because it adds the tiniest of changes to the standard formula (such as rechargeable health bars Wooopie.) FPS IS DONE. many other genres have also been done to death as well such as: sports, racing, fantasy rpgs etc. There some genres that in my opinion are still open to a lot of expansion. Massively Multiplayer Online games (MMOs) for one still have a long way to go. The game developers need to get off of making MMOs with elfs, dwarfs, and orcs and start putting some interesting stuff into the mix. How about being a cowboy or bandit on the wild west? or being a pirate on the open sea? just now we are starting to see some originality breath life into this genre.

When was this originality cutoff? (1)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 7 years ago | (#17836440)

Back in the 80's and NES was still new? How about back in the 90's? Although, I do have to admit that Guitar Hero was nothing new, it was basically DDR with a different controller. But I'd hate to say that "innovative, original games have no chance." This has two flaws: 1) You have to state when they suddenly ceased to have a chance and 2) It's rephrasing the thought "there's no need to spend any more time researching because any more advances in science would've come up already"

Innovative, original games have no chance... (1)

posterlogo (943853) | more than 7 years ago | (#17836532)

...especially if they suck as a game. Too often, "innovative" or "original" are used to describe gameplay elements that are outright lame. I find it hard to believe that novel games that don't suck have no chance.

It's part of a wider trend (1)

linvir (970218) | more than 7 years ago | (#17836660)

A chess analogy is appropriate here. Who'd want chess to be completely rewritten every month? Nobody. People like the predictability because it allows the skills they've built up to remain useful. We bitch about annual Madden and FIFA clones, but to a lot of people, that's their chess, and they don't need somebody fucking with their chess.

There are chess players and there are board game enthusiasts. Madden whores are the chess players. Gamer nerds who like lots of different games and pine for originality are board game enthusiasts.

Unoriginal complaint. (1)

adoarns (718596) | more than 7 years ago | (#17836714)

Every game was eventually a new and original concept, and some of them actually caught on.

reason (1)

Sigma 7 (266129) | more than 7 years ago | (#17836854)

Has the industry gotten to the point where retreads are all that will sell, or is there still room in the marketplace for original ideas?
No, it's gotten to the point where conglomerates decide what is the main demographic for video games, in the same way that the movie industry have conglomerates that decide the same thing. Unless you are going to play games, watch movies, or read books in bulk, you will most likely have limited exposure to the variety within that media you choose.

I don't read that many books myself - but one of the few books I chose to read (i.e. it wasn't required in school) would be the within Hitchhiker's guide series, and the LotR series. By extrapolation, those who don't watch movies normally would go for the mainstream films (and won't go for the imports that aren't heavily advertised), and those who don't play games normally would go for the "mainstream" games (although in this case, I suspect they would go for something more casual, such as Bejewelled.)

The last book I read is the Zombie Survival Guide which I liked. Of course, recommending this book is almost equivalant to recommending a random game that you probably wouldn't have easy access to.
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