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  1. #11
    Senior Member reason's Avatar
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    I have nothing to complain about. I bought an Xbox360 and have enjoyed some excellent releases, such as Bioshock, The Orange Box, Gears of War, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Mass Effect, The Darkness and Halo 3. I am also looking forward to Grand Theft Auto IV, Mass Effect 2, Half-Life 2: Episode Three and Gears of War 2, alongside those which I have either forgotten or have yet to be announced. It does not bother me that many of these games are similar to older releases, since I also enjoyed those older releases and I am quite happy to have more of the same with better graphics.

    Imagine if movie critics insisted that movies be better each and every year, compared to the previous year. It is just silly, and even sillier to let that expectation ruin your enjoyment of quality new releases. In any list of the greatest movies of all time, it is expected than many will be very old, and that many similar movies with flashier special effects would have been released since. However, these newer movies can still be fun and worthwhile experiences, quite irrespective of whether something better came before.
    A criticism that can be brought against everything ought not to be brought against anything.

  2. #12
    Enigma Nadir's Avatar
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    Varelse: Yeah. An Elder Scrolls game where you can't fly, if nothing else. Not to mention those shudder-worthy leveled lists. Morrowind forever! (House Telvanni.) I don't have enough experience with Daggerfall or Arena to comment.

    Rohsiph: That the legendary designers are aware of the problem makes me happier, and it's part of why I am so expectant of Spore.

    athenian200: There are more lousy games these days, but there are gems too, like you say. (Most of these gems also have boatloads of hype behind them as a requirement to recognition.) But it's not that I'm complaining about the quality of games - it's more like the variety and diversity in them - that is certainly diminishing, I think.

    CzeCze: Well, those niche markets (besides arcade games, which do appeal to a quite different audience of casual gamers but I can't say I really include them within the larger scope of the industry.) which usually boast a lot of creativity, innovation and rich gameplay but not so much photorealistic graphics, or other attention-garnering aspects should idealistically be able to contend with the top dogs for recognition and sales. But they can't. Not when the arena is competitive in such a way that the games with the most visual appeal and the most financial backing get the spotlight.

    Those kinds of games that you cited - the question is not that they are better or worse (and I agree that graphics/sound are an integral part of horror/music games) but that they are simply rehashes of old formulae with the industry not allowing much deviation. The Sims is just about the best example that could be given, as the only reason those copious amounts of expansions are all released seperately is because they sell and not much else, being more of the same.

    The gaming industry is recognized, it's bigger, but no, not everyone can profit. And this is not because the overlooked developers make bad games, but because they can't afford the time and money to make a good game with better graphics than gameplay - not to mention pre-release advertising, etc. Then there's the whole ordeal with publishers as Noel cited.

    nocturne: Again, the question is not that those games are low quality games - they aren't, quite to the contrary. They are all excellent games from what I've seen and played of some of them, and very enjoyable. But the fact remains that all those games you cited belong to two genres - FPSs and RPGs - even though they all have their individual stories and minor gameplay variations (well, that much should be taken for granted.) And that leads me to think about where originality and creativity has gone to hide.

    I appreciate your interest and differing perspectives! Keep 'em coming. :)
    Not really.

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nadir View Post
    nocturne: Again, the question is not that those games are low quality games - they aren't, quite to the contrary. They are all excellent games from what I've seen and played of some of them, and very enjoyable. But the fact remains that all those games you cited belong to two genres - FPSs and RPGs - even though they all have their individual stories and minor gameplay variations (well, that much should be taken for granted.) And that leads me to think about where originality and creativity has gone to hide.

    I appreciate your interest and differing perspectives! Keep 'em coming.
    Well, to me they are just story driven interactive adventures, and that is exactly what I like. I also enjoy competitive games, such as those with a sport theme or multiplayer shoot-em-ups. I think that many genres are ceasing to exist, but mostly because technology is allowing genres to be blended. It is no longer necessary to have a story driven adventure or an adrenaline fuelled action experience, because you can have both in the same product. For example, Mass Effect is quite successful in offering gamers the opportunity to shape their own experience, and mix and match as they please.

    Ultimately, I prefer that. I do not see much value in going back to a world with so many subgenres, and I imagine that few of those genres would have ever developed in the first place if not for technical limitations. Besides, there is still room to be creative, and it seems to me that plenty of games are, they are not always successful, but then that's what experimentation is about. Moreover, with new methods of digital distribution, there are many more opportunities for creativity. For example, check out XboxLive's Arcade, and also note its new Xbox Originals lineup, which has given new life to such innovative games as Psychonauts.
    A criticism that can be brought against everything ought not to be brought against anything.

  4. #14
    Senior Member htb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee View Post
    I have nothing to complain about.
    Ditto.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nadir View Post
    But the fact remains that all those games you cited belong to two genres - FPSs and RPGs - even though they all have their individual stories and minor gameplay variations (well, that much should be taken for granted.) And that leads me to think about where originality and creativity has gone to hide.
    By generalizing the value of games on a basis of genre or fundamental concept, you've shortchanged developers' innovations in gameplay, narrative, and aesthetics.

    From The Orange Box, for example, Portal is on its face a first-person shooter; but the "portal" play mechanic is novel and fecund, while the artistic and dramatic execution of the game rivals that of a breakout short film. Similarly, the Half-Life series has reached a gold standard with its combination of storytelling, style, action and puzzles.

    What about Chromehounds, an overlooked, highly customizable Sega/From release that my friends and I are still playing, eighteen months later? Or Viva Pinata? For the computer, consider the independently developed 4X game Galactic Civilizations II -- a second expansion for which is soon to come. Developers needn't effect paradigm shifts to be creative. If they do, then the nature of the complaint is subjective.

    Here is a challenge to one looking for the conceptual sui generis: download and play Starflight and Starflight II. An emulator will be required, but each game is an exploration of persistent worlds that hasn't been followed in the twenty years since.

  5. #15
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    I never got The Orange Box. I just downloaded Half-Life 2: Episode Two from Steam. I already had the other two Half-Life 2 games, so getting The Orange Box would have been stupid.

  6. #16
    Enigma Nadir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by htb View Post
    Ditto.

    By generalizing the value of games on a basis of genre or fundamental concept, you've shortchanged developers' innovations in gameplay, narrative, and aesthetics.
    I understand what you mean here, but yes, I would contend that genres are important (because they have been disappearing) - and I never opposed that there was innovation within the existing genres. The games nocturne cited all utilize such innovations in the areas you cite, though admittedly, the part of my post which you quoted might have been unfair to them.

    Quote Originally Posted by htb
    From The Orange Box, for example, Portal is on its face a first-person shooter; but the "portal" play mechanic is novel and fecund, while the artistic and dramatic execution of the game rivals that of a breakout short film. Similarly, the Half-Life series has reached a gold standard with its combination of storytelling, style, action and puzzles.
    Portal does not resemble a first person shooter in any way, it's a puzzle game utilizing a first-person perspective and the functions of the Source Engine. It is indeed, highly innovative, but it's not resembling a FPS except the point of view. I understand that it's included in the Orange Box. I should have been taken care to name it as an exception while responding to nocturne.

    Quote Originally Posted by htb
    What about Chromehounds, an overlooked, highly customizable Sega/From release that my friends and I are still playing, eighteen months later? Or Viva Pinata? For the computer, consider the independently developed 4X game Galactic Civilizations II -- a second expansion for which is soon to come. Developers needn't effect paradigm shifts to be creative. If they do, then the nature of the complaint is subjective.
    You have a point here. But my complaint has, in essence, more to do with the fact that Chromehounds is overlooked than the existence of Chromehounds itself. Also, Chromehounds is, from my understanding, a mech game. The last well-known mech game released was, IIRC, Mechwarrior 4, back in 2001, or sometime close. Not counting games which utilize mechs as a subtheme (i.e Battlefield 2142), that is still quite a long interval, and I think that the gradual changes in the game industry as I posted about in my original post have contributed to that. Similarly, I doubt very much that Galactic Civilization could have reached prominence without the backing and strong effort from Stardock. Regardless, your point is taken.

    Quote Originally Posted by htb
    Here is a challenge to one looking for the conceptual sui generis: download and play Starflight and Starflight II. An emulator will be required, but each game is an exploration of persistent worlds that hasn't been followed in the twenty years since.
    I will try them. Thanks for suggesting!

    And keep the views coming!
    Last edited by Nadir; 12-19-2007 at 02:33 PM. Reason: A clarification
    Not really.

  7. #17
    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    I think the video game industry is changing into specialized fields. Where before you could have one or a few people bring a game to life, now you need specialised skills to create everything from hi-res by low polygon models to advanced scripting and level design.

    The problem is that while a few good people can put together a really personal and creative game, it's very hard to preserve that when you are dealing with 20-30 people... While the programmers and such are doing their job from the design specs, they don't have any input into creativity. There problem solving is only how to do (x), not how to make the program do something cool. Innovation is capped at the design level. That gap causes a change in how games are produced.

    It's the same problem in converting any small business into a larger one. When the small businesses can't compete anymore because of the requirements to have the specialised skills, the game is built around design documents, breakdowns and management oversight. That's a huge difference. An easy example is how hard it is for small companies to meet all accounting requirements.

    Having said that, companies like Blizzard have shown that there is more than one approach to how to manage game building... It's like night and day between them and the more sweat-shop approaches like EA.

    Small doesn't always mean successful, of course. Supreme commander was a huge failure in my eyes. On the other hand, it was just about impossible to predict that Starcraft would dominate the way it did... a lot of it had to do with company culture - the support through battle.net and constant patching to support the free online competitions single handedly pushed SC to be the "professional RTS".

    There is no way of knowing in advance what will be a good game. A company like blizzard puts few quality games out and the sales show it... instead of just being talk, they will cancel games that just won't end up working out. Compare this to EA... or even Sierra (Empire Earth 3) that puts out games that will severely damage their brand name, but are able to do it because they just throw (or buy out) so many games. EA pretty demonstrated how buzz words like "critical mass" actually work. Microsoft attempted to do this by buying out or creating certain key franchises (like AoE) - a more successful way of getting market share with better quality games, but still not quite like Blizzard's approach (who throw their name behind every game rather than having multiple development studios).

    All of those, however, are more about how to manage the change, but the central change comes from the need for specialisation. With that, you need management... and good managers are hard as hell to find, never mind ones with experience in managing artists and programmers, marketing and design, and so forth. And if you specialise the managers (say because you have a large pool of opposing disciplines), then you end up with more and more layers of management.

    This is vastly harder than most people realise.

    However, I think that this will change when game engines stabilize... probably not for another decade, but eventually they will. This would allow amateurs to work together to "mod" a game... rather like how I still play RPGs in WC3, or how Varlese is modding/creating a new game. It would also allow a more standard way of creating game models, allowing "rent-a-coder" to be hired to produce quite a bit of the more specialised models and what not. Course, this will probably be offset by companies gaining more resources to be able to spend towards scripting and testing (least, the market would put pressure on them since the amateurs wouldn't be able to compete quite the same way).

    (Err, just to be clear... I don't think it has become stale... it's too universal for that. I think it's a systemic change in the approach to making games.)

  8. #18
    Senior Member Noel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nadir View Post
    Noel -

    Yes, I like computer gaming more than the console variant - I just can't get used to console gaming, I am thinking. And you make a good point about publishers' pressure which I hadn't considered - it is true that they are pushy.
    I basically agree with the rest, including Bloodlines being great. But the community released how many unofficial patches?
    Quite a few and because of it, has made the game much much better from release. I think you and I can agree with that. But that's just the thing though, that excites me so much about games, especially computer: having the ability to modify a game like you and Über have talked about. Another example of a Bloodlines scenario is S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Bear in mind, I hope to play it once I upgrade my computer (soon!) but the modding community is absolutely astounding: perfecting the X-Ray engine by unlocking more potential shaders, new gun models, better UI, etc. It's all about community.


    Quote Originally Posted by Uberfuhrer View Post
    I never got The Orange Box. I just downloaded Half-Life 2: Episode Two from Steam. I already had the other two Half-Life 2 games, so getting The Orange Box would have been stupid.
    TF2 alone is worth the price of Orange box as is Portal. Both of those games are outstanding! (Unless I read this incorrectly: when you said other two half-life 2 games, you meant tf2/portal - if so, carry on.)

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noel View Post
    TF2 alone is worth the price of Orange box as is Portal. Both of those games are outstanding! (Unless I read this incorrectly: when you said other two half-life 2 games, you meant tf2/portal - if so, carry on.)
    No, I got Half-Life 2: Episode Two from Steam. If you get it retail, you can only get it through The Orange Box. Episode Two by itself was $20, the entire set was like $50 at the time. But nothing else was of interest so I downloaded Episode Two because that's the only one I wanted. And I already had Half-Life 2 and Half-Life 2: Episode One, which I do believe are also part of The Orange Box. And I couldn't care less about Team Fortress 2 or Portal. So why would I waste the extra money on them?

  10. #20
    Senior Member Noel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uberfuhrer View Post
    No, I got Half-Life 2: Episode Two from Steam. If you get it retail, you can only get it through The Orange Box. Episode Two by itself was $20, the entire set was like $50 at the time. But nothing else was of interest so I downloaded Episode Two because that's the only one I wanted. And I already had Half-Life 2 and Half-Life 2: Episode One, which I do believe are also part of The Orange Box. And I couldn't care less about Team Fortress 2 or Portal. So why would I waste the extra money on them?
    Because they're games worth playing.

    If you play fps'ers online, TF2 offers a lot of fun: nine classes, capture/defend maps and a creative direction (art, music, animations) making the game brilliant. If your in the mood for a more puzzle oriented game, then Portal offers that in the first person perspective. The puzzles are challenging and the physics in the game are quite incredible. Again, another brilliant game.

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