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Game developers not seeing the obvious?

Game developers not seeing the obvious?
« on: July 11, 2011, 11:14:25 am »

While playing a few AAA games lately (Grand Theft Auto 4, The Witcher, Stalker) and pondering the enthusiasm about the new Bioshock Infinite, it dawned on me -yet again, I presume, but this time with the most pressing urgency I ever felt- how strange this common juxtaposition of realtime 3D simulation with goal-oriented rigidly rules-based interaction really is. Here we have this wonderful beautiful powerful new medium that can render before your very eyes in realtime living breathing environments that can change and evolve on their own accord and also respond instantly to any movement you make yourself, a true miracle, really (imagine trying to convince a renaissance person that this technology actually exists!)! And what do we do with it? We cage it up in this outdated rigid harnass of extremely childish gameplay (both in form as in content) that more often than not effectively prevents the player from enjoying the amazing richness of the context in which this game is situated (try explaining that to our renaissance person: that we're basically scribbling Tic Tac Toe on the Birth of Venus).

Is this a case of not seeing the obvious because it is just too close to the face? It is very common in the games community to downplay the aesthetic prowess of video-games as "eye candy" or unessential or necessary evil for marketing. How is it that they cannot see that this truly is the amazing new thing that this technology can do? Usually the focus is on interactivity. But interactivity is not new, we've been interacting with each other since the dawn of time! What is new is that we can interact with machines now, or more correctly, through machines with fictions rendered by them. We can, effectively, step into fictional worlds and become part of them!

Simply walking around with your character in the world of The Witcher is far more amazing than any of the stupid quests they make you do, or the monsters they make you slay, or even the meandering narrative that pases for a story. Just being able to drive through Liberty City is a thril! I mean: this city does not really exist, all of the people on the street or characters in a fiction, these cars are collections of polygons and mysterious programming. Why are we still gathering points in these worlds? Scoring goals? Pretend-fighting? It feels so wasteful. Almost blasphemous!
« Last Edit: July 11, 2011, 11:17:30 am by Michaël Samyn »
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Re: Game developers not seeing the obvious?
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2011, 12:34:16 pm »

I think that developers do like this out of fear. Fear that people will not like and fear that they do not know what to do instead.

Seeing the Bioshock Infinite demo it just makes me so sad that such a fantastic setting is wasted on just shooting people. I think that you are just drawn out of it + the interaction as very, very little to do with what is happening. It is so apparent that the focus is wrong:

- The interesting action of saving a man from mob, is done with a single button press!! There is tons of stuff that can spawn from this, but that is just left out, even if this sort of action directly ties into the world and narrative.
- When it comes to shooting another person, there are endless of ways of doing it! Yet, shooting people as very little to do with the narrative.

I would very much see this the other way around. And even if you do like shooting people, I do not think this is the best way to do it. You do not want to have constant action, that just makes it lame after a while and this is so obvious in the bioshock games.

Regarding GTA, this is a very interesting article:
http://www.destructoid.com/blogs/AwesomeExMachina/no-clip-grand-theft-auto-iv-188760.phtml

A guy tries to play the game without breaking the law and suddenly the world of the game dawns on him. Previously, because of the stupid gameplay, he had never been able to fully enjoy it.
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Re: Game developers not seeing the obvious?
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2011, 06:19:42 pm »

I don't read Destructoid. Sorry. But I'll take your word for it. Smiley Makes sense. Though, Liberty City can feel like a damn police state if you try to behave, in my experience. It's frightening how the game's simulation actually seems to be saying that you cannot beat the law, that you don't have rights as a citizen, that you have to obey every man in a uniform and that they have the right to shoot you for any minor accident.

Why are developers so afraid? Or when did they become so afraid? Why can't they see this as a challenge? And why do they feel people need to like their games? I doesn't make sense. Nobody is this scared. I think you are underestimating the desire of many developers in this generation to make childish shooting and driving games. I think they really love that.
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Re: Game developers not seeing the obvious?
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2011, 06:38:56 pm »

Regarding GTA, this is a very interesting article:
http://www.destructoid.com/blogs/AwesomeExMachina/no-clip-grand-theft-auto-iv-188760.phtml

A guy tries to play the game without breaking the law and suddenly the world of the game dawns on him. Previously, because of the stupid gameplay, he had never been able to fully enjoy it.
Here's an amazing article with the same premise (though in Swedish).
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Re: Game developers not seeing the obvious?
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2011, 06:48:42 pm »

That Destructiod article is a brilliant read.
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Re: Game developers not seeing the obvious?
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2011, 09:14:03 pm »

Quote
I don't read Destructoid.
It is a user blog on Destructoid, so none of the Destructoid staff involved. If that it makes it better Smiley
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Re: Game developers not seeing the obvious?
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2011, 06:13:01 pm »

Quote
I don't read Destructoid.
It is a user blog on Destructoid, so none of the Destructoid staff involved. If that it makes it better Smiley
It does. But I made a promise to myself never to read anything on that domain. I need to protect myself and not destroy (sic) my hopes for a better world.
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Re: Game developers not seeing the obvious?
« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2011, 06:18:07 pm »

Anyway, back to the topic.

I have a theory. I think this problem (of developers not acknowledging the new stengths of the video-games medium) is a problem specific to this generation of developers. All these men (and very few women) grew up with 8-bit games. Presumably they enjoyed these so much as a child that they became game developers as adults. Their aim in life is to recreate the feeling they had when they were children. The magic of those primitive games. No matter what changes around them, no matter how amazing the new opportunities offered by new technology are, they will always want to re-create that old memory. And they know that the only way to do this, is to make another game, just like that old game, but perhaps adapted a bit to a contemporary audience.

If this is correct, it will be interesting to see the creations of a generation that grew up with Tomb Raider and Silent Hill instead of Mario and Wolfenstein.
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Re: Game developers not seeing the obvious?
« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2011, 10:19:34 pm »

I hope you are right. I´m sick of this necrophilic veneration for the old games. I think that in a houndred years nobody will know what Super Mario, Zelda or Pacman is, and so all the games that make reference to them will loose their sense.
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Re: Game developers not seeing the obvious?
« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2011, 01:06:28 am »

I think you all are being a bit rough on them but I of course see your point, otherwise, I wouldn't be here. I'm 10-15 years older than most of the current game developers. I'm actually of the first gen of gamers. I remember the golden age of arcade games. However. I'm not out to recreate those games. I'm out to recreate a feeling. I'm out to make games I want to play. I sometimes wish someone else would develop them so I could play them!
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Re: Game developers not seeing the obvious?
« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2011, 11:20:12 am »

this necrophilic veneration for the old games

 Grin
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Re: Game developers not seeing the obvious?
« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2011, 10:57:15 pm »

Is this a case of not seeing the obvious because it is just too close to the face?

Yes, based on my own (admittedly limited) experiences working as a programmer in the game industry, I think so.

Anyway, back to the topic.

I have a theory. I think this problem (of developers not acknowledging the new stengths of the video-games medium) is a problem specific to this generation of developers. All these men (and very few women) grew up with 8-bit games. Presumably they enjoyed these so much as a child that they became game developers as adults. Their aim in life is to recreate the feeling they had when they were children. The magic of those primitive games. No matter what changes around them, no matter how amazing the new opportunities offered by new technology are, they will always want to re-create that old memory. And they know that the only way to do this, is to make another game, just like that old game, but perhaps adapted a bit to a contemporary audience.

If this is correct, it will be interesting to see the creations of a generation that grew up with Tomb Raider and Silent Hill instead of Mario and Wolfenstein.

Also yes, I think so.

And interestingly, on the subject of that newer generation, I was just talking with a thirteen-year-old who really likes games and would like to perhaps make games, and he is particularly interested in the sort of story-ish, world-ish design aspects that we like to emphasize here on notgames.org. I was a bit sad to tell him that there is not currently a lot of opportunity for that sort of thing in our current industry, but that maybe by the time he is looking for a job there may be a shift...

Maybe I should send him to this forum. Tongue
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Re: Game developers not seeing the obvious?
« Reply #12 on: July 20, 2011, 02:28:18 pm »

I think it's both. Fear and not seeing the obvious.

We all seem to be in agreement here. Which disturbs me a bit (echo chamber). On the other hand, this is probably one of those general subjects that have brought us all here to discuss in the first place so it shouldn't be all that surprising we agree.
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Irony is for cowards.
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