Friday, June 24, 2011 Cracks Open The Game Industry (And I Reply)

Cracked is a good website if you want to read engrossing articles about nothing.  A lot of it is ridiculous but some of it I actually agree with wholeheartedly.  This is a remarkable article I alluded to before but now I'm going to be lazy and leech off of it for one of my post.  I scrapped my original write-up to this article so I'm doing it again here.

The 6 Most Ominous Trends in Video Games by David WongTLDR:

6. Technology is going backwards.  First you had Pong on the Atari which was revolutionary.  Then you had Wii Bowling which was a nice improvement.  Now motion control games haven't improved as you wave your hands in front of the TV like an idiot (especially Kinect).  The Wii U and PS Vita are basically iPhones/iPads which are nothing new either.

5. "Big Brother" online servers are ruining gaming.  Can't run some games without hooking up to a server, including single-player ones (see Starcraft II).  Security measures are horrible.  Also hackers and poor maintenance are proving this point even further since when Sony's server went down, everything went to hell.

4. Many video games promote endless playability by grinding for items (see any MMORPG).  Even worse, you have to pay for perpetual online subscriptions, cheat codes, additional single-player addons, basically things you never had to pay for except in the last 5 years.

3. Creative bankruptcy.  Almost all new games are sequels.  Most obvious are FPSes like Call of Duty: MW3, Battlefield 3, and Crysis 2 which are strikingly similar in nature.

2. No real vision for the future.  First it was make games look realistic, which we've done already.  Now it's make a bunch of $1 apps, crap motion control games, and other awkward gimmicks (Nintendo 3DS).

1. We don't even know what a game is anymore.  First it was "get a high score," now it's split into many different "art" forms--largely interactive movies with limited replay value, mini-games that involve decorating a landscape for s***s and giggles, etc.

And if what I wrote was still TLDR, then let me TLDR that for you...Today's Video Games SUCK.


Well, let me reply to these and throw in my three cents right now.

6. I can understand the hate-on that everyone has for motion controls.  I don't like the Kinect either--I've already made that clear beforeNow these motion controls are starting to seep into my beloved racing genre.  But the majority of the industry seems to be clear of motion controls for the time of being.  I'm playing Rock Band &  Call of Duty without the Kinect so this is a completely exaggerated point, right???

If you haven't known already, Microsoft has spent over $500 MILLION on Kinect advertising (Fun Fact: at $150 a piece, MS has to sell 3.33 mil Kinects to break even on the $500 mil benchmark alone).  You can tell MS is trying to ram this thing up our ass.  As a matter of fact, I hear the new Forza & Halo games are going to incorporate the Kinect somehow.  And as for the Wii U?  Well, everyone already pissed themselves over that already...remember, this is NINTENDO we're talking about, everything they produce is GOLD.  Disregarding more motion control crap, I can't imagine playing with that big-ass iPad controller which hardly looks comfortable.  So in other words, we're closer to this motion control "utopia" than we think.

5. Big online servers, heh.  Remember back in the PS2/Xbox/GameCube days when you didn't need an online server for permission to play a game?  Eh, those were the days.

While I am not familiar with DRMs and that madness, I've already talked about online servers being the life force for games and how they're rigged to blow.  I already talked about OutRun Online Arcade, which'll be removed from XBL at the end of this year and you can't play it again.  I also talked about MMORPG'sI also talked about Halo Wars and Call of Duty!  Basically, once the server disowns the game, you really can't play it anymore.  I could go on but I'm not gonna repeat myself even further.  I really do like this quote for the Cracked article, sums it up perfectly:

Imagine if every time you drove your car, you had to first check in with the car manufacturer to confirm that it's you behind the wheel. Let's say that this relies on an Internet connection, and if the connection is down, you can't drive.

4. Eh, I don't have a problem with DLC if it means getting tons more content than normal (Rock Band songs in particular), but I see how things like cheat codes and already-on-disc content are really getting in the way.  Elements of the game completed before release but were held back for monetary gain.  Basically anything they can charge money for, they'll do it.  Hey, I like capitalism and think they have the right to charge whatever they want but there's only so much that I'm willing to pay.  That's why I'm such a scrooge when it comes to gaming--I only maybe play a few games and that's it--screw the rest and their media hype...

3. I don't have that big of a problem with sequels as long as they add something new or refine gameplay that we've come to love, but I do have a problem with all these damn gritty FPSes and fantasy adventure/MMORPG's.  I've already talked about game violence and how its prevalence is driving me nuts.  I'd much prefer a new Daytona game which, even though it's a sequel, is much more refreshing than anything else that these devs have put out nowadays.  Anyway, don't have much to say about this though this quote SUMS UP MY THOUGHTS PERFECTLY: 

This here is why all of the innovation in games seems to be about going backward, simplifying instead of pushing the experience further. They are trying to lower the barrier of entry for gaming as a hobby, because they don't know where else to go with it. So I guess what I'm saying is that one thing is becoming clear ... 

2. Basically a repeat of #6.  When game companies who think technology sells & gameplay be damned push faster and faster, then they reach the end and then we do get tons of random crap.  Then at this point, dollar apps become the norm and it's all about watering down games in order to make everyone feel "involved."  The only really good thing I see about dollar apps is that now anyone can be a game designer--you don't have to be part of some 500-man game studio with a $50 mil budget (read what I said).  Ridonkulous...

1. I really hate these games that are trying to be like movies more than games.  Need for Speed: The Run and all these FPSes.  I'm anything but a movie buff so this really pisses me off.  But I still think this point is being a bit harsh since there's some good movie-based games that actually have some variation, like Shenmue and LA Noire.  But yeah, I do long for the days where ACTUAL GAMING TALENT was a necessity rather than the ability to click a few buttons and then you're now a certified "Gamer"...

Conclusion:  The above quote in #3 really sums things up perfectly.  Back in the 20th Century, gaming was sort of a "reclusive" activity--like only nerds and miscreants would play games.  But it was cool because we got a lot of classics that still make us smile...Super Mario, Goldeneye, Zelda (yeah I admit), Sonic, DAYTONA USA, everything by Sega in its glory days, and so forth...

Nowadays, everyone loves games.  Gaming studios are getting bigger and pushing better graphics and new gimmicks.  Well, I believe that if things become too popular (in this case, gaming) then they are crushed under their own weight.  Now that gamers have become "accepted" into society, everyone wants to join in. Everyone wants all this crap like movie games with state-of-the-art graphics, motion control skill-less games, etc. so what you get are well...a lot of soul-less products pushed merely to sell tens of millions of copies and everyone eats this junk up like we're pigs at the trough.

I've already mentioned this before so I'll do it again.  As an aspiring game developer, I almost think I have to play politician and not offend I'm supposed to say "Oh yeah, MMORPGs and mindless racing games like Split/Second are okay."  If I get in as a programmer, then I'm basically a hired mercenary--tell me to make something, I'll do it and I get paid.  If I go around trashing something, then that's going to cost me a job.  Simply put, I gotta make money first and foremost.  How many game devs do you see pushing blogs about how much this sucks or that sucks.  Not many--the fan can rant cause he has nothing to lose...

I almost think I was born too late.  Ugh, sorry if this article was too pessimistic.  I'll get to Sega Racing Stuff LATER.

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