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x_equals_speed

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Gaming [Jun. 15th, 2011|10:31 am]
x_equals_speed
This post is somewhat inspired by conversations last night and by Catherine Goode linking to this.

When I was a kid I had an Amiga. I played games on it.
Games cost a couple of quid, sometimes they'd cost as much as a fiver. Occasionally I saw one go up for a tenner, but it was barely a week or two before the price dropped below this outrageous threshold.
Once I bought a game, I owned it and could do whatever I liked with it. If I didn't like a game, or if I finished it, I would swap it with one of my friends for something they had. I could even copy-paste the entire game off the disks if it suited me, though I never felt the need to do that.
New games were exciting, I'd eagerly await PC magazines which would have the latest demos and talk of other things that were coming out. Over the course of the coming years I'd see all sorts of exciting things happen, people were coming out with new ideas all of the time, for every sequel there was a game that was trying to define a new genre. Some of them failed badly, but some worked better, the FPS was invented, the RTS too (Okay, I was a little late here, I played Hexen and Warcraft rather than Wolfenstein and Dune)

Then some decades happened.

Games cost £40 new, the technology to run them is more than ten times as expensive as it used to be. Many of them will have some part of the game held back unless you pay more for some DLC. Some will rely on a subscription model to get you to pay for it more than once.
Once you buy a game, the company owns it. You can't swap it with a friend and you're definately not making a quick copy for multiplayer (Presumably because games that allowed multiplayer spawns didn't sell very well. Starcraft for example.). You need to authenticate who you are to play them, having a internet connection that never fails is a must (but also an impossibility) and in some cases your (well the companies, you never own it) game stops working for no good reason, such as having too many hard disk fails and reinstalls.
New games seem unexciting and bland. Almost everything announced is a sequel, which isn't a problem in its own right, but so many are unimaginative sequels. We don't see truely new genres very much anymore, but we see the death of old ones. There are more games but less choice.

What the hell happened?

I had more to write, about exceptions to these problems, hope for the future, things that might work out alright in the end. Also a big rant about companies engaging in DRM that increases piracy, someone should be hanged for that. I'm going to leave it be for now, I'm curious as to what you guys think and what you'll pick out as important.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: neoanjou
2011-06-15 10:21 am (UTC)
I think your criticisms broadly apply to the gaming main-stream. Try looking at games which are on XBox Live Arcade / Steam / Play Station Network - especially the indie games. These are generally significantly cheaper ($5-10), and show much more variety .

Currently I am obsessed with a game called 'GemCraft Labyrinth' on Kongregate. This is free*, innovative (an actually fun tower defense game, with a little RPG element), but not mainstream.
* Although I have paid for the premium edition - i.e. to make it easier!

And even old genres are not dying, they reinvent themselves. Look at the success of the Adventure games of TellTale Games - cheap and fun. Sonic 4 Ep. 1 was recently released, and Sonic generations promises much of the same idea.
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[User Picture]From: x_equals_speed
2011-06-16 09:12 pm (UTC)
A lot of the more I had to write was on the indie scene and how it might just save us all (but also might not) I figured it'd be a big part of the answers :)

Though there are genres that benefit a lot from a big production team that can't be made anymore. This world couldn't produce planescape:torment, it needs too much writing for a small team, but wouldn't work if it required voice acting (which would come with any big team)
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[User Picture]From: neoanjou
2011-06-20 07:55 pm (UTC)
I would imagine that if things achieve success in the Indie scene at least someone will attempt it in the main-steam, even if only as an XBox Live/PSN game (e.g. there are South Park and Final Fantasy Tower-Defence games. In fact the WiiWare FF:CC Tower defence game is possibly amongst the nicest I've seen!).

And in general I am optimistic about the future. I can imagine that in ten-years we can have voice simulation which is not jarring, and may in fact be better than having an actor voice lines (e.g. I can specify 'this line is under stress', 'this line is happy', dynamically - often voice actors in games don't have an idea of how the line fits into the context of a scene - hence why voice acting in games is often somewhat crappy). It could also allow for more dynamic storytelling - e.g. one could specify 'my name is Neil - it is pronounced /niːl/'.

The best stories are always told by a single person, and if tools can help a single person translate that into a game then the future truely is bright.
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[User Picture]From: kasyx
2011-06-16 12:48 pm (UTC)
As you know, my research is in the domain of games, and as such I keep up to date with all the games I can, which, admittedly, are mostly the big games. However, I agree entirely with you, especially with the last part - I don't play games any more. I'll maybe play a few levels of a game that has some interesting gameplay, but these days games are so linear that for the story element, -I- don't need to play it - I can watch my flatmate playing it. Games these days are boring. However, sandbox type games are much more fun because they are not so linear, and in fact, in most cases, you do not need to follow the story at all, you can make your own. A very good example of this is the X series of games, and to a limited extent the early Elder Scrolls games.
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[User Picture]From: x_equals_speed
2011-06-16 09:14 pm (UTC)
Aye, I miss nonlinear sandbox gameplay. It's a dying art.

You might be interested in this once it's done. Or even now, but it's only just functional at the moment.
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