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Why Aren't Games Better?

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lacuna 17th May 2010, 10:55 Quote
Quote:
Even Wes Craven had to stop making Scream sequels... eventually.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1262416/

Not yet he hasn't.
CardJoe 17th May 2010, 11:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by lacuna
Quote:
Even Wes Craven had to stop making Scream sequels... eventually.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1262416/

Not yet he hasn't.

Bloody hell. Will he never learn?

Article updated.
GiantStickMan 17th May 2010, 11:10 Quote
Interesting article - though some points to consider as well, if the endless sequels based on the same formula weren't successful, they wouldn't be selling. As the paying audience we need to be more discerning with the titles we buy and the companies we support.
It's also worth pointing out the 'fanboy' element, that won't play a game unless it has the latest and best graphics - we've all come across them on a gaming forum.
kenco_uk 17th May 2010, 11:28 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by article

Who knows, maybe it’ll even lead to a Top 100 Video Game countdown on late-night TV? Davina McCall could host.

I'd watch it.
Instagib 17th May 2010, 11:35 Quote
Good article. But i have to question it's point about hardware needing to stagnate so that games can flourish. Take consoles; their hardware remains unchanged for the best part of a decade, surely ample time to see some masterpieces. But we haven't.

And what would ati and nvidia have to say on the subject of technology hindering art?
sub routine 17th May 2010, 12:05 Quote
As a market touted to have a gross income which dwarfs films and other forms of entertainment, I`m afraid this has lead to an oversaturated market. There is far too much choice of very little content available in the shops these days. Alot of this as a new market has attracted people who like to make money not games. Along with a very young key demographoc audience, marketing is set to appeal to them and catch the monthly pocket money spends.
Less choice, more content please.
lacuna 17th May 2010, 12:05 Quote
Conversely, I think the idea of allowing hardware to stagnate to promote more efficient and extensive use is a positive one. Think of the 'Resistance' games on the PS3; the first one was an early game and it was very good in my opinion but it looks dated now. Resistance 2, however, looks very fresh and new despite running on the same hardware. The single player campaign of Resistance 2 was shorter and less immersive than the original but it was still good as far as sequels go and I am very much looking forward to a third part. In a similar vein I am also excited about Saints Row 3, having enjoyed the previous title so much -Im certainly more enthusiastic about that over whatever the next incarnation of GTA is going to be.

I feel I have been almost totally won over by console gaming now and on the pc gaming front I feel I am only holding out for the next HL episode and Portal 2 since I expect they will both scale down to very mediocre hardware.
Lockinvar 17th May 2010, 12:21 Quote
Great article, well written, and I agree.
CardJoe 17th May 2010, 12:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Instagib
Good article. But i have to question it's point about hardware needing to stagnate so that games can flourish. Take consoles; their hardware remains unchanged for the best part of a decade, surely ample time to see some masterpieces. But we haven't.

Not entirely true. Take the PS1, for example. It launched in 1994 and the four biggest titles it had were probably Tomb Raider (1996), Gran Turismo (1998), Resident Evil (1996) and Final Fantasy VII (1997). All of them came fairly late after the official release of the actual console. Conversely, the launch titles were things like Air Combat, Warhawk, Battle Arena Toshinden and Ridge Racer - none of which have had the longevity of the other four. All the best games came a year or two later on, when developers knew what they could do with the hardware.
sotu1 17th May 2010, 12:40 Quote
Goes back to the old are games art debate if I'm honest. Whilst I take your point about technology needing to take a break, I'd also argue that technology and capability drives art itself. Look at where art today is heading and there's no doubt that a tonne of it has come as a result of new technology.

I'll honestly admit, I don't mind playing more of the same but with better graphics and a different story line, and not huge ammounts of innovation. I think there's plenty of people who won't admit that and it leads to a degree of pretentiousness.
Zoso 17th May 2010, 12:49 Quote
Roger Ebert caused a bit of fuss last month by proclaiming "Video games can never be art", and his central tenet is that rather than being the trump card of games, interactivity is what prevents them from being art. I think he's terribly wrong, but it raises some interesting questions.

Gratuitous plug: I burbled on a bit about games and art on a podcast recently, touching on Heavy Rain and Planescape: Torment amongst others.
CardJoe 17th May 2010, 12:51 Quote
G'ah. And I thought John was very careful to avoid the annoying, overdone and go-nowhere 'Are Games Art?' debate. :(
WildThing 17th May 2010, 13:02 Quote
Nice article, interesting read.
Zoso 17th May 2010, 13:04 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
G'ah. And I thought John was very careful to avoid the annoying, overdone and go-nowhere 'Are Games Art?' debate. :(

*points at the tags*
pimlicosound 17th May 2010, 13:54 Quote
On the lack of cultural relevancy, I think this is in in part unavoidable, but also in some cases wilful and perhaps even desirable.

The lack of cultural relevancy, at least when compared to film, is partly unavoidable because in most cases far fewer people will enjoy a great game than will enjoy a great film, whether it's down to the choice of platform, skill level, or whether or not one plays games at all (I don't know many people who flat-out refuse to watch films). If this is the problem that must be surmounted, then the debate becomes one about how to widen the audience. However, this is certainly not the only problem, and there are major exceptions to the rule. "The Hurt Locker" was seen only by small numbers in the cinema, but thanks to critical acclaim and an Oscar, everybody was talking about it. Great films have a way of breaking through the limitations of small audiences.

The problem faced by games is also, unfortunately, one of wilful ignorance, by which I mean that the significant cultural outlets with the power to influence public opinion wilfully ignore games and downplay their cultural relevance. Notice how newspapers like the Telegraph and the Guardian put video game news in the technology sections, rather than the culture sections. By editorial discretion games are not even positioned in the cultural realm. I think part of the blame for this lies with dedicated games journalists as well as with the mainstream media, as news and reviews more consistently focus on the technology and the gaming mechanics than on the ideas behind a game or its meaning. If the gaming press won't give due credit to a game's cultural relevance, why should the regular press?

But games are not like film. Perhaps there's something to be said for not sharing exactly the kind of cultural relevancy that film enjoys. Part of the relevancy of film is down to the shared experience - everyone who watches a film experiences the same sequence of sounds, pictures and messages. Most experiences of any given game are likely to be radically different, with scenes experienced in different orders, with different actions performed, and perhaps with different outcomes. As such, any one game could produce several different experiences and mean different things to different players, as each player is as much a contributor to the finished product as the developer. In this respect, perhaps we shouldn't be chasing the cultural relevancy of film but should perhaps draw parallels with playing sport or freestyle dancing. Everyone who plays football or who dances has a different experience, in which they contribute a performance within an environment and set of rules, but they all have favourite memories of amazing goals or those moments where one's movement represented the music perfectly. In most cases, those moments don't go down in history, and they won't be classed as being "culturally relevant". But we shouldn't underestimate the value of a great individual experience. It's the individual experience that guarantees a lifelong player and that will inspire someone else to give it a go for the first time.
Mik3yB @ CCL 17th May 2010, 14:15 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
Not entirely true. Take the PS1, for example. It launched in 1994 and the four biggest titles it had were probably Tomb Raider (1996), Gran Turismo (1998), Resident Evil (1996) and Final Fantasy VII (1997). All of them came fairly late after the official release of the actual console. Conversely, the launch titles were things like Air Combat, Warhawk, Battle Arena Toshinden and Ridge Racer - none of which have had the longevity of the other four. All the best games came a year or two later on, when developers knew what they could do with the hardware.

Unchartered 2 must be a great example of this?
After countless different games over the years that Unchartered 2 has borrowed various gameplay elements from it has honed it's genre to pretty much perfection. Granted, it offers absolutely nothing new at all, it won't win an award for originality but what it does do is the best and most polished to date of its kind.

I liked the article - thanks! But the word "better" is very, very subjective. I think genre has a lot to do with it. FPS's and Adventure games might move on and improve over time but games like Tetris won't ever make me cry or gasp with delight at the visuals.. can a puzzle game get much better? Ok, maybe Braid did but you get what I'm trying to say? :D
Grimloon 17th May 2010, 14:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by pimlicosound
It's the individual experience that guarantees a lifelong player and that will inspire someone else to give it a go for the first time.

It is also this that makes some of the truly great games have such a high replay value. Unfortunately many of the current crop of games have gone down the road to mediocrity with regards to gameplay while getting shiner and shinier from the technology viewpoint.

I can't think of any game in the last few years that was as good as, for example, the Baldur's Gate series or VTM: Bloodlines. Nowhere near as pretty but infinitely more playable IMHO.
workingclass 17th May 2010, 15:07 Quote
I think our culture as a whole is really just trying to find the common denominator, stagnating terribly and very afraid of losing money. At the cinema this weekend there were 10 posters on one wall promoting upcoming features. 7 of those were rehashes of some kind, that I know of. For all I know the other 3 could be based on a book or a short story or whatever. Computer games are very much doing the same thing. There is some cultural fear of change, what we can do about that I don't know.
boiled_elephant 17th May 2010, 15:38 Quote
Awesome article, precisely the sort of thoughts that have been rattling around my head about gaming for a very long time now.

I hope you're wrong with the pessimistic outlook, though. I retain a slender hope that gaming will pull itself out of this rut of shallow, unoriginal set pieces and superficial pleasures.
KayinBlack 17th May 2010, 15:39 Quote
I almost feel like I had a comment aimed at me, about stepping back from technology to storytelling...

As a designer (wow, I've become legitimate) I chose to go with 16-bit for a few reasons, one was of course ease of production-if I can easily work in the tools, the tools aren't a hindrance to storytelling. Another was the fact that I could control things such as art assets, which are growing ever more wild with each game published. But, I didn't want a person to look and say, "ooh, shiny!"-I want them to look at it and say this is a story in a graphic medium. A story they get involved in, that they want to invest time in. I would rather spend my effort and time creating characters that you give a rip about than making them pretty.

Technology is my friend in the Core i7 that I use to make the game. I like it in my shoes, or my knee brace, but I can see where we could stand to gain a lot from a 16-bit renaissance.
pimlicosound 17th May 2010, 16:01 Quote
Relevant to this discussion: the leading article in the NY Times's Arts section is a review of Red Dead Redemption. It's a great review, which takes its time to highlight the game's cultural relevance. A treatment like that is perhaps a step in the right direction.

http://www.nytimes.com/pages/arts/index.html
kornedbeefy 17th May 2010, 16:25 Quote
Two much more of the same (sequels). Devs seem to be in a rutt an bring nothing new to the table Not enough thinking out of the box. To many game based on this world when they can create any world they want. Last but not least to much catering or locked down to a gamepad for consoles these days and not the multitude of options a PC provides whether mouse, keyboard, joystick, etc offer.

I play games to experience something different whether fantasy, historical, futuristic. I'm not interesed in another modern war, driving or sports game......unless its truely an AAA title and not because the sheep gamers think it is.
sotu1 17th May 2010, 16:39 Quote
Are people reading too much into this and forgetting the fact that some of us plain like to f* s* up? ;)

Sorry, silly comment :)
technogiant 17th May 2010, 16:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Instagib
Good article. But i have to question it's point about hardware needing to stagnate so that games can flourish. Take consoles; their hardware remains unchanged for the best part of a decade, surely ample time to see some masterpieces. But we haven't.

And what would ati and nvidia have to say on the subject of technology hindering art?

You could also apply your argument about consoles to game engines, take the source engine for example, it has been around for along while and is still being used, although it is tweaked and improved it is not going to produce technology "WOOOW'S" anymore but neither has it produced any games that are culturally significant in the way the article is searching for even though it has had plenty of time to mature and for designers to be familiar with it.

Games just have to be more interactive and deeper. Also I think that removing the player from the central role and driving the story would be better. I mean as most games are player driven and everything just stops if you remain exploring an area until you hit the next trigger point.
How much better would it be if you take a world war 2 scenario for instance, imagine that you weren't a one man (or squad) army winning the war for the allies but infact were on the side lines, say in the role of a resistance fighter, the war could continue around you but not in a scripted fashion but rather the allies and axis fighting against each other would both be AI controlled in a manner similar to a stratergy game, you however could interact with this in a similar manner to a action/ adventure first person shooter gathering information rescources and alliegences and participatiing in and organsing counter attacks and disruptive actions all of which would impact on the AI controlled war between the allies and axis as it would also impact on you. Of course this would require a far greater amount of interactivity than we see in current games, but how much more fullfilling would that be?
pimlicosound 17th May 2010, 16:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by kornedbeefy
Two much more of the same (sequels). Devs seem to be in a rutt an bring nothing new to the table Not enough thinking out of the box. To many game based on this world when they can create any world they want. Last but not least to much catering or locked down to a gamepad for consoles these days and not the multitude of options a PC provides whether mouse, keyboard, joystick, etc offer.

Are you saying that games would receive wider cultural appreciation if developers dared to be more original with their environments and means of control - that is, providing people with an experience far beyond anything they've imagined based on their experience with film? Or have you just read the headline and responded without reading the article?
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