New consoles “don’t make good design”

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Mark of the NInja 1

Doom Designer John Romero argues that despite massive advancements in technology, we haven’t seen major advances in gameplay. Considering the amount of nostalgia around classic games, I can’t help but wonder if he’s right.

According to Romero, the tools for developers are much more advanced that those used 20 years ago, but gameplay hasn’t advanced at nearly the same rate:

[…] It comes down to design, not technology.New consoles let people create more polygons on the screens. They let you do more with AI because they’re faster. But they don’t make good design.

For Romero, it’s indie games that are keeping the industry alive, showing all the creativity that we should be seeing across the board. While I agree that a lot of gameplay is getting tired, I wouldn’t paint the entire indie scene with the same positive brush.

However, I think we are seeing some fatigue with certain gameplay experiences. Who wants to do silly escort missions anymore? The AI may be improved, but they’re still not enjoyable. It’s time for developers to use their own higher powered machinery to find solutions for gaming flaws now that they have the technology to create just about anything.

Last Updated: September 8, 2014

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Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. I believe people should stop defining themselves and just enjoy playing games, so let’s get on with it!

  • Rags

    I tend to agree. But I also think the good design comes when you allow the players to be creative with a game mechanics. Sometimes this is purely accidental. This is where something like the Quake series spawned whole communities just focusing on either speedruns and trickjumping. Indies or platformers with gimmicks in a certain sense allows for this too.
    http://youtu.be/MP9IZju7L_U?t=1m4s

    • Rags

      And if you make a run of the mill game, give mod support =)

  • PERSONA 5!!!! (Umar)

    I actually agree somewhat with this. I’m seeing games push the design boundary less and less. Sticking to the tried and tested. I will always look to Dark Souls as the game that really showed me the next level of video game design by not only throwing away the norm but by pushing beyond all expectations. Teaching you through the game itself and actually improving yourself as a gamer. I wish more games were more experimental in this sense..

  • Brian Murphy

    I think it’s honestly very easy for folks to sit back and criticize things like ‘gameplay’ not advancing over time, but isn’t that like criticizing society at large for not inventing new shit that makes life easier at a fast enough pace? Seriously, if people have all these awesome ideas about gameplay, why aren’t they in actual games? If folks like Romero have the golden ticket, so to speak, what the hell is he doing wasting time talking, and not raking in piles of cash due to these miracles of gameplay he speaks of?

    That’s the problem, it’s really easy to criticize the unknown, it’s really effin hard to actually come up with this stuff, implement it in games, and make it fun.

    As far as the graphics trumping gameplay, well, I think that’s a straw man argument. Graphics WILL improve over time, whether gameplay, AI, level design etc… improves over time or not. More hardware, will always (should always) at the _very_ least, better graphics. It has been that way for the entirety of the life of games. Every new generation, every new set of hardware, etc… has always resulted in better graphics, and usually bigger environments to play with.

    Criticizing the graphics, is stupid, and it’s an easy target for folks who don’t know any better. But, let me ask you this, how has Nintendo revolutionized gameplay with the Wii U? I mean, they aren’t the industry leader in graphics…so where’s the holy grail of gameplay Romero speaks of? Nowhere, that’s where.

    Here’s another thing. Indie games are great, and I love them, but they’re hardly setting a standard for gameplay, unless we’re suddenly in the 1980’s and 90’s. Because, let’s face it, most of what indie devs do has been done already (Zelda, Mario, Pong, Dig Dug etc…), these are simply the same modes of gameplay with better…wait for it…graphics. How is the Binding of Isaac (a remarkable title), a miracle of gameplay, bucking the big corporation trend of graphics over gameplay? It isn’t. It’s just a simple indie title that’s done well.

  • Skyblue

    Agreed, there isn’t nearly as much innovation in gameplay as there was 20yrs ago but there is a lot of refinement. Having a blast with Velocity 2x and Resogun as they’re instantly playable and take me back to a simpler time in gaming on modern hardware, pure gaming bliss.

  • Ryanza

    Most of the good gaming developing studios that designed good games, has been bought up by the big publishers. Once that happens originality and creativity goes out the window. All you get is the same thing pumped out game after game. The last generation of gaming was known for it’s sequels. The Last generation was 8 years and I can only name but a few good games, that then spawned into sequel shit instead of creating something new with those good developing studios.

    Even CD Projekt Red is still at it with sequels but their sequels got visually better and now big open world sandbox. So at least their sequels are getting better.

    This is the part where I mention a lot of bad games. Don’t want to relive all the shit I’ve played.

    Don’t support DRM. The Witcher 3 is coming.

    • J_Joestar

      yeah, once you get big, your budget gets big, you start to become forced to play it safe on the creative side of things.

  • Admiral Chief Assassin

    MotN ftw

  • konfab aka derp

    I disagree somewhat.
    I think the previous generation of games has provided some of the most interesting titles with a wide range of gameplay.
    I can go from Flower to Minecraft to Heavy rain to Far Cry 3 and experience a massive variety in gameplay.
    I don’t really mind if developers refine what is already out there. The Last of Us, for example, doesn’t really introduce any new forms of gameplay, however, the elements of gameplay it does have are near on perfect. That for me is almost more important.

    The other thing is games nowadays can have more than one mode of gameplay. If a game does this well, it almost creates a new type of gameplay ( Minecraft comes to mind here)

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    I don’t think that word means what you think it means. Also, didn’t he say the other day that he’s planning to make us all his bitch again? We all know how that innovation turned out.

    Innovation is overrated. Everyone says they want it but they don’t. Especially when it comes to mass market games, on PC too not just console, because people don’t want wildly different they want more of the same with just enough difference to make it seem unique. Publishers know that, so that’s what they create & they make their millions. You get more innovation from indies because they’re willing to take a risk trying something new, but just because something is innovative doesn’t make it fun. Escort missions were innovative at the time. What we really want is refinement & evolution.

    How much innovation will you get when it comes to game mechanics anyway? Take shooters – basic mechanic is have gun, pull trigger, goes pew. That’ll never change, the only thing that’ll change is variations to the theme you add to make that mechanic in your game stand out from another.

    I’m not complaining about lack of innovation. While it would be nice for games to have more of it I judge games based on the sum of their parts, not one isolated mechanic.

    • Hammersteyn

      I classify shooter games into two categories. The one has you rocket jumping,searching for keycards and scrounging for medipacks. While the other puts you on a conveyer belt shooting non Americans from point A to B where you hide behind cover while your health regenerates.

      The latter ruined the experience some what for me. Borderlands filled the gap nicely,then Wolfenstein came out and now we have a new Doom to look forward too.

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        Regenerating health was the last big shooter innovation that I thought of when word vomiting above. Yip, I love Borderlands, looking forward to Wolfenstein & a new Doom – hope that doesn’t turn out as dull as Doom 3.

  • Hammersteyn

    Also fetch quests, so mundane. Big publishers banks on what sells, so we have yearly franchises. Rarely do we see something new like Destiny that combines all kinds of genres. I would like to know Romeros thoughts on Doom going back to it’s roots. We are gong to have buckets loads more polygons but from what Ive read the same gameplay as Doom 1

  • rollingmol

    like Diakatana… beeek stil
    To be honest here and there, there are innovation which is followed by the copycats. I mean not a lot can be innovated if gamers still buy certain games. It’s a business, but man I remember a time when you got more out of the game with cheat codes , you got from a friend of gaming mag. Nowadays it’s dlc since day one. I would you rather fix that and bring back couch -co op .

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