Home Gaming Calls for more innovation aren’t making better games

Calls for more innovation aren’t making better games

3 min read
56

ACU glitch

Like every gamer, I love something new and fresh. I want games to give me unique experiences that are thrilling, inspired, immersive, reflective and most of all, fun. What makes a game those things can vary and I think we can all agree that different genres are expected to offer diverse forms of entertainment. However, studios are being forced to push boundaries on innovation, and it isn’t really helping games.

Sure, I want innovation as much as the next gamer. There was something distinctly satisfying about Assassin’s Creed II’s addition of the upgradeable villa followed by Brotherhood’s ability to call in reinforcements. All of that is excellent evolution of the game that made it worth falling in love with (let’s face it, the first AC game wasn’t really all that great).

As games have grown in size, players expect a lot more. Perfect graphics, massive worlds, compelling stories, deep characters, intuitive and enjoyable combat, plus something distinct that takes it to an all new level. Shadow of Mordor’s nemesis system, Dark Soul’s difficulty, Bloodborne’s lore and story-telling, the gleeful colour and fun of all things Nintendo. There are plenty of unique selling points of games, but not all of the innovation is resulting in better games.

I liked the idea of Watch Dogs – it seemed like the thinking man’s sandbox. But then it was led by the blandest protagonist and they gave him a gun and took away from that unique aspect – the ability to use the environment to cause distractions and move through areas without ever needing a gun.

AC Syndicate stealth

The historian in me who also loves stealth games will naturally be drawn to Assassin’s Creed games. I love seeing the periods come to life and how Ubisoft weaves truth with conspiracy to make the whole Templar vs Assassin fiction fit into real events. However, they really dropped the ball on their first full new generation console attempt – it was a major fail with Unity, in part because they were trying to respond to criticism about taking advantage of the power of the new consoles. You want to see power? How about massive crowds and beautifully replicated buildings! Unfortunately, they lost their focus on actually making the game fun and coherent and the game was a wash.

Now we have seen Syndicate revealed. Our youngest cabbage was saying that he was bored by the reveal, that it all looks like more of the same to him – not enough innovation, nothing new. I can’t help but think that he’s wrong.

Assassin’s Creed doesn’t need more innovation. It needs to return to what made the franchise great. It needs to have fun killing action set in a cool time period with a likeable protagonist… or two. I think including a female playable character will add a lot to the story and the experience – playing as a set of twins is bound to offer some unique opportunities. There are enough new things to make it feel like a valuable addition to the franchise – environmental elements, faster and better movement, changing up some tried and true mechanics, two playable characters – while staying true to what makes Assassin’s Creed a uniquely fun game.

You are all welcome to disagree with me, but I’m honestly looking forward to hiding in hay stacks again, luring baddies to their death. I hope there’s another achievement like the old days of hiding multiple corpses in the same haystack. That’s what made Assassin’s Creed fun for me – it was historically accurate and beautiful enough for me to be impressed, with enough fictional silliness to make it fun. Don’t try to innovate so much this time, Ubisoft. Maybe Syndicate will be “more of the same” in some ways, but you did that with Rogue last year and made one of the better experiences I’ve had with the franchise since ACII and Brotherhood.

Innovation truly isn’t the problem – look at all the successful indies that are just taking old school ideas (and graphics) and doing them really well. It’s about quality delivery on core concepts, not pushing the envelope so far that the game loses its very essence.

Last Updated: May 13, 2015

56 Comments

  1. Admiral Chief

    May 13, 2015 at 15:09

    I disagree with you. Merely because you said I am welcome to disagree

    Reply

    • RinceTriss

      May 13, 2015 at 15:10

      I disagree with you because by your disagreeing you are agreeing with the disagreeable Cabbage… 0_O

      Reply

      • Blood Emperor Trevor

        May 13, 2015 at 15:12

        disagreeable cabbage is an oxymoron.

        Reply

        • RinceTriss

          May 13, 2015 at 15:12

          You’re a moron!

          Reply

          • Blood Emperor Trevor

            May 13, 2015 at 15:13

            How dare you! Guards, take him away!

          • Dutch-Trevor Matrix

            May 13, 2015 at 15:14

            And isn’t Triss about my Gramma’s age about now…

      • Matthew Holliday

        May 13, 2015 at 15:17

        you are quite disagreeable today.

        Reply

        • Dutch-Trevor Matrix

          May 13, 2015 at 15:18

          Much the same way as that Spur Burger is disagreeable to my stomach today…

          Reply

          • Pariah

            May 13, 2015 at 15:19

            Or every other day. Why Spur? Why would you do that to yourself?

          • Dutch-Trevor Matrix

            May 13, 2015 at 15:20

            Nah man. Morning Glenn shopping centre’s SPur got some decent burgers. It’s those onion rings I scooped upon my ground beef sarmie that’s making me toot a lot…

          • Matthew Holliday

            May 13, 2015 at 15:38

            i would tolerate spur more if it were still the affordable family meal place.
            but so many places do better burgers at the same or better prices.
            burgers are trending atm, theres a new burger joint that you absaloutly HAVE to go to, every day now.

          • Dutch-Trevor Matrix

            May 13, 2015 at 15:39

            Truth be told I am very careful around burgers now. Once took a bite of a bad burger and had one of those days where I wasn’t sure if should sit on the loo or bend down in front of it…

          • Admiral Chief

            May 13, 2015 at 15:19

            You must have a weak stomach then. Things that give people food poisoning merely make me fart like a howitzer

          • Dutch-Trevor Matrix

            May 13, 2015 at 15:21

            Think I had food poisoning once. Dunno. All I know is that I pooped water and hurled solids… Not a nice day…

          • Matthew Holliday

            May 13, 2015 at 15:19

            all spur burgers disagree with my stomach.
            i feel your pain.

  2. RinceTriss

    May 13, 2015 at 15:10

    This was just written so you got to say the Cabbage was wrong, am right?:!

    Reply

  3. Hammersteyn

    May 13, 2015 at 15:10

    I think it’s fatigue. Every single year there is another Creed, another COD, another BF. But publishers need their money and millions buy it every year irregardless. So what ever our opinions it matters little out there.

    Reply

    • Dutch-Trevor Matrix

      May 13, 2015 at 15:13

      Exactly. I know it sounds like I am tooting on Rockstar’s horn a bit too much. But these guys took their time to make a great game, and the sales spoke for itself.
      This yearly crap is what’s getting old really fast. And that is killing gaming more, I believe.

      Reply

    • Admiral Chief

      May 13, 2015 at 15:15

      If they make a PROPER AC every 2 or 3 years, with proper QA and not pushing it out like a poorly manufactured assembly line, it would be better for all.

      But who am I kidding, all they see is DORRAR SIGNS YO

      Reply

      • Lord Chaos

        May 13, 2015 at 17:16

        Proper QA? What’s that?

        Reply

    • SargonTheBatpandaOfTI5

      May 13, 2015 at 15:30

      I sometimes wonder why they don’t tap into more novels. I mean.. if they read as much as I did.. the opportunities are just endless.

      *Edit: And NO! I do NOT mean 50 Shades of Grey under ANY circumstances!

      Reply

      • Dutch-Trevor Matrix

        May 13, 2015 at 15:32

        Imagine Discworld in a Skyrim open box type of game…

        Reply

        • SargonTheBatpandaOfTI5

          May 13, 2015 at 15:33

          *cries*

          Reply

          • Dutch-Trevor Matrix

            May 13, 2015 at 15:33

            Why cries??? that bad an idea?

          • SargonTheBatpandaOfTI5

            May 13, 2015 at 15:35

            Great idea. His daughter could write it and all.

          • Dutch-Trevor Matrix

            May 13, 2015 at 15:37

            I would love that game, but seriously would cry, as it would be a pity that Sir Terry won’t be around to see it…

    • Hendrik

      May 13, 2015 at 16:31

      Wait a minute, wtf is irregardless?? it is not a word! Grammar Nazi mode on!

      Reply

  4. Dutch-Trevor Matrix

    May 13, 2015 at 15:11

    The problem with no innovation is making veteran gamers like me get bored with gaming in general. Too many clones are floating about.
    Player swap on the fly is not new.
    Can there be a new genre of game ‘invented’ right about now?

    Reply

  5. Matthew Holliday

    May 13, 2015 at 15:15

    ./care about innovation.
    innovation just leads to more complications and more problems.
    they need to fix their current problems befor creating new ones.

    I just want “better.”

    Reply

    • SargonTheBatpandaOfTI5

      May 13, 2015 at 15:30

      Without innovation the industry will stagnate. People already complain about the year-on-year copy and paste releases. But yeah – often innovation can cause more trouble than it creates.

      It’s fine to say better. But what makes better? 😛

      Reply

      • Matthew Holliday

        May 13, 2015 at 15:35

        innovation for innovations sake is just a waste.
        it needs to be done when necessary, not because trends dictate that jump packs and mech suits are all the rage.

        adding more gadgets does not make for a better game.

        better as in, dont release broken games, dont release games where the ending is a mix of red green and blue, optimise your games so that my pc thats twice as strong as a console doesnt get sub par performance, use drivers effectively etc etc etc.

        fix whats broken, dont cover it up with glitter and point at something else.

        Reply

        • SargonTheBatpandaOfTI5

          May 13, 2015 at 15:39

          Innovation for the pure sake of innovation is often forced, thus making it disasterous. True innovation takes time, patience, and a place to cultivate ideas. Gaming today doesn’t really have that, does it? I mean with all the pressure put on developers to get games out on schedule, make a profit, and get high metacritic scores? It’s madness. This, like with modern science, is suffering from a very particular problem with trying to maximise profit.

          And a lot of the best innovation in human history comes form melding ideas from other places. We need more diversity in our AAA gaming. We need more developers from across the ponds. Diversity breeds different ways of thinking about gaming. Different ways of playing games, etc etc.

          But hey. That’s just my opinion. I agree with you on pretty much everything you’ve said.

          Reply

    • Sageville

      May 13, 2015 at 16:29

      Who said this “Progress for progress sake should be discouraged”?

      Reply

      • Matthew Holliday

        May 14, 2015 at 01:53

        the internet tells me Umbridge from Harry Potter, which sorta refutes the entire thing doesnt it? lol.

        i just meant it as “dont do it just because” they must do it properly, otherwise its just a gimmick.

        Reply

  6. Sageville

    May 13, 2015 at 15:19

    Looking at AC, they are sequels and are already looking the same, I thought Black Flag was awesome and fresh as it was innovative… then the next release was back to the same-ol-same-ol.

    At some point you have released the same game but in a different setting, these bore me.

    Frankly, I don’t know if I’ll get any more AC titles that are just copies with new settings, I want innovation in that title or pass for me.

    Reply

  7. Krabby Paddy

    May 13, 2015 at 15:28

    Core concepts: Fun game play that works on release (great story an added bonus). Been done right for decades. Nothing innovative about it.

    Reply

  8. SargonTheBatpandaOfTI5

    May 13, 2015 at 15:29

    That nemesis system, if built upon properly, could open up so much for deep RPGs. OMW.

    Reply

  9. The Sten

    May 13, 2015 at 15:31

    This is the problem with listening to customers tell you what they want. Its why Apple makes ALL the money while the rest of us scratch our heads calling others “sheep” and whatnot.

    “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” – Steve Jobs

    Reply

  10. Greylingad[CNFRMD]

    May 13, 2015 at 15:34

    The sad part about the whole AC series, and this is something that has been grinding me since the first one, is that they sequel bait so badly, that whole modern day story that they’ve slapped in and managed to drag out like a piece of snot stuck to a baby’s face, has me put off of it completely. The reason, you play an awesome adventure based in this amazing setting to have it hampered by this obtrusive piece of “backstory” that was knitted together using pieces of unrefined treebark found at the bottom of the ocean… that explains NOTHING. Absolutely nothing! nothing that is of interest, nor relevant to the story that you play, except for explaining a few poorly thought out ideas, like some dude that could be influenced by the Templars to introduce a pathetic plot twist, like a cigarette stepped on by a dinosaur, all twisted and mangled… Anyway, I can feel they veins in my head throbbing…I should stop…

    Reply

    • Dutch-Trevor Matrix

      May 13, 2015 at 15:35

      “… managed to drag out like a piece of snot stuck to a baby’s face…” HARHARHARHARHARHARHARHAR!!!!!

      Reply

      • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

        May 13, 2015 at 15:36

        Sadly though, it is the truth…

        Reply

        • Admiral Chief

          May 13, 2015 at 16:00

          Just use the little snot-adapter-type-pressure-thingy (I have NO idea what they call that magic piece of snot remover)

          Reply

          • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

            May 13, 2015 at 16:58

            We have one, let me tell you, kids hate those things!! But it’s still better than using a tissue,getting all of that goo on your hands as you wipe it…ugh…

    • SargonTheBatpandaOfTI5

      May 13, 2015 at 15:42

      I don’t know. I didn’t feel this at all when I was playing as Ezio through the main AC2 and then the expansions. That was the only time the series felt fluid to me. Even Desmond I didn’t mind. He didn’t feel forced. There were genuine moments I was surprised in both games.

      *Edit: But everything since has felt like it’s been directed by Michael Bay.
      *Edit 2: And that goes for Black Flag as well. The only thing that that game did well was the open world naval vibes. That was great. But the actual game on land? Horribad.

      Reply

      • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

        May 13, 2015 at 15:46

        The first two ACs were absolutely brilliant, but from there…Let’s just say that I enjoyed IV as much as everyone else and that is about as much positive input I can provide…

        Reply

    • The Sten

      May 13, 2015 at 16:18

      those analogies tho…..

      Reply

  11. Blood Emperor Trevor

    May 13, 2015 at 15:47

    Games need to innovate. They need to keep evolving (no Evolve jokes!) and improving, or else they’ll become boring because you’ve seen it all. Then the only thing separating the games, particularly when it comes to franchises like AC, will be their stories; and let’s be honest, most game stories are crap. That’s one of those things that need to improve.

    Innovation, changing from the tried & true formula that was successful, is a risk. So I understand why devs & pubs alike are hesitant about it. We also need to be a bit more understanding of those changes. Everyone’s happy when it works out well, everyone complains when it doesn’t go down well & say they should’ve stuck to what they did before. The former is fine, the latter part is a mistake. If you tell people to take risks, you need to accept that with risk comes the increased chance of failure, and not rip them to shreds when it happens. Devs don’t plan to make shitty changes, it just sometimes turns out that way in practice.

    A good example is a malaria mechanic in FC2. It was an innovative little change. I loved it, because it was an unexpected negative I had to adapt to. Most people hated it, for that same reason.

    Reply

  12. CypherGate

    May 13, 2015 at 15:49

    I dont non stop innovation. I just need intersting characters, great story and amazing playability as well as lastability.

    Reply

  13. Ghost In The Rift

    May 13, 2015 at 15:51

    Once a game turns into a franchise it looses quality, similar as to washing chicken on the concrete.

    Reply

  14. MakeItLegal

    May 13, 2015 at 22:19

    hey Zoe , i usually dig your stuff and your wit…
    but wtf is this article about again ?
    maybe its cause u dropped AC in here that i didn read correctly , but jeez like , pls dont defend unity or ubisoft making games that are reskins

    please just dont , i would lose all respect for your as a writter here , rarther defend , i dont know the wii U than defend , repackaged games we played in 2007 , only its now shinner and doesnt work the first 3 months

    thanks

    ps Unity burnt me deep , like zuma deep

    Reply

  15. CuddlesaurusRex

    May 14, 2015 at 09:43

    It seems that when games become part of corporate targets and annual releases they lose the plot and I believe that is because it stops being art and becomes a mass produced product. Games are works of art and therefore cannot be produced as anything else but that.

    Reply

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