Home Gaming Has modern gaming destroyed visionaries?

Has modern gaming destroyed visionaries?

3 min read
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Breaking promises

I am bored of far too many games, lately. Everything feels repetitive and overdone with solid ideas getting rinsed and repeated to the point of becoming washed out. We all long for something unique and innovative, something that will set a new benchmark for gaming, but are we actually destroying that creative process and innovative thinkers?

I started thinking about this after Shadow of Mordor. It was such a stellar game that I was completely overlooking during development. Once I got my hands on the nemesis system at E3, I knew that it was something special and would shake things up for gamers. I love the nemesis system far too much and I hope it’s something that’s expanded upon for future games of this type. While Shadow of Mordor wasn’t a perfect game, it deserved our award for 2014’s Game of the Year, if only because it gave us that much needed breath of fresh air.

Peter Molyneux has become synonymous in the industry for over promising on innovation and experience. Rock, Paper, Shotgun recently ran a rather intense interview with him. While it’s a devastating interview (and hard to read because of how harsh it gets at times), it feels mostly on point, when it isn’t derisive and bullying.  Molyneux raised a ton of money on Kickstarter and won’t be delivering on promises that people paid for with their hard earned money.

I am not going to defend Molyneux here. He should have known how much time and money his game would take, and he should know enough about project management to plan for the worst when it comes to these things. Still, have we created an atmosphere in game development today that punishes innovation?

Developers are expected to show off their games early and often. Months of silence implies a project is dead or in development hell. Meanwhile, the “community” demands input into games at every stage, critiquing the slightest things and demanding familiar mechanisms and modes. Having seen so many behind-the-scenes videos of early genre-defining games, it’s hard to imagine that the degree of creativity could still exist if developers had to show their work and absorb public criticism the way we expect now. Just think of what happened with XCOM: The Bureau – after it was shown off in an early state as a first-person experience, the rage was immense. Even after a huge PR push there were still consumers who were convinced the game was still in that form.

It is a delicate balance and not one that I’m sure any studio can get totally right. I want to know how a game is progressing and if it will be worth my time when it releases, but I also want to be pleasantly surprised by how a game shapes up; I want to be taken aback by the innovation and unique elements in game, instead of seeing them all in a whole bunch of trailers before I get to experience it for myself. I think our demands have become unreasonable, but I also think they make sense. Unfortunately, I just worry that the gaming industry will suffer under this paradigm and we might be our own worst enemies in this regard. Do you think our expectations are unreasonable, or are we just jaded about the former grandfathers of gaming?

Last Updated: February 16, 2015

56 Comments

  1. fred

    February 16, 2015 at 12:07

    Look , games do not have to be a revolution to be good , I’m still enjoying AC Unity and Far Cry 4 , although they play almost exactly like the previous games in the series. Games that try too many new things often fall flat.

    Reply

    • WitWolfy

      February 16, 2015 at 12:24

      I agree 100% Games like MGS change so much from one title to the next when concerning UI that it takes like the whole damned game just to understand what goes where and how it works..

      I say if it aint broke dont fix it. Theres a reason why wee always go back to our old time classics. Easy to understand menus and user interfaces…

      Just my 5 cents.

      Reply

    • thereisnospoon

      February 16, 2015 at 12:42

      I agree that it doesn’t need to be revolutionary but at the time, there is a definite need for at least some innovation. Too many games lately seem to just mimic mechanics from a popular ip until it becomes completely stale. I loved god of war when it first came out but honestly, how many action platformers have been nothing but a clone of it since its release? That shit gets old fast. Sure it’s easy to continue producing what you know will sell but truly great at comes from those that aren’t afraid to take the risk and try something new

      Reply

  2. Admiral Chief

    February 16, 2015 at 12:13

    Bwahahahahaha dat header! Such skill! WOW

    Reply

    • Hammersteyn

      February 16, 2015 at 12:16

      XD

      Reply

  3. Tosh "Did he just say that?"

    February 16, 2015 at 12:15

    I’ve been saying this for a while now, but we as the gamers are the problem with the industry. We’ve become far too self-entitled as a whole and far too demanding, and the devs have to adhere to what their market wants or they won’t make money.

    If we allowed them to just sit back, make the game they wanted to make, and then BAM release it, then we’d have more innovation. Innovation only happens when someone does or makes something that people didn’t know they wanted, or needed. So listening to what people DO want is literally the death of innovation.

    Reply

    • Hammersteyn

      February 16, 2015 at 12:17

      Everyone bemoaned the exco skeleton suit in COD. Now that COD may go back to WW2 they’re up in arms again.

      Reply

      • Tosh "Did he just say that?"

        February 16, 2015 at 12:19

        Sadly CoD is a good example, because people really do just want more of the same. CoD devs listen to their fans for most things, and that’s why every year is just a small iteration on the last year – because that’s what people want. If they decided to actually innovate, their core fans would probably just not buy the game.

        Which is the problem. Us.

        Reply

      • Lefuwl

        February 17, 2015 at 15:42

        Both you and Tosh are using overly simplistic logic. COD has over-simplified the gameplay and gunplay with each release. Miraculously, its like the guns are even easier to handle and use than before. What this means is that little effort, focus or concentration is needed to accomplish goals on a casual level. It begins to feel shallow and becomes boring. What is worse is that the problems become exaggerated with every release and it is yearly. I haven’t played COD since BO2 and a couple months into the game I felt like I was wasting my time. If COD goes back to an older era like WW2 then I will try it again since many of the over-simlified mechanics will have to be gimped. — I have more a problem with 343 now trying to include ADS and Running With Guns Down in Halo. Games should serve a purpose, not become homogenized to play like every other game. That is the problem in gaming right now. Homogenization.. Halo as an arena-like shooter has a purpose. Halo as a generic console shooter has no purpose.

        Reply

  4. Hammersteyn

    February 16, 2015 at 12:16

    We need simpler games. Indie games are on the right track. I mean I’m seriously considering whether a R900 game is worth R900. Evolve is interesting but MP heavy. The Order has been doubtful since gameplay videos emerged. Dying Light is fun co-op but the main story sucks…

    I finished Transistor the weekend and even though it’s on the short side it had innovation, the graphics were simple yet beautiful and the gameplay was excellent. Valiant Hearts and Child of Light are some more examples. Not requiring any day one patches or season passes. Because they kept it simple.

    Reply

    • Jonah Cash

      February 16, 2015 at 12:22

      The two Trine games, The Wolf Among us, Child of Light, The Swapper… They all gave me more game play fun than any AAA title did over the last year!!

      Reply

      • Hammersteyn

        February 16, 2015 at 12:24

        Exactly, Mercenary Kings, Resogun, The Binding of Isaac, Don’t Starve, etc.

        Reply

        • Tosh "Did he just say that?"

          February 16, 2015 at 12:34

          I keep going back to Binding of Isaac. I’m loving the simple but brutal game. And as I play, I get better, and get further. It’s still so much fun!

          Reply

          • Hammersteyn

            February 16, 2015 at 12:34

            Very true, but a twisted game in every sense. Where did they come up with this?

          • Tosh "Did he just say that?"

            February 16, 2015 at 12:35

            No idea man, haha. But thank fuck they did – it’s wonderful!

          • Hammersteyn

            February 16, 2015 at 12:38

            Hope they make a sequel

          • Tosh "Did he just say that?"

            February 16, 2015 at 12:45

            They’re making an expansion planned for this year.

            http://www.polygon.com/2015/2/13/8037277/the-binding-of-isaac-afterbirth-expansion

    • Tarisma

      February 16, 2015 at 12:24

      You’re so right spent the entire weekend playing Rogue Legacy. It was such fun!

      Reply

      • Hammersteyn

        February 16, 2015 at 12:25

        Best part is that you can replay the game with all your abilities that you unlocked O_o when last did this happen in a game?

        Reply

    • WitWolfy

      February 16, 2015 at 12:31

      I’m gonna be honest .. I just wanted The Order to be a blatant rip off of the Gears franchise. With a Co-op campaign, TDM, king of the hill, horde mode and trophies like “party like its 1999” to name a few.

      Thats all I wanted. Just a Gears clone!

      In the end all we got was just this SP experience (little no replay value) whch every dude is gonna take to BT games in a month or so.

      What a wasted opportunity… this game could’ve been so much more.

      Reply

  5. Umar

    February 16, 2015 at 12:22

    Megaman Legends 3. Nuff said.

    Reply

  6. Rock789

    February 16, 2015 at 12:22

    Damn, that interview is harsh! o_O You end up feeling a little sorry for Peter for being grilled like that (I get the tough questions need answering, but the guy asking the questions seems to be in ‘go-for-the-jugular’ mode).

    I think innovation is suffering in games. And it’s because when developers do try something new, someone complains. And that usually builds up steam. Eventually, the developer thinks “well, bugger this” and goes back to basics with the next release… Most developers won’t push through the inevitable teething of a new game / franchise coz they can’t afford to… I mean, look at Watch Dogs – if it wasn’t Ubisoft making it, with their millions behind them, they wouldn’t even consider WD2. But they are. And you know what – it’ll probably be a ton better thanks to the learning they did with the original.

    **And queue all the Ubi haters now…**

    And, I mean, with budgets in the hundreds of millions of dollars nowadays, who would want to “innovate” and potentially send out a failing product coz no-one thinks they should be innovating?! The only innovation we’ll see is from the guys with the budget to not only do so, but who can also sustain the hit should they fail… Everyone else will either keep it as more of the same or keep it simple – it’s the hard truth of life…

    But, you know what? Simple isn’t a bad thing! And people need to realise that. Look at games like Valiant Hearts, Child of Light, Limbo and Mark of the Ninja – fun, amazing games… Coz they kept it relatively simple!

    In the end, we’re all lovers of games! We’re lovers of that experience, of that entertainment and of that interaction. And we each have our own tastes. But we should try encourage the devs, not shout and perform just cause they wanna do something different. Keep the shouting for when the game is an abomination (I’m looking at you, pirate-game-Darryn-wants-to-review-badly 😉 🙂 ).

    Reply

    • Rock789

      February 16, 2015 at 12:30

      P.S. **end rant** 😉 🙂

      Reply

    • FutureFox

      July 25, 2015 at 06:49

      Its also why I see so many 2D platformers done with the black and white or two-tone color approach. Ever since the success of Limbo many indie developers follow that aesthetic because they know it works. Game development is very hard and expensive and its all transparent to the consumer so no sympathy is given. So its just like everything else: I pay. U make work. Ok?

      Reply

  7. Hammersteyn

    February 16, 2015 at 12:23

    Prime example is Helldivers, coming soon. It looks fun and easy to pick up. It probably only has MP but that doesn’t matter because it looks simple so coordination isn’t a problem and I bet the online games loads ten times faster than Evolve does and it will cost a whole lot less

    Reply

    • Jonah Cash

      February 16, 2015 at 12:26

      Hahaha!! I didn’t even know about this game and you are right it looks very cool!! We can jam this!!

      Reply

      • Hammersteyn

        February 16, 2015 at 12:26

        Saw it this weekend. I’m genuinely excited for this.

        Reply

        • Jonah Cash

          February 16, 2015 at 12:28

          I am going to try and land a spaceship on you 🙂 Fair warning

          Reply

    • Aries

      February 16, 2015 at 12:27

      Spread Democracy with guns, haha, but looks interesting

      Reply

      • Hammersteyn

        February 16, 2015 at 12:30

        Almost has a Starship Troopers vibe

        Reply

        • HvR

          February 16, 2015 at 12:42

          Was also thinking that Starship Troopers squad based strategy game.

          Reply

    • Admiral Chief

      February 16, 2015 at 13:04

      DEMOCRACY!

      Reply

  8. ElimiNathan

    February 16, 2015 at 12:25

    Evolve, price point and DLC aside, its new and innovative

    Reply

  9. Travis

    February 16, 2015 at 12:28

    I dont think gamers are the problem, and I dont think developers are the problem The problem is not all games can be winners. I personally believe the problem is that there are too many games out there. I for one am unlike most on this forum who are always bemoaning that they have so many games to play on backlog. i for one only find 1 or 2 games I like a year and play. Dying Light is the my first game this year I have played and enjoyed.

    I think make less games, make better games.

    Reply

    • Guest

      February 16, 2015 at 16:20

      Same her. I but at most 3 games a year. Not because of bad games being released before proper QC, but the fact that I can only buy that many a year. So things I consider when buying a game: Developer, developing time and community.

      Community is very important, take Fifa titles, there are way too many people using hacks and shit that it makes honest gaming impossible. I know cheats are everywhere, but when EA says the games cannot be cheated when my players are unable to run, fuck that title.

      So far this year I have only bought BF Hardline. Will be buying The Division ( Hopefully this year.)

      Reply

  10. Blood Emperor Trevor

    February 16, 2015 at 12:40

    I blame the hype industry. It doesn’t matter if you deliver something good after promising to deliver great. You’re responsible for your over-promising & under-delivering. That goes especially for the “AAA” industry, they’re the most frequent offenders.

    I’m sick & tired of hearing how it’s the fault of the people buying the games & that they’re whiny. We don’t have to be grateful they released a game. The fact so many consumers believe that lie shows how great the PR machine is. Nobody shits on movie-goers when they complain about a movie being crap & how it’s their fault for believing it would be otherwise. Yet with games it’s the cool thing to blame the people who paid money for the end product.

    Reply

    • Tosh "Did he just say that?"

      February 16, 2015 at 12:48

      tl;dr

      Reply

  11. Ross Woofels Mason

    February 16, 2015 at 12:43

    Honestly the problem is developers have forgotten the main thing video games are supposed to be. FUN, movies can get away with eye blowing CG, effects and action sequences because they are 2 – 3 hours max. Games how ever are longer.

    All the multimillion dollar pretty graphics, and full house orchestra for the sound track, with full voice acting and motion capture for characters is all well and good, but after the initial omg wow look at this wears off and you are left with a game that just is not fun to play, and that is your game dead in the water.

    Why do all nintendo titles score in the 9/10 with reviewers, because they have a perfect balance between the aesthetic appeal and actual fun game play.

    Too many games these days are trying to be block buster movies, instead of actual just being a fun video game. I don’t how realistically the bullet shells fall from my gun, or if I get dirt on my cheeks. I care about if I can leap 40 feet into the air and rain down a hail of magic bullets.

    Realism and this hollywood dream is what is killing video games.

    Though I will agree gamers themselves are partly to blame for turning the industry into this. Which is why I honestly do prefer 90% of the indie titles you can get on steam.

    Good price point, a lot of them have great visuals and sound and most off all they are just fun to play.

    Reply

  12. Ryanza

    February 16, 2015 at 12:57

    Modern gaming. Put some money into the toilet and get excited when you flush because something is happening. Then it stops. The water fills up and you left wondering what happened to your money.

    The value of PC games is sitting at R0. This generation of console gaming is going to be about lowering the value of console games to get closer to R0. Xbox One almost got away with making the value of Xbox One games, R0.

    Modern gaming. Where is the value. People seem to be finding value with Steam, Xbox Live, PSN+. When people complain about Origin and Uplay, I read a lot about how people don’t like that EA and Ubisoft taking their games off Steam. “Value” being taking away from their “valuable” Steam.
    Modern gaming = Steam, Origin, Uplay, Xbox Live, PSN+, 2k accounts, Social Club, ect. You name a publisher and they will have plans sign up “value”.

    Games have became so simple and basic. Bland boring stories. Bland boring repetitive gameplay. Copy and paste to make 5 hours seem like it’s 100 hours.
    Modern gaming is not about making, investing, improving, the gaming media. Modern gaming is all about how much money they can swindle out of all these gamers dieing for amazing games. Gamers would setting for decent but they not even getting that. Buying games in the hope of getting something half decent.

    There has been so few good games in the last 10 years. And those few good games were ruined by average shit sequels. Well except Bayonetta 2. There are so few gaming developing studios who cares about the games they create. CD Projekt RED, you can tell how passionate they are about games and creating games.They want people enjoy their games.
    And then you get Evolve developers wondering why people are upset about DLC because they have been open about their DLC plans. Like that makes a difference.

    The gaming industry is going to get much worse. I fear the direction the next consoles are going into.

    All that I can say: Don’t Support DRM.

    Reply

    • Ryanza

      February 16, 2015 at 12:58

      Shit. Monday. Making me type so much.

      Reply

      • Admiral Chief

        February 16, 2015 at 13:02

        tl;dr
        😛

        Reply

  13. Raptor Rants A Lot:Original #7

    February 16, 2015 at 13:00

    There really are some people (Both as customers and people in the industry) who are very toxic and over critical. We all know this is true and we’ve seen it happen time and time again. Devs get death threats when a game only has 3 endings… I mean really?

    So yes, innovation is being destroyed by those vocal clowns because devs and publishers are too scared to do things differently for fear of being on the receiving end of that very toxic pool of filth that try to call themselves “gamers” or “media”. It’s a sad truth.

    That being said however, the general gaming population and media still cannot sit by and let broken promises and shoddy quality go by without being critical over it.

    Many publishers and devs hide behind “Oh but we are terrified of trying something because the community is so harsh” but the truth is the community in general are just tired of half released ideas and products that are nowhere near on the level of quality they rightfully should be.

    If the community stays quiet we may see more innovative ideas come out, but at the expense of the devs and publishers even trying to properly QA their products because they’ll then just say “New ideas take time to form properly”

    It’s a tight balancing act.

    BUT, if a publisher/ dev releases a game that has new ideas AND it is of high quality (ie: very few bugs, nothing game breaking, servers that actually work etc) they will be praised by the majority who would then drown out the poisonous vocal minority.

    Why are the vocal minority always so effective? Because the majority stay quiet. Why do the majority stay quiet? Because they have no means to defend the shoddy work that so often gets released.

    As for Molly Molly. The guy made promises. He didn’t deliver. He lied and overhyped. So what happens? The poisonous people make the most noise. The majority of gamers say nothing because they can’t defend the man because guess what, he did fail miserably.

    Maybe it’s time devs and publishers start taking more responsibility for their actions and start making less mistakes in regards to quality

    Reply

    • Admiral Chief

      February 16, 2015 at 13:02

      tl;dr

      Reply

  14. Joe Black

    February 16, 2015 at 13:06

    You still get excellent games now and again. You just can’t expect a 100 new games a month to all be works of art – Never going to happen. And especially not from people working on a money printing formula.

    Reply

  15. oVg

    February 16, 2015 at 14:25

    Interactive re-load = GOW
    No health Bar = GOW
    Cooky Trail = Dead Space
    No HUD = Dead Space
    Speech Wheel = Mass Effect
    X Ray vision = Batman AA
    No Guns = FP no S Mirrors Edge
    Car Interior = PGR
    Trail Narrative = recorder Bioshock

    2007 and 2008 are still the most innovative years in gaming.

    2014 = Nemesis system.

    Reply

    • Rock789

      February 16, 2015 at 14:36

      Nail, meet oVg’s hammer of truth! 🙂 Well said bud!

      Reply

  16. CypherGate

    February 16, 2015 at 15:23

    Games dont need to innovate too much where gameplay mechanics is involved. Honestly to me a story in a game and its playability takes top notch. Like Fred says about Far Cry 4. Its the same mechanics as previous games, but the story and how the world is just makes the game fun and enjoyable. Over innovating can be a big downfall.

    Reply

  17. Kromas Votes LAG WCMovie Event

    February 16, 2015 at 15:42

    I have a fairly simple taste. Don’t insert QTE’s everywhere and have a really good story and I will buy it. Finished dying light a few days ago and the ending pretty much lowered my whole experience of the game. Then again I played the new Wolfenstein and it had nothing we have not seen before yet it had such a great story that I played it twice over. Witcher has one of the worst combat mechanics I have seen in my life and is fairly annoying to play but the story is brilliant and thus I have played 1 and 2 about 3 times each.

    And then we have Mass Effect … oh the feels.

    Reply

  18. Axon1988

    February 16, 2015 at 15:58

    Thinking about this… Mister Peter has a legacy. He has made some seriously good games. So if he pitches a new game, he doesn’t actually have to over-promise. He should just say: “Hi, I’m Peter Molyneux, and I am making a new game. Please give me money.” And I am sure people would go for it.

    But he had to promise things and under deliver. And then lie to the public, by saying he did not lie. And then not deliver on things that he promised would be in-game, things that people already paid for.

    The lesson here is: If you have a legacy, use it to your advantage and create the game you want to. Ask for money from the community if you want to. But do not over-promise. Just tell them you are making x.

    Reply

  19. Kromas Votes LAG WCMovie Event

    February 16, 2015 at 19:03

    20 Years. Yep 20 GOD DAMN YEARS! That is how long this asshole has been lying and bullshitting his way through gaming. Now everyone is blaming everything else except the man who is to blame. This little prick needs to leave the industry and leave it yesterday.

    Okay now that I got that out of my system let me think of a company that does not give two craps about when something gets released. I am of course talking about Valve. Every game they have brought out has been an absolute delight and while they are leaning more towards publishing than developing they very rarely have to go out and show their games early.Think about it. The E3 reveal of Portal 2 back in the day pretty much just showed some screenshots of locations and Glados saying some lines. That was all we got till almost launch.

    PM gets less respect from me than I would give to Ubisoft and that interview was the first article I read on him that made me smile.

    tl:dr PM is a dick and I think I went off topic.

    Reply

  20. Down with the Plebs

    February 17, 2015 at 03:29

    That’s why you should suppirt Indie developers & fuck the AAA industry.

    EA in a Nutshell & most (if not all) the AAA industry
    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=e-LE0ycgkBQ

    Reply

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