Stop using new stuff to do the same old thing
Published on February 5, 2009 By GH33DA In Gaming

After playing a bit of the games that came out late this year. I was happy to see some new IPs score big. But, I was even more happy to see new ideas brought into main stream game design. Games like Katamari Damacy and Portal have kept the innovative spirit alive in the game industry. But, it's not often you see innovation make it into mainstream titles. Like the the new Prince of Persia's "no need to reload" system, or the platform controls of Mirror's Edge. It's games like these that made me realize, "You've got this great new feature", but you're using it to make me to the same thing I did 20 years ago."

Developers need to evolve game mechanics. Some developers are still designing games using techniques developed for workarounds back in the arcade and NES days. Yes, it's nostalgic to see those things. And yes, they still "work." But, we can't move game design forward by clinging to them. I'm actually MORE surprised there isn't more outrage from gamers still playing through these arcane tactics. The technology is SO much more powerful now, guys. It's time to use that to do things other that make pretty pictures and moving controllers. It's time to let go of the constraints of the past. It's time to redefine the video game.


Comments
on Feb 05, 2009

It's funny: you never explain exactly what these mechanics are you're talking about. Can you give examples?

on Feb 05, 2009

You just keep on trying 'till you run out of cake . . . I loved Portal.

Referring to the article you linked to:

#10, unlocking stuff - I agree with this, and I agree with it more as I get older and my reflexes aren't the same as 10 years ago. I don't want to repeat the same level 10 times trying to obtain absolute perfection. It's just not in me anymore.

Unlocking awards that don't affect gameplay is okay, but having to become a perfectionist just to finish a game is not.

#9-7, overused levels: Agreed. Those level types really are overused. In pretty much every game type.

#6, pistols: Agree, although IMHO Halo got it right by making the pistols actually useful as a mid-range sniping weapon. For most other games, however, the pistols are just plain useless.

99% of the time, it's because the pistol is the "infinite" weapon, and because game developers don't pass out enough ammo to the player in the game. In other words, to make up for sloppy level design.

#5, cut scenes: Agree. If you have too many cut scenes, maybe you should've made a movie instead of a game. May be more or less of a problem depending on the game type, though.

#4, save game points: Agreed. Save points need to be eliminated. Completely. I will not, under any circumstance, buy a game that prevents me from saving.

Luckily, those types of games are pretty rare on PCs, my gaming platform of choice.

Who REALLY cares if you can save anywhere? Is your level design really so important that we have to play it again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again until we get it exactly right?

Frankly, that's absurd.  I play games to have fun, not to become frustrated. Life is frustrating enough, I don't need my entertainment to add more coals to the fire.

#3, agreed.  While this usually refers to fantasy and adventure games, I'd like to add MMORPGs to the list of guilty game types.  Some monster drops some item that I've never seen before with a useless description, and I never know if it'll be useful for something later in the game.

And as an addition for the MMORPG types: I'm sick of using and collecting odd items as "currency," and I'm very sick of specialized, difficult to find vendors, both of which make the "useless items" situation 10x worse.

#2 - kinda agree, I guess.

#1 - never paid attention that much to gaming magazines. I ike games, but not that much.

 

on Feb 05, 2009

#9-7, overused levels: Agreed. Those level types really are overused. In pretty much every game type.

There is a reason they're "over"used: they're good, solid level design that provides the player with unique and interesting hazards.

In other words, to make up for sloppy level design.

Or, to encourage resource management. Maybe you'll learn not to use up all your shotgun ammo when you don't have to. Or maybe you'll be killed because you ran out of ammo.

too many cut scenes

And exactly how many is "too many"? Yes, MGS4 clearly crossed the line 5 times over. But unless you can provide a specific deliniation, the complaint is basically, "Don't do what MGS4 did." Which isn't likely to be repeated, even my MGS5.

Is your level design really so important that we have to play it again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again until we get it exactly right?

Or maybe, if you can't get it right, you won't be able to pass the next section.

Personally, I believe the saving mechanism is the game designer's peroggative. That being said, a game should have some kind of emergency "I need to stop playing right now" kind of save that will, at the very least, keep some of their progress from the last save point. But the game is free to delete this save point when the player loads back into it.

Portable games on portable platforms that can go into suspended mode do not need this.

on Feb 05, 2009

Or maybe, if you can't get it right, you won't be able to pass the next section.

. . . and if I can't pass the section and finish the game - I just toss the game.

Personally, I believe the saving mechanism is the game designer's peroggative.

. . . and it's my prerogative not to buy games like that . Sure, the devs are free to make what they want. As long as they're aware I'm free to refuse to buy whatever I don't want.

Just because it can be explained as a "prerogative" doesn't mean it's desirable, IMHO. I don't base my buying decisions on the egos of the developers, I base them on what I think is fun. And being frustrated is not fun.

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