Past EED rants


Live leaderboard

Poker leaderboard

Voice of EED

Friday 17 June 2005

Breaking the mould - gaming innovation [Brit]

A couple of recent blogs, namely Beej's thoughts on various mainstream FPS and Lurks' Battlefield 2 have brought round (once again) the thought that really, mainstream PC gaming is rather a stagnant affair.
As a PC gamer in totalitarium (i.e. I don't own a console/handheld, and probably never will, albeit the PSP looks rather scrummy) I find myself somewhat bedazzled by the unending array of rather mediocre creative thought that pervades this side of the industry.
This cartoon on Penny Arcade sums things up nicely - in that quite simply, it appears that of late there is simply not much in the way of unique and cutting edge creativity happening within the myriad games development houses, who instead concentrate on churning out games that seek to simply enhance the bottom line (fiscally speaking) as opposed enhance the audience mindset.
I'm not suggesting that large amounts of cash should be spent on developing weird and wonderful niche market titles - like Llamasofts audio thingummy - but it does rather seem to me at least that the bean counters are restraining creativity to the point where the only fresh material will come from the advent of World War III.
Its the same (in my opinion) with all current mainstream PC games; whether it be rallycar (yes, you now have transformable fenders and realistic screeches...) or sports (yes, you now have 11,000 real teams as opposed to 10,000 on the previous release) or even MMPORGS (ooh look, you don't have to bother with the tedious job of killing frogs to level up).
Its easy of course to blame the big publishers like EA who are only interested in capitalising on market share - but even so, such conglomerates exist in other industries and yet exciting, often unique creativity is still seen throughout the product/service approach and offering. Except of course those adverts for BidUp.TV which demonstrate that even social retards can get a job somewhere.
Perhaps I'm being too harsh, but I do often wonder where the next big thing is going to come from, and whether or not anyone in the Western World (lets face it, the Japanese have some amazing ideas in terms of games, interaction and experience) will bother to give it a run.
We have ever increasingly realistic 'engines', ever increasingly immersive 'environments' and yet the core concepts behind them all remain static; locked in pre-history when the idea of shooting other players with a bang-stick was new, shiny and incredible.


  1. I'm not being funny but it strikes me you haven't played a game since the last LAN party a year ago. Not any any of the games that Beej was talking about, not World of Warcraft (which you said you bought and were going to play with us) and even Battlefield 2 because your graphics card is several years old. So where's this come from exactly?
    You basically want to justify your inaction on the games front by saying all PC gaming is 'a rather stagnant affair'?
    Recently I played Psychonaughts and Darwinia on PC. Both just fucking astounding but it's not about the examples is it?

  2. You didn't think Half Life 2 was innovative? First time I've seen gravity used to such an extent in gameplay, and it's definately the most realistically immersive fps I've played in a while. How about Splinter Cell 3, more evolution than revolution but filled with some nice unique touches like the ability to knife through fabric walls..
    Riddick? Sure, it's an fps, but it's an fps with a truly cinematic narrative and a fantastic pace with action sequences interspaced with slower rpg like areas.
    Brothers in arms? Flawed perhaps, but it's squad management and reproduction of 1940's france is definately innovative.
    Or how about Guild Wars? It doesn't play like any game I've ever seen, small distributed instances, pvp, an online rpg with no grind, sounds innovative to me?
    And that's just the PC. Sure, there's a lot of derivative WW2 cash ins, there's also more evolution of the driving theme, but there's definately still innovation in games.
    Out of interest, what games have you actually played over the last few months?

  3. You'll notice how I specifically said 'mainstream' PC games. Psychonaughts isn't mainstream (I haven't for example seen it in any of the regular high street shops on Oxford Street) and Darwinia certainly isn't.
    Now, both of the above are creatively unique, but don't seem to have been given the publicity they may deserve; especially Darwinia which evoked some seriously cool Tron flashbacks during the demo I grabbed (at your insistence I might add!).
    As for not playing any games since the last LAN party- utter nonsense. Half Life 2: played. Raven Shield: played (hell, you play one Clancy-spin off and you play them all, vis-a-vis the Athena Sword foray). CS:Source, played. Hell, I even fired up DC the other day to see if anyone was still playing it... (answer being yes, about 6 mad Italians).
    This isn't anything to do with the games I may or may not have played, but rather what appears to be a lack of creativity in mainstream PC games; when was the last time you walked into HMV and saw a truly unique groundbreaking game that kept you up for hours?
    And if you did, what was it?

  4. So your argument boils down to "mainstream games are so mainstream". Blimey, hold the front page.
    The creative lurches have always come from out of left field, and the shelves at HMV are reserved for the bandwagonism, sequels and refinements.

  5. Er Brit, Raven Sheield was released over two years ago, you're using this to convince us you're up to date with gaming? I'm not sure why you're trying to mix innovative and mainstream. Mainstream by definition isn't innovative is it?
    Besides, psychonauts is very mainstream, designed by Tim Schafer (Bloke who did the seminal Day of the Tenticle and Full Throttle), released on multi platform, in all high street stores, charted well. etc.

  6. So your argument is that mainstream games that occupy the top slots in Game aren't innovative? That's picking your fights but hey, that's still not correct. Guildwars is the number one selling PC game right now and as slim points out, this is remarkably innovative. The other huge games in the charts are things like the two big football manager games and of course the Sims. Each hugely different, each highly innovative albiet that latest versions are sequel/updates.
    Your point about the games you've played since the last LAN party does more to back up what I'm saying. Basically all you played was the cookie-cutter FPS games. Raven Shield and CS are years old so you must see how it's hard to take your argument seriously about the state of PC gaming when you've not even played anything that's come out in the last couple of years!

    "When was the last time you walked into HMV and saw a truly unique groundbreaking game that kept you up for hours?"

    World of fucking Warcraft. Total time played: 19 days, 16 hours, 23 minutes. Twice this week I've gone to bed at 3.
    Honestly, I'm not trying to be nasty but jesus... Upgrade your fucking computer. Buy some new games in the charts. Then come back to us and talk about games as if you have the fucking slightest idea about where gaming is at!

  7. I guess a part of my musings blog about FPS games is that SC:CT did actually surpise me. It's a step forward, it's a good game. So I can use my knife to cut through the tent in order to creep in and hold a knife to someone's throat? Cool I say.But its not all progress on the PC FPS front...Far Cry: Instincts - anyone else think this looks like Operation: Wulf? Ooooh and look at the sky! And the water reflections! The evil terrorists poking out from behind a tree! (If the terrorists have taken over a luscious polygon-heavy island, why not blockade it and then start dropping the bunker busters?) And how do these one-man army Rambo fantasy characters carry so many weapons and so much ammunition? This is just bullshit! Propose we burn this game at the next EED AGM.DOOM3: Resurrection of Boredom - a year on from the terrible incident... another site discovered... sinister forces of evil... harness the power of an ancient artifact... here, use this badly implemented gravity gun... yada yada yada GET FUCKED CASH-IN GOONS!Ghost Recon 2 - shitcanned when Ubisoft realised there aren't enough programmers in the entire world to make this many Tom Clancy games. But its not all DOOM and gloom - Serious Sam 2 has witches and green aliens and other mad shit - at last, an FPS with a sense of humour!

  8. I'd like to add a bit of enthusiasm on the FPS front. Half-Life 2 Aftermath should arrive this summer. Again we'll just pay a bit of dosh and just download it nice and fast through Steam without any fucking around. It's not gonna suck is it? Bring it on!

  9. I think we need to move Ghost Recon 3 into the "of interest" folder. Looks yummy for a start! Possibly not your average FPS. (but then, there is the unknown quantity that is the Ubisoft Factorâ„¢)