originality in videogaming
Posted on Monday, March 24 2008 @ 23:59:06 PST
When I was a kid, I remember small games that turned out to be revolutionary in the end. Those games were Mario, Metroid, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill and many others. For a time, many new ideas were thrown on the table of the devellopers. Some were brillants and well ahead of their time while others......well, let's not think about the others.
During the 80's to the millenium, new games seemed to flourish and there were almost always something new to the table each year. People could not wait to find a new game with new ideas thrown in by their favorite devellopers. I remember when I was younger and I played new games I always thought to myself: "Why didn't I think of that before? It's awesome!" Companies liked to take risks as videogames were cheaper to produce. Has more time passed, things began to change.
A while ago we entered a new gaming generation. We have veteran like Nintendo and Sony still battling out with Microsoft joining the fray. Normally, that would mean that things are starting to get interesting and new ideas will come up! Unfortunatly, that isn't the case.... The videogame industry seemed to have taken a wrong turn somewhere.
Take a look at all upcoming titles: Metal gears solid 4, Final fantasy 13, Devil may cry 4, Silent hill 5....don't you all see a pattern? Yup, they are all sequels. I have nothing against big franchise. Actually, as any gamers out there I enjoy those series (well most of them) as anybody else..... but I don't enjoy them as I was before.
Like the Hollywood industries, videogames suffer from the same stigma. That is originality! When I look at a game and I caught myself to think: "Hummm they took gameplay from this game, tweaked a little this part and add better graphics without changing the story" now there is a problem! What is sad is, when you realize this, you will grow bored of everything.
The easy formulas have all been taken. The "save the world" formulas are countless and still works but it doesn't move anyone anymore. When you buy an RPG or something else, you KNOW the story will end like this.... no matter how well it is presented. That is also true for the "revenge" scenario, the "want to be the best scenario" and the "betrayal scenario". Like I said before, this doesn't limit to the stories but also gameplay and game design as well. Fortunatly, some companies have been courageous enough to mix formulas. Take Mass Effect for example. Even though I am sure they are not the first to do that, they decided to mix an RPG with a shooter. Though a I find the concept interesting and I salute their courage, I find that it is too small of a step.
I know it is difficult for the devellopers to find new ideas and concept because the industry is now a monster running billions of dollars each years. The major companies want a regular flow of quick cash and do not want to take risks...or if they do take risks, they trust that just by sticking their logo like "final fantasy" will actually save the game. Sometimes it works, sometimes it fails......horribly. Small companies struggle because they need support of the bigger ones to survive...so they don't want to take risk. They prefer doing sequels and milk money as much as they can until the franchise sucks (Final Fantasy 7 comes to mind). Risks rarely brings money...or so they think.
Let's take Okami for example. Okami was develloped by a game studio owned by Capcom. The game was good and introduced a lot of new ideas. I loved the game but it was so overlooked because of poor marketing (Capcom didn't want to advertise) that it became a major flop. The company was disbanded by Capcom some years after... That's the prize they received for trying something new. Although this story have a happy ending (Okami is being resurrected for the Nintendo Wii) and I think that enough marketing the game might come back to life..... some devellopers are not that lucky.
Another problem with originality is passion. The more you are rushed to finish a game, the more stressed you are and the less passionated you become. It's normal it is human nature. However, I really think you can feel when a team really put their heart in a game. Even though the core design isn't changed and there is no innovation at hand (" a save the world scenario for example") the passion the team put in the game can save the title. When was the last time you played a game and when you knew one of your character was in danger you REALLY wanted to save him? When was the last time that you finished a gamne and you close the TV and put the controller just to take your breath because you were so moved? For me, it was a long time ago and it was when I played Silent Hill 2.
Unfortunatly, today is not about having a good story or the passion you put in a game. It is not about innovation.....it is about graphics....sad but true. When I hear some guy saying: "The story was good but the graphics SUCKS! Don't buy this game" I get pissed. Since when must a game have breath taking visuals to be worth playing? Definatly something went wrong along the way.
Perhaps it was because everything were so normal that we decided to judge with one of the most obvious aspect of a game? Maybe it is because videogames can only improve on that point now? I am still looking for that game. A game you can call a gem of videogaming. One game that will shatter the walls of monotomy and cliche. A game that will actually move me and hook me for days (no, not an MMO). What's worst, it seems that the problem doesn't just apply with videogames but also videogames review. Since it became a big business, every reviewer seems to careful with their words to not bash too hard the company that bribed them to give them a good rating to their game. Fortunatly, some like gamerevolution.com still resist the common flow and I hope it will be so for a long LONG time.
I know the "gem" I am searching for will not arrive any time soon. In the mean time, I'll try to find something else that will be daring and interesting and hoping everything turns out for the better.... perhaps!