Evil Avatar  

Go Back   Evil Avatar > Blogs > batkingnz

Rate this Entry

What have you done for me lately?

Posted 04-08-2010 at 09:07 PM by batkingnz
Updated 04-08-2010 at 09:11 PM by batkingnz (Incorrectnesssssessess)

This is something that I wrote last year but to get things rolling again, here it is.

I remember when I first played Ocarina of time. 1999. It was a New Release hire from the video store and I owned the game immediately thereafter. I was skipping school at one stage because I had just got to Dodongos Cavern and I didn't want to wait nine hours to explore this underground challenge. The game was one of those moments in my life, which I will always remember. Not one of the greatest moments like falling in love or bringing something in to the world, but one of those defining points that hits home, opens your imagination and fills you with awe. Back when I played it I didn't think it was right for a game to stir so much emotion. This was the ballpark of films and great music; political events and inspiring people. But this was just a game and it had a profound effect on me then and has set a benchmark for my experiences in the gaming world since.

This wasn't the first game I played, this wasn't the first time I was gaming in a 3d world, there have been games that have been awarded more of my time and games that hold more sentimental value to me in a nostalgic sense. But this was the first game that fully immersed me. The one that opened my eyes to a future where games weren't just games any more, they were becoming adventures that had the power to draw you in to a world and live and breathe it, learn and love the characters and to relate on an almost personal level to the quest at hand.

Super Mario gave us a seamless 3d platformer with excellent design and seamless controller integration. Nintendo took it a step further with The Legend of Zelda. Where Mario was vast, Zelda was epic. Mario made us laugh but Zelda touched us with its classic fantasy of good and evil. It gave us the sense of exploration, the wonder of discovery and the sense that we never knew what was around the corner and what dangers or treasures were awaiting us. While it was a showcase of its generation it never felt like a tech demo. It retained many of the series' mainstays and released them in to a 3d landscape. It managed innovation while retaining a formula, keeping a fan base happy while drawing in many more. It introduced a generation to target lock, arguably one of the most important mechanics we use today in 3d gaming, as well as excellent use of context sensitive commands which is a mainstay in the industry. Story, sound, music, visual, interface it had it all.

Now, if you willÖ fast forward to 2009 or any year in recent memory. Ten years have passed and can anyone truly say we have reached a point such as we were at in 1999. We are now at a stage of constant refinement substituting once drastic leaps of innovation. Is Twilight Princess fundamentally any different to Ocarina of Time? The Windwaker - another of my favorite games - is a larger world Ocarina, it's pretty and it's cute and itís solid in its execution. But is it something new? Once you strip away the outside itís what we already know at the core. It can still draw the player in, move them at times and challenge and provoke. But haven't we been here before? What have games done for you lately?

This past week I've been spending a lot of time on Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. It's an awesome game, one of the best I've played on the Nintendo DS. I'm enjoying it almost as much as I did GTAIV and Vice City before it. But is it something profound in its innovation? Does it incite new feeling, bring forth new ideas and wonder at what future games may deliver? No. Underneath the polish and the changes, it is essentially a game that has been played before, only wearing a new suit.

I don't mean to paint such a bleak portrait of the industry. We have momentary explosions of creativity and innovation. Moments that make you stop. World of Warcraft was one for me. Battlefield 1942 was another. But these are few and far between. There is a fine line between innovation and renovation. Too often does a developer find a formula that works commercially and critically, and stick to it. And due to a lack of choice, and a growing complacency we shut up and buy it. The sad thing is that many of the people who cry out for change would be the same people to come back with the 'This isn't Street Fighter' and comments similar. It's a paradox for the developers. Stick to what's known and ship units, or strike out with something new and risk a commercial failure.

In this current economic climate it would be a significant risk for he who takes chances and maybe at stake of shareholder disapproval this is just not going to happen. But the right company, with the right ideas, right IP and right execution could see this through. The market is hungry for it if they know it or not and it's only a matter of time before walking the safe road becomes detrimental to the industry we know and love.
Posted in Uncategorized
Views 8754 Comments 0 Edit Tags
« Prev     Main     Next »
Total Comments 0



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 05:40 AM.