Alright, I am back from a good break! And while I was gone, I managed to sort out some of my ideas and discussions. I figured since the possibility of new consoles are around the corner, why not talk about the inconsistencies with this generation of games?
Also let’s face it, this generation has had it’s fair share of problems. I mean in some ways, we kind of reached the pinnacle of gorgeous visuals/graphics in videogames. But we also have kind of taken a step back as well. This article is all about those problems, and maybe a couple solutions thrown in as well. I don’t know, I’m no prolific connoisseur of gaming or something like that. I’m just a mildly retarded dinosaur who happens to have a couple things to share, whether you don’t like em’ or…well, don’t like em’.
Strawberry Jam Warnings –
For a good several years, I had no problem with the way developers would insert health regenerative systems into games. I especially dug how ‘Halo‘ managed to allow shields to be rechargeable while keeping the health bar the way it is. That was a neat idea that I had no problem seeing in more games. And then you got ‘Gears of War‘, which thought not only was it a good idea to just make the health bar rechargeable, no, now we have to plaster this strawberry goo health warning that only makes me want to go out and buy a Smuckers product.
“That’s because Smuckers wants you to know what it feels like to live in constant agony.“
Throughout the course of this cycle, most games seem to have adopted the ‘Gears of War‘ ‘red warning’ screen. To some they have mildly succeeded, but for the most part it’s just been getting increasingly annoying. First off, I hate not being able to see what’s going on in the game due to the fact that the screen is covered in some red substance that just makes me hungry. Second, this means that I have to hide behind cover for a good portion of the gameplay, only to pounce back up, kill a dude, get shot, and start the process all over again. And lastly, is there no other color to use than red?!
The only place where I need to see red jelly, is on a piece of toasted bread and that’s it!
The ‘You’re A Sh***y Gamer, Please Consider Changing The Difficulty’ Screen –
Back in my day you didn’t need a game to tell you to stop playing, no, back then all you had were lives and sparse save points (and even before that you had NO save points). So quitting a game was hard to do, considering that there was a chance that you had to start all over again. These days apparently, if you die more than 3 times the game automatically assumes that either you’re retarded or been playing too long. What makes this even more ridiculous is just where I’ve been seeing these pop-ups, such as with ‘L.A. Noire‘.
A game with confusing and frustrating chase sequences that should not take this long to complete. However after 4-5 failed attempts, the game gave me an option to either ‘take a break’ or ‘quit’. Same thing happened with ‘Uncharted‘, except the game gave me an option to skip a certain puzzle. I mean sure I can understand this logic for a game like ‘Rayman Origins‘, but for ‘M’ rated games like ‘L.A. Noire‘ and ‘Uncharted‘? Do developers not realize that’s why we have an options menu?
Here’s what you can do, put up a warning before the game starts and leave me alone. I have platforms to fall off of, thank you very much.
Linear Level Designs, or ‘Quit Being Lazy!’ –
I’m gonna go on a rant here, it might be a bit long, but there is a point to this.
Okay…are you ready? Good – linear level designs are probably one of my biggest pet peeves this generation. I’m sick of having to play games, shooters definitely included, to where I’m just strolling down a hall and mowing down enemies one by one without any sort of thought put into it. Non-accessible doors that are meshed into the environment, obvious cover, mucky patterns, and AI squadmates that are forcing me into the next cutscene are examples of things I’m tired of seeing. Most importantly though, it gets so boring!
Some critics blame this on ‘Call of Duty‘ for encouraging this type of level design in games (shoot bad guys, move to cutscene, shoot more bad guys, move to next cutscene that concludes level). Because it just turns into an ‘on-rails’ segment, except with some control and a few options.
My advice would be to add some exploration to these levels. Encourage the player to go off and look in places that will either gain them an advantage over a certain level or will have an effect in the games story progression. RPG it up son, don’t be afraid to stick to more than one genre. Although just give the player options, rather than forcing them to ‘go here’ and ‘do this’ because the game says for you to move on.
Unnecessary Sidequests –
When it comes to triple-A games, developers want to go out of their way to include more content on their products. Simply because not only does it expand the longevity of the game, but it also makes the game seem worth it for the $60. Sounds like a great idea, right? Well sadly from what I played, it seems like not much effort or creativity is put into these sidequests, at least for the half of it.
For example, the ‘Assassins Creed‘ series has had a long tradition of tedious sidequests and collectibles. Like go collect all 60 Borgia flags, find eagle feathers, snatch that pigeon or do laundry for some peasant. Those sidequests are obviously there just to expand the length of the game, but without that big sense of accomplishment at the end. Usually sidequests like those are just ways for developers to hand you off some production piece they worked hard on, like concept art for example.
“Man I don’t know about you, but killing 1000 Templars was so worth it for this one picture right here.“
Here’s what I say, you don’t need them. A good game will stand on its own without a shit-ton of sidequests and collectibles. Does this make the game shorter? It will in some ways, however it will at least make the journey much less annoying to go through. However if you do plan on inserting sidequests into your campaign, please think about what you’re doing.
“Because this was fun…“
Quotes That Appear In Loading Screens –
Every game wants to seems like some important piece of art, so what do they do? Insert quotes into the loading screens from actual-famous figures or characters from the videogame itself. Personally I like to call it a ‘loading screen with a literate mask’, however others would simply call it ‘yeah we get it, ‘Bioshock‘ did it first’. Indeed, stop that, and find other creative ways to disguise your loading screens so that you won’t come off as pretentious as a group of hipsters at a Starbucks.
Trying Too Hard To Appeal To Everyone –
Let’s face it, publishers love the hell out of money. So whenever you hear about a major gaming publisher wanting to switch gears for the latest entry in a series, it’s only because they care…about what’s in your pocket.
Take for example, ‘Syndicate‘:
Or what 2k Games was going to do to ‘XCOM‘ before Firaxis got on board with ‘Enemy Unknown‘.
Yep, the answer to rebooting a series seems to be to make it a FPS. So not only will they attain more money, I mean credibility, from the ‘Call of Duty‘ crowds, but they all can spawn more sequels with just as average shooting mechanics! Of course to make the hardcore fans happy, they insert references from previous installments into the new game (you know, to remind you that you could be playing a better game instead). Or as I like to call it the ‘3-boobed woman‘, an instance where publishers/executives expect heavy backlash, and try to appease the fans by presenting them with something they remember fondly of.
Or I think a better example here would be ‘Resident Evil 6‘. A game where it wants to be a summer blockbuster, but at the same time wants to remain true to it’s horror roots so that the fans can also be happy. Unfortunately the game couldn’t have both, because apparently Capcom were sticking their head too far in ‘Call of Duty‘s’ dumpster filled money truck. Ultimately not only did this affect the development for the game itself, but it also caused an uproar among the fans and critics.
It is possible to make a game that is accessible to everyone (and those are sometimes the best kinds of games), but only if you know how to do it without greed clouding your vision. And even to some extent, there comes a point to where you can only cater to so many groups of gamers. Bioware tries to cater to as many different demographics of gamers as possible, and for the ‘most’ part they have been successful when doing it (even though they can go overboard on certain promises). If you’re a developer and you know exactly who you want the game to be catered to, then that’s fine as long as you consult this with your fellow colleagues. If you’re a publisher and only want to cater to a massive crowd of people who only play ‘1’ type of game ever year, all I’ll say is no amount of ‘3-boobed women’ can ever make what you’re doing ‘good’.
Multiplayer & Online Passes –
For this last part I decided to tie both these subjects in together, why? Well so I can nail two birds with one stone.
Let me just say right off the bat that, unless you have a very unique vision of what multiplayer should look like in your game, don’t do it. I’ve seen good games (‘Spec Ops: The Line‘) that had tacked-on multiplayer for no other purpose other than to blatantly expand the purchase value of the game. And it doesn’t work, mostly because it takes a large team of people to make a solid multiplayer experience. And even if you did make a solid multiplayer experience, I can just as easily go pick up and play ‘Call of Duty‘ (take a drink every time I mention ‘Call of Duty‘) or ‘Halo‘ if I wanted a much more refined multiplayer. It costs lots of money and resources to insert that kind of component into a game, so why spend all that time on something like that rather than focusing on the single player?
As for online passes, this to me is probably the biggest crock of bullshit I’ve seen this generation. First off, if I bought a game (especially at full price) I should be expected to not have to type in a code to unlock some part of the game that I should have had from the moment I paid for it! Not only that, but it gives new people the impression that every game is gonna require some form of ‘digital paperwork’ before you can actually play the game. Sure maybe it’s me feeling nostalgic, but I believe games should allow people to dive right in from the get-go, not the opposite.
Having to redeem a code, create an account, and sign off on disclaimers for multiplayer (which I’ll probably won’t even play) just to play a game is, as I said, bullshit. EA, Ubisoft, and other companies are guilty of this and would retort by saying “Developing videogames are expensive, and this is our way of ensuring that the people buy the game at full-price rather than used.” Yet apparently, videogames are not profiting as much as they should be, so maybe it’s time to rethink some things? Like perhaps instead of inserting online passes, Facebook/Twitter integration, and required internet connectivity that maybe we should focus on making a damn good game instead.
So overall, my main hope is that next-gen picks off where the PS2/Xbox/Gamecube generation left off. By taking chances, being creative, and helping create diverse experiences. Or apparently make more shooters that have multiplayer, health regeneration, online integration, and have a warning that reminds you to ‘take a break’. Personally, I prefer the former part. Anyway, thanks for reading and tell your friends about the ‘Brutlounge’!