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Default Richard Garriott - Your Headline is Wrong

March 22nd, 2013, 20:37
Yeah, but innovation in and of itself doesn't mean great gameplay.

I do remember Populous 2 being praised to high heaven - and what can I say, I'm not easy to please. I thought it was a very pretty game with cool toys - but after a handful of levels, I felt I'd exhausted what it had to offer.

That's very much how I've felt about many "innovative" games in general - because they focus on a new idea - often to the detriment of the actual gameplay and the mechanics.

Let's take Lemmings - for instance. The concept was wonderful and it was novel. But, at heart, it was just a puzzle game with a new twist. I remember people playing that game for weeks or even months, trying to get through all the levels. For my part, I grew tired of it after a few days. The gameplay was basically contained in each of the different Lemming "types" - and once you'd completed a handful of levels - you'd exhausted the possibilities. The rest is just recycling.

I don't think a novel concept is enough to sustain a game - because gameplay isn't about new ideas. It's about challenging your mind and - at least for my part - it's about expanding itself throughout the gaming experience. Games need to evolve and grow as you play through them.

But I guess that's not a particularly high priority with other gamers? I mean, judging by the games that top the charts - most games peak during the first few hours and then they're just repeating the same things over and over until the end. I can think of few things more boring than that.

One of the biggest surprises in gaming for my part was Civilization. I remember how the game felt completely foreign to me - and how it kept evolving. It was just massively entertaining - and I couldn't believe how brilliant that design was. That way of expanding features and the breadth of gameplay from start to finish is something I wish more designers aspired to achieve.

Heck, if you look at the design of Civilization 5 next to the design of the original - you wouldn't think the game had been through ~20 years of design evolution. At heart, it's basically the exact same experience.

That's how strong the core design was.
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March 23rd, 2013, 10:32
Originally Posted by rune_74 View Post
these guys try to move forward, not just give you another call of duty or cookie cutter game. Does it always work? Well no. Experiments hardly do, playing safe does but we have seen what that creates.
His observations about moving the needle forward is clean but his conclusions about designers being lazy is premature. It is probably not about laziness or lack of formal training.

It is worth considering that game designing in certain genres ran its natural course and peaked some time ago. SWAT 4 is an example among many as the climax of a genre and it was released eight years ago or something. Nobody managed to build on that since then. I wont quote examples from the attempt to port RPG to computers as it died off even before.

Game designing in the video game industry is something special.
To my knowledge, very few teams start to assemble prototypes to try and test the general lines of the gameplay. Starting with a prototype is conventional in other sectors of gaming. You only start to push forward on other dimensions of the game like artwork, background, material later. The gameplay is central and usually developped and tested before the other features'production is expanded.
In the video game industry, the priority is to developp the game engine, the artwork, story, the universe etc before starting to delineate and put down the general lines of the gameplay. Because you need something to sell in the end considering the amount of money put on the table. And a failed game with decent artwork, appealing universe will sell and are covered by IP, impacting a lot.
As a result, the developpment of the gameplay is embedded in the production of secondary dimension features in a game like the artwork, the story etc
The position of a lead designer is crucial as a team developps in a fog. A team start with no to little knowledge of the actual gameplay of the final product. They usually start by shooting high in terms of gameplay features and through the developpment cycles come to withdraw all the gameplay features they do not manage to get to work. The direction given by the lead is essential as you need to end somewhere.
Two consequences: the final version of a game is generally less gameplaywise as it is all about withdrawing and not adding and more importantly, the final product is a prototype gameplaywise. That is why franchises are important in video gaming as every new iteration starts from the previous one working as its prototype in terms of gameplay.

Over the last decade, when you take a look at the path of game designs: they tried to shoot high as it is required but were forced to fall down back to something that was already done a few years ago.
It is different from the early days in the industry when games after games, the final product proved to add something compared to what was completed before.
Game designers in those days also shot higher but once they withdrew every feature they did not manage to get to work, it remained substantially more than what previous games offer.

It might be that Lord British's success is partially because he operated during that period.
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March 23rd, 2013, 15:50
killias2 posted:

"Let's keep in mind, UO came out in Sept. 1997. Games that came out after that: Everything by Black Isle, Obsidian, Troika, and BioWare, and anything by Piranha Bytes, Larian Studios or CD Projekt Red. Also most of the output of Bethesda and Spiderweb Software. It's like he lives in a world where Tim Cain, Chris Avellone, the Doctors, etc. etc. etc. never existed and had no impact on anything."

Exactly, I just can't take someone seriously who completely ignores all these excellent gaming studios over the last twenty years, it's either arrogance or ignorance.
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