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Default The Escapist - Where Have All My Heroes Gone?

January 16th, 2008, 13:15
The Escapist has an interesing piece titled Where Have All My Heroes Gone?, calling for "heroic" game development:
I need a new BioWare.

Perhaps I should explain. Back in the day, when videogaming - specifically, PC gaming - was young and fresh (as was I, more or less), I was something of what you might call an Electronic Arts fanboy. In my eyes, EA held the same sort of heroic stature that other people would ascribe to musicians or movie stars. They were rebels and trailblazers, out on the edge of the art, not only promising great new things to the hinterland gamers in the world, but delivering beyond our expectations. […]
But time passed, as it has a way of doing, and the innovative brilliance behind games like Starflight and The Bard's Tale soon gave way to higher volume and lower standards. As the company expanded and the number of titles it released grew accordingly, looking forward to a new EA game became an exercise in futility. In fact, before long there was no such thing as an "EA game," just games that EA published.
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January 16th, 2008, 13:15
"Who wants to step up ?"

Indeed, this is the question.

We can't expect such a thing from big, monolithic blocks (read: companies) anymore.

It almost seems like some kind of law: The bigger an organization becomes, the less creative and innovative it becomes.

There is risk involved. Risk that made other companies fail.

Maybe Bioware's luck was that they were publishing BG1 deep within a drain … It was the bottom reached, from there it could only go upwards.

What we need is a hero in an totally unnoticed and greatly underestimated / underdeveloped area.
In an area where games are regarded nothing but … well, nothing.

Adventures are on the rise again, PuzzleQuest had surprised many, what's coming in ? I don't know.

The only imho rather "dead" genre I can think of right now are turn-based strategy or role-playing games. No-one produces *real* turn-based stuff nowadays, imho.

Shooters are looking great nowadays - but they are nothing but shooters. This genre really needs something fresh - like an Adventure in an Far Cry environment, as I proposed before.

But … having learned about PuzzleQuest, I think the new "Hero" might come from an totally opposite side … I firmly believe we must take a closer look towards indie developers to be able to predict the future.

Aquaria, for example, taught me that there are still (imho) insanely beautiful games made out there - which are mostly overlooked by the public, because they're "indie games".

Since I also believe that creativity and innovation will (not might) rather come from small groups and even individuals, therefore I believe that we must support indie developers more.

Roger and Out.

Alrik

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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January 16th, 2008, 14:08
I have faith in Obsidian Entertainment, but that's the only "major" company that I still believe will keep producing high quality RPGs for a long time. Also, some of the smaller companies like PB and CD Projekt might just surprise us in the future (and more similar companies might pop up), however, I don't think they're going to "take over" BioWares' throne anytime soon. BioWare is still the king of rpgs as far as I'm concerned, and hopefully they'll add another great title (Dragon Age) to their long list of great games before EA pulls a Westwood on them.
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January 16th, 2008, 14:45
The RPG genre indeed needs new blood. Other than CD Projekt, when was the last time that something new came along in this genre? The talent in the genre is very stale.
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January 16th, 2008, 14:54
Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
BioWare is still the king of rpgs as far as I'm concerned, and hopefully they'll add another great title (Dragon Age) to their long list of great games before EA pulls a Westwood on them.
I am very optimistic about the potential for challenging and dynamic heroism in Dragon Age, Drakensang, King's Bounty, and Jagged Alliance 3. And yes, Obsidian does seem to have an ear to the old school ground.

I'm also very optimistic about the entire indie CRPG scene.
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January 16th, 2008, 16:03
I would put my money on Europe. Those guys at CD Projeckt Red really impressed me with their openess and overall thinking about how to develop/publish a RPG game. Let's hope some other companies over there have the same ideals.

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January 16th, 2008, 16:41
Yeah I see potentials in a lot of European Developers too. I think I may soon have to learn a 3rd or 4th language…
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January 16th, 2008, 16:56
Little companies have the advantage of having fewer bosses. Companies with lots of bosses tend to become political. A senior manager at IBM once described it to me as "I'll support your bad idea if you support my bad idea."

Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on. But it don't snow here. It stays pretty green. I'm going to make a lot of money, then I'm going to quit this crazy scene. — [Joni Mitchell]
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January 16th, 2008, 17:00
"But time passed, as it has a way of doing, and the innovative brilliance behind games like Starflight and The Bard's Tale…"

Starflight, oh yeah. But Bard's Tale? Huh? It had nothing new in it.
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January 16th, 2008, 17:01
Originally Posted by Squeek View Post
"I'll support your bad idea if you support my bad idea."
I never heard that before but it perfectly describes why I hate corporations so much I'm going to use that from now on whenever someone brings up corporations. Thanks, squeek.

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January 16th, 2008, 17:03
Originally Posted by BillSeurer View Post
"But time passed, as it has a way of doing, and the innovative brilliance behind games like Starflight and The Bard's Tale…"

Starflight, oh yeah. But Bard's Tale? Huh? It had nothing new in it.
I think he is talking about the (original) Bard's Tale, not the remake. When the first one was published it was very innovative and brilliant.

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January 16th, 2008, 19:10
As on of GB's users well pointed out, Baldur's Gate went through four publishers before getting Interplay…Interplay is the hero there, though. There's not a lack of people "like BioWare" who are willing to do what they want regardless of cost or profitability, there's a lack of publishers with the daring and insight to support said developers.

It's a publishing problem, not a developing one.
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January 16th, 2008, 19:46
I definitely look to independents … and also to little quirky DS games. There seems to be some freedom on that platform to try some wild stuff and see if it works. I love that … and hope it continues.

— Mike
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January 16th, 2008, 21:44
I bought a DS because I thought there were some good games on it but I sold it a couple of months later because I only found 2 games that could hold my interest and those were adventure games.
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January 16th, 2008, 21:47
Originally Posted by guenthar View Post
I bought a DS because I thought there were some good games on it but I sold it a couple of months later because I only found 2 games that could hold my interest and those were adventure games.
Wow … so you missed one of the best RPG's of 2007? Oh well …

— Mike
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January 16th, 2008, 22:56
I don't see how Baldur's Gate went through four publishers, because my memory is that Feargus Urquhart is substantially responsible for creating the game as we know it, by suggesting to BioWare they combine their RTS game Battleground Infinity with Interplay's D&D license and convert the game over to an RPG. Maybe I don't remember the details (or probably Battleground Infinity was shopped around?) but, yes, Interplay was the hero.

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Last edited by Dhruin; January 17th, 2008 at 00:25.
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January 17th, 2008, 05:20
What's neat is that when you load Fallout (1 or 2), the cool Interplay logo comes on, with that heroic music, and the earth-encircling caption reads "by gamers for gamers".
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January 17th, 2008, 05:22
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
I don't see how Baldur's Gate went through four publishers, because my memory is that Feargus Urquhart is substantially responsible for creating the game as we know it, by suggesting to BioWare they combine their RTS game Battleground Infinity with Interplay's D&D license and convert the game over to an RPG. Maybe I don't remember the details (or probably Battleground Infinity was shopped around?)
I'm not expert on BG history. Here's what he said:
He neglects to mention that the title went through 3 different publishers over 4 years, and became legendary at the time in the business for looking great, but never quite getting done. (I remember seeing it in alpha a couple of times, once at Virgin's LA offices a few months before they closed down.) So I think his emphasis is completely wrong: it isn't a matter of lacking "heroic" developers. It's a matter of lacking imaginative publishers who are willing to take half a chance, and cultivate a reputation for doing so. You won't get the developers to do the work if the publishers aren't first paying the bills. And while the developers are still around from the 1980s and 1990s, the industry itself is only interested today in near-clones of things that have worked before.

Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
but, yes, Interplay was the hero.
They did it in-house too, allowing insanity like PS:T to go on. It seemed to work well at the time. Can't think of a single publisher who works like that now
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January 17th, 2008, 07:31
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post

Shooters are looking great nowadays - but they are nothing but shooters. This genre really needs something fresh - like an Adventure in an Far Cry environment, as I proposed before.
Not Far Cry and maybe not the "adventure" you are talking about, but this one looks interesting.

http://www.greatgamesexperiment.com/game/vespers3d/
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January 17th, 2008, 08:48
My only hope is that since the game market keeps growing in the mainstream, that at some point the market in its entirety will be so big, that there will be a point where there is just enough money to be made at the fringes, so that we will see something like an "arthouse" gaming market emerge. Maybe the current surge of indie titiles is a first indication of that happening?
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