After one of the gaming industry’s most successful and critically acclaimed years, Robert Rash reflects on things that the industry needs to stop–for the sake of it’s fans and their sanity.
1. The More Enemies The Better/Harder!
Notable Culprits: Battlefield, Call of Duty, Uncharted, Left 4 Dead.
The Problem: I’ll admit it; I really like First Person Shooters. The best thing to do after watching movies like Die Hard is to pop in Call of Duty just to frag enemies and yell YIPPIE
-KAI-YAY MOTHA…(oh yeah can’t say that on here…). Do I want my enemies to drop like flies? HECK NO! I want my FPS to be challenging. I want my enemies to be crafty, cunning and diabolical. I want to face an unstoppable killing force, charging straight into battle, knowing that I might not make it back. The only problem is that the enemy isn’t smart; he isn’t crafty, cunning or diabolical. The only thing that the enemy has that makes him formidable is that his parents bred like rabbits and he won the “Most Likeable” award in high school. Instead of picking up a book on military tactics, he got on Facebook and invited all of his friends to the “Let’s kill Robert” event and it looks like they all showed up for the party. This brings us to the first on our list of Top 5 things that the gaming industry needs to change. You ever notice that every game that promises to have “challenging A.I.” just throws a lot of enemies at you? The A.I. is challenging because there are more bad guys than bullets. We even see this in the Left 4 Dead series. Valve touted that the games A.I. director was smart enough to evaluate how the player was doing and then change the game so that it would match the player’s skill. What this amounted to was: You do really well; the game throws more enemies at you. You do sub-par and the game still throws more enemies at you.
The Solution: Reduce enemy numbers and actually make them smarter.
2. How to Make a Game Less Boring, add Quick Time Events!
Notable Culprits: Uncharted, Resident Evil, Golden Eye: Reloaded
The Problem: So let’s say you survive the endless attack mentioned above. The screen loads and you see that it is a cutscene. You breathe a sigh of relief, set the controller down, and take a moment to relax. The cutscene still captivates you, it may even excite you, but regardless you know that all you have to do, at least for that moment, is sit back and enjoy the ride. That is…..UNTIL OMG WTF SOMETHING JUMPS ON THE SCREEN AND THE GAME STARTS TO SCREAM, “PRESS X OR YOU ARE GOING TO DIE FOOL!” You have just experienced a Quick Time event or what I would like to call THE GREATEST CHEAP SHOT A GAME CAN PULL ON YOU. You see, cutscenes serve two purposes. They are supposed to help move the story along and give gamers a short minute of reprieve from the action of the game. However, a new trend in videogames believes that these little moments of mini-heart attacks are fun and exciting to the gamers. The belief is that it adds a new level of interactivity that gamers love. In reality, no it doesn’t. All it does is give us brief moments of terror and frustration, and more often than not kills our characters making us have to restart from the last check point.
The Solution: STOOOOOPPPP IT! Enough said. If the story is good we will gladly watch your cutscenes with the same captivation that we experience while playing. Even if your cutscenes are incredibly long…cough..cough…Metal Gear….cough cough.
3. The Maddening of Game Franchises.
Notable Culprits: Call of Duty, Halo, Any Sports or Racing Title.
The Problem: Hi folks, John Madden here. You wanna know what’s the best way to make a successful game franchise?! Well, you start off making a really great game. Then, within one year, you release another game in that same series. After that, you release another game a year later. Now put that baby on repeat and wam bam you’re cooking with ham! Anyways, game franchises like Call of Duty and Halo seem to be taking a page out of Madden’s playbook. For at least the past 4 years there has been a new Call of Duty and a new Halo released each year. I’m sorry, but this needs to stop. I used to love both franchises to death but now I can’t stand to play them anymore. These games are literally carbon copies of the last iteration in the series. . It feels like no one has an original idea anymore. This will lead to the game market being over saturated with needles sequels, prequels, and remakes. Here’s looking to you Assassin’s Creed and Gears of War
The Solution: “Absence makes the heart grow founder.” Let’s go a couple of years before we see The Chief again. Let’s get some leave from the Call of Duty. Don’t worry, we won’t stop caring about your game franchise, in fact we will clamor for them more.
4. Copy and Pasting Game Features.
Notable Culprits: EVERYONE!
The Problem: Have you ever heard the saying, “Teachers plagiarize from one another?” How about, “Artists always steal another’s work?” There is more plagiarism going on in the gaming industry than in the teaching world. When Gears of War came out with Horde mode it was a refreshing breath of air to the multiplayer shooter world. Now that everyone has it, not so much. Why are game companies constantly copying one another? Instead of inventing better game features, developers think of better ways to make their copy better than other copies. What they fail to realize is, THEY ARE STILL MAKING COPIES. Not all games need co-op, not all games need horde, and not all games need fully customizable toilet seat covers.
The solution: Come up with your own ideas. What was successful for Epic may not be successful for Naughty Dog. Gamers want to see innovation not imitation. At the very least, if you are going to use someone else’s idea, improve upon it!
5. The Errand Boy Complex.
Notable Culprits: non-linear RPG’s, anything published by Bethesda, GTA series.
The Problem: I recently rented Rage from Redbox. It was a beautiful game where I could do anything people told me to. The entire is game revolves around doing stuff for people whom you’ve just met in a world you know nothing about. Yeah, yeah, there is some plot, but all it involves is fighting the oppressive bad guys whose boss you never meet. More importantly, THEY NEVER TELL YOU WHAT IS GOING ON. Anyways, playing the game got me thinking. A lot of times in video games developers rely on the Errand Boy Complex to get the player to progress through the story of a non-linear game. Essentially, the player must do random things for random people because the game told them to. Some games make us feel better about it by giving us some deeper meaning to our actions like in GTA or in the case of Skyrim, telling us that we are the chosen one and no one else can do it. However, I truly believe that the true meaning of Dovahkiin is, “doer of everyone’s crap”
The Solution: Think of better ways to motivate the player. In the case of Rage or Skyrim, let the player spend a couple of in-game days exploring before they can access the main storyline. Stop making us go alone. Why can’t someone actually help us do this impossible quest? Furthermore, once I become the all mighty hero or the leader of some guild, give me some responsibilities with the threat that I could lose my position. Just like Lionhead did with Fable….OH SONOFA…….