The Revolution Is Over, Stop Trying
If there’s one thing I hate hearing is how “X game is REVOLUTIONARY!” or how “Y game is a X game killer!”. And yet when the game comes out it’s none of those at all. In fact let’s just be real, the revolution is over, it wasn’t televised and you weren’t in it.
I think the thing that bothers me the most is that developers think they have to be revolutionary to be successful and worse yet gamers make them think they have to. I fail to think of a game that was revolutionary actually. Almost every huge game has in fact just been evolutionary. They took elements from other games, genres or mediums and mixed it into their game and created something new to the scene. Take for instance the game Half-Life, a hugely popular and critically acclaimed FPS. It took the FPS genre made popular by Doom, Quake and others and added an in-depth story that was presented solely in game with no cutscenes. None of those aspects were new to the genre or gaming as a whole. Other games had elements similar to it (System Shock), but what it did was take elements of the FPS genre and blended in elements normally seen in movies. It was an evolution of the genre not a revolution.
And you know what? That’s fine, that’s perfectly fine. Halo took Half-Life’s cinematography and Unreal Tournament’s style of matches and brought all of that to Xbox. Not one of those aspects made it a bad game, it in fact exposed a new group of gamers to a playstyle long enjoyed by the PC market. There’s nothing wrong with that honestly, everything comes from something. So if you’re looking for inspiration or a way to evolve the genre why not borrow from the best? Not every game has to be completely original, in fact I dare say it’s impossible to be completely original. Its like expecting a cook to invent a new ingredient for a dish. When your grandma makes her signature spaghetti for the holidays, do you mock her because she didn’t travel to the rainforest to harvest a rare spice? Games should be no different.
Developers need to spend more time thinking of how to move forward with their craft rather than try to wow us with elements that sound revolutionary. God of War used classic Greek mythology and added in interactive combat via Quick Time Events. Not one piece of the game was revolutionary or even new, but it was the combination of all the elements in just the right amounts that made the game so good. In fact that’s what makes any game truly good. The right elements in the right amounts.
Yet everytime a game comes out the first thing someone wants to point out is how it’s just a clone of another game, when in fact every game is like something else. Anyone can post their top five games and I could easily point out where it’s like a previously released game. That is just the nature of the beast, if one person has an idea you can be bet that someone else has also had a similar one.
So instead of trying to re-invent the wheel with gimmicks *cough* motion controls *cough*, how about we get games that are just firing on all cylinders. For every game to have tight controls, epic soundtracks, solid 60fps and fun gameplay. After that then its just about the developers bringing forth an idea they LOVE. Not one that they think is “revolutionary” but just fun. Look at games like Katamari Damacy, I highly doubt anyone at Namco went into it thinking they would change the world of gaming. Instead they went in with a crazy and slightly dumb idea. It was about the merit and weight of the idea rather than its ability to be perceived as groundbreaking.
So gamers, stop crying for a revolution every Tuesday. It doesn’t exist, and the more we clamor for it the more time developers waste trying to achieve the impossible. Instead let’s cry for evolution, for more games to borrow from good ideas and bake it into a new tasty treat. Lets get FPS’ with full RPG skill trees, or a driving game with boss fights. Imagination is the key, not an ill-gotten attempt to reinvent a genre that doesn’t need it.