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I realize its been years since my last blog post (practically a century in internet years, it seems), but here I am again. So, I'll spare you all boring jokes and attempts at seeming funny and skip straight to the blog post: The Problem with Last Generation Gaming
Even though this seems like a roundabout way of discussing the topic, I'd first like to point out what was AWESOME about the last generation of gaming:
1. Open World Gameplay
This is definitely the cake-taker for me. Open World Games have seen an unanticipated explosion over the last thirteen years of gaming that has managed to creep its way into every genre of game. Whether it be an RPG like Skyrim, or an FPS like the upcoming Destiny, Open World games sure are fun. Aside from the numerous amounts of bugs and glitches that occur, open world games really let you be you. Want to see whats in that mountain all the way over there? Go for it man! just watch out for all the crazy *** trying to kill you between here and there. Want to decimate an entire village of people? Well that's a sure way to earn you some evil points, but hey, this is open world here. Open World games have really redefined how developers look at gaming(I hope), and I imagine this sort of game type will take a more prominent stance in future video games.
2. Morality Meters
While this may not seem AWESOME, it definitely has made an impact on the gaming industry. Morality has always been a cool idea, but it seems as though the best known series to establish this idea is Mass Effect (we all know how that turned out Bioware *evil glare*). Morality may seem like a wish washy way at trying to forge your own mark on the world, but at least devs are making the effort. This is going to be in both the awesome and terrible categories unfortunately, because its been improved on in the last ten years, but its also been very limiting on what you can do with it. The idea that how you go about doing things effects how the NPC's view you is cool, but I find it rather strange that it boils down strictly to "good" and "evil". I'll go into more about how this can be changed later.
3.The Rise and Fall of Scripted Action
The one thing I always hated about playing FPS games were those moments when the game said "NOPE. We're taking control of your character so you don't die. Scrub". Its extremely disheartening to be playing a game only to have the game play itself. I'm not a four year old child, If I die during a QTE or actual skill based challenge, then I'll restart. Call of Duty always comes to mind when discussing Scripted Action, as it takes the cake for coming up with really cool cut scenes and not being able to let me play them. I WANT TO STAB THAT PIECE OF *** ANTAGONIST IN THE CHEST! I DON'T WANT YOU DOING IT FOR ME!
While scripted action always ends up with me getting uproariously furious at said game, its nice to know that gamers aren't happy with it. In the new generation of gaming, I imagine it will be hard to find a time to actually put down the controller unless you pause the game(no pausing in Dark Souls though. Muahahaha). Whether devs take advantage of more QTE's or develop an actual engine that allows gamers to react how they will, finding scripted action in games hopefully will be fully reserved for talking cut scenes.
4. The beginning of the "expanded universe" is at hand.
This may seem confusing so allow me to explain: Defiance is what i mean when i say "expanded universe". When I first heard of Defiance, an FPS MMO that has a follow up TV series running alongside of it, I was giddy to say the least. This kind of story telling should be a no-brainer when it comes to devs. Unfortunately, Defiance isn't all that great, but the idea is really cool. Call of Duty even tried doing this with their Elite package a couple of CoDs ago(Those things come out as often as a subscribed magazine it seems.) Whether it be movies, comics, Internet based investigations, or any other kind of Mass Media Entertainment, story telling will hopefully get a little more interesting and complex in the next generation.
"When's he going to get to the *** point?" you ask. Its not far off, not to worry.
So, now we get down to all the badness of this gaming decade.
1. The Amount of Copy/Pasting is ridiculous
All throughout this past decade of gaming, signs of formula-theft can be spotted. World of Warcraft is a perfect example of a game that started a groundbreaking formula, only to have their template copy/pasted so many times that it causes me to rip my hair out. It seems like every possible RPG game nowadays just hands you a bunch of mundane "quests" to do only to get experience, get loot, and then wander off some more. This coupled with the Hand Holding Technique of games recently makes things very boring. It worked for WoW, so let that game throw itself off a cliff and come up with your own damn formula. The problem with WoW's formula is that its prevalent in so many RPG's nowadays that its hard to differentiate between them. Whether it be Guild Wars, Kingdoms of Amalur, Runescape, Forsaken World, or Conan, World of Warcraft's formula is seen everywhere.
The same thing can be said regarding shooters. Ever since Call of Duty took off in 2004, every shooter game has tried its luck with taking down the giant only to fall so far short of its mark, that it boggles me as to how it even managed to take off. Every shooter game since then has used CoD's formula in attempt to take down CoD. Gamers get semi-excited about the possibility of a new and exciting shooter only to get bored and go back to CoD. The only reason Battelfield even comes close to competing with Cod is because, IT STICKS TO ITS ORIGINAL FORMULA!!! Dice has even managed to make their formula better by adding totally destructible environments and a sense of realism, something that CoD still can't manage to do after all this time.
2. The "Hand Holding" Technique.
This is really just for Hardcore gamers who are tired of games that resemble building a tower of wooden blocks in kindergarten: WE WANT CHALLENGE! I don't want to fight a boss in a game that prances around and practically begs me to throw my ultimate spell at it, I want the damned thing to try and kill me! What fun is it if the supposed "evil of the world" is just sitting there letting you kill it? None! In my opinion, this is where games like Dark Souls really tend to win me over in terms of games I'll play for more than an hour. Every possible game in the last decade, has really seen a return to "casual gaming" even though its the hardcore gamers that really defined the "gaming" crowd. Whether it be CoD, WoW, Halo, or Skyrim, the amount of skill it takes to play video games has drastically dropped in the last decade, which is very depressing. I like playing games because of the amount of reward I hope to get out of them, not just to sit there demolishing everything in my path.
3. Morality Meters
The main problem with Morality Systems in games as of recently, is the fact that you can only be good or evil. What fun is that? What if I want to be Robin Hood? Steal from the rich and give to the needy! What about a DeadPool character? I want to supply both sides of this conflict with help so I can watch the world burn! Being just good or evil is plain boring sometimes. Morality Systems need to be able to account for a lot of variables and be more in depth than just doing the right or wrong thing. Gamers want to be able to try things out and see what happens. When you have the options of "really bad" or "really good" it "really" does a good job at limiting players from doing things.
A way to solve this dilemma is to take Morality and make it a background effect. At the moment, games that offer morality systems make it a highlight of the game. They constantly give you morality decisions and focus all the effort into being a "good" or "bad" person. Instead, why not let the players do whatever it is they're going to do, and secretly give them morality through their actions. Have NPC's in the world belong to factions or groups that then judge the player based on how they went about completing a mission. In other words, create morality through the eyes of NPC's and not through direct character action. This will allow for more than just "bad" or "good", and not limit the player anyway at all.
So thats all I have for now. If I'm wrong about some things just let me know and I'll change them. If i need to add more stuff i will, but I figure this is a start. Any comments or concerns are always appreciated!