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The reason this is posting late compared to most of the other blogs in my 31/31 is because I've been sitting around trying to think of a topic for a long time. I've thought about top ten lists, and other things, but nothing clicked, so I kept wondering and wondering, and eventually, I realized I really had no idea of what to write, for once. And then, it hit me: no idea.
Hey, "no idea"!
If you haven't guessed what I'm alluding to, it's an absence of creativity. In our industry, creativity is as abundant as it is missing. As technology becomes more and more powerful, we've seen more unique mechanics within gaming, such as asymmetric gameplay on the Wii U, and creating larger worlds that work more organically like The Witcher 3. However, as games have been more creative, they've also been less creative, because of one thing: success. As developers have looked at others and have seen what's worked, they've focused on those ideas in order to move more copies of their product.
The most obvious way this exists is in the mobile game space. In the last few years. thousands of games and applications have come out for iOS and Android devices, and while there are some notable ones, most are unremarkable copies. There have been direct ports of old titles such as Super Mario World with slightly different sprites, as well as original looking titles called "Zanda", which, well, are still blatant rip-off's of an already existing property. Personally, I don't really see why a person would attempt to make money off these games, because their gain is going to be minimal most likely, especially if someone like Nintendo tried to press charges or something.
With console titles, there are rip-off's at times, but I think that the idea of little creativity is more associated within individual developers. Many claim that the Call of Duty franchise is getting stale, because each entry is basically a copy and paste of the previous entry. Sure, there are changes, but one cannot deny they are very similar titles. Also is the Mario Bros. franchise, because they are fundamentally the same, and only have new power-ups and different level design (with similar assets and enemies). The reason both feel so similar to their previous entries is because they control virtually the exact same way, and aesthetically look the same (except that awesome Starry Night level in New Super Mario Bros. U). Skyward Sword feels like a unique Zelda game because of the way you control Link's sword, as well as that the art style isn't like the other ones used in the series.
New ideas. anyone?
Even though creativity can always exist, and everyone can be creative, there are developers in the industry who choose to do something that;s not new, and there are reasons for that. The main thing is really to access an audience that already exists, and this stay safe. This is the "minimize risk and maximize reward" choice. You know that the audience liked what you put out before, and doing that same sort of game again would probably be the easiest thing for your developer to make. In this way, the developer ensures they'll get some people to buy their product, and they develop a game that will be familiar, as well as not needing as many new assets as other titles.
Creativity, thus, can come with a price. If we look at most AAA titles that are leased nowadays, do many of them have actual genuine creativity? Possibly, yes. but most likely not as much as indie developers. Most AAA games are actually just refinements of previous mechanics, and maybe putting little twists on them. The only really new things in BioShock Infinite are the skylines and tears-everything else is just a refinement, and is done well enough that everyone says "this is the best game ever!". I'm honestly trying to think of a game that uses tons of creativity, and is a new, AAA title, and I can't think of one. Of course, it's hard to be really seen as creative when this industry is so diverse, but still, nothing really stands out to me...except The Wonderful 101, for some reason, and I guess Game and Wario, because that did feel unique.
This is why many indie developers are seen as pursuing more creativity than AAA developers. They're not bound really to a certain standard, and usually have more creative freedom. Also, they sometimes aren't done as a person's main job, but more as a side project, and thus, the developers don't need it to be a success. They're just wanting to exercise their creative freedom, and aren't bounded by any restrictions. In turn, this has also had the (un?)fortunate event of making indies expected to be creative. This is good, of course, because they aren't bounded by restrictions, but it could also mean that anything similar to something else will be put under scrutiny, and may not be as respected as it should be.
Hey guys! Tom Clany's Call of Modern Warfighter Black Ops!
Even though creativity is very apparent in our industry today as a whole, when we look a second time, we can see that most games are more or less a refinement of past ideas, with new spins and twists. Although I continue to be excited and impressed with the new ideas being put out today, writing this, I do feel like there could be more creativity in our industry. Why it's not happening, I feel, is because of the massive budgets that go into games, and the need for them to be profitable. ZombiU did something unique, but it wasn't successful, so there are no plans for that game to turn into a franchise.
What are your thoughts on creativity? Do you see it everywhere around you in games to me, or does taking a second look actually say something else, like it did for me? Leave your thoughts below, and I'll see you guys tomorrow-5 days left, now.