Cynicism and Loathing in the Gaming Industry
I will not lie. I am tremendously cynical about the industry now-a-days. So much that, I have not bought a new game in about a year. Things are not the same as they were years ago. Genres are flooded with mediocre titles-- some even trying to pass themselves off as good games as well. It could be that I am just older than most of the current games. I am slowly nearing my 23rd birthday in February, but I can still remember the joy when I obtained a Nintendo Entertainment System. Most of the games for that system could be ascribed to some of the casual games we have to day. If the idea was thought of back then, I could even have seen a peggle-esque game for it. Slowly, but surely, I then recieved a Super Nintendo. You could not imagine the sense of joy that brought me to be able to play such games as Super Mario RPG, Chrono Trigger, and Final Fantasy III/VI. Then there was the Playstation with such titles as Suikoden I, Suikoden II, and Final Fantasy VII.
Now a days, things are rough. It is a overly boated market with some games that, are more of a name than anything. Others, well, they are just trash masquerading as games. Every year, the casual game market is filled with even more awful simulators containing the word "tycoon". Even worse, you have a company called Blue Fang developing a game called "World of Zoo"-- what could that be? A World of Warcraft-esque zoo simulator? I had not heard of them either until they released a press release stating that they were deeply saddened when they had to layoff 15 people, but they had a new proprietary engine to speed up game development that called for less people.
I am even suprised at the amount of money Popcap can make off games like Peggle. For those who do not know,Peggle is merely a Bust of Move clone with unicorns. I tried the game not too long ago when I still played World of Warcraft. With the addon you can play a game inside a game! Remarkable, huh? I neglected my civic duties in World of Warcraft (another soul ripping game) to play Peggle for 5 straight hours! I have heard other people have played the game for longer. I frightens me that developers wish to make these kinds of games that make you lose productivity and even friends.
I am going to go out on a limb here and predict in 20 years we will no longer need developers for casual games. Some company will develop a product which just generates casual games on the fly with certain parameters. Maybe we will even get a "Dave" moment when these engines go haywire and refuse to do work for their human masters.
Before any of you jump down my throat and say, "How do you know? The games are not out yet", let me let you in on a secret. The two games I am about to discuss are currently in beta. Aion is currently in Closed Beta, but I was lucky enough to get in. Had to pull some strings though. Secondly, Huxley, is in Open Beta via FilePlanet.
The MMO genre is another one that developers, as well as, producers are trying to milk for all their worth. This time I will not even blame Electronic Arts. Except on the foolish move to merge Bioware and Mythic. I digress. The tables have turned on the Korean MMO developers. At one time the market was still heavily dominated by them, but I believe there has been a certain shift. The Europeans and Americans have taken up the reins which in turn has influenced many Korean games. One example of this can be World of Warcraft's huge influence on Runes of Magic. Even on WoW's former Chinese maintainer, The9, who are currently developing World of Fighter. Original, huh.
I have attempted to play the game Huxley, but after 4+ years of World of Warcraft, I can hardly get into it. Sure, it is a First Person Shooter, but it has a exploration elements to it. So if you need a little help picturing this game, it is a combination of both Team Fortress 2 and World of Warcraft. Which is a turn off to me. The same goes for Aion. It feels like another World of Warcraft knock off with a new story. World of Warcraft meets City of Angels.
I am cynical, hence the title. I just cannot get myself to play another MMO after World of Warcraft. I even tried the pedantical MMO, Eve Online. Everything seems like a copy after a copy after a copy. No one feels like taking risks anymore and that brings me to my last section.
The Big Four (Kind of like the Big Three, but not)
Borderlands, the FPS/RPG hybrid, should be good. This could be because of my love affair with anything Randy Pichford touches, but I really believe this game could be good-- or it could be very bad. I know, I know. I am sort of contradicting myself. I did say most people are just trying to do what is popular and not trying to think original, but I think this will be one of those games that will keep me coming back for awhile. It is a simple concept reminiscent of Diablo and even Pitchford has said something like this. If you want a fun game with lots of possibilities then this is the game to get. It is fun and should not suck your soul from you. This is the game I have the highest hopes for due to the concept.
Mass Effect 2? Well, I just think it is an excuse to make another Mass Effect. It is no longer a new IP. It is now just a franchise that will spawn even more sequels that star Commander Sheppard-- unless he dies in this game because supposedly the main mission is a suicide mission. Suicide mission, eh? Did you say suicide mission? Yes, it shows up about 4 times on the official website. Yet, I thought the last game's main mission was a suicide mission since it was so dangerous... Oi vey.
Do not buy a game because of the name/brand/franchise!
What is there say about this lovable game? Bioshock 2 will suck. I gave the first game a 10 because it was helmed by Kevin Levine. Bioshock 2 is not. Which leads me to believe that Bioshock is just a way to make some easy money for 2k. What a shocker!
Dear scene, I wish I was deaf.
The good old days are gone. Mediocrity shall reign supreme. read