Matt Razak just posted this article about a God of War director taking interest in Dante's inferno - a blatant 'rip-off' game. Some of the comments irked me and i just really need to put these thoughts into words..
The feeling from some commenters and many gamers can be summed up by this first post from Neo Gio-
"For me it was too much like god of war. If I felt like playing god of war I would just hook up my PS2 and play it. Rip-offs for me are just not good, no matter who they are ripping off."
I'm currently creating a game i hope to be able to start showing soon. Since starting this learning experience and dreaming of games i may be able to make in future.. i've often had the following conflict:
If i create a great game, a game that is a great experience to me - I can never actually fully experience it as the audience can. Because simply by creating it, i know how it works and how it ends.
That doesn't diminish my drive or enjoyment of creating it but it's a different kind of pleasure, that of the musician, not the fan. I would LOVE for someone to take game mechanics or ideas that i love enough to include in my games and use them in their games. Then i might be able to have that very different kind of experience as an audience member but still experiencing my own idea or influence.
In the article, GOW3 director Stig Asmussen said of Dante's Inferno: "This is my favourite genre, and the more people that are making [these games] the better.."
I recall Hideki Kamiya, the creator of the original Devil May Cry also saying in an interview (that i can't find!) that he was basically dismayed after DMC that nobody else really picked up the ball and ran with it. As i understand it, Bayonetta is in part his answer to that.
All music and art is influenced by what came before, everything we do builds on what we see and know, it's the best way to evolve and i think game creators want people to pick up the ball they create and run with it. Even games that don't innovate or are bad are good! It still pushes the concepts and if it doesn't innovate then it still solidifies what works and what doesn't within that concept.
There's a line i think to do with what is 'bad plagiarism'.. You wouldn't make a Dead Space clone about dismembering aliens in space for example..
That said, have the 'space marine game clone wars' really been bad for the industry? Other genres are doing fine (including the indie scene) and many first person shooters have become really refined..
No matter how many rip-offs exist, i think it's hard to argue there is actually less originality than there would be without.
That's why i think rip-offs and clones are great. Because it's great when game designers grab other designer's balls and run away with them.