Hi, I'm Reveille
I've been playing games for eighteen of the twenty something years I've been around and for the most part enjoyed the experience. Like a crackbaby, I started young and the addiction pretty much never let go. I'm sure we all have our reasons for becoming fond of staring at a cold glass screen with controllers in our hand, and mine was because I was immediately drawn to the attitude games had back in their infancy. By infancy I mean the 8-16 bit systems and early shareware software for the PC days because quite frankly, I consider earlier systems irrelevant to this discussion. Fuck em.
Well....except the Atari
Fuck em. That's the right spirit. That's exactly why I became so drawn to the medium the minute I was handed a controller for my cousin's Sega Genesis. Sonic had all the ingredients for the adrenaline rush of a game it was aiming to be. Bright color palettes with crazy level design, up tempo chip tune music and of course, speed. From there it only got crazier and if I could freeze time to stay in that era of game development I wouldn't be a twenty something bitching like a grouchy, jaded, old fart. It needs to be said that games were once very crass in nature and that the trend has faded out. The industry's attitude is about being taken seriously now and as should be expected, producing games that reflect where it wants to go. That goes for indie games too. Developers and publishers, both big and small, are trying to expand the idea of what can and cannot be a game by exploring sophisticated story telling techniques, and pushing graphical presentations toward the realm of digital dick wagging contests. These projects cost so much, they usually cannot be funded without the help of some shareholder owned publisher which shoots creativity out the window due to financial obligations. So now I really want to know just one thing.
What the hell happened?
I understand that a medium is a medium and things change, but I'm really interested in how games took a swan dive in attitude and crass in favor for maturity and money. I'm not talking about the fact that the market is saturated with genre clones of one another, but the fact that the industry releases one Serious Sam
sequel for five futuristic cinematic shooters or for three Braid
clones we get one Castle Crashers. Like I've said this plagues indie developers too.
Below I've included some images of games for various platforms released between 1990 and 1996. Can you imagine anyone, even some XNA developers, tackling game concepts like these?
Carmageddon Zombies Ate My Neighbors Rise of The Triad Earthworm Jim Streets of Rage 3
I tried to think of some titles off the top of my head that didn't simply fall into the category of gratuitous violence but that's certainly a feature I miss. Yet up above you have games with crazy premises, childish perhaps, limited in scope and maturity but still fun as hell for a reason. The developers wanted to make something fun primarily, not artistic. This was a young medium at the time, akin to the wild wild west in regards to direction. You had crazy and new Ips all over the place, especially in the PC shareware market. It doesn't matter if all these titles are even any good (most of them are in my opinion) but they usually all had a cool idea behind them and like throwing shit at a wall, something stuck very well. Today, I think developers have lost this attitude and spunk for developing their titles. At least, so much in that the ratio of these crass, immature titles is well out of proportion enough to sort of bottleneck the industry. Crass shouldn't be a deterrent to quality. Anyone who enjoyed Earth Defense Force 2017
should be nodding their head with me here. Linear, simplistic and utterly not pretty, the absurdity of the content in EDF was a beautiful throwback to what made games more interesting in my mind, and thus, kept us playing. Of course though, the general consensus is that EDF is a budget title, and gamers view it as a cute diversion, while I find it to be quite a fulfilling title on all fronts.
One reason why I really enjoy reading about, and playing games by Suda 51 is that I think he has the right idea behind what needs to keep gaming interesting. I enjoyed Killer 7
not really for the gameplay or even the story, but for its absurdity. On rails? You got to be kidding Suda! What the hell does running through a room blaring techno before a boss fight have to do with anything? No More Heroes
was fairly repetitive and nonsensical too, but I boot it up from time to time just to experience the humor and absurdity in the presentation, not to mention the over the top gore. The Behemoth are still making games properly. James Silva, the developer behind the the XBLA title The Dishwasher
knows the score. Sadly though, the majority of developers and gamers both feel like the industry has little to no room for crass or absurd titles. As detective Issac Washington from HOTD:Overkill
would say, “That's some offensive shit you're playing me!”
As much as I gripe though, it all really boils down to your individual tastes. I can't convince everyone to enjoy Doom
as much as I still do. Likewise, anyone pontificating for reaching the artistic third revelation of gaming falls deaf on my ears. They're games first and foremost, and I think a very successful formula for making a fun game is to make it visceral and absurd. It gives your title an attitude, makes it stick out in your mind and tells conventional social norms for established entertainment to go fuck themselves. Just like an old fashion Black Flag record. Tell me, if you played games in the nineties, do you still remember when and where you played some of your favorite games? I remember my first Metal Slug playthrough, my first installation of Duke Nukem and the first time I went and got ludicrous gibs in Rise of the Triad. Braid was fun, but I don't remember when I played it or even finishing it. I love Ratchet and Clank as a series, but there are so many of them that I can't recall when I exactly finished or started the next one. Quake 2 I can still recreate in my head from start to finish because I'm weird like that, but it's my favorite shooter of all time because I enjoy the visceral and over the top carnage in it to this day.
So that's what I'm all about basically when I look at gaming. The industry has room for a multitude of audiences, and I want sophisticated mature titles too. But I think this medium is suited to the crass visceral presentation first and foremost and we shouldn't forget that. It's a tried and true way of making a game effective in keeping you playing. Oh and I guess this was supposed to be an intro post but I decided to make it something else, but hopefully all this and the sidebar can tell you enough about me for now. Hope you liked reading this.
“Good taste is the enemy of creativity”