Going Gold

Going Gold: You're Doing It Wrong

Christian Ward | 3 Sep 2008 17:00
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This was perfect. The developers had clearly sat down and taken the time to think up of not only an ingenious gameplay feature, but also how to ground it perfectly in a realistic universe. Not so the developers who pickpocketed Halo's corpse for ideas.

This is just one example of recent pet peeve of mine in the games industry. Copying across the industry is both rife and inevitable - and although I do wish there was more originality, more companies like Nintendo or Valve, I have come to accept that this is never going to be the case and the best we can hope for is that a clever innovation from one game appears in more of them. No, it's not copying I despise, it's copying and not getting it right.

Consider one thing that Call of Duty 4 does get very right - one that almost every game since its inception has gotten wrong. In Call of Duty 4, you cannot run like a maniac throughout the entire game. Your character gets tired after sprinting (we will ignore the fact that this is the same character who can absorb an infinite amount of bullets so long as they are regularly spaced apart), and has to go back to walking speed to get his breath back.

Fancy that - it's a game that forces you to use something other than "full tilt". Since Super Mario 64 pioneered analog control, and made tiptoe, walk and run part of any character's repertoire. However, Mario 64 also gave you reasons to use each of these patterns - from the sleeping Piranha Plants that had to be tiptoed around, to the long-jump you could only perform when running.

When was the last time you used the "tiptoe" animation in anything other than a stealth game? In almost any analog-controlled game, there is simply no point to having varying running speeds, as there is no loss to be had from simply running at full pace, all the time.

Another example is the one the critics love to hate, the Quick Time Event. Whether the QTE worked in Shenmue or not is up for debate - I enjoyed it, many others didn't, fair enough, it takes all sorts and all that. But what it did do was make the QTE an integral part of the game experience. For better or worse, they were not tacked on - without QTEs, there would be no Shenmue. Resident Evil 4, one of the games that put the QTE back on the map of respectability, also had a good reason for including it - the whole game is based off never letting you relax, even in the cut-scenes. But look at this helpful list of games that include QTEs and tell me that the developers really understood what value QTEs would bring to their games.

What's funny, in a sad kind of way, is how this circle-jerk of copying one another's ideas leads to the death of some genres.

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