Going Gold

Going Gold: Reboots and Rip-offs

Christian Ward | 27 Jan 2010 21:00
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Sadly, I see no easy way out of this. For one thing, most developers themselves are so used to certain sets of game mechanics that many of them are unable to see anything beyond it (an excellent analysis, and the reason developers are like tortured kittens can be found in this fascinating article). This is one reason that the JRPG, for example, is stuck in its current rut.

What makes it worse for gaming is that modern, mainstream gaming is not only an abstract form, but also one that is by necessity a team enterprise - one that needs very large teams. Even if one person has an amazing, radical new idea, trying to communicate that to others can be a nightmare. You must learn to speak a universal language, one that leads every explanation to become "well, this part should be a little like Gears but with [insert gimmick here]" just to make yourself understood.

Unlike the literary publishing world where an enterprising genius can still force the gates open or Hollywood where the right script can open doors, gaming is still quite a closed system and one that is very difficult to take risks on - assuming you think that making a game like 10 others games out there is not risky, of course.

This, I think, more than blatant cynical plagiarism, is what leads to games like Darksiders, a title that practically has "Like Zelda, but with a little God of War" as a bullet point on the back of the box. On the basis of the demo, however, Dante's Inferno has no such excuse and while I'll give the retail version its fair shake, it will have to do well to convince me it is anything but the worst kind of focus-group-based publishing which in the past has called for atrocities like copy-and-pasting the Crusades for Ancient Greece, a big red cross thing for a big red tattoo thing, and tits for, erm, tits.

Of course, even if you have manage to overcome your own constraints to create your brilliant game concept, and somehow are lucky enough to have a brilliant team of talented individuals behind you that understand and love that concept, you still have to pry those millions from a publisher's wallet.

And they'll probably want to know how you can make it more like God of War, but with even more tits.

Christian Ward works for a major publisher. He wants his Jet Force Gemini sequel, dammit.

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