On Generic Games

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The thing is, whilst there maybe only one friendly, female NPC whose throat is destined for your tongue, you have at least generally broken up in time for the sequel.

Quake was Quake but not shit. It's a lot better than that other crap they call Quake because they couldn't be arsed to think of a new name.

I think there is only so much time and mental energy anyone who isn't a complete and utter American can spend pretending to shoot computer people before they get very bored. There is a lot that game developers can do to mess around with the Feng Shui of game design to make sure the chi is flowing in the right direction and everything looks good but at the end of the day it is still a gun shooting game.

See, the issue that you've just addressed with "old-time" games is that they were just what you are praising them for- constant streams of the same, the same, the same. Maybe there are sections of a game you like, maybe there aren't. Are you really saying you want those sections replicated through an entire game, for five, ten, twenty hours? This is EXACTLY what you criticized Explosion Man for- it was too much of the same, and as a result it suffered for being overlong. Even good moments need to be sparked up with something new, or else they fall out and become boring.

Imagine that you're a producer that's been completing games for ten years, adding something new to your creations every new release that you gave out. How disappointed are your fans going to be when you say "Oh, I'm not going to give anything new this year- have the same thing I started with ten years back, only with some graphical upgrades!" This system might cater to some small weird minority that takes a nostalgic interest in it (something you've once before told us is BAD), but more than likely the newcomers are going to be disappointed with a primitive system, the veterans are going to be disappointed that they're getting the same thing they started with, and people's expectations are going to drop. Don't believe me? Look at Madden. They ARE generic-ism.

Not that innovation has its bad points as well - God knows the Sonic Team could try going back to its roots- but by using trial-and-error you can tell what's worthwhile to replicate in a game and what isn't. This is something that needs BALANCE, Yahtzee- it needs to cater to what makes it special, as well as show that it's trying new things.

Jonatron:

Valiance:
I lol'd like 5 times while reading this, especially that someone else has heard of Chasm, especially that he understands EVE is not a Wing Commander / Tachyon the Fringe, especially that X3 is not easily accessible to anyone who wasn't already a fan (but that doesn't bother me, eh?) and especially "Quake, but not shit, "Doom with jumping" etc.

Tachyon the Fringe! I loved that game!

Indeed, it was great fun - completed it multiple times as both the Boron and Galspan. Sadly, its aged pretty badly on Steam, but I live in hope that someone will make another great space game - "Beyond the Red line" is pretty good, even though its a fan made mod and all.

The genre won't die as long as people like me want to play GoldenEye.

Oddly Hellgate London was exactly that kind of shooter gameplay (somewhat). It was an ARPG in the mold of diablo, but, if you played the ranged classes, the actual gameplay was very much that mow-down-legions-of-demons-and-zombie model. It had a lot of flaws, like the mow-down-bigger-legions-of-zombies dificulty mode was only in the (now dead) multiplayer. Still stupidly fun on the whole. (Though it also took a while before it started having any flavor of it's own, which is a death blow for any game.)

Even a game like Yahtzee described would get boring/old pretty quickly.

See, the issue that you've just addressed with "old-time" games is that they were just what you are praising them for- constant streams of the same, the same, the same. Maybe there are sections of a game you like, maybe there aren't. Are you really saying you want those sections replicated through an entire game, for five, ten, twenty hours? This is EXACTLY what you criticized Explosion Man for- it was too much of the same, and as a result it suffered for being overlong. Even good moments need to be sparked up with something new, or else they fall out and become boring.

You could have the game Yazthee have, but only have it last for 5 hours at most, maybe even 3 hours. After that, game ends, woo-hoo.

Still, it's a valid compliant. I'm reminded of "CONGRATULATIONS FOREVER!"

hermes200:
Technically, I think The Punisher is that kind of mindless FPS... And because of that, is bland as sh*t.

And yet I find myself returning to it time after time, whilst wondering if my copy of Halo would make a good frisbee. Why, it's... it's almost as if what you said wasn't an indisputable fact, but was just your opinion.

Doug:

Mr Companion:
Why is it a now unspoken fact that health regeneration is more realistic than health bar? I don't know about you but when I get a cut it takes longer than five seconds to mend. And yet ever since Peter Jacksons King Kong and Call Of Duty 2 a FPS without regen health is laughed at for been unrealistic, it downright odd.

By who? I don't think I've ever heard people claim regen is more realistic than health bar. More fun, maybe.

Is there anyone who DOESN'T think weapon degradation is a stupid idea? That to me stinks of a game penalising you for playing it. Realistic or not, its' pure bullshit!

Don't bother playing Earth Defence Force. Trust me, it's shit. Let's just leave it at that.

Are you kidding me? It was one of the best games of that year.

That's pretty funny, but no.

Aww I was totally diggin your example as well. Maybe one day someone will make a zombie game that's just that. Slow moving hoards by the absolute million and your quest for survival, with a good gameplay engine that allows for unique ways to kill the zombies.

Sigh I can always dream though.

What drives me nuts is that just about every time I come around here I see these two arguments:

Argument 1:
A: I like a game with some mindless shooting and endless waves of enemies with crazy guns and giant monsters!
B: No person with an ounce of intelligence would like a game like that! You are clearly a braindead dullard with the attention span of a gnat.

Argument 2:
A: I like a game with a deep plot, complex characters, original gameplay and emotional involvement that makes me question what it means to be human.
B: You've lost track of what games are meant to be! You're nothing but a stuck-up, psuedo-intellectual elitist prick who thinks you're better than anyone who likes a bit of fun!

Can't someone just like both types of games and simply know what makes each type good?

Edit: It occurs that in true Monty Python style, in fact neither of those are arguments but in fact instances of abuse. Oh well.

Doug:

Jonatron:

Valiance:
I lol'd like 5 times while reading this, especially that someone else has heard of Chasm, especially that he understands EVE is not a Wing Commander / Tachyon the Fringe, especially that X3 is not easily accessible to anyone who wasn't already a fan (but that doesn't bother me, eh?) and especially "Quake, but not shit, "Doom with jumping" etc.

Tachyon the Fringe! I loved that game!

Indeed, it was great fun - completed it multiple times as both the Boron and Galspan. Sadly, its aged pretty badly on Steam, but I live in hope that someone will make another great space game - "Beyond the Red line" is pretty good, even though its a fan made mod and all.

Tachyon was the one that had Bruce Campbell doing the main voice wasnt it? That was a good game just for the dog-fighting and the storyline went along nicely if memory serves

Did you ever play Starlancer, the game that came before freelancer? that game was awesome. You felt like such a badass in the 45th Flying tigers

Supernova2000:

Doug:

Mr Companion:
Why is it a now unspoken fact that health regeneration is more realistic than health bar? I don't know about you but when I get a cut it takes longer than five seconds to mend. And yet ever since Peter Jacksons King Kong and Call Of Duty 2 a FPS without regen health is laughed at for been unrealistic, it downright odd.

By who? I don't think I've ever heard people claim regen is more realistic than health bar. More fun, maybe.

Is there anyone who DOESN'T think weapon degradation is a stupid idea? That to me stinks of a game penalising you for playing it. Realistic or not, its' pure bullshit!

.........................? We where talking about health regeneration, not weapon degeneration.

Pipotchi:

Doug:

Jonatron:

Valiance:
I lol'd like 5 times while reading this, especially that someone else has heard of Chasm, especially that he understands EVE is not a Wing Commander / Tachyon the Fringe, especially that X3 is not easily accessible to anyone who wasn't already a fan (but that doesn't bother me, eh?) and especially "Quake, but not shit, "Doom with jumping" etc.

Tachyon the Fringe! I loved that game!

Indeed, it was great fun - completed it multiple times as both the Boron and Galspan. Sadly, its aged pretty badly on Steam, but I live in hope that someone will make another great space game - "Beyond the Red line" is pretty good, even though its a fan made mod and all.

Tachyon was the one that had Bruce Campbell doing the main voice wasnt it? That was a good game just for the dog-fighting and the storyline went along nicely if memory serves

Did you ever play Starlancer, the game that came before freelancer? that game was awesome. You felt like such a badass in the 45th Flying tigers

Yes, and to me, it was more fun than Freelancer! There, I said it!

Windknight:
There was one space-sim game out there somewhat recently: Project Sylpheed on the 360.

While not a Freespace or X-wing level classic, it kept me entertained, and let me Itano Circus to my hearts content.

I was going to bring that up as well. Not very SIMish, but I certainly enjoyed the gameplay for being something different. The story, however, was terrible. Imagine every space opera anime you can imagine mashed together into one mess of every stereotype you've ever seen.

Ugh.

In terms of "just shooters", well, EDF2017 is best played on co-op. The lack of online hurts it pretty badly. However, I think I can point to Legendary and say that the "just providing monsters so you can shoot shit" method doesn't always work.

In the end, even a simple game requires good and well-thought out game design. And note that in your example, you referenced GTA4 (including open-world gameplay) and brought up Dead Space's Line Gun (direct weapon rip-off). Not trying to say it's impossible to be original, but more that ripping off of each other isn't necessarily a bad thing. The bad thing is when you're trying to copy someone else's idea precisely instead of saying "hey, let's see how this works in a completely different situation".

I think you could argue that we're neglecting the other end of the FPS genre too- NO ONE LIVES FOREVER is a great FPS game that isn't just about killing everything on the screen, but it's also unlike most of what's being made now, because it's quirky and funky and genuinely plays around with spy genre mechanics.

I think the issue is, when you start getting into these huge-budgeted core games based on established properties and advertised everywhere and so on, it becomes like a blockbuster movie- the people behind it need to make their money back, so there's a tendency to water down the product and make it look like everything else. "Um, we've got vehicle sections, because everyone wants those, and a really deep dark story with betrayals and twists that set up the next game, and it's wonderfully gritty with excellent bump mapping and the protagonist is a grim, tortured antihero..." etc.

That, I think, is the big problem the video game industry faces- it's gotten so big that it has to appeal to as many people as possible, and so all the technology that's available gets put towards the same ideas and same images. It's like the early sound era, where the technology temporarily set things back because cameras were less mobile and actors all had to stand near the microphones and movies became like stage plays.

I've always thought a Red Dawn-esk scenario where the resistance is the students at the highschool would be interesting. No I don't know why the soldiers would be a at a school, but does it really matter? it would be awesome

The biggest problem with this, and other related complaints, is that there's not a lot that could be done to save this concept. The fewer new elements that a game introduces, the more it is alike another title in the same genre. So the need for innovation is what drives games to change in the first place, creating the trends.

The reason the trends were created stay the same though. The change was one that positively influenced the way the game is played and enjoyed. Games like System Shock 2 and Deus Ex implimented RPG elements, and did it right. It was a good innovation, one that may've sparked a trend, but should be a crimson mark on the mimics, not the innovators.

Although I'd agree that innovation should be applied to old concepts as well as new ideas. Applying already used ideas to new venues can produce more of the goodness that has powered the genre without feeling the need to over-innovate. The problem there is if the new subtlety has sparked enough of a fire, the trend gets started on making nothing but "shooty-fun" titles, abandoning some of the sophistication that came from the over reliance of cover systems or power armor.

I'm going to hazard to say that this week's Extra Punctuation missed the mark. Instead of suggesting the games should simplify themselves, it should be expecting more moderation from game developers. The fact that these elements can be included and positively contribute to a good game prove their worth. Instead of discounting them in favor of simplicity, they should be encouraged to be used intelligently, not indulgently.

Doug:

Supernova2000:

Doug:

Mr Companion:
Why is it a now unspoken fact that health regeneration is more realistic than health bar? I don't know about you but when I get a cut it takes longer than five seconds to mend. And yet ever since Peter Jacksons King Kong and Call Of Duty 2 a FPS without regen health is laughed at for been unrealistic, it downright odd.

By who? I don't think I've ever heard people claim regen is more realistic than health bar. More fun, maybe.

Is there anyone who DOESN'T think weapon degradation is a stupid idea? That to me stinks of a game penalising you for playing it. Realistic or not, its' pure bullshit!

.........................? We where talking about health regeneration, not weapon degeneration.

Sorry, I'm just trying to make the point that realism doesn't arbitrarily make a game better. Back on topic: health regeneration or health bars? You could argue the opposite, that health bars are more realistic because you can't heal injuries just by sitting in the corner for a few seconds; you need medical attention. One could debate this til hell freezes over. Forgetting about 'realism', the only question we need ask is: Does this make the game better or worse? In the case of STALKER, the health bar works better because it highlights the fact that you're playing an ordinary man in a hostile invironment, even though this is somewhat undermined by being able to press a button to drip feed yourself with the dozens of med kits you accumulate but still, it works.

TheGreenManalishi:
The genre won't die as long as people like me want to play GoldenEye.

We need another GoldenEye, it was, in my opinion, the greatest shooter of all time. It was a mindless shooter that was the beginning of splitscreen multiplayer, until Halo 2 showed up.

QuirkyTambourine:
Aww I was totally diggin your example as well. Maybe one day someone will make a zombie game that's just that. Slow moving hoards by the absolute million and your quest for survival, with a good gameplay engine that allows for unique ways to kill the zombies.

Sigh I can always dream though.

I think it's called Dead Rising, and the sequel will be called Dead Rising 2.

This was a nice little article. It has inspired me to say that Metal Slug is awesome. So simple... so insane!!!

vxicepickxv:

QuirkyTambourine:
Aww I was totally diggin your example as well. Maybe one day someone will make a zombie game that's just that. Slow moving hoards by the absolute million and your quest for survival, with a good gameplay engine that allows for unique ways to kill the zombies.

Sigh I can always dream though.

I think it's called Dead Rising, and the sequel will be called Dead Rising 2.

Gah of course, I meant to put that at the end of my post but I plum forgot. I was thinking a lot bigger than just a mall, something along the lines of I am Legend (with the classic zombies though of course)

Stalk3rchief:
I hate how every time what seems to me to be Common Sense is written out, and people act like it's the most amazing and insightful thing to grace literature.

'common sens isn't so common' - Voltaire.

I play pen and paper RPG's, and one actually has 'common sense' as a perk - to whit the GM has to tell you 'that's a really bad idea' any time your about to do something stupid.

squid5580:
Gears of War with a grappling hook? Are you sure you didn't mean Lost Planet with the grappling hook? Or GOW with a cover system?

He was describing future titles and how they take an existing game and tack on a new gimmick.

saintchristopher:
Anyone remember Black? once you ignore the barely-there story, it's the closest thing to a for-the-hell-of-it shooter I've played in the last 5 years.

Yes and if nothing else that game got sound design right. Guns actually sounded like guns, not bubble wrap being popped.

squid5580:
Gears of War with a grappling hook? Are you sure you didn't mean Lost Planet with the grappling hook? Or GOW with a cover system?

I'm pretty sure he meant "Gears of War with a grappling hook"... as in, "Hey, let's make a game like Gears of War, but with a grappling hook!" "Doom with jumping"... as in, "Hey, let's make a game like Doom, but with jumping!"

Here's a fun little game...
"God of War, but with a hot-chick!" -->> ?

EDIT: B10. Ouch.

Dead rising came to mind whilst he described that example of his.

That was quite mow-down-swarms-of-humanoids-like-a-broom-against-dust, and fun.
Got old quite fast, though.

Yahtzee said:
"My damning of Wolfenstein as generic brought on a bit of introspection for me. What do I mean by a generic action game? Well, obvious factors first: A game in which you shoot guys in various civic structures and industrial areas. Where that guy you thought was good turns out to be bad. Where there's precisely one friendly, female NPC whose throat is destined for your tongue and whose kidnapping will no doubt motivate you later on. Where you confront the main bad guy at the end, just as they're enacting some evil plan and your stupid cutscene-paralyzed arse sits there like a lemon while they unleash / transform into the thing you're expected to fight before the credits can roll."

He has almost described Half Life 2 to a T and that is undisputably one of the best games of the past decade.

Geoffrey42:

squid5580:
Gears of War with a grappling hook? Are you sure you didn't mean Lost Planet with the grappling hook? Or GOW with a cover system?

I'm pretty sure he meant "Gears of War with a grappling hook"... as in, "Hey, let's make a game like Gears of War, but with a grappling hook!" "Doom with jumping"... as in, "Hey, let's make a game like Doom, but with jumping!"

Here's a fun little game...
"God of War, but with a hot-chick!" -->> ?

EDIT: B10. Ouch.

Wait. What? You couldn't jump in Doom? Well that makes sense then. I guess I got into the whole FPS thing a bit late since I don't think I have ever played a FPS that didn't let you jump.

"Shooting very thick monsters while holding more guns than any human being could reasonably carry, in boxy arenas with no comprehensible purpose."

I'm not sure why, but I found that insanely hilarious.

Good article Yahtzee, based on all that you've been saying about Painkiller, I think I may check it out.

I would love to play a game that's like Fallout 3 meets Grand-Theft-Auto 4. At least, that's (to some degree) what I got from reading Yahtzee's super game. However, if Yahtzee doesn't approve of that analogy, then I'll just say: "I'd love to play something that kickarse!"

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