Thanks for Failing

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Thanks for Failing

Looking back on two of the year's interesting failures.

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I was guilty of expecting the same from LA Noire as I had from Kane and Lynch - i.e. Not much, just a spin-off - for reasons that I don't really understand ... probably because it was an xbox title... But it seemed to get quite rave reviews from Gamespot, so I think it will remain forever enigmatic to me.

I think Duke Nukem's failure was very poignant.

I have a great deal of respect for attempts to try something totally new. Kudos to the developers for trying to do that here. It's a shame Nightmares didn't work better though; Kinect seems like it would be a perfect fit for a horror game.

Agreed completely with Rise of Nightmares. I remember first hearin about it and havin two vastly different reactions. The first was the cynic. Its the first nonlaunch title for the Kinect I could think of that wasn't either a dance or sports game. The only other one I even remember was that god awful fightin game that came out with it. With so little other material to work from, the dev team would have to create a completely new system to deal with the mechanics of the game and first attempts almost never ever end well.

The second reaction was, not quite excitement, but like...happy optimism. Sure it was probably goin to suck, but damnit at least its an attempt. Even if it doesn't go well, other developers can see what worked and what didn't and go from there to make their own not dance games. If we get lucky, the Kinect might actually end up bein somethin more than just a gimmick.

I actually feel bad for Rise of Nightmares. Horror games that can really consistently frighten players are becoming such a rarity, and it sounds like with a bit more polish, it could have been great. LA Noire...well I played it and as much as it got right, the logic of the investigations did get out of hand. Interesting article, Susan.

Hooray, failure!

In all seriousness, it's nice to see that there are still game companies out there who are willing to do things besides military shooters and licensed tie-ins. Now, if only we could get them to stay focused long enough for these projects to bear decent fruit, we'll be living the dream.

I didn't play any of them, but I have been tempted to buy LA Noire simply because it seems they try.

I agree with your closing statement. Trying and failing is better than not trying at all. That deserves credit. Alpha Protocol was another recent example of a game that tried and only partially succeeded. Cheers for those games.

The detective story is incredibly hard to get right, maybe thats the real reason why LA Noire didn't succeed. So many games have tried and I will be hard pressed to think of even a single one succeeding. Maybe this is because the genre is so fictional that it defies logic, and therefore translates poorly to an interactive media. Or maybe human psychology is simply too complex to simulate in a believable way.

Edit:

For those interested in the investigation genre of games, I just realize that I should mention Covert Action. It's one of the games that Sid Meier made that never got popular, probably because the concept only partially worked. Sid Meier is most often known for his big hits, but he actually tried a lot without quite succeeding. Maybe thats the reason why he made such big hits occasionally.

Covert Action is a game where the player takes the role of a fictional secret agent that solves cases of international crime. Each case is generated procedurally based on the structure of 5-10 premade stories. The game has a number of mini games to retrieve information and act upon it. Since the game makes acting risky this encourages the player to get at least some facts and discourages trial and error.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Covert_Action

I really liked this editorial. It's utterly refreshing to see people try things, which was enough to make me want to buy LA NOIR on its own.

Of course, frequently lukewarm reviews and panning of the "innovative" mechanics kinda put me off, so....

Susan Arendt:
Thanks for Failing

Looking back on two of the year's interesting failures.

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I'm also glad for games like these. Perhaps for different reasons, though.

LA Noire was hoping so much to grab people through their sense of sight (see also: the glut of 3D everything). Rise of Nightmares was hoping to pull people in through their kinesthetic senses (see also: other motion controls)

Touch and sight are our two most sensitive... err... senses. They are probably our most important (sight alone accounts for 80% of the information we process each day), too. But that also means they are the hardest to fool.

The "divide and conquer" principle doesn't apply here. A successful illusion has to feed the false information to several senses at the same time for the brain to believe it. It's why I don't believe an article claiming we've found aliens when none of the other major news outlets aren't corroborating.

Developers have a tendency to view people as technological constructs, such that if you can fool one of the inputs, you can change the output. But consider the written word... it has the ability to stir emotions of all sorts that are very real, and those emotions can override our senses. Yet there's no visual or tactile or auditory trickery. You can't fool the senses as easily as you can fool the mind, but you can only fool the mind if you use the right tricks.

(Another example? Police dogs. People try everything in the world to fool the dogs into not smelling the drugs. It doesn't work. The ones that succeed? They fool the handler into thinking the dog is smelling the wrong thing -- maybe by hiding the drugs in a burger or something. Choose the right one to target, and you can fool the whole set.)

Both of these games put forth a valiant effort, really as good as anyone could expect, and in doing so I feel they've proven that our general inability to "fool the senses" with some of this stuff isn't about the technology but about our technique.

denseWorm:
I was guilty of expecting the same from LA Noire as I had from Kane and Lynch - i.e. Not much, just a spin-off - for reasons that I don't really understand ... probably because it was an xbox title... But it seemed to get quite rave reviews from Gamespot, so I think it will remain forever enigmatic to me.

I think Duke Nukem's failure was very poignant.

Kane and Lynch great characters stuck in bad, bad games.

As someone who loves the setting, L.A Noire is my GOTY. I wouldn't have thought that driving aimlessly simply for the sake of driving (sensibly I might add) could be so entertaining. Finding all the cars, film canisters and just exploring an L.A. I thought I could only see in movies was a dream come true for me.

Well that's great to know considering i picked up L.A. Noire yesterday na dstill haven't played it. I know it was supposed to have some kind of uncanny effect - that much i picked up from reviews and such, but i don't think i heard anyone call it a flat-out failure before.

Oh well, i'm still gonna try to like it. As for Rise of Nightmares i think like many others and will say it's biggest flaw was being exclusive to the Kinect.

It's the first time in my life this has happened... a double post. My streak is broken! D:

...please disregard >_<

Well failing is the best way to learn and its better to make new mistakes than rehash old mistakes. Yet to get a hold of L.A. Noire yet...

DiMono:
Kinect seems like it would be a perfect fit for a horror game.

Seems terrible to me - if you want to scare people then they shouldn't be noticing themselves or the room they're in, which is exactly what motion controls do.

I was very surprised that L.A Noire failed.

But things like Duke Nukem and Kane and Lynch were just destined to fail.

Woodsey:

DiMono:
Kinect seems like it would be a perfect fit for a horror game.

Seems terrible to me - if you want to scare people then they shouldn't be noticing themselves or the room they're in, which is exactly what motion controls do.

I disagree, in theory: if you do it right, then the process of controlling the character is intuitive, and you become completely immersed in the game. If you're actually doing stuff physically, and your physical actions provide feedback in the game, then being startled by something could literally make you jump. The key is making the controls intuitive enough that you are properly immersed.

This is a conundrum for me, because I want to encourage game developers to try new things, but I don't want to reward failure and make them think they've done it right when they've fucked up. And they're going to fuck up at least once when trying new things, especially if it's based around something that hasn't been done before and you have to completely pioneer the new gameplay and technology elements.
But see, if I don't give them monetary support, then the people in control of the money aren't going to let them experiment again and thus, they won't perfect the ideas they came up with, but didn't get right the first time around.
Oh, what to do?

Getting L.A. Noire for Christmas, so to each their own.

Although considering Russ gave the game 4/5, I wouldn't exactly say the game failed. Maybe for you it failed, but certainly not for everyone it did.

The problem with articles claiming certain games to be "failures" tend to be problematic, as it is virtually impossible to make such a thing without brining in opinnions.
I never played Rise of Nightmares, but I absolutely loved L.A. Noire. It was full of fun, intrigue, mystery and memorable scenes. The whole "Truth, Doubt, Lie" thing got a little old when you had to do it really often, but in the better cases it was broken up by chase scenes with awesome music and crime scene investigating.
That doesn't sound like failure to me. Of course, that's my opinnion.

I have to say that I really enjoyed LA Noire. It is up there amongst my favorite games, but reading over this article, I can say that it did ring true in some points.
I know there were times that I would be in a case, and I would be frustrated that I could miss something in a case, or the interrogation would have some question that just seemed out there, and I would wind up missing out on part of what would happen until I replayed the case. I know there were moments in there where I would be interrogating a suspect, and then when I picked a choice Cole would go off on some wild rant about them being the killer, or something. There were faults there, but I also like the new parts it did bring.

I really thought it was cool to see all of the faces, and be able to actually reconize TV actors as characters from my game. I liked the feeling of being an officer. I liked the fact that you could actually screw up an investigation and have to work around that - or actually accept that you did not solve the case. I liked the chance to experience a rebuilt Los Angelos from the 1940s. I think it is really worth mentioning all the stuff that it did bring. I know it has faults, but I know I have never played a game like it. Sometimes I like to play cases over again just to see some of my favorite interregations, or favorite shoot outs. It is even fun to mess up an interrogation to see how the game might turn out otherwise. I remember when I replayed the first homicide case, and I messed up the inital club owner interview, I was not expecting to have a diner shoot out happen. There are definatly still sections of the game I have not even seen yet. It really gives you a lot to experience. Yeah, it is not the best, but it really did bring a lot of new things that you have to respect. It did try, and for that I hold it amongst some of my favorite games.

Its true. So often we applaud the tried and true, (its like the old call of duty you see, but more frames per second!!11!eleven) then turn our noses up at something new. "Its not a game, its a gimmick."

Its great we can trust you for such commentary, Susan!

Three cheers

Thank you for failing.

But because you failed, successes like Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3 will continue to stagnate the market for another decade or so.

So everyone wins! (except the demographic that matters)

NewYork_Comedian:
Getting L.A. Noire for Christmas, so to each their own.

Although considering Russ gave the game 4/5, I wouldn't exactly say the game failed. Maybe for you it failed, but certainly not for everyone it did.

Sales wise, it's considered a failure.

LA noire was a failure? since when

sales dont always count for quality

EDIT: and wikipedia would say otherwise in regards to its sales

denseWorm:
I was guilty of expecting the same from LA Noire as I had from Kane and Lynch - i.e. Not much, just a spin-off - for reasons that I don't really understand ... probably because it was an xbox title...

It's on PS3 as well, and it was ported to PC recently as well.

LA Noire is one of my favorite games of all time. Sure it has problems, but I found it really engaging. I'm a sucker for the 40's and 50's though.

Susan Arendt:
The facial animation was so good that it was actually distracting at times. I'd be so caught up in trying to remember where I'd seen the actor portraying whatever witness I was interrogating that I'd forget to listen to his statement. (By the way, the answer is nearly always Mad Men.) L.A. Noire, more than any other game before it, gave us hope that the uncanny valley might someday be conquered, and we'd finally be able to relate to our onscreen companions as though they were people, not merely peoplesque amalgamations of Botox and rubber.

Nope. It's the one game I couldn't play because it physically unnerved me to play. It wasn't distracting because I thought they were real, it was distracting because I thought someone had improperly cloned a human, and was trying to pass it off, and it would murder me if I wasn't looking. If that's what's on the other side of the valley, I'm fine with never going that far. I'd even take the wooden mannequins of the Bethesda titles over the creep-tastic L.A. Noire. The detective work was amazing, and near unparalleled. The animations gave me nightmares.

BehattedWanderer:

Susan Arendt:
The facial animation was so good that it was actually distracting at times. I'd be so caught up in trying to remember where I'd seen the actor portraying whatever witness I was interrogating that I'd forget to listen to his statement. (By the way, the answer is nearly always Mad Men.) L.A. Noire, more than any other game before it, gave us hope that the uncanny valley might someday be conquered, and we'd finally be able to relate to our onscreen companions as though they were people, not merely peoplesque amalgamations of Botox and rubber.

Nope. It's the one game I couldn't play because it physically unnerved me to play. It wasn't distracting because I thought they were real, it was distracting because I thought someone had improperly cloned a human, and was trying to pass it off, and it would murder me if I wasn't looking. If that's what's on the other side of the valley, I'm fine with never going that far. I'd even take the wooden mannequins of the Bethesda titles over the creep-tastic L.A. Noire. The detective work was amazing, and near unparalleled. The animations gave me nightmares.

I was more caught up the by problem that the facial animations were amazin...and the rest of the body was god freakin awful. It doesn't help to see this amazingly detailed face and then to have the body go flailin about as if none of the parts were actually attached to a body.

A future game along the lines of L.A. Noire could have had the possibility of being a more 'direct' detective. If you can't get enough evidence for the person sitting in front of you then use your police knowledge to kill them and cover it up.

Of course the game would have to kick you in the teeth later as a matter of consequence for attempting to resolve cases less legally than you could do. But there were times when I wished I could just throw characters like Eli Rooney into the boot of a car and finish them off in a quiet secluded spot.

If they tried to make another detective game I'd like it to be playing as a private detective who doesn't have the full backing of the law but might have a partner who proposes the option of permanently removing a suspect before they do any more damage (or maybe your character develops that character trait if they do it too many times?).

Face hard facts: niche games never change the whole, only once we move the mainstream we have changed anything.

I bought L.A. Noir but didn't finish it because its investagation is too much guess work. Too much "Is she lying or not the whole truth?" Doubt and Lying were too similiar. But like the article said, they tried to do something new, unlike Battlefield 3: Modern Warfare.

Never played RoN, not enough good games to justify buying the Kinect and my room is too small.

DiMono:

Woodsey:

DiMono:
Kinect seems like it would be a perfect fit for a horror game.

Seems terrible to me - if you want to scare people then they shouldn't be noticing themselves or the room they're in, which is exactly what motion controls do.

I disagree, in theory: if you do it right, then the process of controlling the character is intuitive, and you become completely immersed in the game. If you're actually doing stuff physically, and your physical actions provide feedback in the game, then being startled by something could literally make you jump. The key is making the controls intuitive enough that you are properly immersed.

I personally couldn't imagine a FULLY motion controlled game to work well in horror. At least not yet. recently, however, playing Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, I noticed the motion controls to work fairly well. Since you still move, run around and activate things with buttons, you are not waggling all the time, which is the problem with most non-immersive motion-control-games at the moment.

I think Silent Hill worked around this quite well. You do stuff like throw monsters away from you, roll down car-windows and turn/shake a can to get a key inside. All small, quick movements you don't think about. That's the key to successful motion controls in my opinion: You shouldn't think "Now I must do this", you are supposed to move your body parts by instinct. With a thing like Kinect, where EVERYTHING is controlled by your movement, I don't really see it happening myself.

Dfskelleton:
The problem with articles claiming certain games to be "failures" tend to be problematic, as it is virtually impossible to make such a thing without brining in opinnions.
I never played Rise of Nightmares, but I absolutely loved L.A. Noire. It was full of fun, intrigue, mystery and memorable scenes. The whole "Truth, Doubt, Lie" thing got a little old when you had to do it really often, but in the better cases it was broken up by chase scenes with awesome music and crime scene investigating.
That doesn't sound like failure to me. Of course, that's my opinnion.

It's a failure from a sales perspective , that's what he meant. Doesn't mean people can't like it. That being said , i bought it day one , didn't like it , finished it anyways and didn't regret it. It's the first time i have bought something i didn't like and didn't regret it . I fully support innovation and the will to make somthing different , so i applaud the developpers and rockstar( the publishers) for taking this risk , it did not work this time , but it wasn't too far off mark , if they look at their mistakes and try to fix them , L.A Noire 2 will be a great sucess.

Vault101:
LA noire was a failure? since when

sales dont always count for quality

EDIT: and wikipedia would say otherwise in regards to its sales

Your right about sales and quality but I think it was a failure in the sense that it didn't meet its own expectations. It was wildly advertised, given some great reviews, and yet it has sold more or less 4 million copies. When aiming big like L.A. Noire did that's something most strive to achieve within the first few weeks of release not the total.

L.A. Noire? Meh. I get the feeling that criticising an "innovative" game makes you a Bad Person. Well, I bought the game, so I can criticise it all I want. Games are known as being primarily "innovative" when they do little else. I prefer "fun" or "exciting".

Also: forgive the double negative, but if a game doesn't sell well it doesn't mean it is a great, misunderstood work of art. Perhaps it just isn't very good.

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