Blowing Away the Triple-A

Blowing Away the Triple-A

When heart and character trumps all.

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Welcome to the club.

I say that sadly, because I really hate not liking games. I particularly don't like it when it seems people only know and play games that just aren't good.

But I REALLY hate it when it's very, very hard to find games that are really good. Maybe I have impossible standards? Can't be that, because I've got a collection of games I adore. (And this is also coming from the guy who enjoyed Dragon Age II. Yeah. Weird.)

Still, I'm very proud to say that the last Call of Duty I played was 4. And I played every one before that, too. Guess why I stopped.

I know that feel, the last AAA game I bought was new super Mario brothers Wii and I just felt disappointment and guilt. Everything it does older Mario games and Indy games also do, better even!

Dennis Scimeca:
you can practically throw a dart into a room of indie developers

Please don't. Indie devs have enough issues without adding bodily harm to the mix. :)

Also, regarding your new avatar: finger off the trigger!

Mark D. Stroyer:
Still, I'm very proud to say that the last Call of Duty I played was 4. And I played every one before that, too. Guess why I stopped.

A while back my girlfriend was on the phone with her parents, and at one point I hear "Yeah, I think he's played Call of Duty". I "corrected" her and said I don't play CoD, even though I played the original and United Offensive. I clarified later, but I realized just how much stigma there is for being a "Call of Duty player".

Evil Smurf:
I know that feel, the last AAA game I bought was new super Mario brothers Wii and I just felt disappointment and guilt. Everything it does older Mario games and Indy games also do, better even!

thats not a AAA game....at least I wouldnt call it that...

Im curious ot know what the "big release" was..0_0

anyway...*sigh* ok whatever AAA games suck..indie games are teh best..I'm kind of sicking of hearing this shit...perhaps I just havnt had all the hope sucked out of me

I mean jesus I was thinking of buying a new computer...but no, mabye I wont fucking bother now if games that you can run on a toaster are the second coming great fine...so I guess its all quirky cartoon graphics here on out, goodbye boxed copies! hello fucking up my download cap!!

oh that and F2P multiplayer......YAY!

so no more Bioshcok, Assasins creed and Deus Ex its all over now......I'll run off to kick starter and fund "quirky indie wankfest: the indie-ing!" BECAUSE THATS WHERE THE GOOD GAMES ARE

because everything I like sucks now, it always has

Mark D. Stroyer:

Still, I'm very proud to say that the last Call of Duty I played was 4. And I played every one before that, too. Guess why I stopped.

proud of somthing like that?....oh please

Dennis Scimeca:
Blowing Away the Triple-A

When heart and character trumps all.

Read Full Article

It's amazing how creative we (as humans) can be when there aren't people standing over us demanding we make them scads of money. It's not enough that the game make some money. It must make back a kablillion times what you spent, or we'll just drop it and release another clone.

Nearly every endeavor in the modern world would produce better results if we weren't so goddamned (so-called) "Results Oriented."

Hmmm... other than visually, this game doesn't really sound all that new and unique at all. There are a ton of games that have used a base of, or very similar to, CCG mechanics in the recent past. In fact, it was actually something of a meme for a while a few years back to make a "new" genre by just taking an old one and sticking in CCGish mechanics.

I get what the author is saying to some degree, and far be it from me to dump on his own personal positive reaction to a game, but he picked a rather poor example to illustrate his point.

Vault101:

Evil Smurf:
I know that feel, the last AAA game I bought was new super Mario brothers Wii and I just felt disappointment and guilt. Everything it does older Mario games and Indy games also do, better even!

thats not a AAA game....at least I wouldnt call it that...

Im curious ot know what the "big release" was..0_0

anyway...*sigh* ok whatever AAA games suck..indie games are teh best..I'm kind of sicking of hearing this shit...perhaps I just havnt had all the hope sucked out of me

I mean jesus I was thinking of buying a new computer...but no, mabye I wont fucking bother now if games that you can run on a toaster are the second coming great fine...so I guess its all quirky cartoon graphics here on out, goodbye boxed copies! hello fucking up my download cap!!

oh that and F2P multiplayer......YAY!

so no more Bioshcok, Assasins creed and Deus Ex its all over now......I'll run off to kick starter and fund "quirky indie wankfest: the indie-ing!" BECAUSE THATS WHERE THE GOOD GAMES ARE

because everything I like sucks now, it always has

It's not that all AAA games suck (I actually enjoyed Deus Ex:HR, Assassin's Creed 2, and a lot of other AAA games.). It's just that, because most big name publishers are focused on sales, the development of the majority AAA games feels formulaic. Take CoD for example, it's practically the same game released every year. The indie developers have more creative freedom because they most of them aren't as focused on sales as they are on creating something they like. It's not that AAA games can't offer worthwhile expiriences, it's just that it's harder.

Two-A:

It's not that all AAA games suck (I actually enjoyed Deus Ex:HR, Assassin's Creed 2, and a lot of other AAA games.). It's just that, because most big name publishers are focused on sales, the development of the majority AAA games feels formulaic. Take CoD for example, it's practically the same game released every year. The indie developers have more creative freedom because they most of them aren't as focused on sales as they are on creating something they like. It's not that AAA games can't offer worthwhile expiriences, it's just that it's harder.

eh..I was kind of having a mad rant

I just get a little sick of it...and also sick of hearing COD as the representiive of all AAA games...over the past year or so all the AAA games Ive played have been bearely anything like COD

Dastardly:

Dennis Scimeca:
Blowing Away the Triple-A

When heart and character trumps all.

Read Full Article

It's amazing how creative we (as humans) can be when there aren't people standing over us demanding we make them scads of money. It's not enough that the game make some money. It must make back a kablillion times what you spent, or we'll just drop it and release another clone.

Nearly every endeavor in the modern world would produce better results if we weren't so goddamned (so-called) "Results Oriented."

That wouldn't be because money, like all sources of perceived power, ultimately corrupts without the wisdom to temper it and the courage to guide it now, would it?

I remember a time when games like LUNAR, Wild ARMs, Grandia, Killer Instinct, Secret of Mana, Secret of Evermore, Final Fantasy 6, Metroid, Chrono Trigger, Mega Man (you heard right) were not only great games...but also didn't require a metric fuck-ton of money, development OR publication-wise.

Nowadays, though, to even support a franchise the situation demands a near-impossible result from the consumer. (See Dead Space 3 and MegaMan Legends 3 for examples of this) I believe that when developers are free of what money demands they do, you'll start to see gems like the above - but I fear that might be a long time coming.

On a side note, games that would be awesome to be made now can't be made due to legal or copyright reasonings. For example, in a gaming world FILLED to the brim with bland, and over-bloated IMO, FPS pool, you'd think that theoretical games like Star Wars: Battlefront 3 and a new Timesplitters game would be more than welcomed in this market.

CrazyCapnMorgan:
That wouldn't be because money, like all sources of perceived power, ultimately corrupts without the wisdom to temper it and the courage to guide it now, would it?

Sorta. Money is a means to an end, like anything else. The problem is that particular end is very different from the goal of creativity.

Creativity is attempting to try new things, experiment, explore. Money is about guarantees, which demand we play safe.

It's why I stopped pursuing a career in composition -- I found the more I wrote for money (or even grades), the less I did what I wanted and the more I did what I felt I "should." But if I don't have to rely on my art to make a living, I can always be sure to engage it on my terms.

I believe that when developers are free of what money demands they do, you'll start to see gems like the above - but I fear that might be a long time coming.

We have to blame the developers for some of it, to be sure. A lot of them are techies, and they're looking to show off tech... which usually means bigger, better visuals. Because they, as techies, are impressed by it, they somewhat narrowly believe everyone will be impressed by it. Aaaaaand, as a result, money gets spent there rather than on writing, sound engineering, or voice acting.

So yeah, most of the blame is on the bean counters, but some of it is on the developers. Like an architect with tunnel vision, they work too hard to build a house that is structurally awesome... and they don't have enough resources to put anything in it when they're done.

Well this is what happens when someone calls themselves a gamer, but really they like one or two games. I know people that literally only buy Call of Duty once a year and play that for the entire year.

Activision sees that they've sold 14 trillion copies and says that people love it so they don't really need to change it.

The problem with AAA games isn't that they're bad, but rather that I've played them already. I don't want to play Halo 4. I don't care what the story is, or that the game is going to be the most polished thing ever. I've played enough Halo to last a lifetime. I want to experience new things.

StriderShinryu:
Hmmm... other than visually, this game doesn't really sound all that new and unique at all. There are a ton of games that have used a base of, or very similar to, CCG mechanics in the recent past. In fact, it was actually something of a meme for a while a few years back to make a "new" genre by just taking an old one and sticking in CCGish mechanics.

I get what the author is saying to some degree, and far be it from me to dump on his own personal positive reaction to a game, but he picked a rather poor example to illustrate his point.

He's not the first person I've seen to have this reaction to Card Hunter, so maybe this game really is going to be something special. I think it's less about pure originality in this case and more about novelty, and just how well the elements supposedly work together. In any case, sometimes it's hard to get a feel for a game based on the description of mechanics.

ayvee:

StriderShinryu:
Hmmm... other than visually, this game doesn't really sound all that new and unique at all. There are a ton of games that have used a base of, or very similar to, CCG mechanics in the recent past. In fact, it was actually something of a meme for a while a few years back to make a "new" genre by just taking an old one and sticking in CCGish mechanics.

I get what the author is saying to some degree, and far be it from me to dump on his own personal positive reaction to a game, but he picked a rather poor example to illustrate his point.

He's not the first person I've seen to have this reaction to Card Hunter, so maybe this game really is going to be something special. I think it's less about pure originality in this case and more about novelty, and just how well the elements supposedly work together. In any case, sometimes it's hard to get a feel for a game based on the description of mechanics.

That is very true, and I believe there's actually a very positive story about the game on Kotaku right now as well. I don't doubt that the authors have had genuinely positive experiences with the game, and maybe it truly is something super cool and fun. I just feel that if you're going to write an article with an entire argument pinned on one example, you should pick a really good one instead of one that just feels really good to you.

As an example, it's sort of like saying that you just bought a new pair of shoes and that they are the greatest pair of shoes ever. Then, when queried as to what makes them the greatest, you reply by saying that they go on your feet and keep your feet warmer than when you go barefoot. Now, that is quite likely true but it does nothing to support your argument or explain what makes your chosen shoes better than all of the other footware on the market.

StriderShinryu:

ayvee:

StriderShinryu:
Hmmm... other than visually, this game doesn't really sound all that new and unique at all. There are a ton of games that have used a base of, or very similar to, CCG mechanics in the recent past. In fact, it was actually something of a meme for a while a few years back to make a "new" genre by just taking an old one and sticking in CCGish mechanics.

I get what the author is saying to some degree, and far be it from me to dump on his own personal positive reaction to a game, but he picked a rather poor example to illustrate his point.

He's not the first person I've seen to have this reaction to Card Hunter, so maybe this game really is going to be something special. I think it's less about pure originality in this case and more about novelty, and just how well the elements supposedly work together. In any case, sometimes it's hard to get a feel for a game based on the description of mechanics.

That is very true, and I believe there's actually a very positive story about the game on Kotaku right now as well. I don't doubt that the authors have had genuinely positive experiences with the game, and maybe it truly is something super cool and fun. I just feel that if you're going to write an article with an entire argument pinned on one example, you should pick a really good one instead of one that just feels really good to you.

As an example, it's sort of like saying that you just bought a new pair of shoes and that they are the greatest pair of shoes ever. Then, when queried as to what makes them the greatest, you reply by saying that they go on your feet and keep your feet warmer than when you go barefoot. Now, that is quite likely true but it does nothing to support your argument or explain what makes your chosen shoes better than all of the other footware on the market.

Well, to be fair it seems like this game was pretty critical to realizing his disillusionment. I mean, if anything he's making an "argument" based more on personal experience than strictly the game on its own. This is really more of a personal story/revelation than, say, a broad deconstruction of indie vs. AAA trends. Or something.

I really don't get all the CoD hate... Call of Duty is Call of Duty - you know what you're getting. Call of Duty is not every AAA game ever. A franchise has to stay true to itself.

EA and Activision continued to fund and release more unique, high budget games until the console generation stagnated - they've said it themselves. While the die-hard gamers will buy or at least check out every new release, most gamers only buy a handful of iconic titles until they have a 'full' library, and happily sustain themselves on those until it's time for a new system to wash the New IP market clean. Or, when they're shopping for new games, they look for games they know to be recent and relevant to their friends - and it can be VERY hard to distinguish a game that's been out for 1 year from one that's been out for 5 years. And this generation is notoriously jaded about advertising and hype - and New IPs also get a lot more ire loaded on them than sequels, because there are no preconceptions except from the advertising (How much backlash have Bethesda-published games made again?)

The AAA market has stagnated because gamer's libraries are "full" for this cycle.

... back to playing Titan Quest for me!

StriderShinryu:
Hmmm... other than visually, this game doesn't really sound all that new and unique at all. There are a ton of games that have used a base of, or very similar to, CCG mechanics in the recent past. In fact, it was actually something of a meme for a while a few years back to make a "new" genre by just taking an old one and sticking in CCGish mechanics.

I get what the author is saying to some degree, and far be it from me to dump on his own personal positive reaction to a game, but he picked a rather poor example to illustrate his point.

This would normally be the sort of comment one would follow up with examples, for instance other games you're familiar with that blend role playing games, tabletop miniature games, and card mechanic games. I'm sure we'd all love to see a list of all the games you've played that are accomplishing the same thing Card Hunter is accomplishing!

And on the second point, if you think I "picked" a game to illustrate a point you may want to read the column a second time, unless you're suggesting that I should have predicted the future, realized I was going to want to write this column after I got home from PAX while I was at PAX and then chose a different game to spontaneously lead to this realization...wait...

Interesting read. That Card Hunter game looks really interesting - I hope the Escapist covers this game when it comes out.

I have a feeling that this burnout is much easier for the media to feel, getting much more exposure to these games (at expos, with free copies) than most consumers. I know for me, on consoles, AAA games make up the majority of the games I play. I'm looking forward to ACIII (despite not having played any of the previous ones), Tomb Raider, The Last of Us, and Halo 4 this fall - whether or not I pick them up, they're some of my more anticipated games this season. And this is coming from someone who does keep up pretty well with the day-to-day life of the industry.

*Shrug* I guess my point is just that it's going to be longer for this burnout to extend enough to consumers to start hurting sales.

The problem most people who complain about AAA games (myself included) have is not exactly with what they are, but the fact that it's all they are.

And it's not just a sameness issue. I don't play first-person shooter games for one reason: Every time I even think of getting an FPS, another four come out.

I just get the feeling that it seems to be "AAA game = Shooter" in this article, the comments here, and the internet consensus in general.

I'm not just imagining that, am I?

ranger19:
I have a feeling that this burnout is much easier for the media to feel, getting much more exposure to these games (at expos, with free copies) than most consumers.

*Shrug* I guess my point is just that it's going to be longer for this burnout to extend enough to consumers to start hurting sales.

That is an excellent point. On the game reviews panel I moderated at PAX Prime this year, the idea came up that innovation may be generally more important to critics than to the audience. If the only game you buy every year is the annual Call of Duty iteration than perhaps the sameness which is beginning to gall critics is precisely everything you WANT in the game!

I think you are correct in that the boredom which hits critics early is something that eventually hits the consumers as well. I have plenty of friends, who could care F-all for game journalism and who don't really keep up with the larger scheme of things, who are sick and tired of Call of Duty because it's pretty much the same thing every year, and they haven't bought a new one since Modern Warfare 2. I can't honestly say they've missed very much, either. :)

lancar:
I just get the feeling that it seems to be "AAA game = Shooter" in this article, the comments here, and the internet consensus in general.

I'm not just imagining that, am I?

It would be very easy to make that argument, absolutely. In fact, that's kind of what I was thinking when I first started writing this, but it goes beyond FPS games. I would argue that it's more about genres than a specific genre. There are a couple new dungeon crawlers coming out soon and Diablo III felt really played to me. There are two Mario platformers on the horizon and at least one prominent critic is arguing that Nintendo needs to give Mario a rest already. Open world games are beginning to feel a little dime-a-dozen.

FPS games, being some of the most visible and popular games in the industry are an easy scapegoat and target, but if we think of "triple-A" as "mainstream, lowest-common-denominator" gaming that relies as much or more on marketing than the intrinsic appeal of the software itself to sell units, then The Problem goes way beyond FPS, I think.

I, personally, think "the problem" lays actually with the AAA model and business practices surrounding AAA games. When one has share holders, design by commitee and the bottom line being the over riding concerns for what is a creative endeavor then one ends up with samey and hollow experiences. This is mainly because no risk is taken. I mean, how could risk be taken when the ultimate goal is to play it as safe as possible to protect quarterly earning statements, profit and loss sheets and stock prices?

Hey, I'll play the AAA games (later, at a discount), but I don't feel that in any way means I can't sneer at them, any more than I can't sneer at Expendables 2 after seeing it on cable. Edit: I have not yet seen it. But... odds are good.

That said, I'm expecting great things from Borderlands 2 and maybe Assassin's Creed 3. Hope they've got that spark. Especially if Ubisoft keeps its promise and doesn't cripple AC3 with DRM again.

Dennis Scimeca:

ranger19:
I have a feeling that this burnout is much easier for the media to feel, getting much more exposure to these games (at expos, with free copies) than most consumers.

*Shrug* I guess my point is just that it's going to be longer for this burnout to extend enough to consumers to start hurting sales.

That is an excellent point. On the game reviews panel I moderated at PAX Prime this year, the idea came up that innovation may be generally more important to critics than to the audience. If the only game you buy every year is the annual Call of Duty iteration than perhaps the sameness which is beginning to gall critics is precisely everything you WANT in the game!

I think you are correct in that the boredom which hits critics early is something that eventually hits the consumers as well. I have plenty of friends, who could care F-all for game journalism and who don't really keep up with the larger scheme of things, who are sick and tired of Call of Duty because it's pretty much the same thing every year, and they haven't bought a new one since Modern Warfare 2. I can't honestly say they've missed very much, either. :)

Sorry I'm late to respond, but ha, glad I make sense!

Yeah, the first time I realized the critics/consumers divide was a while back when MovieBob was critiquing some movie for being very uninspiring and uncreative. It was a movie I had actually seen before seeing his review, and I remember thinking that it felt great and inspiring to me, and realized it's because I don't see nearly as many movies as he has. And that can/does only happen more with games, which have much higher time/monetary costs.

Glad to see that you still read/respond to comments; your articles continue to be one of my favorite new(ish) parts of this site.

I think we'd all be a lot happier if games would have a concept of being finished. All of the best games I can think of are either very short series or simply a single game; the soul reaver series ended with defiance because the story was not going to go any further. It was finished and no more needed to be done.
There is not a sense of this nowadays, a series will go on and on regardless of story or making sense, as long as it can still make money.

This doesn't happen so much in other mediums, and the few examples where it has have gone horribly. Look at friday the 13th, or hellraiser, taking a classic film and beating the dead horse until everyone thinks the entire series is awful.

We don't need another call of duty, another battlefield, another tomb raider, another dead space, another assassin's creed, another blah blah blah. They need to learn when to call it a day before they're just beating the horse's bones.

 

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