Escaping the Box: Innovation and Genres
Innovation in gaming is often held up as the holy grail of the industry, by developers and players alike. Dana Massey looks at the state of gaming, and where innovation may come from in the future.
Like the infamous Holy Grail, it's almost impossible to attain because too many gamers stick with the 'tried and true' and don't buy the few avant garde games that manage to make it to store shelves. Some game developers have to resort to letting people play their game online for free or for really cheap prices online and on services like Xbox Live Community Games. I'm glad those outlets are there, but it's kind of sad to see the really experimental games languishing in those off-to-the-side venues while yet another sequel to Madden, Call of Duty, Final Fantasy etc. fills up the shelf space in the stores.
It's just gotten too expensive to produce games that can compete with the "big guns" of the gaming industry these days. Most of the media that covers gaming doesn't help much either. With a few exceptions like Escapist and Games Radar, most of them focus on the "big name" titles and ignore most of the truly unique new games out there.
Hear much hype about Mount and Blade, for example, last year? Me neither. I didn't know that the game, which is the most realistic Medieval Era action game I've ever played and that finally totally nails the whole fight from horseback thing better than any game that graces the shelves of Game Stop, even existed until I stumbled across it on a shelf at Big Lots selling for a whopping $8. It beats the pants off of $40 games like Fable II, Oblivion and even Fallout 3 when it comes to actual gameplay mechanics and fighting systems. It's not quite as pretty, but then the developers couldn't afford the graphics engines that the "big boys" use because they can't scrape together the money to develop or license it. They do manage a state of the art physics engine though and an attention to historical detail few games even try for.