Where Have All My Heroes Gone?

Where Have All My Heroes Gone?

They were even bold enough to declare their vision and intent to the world. "We're an association of electronic artists who share a common goal," they said. "We want to fulfill the potential of personal computer." It's not at all an exaggeration to say that when I read those words, I felt a surge of pride at having some kind of ephemeral connection to this new revolution.

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And they refreshed the RPG Genre again with the release of KOTOR. It's a shame you can't say that about Mass Effect :(

My hero worship is out there, free and easy for any developer with the stones to take it. Who wants to step up?

Valve and/or Blizzard?

oneplus999:
Valve and/or Blizzard?

At the very end of the review, I said to myself, "Valve."

Portal took a risk with its crazy ideas on gameplay. You don't shoot stuff. You just use portals to complete puzzles.

TF2 took a risk with its art style. I bet there are some people that see TF2 and think, "LOL TAHT LUKS SOOOOO GAY!" But it is a fun game.

Hey there nice article Andy, I'd just like to put my 2 cents in here and say that I think the developers of The Witcher (CD Projekt Red I think) are simply awesome for a 20-something man team to put out such an incredible RPG on a limited, independant budget - gives me hope anyway that not all developers are selling their souls in the name of money and volumes.

REDPill357:

oneplus999:
Valve and/or Blizzard?

At the very end of the review, I said to myself, "Valve."

Portal took a risk with its crazy ideas on gameplay. You don't shoot stuff. You just use portals to complete puzzles.

TF2 took a risk with its art style. I bet there are some people that see TF2 and think, "LOL TAHT LUKS SOOOOO GAY!" But it is a fun game.

I've heard that but for Crackdown. That was probably the best thing about that game was having the cartoonish cel shading.

Don't get me wrong, I was a D2 junkie for 8 years, but Blizzard has released some crap over the years too, so I wouldn't call them a hero. On the other hand, I do have to agree Valve is a hero among game producers. They still have a very tight knit and comparatively small dev team which means their titles don't accumulate in quantity rather than quality. Unfortunately, that also means we wait forever for releases. However, half-life blew open first person shooters the way the original Doom made them possible. HL2 while not as impressive an earth shattering as the original, is still a fantastic game. And it's hard to find a negative opinion on portal. Valve is my hero.

What? No mention about Tim Schafer and Double Fine Productions? Or even the guys who did Sam and Max Season 1?

Double Fine needs to put out more products before I'll put them in that league, but I definitely salute their efforts and await the next release.

As for gaming heroes, the old id Software epitomizes the whole concept. We don't have personalities like Carmack (in his prime) or Romero anymore. Had they been able to co-exist AND maintain their sanity, the industry as a whole would be much more entertaining. Not to mention, Cliffy B wouldn't be the only rockstar developer to talk to.

I love what Valve has done, Double Fine's only game (so far) was amazing, and the Witcher is kicking my ass as we speak, but none of them resonate with me as "heroes" the way EA, Microprose, et al. did. Blizzard was (and maybe still is) tantalizingly close, but their over-reliance on sequels to well-established franchises, coupled with the fact that I don't play MMOGs and don't like RTS, holds them back.

My world-weariness probably precludes me from reaching quite the level of breathlessness I used to experience, but I can live with that as long as there are developers I can look at and say, "I would be totally gay for those guys if I wasn't such a cynical prick." I don't necessarily need to have the problem solved - I just need to be convinced that it's my problem, and not a problem with the games and developers.

It's interesting to me that I find the greatest promise for both PC gaming and the rise of a new hero in Europe. GSC, CD Projekt Red, Arkane, Frozenbyte, Egosoft, Remedy, these are the guys who are getting my attention. Honestly (and this just occurred to me, although in quick hindsight I've actually felt this way for quite awhile now) if I did have to pick a developer hero (pretend Logan's got a gun to my head), I'd say "Europe."

It's more than just looking forward to the next release from a cool developer. It's a deep-rooted belief that these guys have somehow fundamentally changed the very nature of the industry. That's no implication that the shouts of Valve or Blizzard are wrong; choosing heroes is about as personal a decision as anyone can make. And when you know, you know. The tricky (and fun) part is explaining why.

Meh, calling certain Developers "Heroes" just creates fanboyism, and delusions when they eventually turn to Mainstream.

I don't owe anything to any developer.

While I'm not looking for a new 'hero' it does me good to wax all nostalgic about the golden era of gaming rather than the mass produced clones that I'm presented with when making a gaming purchase. The complete joy I had when I first saw Doom hasn't been replaced quite simply because it wasn't expected there was no hype in its release, no this will be the next best thing just a small shareware demo that shaped an entire genre. The same could be said of Bioware and Baldur's Gate and even to a lesser extent Neverwinter Nights - which I believe failed on a single player perspective but was a resounding success when you fiddled with the Aurora toolset despite it being inherently buggy and patched a gazzilion times.

The reason the developers mentioned were afforded hero status was quite simply they moved the industry along rather than look at what someone did 3 years ago and tart it up with new graphics and the ability to dual weild two lead pipes. We don't need another hero just a new visionary.

Frybird:
Meh, calling certain Developers "Heroes" just creates fanboyism, and delusions when they eventually turn to Mainstream.

I don't owe anything to any developer.

Now that's cynical.

Oh no, console development! How horrible!

I've always been a major fan of Egosoft myself. Quietly they churn out games you can play for hours and hours, with a specific target, daring to be different. While they've got a spotty record for buggy games, that's never stopped me from loving their products.

Then again, if I'm to put something in the #1 spot I'm going to have to say Blizzard, not only because of their games, but also for their ridiculously efficient marketing and PR engine. Stuff like that gives my inner fanboi a dropkick of love.

Ghandi 2:
Oh no, console development! How horrible!

What?

"More recently, BioWare's move into MMOG and console-focused development has tarnished their crown in my eyes."

You don't have to like Mass Effect or KOTOR as much as BG2, but complain that they've stopped making games as great, not that they changed platforms.

But what if they've stopped making games as great because they've changed platform focus?

(Pro tip: We're not going to turn this into a platform debate, but the shift toward console-focused development is exactly the same as their shift toward MMOG development in terms of relevance to my point.)

Malygris:
if I did have to pick a developer hero (pretend Logan's got a gun to my head), I'd say "Europe."

Reducing all developers in Europe to equal a single (American) company? To me, that smacks of American egocentricity.

Malygris:
But what if they've stopped making games as great because they've changed platform focus?

(Pro tip: We're not going to turn this into a platform debate, but the shift toward console-focused development is exactly the same as their shift toward MMOG development in terms of relevance to my point.)

I don't think you can demonstrate a causal link there at all. Jade Empire and Mass Effect have been Bioware's most enjoyable games since Baldur's Gate 2. It smacks of a bitter PC gamer who can't quite accept that their pet platform is simply not part of the mainstream beyond The Sims and World of Warcraft.

Since Warcraft 2 Blizzard has in my eyes a flawless record (SC, WC3, D2, WoW and attleast one brilliant expansion pack to each game) but since none of their games are realy innovative they cant realy be called Heroes.

Valve on the other hand are probably no 1 on that list these days.

There's nothing entirely wrong with fan-boy/girl-ism, in some moderation - Bullfrog had to try hard to win me back after Gene Wars (Dungeon Keeper made it all forgiven). Looking Glass studios are also sorely missed.

Introversion are the current recipients of my devotion.

Heroes are ideals we all hold dear in our hearts, when someone stands on their soapbox and says what they're going to do and do it well and hopefully with style. I know the feeling, from the video games industry, to politics, to journalism, to anyone who has the heart to go and do what I wish I could, I want those people to run gaming and even the world. We need to have heroes, it gives us hope that our lives, or at the very least, the things we love aren't going to descend into mediocrity.

The problem with it is that it is an ideal, we want our heroes to be perfect, but of course, no human has proven to be thus far, at least not when you take a good look. We only ever get small glimpses of perfection. The other problem is the fact that in a focused sense, game development is an industry, a business. Sure I would assume that most people do it for the very reason stated in the article "We're an association of electronic artists who share a common goal," "We want to fulfill the potential of personal computer."
However, these people were not born millionaires and cannot simply run off and do what they like. For every man with a vision, there are at a thousand other who share the vision, but there's likely only one person lucky enough to see their vision come true. Thus, game development is a business, as in the most basic sense, games take a lot of money to make, and most people don't really believe in charity, especially where videogames are concerned. So they have to be designed to make money more than fit a good vision, often that means recycling what people know, sells.

Not that I'm talking about anything most people aren't aware of, but it's hard to have hope that true heroes exist in the gaming industry, given that for it to grow and succeed it's got to have more capital. Heroes will get overlooked everyday, whilst opportunities happen everyday that are wasted and our shelves get filled with games made by hacks, people just in it for the money, and make things with no artistic merit. So some cynicism is granted on this. But we've got to have hope, specifically because, and at least in my case, just when I'm about to give up on gaming, wishes do come true in the form of Valves portal most recently, but way back when I first started playing games, Westwood stepping forward to create and make the Real Time Strategy game what it is. Blizzard coming on to take that and perfect it.

I know now there's always a reason to look forward, as the thing I love about video games IS it's artistic merit, and although that isn't true of everyone, I know there are visionaries who will always give me a reason to play, and others to give others a reason. I suppose my worry isn't that there are no heroes, but that one day, there they'll be enough money involved for there to really be no more heroes.

Sorry I post long, but I like to make sure that I've tried to validate my opinion.

 

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