Going Gold: You're Doing It Wrong

Going Gold: You're Doing It Wrong

It's no harm to learn from the works of others - but at least get it right.

Permalink

nice article. The truth is copy n pasting popular ideas is something that happens in all entertainment genres. Da Vinci code did well; suddenly all action/adventure films had "ancient secret societies" in them for no real reason other than it was the thing to do (eg. Batman Begins). Popular literature lately saw the explosion in chic lit, & recently a resurgence in copy n paste crime-thriller novels. Be it games, film, literature, music or art; a good idea that is seen to be popular will be mercilessly jumped on by any bandwagoner quick enough to do so while theres still some cash to be made from it. Thats just commerical capitalism

As soon as you started talking about the "running" versus "walking" aspect of CoD4 (which I have yet to play), I was immediately reminded of Battlefield. The 1942 one. The one from aught-two. I can certainly appreciate if you never played any BF series games, or simply feel that CoD4 did it better, but BF was definitely there a while ago.

I agree with you on the rest though. Halo got it right, and everyone since has borrowed the mechanism without any real effort on their part to integrate it properly. But, this is not just the videogame industry, it is almost every industry. Oh, look over there, Jim Inc. just added cogs to their sprockets! We need coggy sprockets too! Who cares if it fits our product!? Just put cogs on it!

I was about to say something rude about The Escapist and trends in recent months edging toward up-to-the-minute-breaking-news, but, alas, I know I'm in the minority... *goes in search of black eyeliner and a thin black candle*

I honestly enjoyed reading that. It was well-written, and I like how you (kinda) play Devil's Advocate for defending some of the game mechanics that are beginning (or have been done in the past) to be more widely used in the industry. Kudos.

Cousin_IT:
Da Vinci code did well; suddenly all action/adventure films had "ancient secret societies" in them for no real reason other than it was the thing to do (eg. Batman Begins).

Agreed with the gist, but disagree with the example. Ra's al Ghul and the League of Assassins (renamed the League of Shadows) already existed in the Batman comics, and were a good fit for the movie.

Agreed with the overall "death by copy-paste" article though, very little to add.

Nice article. I can't say I'm in favor of the self healing stuff. Had also been back then in AvP ( for the P of course ) and somehow self-healing takes the challenge out of it. You just need to camp a bit until you are fit and go on. But maybe this is just me. I'm not sure if this copy'n'paste is stronger than in the past but I have the impression it is. My hope is still on Indie Development... they put the ideas back in unless bought out by valve :O ... and then getting raped and turned into rubbish ( example CS <1.0 turning into the rubbish called CS:S nowadays ).

Copy and paste has always been a part of the industry. When Nolan Bushnell founded Atari they had one game, pong. It's huge success inspired competitors that made, not different video games, but instead knock-offs of pong*. In order to compete with what he called "the jackals", Nolan Bushnell devoted much of Atari's resources toward making new games. It was during this time that they came up with games like Gotcha, Gran Trak 10, and Tank, which spawned whole genres. It wasn't until the end of the 70s that they saw serious competition in the form of new games.

Generally speaking the games industry has a handful of innovators who lead a host of copycats.

* Pong was itself a knock-off of the tennis game on the Magnavox Odyssey, but that's another story.

I honestly didn't get why you felt the need to mention that Call of Duty had sniper shots affected by wind and distance, when they aren't affected by either aspect except in a certain interactive cutscene that lasts for all of one shot, maybe seven or eight if you feel like shelling his companions or making sure you hit him.

Great job writing this article, a very nice piece of work with a great conclusion.

The article has some flaws like the lack of facts.

The Halo 2 health system (or lack of health system) was a major diappointment and made Halo 2 and 3 far too easy compared with the first.

You actually have health in Halo 2 and 3. It's invisible to the player and recharges (although much slower than the shields) so it's not quite the same thing as in Halo CE but it's still there.

Just wanted to point that out :)

shMerker:
Copy and paste has always been a part of the industry.

That's actually a great point. While the sound of an incessantly innovative field of game design sounds enticing, it's hardly realistic, and it isn't entirely the developers' faults. In any field that requires interactivity between a user and the product, there needs to be a certain degree of familiarity in order to make the product appealing, as too much change can alienate target consumers. Even though this fact is typically assigned to the overall progression of game development, rather than making it a game-to-game issue, it holds up--to a point.

Like in any other field, if someone develops a superior method of doing something (whether it's health management or movement control), it's most likely going to be widely accepted, making it essential to include in a game. It's like running into an NES game where B was jump (probably seen in the developers' mind as making their game different).

While controls and concepts are two very different things (and, of course, we all like to see original game concepts) ctrl+c ctrl+z is only going to refine genres and, over time, improve games, even if it's only by adding value to, and forcing developers to embrace, originality.

Sidenote: If anyone want's to play a game where damage inflicted causes contextual handicaps, find Bushido Blade. Even if only for it's minimal tone and style, it's a interesting fighting game.

Instant-heal packs all over the place make a "realistic" universe?

They're games. If they were all completely realistic, they'd all be harder than Devil May Cry 3 and games like Splinter Cell wouldn't even be possible.

Borrowing of mechanics in game design is proper and good. I agree that designers should make an effort to understand what they're doing and why they're doing it. But if it weren't allowed--if every game had to start from scratch and do something completely new, then we wouldn't have any of the games we have today, all of which are a product of years of iteration in game design.

The article begins with a brief mention of making one's own fun in games (a paragraph), continues with demands for dubious realism (two pages), and concludes with a call for more conscientious use of game mechanics (almost a page). I agree with the latter sentiment, but what is this article really supposed to be about? It seems to me like it may just be another "there should be a game where..." post in disguise, and if that is the case I say: go make it. I'm sure there will be a niche audience for it.

inoperative:
You actually have health in Halo 2 and 3. It's invisible to the player and recharges (although much slower than the shields) so it's not quite the same thing as in Halo CE but it's still there.

Just wanted to point that out :)

Quite true, in addition to that I found in some of the extra content (fanboy stuff) that the rationalization for this is that the new Mk.6 power armor (halo2/3) has automatic biofoam insertion as opposed to the manual method required for the older Mk.5 power armor (halo CE). However, as archanemone said, instant healing is pretty unrealistic too. But as the quote here truly states, it dose regenerate slower than your shields which is evident in the multiplayer.

There is nothing wrong with the Halo health system. It is simply put...PERFECT. Save for the fall damage of course.

the COD health system is as flawed as ever though. That simply does not happen that you take some shots...rest for a minute then you are back to full health. That is just retarded and has no place in the game. Hence why Halo tops it.

Excellent article.

bibblles:

inoperative:
You actually have health in Halo 2 and 3. It's invisible to the player and recharges (although much slower than the shields) so it's not quite the same thing as in Halo CE but it's still there.

Just wanted to point that out :)

Quite true, in addition to that I found in some of the extra content (fanboy stuff) that the rationalization for this is that the new Mk.6 power armor (halo2/3) has automatic biofoam insertion as opposed to the manual method required for the older Mk.5 power armor (halo CE). However, as archanemone said, instant healing is pretty unrealistic too. But as the quote here truly states, it dose regenerate slower than your shields which is evident in the multiplayer.

Not exactly true. If you read the Halo books the Mk 5 had that as well.

I enjoyed the article, I really did, but I have to wonder why it is that many writers seem to have missed the boat in the past ten years when it comes to video games. They mention a few of the really big ones, and completely gloss over the fact that there were OTHER GAMES out during that time.

You want realistic damage, including bleeding out when you've taken a few bullets? How about loss of accuracy, stamina meters, and the like? Have you heard of this little known game called America's Army? I know, I would've missed it to, had it not been FREE TO PLAY FOR THE PAST SIX YEARS. Or another venture into realism (previous to the shitty arcade console endeavors) the Rainbow six series of games. How about tactical realism where you cannot just run and gun the whole game, try the SWAT series. Stamina, and things that affect it, such as sprinting, jumping, climbing, etc, has been around a LOT longer than CoD4.

Granted, its still fairly rare in multiplayer, but seriously, the games exist.

I LOL'd at the Street Fighter 2 stuff. Anybody else remember Mortal Kombat 2 and the "hold low punch for thirty seconds while still trying to beat your opponent senseless" fatality? (Shang Tsung's "Kintaro Morph" if you're interested... and you're probably not.) But then MK2 was almost poking fun at that kind of thing (in fact, there was a strong satirical edge to the gorefest that was MK2 that most people didn't seem to realise, and that got largely lost in the sequels.)

But yes, I agree with the general gist, and I've made the same point myself on this very forum (remember the Donald Duck games where you ate roast chicken to gain health because the convention at the time was apple = half health bar, chicken = full health refill?)

Actually, come to think of it, I wish they'd gone further with that game and made it "Donald Duck: Cannibal Tales." That would've been awesome.

The original Duke Nukem sidescrollers had chicken to heal you too, which arguably makes more sense than a Donald Duck game, but then they made it so a shot expands it from a leg to a whole. Which is crazy.

Opinions like this infuriate me. People like this seem to think that realism is more important then fun. Frankly I don't care if my health regenerates unrealistically if it keeps the action going, like its meant to, which it does.

Talorat:
Opinions like this infuriate me. People like this seem to think that realism is more important then fun. Frankly I don't care if my health regenerates unrealistically if it keeps the action going, like its meant to, which it does.

Depends where you get your fun from. If you've played 9 or 10 other FPSs with a regenerating health bar and a gun that shoots flamingos then it might be fun to play a game without these.

Slightly off topic: Having played Max Payne 2 yesterday, i noticed how clever the health system in the game is.

Well...it's simple: You have your usual HP Bar, and you collect what are essentially Medipacks ("Painkiller" Pills here, since it fits the style) that can be used whenever you want.
However, the trade-off is that the Pills dont work immediately, since it takes a certain amout of time to recover fully.

That way, you rarely are stuck in impossible situations (for example being stuck with minimum health just before a big setpiece) yet it makes shootouts challenging and thrilling, since you cannot hide for a few seconds to recover back to perfect health (well, you can, but since there is a limited amount of painkillers and the tendency of enemies to storm or flank at you, it mostly does not work)

for me, it's the best of both worlds and it's a bit sad that no one copied that system rather than the one in Halo (well, at least F.E.A.R. did, abeit in a simpler way)

That said, i'm curious how Far Cry 2 will work out in that respect (since it takes cues from Metal Gear Solid 3 and Alone in the Dark)

I completely disagree about the COD series health system (well, COD2 and 4).

The game is not THAT realistic. So whats the point of having a realistic health system at the cost of fun? I put about 2000 bullets from a machine gun into a helicopter and it did not die, instead, 20 guys spawned from the inside of it. Not only unrealistic, but also terrible game development.

Backtracking empty maps to find a little box that heals all your wounds is NOT realistic, and NOT fun.

The triggers and spawns are painfully obvious. Until I run through this line and stay there for 10 seconds not a single thing will change on the battlefield, no matter how many hundreds of guys I kill. The boundaries suck, why can't I flank the houses by jumping over a 2 foot high log? And the AI was very unrealistic.

As for the "can't run around the whole map" praise, whoop-dee-do! Lets see some other games where you can sprint for only a short period of time: Americas Army, Battlefield 2, Half Life 2 (and 1?), Day of Defeat, Medal of Honor: Airborne, Crysis, S.T.A.L.K.E.R, Kane And Lynch, and I'm sure theres dozens of games that I didn't play that use the same method.

I both agree that games need to be more innovative to evolve, and that there need to be some copycats because they are the ones who are going to refine those innovations.

Halo's regenerating health system was a rare case where the developers innovated and got it right.
Many times, innovation comes at the cost of refinement, and new ideas are often clunky and ill-executed.

Copycats can at least take some of those ideas and make them work - thus, they can also help "innovate", in a strange way.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and if you can take a good idea and reasonably modfy it for your use and not muck it up like an amatuer kudos to you. I don't mind a lack of innovation unless it becomes emineintly flagrant, like the Dynasty Warriors or Madden series of videogames where it's just a cash in for people who will always buy into the dynastic series of games.

I think companies like Blizzard and Bioware have shown us the key to success isn't necessarily doing things no ones done before but refining them to the point you do them better. Everything in a game should be polished to a mirror shine and honed razor sharp, and these become the legendary games you remember and play for decades even if their gameplay is uninnovative or derivative- I point you to the success of every Blizzard game you've ever heard of.

What infuriates me isn't a lack of innovation but when a company just hamfisted slaps together some used idea's in an unenticing un-fun unclever way then staples on a single gimmick like bullet time or time manipulation. After Max Payne came out everyone had to have bullet time but what they failed to realize was Bullet Time was just one part of Max Payne- it was also a simple and fun little shooter with a gritty film noir gangland storyline and excellent if overly throaty voice acting and an incredibly stable and emninently modifiable engine. After Halflife every game had to have flashy first person shooter action and a magical suit of protective armor with 'shields' but what the copycats AGAIN failed to realize is what made Halflife fun was the well paced and tightly controlled events and storytelling and the puzzle elements- and shooting down that damned helicopter.

Infact I'd say they should spend less time innovating and more time refining because most games are killed because of a lack of feel or narrative or fun factor rather then innovation. Certainly after the 3rd or so itineration you should move on or make some huge changes, but if they'd put bullet time and magic spells in Halflife 2 you would've slapped Valve for being absolutly retarded. Sure it's more of the same but it's more of the same good stuff you liked before and they added enough innovation to repeat the magic. Nothing about the game was terribly innovative or brand new certainly everything in it had been done before but the difference was they blended all the elements together seamlessly and polished until it was at the very least better then if not the best you'd ever seen it done. And when one does innovate it should be a made a central part of the game not just stapled on- I point you to Portal, which could have disasterously turned into Halflife with a flashy new physics gun. Instead they make it the central focus of the game and fully explore everything you can do with it resulting in a well paced and engineered fun little game that even our pessimistic hero Yahtzee couldn't complain about.

Great games are like good movies, the stories and effects and writing and acting and cinema tography all have to come together with reasonable polish. Even if it doesn't do something you've never seen before, it's all reasonably satisfying and you feel like you got your moneys worth. Whenever a game does reasonably well (not necessarily excels) in more then one area it tends to be more favorably recieved by the public and the critical community- of course theres something to be said for games like Painkiller which just do one thing but do it with the emmineint precision of a star brain surgeon but that game was again backed up by more things then just action; art character design and level design all played a major role.

In the end I will point out that the reason bad games get made is because people buy them, so if you really want more gems like Painkiller or Okami or Halflife 2 you'll stop buying the shitty ones because of the pretty box art with the lady with the nice tits on the front. Yeah I mean you, you with the face. The pasty overweight caucasian manchild American who still lives with his parents. Stop playing Halo right now and pick up something with a bit more depth your destroying the industry.

-Wombat is a pasty overweight caucasian manchild who is unemployed and still lives with his parents and is thus completly within his rights to insult them thank you-

Oh, and furthermore hampering the gaming industry is a general mood of lazyness and the cost of development, all caused by people buying shallow crap games.

These games are the equivilant of the film "Dragon Wars". You know which ones they are. Stop it.

That being said I own several of Koei's Dynasty/Samurai Warriors games, even the cheap cash in Warriors Orochi, so I guess i'm the worlds biggest hypocrite. Hats off to me.

Digikid:

bibblles:

inoperative:
You actually have health in Halo 2 and 3. It's invisible to the player and recharges (although much slower than the shields) so it's not quite the same thing as in Halo CE but it's still there.

Just wanted to point that out :)

Quite true, in addition to that I found in some of the extra content (fanboy stuff) that the rationalization for this is that the new Mk.6 power armor (halo2/3) has automatic biofoam insertion as opposed to the manual method required for the older Mk.5 power armor (halo CE). However, as archanemone said, instant healing is pretty unrealistic too. But as the quote here truly states, it dose regenerate slower than your shields which is evident in the multiplayer.

Not exactly true. If you read the Halo books the Mk 5 had that as well.

Well... yea, but it didn't have an onbord supply of biofoam did it?

I have to agree about the neatness of being able to see people react based on where they were shot. Deus Ex really improved this system by making it so that damage to the right arm reduced accuracy (and a completely disabled right arm made it so that NPC's could not attack at all). A disabled leg made you walk instead of run and two disabled legs made you crawl. It was a very nice system that unfortunately never caught on in gaming as a whole. Now games do not even give you a single health bar so having 6 health bars was probably more than most people wanted to deal with.

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here