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Genre evolution vs copy-catting

LucascraftLucascraft Registered User regular
edited February 2010 in Games and Technology
I wasn't sure what exactly to title this thread, so hopefully the one I used will serve well enough. Basically, I want to talk about the meta-subject of genre growth and evolution in the video-gaming industry.

As with any competitive industry, new innovations, ideas, and technology are introduced to creators which allow them to think or create in new and exciting ways.

Using a non-videogame example, lets take for instance the Matrix. When Matrix1 first hit the screen, the bullet-time and slow motion action sequences were incredibly groundbreaking. Anymore, you will find elements in almost all action films that were pioneered in the Matrix. This is what I'd call evolution.

Evolution happens a lot in the video game industry as well. But where is the line between taking part in the evolution of the genre versus just being a copy-cat? Is every developer who makes use of control groups in RTS games a copy-cat of the first company to use this feature?

The thing that got me thinking about this topic in the first place was a quote in the IGN video review for AVP. The reviewer says:
My biggest complaint with the multiplayer though is that there is no expandability for your characters. While you do rank up, you only unlock skins rather than new abilities.

I guess my question is, since when has a level-up system been a requirement for a good score in a multi-player game? Just because Call of Duty does it, does that mean every game has to have that now? Seems a little unfair to me to give a game negative marks in a review, simply because it is lacking a feature that another game in the same genre has. Unless of course leveling in FPS games is an official requirement of the genre now.

And what about Dante's Inferno. This game stole everything possible from God of War, and all the reviewers gave it negative marks for being similar to another game in the action genre. Why is one game scored low because it does have features of other games in the genre, while another game is given negative marks because it doesn't. It looks like a no-win situation to me. Criticized for being a copy-cat if you follow the evolutionary path of other games in the genre, or criticized because of omission.

With the release of the Starcraft 2 beta, it got me thinking about genre evolution as well. The RTS genre has grown a lot in the time between SC1 and SC2. Things like line of sight and cover have been added by Relic. We were given Tactical Zoom by Supreme Commander. Many games feature a unit formation option for keeping your armies organized. Several games include features such as unit promotion and veteran units, which encourages players to keep their units alive and play strategically, rather than treating them as expendable. Yet SC2 contains none of these things. Will Blizzard be criticized for not evolving? Probably not.

These are all basically just random thoughts I've had recently and I was just wanting to put this out there for whatever type of discussion it might stir up.

Lucascraft on
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  • emnmnmeemnmnme Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I wish more developers copied the good ideas of their competitors. We'd finally get some Deus Ex and Bloodlines clones.

    Take the good, chop away the bad, add something better, I'm entertained.

    emnmnme on
  • HenroidHenroid Radio Demon Internet HellRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Dante's Inferno was a thing before the game, it's a name people are familiar with. So it immediately sets pre-conceptions. It's a matter of what's more powerful, or what's more important to people - the gameplay itself, or 'justice' being done to a well known brand.

    The features you describe for the RTS genre I haven't experienced (the line of sight thing I might've, but what the fuck is Tactical Zoom?). Just because new ideas are discovered or implemented doesn't mean they're good. It's like putting cashews on pizza. Separate these are fine foods / snacks. Together though, not so much.

    I think people are getting a little spoiled with genre dipping / mixing.

    Edit - Though, don't get me wrong - if leveling-up systems work in a given game's context, I love me some RPG mixin' with other genres.

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  • DarlanDarlan Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I remember being shocked that we didn't get a proper RE4 clone until Dead Space despite how popular and interesting that setup was/is. And everyone who loved RE4 seemed to hate RE5's controls for how restrictive they were even though they loosened up quite a bit from RE4 and allowed people strafe.

    These things seem rather subjective and random, though. I can admit to a lot of hypocrisy on my part, such as being a little bummed out about FFXIII's "just an interactive movie" linearity accusations while being excited about Heavy Rain at the same time, or disliking Modern Warfare 2 for how little it added to MW while being excited about Starcraft 2, which seems to be add a great deal less.

    Darlan on
  • LucascraftLucascraft Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Henroid wrote: »
    The features you describe for the RTS genre I haven't experienced (the line of sight thing I might've, but what the fuck is Tactical Zoom?). Just because new ideas are discovered or implemented doesn't mean they're good. It's like putting cashews on pizza. Separate these are fine foods / snacks. Together though, not so much.

    Tactical Zoom was a totally sweet feature of Supreme Commander that let you zoom out to extreme distances to command your units from what was basically an orbital view. Of course, the maps in Supreme Commander were huge, and the game would have been hell without it. But the ability to get a top town view of the whole game map all at once was really nice.

    Basically, Tactical Zoom would be akin to putting the entire mini-map as your whole screen. It made directing multiple squads across a big map very easy.

    Lucascraft on
  • HenroidHenroid Radio Demon Internet HellRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Starcraft doesn't seem to be a game of that scale, if you ask me. So that's why it's probably not there.

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  • subediisubedii Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Lucascraft wrote: »
    With the release of the Starcraft 2 beta, it got me thinking about genre evolution as well. The RTS genre has grown a lot in the time between SC1 and SC2. Things like line of sight and cover have been added by Relic. We were given Tactical Zoom by Supreme Commander. Many games feature a unit formation option for keeping your armies organized. Several games include features such as unit promotion and veteran units, which encourages players to keep their units alive and play strategically, rather than treating them as expendable. Yet SC2 contains none of these things. Will Blizzard be criticized for not evolving? Probably not.

    Speaking about this specifically, they have been criticised for it, but by a relatively small number of people, and I expect professional critics (as in magazine reviewers and such) to be harshest on the topic.

    Some others have also criticised the game for not changing enough, and I'll get into that in a bit.

    In general, evolution is good, evolution for its own sake is bad. Other RTS games have different manners and styles of gameplay. The team behind SC2 know what the franchise is, and aren't about to throw that away to make it something else that it isn't and that its fans don't want it to be. The "evolutions" that you're talking about don't necessarily apply to Starcraft. It has line of sight but only fixed "levels" of terrain. There's no strategic zoom but it's not that kind of game, and not every RTS benefits from that (SupCom, being much larger in scale, benefits more from a concept like that).

    It's popular at the moment (for example) to take as much base building out of the game as possible now, and instead focus on the real-time tactics, even C&C4 is going that direction. People say that's the "evolution" of the genre because you're throwing out the slow bits to make things faster paced. For a game like Starcraft, base building is an inherent part of the gameplay and strategy, and throwing it out would be stupid. Instead they've evolved the mechanics of base building within context. So say for example, Terran's actually blockade themselves into their bases behind supply yards that also act as pop-up buffers against attack.

    The reason that SC2 is a bit more static than other franchises is that they genuinely did hit on a winning formula. The game is pretty much regarded as the example of a balanced RTS, and it's got a huge following all over the world (not just South Korea, although that is probably the biggest). However, this has also lead to some rather bizarre side-effects in the nature of the gameplay design where the fans want exactly the same game and view any deviation as being a detraction from the actual gameplay. You might be surprised to hear this, but there was active resistance to the idea that you'd be able to select more than 12 units at once in the new game. There's also resistance to the idea that unit queuing would go beyond 5 units. Starcraft is a very micromanagement heavy game, and anything that detracts from that could actually be seen as detracting from the gameplay and the skill of play.

    Like I said it's bizarre, and Blizzard are having to walk a fine line between keeping the core gameplay the same whilst bringing in changes and evolutions that are more convenient to the newer players. They need to keep the hardcore "pro" players onboard whilst making the game more accessible. That's not going to please everyone.

    subedii on
  • LucascraftLucascraft Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I'm not saying it needs to be there. I'm merely saying that Starcraft2 lacks any type of innovation at all that's been introduced in the last 10 years. And that's just one example game. I don't really want this discussion to get hung up on one particular series.

    Lucascraft on
  • HenroidHenroid Radio Demon Internet HellRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Lucascraft wrote: »
    I'm not saying it needs to be there. I'm merely saying that Starcraft2 lacks any type of innovation at all that's been introduced in the last 10 years. And that's just one example game. I don't really want this discussion to get hung up on one particular series.

    Yeah, I'm sorry. But I'm sticking by my point that not all innovation is important or good enough to be standardized. I wonder what the first FPS game to include reloading was. I know that Outlaws (PC game by Lucasarts) is the first I experienced it in, and thought it was badass. And we're at a point where reloading in FPS games is pretty much part of the game design now. That's innovation that was nothing more than doing what needs doing in real life. Simple. And the simplicity made it work. I guess that's what innovation is.

    Henroid on
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  • subediisubedii Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Lucascraft wrote: »
    I'm not saying it needs to be there. I'm merely saying that Starcraft2 lacks any type of innovation at all that's been introduced in the last 10 years. And that's just one example game. I don't really want this discussion to get hung up on one particular series.

    Well then I pretty much stick with what I said at the beginning. Innovation is good, but not for its own sake. It has to be directed and with an idea of where you want to take the franchise, not just throwing in ideas because other games thought they were good.

    Similar is happening with SupCom 2. Chris Taylor actually said the same thing, innovation for its own sake is like changing the design of a car by taking away or adding wheels.


    Getting away from RTS's, after Halo hit, it was like a switch had been flicked and all of a sudden every FPS had to have health regen. That was progressive, that was the future. Heck I remember the more hardcore Halo fans actually making fun of HL2 for having healthpacks instead of regen. Man that's so outdated. For the most part I still believe that if Left 4 Dead had been made by almost any other developer, they would have tried to shoehorn health regen into it. And it would have sucked, completely the wrong mechanic for the kind of gameplay you're trying to develop.

    The thing is, Bungie is well aware of something that a lot of other devs seemed not to understand, which is that health regen works, in certain contexts of gameplay. When it came to ODST, it was a different style of game, and they actually made the character a lot more fragile and brought back health kits.

    Games should take the best bits from other games, but you really need to know what direction you're taking the game in and why. Just throwing in "new, progressive" stuff makes a mess of things. I feel more than a few games suffered from having health regen instead of static health (usually the more tactically oriented games).

    subedii on
  • The Dude With HerpesThe Dude With Herpes Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Henroid wrote: »
    Lucascraft wrote: »
    I'm not saying it needs to be there. I'm merely saying that Starcraft2 lacks any type of innovation at all that's been introduced in the last 10 years. And that's just one example game. I don't really want this discussion to get hung up on one particular series.

    Yeah, I'm sorry. But I'm sticking by my point that not all innovation is important or good enough to be standardized. I wonder what the first FPS game to include reloading was. I know that Outlaws (PC game by Lucasarts) is the first I experienced it in, and thought it was badass. And we're at a point where reloading in FPS games is pretty much part of the game design now. That's innovation that was nothing more than doing what needs doing in real life. Simple. And the simplicity made it work. I guess that's what innovation is.

    I'm with Henroid here.

    These things don't need to be in SC2. Simple additions to a genre don't necessarily necessitate changes across the board.

    The tactical cover, in games like CoH are there because the game is replicating a very specific type of warfare and it would have been absurd to not have something to that effect.

    However games like SC2 is a more "arcadey" RTS, if there is such a thing; and it's not diminished for not having it. It just doesn't need it. Would it be better with it? Well that's entirely subjective and not everyone would agree. What we can agree on is that if SC2 had cover it would completely change the game.

    It's dangerous to assume that a specific feature of a new game, while nice, is an "evolution" in the sense that future games are somehow backwards without it.

    In a non-RTS example, I just finished plowing through Borderlands after playing countless hours of ME2. At first the lack of a cover system, so common in FPS's these days was a bit jarring but after an hour or so of transition I no longer cared and realized that not only did the game not need it but the addition of it would have changed the play and pace of the game so dramatically that it wouldn't have been remotely the same experience.

    In that sense I don't think that a new game in a genre needs to really take into account additions. It can; and I'm not saying that doing so would be bad or wrong. It's just that they're optional aspects and not mandatory.

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  • mspencermspencer Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    But innovation in terms of what? In terms of game mechanics?

    Games are a series of challenges that give you opportunities for rapid, low-cost failure. The reason a game is challenging when you are new to it, but easy when you have mastered it, is because the player learns from overcoming challenges.

    So are we talking about innovation in terms of game mechanics? IMHO a copycat game is one where if you've played and mastered the original, you can start playing the copycat and you will find you have already previously mastered the challenges. If you have made a game that isn't made redundant by a genre-defining previous game, but instead you almost REQUIRE the player have learned from that previous game, you aren't being a copycat: you are refining and adding to that genre.

    See also: "doom clone". There's a good reason we don't say that any more.

    I'd also like to point out that individual game mechanics can suggest some "low-hanging-fruit" game challenges, but game mechanics are not themselves challenges. If you agree with how I frame the discussion -- that a game's worth to its players is in the challenges it offers, and whether or not it still offers meaningful challenge to a player who has played any of a nearly random set of previous games in many genres -- then it shouldn't matter if one game designer chooses not to use a game mechanic that people liked in a previous game.

    Technically speaking, in terms of table games, the Pop-O-Matic Bubble was an innovation over a set of six-sided dice. I don't know if that matters much to gameplay though.

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  • Local H JayLocal H Jay Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Darlan wrote: »
    I remember being shocked that we didn't get a proper RE4 clone until Dead Space despite how popular and interesting that setup was/is. And everyone who loved RE4 seemed to hate RE5's controls for how restrictive they were even though they loosened up quite a bit from RE4 and allowed people strafe.
    psst... gears of war

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  • DarkWarriorDarkWarrior __BANNED USERS
    edited February 2010
    I remember hating Saints Row 1 with a passion, it was a shitty, obvious clone to cash in on my beloved GTA.

    Then Saints Row 2 came out, and its not art, but it took everything and made it better. And one of my favourite moments involves some on-mission convo where your accomplice changes your radio station to something he prefers and begins singing along badly to the song that is on while your guy berates him. I think they change the radio a few times there. If someone has a video of that, that'd be awesome.

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  • Local H JayLocal H Jay Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    on the subject i'd like to add: i don't think it's a matter of any one thing evolving the genre, since many features will be in a game before they really hit their stride. i think it's the developer who takes those elements and makes them fun for us to play, makes us remember those cool moments.

    for one example, QTE's have been around for ever. they just rarely were a central part of the gameplay. games like god of war and RE4 made people realize that QTE's can make for fun gameplay. cut to now, it's not surprising to find QTE's in most games. but often it's done sloppily, like in prototype or just cause. just because it's awesome once does not mean it will be awesome in every game.
    it's up to the developer to decide how to include these 'evolutions of the genre' into their game, and if they even fit into that game.

    i personally find no problems with people taking good ideas and running with them. it's tough to say because i am playing through dante's inferno right now, but i am not at all offended by it's blatant repackaging of god of war. it's still stupid, violent fun. hell, most of the fondly remembered beat em ups like x-men, simpsons, TMNT, and avengers games played pretty much exactly the same, but they were all still awesome.

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  • zilozilo Registered User
    edited February 2010
    I don't think there's anything wrong with taking a proven-fun game and putting a different spin on it. Dead Space was RE4 with more horror and strafing, God of War was a westernized Devil May Cry with more story elements, SC2 is a modernized version of SC1.

    It's a shame that a fantastic game like Darksiders gets dogged in the press for being unoriginal, though it does provide a convenient litmus test for reviewers.

    zilo on
  • subediisubedii Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    zilo wrote: »
    I don't think there's anything wrong with taking a proven-fun game and putting a different spin on it. Dead Space was RE4 with more horror and strafing, God of War was a westernized Devil May Cry with more story elements, SC2 is a modernized version of SC1.

    It's a shame that a fantastic game like Darksiders gets dogged in the press for being unoriginal, though it does provide a convenient litmus test for reviewers.

    From what I've seen (personal opinion), "professional" reviewers in general tend to mark down games that don't provide too much that's original, even if they're extremely well executed. I suspect it's partly because they suffer from burnout more than most, and are always looking for something "new". Heck, I remember quite a lot of magazines marking down Planescape: Torment for that reason, it was just another Bioware RPG. It was good but it didn't innovate, so it couldn't be called a classic. And yet, PS:T stood the test of time where a lot of RPG's didn't.

    subedii on
  • TheSonicRetardTheSonicRetard Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I've had cashews on pizza before

    it was actually pretty good

    TheSonicRetard on
  • DarlanDarlan Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Darlan wrote: »
    I remember being shocked that we didn't get a proper RE4 clone until Dead Space despite how popular and interesting that setup was/is. And everyone who loved RE4 seemed to hate RE5's controls for how restrictive they were even though they loosened up quite a bit from RE4 and allowed people strafe.
    psst... gears of war
    ...isn't very similar to RE4 or Dead Space?

    Darlan on
  • PikaPuffPikaPuff Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I've had cashews on pizza before

    it was actually pretty good
    cashews on pizza are fucking amazing but I haven't seen anyone offer that in over 5 years

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  • Local H JayLocal H Jay Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Darlan wrote: »
    Darlan wrote: »
    I remember being shocked that we didn't get a proper RE4 clone until Dead Space despite how popular and interesting that setup was/is. And everyone who loved RE4 seemed to hate RE5's controls for how restrictive they were even though they loosened up quite a bit from RE4 and allowed people strafe.
    psst... gears of war
    ...isn't very similar to RE4 or Dead Space?

    yeah it is
    no there aren't any overly 'scary' elements to gears, but the controls are directly influenced by RE4. cliffyB has even flat out stated it. they just made it more 'western' styled when it came to controls but kept the over-the-shoulder perspective. they may not be similar in many other ways, but controls are pretty similar. hell, RE5 even aped the cover system from gears.

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  • FalstaffFalstaff Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I often wonder how many of the gameplay conventions we take for granted only continue to exist because of nostalgia. For example: bosses that take "three hits" to kill or change phase. Is this just a tradition? Or is it a perfect balance between a required challenge standard and the potential boredom of repetition?

    There's no question that a lot of what goes on in games is just passed down without thought, and that a lot of it is completely arbitrary. Personally I find the intentional inability to respec talent points in RPGs to be a stupid fucking dinosaur of a concept. As is the "talk to every NPC in the town, loot every cabinet in the world!" bullshit that still goes on these days.

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  • emnmnmeemnmnme Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    With Mega Man 9 and 10 and the Dragon Warrior games, the fans don't want the genres to evolve - they want to devs to copy what was done before and clean up the graphics a little.

    And now this Heavy Rain game comes along and fans of Adventure games do want the genre to evolve. They like a lil' more interaction with their point-and-click.

    I don't know what to think.

    emnmnme on
  • ZombiemamboZombiemambo Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    There's good retro and bad retro, and it's really a crap shoot as to which a game will be. It's either an uninspired clone of an old game that was better, or a great throwback to the good old days. Nobody seems to know how to separate the two.

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  • BartholamueBartholamue Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I remember when the first Tony Hawk Pro Skater game came out, developers were flocking to make the next big skate game. Who knew that eventually, we'd get the Skate series.

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  • AxenAxen My avatar is Excalibur. Yes, the sword.Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    There's good retro and bad retro, and it's really a crap shoot as to which a game will be. It's either an uninspired clone of an old game that was better, or a great throwback to the good old days. Nobody seems to know how to separate the two.

    This is true. I can't say exactly why, but some games I just don't want to see change and then there are others I want to see pull themselves out of the dark ages, so to speak.

    Of course, you got other games (like X-Com for example) that could really use nothing more then a face lift to be awesome, yet all the X-Com clones always change or leave something out. On the flip side you have a series like Sonic which has been trying everything but what made it so fun in the first place (IMHO anyway).

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  • Baka_ShadeBaka_Shade Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    emnmnme wrote: »
    With Mega Man 9 and 10 and the Dragon Warrior games, the fans don't want the genres to evolve - they want to devs to copy what was done before and clean up the graphics a little.

    And now this Heavy Rain game comes along and fans of Adventure games do want the genre to evolve. They like a lil' more interaction with their point-and-click.

    I don't know what to think.

    There's more than one company developing video games, though - if innovation and tradition can both be valued traits, is it weird that people could potentially want either or both, depending on the game?

    I don't think you can really reduce trends in game development to a single standard "evolution" vs. "genre convention". There's no hypocrisy inherent in criticizing one game for using a conventional mechanic and another for lacking one.

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  • EvilBadmanEvilBadman DO NOT TRUST THIS MAN Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Here is a fantastic example of genre evolution: Metal Gear Solid introduced us to third person stealth. Couple years later, Splinter Cell came into the game, and added lighting to the stealth considerations.

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  • Ninja Snarl PNinja Snarl P My helmet is my burden. Ninja Snarl: Gone, but not forgotten.Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Urgh, I get so mad at QTEs. It's one thing when they're used in-game a la God of War to give you mini-game in the middle of combat, but the vast majority are "press this or die!" events and they suck. Especially when random buttons are used instead of semi-logical things like having to press the punch button for a hand movement in a QTE. Not to mention the fact that QTEs always end up plastering immersion-wrecking button icons all over the screens as if to scream in your ear "this is just a game!" Heavy Rain looks neat and all... except for the buttons floating all over the place and completely destroying the illusion.

    Also, don't forget that the Splinter Cell series added sanity to its espionage action. I really like having some actual logic behind why I'm hacking the computer of a secret North Korean missile base other than "METAL GEAR!"

    One trend I'm liking is an increasing use of HUD-less or adaptive/reactive HUD games. Being able to turn off virtually everything in the Assassin's Creed games helps a lot when it comes to making you actually feel like you're there. I also like in FPS games when you don't get a reticle and you don't have health, ammo, and map info plastered all over your screen like your eyes are in the middle of your skull and your face is made of glass. Unless there is an in-game reason to have that stuff hanging all over the place (like in Crysis, Halo, or Metroid Prime, which give you a super-suit in all three cases), at least make it go away when I don't need to see it any longer.

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  • StreltsyStreltsy Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Does anyone else get annoyed at usage of word evolution as a synthesis of innovation and advancement? Evolution doesn't work towards some arbitrary betterment of a species (i.e. there is no such thing as devolution), so why would you use in that way when applying the word something like a game? Ugh...

    Innovation is great without needed saying, but you shouldn't expect nor want sequels and expansions to be innovative. Lots of games try new things, and most of their 'evolution' and 'innovation' turns out to be a gimmick amusing for one game at best. A few, however, turn out to be keepers - and when you find that right formula, why change it if it isn't broken?

    When valve eventually rolls out with a new game engine, and remakes CS again, I hope it's going to be just like the original with updated graphics. Some new maps, new skins, and maybe even a couple of new guns, but I'd be pretty mad if they added killstreaks, perks, and other shitty 'evolutions of the genre' to it.
    As for Relic, for all the 'innovation' they've come up with, their games are pretty shitty with balance and aren't really fun to watch. I say this as someone who would put CoH up as one of their favourite games of all time.

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  • LucascraftLucascraft Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Streltsy wrote: »
    Does anyone else get annoyed at usage of word evolution as a synthesis of innovation and advancement? Evolution doesn't work towards some arbitrary betterment of a species (i.e. there is no such thing as devolution), so why would you use in that way when applying the word something like a game? Ugh...

    Evolution is a perfectly adequate term to describe the growing and changing of a genre. Using FPS as an example, the addition of mouse-look to every FPS ever is a sign of evolution. Just like the inclusion of gills on fish. If you want to apply some Darwinian terminology into the mix, you could say that in the world of survival of the fittest, FPS games with mouse-look were determined fit and they survived, whereas games without mouse-look don't exist anymore except as fossils of days gone by.

    Lucascraft on
  • FalstaffFalstaff Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Obviously it's not a 1:1 similarity - all metaphors fall apart if you get microscopic - but it's a close enough concept to be useful or at least accessible.

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    Still verbing the adjective noun.
  • StreltsyStreltsy Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    It's a bit off-topic, since the word is misused in general (not just in the discussion of games).
    Lucascraft wrote: »
    Evolution is a perfectly adequate term to describe the growing and changing of a genre.

    Yes, but it's not directional as a whole and there will never, for example, be a perfect species with a perfect respiratory system. You wouldn't say that blow-hole is worse than a set of gills, or that incisor teeth are better than mauling teeth. Where as, when used loosely as a metaphor, people mean exactly mean that one thing is better than the other overall.
    Lucascraft wrote: »
    Using FPS as an example, the addition of mouse-look to every FPS ever is a sign of evolution. Just like the inclusion of gills on fish. If you want to apply some Darwinian terminology into the mix, you could say that in the world of survival of the fittest, FPS games with mouse-look were determined fit and they survived, whereas games without mouse-look don't exist anymore except as fossils of days gone by.

    Your example of mouse-look is a good example, you'd be hard pressed to argue for that the addition of mouse-look isn't a betterment to the genre. The addition of killstreaks, removal of base-building, perks, an etcetera are not betterments, which is what people often mean when they say something like 'this game is the next step in the evolution of the genre', ascribing positive connotation to it when the next step could just as easily mean a step down for the genre.

    Streltsy on
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  • Baka_ShadeBaka_Shade Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Streltsy wrote: »
    It's a bit off-topic, since the word is misused in general (not just in the discussion of games).
    Lucascraft wrote: »
    Evolution is a perfectly adequate term to describe the growing and changing of a genre.

    Yes, but it's not directional as a whole and there will never, for example, be a perfect species with a perfect respiratory system. You wouldn't say that blow-hole is worse than a set of gills, or that incisor teeth are better than mauling teeth. Where as, when used loosely as a metaphor, people mean exactly mean that one thing is better than the other overall.

    For the most part I figure people are using the common (mis?)conception of the term, but actually, I think "evolution" is actually pretty apt to describe what's really going on. New features are added and adapted with the intent of making the game more marketable in some way, whether or not they're successful in the final instance, and features that sell games the best are retained and developed further.

    Total semantics, but I think if we're sticking to the metaphor, comparing blowholes to gills would be the equivalent of comparing V.A.T.S. to ATB as RPG combat mechanics. Still seems like a reasonable analogy.

    Baka_Shade on
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  • LorkLork Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Lucascraft wrote: »
    And what about Dante's Inferno. This game stole everything possible from God of War, and all the reviewers gave it negative marks for being similar to another game in the action genre. Why is one game scored low because it does have features of other games in the genre, while another game is given negative marks because it doesn't. It looks like a no-win situation to me. Criticized for being a copy-cat if you follow the evolutionary path of other games in the genre, or criticized because of omission.
    It's hard to feel too much sympathy for the developers in these examples. You're forgetting the obvious third option: Add something new and interesting to the genre. If Dante's Inferno had brought anything of value to the God of War formula, nobody would've complained about the similarities. Even Dead Space at least improved on the controls of RE4, and guess what? Hardly anybody cared that it did just about everything else the same. They didn't even invent the control scheme, they just transplanted it from Gears of War. That really goes to show how low the bar is, and how deserving of ridicule anybody who can't reach it is.

    I have no patience for this kind of thing. If your game amounts to a less inspired version of another game, why should I spend $60 on it instead of just replaying the original?

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  • DodgeBlanDodgeBlan PSN: dodgeblanRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    OP is missing a key point:

    the difference between a true evolution and just what is currently in fashion.
    Better in game physics: evolution.
    No base building in RTS: currently in fashion.

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  • subediisubedii Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    EvilBadman wrote: »
    Here is a fantastic example of genre evolution: Metal Gear Solid introduced us to third person stealth. Couple years later, Splinter Cell came into the game, and added lighting to the stealth considerations.

    Garret would like to have a word with you.

    subedii on
  • SixfortyfiveSixfortyfive Registered User
    edited February 2010
    It boils down to judging games for what they are instead of what they are not. It swings both ways for what the OP is talking about, and it's always irked me a little as well.
    Lork wrote: »
    I have no patience for this kind of thing. If your game amounts to a less inspired version of another game, why should I spend $60 on it instead of just replaying the original?
    Some of my favorite games amount to nothing more than straight-up clones of competing products, only with superior content. Everyone has a saturation point for this sort of thing, but there's nothing wrong with it on its own and I think it's silly to say that no strictly derivative work is worth retail price.

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  • Alistair HuttonAlistair Hutton Dr EdinburghRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I remember hating Saints Row 1 with a passion, it was a shitty, obvious clone to cash in on my beloved GTA.

    Then Saints Row 2 came out, and its not art, but it took everything and made it better. And one of my favourite moments involves some on-mission convo where your accomplice changes your radio station to something he prefers and begins singing along badly to the song that is on while your guy berates him. I think they change the radio a few times there. If someone has a video of that, that'd be awesome.

    I find Saints Row 2 amazingly intersting to study because... I cannot put my finger on why I find it so incredibly fun whilst I find Vice City bone crushingly boring.

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  • UltrachristUltrachrist Registered User
    edited February 2010
    There's room for old ideas and rehashes of new ones. I'd rather play a polished rehash of a known concept that a poorly executed but brilliant new idea.

    It's also hard to state what a makes a game like Dante's Inferno feel like a cheap GOW rip-off whereas Dead Space and Darksiders are excellent games that borrow heavily from other games. Partially, I think it is that both of the second games have a fantastic aesthetic that is different from the games they are cribbing. On top of that, Dead Space does actually add new things (how many games had an in-game HUD previously and how many have done it as well as DS since?) and Darksiders borrows from many more games than just Zelda to make it a more unique package even if if none of its individual elements were very original.

    I sort of agree with the OP on Starcraft and my friends noticed it immediately too. The game doesn't look to have changed all that much in ten years. This isn't a big deal and I'll still pick it up day 1 but I would have liked to see them mix it up a tad more since I can still go back and play the original whenever I'd like. I'm a bit more critical of D3 which was way too similar to D2 last I was reading about (it's been a while now and is probably worth looking into). I would have liked an attempt at a D1->D2 style improvement. We'll see I suppose.

    Ultrachrist on
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  • Rex DartRex Dart Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I think there's way too much emphasis on originality in video game criticism. My friends once started debating which was the first game to have a double jump. I couldn't believe that anyone would actually care about such trivialities. It may be of interest as a historical curiosity, but a game with a double-jump is not better because it got there first. Nor is a game worse because the double-jump existed beforehand.

    What I'm trying to say is that implementation is infinitely more important than innovation. Indeed!

    Rex Dart on
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