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.