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Sunday, January 4, 2009

Big things in the works

There are big things in the works, one of the reasons I haven't posted in a while, and once a few final elements are figured out, they will be here in full force.

I wanted to talk briefly, however, about something that has bothered me. It seems to me that more and more games are offering "innovations" that aren't neccesarily good things. For example, Wii fit has the insanely funny avatar glitch, where a large person's avatar will balloon from a stick figure to a ball (which is perfect for self esteem). Additionally, in a more gamey sense, SPORE has it's horribly broken 5-games-in-1 gameplay. Seems like every game that comes out has it's own schtick.

Don't get me wrong, old games had innovations too when they came out. Warcraft 3 had an integrated hero system that was awesome and revolutionary in it's time (and to further their credit, WOW's talent trees have been copied by everyone and their brother for MMORPG's). But these innovations were actual innovations. Players saw these features and didn't buy the game for them, but rather enjoyed the game more because of their existence.

SPORE could have been a very different game if the focus was on the gameplay (like all the other SIM/Civ games) and not the stages of gameplay. I remember Sim Tower, it would certainly tell you when you reached a new level and got new stuff, but it didn't have to effect your gameplay at all. It was a bonus, not a reason to play.

The issue is not innovation but the gameplay around the innovation. Wow us, impress us, enslave us to your technological and creative might, but do so while we're playing a really enjoyable game. Bring us in with something completely different, then broadside us with WOW factor. Gamers love surprises like that, something that will keep us coming back for years. I don't still play Star Wars Rebellion because it's a star wars game, I play it because of the insane amount of complexity the systems within it have. Now, complex systems aren't something I like playing with, and wouldn't buy "Sim Complex System" but I would buy a tactical star wars game, and if it utilized an innovative complex system that I enjoyed using, then I would be grateful for that innovation.

Hopefully the kings are worked out for the big hidden secret projects. we'll soon see.
-VG

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