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Old 04-16-2008, 08:01 PM   #1
TimEdwards
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Default Budgets Killed the Video Game Star and Rant.

I was thinking about this today and have read too many articles to even be able to draw a conclusion. From the way it sounds, replay ability has become a thing of the past. Certain games like Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion have almost too much to do... meanwhile a game like Assassin's Creed has gorgeously lush levels and an awesome story, but gets repetitive fast. Why?

I believe a huge concern is budgets, I mean everyone is seriously worried about the bottom dollar which only makes sense to business men. Perhaps I am a fool when I would rather go back and play Dragon Warrior 4 than play through Oblivion one more time. I don't know how their budgets compare, but what I do know is for some wierd reason I enjoy going back and playing the older games. Why?

Don't get me wrong, do I love graphics? Of course! Do I love the sandbox like play of Grand Theft Auto? Of course! But why is it, that even though one of my personal favorite games (Assassin's Creed) was my devotion for a week, I will probably never collect all those flags or replay it?

Perhaps it is the nostalgia?

I've always wondered what would happen if a company created a sprite based game on current media? Sure Oblivion wouldn't have dragged you in with lush graphics... but consider how much more content they could have slapped on a single disk! Not only that, but think about these new high definition graphics! Metal Gear Solid 4 has apparently filled a Blueray Disk! What the he-double-hockey-sticks is on there? Is every hair textured? Something tells me that game will be great (Story wise I still think MGS3 was one of the best of all time) but something also tells me now that they have more space and more money we're just going to get a higher resolution and more things to make an already complex game crazy.

I do believe that simplicity is key in newer games, I mean look at the Wii. Some of the (I would call) stupidest games come out and I stare at them and think, who's going to buy this? Suddenly some soccer mom tells me she loves it and I'm shocked. Not only that but I buy it and enjoy it too! I actually honestly think simplicity is key, but is something that requires close monitoring. Gears of War almost got it right, but when the same button can make you press up against cover, or dive roll... you might get a little frustrated that the one button can do both.

But budgets are killing some indy games, not all, but a huge portion of them. I mean look at Devil May Cry 4, Resident Evil 5 (Sorry Capcom, I do still love you). Companies are becoming afraid to branch out. I can't imagine how much pitching had to go on to get things like Army of Two or Assassin's Creed to come out. New IPs are become more and more scarce. People stick with what they know will sell (Final Fantasy 13 anyone?) and fear the unknown. I mean yes, DMC4, RE5 and FF13 are or are going to be awesome, but when Square pulls out something new people get afraid. Sadly Okami didn't sell well on PS2 when personally I fell immediately in love with the style and story. Hopefully it gets a wonderful second chance this month on the Wii.

Sadly, I don't even remember why I began this rant, I think I meant to write something meaningful in here. I mean things like XNA and Wiiware are supposedly made to support the indy scene but unless you're a programmer or know one, it gets hard to create anything worth placing in a portfolio. Also there is no direct route, no guaranteed route into the industry. I have been researching this for many years, and all I've come up with is if you want a game design job get closer to where the jobs are. It definately increases your chances as a new recruit and a booming portfolio helps as well.

All in all I believe that's all I had to say... and I hope this was the right place to say it in! Oh yeah, feel free to discuss, just come prepared with examples and points! Thanks any and everyone for listening!!

Sincerely,
Tim Edwards
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Old 04-16-2008, 10:01 PM   #2
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Hmmm, I think I get your point, and I reminds me of something I think about a lot lately, which is how I miss those quest games Sierra and Lucas Arts (and other companies) used to make 10+ years ago, but will these games be as succesfull today as they were then? I'm not realy sure; today's games are much more fast pased and action packed then they used to be, and even though a quest game has the potential of being visually stunning, I think people will find these "point and click" games a bit boring. I remember trying to play Siberia a couple of years ago, and although it was a beatiful game with a very compelling story, it just moved too slowly for what I was already used to.
On the other hand, one of the best games (in my opinion) I've played in the recent years was ICO - it was both unique and beatifull sadly it wasn't as succesful as the other bigger titles. which brings me to another point (which I hope still relates to yours) - where do you think more unique and imaganative games come from? from western countries (US, Canada, England, France etc.) or from Japan? although I realy love Elder scrolls 4 (which I'm currently playing, sadly I don't have more then 10-20 hours of game time a week) I always found Japanese RPG games more interesting and different plot wise, even though it can get very (very) confusing.
That was my ranting, feel free to rant back
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Old 04-17-2008, 01:01 PM   #3
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Although I agree with you guys on a lot of points, I'm gonna take the other side for fun.

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Certain games like Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion have almost too much to do...
Quote:
I've always wondered what would happen if a company created a sprite based game on current media? Sure Oblivion wouldn't have dragged you in with lush graphics... but consider how much more content they could have slapped on a single disk!
This confuses me, so I'm not going to touch it.

As for Assassin's Creed, I love that game, but I also find myself unable to replay it. The real reason is that all of the missions are exactly the same. They consist of 'go somewhere and hit a button' Sometimes you go somewhere and hit a button to kill someone, sometimes you hit a button to pickpocket someone, sometimes you hit a button listen to a conversation ex. Movement in that game is fun, but I spend the entire game going places. Adding a 'hit the button' at the end doesn't really change things up. What this problem has to do with the games budget, I really don't have any idea.

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something also tells me now that they have more space and more money we're just going to get a higher resolution and more things to make an already complex game crazy.
I think this is the real thing you were attempting to get too, but I don't know if it has anything to do with budget, or even graphics. If you take any 3d game, it can be broken down into 2 1/2 2d games. Games today are inherently more complex.

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Hmmm, I think I get your point, and I reminds me of something I think about a lot lately, which is how I miss those quest games Sierra and Lucas Arts (and other companies) used to make 10+ years ago, but will these games be as succesfull today as they were then? I'm not realy sure; today's games are much more fast pased and action packed then they used to be, and even though a quest game has the potential of being visually stunning, I think people will find these "point and click" games a bit boring. I remember trying to play Siberia a couple of years ago, and although it was a beatiful game with a very compelling story, it just moved too slowly for what I was already used to.
Living in a household that owns all 17 Nancy Drew games, I beg to differ. The Nancy Drew series is also commonly in the top 10 selling PC games. Adventure games are by no means dead.
Interestingly, adventure games were the huge budget games of their time. The Last Express had the biggest budget of any video game until Shenmue popped up. (I remember it being 20 million USD in development, but Wiki has it at 6)

Quote:
On the other hand, one of the best games (in my opinion) I've played in the recent years was ICO - it was both unique and beatifull sadly it wasn't as succesful as the other bigger titles. which brings me to another point (which I hope still relates to yours) - where do you think more unique and imaganative games come from? from western countries (US, Canada, England, France etc.) or from Japan? although I realy love Elder scrolls 4 (which I'm currently playing, sadly I don't have more then 10-20 hours of game time a week) I always found Japanese RPG games more interesting and different plot wise, even though it can get very (very) confusing.
I don't like to make comparisons like that. I'm a all-around gamer (if you hadn't guessed from Nancy Drew above), and I enjoy both CRPGs and WRPGs.
CRPGs do usually have a focus on story, but we can't very well forget Planescape: Torment, or the Geneforge series.
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Old 04-17-2008, 02:13 PM   #4
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I totally think culture has a lot to do with things. Where people in japan see things like remakes and things we will likely never see... I realized that localization hurts a lot of things. For example we over here consider God of War 2 a Sony only game, but over there Capcom gets the localization rights and well... their logo gets smeared over it and they also get the marketing budget and website.

Also do I think We or Japan have more creativity? No, but I most certainly think companies over there take more chances than the companies grown here. I think that here budgets are probably the same, if not bigger (more likely bigger) than Hollywood productions and if someone is going to make a game, it has to be almost a surefire media grabber. I mean look at how Assassin's Creed got marketed, it was very smart, and goddamn did it drag you in and make you stare. Sadly, I saw zero Okami commercials, even though all around, I loved that game up and down.

Perhaps instead of marketing budgets games should let their media speak for themselves. A good game becomes amazing through marketing, but an amazing game requires no marketing. Now that can easily be argued till we're all blue in the face, but that is my belief.

Word of mouth got around for games like Shadow of the Colossus, ICO, and even Sins of the Solar Empire. Working in a game store I've seen marketing ploys which downright suck, and make no sense in my mind. I've also seen smart marketing but that is pretty rare.

Also, ronnoc10, you mentioned something confused you... go for it! Ask me what I mean, after all, I typed that at like 2 in the morning. I think I can address this correctly by saying if oblivion wasn't so much a 3d adventure, and they made it even in the style of Diablo, just think about what they could have done with all the space they used instead of "Man look at this leaf... it really looks like a leaf!"

Also with Assassin's Creed I think budget ran out for what they could and couldn't implement, although I was not on the team so I cannot say for certain. One of my favorite missions (aside from most of the story ones) was the "Kill X amount of people in Y time." 5 people in 3 minutes was pretty intense, trying to keep it stealthy and kill people in the middle of crowds.

Also, adventure games are FAR from dead, they consistantly sell maybe not to the traditional gamer, but to the newer or less experienced gamer (like your mom, or sister). Although I must ask... when is a new Planescape game coming out? Never? Also it seems even Fallout falls to Oblivion, not bad... but sad.

Just another two cents! (Keep this up, you'll get a whole dime!)
Tim Edwards
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Old 04-17-2008, 04:37 PM   #5
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[quote=TimEdwards;3375Also, ronnoc10, you mentioned something confused you... go for it! Ask me what I mean, after all, I typed that at like 2 in the morning. I think I can address this correctly by saying if oblivion wasn't so much a 3d adventure, and they made it even in the style of Diablo, just think about what they could have done with all the space they used instead of "Man look at this leaf... it really looks like a leaf!"
[/QUOTE]
Ah. I thought you meant space as in disc space, which confused me.


Quote:
Also with Assassin's Creed I think budget ran out for what they could and couldn't implement, although I was not on the team so I cannot say for certain. One of my favorite missions (aside from most of the story ones) was the "Kill X amount of people in Y time." 5 people in 3 minutes was pretty intense, trying to keep it stealthy and kill people in the middle of crowds.
Something certainly happened to the game along the line. It was great as it came out, but it barely matches some of the early previews for it. I also particularly enjoyed the timed missions. I'm always surprised at all the games that try to do the GTA free-roaming, but forget the incredible variety of missions in GTA along the way.
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Old 04-17-2008, 05:52 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by TimEdwards View Post

Perhaps instead of marketing budgets games should let their media speak for themselves. A good game becomes amazing through marketing, but an amazing game requires no marketing. Now that can easily be argued till we're all blue in the face, but that is my belief.
Tim Edwards
False. yes, I am here to argue.
Scenario: You have $30, enough for roughly one game. You walk into EB Games and you are surrounded by catchy game titles, some you've heard of, some you haven't. They all have stunning cover art that makes your eyeballs drool. You want to grab your Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, DS or whatever from home and start playing every single game in the store right there and then.
Problem is, you have a $30 budget and a life.
Which game are you going to buy? Possibly one your friends have played and loved, then again, maybe you can always play that game at your friends' house(s).
Chances are, you're going to buy the one you've seen on TV, YouTube, etc that seemed like fun.

There's no point in finding a cure for cancer if no one else will know about it. Just so, there's no point in making a great game if you're not going to advertise.

True, there may be some person who just goes and picks out a random game they've never heard of, tells all their friends, game becomes a BOOMBANGWOOSH success. But there are TONS of games in the local games store alone. Billions more on the internet. So basically, without effective advertising, a game has a 1/1000000000 chance of getting discovered that way, regardless of quality.

Games with extremely high resolution graphics are easy to market regardless of gameplay because they look pretty and there's usually a couple cool explosions. Which is why they get played more than games that may be better/more inventive, and why bigger companies like Sony have an advantage over the indies. The Nancy Drew series has a whole series of books that help promote it. What made the Nintendo Wii become a hit was that the commercial promoted it's strengths and showed grandparents, young girls, etc playing the game, so its advertising was effectively geared towards its target audience. The originality and genius of the Wii was what allowed it stay a hit and continue to grow, but that wouldn't have mattered if its commercial wasn't effective. If other games (like Okami, which was mentioned) learned this lesson from the Wii, we might see a more dynamic industry.

Point is: Every great blaze, no matter how strong it could become, needs a spark of ignition. Advertising is the spark of ignition for games. It doesn't matter how great the game, if it does not reach a big enough portion of its target audience it will not find the success it deserves.
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Old 04-17-2008, 05:58 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by ronnoc10 View Post
Ah. I thought you meant space as in disc space, which confused me.



Something certainly happened to the game along the line. It was great as it came out, but it barely matches some of the early previews for it. I also particularly enjoyed the timed missions. I'm always surprised at all the games that try to do the GTA free-roaming, but forget the incredible variety of missions in GTA along the way.
About Assassin's Creed, I read about it in GameInformer or Computer Graphics Magazine, I forget which. But yeah, they were coming close on budget, especially since it took like 4 years to make. They actually made a system that made the city glow when the sun was at a certain position to further imitate the city of Jerusalem, but that got way too expensive and got cut out. Just throwing that out there.
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Old 04-17-2008, 06:02 PM   #8
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About Assassin's Creed, I read about it in GameInformer or Computer Graphics Magazine, I forget which. But yeah, they were coming close on budget, especially since it took like 4 years to make. They actually made a system that made the city glow when the sun was at a certain position to further imitate the city of Jerusalem, but that got way too expensive and got cut out. Just throwing that out there.
Yeah, I really felt that the static sun wasn't what they wanted. Or, at lest, it wasn't what I want as I played.
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Old 04-17-2008, 11:18 PM   #9
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Hmmm, Funny, seems like living in Israel makes me less exposed to TV commercials so I'm not realy influenced by them. I get all my information about games from reviews on the internet (I usually use gamespot) and I guess that's why I get to hear about the less advartised games. sadly there is only one professional game store in my area (all the rest are toy shops) and I know only 2 other gamers in my age group (one of them is my brother...) so the supply is rather limited (a lot of the rearer less advartised games are not brought here). Luckily I work 9+ hours a day and study and try to maintain somewhat of a life so I don't have the time to play more then 2-3 games in 6 months When I go to a game store my limiting budget is time rather then money so I tend to focus on only the highest rated games.

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What made the Nintendo Wii become a hit was that the commercial promoted it's strengths and showed grandparents, young girls
Hey, I resent that (I was a young girl once whose older brother showed her Gaiana sisters, wonder boy and later Day of the tantacle and Sam and Max)

Another thing you got me thinking about is how games reward the player today in comparison to a few years ago. I remember that in most of the older games the reward was an amazing video sequence, I especially remember that in FF 7 & 8, but even older games like Loom (Which I had to change 5 disks in order to see the then amazing sky opening sequence )and Gabriel Knight. In today's games, where graphics are beautiful all the way the rewards can be different, in Oblivion for example I find myself being very greedy and upset when I don't get enough gold after completing a quest...

Back to the andveture games issue for a minute - do you think its possible to make a game that will combine today's game play with the quest games very intense story line? I still miss the depth of story in most of today's games. Even oblivion's main story line (which as I said I haven't completed yet) is still in the lines of "something evil is trying to take over the thrown/empire/world"
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Old 04-18-2008, 05:57 AM   #10
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A lot of people don't like to go with a new type of story, that and occassionally deviating from the main (Evil threatens the world, beat it and win!) makes for a challenge that people I suppose might be afraid of, or perhaps aren't interested in considering we all still buy the same steaming pile of crap repeatedly.

I've had two ideas which deviate from the average, but I guard them so closely that I am almost paranoid. On one hand I'm afraid someone else will take them, and number two, I'm afraid they suck.

I will however give you a brief idea of how they work.

Idea X is more of a world RPG where you control multiple different short stories (Approximately 8 hours in length) but the order in which you play through and where you switch identities is up to your choosing. So on one hand you pick Evil Char 1 and finish his story to about 50%. On the way you've attacked an entire caravan, burned down an entire city and robbed 90% of the people you've met. Suddenly at a save point at the middle of his story, you want to pick up the pieces (or you suddenly feel guilty) you can start up as a Good Char 1 and your story starts off with notification to the king that some crazy fool has burned down an entire village! BUT WAIT! What would have happened if you hadn't played as the Evil Char 1 first? Dun dun dunnn, also this is more of a World RPG in the fact that you control how the world reacts by your actions in individual characters. The only game similar to that which i've played is Dragon Quest/Warrior 4.

Idea Y is a psychological Mystery/Suspense RPG. The easiest way to say this? Fight Club set in a fantasy world with murders instead of soap. But you never know until the very end that you're just crazy. And all along the people you've been made to think are the bad guys, really are worried for the good of society!

Anyway, hopefully I'll be able to get into the industry soon as I'm currently working on the script for Idea Y, and as for Idea X... that is most definately a project I'll need to come back to once I have more experience and a better understanding of how much programming and the such would be involved.

Sincerely,
Tim Edwards
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