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  • SharkyForums.Com - Print: When Did Gameplay Become an Afterthought in Gaming?

    When Did Gameplay Become an Afterthought in Gaming?
    By Stalax April 30, 2001, 05:37 PM

    quote:Black and White is a fun game and deserving of most of the attention it's been getting. But those of us who were into computer strategy games back in 1997 remember the same basic idea behind a game called Afterlife.


    WTF? Afterlife is nothing like Black and White, and I'm not saying that as a supporter of either game. Afterlife was a simcity-esque game set in, well, the afterlife. Black and White casts you as a god trying to keep people from dying - well, most of the time. there is no similarity between the two other than the fact that they both are a little bit about deities (in afterlife, you weren't even a god, more like an urban planner in heaven/hell). I'm pretty sure that I'm not alone on this one; anyone who knows anything about the two will back me up on this one. Try to keep your facts straight people.

    By Housen Maratouk April 30, 2001, 05:47 PM

    Stalax,

    No they're not the same game. But the underlying concept of being a not-quite omnipotent godlike figure and having the counsel of angelic and demonic beings offering suggestions is there.

    If you take it further, Diablo is obviously not just like the Ultima games, playing Everquest is not exactly the same as playing a Diku MUD, and Rogue Spear is not identical to Wolfenstein 3D (just to pick an early shooter)... But hints of the earlier games are present in the more recent ones, whether deliberate or incidental.

    Housen

    quote:Originally posted by Stalax:
    [QUOTE]Black and White is a fun game and deserving of most of the attention it's been getting. But those of us who were into computer strategy games back in 1997 remember the same basic idea behind a game called Afterlife.


    WTF? Afterlife is nothing like Black and White, and I'm not saying that as a supporter of either game. Afterlife was a simcity-esque game set in, well, the afterlife. Black and White casts you as a god trying to keep people from dying - well, most of the time. there is no similarity between the two other than the fact that they both are a little bit about deities (in afterlife, you weren't even a god, more like an urban planner in heaven/hell). I'm pretty sure that I'm not alone on this one; anyone who knows anything about the two will back me up on this one. Try to keep your facts straight people.

    By Stalax April 30, 2001, 05:51 PM

    That's like saying Ultima IV and Dungeon keeper are similar - they both deal with morals, right?

    What do you want, complete and total originality in games? It can't exist. To paraphrase Chris crawford, "Every game is based off conflict". Hmm... comflict has been around since there were two microbes on this planet; the best you can hope for is something only slightly less like everything else out there, or an evolutionary approach to advance in games.

    By Housen Maratouk April 30, 2001, 06:37 PM

    Well first off, let me say thank you for this great give and take . I appreciate all feedback, positive and negative alike.

    What do I want out of the games? As I stated in the article, I'm not sure. But it seems to me that too many developers (not all) are using some quick formula in creating the game concepts and then just trying to wow us with technical improvements. And I agree 100% that it will necessarily remain an evolutionary process... but I'd like to see that happen at a comparable rate to the changes that make me feel a need to buy a new video card every year or so.

    There are exceptions, of course. Half-life added something to the FPS genre; Soul Reaver was more than just a copycat of games like Tomb Raider and made an almost instant fan of me. But for every game like those two there seem to be a dozen more that update graphics, maybe add a few weapons or features, and let that suffice.

    I guess you didn't like my examples, but can't you honestly think of a few games that are guilty of this?

    Housen


    quote:Originally posted by Stalax:
    That's like saying Ultima IV and Dungeon keeper are similar - they both deal with morals, right?

    What do you want, complete and total originality in games? It can't exist. To paraphrase Chris crawford, "Every game is based off conflict". Hmm... comflict has been around since there were two microbes on this planet; the best you can hope for is something only slightly less like everything else out there, or an evolutionary approach to advance in games.

    By DaveLessnau April 30, 2001, 06:47 PM

    I agree with the author: games nowdays seem to be just more of the same, with "the same" being an emphasis on graphics and sound. To this day, I still fondly remember the old Infocom games (Zork). They had zero graphics and zero sound. Fully text based and good fun. Sometime around the third or fourth Kings Quest game, the focus swung around to the gee-whiz factor. All of a sudden, games became like watching movies. Oh well. I'm just an old codger anyway.

    By syk0 April 30, 2001, 08:22 PM

    I have grown up with gaming myself, I am almost 22 now and still am a totally hardcore gamer, evolving from Coleco vision to Apple 2E all the way up to currently the Pentium 3.

    I have played sheer mountains of game titles, and I do find that all the genres are getting rather stale and cliche, but I personally think the massively multiplayer games are going to start truly taking over.

    Don't get me wrong, I love single player, and theres something about an truly great single player game you can't get out of multiplayer game, but I think for the next level of gameplay, we are going to see a lot more of online interaction with people in massive worlds.

    Sure, there's Counter-strike, with a bunch of players running around in a shoebox sized level, there's EQ with 5000 odd players in their fairly large "zones" which require the players to spend 30 seconds loading in between each. But these limitations are really detracting from the overall game world, and simply make it feel more like a game than an experience. (Yes, I know there's Asheron's Call and Ultima Online with no loading zones, but I'm talking about a game that may just change the way we look at MMOLGs).

    I think World War 2 Online, an upcoming game by Cornered Rat software, is going to shatter all the current dull trends. Not only will it allow a massive amount of people (10k per game world), it will simulate WWII to it's fullest extent, and combine RTS, flight sim, FPS, tank sim and naval sim all into one (That's 5 genres).

    And the world is HUGE, we are talking 1.2 million square KM if I recall correctly, and will take play in the Blitzkrieg campaign. This means you can choose Ally or Axis, and try to take over europe using large scale teamplay in order to succeed.

    Missions will auto generated according to key areas being attacked (so offensive/denfensive missions will be made accordingly), but you can also make your own missions yourself (if you gain enough rank).

    You will start out very low in rank, say a grunt, and through missions you will gain experience and eventually be promoted. You can deny promotion to stay a grunt if you just want to keep fighting in the trenches, or you can advance higher upwards (once you advance past a certain point tho, you can't play a grunt anymore). Eventually when you advance far enough, you can be a part of the R&D team for your own country, building newer and better weapons to combat the enemy.

    And don't even get me started on the damage modelling system for players, which simuates blood loss, fatigue, accuracy degration from wounds, shock damage etc. And for vechicle damage, you can specifically aim a tank shell to hit an ammo bay of a tank, the driver compartment, the fuel tank and so on (same goes for other vechicles). Talk about realism.

    Anyway, I really think this game will replace Everquest which is currently named Eversmack or Evercrack in the gaming community.

    Check it out at www.wwiionline.com and www.hq.wwiionline.com for updated news.

    By Duo April 30, 2001, 09:45 PM

    Here is my 2 cents. Most games today suck. CS was cool, but now its boring, I end up using a knife after 30 minutes. UT and Q3 are the same game, nothing different. Every RTS game is the same too, all are clones of each other. I have not bought a game in months (I'll get back to B&W in a sec), I have only really played one game. Ground Control, its a game and nobody knows of it. But no one will buy it, why coz it had no hype behind it. Hype is everything. I think game makers spend 10 minutes on the game and months on getting the hype up.

    Now I can get to B&W, I am kinda getting sick of only playing GC, so since a lot of people like it and I found a good deal.

    sorry for the rant, but I was induced to write my thoughts down coz I found an orginal article.

    And no it has nothing to do with the fact that I am a mod. So

    Duo

    By Yig42 May 01, 2001, 11:18 AM

    Like many of you others out there, I am too bored with the new games coming out. The last game I bought was D2, and can you say disappointment. Personally I don't get into to games like Diablo, but I tried it out and was beginning to have fun playing it. Once I killed Diablo the first time, the honeymoon ended. The same old creatures, same old missions,and no truely exciting continuation. The only thing I found myself doing is searching for a complete armor set. Talk about a complete waste of time. Thus I have gone back to the old faithfulls like TFC and BroodWars. Allthough it seems the people who are playing BW nowadays are no competition, even considering the fact I am real rusty.

    I would definately agree with the fact that the new gaming world is evolving to an online interaction type game. Allthough game play is not evolving, the fact of playing against a multitude of strategies is much better than playing bots or simple first person games. Now the introduction of a game at the scale of WWII will hopefully revive the push for a better gaming experience. Hopefully it will be all it cracks up to be, cause the majority of computer advancements in graphics and performance are driven by our gaming community and I would hate to see that fall to the wayside of the mere pretty effects!

    By Galen of Edgewood May 01, 2001, 04:52 PM

    quote:I think World War 2 Online, an upcoming game by Cornered Rat software, is going to shatter all the current dull trends. Not only will it allow a massive amount of people (10k per game world), it will simulate WWII to it's fullest extent, and combine RTS, flight sim, FPS, tank sim and naval sim all into one (That's 5 genres).

    And the world is HUGE, we are talking 1.2 million square KM if I recall correctly, and will take play in the Blitzkrieg campaign. This means you can choose Ally or Axis, and try to take over europe using large scale teamplay in order to succeed.

    Missions will auto generated according to key areas being attacked (so offensive/denfensive missions will be made accordingly), but you can also make your own missions yourself (if you gain enough rank).

    You will start out very low in rank, say a grunt, and through missions you will gain experience and eventually be promoted. You can deny promotion to stay a grunt if you just want to keep fighting in the trenches, or you can advance higher upwards (once you advance past a certain point tho, you can't play a grunt anymore). Eventually when you advance far enough, you can be a part of the R&D team for your own country, building newer and better weapons to combat the enemy.

    And don't even get me started on the damage modelling system for players, which simuates blood loss, fatigue, accuracy degration from wounds, shock damage etc. And for vechicle damage, you can specifically aim a tank shell to hit an ammo bay of a tank, the driver compartment, the fuel tank and so on (same goes for other vechicles). Talk about realism.

    Anyway, I really think this game will replace Everquest which is currently named Eversmack or Evercrack in the gaming community.

    Oh man, if this happens and is as cool as it sounds, see you in the sky! I will be the air support! Whoo rah!

    By awa64 May 01, 2001, 06:39 PM

    This is... a thought-provoking article. I'm just surprised it wasn't put up sooner. I've felt this for a while, and it's probably becoming more prevelant.

    The truth of the matter is that developers are adding graphics and getting 'feature creep' while trying to avoid coming up with fresh, new concepts. I have no quarrels with games copying off of each other, as long as there are new features which set it apart (A perfect example: Donkey Kong Country 1, 2, and 3 for the SNES. Blends graphics, gameplay, and sound perfectly).

    I'd like to challenge some developers to write a game for a 'lesser system.'

    PC Industrys: Game designed for a Pentium Pro.

    Console Industries: Game designed for SNES.

    By cjlowe5 May 02, 2001, 12:46 AM

    What a wonderful article and how true. I'm 37 and been gaming for about 20 years now. Falcon 4 is my game of choice simply because it keeps getting better because of a truly talented community. Hasbro really need their heads read for dumping this title truly truly stupid. Dynamic campaigns (OK OK depends on your definition) TE and complexity up the wazoo.
    FPS = all the same.
    Strategy = how many different types of building can you build?
    Third person = round and round we go.
    Don't get me wrong, WWII on line looks good and promises much - maybe I'll ditch the Viper for a while and join you in the props.
    Your article is truly a reflection of our times the mighty dollar rules all (sic)
    Interacting games that is what we need. FPS soldier game(Operation Flashpoint? without the sim bits) + Flight sim (Falcon 4?) + Helo sim (Longbow 2 or EECH?) + Strategy command (can't think of one at the moment) + Tank Sim (Steel Beasts)= complexity, interctivity on massive electronic battlefield (hey didn't someone think of that at one stage) a moments silence for MicroProse please!

    By hal9000 May 02, 2001, 06:20 AM

    I think economics is a large part of the problem.

    Making games is not the 'cottage industry' it once was - now it's a regular big industry sector which is run like any other mainstream software business. There is no difference between the business software industry and the gaming software industry except the end product. Game production isn't 'fun' anymore, it's serious business now.

    The production costs of new games have skyrocketed thanks to the gamer's demand for ever more detailed 3D graphics. As a result, most publishers are far less willing to take a risk on something new (in terms of gameplay) than they were five years ago. It's much safer financially for them to just keep on churning out sequels to or variations on existing successful games - if the formula isn't broken, don't fix it. If a big budget game failed to break even ten years ago, that was bad but not catastrophic. If a big budget game fails to break even today, that could well be the end of the publisher responsible. Only Microsoft can afford to have a major game flop and shrug it off.

    Still, some game genres don't need radical innovation to be successful - flight sims, driving games and first person shooters to name a few. Refine the existing gameplay model and update the graphics, and everyone's happy. It's the strategy games that are really suffering from the dearth of innovation - no publisher wants to suffer the fate of Lucasarts with Rebellion & Force Commander.


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