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Games are not good anymore? Too many publishers publish mediocre crap.


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99% of game stories are shite. 

 

As a medium its light years behind books, TV and film. Yes there are the rare exceptions but it's very rare and it's a shame. 

 

Because stories are tied to gameplay you are never going to have the engrossing pacing you get elsewhere. And game scripts are just poor anyway. 

 

 

 

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Only a personal opinion but Burnout 2 Is the Sega Rally in the past of Outrun 2 (and it's prequel) to be better in the old days of Daytona where Ridge Racer is the 60fps examples, which are simply better than awful Assassin's Creed identical which beats the HD power of the PS5 blue skies Let's Go Away, Rotterdam Nation and of course, who could forget Life Was a Bore with all the Ferraris. 

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17 minutes ago, Ry said:

99% of game stories are shite. 

 

As a medium its light years behind books, TV and film. Yes there are the rare exceptions but it's very rare and it's a shame. 

 

Because stories are tied to gameplay you are never going to have the engrossing pacing you get elsewhere. And game scripts are just poor anyway. 

 

 

 

 

People don't expect a gaming-like novel experience, so why do they expect a novel-like gaming experience?

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I remember being utterly disillusioned with gaming in the final year of the 360. I knew the memory limits of the console so I knew there was nothing in the distance or behind the wall of any interest.

Mechanics were stolen from other games till you end up with must have features that appear everywhere.

I remember buying games biased on screenshots. The only time you saw it moving was when you were playing it. That was only 15 years ago.

 

At the end of the day games are smoke and mirrors. Many hide it well but many don’t. Horizon for example. I can almost see the big circles in the environment that activate a trigger for this that and whatever event or enemy.

 

If you want old school games then I think Bethesda do a lot of them. Prey seems like a total throw back as many of their titles do.

Its funny how I find them refreshing.

 

Mainstream games from Ubisoft couldn’t make me less interested.

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26 minutes ago, Giddas said:

 

People don't expect a gaming-like novel experience, so why do they expect a novel-like gaming experience?

It would be nice if they weren't quite so rubbish a bit more often though, surely? I'd be happy with inoffensively ignorable as opposed to eye-rollingly bad. It's one of the reasons that after 40 years as a gamer I'm still genuinely surprised if I actually think a game story is even half-way decent.

 

Also, a new theory - is a lot of the problem the quality of the story-telling in games, rather than the story? I don't mind the story being bad so much (I watch films with rubbish stories all the time). I think perhaps it's the telling of the story that needs to be good, and that's maybe the bit games do badly a lot of the time. 

 

Edith Finch has a decent story (so far), but it's also told really well. Lots of it is environmental, things you spot and later realise the significance of, but much is told through the (limited) gameplay, and that works well too. It's a story absolutely designed to be played, and it wouldn't work nearly as well in another medium.

 

One of my very favourite games is Vagrant Story. I really like the way it tells its story, even if I couldn't tell you quite what happened. As a quick summary, you play a character chasing after your foe, whilst being pursued by enemies. Most of the story is told from either your quarry in locations you will soon visit (letting you know you're gaining on them), or from your pursuers in locations you've recently been (letting you know they're catching you up). The story I wasn't that bothered about, the characters and dialogue were pretty cool, but the way the tale was told was spot on. 

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1 hour ago, Ry said:

99% of game stories are shite. 

 

As a medium its light years behind books, TV and film. Yes there are the rare exceptions but it's very rare and it's a shame. 

 

Because stories are tied to gameplay you are never going to have the engrossing pacing you get elsewhere. And game scripts are just poor anyway. 


Yeah this is true. I feel like I could flick through Netflix and pick any made for TV Christmas movie and get a better storytelling experience than most 500million dollar games. 

 

1 hour ago, Giddas said:

 

People don't expect a gaming-like novel experience, so why do they expect a novel-like gaming experience?


I’m not looking for the novel experience (unless I’m playing Planescape), I’m looking for either a story designed to be told through a game or failing that something that copies movie storytelling but doesn’t do such a piss poor job of it. Personally I think games trying to be more like movies and TV is where most of them go wrong, but if they’re going to do it I’d like more stuff like TLOU2 that copies HBO and less stuff that seems to be drawing it’s TV influences from Eastenders. 

 

57 minutes ago, R0b said:

I'll tell you what I do miss though, putting this nostalgia tunnel visioning on AAA games aside for a moment: the studio-made B-tier game that died with standard definition consoles - when companies like Capcom and the like would dabble in lower budget affairs that still needed the weight of a big budget studio team to pull off. Stuff like PN03, Katamari, Chibi Robo, Herdy Gerdy, Gitaroo Man, Gotcha Force, Opoona - that sort of bracket. Fresh, experimental stuff (sometimes side or vanity projects) made by celebrated veterans that most - both less experienced and less funded - indie developers can't quite achieve. Squaresoft alumni going off to make something smaller that was allowed to sell less. Sakurai making Kirby Air Ride. There's less of that now, with notable exceptions. In the last 4 years it seems to be swinging back with 'medium budget' games like It Takes Two, I think, but even then they're often studios that have only ever been middle to small. Not quite the same. 

Or maybe that last bit's just my own nostalgia talking. 


This articulated the diversity in games from big publishers which I miss very well. With most major publishers only putting out a few games a year now there’s no room for anything that might not sell millions.

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I think that diversity is there if you just take a bit of time to veer off the path a little. Everyone keeps on lamenting the dirge that can be AAA titles from the big publishers, but there's so much more out there that is just delightful and consistently impresses.

 

I think it helps that I'm a PC gamer, so have a considerably wider range of things to choose from, but there's definitely a whole lot more of that stuff on Xbox and Switch. I'm never entirely sure what's going on with Sony these days though - I'm very fond of their big budget output and have enjoyed a lot of them, but ask me to name much else on the thing and I'd be stumped for a while.

 

There are games out there which have given me far more joy than most TV or film has, that's for sure but I do think you have to put in the effort to discover it.

 

 

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6 hours ago, Stevie said:

 

Whenever I talk to people who know nothing about games I always tell them that games is like a combination of books and films. It combines the best of both worlds. Some of my best memories in life are from games, but for the past 8 years or so Iv'e started to lose interest in games simply because I feel that the industry is so streamlined and stagnated. Its all so bland and toothless. It doesn't arouse my curiosity. It doesn't require me to think. 

 

I used to love open world games. I remember when GTAIII came out, it just blew my mind. I remember thinking that if they could make GTAIII several times bigger then it would be the best game ever created. Fast forward 20 years and I never completed GTA5 because it got old...and boring. I rarely complete games, and I often install games (Gamepass/Ubi+) that I immediately uninstall because I think the games are low effort crap.

 

I installed The Division 2 today, played for about 20 minuted before I uninstalled it. I started playing it and not before long I reached a point where I was walking towards chest high walls and I just knew that it would be a firefight. I mean whats the point? There is no tension, there is no suspense, when you see chest high walls you know its there because you are going to hide behind it when firing at the enemy. Games get more and more streamlined, and the quality is dropping. I also installed Watchdogs 2. Played for a few minutes (didn't uninstall) but I got a strong feeling that the freedom/mechanics in the game was just artificial sweetener placed there to make me think I was playing a game that had anything that required me to use my brain. Its all a ruse.

 

Titles like The Last of US gets rated as GOTY/best games ever simply because they tell a story, have a narrative, and catches the player by surprise. All games should have a story and a narrative that makes you think, but we are served games that requires very little thinking or reflection. 

 

I'm about to give up gaming completely. The only games that keeps me interested is grand strategy games, but I might as well be playing table top games. 

 

 

 

 

 

Pish 

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Just a minute ago I finished What Remains Of Edith Finch - it's really very good.

 

Spoiler

I'm still wiping tears from my eyes. I'm a soft bugger I know, but I'm pretty sure that's a first for a game.

 

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8 minutes ago, MarkN said:

Just a minute ago I finished What Remains Of Edith Finch - it's really very good.

 

  Hide contents

I'm still wiping tears from my eyes. I'm a soft bugger I know, but I'm pretty sure that's a first for a game.

 

 

Oh, there are a fair few moments in games that have left a big old lump in my throat. I'm mentally preparing myself for another run through of the Mass Effect games when the Legendary edition comes out and there are bits in the third game that always get me emotional :P 

 

That and the 'prologue' for Last of Us has always made me well up - don't care what anyone says, there's some phenomenal acting in that bit and up there with whatever folk can dish out in other media.

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Imagine thinking Titanfall 2 is terrible!

 

Astonishing.

 

Almost as astonishing as thinking all games should have a story. And a narrative that makes you think.

 

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5 hours ago, Stevie said:
Quote

It's the best time to be playing video games. 

 

Timeframe?

 

Worth noting about ten years ago I was pretty critical of the way things were going, AAA games were becoming more homogenous, genres were disappearing as no longer financially viable.

 

Hundreds of studios closed down, struggling to keep the lights on. Loads of old big-name creators abandoned the industry to make Farmville clones (Kojima being basically the only one who didn't), mobile was still early stuff like fake beer glass or fart apps, and indie, at least on consoles, was basically being taken over by AAA with daft tie-ins like Dead Space branded puzzle games because we couldn't possibly let someone do something actually fucking creative with this slot.

 

There's a CG video out there of a cancelled PoP and it's the most late-HD-gen game possible, shallow, focused on spectacle, copying Uncharted to the hilt, so desaturated it's almost greyscale if not for the blue and orange colour contrast. It sucks.

 

 

Anyway, I spent a while moaning on here about how rising costs had led us from the PS2 gen to this dark age present and would lead us into a worse future, a lot of the responses I got at the time were just denial there was even a problem because people actually liked the look of trash like that video and didn't really like indie games anyway, then I dropped out of gaming for a couple of years.

 

Last gen I think a lot of things changed to make a healthier industry.

 

Third party engine manufacturers got into a battle, and realised that at $1 million a copy they were just fighting over a couple of dozen studios, and opened themselves up considerably, putting a lot more powerful tools in the hands of single creators. More funding for small and medium developers became available meaning AA re-appeared (basically at the production level of HD-era AAA), and that meant a revival of some of those genres that had been discarded as not-big-enough. Download based markets grew in audience, and could reach higher pricepoints, which helped from the other end, and these markets ceased to be as segregated - AAA games were now downloadable, smaller games got retail presence. Streaming appeared and gave lots of games viral success, meaning AAA marketing spend wasn't the be-all and end-all. Facebook gaming dwindled, mobile gaming actually became worthwhile through stuff like Apple Arcade. F2P actually became a big thing through MOBAs and CCGs and Battle Royales, there became a lot more market segments with space for different things. Some people liked VR or something, I dunno.

 

Obviously none of those changes were inevitable, so it's hard to say what the future brings. If you're unhappy with how things are, there could be a chance that future changes make it viable again. But shifts are unpredictable and often down to societal factors, so also treat anyone telling you it'll definitely happen as full of shit and just trying to minimise your complaint.

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Definitely the best era for gaming. I think older gamers who lived enough to fully experience the rapid pace of advancement in tech in which we went from the Atari 2600 to the Xbox in the same span of time it’s taken to Xbox to Xbox Series are lamenting that loss of excitement where everything was new and the possibilities you imagined were endless, I guess in comparison you could relate that period to early films to the golden age of Hollywood in the 40s-50s.  When few things have come before it then everything that’s created is brand new, and as innovations push tech forward so new experiences can be made. But then you will eventually come to a point of where everything that’s possible has been done and it’s evolution rather than revolution. Not to say that there’s no more revolutions in gaming to come, AR and VR could make drastic changes to how we interact with gaming worlds in the future, but it’s not going to be a generational thing. To say that there’s nothing new and exciting like there was fifteen or twenty years ago is like bemoaning cinema  for not coming up with new genres. Other than the odd moment of creative genius like movies the boundaries you’re working within as a creative have now been set. 
 

If you can get your head away from the times where gaming seemed to have endless possibilities you’d see that things haven’t been better, the amount of content available is mind boggling, across all gaming genres, the amount of quality and AA games being produced is spoiling gamers. I’d be more likely to burn out with gaming due to way too much choice on my gaming time than disappointment of what’s out there. AAA has gone the way of Hollywood movies, you’ll get the odd gem, but it’s not the place to expect fresh ideas from. 
 

Looking back I’d hate to be gaming during the time when I was a nipper, 8/16bit era, tech limitations meant that nearly every game was a side scroller and many had unfair/sadistic difficulty levels just because, requiring OCD levels of perseverance to replay over and over until completion (Megaman and Castlevanias for example and the are lauded as classics of the era). My fallout from gaming was the PS2 era, after being spoiled with the creative genius that was the Dreamcast, that felt like a hard bump. Saturated with half arsed licensed games and AAA that seemed to aim itself at moody teens, other than the odd classic like Katamari and Vice City, I pretty much abandoned gaming from my late teens till after undergrad when I picked up a 360 for Skyrim. 


Even those Ubisoft AAA that people knock, it’s just so much technically better than AAA in say the PS2/360 eras that I wouldn’t want to go back, playing Immortals or Watchdogs Legions was an experience that would have blown my mind ten years ago. They are so well crafted games with lot of love poured into the creation of its worlds, there’s things you can knock them for but from a technical standpoint as AAA products they are excellent. It’s a long way away from the Getaway on the PS2. I do lament the death of the big Japanese studios and really miss the whacky insane games they produced especially during the late 90s/early 00’s era.  That’s definitely  one thing we are missing today. 
 

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36 minutes ago, Oh Danny Boy said:

I do lament the death of the big Japanese studios

 

Which ones? Companies like Nintendo and Capcom are breaking records, Sega had great earnings, Namco and Square-Enix are far from dead and companies like From Software and Arc Systems Works are now in the big league. Even Platinum had two hits in a row with Nier Automata and Astral Chain. Same with Team Ninja and both Niohs. Sure, Konami is a bit of a zombie company, but at least Kojima has his own joint nowm

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My personal mantra when feeling overly critical is to focus on gratitude and being in the moment, but in regards to a hobby so closely linked to escapism, maybe that's not a good fit.

The first cut is the deepest ...

We all witnessed the heady creation of videogames as the premiere "art" of the epoch. Games developed at mach speed, going from the first Mario Kart to F-Zero GX in 11 years! Like Botticelli to Raphael, it's a period that can't be replicated.

Back to my earlier point, to me it looks like the most creative and imaginative types are  drawn to make games, not books or movies. Interesting that most geniuses of early Japanese game design like Miyamoto grew up wanting to be manga artists, and then they in turn changed the world and what inspires kids.

I spend more time reading this forum than playing games, but watching my 7 year old play Paper Mario: Origami King has been a wonder, as they've been enthralled adventuring and puzzle solving through a world of the imagination.

A couple years ago I was resigned to never feel that way about a game again, although, Divinity: Original Sin 2 is an impossibly great game. Sharp writing and a good amount of strategy in the turn-based battles. Recommended.

"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."

TLDR: Drunk.

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5 hours ago, Lyrical Donut said:

Good shout. I tried reading that 3 times to make sense of it. Maybe he's smashed?

I'm mocking myself. This is exactly the sort of thread where I'd storm in and write a wall of text about how things are not as good as they were in 2005, then bang on about Burnout 2 and Sega Rally for too long.

 

But to be serious for a bit, the rot started with the Tomb Raider reboot.  The first time I really felt something was wrong.  I'd seen it being played and it looked amazing, but when you get it home you realise that there's 2 major issues with it.  First, you push forwards on the controller.  You walk to the edge of the cliff, balance on the plank, tiptoe across, an arm juts out to steady yourself, she wobbles, balances, and is just about to make it when the plank gives way.  The camera angle changes, we see the plank fall into the abyss, she hangs onto the edge of the cliff, slowly pulling herself up.  Phew! She's made it.  Time for a cut scene.  And all you did was push the left stick forward.

 

Second there's "instincts". Hold the L1 button and the screen goes black and white. Your goal will glow. Maybe that rope will glow, so you'll know to shoot an arrow at it.  Or maybe a shaft of light will appear in the distance.  Whatever happens, the instincts button is there to show you the way because the graphics are so HD and detailed that you need something like this to make the screen clearer so you can see where you're going. You didn't need an "instincts" button in games before the HD era. This happens in many games today. I lost track of how many times I put down the controller playing TLOU2 and looked at my phone, waiting for the L3 prompt to appear.  The environment is too open, too big, too detailed and lush, and this means you spend half the time lost, waiting to told where to go.  

 

Around the time of the Tomb Raider I saw a video of Call of Duty (can't find it now but it's out there somewhere).  The game begins and a character throws you a gun. The player then proceeds to let the NPCs do all the work and hides away.  There's one bit that's a cinematic and the player can stand around, completely safe until they shoot one NPC and the game carries on.  It's literally a long scripted animation. Sure, it's seen from the viewpoint of the player but all the computer controlled players will do the work if you leave them to it and the game is literally playing without you.

 

Playing Gradius 5 this week Im finding myself back into the arcade games I love, where you lose concentration for a minute or look away from the screen and you're dead. All your hard work is lost as you restart and try to get some powerups again.  Compare that to Tomb Raider, in which whenever you lose a life it puts you back pretty much where you were to try again.  TLOU2 is the same, when you die it restarts about 20 seconds away from where you were and you try again.  Infinite lives of course.

 

From the memorable map of GTA 3 to the sprawling GTA5 where you have to look at the map all the time, publishers don't understand that less is more. Setting yourself challenges in MGS Ground Zeroes can be more fun than MGS Phantom Pain.  But the more powerful the console, the more detailed the graphics become, the games becomes sprawling epics and before you know it your watching the game play itself while you push forward on the stick. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This seems as good a place as any to post my ill-conceived ramblings on AAA games...

 

I've been kicking around the idea that the current AAA games are reaching a point where the potential of the technology we have has outstripped human ability to make use of that technology, or at least to make use of it in the way AAA development does now - creating increasingly detailed, hyper real experiences that are constantly pushing for higher fidelity in a way that demands exponentially more human resources, more financial resources with each hardware generation. I don't mean this in the sense that with the past few generational advances the cutting edge of development was beyond the financial reach of more and more studios. I mean is it actually possible to coordinate 1000+ member dev teams, worldwide across multiple studios to produce a coherent, functioning game at a greater scale than what already exists? Is it possible to develop a game like that in a financially viable timeframe without grinding your work force in to a fine powder?

 

I felt this playing Assassins' Creed Origins - itself half a generation old at this point. The game world was so vast and so detailed I could barely believe it existed, even playing it a couple of years after release on the One S. Fittingly enough I felt like it was the gaming equivalent of witnessing the Great Pyramid in the years immediately after it was completed. An incredible thing that at some point down the line is going to be beyond the resources and abilities of societies that follow.

 

Covid has obviously taken a wrecking ball to AAA release schedules, but I think there was already a crisis. I suspect there'll be vanishingly few games of our currently accepted AAA standard released each year because I'm not sure it's feasible to keep doing it. Or maybe that standard will plateau or even deliberately walked back to an earlier point.

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My most vivid memory of playing the Tomb Raider reboot is having to let go of the controller for a second to grab something and Lara just kept on running, at which point I realised that this bit was actually a cutscene and I didn’t even need to be holding forward on the left stick. 

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Played some amazing games recently, It takes Two, Little Nightmares 2, maybe I'm not a hardcore game anymore and rarely play but I was just blown away with how great gaming has become. 

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Play the wonderful

 

In Other Waters

Her Story/Telling lies

Coffee Talk

198X

 

 

 

Just of the top of my head are games that have fascinating stories told in very different ways.

 

 

 

 

 

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22 hours ago, deerokus said:

What are they, out of interest? There are enough developers on here that it's probably good market research. 

 

Arcade racers are a thing that aren't quite extinct but are certainly close to it. 

 

Oh no, they're healthy, you just have to hunt a little more for them.

 

https://www.skydevilpalm.com/victory-heat-rally

https://www.curve-digital.com/en-us/games/featured/49/hotshot-racing/

https://twitter.com/RozzBozzy

https://store.steampowered.com/app/389140/Horizon_Chase_Turbo/

http://artofrally.com/

https://www.originalfiregames.com/circuit-superstars

https://store.steampowered.com/app/808080/Ultimate_Racing_2D/

https://store.steampowered.com/app/1103770/Super_Arcade_Racing/

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I think there's an issue of visibility too.  Like, the internet has made access to music easy and my friend Jim made an album that's now on Spotify and getting listens from all over the place.  (One Riff Pony, have a listen!).  But the charts are full of, well, chart music and a sea shanty is at number one.  

 

Same with books. There's some amazing fiction out there but Dan Brown sells the millions.  

 

With games, there's probably more arcade fun experiences than ever but with restrictive licencing agreements they might not be on consoles.  And on PC, Steam has a million indie games I've never heard of. There will be gems in there, but it's hard to know where to start because there are so many.  

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Your post is well timed with mine, only 2 of those got any particular exposure on release with a 3rd one getting so now it's been picked up for release on Switch and Game Pass.

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