Let’s face it: Everything has already been done. We’ve got shooters, RPG’s, strategy games, platformers, action games, puzzle games, rhythm games, fighting games, flying games, sports games, and licensed games based on every semi-profitable and popular facet of our society(yes, including Barbie). While certain twists remain unexplored (sometimes for good reason, sometimes not), a vast majority of possible plotlines and game mechanics have been delivered to us interactively. The truth is that there just isn’t a whole lot out there that hasn’t been at least grazed by the creative bullets of video game developers. While the biggest selling titles invoke mass attempts at replication by the big gaming companies, usually those attempts fall short. Why, we ask as gamers, do attempts at recreating the success of fantastic games almost always disappoint? The answer is simple: Those companies are indeed attempting to recreate the SUCCESS of the successful video game. They aren’t nearly as concerned with recreating or improving upon the elements that made the original game a success to begin with. This behavior is classified as goal-oriented development.
What about the games that innovate, present something new to the player or successfully improve on the mechanics of an old favorite game? These developers seem more interested in showing off the novelty of their creation. We’ll call this behavior process-oriented development. As both a disclaimer and to support this article’s intellectual legitimacy, let it be known that I did not create the terms goal-oriented and process-oriented. These terms can maintain relevancy in countless facets of society…but, you see, there’s this webpage called Power-Ups Not Included, and it’s about video games, and you’re reading it so shutup if you don’t like my usage of the terms. You shut your Pie-Dumpster right now or Daddy will shut it for you!
Now that’s what I call intellectual legitimacy! Ahem, where were we…
Oh, right. Did you ever have a friend who effortlessly was more successful with the opposite sex than you were, and he didn’t even seem to try or care? Putting on too much cologne and using silly pickup lines are Goal-Oriented activities; you only have the end result of successfully wooing a member of the opposite sex in mind. A process-oriented ‘playa’ only goes places he wants to go because he wants to have a good time, and if that place happens to be a place where he can meet people who are also only there to have a good time, then maybe the best way for them to have a good time is with each other.
If only game developers were process oriented, trying to make the best game possible and grow their talents instead of taking a goal-oriented standpoint of trying to maximize their profit…imagine if the WarHammer 40K: Space Marine game fully embraced the source material it was derived from, instead of creating a Gears of War clone. Imagine what awesomeness could come from a Thor or Iron-Man game if as much care was taken with them as was Rocksteady’s Batman franchise. Dammit, why don’t we have a GOOD Star Trek simulation game? Instead of greatness, these development studios limit themselves with timelines and precedence. In the case of most games based on movies, the contract requires that the game come out in conjunction with the movie to maximize the profit and exposure of the intellectual property, meaning that a lot of polish and innovation is skipped because of a deadline. To go one step further, game companies know roughly how much profit these movie tie-ins usually make and will only budget the studio with so much money for development, further dooming the final product to mediocrity or worse. So, there you have it: Developers purposefully do not make the best game they can because you’re stupid enough to see Taylor Lautner or Chuck Norris on the front and buy it anyways. Cut it out, I say! Show some restraint, gamers!
I remember playing WildTangent’s Fate for the first time and becoming more enamored with it than I had any major release in a while. I also remember downloading a game called King’s Bounty on a Steam sale and spending half of a deployment overseas enjoying the series. Mind you, I’m not one of those guys who refuses to buy major titles because it makes me feel like a non-conformist; I simply think that there’s a significant difference between Asura’s Wrath and Devil May Cry if you know what I mean. One is a streamlined and mish-mashed game that should have never existed, and the other is Devil May Cry.
This article began with the declaration that there is no uncharted territory in gaming, but it will end with a statement that is completely contradicting. I want to see what else can be done; I want to see something come out of nowhere and blow my mind, whether it is something like Fall of Cybertron that I thought would never happen or something like the Arkham games where I had just previously accepted unsatisfactory performance from a genre and was proven wrong. Dishonored is a title that looks like it is on the right path. Bioshock Infinite is looking to take the fame of the previous installments to a new height (see what I did there?), and I don’t think I can imagine how much joy X-Com is going to bring to the table for me. Seek out the brightest lights in this dark and saturated hobby we partake in, fellow gamers, and maybe one day they’ll stop making the dim titles that only frustrate the fans who were focused on the possibilities and were blind-sided by the truth.
Thanks for reading this article and the others(you DID read the OTHERS, right? RIGHT!?!?!?), gimme some comments and we can argue on the internet like we were young again. Sigh...