During the last post about gaming, I softly nudged a topic I wanted to come back to at a later date. Today is a later date, and I’m more than ready to beat the living daylights out of it. If you haven’t read the last post, I would like you to go over here and read that one first. Since I have your attention anyway, I might interest you in two excellent blog posts that were released in response to it. There’s Daniel’s view on current generation gaming as a whole, which is a great read. And my internet BFF and personal favorite spin-the-bottle partner, Tom, and his views on special pre-order editions which I completely agree with.
Back with me again? Okay, let’s go.
Whenever people go on about what the industry needs, this little word pops up innocently. It’s always lacking at any given time. It will be the saviour of the gaming industry, if only more companies would apply this little wonder to their work more often. I’m of course talking about originality.
Originality isn’t everything.
Sure, it’s something. It’s more than nothing. Then again, a badly made clone game is also something, is also more than nothing. Originality can still go wrong. It’s not a wonder product. A lot of good can come from it, but at the same time a lot of terrible things can come as well.
I think what people mean when they say we need originality, they really mean to say that we need variety. We need more different types of games. A more balanced spread of genres. Or heck, different approaches to the same genre. I wouldn’t mind another fun shooter. Give me another Serious Sam-type game to shoot my way through with a friend, or a Max Payne to experience. I really don’t mind if they’re not too original as long as the creators of the game know what they’re doing.
You don’t think I’m being serious here, do you? I’m okay with that. Let’s just take a look at an unoriginal game that added to the variety back in the days of the first Playstation.
Metal Gear Solid.
First we’ve got the story. Super soldier Solid Snake is captured by the military and shoved into a terrorist camp in Alaska. The terrorists have managed to capture a prototype weapon that can bring down civilization as we know it. Snake has to stop the terrorists from using the weapon, and secure it for the military. To make sure he actually performs this task, he’s injected with a virus and will only be given the antidote when he completes his mission.
This is starting to sound painfully familiar, isn’t it?
The only thing they could possibly do to make it any more clear is to have Snake call himself Plisskin. Oh wait. He did just that in the second game.
In the third game, you play as Big Boss. You know, Snake’s father? He wears an eyepatch, kinda like… Uh-oh.
Surely the gameplay was original right? Well, not exactly. Almost all of it was already there in the original games. Both the NES versions and the ones before that. I really mean it when I say everything. Security cameras, trap floors, exclamation marks when spotted, codec conversations, cigarettes, rations, gas masks, remote-controlled missiles… You could almost go as far as saying that all Metal Gear Solid did was take the original game and made it 3D.
I’m not trying to say Metal Gear Solid is a bad game. I’m not even trying to say it was a completely unoriginal copycat either. Metal Gear Solid is a perfect example of a gap in the industry being filled by a title that it needed. Currently, there’s a massive gap in the industry. Hundreds of indie titles are trying to fill those voids, but they’re not big enough to stay put and they sink right through them. Only a rare few manage to get a good hold in their area. Games like Cave Story, Spelunky and Dwarf Fortress. I’d like to see more of that in the future.
But who am I kidding? There’s no place for people who are interested in games in this game market. We’re just an ill side effect that the industry has to deal with while shipping clones off to people who have no idea what they’re purchasing.
I’d love to see Duke Nukem Forever outsell everything when it’s finally released. If only for the chance of having all the gaming companies follow the old-fashioned trends they can’t even begin to understand. It’s easy enough to be a shallow war shooter in space. But to put down an arrogant, sexist, all-American powerhouse as a main character without people instantly hating him? That’s rare.
What exactly am I expecting from the Duke? Over the top brass, immature fun. The game is likely to disappoint, what with it being in production for well over 10 years. Still, there’s this hopefulness about it. A lot of people seem to hope that this game will lead us back to the older days of shooters, back when they didn’t take themselves anywhere near as serious as they do these days. Isn’t this a massive sign that more people want a change of pace? Would it really be risky to make something different for a change, when so many people seem to be craving for it?
Yeah, that’s right. I’m betting on the motherfucking Duke this gen.