Let’s Talk Gaming – Screw Originality, I’ve Got Money!

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.

Metal Gear Solid Box Art

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?

Escape from New York

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.

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8 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Gaming – Screw Originality, I’ve Got Money!

  1. I agree Remy. I play games because I enjoy the game. Graphics some of them are amazing. But your point on Metal Gear Solid, yes it did fill a gap and I still love playing the hell out of the series. Those of us who are still interested in the games are loosing out to the people who aren’t. The people who want better voice actors, better graphics, this that or the other. Makes me sad somedays.

    • I’m really hoping another title come along to fill the gap like MGS did back then. It wasn’t anywhere near as original as people keep making it out to be, but that wasn’t a bad thing. MGS was fun. It knew what it was going for and played its cards right.

  2. I agree whole heartedly. I loved MGS, but it really is just a 3D MG, but that isn’t a bad thing.

    Hell, Marine Shooter clone #201 could be a great game, if they nailed all the components. Being a clone doesn’t make an instantly bad game, being a bad clone does.

    And about DN:F, I really hope it’s great. An unrealistic blast, with a real dick of a character. I’d pre-order it, but I want to wait for the reviews to come in.

    And thanks for the mention.

    • Indeed. The problem with all the Spacy McShooter 25 is that it’ll be just space shooters because every other major game these days is one. It’s sad that X-com is going for a 50s look, obviously inspired by the popularity of two other shooters based on time period specific settings: Fallout 3 and BioShock (based on System Shock). X-com had a more 80s-90s comic book look to it originally.

      But yeah, give me a proper space shooter that just nails the damn genre, and I’d be more than happy.

  3. This is a statement I can stand behind. Original games don’t mean great games, but cloned games don’t mean bad games…

    But what the industry needs is for gaming companies to stop phoning it in. “Oh look, Spacey Shooter made a billion dollars! Let’s Repackage it, add a character, and call it Spacey Shooter 2!!!”

    Sequels are fine, rushed cash cows are not.

    If another company brings out a Spacey Shooter clone and call it “Spaced Shooter” I really wouldn’t mind so long as it brought something entertaining into the mix, and hell, the competition might force the original designers to trump themselves in order to beat out the cloners.

    I tell you what the industry doesn’t need, it’s these yearly sport titles that improve very little.

    Release DLC to update the teams, and bring out a much better game every 2 years at least please. Or at the very least, give discounts to previous game owners.

    This is spiraling into a rant.

    • I completely agree with the idea to move sports games towards DLC. I always thought they were supposed to to that when they started using online updates for player rosters and such as early as the Dreamcast games.

      Heck, they could even ask some money annually to compensate for it. Add some adjustments to the gameplay, stat tweaks. Smoothen the graphics out a bit. It’d cost less than a full game release, while still keeping it fresh and updated.

      Heck, Burnout Paradise did this on a massive scale with that update they made for it. A large part of it was free. Updated graphics, new content. Plus a bigger DLC pack that added a new area. I think the free update was about 1GB in size. It was amazing.

  4. It pretty much boils down to so: When they’re out of ideas, they recycle the old ones, because, hey, if they loved it back then, they’ll love it now. The same concept was applied to T.V. shows as well. They keep starting new series’ from the original ones (i.e. Power Rangers, Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon, etc) and while the original watchers of said series respond with “Oh sweet Jesus, what have they done to it?” the newer generation screams with glee.

    Coming up with an original game is apparently becoming old hat for game makers. They’d rather run with a series they know is a cash cow (The Final Fantasy series, for instance) and be safe but boring, rather than take a risk and try something new. Every now and then they’ll branch out and touch other areas, and it won’t do too bad. The most recent one that comes to mind is Tatsunoko vs. Capcom. The Capcom part was to be expected, but Tatsunoko? This was not something people expected to be thrown their way. To some people, seeing Ken the Eagle and Jun the Swan was a first, and frankly, scary.

    More often than not, lack of originality spawns from the inability to try new things. The Metal Gear Solid example is perfect, I think. It gives a perfect and accurate description.

    God, I’ve gone on haven’t I? Best to let someone else talk now…

    • Oh, no! Don’t be crazy! I encourage comments like these! Thanks for the comment, you’ve pretty much just nailed it with this.

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