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Jun 27 2010
By: GrayGargoyle PlayStation MVP 11536 posts
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Is developer experimentation good or bad for the gaming industry?

8 replies 26 views Edited Jun 27, 2010

Square Enix, once known as Squaresoft and Enix respectively, used to be (for the most part) strictly RPG companies. Gamers recognized that these teams delivered the shine and sparkle from a role-playing perspective, and gamers kept wanting delivery of these deeply engaging narratives and innovative turn-based play mechanics. Over the course of time Square and Enix naturally went through a course of evolution, with Squaresoft tackling fighting, racing, and strategical spin-offs to their Final Fantasy arsenal, while Enix can't say so much as the same. Put these two RPG giants into one basket, and the history of Square Enix has seen a number of spin-offs from Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest franchises, doing some offsetting things along the way.

 

Square Enix released Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII and found mixed result because of it, for one example. Everything from The Bouncer to Just Cause 2, we know Square not for playing the fiddle with a single string attached. We also know that stepping outside of their box that empowered their legacy - RPGs - is not always their strongest suit, if Final Fantasy Tactics has anything to say about it.
 
When Naughty Dog will one day (probably) top the Uncharted franchise off with a kart-racing good-bye (as has been done in their previous lineups), is this the kind of game from them that you're rooting for? Wouldn't you rather they spend that time envisioning their next big thing?
 
Essentially, every game takes time away from a company's focal point. They can do what they do best or they can experiment. Sometimes these testing phases don't work, but when they do it's a change welcomed with open arms. Would you oppose such a decision as to Team Ico's next game tackling a four-player party game? How about if Capcom were to design a cutesy town simulator inspired by The Sims? What you may think as the "wrong stuff"... can it actually become just what this industry needs?

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Treasure Hunter
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Re: Is developer experimentation good or bad for the gaming industry?

Jun 27, 2010

Is developer experimentation good or bad for the gaming industry?

 

 

Hmm it's a very good question i have to say but it has an answer that is each to their own

 

but i feel depending on what the company are experimenting with and hoping for as an end result then i think it goes to a test of well did it do this    did we highlight this and did we accomplish these

 

and if it's yes then well it goes to show what needs to be done for us to get the games we so much appreciate but i think theres a level and a line that must be reached

 

as time is wasted and halters the release date but i think there should be more openess to the tests they do  but i feel there is some other things that could be done in the case of the tech demo for PS3 i think you know which one im on about

 

now that was experimenting with the PS3's capabilty graphics wise with one of the games that truely tests the ps3's graphics system now up until now that demo was useless it was good to see what the PS3 could do but feels as if it was wasted time since nothing more had actually came of it and well to it's fanbase it well created so much controversy

 

so to be all and end all i think it really comes down to what the team are testing what they expect of it and if they acheive it and how they further it etc etc

 

 

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Re: Is developer experimentation good or bad for the gaming industry?

Jun 27, 2010

I think it is a very good idea for the gaming industry to experiment. Lately; as we all know, games have become way to comfortable in there series and a experiment would be exactly what a gamer that is bored of repeats would need. The biggest problem is that game developers are way to scared of spending money. Remember when games used to be cheap to make? Now a days even a simple PSN game costs a lot to create and the big blockbusters cost a bloody fortune.

 

Price is all the reason. With no experimentation you get no new series, and no new hits. So instead of risking their money on a series that may or may not succeed they keep cranking out new games for old series constantly adding a bigger number at the end of each game. Like a well known plumber we all know This is where all the Call of Duty 17's and Grand Theft Auto XXIV's keep coming from. It's because it's safe, and makes a profit. But if you try something new, suddenly people are unsure and consequently may not sell well. Or even worse it may be a terrible flop.

 

But being bold with an idea is a good thing and I think more developers need to go for it. It can be really worth their while if it is done right. Two very good examples that we can all agree on are BioShock and Assassin's Creed. Both these ideas were off the charts in the way of different. They both gave completely new ideas and gameplay. But they were done well and now look at them. They too are now in the never ending loop of safe ideas. That is why we have Assassin's Creed 2  out and three coming soon. As well as BioShock 2 and a BioShock movie in production.  It's because a risk was taken and a new safe series was born.

 

It's about taking that first risky step and doing it well. I think experimenting is really important for the industry. We just need good ideas to make them work.

 

Cheers, Brrnout




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Re: Is developer experimentation good or bad for the gaming industry?

Jun 28, 2010

What the answer boils down to, I suppose, is that you can't have one without the other. It's common that trees have several branches, spreading upward and outward away from their source that is stuck in the middle. If Insomniac never branched out then we wouldn't have Resistance: Fall of Man. Of course, we might not have seen them branded as an "InsomnEAc" either. Q-Games has been expanding the PixelJunk empire all of these years on the PlayStation Network, from racing, to strategizing, to platforming, and finally blast-tastic fun. While there are some lows from them, mostly their inventive streak has made the developer a very respectable multi-tasking maestro.

 

Some developers don't go out of their way to make a new thing happen, or they're forced to be stuck in a rut. How many Dynasty Warrior games have we seen? Enough that gamers complain. How many Tony Hawk games has Neversoft handled, and how many Guitar Heroes will write their legacy? It's as if some publishers have developers tied down by a ball and chain, forced to never do anything but become a one-trick pony for the remainder of their days.

 

Should all developers break free from the same old paper route? No... well, not all of the time. It's a bit scary to think that a developer might switch things up, as some companies just can't handle change. Others do well, very well, and it should be the way for certain birds to fly off through self-determination. Meanwhile, it might be best for other developers who only know how to prove themselves in smaller doses of success to keep at it. But sometimes you just have to see where they'll go, what they'll do, all without the cement holding their feet in place and a cage door shutting them. Just don't flock too far off the grid... for we may never see you again.


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Treasure Hunter
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Re: Is developer experimentation good or bad for the gaming industry?

Jun 28, 2010
some really great opinions here would like to thank the MVP's as their posts are always strong and a great read
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Re: Is developer experimentation good or bad for the gaming industry?

Jun 29, 2010

Video games, by and large, are a genre-driven entertainment medium, and genres are built on the idea of “I want more of the same, but slightly different.” People often desire new and familiar at the same time, and genres provide the emulsion to combine that oil and water.

 

Experimentation results from deviating from those genre norms. The further you get away from people’s expectations, the more you’re risking, because your fans may not want to follow you there. It’s like playing with fire: Sometimes you wow your friends, and sometimes you burn your house down.

 

Take Final Fantasy XIII for example. The game certainly attempted some new things for the franchise, such as leaving out towns. That decision alone, which might seem trivial to some, really upset a number of gamers. To them, RPGs are supposed to have towns, and without towns it’s no longer an RPG. Thus they felt betrayed by their purchase.

 

Does this mean developers should forever be shackled to genre tropes? Not at all.

 

Fortunately, games are also an evolving medium, in large part because of the ever-changing nature of the technology supporting them. As new hardware and software tools become available, developers are forced to try new things in order to utilize them. Just look at how the growth of Internet technology changed gaming from the PS1 to the PS3.

 

So in that way, gamers are actually always expecting a certain amount of change. Smart developers can use that expectation to try new things. Every once in a while, you end up with a gem, and the industry evolves to embrace those new ideas. Want an example? Grand Theft Auto III.

 

Yep, I’d say experimenting is definitely good for the industry in the long run.

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Re: Is developer experimentation good or bad for the gaming industry?

Jul 8, 2010

There's always a certain degree of experimentation necessary for progression in any industry especially videogames. Others have already stated my views on how risky experimentation can be especially now that videogames have multimillion dollar budgets and numerous deadlines to fill. Stil, there's varying degrees of experimentation, ranging from the subtle to the extreme. One example of a subtle experiment is the use of create-a-class in Call of Duty 4's multiplayer. Very low risk to see how the general player population responded. An example of an extreme experiment is Little Big Planet. Media Molecule didn't know how the public would recieve LBP, it was a huge risk. They released it anyway to critical acclaim. Now, they're starting the magic all over again in LBP 2.  I view experimentation on this scale can only be achieved by smaller companies with little to lose.

 

Still, we need some games we know we will enjoy and will give us the peace of mind that we look forward to when playing a game.

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Re: Is developer experimentation good or bad for the gaming industry?

Jul 9, 2010

GrayGargoyle wrote:

Square Enix, once known as Squaresoft and Enix respectively, used to be (for the most part) strictly RPG companies. Gamers recognized that these teams delivered the shine and sparkle from a role-playing perspective, and gamers kept wanting delivery of these deeply engaging narratives and innovative turn-based play mechanics. Over the course of time Square and Enix naturally went through a course of evolution, with Squaresoft tackling fighting, racing, and strategical spin-offs to their Final Fantasy arsenal, while Enix can't say so much as the same. Put these two RPG giants into one basket, and the history of Square Enix has seen a number of spin-offs from Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest franchises, doing some offsetting things along the way.

 

Square Enix released Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII and found mixed result because of it, for one example. Everything from The Bouncer to Just Cause 2, we know Square not for playing the fiddle with a single string attached. We also know that stepping outside of their box that empowered their legacy - RPGs - is not always their strongest suit, if Final Fantasy Tactics has anything to say about it.
 
When Naughty Dog will one day (probably) top the Uncharted franchise off with a kart-racing good-bye (as has been done in their previous lineups), is this the kind of game from them that you're rooting for? Wouldn't you rather they spend that time envisioning their next big thing?
 
Essentially, every game takes time away from a company's focal point. They can do what they do best or they can experiment. Sometimes these testing phases don't work, but when they do it's a change welcomed with open arms. Would you oppose such a decision as to Team Ico's next game tackling a four-player party game? How about if Capcom were to design a cutesy town simulator inspired by The Sims? What you may think as the "wrong stuff"... can it actually become just what this industry needs?

Well, you just named two successful examples. Square managed to buy a few wester developers, like Eidos and thus has managed to become a more diverse publisher. Sure FF is still their bread and butter, but games like Just cause 2 prove that gamers can count on Square-enix for more than just turn-based RPG's. Naughty dog moved away from platformers with Uncharted. And as a result Uncharted 2 was voted GOTY by the majority of the press. So, clearly the switch for ND didn't hurt them.

 

But, that doesn't mean that developers switching genre's always work. Koei has tried many times to make more than just Dynasty warriors. Yet most of their attempts have failed. Then you have the before-mentioned Square trying to make 2D shooters. The failed. Konomi has tried to get into the music genre and failed miserably with Rock revolution. And so on...etc. The point is that not all companies can be successful. But keep in mnind that's mostly due to the fact that it's a crowded industry. Sequels dominate sales and thus new IP's tend to have a tougher time. Thaty doesn't meant that we don't need new IP's. Because we do. It's just the reality of it is that new games are risky investments. So while it's a good idea for most publishers and developers to branch out and try new ideas, ultimately it's the risk of it not being successful enough that prevents bigger experimentation than there could be.

 

There's nothing wrong with taking a risk and developers trying new ideas will keep this industry going. But, all still depnd on the game being of good quality and if a developer changes genre's, no matter what the risk the game has to be good. Thus the reason why ND is a success, but Koei is mostly a failure.  

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Re: Is developer experimentation good or bad for the gaming industry?

Jul 22, 2010

  Well, I think experimentation is great for the industry overall.  Sure, devs are taking risks in doing so, and not all risks work out.  Plus, it's important for them to decide when they should take a risk, and when they should stick with what they know best.  But as has been mentioned, we wouldn't have awesome series like Uncharted if devs like Naughty Dog never took those risks.  If a risk works out, it could even change the industry in a good way.  If a risk doesn't work out, well, even then, devs learn something from the experience.  Maybe there were some good ideas there, but a few elements brought the experience down.  If a dev can realize which elements those were, and fix them, or even switch them out, they can make a better product next time.  Or maybe the few good ideas can be implemented elsewhere in other IPs including existing series effectively improving the experience thanks to a failed IP.  Or maybe they just learn to stick to what they know best, but even that could be a good lesson for devs. 

 

  Of course, there's also the risk that even if the game is absolutely amazing, that doesn't mean it's going to sell well.  Even big name companies can release underrated gems.  Let alone smaller companies.  And low sales often discourage companies from continuing with that IP.  Some stick with it and make a sequel, but with each game that doesn't sell well, a dev is more likely to turn away from it.  Plus there are devs that go down with their ship, and that's a real shame, since they could be really good devs.  But I've played some amazing underrated gems, and I'm glad I did.  Still, there's a risk on the part of the consumer if they decide to search for that gem among low profile games.  But I must say, it has been great when I've actually found that gem.

 

  Sometimes it's best for devs to stick with what's familiar too.  Particularly with sequels.  I think devs should take risks with sequels too, but there are certain elements of the previous installments that fans hold onto, and without which, the fanbase might be unsatisfied.  Still, I think a great sequel is one that takes the best of the existing elements, and mixes them with some great new elements, to create a product that improves on the original while still staying true to it.  If done right, a sequel can bring new fans into the series while satisfying long time fans, effecively increasing the sales of said game over the previous installment, and maybe even encouraging new fans to go back and play previous entries. 

 

  Overall, I think it's all about balance.  Familiarity is also important.  Though if devs never experimented, things wouldn't be the way they are now.  So let's just be thankful that some risks took place that have paid off.Smiley Happy

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