Good Games, Bad Games

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Good Games, Bad Games

Postby synthetic » Thu Sep 22, 16 2:28 pm

I think it is that time of year when I should rant about something. Even under the assumption that some 5 people are going to read this, a proper rant is a good tribute to the community's wonderful legacy.

So there are games that suck and games that don't. Gamer consensus would have it that most of them suck, these days, although the opinion about specific games can differ significantly. While I am adamant that both Dragon Age 3 and Deus Ex 3 suck to some or other degree, I have met many people that love those games. For my intent to keep the point clear here, I am going to try to focus on principles of developing a product rather than spend too much time ranting about a specific game.

Game is entertainment product, and from that angle it is absolutely no different from a Movie, a Book or a Song - or a Live Performance. A game is a painting that may bring different opinions about its meaning or nuances, but usually people are able to tell, collectively and individually, when something is rubbish.

Looking at Trending titles and AAA titles, we notice that there are companies that intentionally produce garbage (Bioware, Activision, most of them), but there is also an amount of developers that do make it to the headlines but quite blatantly have absolutely no idea what they are doing.
I listed two problems here: Intentional Crap, and Unintentional Crap. What do I mean by that?

Intentional crap is produced without any regard for the finer entertainment value: you don't even get an escort, just a crack-addicted whore in new clothes charging premium. AAA quality game spends on marketing, visual assets, both supporting eachother and paving way for a massive hype train that then.. well worst case it turns out to be outside-engine rendered crap or tech demo. If the bigshots feel like putting in more dough, you might even get a few known actors to do the shitty dialogue. Its affordable, because the entire game is slated to last some 4 hours, plus repeat fillers.
In the event that the company does hire some staff that does know what they are doing, most of their suggestions are likely shot down and if they cannot design entire game around cliffhanger of some sort, we might end up with half the game being visibly cut.
It sells, shiny stuff and trained audience who appreciates crap. If they pay 60 bucks for a crap game, then surely it must be some good shit. That is not to say that the producers haven't learned from the more obvious mistakes - things tend to be rendered in-engine for showcase, now. Still, I cannot perceive how this would last forever. So there is hope.

Unintentional crap is produced when the producer has no idea how to make a game. "Hey, look! I designed a space ship, and you can shoot lazors at rocks!" Okay, then what? I've seen more creativity in Universe Sandbox. It is a shame when lot of time, no doubt passion, is spent on creating a No Mans Game.

I guess a remark should also be made for games that fail their own expectations so bad that they never do get released post alpha. I don't really want to categorise such titles as bad games, as as the problem is a symptom of bad judgement and management.

While most of my rant has been dealing with obvious greed, a special mention should also be made for Free to Play games. Most if not all of them are gambling games, and before the reader here might jump out of his chair and rush to defend this or that feature, just learn to accept that it is gambling and then try to explain to anyone why gambling is good for you. I smoke, but I am not going to start a rant about how smoking is good for you. That would be stupid. So, some food for thoughts here.

But, what happened to good games mentioned in the title? Well, I finished Metal Gear Solid V. Its the best shit game I've ever played, and as such deserves an honourable mention. RIP naked lady. Unfortunately it suffers greatly from the KOTOR2 syndrome where kojimasama knows how much content was cut. Unfinished game. Not too long ago some expansions were released for Witcher 3. If we talk about good games, let me just say that its Game of the Decade, with its expansion maybe fitting GotY title. Consider the mention of MGSV a jest and go play Witcher3, or 2. Or if you like ugly characters and bizarre combat camera, go play the first one.
A good game makes best of available technology and knowledge in order to produce a piece of art. In the context of games, we want a high quality interactive story. If the producer wants the staff to improvise beyond what the scenario would have, then by all means, as long as it works out. It just seems that very few games have a scenario to begin with, these days. Ciiv5 and upcoming fantasy clone has a pretty simple plot that works out in a different way - through brilliant game mechanics. You build, you conquer, or win game by hugging trees - as long as its got lots of bells and whistles to provide endless fun, its top A. I would also want to complain something about XCOM2, but I don't find the right angle to do so. Fairly simple albeit deeper plot than Civ series, it bets on player attachment and choice of actions. And it works.

You can spend enough money to get Rebecca Black some air time and a fancy video, but on Friday we listen to The Sparks, watch The Moon, and perhaps after a glass of quality scotch we might give Becky a second chance, once the top comes off.
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