Ten Things Videogames Need More Of

By Jim Rossignol on September 7th, 2009 at 1:59 pm.


Given recent discussions I thought it might be useful to create a list that demonstrates how videogames could be categorically improved. Of course, there’s a difference between this and other such lists. The difference is that this list is better. Thanks to coincidence, a game incorporating all these elements is guaranteed a 100% perfect score on Metacritic.

10. This:

9. Uncanny German plasti-retro-future (via John Coulthart), which should definitely be the setting for a Sims 3 expansion pack:

8. The Ethiopian Jazz of Mulatu Astatke. There is almost no first-person shooter soundtrack that couldn’t be improved by this:

7. The armoured mammals of Jeff De Bouer, for a unique twist on the horse armour concept:

6. Theo Jansen’s kinetic sculptures (but not BMWs), as vehicles for Unreal Tournament 4:

5. Things that travel along the ground at 10,430 kph and then collide with a wall. “Rocket Sled Manager” would be an ideal simulation tweak game, in my opinion:

4. The SA-60 airship prototype. Seriously, look, this has to be the basis of a game where you float ominously over farms in Kansas:

3. Historical bleakness. Forget six-shooters, horse-races, and gatling guns, what about starving to death in the wilderness? Here’s some surreal literary bleakness via Cormac McCarthy, from his nightmarish Wild West novel, Blood Meridian. Ideal for a videogame design document:

“They watched storms out there so distant they could not be heard, the silent lightning flaring sheetwise and the thin black spine of the mountain chain fluttering and sucked away again in the dark. They saw wild horses racing on the plain, pounding their shadows down the night and leaving in the moonlight a vaporous dust like the palest stain of their passing. All night the wind blew and the fine dust set their teeth on edge. Sand in everything, grit in all they ate. In the morning a urine-colored sun rose blearily through panes of dust on a dim world and without feature. The animals were failing. They halted and made a dry camp without wood or water and the wretched ponies huddled and whimpered like dogs. That night they rode through a region electric and wild where strange shapes of soft blue fire ran over the metal of the horses’ trappings and the wagonwheels rolled in hoops of fire and little shapes of pale blue light came to perch in the ears of the horses and in the beards of the men. All night sheetlightning quaked sourceless to the west beyond the midnight thunderheads, making a bluish day of the distant desert, the mountains on the sudden skyline stark and black and livid like a land of some other order out there whose true geology was not stone, but fear.”

2. This thing as a new pet/mount in World Of Warcraft:

1. Parties! We never have enough parties in videogames. Here’s the kind of fun time you can expect to have at a party:

What do you think videogames need more of, readers?

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107 Comments »

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  1. milko says:

    I always want to play Stalker or Fallout 3 as if they were a Cormac McCarthy. So I try to run away at the first sign of contact with anything at all. We need better bleak!

  2. Mike says:

    RPS should be more serious and tell less jokes.

    — David, UK

  3. Severian says:

    the ability to jiggle the oversized breasts of your avatar

  4. Schmung says:

    Where are the Ekranoplans?

  5. Rinox says:

    I always thought games, as opposed to their cinematographic counterparts (“films”), are rather short on classical music scores. Some games have very good music and/or composers who make good new music, but given the availability – no copyrights – and its capacity of tapping into the human hivemind it’s somewhat perplexing how underused the genre is. Imagine a games counterpart for Apocalypse Now’s Ride of the Valkyries scene.

    Also, emotion.

  6. Sunjammer says:

    http://imgur.com/3MyfW.jpg

    But, seriously, realistic deep water settings. Bioshock aside, the ocean is as close to a terrifying hostile outer space environment crowded with ungodly lovecraftian monstrosities as we’re ever going to get.

  7. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    One – perhaps naive – thing I always wished MMORPGs did was a sort of crossover like those that crop up in comics. As in, characters crossing between different worlds (in this case, games). Going from EVE to WoW to CO as a sort of cooperative battlefest against some larger menace. MMO devs could envision some entity or force taking over several planes of existence (or the multiverse, natch), and characters joined to fight it off. Maybe a new MMO on the block could gather publicity by making ‘appearances’ in other MMOs, drawing curiosity from players to seek it out. As time went by, the cameos would turn into bigger events that actually required some players to cross into the new MMO (maybe use rifts to explain it) and prevent it from spreading, containing the invasion.

    I’ve been (re)reading Crisis on Infinite Earths so don’t mind me. And of course, chances of this happening are zero to none, so :(

  8. Creepy Walking Thing says:

    That creepy walking thing at number two reminds me of a Llama. Anybody else?

  9. Tei says:

    (lies)

    I have watched the videos, and before reading the text, i was thinking.. “all this videos reminds me of Bucakor Banzai”. and “I will be fun if a guy make a movie based on buckaro banzai”. and “It will be the best game ever”.

    After that, I have read the article text… :-O

    (/lies)

  10. Tei says:

    postdata:
    There was a error on the 2th lie:
    “I will be fun if a guy make a game based on buckaro banzai”
    Sorry.

  11. Paul S. says:

    We actually do need wingsuit games. AAAaaAAaargh!! (or whatever it’s called) is fun, but it would be even better over cliffs and forests and stuff. Maybe.

    Anyway, I want to be wicked sick.

  12. Metal_Circus says:

    Seriously, that ethiopian jazz music is utterly sublime. RPS, thank you!

  13. JoeCairo says:

    There is nothing in this world that can’t be improved by adding a Mulatu Astatke soundtrack. Fun article BTW.

  14. Ozzie says:

    “Imagine a games counterpart for Apocalypse Now’s Ride of the Valkyries scene.”

    You mean like Full Throttle’s toy bunny scene?

  15. Stabby says:

    Any kind of flying in games is pure awesome. I’m disappointed that gliding in Prototype was so short, and you couldn’t trade altitude for continuous forward momentum.

    That’s partly why I’m looking forward to AssCreed2! DaVinci wings!

  16. JB says:

    Well, cheers RPS. I showed my daughters (8 & 11 yrs old) the wingsuit base jumping video, now they want me to book us a family holiday to do it. Thing is, I’d actually love to try it.

    The jazz is super-slick, the kinetic sculptures are cool. I think the mammal armour is better than the sculptures, mind you.

    As for what games need more of, how about violence? And armoured mammals.

  17. phil says:

    I agree we need more parties, the last decent virtual one I attended was in Invisible War, and that was only due to the borg disco dancer.

  18. diebroken says:

    Needs more schizophrenia…

  19. Sajmn says:

    Sneaking up on people, but at an action pace (aka SC:Chaos Theory multiplayer).

    Also:
    The demo for the game Breed (the game itself sucks) had this part where you parked your tank into a transport, then took off with the tank from a space carrier in orbit. You then descended onto the planet and transitioned into flight, approaching your target island.

    It was really cool where doing the things yourself gave the game a much more satisfying feeling of immersion. So more of that. Space games with dynamic non interrupted descents on planets. Landing and taking off from carriers and airfields/bases… flying in general, dropping with parachutes/drop pods.

    And a proper Battlezone sequel (Battlezone was a sci-fi RTS/FPS mix where you fought commies on various planets in a space tank while building a base and commanding your forces, you could also leave your tank and walk on foot, then snipe the driver of an enemy vehicle and confiscate it. A real classic in my book)

    Yeah that.

  20. Premium User Badge

    Vandelay says:

    Wingsuits are kind of done in Prototype and pretty well too. In fact, probably my favourite part of that game is just gliding around the city. Then again, nothing in it compares to the awesomeness that was in that video.

    I’ve shamefully not read any Cormac McCarthy, but had it recommended a fair few times (perhaps one of the only failings of doing a English degree/Masters has been having to read books on my course and not having time to read what I would like to read.) That passage just makes me want to read some even more, so I’ll definitely be picking up a couple of books when I get some time.

    In relation to games, that sense of fear is something that could really be tapped into more in games, but will always be a difficult balance. Even something like Stalker didn’t fully manage to do it. Perhaps in the early stages of the game when you have only the very weak pistol you do get that sense of weakness, but the majority of people say that those are the worst parts of the game, probably because they are so used to being the most powerful character in a game. A game in which the real enemy is the surroundings could be wonderful. In fact, a historical game where you had to explore New World could be fantastic. Simply making you having to travel from the east to the west, surviving through various different conditions, making sure you balance your supplies, etc. could be something very unique and filled with possibilities. If you didn’t want to do it as a historical piece you could equally do something similar in a futuristic setting where you have to discover a new planet.

    Also, David Lynch as an influence on a game? Fantastic idea! Love some Lynch (still yet to see Lost Highway though, have been waiting for ages for it to move from my LoveFilm reserve list to my rental list,) and the possibilities that his mind bending worlds could have on games could make something very interesting. Probably the closest we have at the moment are the Tale of Tales’s games (reminds me, I really must finish The Path. I only played some of the youngest girls piece,) but I’m sure some imaginative developers could do something very unique with that style.

  21. The Fanciest of Pants says:

    Yay Theo Jansen.

    That man makes the most stunningly wonderful contraptions.

  22. Rinox says:

    “Imagine a games counterpart for Apocalypse Now’s Ride of the Valkyries scene.”

    You mean like Full Throttle’s toy bunny scene?

    Yes! And we need more of it!

  23. Captain Bland says:

    Can’t help but think a new NOLF could incorporate most of this list, (notable exception: Historical Bleakness).

  24. Hi!! says:

    ““Rocket Sled Manager” would be an ideal simulation tweak game, in my opinion:”

    I played it when it was called Armadillo Run…

  25. nihohit says:

    8 happened – NOLF.

  26. Heliocentric says:

    Urine coloured sun? Thats utterly useless. Urine after coffee? Urine after drinking 4 litres of water? Urine during detox?

    In short, its a rubbish writer which would use such a prose. 7/10

  27. Jim Rossignol says:

    Heliocentric, did you miss out on the urine-calibration injections at school?

  28. Ginger Yellow says:

    ” In fact, a historical game where you had to explore New World could be fantastic. Simply making you having to travel from the east to the west, surviving through various different conditions, making sure you balance your supplies, etc. could be something very unique and filled with possibilities. ”

    Uh, Oregon Trail?

  29. Dracko says:

    No joking matter, Mike.

    How about a game set in Einstein’s Tomb?

  30. Jim Rossignol says:

    He means a historical game where you explore the New World using a wingsuit and an airship.

  31. Dracko says:

    Or we could all just replay Another World again, really.

  32. Jim Rossignol says:

    Dracko: the architect for Einstein’s Tomb was cited way back in a Gamasutra article, and I’m fairly sure a couple of level designers have mentioned riffing from him since then (possibly Valve for Combine stuff?)

  33. Nick says:

    Need more bloom.

  34. Dracko says:

    Oh, brilliant.

    If games need to draw from any other medium, it would have to be architecture and landscape art in general.

    Believe it or not, this was an inspiration behind the Halo series. The artist was an architect before trying to make a career out of funny books.

  35. Heliocentric says:

    I was expecting the injections to make everyone go all “I am legend”.

  36. vasagi says:

    Lynch for the win, also any care to go for a cup of coffee a at place i had a dream about?

  37. Gutter says:

    Good article.

    I’ll tell you what video games (and movies) need less of : Character that wakes up with amnesia and super powers.

  38. Sinnerman says:

    All I want is a game where every level is inspired by a different Shonen Knife song. Is that too much to ask?

  39. ChaosSmurf says:

    More games need to do what Audiosurf did and make music the basis of their levels. Particularly some sort of first person shooter.

  40. Martijn Zandvliet says:

    I completely agree with point 1! After playing with the idea of a wingsuit/BASE game for a couple of years, and finding out that AAAAaaaaAAAAetc doesn’t really fill the wingsuit-void, I’ve started to build one myself. Right now I’m getting the basic physics down (nothing basic about those though, sadly), and I hope to have something concrete to show within a couple of weeks.

  41. Quests says:

    “RPS should be more serious and tell less jokes.

    – David, UK”

    As everyone else, you start off as a committed person then you lose your mind, get soft, start taking money for things.

  42. Sartoris says:

    Intelligent writers who can match, if not exceed, Planescape: Torment’s level of word-awesomeness.

  43. Premium User Badge

    Sagan says:

    Games also need more Sims AI. Every game which has NPCs in it should run those NPCs on the Sims AI. Even if they live only for 30 seconds. With a little luck you could watch them make out before they die.

  44. Jayt says:

    more cowbell

  45. Futurecast says:

    This is a very cool list of 10 things. I often worry about the potential interesting things that exist in culture/the internet/the world/life – that pass us by out of accident or a flawed searching method.

    The flying man thing has swept me away the most. Nevermind planes/skydiving and so on – surely that’s the closest to flying like birds we’ve reached?

    Also Ethiopian Jazz would be great for an alternative/anachronistic/offbeat/weird Noir FPS. But it’s great generally as well.

  46. phuzz says:

    @Schmung: World in Conflict (or possibly just the sov expansion pack) has Ekranoplans (including the loony ones with missiles on the top), thus making it at least 5% more awesome.
    It would be 10% if they were playable units.

  47. FernandoDANTE says:

    Is this a joke? It’s not particularly funny.

  48. Tei says:

    3D is a wall where imagination collide and die. making something using 3D is really expensive. You are under a budget, time budget, economic budget, polycount budget.

    3D is hard. And hard is the enemy of experimental.

    I think the logic on this article is “we need the awesome on games, I want more awesome games that make me feel :-O”.

    I think the simple dificulty of it make soo only very few people (like Valve with Portal) can make use feel :-O

    We could always go back to the “pretend 3D” of carmagedoom 1, and start drawing again. Or maybe start creating engines that are less about pre-design models and more like …. I don’t know,… Imagine a engine that use a fractal format for models, where you can infinite zoom, and theres always more details…. like a infinite fractal LOD system.

    This very secret emo’s (this word is invented) of this thread is “I want The crazy”. Another problem with 3D is that only really sane people can make things, crazy people have his own problems, and can’t make much code or ideas.. so we have sane stuff, the crazyness is banned :-(

    but i digress…. again…

  49. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Steampunk plus light arcane; lots of zeppelins. Zeppelins are good things.