Eric Chahi Says Originality Is Coming Back

By Quintin Smith on March 31st, 2011 at 12:39 pm.

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Another World developer and all-around quality Frenchman Eric Chahi (currently hard at work on download-only God game From Dust, pictured above) has said in an interview with CVG that he believes originality is returning to videogames after a hiatus of some seven years, arguing that digital distribution has brough innovative games back to the masses. You can read the full quotes below- I agree with him for the most part, but think he’s a bit off with a few of his dates.

Here’s what Mr. Chahi had to say-

“Today we have more creativity than some years ago – maybe seven years ago. 2000 to 2003/4 was really a time where there was no independent scene, there were few risks – it was very rare.

But digital distribution, which started on PC then later on the console, was a really, really major step that saw originality coming back…

…We think that around 2000 there was no place for small games, there were big games with big prices – a lot of cost and a lot of cost means we want a level of profitability, it was difficult…”

Whereupon international product manager Guillaume Cerda added that when you can’t take risks, it results in a lot of the same kind of game. “Shooting, etc.” On the subject of the point Cliff Bleszinski made at GDC that games are currently polarised into high budget AAA titles and low budget indie games, Chahi said that he didn’t see the increasing of indie game budgets as a goal worth chasing, because the less of a budget something has, the more creative freedom the developers have.

Eric went on to explain that one of the reasons he left the games industry was that he wanted to spend just one or two years developing a game, but until recently there was no opportunity to do that.

While I mostly agree with him, I don’t believe AAA gaming had lost its creative mojo by as far back as 2000. On the PC side alone, the year 2000 saw the release of Giants: Citizen Kabuto, No One Lives Forever and Sacrifice, some of the most dangerously eccentric AAA games ever made. While it’s true that there was almost no independant scene back then, I don’t know if developers learned not to take risks until much later.

Tell you what, though. From Dust should be a great time, and it’s due out this Summer. When I saw it back at Gamescom it was looking great, and it’s only looking prettier and prettier. Here’s last year’s trailer. Make a new one soon, Eric!

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141 Comments »

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  1. HeavyStorm says:

    Prettier indeed. Let’s just hopes it also plays good. :)

  2. pakoito says:

    Do you know that…

    …chachi means cool in Spain?

    • TXinTXe says:

      Well, maybe if you are ten years old… If not, you probably would say “como mola” when you want to say that something is cool. ;)

    • Hoaxfish says:

      he was also the guy in Happy Days

    • Orija says:

      means ‘aunt’ in South Asia.

    • Turin Turambar says:

      Shut up Txintxe, it’s not like you a real spanish!

    • McDan says:

      I thought that was who Choni likes?

    • Tei says:

      Don’t tell this people our secretssssssssss!!!

      Mozilla = Littel Lady. (moza = women)

    • TXinTXe says:

      ¡I’m not! ¡I’m a guiri!

    • thatman says:

      “Our secrets”?!?!? Whaaat? The mighty Tei is Spanish?

    • Oak says:

      Por supuesto.

    • thatman says:

      Well then I now know that my country is well represented on these forums, so there’s no real need for me to commentate on them. Gracias, Tei :D

    • gorgol says:

      No se, yo digo chachi cada dos por tres y tengo bastante mas que 10 años :P

      EDIT P.S. Chahi != Chachi.

  3. Eclipse says:

    From Dust looks so epically good and inspired… and being a game from the creator of Another World and Heart of Darkness only means that I’ll buy it on day one.

  4. Steven Hutton says:

    Ok, a challenge. Name some AAA games that have some element of innovation the newer the game the more it’s worth.

    I’ll start us off. Mirror’s Edge.

    • Premium User Badge

      AndrewC says:

      Gears Of War

    • Wulf says:

      I prefer originality of setting, world, characters, and so on, with originality of gameplay coming second. If the wold is something I’ve seen a million times before, then the game could be the most incredibly innovative thing ever, and I still wouldn’t be able to get into it.

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      None. There is no true innovation in any one thing. All is incremental and goes both forwards and backwards at all times.

    • zergrush says:

      Demon’s Souls.

    • Orija says:

      Lol Gears of War dude, the cover mechanic had already been done in the PS2 era.

    • Sirbolt says:

      Bulletstorm. To me anyways. It actually felt a (tiny) bit fresh, which is rare for an FPS.

    • JackShandy says:

      Most AAA releases have some innovation. Then they make sequels and get copied so much that it becomes boring. Just take the most recent AAA releases and take the 2’s and 4’s off the ends.

    • Kadayi says:

      Portal 1 & 2

      L4D1 & 2

    • D3xter says:

      Assassin’s Creed?

    • Meat Circus says:

      Demon’s Souls is an excellent call, but is it a AAA title? What the hell does AAA mean anyway?

    • Wulf says:

      This is a very short list.

      Though I agree that Portal and Demon’s Souls are good calls. Left 4 Dead less so, in my opinion, which is entirely personal and based upon my bias – that being that I’m tired of games with zombies in them, and Left 4 Dead did absolutely nothing to remedy that.

      RE: Bulletstorm

      I’ve been tempted to try that but… Yahtzee’s review put me off. Apparently it takes itself too seriously and spends too much time trying to make excuses for and justify its strangeness, apologising for it, even. That’s the kind of thing that puts me off a game quickly.

      I was also worried that the humour would be entirely crass, and some of it is, but looking over some videos I have seen some good laughs there that aren’t just crass. It’s just the ‘taking itself too seriously’ thing that puts me off it.

    • Premium User Badge

      shoptroll says:

      From portable console toy land: The World Ends With You. Probably the best thing that’s come out of Square-Enix since the 90’s.

    • el_Chi says:

      @Malawi Frontier Guard
      “None. There is no true innovation in any one thing. All is incremental and goes both forwards and backwards at all times.”

      Bloody hell. I hope you typed that whilst wearing a beret and smoking a Gaullois, before sighing deeply and adding “Ze only true expression of ze self ees suicide.”

    • Wulf says:

      *cracks up.*

    • Pew pew LAZORS says:

      Burnout paradise’s online portion was quite innovative.

    • zergrush says:

      I’m considering AAA games to be the ones backed by major publishers money.

      I think Little Big Planet is pretty inovative ( and awesome ) too. Fat Princess is easily the best thing on PSN, and I also can’t think of something quite like it. On portable consoles you also have stuff like the Monster Hunter series and Peace Walker ( two of the best coop multiplayer games ever made ) or Scribblenauts.
      On PC I can’t really think of anything that would fit an “AAA” label, but there’s a lot of mid-budget stuff from european devs that is pretty different.

      Also, TWEWY is amazing, I simply couldn’t believe that Nomura worked on a game that good.

    • Wulf says:

      I’m sure I read that Scribblenauts was self-funded, I’ve seen fifth cell described as ‘indie’ just about everywhere I’ve looked.

    • zergrush says:

      Really? Didn’t know about that. I automatically assume that games with major disk/cart release aren’t indies ~.~

    • Wulf says:

      Yeah. It’s becoming semi-common practice on the DS lately that the only reason you need a publisher is to get your game on a cart, rather than to provide all the funding involved. Monster Tale is another good example of this.

    • Urthman says:

      Max Payne – 2001
      GTA3 – 2002
      Prince of Persia: Sands of Time – 2003
      Psychonauts – 2005
      Portal – 2007
      Assassin’s Creed – 2008
      Spore – 2008
      Plants v. Zombies – 2009
      Mirror’s Edge – 2009

    • Wulf says:

      I wish more people had liked Spore though. I’d love to see a Spore 2 one day, built on even more impressive technology.

    • MikoSquiz says:

      I would argue that TWEWY is in fact the best thing to *ever* come out of Square-Enix, but is it AAA? The company is major, but I don’t think it was a top-priority release for them, more of a cute little side project while the bulk of the company was busy with other stuff.

    • Will Tomas says:

      I don’t know whether this applies in games, but for book publishers, they use ‘AAA’ to mean titles that get the biggest marketing budget, based on having higher predicted sales/market impact. The scale goes:

      AAA = big titles, big names, lots of marketing push.
      AA = medium titles, moderate marketing, but let’s not go overboard
      A = standard book, advertise in catalogues etc but don’t heavily push.

    • anonymousity says:

      Who would call plants vs zombies innovative?

  5. HexagonalBolts says:

    I am more excited about From Dust than any other game in the past several years, perhaps with the exception of Dwarf Fortress. Everything about it and its developers gives me extremely high hopes.

    • wu wei says:

      Damn you, I skimmed your post and instantly started craving Dwarf Fortress in the From Dust engine :|

  6. Wulf says:

    :C

    http://pastebin.com/TjGDvqzb

    That might get fixed… one day.

    Anyway, there’s my take.

  7. Premium User Badge

    The Sombrero Kid says:

    I personally think the rise of independent games has been fueled by the decay of AAA games, 2000 had plenty of expression in it’s big budget games it didn’t need low production quality indie games to satisfy the originality we craved, it’s when AAA games started to decay that we all started looking elsewhere & as developers started experimenting on our own, those talented people would never have looked elsewhere if they were being satisfied, creatively, by their former employers.

    • Wulf says:

      That sounds about right to me.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      AAAs are a kinda Hollywooding which doesn’t quite stick apparently… facebook games, flash games, indie devs (XBLA, etc), F2P MMOs, etc seem to be leading a sort of overrun where budgets are considerably smaller, too small to sustain the “Hollywood/music industry”-style bureaucracy/management/profit-cost balancing.

      There’s still a corner for AAA games, just like there is for summer blockbusters, but it’s not so much of a monopoly, and being turned down by a major publisher/distributer doesn’t mean you’re as screwed.

  8. Ringwraith says:

    Giants!

    How I loved that game, whith its complete and utter madness.

    Good times.

    We can’t we have more of those?

    • Navagon says:

      The same team put out Armed & Dangerous. It was a bit more conventional, but there are some good moments. It has a land shark too! LAND SHARK!

    • Wulf says:

      I loved Giants too! That was one of the first games I bought on GoG. :D

      It was all the things I wanted from a game – it presented an exotic, alien world, strange cultures, intelligent humour, all around intelligence, innovative gameplay, fun, and … well, yes. I want more of that, too.

    • Premium User Badge

      Oozo says:

      Even better – it was a land shark GUN! Ah, good times.

    • Urael says:

      Giants was brilliant. So much fun, so inventive, so cool to play. My favourite portion – ahead of everything else by only a whisker, you understand – was playing as Delphi, the Sea Reaper. That turbo move she did….I must have played the original demo a hundred times. By the time I got the game I was a master!

      Armed & Dangerous wasn’t quite as good, IMO. Still, I’d take another A&D over cookie-cutter FPS #463 any day of the week.

    • Ringwraith says:

      I tried Armed & Dangerous once and didn’t quite the shine to it immediately like I did with Giants.

      Though the topsy-turvy bomb was always funny.

      Might have to try it again sometime.

    • Wulf says:

      With these whacky weapons being talked about, I feel there’s a game I should mention, right now, because it is necessary!

      MDK. Also MDK. MDK. And more MDK. And MDK 2.

      See? Totally necessary.

    • Urthman says:

      Nowadays we’ve have some pretty good games with Spider-Man, Hulk, Prototype, etc, that really capture the feeling of moving like a superhero, but back in 2000, the Sea Reaper’s turbo move was the closest, most exhilarating example of that kind of free, powerful movement I’d experienced in a video game. And the Merc jetpacks were almost as good.

      There was one level in the Merc single-player campaign that ended with a prison that was ridiculously tall. With some effort, you could jetpack your way to the very top. Looking down from there was the first time a videogame ever gave me vertigo.

      Jet packs, super-sniper rifles, huge, open, colorful, beautiful islands. Playing Giants was a joyful experience.

      And the base-building was so nifty. I must’ve played the Merc base-building levels dozens of times. I loved building the walls, placing the turrets. And all the nifty gadgets like the “tunnel” portals, and the thing that let you build a platform in midair, then jetpack high into the air from that platform and place another platform much higher, and then do it again a third time. And the helicopter.

      Any developer that wants to do a you-are-there tower defense mechanic simply must look at Giants and steal shamelessly.

      And yes Wulf, MDK & MDK2 were fantastic fun. Some of the best stuff from Giants (the movement, jetpacks, the extreme sniping) started out in the MDK games. (Remember the level where you had to make a bunch of jumps and there was this audience of aliens that would applaud and cheer every time you landed one? That was so funny.)

    • DiamondDog says:

      MDK! What a joyous game.

    • Wulf says:

      “(Remember the level where you had to make a bunch of jumps and there was this audience of aliens that would applaud and cheer every time you landed one? That was so funny.)”

      …I do remember that! And even the memory got quite a laugh out of me. Thanks for reminding me of that.

  9. Navagon says:

    As long as From Dust doesn’t suffer from Molyneux Syndrome then it should be an epic. Especially in an age where god games are very poorly represented.

    To me 2004 was an awesome year for AAA titles. So many great games I could list from that year. But there’s no denying the fact that there has been a decline since then. No doubt that’s in no small part due to this generation of consoles coupled with ever rising development costs and the need for a ‘sure thing’.

  10. GewaltSam says:

    Just saying: There doesn’t seem to be a PC logo at the end of the trailer. Maybe it doesn’t mean anything, but since Red Dead Redemption and friends I do not like that.

  11. JackShandy says:

    Man! As it happens, I just finished Another World. Pretty much embodies everything I love and hate about super linear games, then goes and adds a clever one button interface on top.

    From Dust looks like it won’t even be comparable to Another World. If they can pull off what I’m seeing in these trailers I’ll be amazed.

    • Wulf says:

      Another World also had some of the best set pieces I’d seen in videogames.

      I’ll still especially fond of the alien tank and the ooh, buttons! moment.

  12. mcwill says:

    The core problem was the emergence of the current gen. Adding another order of magnitude to already-swollen budgets resulted in the old $250,000 chancers being ditched in favour of more manshoots and WoWalikes.
    To make matters worse, 2004/5 marks the end of the period when devs could reasonably expect to get a contract based upon a good enough pitch (and a track record) and the beginning of the expectation of a working, playable prototype. Which, when you’re breaking new ground, is next to impossible for all but the most cash-flush of studios – but banging out A. N. Other Manshooter is not exactly difficult.

  13. Baboonanza says:

    ‘the year 2000 saw the release of Giants: Citizen Kabuto, No One Lives Forever and Sacrifice, some of the most dangerously eccentric AAA games ever made. ‘
    Do they really count as AAA games though? Did any of them have multi-million dollar ad campaigns? Has anybody who isn’t a game geek heard of them?
    They were more like A / AA games really, though I suppose that supports your argument that it started later than 2000.

    What was lost wasn’t a lack of creativity in AAA games, it was that nobody made anything except AAA games.

    • Wulf says:

      Gods, I loved Sacrifice too, so much! …there are so many good memories in this thread. C:

      “Hey, come on over here so that the player can experiment on you with destructive magic. You’ll enjoy it!”
      “…no, I don’t think that I agree.” *backs away slowly.*

      Sacrifice had intelligent humour, was eccentric, rather alien, and didn’t take itself too seriously.

      I’m really beginning to see a pattern, here.

  14. Baboonanza says:

    On another note: I agree that indie’s chasing bigger budgets is a bad move, but that doesn’t mean that production standards can’t improve. Indie has always been about doing more with less and with tools like Unity around you can work smarter and produce games of exceptional quality that would have been impossible a few years ago.

  15. Premium User Badge

    Mungrul says:

    It’s universally decried (although I liked it), but I thought Black & White was an incredibly original game. Hell, say what you like about Lionhead, but their games are hardly typical (although Fable seems to have outstayed its welcome now).
    Also, the point regarding digital distribution: when did Steam start? And are we counting shareware? If so, then we could point waaaaaaaaay back to Doom et al as starting the digital distribution revolution.

    • Wulf says:

      Yep, I liked Black & White as well. It fits the aforementioned pattern that I mentioned earlier.

      …I’m beginning to think that these should be necessary considerations for game design.

    • noerartnoe says:

      First experience with Black & White:
      At a friends house playing (i.e. my buddy was playing, me and another friend were hanging over his shoulder telling him what to do). He started with the cat (can’t remember what breed it is :P ). At some point said cat kicked a villager.

      My buddy then decided to beat the snot out of it to keep it from doing it again. The Creature looked at the screen/hand rather angrily, and proceeded to gleefully punt villagers whenever it saw them (seemingly) just to spite us.

    • Wulf says:

      Yep, that was part of the (clever) AI programming. I remember getting into the guts of Black & White at one point to find this out. Modding is fun! Essentially, if you over-abuse your creature, it can get neurotic, and then it becomes your rival and does whatever upsets you, because it figures that if it’s going to get punished for everything anyway, it might as well have whatever fun it can.

    • Calabi says:

      That brings up a good point. Why is there no AIs in games anymore. Where are the seemingly no intelligent npcs. Computers have quadrupled in power since the year 2000 or something to that effect. We have nothing to show for all that power except for better graphics and maybe physics(which no one hardly uses, its mainly still just for show, there are exceptions but then the destruction is usually the main hook as if its something special that you can actually, destroy that thing you could destroy in the real world(omg thats amaaaazin).

      All we have is a bunch of npc scripts that in most cases behave worse than the games we had before.

    • Wulf says:

      @Calabi

      Firstly? I agree with you! Secondly? Google ‘Grandroids,’ it’ll make you happy.

    • edit says:

      Oh God, Wulf, thank you for mentioning Grandroids. Insta-pledge. There is a serious shortage of these kinds of projects and my interest has driven me to research NNs etc in my free time. I’ve mucked around with just about every a-life experiment I could get my hands on (Framsticks and the like) and couldn’t be more keen for this.

    • OctoVine says:

      >Firstly? I agree with you! Secondly? Google ‘Grandroids,’ it’ll make you happy.

      OMFG — Why isn’t this on the front page? Creatures was the god damn pinnacle of AI and artificial life in its day. It is STILL the pinnacle. Creatures walks all over Black and White or Spore or whatnot.

      Gabe Newell should drop 200k on Steve Grand and let him do whatever he wants for two years, and give him a couple of programmer lackeys to do graphics or whatever. Creatures was THAT innovative. Seriously.

      For Science! And Gaming!

    • edit says:

      Yes, yes!

      Grandroids for front page RPS news! Grandroids for support from wealthy patrons! Everyone get behind this thing.. Creatures was such a big leap forward for gaming and A.I. which apparently no other company has had the vision or know-how to follow up. Now there is a follow-up brewing, and it needs as much support as we can muster.

      Everyone who has the interest, you can learn about the project, and potentially support it with a bit of money, here:

      https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1508284443/grandroids-real-artificial-life-on-your-pc

    • Soon says:

      I adored Creatures. The egg disk was a beautiful touch, adding that little extra meta layer of interaction and sciencey feel (I have life on this disk!). But I guess it would just be considered an inconvenience now.

    • wu wei says:

      Creatures used to drive me crazy just trying to teach my norns to eat. In my young adult naivety I thought that there was no way learning to eat when hungry would be so damn difficult for any living creature.

      Then I had kids.

      And wow I just realized it’s actually Steve Grand behind Grandroids! Grand’s last project was producing the AI for a robot orangutan. His book, Creation: Life and how to make it, is also an incredibly good read.

      +1 for me on an RPS cover story, this is amazingly big news.

    • OctoVine says:

      I haven’t seen it on any gaming sites. Hope that RPS can give it a mention before the Kickstarter runs out. I bet a lot of Creatures fan will be sad they missed a chance to support a new project and get in on the beta.

  16. Anguy says:

    Sorry to interrupt, but what are AAA games? Just Mainstream super successful games?

    • Wulf says:

      Yup. Also the typical mainstream games, the ones we’re talking about, are the tried and tested formula. Like… hey, that hasn’t been done a million and one times before! Oh wait, yes it has. Oh wait, that isn’t exceedingly dull, is it? Oh wait, we forgot the humour, the character, the personality, the soul, and the love that we should’ve put into our work. So yeah, it kind of is, isn’t it? Um… and so on.

    • Soon says:

      Not even successful games, necessarily, since they apply the AAA label before the game is even released. It’s just down to marketing, as evidenced by the assumption that AAA games are successful.

    • DrGonzo says:

      It seems to be like how people use the word ‘pop’, meaning music you don’t like that’s popular.

      I’m not quite sure what is so original about a god game that looks like Populous and Black and White. I actually thought there was good reason for that genre being abandoned, that was it was stale and had been done to death.

    • pipman3000 says:

      AAA : popular game i dislike : hipster : popular person i dislike

    • Chris D says:

      Oh yeah, that whole genre was so overdone. I mean there was Populous, Black and White and uh.. Populous 2 and…. Well, I believe I’ve made my point.

    • Wulf says:

      I’m with Chris D on this. God games are incredibly rare little gems, and I happen to like them, too.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      “AAA, or Triple-A, may be a three-letter acronym or may just mean something that is high-quality, premier, or excellent.” says Wikipedia. In he case of big game publishers, they usually just mean ‘big budget’.

  17. l1ddl3monkey says:

    Original is coming back! Now; look at these six new zombie games…

    • Wulf says:

      Coming back, but not completely here yet, I think is the acknowledged truth.

      So it’s still being interspersed with the same dull, old crap. At some point we’ll reach the golden age of the late ’90s and early ’00s again, but we’re not there quite yet. Almost! But not yet.

  18. Duke of Chutney says:

    “from Ubisoft”

    aaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

    why

    have mercy on us

  19. D3xter says:

    I think the decline in games and game quality is kind of directly tied to the release of the Xbox… so more like 2002+

    • Wulf says:

      I’d agree, but I don’t want to blame console toy owners for unimaginative, dull, unintelligent games. This isn’t a truth, because on the Dreamcast and the Playstation2, there were plenty of games which fit my criteria. One of them being Okami. Oh how I loved Okami, I loved it dearly, it was cherished and still is. So perhaps it’s just more the Western-centric console audience that I blame then. I’m not sure.

      The older consoles definitely had their fair share of games which met my criteria though, that’s for sure.

    • D3xter says:

      I actually loved consoles to pieces back in the day when they were actually different from PC gaming in a lot of things and I owned an SNES, SEGA Mega and a GameBoy… while the PC had its Shooters, Strategy games, Simulation and awesome LucasArts/AdventureSoft/SIERRA Adventure games the consoles had stuff like Super Mario, Sonic, Mario Kart, Turtles in Time and a bunch of awesome Ninja games etc. The Playstation kind of continued in that trend of offering its “own” kind of games. Microsoft was the first to start with the homogenization of games to make the “Multiplatform” we know today by buying and paying off PC developers to do “Exclusives” and the likes. Imo both was lost around that time… most of the different and awesomely difficult and fun console game experiences (only Nintendo is kinda still doing that somewhat and I respect them for it) as well as the “in-depth” and complex PC games to create something new.

    • Wulf says:

      @kobzon: I think I was more specifically thinking of the 360.

    • MichaelPalin says:

      @Wulf: Yep!, Japan seems to always have place for new original gaming experiences (probably because it’s the weirdest contry in the world) and Japan has always been a console market. However, even the Japan developers are embracing unoriginality in this generation. jRPGs seem to be reaching the point of saturation, it has become trendy to say that Japan developers suck and that they have to learn from the West, Namco Bandai is a joke, Nintendo, no matter what the fanboys say, is taking their major franchises to the point of exhaustion, much like Konami. So, the main source of originality for consoles is also drying off. :(

    • Wulf says:

      I agree! I really do. I mean, some of the better RPGs I’ve ever played were Japanese console games. Examples? Let’s see! Skies of Arcadia, Pirate Galaxy, the Star Ocean series, the Phantasy Star series, and the Shining Force series. I loved the hell out of those games, and even recently I’ve gone back to some of them. I also think that Star Ocean has one of the most innovative crafting systems I have ever seen. EVER. MMORPGs take note!

      And that’s just one genre! Another thing I liked about the Japanese sort of RPG was that it was atypical of the sort of setting one might expect, too. I mean… Skies of Arcadia was pirates in skyboats, floating islands, and whatnot. It was amazing! You could even gain recognition, and people would start singing your praises, lowering prices in their stores, and being all… “Oh my gosh, I never thought you’d come here! This will boost my sales so much, people seeing you here! Have a discount! Please come back again!” It did this so much better than Mass Effect II.

      And… Skies of Arcadia was so, so happy.

      And Grandia! I loved Grandia! I mean, it starts out as a boy whose primary weapons are a pot and a wooden sword, and then he ends up going to the edge of the world, and past it! And he meets up with this knight who’s a sort of tiger bloke, and puts Justin (the boy) in awkward situations by constantly talking about how they’re manly men of manly action and manliness, who’d never dream of anything other than being manly men of manliness, with extra manly on the side. That knight was completely ridiculous and not at all serious. Marcus Fenix is sort of what you get when you take that character and make it serious. :p I want to laugh, but the game makes it clear I’m not supposed to.

      I could go on, I really could… Ecco, Alicia Dragoon, Nights, Powerstone II, and endless titles which were just amazingly fun, and bizarre, and even intelligent. Yep, loved the hell out of all that.

    • Wulf says:

      This might be heresy, but…

      At this point, I want to strongly recommend that everyone pick up Monster Tale for the DS. I picked it up after reading this review over on Nintendojo and I’m absolutely delighted with it, it’s glorious. It’s a Metroidvania, except it’s not. It’s a pet game, except it’s not. It’s sort of an RPG/adventure, except it’s not. And so on.

      I haven’t played anything like it in a long, long time, and it’s a stunningly innovative and clever title.

      (Oh! I should probably mention that I got it from Play Asia (direct link to the game), where I tend to get most of my DS games from because it’s cheaper than getting them from most UK retailers.)

      (Also going to link this interview.)

    • Premium User Badge

      Oozo says:

      @Michaelpalin
      Thank god then that, as Quinns reminds us, Japanese people have a tendency to screw up when trying to imitate the tried and tested formulas that make Western games so succesful and generic, and sometimes happen to create weirdly unique games in the process.

      And then there are people like Suda51(or the Grasshopper Studios in general), or Ueda, or SWERY lately who somehow get a free pass on doing whatever tickles their fancy. (And even AAA-games for Japanese standards like the Yakuza-games are sometimes quirky in the best possible sense. I mean, seems like one of the Yakuza 4 characters carries a woodblock and chisel because a quick woodcarving is the only way he can remember important things. Genius.)

      I wonder how much of that is due to the fact that there doesn’t seem to be a real PC indie-scene, so console-manufactors might be more open to put bizarro-things on their console-toys than in the West.)

      A bit of it might come down to some sort of exotic appeal and cultural differences, but even though Japanese game development has had better times, there are still creative things happening there. Among a lot of generic stuff, obviously, but let’s look at the bright side, shall we?

    • Veracity says:

      @D3xter: that’s loving console games, not consoles. There’s no reason you can’t put 2d shooters (Shikigami no Shiro), platformers (Winterbottom), brawlers (Zeno Clash, Devil May Cry 4) and whatever else on a PC. People just don’t, generally, because they’re “console games”. Conversely, Romance of the Three Kingdoms might be a bit lightweight compared to Victoria, but it’s more or less a PC series that lives (mainly) on consoles.

      Splitting hairs, I know, but it makes me nervous when people develop emotional attachments to underspecced locked-down TV boxes because someone developed some neat games for them. Also speculative, since we’d need a handy parallel universe to find out whether these games would have mustered much support on PC in the absence of said boxes.

      @Oozo: there doesn’t seem to be a real PC indie-scene
      There is. It just still largely insists on putting games on shiny plastic discs with print runs of about twelve and selling them at hobbyist conventions, for whatever reason, so it’s relatively invisible.

  20. MichaelPalin says:

    You know what has come with digital distribution too? DRM. Like that new game from that French guy who made one of my most beloved games of all time, Another World. He is releasing it with Ubisoft and it is going to be Steam exclusive. Oh yeah!, UPlay+Steam, that really sounds great. Can’t you try and cram GfWL into it too, just for fun?

    • Wulf says:

      You’re a bit outdated, these days. There’s not even any DRM in Darkspore (this was confirmed by Maxis folks on the forums). It seems that developers, and even publishers, are stepping off of DRM and realising what a bad idea it actually is. Ubisoft has removed the requirement to be online all the time in their games, as I recall, and now it just does one check when one installs it or somesuch.

      So DRM is dying, definitely. Or at least obnoxious, intrusive, annoying, flawed DRM that breaks games and ruins the experience (and possibly the computers) for gamers. I think that’s what people are annoyed at most, anyway.

    • MichaelPalin says:

      I don’t know about your sources, but all I have found was this, which is exactly the opposite of what you say about Darkspore.

      DRM wont die, it’s too useful of a tool. It is just finding it’s way. Ubisoft proposition was too much ahead of it’s time, and they have probably paid for it. But look at Steam, it’s one of the most controlling systems and one of the most popular ones at the same time. It only needs to be convenient to make people forget about its potential risks and unnecessarity.

    • Premium User Badge

      shoptroll says:

      Destructoid often jumps the gun on DRM stories. Weren’t they the ones circulating the DRM story on Bulletstorm prior to release?

    • Wulf says:

      My sources are better than your sources! >_> That’s straight from the horse’s mouth. The horse, in this case, being the developers on their own forums. Please note the thread title: DRM is not in Darkspore

      Also, please don’t take Destructoid seriously, they’re hacks, and thus never right about anything. I frequently notice their wrongness and they’re completely unapologetic about it.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I thought Darkspore was on Steam? That’s a whopping big bit of DRM right there.

    • Wulf says:

      You can buy it retail or from the EA Store. Buying it on Steam is a choice. And frankly, I don’t think that Steam counts as DRM in the conventional sense. Anything that allows me to stay in offline mode for up to three weeks doesn’t. It just doesn’t fit what I think of as DRM. But if you’re doing the Slaneesh’s Sticks of Painful Pleasure™* thing, then yeah, Steam is DRM in the strictest sense and you can just buy it retail instead.

      I’ve never found Steam to be obnoxious enough to attach ‘DRM’ to it, personally, as it doesn’t harm me, my enjoyment, my quality of life, or my computer. In fact, it adds to each of those in a positive way. Especially since now their voice chat is using the Skype protocol.

      * – Sorry, I’d been waiting to use that.

    • MichaelPalin says:

      @Wulf: I don’t know if we are reading both links (which do indeed say the same) the same way. The game DOES require permanent online connectivity. The funny thing is that it is not exactly DRM, because, if I understand it right, the only thing they have done is to store save games in EA’s servers, not include DRM software. So, you are technically right, but, in practice, this is still a massive dick move on EA’s side. Definitely, not something to be happy about.

    • Wulf says:

      Yeah, but I can understand why it’s online in the same way that I could understand why Spore is online, you sort of have to play it to see it. It’s not malicious intent, it’s more that the game is built around a community, one in which people share stuff, back and forth. That I don’t mind at all.

      What I don’t like is a game that’s clearly single player only requiring an online connection and having obnoxious popups everywhere and likely negatively impacting the game’s performance, the player’s quality of life, and potentially even the computer itself (I’m looking at you, Starforce and SecuROM).

      I know where to draw the line in the sand. I’m not going to say that all online connectivity is bad and I have my own standards, which might not meet yours. I don’t consider what Darkspore is doing as DRM.

      Edit #1: Here’s a helpful contrast!

      When Spore was released, it DID have what I’d consider to be DRM. It had limited installs, it had limited user accounts, and it stopped people doing what they wanted with it. That impacted upon the player’s quality of life. Then EA did a u-turn and said that you could install it as many times on as many computers as you like, and you could even create ‘child accounts’ for family members.

      The post u-turn thing I actually liked, it worked well because it was designed to facilitate rather than to actually impact negatively on one’s ability to play a game. So I’m not going to run after everything with pitchforks and torches – only those things which I feel are designed to actually negatively impact the quality of life of the player.

  21. Wulf says:

    You know, this is one of the reasons I have a lot of faith in Wolfire, and that their Overgrowth game is going to fit all of my criteria and be amazing. Not only are they all eccentric (have you watched their videos?), crazy, and funny, but they have that… special quality that’s reserved for truly creative genius.

    I mean, there’s one video which essentially this:

    Basalt columns are cool.

    Literally, that. It’s showing off these massive, awesome takes on basalt columns. That made me very happy. I’m not sure why, but it did. Probably because these are geological features that a lot of games tend to forget even exist. Basalt columns are cool, damn it! (Also worth noting that Minecraft looks like it’s entirely made up of basalt columns, which might be one of the reasons I enjoy its aesthetic.) I was particularly pleased to see incredibly pretty basalt columns in Darkspore, too. Lots of them.

    I’ll stop talking about basalt columns now before you all start giving me really odd looks. But basalt columns really are awesome. And that’s why I think Wolfire are special, and developers like that, because they have such an eye for beauty, and for strange things, there’s such wonder there. I dig it.

    I really want to see more and more developers and games like this, that fit my criteria, that are unafraid to just be… weird. I love weird!

    • Koozer says:

      Basalt’s the most rubbish of all igneous rocks – granite is where it’s at.

      I want some real bloody geology in more games. Having a degree in it makes me cry even more every time I wander across the wobbly game landscapes with random, smoothed lumps of light brown shoved on top. Give us folding, give us igneous intrusions, give us exposed layering at least! One of my hopes for Minecraft is that sensible geology emerges at some point: rivers from the mountains, alluvial fans, floodplains. Volcanoes! Plutons! Limestone caves!

      Sorry, got a bit excited there…

    • Wulf says:

      I can agree with all of that except basalt being rubbish. I mean, truly, the Giant’s Causeway is one of the most spectacular, inspiring places that Britain has to offer. Just seeing it is a spectacular, breathtaking experience. The thing is is that art goes well beyond just the sciences. While I respect, understand, and have a great deal of empathy for your irritation at the incorrectness and lack of variety of geology in games, I must still disagree with you about basalt columns.

      I can’t look at photographs like this one, or this one and not think of them as nature’s art.

      However, with that said, I think you’d be valued by just about any game developer as someone who could help them get their environments right. You’re clearly passionate about your field, and excited by it, and I respect that. I think it’s a very valuable thing to have someone who is so inspired. Perhaps the way to alleviate your frustrations is to get on board with an indie dev team and actually show us environments done right?

    • Premium User Badge

      Malibu Stacey says:

      Koozer Dwarf Fortress does most of what you mention already.

    • Wulf says:

      Except not visually. More’s the pity.

      It’s easy to write these things in the context of a text based game, but far, far less easy to show them.

      That’s why I’d love to see Koozer on a dev team. That way he could show us. I’m interested, at least.

    • Koozer says:

      Ah, I must agree that basalt is visually lovelier on that scale Wulf, but from my perspective (40x zoom), granite is much funkier than a slide full of bubbles and mucky ground mass of indiscernible minerals.

      Pleochroism: The Game – coming soon from Koozer Industries!

  22. jrod says:

    Reminds me of populus a bit

  23. Chunga says:

    Basalt columns? Nurse, we need medication here. :-) (jk)

  24. Premium User Badge

    shoptroll says:

    Looking forward to this. It’s going to be a good summer for gaming I think.

    • Wulf says:

      It really is.

      Especially if GW2 happens to come out this summer, as the many rumours seem to suggest.

      (I can dream, can’t I?)

    • Urthman says:

      I’ve suspected from the tone of some of your posts that you might be looking forward to GW2, Wulf.

    • Wulf says:

      1. It tosses all normal MMO conventions out the window. Espousing them in favour of risk after risk.
      2. It’s beautiful and pretty in ways that appeal to me, I want to go walk in it.
      3. It promises to have some very alien and bizarre locations for me to do just that.
      4. It’s by ArenaNet, them of ‘we can make a great game without money gouging’ fame.
      5. It has the bleeding Charr.

      Yeah. Just a bit.

      In fact, I shall share some videos!


      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4xQITFhYAU

      That’s from their PAX East discussion panel thingy. After that, it’s hard not to get excited.

    • Premium User Badge

      Malibu Stacey says:

      I’ve suspected from the tone of some of his posts today that Wulf is either back on or off his medication.

    • Wulf says:

      Off of. No joke. I don’t really want to go into what’s wrong with my body, but it’s none too pleasant, and the meds are to make sure that my body doesn’t just collapse within the next 10 or so years, or to ensure that I don’t potentially get cancer because of… well, what it is. But the problem is is that the meds made me moody, prone to panic attacks, and I generally just felt nasty when I was taking them.

      I don’t know. I mean, I have to choose between quality of life and longevity thereof, and I think I’m going to choose the former. I really don’t like the effect these meds are having. The thing is is that they’re not brain related meds, but they definitely had a distinct effect on my personality that, once I recognised it, I didn’t like at all.

      And I’ve been improving for the past week, really. It took me a long while to come down off this because my body was starting to produce the stuff in question naturally with the aid of the meds, and it took a long while for things to settle down to the way they used to be again.

      It’s not something I want to talk about, but yeah, I can see how it impacted me.

    • Urthman says:

      I was just teasing you, Wulf. There is not actually any doubt about your enthusiasm for GW2.

    • Wulf says:

      Oh, I knew you were teasing me. I just wanted to explain my excitement. I see GW2 as a rare thing – the sort of game that’s actually designed by artists just to be something incredibly amazing to explore and have fun in, something unique and different, and if they can avoid taking the process too seriously, then they’ve got a winner on their hands according to me and my tastes.

      Plus, I dig the Charr. I’m a werewolf fan, so their aesthetic really works for me. And their culture seems to get more and more interesting every time I read about it.

  25. Soon says:

    Needs rubber ducks and rainbow multipliers.

    • Wulf says:

      After my recent exposure to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, I feel that I’ve been corrupted to the point where I simply must agree that rainbows make everything better.

    • Soon says:

      They remind me of Summer childhoods in the garden, using the hose to create my own rainbows.

  26. terry says:

    I hope he’s right, although I’m not sure it ever went away. Perhaps it submerged itself a tad, but you’d have to be some sort of AAA studio-only felon to say innovation vanished entirely.
    I am cautiously optimistic for From Dust – it looks like a very pretty Populous The Beginning. Is there any word on how it actually plays yet?

    • Wulf says:

      It definitely didn’t vanish entirely, but we did enter into an age of capitalism where the goal was more to make a success than an interesting game, which is what the problem stems from. But those who just wanted to make really great games absolutely never went away, they were just smothered under the pile of pap that had to be, as someone else said, ‘a sure thing.’

      What we’re seeing these days are people breaking off from major development houses and actually taking risks, and we’re seeing risks being quite successful, even if not hugely so. Definitely enough to support indie development. And the more that happens, the more it’s going to happen as other developers see it’s viable. So you’ll have more and more people dropping off Grim-faced Humourless Manshoot Project #5,932 in order to create something entirely silly, flippant in the face of popularity even, just because they want to.

  27. Wulf says:

    This has been a good discussion thread.

    • D says:

      I sensed that you were having a good day.

    • Wulf says:

      Well, it’s more that, for one, I have games that I’m actually enjoying playing currently, but for another, I’ve decided to swear off meds that were sort of making me … a bit insane, and very angry. Not sure what I’m going to do about that, yet, but geez that was impacting negatively upon my quality of life.

      The interesting thing is is that those meds shouldn’t have had that effect, and I might just need them, but it implies that there’s more going on with my body than is currently realised. This has been a fun rollercoaster for me.

  28. Catastrophe says:

    I agree with Wulf, this thread has been a fantastic discussion thread. I have also came to the conclusion that we need more Black & White like games. B&W was really fun, but B&W2’s reputation seemed to destroy B&W’s reputation.

    Lionhead, please make a B&W3 but don’t destroy it by making it a standard RTS with large creatures that hijack you and extremely poor handling on even high end computers (like B&W2).

    • Wulf says:

      I wholeheartedly endorse this notion. B&W2 actually wasn’t that bad, it’s just that they spread themselves so thin with it that they forgot what was so special about the first game, and instead of having a bunch of elements that really worked well together, as in the original, you had many, many more elements, and most of them were broken, and none of them really worked.

      B&W needs to eschew the normal strategy stuff and go more for the god gamey feel that the original had. Besides, who needs an army anyway when you can just have a gigantic, 300 ft tall tiger sit on the most important buildings of your foes and lob lightning at them should they complain?

  29. Wulf says:

    Well, my day just got even better.

    I was one of the unfortunate types who was struck with and plagued by performance issues when trying Stranger’s Wrath. I wanted to try that game because it looked so damned unusual, but I couldn’t. I just, out of pure curiosity, decided to install it again to see if they’ve fixed the performance problems.

    In windowed mode it still has some serious issues, but in fullscreen mode my performance issues are 99% fixed!! The popups appear very slowly (they need to fix that), but other than that I’m actually getting a perfect framerate about it. I’ve been playing this now for a while and I’ve fallen for it, it’s a joy of a game, but I had a feeling it would be.

    I’m going to go back and shoot questionable little animals at outlaws, now.

    (This is relevant because it’s another one of those games that seems to fit my criteria for the sorts of games I love.)

    • wu wei says:

      Stranger’s Wrath is just fantastic. That the main character manages to embody both the gunslinger and the horse is some amazing design right there.

      The only thing holding me off the recent Windows’ release is the promised HD remake for the PS3.

    • Wulf says:

      It happened again. And my cheery, chirpy praising of Stranger’s Wrath was lost.. :C

      I’m not sure what set off the spambot this time, I’m really not, because parsing my post I can’t even see what might have done it. Was it the mention of 30/30? Do numbers make it neurotic? I know not.

      Either way: http://pastebin.com/p5wBAkHH

  30. Daniel Carvalho says:

    I find all these discussions about innovation in games a waste of energy, and frankly, not entirely true. There were and are times where fresh ideas are no where to be seen. But it never lasts too long and then you get some great title coming out of the rough. Just to clarify, I do think there are dry periods. I myself have rather fussy tastes, and only a handful of titles interest me a year. But I don’t think barren spats like these span years like so many people claim. The only real horrid dry spell with games I had was recently, where for like a year I was like, “there are just no games that interest me”.

    Innovation is great, but I don’t see the point on focusing on it too vehemently. I care about great games. If a game is great, I’m happy. Regardless of whether it’s doing something new, or doing something old to perfection.

    Eric Chahi is a hero, we all know that, and From Dust has great flair and artwork. But personally, I’m struggling to find the big draw.

    Oh and RPS, thank you for your edit comment feature, please never let it go. It’s awesome.

    • Wulf says:

      Some people see art itself as a massive waste of energy – why expend all that time trying to figure out beauty when you could just do something pragmatic and more immediately useful instead? Opinions differ. I don’t share yours, but I respect it. Shame though, I personally found this to be one of the most fun discussions I’ve been involved in in a while.

    • edit says:

      The reason innovation is so important to me, and I’ve had many a rant about it (or the lack of it) at various points in time, is that there is so much wasted potential when developers choose not to make it a priority. The medium of digital interactivity is so ripe with potential, to expand our notion of what is possible, to provide experiences that inspire and open minds, that I find it utterly depressing when the same formulas get beaten to death a million times over by developers who want to ride existing waves of success.

      Many seemingly great bands go stale when they think the reason their last album was successful was the formula itself, not how unique that formula was compared to the things around it. They try to repeat that success for the rest of their career, and never offer anything new to the world. The same occurs in every medium all the time, and it’s a shame. Real creativity is wasted when the desire to cash in on a successful formula becomes stronger than the desire for inspired originality that likely caused the first instance of the formula to be successful. Sadly, many creators never have that original burst of originality at all and base their entire output on the success of others.

      Innovation is important to me because there is so much room to grow, so much ground to cover, that anything less than progress seems a waste of time and a waste of precious life. Of course everything needn’t (and largely can’t) be 100% new. I’m all for iteration when there is progress. That’s what evolution is all about. Repetition, however, is redundancy, stagnation and death.

    • Wulf says:

      /applause

      I honestly couldn’t have said that better myself, I don’t know if anyone could have, it was a heartfelt statement about the value of at least making an attempt to embrace originality versus inviting the creative entropy of repetition. And very eloquently put it was, too.

  31. shantesh says:

    My favourite 3 games from the last decade mentioned in one article. Makes me yearn for the glorious days. Giants is still one of the funniest games I have ever played.