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  1. #161
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kadayi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Binho View Post
    1.) Lack of thematic variation: While there are a multitude of different game genres, the themes and settings they use are relatively few compared to other media.

    For example, a gaping hole is historical fiction games. While there are a lot of strategy games set in historical eras, as far as I'm aware there are no RPGs or adventure games that truly are. While you can be a Knight of the Old Republic, you can never be a Norman knight in post 1066 England. Or the camp-wife of a Gallic Auxiliary stationed on a distant limes of the Rome Empire. The closest big-name game is Assassin's Creed, which I don't feel truly counts. It's not about the past, it's more about uncovering a conspiracy of the future. Other games, like God of War, Titan's Quest or Viking Total Warrior deal more in mythology and tropes.
    Well the key problem there is that history is already written. Books, Films & TV can fictionalise events to some degree, but they can't radically alter history without becoming fantasy themselves. Games are inherently interactive, so it's hard to see how to bring the two together outside of the strategic level. You don't live history in games, you make history.


    There aren't many true crime thrillers like Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or Forbrydelsen (Heavy Rain? L.A. Noire?). There is no Sherlock Holmes, nor Jane Austen, etc. Games often feel like they are limited to Sci Fi, Fantasy, Modern Warfare or WII. Your goal is always to save the world from the ultimate evil and/or circumvent an evil conspiracy by a shady organisation. It's not that I don't enjoy these games, because I do. It's just that sometimes I want something different. True, games haven't been around for long. That's no excuse for how limited they are in scope. I'm certain there are exceptions (and they'll all be pointed out below :P). I can't really think of any significant ones though.
    I think there's plenty of titles out there that show potential in that regard. Sure a lot of mainstream stuff has traditionally centered around the all hero, but increasingly I think we're beginning to see a move away from that. The Walking dead is probably one of the better narrative experiences we've seen in years and yet it's hardly earth shattering in terms of it's scale or scope.
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  2. #162
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    Quote Originally Posted by Binho View Post
    For example, a gaping hole is historical fiction games. While there are a lot of strategy games set in historical eras, as far as I'm aware there are no RPGs or adventure games that truly are.
    With Fire and Sword (and for that matter the rest of Mount & Blade), Darklands, there's been at least one Roman one (I remember it being isometric, and somewhat more A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum than anything else) and of course any number in the golden age of piracy or 1920/30's US, of varying degrees of quality. Depending on how fine you draw the line of RPG/Adventure game there's also a few WWII games that would count (Commandos for example). Oh, and a hidden object game based on Jane Austen was featured on RPS not so long ago.
    There aren't many true crime thrillers like Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or Forbrydelsen (Heavy Rain? L.A. Noire?). There is no Sherlock Holmes
    I count six Sherlock Holmes games available on Gamersgate right now, all adventure (point & click mostly). In fact Holmes games have always been pretty popular ever since the 8 bit era; pretty sure by now he's been in more games than novels.
    What I'm saying is there is no such thing as a popular history or popular science game. No documentary games. There is no Mary Beard, Brian Cox, Bill Bryson or David Attenborough of gaming.
    A few of the earlier Sims series came close, but they were borderline edutainment (SimLife for example). There's been a few covering nature (Zoo Tycoon is just one example). For science it depends on how strictly you define game, since they generally cross over into simulation territory (see Universe Sandbox for example, or Kerbal Space Program et al). That said I'd argue that the various simulation games (flight sims, train sims et al) would be the medium's answer to the documentary (which would be a rather odd thing to try and adapt to a game format in the first place).

    The latter kind of makes the second point moot. Given I can drive a completely accurate reproduction of a 1960s electric locomotive complete with, should I wish to spend the money, peripherals which are a painstaking reconstruction of the actual cab controls, along an actual route modelled from reality, it's hard to see what more it could do to more fully realise it's potential, barring of course graphic fidelity.

  3. #163
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lithander View Post
    So I argue that licensing 3rd party engines encourages you to make more of games that are easy to make - that's the path of least resistance. This stifles creativity. ... If you would spend the resources on your own tech instead of on licensing fee's then there's not such a big penalty for trying different solutions to problems beyond (or besides) what's considered the industry standard. This promotes creativity. ... Can you see my point?
    Yes, I do see your point. But I don't accept it because it doesn't mirror reality. It's shifting the blame from uninspired devs and publishers to technology. It's also vaguely elitist - "You can't write your own engine? You're not being creative, you're not being original, etc..."

    As Sparkasaurusmex said, it's developers who are the limiting factor. By way of comparison take a look at Kickstarter. For every "original" idea there's a boatload intent on rehashing the 90s or making another platformer because Braid sold really well so let's just do that and make some cash. The idea was that it'd free people from the evil influence of publishers, except by and large it hasn't resulted in a new-wave of innovative titles, it's still the same as always where we have a handful of people pushing the boundaries, and then a legion of people copying them.

  4. #164
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus mashakos's Avatar
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    lithander, can you give examples of where you were stifled by 3rd party engines?

    This guy is having a lot of fun with Unity 3D (you can download this mini-game, check out the download link in the comments)

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    I mean, it's all about limits, isn't it? Engines have limits. Making your own engine seems to me like a huge limitation- it reduces the time and money you have to do the game bit. You need to have a programmer capable of coding up a good one. He's better be the best at engines ever, or your new engine will have limits too, including ones you'd rather it didn't have.

  6. #166
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kadayi's Avatar
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    There is no spoon arathain
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  7. #167
    Activated Node lithander's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by soldant View Post
    t's also vaguely elitist - "You can't write your own engine? You're not being creative, you're not being original, etc...
    Quote Originally Posted by arathain View Post
    You need to have a programmer capable of coding up a good one. He's better be the best at engines ever, or your new engine will have limits too, including ones you'd rather it didn't have.
    Game development is a team effort. Dozens of people are involved. Big studios spend millions on developing the next big title - millions on 3rd party software and millions on staff. So when I say "it would help creativity if gamedevs had more control over the tech they use, if they could make the engine fit the game not the other way round" I obviously mean gamedevelopers that have those resources.

    I don't expect everyone to evolve the medium. But I'd like to see those that could have a chance to at least try. If that's elitism I embrace it! ;)


    Quote Originally Posted by soldant View Post
    As Sparkasaurusmex said, it's developers who are the limiting factor. By way of comparison take a look at Kickstarter.
    Fair enough. But let's not just make observations let's try to find explainations and solutions. If you don't agree with mine, what are your's?

  8. #168
    Activated Node lithander's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mashakos View Post
    lithander, can you give examples of where you were stifled by 3rd party engines?
    This guy is having a lot of fun with Unity 3D (you can download this mini-game, check out the download link in the comments)
    Looks pretty awesome. Lighting on the characters is top notch. But do you see the relatively poor quality of the shadows? It's clever to use pre-rendered backgrounds like he does and it looks awesome too with the small drawback that if you put stuff in there (like the characters) that act as a occluder the pre-rendered environment would need to darken. You have to take light away to make it look good.

    Now in theory that's not hard to do. Here's a paper describing a viable approach: http://gfx.cs.princeton.edu/pubs/DeC...subshadows.pdf

    But can you do it in Unity? You need a lot of control over the scene-renderer. Have to sneak some kind of post-processing in between the rendering of the opaque and transparent geometry. An engine like Unity where the renderer is a blackbox allowing you to chose between 2 paths (Forward&Deferred) but denying you control over the spefics is hard to extend that way. It's not hard to do - it's just hard to do in Unity.
    Last edited by lithander; 26-02-2013 at 12:09 PM.

  9. #169
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lithander View Post
    Fair enough. But let's not just make observations let's try to find explainations and solutions. If you don't agree with mine, what are your's?
    I don't have any, because I can't change how people think. You can't force people to be creative. Game development is a business, devs will ship games that they think will sell. The people who experiment and try something new have motivations other than "make lots of monies!" and were around before Kickstarter came out. The 90s was filled with the same copy-cat unoriginal stuff too, although some of it looked new because gaming was still very much in its infancy back then. Kickstarter might make it easier for some groups to get their game off the ground but for every one that has something totally original, there's a legion who are going to remake something from the 90s, or make a platformer, or make an RPG, because those things sell units. I mean we're even looking at an FTL-inspired game here, because FTL was funded on Kickstarter and went on to sell copies so why not just do that?

    The thing is that not everything needs to be original - it just needs to be good, and originality does not have a monopoly on being a good game. There's plenty of original games which are bad games, so being original on its own doesn't matter much.

    There's no answer to "How can we make developers more creative?" because you're dealing with people. I can't get my patients to realise that smoking a carton of smokes a day is bad for them, how can anyone tell developers to be more creative? Blaming their tools or authorware or publishers is just ignoring the elephant in the room - most devs aren't interested. They want something that works and that they can sell.

  10. #170
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kadayi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lithander View Post
    Fair enough. But let's not just make observations let's try to find explainations and solutions. If you don't agree with mine, what are your's?
    Given the next console generation appears to be aligning itself with the PC in many ways I'd say that's a positive going forward for the AAA side of the industry as it should make multi-platform development that much easier for development teams and it sounds like (if the specs are to be believed) that everybody is going to be in the same ball park with respect to processing capability and graphical power. The less development teams are having to worry about creating stable builds on each platform the more time they're going to be able to dedicate towards game design itself. That is no bad thing. The big step ups should be in things like AI behaviour as well as general complexity. I'd expect to see things like the sort of in depth physical movement models in say Max Payne 3 become common place when it comes to 3rd person games for instance, as well as an amalgamation of mechanical systems that have largely been genre specific up until now. That might sound appalling to a purist ('that's not a hitman game'), but from a narrative perspective it's opening up the gateway for broader storytelling opportunities that do not have to adhere to established tropes.
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  11. #171
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kadayi View Post
    Well the key problem there is that history is already written. Books, Films & TV can fictionalise events to some degree, but they can't radically alter history without becoming fantasy themselves. Games are inherently interactive, so it's hard to see how to bring the two together outside of the strategic level. You don't live history in games, you make history.
    I think I didn't explain myself correctly. A game about the past does not have to be about history. That past isn't just a series of events, it is also societies and locations which no longer exist. In the same way that GTA IV was about 90's New York, without actually being set there or having Bill Clinton as president. If you see what I'm getting at?

    An even better example perhaps is Red Dead Redemption. It's also one of the few good examples of 'historical fiction' in games I can think of. It's set in a historical era - The end of the Old West - but it's locations and characters are fictional. The story is about revenge, but it uses the historical period as a good backdrop.

    Quote Originally Posted by archonsod
    With Fire and Sword (and for that matter the rest of Mount & Blade), Darklands, there's been at least one Roman one (I remember it being isometric, and somewhat more A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum than anything else) and of course any number in the golden age of piracy or 1920/30's US, of varying degrees of quality. Depending on how fine you draw the line of RPG/Adventure game there's also a few WWII games that would count (Commandos for example). Oh, and a hidden object game based on Jane Austen was featured on RPS not so long ago.

    I count six Sherlock Holmes games available on Gamersgate right now, all adventure (point & click mostly). In fact Holmes games have always been pretty popular ever since the 8 bit era; pretty sure by now he's been in more games than novels.
    So you are saying that these games reach the full potential of their respective genres? That the pinnacle of the mystery genre in gaming is hidden object games? All you've done is pointed out examples, without explaining how these have achieved the full potential of games in the areas I mentioned. Which is what the topic is about.

    In any case, these are hardly a massive selection from which to choose from. How many more games use Sci Fi or Fantasy as themes and settings?

    Quote Originally Posted by archonsod
    A few of the earlier Sims series came close, but they were borderline edutainment (SimLife for example). There's been a few covering nature (Zoo Tycoon is just one example). For science it depends on how strictly you define game, since they generally cross over into simulation territory (see Universe Sandbox for example, or Kerbal Space Program et al). That said I'd argue that the various simulation games (flight sims, train sims et al) would be the medium's answer to the documentary (which would be a rather odd thing to try and adapt to a game format in the first place).

    The latter kind of makes the second point moot. Given I can drive a completely accurate reproduction of a 1960s electric locomotive complete with, should I wish to spend the money, peripherals which are a painstaking reconstruction of the actual cab controls, along an actual route modelled from reality, it's hard to see what more it could do to more fully realise it's potential, barring of course graphic fidelity.
    I must say I forgot about the Sims games. Those were definitely good. I'm looking forward to Kerbal Space Program, that does look like a very good example of what I was looking for actually. I don't agree with you about simulation games being the answer to documentary games. I would say the Sims and Kerbal Space Program are more like it.

    Simulations are great for recreating technology, but they lack the human and societal context. A perfect simulation of a 1960's locomotive doesn't really say much about what locomotive drivers thought about the Beeching cuts of the mid 60's, for example.


    Quote Originally Posted by soldant
    The thing is that not everything needs to be original - it just needs to be good, and originality does not have a monopoly on being a good game. There's plenty of original games which are bad games, so being original on its own doesn't matter much.

    There's no answer to "How can we make developers more creative?" because you're dealing with people.
    ​I wholeheartedly agree with soldant here.

  12. #172
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    Quote Originally Posted by Binho View Post
    So you are saying that these games reach the full potential of their respective genres? That the pinnacle of the mystery genre in gaming is hidden object games? All you've done is pointed out examples, without explaining how these have achieved the full potential of games in the areas I mentioned. Which is what the topic is about.

    No, I was merely pointing out that it wasn't an under-used genre as you stated. Judging whether they've fulfilled any potential is impossible without defining any yardsticks by which to measure that potential. Hidden object games may well be the ultimate expression of a crime thriller; I've near zero interest in the genre so I'm not best placed to say. Although given the few episodes of CSI I've been subjected to I would point out that it seems an awful lot of their time is spent searching for hidden objects too.
    Simulations are great for recreating technology, but they lack the human and societal context.
    It depends on what they're simulating in the first place. I wouldn't say there's any need for something which seeks to simulate orbital mechanics to include any human or societal context; I'd say that would be a completely different thing. That said, there are games which seek to model societies, so even there you've got options.
    Simulations are great for recreating technology, but they lack the human and societal context. A perfect simulation of a 1960's locomotive doesn't really say much about what locomotive drivers thought about the Beeching cuts of the mid 60's, for example.

    Neither would a documentary on the Class 86, unless it was about the cuts in the first place. I'd also question the relevance - a documentary on said locomotive is likely to give the driver's opinions on it precisely because the viewer has no easy way of experiencing driving the train and therefore must rely on second hand experience to gain an idea of what it was like. You don't have that barrier in a simulation; the entire point is to give the player direct experience of driving the train which allows them to form their own opinion based on first hand experience.
    Again, I'd argue that if you're going to say for example Train Sim fails to live up to it's potential because it doesn't include anything on the actual drivers you're not saying anything about the potential of the game, you're actually asking it to be something it isn't - a simulation of the actual driver rather than the machine.

  13. #173
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus mashakos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lithander View Post
    Looks pretty awesome. Lighting on the characters is top notch. But do you see the relatively poor quality of the shadows? It's clever to use pre-rendered backgrounds like he does and it looks awesome too with the small drawback that if you put stuff in there (like the characters) that act as a occluder the pre-rendered environment would need to darken. You have to take light away to make it look good.

    Now in theory that's not hard to do. Here's a paper describing a viable approach: http://gfx.cs.princeton.edu/pubs/DeC...subshadows.pdf

    But can you do it in Unity? You need a lot of control over the scene-renderer. Have to sneak some kind of post-processing in between the rendering of the opaque and transparent geometry. An engine like Unity where the renderer is a blackbox allowing you to chose between 2 paths (Forward&Deferred) but denying you control over the spefics is hard to extend that way. It's not hard to do - it's just hard to do in Unity.
    Let me see if I understand this: you're looking at the simple shadow maps of the characters in that tech demo and proposing it could be improved by using a sort of baked-in lighting approach that would allow the engine to add detailed shadow highlights to the characters and environment map.

    I don't know, self-shadowing and multiple light source shadows? what you're discussing has really been implemented in very few games:
    Crysis on PC
    Battlefield 3 on PC
    Witcher 2 on PC maybe?


    Maybe a company wanting to develop games as a business might not go for Unity where you are limited to shader programmign and high level scripting, but for a single man team or very small teams Unity is more than enough. In fact, I think people would appreciate the more simplistic shadow mapping technique on a small indie title more because it can run on more machines. Not a lot of people cared about the technical achievements found in Crysis since very few people had machines that could display them :/
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  14. #174
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kadayi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Binho View Post
    I think I didn't explain myself correctly. A game about the past does not have to be about history. That past isn't just a series of events, it is also societies and locations which no longer exist. In the same way that GTA IV was about 90's New York, without actually being set there or having Bill Clinton as president. If you see what I'm getting at?

    An even better example perhaps is Red Dead Redemption. It's also one of the few good examples of 'historical fiction' in games I can think of. It's set in a historical era - The end of the Old West - but it's locations and characters are fictional. The story is about revenge, but it uses the historical period as a good backdrop.
    It's only really in the last couple of centuries that the personal freedoms we take for granted now really came into being. 90% of the problem with making a game prior to the 17th century is that outside of the capitals most people were peasants with very little in the way of opportunities, so your options are kind of limited in terms of where you can go. Your career options for RPGs are largely banditry (from pickpockets through to pirates), military (working for the nobility) or nobility (telling the military what to do).

    The reason fantasy settings are more popular is because you've all the allure of olden times without all the chaff that goes with it.
    Last edited by Kadayi; 27-02-2013 at 02:36 PM.
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  15. #175
    One thing I've wished for is a game where you start off as a commoner in a fairly realistic low fantasy world, For the first part of the game NPCs treat you like shit and you have to work your way up. Gradually earning some respect and maybe towards the end approaching some kind of heroic status. Who knows, it probably wouldn't sell but I'm so sick of this "You are the chosen one!" BS in RPGs.

    Also the person looking for historical fiction games should check out the recently kickstarted game Meriweather. It's right up your alley (There's also another one where you play as a conquistador as well which seems pretty dark).
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    Quote Originally Posted by iridescence View Post
    One thing I've wished for is a game where you start off as a commoner in a fairly realistic low fantasy world, For the first part of the game NPCs treat you like shit and you have to work your way up.
    Ever played The Guild 2? It's not really fantasy but if you haven't tried it, it might be entertaining?
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    Quote Originally Posted by iridescence View Post
    I'm so sick of this "You are the chosen one!" BS in RPGs.
    The reason games do that is because due to the incompetence of game developers, but we can't blame them too much for being so.

    Game developers go for the easy to do power fantasy and then they say: "That's what males enjoy, that's what they actually want." However, that is not entirely true. Well, it is true in a sense, but the movie media has proven that logic wrong times and times again. You can be more creative, you can create a more original storyline and still end up with a successful product. The thing is, though, the main reason why games still cling to this old logic, it's because game developers are incompetent most of the time. The developers often cannot do anything else but the power fantasy storyline. When they do try to create something that doesn't involve the cliche, they get either of the following two things wrong:

    1. The developers absolutely fail to create an engaging story that does not involve the player being the ultimate hero who will save the entire world effectively on his own.

    2. The developers absolutely fail at the presentation of the story, this includes the visual and auditory aspects, and hence no matter how good the story is, the story's full potential never reaches the player.

    Now, you can't really blame game developers too much, though. A game is a lot more complex than a movie and hence it's much harder to create a game that has elements of an AAA movie. So we can't expect every game to be the next Mad Men, Django Unchained or Breaking Bad.
    Last edited by BlackAlpha; 05-03-2013 at 05:57 AM.

  18. #178
    Quote Originally Posted by soldant View Post
    Ever played The Guild 2? It's not really fantasy but if you haven't tried it, it might be entertaining?
    Yes, I've played it. Very good game, wish there were more like it...

  19. #179
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus thegooseking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackAlpha View Post
    The reason games do that is because due to the incompetence of game developers, but we can't blame them too much for being so.

    Game developers go for the easy to do power fantasy and then they say: "That's what males enjoy, that's what they actually want." However, that is not entirely true. Well, it is true in a sense, but the movie media has proven that logic wrong times and times again. You can be more creative, you can create a more original storyline and still end up with a successful product. The thing is, though, the main reason why games still cling to this old logic, it's because game developers are incompetent most of the time. The developers often cannot do anything else but the power fantasy storyline. When they do try to create something that doesn't involve the cliche, they get either of the following two things wrong:

    1. The developers absolutely fail to create an engaging story that does not involve the player being the ultimate hero who will save the entire world effectively on his own.

    2. The developers absolutely fail at the presentation of the story, this includes the visual and auditory aspects, and hence no matter how good the story is, the story's full potential never reaches the player.
    I would suggest that the ennui with those types of games isn't so much that we're sick of power fantasies and more that a game that promises to empower you to godlike status is really promising more than it can deliver. I mean, one of the great things about Minecraft is empowerment, right? It doesn't make you a superhero, but it does allow you to reshape the landscape as you see fit. In a game with more complex graphics and physics, it becomes a lot harder to do something like that, so you have to clamp down restrictions on what the player can do, and the promise of empowerment starts to ring hollow.

    The problem is what power fantasy means. Power fantasy is not fantasy about having bulging muscles and big guns; it's fantasy about having the ability to do things. I don't feel very empowered if I only have the ability to do what a developer wants me to do. Now I'm not saying there's anything inherently wrong with that kind of more rigid approach, and a game can still be good even if your potential for action is restricted by the developer. But it fails as a power fantasy, and if it's being sold as a power fantasy, it's a bad one.

    Good power fantasy is not "easy to do". It's shockingly hard, in fact. But what we've been conditioned to expect from a "power fantasy" type game isn't good power fantasy.
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