Is it just me?

I'm not too sure about it. But it seems like there is a lot of very similar looking work out there, in games ( models, game play, level design ) The unique stuff seems to be the old stuff ( Duke Nukem, Doom, Quake ) and even these have got an edge of similarity. Is there anybody out there trying to be original or is it just my take on it all.
Can we move forward instead of looking at profit margins and what was the last best seller?. Look at the guys who pioneered all this. They were original way back when. Now what we all seem to want to do is copy what has made a buck without thinking of new things. Nothing Ive seen Microforte show me for instance, knocks my socks off. Bigworld isn't all that incredible its just a technological step to the front. So were all going to get to play together, lots of US. But whats new? Hows this going to be any different a game than any other network Game. Black and White might have been the exception for me, it showed promise of a new way of developing. But when I look at the "state of the games nation" I can only sight one or two slightly unique developers. Its either Cars, Guns, Tanks, War or some medieval Wack that is selling in the market and these are usualy catering to an already hooked and highly critical geek demographic. So what about that huge Majority out there that don't super cool there chip for better performance? Surely these guys are the better market, the ones who deserve our attention. Playstation had the right Idea with "Eye Toy" Augmented reality may very well bring the games world back to offering REAL entertainment to the Non Technoheaded Public. Sure we have our kids games Bandicoot and our mobile phone snake thingamies. But how long will Games developing follow medium rather than lead it.
I look around at what people are looking for in thier programmers and artists and see the same thing " must be a real gamer ". What does that mean? I assume it means must be hard edged and geekily into games, all the current stuff off course!. What sort of a game do you suppose you'll get from this kind of guy, especialy if he's the guy who is designing game play? Well the answer is simple, a copy of his favourite game!. May be the games world could do with a new vision. One run by a marketing department looking at the MAJORITY rather than the GEEKY FEW. Its a matter of convincing the world of, those who want to be entertained, rather than the guys who have cracked the GOD mode.

Bye for now
from Luke

Major Clod's picture

I agree with you on the aspect of all the unoriginal games that have been pouring out over the last few years.

However, you have to understand that someone designing the game has to understand the limitations of the medium, and know exactly what can be done. You see, the marketing department don't have a clue what can actually be accomplished when making a game. Put someone like that in charge, and I doubt you will see a completed game any time soon.

Take this from a developers perspective. I'm sure there are thousands of developers out there that would love to work on an original title to spice up the industry, however I'd imagine their first priority is to have a meal on their table. There are probably only a handful of developers that can afford to spend years working on their original game, yet it could all be for naught if its not successful.

I am confused on the way you use the term "geekily into games". I can say that it would be rare for someone who only has a casual interest in games to be a developer. These "geeky" people will most likely have a hell of a lot more knowledge about game design than the fella that owned a PS2 once so he could play Vice City and Gran Turismo.

I actually think it is the "majority" that are holding back the industry. Publishers are obviously aiming at the "majority", these are the people who are only interested in playing their latest military sim or racing clone. If the majority really wanted to play something different, the publishers would be working to meet these demands.

Blame the publishers. The "geeky few" developing the games more than likely would love to make something revolutionary, but it is simply not possible in the position they are in.

JonathanKerr's picture

"Under the sun, nothing is new"
"There are only 7 original ideas, everything else is an offshoot of those."

These were sayings about originality - anything we come up with is usually inspired by things that we find interesting. Sometimes these things influence us subconsciously. Even the greats have their influences.

But how do you define originality? What's original to one person may not be original to someone else who is exposed to that same thing often. Some people tar all fighting games with the same brush -- when others will see it's the variation between Tekken/Streetfighter/Virtua Fighter/Soul Calibur that give it their own original flavour.

- A good game is a good game -- it can appeal to everyone (Doom, GTA3, Tekken). Don't worry about being mass market or niche. I don't think people should worry about making their game more mass market, but some more niche games wouldn't go amiss.

- I do think companies have to rely less on franchises.

- If you don't like a game, don't buy it. Then maybe companies will get the message. If people still are buying the latest incarnation of a franchise, who are we to judge if they are happy?

quote:


Sure we have our kids games Bandicoot and our mobile phone snake thingamies. But how long will Games developing follow medium rather than lead it.

If you're talking about peripherals leading the medium, the problem is cost. Games like Steel Battalion, Dance Dance Revolution, Samba de Amigo and light gun games are often very original due to the peripherals required, but the cost turns most people off. How can developers make a profit which at the end of the day when they want to finance their next creation and their stomachs, is what's necessary.

An interesting excerpt from Redeye's column in Edge Magazine:

"...If the games industry is a family, it is so terribly inbred that the children are ugly hulking brutes built from cliche and learned incompetence. This game is like that game plus this factor from another game. Hey, there's a pitch for you, Activision or THQ or Atari or whoever, anyone, everyone: Nu Tony Hawks = Tony Hawk's + GTA3. Which is endemic of an industry brought up as cannibals, not as connoisseurs."

"The industry is a two-decade expert at refining genres and crossbreeding them, but when the only points of references are other videogames, it's no wonder that things get stale so quickly."

Some interesting views that encourage some food for thought. But I suppose this: if you wanna make a difference or if we think we can do any better, then plop down the cash, set up your own development company and prove it.

lukeo25's picture

I'm not trying to disenfranchise developers or games players here. I am a developer and designer who works in the game industry. My issues lately have been about the future of an industry that caters to a "hard core gaming group" ( HCGG ) who are able to unravel the gameplay due to learned behaviour. New game concepts are built from old game concepts and visa vea for the game to work it can't be easy for the HCGG to figure it out or get the hang of. My issue with catering to this HCGG is that these guys may put food on the table but it also makes the developer slave to what they expect from the next game. You get it wrong, your game sucks, and your back to starving. Just as big a risk I'd say. I believe the games world needs a new avenue not a complete change and thats possible with good market research into the (non HCGG) . Market research for the games industry is very very insignificant. It is lost on most that it is an important part of a sucessful product. Most games companies disregard it for the common practice of following the trend. Yet it is an integeral part of all the games that have kicked on ( computer and analogue ). Toy companies spend millions looking at the market, and develop according to it. Maybe we should encourage increased funded research for games companies into this area. At any rate It will require Publishers to change their attitudes as well. I realy think they miss the mark and marketing oportunities here. Publisher always cater to the MINORITY not the MAJORITY with few ecceptions and what I mean by the MAJORITY is those people publishers arn't even looking at, non game players, for the cliche addicted ( Mums n Dads ), ( Granies and Grandchildren ). I think Playstation is leading the way with new and interesting developments like augmented reality, being made into game products like "Eye Toy". Its simple and self directed. The player can have FUN rather than WIN.

As far as my views on developers, I know from experience games companies think it good policy to keep a homogenised gang of Gamers as the developers and artists. All liking similar games to the last and all playing a round of a favourite game at the end of the week. I even know they all advertise jobs with the distinction that the applicant shouldn't bother unless their hobby is games. An invitation for a discrimination case if ever I saw one. Your hobby not your skill could loose you the position. And this "gang" is what I refered to earlier as "must be hard edged and geekily into games". I really don't think this is the way to deliver fresh and interesting product.

My feelings are, if we continue down the present path of delivering the same old same old. Games will never evolve.

Time to diversify
Regards from Luke

JonathanKerr's picture

quote:


Originally posted by lukeo25

I'm not trying to disenfranchise developers or games players here. I am a developer and designer who works in the game industry. My issues lately have been about the future of an industry that caters to a "hard core gaming group" ( HCGG ) who are able to unravel the gameplay due to learned behaviour.

Would this be something that pertains more to PC gaming? The higher technological competence of the gamers who own the pc's usually mean that the games have to be a little more intricate? I'm not saying that console games are more basic or not as intricate (actually, I believe it's harder to make something more simple) but they cater less to the hard-core gamer. In some ways you are both right and wrong (opinion). I believe that a lot of games out there that cater too much to the mass market.

quote:


New game concepts are built from old game concepts and visa vea for the game to work it can't be easy for the HCGG to figure it out or get the hang of. My issue with catering to this HCGG is that these guys may put food on the table but it also makes the developer slave to what they expect from the next game.

I was under the impression that in the console market, the 'hardcore' gamer only makes up about 15-20 % of the market share. Probably not the same stat in the PC community (not unless you count the people who play "Bejeweled" on their pc at work).

quote:


Market research for the games industry is very very insignificant. It is lost on most that it is an important part of a sucessful product. Most games companies disregard it for the common practice of following the trend.

A cogent point. I too do not know why someone wants to imitate a proven thing. Of course, sometimes this happens by accident. If Tomb Raider arrived 3 months earlier, people would have said it was the first great movement into 3d. Instead Nintendo got Mario 64 out earlier and received the acclaim. Both games were in development for some time.

quote:


Toy companies spend millions looking at the market, and develop according to it. Maybe we should encourage increased funded research for games companies into this area.

I agree, but what would they be researching? So far, the changes are cosmetic (from what I've heard of marketing research departments).

Case in point: The original Pandemonium for PS1 had a female character who was very girly and had a nice original look, different from the big breasted stereotype. Then the sequel came along and the research 'showed' that the PS1 demographic preferred 'more womanly girls' and she was changed and denegrated into the bimbo stereotype.

Apparently, Jak and Daxter went through about 100 iterations where they showed different designs to the focus/target group. "Do you like him with or without the bandana?" or "do you like him with or without pointy ears" were questions typical of the research. Personally, I think that this lead to a soulless design. Daxter looks cool, but Jak was bland -- too commercialised and 'mass produced', for want of a better term.

Now along comes J&D2 in development, it's emphasis is now more GTA3-like. You can Jak cars (pun intended) and there's way more shooting involved. The question is, are they just following the trend or is their market research telling them that this is what people like? 9 million GTA3 gamers can't be wrong. Or can they?

quote:


Its simple and self directed. The player can have FUN rather than WIN.

Probably the best comment I've read on the net in some time. I'd rather lose and have fun than win and be disappointed. I think it's possible that games may evolve in a more social aspect.

quote:


And this "gang" is what I refered to earlier as "must be hard edged and geekily into games". I really don't think this is the way to deliver fresh and interesting product.

This is a good point. Maybe they just need a cross section of gamers who like a wide range of games between them. But I suppose it depends on the company. Blizzard for example, I would imagine are a company of RTS and RPG fans -- that seems to be all they do (excluding the Lost Vikings, RnR Racing and Starcraft Ghost) but they do it well. It's tough to say.

quote:


My feelings are, if we continue down the present path of delivering the same old same old. Games will never evolve.

Perhaps this is where licensing technologies and middleware will come in? This will take the focus away from the 'chrome' features that do little to enhance gameplay ('Oooh, I can shoot him until his mesh breaks up!") and hopefully allow developers to work on the original aspects. Capcom are a company that sort of has the right mix. They milk their cash cows dry (Streetfighter, Megaman, Resident Evil etc) but in the last financial year, they suffered a $100 million loss. Then, they went right back to the drawing board and announced about 7 totally original titles/franchises (whilst still keeping the cash flow from the old favourites). Among these new games were Killer 7 (generating lots of interest) and the highly acclaimed Viewtiful Joe (a unique blend of 2.5 cel shaded scrolling fighter). A brave move when the urge to fall back on the established franchises would have been tempting.

Blitz's picture

Bigworld is not a game, it is a technology used for making mmog's. You say the only thing intersting about it is that it is technologically a step ahead...what else should it be?

I don't see what was so original about doom, quake and duke3d. They were all FPS's were you went around blasting monsters with guns...Sounds pretty similar to me.

If you want publishers to green light original concepts, you first need the buying public to change the type of games they like. B&W for instance had some new and interesting concepts, but was not well received by the public, so what is the point in making game similar to that?

Unfortunately developing commercial games is a full-time job, so the people developing simply have to look at their profit margins...unless you have a few spare billion $$$ lying around that you can fund new and original game concepts with!

Finally, as has been said, "hardcore" gamers have a better idea of what makes good gameplay, what games are currently in the market, what games are in production, and new game-targetted hardware technologies than your average developer joe.
CYer, Blitz

redwyre's picture

There are quite a few "original" games being developed, you just have to look really hard for them.

(I quote original because what JonathanKerr is very true, it's very hard to create something that is completely original)

lukeo25's picture

OK maybe its time for a better frame of reference. I am really questioning the validity of the hole games playing market focusing on a select group. HCGG aren't exactly good candidates for how children of 7 - 12 like their game play or the 50+ or the family minded. There seems to be a focus on producing the main products for the HCGG.
Who are a very discerning group of purchases. They expect the game play to get better and better which is alright they have that right of expectation. But surely this is not the only market games can be designed for. Any argument about the HCGG being a certain type and we must design games to suit misses the point. This is not the only market worth setting up a games company for or worth developing new technologies for. Big World is definitely a step forward but it does nothing more than cater for the current audience. So what? its not extending into new markets, just creating a new medium ( Medium follows HCGG )Hey and if they don't like it what happens?, does it get scrapped?, does it get re marketed?, or what?. My issue of late is simple!. Do we continue to cater for a market that was literally molded into the monster it is or do we look for new markets and develop and design in a different way?. Why aren't games companies/publishers worried about the prospects of an increasingly demanding audience getting bored ? ( or maybe they are ). Why aren't we looking to cater for fresh markets in a fresh way?. How many people for instance feel alienated by the mention of FPS, RTS, RPG?. Yet they would have no hassles playing Twister or Cards or even go and play a round of Lazer Zone. The market for games seems so confined. In my view I think it needs to loosen up and avoid the big crunch.

sho nuff's picture

Luke, if ur not careful, you will be giving away the very thing that will give you the 'edge' over your competition. Better to ride your own philosophy then give it to those who did not take the time to think of it themeselves.

But you gave it out anyway, what will be interesting is to see what people do with it, if anything at all.

Only time will tell.

JonathanKerr's picture

quote:


I don't see what was so original about doom, quake and duke3d. They were all FPS's were you went around blasting monsters with guns...Sounds pretty similar to me.

Indeed good ideas don't make great games -- great execution of ideas make great games.

quote:


HCGG aren't exactly good candidates for how children of 7 - 12 like their game play or the 50+ or the family minded. There seems to be a focus on producing the main products for the HCGG.

I may have being misreading what you were saying, so I'll ask. Are you saying that the HCGG who are also developers are not the best people to be making games for the market outside their own group? If so, then (in some cases) I agree. If they are making games for the HCGG, then I agree they are the perfect developers for it.

Maybe it's the development model that needs altering? As I understand it, most companies do not allocate enough time to the 'testing' phase of games. This feedback can be the equivalent of market research that you speak of. Unfortunately as most know, most companies don't have the finances to take something back to the drawing board in the way that Nintendo can. Apparently on the 'triple A' titles, Nintendo take a game to beta (or alpha, I can't remember) stage and then scrap half of it and keep only a few of the levels. They then take what they've learned and crank out stuff like Zelda: OoT and Mario 64.

But all of this comes down to design. As designers (artists, programmers, musicians are all designers to a certain extent) we have to understand our audience.

Considering as you are a developer Luke, is this topic being brought on by frustration factors at work?

lukeo25's picture

Jonathon hi

The frustration comes from trying to see reason for funneling the majority of games developments up the HCGG pipe and not attempting to open up other markets. Its more a logic based thing. I don't know how many artists, programmers, heads of management I've heard winge about this very thing. Yet they don't do much in the way of solving it. I'm all for what you discussed earlier having a good mix of talents and ideologies. But don't concentrate on HCGG designs ( diversify! ). I had a recent surf around looking for some games that fall into the realm of left of center games and found a couple that could even start guiding the way to go. The ideas they quickly generated for me were great( of course this is my opinion ). What about a mountain climbing game. For a PC version you could use a web cam to follow motion and drive the action on screen. Or a canoe game that does similar and the player could canoe through jungles etc. Yes I know these all require peripherals but there is a market out there that already has them ( a new existing market oh my God ). The game play is about nothing more than doing your thing. You could choose paths that take you to new and challenging areas or you could compete via LAN. All of this is doable NOW and wouldn't tax any games company wanting to branch out and away from the present mode of things. Without derailing the work being done on HCGG stuff.

As far as an audience to be understood. Nobody told Picasso and Braques to develop cubism they thought it was a great step away from the confines of traditional art and look what happened. No audience, no publisher and Picasso's bank manager couldn't have been happier.

Red 5's picture

Major Clod I pretty well think along the same lines as you... the 'safe' tried and tested route seems to take top priority amoungst most publishers, but can you blame them when you consider the cost if they get it wrong?

I think most would agree we're actually moving backwards, not in technology but in originality and the hardcore gamers of some genres are now being left out altogether, but again we can't really blame publishers for not catering to niche markets when they can turn over so much more from a mainstream title... a perfect example is the PC sim racing community who now have to pin all their hopes on small independent developers.

Maitrek's picture

I'm all for original games, but I don't see how new controllers and things like that will help out alot. For sure - 'accessibility' is always an issue, but if we can't simplify a keyboard and mouse to interact neatly with the environments that we create - then we need to look at our skills as game designers and our ability to create super-flous game interfaces -> regardless of the controller we are given, we should be making best use of it, right?.

The reason game designing is somewhat mediocre is because we are still crafting this field (that is, the field of game design, and indeed games in general), also factor in it takes time for markets to grow (even if you think it *could* happen over-night, it's just simply not going to happen).

The PC games industry has pretty much been quietly working away at producing better interactive entertainment. Story-telling is getting stronger, interaction is getting better, flexibility/extensability of game technology is getting better - need I go on? Progress is undoubtedly slow, economics explain that, and - sure we have hit some brick walls (obviously it's taking a long time to get over interactive first person murder simulators), but it's just a phase and it'll pass.

To sit and attack the industry and it's 'populace' (populace referring to both the hard-core gamer and the hard-core developer) doesn't achieve much. I have a feeling everyone in the games industry knows where we should be heading, and probably regrets that we aren't there yet. Obviously a lot of work needs to be done, but I have no doubt that the work is getting done, and there are plenty of creative/intelligent people leading the way.

quote:

Luke, if ur not careful, you will be giving away the very thing that will give you the 'edge' over your competition.

I'm just not going to say anything about that, I think pointing it out is enough.

Luke - brain-dump on forums (don't listen to sho-nuff), the more these ideals get out there the better. I whole-heartedly agree with most of your appraisal of the industry, I just don't quite agree with your remedy for it (although I see the angle you are coming from) :)

Better game design is a must (!), I'm kind of toying with the idea myself of maybe writing up an internet publication once I've finished my first 'big project' in order to hopefully share some wisdom/experience with other (newb) game designers wanting to try something different. There's not much material on the science of game design, and even less for the creative process behind it, and that's something I expect (and hope) will change over time. For now, the best material for learning game design is games - and I guess you can see how that might lead around in circles.

sho nuff's picture

maybe if people started to move off the word 'games' and called it what it actually is, then maybe there would be greater leaps in it's progression.

Until that happens, your limiting the future of interactive entertainment (inter-tainment).

(you can bash this comment all you want, but ur only justifying ur own arrogance.)

Blitz's picture

Interactive entertainment != games.

Computer games are a subset of interactive entertainment, but IE encompasses a much broader range of mediums and idea's.
I do agree though, that often "Games" is used to describe certain IE that isn't really a game (doesn't offer any real gameplay).
CYer, Blitz

Maitrek's picture

Nomenclature is a funny thing, I tend not to argue about it too much. I'm just not sure how referring to computer based/oriented interactive entertainment as "computer games" narrows the vision for them.

It is just a word after all -> and a vision is always inadequetly expressed in language.

People were talking about new names for these things with the onset of CDs way back in the mid-nineties, all this "interactive movie" stuff and "interactive entertainment"...it didn't change the fact that the idea just didn't work regardless of the attempt to distinguish them from games.

It's *unlikely* (although not impossible - I admit) that there will be some quantum leap for games in the forseeable future. 'Games'/inter-tainment/whatever are currently an industry that's heavily grounded in an economic reality and the industry's development is based on a slow growth/evolution model - not a research/academic model.

I guess I am a little arrogant, but everyone has their faults :P

Switchblade's picture

Some great comments here. I'd have to say the indie game developers are going to lead the way when it comes to innovation (Counter-Strike anyone?) because they don't have the financial limitations of the publishers. I think games will become smaller in scope because people won't have enough time to play a 40+ hour game. More games will be open-ended like GTA3 as well.

Also, Luke, your point is kinda "thin-telligent" - it's smart, but it's a bit narrow in focus, I think. The hardcore and the casual gamer groups pretty much make up the target audience. You won't get a slice of the 55+ market because those people play bingo, not computer games. Girls under 12 play skipping rope, not games. My point is, there is always going to be a large percentage of people who don't want to play games. I know there is a percentage of people who don't watch television, so there is no way to capture their business. So the game industry must focus on the HCGG because they represent a core section of the market. But you'll notice the recent success of The Sims, which captured a large portion of the casual gamer market. Actually that game created markets, so it is possible. But you shouldn't develop a massively multiplayer bingo simulator to try and get the 'grey hair' market :P

I don't know if this is written anywhere else, but it's something I've discovered over the years... creativity is at its BEST when there are extreme technological limitations... I think technology has a HUGE part to play in the reason why games are kinda stagnant. Look at the commodore 64 or amiga... that is where genres were invented. Once this technological rat race slows down, then you can expect some quality, original games to be released.

My $0.02, of course.

Switchblade

souri's picture

Games that aren't cookie cutter clones, or from those exhausted genres that Luke mentioned, are definately out there.. but what I've found is that they hardly *ever* get any coverage from web or print media. I was following the game Ghost Master by Sick Puppies (an original idea where you scare occupants from a house) and was surprised to see that it got so much less coverage than it deserved. If you want to find original games, steer clear from the Gamespys, Shacknews, Bluesnews and a million other Western/European game websites that regurgitate the same news and previews on the latest fps,rts,realism mod and whatnot.
It's quite an eye opener visiting a Japanese game news website, or any website that focuses on the games that come out from Japan. As you probably know, their taste in games are so much different (First Person Shooters or Real-time strategy games aren't popular there at all), and they do tend to come out with some really interesting new and different game ideas too. I would say this title called [url="www.the-magicbox.com/game080403f.htm"]Katamari Damacy[/url] would never get any coverage from western media.. to quote from the page, "In this game you can roll over various objects and create a ball consists of the objects you rolled over. The game is controlled by the two analog sticks on the dual shock controller."..I mean, that is INGENIUS! [:)] And a title like this [url="www.the-magicbox.com/game081303g.htm"]Marathon simulator[/url] would never get any mention on a lot of websites.. both of those titles come from big publishers/deveopers, btw. (Namco and Taito) (www.the-magicbox.com does have a problem with so many pop ups and ads, but check it out.. they cover a lot of games from Japan)

I suspect a lot of Japanese game developers will jump on the open gameplay idea of GTA3 once that game finally gets released over there next month. [;)].. I've noticed how that game style has influenced other genres, especially platformers.

Blitz's picture

I would like to see more dating-sim style games get english releases :) Them things are funky. It's something that western publishers/developers haven't seemed to have picked up on, even after the successes of the sims, DOAXBV, and uhh, thats about it :P
CYer, Blitz

souri's picture

Blitz's picture

Wahoo!
I'll never have to leave the house again! :P
CYer, Blitz

lukeo25's picture

Switchblade,my point entierly! The 55+ market is obtainable. People don't play Bingo or Keno without that game being marketed to them. These games even though generic,are attractive to this group because theyhave a soft sell ability. I'm not saying here that you should start delivering your focus product to this demagraphic. I believe that it wouldn't be hard to find other markets and build a new games industry around these groups.

Maitrek's picture

I'm not really a big fan of trying to understand a market that I'm not really a part of myself. I mean, I'm not 55+, I don't play bingo etc etc. As far as I'm concerned, I'll pretty much work on games that I'll probably enjoy myself. Whether or not other people from different demographics picks it up -> is simply not under my control, nor is it really my concern.

'Marketing' at the moment is definitely 18-30 oriented, but that doesn't mean that people are making games for that demographic thinking that it (18-30) is the only market....

I don't know of many developers that sit there and say "Let's make a game that'll appeal to 35 - 45 year old working class males" (for example)...most developers are making games that *they* would want to play - regardless of their own age or whatever. Of course, alot of game developers are not on the other side of 50, and that is reflected in the types of games made.

I'm sure that if there were a bunch of 50+ y.o. developers out there they probably would make games suitable for other demographics - or they might not! I dunno.

All I preach is make good/innovative/smarter games -> who cares who plays it.

I do, however, believe that marketing is still catching up with the times, alot of marketing misses the mark - and I'm just not sure we quite know who we are pitching these games at (the marketing crew that is, I'm sure the developers know what they are making). Console is way ahead of PC games in this department - if you want to play some original different games, there are certainly a pretty good number of them on consoles.

lukeo25's picture

"I'm not really a big fan of trying to understand a market that I'm not really a part of myself." - This is an example of the issues endemic in computer games development. Regardless of what your into, the games development industry is a business and it relies on understanding its market in order to exist. If your making games for just the people who are into your type of game, you aren't reaching a real market, Just fans. I tend to think music and games are similar in the way they appeal. They are driven by popularist followings but need those that are cutting new ground and being totaly avant garde. Sadly gamming lacks alot of the later.

"I don't know of many developers that sit there and say "Let's make a game that'll appeal to 35 - 45 year old working class males" -well why not ? If this is common with all games developers then this IS the problem with the future of games development. If this is true also " most developers are making games that *they* would want to play " then its likely the world of computer games will become and by my standards, has already become a stagnant pool of lookalikes. Maybe marketing needs to have its own forum, a place where gammers are heared and new markets are discussed, "alot of marketing misses the mark - and I'm just not sure we quite know who we are pitching these games at" which raises the question just who has a tight conection to the market. Ideas aren't enough to open up new markets, there needs to be realistic focus on the markets movement ( "If we do this" ) rather than a focus on what it does ( "When we did that" ) just because most developers are gamers and develop games that they themselves like to play, dosen't make for a creative ,broadly entertaining and fruitful market.

I'm not denying that great and interesting games get developed. I just think its not often enough and entirely focused enough.

lukeo25's picture

For those who don't know... I mean "gaming" when I typo' "gamming".

Maitrek's picture

I'll curse the day when games design/developing becomes a purely marketing/commercially driven exercise.

If that's what you want, go for it - but I'm personally never operating that way.

I think most of the incredibly derivative games that are made are due to "marketing" and definitely NOT due to lack of creativity and vision on the game developers part - ask any game designer if they think they've made the ultimate game yet, and they'll tell you that it'll never happen - there is always more to explore, experience and create. If we were to operate based solely on markets then we'd have twice as much shit in the industry.

Just because we make games that we want to play - doesn't mean we are going to make games that we've played before! What kind of uncreative twerp would do that?

When I said "35 - 45 y.o. males" I could've written anything such as "20 - 30 year old ass monkeys" or "2 - 8 y.o. monoped aliens from a planet orbiting Procyon I".

Game developers very *rarely* start with a market and make a product from there. Maybe they'll think more about (the market) when they pitch it to a publisher, or as they develop the concept, but the idea is born out of their own creativity - not from a systemic process that evolves from market evaluation.

I wouldn't make/work on a game just to nail the 18-30 y.o. male market nor would I work on a game just to nail the 2 - 8 y.o. monopedal alien market.

lukeo25's picture

You seem to misunderstand the role of marketing. Demographics is exactly why games developers hire people who are realy into their games. Most start up companies, granted, do start out designing games for themselves but as the market falls into line, that market will eagerly await the next game to be developed . It's this market that the games company must keep happy with its next game. So whoever the games company is, they are locked in to a market driven agenda. But what I believe and certainly lots of others believe is there is too much of a focus on the same group of people . The markets ( The current gaming markets ) are saturated with similar looking and focused games/genres, because they are all trying to keep the same group of people happy . I'm saying and its getting some good filtering, is games developing should not and best not in the future be only about what the guys who play games are into as it is counter creative, nor should it only be about what the HCGG come Developer wants to build next. But rather what the demographic new or old would be stimulated by. Its funny that an industry should be so arrogant that it believes that the decisions it makes are final. The person buying the product is ultimatly the litmus for whether the game does well. OK build the games that make you happy ,it can certainly work and has worked before and made some rich. But thats not the reason for my argument. I don't think its an issue that games creators continue being creative Infact I want more of that. The idea of market driven products doesn't lead to stagnation but more so a creative and focused development of products. A good example of success in an industry not too dissimilar to games and totaly about new markets and market focus is Julie Aigner-Clark who developed a series of videos aimed at stimulating infant learning with art , poetry and classical music. Her target demographic of the infants under two had never been tried before. The product called Babby Einstein a video series was developed originaly in order to satisfy a market not focused on previously by video producers. It was an instant success and not due to luck but rather the clever marketing to an unestablished demographic. Baby Einstein has just sold to the Disney group for 18 million US and this is not a unique example. It is stories like this that strengthens my belief that games developers focusing on new and other markets than the (fan) market they now have, can lead to successful product placement and creative variety

Cloud's picture

If you ask me about the subject but it is very hard these games to create an original concept in games. These days when I create a character it is always 'Oh, that looks likes somones sword of someone elses game' the whole 'originality' concept is nearly dead.
However there is still hope for the future with new minds with new ideas being born every second.
The only thing that really anoys me is the fact that any design on this site (I am not saying anyone has any original ideas' will remind me or any other person of something on someone elses game.
Lightning around a sword = Dante's sword on 'Devil May Cry'
Any highly detailed staff = Yuna on 'Final Fantasy X'
If you can see what I mean.
I truly hope that some people out there comes up with a game that streaches the boundaries of imagination and come up with something no one could of thought up.

Maitrek's picture

I think you are perhaps underestimating the vision alot of game developers have.

I'm not even convinced that every member of the HCGG wants games to stay on their current course either, although we often try to think of our consumers as alot dumber than they are (it makes us think they are more predictable, when in reality a consumer base is very dynamic), the market is aware of what games could be and have their own opinions on where they would like games to go from here. I seriously doubt there is a majority of people that want games to stay where they are.

Also, although the people in the industry play, and have played, alot of FPS, RTS and RPGs (hence are part of the HCGG) doesn't necessarily imply that the developers want it to stay that way and keep deriving the same concept again and again. Alot of people are very keen to play and make games that don't suit your small-market focussed product description. Hiring non-HCGG employees doesn't really solve the problem and possibly creates other problems as well.

There is very little known about the science and process of game design and all the elements that make it up. To hire someone with little experience in game design and/or games is a seriously bad recipe. Unless some serious research and study is done into the science of game design, this is just disaster-material. Sure, fresh ideas are needed, but being an experienced game designer and an experienced gamer does not disqualify the possiblity of being creative.

My opinion would be -> the industry's lack of creativity lately is not due to lack of developer interest, but due to lack of activity from upper level management to assess and invest in broader/different markets. *Marketing* is restricting the developers - not the other way around.

I agree with you that games are derivative now-a-days - but I totally disagree that it's the developers' fault and/or the employment strategies of developers.

Malus's picture

Cloud:
In my opinion most design is based on a series of common factors that link themselves to our experiences and emotions, likes, dislikes etc we draw from these and our designs show these links, since this world is getting smaller its getting really hard to find that stand out original design, nearly everybody has seen everything this world has to offer that is different, imagine when the first white explorer in Africa saw an elephant? He probably thought it was monsterous and pooped in his safari suit now its a cute clumsy creature to most people because the knowledge of it is widespread.

Every now and then something comes along and then within days its been absorbed by our collective conciousness and is no longer new.

I'm don't necesarily agree that originality is dead I think it is just more subtle now, more refined with the odd burst of brilliance.

I do agree that alot of games are following the hollywood ideals of find a safe formula and stick to it but that doesn't mean originality is dead it just means mass marketing is in play and the really great stories, ideas won't get a look in if they don't fit the market research.

Unless...people start voting with there wallets and stop buying every inane FPS, RTS etc clone that hits the shelves.

Btw, I don't understand why the game dev companies always get all the blame for the lack of originality when its the publishers and the consuming public who decide what we get to make, hell the ideas are out there they just don't make it thru the marketing department at the publishers office.

Cut to market research department at UBER-CASHED PUBLISHING...

Mary, game designer: Hey why not have a intelligent female lead player?

Spiff, suit with a ponytail: 82.5% of women don't want to be intellegent they want to feel dirty, as per the statistics we found in our bla bla wank wank...

Cloud's picture

When I said that it was dead I didnt mean that it was gone for good.
I just meant that we are in a period when the human mind has explored most possible outlets for ideas and we have reached a point where there is nothing left. Sooner or later a period will emerge when the 'originality' aspect will come back to life.
I am sure that there are thousands upon thousands of original ideas out there but those people may not have the experience to spread that idea around and so that concept will die before it can be used.