Sunday, 4 August 2013

Game Devs Should Stop Making Movies

This was a post I was supposed to make ages ago, but I guess I got distracted by various other bullshit.  Anyway, before we begin, watch this video.

This video basically sums up everything wrong with big name game development.  All your stuff like this, Uncharted, The Last of Us and many others, while not being bad games by any stretch (although Ryse looks shite) are spending far too much time trying to be movies and not enough time trying to be games.

There's a bit in that video where the guys talking about how the development team are trying to increase the story and characterisation compared to movies.  This, my friends, is fucking WRONG.  Games are not movies and trying to better stories by making them more movie-esque does not solve the problem.

You see, game story is at it's absolute best when the game play compliments the story, and I'll give you two examples.

Silent Hill 2 is the sort of game that puts the story before it's gameplay, but it still succeeds as a game because the game play of Silent Hill 2 compliments that story.  The controls, the combat, the fog along with everything else compliment the story of James Sunderland looking for his dead wife.  Those emotions of fear that you feel as you wander through the town aren't felt because the game is forcing it down you with huge set pieces, it's because you are immersed in the game itself and the overall game feel is impacting how you feel.  What I mean by this is that you're not scared of Pyramid Head because James is like "OH MY GOD LOOK AT THE BIG SCARY MONSTER!!", you're scared by it because it's this big lumbering strangely shaped thing carrying a big knife that is A) Visually intimidating and B) Comes with the prospect of you having to reload a save.

Compare that with Silent Hill downpours mine cart sequence where it's a load of big flasy lights and effects on rails basically screaming at you "BE SCARED NOW! GO ON! DO IT!"

The other example I've got for you is Shadow of the Colossus

Shadow of the Colossus is the other example of a successful video game with a good story because in this games case, the story IS the game play.  You are basically plonked into a world that tells you that if you wanna revive the girl, go kill a load of giants.  You then experience the story visually as you kill each boss, explore the lands and watch the main character get increasingly beat up as he progresses and not once does it feel like you're playing a movie. All the emotions you feel as part of SotC's storyline are felt because they are happening directly to you.  Fear, victory, sadness, excitement are all felt as part of this game because they are what YOU feel as you confront an enemy and figure out and effective way to get to his weak spot.  The excitement you feel for that final boss and ending is something that YOU feel because you have come to the end of a long and arduous task that YOU have completed, not because a cut scene hypes the fight for you.

Ryse and a lot of AAA games on the other hand just lead you by the nose, the emotions are felt by the characters in the story and not by the player at all.  The player in games like Uncharted aren't being engaged by game play or game feel, they are just there for the ride, just to watch, like a movie!

Nothing inherently wrong about these kind of games but I feel like developers aren't using the medium to its fullest potential and are settling for a lazy way out by just trying to imitate the movie industry rather than pushing the bar and trying to deliver on deeper interactivity that compliments their story lines.

Ryse is doing it completely wrong by not only trying to be a movie, but basically removing game play by filling itself with QTE and massive set pieces that you have no real control of.

Bottom line, make GAMES! not movies.

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