Why don't we have better games?

Hi all,

I’m real distraught. I just saw a demo for a game called RUIN, from a game AI symposium in 2007. I’ve never heard of the game, so I guess it didn’t go over well with producers, as it was in demo form.
It was built in a couple of weeks by a small team (I believe). This is probably the best game I’ve ever seen in terms of voice acting, storytelling and of course, gameplay.
Check it out.


I didn’t do much digging yet, but will find out what the hell happened to this game.
I think this game needs to be made.

that is 1 hour long vid. Hell now.

Making outdated game is not in the interest of most parties. No Epic anyway.

What’s outdated about it?
It looks like a shooter, we still have those in games today.
You have AI friendlies, still have those in games today.
You have a mix of gunplay and magic, in which you have to inject yourself with syringes to power-up, there’s a game with that exact mechanic.
This game has the player using their voice for a myriad of commands, there is a game released in 2015, with that mechanic.

How is it outdated?

I guess Rockstar was not interested in it

I know it sucks to see games that look incredibly interesting be abandoned liked this. I don’t really know the whole story so I don’t want to comment on what happened but I would use this as an opportunity. Take what you would have loved to see in this game and try to implement it in your own. I think modern games could really use some extra tlc when it comes to AI.

I’m going to go on a limb and say because making good games is hard.

:smiley: Really that’s about all there is too it. Most people just aren’t that good at it and even those that are struggle constantly and fail often.

I think that the reason why there is no games that are really really good is because of money . Not because they don’t have money to make but because most (not all) AAA game studios just want easy money , take a last-year game polish it a little , sell it a earn like 1 000 000 000 $ . They don’t want to bother about making a game that will be revolutionary or ground-braking in any way , hey they don’t even bother about clearing the game out of bugs . I think that indies make best games cause they are open-minded and they don’t just think how to make a lot of money without doing **** , but that’s the same exact problem , indies often don’t have money to make their awesome ground-braking games awesome because what they have in ideas they don’t have in technology . So if indies would have money to make their games AAA then whole gaming industry would be a lot better . That is not true cause money spoils people and those indies would soon turn in AAA studios we were talking about in the first place .

btw i think that “Ruin” rules !!!
especially the voice commands .

It’s easy to sit on the sidelines and critique large studios as being ‘greedy’ and ‘lazy’ - but there is no such thing as ‘easy’ money in the games industry. Indie developers are no more ‘creative’ or ‘open-minded’ than developers working at mega-publishers, they simply have much less to lose which allows them to take bigger risks more often. Publishers don’t tend to jump on risky ideas because when they fail hundreds of people will lose their jobs and lots of money is lost for everyone involved. Maybe once you’ve worked for a couple of studios, had projects cancel or fail in the market, and found yourself unemployed you might start to understand that.

Well, while I agree that the developers of studios that push out the same game over and over aren’t greedy nor lazy, I do think that their publishers or whoever decide that they should puke out a new version every year most definitely is very greedy and lazy. I’m however not saying that they are stupid or that most wouldn’t do the same in their situation since it obviously works, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t greedy either.

I don’t think anyone blames the regular people that are working hard at these studios making these games. But there is definitely “easy” money to be made if you compare it to titles that are developed for way longer and contains tons of original content rather than a reskin with some new gimmick that took less than two years to make.

Of course people that work on these games put in tons of effort and creativity on par with anyone else that works hard and well on a game, but that doesn’t take away the fact that the publisher or whoever decide what the game will be like decided to sacrifice originality and quality for a quick and easy money grab.

When people claims that indies are more creative and open minded I don’t think they mean the individual people working at an indie title. “Indies” in the game industry usually refers to the whole independent studio, rather than each individual at the studio. I’m sure there are just as much cool new ideas being tossed around even at the studios of the least creative titles. But if your publisher decided that you’re not doing the new cool thing that was propositioned, and instead decided to go with an easy money grab then that title is definitely less creative, whether or not someone at the studio had a really cool and creative idea that wasn’t used.

It’s the titles each studio releases that are the most important and what we can use to judge a studio by, not what cool idea Bob at the art department thought about during lunch that didn’t make it into the game because the gray suits were (and rightfully so) too afraid to bet on something new. Just because people tend to think these titles are unoriginal, it doesn’t mean they don’t understand why they are like this. You can’t give a title credit for what they didn’t do with it.

Don’t take it too personally, no one is attacking a certain individual here.

Quite correct on the money. Look at Looking Glass Studios. They made the best games, High quality, Great stories, Great gameplay… But ran out of money in the end. Just cause the game is great doesn’t mean it can be made or sell well. The public is fickle. There is a couple abandoned games from LGS, Deep Cover (Cold war system shock-Thief hybrid!), Thief gold 2, Thief 3, Possible flight Unlimited 4, System shock 3? All would most likely become classics. But probablly would not sell well. :frowning:
Also Kindacreator… If the assets are freely avalible you can try to remake the game yourself. (Well try anyways.)

So if you ship a successful game that sells extremely well, you shouldn’t even consider making a sequel? When someone stumbles on a game idea that has a huge fan following, you should do your best to avoid making something similar? Sorry, if you want to be a successful business you go where the money is - how unique and original your games are doesn’t mean jack when your studio goes under before your second title is released. Even medium sized independent studios pump out sequels to their most popular titles and steal ideas from other popular games. It’s not greed or laziness - it’s how you sustain a successful studio. Pay the bills with stuff that sells, and build your experimental ideas on the side in hopes that they spawn a new IP to milk - rinse and repeat. I mean, would we even have this awesome engine if Epic hadn’t milked the Unreal series to keep afloat?

And lets not forget, for every independent studio that creates a new and unique gameplay experience, there are 99 more that are just making clones of other popular games… it’s hardly a practice reserved for the mega-publishers of the world.

The person I replied to was, literally, saying independent developers were more creative and open-minded. :wink:

Game development is largely an iterative process, in every sense of the word. As someone who’s worked at small independent start-ups, medium sized indie studios, and large mega-publishers - it annoys me when people paint this broad brush idea that only ‘indie’ studios are the ones being (or capable of being) creative. Publishers take sizable risks all the time - the only difference is when a mega-publisher fails everyone sees it. The game usually still gets released, gets bad press, the layoffs are announced, and commentators wax poetic about how the studio ‘sold out’, ‘had it coming’, and ‘isn’t the same’. It’s a very public failure, and a situation successful studios try to avoid.

When the small indie startup fails - nobody hears about it. No game is released, no fanbase is upset, no press coverage, no mass-layoffs… just a dead idea nobody really knew about. It’s very easy to pick out the handful of good indie games that ‘made it’ and claim how original indie developers are - while simultaneously ignoring the thousands of indie games that were just clones of other successful games or never even made it to release.

I’d be crazy to try, but I’m generally crazy anyway so… lol :smiley:

I think what happened to this game is that the publishers didn’t take kindly to it. They said they were pitching it to publishers early in the video. Also, I think at the time, they didn’t have a need or want for this kind of game. I’m look at this for the first time in 2015. Probably in 2007, with CoD4 coming out, in depth games like this were losing steam in the eyes of publishers.
There is a game called In Verbis Virtus, that uses this same method to great effect.

EDIT: I just found out that the studio Mad Doc Software is now… Rockstar New England. So I guess they aren’t doing too bad.

We should remember that there is almost no such thing as new and unique experiences whether we’re discussing games, film, or literature. All art especially story telling art is iterative. We build upon decades of previously existing systems, mechanics, and story elements. Hell plenty of absolutely stunning narratives were simply mechanical reproductions of formulaic elements.

The reality is that anything can be a good game. It doesn’t have to be unique, it doesn’t have to be ground breaking, it doesn’t have to be retro, super new graphics, or anything. It merely has to be well conceived with a structured design philosophy from the get-go.

And even then it might not even be a commercial success.

Art as a business is not a simple thing especially when budgets get large. You think of it purely from an end product standpoint. You have to remember that hundreds of people’s jobs depend on the next multi million dollar project going well. That is what the producers and marketing department are trying to consider when deciding how to make the most profitable product. You do poorly enough in sales because you took chances that didn’t pay off and soon you’re just another Activision.

The industry does not like taking risks. AAA development is incredibly expensive, and if I may add, wasteful. When several day’s work for a team of artists goes into making one scene that a player walks by in 10 seconds, that’s pretty darn wasteful. And considering the amount of time and effort put into the details, a lot of big-picture problems remain unsolved. I recall how interesting Super Mario 64 was for solving the problem of not having enough space to make 80+ levels, so they had non-linear, sprawling levels and missions. The same level could be used more than once. But nowadays, no such limitations exist: if you want to recreate the Grand Canyon, you can download a DEM of the actual Grand Canyon, photo-source textures and use a light probe projection of the sky, build cliffside models, and actually recreate the Grand Canyon with good physical/exceptionally artistic accuracy, and it will run in realtime on mid-grade hardware.

Without limitations, games need strong direction now more than ever to ensure that the final products are not wasteful and are actually fun. A lot of what makes a game fun has nothing to do with how big the world is or how high the resolution is: Super Mario 64 ran at 30 frames per second in 320x240 pixel resolution, and the whole game could fit on an 8MB cartridge. I’ll be darned if it’s still not considered one of the greatest games of all time.

Lets tackle something here. Games do not have to be fun. Fun is the requirement of a toy. Fun is not the requirement of a book nor film and especially not modern interactive media that has broken out of its 90s baby years. Building highly engaging set pieces that evoke other emotions than fun is entirely viable and there is nothing really wrong with it. This War of Mine is a recent example of a game that is an utter chore to play and can be entirely depressing, but is a masterfully good game.

One developer spent an entire year in Assassin’s Creed: Unity rebuilding the Notre Dame. It was beautiful, awe inspiring, and something that many people would fail to appreciate. But why does that artistic vision and the truly inspirational level of work & dedication need to be cut (let alone downplayed or degraded)? The core problems with the game were not that teams of artists worked on producing beautiful artistic set pieces. The problems resulted from design decisions regarding more simple things like the amount of characters present because they wanted to push hardware boundaries and failed to do so.

You are right that large projects need a great amount of direction. This is true of any of large multinational corporation. But fun is not something that a game has to be nor should it always consider that as opposed to the numerous of other emotions which could be evoked & experiences which can be created.

Fun is a part of being entertained. Even a horror movie is entertaining, and therefore fun. I don’t understand how fun is not important in end user experience.
I know it’s not always fun on the developing side.

Fun fact. Mad Doc finished an unfinished Looking Glass game. Flight Combat. (They somewhat ruined it though.)

Of course, games are capable of literally any experience you want. There are games like Dragon’s Lair that are literally composed of nothing but cutscenes, and there are games like Tetris, massively successful, and very popular games, about falling blocks. But with the goal of games spreads into territory that does not ultimately seek to entertain the player, the end result would be a design that does not encourage anyone to play it. Just like how one developer sought to spend, actually more than two years recreating the Notre Dame in Assassin’s Creed Unity, Shigeru Miyamoto spent 3 months with an early build of Super Mario 64 doing absolutely nothing but chasing a bunny and tweaking the controls. The end results speak for themselves: nobody really cares about the Notre Dame in Assassin’s Creed: Unity beyond the value of “it looks very good,” but Super Mario 64’s controls spawned a whole new era of gaming in the third dimension and stood as a masterpiece that many other games tried to surpass, and its influences can still be felt to this day. Rebuilding a historically accurate Notre Dame is an incredible accomplishment, I do not want to undermine that, but a game can’t rely on this artistic achievement alone. When you have an entertaining and engaging experience, then the Notre Dame would serve as the ultimate decorative icing atop a delicious cake. At the moment, the Notre Dame is the fabulous icing on top of a cake that didn’t rise and burned in the oven.

A game can be made to achieve any goal, but instead of limiting ourselves to what could be done in other forms of media, like watching movies and looking at architecture, I’m more interested in the interactive elements that makes playing games altogether different. At the very least, the interactive experience must be good. The art, the music, and anything else you wish to include in the game must be in service of that.