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Innovative, Original Games Have No Chance 225

Posted by Zonk
from the dear-tim-schafer-do-you-like-me-check-yes-or-no dept.
In interviews with game developers this week, the tone seems to be that innovative, original thought is no longer welcome in the games industry. That definitely seems to be the tone behind IGN's interview with Okami producer Atsushi Inaba, and MTV's interview with Bioshock's Ken Levine (distracting flash site). Atsushi, speaking about the art style in his critically acclaimed but poorly selling adventure game, had this to say about originality in games: "You use the word 'difficult', but I think that it is becoming almost 'impossible' for an original game to succeed financially. This can't be blamed on anyone but it's a simple fact that an original game doesn't appeal to the majority of gamers." Meanwhile Levine, talking mostly about the level of art he's trying to create with the title, had this to say about some of his fellow designers: "Most video game people have read one book and seen one movie in their life, which is 'Lord of the Rings' and 'Aliens' or variations of that. There's great things in that, but you need some variety." While most of the rest of his comments are somewhat mild, he reiterates throughout that they're trying to do something that gamers may not "give a crap" about. What do you think? Has the industry gotten to the point where retreads are all that will sell, or is there still room in the marketplace for original ideas?
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Innovative, Original Games Have No Chance

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  • ok. if you say so. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by User 956 (568564) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @07:04PM (#17834842) Homepage
    Innovative, Original Games Have No Chance

    Well then. Since that's settled, Let me get back to Madden 2008: Platinum edition.
    • by MasterGwaha (1033282) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @07:21PM (#17835118)
      You do that. I'm going to revive my girlfriend by killing these Colossi!
      • by Shads (4567)
        Wish I had some Mod points for you ;)

        That was a hell of a fun game and innovative too.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Shads (4567)
      Bleh. The line that bothers me though isn't so much his thoughts that innovative games have no chance, but rather "Most video game people have read one book and seen one movie in their life, which is 'Lord of the Rings' and 'Aliens' or variations of that. There's great things in that, but you need some variety."

      Which reads to me as bullshit of the first order, most of the gamers I know are geeks and geeks in general tend to be movie buffs and/or book readers. Those may well be two of their *favorite* icon
      • Bleh. The line that bothers me though isn't so much his thoughts that innovative games have no chance, but rather "Most video game people have read one book and seen one movie in their life, which is 'Lord of the Rings' and 'Aliens' or variations of that. There's great things in that, but you need some variety."

        Which reads to me as bullshit of the first order, most of the gamers I know are geeks and geeks in general tend to be movie buffs and/or book readers. Those may well be two of their *favorite* icons
  • Suggestion (Score:3, Insightful)

    by UbuntuDupe (970646) * on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @07:06PM (#17834872) Journal
    The overwhelming majority of the cost of a game now, seems to be having ever-more-detailed graphics, higher-paid actors, etc. If you want innovation in the game structure itself, it shouldn't be costly (it seems), to do a sort of "proof of concept" in Flash or C# or whatever works on a PC, and if that gets popular, then you know that that's the kind of thing gamers want.
    • by jpardey (569633)
      Like Narbacular Drop? Or however you spell that?
      • Which, judging from the screenshots I've seen of its original version and its game-company-sponsored remix, has gone from bright, fun, whimsical imagery of a witch-girl walking around through demon-mouth portals, to... a convict wandering through a complex made of poured concrete.
        • by jpardey (569633)
          That is true. The basic gameplay concept remains, but yeah, it is sad to see the fun idea exchanged for a more palatable... series of cement walled rooms. With turrets.
    • Re:Suggestion (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Shados (741919) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @07:50PM (#17835522)
      Indeed. While making complex AIs and mechanics can be difficult and require brain power, graphics need pure -time-. Making a higher definition model isn't systematically harder (it is, but people have had the talents for a while), its just...long, and time consuming. You need the same level of skill for making the textures, the meshes, etc. You just have to make more of -everything-.

      Thus, it becomes incredibly long and expensive... I remember when Rogue Squadron for the Gamecube came out back then... they had a small team mind you, but making the model for the larger star destroyers took 1/6th of the time allocated to make the entire game (of course, it was in paralelle so its not like it was slowing down the other parts of the game, but still).

      I just can't begin to think how long a game like a FFXIII will take in raw man hours (everybody added together). It must totally insane.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ClamIAm (926466)
      Line Rider [official-linerider.com] is a pretty good example.
    • Re:Suggestion (Score:4, Insightful)

      by adam31 (817930) <adam31&gmail,com> on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @08:27PM (#17836046)
      Around half of a successful game's budget is actually marketing. So while next-gen ups the remaining budget allocation towards engines pushing high-end graphics and artists to create the content, there is an opportunity now for innovative games to undercut a marketing $$$ disadvantage.


      First, E3 is dead. Thank the lord. But what has risen from those ashes is the downloadable demo as a way to reach gamers. It's like we've taken all the work that goes into dropping demos on E3 machines and pushed it into the living room for a fraction the cost! Among XBox 360 gamers I know, they all love demos (well, at least they love having the ability to try demos).

      The day may come very soon when innovation can compete head-to-head against hype-only games because the battle arena isn't banners on the web and TV commercials, but live on the console with controller in hand.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Actually I think a better example of this would be Geometry Wars.
  • by Aeonite (263338)
    All fantasy games are the same fantasy game. Vanguard, DDO, WOW, Everquest...

    Elf? Check.
    Dwarf? Check.
    Fighter? Check.
    Rogue? Check.

    People don't want fantastic fantasy. They want familiar fantasy. The equivalent of peanut butter and jelly on Wonder Bread or a hot dog while mom and dad eat that weird lasagna stuff. Fantasy gamers have the taste of a 4-year-old.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mandelbr0t (1015855)

      All fantasy games are the same fantasy game.

      Well, at least the ones that are based on the d20 system. The Open Game License [wikipedia.org] has made it even easier to base games on this system.

      They want familiar fantasy.

      Yes. Personally, I like the d20 system. It can be applied to many different fantasy worlds, and provides familiar gameplay.

      Fantasy gamers have the taste of a 4-year-old.

      That's where I start disagreeing with you (unless you are referring to the child's near-infinite curiosity). Even without leaving the fantasy worlds published by the Wizards of the Coast themselves, I have an entire bookshelf devoted to manuals and maga

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Aeonite (263338)
        My point ultimately is even the wide variety of fantasy games all come back to the same core clichés. Every game has its elves, dwarves and halflings. They all have swords and armor. They all have spellcasters and healers and rogues. The variations seem to be along the lines of "well our elves don't live in trees, they live in the desert" most of the time. You may have a shelf full of books (I have one myself) but it doesn't change the fact that most of those books are built upon the same foundation of
        • Yes, but Xzflrbgs or a Gbrhstses are stupid. If your Xzflrbg is an orc, only he uses magic and lives in snow, why don't we just call him that? Furthermore, if a Gbrhsts is something completely new or weird (like the Tojanida (sp?) in D&D 3.0), nobody will want to use it. It's not necessarily Hot Dogs vs Lasagna; I'd say it's more like Hot Dogs vs either Sausages or Indian Cuisine.
        • by Cecil (37810)
          Ultima and Wizardry are two excellent and long-lived fantasy series that do not incorporate almost any of the standard fantasy cliches (except magic, which is almost a requirement of the genre -- it would kind of be historical fiction otherwise). You're right, however, that they do not seem to achieve quite as much in the way of popularity.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Lemmy Caution (8378)
          Actually, I think that there are big differences between western fantasy games and Japanese fantasy games (with non-Japanese Asian fantasy games coming in somewhere between them.) Japanese games seem more truly original, use pastiche in their references of real-world cultures much more colorfully, have more distinctive narratives. Their limits are part of their features, too: the characters are too richly described which allows virtually no customization, and you have to re-learn the basic mechanics with ea
    • If you think... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by patio11 (857072) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @12:07AM (#17838328)
      ... that a Tolkien dwarf is a WoW dwarf is a Games Workshop dwarf, you've got another thing coming. Sure, they're all little people. Tolkien dwarfs are a dying race who happen to be custodians of powerful, ancient magics. WoW dwarfs are booze-soaked, mostly eschew magic, and are highly technologically oriented. Games Workshop dwarfs (I think they're picky about the spelling) have a form of magic they invented, and are, to my understanding, more likely to be motivated by PURE DRIVING HATRED than by the prospect of a brewskie at the end of the journey.

      Take something like a Slayer out of the Games Workshop universe and pop it into Tolkien or WoW and there would be bloodshed. A Slayer is basically a suicide bomber without the bomb. Thorin would think the Slayer was a vicious savage. The WoW dwarves would wonder what this whole notion of "dying to avenge a previous loss" was, considering that the dwarves (and the rest of the Alliance) pretty much invariably win the wars they get caught up in and if they don't, hey, death is a very temporary state of affairs in the WoW universe.

      In terms of game mechanics, anyone who could say that Vanguard and WoW were the same game has clearly never played either and should probably keep it that way. I'm not trying to be elitist, its just that they're two very, very different beasts. For every structural similarity ("Hey, tank/healer/DPS with emphasis on loot collection!") you'd come up with many more differences that are almost fundamental in nature (WoW: Crafting should be open to everyone and not get in the way of gameplay. Vanguard: Crafting is gameplay, if you're HARD CORE ENOUGH TO HANDLE IT. WoW: Dungeons should be open to everyone. Vanguard: Dungeons should be open to you if you're HARD CORE ENOUGH TO HANDLE IT. WoW: Fast travel should be open to everyone. You should be able to teleport immediately, fly within 2 hours, and have essentially permanently increased non-combat movement speed by the mid-levels. Vanguard: Travel should be slow so that you will quit if you're not HARD CORE ENOUGH TO HANDLE IT. etc)

      Disclosure: Yeah, I'm more of a WoW person than a Vanguard person. What can I say, I'm not hard core enough to handle it.
      • by Aeonite (263338)
        One of the points made in the book I review here is that according to a study, Genre is the number 1 factor in the purchase of a game. ie., "Fantasy"

        All the differences you mention here between WoW, Vanguard, etc. are mechanical. They don't erase the underlying issue which is that they all mimic the same general look and feel. A dwarf is a dwarf is a dwarf. They're all short stocky fighter types with beards.
    • Go ahead, try to come up with something new. A new class? A new race maybe? You might notice that in WoW all the playable races are humanoid. Good, now check slightly deeper, do you notice how all the equipment seems to work on them all? Could it be because it is simply a case of scaling the body and appendages rather then coming up with unique art for each and every race?

      Imagine a centaur race. Brilliant. Fast, capable of being a mount to another player, large carrying capacity and definitly a different l

  • Nintendogs (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HappySqurriel (1010623) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @07:08PM (#17834902)
    One word ... Nintendogs

    The fact is that most "inovative" games break the standard rule in any creative pursuit ... "Know your audience"

    If you're trying to make a game that is different then you should probably look into who the demographic that will be interested in your game is and focus on making the game good for them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tepples (727027)

      One word ... Nintendogs

      Dogz was out first, and Tamagotchi before that.

    • by cgenman (325138)
      That's odd, one of the things I'm fond of saying is that you can be creative in certain areas, but you have to make a connection to your audience. Nintendogs brought something everyone wants to do, and did so in a really creative and original way. Most games bring really creative and original settings, but do so in a traditional and off-the-rack way. And necessarily so, as if you have a creative setting and creative gameplay, there is really nothing to latch onto emotionally.

      It probably isn't a co-incide
    • Modern Art has calmed down a bit, but back in the 1990s, and at other times, there was a rash of extreme modern art. People throw up in a fish tank and call it art, etc etc. When the "artist" does not get paid $100k for his bucket of sick, he complains that nobody appreciates truely innovative art and that they're stuck in caves of preconception.

      Perhaps the same is happening in the games industry.

      Art, and games, are after all in the eye of the beholder. Many people do like art that conforms to certain recip

  • by cliffski (65094) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @07:08PM (#17834906) Homepage
    The problem is that if you need 200 people to make a game, you need to persuade so many committees of finance experts to give you the money that the chances of finding someone who will panic at your idea are stupidly high.
    Finding the money for a game that needs 20 people to make is a lot easier and less risky, because even if it's a flop, you aren't taking the whole publisher down with you.
    Of course, ideally, you do the whole game yourself, on your own, sticking 100% to the creative vision you had, without needing to persuade *anyone* about the validity of the idea, and taking all of the risk yourself. I've gone many years reading big name industry celebs saying how that's not possible any more, despite the fact that I do it for a living, and I know a fair few others who do so as well.

    Of course, if you would rather not make a game at all, than make one on a low budget, then that's a different matter. But personally, if I could make a 'triple a' WW2 FPS clone with 100 people, or an original, inventive 2D budget game on my own, I'd do the latter, even if it will never make me rich.

    But generally, he's right, there is a lack of originality in mainstream games (spore is a good exception though).
    • I would say that you are basically right, with a corollary: if you're influential and wealthy enough - a rockstar game designer like Cliff B. or Shigeru Miyamoto - you can still be pretty creative.

      It's not like this is a new or novel phenomenon, either. I mean, most of the movers and shakers of the art world throughout history have started with a fairly conservative style and moved to the fringes gradually. Picasso did not start doing cubist drawings. The reason that this is now incredibly apparent in the

    • On consoles this just isn't going to happen -- the barrier of entry is just too high (how many programmers are able to write a complete rendering + physics + ai systems?!) -- MAYBE with MS now offering XNA, but we'll have to wait and see...

      On PCs, this idea is becoming less and less feasible, unless you limit yourself to "simple" games. Nothing wrong with them, say like the 80's 8-bit games or 90's web games, but people expectations have moved on, such as full 3D environments, physics, multiplayer, etc.

      Of
    • I'd think that the free software people would want to make more games.

      Making immersive games takes a lot of work, though I think most of the work is in the design such as textures, models and audio.
  • "You use the word 'difficult', but I think that it is becoming almost 'impossible' for an original game to succeed financially. This can't be blamed on anyone but it's a simple fact that an original game doesn't appeal to the majority of gamers."

    There are a lot of original ideas. Just because a game is original doesn't mean that it is a good game. If you want your game to sell it has to be both good and likable by a lot of people. That's just business. No use complaining about it; Either reduce your costs

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JoshJ (1009085)
      Have you even played Okami? It's an incredible game that didn't sell well because it's not called Zelda. Had Nintendo put it out, renamed 2 characters, and named the game Zelda it'd have sold over a million copies in one day. Gamers are, as a group, a bunch of fucking brand-obsessed idiots. Look at every console flamewar since the 16-bit era for proof.
      • by sqlrob (173498)
        I'm in the middle of playing Twilight Princess, and , quite frankly, Okami has out Zelda'd Zelda. It's a shame Clover was canned.
        • by JoshJ (1009085)
          I haven't played Twilight Princess yet, but Okami's even topped Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time. But it's not called Zelda, so it doesn't get the recognition it deserves.
          Gamers as a whole need to get off their moronic brand addiction and actually think for themselves worth a damn. I'm sure that right now there's upwards of 10000 PS3/Wii/360 console flamewars on various gaming websites, and still 100+ flamewars over whether the SNES was better than the Genesis. So people end up rejecting extremely good
        • by Nevyn (5505) *

          Okami is good, but there are some obvious problems with it. The most obvious being the stupid UI for talking with characters ... that was just painful, certainly if I hadn't been waiting for the game for 6 months anticipating the things it did differently, and got right, I wouldn't have got past the intro.

          While Zelda isn't as original, it's a better complete package ... but then I'm playing Link to the past for the first time, on VC, and as a complete package that's better than both, IMO.

          • by nuzak (959558)
            What was wrong with the UI for talking? Walk up, press a button, listen to lots of really hokey dialog. The content may not have been the best, but the UI was fine. Okay, occasionally you'd jump and frighten them instead, but that didn't have real consequences.

            Okami's visuals and music were just phenomenal (though on the visuals front, all of Kamui looked like it was rushed, compared to elaborate locales like Kusa Village). The game was ... meh. For me, Prince of Persia raised the bar for combat-orient
            • by Rycross (836649)
              Mostly, I just found the rate at which the text appeared intolerably slow, with no way to configure it. Especially in cutscenes.
      • by Rycross (836649)
        I've played Okami, and I found it to be mediocre. I realize this isn't a popular opinion, but while the whole brush-to-use-special-powers mechanic was wonderfully innovative at first, it became old very quickly. The dungeons were poorly designed and much too straight-forward. The puzzles were incredibly simple, but practically every time you messed up, your sidekick launched into a stupid and even more obvious explanation. Finding hidden items was monontonous, and gave little reward. It often involved
        • by JoshJ (1009085)

          I've played Okami, and I found it to be mediocre. I realize this isn't a popular opinion, but while the whole brush-to-use-special-powers mechanic was wonderfully innovative at first, it became old very quickly. The dungeons were poorly designed and much too straight-forward. The puzzles were incredibly simple, but practically every time you messed up, your sidekick launched into a stupid and even more obvious explanation.

          I take it you forgot Ocarina of Time? Navi and Issun are the same. damn. character.

          • by Rycross (836649)

            I take it you forgot Ocarina of Time? Navi and Issun are the same. damn. character.

            Nope, I didn't forget it. Yeah they're the same character. The difference is that Navi didn't bug you nearly as much, and when she did you had an option of listening (you had to press a button to activate), and usually had semi-useful advice. Issun just interrupts you, using the god-awful slooooooooow text boxes.

            You also forgot how I mentioned level design. It's important. Okami's levels were very very straightforward. Maybe one or two puzzles, and very linear. Zelda's, by comparison, are much

      • by kmac06 (608921)
        If I'm a casual gamer, and only buy say 3 games a year, should I go buy some game I've never heard of, or the next title in a series that has already made 6 games I enjoyed?
      • by Astarica (986098)
        It's one thing to say (insert game) is the bestest game ever, how come it didn't say X milion like (whatever)? You can blame the masses being dumb or whatever for this, and that's fine. Competition is never supposed to be fair.

        But if your bestest game ever didn't even sell enough to be profitable, maybe it's not as good as you think it is.
  • What an ass... (Score:2, Informative)

    by MaineCoon (12585)
    To talk about his peers in the industry he does, and paint with such a broad brush. If he wants to make himself look better than his peers, perhaps he should do so by proving himself, rather than trying to stand apart through pointless and insulting talk alone.

    As someone who works in the industry, I know many designers, artists, and engineers, and in general they love all kinds of fiction - SF, fantasy, action, horror, drama. Tastes are quite varied... there is no extreme focus on Tolkien or Aliens. In f
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by iantf (532238)
      Dude, Ken Levine doesn't need to prove himself. He designed Thief and System Shock II, and he executive produced Freedom Force [mobygames.com], three of the most innovative big-budget games of the last decade. If he has criticisms of the rest of the industry, the man has earned the right to speak up.

      (No, I have never met Ken Levine. I have nothing personal invested in this. But to say of the lead designer of System Shock II "If he wants to make himself look better than his peers, perhaps he should do so by proving h
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I think he was using hyperbole to make a point. A point that inside the games industry, games tend to stick pretty closely to a group of preconcieved ideals. Ideals that are more or less based on Tolkein and Aliens esq sci-fi movies. Incidently, your sig rather strongly invalidates your own point while validating TFA. I'll give you a hint. When someone says a certain [i]thing[/i] is over used in the games industry, you should remove ads for such a [i]thing[/i] before you try and call bullshit.
  • by Dr. Eggman (932300) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @07:10PM (#17834936)
    While I can't speak for consoles, original ideas still find their way to PC, I always find a handful odd, little known company's games on PC shelves (or rather lists as I shop mostly online.) Defcon and Darwinia spring to mind. Those games were both etail and limited retail before they also came to Steam. Steam provides a plethora of indie games, many of which are unique and intersting like The Ship. Steam has so many indie games that they infact have their own browsing tab.
    • by cowscows (103644)
      I think it's really a matter of unrealistic expectations. Something completely new is likely going to take some time to build up the critical mass/mind-share needed to really take hold in the mind of the public and become the next big thing. The problem with games is that that there's such a quick and constant flow of new games that any new game is yesterday's news just a couple months later.

      If you understand that reality, then it becomes a question of how do you work around it. There are a couple ways. One
    • by Kalriath (849904)
      Steam isn't the only way either. You can download and boot up a copy of Stardock Central (the integrator behind Object Desktop, the platform WindowBlinds is a part of) and hit the games tab of it to see plethoras of games by all sorts of people you've never heard of - some of which are indeed unique and interesting as well.
  • I think the video game industry needs to stop bankrolling projects off a few blockbuster titles, and instead bankroll them from a massive library of reliable inexpensive titles.

    Just a thought.
    • by User 956 (568564)
      I think the video game industry needs to stop bankrolling projects off a few blockbuster titles, and instead bankroll them from a massive library of reliable inexpensive titles.

      Ah yes, the gaming equivalent of the Long Tail [wikipedia.org].
      • by nuzak (959558)
        People buy console games used (I almost always do), which fairly demolishes the Long Tail.

        • by User 956 (568564)
          People buy console games used (I almost always do), which fairly demolishes the Long Tail.

          Ah, but the long tail is alive and well with the X360 Marketplace, Wii marketplace, and so on.
  • Okami Rocks (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jonabbey (2498) *

    My wife and I are playing through Okami now. It's one of the most fun games I've played on the PS2, with lots of interesting things to do and see, and the art is just beautiful.

    Kudos, guys.

  • This is not news as the basic premise is hundreds (or thousands) of years old. New and original art is never in the mainstream. Every so often, new forms of art and ideas are created and the current ideas and art styles fight tooth and nail to suppress the new stuff. Then the new stuff eventually becomes mainstream and boring and the cycle repeats with a new wave of artists pushing the mainstream. While Okami might not have sold well, it will probably be an influence to many incoming game designers who will
  • by Secret Rabbit (914973) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @07:29PM (#17835244) Journal
    I know that a platform isn't a game, but the Wii has really thrown out what home gaming has mention. Not to mention that it's gotten... rather good reviews; people seem to love it. So, originality seems to be not entirely out of the question for something in the industry to sell well.

    I'll also point out that "gamers" is a rather illusive term today. Nintendo among others have realized that female gamers have different ideas of what makes a good game as well as "older" gamers as well. And that's only two of the markets that are only beginning to be tapped.

    Basically, although it may be true that the traditional "hard-core gamer" may prefer to stick with the same type of game over and over, other types of gamers may actually prefer more original content. Of course, we won't know for a fair number of years if this is true, but I wouldn't count original content out just yet.
  • by Babbster (107076) <aaronbabb&gmail,com> on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @07:36PM (#17835336) Homepage
    First off, I haven't played Okami (I haven't played any home console games for a couple months). With that out of the way, I would only wonder if the release of Okami was just badly timed, at least in the US. With the ridiculous amount of press surrounding the releases of the Wii and the PS3 (not to mention the big 360 game, Gears of War), is it really a surprise that a new PS2 title hasn't gotten the attention that it perhaps deserves? Had the game been released at the same time in the US as in Japan (April), it might have had a better shot at getting traction. As it is, it came out in September when seemingly the entire US market was frozen in anticipation of the new consoles.

    As for originality selling, Katamari Damacy (to name one) has had enough success to get not only a PS2 sequel but a version on the PSP. Even more recently, Nintendo has seemed to be all about originality with the DS and Wii, and they certainly aren't suffering.

    Unfortunately, new home console titles cost $50+ a pop. That's a lot of money to invest, and I don't think it's unreasonable for gamers to go with "safe bets." I also suspect that if an "Okami 2" was released on the Wii (the painting aspect would seem tailor-made for that console), and of course it was good, it would sell like gangbusters. Then again, at that point the same complaints would be made by someone else that people are only interested in sequels...
    • Well Okami has not been released in europe yet, so much for success, besides that it probably would have gotten a few sales more if it was not Playstation only, the Wii basically screams for this game, so does the pc, with the way better input methods suitable for it. I dont think the original content is the problem, the playstation only, not having it released in the second biggest market worldwide and having it released during a next gen console promotion time, might play into it. Speaking of original ga
    • by nuzak (959558)
      > Katamari Damacy (to name one) has had enough success to get not only a PS2 sequel but a version on the PSP.

      Sequels, as opposed to original developments. The developer didn't even want to do a sequel. The PSP version is especially horrible.

      > Unfortunately, new home console titles cost $50+ a pop.

      So wait for the price to drop. It's not like the movies where you miss seeing it on a big screen. It's just as much fun six months later, and usually just as available if not more so.
      • by Babbster (107076)

        Sequels, as opposed to original developments. The developer didn't even want to do a sequel. The PSP version is especially horrible.

        I wasn't testifying to the quality of the sequel or the PSP game. I was simply pointing out that if the first game had not sold well then the other games probably wouldn't have been created.

        So wait for the price to drop. It's not like the movies where you miss seeing it on a big screen. It's just as much fun six months later, and usually just as available if not more so.

  • by Americano (920576) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @07:38PM (#17835362)
    It seems like you could substitute ANY form of entertainment for the word "games" in that title. The companies chase money... if they see a blockbuster, they're going to rush to produce their own copy of that blockbuster's "formula." Same as with movies. Same as with music. Does it dumb down the landscape? Sure. Does it mark the "end of gaming as we know it"? I don't see why it should. Did Britney Spears & her million clones mark the end of music as we know it? Nope, not at all... it dumbed down commercial radio into a monotonous "sameness", but there's still people out there making interesting & innovative music.
  • I got to thinking about why original and creative movies are (it seems) better-received than games. Movies are passive, but gaming requires action from the user, and now we're in the realm of habits and comfortable ways.

    I believe that the majority of the problem is this: How do I know if I will like a game, if I have never played one like it before? I don't think that any of us consciously consider that question (as it's pretty stupid when you ask it out loud). Most people are simply more comfortable wit

  • The problem with the "innovative, original games" that don't sell is probably some combination of insufficient marketing and a modern crop of ignorant and/or reluctant gamers. People who buy video games don't like to take chances on something they've never tried before, especially not for $50-60 a pop.

    You want innovation to sell? Release your "innovative, original games" for free as downloads and give the public a chance to figure it out. Try-before-buy works really well, or has no one learned from MP3/musi
    • In case of okami it was several factors, it has not been released in Europe yet, so the second biggest gaming market has been blatantly ignored. It should have gone multiplatform, the gaminc concept screams for a mouse or the wiimote, Playstation only was its death nail, while the playstation has a sheer number of consoles, its gamers are not too open minded and feel happy to be fed with Tony Hawk #19 also add to that the next gen hype going on which drowned everything. Probably if Okami would come out on
      • It should have gone multiplatform, the gaminc concept screams for a mouse or the wiimote, Playstation only was its death nail, while the playstation has a sheer number of consoles, its gamers are not too open minded and feel happy to be fed with Tony Hawk #19

        The PS2 has the most diverse lineup of games and gamers. Take a look at the Gamecube used market if you don't believe me.Think about it. If you want to sell a niche game, the PS2 is a solid choice because of the huge number of users means even a nic

        • I did not mean the PS2 was an entirely wrong choice, making it PS2 only on a system in its last stage was idiotic, saying it was unsuccessful two days after it has been out in the biggest gaming market (US) and not even been out in the second biggest one (Europe) is stupid. It is almist like Capcom saw the japanese numbers and said to itself it is not worth it to push it into the big markets. If they had brought it out for the wii on launch I am pretty sure they would have become the second must have title
      • In case of okami it was several factors, it has not been released in Europe yet, so the second biggest gaming market has been blatantly ignored. It should have gone multiplatform, the gaminc concept screams for a mouse or the wiimote, Playstation only was its death nail, while the playstation has a sheer number of consoles, its gamers are not too open minded and feel happy to be fed with Tony Hawk #19 also add to that the next gen hype going on which drowned everything. Probably if Okami would come out on t
  • Calm down. Video games are a very young industry. When video games finally go mainstream there will be plenty of demand for new kinds of games. Unfortunately, it's a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation, without the new games how do you attract the new customers? The truth is, the only real problem area is in consoles which have been utterly hardcore oriented since they went 3D. Fortunately, PCs have become so ubiquitous that smaller, weirder games actually have a fighting chance of finding an audience -- an
  • Hogwash... (Score:5, Informative)

    by bynary (827120) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @07:53PM (#17835554) Homepage
    I list for you a few games that are "original" that are also selling well: Brain Age Katamari Damacy Loco Roco Cooking Mama Trauma Center Phoenix Wright Shadow of the Colossus I'm sure there are others that I'm missing. Once upon a time FPSs were original. Platformers were original. Q*bert was original (I still don't understand that game). I think we're missing the big picture here. Innovation (as I understand most gamers referring to it as) just doesn't happen much in the real world. If you want an object lesson, type out a sentence in a word processor increasing the font size by 1 for each line. From one line to the next there isn't much difference. However, if you compare every fifth line you'll see a rather distinct difference. If you compare the first and last lines they won't look even remotely the same in size. That's how I like to look at gaming. Look back at games from 2007 in 2017 and tell me that the market was stagnant. The truth is it's not, it just seems that way right now.
  • It really depends what your market is:

    - If your market is those people who must have things the way they always were, then innovation will fail.
    - If your market is people who will accept innovation, as long it is not too far off, then some innovation is possible.
    - If your market is people who like try new things, then there is a chance innovation will work.

    For the case of where innovation is possible, it can't exist on its own. The promise of a new improved gaming experience still ne
  • by AspectRatio (951328) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @08:13PM (#17835862)
    #1 selling game in December, and the second-biggest franchise last holiday behind Madden, even though it only came out on one platform. Innovation and originality dead? Sorry guys, just because Okami didn't appeal to an American audience because of it's heavy reliance on Japanese mythology doesn't mean that originality and innovation in gaming is dead. Is Twilight Princess on the Wii not innovative? Someone already mentioned Nintendogs, but what about Phoenix Wright, Dance Dance Revolution, Lego Star Wars, Rayman Raving Rabbids, SingStar and Viva Pinata? Those were all top-100 selling games over the holiday. Just because "insert game here" didn't sell doesn't mean originality in gaming is dead. The rewards for making an innovative blockbuster have never been higher... just ask Red Octane.
  • Original? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cryocide (947909)
    Okami is hardly original in that they added a paintbrush gimmick to a Zelda-style adventure game. Same thing goes for Viewtiful Joe with its side-scrolling brawler style, except that the Bullet Time gimmick had already been played-out with Max Payne.
  • Let's consider this from some other perspectives. Other aesthetics change throughout time in a kind of punctuated equilibrium - art, music, and architecture all have "periods". Typically, these periods have a few exponents who are themselves involved in catalyzing change by introducing something:

    1. Appealing to the new aesthetic, but usually not the old one (what the author is bemoaning, I suppose).
    2. So revolutionary that it no longer fits into the same style of the old period.

    Ultimately, this is going to h

  • They may be desirable traits in a good game, but their presence along does not guaranteed a good game. If you look at a Zelda game, it is never going to be original enough such that the story doesn't involve a hero named Link and a princess named Zelda and a villian named Ganon. It is never going to be innovative enough that the game won't involve some kind of combat with a sword, arrow, boomerang, and a random grab-bag of tools. However there's far more to a good game than just having an original idea o
  • I think this is a poor statement to make, or at least not very visionary, on the cusp of three next-gen consoles offering strong on-line game stores, and seeking to use those online games as strong differentiators between the platforms since so many games are cross platform now.

    Online games is where those with really unique ideas should seek to test them in the open market, where I can splurge for $5 to $20 on a fun looking game I may well never see at $50.
  • Lack of Innovation (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Newfangled (1058238)
    The severe lack in innovation in video games today is caused by the game companies being tied to making games for the old, tried & true genres. These genres are now so full of titles that there is no longer any room for originality. Take the first person shooter (fps) genre. IT HAS BEEN DONE TO DEATH. There are so many fps games out there that you can choose any setting, play-style, weapons that you want to play with! And yet every time a new fps game comes out the developers try and call it innovativ
    • The severe lack in innovation in video games today is caused by the game companies being tied to making games for the old, tried & true genres. These genres are now so full of titles that there is no longer any room for originality. Take the first person shooter (fps) genre. IT HAS BEEN DONE TO DEATH. There are so many fps games out there that you can choose any setting, play-style, weapons that you want to play with! And yet every time a new fps game comes out the developers try and call it innovative
  • Back in the 80's and NES was still new? How about back in the 90's? Although, I do have to admit that Guitar Hero was nothing new, it was basically DDR with a different controller. But I'd hate to say that "innovative, original games have no chance." This has two flaws: 1) You have to state when they suddenly ceased to have a chance and 2) It's rephrasing the thought "there's no need to spend any more time researching because any more advances in science would've come up already"
  • ...especially if they suck as a game. Too often, "innovative" or "original" are used to describe gameplay elements that are outright lame. I find it hard to believe that novel games that don't suck have no chance.
  • A chess analogy is appropriate here. Who'd want chess to be completely rewritten every month? Nobody. People like the predictability because it allows the skills they've built up to remain useful. We bitch about annual Madden and FIFA clones, but to a lot of people, that's their chess, and they don't need somebody fucking with their chess.

    There are chess players and there are board game enthusiasts. Madden whores are the chess players. Gamer nerds who like lots of different games and pine for originality a

  • Has the industry gotten to the point where retreads are all that will sell, or is there still room in the marketplace for original ideas?

    No, it's gotten to the point where conglomerates decide what is the main demographic for video games, in the same way that the movie industry have conglomerates that decide the same thing. Unless you are going to play games, watch movies, or read books in bulk, you will most likely have limited exposure to the variety within that media you choose.

    I don't read that many b

  • Marketting... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 7Prime (871679) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @10:20PM (#17837354) Homepage Journal
    I don't buy this... not one bit. Sales of video games are almost completely, directly proportional to how much you put into marketting them, and how WELL you market them. I work at an NBC affiliated TV station, and was a board op around the time Okami was released, I surf the intarweb probably for over an hour a day, largely on game related material. I never ONCE saw a commercial for Okami at either of these places. So am I all that surprised to hear that it didn't sell well? No. Not really.

    Hell, I'm incredibly surprised I don't see more game ads. I probably see more GameTap commercials, and generic "Playstation Portable" commercials, than all specific video game commercials combined. Television advertising, especially for this demographic, is at the HEART of your marketting of a game. It doesn't matter HOW innovative the game is, if the main stream doesn't pick it up, no amount of yelling and screaming about it is going to make it popular.

    These are not small budget companies or low budget productions, if they can afford to make a game like Okami, they can afford some national NBC prime time spots, as expensive as they are.

    That said, I absolutely loved Okami, and am very sorry to hear the creator is so dissolutioned, like this.
  • Stop trying to make original games that cost so much to develop that you need a blockbuster success to make it financially viable. Make original games that are low-cost in development so that a few thousands people who are happy to buy and play those games will be enough to continue making such games.

    Also, you have to keep the games simple. I've seen Gears of War, and while the graphics really are amazing and all, I gave up trying to play it after 5 minutes. That type of game needs a keyboard and a mouse, n
  • Okami was flatly made for the wrong system. Okami was a game that would have done VERY well on the Wii. How you cast your spells is with a paintbrush control system. It's their own fault they put Okami on the wrong system, but a system that is also on it's way out, and the only people really buying games on it at this point are looking for the sub $30 bargain bin games. Not $50 new! Clover studios was out of their fucking minds. Hell I was even gona buy it, but Capcom canned Clover Studios after the game ha
  • ... in the exact literal sense

    Odds are any sucessful game that is original will not in fact be an original.

    It will probably have been based of a game a few years before that didn't do so well due to lack of funding for the cutting edge graphics engine but still had a small cuilt following and was then either bought out or imitated to make a new game with all the slick graphics that the kids demand and a huge marketing budget which then makes this new copy a sucess.
  • by KlausBreuer (105581) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @07:03AM (#17841012) Homepage
    Strange - but every few years (months, by now?) we hear this again: no more original games possible, nobody wants them, waaaah!

    Yes, creating/selling original games is difficult. This has several reasons:

    It must be original instead of yet another Elf-Bashes-Monsters or Space-Hero-Shoots-Monsters.

    Familiar games tend to sell better - not just to customers, but to financers.

    Like most new ideas, most original games are flops. Their ideas simply don't 'click' with the players. Often enough they have a small, fanatical fan-club, but this doesn't make enough money, especially when the financers insisted on huge loads of fancy graphics and whatever, pushing up the number of people needed to create this.

    However, every now and then an original game comes out. And is a huge success. And has so many followers (coders and users) that this type of game soon becomes familiar again. Where do you think all the familiar games came from? Thin air?

    But this doesn't happen often. You need very good, very original people. And seeing how most companies work (loads of average programmers (cheaper), concentrate on pretty graphics, large bureaucrazies) this explains *why* it happens so seldomly. They do not want to take risks.

    Watch this space! In (at most) a year or so, we'll have this question again: "Where O Where Are The Original Games?"
  • Distinction (Score:4, Interesting)

    by computertheque (823940) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @08:54AM (#17841570)
    I didn't read over every single comment, but I think there needs to be a distinction between what is a success and a failure. I can understand the argument that original games have no chance of selling like established or derivative franchises. It seems like there is no such thing as a niche product anymore, either there are hopes of it selling multiple million copies or it has no chances of being made.

    Is it really that difficult to make a game with a scaled down dev team and resources?

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