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The Decline of Fiction In Video Games 197

Speaking to Eurogamer, art maestro (and visual design director of upcoming stealth/action game Dishonored) Victor Antonov put into words what many gamers have been feeling about the gaming industry of late: "It's been a poor, poor five years for fiction in the video game industry. There have been too many sequels, and too many established IPs that have been ruling the market. And a lot of them are war games. And they're great projects and great entertainment, but there's a lack of variety today. So, when you step out of this established genre, people cannot grasp it, or the press tries to find a match. ... We were always waiting for the next generation of great worlds or great graphics. Well, great graphics came; the worlds that came with these graphics are not up to the level of the graphics. ... Games should sort of split up and specialize and assume that there's such a thing as genre, and they shouldn't try to please everybody at the same time and try to make easy, diluted projects. Let's go for intensity and quality."
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The Decline of Fiction In Video Games

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  • Indie games! (Score:5, Informative)

    by wikthemighty ( 524325 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @06:32PM (#40691531)
    The last few years have been a boom for indie developers, especially on the PC: Humble Indie Bundle [] Indie Gala [] Indie Royale [] BeMine [] ...not to mention the Indie packs in the Steam Summer Sale!
  • Fixed URLs... (Score:5, Informative)

    by wikthemighty ( 524325 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @06:35PM (#40691571)
    Humble Indie Bundle []
    Indie Gala []
    Indie Royale []
    Be Mine []
  • by Sponge Bath ( 413667 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @07:07PM (#40691891)
    Three games that blew me away that are non-fiction and novel are Flower, Limbo and Journey. All three are more imagination, dream and a reflection of life.
  • Re:Indie games! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sir_Sri ( 199544 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @07:23PM (#40692017)

    unfair share of the dollars spent.

    Unfair is probably the wrong word. I can like a lot of different games, but I know what to expect if I buy a call of duty, fifa, the sims, wow expansions, Battlefield etc. I'm willing to shell out money for those, in many cases more money than I otherwise would, because even without playing them I have a fairly good sense of what I'm going to get. Some of those big titles make a lot of money because they have huge production quality. If you want 200 hours of voice acting (think Star Wars the Old Republic) that's going to cost an astronomical amount of money, or full motion capture, licensed images (vehicles items etc.). Going with that is huge advertising budgets, if you want to sell your game that you spent 60 -100 million dollars to make it's likely to pay off to spend 200 million on advertising because people need to know when your game is going to be out, you want them to buy it day 1 before they can pirate it etc. etc. etc.

    Kingdoms of Amalaur, which I just finally, got around to finishing, was a new IP, with a relatively overall standard fantasy setting (partly because they hired people who have defined the fantasy genre lately). But it still only sold about 1.5 million copies. That would be a good title for some people, but not for the production quality and tools they had, and the business risk Shilling was taking, and so they're out of business and on the hook for significant debts. The game was well reviewed, it plays reasonably well, it has good production quality, in all respects it is objectively a decent game, but it still didn't make enough money.

    If you want to innovate the place to do that is mobile. The barrier to entry is very very low, since apple and google don't have onerous rules like sony and nintendo, but even in the mobile space odds are good (really good, like 90% or more good) that you'll not make any money on a particular title. Indie PC titles are the next step up from that, but you have to be big enough to get listed on steam to have a chance, and then the next step up from that would be the PSN/XBLA type stores (where your sales may not be better than Steam, but you have to go through the Sony/MS certification process which is much more stringent than Steam).

    Either way, as with the movie business, there's always some innovation in the games business, but a lot of those plans fail to make money unless you engage in the well oiled machine of hollywood accounting ( Tera online seems to managing to hold it together for the moment, but no one really wants to end up like 38 studios and Curt Schilling, so the only serious risks taken are in small titles where if you loose 90% of your investment you're out 20K and you aren't out everything for the rest of your life. It's a down economy, no one wants to risk large amounts of money when you can't make any good predictions on sales. SWTOR which is probably the biggest trainwreck financially in the games business lately still sold something like 2 million copies - they just can't seem to maintain big subscriber numbers, but they got good opening sales, which I'm sure they were reasonably able to predict based on the KOTOR franchise and so on.

    If big publishers had more risky games on the side, where the big projects funded more risky ones it might appear more 'fair', but that would cost them a lot of money.

  • by Lemmy Caution ( 8378 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @07:40PM (#40692155) Homepage

    They are definitely fiction. Just not Hollywood-style fictions or cinematic ones.

  • by icebraining ( 1313345 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @07:40PM (#40692161) Homepage

    Portal is set in the same universe as HL, but you can only tell by small references here and there (like in the Still Alive song). It could set it in a completely different universe without changing almost anything: all the characters, sets and gameplay are original.

  • Re:Indie games! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Jonathan_S ( 25407 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @08:15PM (#40692455)

    What I really miss is the X-Com: UFO-style turn based strategies. I know there are some of the replicas (sort of) out there, but none of them even approaches the "X-Com: UFO Defence" in terms of gameplay. X-Com: Apocalypse was nice upgrade of the graphics and even had some gameplay improvements, but after that all sequels and clones kinda lost the point.

    Were you aware that there's a new X-Com: Enemy Unknown game coming out this October from Firaxis (Sid Meyer's company, the ones who make Civilization).

    From what I've seen it looks pretty true to the original game's play. As a fan of the first couple X-com games I'm really looking forward to it.

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