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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 []
      • Re:Fixed URLs... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @08:44PM (#40692711) Journal

        While the indie games are pretty damned good one thing that bums the hell out of me is how badly they've taken a crap on the FPS genre. Remember when you'd get all these different takes on the FPS, like Redneck Rampage and Blood or No One Lives Forever? Or even Far Cry I with AI that would flank and lush jungles with nasty creatures in it?

        Now it seems like everything is Call Of Modern Honor: Gears Of Killzone. hell even the ones I liked are getting crapped on by the Call Of Modern Honor effect, remember Fear? Fear I&2 were nice, dark and gritty with smart bad guys and great weapons, so what happened? Fear 3 is a 2 gun, wall kissing, lousy guns with no damned bullets co-op mess, that's what.

        Sadly this is one genre where it is doubtful the indies will save us. there are a hell of a lot of guys like me that would be happy with Far Cry I or even No One Lives Forever II level graphics if you'd just give us a good story, new weapons, tough bad guys, bring back the fun to FPS. But instead every indie FPS I've ever seen is just another Quake III Arena ripoff, like we really need another MP only CTF and DM game...yawn.

        • Re:Fixed URLs... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Lotana ( 842533 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @11:36PM (#40693861)

          Far Cry I with AI that would flank


          I remember the first time the soldiers in front of me were laying down suppressing fire as two more were rapidly making a wide pincer move to get to my flank. I was crying the tears of joy! After all the useless, pointless bots that only knew how to run towards you and died in the hundreds, I finally had a game where developers actually focused on AI. Fear had good AI as well unfortunately you couldn't get the full appreciation of it because all the environments were so closed in that there wasn't much area to show off manuverability. Hell, the reason Half Life 1 was so damn awesome was because of the AI of the grunts.

          And then... The focus on AI died as if it was a brief fad. FPS returned to being fancy graphical demos with gameplay equivalent of Quake 2. Worse: Quick Time Events just became extremely common!

          I just can't comprehend why. Is it because the focus now is on casual gamers and they compain about the extra difficulty of the AI? Surely you can just add dificulty levels that adjusts damage and health of enemies instead of removing all the intelligence altogether!

          • Re:Fixed URLs... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday July 19, 2012 @03:07AM (#40695015) Journal

            Man, wasn't that nice, to have bad guys that weren't tarded without having to deal with online cursing little shits? While Fear 1&2 were more buttoned up you should try the expansions for Fear 1, they had some nice levels where they could really get behind your ass if you weren't careful. the rooftop was a good example, where the Arma troops had 4 different ways they could go and would lay down fire while one snuck around to cap you in the back, just damned good.

            Here is a little title by a little company you've probably never heard of but if you like a challenge, and I don't mean that lame "all grunts take more bullets than the terminator while having perfect aim" crap look up a little game called "Nosferatu: The Wrath Of Malachi" or something like that, I always just called it Nosferatu. Its 1901 and you have to go into a castle to rescue your family from a hoard of vampires.

            The cool things about this game is 1.-Forget memorizing jack shit as EVERYTHING is randomized. A room that may have been a ballroom with a servant might be a bedroom with a hellhound the next time, it even randomizes between saves so you might have to reload a time or two if you respawn knee deep in the shit! 2.- How do you think that YOU, a normal human, would do against a real vampire? Welcome to Nosferatu where you are NOT a 6 foot 300 pound linebacker but an ordinary man. with the holy water and the cross or 6 shot you can fight off a minion, it'll be a decent fight but it can be done relatively easy, but you walk into a room and there is some Masters in their coffins? Your ass had better be able to sneak in there, get them lids open, and drive those stakes before they wake up because if not? Its your ass Mr Postman as they are wicked strong and if you drop one awake it'll probably be due to luck and will make you feel like you just won the game because it is HARD to do.

            But I know what you mean, without decent AI so many of the games are just terrible, I mean who cares how it looks if the guys all stand in a straight line to be shot? don't buy Fear 3 BTW, the AI is fucking TERRIBLE, I don't know how many times all I had to do was fire a round or two and they would duck behind cover and just sit there while I walked up and knifed them, fricking knifed them, or worse they'd just go back and forth between two different covers while i just stood there right out in the open, they didn't even shoot. After 1&2 it was enough to make me want to fricking scream, just terrible.

            Oh and did you read what the guy below you posted as a list of "good shooters" for me? Its online, online, online, online aaaaaannnndddd online. If I wanted to deal with "LOL I play this 16 hours a day noob bitch ass mofo" I'd be playing fricking Halo. ONLINE SUCKS ASS and is NOTHING like having a decent AI, its campers or guys that have no fricking lives so they just learn every trick and memorize every map so that you'll spend all your time, what fun. Big difference between having AI that will try to suppress and flank and some guy that has figured out there is a tiny section of wall that will let him scope a large area of the map without being seen so he can just pick off players and rack up his kills. And I can't believe he suggested TF2, for someone that likes a traditional FPS that thing is TERRIBLE! Its the classic case of spending weeks learning a single character because you can NOT just hop in and play that game and expect to get anywhere at all,and more than half the maps are fricking sniper heavens.

        • by Nemyst ( 1383049 )

          Borderlands 2. Far Cry 3. Team Fortress 2. Left 4 Dead. DayZ/ArmA. Crysis.

          There's still plenty of solid FPS, you just need to dig a little further than your local GameStop (which, I'll agree, gives a depressing perspective of the gaming landscape in general).

          If you want indie titles, look at ArmA again, then perhaps Hard Reset, which has a lengthy demo. The genre's not as developed because it takes a lot more resources than 2D/2.5D platformers and puzzle games.

          • Out of that list the only thing i might like is Crysis. I tried the original BL and hated it, Far Cry 2 was so terrible, with the so damned predictable spawning and retarded AI, not to mention broken weapon system that I'd be leery of wasting any money on FC3, I can't spend 16 hours a day learning a single character so TF2 is right out, with L4D its too team based and a shitty player fucks up the whole flow, and finally ArmA is too damned realistic, i like a game where I can go more than a foot without cra

            • by ifrag ( 984323 )

              The last game where I actually gave a shat about MP was MechWarrior 4

              If you liked that, then you should probably take a look at Mechwarrior Online (yes, just MP). It's currently in closed beta but founders can all start playing next month I think. The concern I have is I'm not sure how their free-to-play with premium options is going to balance out. Hopefully they lean more towards League of Legends but I'm feeling some WoT influence getting mixed in there.

              Anyway, so far MWO closed beta has 6v6 with what I assume is matchmaking tonnage balancing (I hope). Victory is eith

    • by alen ( 225700 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @06:47PM (#40691687)

      A lot of them don't have any killing or violence so they don't count

      Real games you have to kill

    • You appear to mean "indie" as in companies made up of alumni of major software houses, as opposed to "indie" as in small companies that are truly independent of the video game establishment. There's a difference [].
      • by Onuma ( 947856 )
        I think "indie" merely refers to the practice of a single company both producing and publishing their game. Whether they're alumni of Blizz/Activision/EA/Ubisoft or they've never worked on any gaming projects before, the only difference may be the amount of capital invested in the project.

        That's my $.02, but YMMV.
        • by tepples ( 727027 )

          I think "indie" merely refers to the practice of a single company both producing and publishing their game.

          If "indie" means the publisher owns the developer, then Nintendo is indie.

          Whether they're alumni of Blizz/Activision/EA/Ubisoft or they've never worked on any gaming projects before, the only difference may be the amount of capital invested in the project.

          That and establishment alumni have a lot easier time selling games in certain genres because establishment alumni have a lot easier time getting onto the consoles with which these genres are traditionally associated.

          • by Onuma ( 947856 )
            Partially correct. Nintendo is also a huge corporation with over a hundred years of business. They develop and produce their own hardware and software, as well as license out to 3rd parties for massive amounts of money. At one point, there may have been considered "indie", but not any longer.

            Regardless of their levels of experience, it takes money to make money. Veteran industry people usually have a nice nest egg to utilize, whereas someone just breaking into the industry may not have that luxury.
            • by tepples ( 727027 )
              So what do you recommend that someone breaking into the industry do in order to get a video game noticed? It's my understanding that getting a video game noticed involves at least getting it ported to the platform that players actually use. Or should someone breaking into the industry just develop PC games for years, release them as freeware while working a day job elsewhere, and put the games in a portfolio to get a job in The Industry?
  • now where is my THEME HOSPITAL 2?

  • BS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <dnaltropnidad>> on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @06:34PM (#40691565) Homepage Journal

    there have been many great stories. And there is no reason a sequel can't also be a great story.
    Skyrim, Uncharted, Max Payne, Portal, Portal 2, Half-life EP 2, Dragon Age. ON and on.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by 0123456 ( 636235 )

      Stories in video games suck, at least when the game tries to make me care about them. When I'm playing a video game, I don't need to know why the bad guys are the bad guys, I just need to know where they are.

      • Re:BS (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jhoegl ( 638955 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @06:53PM (#40691773)
        Some people are chess players, yet others play checkers.
        • And some people play checkers with chess pieces so they look smarter.

          (this is paraphrased from @MrGeorgeWallace)

      • Re:BS (Score:5, Funny)

        by MrHanky ( 141717 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @07:12PM (#40691927) Homepage Journal

        Translated into English: Look at me! Look at me! I've got an opinion!

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Of course just like people watch porn...for the story.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Agent ME ( 1411269 )

        I've played the game "Shoot the cyberdemon until it dies!" plenty of times. I'm more than just a bit tired of those games honestly. A game that makes me care about its characters gets a lot of my attention.

      • by Mitreya ( 579078 )

        Stories in video games suck, at least when the game tries to make me care about them. When I'm playing a video game, I don't need to know why the bad guys are the bad guys

        A large number of games, such as Heavy Rain [] would disagree. A good story can significantly enhance gaming experience.

        • Re:BS (Score:4, Insightful)

          by MikeBabcock ( 65886 ) <> on Thursday July 19, 2012 @12:28AM (#40694105) Homepage Journal

          Heavy Rain is a fantastic example. But then again, I also thoroughly enjoyed FEAR2 for the semi-hidden documents along the way that explained the back-story of what was going on. There was actually a lot of thought put into it. I say FEAR2 because the first and third were a lot less well flushed out I found.

          In fact, if I'm going to play a good game that tells a good story and is fun and looks and sounds great, in general its a PS3 game like Heavy Rain, R&C, Uncharted ... I'll throw a bone to Metal Gear, Final Fantasy, and God of War too.

      • I'm the exact opposite. I get rapidly bored of shooting random enemies for no reason. If I wanted to do that, I'd be playing space invaders. I play video games primarily for the entertainment of the progression -- a good story, like in Uncharted or even the silly but well developed plots of Ratchet and Clank games make a huge difference from something mediocre. I picked console games specifically because I haven't seen real innovation in the story telling video game on PCs in a long time. Not since Win

      • You should check out Dear Esther on the Steam sale. It's completely the opposite of what you want from a game :)

        You have 5 controls; Forward, Backward, Strafe Left, Strafe Right, and Zoom. You walk around an island, and a narrator tells you a story. It's not "fun" but it's certainly very enjoyable, like reading a good book.

        I find CoD, Battlefield X, Medal of Honour etc to be repetitive and boring. It's all about watching the numbers grow; More damage, more accuracy, higher RoF, more armour, more recoil c
    • by C0R1D4N ( 970153 )
      Sensational story is sensational. Just to add to the list Batman Arkham Asylum/City, Star Wars TOR (first truly story based MMO), Fallout 3/NV. Those are all established IPs sure, but they are still pretty damn strong. For new IPs you have Mass Effect (2007), Left 4 Dead (2008), Dragon Age (2009), Heavy Rain (2010), LA Noire (2011), Spec Ops The Line (2012) Ok, a LOT of games were sequels or part of established IPs, but good IPs aren't really something you can force out. When you try to, it generally does
      • by PRMan ( 959735 )
        Exactly. If he was talking about the early 2000s, where everything was a lame first-person shooter, then he might have a point. But the Lego series, Portal series and games like the Arkham series are changing all that.
    • I haven't played any of these, but my kids/wife have. I've watched bits here and there.

      Skyrim, Fable and Dragon Age and one you didn't mention, Kingdoms of Amulor (sp) are all similar and formulaic.

      I would prefer (if I played the games) Mass Effect series because it is a space shooter game, with RPG bits tossed in. And at least the RPG bits carry over from one game to the next.

      • Re:BS (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Smauler ( 915644 ) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @07:38AM (#40696297)

        What? "They should stop making games like X, they should make games like Y, but I wouldn't play it anyway."

        The games you mention are not similar, apart from the fact they're all RPGs. Just because you looked over someone's shoulder and they look similar, does not make them similar (though since they are split between first and third person, they don't even look the same). I know I personally would probably hate 2 of those games, but enjoy the other 2, because of their substantially different gameplay.

  • I loved Witcher and Witcher 2. The fiction/story in the first one was great. World with shadows of gray.
    • by pjtp ( 533932 )

      Yes, both are fantastic games. I love that they are aimed at a mature audience. It is nice to see that there are game developers that still take risks.

  • by xavdeman ( 946931 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @06:39PM (#40691619)
    hasn't played enough games outside of the best-sellers. There's lot's of games with well written stories and intriguing worlds that were all new IPs. From the top of my head:
    -Alan Wake
    -The Secret World (just released!)
    And that's just the big, well-known titles. I'm sure if you start reading a quality gaming blog like Rock Paper Shotgun you'll be up-to-date on some great indie titles as well in no time at all, sir. (also take a look at things like the Humble Indie Bundle, sometimes these bundles contain really well written adventure games (and they always contain games with Linux support)

    We've also seen the resurrection of franchises like Fallout, and Deus Ex, while not having extremely well written dialogue (with the possible exception of Fallout: New Vegas, which was made by Obsidian instead of Bethesda), they are still worth playing for the world and the story the players themselves can write through their actions.
    • by tepples ( 727027 )
      Is Portal especially a new IP? I thought Portal's story [] was set in the Half-Life universe, as a gaiden game [] of sorts.
      • 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.

    • some other games, inside and outside of the best sellers, that had stories somewhere between decent/pretty good and awesome/tell your mom:
      -Batman: Arkham Asylum/City
      -Mass Effect
      -Dead Space
      -I Am Alive
      -Red Dead Redemption
      -Assassin's Creed
      -and many more

      a lot of people will disagree with me, but i also enjoyed the stories in the Hitman series, Splinter Cell series (Double Agent and Conviction were good, almost great, imo) and Max Payne series. even God of War and Darksiders had enough story
    • by Nemyst ( 1383049 )

      You've forgotten perhaps one of the best-written games in a long time: The Witcher 2. One of the best RPGs of the last five years for sure.

      You play the game for the story. Saying story doesn't matter is ridiculously shortsighted.

  • by heptapod ( 243146 ) <> on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @06:45PM (#40691673) Journal

    One of the bad aspects of modern gaming is games becoming interactive DVDs. Press X, beat the bad guy and earn the privilege of watching a half-hour cutscene that tells you to press O to defeat the next boss to watch the next cutscene.

    Create games that are engrossing with gameplay and don't require much of an investment on the behalf of the player.

    • by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @06:55PM (#40691789)

      You can blame that model on JRPGs -- freedom of choice is taken away because like to pretend their narrative is supposed to the focused -- but they forgot the first rule -- you are making a fucking game, NOT a movie.

      As Chris Hecker recently said
        "It annoys me when people focus on the linear content in games, rather than the gameplay. We are always going to be shitty movies if we keep emphasizing that direction." []

      • While I agree with you on the point that games are headed in that direction (focusing more on linear content), I would argue you shouldn't "blame JRPGs." The older games (Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, etc...) had GREAT gameplay as well as a good (albeit linear) storyline. They are not mutually exclusive.

        If there is linear content, I'd personally prefer that both it AND the gameplay be good =)
      • Actually, the japanese make games that are essentially visual novels, and those games are very good if you accept them for what they are.

      • I disagree to some extent. For one, I can't stand the alternative which is for the story to not take place at all or make me hunt for it.

        I like games but after maybe an hour of a single player game I'm just bored of the gameplay mechanic and want to know how the story is going to end. The only reason I've ever finished a single player campaign is for the narrative. If there is no narrative I care about--give me multi-player so that I can at least play against proper opponents and the satisfaction of d

    • by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @06:57PM (#40691805)
      Pretty much. That seems to be the problem with this generation, at least for me. Either a game requires very little input of the player (Final Fantasy XIII anyone?) or it is such a vast world and requires lots of time to fully enjoy it (like Skyrim, and Minecraft to a lesser extent).

      All I really want is a fun game that is:

      A) challenging

      B) doesn't require much investment

      C) Is rewarding

      D) has enough content to justify its price

      Today it seems like the focus is either on the (really) hardcore gamer or casual non-gamers.
    • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @07:05PM (#40691879) Journal

      The real shame is the decline of the adventure genre, which derived from interactive fiction, which was all about story. The best adventure games told stories through their gameplay, with puzzles making sense within the plot, and advancing the plot through the solving of puzzles. If you want to see how to tell a story though a game, go back and look at games like Secret of Monkey Island, Loom, Quest for Glory, or Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers.

      • I heard the Walking Dead video game series (released as episodes) is a good recent example of interactive fiction, with the story being shaped by your decisions.

        I've only played a couple of minutes, but it seemed decent.

      • by ATMAvatar ( 648864 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @07:49PM (#40692255) Journal
        Agreed. That's why I ended up snagging the Quest for Glory and Space Quest series games over at []. It's dirt cheap to get the older games - definitely worth the money if you aren't particularly stuck on state-of-the-art graphics.
      • The real shame is the decline of the adventure genre, which derived from interactive fiction, which was all about story.

        A great genre that engages your imagination. These modern games in question are obviously not inspired by the art of storytelling.

        Its more like boilerplate text they use to glue cutscenes.

      • by Nemyst ( 1383049 )

        Good thing Double Fine Adventure has kicked up a bit of a frenzy then! On top of that, I've also seen a new Leisure Suit Larry and a new Tex Murphy game, plus something from the guys behind Space Quest. Also, Jane Jensen, the creator of the Gabriel Knight series, has successfully funded Moebius, which is a spiritual successor to the beloved franchise.

        And need I remind you that DFA is made by Ron Gilbert, of Monkey Island fame, and Tim Schafer, the brains behind Grim Fandango?

    • by Onuma ( 947856 )
      I see you've played MGS4!

      Fantastic game, but holy SHIT it wasted a lot of time with cutscenes...
      • I had Shenmue II for the Xbox, for some reason. The game starts with you getting off of a boat n a cutscene. Walking forward five feet along the dock triggers a cutscene. I actually really liked the game, but they probably should have just rolled those two cinematics together.
    • by Nemyst ( 1383049 )

      They exist, you just need to look a little further.

      If you want harder, more challenging, more interactive games, you have many choices: spectacle fighter Bayonetta comes to mind, or precise platformer Super Meat Boy, or ridiculously tough action game Dark Souls, or even SpaceChem if puzzles are your thing. There's the extremely unforgiving strategy game AI War: Fleet Command. There's indie turn-based tactics game Frozen Synapse. There's hard as nails tower defence game Revenge of the Titans. There's unforgi

  • by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @06:49PM (#40691715)
    Where was the rise of fiction in video games? We look at the previous generation with rose-tinted glasses by ignoring all the crap games and just looking at the gems.

    Every generation complains about the same thing: too many sequels, not enough original properties. I mean, 5 years later we will be looking back and looking at this generation with longing.
    • by Sloppy ( 14984 )

      We look at the previous generation with rose-tinted glasses

      Seriously. Ms Pac Man? Donkey Kong Junior? Asteroids Deluxe?! Race Drivin'? Quit rehashing the same old mythoses over and over again! We've already seen those worlds|universes, new PoVs or not.

  • by senorpoco ( 1396603 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @06:49PM (#40691723)
    Games today have abandoned story and character development for fancy graphics. Gone are the rich and nuanced tapestries of MarioKart and Gradius. The complex character development of super punchout and the beautifully crafted narrative of Earthworm Jim.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wierd_w ( 1375923 )

      While I *do* get the joke, (no whooshes please, it's lame.) This is a false comparison.

      You are compairing "superfiscial plot with sparkly graphics: then" with "superfiscial plot and sparkly graphics:now".

      You should compare "text mode story adventure game" against "pac man", and "massively open ended plot games, like daggerfall (mid 90s, has different, but related endings)" against "doom and duke nukem".

      As the article points out, there aren't many of the "story focused" games out there. He pines for "text ad

    • Games today have abandoned story and character development for fancy graphics. Gone are the rich and nuanced tapestries of MarioKart and Gradius. The complex character development of super punchout and the beautifully crafted narrative of Earthworm Jim.

      I strongly disagree. Games like Angry Birds with it's Romeo and Juliet story, without the Juliet, explore very deep themes like how to I angle this shot to take out the pig in the back. The birds and pigs are obviously the Capulets and Montague fighting a feud that can only end in tragedy, and a lot of bruised pigs.

  • This is cyclical.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArcadeNut ( 85398 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @06:55PM (#40691791) Homepage

    Happens to every platform of gaming. Arcade Games, Consoles, PC's, etc...

    In the early days of Arcade Games, every game was unique (Asteroids, Donkey Kong, Pac Man, Robotron). As games stood out as top money makers, they started emulating them. Why risk a new idea, when an existing one is close to a sure thing? The longer the platform is around the less unique the games will become. Go into any modern Arcade (that is still open), and you're going to find that 90% of the games fall into Drivers, Fighters, Shooters. With maybe a couple games outside of that.

    • Go into any modern Arcade (that is still open), and you're going to find that 90% of the games fall into Drivers, Fighters, Shooters.

      I see redemption games taking over. But driving, light gun shooting, and dancing are popular because they use input devices that a lot of people don't have, and fighting is popular because of the dynamics of in-person competition that anonymous online multiplayer can't match.

  • by idontgno ( 624372 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @07:02PM (#40691853) Journal

    "It's been a poor, poor five years for fiction in the video game industry...."

    Nonsense, Victor. Gaming magazine reviews have raised High Fantasy to an unprecedented new art form, and DRM has been more gruesome and compelling than the best Horror gaming.

  • by Lulfas ( 1140109 )
    And yet World of Warcraft remains one of the biggest games in the world.
    • To be fair, WoW still has a very thought-out and detailed universe (absurd and eclectic to some extent, but not too much), with great characters, interesting plots and great "theatrical experiences" in key moments - especially starting from WotLK. Of course it's not some "deep" game like Heavy Rain, but still, if you care to read and listen (and notice all of the small details) you would find it far from mindless grind-factory it is sometimes portrayed as.

      And again, there are a lot of books and various f
  • Well, great graphics came; the worlds that came with these graphics are not up to the level of the graphics.

    It doesn't make any sense that game stories should suddenly get more complicated because graphics got better.
    It used to be that games with the best/most original gameplay and story would be the gems that stood out in review and among peers. Now that graphics came into its own as a factor of quality, there are other games that stand out without necessarily having the best gameplay. Which means you might have to look for games you want to play instead of just taking the highest-rated games. But they're there.

  • 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.
  • Is it any wonder? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bearded_yak ( 457170 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @07:10PM (#40691911) Homepage

    I'm not surprised by the state of the industry. The decline began a few years ago when a new generation of players chose war/battle/FPS games over First Person Action games (What's FPA? Think Myst, kids. If you don't know what that is, you know where to look).

    In my opinion, war-like gaming appeals to a base survival and agression instinct and can indeed be involving, but eventually becomes numbing and the player is unsatisfied until another game provides a stronger instinctual reaction, which becomes more and more difficult to achieve. As this happens, interest falls off. I've seen it happen to people time and time again.

    Storyline-based gaming based primarily on a world and interactions within that world activates more of the creative portion of the mind, digging out the player's imagination from under the clutter that schooling and obsessive parenting buried it under. The abilities of the imagination are endless and a properly planned First Person Action game uses as much of the player's imagination as it does game mechanics, ensuring that the user is partially responsible for creating their own experience.

    For the most part, I think the folks at Frictional Games [] might understand how to use the best of both better than anybody. While their games may not appeal to today's most vehement FPS gamers, once those same people reach an insurmountable numbness with their own genre, those who try the kind of product Frictional puts out could find some comfort, as Frictional builds on a mix of both survival instinct and imagination.

    • Meanwhile, the original Counter-Strike (released in 1999) is still the 4th most played game on Steam nowadays. So much for interest falling off.

    • by Mitreya ( 579078 )

      The decline began a few years ago when a new generation of players chose war/battle/FPS games over First Person Action games

      I also mourn the disappearance of turn based games (i.e. X-COM-like). Nowdays a game is considered "turn based" if you can easily pause it at any time.

    • Most adventure games had illogical puzzles. This killed them, not another genre. Not everyone wants to have to work out that if you ram the car into the tree the bird flies off and the cat chases it which knocks a pot off a window ledge landing on a dog making it unconscious so you can take the snot out of its nose to use as glue on your temporary security card etc etc. That is not fun that is just stupid.

  • by nebular ( 76369 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @07:33PM (#40692097)

    Right now the cost of game development makes it hard to play to a smaller market. The major distributors and studios are loath to invest in something that won't appeal to the largest market possible. Indie games are starting to get some traction but it's a long way off. The games industry is the same boat the movie industry was in the 50s. The big studios control and squeeze every last dime out of the product, and they don't take chances on anything.

    What we need are a few star developers to step in and push for a larger piece of the pie and then spread that around to indie stuff. Just like the bigwigs in hollywood do right now. Those multi-million dollar pay-cheques the stars get don't all go into their pockets, a lot goes to niche projects

    • What we need are a few star developers to step in and push for a larger piece of the pie and then spread that around to indie stuff.

      I don't know if that will work. The major asset the game companies have isn't their 'star' developers (who is a star developer now?), it's their libraries. All of the major game companies have a good set of 3D game libraries that lets lesser programmers create a game, that a non-programmer designs. So if one programmer decides to become John Romero, he will probably end up like John Romero.

  • Although there is plenty to lament that games are failing in story there are still bright spots. Plenty of smaller games seem to be able to focus on crafting story and environments that the AAA games can't seem to afford to spend time on. In particular, "Journey" is one of the first games in a long long long time where I cared that another character "died" let alone that other character was a player. Just this one game is a demonstration of the power of a well crafted game without blowing a big budget and i

    • Defender - Stargate
    • Scramble - Cobra
    • Donkey Kong, DK jr, DK III
    • Pac Man, Ms. Pac, Pac Man Jr, Super Pac

    And on and on. That was 30 years ago! Its kind of funny what happens when something makes a lot of money... a sequel is made. Books, movies, games, tv series. Its just the way it is. And yet, new games and stories still come out.
    But you know what? People WANT sequels, they want more of a good thing. I just spent some money on Defense Grid 2 kickstarter as I want more Defense Grid.
    I like new stories, but

  • Good acting is expensive. Good plotting is complex. Game-makers have limited resources. Most developers seem to want to put more effort/time/money into polishing the shiniez than producing an elegant story. Probably because the reviews will slate them solidly if the game looks a bit ropey, but weak acting, plot etc. gets much less abuse.

    I was put off ever playing Heavy Rain when I learned that there's only one killer. What are you going to do - play it twice and act surprised at the ending? I'm sur
  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @03:39AM (#40695187) Journal

    The article is torture to read but the poor sap seems unable to grasp that the word fiction only means something is fictional. It doesn't mean fantasy, it doesn't mean sci-fi (these are in fact sub categories of fiction) and it most certainly does NOT mean good.

    Even harlequin and 10 cents western novel is fiction. So are some of the greatest literary works. Fiction = fiction good or bad. And so, modern computer games have plenty of fiction. "Harry went to work", as long as I am not talking about a real Harry and even then it could be fiction if Harry didn't go to work.

    And a sequel is just as much fiction as the original. Maybe he meant there isn't enough originality? What did he work on? A stealth action game? Yawn, been done to DEATH!


    You are the once-trusted bodyguard of the Empress. Framed for her murder and driven by revenge, you must become an infamous assassin, known only by the disturbing mask that has become your calling card.

    As you navigate a world torn apart by plague and oppressed by a government armed with strange new technologies, the truth behind your betrayal is as murky as the waters surrounding the city.

    The choices you make will determine the fate of the world, but no matter what happens your old life is gone forever.

    I get what he means. No originality whatsoever. It is a blessing the lead isn't suffering from amnesia. Let me guess, at one point you are captured and loose all your weapons?

  • The Last Story (which I have on pre-order)....

    Xenoblade in particular was very engaging story-wise, blending Norse Myth, Greek Philosophy and science fiction elements (readers of Jack Chalker in particular will recognize elements).


  • by TheSkepticalOptimist ( 898384 ) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @10:44AM (#40698539)

    Bottom line is that content "creators" have adopted a business model where cloning shit that has a proven track record of success is preferred over venturing into new territories to build a new franchise or even just create that one-off masterpiece.

    Of course the biggest issue is that society (or mostly teenagers) gobbles up this shit and makes it profitable.

    This is why 9 out of 10 movies are pure derivative garbage
    This is why every game is a sequel to a previous game
    This is why every book is about vampires, werewolves or has dragons.
    This is why every TV show is about crime scene investigation

    There is a general lack of creativity in Hollywood, and by extension, ALL entertainment industries. When you can produce cookie-cuter products that make gobs of money because their is a market of addled minds craving nothing new, why even bother attempting at something that might fail just to have integrity?

    Any writer, director or producer of and entertainment that wants to maintain any sort of creative integrity should never work on a sequel or prequel or take on a project that involves similar IP to other franchises. I don't care who you are in the industry, produce a sequel, prequel, remake, or copying someone else's IP is just lazy and overtly greedy.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"