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  1. Taleweaver

    OP Taleweaver Storywriter

    Dec 23, 2009
    (note: this is my entry to the GBATemp amateur writing competition)

    The nostalgic view of the past

    When talking about retro games, most aficionados sort of assume that every other game released on old systems had the quality of super mario or Zelda. While I do like older games (I recently played through gameboy's gargoyle's quest and mystic quest), I'm not blind for their flaws. For every classic, there were easily a dozen clones or games that were unremarkable or bad. Yes, nintendo's seal of approval ensured a certain quality base line, but this was only compared to games that came BEFORE that era.
    Even harder to remember are the huge draughts. Games were much more expensive and there weren't as many of them, so you better hoped that uncle got ahold of a GOOD game for your birthday or you had to play bubsy 3D for the entire summer.
    Games were always a form of art, but looking at old games it was clear that the industry had to develop some standards before it could blossom. Most things we take for granted in today's games tended to result from experiments with games that became classics.

    The abundancy of the present

    I haven't done extensive research, but I think it's safe to say pretty much all game developers have played video games themselves. This isn't as obvious, as it used to be that creating games was so expensive that you'd need a large company to pull it off (which early gamers usually didn't have). With time, the industry has slowly evolved in at least three important ways:
    1) the technological sense. Moore's law not only ensures that boundaries keep being pushed graphical or processing power departments, but also that technology becomes less and less a bottleneck of what games are capable to properly render.
    2) an evergrowing audience. In the nineties, gamers over thirty weren't as common as today. The wii and mobile phones (I'm looking at you, nokia's snake) further ensured that more and more people have played video games. Nowadays, games that aim at elder people or women aren't doomed from the get-go.
    3) better tools than ever. Programming languages evolve as well. C++ was a major improvement over assembly. Premade game engines (like frostbite or unreal engine) ensured game developers didn't have to reinvent the wheel. And game creating languages such as game maker or unity further ease the process of creation. A similar evolution can be seen on the distribution side of things: gone are the days that developers' only choice was a game trade show to convince publishers to fund their product enough so it could be sold in stores (those boxes, manuals and physical floppies and disks didn't produce themselves). Now they just need to convince the world through youtube that their game is worth purchasing from an online platform such as steam.

    The end result of these evolution? Games, games and more games. The indie phenomenom would never existed if at least two of these factors weren't in play, but this is a blessing for large companies as well. In the end, all companies make in the business to make games, and the less they have to worry about technical possibilities or whether they'll find a market for it, the better they can focus on the parts that matter.

    Don't get me wrong: there are certainly disadvantages to each trend. Due to available tools, devs are less inclined to properly tune their game. The evergrowing audience means that malicious companies can profit if they can draw more interest than their game deserves while more gems of games remain undiscovered. And most of all: the ever-expanding technology means that it becomes pretty expensive if you want to make a bleeding edge game (yesterday's powerhouses - Crysis - can now be played on average PC's).

    But all in all, there is absolutely no reason to complain. There are more games being made than ever. How can that be a bad thing?

    The uncertainty of the future

    So we're drowning in games. Where will this lead us? At the very least to more diverse games. Beyond that it's hard to say. On hindsight, that game about that Italian plumber who grows in size when eating mushrooms was a stroke of genius, but before playtesting, even game developers have no idea whether their current project will result in a timeless classic or a dud in a sea of forgotten games (daikatana, anyone? ...anyone?).
    There's no predicting on the hardware side either: game consoles nowadays have about the same horsepower as the Apollo 11 but it's only fully used when playing reboots of well-known franchises. For a time it seemed motion controls were the future of gaming, but it ended up at best secluding a niche market. There are more smartphones than humans on this planet and hardly less games available on them, but it's hindered by their controls and/or the low production value ("how good can a game be if it has to show adds to even make a revenue?"). Virtual reality is close at hand...for the last decade or so.

    I don't throw these facts around to feel smart but to point out that the bald announcements game devs throw around at game shows are at best accidentally right. If you ask me, in the long run, it'll be the subtle changes that end up changing the industry. Nobody predicted wifi, but suddenly it was there. Almost as if it sneaked up on us. All of a sudden we had wireless controllers and now we're streaming our stuff to mobile devices. Who knows what might be next? All it takes is a few killer apps or interesting uses that draw attention of the audiences and boom...a new genre is born (where the hell did this "hacker game" come from, to name an example). I'd end this writing with something like "I can't wait"...but I'm sure it's already happening. It'll float to the surface eventually, thus enrichening our already rich game environment.

    Happy gaming, everyone. :)
  2. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

    Nov 21, 2005
    United Kingdom
    I have considered things like this at points, mainly whether books/film/paintings/music have already "made it" and thus not as troubled by developments in tech, but I am not sure I can agree with a few things said here

    Game developers hopefully have played a game, in the same way I hope a film maker has seen a film. That said there has been a fair few "failed" film makers rocking up in games of late and I am not sure that works.

    On large companies then I might argue the opposite. The whole bedroom coding thing being a prime example, even the titans of the C64 were often a fairly small bunch. Today you may well have a person with the sole full time responsibility to be skybox animation artist but back then.

    I reckon there could well be a mathematical formula that produces games. We see such things in music now if you want ( http://artsites.ucsc.edu/faculty/cope/Emily-howell.htm ), and it cuts the other way with drugs and materials having their effects predicted by computers doing atomic modelling.
    Deleted User and brickmii82 like this.
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