Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The sad truth

Recently I came across a very interesting article over at about how to make a perfect action video game that will sell well in todays market. You can check out the article below:

Now that article is partially joking while also being a bit serious as well. The truth is, I do agree with the article for the most part. To sum up the article, they are saying that to make a successful video game you need the war torn bad ass main hero, some hot chick who serves no real point, sick weapons that blow things up and a story line thats sole purpose is to just get the main character to different areas.

Like I said, this isn't to far from the truth. If you look at the top 10 selling video games from the last 10 years, you will notice that all three Halo games as well as all three Grand Theft Auto games are on there. In a way, that is a sad state of affairs. I am not saying those games aren't great by any means, but they are very formulaic. Despite having lots of flashy graphics, big guns and decent stories, they are all still the same when broken down.

I could really rip into those games, but there really wouldn't be much of a point in doing so since even I think they are really well made games. But what really scares me about all this is that with these sorts of games, good story telling is getting thrown out the door.

Who here can tell me what all three Halo's were about besides blasting aliens? How about the background story for Kratos in God of War? What about the reasons behind what the main characters in the GTA series do? What the bloody heck is Gears of War about? Hell, can anyone tell me who Dante's father was in the Devil May Cry series?

Thats the point I am making here. Instead of players being apart of the game's story, the story for each game takes a back seat to the action. Most people I know who play these games tend to skip the cut scenes or cinematics just to get back to the action. Now I love action games as much as the last man, but I still think pure action can't be the only thing that drives games anymore.

I honestly do wonder if the directors behind these games actually care that people don't care about their game's story and that most people just want to kill stuff instead. Honestly, some of those great action games also have solid stories as well, but no one ever pays attention to them it seems. I think the problem is that the stories aren't included that much in the game play. The way these games are done are usually in a way so its get the main character from Point A to Point B and kill everything in between. Since that is how the game plays out, why would someone pay attention to the story?

Stories need to be more incorporated into the games I would say. Give a reason for players to actually want to know the story and care about what quest the character is on. After playing Metal Gear Solid 4 for a bit, I think Kojima is one of the few people who can actually do that. He does it very heavy handedly, but he still was able to get people to pay attention to the story and to the characters. Granted the story is all over the place and there are a butt ton of characters, I think my point still stands. If Kojima ever did another game with this sort of game play and story immersion and scaled back how insane and twisted he made the story, he would make a amazing game that had a near perfect balance of action and story.

I know I sound a bit bitter about action games, but I actually do love to play them as well. I just want something a bit more to them is all. I want to be apart of the story and not just see it sitting on the back burner like some bad stew. I miss the days of when action/adventure games actually made the players feel like they were apart of the game's story and not just waiting around for more action to happen. I partially blame this new mentality on many of the game designers out there as well as many of the video game marketing departments. Instead of actually trying to do their jobs and market smart or good games, they just want to market the big action ones out there that require zero marketing skills to do and know will sell well thus earning them a bonus.

So that is the sad truth really. I really wish designers would start to regain some of their former glory and create great stories and include them in their games, but it honestly doesn't seem like that is gonna happen. All these new action games are turning into Michael Bay movies and I swear I can feel the IQ's of my fellow gamers dropping every new release.

-P. Knight

No comments: