Sunday Analytical: Game Originality

Ramblings

Well, it is Sunday here in the United States, and I have another analytical article for you guys. I say analytical, because these are based heavily in my analysis or the analysis of a group which I then in turn analyze in further depth. Some of you may find them interesting, while others of you don’t really care. Either way, everything you are about to read is based on analysis, true stories, opinion and a bit of fact.

Games can’t stay original forever, so developers take ideas, improve on them, and claim them as their own. I’ve noticed this happening a lot recently so I decided to make it into a Sunday analytical. Below is an analytical starting on the concept of how original a game truly is and moves towards how originality and the game industry shall continue.

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Game Originality

How much can a game borrow from another game before it is no longer original? Many games are out there, so many that it is extremely difficult to keep every concept of your game original. Just by creating an FPS or RPG you are taking a previous idea and using it for your own game. These two examples are genres now, but at one point they were an original idea created by a game developer for the first time. As time moves on, it becomes increasingly hard to stick with your own ideas. So what developers do, is they take the control scheme or main idea of one type of game and put it within their own. A problem occurs when they do this, anyone who has played the other game or heard of it will say that the idea is stolen. To combat this, a developer must add on to the idea to make it better and attempt to make it their own. This cycle is continued with all game concepts with very few original ideas actually popping up.

Over the years games have fallen into certain genres and the only thing that keeps a game unique is the gameplay mechanics and the story. Each genre has a specific general gameplay and developers add on to the general gameplay with their own ideas to make their game their own. A game is instantly put in a certain genre. For example, a game is put into the FPS genre just because it is a first person shooter. The only thing that gets a person to buy another FPS game is either a sequel or a new gameplay mechanic that is added into another game of that genre. Even the additions get taken eventually and put into other developer’s games. The control scheme that became famous for FPS games from Call of Duty has been taken as the control scheme for other FPS games as well, such as Borderlands and F.E.A.R.

As more games are created and gameplay mechanics get perfected the only thing to set games apart is the story. Even the story eventually runs thin and that’s when remakes are created. Recently a lot of classic games have been brought back to life, and this is an easy way to make money off of something that was already created. Instead of reusing the same gameplay mechanics and putting some half baked story along with it, developers are able to rerelease a game that came out a long time ago and it will be bought because it has fallen into a new genre. Perfect Dark is no longer just an FPS it is now a classic. Mega Man is no longer a just platformer it is now a retro game.

There is no problem rereleasing an old game as new. It all depends on how it is done. Perfect Dark for example, was given better graphics, extra medals, more unlockables, and online multiplayer. By buying the remake of Perfect Dark you are buying back the memories that you had within the game as well as the possibility for new memories. There is also the wrong way to rerelease games, as seen in the Game Room for the Xbox 360. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with buying these games; some of them are flat out fun. Everyone has a classic game that they love and some people want to easily access these games, but in the case of the Game Room they quite literally are the exact same game which was released way back when. This bold move reduces the actual audience the game is for. I don’t know what Microsoft saw in the Game Room, but they severely limited their audience. As I see it, only two types of people will buy any of those classic games. The first group are those that grew up with the games, this group has tons of memories put in them and want to relive those memories. The second group are those that are basic gamers who have the money and want to play a game in the Game Room that catches their fancy. The reason these games aren’t purchased as much as another rerelease is because nothing new is added. Sure the games have the Game Room interface, but without anything new added onto the release they aren’t able to sell as well. The reason is simply because the exact game is already out there, and anyone who does a little digging will be able to find it for free.

Can games remain in this permanent loop of old titles coming back as new? Every new breakthrough in gaming leads to a new type of games.  It all started with games that only used buttons, to the games that using directional pads, to the games with 1 joystick, to the games with dual joysticks. Every new technological breakthrough enables new gameplay mechanics which bring a new era of gaming. But developers will always want more money and will recreate their old games in this new format. Eventually we will be able to play Perfect Dark or Mega Man in a virtual setting where we are within the game.

Originality only lasts so long and when it runs out new gameplay mechanics have to be implemented. Even new gameplay mechanics will run out soon. What happens when we have reached our limit? What else is there to add when we are actually within the game? It is true that the game industry is growing, but there is a limit for everything. Eventually they will be remaking Modern Warfare 2 and it will become a classic; but you will be inside of the game playing online with your friends and actually be able to interact with them. On a side note, that actually sounds like fun! I can see people creating some very interesting games with that technology. Imagine a chat room where you can play D&D with people across continents! Natal is supposedly able to scan objects into a game; a skateboard was used as an example in one of its videos. What if instead you could scan items in, or download anything from a vast databank online; such as a monopoly board, or a movie which you watch in a virtual movie theater? The possibilities of what to do could be endless, and originality would only be limited to what is inside your head. Sadly, we are a long way from that.

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  • Enzo3000

    I think as newer technologies are released we’ll see more original title’s coming out. The direction of motion control we seem to be heading in had endless possibilities once it has been fine tuned.

    Despite some games having aspects of originality, most games are very similar which is why it is such a breath of fresh air when a new, unique and original game is released.

  • Yes and speaking about Motion Control if you live in Australia and want to be a part of the Microsoft Project Natal testing on the 19th April .. check this out :

    http://www.capsulecomputers.com.au/2010/04/microsoft-xbox-test-subjects-needed/

    🙂

    Great article Radical One !! A most enjoyable read !!! Looking forward to next weeks Sunday’s Analytical !! 🙂

  • Andrenekoi

    I don’t know if motion controls will really create more original games. Using the Wii as an example, there were some creative games, but it was just the minority.

    I think the biggest problem with originality is not the lack of creativity, but the risk involved these days, every big game now costs a lot, more than ever, and trying different things is always a big risk for them, that’s why we just keep seeing the same style games again and again. For the giant developers it’s more difficult to try something original, only some of them have the conditions to do some risks, like Valve, Bioware and EA.

    The originality in my view is currently on the smaller devs, indie developers, they have a lot more of freedom to create what they want, how they really want, and that results in some amazing games, they are receiving a big recognition too, publishing much of their games digitally. EA itself is publishing a lot of independent developers games using the “EA Partners” partnership program.

    Portable systems is another place where originality works well too, since these games normally cost lower to make, or just because these platforms have an open minded style for developing games, resulting in some great and original games.

    We are going a way which will be more and more difficult to see originality on the blockbuster games, but it’s more because of the high risks, as i said. At the same time, we will always have these independent developers releasing some extremely original titles, and the portable system were we always see originality having a good health too.

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