See the video version of this entry here.
When I was younger, maybe about 9 or 10 years ago it seemed the gaming industry was obsessed with being “innovative” and “unique”.
In fact, looking back its has been this was since the very start of gaming. The mess of controller design that was the Atari and Intellivision era makes that perfectly clear. Later, you had attempts at bringing the headache inducing stereoscopic 3D to your home’s television set and later with things like an 8 processor console with the Sega Saturn, VR that also cause headaches: The Virtual Boy. Finally rounding off the late 90s and early 2000s with the NGage a cell phone that barely runs tomb raider.
Today we have in recent memory “innovative” products like the Ouya, Steam Controller, and most recently Google Stadia.
Many and even all these examples are extremely forward thinking or at the very least, uh unique. An excess of controller face buttons in the past is mirrored in a way with gaming mice that have macro keys on its side, VR has finally made its push into the realm of not just feasibility, but popularity as well, and as for video game streaming, well, Stadia would do well if we wait another 5 to 10 years or so for launch.
While I am simply talking about the wider scope of gaming products and services in general this phenomenon is easy to see in game design as well.
Remember the Kinect, or motion controlled Zelda games?
Remember Heavy Rain?
Remember Star Fox Zero?
All very uh, unique for sure, innovative, well, innovation requires the idea to be adopted by the greater whole of the industry, and uh last time I checked, nobody was wanting to copy the dual screen action of the 7th or 8th best Starfox game… depending on who you ask.
Also, no one is trying to make a uh, movie? Like Quantum Dream.
Along with the majority of FMV games, these are just not remembered very fondly.
Often this is due to poor execution, which I have discussed here before, or simply bad timing.
I actually even liked Starfox Zero but even I recognize that the game is a lazy rehash of the first game, again and would be so much better if they didn’t bet the family farm on this “innovative” and “fresh” new system.
I think the biggest culprit in this “innovation” conundrum us seeing a particular idea in a light that makes it seem to its author as something that will change the whole game and they simply just try to push that one experimental idea. Without a solid foundation to build it upon.
Sometimes making something unique and “fresh” isn’t always the best idea especially if it hijacks all other aspects of a game’s development and design cause sometimes it just comes out real flat and then you end up with something like Boyhood… (did you know that took 12 years to make?!)