Jimquisition: Innovation - Gaming's Snake Oil

Gizmo1990

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Hard to disagree with all that. Also really nice to see some love for Lost Odyssey. I love that game, to me it is the only good Jrpg to come out this gen and as a FF fan it was nice to enjoy a Jrpg for a change as I am of the opinion that each FF after X has been the gaming equivalent of Dog shit.
 

Phoenixmgs_v1legacy

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ThingWhatSqueaks said:
-It hadn't forced me to hold the Dualshock 3 perfectly parallel to the ground and perfectly still to avoid countless splatter deaths.

I'm sure there are a few others things things but it's been a while since I played it. You might notice that item #3 is pretty much innovation for innovations sake. My reflexes are excellent but my hands are not so steady and any mechanic that kills me 10+ times during the goddamn tutorial that's introducing said mechanic can fuck right off.
You can turn off the stupid sixaxis controls. Only a few games don't let you like Lair (until the patch years later) or Uncharted where throwing grenades took forever because of the blasted sixaxis controls. I've only liked the sixaxis controls in Flower.
 

LordLundar

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This could really be expanded to anything that a developer goes tunnel vision on. Look at Crytek. They're so obsessed with making "system killers" in terms of fidelity that the games ultimately end up as very good looking but ultimately shallow. Elecronic arts with the multiplayer push and we get SimCity 2013. Then we see the dear departed THQ who constantly banked EVERYTHING on single titles.

Tunnel vision is a HORRIBLE thing for developers and publishers. Any time this happens they need to be smacked up the side of the head, not praised for it.
 

Scars Unseen

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In all fairness, Mirror's Edge is fucking spectacular. Much like Dragon's Dogma, the flaws in the game stem largely from the fact that it is a new IP. If it looks rough in comparison to its contemporaries, it is only because its contemporaries are all fucking sequels. They've already had their rough games and changed what didn't work.

Half Life wasn't a flawless shining jewel. It did things that weren't really being done in shooters at the time(focusing on story being a large part of that). Deus Ex was not without it's problems. Daggerfall was a fucking mess(though so has every other game Bethesda has put out, bless their souls). Just because a game did innovate doesn't mean that innovation is the source of the game's problems.

Now Final Fantasy? Yeah, they don't have an excuse. Squeenix just completely lost sight of what Final Fantasy is. And then too some new concepts just don't pan out. Not every new IP has potential(one reason why publishers are so hesitant to fund them these days). Some games are just shit. Others are merely shit stained. Give Capcom a chance to clean the shit off Dragon's Dogma and we'll have an awesome new series to look forward to. I'd say the same about Mirror's Edge, but I don't think even the most die hard fans of that game are holding their breath for a sequel anymore.
 

Jimothy Sterling

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Apr 18, 2011
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Jim I get your point but the games you're using as examples are a select few. You should just clarify big dumb publishers should not force questionable innovation and leave it at that. Indie developers don't do innovation for your sake. They do it because they want to leave them alone and for godsake leave David Cage the F** alone. Why in the hell would you attack the only major studio still making Adventure games???? They obviously aren't in it for the money. Stop being a wank. Also leave Mirrors edge alone. It was a neat and beautiful game on PC. With Physx on =*drool*.
 

Jimothy Sterling

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alphamalet said:
Jim,

I don't think many people are on the other side of this issue.

Innovation for the sake of it is bad. It will usually lead to something frivolous that is not properly implemented within the system it exists.
Doing the same thing over and over is bad.
Finding a good balance between the two to keep something fresh yet familiar is usually good.

If people praised innovation for the sake of it, like you postulate in this video, then gamers everywhere would have praised the Wii for its "innovative" controls. That obviously didn't happen.

This sort of seemed like a non-issue to make a video out of.
Considering the pundits and devs I named in the video, not to mention the notes I've already received from watchers disagreeing with this episode, I don't believe the video's as worthless as implied, m'good chap!
 

dbenoy

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Good games require novelty. It's the reason why new games exist. If novelty wasn't important, then we'd be able to just be able to keep playing the old games forever.

The point I think both I and Jim are trying to make, though, is that novelty alone isn't sufficient.
 

Kennetic

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I'd like to give the example of Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. I loved the story and the visuals of that game and it would have been perfect in my eyes except for one thing: The controls. Holy crap the controls were abysmal. The wiimote would get all jacked up in a big fight and the was so difficult to do the most basic things. If that game used a normal controller I would have played it to the finish instead of giving up and watching the rest of the scenes on youtube.
 

Callate

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I think this is one of those "ends justify the means" things- where people only complain about someone using an "ends justify the means" philosophy when the ends don't work out as well as expected.

I've actually written a fair amount about the problem of change for change's sake, not in regard to video games but in regard to, well, life. Most of us have met a few would-be revolutionaries who want to shake up or break down "the system" without having any idea why that system came into being in the first place or even what they'd replace the status quo with if given the absolute freedom to do so. If such aspirations are powerless, they're annoying; if they actually come to have some ability to accomplish their aims, they can be incredibly destructive, often to ends that ultimately make little real change at all.

All that said, I think we should give innovation a little bit of slack. I'm not saying we overlook flaws or hold back criticism when something is going the wrong direction, as with something like Lair's control system, and certainly it seems the market is perfectly willing to punish such mis-steps most of the time. But I would hate it if, for example, everyone had overlooked Scribblenauts because the original control system was awful. Sometimes, good changes have to go through some growing pains; sometimes, even, good ideas in bad games have to be re-thought and recycled into good games before their full potential is revealed. We shouldn't be too quick to suggest that something failed for trying something different.
 

synobal

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I totally loved Mirror's Edge, I get what you're saying Jim but sometimes experimentation leads to wonderful things too. You've got to be able to strike that balance.
 

drisky

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Gizmo1990 said:
Hard to disagree with all that. Also really nice to see some love for Lost Odyssey. I love that game, to me it is the only good Jrpg to come out this gen and as a FF fan it was nice to enjoy a Jrpg for a change as I am of the opinion that each FF after X has been the gaming equivalent of Dog shit.
Going off topic here, but I disagree considering this past generation gave us Tales of Vesperia, Valkeria Chronicles, and World Ends With You. There is a lot of good out there when you stop holding Final Fantasy as the benchmark.
 

Scars Unseen

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dbenoy said:
Good games require novelty. It's the reason why new games exist. If novelty wasn't important, then we'd be able to just be able to keep playing the old games forever.

The point I think both I and Jim are trying to make, though, is that novelty alone isn't sufficient.
Novelty doesn't have to come from game mechanics though. I could keep playing 2D Castlevania games every year til the end of time if they just kept coming up with new level designs, characters and stories. The new mechanics they keep coming up with though? Meh. Don't really care one way or another.

Authors have managed to make use of the same toolkit for a long time, yet I still find reading books enjoyable. I haven't gotten tired of superhero movies yet despite the fact that they all have more or less the same story with different subplots for the characters involved.

And of course, I still enjoy playing Baldur's Gate, Super Mario Bros 3, A Link to the Past, Symphony of the Night, Final Fantasy 6, etc.
 

Jimothy Sterling

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It feels like Jim is bashing innovation itself in this one.

Maybe he's sick of all the art-sy fart-sy games but i do believe that innovation is a good thing when combined with brilliant gameplay mechanics, that's what innovation is for after all.
 

Thisfellow

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I hate it when people criticise decent games becouse they're not innovative, so thank you for this episode. Good games are sometimes old features with new new polish.
 

dbenoy

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Scars Unseen said:
dbenoy said:
Good games require novelty. It's the reason why new games exist. If novelty wasn't important, then we'd be able to just be able to keep playing the old games forever.

The point I think both I and Jim are trying to make, though, is that novelty alone isn't sufficient.
Novelty doesn't have to come from game mechanics though. I could keep playing 2D Castlevania games every year til the end of time if they just kept coming up with new level designs, characters and stories. The new mechanics they keep coming up with though? Meh. Don't really care one way or another.

Authors have managed to make use of the same toolkit for a long time, yet I still find reading books enjoyable. I haven't gotten tired of superhero movies yet despite the fact that they all have more or less the same story with different subplots for the characters involved.

And of course, I still enjoy playing Baldur's Gate, Super Mario Bros 3, A Link to the Past, Symphony of the Night, Final Fantasy 6, etc.
Indeed! Strong agreement here. A new story or environment is novelty too, even if the rest of the game is almost completely identical.

Although, you can burn through a story fast. The best games are the ones which can create prolonged novelty through the mechanics alone, so that you can enjoy playing them dozens of times.

Portal is a great example of an amazing story combined with novel mechanics. Then, portal 2 was roughly the same mechanics but it had a new story and new puzzles :D They're both awesome games.

Same deal with Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas
 

Tony2077

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like the women tropes thing he has some good points but there buried under the what the fuck are you doing garbage

i love mirrors edge i wish the second one would get back from what ever circle of development hell its in
 

Falseprophet

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snave said:
I'm also in the camp of people who loved Mirror's Edge (PC), but only up to about the halfway point. The rubbishy, superfluous combat systems (allegedly forced in by a publisher wary of committing 100% to innovation) made some parts near the end close to unbearable.
Agreed--Mirror's Edge problem was not committing 100% to its innovative premise, and force-fitting in broken combat where it wasn't needed. The judo throws and slide tackling to get past guards and keep running were fine. Being locked into a kill-or-be-killed shooting gallery with half a SWAT team? No way.

If you're going to make a 21st century version of Solar Fox [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_Fox], where picking the right path and staying a step ahead of the enemy's bullets is the goal, then make the best version of that you can, and don't try and force players to play a crappy version of Half-Life in the middle of it.
 
Dec 14, 2009
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This is why I couldn't stand Spec Ops the Line.


I don't care how 'good' the story 'is' if I have to trudge through mediocre shooting gallery after shooting gallery with crappy controls.

yet somehow, this bad gameplay is 'subversive' and 'adds' to the experience.

No, it doesn't, it's just fucking boring.
 

Marohen

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This one I had to stop and think about for a bit. This isn't like your last video where I immediately, emphatically agree with you--that is not to say I necessarily disagree with you, Jim, only perhaps that it lacks clarity.

In a sense, it feels too broad and generalizing; examples are given, but they are insufficient to inform us of your world view on this matter. You could say that this is largely exacerbated by the possibility that gaming media use the term "Innovation" as a sort of misnomer.

It's easy to mistake "Innovation" for "Novelty", for example. A game that uses existing mechanics with little iteration for the purpose of storytelling has to work against a potential hit to novelty; a gamer who's exposed to this content might ask themselves "Well, this feels like game A, if I wanted to play game A I'd play game A", which may colour their perspective of the experience. Conversely, a game like Mirror's Edge is -extremely- novel, regardless of its flaws; it's aesthetic and mechanics are somewhat striking and leave an impression on you. You can safely say there's no game like Mirror's Edge on the market.

Gaming, by its very nature, is iterative, so you can see a sort of push to keep moving forward and to avoid stagnation. The market has been very worried about the latter, specifically, though the over-saturation of the shooter genre is a little more complicated an issue and it really isn't the only example of this happening. Really, the Modern Warfare franchise is to shooters as WoW is to MMOs--so immensely popular that many game developers try to leech off the market, often very poorly. Nobody really talks about the stagnation of the MMO market--though I guess it's worse for shooters because a shooter is easier to develop and easier for the public to ingest on the whole. But I digress.

I guess this particular topic just demands a lot of articulation; a lot more observation on a granular level to see where this goes wrong, is what I'm getting on about.