Why Derivative Game Design Doesn't Matter

BrawlMan

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Remember the strategy Tower Defence era?
Other than everyone and their daddy was putting them on XBLA at the time, but Steam does not surprise me either.
Or the MOBA era?
Yes.
Or the card battler era?
No. But that proves how fast trends come and go; especially if they're mediocre or bad clones.
There's always a host of indie unheard-ofs to have their pitch at greatness, who will remain as unheard-of after their magnum opus hits release as they were before.
Yep. Which makes the good, the great, or the weird and unique games stand out all the more.
 
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Too often people get mad at X-game because it was too much like A-Game. But fundamentally they miss the point of game design. Was it fun?
If you take mechanics wholesale from other games, you're not designing a game anymore. I'm fine with making a derivative game of X but better, but if you're just copying systems, you probably don't even know why it's good. If you can't even change a couple of words to beat the plagiarism detector, you barely understood the sentence to begin with.

People like to point to games to justify this, like Doom clones. They conveniently leave out the fact that games like Hexen/Heretic licensed the Doom engine and were published by Id. By the time we get to Duke Nukem 3D you could aim up and had true 3d maps. They say popular games like CoD or LoL are clones, except MoH ex-devs founded IW and Guinsoo created modern DotA. All those BRs? Well Bluehole cared enough to sue Epic Games.

The modern shameless ripoff doesn''t even have the approval or dev lineage. Worse, they are now cash-grab lootbox casinos, unabashedly unoriginal, utterly soulless games carried by $100 million+ marketing campaigns and paid shills.
 

immortalfrieza

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Make them actually good or fun. Have a neat presentation and atmosphere. Free of the DLC/Lootbox/Season Pass/Time Save buuuuullllllsssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhiiiiiiiiiitttttttttttt!
A bigger budget wouldn't have stopped the DLC/Lootbox/Season Pass/Time Save crap by a long shot. That's a symptom of developers and publishers trying to exploit rather than serve their customers. The game industry has forgotten that they exist to serve the customers, not the other way around.
 
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Specter Von Baren

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If you take mechanics wholesale from other games, you're not designing a game anymore. I'm fine with making a derivative game of X but better, but if you're just copying systems, you probably don't even know why it's good. If you can't even change a couple of words to beat the plagiarism detector, you barely understood the sentence to begin with.

People like to point to games to justify this, like Doom clones. They conveniently leave out the fact that games like Hexen/Heretic licensed the Doom engine and were published by Id. By the time we get to Duke Nukem 3D you could aim up and had true 3d maps. They say popular games like CoD or LoL are clones, except MoH ex-devs founded IW and Guinsoo created modern DotA. All those BRs? Well Bluehole cared enough to sue Epic Games.

The modern shameless ripoff doesn''t even have the approval or dev lineage. Worse, they are now cash-grab lootbox casinos, unabashedly unoriginal, utterly soulless games carried by $100 million+ marketing campaigns and paid shills.
And even in the case where games were rip offs of others in the older days, they were at least cheap rip offs whereas now a rip off can force a team of people to put in huge crunch for low returns. With Indies at least the creator was putting time and effort in for their own desires rather than it being because of the crack of a whip.
 

Phoenixmgs

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Well TBF, AAA still does have a bunch of different genres. All the different sports games, shooters, linear action/adventure, open world action/adventure, RPG, a plethora of different types of fighting games, etc. The problem is the viable mold has been cast and set to where even all of those have been done for generations now.

However, we could even apply the same logic to a lot of Indie stuff which mostly boils down to either side scrollers with some form of combat and platforming, or some variant of isometric strategy games. The point is there’s literally more than enough variety to pique someone’s interest in something, but also that people’s tolerance for fatigue will vary.
Most AAA games do fit under Yahtzee's "ghost train ride" and "open world stealth-action games with crafting and collectibles" genres. It's like say how Ghost Recon used to it's own thing and now it's just another Ubisoft game. Most games are just prettier versions of past games usually with less gameplay depth. It would be nice to see games improving in other elements than just graphics like AI, isn't like FEAR still considered the best AI in a game and it's closing in on being 20 years old? It's kinda sad that a lot of strategy games still require the AI to cheat to be competitive. You can make games quite a bit better like I was actually kinda excited for Dying Light 2 and the impact of your decisions on the world but they seemed to have scrapped that mostly.
 

sXeth

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Most AAA games do fit under Yahtzee's "ghost train ride" and "open world stealth-action games with crafting and collectibles" genres. It's like say how Ghost Recon used to it's own thing and now it's just another Ubisoft game. Most games are just prettier versions of past games usually with less gameplay depth. It would be nice to see games improving in other elements than just graphics like AI, isn't like FEAR still considered the best AI in a game and it's closing in on being 20 years old? It's kinda sad that a lot of strategy games still require the AI to cheat to be competitive. You can make games quite a bit better like I was actually kinda excited for Dying Light 2 and the impact of your decisions on the world but they seemed to have scrapped that mostly.

Hey now, Dying Light 2's choices are super-impacftul. You can either get extra cool traversal stuff added to the amp for helping whichever side it was, or you can have a bunch of generally useless traps. DEEP IMMERSIVE WORLD STATES.


I should really go finish that at some point. But ugh, grindy level mechanics do that game no favors (and I know this is in tune with kind of late stage DL1 got but still, its so much sluggish and unimpactful in DL2)
 

Agema

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If you take mechanics wholesale from other games, you're not designing a game anymore. I'm fine with making a derivative game of X but better, but if you're just copying systems, you probably don't even know why it's good.
Maybe. There's the old saying that copying one person is plargiarism, copying ten people is research, and copying a hundred people is a PhD. True novelty is extremely rare: in practice a huge amount of improvement is putting together things that other people have done into a new package, and there's value in that. An awful lot of games do have effectively identical mechanics, just different settings and level design. But the settings, plot, level design etc. also matter.

Although I'd agree that plenty of devs are taking things without any clear idea why they are good: they just see them being done and think they should implement them too.
 

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"It's all been said by Shakespeare. The rest is a variation on a theme".
 

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Couldn't this argument be applied to sporting events? Why get excited for the Super Bowl when it is just a football game like 50 million other football games before it?
Exactly. And that's why sports are so mind-crushingly dull.
 
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BrawlMan

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Although I'd agree that plenty of devs are taking things without any clear idea why they are good: they just see them being done and think they should implement them too.
Remember when nearly everyone was adding in insta-death QTEs for the sake of it? And served no real purpose other than "Cuz God of War and Resident Evil 4 did it!". Most of the time, these QTEs would show up with little warning, nor hint, or would go on for way too long, that they might as well been cut-scenes 98% of the time.

Though if we're talking QTEs, they've been around since Dragon's Lair. Games like those are nothing, but QTEs. The first "proper" introduction to QTEs with other gameplay elements was Dynamite Deka (Die Hard Arcade) from Sega. Then you have Shenmue. The rest is history.
 
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2005-2013 what's a weird and crazy time, when there was always some type of chainsaw type enemy, mini boss, or boss. They will show up in action games, horror games, or action horror games. Or the protagonist themselves would have some type of chainsaw.

While 2008 to 2010 was all about the grindhouse fest. That one I cared less about, and got an old super fast.
 
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RhombusHatesYou

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Although I'd agree that plenty of devs are taking things without any clear idea why they are good: they just see them being done and think they should implement them too.
You know why, we all know why... The Publisher hath decreed that The Metrics demand it.
 
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Kyrian007

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I'd like to be at a point where we legally could be derivative in some cases. Just finished my replay of Middle Earth: Shadow of War. So many times I was thinking to myself, this game could have been great... if it weren't for the crappy shoehorned in ties to the LotR franchise. I realize that the first game was just proof of concept for the nemesis system and they needed to attach an IP to get more eyes on the product, but WHY they decided they were stuck with the LotR tie-ins... I'll never understand that decision. Freaking Crowshaw made SoM his game of the year. Its success was more than enough to prove you could build a solid game with the system. But instead of launching a new IP that would most likely succeed and not require having a license for a property... they launched it with so much lootbox pay-to-win bs that it killed any chance they had with further games. Then took their nemesis system ball home and are just sitting on the patent... never allowing anyone to enjoy it ever again because THEY fucked it up with awful decisions.

Shadow of War makes me sad. Not because of its crap story, but the story behind its crap existence.

So yeah. Sometimes I want games to be derivative. Just like anyone else, I crave something new. Some fresh new entertainment to enjoy. But you can't "subsist" on new. Sometimes you just have to consume something you know you will enjoy. Even if you know that it will eventually infuriate you because EA is really stupid.
 
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BrawlMan

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So yeah. Sometimes I want games to be derivative. Just like anyone else, I crave something new. Some fresh new entertainment to enjoy. But you can't "subsist" on new. Sometimes you just have to consume something you know you will enjoy. Even if you know that it will eventually infuriate you because EA is really stupid
Well, there's definitely some truth to that, I will never go out of my way to make myself miserable by playing anything from EA. If you're referring to the Dead Space remake by any chance, I'm not touching that either. I know the team at work are good people and are definitely trying, it's just too bad that run by it a crappy group of bosses.

As for Warner Bros, they can get fucked even harder. I'm not exactly big on their games either. The only thing of interest from them is the Wonder Woman game. If they screw that up to, or fill it with really bad micro transactions, I am not buying.
 
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Kyrian007

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Well there's definitely true to that, I will never go out of my way to make myself miserable by playing anything from EA. If you're referring to the Dead Space remake by any chance, I'm not touching that either. I know the team at work are good people and are definitely trying, it's just too bad that run by it a crappy group of bosses.

As for Warner Bros, they can get fucked even harder. I'm not exactly big on their games either. The only thing of interest from them is the Wonder Woman game. If they screw that up to, or fill it with really bad micro transactions, I am not buying.
Yeah, don't know why I wrote EA. I was thinking WB, just got crossed up. But screw either really. Still haven't forgiven EA for... well a number of things but mostly buying then executing several developers of games I like.
 
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Old_Hunter_77

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Is gaming any "worse" than other entertainment? I mean you got movies where most of the time you can describe them by referencing another movie. Same can be said for bands and books?
Personally I'm more forgiving of games because they're so hard to make.
 
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BrawlMan

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Is gaming any "worse" than other entertainment? I mean you got movies where most of the time you can describe them by referencing another movie. Same can be said for bands and books?
Personally I'm more forgiving of games because they're so hard to make.
That still doesn't excuse being as creatively bankrupt as Hollywood, nor the overuse of cliches and certain stereotypes. It doesn't matter if they're good or not (the cliches and stereotypes). I accept some cliches, but if it's been overdone, it's overdone. As much as the Indie crowd like to follow certain trends as well: they still got people that creatively try something. Either it's something good, but different. Good but something familiar, but more refined. Or something that brings out the old school in a better way, with new school teachings on top of it.
 
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I just realized, outside of a few early 3D games, I never played too many Mortal Kombat rip-offs. Aside from Primal Rage, and technically Killer Instinct. Man, I am glad for that, because most of those clones were not good.
 
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CriticalGaming

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I just realized, outside of a few early 3D games, I never played too many Mortal Kombat ripoffs. Aside from Primal Rage, and technically Killer instinct. Man I am glad for that. Because most of those clones were not good.
Nothing that tries to copy is ever as good.

There is a difference between running with an idea and making it your own, versus just trying to copy shit. That's why Lords of the Fallen is shit, because it just tried to copy Dark Souls, but Salt and Sanctuary is fantastic. Both are "copies" of Souls, but only one of those tried to be unique with the concept.
 
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Nothing that tries to copy is ever as good.
Most of the time and I don't disagree. It is awesome when a clone actually does just as good, or better than the original. I love Final Fight, but man doesn't come off is really basic even back in the 90s and early 2000s. Compare it to SOR2, and everything is night and day. Or look at other clones like Final Fight such as Undercover Cops (make sure it's a Japanese version or alpha renewal version) and Violent Storm. They both surpass it in gameplay and graphical fidelity. Final Fight came out in 1989, while SOR2 and UC came out in 1992, and Violent Storm came out in 1993. Final Fight's later two sequels just rang as mediocre, and slightly above average respectively. Before you start, we don't talk about Streetwise.