19 January 2008

5 Trends That Are Bad For Gaming.

I was reading an article on the Ten Trends in videogames over the last decade and it got me thinking. More specifically, it got me thinking about which trends are or have been generally bad for gaming over the last decade. Here goes:

Square pegs jammed into round holes.
Castlevania. Sonic the Hedgehog. Some games were never meant to be played in three dimensions, and those are just a few examples. We've witnessed a lot of 2D-to-3D transitions over the years; some glamorous (Prince of Persia, Mario, Ninja Gaiden, Metroid Prime) and others not-so-glamorous (Street Fighter EX and the above), but these transitions should never have been forced. 'The Death of the Platformer' has been bandied about a lot recently, but is this really the case, or are there just a lot of square pegs being jammed into round holes? Bionic Commando: ReArmed is a promising step in the right direction, and I am keen to see many glorious returns to 2D or at least 2.5D in future (please, Sonic, PLEASE!).

Violent games vs. Games-with-violence.
Games like Manhunt 2 and Kane & Lynch should really never be made. Not only are they bad for the image of the industry, they're more style than substance. Games like this are developed purely for the controversy, with gameplay tacked on. If it furthers the plot, then fine (obviously you can't play GTA without stealing cars), but don't try to tell me that a game like Manhunt is 'mature'. They're just going to get all the good games with violence banned.

A class-based gaming society.
Don't worry, I'm not going to launch into a Marxist dialectic, but I find the sale of multiple models of the same console to be utterly ridiculous and short-sighted from both a consumer point of view and a marketing point of view. The market may decide this one already (is it any coincidence that the console with only one model is outselling all others?), as Sony seems to have scrapped all other PS3 SKUs in favour of the 40GB model. Microsoft seems to be constantly re-jigging their X360 SKUs, possibly at the risk of further consumer confusion. Is it now the Arcade, Pro, and Elite models? More than one model means more than one price point, and judging by the Wii's performance this last year, this is the most important consideration for consumers. Developers are also in the dark on this - should they account for a hard-drive or not when developing for the 360?

Throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
It seems these days that offline multiplayer has been completely neglected in favour of online. Anyone who's played system link Halo at a friend's place knows that this is a glaring oversight. Two-player split-screen in an FPS is not good enough. Online multiplayer is great, but we still need to play with our friends on the couch. System link and 4-player should be an industry standard for all multiplayer games by now. Make it happen.

Square peg in a round hole: MKII.
Tacking on multiplayer for a single player experience and vice versa is a waste of development time. Metroid Prime didn't need multiplayer - thankfully it is still a great game, but to think that that time could possibly have been used to put more into an already great game, is tragic. I'm sure a lot of FPSs could have also benefited from not having a single player mode as well, instead of having to deal with the pretense of having one. Ultimately, there are chiefly single player experiences and chiefly multiplayer experiences; they should be developed and marketed as such. The lies must end!

And that's all from me for now.