BlogIt's been a while since my last sblog and I am truly sorry for that but there have been certain activities in my life that have prevented my will to preserve this wonderful little site of ours. Anyways, on with the article!
Today, I'm going to propose and hypothesize a topic that I think calls for a level of analysis regarding our beloved hobby: the future of the game industry regarding creative integrity and staple achievements approved by the industry's body as a whole.
Sounds pretty ambitious sure, but there is merit to this which I will bestow upon you in a moment. Firstly, what does it mean for a game to push this very envelope of creativity to the next level? Well it means a few things, for one, it most definitely illustrates what is currently stagnant in the industry. This is where financial priorities take place and the publisher finds a niche to carve out and call home. Secondly, it also illustrates what is to be done in order to excel beyond the mundane trends that publishers force upon developers. Thirdly, both developers and publishers must recognize what exactly this industry has done in the past to keep momentum of the present: what games pushed the envelope previously, what is the "trendiest" game mechanic that everyone is mimicking? It is important to acknowlegde these three major components that mold and form the industry of today.
But what about tomorrow?
That is where the crux of this article comes into play. If we look at the current games in development today, there are some that imply many great things (both through game design and subject matter) to come for us gamers. These games are not available to the public as of yet, but will be soon enough. So here I will present to you the games that I think could do what gaming did yesterday for today, tomorrow:
EPIC MICKEY (WII)
Famed designer Warren Spector (known for his involvement in Theif and Deus Ex) has been working extremely hard at his new studio Junction Point Studios with Disney Interactive on his most ambitious project to date, Epic Mickey. What is so special about this game? Well for one, it's a platformer with a great visual design that is effortlessly pleasant on the eyes. Though that's not the crux of it's unique approach to such a genre, what is unique about this particular game is it's philosophical backing from Spector's infinite mind and his concept of play. He's coined the phrase "playstyle matters", which in brief, illustrates that the world of Mickey is divided into variables of how the player will interact, and what will result consequently from his/her actions.
The game is set in a world full of rejected Disney characters and places, where darkness broods at every corner. The objective is simple, the player has the choice, of helping as many rejected characters through a set of tools that can result in varying effects. What exactly as these tools? Well, Mickey holds a unique brush, one that can paint things into the world he inhabits, the other is thinner of which he can erase. This is an interesting mechanic as it opens up many resulting outcomes that illustrate what type of player you are. As a platformer, this game looks to exhibit many interesting choices, which will help to mold a unique narrative path for the player to engross themselves in.
Time will tell whether this game will live up to it's promise of presenting a vastly dynamic world where completing the game once will not expose you to all of it's pathways and secrets. Repeated playthroughs is the only viable option for absolute completion. We'll see how it goes.
METROID: OTHER M (WII)
"Not your father's Metroid" would most likely be a fitting phrase for briefly summarizing Metroid: Other M's experience. It's hard to draw the line as to what exactly defines a Metroid game these days if only because there have been some pretty polarizing design choices in the past (see Retro's take on the Prime series). Though the most polarizing game of them all right now is most definitely Samus's latest outing. It's no surprise as it follows the path of Metroid Fusion with taking a deeper role in using narrative to embellish the franchise's heritage. Though what makes for an interesting debate is beyond the narrative itself: the game design.
This of all Metroid games is quite a controversial one, hell even for ANY 3D game of today. So many design choices have been made that eradicate some of the most staple elements in the franchise and have brought forth some crazy mechanics to replace them. The details would take forever to divulge but the most important addition is the new combat system along with the FPS mechanic. Here is where the game is truly positioning it's own stance on what a 3D Metroid game should be. The streamlined mechanics and the eb and flow of play truly illustrate that the more complex action games out there that require the player to remember a horde of buttons along with their invariable button combinations have some room for re-evaluating the current gen interface. The analog stick has been omitted for the d-pad, and the buttons have been reduced to 4 along with the IR pointer. Sounds crazy doesn't it? How in the hell can you make a 3D game with only 4 buttons and IR pointer and produce such frenetic platforming action? The short answer is the camera system. It dictates how the game will play in 3D and the end result is something developers should be looking at in the future. If a game with such twitch based gameplay can be achieved, one must question what exactly are developers doing with the amount of buttons we have in today's standards.
I think I'll leave it at that for now. Stay tuned for part 2!