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The most overused themes in video games right now are... [roundtable]
 
Alright, I've been thinking. I loved the Resident Evil games. But man, zombies seem like the new "modern warfare" trend right now. Or in some cases, both are combined. Actually, that is a pretty cool mode, but it's not exactly disproving my point. Zombies are everywhere, and it is starting to get, dare I say it, a bit overdone.

I also feel like Greek mythology is being used too often. And no one seems to know how to do it without ripping off God of War, which wasn't even a very original game to begin with. Also, using Norse mythology instead doesn't count as being original.

I could talk Space Marines and World War 2, but those almost seem old hat now. Especially World War 2, is anyone still making those games?

Did I miss anything? What do you guys think? Which themes are a bit overdone in the current industry landscape? Keep in mind, we're talking themes here, not gameplay genres or styles.

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Posted: 01/17/11, 23:21:12  - Edited by 
 on: 01/17/11, 23:59:51
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@Simbabbad That is quite clever and makes perfect sense, I just hadn't thought of it before. I doubt most developers would admit these reasons in the first place.
Posted: 01/19/11, 06:57:50
Space Marines was actually the first thing I thought of. They have been done to death from DOOM on.
Posted: 01/19/11, 07:11:32
Yea, just like how disappointing New Vegas casinos are. Fallout trying to be lively does not work.
Posted: 01/19/11, 08:39:07
@Deerock69

You know this makes me sad. When Warhammer 40K:Space Marine comes out, people are just going to yawn.

Despite the 40K marines being designed about 25 years ago. Not to mention the rest of the license being kickass.
Posted: 01/19/11, 12:27:49
@Simbabbad

Yeah you nailed it bro. Left 4 Dead was totally born out of technical obstacles so- hey wait a second. L4D came out after HL2 episode 2 which had large sprawling environments and excellent enemy AI. And that was on the same engine a year prior. That apocalyptic setting though, that's true for sure! Totally born out of tech issues and budget limitations. Could you imagine Fallout 3 in a different setting? It simply wouldn't work. Well, I mean, except for Oblivion. But that doesn't count because it was....like medieval times or something. Wait, how many Zombies were in Oblivion?

Crap, it's almost like this broad sweeping statement is completely incorrect. I guess that's what happens when you combine:


poor working knowledge of HD console games
+
logical constraints
=
sweeping statement with various obvious points that detract from it
Posted: 01/19/11, 19:29:12  - Edited by 
 on: 01/19/11, 19:29:28
Half Life 2 episode 2 didn't have massive amounts of enemies though. And Oblivion isn't very representative of your average HD game's linearity... not even close. Also, it can pull off the huge environments because there isn't really all that much going on within any given environment at any given time. For all there is to do in the game, it's big empty space 99% of the time.

Using a few specific examples doesn't really negate the overall point.

You could probably be a bit less abrasive in the way you're making your point too.
Posted: 01/19/11, 19:33:42  - Edited by 
 on: 01/19/11, 19:34:13
@stephen08
There actually were quite a few zombies in Oblivion haha. In nearly every cave/temple thingy there were zombies.
Posted: 01/19/11, 19:35:35
@Zero

The point was that those games made those stylistic choices not because of technical obstacles. And they are easily the best of the best when it comes to Zombie games or Post Apocalyptic era games. Casting a statement like that over the whole genre when the best examples of the genre fly in the face of the statement is foolish.
Posted: 01/19/11, 19:37:55
@carlosrox

Yeah but the undead were one type of broad offering of enemies. That was the point.
Posted: 01/19/11, 19:40:09
I honestly don't understand the tech, but were the human enemies in Oblivion considered to have good AI? Because they mostly just got in a line and charged at me regardless of the situation. Either way you were generally fighting two or three or four at once, so it's a lot easier to handle the AI real time. If you decide that you want huge hordes of enemies in a game, it's tough to go the human route.

I think picking out "the best" ignores the main point though. Which is that developers often make these choices because they are the safe/easy way to do things. It doesn't mean there are no other ways, or that the best developers aren't sometimes choosing other ways. Obviously not every game is a post-apocalyptic game with zombies in it. But I think Simba is right in that these setting and enemy choices allow for a quick way to handle things like keeping a linear path in a huge city, or having a bunch of enemies attack at once without overloading your AI routines.
Posted: 01/19/11, 19:44:58  - Edited by 
 on: 01/19/11, 19:46:12
@Zero

I mean, it wasn't the greatest AI but they would block and perform different attacks. That's much more dynamic than the zombies in Dead Rising or Left 4 Dead.
Posted: 01/19/11, 20:04:09
@Zero
FEAR's AI is pretty amazing actually and they're all humans. Actually now that you mention it they're all supposedly under mind control (at least in the first one) though that doesn't count as a copout since the AI is actually the best I've seen in any game.
Posted: 01/19/11, 20:05:45
@Simbabbad

You mad bro? Next time try making a valid point. Just a quick check on Xbox.com here shows the only games you have played that could even be close to a Zombie/Post Apocalyptic setting are Silent Hill Homecoming, Dead Space and Dead Rising. Try playing some of the games you want to trash.
Posted: 01/19/11, 20:11:47  - Edited by 
 on: 01/19/11, 20:16:32
@Simbabbad

And you have still not provided any content to back up your claims. That makes you a bitch, as long as we are slinging names like children.
Posted: 01/19/11, 20:24:32
@Simbabbad

Your point remains impotent. Show your work! List me some HD games (remember that you brought up HD games in your initial post so that's what we are talking about) that clearly show these styles as a result of technical limitations or not born of imagination. Also, I should hope that the titles listed are also decent games.

Also, that's a great idea for the site! An ignore feature! Get to work on that! I will put it to use straight away.

Pro-tip: Quotes are more useful when the person you are quoting actually said what you quoted.

Happy Posting!
Posted: 01/19/11, 21:16:25
Wonderful.

I thought Simba's post was full of common sense, and he put a reasonable, likely explanation on why Darksiders or Bionic Commando looked and played like they did. Even Uncharted 2 used the "rubble" trick to confine players in an area. And those are not by a long shot the only three examples of what he's described.

Not sure why someone would see it as an "attack" on HD gaming either: developers want to push realism but at the same time do not have the resources to give players unlimited freedom, that's a fact. And basically, setting your game in a post-apocalyptic world with convenient rubble blocking off areas is a much more elegant solution to a problem every developer faces than, say, the solution the FFXIII team found, which was to put gamers in straight corridors.
Posted: 01/19/11, 22:16:25
Gears definitely uses the rubble trick.

I'm honestly surprised anyone would argue against this, the artificial wall trick has been around since the PS1/N64 days and it is pretty clear that rundown areas make it easy to block off streets. Let's put it another way, how else could you make a game like Gears that is both linear and takes place in a huge city? Keep in mind we're talking specifically about linear games here, Fallout or GTA aren't really the point.

Do you know how Super Mario Galaxy gets past the artificial walls? It does so using a technique that Simba also complained about in SMG 2, it just has a bunch of random stuff floating in the middle of nowhere with no real context. It's not solely an "HD console" issue and no one said it is. It does explain, however, why so many HD games go this direction. They're not going to have a bunch of random stuff floating in space, since most are trying to be more "realistic".

As for the zombies that one is pretty self-explanatory too. "Hordes" are a new big thing and hordes of human beings don't work pretty well. All of those Japanese battlefield games tend to get knocked for their terrible AI and why wouldn't they? Has anyone made a game with that many humans on screen where the AI is good?

I dunno. I don't even get what we're arguing about here, it's all common sense.
Posted: 01/19/11, 22:28:55
Gears has rubble in it, sure. From the inception of the project they were talking about "Destroyed Beauty" being an over-arcing design aesthetic. The issue is whether that is because of technical limitations like Simba suggests or design choice. Look at Fallout, that game has rubble too but then world is so open it clearly isn't because their engine is limited. I think it's just simply a popular aesthetic choice. Not the need to place walls somehow first and foremost. The aesthetic is definitely used to create natural barriers though.

Same thing with this Zombies business. I think it's just the fact that Zombie games are the popular thing right now. Horde style game modes are popular too but that doesn't mean they are necessary in order to work. Red Dead Redemption got an add-on for this and that game was already a technical marvel even in the original game. Gears of War 2's horde mode and Halo's Firefight mode both execute the concept without resorting to mindless Zombies.

In any case, I'm not saying the statement has 0 merit but rather that it's clearly not applicable to every Post-Apocolyptic or Zombie game.
Posted: 01/19/11, 22:55:12
I don't think Simba was suggesting that this is the only reasoning behind the choice. Obviously a lot of decisions go into themes, and clearly "post-apocalyptic" and "zombies" are both resonating with gamers on some level, so that's a big factor as well. Once something proves it can sell, everyone starts copying it.

Anyway, let's all be nice to each other.
Posted: 01/19/11, 23:03:17
Your examples don't infirm Simba's explanation at all. It wasn't meant to explain every game with that setting, but it still damn sure explains a ton of them.

Fallout 3, for instance, simply found other ways to control budget issues while still giving players freedom and a lengthy quest. Copy-pasted locations and a sparse population simply being two of them.

I haven't used the Washington subway system in real life, and I'm sure all the stations do look the same, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a super convenient way for Bethesda to add content at a low cost.
Posted: 01/19/11, 23:05:11  - Edited by 
 on: 01/19/11, 23:06:23
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