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Which games should have changed industry direction, but didn't? [roundtable]
 
You know, like how The Cars should have been the blueprint for post-80s rock'n'roll, but weren't?

I nominate Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. Such a brilliant, brilliant execution of storytelling within a game. It's really one of the ONLY good examples I can think of. But it seems that its lessons were largely ignored. I'd almost add Super Metroid, in terms of storytelling, but there were a few games that followed that formula, and I'm not sure it was the first.

I might add WarioWare. That game has a seriously amazing concept. It might be hard to apply it directly to other game designs, but the principles it's based off of are very interesting. At the very least, developers could start appealing to us ADD folks and cut out the tedious, boring shit.

Bonus question: Which games DID change the direction of the industry, but shouldn't have? I will nominate my favorite whipping franchises - Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy, and Gran Turismo. And Call of Duty, maybe?

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Posted: 07/17/10, 17:59:27  - Edited by 
 on: 07/27/10, 07:42:26
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The answer that immediately pops to mind is Chrono Trigger (and the one that shouldn't have was FF7). I've listed the reasons many times before, but I'll just say quickly that if more JRPGs had had the pacing (that means no grinding, no random encounters, no obvious filler) of CT I wouldn't have steered away from them. Thankfully FFVII's influence is slowly subsiding.
Posted: 07/17/10, 18:32:02
Pandareus stole my answer! But for a different reason, it seems.

My immediate thought was also Chrono Trigger, but maybe to be more specific, Squaresoft's entire approach to the SNES RPG which culminated in Chrono Trigger. On the SNES they seemed to be realizing that RPGs had a lot of potential but that the core gameplay mechanics were just plain not that fun, so they were creating these more interactive battle systems in games like Final Fantasy VI (multiple characters with different attack styles), Secret of Mana (real-time action/RPG), Super Mario RPG (platforming in stages, timed button pressing during battles), and Chrono Trigger (team attacks, multiple boss hit points, etc.) It was the right direction for the JRPG, and never in my wildest dreams would I have expected that focus on core gameplay innovations to be abandoned for JRPGs to become huge interactive cutscenes.

But that is what happened, for the most part. There have been some JRPGs since that kept the spirit (Golden Sun and the Mario & Luigi / Paper Mario games come to mind) but not enough. The genre as a whole went in a different direction.

Though, to go back to Panda's comment, pacing is a part of the Squaresoft SNES style RPG as well. It wouldn't do to make all of these core gameplay innovations and then drag out the pacing. By keeping a quick pace it felt more like an actual game with actual progression in the game mechanics.

Now, for a more modern example of the same thing, Bowser's Inside Story should be getting copied for taking these Squaresoft SNES ideas and running with them, basically turning the turn-based JRPG into platformer/action/etc. combo and giving it tons of super fun core gameplay. But I doubt anyone who isn't Nintendo is even looking at that game for inspiration.
Posted: 07/17/10, 19:19:25  - Edited by 
 on: 07/17/10, 19:21:25
And I still defend Kojima and Metal Gear Solid. Technically we can lay the blame at his feet, but I really doubt he intended what happened to happen. All of his wannabees totally missed the point.

On a different note, I'm not sure which game exactly to point to and blame (GTA maybe?), but I kind of hate how every action/adventure/shooter/etc. game tries to be open-ended and have racing segments and yada yada. There are way too many jack of all trades, king of none games out there, and they all basically do the same things. It'd actually be kind of interesting to see the GTA formula applied to something completely different with different styles of gameplay. Kind of like Animal Crossing, if it were taken to a new level. But instead, we get a bunch of open-ended crime/shooter/driver/etc. games. And yes, riding a horse counts as driving in my eyes, same idea.
Posted: 07/17/10, 19:26:12  - Edited by 
 on: 07/17/10, 19:26:34
At the risk of opening up another round of the eternal battle here...I have to say Halo. Regenerative health and checkpoints = BAD. I'd wish they'd vanish from the FPS genre. I'd bitch about the Quicksave function on PC FPS's too, but it's been around forever and I have no clue what game was responsible for that atrocity.
Posted: 07/17/10, 19:57:07
I really think that Gears of War started the gray/brown hyper-realistic space marine shooter thing. Sure, there were plenty of shooters before Gears, but now that Gears is out 80% of the 360's good games are shooty. I still like Gears though. The story isn't worth much, but the characters are really fun.
Posted: 07/17/10, 19:57:56
@Secret_Tunnel

I think that has less to do with the influence of Gears of War itself and more the fact that every game seem to be using its engine. They all look browny and hyper-realistic and the characters all look bulgy because those are the tools they're working with.
Posted: 07/17/10, 21:18:05
Like I always say, I enjoyed the first MGS. But the effect that that game and FFVII had on the industry is horrendous. Games went from feeling like games to feeling like (absolutely shitty) movies.

Mario RPG is definitely a franchise that every RPG-maker should play, appreciate, and possibly copy. But I'm not sure all of the concepts in it were totally original, and it actually kind of DID have a pretty big effect, I think. Action inputs in battle systems, platforming in RPGs, some of the Chrono Trigger stuff (which I don't recognize, because I still haven't played it), simplified overall systems, etc.

@Shadowlink
Halo definitely changed the industry. Whether that's good or bad is up to you.

I also HATE Quicksaving and Quickloading. That's just too much player freedom, and it often messes up game design, as well.
Posted: 07/17/10, 23:50:26  - Edited by 
 on: 07/17/10, 23:51:15
@Shadowlink

Blame Halo 2. Combat Evolved did it best, IMO, but Halo 2 set the standard that should die. Recharging shields is awesome, BUT they need to be backed up with health. My problem with Modern Warfare is that you can take this huge ass beating, somehow manage to escape to hide behind something, wait a few seconds and then pop out like nothing happened. That's stupid. Your guy magically recovers all his health while sitting there and you go back out there. Combat Evolved, you lost your shields, you lost a lot of health, so even if you hid behind that crate for your shields you were still at a disadvantage. The way most shooters do it this day is that you are at a disadvantage for as long as you are out in the open.

@Zero

I agree with the FFVII "cutscene" problem in JRPGs. I had never played Secret of Mana before it released on the VC (no instruction booklet + no experience = win) so I really hated the entire thing at the beginning. Because my partner would not actually attack anything. Then I found out why, fixed it, and now the battle system is just plain fun. With JRPGs this day (haven't played XIII) you basically get a passable battle system and then they just throw hours of cutscenes on you to drive home a story. Which either ends up laughable or so bloated that it's not really worth the sacrifice. Chrono Trigger and FFVI, IMO, are the perfect JRPGs. The battle systems are engaging, the stories are great, and more importantly they have everything you need in a giant adventure role playing game. Namely, the adventure portion of it.
Posted: 07/18/10, 00:08:39
I don't know if I think this should have changed the direction of the industry as a whole, but I certainly think it should have inspired part of it:

The Shin Megami Tensei alignments.

Basically, you know this trend in a lot of newer games to offer players choices between good and evil? Well, Shin Megami Tensei games have been doing this forever. Except a lot better. Because they realize that it is more complicated than a black and white, good or evil schematic. So it is basically a 3x3 grid, based on light - dark and law - neutral alignments.

law light - law neutral - law dark
neutral light - neutral neutral - neutral dark
chaotic light - chaotic neutral - chaotic dark

The light/dark mechanics are a bit more than you might think though. Light doesn't automatically mean "good", it means following the path of god. Dark means following the path of demons. And neutral generally means human beings telling gods and demons to F off and let us live our own lives.

Meanwhile, law means doing things with a very rigid structure, and chaos means doing things with no structure, whereas neutral falls in between.

I guess to use examples people may understand, we'll look at Batman. Even though Batman doesn't have the god versus demons elements, you can get a general idea...

Law/Light = Harvey Dent (pre-transformation)
Chaotic/Light = Batman
Law/Dark = Raz Agul
Chaotic/Dark = The Joker

And then throw the others in there somewhere.

I find this to be a much, much more compelling system than say Bioshock's "do you save the girl, or kill her to harvest her adam?" And it would be a good model for trying to introduce more complex morality systems into games.
Posted: 07/27/10, 06:16:13
Wait wait...

Law-Light = C-3PO / Law-Neutral = Uncle Owen / Law-Dark = Emporer
Neutral-Light = Luke Skywalker / Neutral-Neutral = Watto / Neutral-Dark = Darth Vader
Chaotic-Light = Han Solo (eventually light...) / Chaotic-Neutral = Jawas? / Chaotic-Dark = Jabba the Hutt

Um... or something like that.
Posted: 07/27/10, 06:49:18
You make me wanna reanalyze the stuff I'm writing to see where my characters are all falling... I like this Shin Megami Tensei idea.
Posted: 07/27/10, 07:08:56
Man, believe me... my brother talks about this stuff so much it has ingrained itself into my consciousness. He gives ALL of his friends and family alignments. And then if say, my sister's husband does something my brother doesn't like, he will be like "well of course, you're just acting like a Law-Neutral again..."

Also my brother calls himself Chaotic-Light which makes me laugh out loud, since he is definitely Chaotic-Neutral. Light my ass.

Anyway, political systems get more interesting if you strip out any sense of inherent good and evil and just look at them on the law/chaotic scale...

Law = Facism
Neutral = Capitalism
Chaotic = Anarchy

Hmm, but where does Socialism fit in? Communism would be a Law I think, as we have seen it, but Socialism could be a Neutral if it was actually more up to the people without strong centralized rulers behind it...

Then you start to really realize that it all comes down to the individuals behind this stuff. Hmm. I wonder if they would ever teach alignments in a political science class, lol.
Posted: 07/27/10, 07:26:32
This thread scares me.
Posted: 07/27/10, 07:28:34
I really don't know. I agree with the Crono Trigger votes. I loved that game and generally despise jrpgs so obviously it did something very right.

My other vote might go to The Longest Journey. It was really the swan song for the adventure game genre and did it so well back in the day I'm sure people thought the genre was about to take it to an entirely new level. Not so, still that game beats the pants off most anything in the genre today.
Posted: 07/27/10, 07:43:16
Can't believe that I forgot to mention Kirby Air Ride. The progression mechanic was very meta and cool, but I'm thinking more of AUTOMATIC ACCELERATION. You don't need to brake or even slow down in a proper arcade racer. So why should you have to hold the damn button down for the entire race?

I think I'm probably Apathetic Light.

@Oldmanwinter
I'd expect you to say something like System Shock or Deus Ex. It's funny how increasing tech (and emphasis on 'traditional' narrative) has, for the most part, just limited our choice and freedom of expression in games more and more. That's one argument against voice acting and similar production values (like elaborate cutscenes). It kind of locks developers in.

Anyway, I wish more shooters were like No One Lives Forever, rather than Half-Life. But I don't remember enough about either game to specify why.
Posted: 07/27/10, 07:46:43  - Edited by 
 on: 07/27/10, 07:51:23
Sewer Shark. For sure.
Posted: 07/27/10, 20:43:59
Should have changed the industry, but didn't: Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition.

- Now, I'm not sure if this would have changed the ENTIRE industry, but why are there not more third-person shooter action games on Wii? It works so freakin' well in this game! It's fun, it's engaging, and very satisfying. Not to mention entirely intuitive. When I was playing through the port, I was thinking to myself, "why would anyone make a TPS game for any other system? This is perfect!" ... but no one did. What a shame. Apparently, not even Capcom themselves realized what an amazing control scheme they created with this game.

Game that did change the industry, but maybe shouldn't have: Grand Theft Auto III.

Now, the GTA games have their fans and whatnot, and that's cool. But why does nearly every game out there need to have this "open-ended, sandbox" design to it? I can't even name all the "me-too" GTA rip-offs that have come out since last gen... and are *still* coming out THIS gen! And what's worse, game critics (and forum posters) have actually criticized games that try to buck that trend and remain linear. Like, when did linear sudden equal "BAD?!?" Grrr!

Finally, I think games like Silent Hill 2 and Eternal Darkness would have shaken up the survival/horror genre with more psychological elements and attempted mind-screws.... but most just focus on action/gore. (which ironically, may be due to Resident Evil 4. We have come full circle!)
Posted: 07/27/10, 21:44:54
Poor Kirby.



@GameDadGrant
I agree about the horrible preponderance of open-world games. Even stuff like Burnout. WHY?
Posted: 07/27/10, 21:59:59
@anandxxx

Exactly. EXACTLY. Why is an open-world needed in a balls-to-the-walls arcade racer?!? Do not want.

I'll admit that the open-world thing kinda worked in Need for Speed: Most Wanted... I liked that one. But I didn't like it in Underground 2, Carbon... and whatever it was that came after that. So out of four or five times, the open-world structure of arcade racing worked well... ONCE. Bah. Curse you, GTA3! *shakes fist*

Glad that Need for Speed Nitro bucked that trend and avoided having that open-world aspect. Thank the heavens...!
Posted: 07/27/10, 22:15:42  - Edited by 
 on: 07/27/10, 22:16:19
I don't know what game to credit for this, since there are apparently games like this from before (including other Bioware games, and Megami Tensei as seen earlier in the thread), but I really like Mass Effect/Mass Effect 2's dialogue system. The only new non-Bioware game I'm aware of that seems to have taken any influence from that is Alpha Protocol, which got mixed reviews. I wish more games let you make choices that affect the course of the plot like that.

GameDadGrant said:
Should have changed the industry, but didn't: Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition.

- Now, I'm not sure if this would have changed the ENTIRE industry, but why are there not more third-person shooter action games on Wii? It works so freakin' well in this game! It's fun, it's engaging, and very satisfying. Not to mention entirely intuitive. When I was playing through the port, I was thinking to myself, "why would anyone make a TPS game for any other system? This is perfect!" ... but no one did. What a shame. Apparently, not even Capcom themselves realized what an amazing control scheme they created with this game.

Agreed 100%. I officially hate everyone and everything in the game industry forever and ever for failing to capitalize on this.
Posted: 07/27/10, 22:17:59
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