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Maybe Innovation And Progression Just Isn't Fun In Games

Humans love the familiar. It's comforting. Change is scary.

But beyond that obvious observation are a variety of factors that contribute to the word "fun" in regards to interactive entertainment; i.e., video games.

Maybe the reason Call of Duty is the most popular name in the gaming universe is simply because it's extremely familiar, extremely addictive, and as a direct result, can be categorized as "fun" or "entertaining" for the vast majority. Last I checked, that's what this industry is all about: Entertainment. And there's no doubt that when we try something new, all sorts of problems can arise. If developers are attempting a new gameplay mechanic, for instance, there's no tried-and-true formula; nothing to guarantee a reliable, responsive - and overall "fun" - experience. And these days, few take risks with their hard-earned money.

Then there's the depressing argument that perhaps we've done all we can do with interaction, at least so far as the standard setup is concerned; i.e., a TV screen and a controller in our hands. It's difficult to predict what could happen next, although we have to assume there's no halting the advancement train. That being said, innovation and progression isn't just risky from a financial standpoint. It's also risky purely from a design standpoint: If something is tried and doesn't work, that's all the more reason for developers to stick with the formula. And the more they do that, the more we get the "been there, done that" experience.

But maybe that's not an issue for most gamers. Maybe they're perfectly happy with "been there, done that." It's a guaranteed fun time, right? You know you're not wasting your money and time. Why waste what precious little time busy adults have just to support the concept of innovation and freshness? And who's to say any of that is even fun? Don't developers need time to get an all-new mechanic exactly right? Since when is the very first example of a new gameplay system perfect? And if that's the case, why jump on the bandwagon immediately? Innovation might not just be boring; it might also be crucially flawed.

Sorry, this is all a little disheartening. I know. But if you really think about it for a minute, you have to admit that you - yes, you - have at least once sacrificed taking a chance for something you know will deliver, even if you also know it won't deliver anything new. And maybe that's the safest way to participate...even if we all suffer in the long run.

Tags: video games, gaming, gaming culture, gamers, games

6/6/2012 9:44:17 PM Ben Dutka

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Comments (33 posts)

Soultaker
Wednesday, June 06, 2012 @ 10:15:46 PM
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Maybe if Square Enix stuck to their tried and true then maybe they'd be more fun too. Just my opinion anyway.

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Rogueagent01
Wednesday, June 06, 2012 @ 10:16:54 PM
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"If developers are attempting a new gameplay mechanic, for instance, there's no tried-and-true formula; nothing to guarantee a reliable, responsive - and overall "fun" - experience."

I think the opposite about that, put the game in the hands of gamers away from the developers so that they can give real feedback. Internal testers usually aren't going to say this sucks as it may cost them either respect or their jobs, where as a gamer in a free situation will call it what it is, be it fun, great, horrible, or the worst idea they have ever seen. Some betas for instance have made devs damn near cry:)

I have always been a mix of both worlds type of gamer. I love innovation and at the same time will purchase games I know are fun i.e. games with 2s and 3s in them. Without a steady balance of both the industry would just wither up and die. This gen has been playing it too safe on the large budget game front and at least the indie developers have picked up the slack. Games like Heavy Rain, Mirror's Edge, & Valkyria Chronicles are absolutely fun and at the same time innovative so I am not sure what you mean with your article.

Last edited by Rogueagent01 on 6/6/2012 10:18:57 PM

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LimitedVertigo
Wednesday, June 06, 2012 @ 10:36:38 PM
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I just want more RPGs. To clarify, traditional RPGs not the crap they've been dishing to us during this current generation.

I'm tired of people justifying something that's average just because it's trying something new.

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Underdog15
Thursday, June 07, 2012 @ 11:38:41 AM

^This.

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wiley_kyotee
Thursday, June 07, 2012 @ 3:16:23 PM

Traditional turn based RPGs? If yes, me too.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, June 06, 2012 @ 11:07:23 PM
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Hmmmm, if we are working strictly with the word "fun" here then I think I might have to agree with a few caveats.

While I loved the control innovations for Heavy Rain I would call it riveting instead of fun.

I just know the gameplay for Lollipop Chainsaw will be very accessible and so I know the game will be fun to play.

I know that turn based RPG mechanics are very fun while any erosion of that is less fun.

Then there's inFamous, that was totally new to me and still extremely fun.



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kraygen
Wednesday, June 06, 2012 @ 11:59:29 PM
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I think for the majority of it, we're talking two different audiences. There are those who just want their shooters, their rpgs, their action games, whatever. Those of us who focus almost solely on one type of game or another.

Then there are those who like to try every kind of game for it's own unique experience and they crave new and innovative titles.

Of course their are some who play a little of both but I think most people these days fit into the first type, the focus type.

I think it seems like people prefer tried and true, but only because their are a lot more gamers these days and the majority of them don't have time to learn a new game all the time so they stick to what they know.

I think that's why call of duty is so popular, you can come home pick it up and play it and it has a really low learning curve. When you're tired and want to relax the majority of people go to their "comfort games."

Doesn't mean innovation should stop, we wouldn't have these tried and true methods if someone hadn't first innovated them.

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gray_eagle
Thursday, June 07, 2012 @ 12:07:33 AM
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when talking about "something new" and not wanting to take risks.
just go back to the comments about the wonderbook.

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Sol
Thursday, June 07, 2012 @ 12:13:10 AM
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I agree, people in general love to play it safe, but eventually it gets redundant. We have R&D and innovation, but no matter what it always nice to know that you have something you know is less likely to disappoint. However, there are but only so many ways for you to do the same thing differently, ya know?

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AcHiLLiA
Thursday, June 07, 2012 @ 12:23:31 AM
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I have to admit that COD 3 multiplayer is still fun to play. If only COD games can have the same game mechanics as COD3 with better graphics multiplayer wise.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, June 07, 2012 @ 12:48:18 AM
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If you want to see real innovation that is fun, you have to get dirty. You guys all know I get elbow deep in some seriously mediocre titles. They always have their quirks, but the reason I keep doing it is there are flashes of genius all over the place that are really very fun in games that score low.

The problem is they are often surrounded by confusing stuff that you have to be able to tune out.

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Sol
Thursday, June 07, 2012 @ 8:00:51 AM

Which is why I like to play games like Fracture. They may not be the best overall, but you will see some good ideas time and time again (if only they were executed better right?).

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Underdog15
Thursday, June 07, 2012 @ 11:41:01 AM

hmm... you might like Knights Contract, then. Flashes of hack n' slash brilliance, great mood and setting, just a few things that ruin it a little bit.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, June 07, 2012 @ 1:10:08 PM

What I heard that scared me was that the QTEs are impossible to hit, if I have to die 50,000 times I consider the game broken.

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Underdog15
Thursday, June 07, 2012 @ 1:19:22 PM

Yeah, they are broken QTE's. They're easy enough to hit on medium and easy difficulties, but then the majority of the gameplay isn't even close to being a challenge... On the difficulty settings it's actually worth playing on, the QTE's are mind-numbingly awful.

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Vivi_Gamer
Thursday, June 07, 2012 @ 1:37:48 AM
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I fear the word innovation this gen, it has lead to nothing but trouble. The motion controls just have not hit off for me, sure the Wii made a success of it, even in Zelda, but the m ajority of the games just don't need it or are limited because they are built around it - just look at all the Kinect titles...

Not that I am against experimentation in development not at all but when ever that word is mentioned it always leads to very drastic measures.

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PharaohJR
Thursday, June 07, 2012 @ 1:55:52 AM
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i dont mind innovation, i know as time go folks will allways want to improve where the concept lacks. i just hope as these next generations come they dont forget the basics that made gaming. they can make motion controllers more advanced but dont forget bout the actual controller.

i dont want GTA 8 to involve me walking & portraying actions that reflect on screen... if its optional for those that enjoy that koo but make sure a controller is available. im a man of satisfaction, once i reach that level thats pleasing i dont seek more.

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Lawless SXE
Thursday, June 07, 2012 @ 2:07:43 AM
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I'm finding ever more frequently that I don't play games to have fun, but rather for the experience. Don't get me wrong, inFamous was fun. Causing havoc in GTA is fun. LBP is fun and certain areas in DMC were fun, but that's all a side effect for me. That isn't what I seek.

I enjoyed being forced to think about the best strategy to use in Valkyria Chronicles (as well as the story). I loved the way that Heavy Rain engaged the players. I loved the themes of Binary Domain. "Would You Kindly" set me reeling, Demon's Souls begged caution and Fallout 3 gave you the remnants of a dying world to explore.

I would call none of those 'fun' in the strictest sense, but they are also what I've most enjoyed. And many of the elements aforementioned are used in innovative, progressive or rather DIFFERENT ways than they have in the past. It's that variation that makes me want to play a game.

That being said, I want something unique to be done in a way that feels right. Inversion doesn't interest me because, from what I gather, the gravity manipulation is dreadfully limited. I'd rather that GTA IV hadn't experimented with moral choices because they were throwaway additions to the game.

Hmm... I'm just thinking now. Maybe that has something to do with the 'arousal addiction' mentioned in the "Why Men Are Falling Short" book, or whatever it was titled that you have the interview for. I get easily bored with the shooting, or the cutting, or whatever and I want something new from my games... It may not be necessarily fun, but it is better :)

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, June 07, 2012 @ 2:43:02 AM

Lately I've been pondering that sort of thing, why I'm not having the kind of fun I did with gaming as I did when I was a kid. I think gaming isn't really meant to be all that fun anymore, it really is about the entertainment experience. Some books and movies are for fun but the best ones really aren't ya know?

So I'm trying to strike a balance because if I'm playing 2-3 games at once that are all serious I think it can be mood affecting. I could go back to playing 1 at a time but for some reason I get burnout really fast that way.

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___________
Thursday, June 07, 2012 @ 6:19:20 AM
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oh hogswash!
quite the opposite actually!
innovation is what makes allot of games so much fun!
yea you dont need it for every game, look at just cause 2 that was about as innovative as a stick!
but was still fun as hell!
but other games like heavy rain, brought so much new stuff to the industry!

the reasons COD is so popular is simple!

1 its the ONLY game that works on release!
so many times ive picked up MP games and i have not been able to have a reliable experience for months after release!
never had that problem with any COD!

2 its the ONLY game that is so accessable!
look at all the perks in the game.
so many games, battlefield for instance, force you to play a certain way.
COD though lets you play your way, to your strengths.
if your not the fastest most accurate shooter you can play a support role, if you find that boring you can set up munitions and support the team.
there is so many tools and pieces of equipment to make it easier for people to have fun!
allot of games dont have that, there you play like this if you dont like it than tough dont play our game!

3 its the ONLY game that gets supported so well!
there is always double XP events, gaming with the dev nights, competitions, community events, DLC updates, patches, there is always constant new content for the game!
most games dont do that, how much DLC and community events have R3 and KZ3 for instance had?
or SOCOM 4, one of the biggest MP franchises of all time!?
i rest my case!

this is one thing that REALLY pisses me off about companies these days!
they release a sh*t product or support something poorly then complain that its not selling well.
android phones are another prime example of this!
galaxy S3 has been out for 2 weeks now and it has so few games for it!
apple are kicking the sh*t out of the android market because 1 whenever a new apple device is released there are games to take advantage of it!
2 the day the product releases is the day the accessories and services release for it!
android however is the opposite!
manufactures bust their balls making a better phone than apple than go and destroy it by supporting it poorly!

its exactly the same with console games!
it does not matter how good your product is, it could be the best game ever made, the best phone ever made!
but if you dont support it than its not going to sell well!
COD is so popular because its apple.
its products may not be the best but they always have new content for it, the support is second to NONE!
thats why COD is kicking the sh*t out of pretty much everything in the sales department!
it really pisses me off when companies create a half a$$ed product than b*tch that its selling poorly!
of course its selling poorly you morons!

maybe if all other games were supported like COD than it would start selling really poorly and everything else would be raking in the dough?
just a hunch..........


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matt99
Thursday, June 07, 2012 @ 9:43:37 AM

1. COD works on release? I distinctly remember Black Ops having several problems off the bat...
2. Battlefield does not force you to play a certain way, it has just as much gameplay variety as COD (if not more)
3. True COD is supported well, but it's hardly the only game that's supported well.

I too really enjoy Call of Duty and get it every year, I think it delivers what people want from it very well, but don't come up with BS and put down another game that is just as good as COD...it takes away from any good points you may have had and makes you look like just another mindless fanboy.

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___________
Friday, June 08, 2012 @ 9:08:08 AM

you should talk!

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Axe99
Thursday, June 07, 2012 @ 7:20:04 AM
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Plenty of room for innovation and progression in AI - I haven't seen any game this gen come close to KZ2/3 (UC3 wasn't bad, but still not in the same class), and have high hopes things'll get better next gen.

As for gameplay, it takes a while for new ideas to sink in, and like all things, innovation will generally be evolutionary once things are well established (for example, generally everyone builds cars with four wheels these days, the differences are more in other details - it's the same with how FPS and TPS mechanics work, in that movement and aiming is getting more similar over time (twin stick controls are almost ubiquitous), but the general handling of how those sticks actually reflect movement on screen (acceleration, amount of auto-aim, sensitivity, deadzone) can vary a fair bit between games).

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ProfPlayStation
Thursday, June 07, 2012 @ 9:35:28 AM
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I think that this depends greatly on what sort of "innovation" you're talking about. Things like implying Kinect is a good control device, or suddenly abandoning 20 years of FF tradition for something different--throwing the baby out with the bathwater--are not good things. But adapting FPS mechanics to parkour in Mirror's Edge, or adapting Zelda's mechanics to a more mature storyline and compelling original world in Beyond Good & Evil; those are very good! The real key to quality is to take what works and build upon it. Wii/Kinect/Move gimmicks aren't the answer, and neither is pulling a sudden 180 in your game design.

I do agree that this is one of the great appeals of CoD, but also of Final Fantasy, Mario and so on. Rather like Reggie says, we want the same thing that we've always had, but better and different. The difficulty is in knowing what to keep and what to change, which is how FF13 failed so badly; they changed all the wrong things.

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wackazoa
Thursday, June 07, 2012 @ 9:41:54 AM
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Good read.

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matt99
Thursday, June 07, 2012 @ 9:48:50 AM
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Innovation is risky in anything, and a lot of -if not most- new ideas fail. That's why I completely understand when people stick with what works, be it in gaming or movies or anything, but it's also why innovation is so commendable, whether it fails or succeeds.

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Highlander
Thursday, June 07, 2012 @ 12:46:49 PM
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I think that the problem here is that for too long we have relied on innovative new interfaces, or control methods to bring variety to games. We have really reached the limit of what is doable in a home now. Sure you can flail around like a lunatic with Move, Kinect and Wiimotes, but it's not like you're actually going to start wearing a VR headset and body suit and run around the room rolling, crouching and shadow boxing is it?

Bringing this back though to the point of innovation/progression. Look at other forms of entertainment - specifically movies. they are still presented on a big flat screen that we sit and watch. The innovation there has been story, production values, effects, camera work, artistic direction but most of all writing.

At some point we hit the wall and the control schemes and methodologies are as good as we can get. They are really 'good enough' right now. we have voice, gesture, and motion capture, we have wireless controllers with control buttons, analog sticks and touch surfaces, the controllers sense motion in all axes of movement. There are cameras watching us and microphones listening. In short there's not really much more that we could do short of either a full body VR suit, or direct synaptic interfacing - neither of which are that likely to happen any time soon.

Instead of trying to come up with another gimmicky control device or system, perhaps game makers and system designers alike should focus on providing a highly capable system that can support more complex narratives and game mechanics instead of worrying about how to handle full body motion detection - or whaterver. Because I can absolutely guarantee you, very few gamers over the age of 30 are going to want to run around their living room living out the action in full motion capture, not that many of our living rooms would survive that experience intact.

Last edited by Highlander on 6/7/2012 12:47:23 PM

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ethird1
Thursday, June 07, 2012 @ 12:58:24 PM
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I want an RPG where all the quests, the battles, the emo scenery, I mean EVERYTHING, is just to get a shot at a beautiful woman and her bountiful boobs. Just like in real life.

Think about it. Boobs makes everyone happy, especially guys. I can have a bad day and when I look at a nice rack I will be happy as a jaybird.

It is the simple things in life that makes life good. Boobs are simple. Boobs are beautiful. God made boobs to make a boob like me happy.

What does this have to do with innovation? EVERYTHING! Because no matter how things change with humans one thing is a constant in humanity and will be forever .......

Boobs rule.



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Fane1024
Thursday, June 07, 2012 @ 8:17:30 PM

If you're focusing on her boobs, you're doing it wrong.

On the up-side, at least you won't get her pregnant.

;P

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ethird1
Thursday, June 07, 2012 @ 2:33:28 PM
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Check out this old school RPG by SquareEnix. Now this what I am talking about!

http://www.the-magicbox.com/1206/game120606a.shtml

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LimitedVertigo
Thursday, June 07, 2012 @ 6:09:14 PM

YAY a smartphone game YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!


/s

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ulsterscot
Thursday, June 07, 2012 @ 3:09:22 PM
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I agree completely - boobs could make COD even better - your on to something here

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Highlander
Thursday, June 07, 2012 @ 11:04:37 PM

Boobs make everything better. I thought that this was an incontrovertible fact known to all mankind?

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