A moment ago Eiji Aonuma – producer of the game series titled Legend of Zelda – stated that games with linear plots are increasingly losing popularity, and most players prefer more open titles that give more freedom in exploration and decision-making. He also added that players today reach for linear adventures only because of… nostalgia, which made it clear that for the so-called only older players miss corridors. The most interesting thing he admitted, however, is that he personally agrees with the preferences of older players, but as a producer he must bear in mind that this is currently not the most profitable attitude.
Author: Ewelina Stój
It doesn’t matter whether we played the first Baldur’s Gate or Fortnite as a child – I am sure that in both cases the joy of the game was equally great, and that’s what gaming is all about. However, one may have the impression that there were so few games 30 years ago that each title was appreciated more – we went from A to Z and did not abandon it, even if we stopped liking something in the game for a while. Perhaps this is why playing as a child may seem more valuable in the past than today, where there are so many game productions. And the more of them, the greater the chance that this collection will include a lot of painfully average games. This may also be the reason for the false (?) belief that today’s games have no value.
Creating linear games where the plot is ambitious, clearly outlined and single-threaded, and the tasks progress one after another, is not a very profitable activity these days. Game developers know perfectly well that completely different games sell much better today.
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What is it like in reality? Are today’s games less valuable than those from 10, 20 or 30 years ago? Personally, I think that this is indeed the case and I am sorry to say that it really was better. That is, subjectively better, because the youngest generation does not seem to particularly care about what they receive from subsequent development studios. However, it cannot be denied that the profile of gaming changes significantly from decade to decade and year to year. From a plot-based, intellectual entertainment, it turns into a shooter or racer that requires reflexes and raises the heart rate. As a person who has always looked for an interesting, sometimes instructive plot in games, I cannot hide my disappointment with this change.
Need for Speed Heat – a typical example of a brainwashing game that is unable to offer anything surprising
However, these are not all the changes that have affected the game recently. For several years now, largely due to giants such as EA or Ubisoft, there has been a proliferation of sandbox games, i.e. games from the so-called open world. In fact, (apart from independent productions), we rarely see linear games that offer task after task, enchanting us with a compact, engaging and unique story. Due to the fact that the sandboxes are so extensive, the plot of subsequent productions becomes extremely blurred and the game time stretches into hundreds of hours. However, developers know perfectly well that in such extensive universes there is a lot of potential to periodically enrich them with paid add-ons. On the other hand, after spending so much time in one production, players become so attached to it that they willingly spend money on microtransactions, which will only make their time in the game even more enjoyable and more attractive.
The latest (apart from Mirage) installments of Assassin’s Creed are a perfect example of how to use DLC to keep the player entertained for additional hours.
We live in times where the quality of products (of all kinds) has long given way to the will to make quick and big money. Therefore, it is not surprising that developers prefer to create games that will earn money for many years to come (see GTA Online), which do not need special care, rather than those that require a lot of effort and will sell. only once. Firstly, this approach generates rather unambitious games, and secondly, there are bunches of them, and each one is similar to the previous one. However, the younger generation has no comparison with older games. He doesn’t know that these productions could look completely different than the 500th “find the cinquefoil rhizome” quest. On the other hand, I also have the impression that if I sat a 12-year-old today in front of a title à la Planescape: Torment, he would gasp at the wall of text and inevitably withdraw from this “torture”.
GTA Online is a goose that lays golden eggs and you can’t help but think that other developers are doing their best to breed one too.
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In my opinion, “training” players by providing them with increasingly worse productions was partly intentional. Successive generations passed, we complained a bit about the decreasing level of games, and finally a generation came along that, when playing Minecraft, for example, does not complain, but is actually enchanted by what developers can offer them. At this point, we could also blame the increasingly lower level of education, which means that young people not only demand less and less from entertainment (the really low substantive level of these titles is enough for them), but also make them unable to cope with games that require move your brain properly. Of course, I’m not generalizing because, as always, demand is largely generated by fashion, but no matter how you look at it, the vast majority of young gamers get lost in mediocre titles that don’t require them to use their brains too much, but only learn certain reflexes.
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Young people are not helped by the fact that their minds are constantly overstimulated these days when it comes to enjoying complex RPGs or story-rich, suspenseful puzzle games. It’s no wonder that it’s easier for them to play an intellectually undemanding game, where the main focus is shooting, than a content-filled, ambitious production in which you have to think, which would only further satiate their “rolls”. This situation is inextricably linked to two others – lack of time and constant stress means that children do not find pleasure in playing more intellectually demanding games. But in order not to say that it is only the players who are to blame for the current situation in gamedev, we also need to look at the developers themselves, who in many respects have cleverly directed the development of games to make them look the way they do now (simple, shallow, engaging only by releasing the hormones of happiness and awards).
Young minds are currently so overloaded that additional intellectual effort in the form of ambitious games is definitely not a priority
Usually, a person subconsciously needs other people to live, and as in the so-called It is increasingly difficult for us to establish any relationships in the “real world”, so we rely at least on virtual ones. As you can easily guess, technology has made people more and more afraid to approach other people. It’s hard not to think that the greatest brains in the tech world did this on purpose to sell this contact with other people for money, among others. through online games. Moreover, developers know well that even making their game available for free (free-2-play) can bring them a lot of income by selling telemetry data to third parties. This data may reveal not only how the human psyche works in selected conditions (games offering moral choices), but also how people behave in space during a threat (all military games).
Telltale’s The Walking Dead game series is an excellent tool for social research. A lot can be concluded from the decisions players make, and these conclusions can be… monetized
The belief that there will no longer be games like before also results from observations of the slowly (but still) developing VR industry. At the moment, the implementation of games for goggles (we are talking about non-ported games) requires focusing mainly on mechanics, which is why developers sometimes lack the time and energy to also provide an ambitious plot in this sector. Therefore, we can expect that the development of VR games will be very similar to that of 3D games – that they will not be overly ambitious games at first, but we can still have (false) hope that they will eventually become that way. In turn, in the case of further development of 3D games, the emphasis will be mainly on graphics and new technological solutions, hence developers will probably lack time for everything else, including preparing a sensible, distinctive and instructive plot.
More games are arriving on VR platforms every week. However, the vast majority are the proverbial flakes. In fact, only ports from other platforms can be called ambitious (Resident Evil 4), although we cannot forget about Half-Life: Alyx
Additionally, the absorption of one studio by another, which is simply larger, does not help, which is why the so-called content is becoming more and more standardized, and therefore does not develop young people in any way, and therefore closes them off to more valuable content (because they cannot recognize and appreciate it). As a wise man once said, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. And so, smaller development studios with potential are bought by tycoon publishers, which most often ends with imposing their own vision on the developers and preparing another shallow sandbox, a spectacular racer or another shooter that offers mindless entertainment. And I’m not saying that there are no completely ambitious projects nowadays (see the recent Baldur’s Gate or Disco Elysium), but I would recommend coming to terms with the idea that the upcoming games, like the rest of the world, will only offer the so-called an excess of form over content, and if any of us wants to return to ambitious content, we will actually be left to lose ourselves only in items from the past.
Disco Elysium is a game with room for as many as 1 million words. This is an extremely ambitious, unique work of our times, but it is impossible to imagine that it would reach the average teenager today. It’s a pity, it’s a pity