Unoriginality Engine 3 and the console curse

Am I just getting old? It can’t be that, unless we’ve gone back a hundred years and I’ve already reached half my life expectancy. No, there must be some other factor that makes me entirely unexcited about new first-person shooters.

I started playing shooters on the Mac with Wolfenstein 3D and Marathon. Before long, I was kicking alien butt in Duke Nukem 3D, trying not to let the fourth episode of Quake scare me to death (I never made it), getting my non-alien butt kicked in Q3Test, and enjoying the riveting experience that was the original Half-Life. Plus everything in between. Sure, I’d play other kinds of games, but none could deliver quite the thrill and visual delight of FPSes. I must have sunk thousands of hours into Counter-Strike and Counter-Strike: Source before I got sick of ’em right around 2007.

Nowadays, I don’t devour new shooters with anywhere near the same voracity. I’ll partake in occasional games of ARMA 2 or Left 4 Dead 2, but only if I’m playing with friends. Aside from those two, I’d say only one other FPS has kept me going back to it within the past year or so: Mirror’s Edge, whose single-player campaign I just can’t get sick of. And that isn’t even an FPS in the strictest sense of the term. (You can actually beat the whole game without firing a weapon, although picking up an M60 and gunning down bad guys in those boat levels is pretty satisfying.)

I made myself buy Battlefield: Bad Company 2 the other day, hoping for better gameplay with the same gritty, realistic finish as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. I was quite disappointed. Not only did the DICE title feel just as repetitive as its Infinity Ward cousin, but despite first-hand accounts of its graphical polish, Bad Company 2 just didn’t look that good to me. Good for a cross-platform game, certainly, but not Crysis good. And definitely not “Crysis came out two-and-a-half years ago, let’s see what we can do now” good. Bullet holes are drawn over stairways on two flat triangles, for heaven’s sake. 

Battlefield: Bad Company 2.

My experience with Bad Company 2 seems like standard fare these days, unfortunately. That’s why I’m probably not going to buy BioShock 2, even though Steam now has it on sale for 15 bucks. I loved the original, but I’m just not sure if I’ll have any fun with the sequel. From what I hear, it’s just more of the same. How sad is that? No, not my hasty, second-hand assessment of BioShock 2, but the fact that I feel so lukewarm about the sequel to one of my favorite games.

I could go on whining for another few paragraphs, but I’ll cut to the chase. I think my lack of enthusiasm about new FPS titles comes down to two factors: lack of innovation in graphics and lack of innovation in gameplay.

Rehashing the same gameplay concepts worked back when game engines got major graphics upgrades every couple of years. Better graphics meant more immersion, and it added some spice to the same old tasks—run, shoot, find key, unlock door, move on to next level. I still remember when I got my hands on a leaked alpha of Unreal 2 many years ago; I spent hours running around the unfinished map at a slide-show frame rate, gazing in awe at the huge draw distance, the trees, the lone tank-like vehicle, and how alive the world seemed. There weren’t even any enemies or anything to do, but the sudden jump in graphcial fidelity was still enough to make me feel immersed.

Soon after the release of the Xbox 360 in November 2005, the graphical fidelity of games began to stagnate. Keep in mind Epic’s Unreal Engine 3 has remained the gold standard from the release of Gears of War in late 2006 until today. Sure, Epic’s made some tweaks and improvements, but I don’t see Unreal Engine 4 anywhere. In theory, stagnation in graphics shouldn’t be such a big deal. You don’t need to upgrade your computer or console as often, and game developers can keep recycling the same graphics technology, giving them more time to spend fine-tuning gameplay and trying cool new ideas. Right?

Gears of War on the PC.

Yeah, things didn’t quite work out that way. The hardware portion did, sure enough, but game developers are still trodding out the same tired gameplay concepts time after time… after time. It’s like every year, game studios have a meeting that goes like this: “Sales numbers on our latest game are fantastic! Let’s start work on the sequel right away. We’re going to make some new maps, craft some new scripted paths through those maps, add some new weapons, find some new voice actors, and make the multiplayer a little more accessible. Back to work, everybody!”

It’s as if Hollywood started producing nothing but formulaic, play-it-safe summer movies. Where are the game equivalents of No Country for Old Men, The Dark Knight, District 9, and Wall-E? Where’s the adventure, the experimentation, and the excitement? Movie studios can pull it off, so why can’t big game-publishing houses do the same? Or is everyone happy just waiting for Valve to make all the cool stuff, like Portal and Left 4 Dead?

Until FPS makers pull their heads out of their collective behinds, I think I’ll look for more cool indie platformers to try. I absolutely loved Braid and Trine, and I’m dying to get a refill. I’m starting to think we’ll have to wait until the next generation of consoles before FPSes get out of their current rut, though.

Comments closed
    • dashbarron
    • 9 years ago

    I hate FPS, but I loved the feel of L4D.

    Then came L4D2:

    “Sales numbers on our latest game are fantastic! Let’s start work on the sequel right away. We’re going to make some new maps, craft some new scripted paths through those maps, add some new weapons, find some new voice actors, and make the multiplayer a little more accessible. Back to work, everybody!”

    • ZGradt
    • 9 years ago

    Games suck these days because of the lack of boss fights. Those are the most memorable parts of a game. Figuring out a strategy that exploits weaknesses and then skillfully executing that strategy is what gets me excited. Most games these days have lost sight of that.

    • ClickClick5
    • 9 years ago

    The Xbox 360 was the dead fish in the tank that was never removed. Now everything else in the tank is dead.

    Microsoft is set on pushing the 360 as a platform instead of the PC, causing graphics to be stuck at Radeon 2900XT levels and the gameplay be stuck at a “unified” 512MB ram. Bleh.

    • Flatland_Spider
    • 9 years ago

    There is no art in video games.

    Video games used to be considered a type of interactive novel, but now they are more visual which draws the comparison to movies rather then the printed word.

    No Country for Old Men, The Dark Knight, District 9, and Wall-E are all creations of artists that place story telling high on the priority list. Video games are a mass produced quantity, so innovation and differentiation are low on the list. Basically what you have is Michael Bay pumping out as many movies as he can, and no one would argue that Michael Bay has any artistic talent whatsoever.

    Once people consider video games as art they will look for ways to produce culturally relevant works.

    • yogibbear
    • 9 years ago

    FPS games i am LOOKING FORWARD to (for all your pessimistic bastards… and yes i’m usually one of them):

    -Portal 2
    -Project Offset
    -S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 (or 4 depending on how you count the expansions)
    -Crytek’s original IP FPS (yet to be announced)

    Not sooooo interested in:
    -Doom 4

      • wira020
      • 9 years ago

      Crytek’s original IP FPS (yet to be announced)

      What’s that?.. I think my list is the same as yours except I am actually interested with RAGE… Crysis 2 also sounds good.. and i hope soon enough Fallout Vegas n 4…

    • herothezero
    • 9 years ago


    • Dashak
    • 9 years ago

    Linear repeats
    Complaints of growing older
    Video blinded

    • scribly
    • 9 years ago

    My biggest problem with fps games these days is that it’s all too perfectly designed.
    Most of the time you’re just walking through a tunnel and kill stuff you encounter
    even if it’s an ‘open’ world, because if you just stray off the path you get insta-killed or get the message “You can not continue in that way” (or no message at all an you’re just blocked from going into that open street)

      • scribly
      • 9 years ago

      Just bought the new Transformers game (don’t buy it if you’re left handed)
      And yup, as expected the game is one big tunnel. Ship crashes, you get out, it exploded blocking you from going back.
      You enter a hall, hall closes blocking you from going back
      There’s a place with fire and debris, but enough room to walk, but you can’t enter it due to an invisible force-field…

      Really, these games become more and more boring and predictable

    • Bensam123
    • 9 years ago

    After reading the responses in here for the last few days, I love how a majority of people are justifying the lack of development and stagnation of the industry over attempting to better it.

    I suppose this is why we’re stuck in the rut we are.

      • Skrying
      • 9 years ago

      How do your propose they better it? Stop buying the games? I’m sure a few people are doing that. I buy very few games these days myself. Very few are worth playing.

        • Voldenuit
        • 9 years ago

        I think a lot of players (console and PC alike) rarely look past the big blockbuster games.

        There are a lot of indie and sleeper hits that never get any press or attention, and spread mainly through word of mouth.Thus the impression that there are no innovative games, because they’re not easy to find.

        Remember Modern Warfare 2? The marketing budget was bigger than the development budget. That’s a pretty sad affair when you consider that PC users are in general a very “connected group” – you’d think word on good games would immediately get around on its own, but it doesn’t.

          • Bensam123
          • 9 years ago

          I’m not entirely sure. I’ve been watching Indie games as well as big company games and most of them suck. There are a few ones like World of Goo and such, but they’re just tantalizing treats that aren’t worth playing a second time.

          The biggest indie game I’ve played that’s close to being a indie game is Living Legends, which is a mod for Crysis and isn’t even buyable. Other then that, indie developer somehow have the initiative, but still aren’t aiming for the same level of games that we’ve come to desire (not necessarily graphic wise either).

        • Bensam123
        • 9 years ago

        Gamers should void their opinions instead of thinking that they have absolutely no power, just like Cyril is doing in this blog. Do it on blogs, do it on game review websites in the comments, do it game news sites in the comments as well.

        I suppose it doesn’t help that 99% of the game review websites that are well known are just payed off and don’t even know how to review games or what makes them good. Still if there are enough joe schmoes saying the samething, eventually we will be heard.

    • StuG
    • 9 years ago

    I have to say that I feel in every part of my body that BFBC2 was two things…a quick response to Modern Warfare 2 and to steal some of its hold…as well as testing grounds for what they want to do in BF3 (which is on the horizon).

    The Battlefield series has never really released great titles that weren’t specifically Battlefield 1 or 2…they have always just been ok.

    Wait for their main title to come out and I’m sure you’ll be plenty pleased. BFBC2 allows them to test the amount of “pretty stuff” and certain game dynamics before putting it into their big hitter game.

    • Fighterpilot
    • 9 years ago

    As a new scenario to replace the tired WW2/Gulf war themes,I wonder if the pirates V Nato clashes off the coast of Africa could be a source of new story lines?

      • UberGerbil
      • 9 years ago

      Only if the pirates have a base on a secret island guarded by… zombies.

      • Flatland_Spider
      • 9 years ago

      If people actually thought about it, they could come up with all sorts of imaginative scenarios involving security contractors. That’s assuming you want it to be based on actual events.

      Alternate-history and just outright fantasy could also be a source of innovation.

    • rodney_ws
    • 9 years ago

    I don’t mind companies re-using engines. I loved Oblivion and I’m just now getting into Fallout 3. The latter does NOT seem like “Oblivion with guns” to me. And I just purchased Mass Effect 2 (on sale of course!) and while it uses the same engine as Dragon Age, I’m not exactly expecting more of the same with that one either.

    However, it does sadden me that computer graphics are essentially frozen once a console cycle hits. I get tired of the publishers pointing to PC piracy as a source of revenue loss. I think it really boils down to PC gamers expect to have control (dedicated servers, free user mods, etc) and console gamers have never had that level of control over their games so they don’t demand it.

    If you’re a PC gamer, support the companies that support you with good games… and do your best to (financially) punish the bad ones.

      • sonneillon
      • 9 years ago

      ME2 uses the Unreal Engine 3.5 where as Dragon Age used the BioWare made engine Eclipse.

      To quote somoene who worked on Dragon Age:

      “Dragon Age uses the Eclipse engine. It’s not a version of the Unreal engine that Mass Effect uses.”


    • indeego
    • 9 years ago

    I think the state of blockbuster gaming/FPS’s is _[

      • xtalentx
      • 9 years ago

      I thought Batman and Ironman were both great movies. Acting and general feel of the movies was very well done.

    • michael_d
    • 9 years ago

    I don’t think that quality of visual fidelity started to stagnate per se, look at Metro 2033 PC version. However, the developers are held back by consoles as they are compelled to make ports for financial reasons.

    • clone
    • 9 years ago

    3 things.

    1st: your first FPS, you got a natural high from it….. from that point forward you’ve been chasing the dragon and getting less from the experience each time.

    2nd: games are getting too detailed, the brain can’t fill in blanks that aren’t left so instead it will criticize.

    once you start criticizing you aren’t immersed.

    3rd: when the industry was small their was an eclectic few, as the money came so did the “self styled artists with money” who watered down and homogenized what was once few and new to become many and the same.

    ID arguably was the biggest to fall….. they arguably also weren’t all that original so much as early to the scene….. history has shown they went no further than to rehash and repeat, whenever they did stretch their legs it was brutally lazy & horrid…. almost awkward, very little effort expended, blatant lack of interest even in the mess of a movie they allowed to be made which really showcased the lack of respect they had for the material….. John Carmack was never going for the boat let alone missed it given he once bragged that storylines to video games were like storylines to porn.

    a visual master yes but with no “soul” sadly.

    3d realms fell mainly because….. will we ever really know?… it was a failure of their own making that much is certain but then again like the Fallout series the story may not be over on that front.

    Epic survives but they haven’t done much worth mention since Unreal 2 and Unreal Tournament GOTY. (note I liked Unreal 2 many didn’t)

    but their is hope.

    Valve steadfastly refuses to water down Half Life

    Blizzard steadfastly holds to maintaining game quality

    GSC a late arrival and very worthy has the Stalker series but they need to move on with either the series to include a limited CO OP multiplayer rpg which of all games I’ve played in the past decade really would benefit from it as well as move the story.

    at least their is hope for better games amongst the huge pack of mediocrity even if the core audience won’t remain as they move on in life.

      • DrDillyBar
      • 9 years ago

      I agree with about 90% of that. nice job.

      • indeego
      • 9 years ago

      /[<"Valve steadfastly refuses to water down Half Life"<]/ Ep 1, is watered down. Watch speedruns of episiode 1 and how dull THOSE are. I found the end battle to Ep 2 an epic one, but otherwise unimpressed story-wise. I'm glad they are taking a long time for ep 3, if it even comes out at all. I found quality lacking compared to HL2's "fung{<.<}g" Portal was fun. I want more mysterious labs though, not more portalsg{<.<}g

        • clone
        • 9 years ago

        Episode 1 could have been better…… I’m not sure I agree with that while yes it could have been better it was an episode and not a full game so their was only so much that was ever going to be done in the limited framework available.

        Episode 2 was better but by then the limits of the gfx engine were showing.

        I’m not glad they are taking forever with Episode 3, not at all but as I said Valve is refusing to water down the series and I respect that they are putting in the additional effort.

        your critique’s are valid but they are differences of opinion regarding small details, when I think of Half Life 2 I think of what an amazing series it’s been and I look forward to the next game / s.

        when I think of Quake and Doom I think of what pieces of junk those games became over time and I don’t care in the least what happens to them.

        Even the Unreal series…..a mixed bag at best the single players were amazing (original Unreal) then ok(Unreal 2 Awakening), the multiplayers were mind blowing(Unreal Tournament), bad(Unreal 2003), great with glaring flaws(Unreal 2004) then visual trash, an example of how boring FPS’s have become (Unreal 3).

      • Flatland_Spider
      • 9 years ago

      “He [John Carmack] once bragged that storylines to video games were like storylines to porn.”

      He’s right. Video games are a series of puzzles with enough storyline to interconnect them and to give the player a sense of motivation. It’s the novelty of the puzzles and the ability to create skills that make games interesting.

      Doom is a good example of the FPS where the storyline is thin, but skill and puzzles helped make it a fun game. Gran Turismo is a game series that subsists entirely on skill creation. Tetris, Bejewled, etc. puzzle and skill. All the old 2D side-scrolling games were skill.

      RPGs, strategy, dungeon crawlers, and RTS usually need stories to get the player into the world. When you’re grinding through the game, it really helps when the player feels some motivation for completing the game.

        • clone
        • 9 years ago

        he’s wrong but more than that his attitude towards what story’s are too games is why ID failed so badly in the end.

        The Doom series went from legend to nothing, take Half Life & it’s sequels, StarCraft and it’s upcoming sequel where the only reason I’m getting the game is the storyline, the Warcraft series managed to cross genres into MMORPG where players literally get game pacing dictated to them by developers, even Diablo, Halo to it’s sequels…….. it was the story that evolved far more than the game did that kept it compelling.

        you claim their is no art in video games and that comment is nothing, lacking any particular insight, showcasing a few movie winners amongst the masses of losers only goes to reinforce my point that story matters…. even the Micheal Bay comment reinforces the importance of story….. Bay has no films that will be fondly remembered, it’s far more important to get story right in video game sequels compared to a movie because of cost of entry and future potential.

        note: strictly multiplayer FPS’s have a success in MW2 but it’s a different market that is dying a mundane death filled with ppl who have your mindset & expectations.

    • Jon
    • 9 years ago

    I recently started to feel the same way Cyril. Excellent post that seems to reflect our parallel thought processing on this subject. Gaming has absolutely, aside from the occasional indie game, become completely stagnant in innovation. I do remember way back when every new FPS game that came out heralded some completely new innovation, graphically or gameplay-mechanics wise. Going from Wolfenstein to Doom to Duke3D to Quake to Quake2 to Quake3, each brought significant industry-level changes along with them.

    Thing’s have changed…

    Honestly, the reason why, is because of consoles. Game developers are stunted by the hardware in consoles. I mean, PC gaming already has DirectX11, consoles only support DX9 games. That just tells me that the PC gaming front wants to move ahead with innovation (at least graphically) but they can’t because the developers are trying to make their games as accessible to as wide an audience as possible by developing for 3 year old ‘next-gen’ console hardware.

    I hope that thing’s change someday.

    • link626
    • 9 years ago

    the problem = FPS glut. and Crysis 2 doesn’t make the issue any better. That Crysis 2 E3 demo looked boring as fock.

    You have to pick and choose carefully, and ignore the remaining 90% of games on the shelf.

    Publishers don’t expect you to buy every game that gets released. They publish a shietload of games hoping you’ll buy just one.

    As in porn, seeing the same pornstar in a bunch of movies gets old.
    blame it on overexposure.

    mix it up. don’t play FPS all the time.
    take a break and watch some movies. or go play a racing or rpg game

      • Meadows
      • 9 years ago

      That porn angle is actually intriguing.

      • Konstantine
      • 9 years ago

      Gamers step up, and so do games.The problem is that games don’t step up
      as fast.Two years old graphics or dynamics do not look as cool or exciting. Imagine how bad a five years old engine feels like, like Oblivion’s engine.

      Now the reasons why we’re getting shitty games are:
      *We, PC gamers, are still a minority in the gaming community, and that’s why *PC gaming doesn’t get much attention from the developers.
      *It takes more money, effort, and resources to write a quality game engine, and Unfortunately for us, those “bastards”, who make hundreds of millions of dollars, have not been feeling the need to to go through all that.
      *Console gaming keeps getting more and more profitable as compared to PC gaming.

      There might be other reasons, but those are the main ones in my opinion.
      The solution is to change the current situation. How ? BOMB ALL THE CONSOLES!

        • Meadows
        • 9 years ago

        Consoles are not responsible for poor game quality, the customers willing to settle “for less”, and the developers making such, are who’s responsible here.

        Many of today’s console games are just as poor as (if not worse than) today’s PC games, and they *[

          • Konstantine
          • 9 years ago


            • Meadows
            • 9 years ago

            Wait, outdated hardware = shitty games?

            Edit: STALKER as a good example? That game was horrifyingly boring, brown and frustrating, not something you want in any modern game. According to word of mouth, difficulty and boredom were way overboard for at least the first few HOURS of gameplay even for fans, which is enough several times over for making regular people get sick of the game.

            • Konstantine
            • 9 years ago

            Well, yes! Once you have any of the elements of a video game ruined, the whole game is ruined.For example, bad dynamics. A game with bad dynamics is just a ruined game, no matter how good the graphics, ai, or the story line are.
            Now three of the four elements mentioned above are hardware-related, right? So when a game developer/s start a project with console/s in mind, then the game in work is going to be a bad one, in respect to our standards.

            I had played and completed all the three stalker games, and i think they were excellent.Top quality graphics, along with excellent ai and story line and good dynamics.The story line was so amazing that i kept analyzing the game even after completing call of pripyat.
            I would recommend starting with shadow of chernobyl, so that you can get the story line, which is important…

            Anyhow, it could pretty much be a matter of taste; what’s good or acceptable for me might be bad for you or someone else…

            • Meadows
            • 9 years ago

            I tried starting with that one obviously, and it was unbearably boring, thin, and very difficult. On normal difficulty even. That’s not “normal”. Since then I believe only masochists play that crap.

            • Konstantine
            • 9 years ago

            I didn’t like it when i tried it first-time too.It just takes some time to get familiar with the mechanism of the game and for the story line to emerge.Once in there, it gets interesting, and the more you carry on, the more interesting the game becomes. It’s an RPG-Action game.

            As for the difficulty level, You need to have a gaming mouse for this game.For some reason non-gaming mice don’t work well in this game, and you don’t get to aim well, which means you die fast and often.
            Now the difficulty is a part of the game’s realistic nature.
            You’re fighting mutants and gangs in the zone, what do you expect…?

            I’m eagerly waiting for Disciples 3 now.This one is a RTS-RPG game.

            • Meadows
            • 9 years ago

            I know, Disciples is a good series, but STALKER is just “weird”. I can’t outright call it a bad game since it has a fan base, but I have every reason to call it “weird” among games.

            • clone
            • 9 years ago

            I played the first 2 Stalkers, haven’t gotten to Call of Pripyat yet.

            loved them….. I kind of wish Clear Sky had come out first but whatever the stories were decent.

            I’m not sure why some ppl have had a really hard time with Stalker early on, I played it on the hardest level with it being a challenge but not overly hard.

            one thing I made the mistake of doing was putting a silencer on my AK 47 that killed it’s accuracy……. really killed my interest in the AK 47’s for a while but once I realised the mistake it made the game much easier.

            once I pulled the silencer I immediately went down killed all the Russians at the checkpoint in the first zone, looted all of them along with about 50 more that kept showing up, tossed everything onto a body and dragged the body back to camp, then sold all of the equipment and had a fortune for the rest of the game.

            made life simpler and bypassed the load limit’s the game places on you.

            • Kaleid
            • 9 years ago

            Stalker is great. Immersive as hell after a while and much less consolish than Metro 2033.

    • branko
    • 9 years ago

    “Sure, 90% of SF is crud. That’s because 90% of everything is crud.” – Theodore Sturgeon, circa 1951.

    • Mars_999
    • 9 years ago

    I am never going to stop PC gaming. I will never game on consoles so if PC gaming dies I am done completely. I am 34 and been gaming since Commodore Vic20 days! Tape drives!!!!!!!!! 🙂 and ROMs

    If you want graphics then start supporting indie devs, they have no one to answer to for overhead costs when it comes to making a game engine, or what features to implement. Where most dev houses buy a pre-made engine or only implement dated tech to get their game engine up and running on old hardware and quick release dates.

    I code and love being able to code my engine how I want without having to listen to some account cry about wasting time implementing feature X as it will take to much time. ON that note quick coding for DX and move to OpenGL and hit a larger gaming market and recoup those costs vs. limiting to one platform, how narrow minded. Windows isn’t the only platform anymore so move away from DX and start coding for OpenGL, and make games for all platforms!

    You dont’ need a staff of 200 people to make games that are fun. Maybe some AAA title, but honestly some of the best games ever were made by only a few guys and a love for gaming!

    Vote with your check books and support indie game devs so they can bring something better to your screen to play!

      • derFunkenstein
      • 9 years ago

      I got a Commodore VIC20 as a Christmas present when I was 6. I had three Scott Adams adventure games – Pirates Cove, Voodoo Castle, and The Count – and they have a spot in my heart. I also played a ton of Omega Race, Tooth Invaders, and Q*Bert. Also I learned to program in BASIC using the VIC20. It was amazing.

      That said, if you shut yourself out to consoles just because you’re PC4LIFE, you’re missing out on a ton of just purely fun stuff. Join me -become platform-agnostic, allowing them all to show you their wares. It’s worth the effort. Don’t be a fantard. 🙂

    • burntham77
    • 9 years ago

    Bioshock 2 for 15 dollars? Worth it!

    • Thanato
    • 9 years ago

    I blame the console market. FPS are new to them, and the controllers are harder to use for that genera. So the game play is kept simple. Laying prone and leaning to peak around a corner, works rather well on PC, but not a big deal on consoles. But that can all change with all the new motion controllers if you can afford the medical bills.

      • burntham77
      • 9 years ago

      Some might deny it, but the consoles seem to be stifling innovation in shooters. Still, Bioshock 2 is a great game worth playing. They seemed to understand that it would be hard to top the story of the first, so to make up for a lesser story they did improve game play. I love both games.

        • lilbuddhaman
        • 9 years ago

        But Bioshock 2 is a sequel of a game that borrow heavily the “new” gameplay/story concepts of System Shock 2 / Deus Ex. yet people think its innovation.

        ugh consolitis.

    • unclesharkey
    • 9 years ago

    You are just getting old. I have the same problem. I turn 44 this year and have truly lost interest in computer gaming of any kind.

    • swaaye
    • 9 years ago

    1) Big game budgets = more risk averse than ever before. Graphics aren’t the only thing taking a hit from this.
    2) Consoles are the primary platform now and they are very limited.

    • TurtlePerson2
    • 9 years ago

    There are only a few studios and people that I pay any attention to these days. I play Bioware games, Valve games, Sid Meier games, and I’m looking forward to what Ken Levine puts out next.

    It’s a shame that there aren’t more studios doing a good job, but there really aren’t. There are lots of good new multiplayer games these days, but I’m still playing CSS and I don’t see any reason to stop.

    Also, to nitpick, The Dark Knight was a sequel to a very successful film. The same talent (director and lead actor) were attached to the project. It was a safe bet.

    • A_Pickle
    • 9 years ago

    Graphics schmaphics.

    We’ve reached a level of graphics horsepower where we’re… really pretty capable of playing a lot of games at full graphical fidelity for about $100 (graphics card). Having good graphics doesn’t make a game good. Look at Crysis, the gold standard by which all other games are /[

      • Game_boy
      • 9 years ago

      This. “Good enough” is exactly how I feel about all games today. When I saw Metroid Prime’s graphics I thought: games do not need to look better than this for me to enjoy them fully. That was in 2001.

      And 2D games don’t need to look better than Yoshi’s Island.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 9 years ago

        Your self-confessed Nintendo bias aside, you need to separate art direction (which Yoshi’s Island really truly is one of the best) from hardware a teeny bit. 2D games certainly do get limited by a 256×224 (or 512×448 interlaced) resolution and 256 simultaneous colors. Worms is a perfect example of a game that’s painful at even 640×480 but tons of fun at resolutions of 1024×768 or so – at high resolutions you can actually zoom out and see the world around you. To say 2D games never need more than sub-SD (let alone HD) resolutions is totally ridiculous.

      • BobbinThreadbare
      • 9 years ago

      I think Crysis was unfairly criticized for it’s game play.

      The nanosuit offered a lot of cool things that you can’t really do in other games.

        • Skrying
        • 9 years ago

        Yep, I always thought Crysis had far better gameplay than people gave it credit for… at least in the open parts. The game really hurt itself when you were stuck to a vehicle or put inside some sort of alien zone.

    • sigler00
    • 9 years ago

    Hi CyriI, I think you touched on several good points but I think you’re missing parts of the big picture. Overall I think the reality is that gaming across the board not just FPS’s have plateaued in every way, technology, talent, budgets, and most importantly market demand. I think graphics are at a point now where they are “good enough” for most consumers and there is less of a need to innovate on that front. By the same token I also think that the amount of time and investment needed in order to achieve significant leaps in fidelity are so high that it would force game prices higher than they are now and possibly weaken sales. Basically there is a sort of equilibrium right now and no one wants to rock the boat. As others have said it will take a while to get beyond this plateau or “rut” as some may call it but I don’t put the blame entirely on studios but rather several factors.

    It could also be that you’re getting old too :). Personally I have been going through a similar phase and my perspective it could be that I’m growing out of gaming, and maybe I’ll go back when the next true innovation happens.

    • ronch
    • 9 years ago

    Agreed. I think graphics innovation has hit a wall. That means you can pick up any midrange to high end video card nowadays and be able to make use of it for years without worrying it will become obsolete when the next title comes out.

    I think ATI kinda figured this one out already. GPUs are getting ahead of games that no matter what game you play, any modern GPU will be good enough. ATI had to figure out some other way for games to make good use of the immense computational power of today’s high end GPUs, and voila! Eyefinity. Good one, ATI. Nvidia is caught with their pants down.

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 9 years ago

      Oh, Nvidia figured it out, too. That’s why they’re mostly still selling several yeard old cards. AMD just shrank theirs and made them use less power, for the most part.

      While the software world stagnates, that’s where the “innovation” really should be. Give me a laptop that can power a 1080p screen and run 10 hours on the battery so that I don’t even need a power hungry, space hogging, heat spewing desktop anymore.

        • Kurotetsu
        • 9 years ago

        …why are you letting the laptop run off battery power if its tethered to a 1080p screen? Just plug it in to a wall socket.

    • johndisko
    • 9 years ago

    Here I am, sitting on a thousand euros, pondering which graphics card I should buy with that money for my monster rig. It’s not that I am rich, far from it. It’s just that it makes me happy, saving up and buying top hardware. But really, after 12 years of doing that, it’s the first time I don’t know what to do.

    I can’t justify buying a big-ass GPU, because there are no games to play with! Every game out there is just a piss poor xbox port.

    Some people say Steam is the future of PC gaming. It’s DRM done right. However, if you check out the Steam survey, you can see that most people still have mid-class dual-core CPU and a modest GPU.

    Noone is going to develop games that run in your mega-CPU/GPU. At best, you can expect to run games with a bit more AA or AF on them and that’s it.

    So here’s the future, as I see it :
    Buying an expensive GPU is a waste of money.
    Why ?
    Because all you’re going to get are shitty console ports.

    An ATI 5850/5870 will fit the bill until at least 2012 while offering premium performance. There is no reason for anyone to pay more money than that. In fact, there is no reason to ever buy another GPU, ever.

    You will be much better off buying a next gen Xbox720/PS4 and start enjoying it from the beginning of it’s lifetime as a product. Things are not going to change in the PC gaming area, so you’ll still keep playing the same shitty delayed ports and in the end, it’s just not worth it anymore.

    My next PC will be low power with a cheap mainstream GPU in it, just for the occasional exclusive.

    It’s…just… not… worth it… anymore 🙁

    • derFunkenstein
    • 9 years ago

    The more I think about this, the more I think Cyril missed the boat. This is the Hollywood-ization of gaming. For every original movie on his list of movies that are somehow “new” or “innovative” there are five movies like The Hangover or Date Night or Shrek 4 or Toy Story 3 or Iron Man 2 or whatever else. They even do retro re-makes, like the A-Team and Karate Kid. So in wishing that FPS gaming would become more like Hollywood, I think Cyril is already seeing that happening, becomes disappoitned, and wonders why it isn’t working.

      • Voldenuit
      • 9 years ago


      Although I thought The Karate/Kung-fu Kid was better than the original. Funny how a 12-year old kid can out-act Ralph Macchio. But then a bathroom sponge with a googly face in black marker can out-act Ralph Macchio. 😛

      Where are the ‘A Mind Forever Voyaging’, ‘Lords of Midnight’, ‘Ultima IV’, ‘M.U.L.E’, ‘Moebius’, ‘Magic Carpet’, ‘Sacrifice’ games?

      Well, they’re mostly on Steam. Braid, Trine, Machinarium, Eufloria, Beat Hazzard, Audiosurf, Portal, Portal Flash, Shattered Horizon are all quite unique and eschew traditional gameplay, storytelling and/or art direction.

    • Vhalidictes
    • 9 years ago

    This is a good thing. Graphical innovation has slowed down, which means that, over time, more and more “old” games are going to look relatively good next to new ones. They will also run better on lower-spec hardware.

    I’ve been noticing this trend for almost a decade, and we’re well past the point where it’s worth checking out good games you might not have had time for before.

    Seriously, Cyril. Take some 2006-era game that you never got to play and finish it – slowly. Don’t miss the new golden (oldie) age of gaming.

    • herothezero
    • 9 years ago

    People are overlooking the gems in this field. It’s not the big name outfits that are doing all the new and risky stuff, so why look to their offerings as an example of what’s wrong with the genre? Expecting console-oriented ports to deliver the depth we have come to expect from the PC platform is just silly.

    The STALKER and ARMA series are but two examples that received limited gaming press but were still commercial successes and yet will never see a console. No One Lives Forever was very original, funny and challenging. Mods like Red Orchestra and Killing Floor show real talent and a focus on what PC gamers want. Fallout 3 shows what hybridization of a traditional game genre can be, especially when modded.

    It’s not just corporations selling games that need to change their paradigm of what makes a good FPS, it’s gamers, too.

    • N_Raged
    • 9 years ago

    Amen. I myself am tired of seeing the Unreal engine everywhere. I simply don’t like the look of it. It’s nothing but gritty over the top graphics for the sake of graphics. There’s no sense of life or cinematics (with some exceptions). It just feels very.. “gamey”.

    I just got Transformers:WFC and while enjoyable, it just plays like your average third person shooter. The Unreal-powered graphics are totally underwhelming and not next-gen revolutionary at all. Mind you the last games I played were MGS4, Uncharted, and Killzone 2 which set the bar pretty high for me.

    • dmjifn
    • 9 years ago

    Solium Infernum.
    Is indie strategy.
    And is pretty different.
    From those other games.

    • d0g_p00p
    • 9 years ago

    Well said Cyril. I am pretty much in the same boat. I love me some FPS action but it’s so true that most titles released are “bleh” to me. The last FPS that I really enjoyed was Borderlands. So much in fact that I finished it twice.

    I do count most of my boredom with getting older as many games don’t hold my attention much anymore as they used to. However I do recognize how many of the current FPS games are just recycled for the console since FPS is still rather new for console players. I started noticing the “bleh” trend with the first Halo. All my console buddies were going crazy of it and to me it’s was like “I have already played this game before, years ago”

    Auto shield and health regen, auto aim, large hit boxes, etc all things that suck about modern and current FPS games thanks to the console. There is much more I can rant about but I think you covered that and I am done typing.

      • Mr Bill
      • 9 years ago

      Well said. Remember wing commander, not having enough shields and having to angle their fire off you shields while still trying to shoot through theirs?

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 9 years ago

    Why try when you can not try and still sell millions of games?

    1) Reuse the same engine
    2) Rehash the same game design
    3) ???
    4) PROFIT

    I imagine the problem is just that games are more expensive/time consuming to make with modern 3D technology than they were back in the 2D and early 3D ages. Computers are making “experimentation” in movies cheaper. As ironic as it is, that comparison is apples and oranges.

    Formerly “high end” shooters are the new lowest common denominator entertainment. Don’t like it? Don’t buy them, and *[

      • BobbinThreadbare
      • 9 years ago

      Activision lost money despite selling a bajillion copies of MW2.

      The lack of creativity is hurting them because they don’t have any games that are moderate successes. Only their top games make money.

    • satsuper
    • 9 years ago

    The problem is that publishers don’t want to take a risk on a new concept since there is a huge monetary investment in developing the game and people still buy the formulaic shooters anyway so there is no incentive to get really creative.

    • Skrying
    • 9 years ago

    I reverted back to Counter-Strike: Source after buying and playing about 100 hours of Modern Warfare 2. CS:S just has better gameplay. Sure it’s less modes but the game takes legitimate skill, there are *[

      • anotherengineer
      • 9 years ago

      css ftw!!

      #1, #5 ya once you hit 30 you don’t really have time for anything let alone games. I’m straight days and the wife works shifts so I have the kids almost every weekend so its like working 7 days straight for 3 weeks a month. The only game I play now is CSS and I might log 1 to 2 hours a week max.

    • poisonrain
    • 9 years ago

    Two words: Shattered Horizon.

    Takes FPS games properly into 3D, completely new ways of thinking and new strategies required. Experienced FPS players will still need a couple of hours just to be able to stand up straight.

    Game gets regular updates. And its a bargain on Steam.

      • indeego
      • 9 years ago

      Multiplayer = no story + asshatsg{<.<}g 🙁

      • Xenolith
      • 9 years ago

      I 2nd this. Shattered Horizon was a new experience for me. Forced me to think differently in a FPS. That is also the problem, it does have a learning curve that some fine daunting.

    • DeepCut
    • 9 years ago

    Braid and Trine over BC2 … you Big Fat Poof LOL !

    Just kidding, seriously though …

    BC2 graphics are gorgeous, have a look at Crysis again and you will see that BC2 uses a much more natural colour scheme and the shadowing is actually better.

    As for gameplay, BC2 is fantastic.AND different. It’s not so much the game-modes, it’s how the objectives can be accomplished as a team with a huge variety of tactics.

    And the maps are huge. The firefights are fantastic over distance or up close.

    The development of the classes is great as well, every day (i’ve only had the game for 3 weeks) i am thinking up new approaches to the game as i unlock new items and ponder their uses.

    There is a lot more going on to BC2 than it first seems and i strongly urge you to get into it.

    Sure, it’s frustrating at first getting killed every 45 seconds and not knowing where the **** you are but once you put the time in, upgrade your kit, play on servers in your area of the world with good pings, check that your FPS is ok with something like FRAPS, and find servers with regular, focused players … BC2 is game ice-cream served on the thighs of Angelina Jolie.

    My ingame name is BitBoy.

      • Prestige Worldwide
      • 9 years ago

      I was very excited about Bad Company 2, thrilled to play the beta on PS3 and then on PC. I was very happy to have a “proper PC game” coming out with excellent sound and graphics, dedicated servers, and proper anti-cheat.

      However, I never play the game anymore. It is just a boring game that falls short of it’s potential due to lack of server-side customization and mod tools. Getting n00b tubed with the grenade launcher is only second in annoyance to the army of douches who use anti-tank rockets against infantry. The nvidia lan was probably the only competition this game will ever see and it will never get picked up by leagues because there is no way to implement custom rulesets to get rid of the cheesy weapons that make gameplay so mundane.

      Don’t get me wrong, in terms of sales and the sheer numbers of casual players playing it, the game is a great success. But I feel the game should still be in beta and that it falls short of the greatness it could have achieved.

    • Chrispy_
    • 9 years ago

    Giant sweatshop industry regurgitating low-risk, uninventive titles.

    Releases feel rushed and buggy due to increasing art requirements giving publishers itchy feet and hurrying content out of the door unfinished.

    Console makers bribing long-standing and reputable PC games developers to produce dumbed-down, low-graphic versions for those masses with the attention span of a goldfish.

    Just like Apple, the games industry will continue annoyingly along the same path as long as enough wealthy, mindless zealots keep feeding them with money.

    • adam1378
    • 9 years ago

    The article is explains exactly why I have some of the newer FPS, impulse purchased on Steam, sitting in my account uninstalled. I lost that feeling of anticipation when I expected to be blown away by the next game and how the newest hardware out is needed to play it. Now I have last generation hardware able to play the newest games and the newest games looking like stale, photocopied games of past. Well put Cyril, I have been thinking the same and wondering if I will ever play Metro 2033.

      • NeronetFi
      • 9 years ago

      Metro 2033 is so so. The story is somewhat interesting, but I am getting bored with it.

      I agree with Cyril its just seems that lately a lot of games are a been there done that game.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 9 years ago

    I don’t think Dark Knight fits your analogy, Cyril. It was a pretty safe, semi-formulaic summer blockbuster sequel follow-up. It is exactly what you’re complaining about in FPS games.

    Additionally, my thesis is that we’ve hit the uncanny valley of realism. Realistic graphics, realistic sounds, semi-realistic gameplay, and…a totally unrealistic mechanic of hiding behind a wall for 15-20 seconds waiting for the blood to fall off your face. Everyone’s been doing it like this for a quite a while and only every once in a while does it make any sense (i.e. Halo’s regenerating armor).

    Not to mention every single FPS-style shooter (I’m going to throw over-the-shoulder third-person shooters into this category) falls into the same four settings:

    1.) current-day or near-future warfare (Modern Warfare 1 and 2)
    2.) WWII (CoD WaW, Battlefield 1943)
    3.) The far future space marines (Gears, Quake 4, on and on)
    4.) Post-apocalypse (Fallout 3, Borderlands)

    I’ll only play a FPS-style shooter if it brings something new to the table. That’s not anything in recent memory. The last one I played was inFamous, and prior to that Portal. The exception to my rule is the Gears series – it was the first in a long line to have a single-button cover system, and it ruled, and I got caught up in the universe so I played Gears 2 and I’ll play Gears 3. For this same reason I’ll play Portal 2 and inFamous 2.

    • Pettytheft
    • 9 years ago

    The only thing I find unoriginal these days is if a developer says they are going to make another FPS.

    Graphical leaps and bounds are not going to happen like they did in the past. Crysis can still bring systems to their knees.

    iD’s next game is not a FPS.

    The genre needs a long break, it has little to nothing to do with consoles. Art direction can fix problems with graphics stagnation in many cases. I still look at some of the area’s in WoW and enjoy.

    • bfar
    • 9 years ago

    There’s a lack of imagination and creativity in every aspect of media at the moment. We’re stuck in a creative bind, and the masses seem content to digest the same old hat over and over. There’s little appetite for change atm. Very much like the 80’s. However, true innovation will return eventually.

    It’s all happened before. We had 10 years of 8bit/16bit home computers before there was any significant revolution in gaming. When the console and PC gaming revolution arrived it was highly exciting – developers were leap-frogging each other in terms of evolution.

    Unfortunately game developement is getting very complex. In the old days a couple of programmers with an idea could work wonders. Nowadays, you need a staff of >200 and a massive budget – originality is a casualty.

    • marvelous
    • 9 years ago

    I’ve already done shooters for more than a decade and really it’s getting quite old and hasn’t developed much except pretty graphics. Don’t really play shooters either except BF2. Except that BF2 has vehicles. There’s a whole crap of things to do in BF2 most people never get good at. I played infantry until I was Captain and now all I do is fly. Either the jet or cobra. Bad Company is a joke without attack choppers with rockets or jets. I rather wait for BF3.

    Mirror’s edge was good for a minute but once was enough for me like all story driven games.

      • Fighterpilot
      • 9 years ago

      There’s a lot of people waiting for the Corsairs and Zeros in BF3…me included.
      They keep putting the PC release back ala DNF so I’ll believe it when I see it.
      On this topic tho,its the real time interaction with the other players in Multiplayer that is most important.Nice scenery and eyecandy up full is great but it’s the other players that make it fun,exciting etc or a drag, forget about it.

    • TaBoVilla
    • 9 years ago

    Thanks for providing a great insight. I love FPS and I’ve been a little bit let down by late PC FPS too. The last game I liked was Modern Warfare 2 and this was a console port.

    I’m not sure where this whole thing is headed…

    Quality and innovation in games come as a cost to developers. Risk, time and people cost A LOT of money. Now, a quick glimpse at NPD figures for 2009 at §[<<]§ /[<"The console hardware, software and accessories market saw revenues of "close to" $19.66 billion--down 8% over 2008's $21.4 billion--while retail PC game revenue came in at $538 million, a 23% decline."<]/ If you are a game developer, deciding on which channel to publish your material, I think the choice is pretty obvious. RTS games usually reserved for the mouse and keyboard crowd have been seen getting ported to consoles more and more often, together with many other examples. Now, if you are aiming towards consoles, graphics will indeed suffer; we are talking 2005 level PC graphics hardware, current cards are capable of so much more, but no one is taking advantage of them, no one makes more money by taking advantage of them, sadly, not even Crytek. Microsoft, who is pushing hard on the "Games for Windows" initiative to improve PC's image as an stable gaming platform CANCELLED their latest Alan Wake on the PC, to go for an Xbox exclusive release. If the platform supporter's studio doesn't trust the PC with a release, who will? One of the few PC game developers which I see working hard on an economically viable PC gaming environment is Valve; the way things are working out, future Half Life 3 could be the *[

      • gtoulouzas
      • 9 years ago

      This statistic is useless because it excludes on-line sales through Steam, Impulse and other similar networks.

      Additionally the “PC gaming is DOOMED, I tell ya” song and dance has been done to death for the past couple of decades, replete with baseless stats. Let us not do it again.

        • khands
        • 9 years ago

        I really don’t think doomed is the right word, I think the purchasing player base has stagnated while consoles have continued to grow, which is why you see the disparity. Traditional PC games need to be developed with a specific “sold” target based on the average, with a few notable exceptions (anything that comes out of Blizzard, Valve, etc.) I think, put the resources in to try and meet that target, and then be glad if it goes above and/or beyond, instead of simply trying to sell as many copies as possible. The price for the level of quality needed is just too high for most developers (or, should I say, publishers).

    • dreamer77dd
    • 9 years ago

    I think we have creative people but publishers dont want to take a risk at this moment. i believe they like to put some money int he bank first. I total agree with the article though i have not seen anything different. i was interested in Heavy Rain I like the creative idea there, maybe they should have thrown more money at that. I dont see advancements in gaming for pc or anything. I was kind of disappointing with E3 especially sony.not another wii remote what were they thinking. I was expecting to see A.I. physics, graphics be blowing my mind but it the same graphics i say years ago. i have how many core in my cpu, lets see some use of my hardware. I really want to see some advancement in coding for the hardware I have.Yes gameplay is nothing new, multi play nothing new. it is sad maybe pci 3.0 or fusion will make some difference. who knows.

    • Bensam123
    • 9 years ago

    Who wants to be a millionaire…
    Who wants to be a superstar…
    Who wants to be a superhero…
    Teen idol…
    Extreme makeover…
    Hells kitchen…
    So you think you can dance…
    Americas next top model…
    Americas got talent…


    • Bensam123
    • 9 years ago

    Yup, PC games are even worse then the console. Everyone is designing for the console so we wont see a boost in graphics till the next generation consoles come out.

    The best part about BC2 is the physics, thats about all I have to say about that. The one cool thing that came out, what?, five years ago is implemented decently in one whole game.

    Game developers in general are concentrating too much on numbers and on other game successes. No one is looking to make something new or better, they’re just aiming to maximize profits and they can measure what the other people made for profits, they can’t measure what a unknown game will make. In general I’m not really excited about any of the games that came out over the last five years or are comming out.

    I have a the premise for a kick ass game the likes the gaming community has never seen, yet it doesn’t matter because people just want graphs and numbers.

    Even the best of the best, supposedly ‘Blizzard’, is releasing what I consider to be a PoS. SC2 wont be a bad game, don’t get me wrong, just it wont be new or cutting edge. The graphics are already old and I played the beta long enough to realize that’s all it was over SC. I’m sorely disapointed in Blizzard, but I have been since they started milking WoW instead of making good games.

    My friends and I are still playing the same games we played years ago because the new ones just plane suck. I’m not saying that caues I haven’t played them, just they do. About the best thing to come out in the past few years was TF2… but that’s been out for *checks wiki* three years and even then it seems to be one of those games that can only hold your interest for so long.

    Honestly we need some new devs that aren’t afraid to take things out on the bleeding edge. Unfortunately that wont involve consoles or investors since thats all they’re willing to invest in. A good FPS akin to what Tribes 2 was back in the day would do it. YEARS ahead of its time graphically, sound wise, game play and mechanics, team orientation, flow, VOIP that was supported for servers (this is close to 10 years ago), massive servers with effecient net code (64 players over the net and 128 player lans in 2001), massive scale and epic battles that took place in air and on land forming joint operations, great and unique weapons, a inventory system that wasn’t put into any other game until five years after it and still not nearly as good, community integration that once again wasn’t put into any other game for nearly five years (forums, clan support, chat, news, talk with the devs all in the same game), extremely open and easy to use mod support as well as mapmaker (I helped make mods for it), loads of support and patches before Sierra axed the team (on the level of TF2), a wonderful community that is still around BTW, and a very enjoyable and epic experience.

    I played T2 for close to two and a half years and anyone who has ever played the game will remember it. I know that probably looks like a giant block of text, but that block of text just shows how far ahead of it’s time it was. Sadly I’ve slowly begun to lose faith in games in general and this is another point in it. When a casual gamer from a hardware review site realizes the same thing I realized years ago, it’s a good example of how badly things have stagnated.

    It’s the same garbage regurgitated over and over again. I played CS:S after the update thinking it’d be new and different, but all they really did is gave it the TF2 overhaul and fixed exploits that have been in the game for years.

    Sadly, like you said… we don’t need to update our computers much anymore. I actually used to look forward to a excuse to upgrade, but there no longer is one.

    • ShadowTiger
    • 9 years ago

    I think that the problem is in three areas.

    1. Creative people are rare. It is difficult for most people to come up with truly innovative and original ideas, especially ones that are coherent and workable.

    2. Making a game is hard. Many games start with lofty visions of all the great stuff they want to make, but the resources and personnel fall through and features have to get cut.

    3. Publishers have veto power… they fund the games so they choose the time frame, the budget, and more. Most importantly, they will turn down games that take risks in favor of games that rehash a tried and true formula.

    As a developer for an Indy Game, I can tell you that if I had a million dollar budget (tiny compared to most AAA games), I could make an awesome game that gives hope for the industry… but sadly we are working off less than a $50,000 budget and can’t afford to make a game that stands out like a beacon of hope.

      • Bensam123
      • 9 years ago

      It isn’t. There are a lot of people with good ideas, just they largely go untapped because the gaming industry is a chicken and a egg problem. No one wants to invest in your idea unless you become well known, you can’t become well known without releasing good games. All people will fund you to do is to regurgitate madden 2020.

      Anyone who eventually gets to the point of being able to make their dream game has been inevitably drained so much by the industry that they no longer care enough to make one or even want to. There is no new blood.

      I have a few ideas for a few really good games. Sadly even if I gave everyone the rights to make them and didn’t even care if I got paid a penny as long as I just got to play a really good game, it would never happen.

      Basically it just comes down to going indie which a starving artist has nothing on. A starving artist can work on his own by his own means. A indie depends on a lot of different people to bring one thing together.

    • scpulp
    • 9 years ago

    I have to agree with Cyril, and I love FPSes. I did pick up BioShock 2 for $15, but I’d already tried it on a friend’s Steam account and been horrendously underwhelmed. For $15 it fulfills a purpose, but I wasn’t excited about it when it was even announced. There just wasn’t room for a new BioShock, and then when screenshots rolled out that all looked IDENTICAL to its predecessor, you just wonder why it took five studios to make a game that shares half its assets with its predecessor.

    The funny thing is that there’s a lot of life left in FPSes and a lot of room for experimentation. Fallout 3 and Borderlands were both disappointments in their own ways (Fallout 3 has horrible vis def and Borderlands is repetitive even by FPS standards) but they exhibit the potential for a good hybrid RPG-FPS.

    I do think there’s potential for growth in the genre. Crysis: Warhead didn’t jump the shark the way Crysis and Far Cry did, and bodes well for Crysis 2. FEAR 3 is experimenting with the formula. And a potential Far Cry 3 that learns from the mistakes of 2 could be outstanding.

    Of course, we’re years past the last Rainbow Six: Vegas game and I still can’t figure out why no one’s produced a better cover system or even bothered to just rip that one off.

    • Richie_G
    • 9 years ago

    I think there’s a combination of reasons for this stagnation. While you list many of them, another good point is what Kharnellius says about how our perceptions and expectations change with age. On the other hand I do feel that there is a lack of inspiration from the big players too.
    You liken them to Hollywood; I have been saying similar things myself for a while: as developers are swallowed up by ever dictatorial and ever growing publishers – their output seems to become diluted to fit the masses. That would be the formula at play as flip-mode notes.

    For me the juxtaposition is that I often like brain dead games, simply because I want to switch off, just like I’ll still watch blockbuster movies that are light on plot and character depth but good to kill a couple of hours.

    These days, since most big titles are cross-platformers (that formula again), the constraints of aging technology have become more apparent to me. The Xbox 360 and PS3 are bloody old now. I often find myself wondering why we’re not seeing progression being made, and I usually come to the same conclusion: that it won’t be before the next generation of consoles that we see the next generation of graphics and features.

    • Disco
    • 9 years ago

    I know what you are saying. I went through all those early days of doom and quake while in university. Following the technical development of the graphics from nothing (upgrading to a Cyrix 386 equivalent from a generic 286 just to get better framerates in doom2) to the first 3dfx addin board for quake 2. Ahhhh nostalgia….

    Recently, a couple fps-style games that had me hooked were 2 of the stalker games (shadow of chernobyl and call of pripyat). Also, I quite enjoyed GTA4 on the PC, although it is 3rd person. Looking forward to red dead redemption, by waiting for the PC port (hope it comes this year). The stalker games in particular were very atmospheric, the first one was particularly spooky. I’d recommend those if you are trying to shake up your FPS malaise.

    PS – congrats on the move to Vancouver. I grew up in North Van right near Lynn Canyon – lots of great mtn biking over there.

    • srg86
    • 9 years ago

    I’ve always been unexcited by first-person shooters since being turned off them by the FPS sections of Jurassic Park for the Amiga 1200.

    Tried others but was always peeved that they took centre stage.

    Still, never could really see the point in games, I prefer development myself.

    • UberGerbil
    • 9 years ago


      • ssidbroadcast
      • 9 years ago

      Er, yeah. What he said. Cyril, if you go to you’ll see that there is a large underworld of indie games that are on shoestring budgets and still manage to be fresh and original. (although not much in the way of FPS from any of them, because let’s face it: first-person shooters are fairly resource intensive, even basic ones.)

    • Ashbringer
    • 9 years ago

    Gotta love this article. Sums up pretty much how I feel about this industry. Though, I wouldn’t call Hollywood innovative. Between The Dark Knight, District 9, and Wall-E you have a lot of crap in between. Honestly, The Dark Knight and District 9 weren’t that good either.

      • Jigar
      • 9 years ago

      But i have to agree with one tittle No country for old man was one hack of a movie.

    • ihira
    • 9 years ago

    Looking at all the same ol’ ‘generic’ FPSs that come out, It must be pretty hard to be innovative in that genre (or the cooperate approach as you mentioned)
    Thats only one of the reasons why I love Valve.
    Mirrors Edge was favorable in that way too but it didn’t take long for its unique appeal to fade off after a couple hours in and it started to feel like your typical single player FPS mode.

    Not that I didn’t enjoy Prey/Bioshock/FEAR/Mirros Edge/Call of Juarez whatever (they’re good games and I did) but I totally agree with you that its not something to get excited about nor worth full price (to me)

    • Voldenuit
    • 9 years ago


    • Kurotetsu
    • 9 years ago

    Its probably worth mentioning that Trine can be bought for $4.00 during Steam’s ongoing Summer sale, down from $19.99.

    • potatochobit
    • 9 years ago

    I don’t particularly like FPS games
    however, considering you seem to have glanced over the Halo series makes me think you might be a bit young
    Halo Coop had a decent enough story and enough strategy to make it interesting
    also if you like valve, you cannot over look Team Fortress 2 which has one of the best voice acting selections next to games such as Metal Gear Solid

    True, the game engines are all similar to Quake, but you are holding a gun and using a first person perspective, so that should not be an issue right?
    Maybe the Metroid series would be something more interesting to you, perhaps
    Didnt borderlands try to mix things up with adding vehicles and an RPG system?

    anyway, you cannot complain about Hollywood movies without looking at batman ark assylum. I do not own it but from what I hear it is very solid and not the typical license cash in. the game does make me want to add a 2nd nvidia card for physX

      • SNM
      • 9 years ago

      Glancing over Halo makes him look young? I remember when the original Halo was being previewed, and I’m no old-timer.

      Or did you think that he picked up the original Marathon instead of playing its franchise takeoff sequels?

      • Palek
      • 9 years ago

      Um, he mentioned playing Wolfenstein 3D. Halo came out almost a full decade later.

      • DrDillyBar
      • 9 years ago

      wiki “Marathon”

    • zurich
    • 9 years ago

    I agree completely. FPS’s died for me with the release of Halo 2. Prior to that, I had been hardcore from Wolf 3D/Duke Nukem 3D through QuakeWorld TF/various Quakes/Half-Lifes to Halo…. but I don’t know what it was, but with Halo 2, FPS’s just fell flat for me. I’ve had some fun with Mass Effect 2, L4D and CoD2 MW2 with my friends, but otherwise, I couldn’t give a rats ass about FPS’s.

    I chalk this up to turning 30 in six months, my new career practicing law, way more stresses in obligations in life, etc…. but I think a lot of it has to do with stagnation in innovation. When the most innovative games since ancient gems like Rez and Space Channel 5 Pt 2 are XBL Arcade games, that tells you people ought to pay more attention to function over form when it comes to game design.

    Given the economics of the situation (eg this shitty FPS’s are still selling), I don’t think anything will change… but as long as XBL Arcade isn’t overrun with crappy derivative games, I may still consider myself in some minute way to be a gamer.

    • Faceless Clock
    • 9 years ago

    You nailed this one.

    I’ve had the same feeling. I’ve been looking all over for a new shooter that would really blow me away. But it seems like they just don’t make them anymore. The best we have access to do is shit like Modern Warfare 2. Lots of explosions, and okay scripted sequences, but very little innovation and very ugly graphics.

    I think the game industry has really put itself in a bind. There is a large number of hardcore gamers who over the years have been driven by the technological wonder of gaming. Now that wonder is being dashed in the name of longer product cycles. While this saves on R&D costs, it also hurts the industry because folks like me just don’t feel driven to buy new games.

    • flip-mode
    • 9 years ago

    I don’t get why this rant doesn’t get it. Corporations love formulas. Formulas are predictable. When the formula stops being predictable they’ll mess with the formula.

    My bet is that changes at the game studios have led to less changes in games. More suits, fewer true gamers. Corporate mentality is rarely about exploring the unproven, or spending more money when it’s not going to get you more profit. That’s what you’re asking for – are the game studios going to get more money – sell more games or at higher prices – if they give you what you want? Heck no – they’re *[

      • adam1378
      • 9 years ago

      Is the root cause because of consoles and their popularity. Crysis wasn’t released that long ago and true innovation and excitement seemed to taper off there.

        • khands
        • 9 years ago

        Consoles are where the money is right now, so it’s part of the problem, but I’d say it’s more the corporatocracy in the giant publishers now affecting the game studios used by them. Each time a publishing house gets bigger than the last one gaming as a whole stagnates a little more.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 9 years ago

    It’s not just that you’re getting old it’s that there’s no more sense of wonder and awe at graphics and while there can be storylines and gameplay quality in FPS they usually aren’t the main focus. You’ve gone from the dawn of pseudo-3D with Wolfenstein through to very realistic 3D in modern games, in ‘graphics years’ you’ve aged a lot. You’ve seen such a huge advancement and change that there isn’t much left…you’ve ridden the upswing on the hockey stick graph and now we’re in a plateau, consoles or no the rate of advancement would have decreased. No, it’s still not perfect, that will have to wait until a direct neural interface, but quite frankly I’m not even sure that true photorealism would be a good thing. Do people really want to play a game that looks REAL real, like real? Some might say yes but I’d wager most would be turned off by that in practice. Pretty much all gameplay ideas have been tried now things are just variations on previous ideas.

    In addition, you are getting old and may not even care as much for getting hyped up and worked up in your ‘leisure’ time. I used to wonder how old people could like classical music then the real world beat me down and wore me out, now I love it to relax to it. So maybe gaming just matters less to you in general too.

    • Kharnellius
    • 9 years ago

    Well said. I have to say, though, I have written off my similar feelings to me being close to 30. At 15, EVERYTHING was amazing. Now, I just don’t care that much about games as much.

    Also, I find myself having a boatload of fun playing Doom 1 and 2 using zDoom.

    I consider those games (now that I have had time to look back) as puzzle games with guns. I try to see how few bullets I can use by getting baddies attack each other. You have limited health too so you have to budget yourself with health kits.

    Still fun to me. I wouldn’t mind another game like it just to add to the levels.

    Some of those levels were ridiculous but funny. I think too many developers make levels to fit realistic situations too much instead of just having some fun. Anyone remember the Doom 2 level “Barrels o Fun”? Wicked hilarious and fun!

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