Fight to the Death: Evolution Vs. Revolution

A quaint little article over there on caught my eye earlier today. It’s an interview with Rod Ferguson, the producer on Gears of War, at the GO3 conference where he stated that he felt a little upset that most critics thought Gears of War didn’t bring any originality to the shooter genre, and that it was a negative aspect for the game. He goes on to say that a developer should always focus on making a game fun first, and not just innovative for innovation’s sake.

Even though Gears of War was severely lacking in the innovation department, I do agree with his insightful commentary. We don’t always need to have something new in our games to have fun with them. Even though I’ve been known to poo-poo Twilight Princess for being a nicer-looking Ocarina of Time, I still had a lot of fun with that game, as well as Gears of War.

But, because Gears of War didn’t bring anything new to the table in terms of gameplay innovation, I found myself leaving the game a lot sooner than I would have had it shown me something fresh. I’ve played a lot of 3rd person shooters in my day, and one more isn’t gonna make me preach about the all-powerful shooter genre. It was still fun while it lasted, but it just didn’t last as long, especially when compared to games like Katamari or Pac Pix (trust me, Pac Pix was the shit).

So, if we think about it logically (which seems to be my motto these days), do we always need innovation in our games for us to feel justified in our purchase? No, we don’t. A game can be fun when refined, and it can be fun when showing something completely new. It’s really up to the designers on which route they want to go down, and GOW went the refinement route.

I think this issue was merely created out of the hype machine. Everyone drooled over Gears of War before it came out, but were shocked that it didn’t revolutionize the shooter genre; it was simply an evolution. And a damn fine one at that.

But what say you? Do you want the industry to enact a “Must Innovate” mandate, or are you fine with paying $60 on a game that you may have already played before?

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17 years ago

I have Dynasty Warriors 3-5 and a couple of the XLs, so I’m willing to pay money (though not $60, sometimes $50) for a game "like" one I played before.  As long as the improvements made make gameplay more interesting, I’m up for it.  But then, I also like the innovation stuff (Puzzle Quest!).  I think the game industry will innovate when there’s a market for it.  It isn’t necessarily a bad thing – nearly every "best game ever" has been a game with refinements to a done-before system.  Katamari was innovative, yes, but it just didn’t keep me engaged as long as games that were refined versions of known genres.

17 years ago

I discuss this in my upcoming review of God of War 1.  Polish can really help a good game become better, and can make me forget about innnovation.  but sometimes I feel that developers use a lot of polish to hide bad or boring gameplay.  For example, Prince of Persia makes platforming fun by making its platforming areas challenging, exhilarating, and well crafted, so I still have fun running and jumping.  When God of War has me pushing a crate while being hit by flaming arrows, I know I’m still pushing a crate, now with a minor annoyance.  PoP does something cool with a potentially  boring concept, while GoW took a boring concept and tried to put the eqvuivalent of Christmas lights over it to try and make me forget what I was doing.  It all depends on how much the evolution actually is.  

15 years ago

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