About that: Lack of evolution in games
Written by: Nillend - 21:11 Jul-15-2016

So this is first part of my personal rant about what I hate in certain video games and how it could be fixed. Those are all my own personal viewpoints and a lot of you will probably disagree with many of them. But I'm gonna tell them anyway ;)
I would like to begin with certain aspects of games that may have overstayed their welcome. Or did they?

1.Side scrollers and 2D platformers
Now I know I will get a lot of hate for this, but I generally hate these games. Why? Because there are so many better games. The development and evolution of games is directly tied to technology and as technology improves, so do video games. Sure there have also been many disasters of games, but the number of games on the market is undeniably increasing. And in this wide gap of quality that is continuously being filled, there is no any more time for games. The Ok games are simply overlooked and while good games get acknowledged, they are rarely picked. Good is not good enough anymore. If a game is any less than an 8/10, it's generally considered not worth of our time and money.
I appreciate the genre as it is the root of most (if not all) games we can play today, but I have moved on and they are past their expiration date.
I consider the makers of the games in this genre (and the following ones) today to be either:
-Lazy, as they are not using all tools that are available for game development.
-Poor(er). Game development is expensive, I understand that. But They must understand also that the less they'll invest into their game, the less they'll gain back (depending on what they want to gain back)
-Old-fashioned/Stubborn. Look, I'm glad that you've find something you really enjoy and appreciate. But the world is moving along and people will follow. If we would not, we would still be using sticks and stones as our only tool (and then there would really be no video games to play) :(
One more thing I really don't like with platforms in a game is when they're just some black blocks.
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There is no context. One (there are probably more) exception is Limbo, because entire game is black&white, and even more so, it's still visually appealing.

However, even though I said many negative things, there are ways to make games of these genres right. Some examples:

-Ori and the Blind Forest
A little cute creature, trying to renew the forest. This game is amazing, true masterpiece. It's visually pleasing, controls are good, the soundtrack is mesmerising and the story is wonderful. Like... wow! Emotional.

-Oxenfree
My GOTY, until Dark Souls 3. There is so much dialogue that I barely had a time to judge it for being a 2D game, and even then, I was too immersed in the story or the aesthetics. And the voice acting... spot on.

-Donkey Kong Country: Tropical freeze.
If Ori is the Uncharted 4 of platformers, then Donkey Kong is Overwatch. It's main focus is pure fun and enjoyment, it's visualy pleasing, but not pushing any boundaries, and the tone is overall extremely jolly.

2.Pixel games
Along with the last point, also usually comes another thing that I don't like: Pixel graphics. My argument is pretty much the same as with 2D platforms: Been there, done that. Move along already.
Both these genres I consider to be "browser games". I mean, you can find many games that are as good or even better on pages as Armorgames, Newgrounds etc., than many games you find on Steam, PSN etc. Making games has also become easier and more accessible than ever, with programs like RPG maker and as the number of them grows and time moves forward, my interest is decreasing accordingly.

Now here I'm supposed to put a pixel game that I actually like, but damn this is hard. Stardew Valley is a very popular game, that I simply can't bring myself to like. It looks sooo old! And it has all things that i hate in retro RPGs. Houses are unproportionate to the characters, inside there are black spaces between walls (hate those), you can see in other rooms, even though you are not in them, texted conversation and it's that old UI again.
-Undertale I tried to play, but I quickly stopped. While it has clever ideas, the fighting just seems to long and the game is overall overstretched.
-Hyperlight drifter: I want to like this game. I really do, but it ultimately fails. On moments it looks amazing, but then in the other scenes, the color combinations just don't click. the combat works and feels great, but doesn't compensate for it's weaknesses in the same measure like Oxenfree does. And while with Ori, all elements of the game click perfectly, there is none of that here.

But what about Minecraft? True, Minecraft also belongs into this category and it's a pixel game that I enjoyed for a long time, simply because the endless possibilities of what you can create and places you can shape outweigh its primitive appearance. Still, one of my dream games is Minecraft that would have actual graphics.

3.Turn-based combat
The system/genre has for me the same problem as the first two: It's simply outdated. The fact is that it's far behind the active/real-time combat, as long it's polished. And once you experience a good one, it's hard to go back. Many games can burn themselves real-time combat, but those with turn-based one (usually) don't even try to excel at it. Popular franchises like Pokemon and Final Fantasy have become identifiable with it, so you can imagine how happy I was (while making many others angry) when I learned that Final Fantasy XV will abandon its old combat style. Ultimately, this kind of combat puts more emphasis on calculation and stats of a fighter, than actual skill.
There must be a way to improve the overused method of choosing an action and wait for the animation to end. And it is. Here are some games that show potential of improving this system. Note that I focused on the RPGs, as I more approve the turn-based system in strategy games, where in my opinion, still functions properly, and is more suited for (Including XCOM 2. While it does present some nice refreshed elements to combat, it is imo far more oriented to the strategy genre)

-Valkyria Chronicles: A mixture of strategy and RPG. I mention it here, because I believe it puts a much bigger emphasis on characters, character development and story overall compared to XCOM 2. Additional dialogue and voice acting helps as well.
The ability to reposition a character is great to make combat more expansive, but it didn't stop there. Enemy units can react accordingly and can shoot you, while you are moving from one cover to another. You can do the same to them, of course.
And you can actually aim and preform headshots for additional damage among other things that make combat more exciting than than a classic version.

-South Park: The Stick of Truth:
There are two reasons for mentioning this game. First is that it conveniently adds an otherwise pretty unpopular element of gaming to the combat: quick-time events. And it works wonders You are actually actively effecting the combat and not only watching swords swinging from both sides. And secondly, seeing a gameplay for the sequel at E3 this conference, The Fractured But Whole will present even more advanced fighting that could make turn-based combat not only bearable, but also extremely enjoyable.

-Joe Dever's Lone Wolf HD Remastered:
I have only recently encountered this gem. Your turn is timed an even then enemies can attack during it. You are also not limited to a single action, but it's your job to throw out as many spells and slashes in timely fashion, while maintaining health and energy for spells and weapon actions.
But beside the amazing encounters, the characters are great, the story extremely interesting, even though it's presented through written text and manipulated through your decision of how will you engage an enemy or the specific path you'll take to the next destination. It looks as it plays: fantastic.

I think these 3 game elements that we've overgrown, but are still holding us will do it for now. But while the features are outdated, I don't think they are not necessarily bad, and I hope that I've proved that. With little twists, even an old dog can learn a new trick. Whether you might agree with me, or you'll still hold to the retro games, it's up to you.

Edit: This was added as a reply to my post from certain individual since there will probably be many who might have similar opinions:

 "I believe there is room for all types of games. Why limit artstyles and gameplay mechanics to "modern" just for the sake of being modern? Games can be whatever or however they want, as long as they are good. Specifically dealing with the complaint about turn based systems- That is a unique type of gameplay that cannot be replicated in real time, by definition. Saying Turn Based is outdated and should be changed to real time is akin to saying Chess or Monopoly being turn based is outdated and those board games and new board games should all be converted to real time. Card Games like Magic the Gathering must be outdated too- Turns!? screw that noise, make it real time! Now you know those statements are absurd, because pretty much everything that makes those games work and function and fun is the turn based nature of it all. Some systems in real time are simply chaotic. There is room in the industry for both Turn Based works and Real-Time works, especially considering both are entirely different, and have completely different strengths and weaknesses."

My response:
"Why limit artstyles and gameplay mechanics to "modern" just for the sake of being modern?" Same can be said for the opposite: why limit a game to "oldschool" just for the sake of being "oldschool"? Games are ultimately getting better with time and technology improvements and although there are many examples that are badly made even today and have modern graphics and mechanics, but I still have to play many great games, because there are so many of them, and simply good isn't gonna cut it right now, compared to the newer masterpieces. Sure there is always more space for good games, but who's gonna judge if they're good or not? You? Me? Reviews? Sale numbers? For myself, I'm deciding for myself that a lot games in the above genres or utilising very old elements are bad and I don't like them. You are free to disagree and have your own opinion of course.

And about your critique about turn based: Did you even read what I wrote?! I specifically talked about turn based combat in video games. Putting board games in the same basket is simply stupid here, since they are completely different things. Card games also require at least two party turns and I said already that strategy games can still properly work with turn based system. Board games require turn based system to properly function (now that I think about it, board games without turns seems like an interesting concept, but I'm not sure if it could be utilised correctly). And for the record: I like many board games and strategy games that use turn based system and I think they work great.
"Some systems in real time are simply chaotic" And some (in my opinion most) turn based combat games are simply dull.
I'm not saying that there is no place for turn based system, but people should know where they work. Don't put turn based combat in RPGs and don't put real time play in board games, for people will just scream over each other (Then again, I am intrigued if someone would actually try to completely remove this method from board games, but I doubt it would end well).

So next time when someone decides to simply comment something like "Oh, you hate these games. I like these games and I think you are dumb because of..." please, do actually read what I wrote. I really want to think that this community is better than random haters of the internet.

Remember: Play what you want to play.

L&R

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12:55 Jul-18-2016

Hello,


I am a game developer (indie) who is working with RPG Maker to create a game and I understand where you are coming from. As for combat, by default RPG Maker is turn based but incorporating real time combat is possible, it just won't be true real time due to the (rather unfortunate) limitations of the engine.


I actually plan to add multiple battle systems and I intend to let the player choose which one they want to use as to satisfy fans of both.


You also brought up a number of other things such as being able to see whats in the other room despite not being in it.


(cont.)

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13:00 Jul-18-2016

Honestly this is an issue I would love to tackle no matter how long it takes.


The game is 2D but not pixelated, If I wanted to do that I'd use the RPG Maker DS resource pack which contains graphics reminiscent of the Super NES days. Of course it is also be possible to let users choose which look they want for the game as well, something I am highly considering but may prove to be quite the challenge.

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07:05 Jul-17-2016

Wow, what a well written blog. +1 from me for your efforts.
After reading your blog, i wanted to comment something similar to what some other guy had posted which you showed in the blog, and i guess that you replied to it pretty well and still it was diplomatic. So good job. But finally, all these things you said are things that we (gamers) kinda know from our own experiences. I know that this blog is your own "personal rant", but i just wanted to say something and so i have.
Speaking of 2D sidescrollers...
Have you played Super Meat Boy or Mark of the Ninja?

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15:01 Jul-17-2016

Super meat boy seems overhyped to me, so it immediatelly repels me from it. I haven't played the mark of a ninja yet, but I checked about it after reading your reply and I'm genuenly interested in it. Which is surprising.
Thx for recommendation and a reply

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17:23 Jul-17-2016

You're welcome. Mark Of The Ninja is one of my favorite games. Well even if Super Meat Boy is overhyped (idk if it actually is), i think that its awesome and real difficult too :D and got it dirt cheap.
Well just give it a try or watch some gameplay vids or something.

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13:03 Jul-18-2016

If you are not into challenging platformers then Super Meat Boy isn't for you anyway as it is intended for those that want a challenge.


It's very forgiving at first but it gets hard quick.

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