About innovation in games

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#1 Posted by wiouds (5206 posts) -

Many gamers seem to hold the ideal of innovation as being important. How important is it to you and where do you find it most of the time?

For me, I think that the ideal of innovation is being miss used. The first problem I have is that you can not rate it at the time since you do not know what will come from the ideal. Second many times you can easily over look them. For example, this gen FPS have been jumping leap ahead in staging of the shootout but many would not even notice or care about it.

Second, many things that are claim to be innovative are little bit more that gimmicks. A new ideal is many times not an innovative ideal.

#2 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (13106 posts) -

I'm all about execution of tried and true concepts. However I do get Preachy about Kinect, RPGs, Video Game narratives and Difficulty, thats my M.O.

#3 Edited by ReddestSkies (4087 posts) -

Since you didn't say "lol indie games are never innovative, every new idea in an indie game is a gimmick", I'll give you a serious reply.

Innovation in gaming is not just important: it's necessary. By definition, without innovation, there is no gaming in the first place. Without innovation, gaming cannot significantly move forward.

On a more day-to-day basis, innovation increases my appreciation of a game. Nothing in gaming brings me more enjoyment than a completely new experience, when it's well done of course.

Finally, I'm not entirely sure if you understand what "innovation" and "gimmick" really mean, so let's define them.

in·no·va·tion n.

1. The act of introducing something new.

2. Something newly introduced.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/innovation

gim·mick

1.a. A device employed to cheat, deceive, or trick, especially a mechanism for the secret and dishonest control of gambling apparatus.

b. An innovative or unusual mechanical contrivance; a gadget.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/gimmick

So saying "this thing isn't an innovation, it's just a gimmick" makes little sense, as gimmicks can be, and often are, innovative in nature.

#4 Edited by bob_toeback (11267 posts) -

I personally think some games are great stepping stones, if used properly... LA Noire is one of my favorite games, but it could be so much better... I just hope they use the stuff that made it good, and build upon it in some really cool ways... Right now it seems like that might not happen.

#5 Posted by Jacanuk (4566 posts) -

A very wise man once said

"If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got."

And this is true even in game development so innovation isn't just a perk, it's a necessity.

#6 Edited by platinumking320 (666 posts) -

@wiouds: Gr8 post man. Tired of all this moving the goalpost as to what amounts to innovation. Trend breakers always just inspire new trends. Cant stuff just be familiar but 'immensely satisfying' at the same time?

#7 Edited by wiouds (5206 posts) -

@ReddestSkies said:

Since you didn't say "lol indie games are never innovative, every new idea in an indie game is a gimmick", I'll give you a serious reply.

Innovation in gaming is not just important: it's necessary. By definition, without innovation, there is no gaming in the first place. Without innovation, gaming cannot significantly move forward.

On a more day-to-day basis, innovation increases my appreciation of a game. Nothing in gaming brings me more enjoyment than a completely new experience, when it's well done of course.

Finally, I'm not entirely sure if you understand what "innovation" and "gimmick" really mean, so let's define them.

in·no·va·tion n.

1. The act of introducing something new.

2. Something newly introduced.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/innovation

gim·mick

1.a. A device employed to cheat, deceive, or trick, especially a mechanism for the secret and dishonest control of gambling apparatus.

b. An innovative or unusual mechanical contrivance; a gadget.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/gimmick

So saying "this thing isn't an innovation, it's just a gimmick" makes little sense, as gimmicks can be, and often are, innovative in nature.

Wow that is both well research and also foolish. I am using innovation with a different contest that seem to be the way that the gamespot forms uses it and that is innovation in game are new game ideals that improves games overall.

#8 Edited by Randolph (10530 posts) -

Is innovation important to gaming?

Yes.

Does every game need to completely and radically reinvent the wheel to be a good value that is worth playing?

No.

#9 Posted by ReddestSkies (4087 posts) -

@wiouds said:

Wow that is both well research and also foolish. I am using innovation with a different contest that seem to be the way that the gamespot forms uses it and that is innovation in game are new game ideals that improves games overall.

Yes, using words properly is very, very foolish of me. We should instead use your very vague, very misguided definitions of words.

#10 Posted by wiouds (5206 posts) -

@ReddestSkies said:

@wiouds said:

Wow that is both well research and also foolish. I am using innovation with a different contest that seem to be the way that the gamespot forms uses it and that is innovation in game are new game ideals that improves games overall.

Yes, using words properly is very, very foolish of me. We should instead use your very vague, very misguided definitions of words.

As I said, I was using what seem to be how innovation is used on the gamespot forms. With that contest in mind the proper use of the word has changed.

#11 Posted by ReddestSkies (4087 posts) -

@wiouds said:

@ReddestSkies said:

@wiouds said:

Wow that is both well research and also foolish. I am using innovation with a different contest that seem to be the way that the gamespot forms uses it and that is innovation in game are new game ideals that improves games overall.

Yes, using words properly is very, very foolish of me. We should instead use your very vague, very misguided definitions of words.

As I said, I was using what seem to be how innovation is used on the gamespot forms. With that contest in mind the proper use of the word has changed.

I'll take my objective, real-world definition over your subjective, vague, forum-induced definition that may or may not be what most people actually understand when the word is used on a forum, thank you very much.

An innovation is the implementation of a new idea. Whether or not it's good doesn't affect its status as an "innovation". Gimmicks are innovative in nature most of the time.

#12 Edited by Lulu_Lulu (13106 posts) -

@ Randolph "Is innovation important to gaming? Yes. Does every game need to completely and radically

reinvent the wheel to be a good value that is worth

playing? No."

and that pretty much says it all. I firmly agree.

#13 Posted by wiouds (5206 posts) -

@ReddestSkies said:

@wiouds said:

@ReddestSkies said:

@wiouds said:

Wow that is both well research and also foolish. I am using innovation with a different contest that seem to be the way that the gamespot forms uses it and that is innovation in game are new game ideals that improves games overall.

Yes, using words properly is very, very foolish of me. We should instead use your very vague, very misguided definitions of words.

As I said, I was using what seem to be how innovation is used on the gamespot forms. With that contest in mind the proper use of the word has changed.

I'll take my objective, real-world definition over your subjective, vague, forum-induced definition that may or may not be what most people actually understand when the word is used on a forum, thank you very much.

An innovation is the implementation of a new idea. Whether or not it's good doesn't affect its status as an "innovation". Gimmicks are innovative in nature most of the time.

If you ignore context and take the definition from a unrelated book then how can you say the word means?

Tell mean what Threading mean in next sentence:

Threading adds extra steps/

#14 Edited by Ish_basic (4019 posts) -

@ReddestSkies said:

Since you didn't say "lol indie games are never innovative, every new idea in an indie game is a gimmick", I'll give you a serious reply.

Innovation in gaming is not just important: it's necessary. By definition, without innovation, there is no gaming in the first place. Without innovation, gaming cannot significantly move forward.

On a more day-to-day basis, innovation increases my appreciation of a game. Nothing in gaming brings me more enjoyment than a completely new experience, when it's well done of course.

Finally, I'm not entirely sure if you understand what "innovation" and "gimmick" really mean, so let's define them.

in·no·va·tion n.

1. The act of introducing something new.

2. Something newly introduced.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/innovation

gim·mick

1.a. A device employed to cheat, deceive, or trick, especially a mechanism for the secret and dishonest control of gambling apparatus.

b. An innovative or unusual mechanical contrivance; a gadget.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/gimmick

So saying "this thing isn't an innovation, it's just a gimmick" makes little sense, as gimmicks can be, and often are, innovative in nature.

taking the more informal approach to the definition, gimmick is often used in marketing language to describe a feature designed to make a product stand out from its competitors. It is often the case that this gimmick serves little other purpose than to grab attention. I think that's the more relevant definition of the word given the context of the OPs original post. There's also no denying that describing something as a "gimmick" is usually disparaging. Language is organic, ever-changing, and so colloquial definitions always trump what's in the dictionary, unless you're an anally retentive English teacher (I know, i'm being redundant).

This generation is full of what I've taken to calling "gimmick shooters." These are shooters that in every way resemble your typical FPS, TPS or cover shooter, varying only by a single element which really adds very little to the overall experience. Games like Dark Sector, Fracture, and Singularity. Innovation costs money and it's risky. Gimmicks are things a lot of devs resort to as a safe way to stand out in a saturated marketplace.

Innovation is essential to the continued well-being of any industry. Just taking a page from Nature's book, to stand still is death. Any organism that is not constantly in flux is dead. However, talking the games themselves, I would say that innovation is more important to new IPs than sequels. I would say a sequel is better off focusing on improving the formula of its predecessor, until the market shows that it's getting bored, then you innovate to maintain or re-invent the franchise's relevance.

On the other hand, I sometimes think there's too much pressure on sequels to "go bigger," and I don't see that as being helpful. Open world games are especially guilty of this, with each successive iteration promising a larger game world, yet all you have in the end is more empty space and less development spent on real player interaction with that world. Development cycles become about producing spectacles instead of better games. The goal of a new IP should be innovation, but within an established brand, knowing when to innovate and when to simply improve is an art.

#15 Posted by ReddestSkies (4087 posts) -

@Ish_basic said:

taking the more informal approach to the definition, gimmick is often used in marketing language to describe a feature designed to make a product stand out from its competitors. It is often the case that this gimmick serves little other purpose than to grab attention. I think that's the more relevant definition of the word given the context of the OPs original post. There's also no denying that describing something as a "gimmick" is usually disparaging. Language is organic, ever-changing, and so colloquial definitions always trump what's in the dictionary, unless you're an anally retentive English teacher (I know, i'm being redundant).

This generation is full of what I've taken to calling "gimmick shooters." These are shooters that in every way resemble your typical FPS, TPS or cover shooter, varying only by a single element which really adds very little to the overall experience. Games like Dark Sector, Fracture, and Singularity. Innovation costs money and it's risky. Gimmicks are things a lot of devs resort to as a safe way to stand out in a saturated marketplace.

Innovation is essential to the continued well-being of any industry. Just taking a page from Nature's book, to stand still is death. Any organism that is not constantly in flux is dead. However, talking the games themselves, I would say that innovation is more important to new IPs than sequels. I would say a sequel is better off focusing on improving the formula of its predecessor, until the market shows that it's getting bored, then you innovate to maintain or re-invent the franchise's relevance.

On the other hand, I sometimes think there's too much pressure on sequels to "go bigger," and I don't see that as being helpful. Open world games are especially guilty of this, with each successive iteration promising a larger game world, yet all you have in the end is more empty space and less development spent on real player interaction with that world. Development cycles become about producing spectacles instead of better games. The goal of a new IP should be innovation, but within an established brand, knowing when to innovate and when to simply improve is an art.

I agree with your definition of "gimmick", but I can't agree that a gimmick can't be innovative, and that all innovations are by definition "good" or "useful". I haven't played the three games you named, so I'll use another example of what you're saying. Vanquish is very much a "gimmick shooter": the sliding mechanic is its the only that differentiates it from other cover-based third person shooter. That feature influenced nobody, and can't be considered as a gaming evolution. But is it an innovation? Yes it is! They had this creative idea (rocket-boosted sliding) and implemented it in a game. What they make of it afterwards, and its impact on gaming as a whole, have nothing to do with whether or not it was innovative. It's a gimmick, and it's innovative.

I also agree that innovation tends to be more important for new IPs. I don't agree that a studio should make an infinite amount of sequels until the market gets "bored". Game developers should have vision, and they should make games for creative and artistic reasons first and foremost, not for monetary ones. Wishful thinking, I know.

And you're right that sequels shouldn't necessarily go bigger. However, they should add something to the formula, or improve it in a noticeable manner. If a studio wants to make an expansion pack, they should save everyone's time and money and make one, instead of adding a 2 or a 3 or a "Resomething" at the end of the name and pretending that it's something more.

#16 Posted by megaspiderweb09 (3686 posts) -

Innovation has been at the heart of video gaming origins, like the programmers at Atari back in the 70's playing around in the cyberspace was all innovation at the time and if you look at the scripts rules written back then, they were platforms for younger designers to canvas on, hence video games require innovation as a threshold to be relevant, because the reason the earlier crashes of the industry happened was because there was too many PONG clones, in comparison today, we have really bizzare and different design that consumers have choice of what to look to. Going forward with next generation, we would only see more innovation or next generation would not happen.

In essence, consumers do not easily notice innovation because most are incremental at this point, but because of the fact that they are a required threshold, game makers have no choice but to RnD spend on the next idea of what can move the medium forward

#17 Posted by platinumking320 (666 posts) -

Problem is. extended trend following. I wish there was more of a ( You do "you" and I'ma do "me" ) perspective in video game creation. Instead of having a genre wide view on what is innovation in gaming on in a genre, the focus should be on personal evolution in terms of a franchise. Not every artist hits the 3D space from the same approach or can employ the same approach of another studio with the same effectiveness. It's like how Bruce Lee was beyond styles in martial arts because he learned so many of them. Mastery was about evolution of himself.

Some games do things that are groundbreaking, and raise the bar too high for themselves to supposedly master in everyones eyes. Hence you'll see a lot of debut or sophomoric entries in series as the best interpretations, or you'll see for example fresh new competition in a particular genre that will surpass the old AAA 'household names' in terms of gameplay mechanics and make the older titles more so 'cultural phenomenons' than the 'best games'

So the chase is exhausting. one studio can only truly measure innovation, deductively against their own work.

Sometimes it may be a feature or aspect that isn't common in gaming, but the innovative impact that a ground-breaking title or game mechanic has on all gaming I look at as more an 'Act of God' that people enjoy it, and devs like facilitating it instead of a standard bearer for ALL games.

#18 Posted by El_Zo1212o (6019 posts) -

@ReddestSkies: It seems to me that the commonly accepted definitions are: Innovation= something new that's good, Gimmick= something new that's bad.

But what you call a gimmick in the context of Vanquish, and the other fellow listed Fracture, I call a hook. Some games offer a hook because the core of the game really offers nothing else to snag the consumers' attention with. I'm not sarying this is a bad thing- I've always been more prone to play a game- even a bad one- if it has an interesting hook. To this day, two of my favorite shooters of the entire generation have have had a particularly glaring hook: Mercenaries 2: World in Flames was a perfectly ho hum shooter- a next gen sequel built on the bones of it's last gen predecessor that was absolutely forgettable except for the ability to level whole city blocks with massive airstrikes and explosions. And WET- a game that would have been outright BAD if it hadn't been for the acrobatic slomo and a way out mix of Psychobilly Swing and Western Punk on the soundtrack.

Also, I have to wonder where you stand on the subject of innovation vs originality. I mean, Rubi Malone was sliding around shooting badguys 13 months before Whats-His-Face from Vanquish.

#19 Edited by TAMKFan (32751 posts) -

Not important enough to bash games for being "more of the same" like some people do. But with that said, innovation is still pretty important and people exaggerate when they say "more of the same" anyway.

#20 Posted by Ish_basic (4019 posts) -

@ReddestSkies: And you're right that sequels shouldn't necessarily go bigger. However, they should add something to the formula, or improve it in a noticeable manner. If a studio wants to make an expansion pack, they should save everyone's time and money and make one, instead of adding a 2 or a 3 or a "Resomething" at the end of the name and pretending that it's something more.

It's not always in the devs hands. I remember talking to someone who was working on R6 Vegas 2, and he told me that it had started out as an expansion pack, with the expectation of selling it at an expansion price, then someone above them decided it should be a sequel. So it became a sequel, but was never offered any additional funding to go with its upgraded status. The dev studio hated this move, but couldn't do anything about it.

And I have never played Vanquish, but I played Wet (even got the platinum). Overall pretty mediocre, and I can't help but to see it as the evolution of the bullet-dodge mechanics of Max Payne rather than an innovation. I don't know how similar the two games are, though (Vanquish and Wet, that is). I will say, I enjoyed Wet more than Max Payne 3, especially once you unlock that golden bullet mode or whatever it's called. That was just pure fun and seemed to me how the game was meant to be played.

#21 Posted by Jimn_tonic (819 posts) -

not a big deal to me.

the downside to innovation is that the first is usually the worst. i'd rather play a game that uses a tried-and-true formula that's implemented well, than a game that tries to introduce new things and causes frustration, due to a lack of familiarity.

#22 Posted by wiouds (5206 posts) -

@ReddestSkies: To me a gimmick is just something that the game noticeably different. It does not matter if they are good or bad.

The keep that I believe that make the different between a gimmick and innovation is that innovation is pick up by a games. Vanquish has a good gimmick with the controllable power sliding. It was the potential to be being an innovative game but until other games pick it up I find it hard to say it adding to gaming.

When Minecraft first came out it was a gimmicky game. Since other games are using what came from it, it is now a innovative game.

Second, not all innovation is easy to see. I think most innovation are the tiny thing that gamers not not see or care about. FPS then gen have really took staging of the shootout even farther. By staging, I mean the area and the enemies at are involved in that shootout. There a large number of tiny things that they are to the level design to get it.

I love the scoping system from Spec Ops the line but I will not call in innovative until some other shooter use it. It was a tiny think that just make using the sniper rifle some much better and it not something they used as a selling point. I believe that most games did not even notice it.

When it comes to innovation, I hate the ideal that AAA games have no innovation and indie games is the source of innovation.

#23 Edited by ReddestSkies (4087 posts) -

@Ish_basic: Yeah most of the time, pointless sequels come from publisher pressure. Not much studios can do about it.

@El_Zo1212o: It seems like everyone in this thread uses a slightly different definition. Personally, I'll stick with the dictionary definitions. I can't comment on Wet since I haven't played it, but if it uses the sliding thing in the same way that Vanquish does, and it came out before, then I can't consider Vanquish as innovative anymore. However, I'd still consider its gameplay mechanics as a gimmick.

@wiouds: Your definition of innovation is unnecessarily complicated, which makes discussion really hard. Moreover, influence is hard enough to gage and confirm, and integrating it as a prerequisite to consider something "innovative" makes the whole concept a subjective mess that's going to vary greatly from person to person based on their personal views.

#24 Posted by firefox59 (4394 posts) -

@Jimn_tonic said:

not a big deal to me.

the downside to innovation is that the first is usually the worst. i'd rather play a game that uses a tried-and-true formula that's implemented well, than a game that tries to introduce new things and causes frustration, due to a lack of familiarity.

This isn't true at all. And it's why COD and Assassin's Creed are the same every year. Too many gamers afraid to try new things.

#25 Posted by wiouds (5206 posts) -

@firefox59 said:

@Jimn_tonic said:

not a big deal to me.

the downside to innovation is that the first is usually the worst. i'd rather play a game that uses a tried-and-true formula that's implemented well, than a game that tries to introduce new things and causes frustration, due to a lack of familiarity.

This isn't true at all. And it's why COD and Assassin's Creed are the same every year. Too many gamers afraid to try new things.

Are the same each year ? I played both and I find large number things that are different between the games.

#26 Edited by platinumking320 (666 posts) -
@Ish_basic said:

@ReddestSkies: And you're right that sequels shouldn't necessarily go bigger. However, they should add something to the formula, or improve it in a noticeable manner. If a studio wants to make an expansion pack, they should save everyone's time and money and make one, instead of adding a 2 or a 3 or a "Resomething" at the end of the name and pretending that it's something more.

It's not always in the devs hands. I remember talking to someone who was working on R6 Vegas 2, and he told me that it had started out as an expansion pack, with the expectation of selling it at an expansion price, then someone above them decided it should be a sequel. So it became a sequel, but was never offered any additional funding to go with its upgraded status. The dev studio hated this move, but couldn't do anything about it.

And I have never played Vanquish, but I played Wet (even got the platinum). Overall pretty mediocre, and I can't help but to see it as the evolution of the bullet-dodge mechanics of Max Payne rather than an innovation. I don't know how similar the two games are, though (Vanquish and Wet, that is). I will say, I enjoyed Wet more than Max Payne 3, especially once you unlock that golden bullet mode or whatever it's called. That was just pure fun and seemed to me how the game was meant to be played.

To me I think the evolution of Max Payne's mechanics was the Kung Fu Mod. Makes you really feel like you're in the matrix. * well maybe if they altered the combos a bit better * plus it'd be nice if some more of the goons had martial arts programming instead of just the 'Trio', but still arrewwsome. Wall running never gets old to me.