Have you ever got to a point where you had had a taste of a little bit of everything and still wasn't quite satisfied? A bit of RTS, a touch of FPS, a hint of racing and simulation. Maybe you even got to the point of trying to understand what's all about social games on pages like Facebook. And yet, with all possibilities right there in front of you, nothing stimulates your gaming senses. Maybe you were, for a moment, an addict and games were your drugs. Not so much drugs as in different types but more of the sensation they provide. Maybe it's just nostalgia.
The game industry has changed a lot in the last decade. With all the new technologies and the new social vibe going on, games took a turn somewhere. Something quintessential has changed and for some it wasn't for the best. I consider myself included. I'm not an old guy. But I did get to play the now consider old-but-gold games and had my own SNES, Megadrive and such. The first game I ever played on PC wasn't actually a game. You might be familiar with MS Paint. But I digress.
Games in the old days didn't have the social component. The closest it got to this were scoreboards after you failed or succeeded in a game. How many points you made or in how much time you got that lap. But even those things were more of another nature, the competitive one. And games weren't forgiving. If you hadn't had the skills to complete a certain level, it was your problem. You had to try and try again and again until you got it. Even when - but not always - games had the option of choosing a difficulty, you had to try your best. Sure, gamers might argue that most games still entice competition but it isn't anymore about actually managing to kill that boss but how great was your combo or how fast you did it. And you get to choose the casual or the brutal difficulty but the game itself doesn't change or stay true, it just gives you less help or hardens your enemies.
It's not so much a question of difficulty but of originality. Developers are so worried about pleasing gamers nowadays that games are becoming generic. Your standard FPS might change it's colors but the bones are all the same. You got regen instead of health packs. You got linear with oh snap moments. You are either the bad guy turn good or just the good guy. I'm not saying that games in the old days were so different but you could feel that everything that was done was done because the developers thought, "hey, I think this is awesome". Whenever I play a game today and I get to that same point that I already saw happening in the last ten games I think, "again? I bet the developers created this moment thinking, 'I bet gamers will love this moment'". And it saddens me because I know exactly what to expect.
It takes the fun out of the games. Even the oh snap moments are, somewhat, predictable. Unless I'm speaking only for myself and I am a genius level creator but don't know about it. It also appears that developers know of this issue and with the help of technology and connectivity vibe thought that they could circumvent this by creating new ways to have fun with a game. Achievements that are shared with friends. Co-op games online, so you can meet new friends, but not split-screen. A thousand ways of sending messages and comparing stuff with strangers so that your ego goes sky high by besting others but not yourself.
It might be that I'm not exactly a multiplayer guy. I do play with friends but mostly lan games or with people I already know but I am, at the core, a single player. And I miss the games that had the focus on that. Games today are created thinking, at best, 50% focus on singleplay, 50% focus on multiplayer. At worst, singleplayer is a crutch for a multiplayer experience. It provides a meager background so when you get online to shoot/race against/build armies and crush bases against strangers, you have the option of picking sides or consider yourself a baddie or hero of the people.
Yes, I am aware of games like Halo and its great narrative. Yes, I've played the Mass Effect trilogy and yes, I know of hits like God of War. But one must consider that these are rare occurrences in an era of a massive bloom of games. Anyone that wasn't born yesterday can remember when games took a long time to be developed or there wasn't a great number of games being launched at the same time. Also, games used to be more of a relationship base experience where the game first courted you, you eventually fell in love with it, spend a lot of time with it and then got to that point where you marry the thing and never forget it, always remembering as that special game or just divorce it and move on. I'm married to the C&C era still though I'm not fan of the past couple children it sired. Warcraft is my long lost love who died after her bastard child WoW ruined her memory. Games of today are more of a thing of the moment. You buy it, kill the campaign in a few hours, rant about how short it was, hits the multiplayer, go up in the ranking, brag about how you dominate the n00bs, get bored and in a time span of months you already forgot it. Probably will never played it again.
I think this is the profile of the gamers of the future. With a constant stream of new games hitting the market with the objective of giving just a hit of that good sensation and promising more on the next episode (e.g. Assassin's Creed), the old days - and I'm not going to say good because yes, they were good for me but for some today is much better and I do acknowledge its merits - are actually gone. Like the fool I am, I still wait for a change and for that game that might bring back the crazy gamer in me but I fear that the gamer in me was generated in a mold and the mold was broken. Now I'm trying to fit in a new era and I'm having trouble with it.
What do you think? Are the "new" games better? Did that old special ingredient - what the developers like - get lost along the way? Is the new competitive model better? Share your thoughts.