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Author Topic: Video Games Have Become Too Hollywood  (Read 2068 times)
a_farce
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« on: April 27, 2006, 02:24:59 AM »

This is a general feeling that Iíve had with the video game industry for quite some time now, but having just played a bit of the Final Fantasy XII demo that was included with Dragon Quest VIII inspired me to finally write about it.

The point, and I donít mean to make this sounds like its big news, but how commercial and Hollywood video games have become in recent years has become really disgusting and is beginning to turn me off to this pastime that I used to enjoy so much.

When was the last time that you played a game with charm? A game that really had characters that you felt concern for? Recent years game developers have turned out an endless slew of half baked games that could have been great if only essentials such as storyline and control scheme held more importance. Some of the graphics on games out there now a days are truly impressive, but itís only become a selling point for a game. There is no artistic integrity to it.

Why did the Final Fantasy XII demo upset me so much? The game looks beautiful, Iíll admit. Hell, itís very reminiscent, visually, to the intro of Final Fantasy VI, which is of course a good thing. But the feel, the over dramaticism of events and characters that the viewer isnít even familiar with, I donít understand it. And what the hell was with that voice that did the intro? Speaking in vague language about some omnipotent struggle, the whole thing reeked of Hollywood. Did anybody think of Pablo Franciscoís stand up routine when he mocks the deep suspenseful voices that narrate movie commercials? That voice Pablo did was the narrator for the FFXII intro. Way too cinematic with no substance beneath. How disappointed I was having just beat Dragon Quest VIII, pleased with how Square Enix had made efforts to give the game a retro feel and appeal to the fan base that supports their business.

This feeling has been bothering me a lot since I played Final Fantasy X, the game felt, over polished? Iím sure many fan boys and girls will flame me for saying so, but the game seemed like a marketerís wet dream. Support? Just look at Lulu. Look at the cleavage. I mean Iím every typical male, I love cleavage, but what place does it have here? Iím so sick of seeing women in video games dressed ridiculously, like medieval armor bikinis. Enough! Iím tired of cock teases like Lulu covering box art out there. Is this one woman definitive of the entire game inside?

Consider this also, if you have beaten God Of War some of the extras unlocked describe how Kratosí design evolved during early planning of the game. Notice that in many of the character sketches Kratos doesnít have his Blades of Aries. The Blades of Aries are so essential to the gameís plot that this can only mean that production of the game began before they even had a basic outline of the plot! And I mean production, there werenít just sketches of different looks for Kratos but alternate 3D models of him. Many of these extras were also very similar to those found in the special features of DVDs. The whole thing just made me feel uneasy. God of War wasnít a bad game by any means, but shouldnít a major issue such as plot be addressed before you even begin sketching characters? Is plot an afterthought for game developers?

I think that because of this, there just havenít really been many memorable games released in a while. (Iíll admit Shadow of the Colossus is an anomaly.) Sometimes Iíll find myself buying a game just so that Iíll be able take the old PS2 for a spin, only to be disappointed. Damn you Star Ocean: Till the End of Time.

I understand that those making video games are trying to make a living and the increase in the technological power of these next generation consoles requires more hours and more man power in making games but I miss the days of the Super Nintendo. I miss when games had character.
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John
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« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2006, 03:15:06 AM »

If you haven't played them, play Nocturne and the two Digital Devil Saga titles.  I know DigiDevil 1 + 2 renewed my love for RPGs, as it did for The Darkrider.  While gaming certainly has had major changes in regards to budget, there are certainly games with actual charm.

I do think a good deal of why many of us have grown weary of the current gaming scene is that there are only so many basic elements of gaming that can be recycled before everything seems like a minor feature.  For those of us who have been gaming most of our lives, any game that's not a completely new concept (like, say, Katamari Damacy) seems like it's stale in at least one way.

A great deal of the reason you don't see kitchy games with style on the consoles is the fact that there's that licensing fee - if you're paying $10 additional to produce a game, you want something that will sell.  Wheras the publishing structure is different in regards to PC games, you can see games like Darwinia on the PC, where you can develop a low-cost low-reward game, but still make a profit.

Because of the publishing paradigm created by Nintendo in the 1980s in regards to manufacture (Every company has their console games physically created by the system's creator, EA in the Genesis days aside), because Yamauchi wanted to control the sort of quality game that was on the NES.  There's no such barrier with the world of PC gaming.  Certainly that means that there's more crap that sneaks through, but it also means that small teams can create enjoyable games with flash or other friendly tools.

Games for consoles are mostly made to sell a lot of copies to the average gamer.  While there are companies who have cut in a niche, like Atlus, and previously, Working Designs, most companies are out there to ship hundreds of thousands of units.  Tony Hawk 9 Million may not be interesting to you, the hardcore gamer, but that inkling of freedom that we remember from things like Zork, they've never had a chance to play with.

Also, thank you for coming in and posting with coherency and thought instead of just going "ZOMG I'M NEW".  It means a lot to me, and it will probably get you welcomed into our little community much more easily.

-John
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« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2006, 07:22:19 AM »

Perhaps you may think that the Square-Enix juggernaut has become too "Hollywood" what with the ante-upped production values and all of recent FF games, but you seem to be forgetting about some of the smaller or less prominent developers.  

Nippon Ichi's titles are certainly charming.  They're not graphical behemoths, but people still eat their games up due to the mojo.  My game of the year for 2005 was Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana.  It had a certain charm and mojo that really gave me the warm fuzzies.  

Namco is huge and everything, but I really enjoyed Tales of Symphonia.  To me, it had the old school mojo with new school conveniences.  

And though it's not an RPG, my #2 game of 2005 and the only game I've given an Editor's Choice award to was Ever 17: Out of Infinity.  The story and characters were extremely well done, I've completed the game about 11 times (and only gotten 2 of the good endings) and want to play it more.  Best game I've played in a long time and I may end up even hailing it as my all time favorite video game.  

So all I'm saying is that like with movies, you may have all those Hollywood summer blockbusters that come out every year, but you also have independent and art-house film developers who offer an alternative.  

If you think Square-Enix has "gone Hollywood" that's fine.  Your perogative.  But to say ALL RPGs and all have done that is rather silly, because there are many representatives in the genre, released in the US even, that are more art-house than Hollywood.
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« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2006, 10:30:05 AM »

Like John and Neal I kind of have to disagree in some respects. I'm currently going through SMT: Nocturn at the moment and I can honestly say that I'm getting attached to some characters more than others for their motives. It's really been a while since I got into a game like that. The story even is quite unique right from the get go. I've never scene a whole word just be destroied in the first hour and a half.

I see the 'Hollywoodisation' (excuse my non exsistant word) as part of the evolution. Just like movies incorperating more technology these days, game, being an other sort of entertainment medium, were bound to follow suit. But honestly were there THAT many classics in the SNES days. I used to own one and I didn't have any more games for it that I do for my PS, which is only about 15 or so. And looking at the amount of games that were realeased by Nintendo and third parties, I see the same amount of crap that I see today. Only differance is that crap is now a bit more glorified.

Final Fantasy isn't the only RPG or even game series for that matter. So what if Square-Enix starts putting out more 'interactive movies' these days. Just ignore them and play all the other fine examples of games that others produce and one and a while even Square-Enix will make an outstanding game. I think for most they over shadow the good with the bad by way of the marketing. It's boards like these that I rely on to pick my next purchase. I try to just go on instinct and feeling. Play a game for what it is and every so often one comes up and says 'this is why you play RPGs (or games)'.

One last thing I'll touch on is production. Personally speaking from an artists pont of veiw, I more often than not dive into a project with out even thinking of the key aspects of it. But in the end, when I see peoples positive reactions to the finished product, should they care that I started a little backwards. To me it's really always been about the finished product. If what comes out in the end is enjoyable then it's all good to me.
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« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2006, 11:07:43 AM »

Quote from: "a_farce"

When was the last time that you played a game with charm? A game that really had characters that you felt concern for? Recent years game developers have turned out an endless slew of half baked games that could have been great if only essentials such as storyline and control scheme held more importance.


Stripping out everything else cause Din and John pretty much summed up what I thought.

However.....I can name almost a dozen games in the past two years that answer those two questions you poised.

Suikoden V, Kingdom Hearts (yes....it's way over done, but the fuckin story is amazing and it's fucking fun to play. who gives a shit it had a big budget. Big Budget doesnt mean shit), DDS 1 & 2, SMT:N, MGS: 3 (big budget? Yes, great story? Yes.) RE4, the list keeps going.

Just because you dont like how FFXII is shaping up doesnt mean that video games are doomed or something. Jesus, people are starting to realize that gaming is a huge fucking industry and therefore committing more dollars towards development. That doesnt mean they're becomeing too "Hollywood" they're just becoming "Bigger". pft.
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a_farce
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« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2006, 02:00:32 PM »

I admit I may partial to the Super Nintendo since I grew up playing it.

RPGs have tended to be a niche genre through out gaming. Developers have been trying too hard to make RPGs appeal to the main stream and forgetting about people like us.
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Dincrest
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« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2006, 04:21:19 PM »

Wrong again.  I don't think games like Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne would appeal to a mainstream crowd.  Heck, most Megami Tensei games are geared more toward a "hardcore" RPG crowd where you have to use a ton of strategy and thinking in the battle mechanics and all that.  Sure the visuals have improved because that's what happens, but I remember back when Persona 2: Eternal Punishment came out, I tried to get everyone I knew to play the game since they all thought RPGs were all cookie-cutter and too easy.  EP was something different and not easy.  Yet all of them complained that it was *too* different and *too* hard.  

Atlus is killer when it comes to bringing out cool and interesting RPGs that the more "hardcore" crowd looking for something different from the norm would check out.  Bumpy Trot anyone?  

Again, you miss the fact that there are other RPG developers besides Square-Enix.  

Seriously, go pick up a Nippon-Ichi title like Atelier Iris, Atelier Iris 2, or one of their SRPGs like Disgaea, Phantom Brave, and the like.  Again, a game like Disgaea would not appeal to a casual SRPG player, because it is pretty complex.  

I grew up in the olden days too.  I turn 28 in a week and some change.  And though there is a lot of crap and saturation in the gaming markets in ALL genres, all that means to me is that we need to work a little harder to wade through all that to weed out the chaff and find the gold.  

Basically, I feel you are overly generalizing.  Good thing you found this site, because we can inform you about developers/publishers like Atlus, NIS (Nippon Ichi Soft), Hirameki and others whose US branches do bring out cool, interesting, unique, charming, etc. stuff that probably wouldn't rake in mainstream big bucks, but be sleeper hits in the "art-house" circuit.
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« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2006, 04:43:36 PM »

I haven't played it myself, but don't you think it's nonsense to judge a game of Final Fantasy XII's size based on the short demo that came with Dragon Quest VIII? That demo won't tell you anything about the game's story, so I would wait with the complaining until you have played through the game.

On the topic at hand, I don't want to get into economics, but let's just say this: Companies like Square Enix that invest several billion yen into development of games like Final Fantasy XII can't afford to exclusively target a hardcore audience. They have to appeal to the majority of gamers, otherwise they won't sell between five and ten million copies of each new main series installment worldwide.

And as others have mentioned before me, there are a lot of alternatives to Square Enix available which focus more on various market niches. In addition to the aforementioned games from Atlus, Gust and Nippon Ichi Software, there are Idea Factory's strategy RPGs and Nihon Falcom's two franchises Ys and Eiyuu Densetsu (Legend of Heroes).
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