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volume 1, issue 2

Today in loonygames:

New!! The Archives have been cleaned up, fead links fixed, and printable versions restored! Also, don't miss the new comments on the front page!

Livin' With The Sims: theAntiELVIS explores the wild and wacky world that is Will Wright's The Sims, asking the inevitable quesiton, "is The Sims the first step toward a virtual life where everyone is Swedish?"

Pixel Obscura: Josh Vasquez on Omikron: The Nomad Soul.

Real Life: Check out our newest comic strip, Real Life! Updated daily!

User Friendly: Updated daily!

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Nothing New Under the Sun: Rich Wyckoff's editorial, and the precursor to this piece.

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Inside Raven Software: Our definitive history of the company behind Hexen, Heretic and other classics.

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Guest Editorial:
More Creative At Second Glance

 

 

 

By John "Karbon" Vechey

 

 

Being new to the gaming industry I ask a lot of questions about it, and find a lot of answers. While I've co-created one online only game, I've never gotten the feeling I know everything about the industry and never will. I write how I feel about the industry. I agree 100 % with the statement "if you claim to know everything, you're missing out on the fact that there's always something new to learn, some other opinion which is worth considering, some experience you are still lacking... " (Rich Wyckoff). :-)

  spend of lot of time looking at what other people say. I've heard the statement that there isn't enough creativity in the industry many times, in fact I've spent hours arguing the point. The more and more I look at it though, the more I stop classifying games as real time strategy (RTS) or first person shooter (FPS) games and throwing them out because they are in the same genre, the more I stop saying that they are all the same. That would be like saying The Hitchhikers Guide To the Galaxy trilogy is the same as Asimov's Foundation series just because they are both Science Fiction books. The creativity in these games isn't in the core concept, but on the implementation. In first generation games there isn't a lot of content, not necessarily the greatest game balance, and usually not very powerful technology. When you get to the second and third generation games, you see giant leaps of technology, three times as much content, and a more integrated story line. This is where the creativity is going to: gameplay, plot, and content.

Since the release of Dune 2, and the popularity of Warcraft, there have been many different top view RTS games. How much originality is needed before it's considered a different game? What exactly constitutes a "clone"? Total Annihilation (TA) is a different playing experience than Warcraft. In TA you have elevation and line of sight, not to mention building queues, many more units, expandability of the units with electronic objects. The creativity of Cavedog in TA was not to create a brand new genre, but to enhance the RTS world. To create a more vivid, real and fun playing experience. In that respect, they succeeded. TA didn't just add little "twists" to the rules of Warcraft, but instead created a completely different world. Sure, you click on units in both, and you use resources, so in that respect, they are clones, but as far as gameplay, replayability, and expandability, TA and Warcraft are not the same.

I've heard many people say that since Doom, FPS games are all the same with fancier graphics. With the movement from Doom to Quake, id Software didn't just add in the extra viewing dimension, or make everything 3D, they created something never seen before in games. They created a totally expandable engine. They used their creativity to create technology, game balance, and an incredible design to allow users to be creative. There has never been an engine with more modifications than Quake. They empowered the users to create. I've seen everything from Hungry Hungry Hippos to Pong to Superheroes. The argument could be that the products other companies are creating are the same. I say no to this. Half-Life may be a FPS game, it uses the Quake engine, but it provides an experience unlike any released products yet. It integrates you with the world, with the story line. This is hardly a new painting with different colors, it's like starting over from scratch with the FPS genre. Valve's pouring their creativity into level design, story line and superior AI, making a new experience in gameplay and in fun.

There is a lack of creativity in the industry, a lot of managers who don't want to take a risk on a game designer who hasn't had a hit title, a lot of publishers releasing things that are "clones", but there also is a huge amount of ingenuity and creativeness. Take for example Deer Hunter, Trophy Bass, You Don't Know Jack, Acrophobia, Commandos, and The Tone Rebellion. Look at these examples, tell me if you think they are unoriginal, if they are clones. All games in the industry aren't clones, just like all games aren't as original as they could be. At first glance, judging by the top games of the year, the industry seems uncreative. But if you look deeper, look at a lot of games that are more niche oriented, games that maybe didn't do so well, games that are specialized, you'll find gaming a very creative and remarkable place to work in if you want to vent your creative urges or to play in if you're a gamer.

- John "Karbon" Vechey is one of the co-creators of ARC, and a game technologies developer for the World Opponent Network.

 

Credits: Guest Editorial logo illustrated and is © 1998 Dan Zalkus. More Creative at Second Glance is © 1998 John Vechey. All other content is © 1998 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited, golddarnit.