Hi guys. Today I’m going to talk about how gaming is getting less and less interesting, especially for pc gamers and for me, if not for you. Well first, let’s brush up on a little history guys. Video games, it all began with arcade gaming with the advent of Atari in the early 1970s more or less. Arcade gaming lasted till the mid 1980s and started to decline when Sega Genesis and SNES (Super Famicom) came out as home consoles in the late 1980s and 1990s. The sales were dominated by SEGA and Nintendo in that era. Later the Playstation, Sega Saturn and Nintendo 64 came out. From then on began the era of highly advanced visuals and graphics with the release of Sega Dreamcast and Playstation 2 in the early 2000s.
Now I am going to talk about the most important factor for games which in my opinion is immersion. Yes indeed, you heard it right, its immersion. What is immersion, you say? Immersion is getting absorbed into the gaming world and forgetting about reality. Nowadays games possessing this important factor are reducing. Instead of delivering art, what I see now is just pointless slashing of monsters, shooting the enemy and travelling the game world without knowing what to do and WHY?
Well that is just a basic concept of immersion and there are other forms as well like a chess player may find himself immersed in a chess game etc. MMO games like DOTA and LoL have their own form of immersion even if you play on the same map again and again. But here I am just going to talk about the former and what most action/adventure and RPG games should have.
Well, much time has passed and I have yet to see something as good as Shining Force, Fire emblem series, Lunar Silver Star Story, Chrono Trigger and other very famous titles such as the Chrono Cross, Final Fantasy VII etc in the RPG section (Though I know that these are JRPGs released on consoles, I’ll talk about WRPGs later.) If you are going to question how you can feel immersed in games which don’t even have good graphics? Well graphics do contribute to immersion but it’s not that a game having bad graphics can’t make you feel immersed. Instead I think the advent of high 3d graphics have somewhat backfired on the quality of video games.
Wait a second; let me clear that sentence or it may offend some of the readers. Quality doesn’t mean just visuals and animations; it means the plot, character development, presentation, soundtracks etc. I think the developers focus their attention more on making their games visually beautiful and pleasing rather than focusing on its core parts like story, character development etc., thus turning their games into nothing more than eye candies. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that graphics do not contribute in immersion. They do, but it’s a waste if they don’t have character development, story or game play etc. Games back then were well written. They had a simple plot but were well presented and had good soundtracks which made them good. By well-presented I mean unfolding the story frequently at specific points and not just randomly, creating interesting side quests which have connection to the main plot and the player just can’t refuse to avoid them, good soundtracks, etc. Let’s take Lunar Silver Star Story for example; the game has a simple story but if you have played it whole, you’ll know how interesting it turned out; the romance, the plot, the adventure… it is a masterpiece.
Today’s RPGs and Action/Adventure games just don’t have these things. Plus either they are getting less challenging or we are getting more adept because there isn’t anything new. What we need is new ideas, designs etc. The human brain is mesmerized when it perceives something new. Instead of creating multiple sequels to an existing game for example Assassins Creed, the developers should use that time to think and create something unique. They did well with 2 then brotherhood was almost the same as 2, not many changes in Revelations and finally there is III and IV Black Flag, some decent changes. Both had a new modern environment and included ships which are somewhat new but still that spark and excitement is declining. You may feel it or not but Assassins Creed is starting to decline. Obviously there are some exceptions like the ICO and Shadow of The Colossus for PS2, The Last Story on Wii, Dust: An Elysian Tail (though it’s an indie), Mass Effect, Witcher, Assassins Creed , Splinter Cell Chaos Theory and Conviction, Dark Souls, and Dishonored, for the PC/console. Fallout 3 (you can’t possibly miss this. It won many “Game of the Year” awards) and the more recent Fire Emblem on Wii and GameCube. If we talk about FPS games; well the truth is I never found FPS to be immersive, as I was never able to follow what the hell was happening. Take the Call of Duty series for example; you just know little things like you have to reach that house, save that person, rescue him from the enemy etc, but there are some exceptions for me. These are Call of Duty 2, Crysis 1, Spec Ops: The Line and Battlefield 3. There is Metal Gear Solid but I haven’t played it yet.
Yeah I still remember the day I played Call of Duty 2. The way they introduced the diary before each mission, it just made a background of what you had to do, making it more interesting and immersive. I somewhat knew what had to be done before the mission started. The game COD 2 has some of the best immersive environments for me. I remember, there was a mission in which I was in a vehicle along with 3 soldiers who were shouting: Go here, turn back, enemy at 12’o clock etc. I was so immersed that I felt I was really controlling that vehicle, felt like those people were right beside me directing me where to go. It may sound foolish but I really felt that way. I don’t know but the other COD series had these kind of environments but weren’t as impressive as COD 2. Moving on to Crysis; well this FPS was straight out unique. It was said to have the next-gen graphics when it came out. Having a unique plot and introducing the nanosuit made it very interesting.
Games like these just feel different and have my appreciation. Games like these tell me that at least there are people trying for their games to deliver whatever they were thinking and emerge as masterpieces.
Games like Darksiders, Hitman Absolution (Contracts was decent though), Splinter Cell Blacklist were just not good enough. Take Skyrim for example; this game may have the story (although I didn’t understand what it was, just that 2 kingdoms or races were at war and whooo! Enter The DRAGONBORNE! ). I mean the way they unfolded the story was very bad. Most of the people, I heard about, who enjoyed Skyrim was mainly because they installed a shit load of mods and were happy to screw and wander around aimlessly in that big open world. Go anywhere. Kill anybody. Though I don’t know how the hell wandering around and killing amuse people but this thing actually kills the whole mood. The game should have a systematic way of unraveling the story so that the player can grasp it and stay entertained rather than get bored. Don’t get me wrong, I ain’t saying that the game should have a linear storyline. Take Fallout 3 for example. Both the games are developed by Bethesda, both can and cannot be pretty similar at the same time. Now people will say choosing what is better between Fallout and Skyrim is all about whether one likes medieval settings or sci-fi but in my case it’s different. I like both. I like swords and magic as much as I like nuking cities. But I’ll prefer Fallout 3 over Skyrim all day long. Why? Well Skyrim’s combat was not satisfying. I remember I was like “Oh, boy DUAL WIELDING!” I switched to one hand and the other with magic, after trying it, it wasn’t satisfying. I don’t know what the problem was but the contacts between the weapons and enemies wasn’t good enough. Plus in Skyrim I didn’t feel bonded with my character as much as I did in Fallout 3. Of course there was no background in Skyrim and I am not so dumb and free to make a back-story myself so that I may find the game more immersive.
Personally I think that as game development matured into a professional game industry, more and more people started going in it for the money rather than trying to create gems like mentioned above. That can be the reason why people are getting more interested in retro-gaming as we move forward, “Old is gold” they say. In a nutshell, what I wanted to say is that, there are so many games released every year but only a select few reach the level I talked in this article.
In the end I would just like to say that a simple gamer like me (not a pro and not having any hobby of playing every damn game or not playing because of time) wants to have action/adventure and RPG games become well known even before coming out, to be good enough to deliver the art and make me immersed in the gaming world which isn’t happening yet I guess, sadly. I don’t know if the console gamers are in the same boat. Either I am thinking too much or the developers these days are in it for the money and have little care about how their games actually turn out. The future of gaming lies in virtual reality. Oculus Rift (VR headset) is under developmentfor mass release in Q1 2016, however Oculus Rift development kits have also been sold to get a preview of the technology. Virtual Reality is indeed going to increase immersion but the fact remains. If the developers still focus on the visuals rather than the characters, story, new ideas etc. they’ll always turn out as eye candies.
I know most of the people will disagree with me on Skyrim. I’m sorry if I caused any offense but it’s just my own personal view.