Title: Tyler Bleszinski is scared of the Wii!
Posted: June 08, 2007 (09:02 AM)
Now, you may well be asking "Who the hell is Tyler Bleszinski?" at this moment. And, you'd be right to. He is nobody, some sports blog guy who just happens to have a brother who works in OUR industry. You've probably heard of Cliff Bleszinski, but maybe you just know him as CliffyB. Yes, the Gears of War designer.
So, Tyler apparently is worried at the current signs that point to the Wii becoming a dominant console. Why? He thinks that this will lead to the end of hardcore games as we know them, and will instead lead to publishers opting to release more and more casual/minigames.
(The article in which he states all this is here, for your reference.)
Well, this is being discussed on other gaming blogs, too, and I got a bit annoyed at the ignorance of many of the posters. In short, they were all decrying the massive amount of casual games on the Wii, and were saying that you need a PS3 or 360 for the 'hardcore' experience. I had to correct them.
Because Gears of War is NOT a hardcore experience. There are several reasons why, but the most glaringly obvious one is that HARDCORE GAMES DO NOT SELL 5 MILLION COPIES.
Just think about it for a while, and you will see what I am saying here. Gears is basically a minigame, around which a beautiful special effect has been wrapped. It looks incredible, of that there is no doubt. And, the gameplay itself is extremely fun. But, the gameplay is quite limited. You look for cover from which to shoot Locust, and then you shoot them. This repeats throughout the game, and it never varies. Cover is always in plentiful supply, and the only variable is how accurate the Locust you face are.
And, this is fine. Gears is primarily concerned with offering the player an experience. It wants you to feel immersed in the horror that is war. It plays tricks on you to draw you in. It pushes polygons at a startling rate. But, it plays the exact same game for 5 acts. The difficulty actually tops out well before the end of the game, and if you can complete Act 2, you can complete the whole game.
My definition of a hardcore game is one in which the difficulty continually increases, and the skill of the player to beat the challenge that is put in front of them is the only determining factor in how far they progress. Geometry Wars matches this definition, absolutely perfectly. Geometry Wars is the poster child for hardcore games.
Gears, on the other hand, has everything that a casual player is looking for. It has stunning graphics, easy to pick-up gameplay, and a story through which the player can progress towards a definite goal.
I offer up the following piece of evidence to back up my claim. My girlfriend!
My girlfriend generally plays stuff like Ratchet & CLank, and Spyro. She didn't care about Gears in the slightest. On the 360, her most-played game was Oblivion, followed by Viva Pinata, followed by Tomb Raider Legend, followed by Kameo. Of these, only Oblivion could lay any kind of claim to being 'hardcore'.
Take it into Live Arcade, and things become even MORE pronounced. She point blank refuses to play Geometry Wars, preferring Uno and Feeding Frenzy.
She never cared for Dead Rising, and she didn't even touch Lost Planet. She has played both the GRAW games, but mainly because we play them co-op with a real-life couple we are friends with. So, when Gears showed up on the scene, she didn't expect to be interested. I still don't really know why she even tried it. She realised all along that it looked good, but the idea of the game did not really appeal to her.
She has since finished it on Insane difficulty! (Admittedly by co-opping, but that is still quite remarkable.)
I don't know, maybe I'm mistaken. I would not place Gears of War on the 'hardcore' pile in the way I would place, say, Earth Defense Force 2017. They are both examples of limited gameplay, but EDF just keeps on piling on the difficulty until it eventually breaks you. You have to play through literally hundreds of levels to finish it, whereas Gears has just 15. (Assuming we take the three difficulty levels into account.) EDF places its gameplay mechanic at the front of the shop, whereas Gears hides it beneath possibly the most polish we have ever seen. Neither of them are very original, and neither of them have any real depth, but they both walk on opposite sides of the street.
Regardless of my take, Tyler is wrong anyway. The fact that millions of Wiis are selling does not mean that games like Gears will ever stop appearing. 5 million sales guarantees sequels, and it also guarantes copies. Blacksite : Area 51 is a perfect example of this.
I just wonder what eveyrbody else thinks makes for a 'hardcore' game, and into what category they would place Gears of War? As always, I am genuinely interested in reading what people have to say, even if you just want to flame me with "HOW DAER U U SUK GEARZ RULESZZZ!!!11"
Posted: June 08, 2007 (10:19 AM)
I hope CliffyB hurries up with Unreal Tournament 3. Actually, I want Epic to take their time and make the best game ever, but I've been waiting way too long. Never played Gears so can't comment there.
Posted: June 08, 2007 (01:22 PM)
I think this git has a startlingly apparent lack of intuition when it comes to the video game market. There are dozens of niches appealing to all sorts of different consumers. The Wii supports one niche; Gears supports another.
I wouldn't call Gears hardcore, though. The Wii, in my opinion and from what I have seen, seems to be the type of thing casual gamers want to play just for the sake of having social fun. They're generally not too into video games because they never have been interested in them until now that there's a gimmick, or they have a history with gaming but for whatever reason like the simplicity. From what I've seen, the Wii is for people who really suck at games and are prone to drinking vast amounts of alcohol.
Gears is for casual gamers, too. These casual gamers think they're hardcore because this game in intended for a mature audience, but it's a pretty mainstream game, and everyone and their brother knows what it is. It still fills out its own separate niche from the Wii crowd, though, so it's definitely a success not likely to ever get absorbed by something as different as the Wii.
Posted: June 08, 2007 (01:53 PM)
I think the real question here is this: are casual games bad? The answer, I think, is 'no.' Casual games appeal to people who like games that are simple to pick up and play. That to me is the beginning and ending of the definition of 'casual.'
If you have to spend a half-hour learning the control scheme and intricacies of the game before you can play it correctly, that's not casual. Zelda and Final Fantasy XII, for example, aren't casual.
The Wii is the perfect platform for casual games. It was designed to easily facilitate them. Nintendo was promising to expand its audience. It was doing that by saying "Hey, let's appeal to casual gamers!"
People give Nintendo credit for doing precisely that, but I think all it has done is expand the console audience further into realms that already had PC gamers. Casual games have been big business on PCs for years. Nintendo is simply latching onto them with the Wii.
So the Wii definitely is the home for the casual gamer, by Nintendo's admission and design, but it's also home to some hardcore games (with more on the way, from Nintendo and others). I think a lot of people slamming the Wii simply don't understand it, or they hate casual games. If the latter is true, it's usually because they haven't played many casual games. Casual games are fun. They're a great way to relax. They're easy to play with family and friends at all talent levels, and they aren't just for people who suck.
So I'm not too worried about Cliffy B. and what he thinks. I believe the console gaming industry has become two-pronged as of this generation, but I believe games in general were for years before that. I think there's room for both sorts of games as we move forward, and I think both sectors will thrive and expand as they have since their inception.
Posted: June 08, 2007 (08:56 PM)
i think certain genres fall into the hardcore niche mainly RPGs, strategy RPGs, puzzle games..but shoot 'em ups are as mainstream as you can get. gears of war definitely was made with a mainstream audience in mind. i also think the rhythm game genre has more hardcore audiences than casual. dance dance revolution and guitar hero are the only games in the genre that appeal to a wider audience.