Musings following sleep depirvation
November 29, 2009

I'm curious about something. Suppose for a second that going forward, games will no longer have either innovation or refinement. They'll have one for the rest of time, but not the other.

In the first case, you wouldn't see any new genres but you would see ambitious attempts to push current genres to new heights of excellence. You would see old ideas combined in some interesting ways, probably with better production values than in the past, but that would be it.

In the second case, you'd still see pretty games. But because people are so obsessed with innovation, the pretty games would be mostly optional as developers focused on providing something totally unique. Naturally, the number of games produced would decrease drastically and a lot of them would have irritating flaws that no one would ever bother improving upon with a subsequent release, but at least you could be guaranteed a thoroughly new experience with every game that you purchased.

What scenario appeals to you most? To hear a lot of people talk, innovation is the only justification for a game to exist, yet I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would choose the first situation. There's a lot of room for great gaming without real innovation. The games I enjoy most are often nothing more than polished reworkings or mixtures of things that I enjoyed years before.

Fortunately, we don't live in a world where we have to choose between innovation or polish. Yet I routinely see great games bashed because they lack true innovation. To me, it's a bit like complaining about Coke because it doesn't reinvent itself often enough. I like new flavors of pop, sure, but sometimes all I want is Coke.

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Halon Halon - November 29, 2009 (05:34 PM)
You want a combination of both, although this gen seems to be focusing on refinement. The biggest innovation this gen seems to be the rise in popularity of online games on consoles. It has been here for a while but it wasn't until this gen that everyone and their dog is on Xbox Live/PSN/etc. However I'm not even sure if I would consider it much of an innovation since online gaming has been popular on PC's since the 1990's. Also the console market is dominated by western games for the first time in probably forever.

Sadly games have been a disappointment thus far, both PC and console. Nothing new, more sequels/rehashes, and very few titles that are not possible last gen. I'm not saying I want to see a bunch of innovations or genres to pop up out of nowhere, but there is no question that gaming is getting a little stale and something new and interesting once in a while would be very nice.
randxian randxian - November 29, 2009 (06:24 PM)
I'll take refinement. I can live with more of the same ol' same ol' as long as the game is fundamentally sound in terms of mechanics and controls.

Innovation would be worthless if the games are sloppy and unplayable. What good is a brand new idea if the game isn't enjoyable?
zigfried zigfried - November 29, 2009 (06:26 PM)
I'm happy with what has been created thus far, so chalk me down as generally preferring refinement.

That being said, a lot of companies can't compete in the area of refinement. For those companies (and indie developers fall under this), I think innovation is their best chance to truly make a mark. Fresh concepts are something they can provide that doesn't rely on money money money.

A lot of critics harp on innovation. But from a marketing perspective, refinement sells. Without that constant critical reminder of "it's pretty but this isn't innovative", then we really would move towards a world that only values refinement and big-budget spectacles.


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