Wednesday, October 26, 2005

gameplay programmers saving the world.

I'm merging two posts into one today. The first is.. I've come across a lot of blogs and various opinion pieces where we're all converging on the same concept. That design is stuck in a rut. Hell I used to find engine developments interesting too, and still study them even now but the difference is whereas engine and graphics improvements used to empower us to make better games and new gameplay concepts the cost has been that now the baseline for games is so high and complex that there's no way a programmer can build the whole game by himself. This has cost us the ability for the programmer to also be the design guy since he is the creator of the world. Being the creator of the world isn't enough anymore. All the worlds are the same. These days if anything the artists have a bigger hand in designing and populating the world if you will.

When I read books like Masters of Doom and look at old school games that I grew up playing, the joy of even discovering a scrolling routine that singlehandedly enables your game, and pushing the machines to the limit have been replaced with fighting complexity and just catching up to the Joneses. Half Life 2 did HDR lighting, so now we all have to do HDR lighting etc. It's always more fun when you are trailblazing than spending time reimplementing what others have discovered, that's why I had so mcuh fun with machinima. I didn't even used to think about design all that much, I just took it hand in hand with programming the subsystems, engine of the game etc, but it's obvious now that I'm just gravitating to what would *really* make games better. In the old days it was programming, but now I truly believe it's good design we are lacking.

Another problem is that, while good design is necessary to turn a competent game into a great or even legendary one, good design isn't necessarily appreciated and therefore is perceived as unnecessary. After all the game works right? that's like saying a film is good because it plays on the projector and people can watch it. Adam Sandler films exist sure, but we have the same problem as the film guys (again) in that taste has to be acquired and that only happens over time. I am desperately hoping that as we now have a section of the populace that appreciates films, including financiers that back them, that this will also (NEED) to happen to games.


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