cpayne93 (User)

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Are video games becoming interactive movies?

cpayne93 | 709d ago
User blog

For most of this gen, I’ve been having a bit more trouble enjoying video games. Most games just haven’t done it for me; none of them could bring back the excitement that the games of yesteryear could.

Then I found a little game called Demon’s Souls.

I became engrossed in this game, more addicted than I have been to any other game in years, and I just couldn’t stop playing. Every night when I would go to sleep, I would lay there thinking of which level I should attack the next day, what weapons I should develop, spells to learn, and most of all, what was the best way to take down each individual enemy.

All the tales of frustration I had heard from other people meant nothing to me. Every failure encouraged me even more, and I never, not once, became anything other than enthralled while playing this game. It gave off a sense of satisfaction that no other game had this gen, in fact; I really hadn't enjoyed a game as much as that one since I was ten years old. To this day, it is the only platinum I have gotten. I wanted to achieve everything in that game, and, after I did, I still wasn't tired of playing yet.

Demon’s Souls (and Dark Souls of course) has something almost every other game this gen doesn’t have, other than the difficulty. It gives you the feeling that you are in complete control of your character, which is something other action games just don’t do. For example, when you use the melee in Infamous or Batman (both of which are good games, don’t get me wrong), you don’t really know how that attack will go down. Cole or Batman will automatically head towards the nearest enemy and throw a punch or kick. In Demon’s Souls, there are normal, strong, running, and rolling attacks, and these attacks will perform the same movements no matter if there is an enemy on the receiving end or not. See, in these other games, you press a button to tell your character to perform an ACTION. You tell him to attack an enemy, and he does it on his own. In Demon’s Souls, you tell your character to perform a MOTION, and YOU have to guide your character into landing the hit. You have maintain a certain distance from your target so your attack won’t fall short, and you have to time this motion so that you land your hit before the enemy can. This is an incremental part of gaming which has started to be ignored in recent years in favor of cinematics over gameplay.

Let me give some other examples of gaming being a bit too cinematic. Assassin’s Creed, you’re sitting above an enemy, and you see the word assassinate next to the square button. You press it and Ezio gracefully jumps onto this particular enemy and takes him down. What did you do? Not a whole lot. Splinter Cell: Blacklist, you can tag enemies, press a button, and Sam will run out and take down every enemy on his own in a flashy action sequence. What did you do? Again, not a whole lot. Or look at almost any fps campaign this gen. You go down a linear path with some A.I teammates, and you point and click your way through the game. There were barely any choices of where to go or what to do, you just moved on and repeated the same actions over and over. YOU, the player, are slowly being taken out of the equation.

These games just don’t feel like games to me.

Think back to the N64 and PS1 days. Mario front flips through the air, kicks off of a wall and lands on a nearby goomba. You did that with your own skill, and you used a precision that isn’t allowed in most games nowadays because they would have to hold your hand through the jumping process. All the moves you learn in Banjo Kazooie perform the same way each time, and you have to use them appropriately to defeat bosses and move through levels. In Goldeneye, Rainbow Six Vegas, and Ghost Recon, nobody is telling you how to get to your objective. You can go where you want; you can do what you want. How has gaming evolved since then? Compare older games to their sequels or newer games of the same genre, and what do you find? A betrayal of gameplay and a new focus in scripted sequences and actions. Look at Splinter Cell, Ghost Recon, or Resident Evil.

See, it isn’t just the difficulty that makes Demon’s/Dark Souls feel so fresh compared to today’s games, it’s the way they play. The gameplay is incredibly skill based, and there's no auto help anywhere in the game, it's all you. The Souls games are how I always imagined games to evolve, with gameplay and online elements that weren’t possible with old games. However, when you look at other games, the gameplay tends to be less satisfying then it was in the 90s, even if the controls were harder to get used to at first. How many games really feel exciting when you beat a boss? Usually it just feels like you are watching another cut scene.

In my opinion, video games are starting to lose what really made them video games. Nowadays, they are all about cinematics, linearity, and hand holding. Video games aren’t really games anymore, they’re becoming interactive movies. There have been some exceptions of course, but overall games are constantly getting dumbed down into experiences that are visually exciting, but unfortunately not a whole lot else. I can understand why others like these games, but they just aren’t for me. I hope, I really do hope, that at some point we will see a revival of the old school style of games like Demon’s/Dark Souls. Games that focus on the experience through the actual gameplay, not cinematics. Later this year I’ll be buying PS All Stars, but until then, it’s just emulators and HD collections for me. Thanks for reading, be sure to leave comments below and tell me what you think.

hennessey86  +   708d ago
Have to agree
Gaming is becoming casual in general, I play mostly driving sims but I am partial to other games. Splinter cell being one of them, the new one button kill 20 people is not splinter cell, I like to be challenged, to have to think my way through a level and it just doesn't happen. Even in driving sims you get a stupid number of driving aids resulting in people who have no clue how to race plaguing the online lobby's, crashing into you, pulling of stupid moves and generally ruining the experience for the people who come on to race.
colonel179  +   707d ago
I agree with you. If I can recall, Ocarina of Time was the first game to include an "all purpose" button. (A). You could perform several task with the same button (open chest, doors, etc). Miyamoto said that contextual buttons were going to be the future, and he was right. But it has passed from being able to do more than one thing with a button, to have the game perform a lot for you with it.

A game being causal is defying the purpose of gaming. I usually compare it to Sports: Do you see people making the Basketball Hoop bigger, or shorter in order for more people to play? Or the rackets much bigger so that it is easier to hit the ball? I don't understand why developers want to make it easier so people will play the game. It also doesn't have to be so difficult, but they need to find the right balance, and if it is to hard for someone, then it is not for him. But they want to force the game to be for that someone, and ruining it for a lot of gamers in the process.

Developers need to differentiate the audience and make games accordingly. If they are making a Dead Space, RE, Bayonetta, etc they should know that people who will play the game are gamers who will like a challenge. If they are making games such as Angry Birds, then they can make it as easy and accessible as they need. The issue comes when they want your grandma to be able to play a game like Dead Space or Gears of War. It ruins the experience for lifetime players.
StrawberryDiesel420  +   708d ago
It's good to see others who think like myself. I have personally poured 250+ hours each into Demon's Souls and Dark Souls. I have both the Black Phantom Edition and Deluxe Edition of Demon's Souls still sealed because I absolutely adore the games so much and had to have them. I still play both games regularly and I can't wait for Artorias of the Abyss DLC for Dark Souls!
ncesnne   708d ago | Spam
dedicatedtogamers  +   708d ago
I was just talking to a friend about this the other day:

"Remember the good ol' days when you slapped in a cartridge, turned on the console, pressed Start, and within 10 seconds you were actually playing the game?"

Games these days are trying WAY too hard to be a Hollywood movie. Don't get me wrong. I like games with a good story, but games need to focus on being GAMES again instead of trying to find ways to insert more QTEs and more cutscenes.
Sheikah  +   707d ago
I must say that I agree with you - but only to an extent.

I see where you're coming from - and I too liked the old-school tendencies conveyed by respectively Demon's and Dark souls. Progressing past a single enemy felt like a monumental achievement, akin to progressing to that FINAL Sonic (or w/e) level you had never seen before..

But where I disagree is in regard to the disdain for a cinematic and 'interactive' experience. Take, for instance, a game like Heavy Rain, one of my all time personal favourite games. It does not allow you to fail, nor does it contain any "gameplay" in the traditional sense of the word - yet, it is something new that no other game has done before. I is in engrossing cinematic emotionally involving interactive experience... And no amount of Sonics nor mario lives is ever going to top that (from my perspective, mine solely). The same applies for the feel that Journey and/or Limbo entails - they have so much atmosphere and radiance to them that you just didn't HAVE back in the Nes/Snes/N64 days.

I believe that the "void" left by the old-school gameplay mechanisms has been filled with a greater focus on story-telling (for better or worse, depending on the eyes of the beholder).

As much as I love a good story (and I do, I really do - I utterly adore titles such as Heavy Rain, Metal Gear,Uncharted and Assassins Creed) - very few of those game keep me coming back in the same sense that I rented (end re-re-rented) 'Aero the Acrobat' on a weekly basis during my childhood only to re-re-replay it to get to that new boss battle.

td;dr: I, too, miss the oldschool gameplay mechanics of old - but I believe that the void has been filled with a far greater emphasis of creating a vivid, living and breathtaking experience - and that, to me, is worth even more.
cpayne93  +   707d ago
Thanks for your comment, and in some ways I do agree with you. I'm not saying we should drop cinematics in games entirely. MGS is my favorite series ever, and it also has one of my favorite storylines ever, but it never EVER forgets that it is a game. The gameplay is not hindered by realism, and it manages to have an incredible story even though the gameplay is fairly unrealistic. MGS is the prime example of what a cinematic game should be imo, where the gameplay is as varied and unique as the story. In fact, I would say that from a cinematic perspective, no game has had me as attached to the story and characters as mgs, but at the same time, no game has had me as attached to the gameplay more than mgs. In other words, I think there is room for both in a game.

There are some games that I feel need the cinematics in the gameplay, as it is part of their ethos. Heavy Rain is one such game, and so is Uncharted. But the only reason I'm ok with them is that they do it so incredibly well that it feels fresh. All of what makes Uncharted fun is that it feels like you are experiencing a high quality action movie, that is an essential part of the Uncharted experience and it wouldn't be near as good without the cinematic gameplay. However, I feel like most games would have been better if they had focused on traditional gameplay instead of cinematic gameplay. In Assasin's Creed, we should be able to time a jump and guide Ezio onto a guard, then press the attack button at just the right moment to assasinate the guard, not just press one button and watch it happen. And just so we're clear, I don't have any problem with the cutscenes themselves, just the gameplay in between being too cinematic. Thanks again for your thoughts :)

Edit: @wishingw3l

"Deus Ex HR, Valkyria Chronicles, DC Universe Online, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, God of War, inFamous are some of the games I have played this gen and they are nothing like you describe them. You're just playing the wrong games.

Stop following the commercial stuff and reviews like a zombie and start finding your own games to play. It's like when you only watch blockbuster movies and then start whining about how much they overuse CGI and not to mention the bad acting on modern films but that's only your fault because there are still many awesome movies like Black Swan and the recent Batman movies."

Like I said, there are exceptions, but this is a trend which is starting to take over games. I'm not sure why you implied that I came to these conclusions by reading reviews, I promise you, no reviews ever made me think this, I came to these conclusions by my own experiences. Infamous is a small time offender on being too cinematic, I was just using it as an example to illustrate the difference in making your character do an action instead of an motion.

Please don't act offended by what I wrote here, these are only my thoughts, i'm not criticizing anyone who likes these kind of games. And like I said: THERE ARE EXCEPTIONS. I'm not saying every game is following this trend, but too many are imo, and I don't want the style of games like the Souls games to get even less relevant to games than they already are.

And trust me, I'm playing a lot of different games, so don't tell me I'm playing the wrong ones. I'd appreciate it if you don't judge me.
#5.1 (Edited 707d ago ) | Agree(1) | Disagree(0) | Report | Reply
s45gr32  +   707d ago
True, who doesn't miss old school games and their mechanics. Like the original spy hunter going trough the level shooting and avoiding the evil helicopter or trying to make that impossible jump on mario. You are absolutely right today's games do have a stronger story and cinematic gameplay has become the norm. Now these games are not really games but man they do have a very strong story like To the moon, Dear Esther. I really can't call them games because there is hardly any gameplay but its the story that drives these interactive experiences. I just wish there were less fps games.
wishingW3L  +   707d ago
Deus Ex HR, Valkyria Chronicles, DC Universe Online, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, God of War, inFamous, Yakuza are some of the games I have played this gen and they are nothing like you describe them. You're just playing the wrong games.

Stop following the commercial stuff and reviews like a zombie and start buying your own games to play. These days we have Youtube and demos so there are no excuses. It's like when you only watch blockbuster movies and then start whining about how much they overuse CGI these days and not to mention the bad acting but that's only your fault because there are still many awesome films like Black Swan and the recent Batman movies.

I bet that if Demon's Souls wouldn't have get the attention it got due to its sleeper hit status you would have never even touched the game.
#6 (Edited 707d ago ) | Agree(1) | Disagree(3) | Report | Reply
s45gr32  +   707d ago
I do agree of what you say not fully but Marvel vs Capcom 3 the game that charges gamers five bucks for secret characters no thanks. You do have to admit that the author is right and while its true there are games out there that don't follow what the guy of this blog stated but they are so few that is hard to point them out. Deus EX HR is a good example of a game that gives the gamers choices and do whatever the gamer pleases. Infamous and Portal franchise are also great examples of games giving gameplay over cut-scenes. The rest of the games consist of what the author has described. In any case the gamer has to go indie in order to find those great games that take you back to your childhood. These so called AAA game developers are too busy making sequels and interactive movies.
cpayne93  +   707d ago
"I bet that if Demon's Souls wouldn't have get the attention it got due to its sleeper hit status you would have never even touched the game."

???

What? If you want to know, I got Demon's Souls because when I first got a ps3, I went to ign to see the games listed by review score from 10 to 7.5 to get a good idea of what I wanted to buy. After reading the review of Demon's Souls, I went to youtube to look up gameplay, which is basically what I do for every game I get, unless it is a sequel to a game I have played before. I hadn't even heard of Demon's Souls until that point.

I see what you meant by following reviews, I misread that when I put that edit up there, but I assure you that I'm not a blind sheep. Again, I feel like you are taking this blog personally... don't do that.
s45gr32  +   707d ago
Great blog, that is exactly how I feel in regards to many games nowadays. That's why I was so let down by MGS 4, RE 5, Star wars the force unleashed, et. etc. Today's games are not only not challenging but I spent more time seeing CG cutscenes than actually playing the game. I love movies but I also love playing games. Is unfortunate that today's games are more about watching than playing. I remember playing jumping flash Zone of the Enders and Dark Cloud franchise were it was mostly gameplay and hardly any cutscenes. What I love about ZOE was the fact that you could accomplish any mission in any order and move in any direction. Today's games don't let us gamers explore anymore. Hopefully next gen we see more gameplay less cutscenes, that's why I like Uncharted so much all the cutscenes were spent to move story forward by having the characters speak.; however, all the explosions, action, etc. was gameplay the way it should be...................
Sketchy_Galore  +   707d ago
It's true that the industry is probably a little too slanted towards the big budget popcorn movie type of game, I usually feel very uncomfortable trying to show a friend the latest game I picked up only to have to sit through about fifteen minutes of story which is usually a little cheesy anyway just to get to the thing I wanted to show off. I do love a good story driven game though, I tend to crave a story heavy game after playing a lot of a Demons/Dark souls type of game (and vice versa) I just wish there was a little more balance and of course as you mentioned, far less hand holding.

The simplistic fighting system of Batman AA is one of my favourite systems of all time and I think it perfectly captures Batman's fighting style while remaining skill based enough but I agree that there's probably no better system than that of Demon's souls. To be fair, it's a fighting system we didn't even quite get in the old games. It's the sword fighting we always wanted but never quite got, in which every encounter really does feel like a real sword fight (or some kind of melee combat). It's amazing how the Souls games can be so punishing without ever being frustrating and I think that's mostly down to never being able to say, 'you stupid character. I wanted you to punch him, not do some fancy spinning kick'. Everything you do is something you meant to do.

There are tons of pick up and play games out there that are almost devoid of story but they're usually arcadey and feel almost like mobile phone games. I think what makes the Souls games special is that they're immediate pick up and play games but just as immersive and deep as any story driven game. I say all this as someone who wussed out and quit both games in the series before completing them. I almost finished Dark souls but I quit Demon's souls probably halfway through and I admit its because I wasn't up to it (and i got further in Dark souls i think because i preferred the bonfire system as it felt more like constant progression than Demon's ass kicking 'back to the start if the level' system). I still consider them both amazing games.
Blastoise  +   707d ago
Love me some Demons souls and Dark souls. Need more games like them. Deep, challenging, unique experiences that really remind you why you play games. Praise the sun!
Theo1130  +   707d ago
I don't think there's anything wrong with streamlining parts of games, hell Civ V wouldn't be the game it was if Fraxis didn't try and adapt Civ to consoles, so there's a positive. Where it becomes a problem is when the game wants to take your agency away and punishes you for trying new thing that go beyond the scripting the developers intended. Things like the youtube video of CODBLOPS where the player went though a level without shooting a button, or when you try and go off path in cod and you get killed on the spot are things that need to disappear. This is precisely the reason I'm so interested is Dishonered, a game where you can beat the game in 4hrs or 12hr depending on your decisions.
dedicatedtogamers  +   706d ago
I think a HUGE contributor to the recent push for games to be more like interactive movies is that there are a lot of people within the game industry that aren't really gamers. This does two things:
1) because there are entire teams that are "green", they don't have the experience to hone their gameplay. QTEs are infinitely easier to program and troubleshoot.
2) The videogame market is massive, and I think there are people in the industry who want to use it as a launchpad into other industries. For instance, a music composer who wants to compose for Hollywood, or an animator who wants to work for Pixar, etc., and people are using the videogame industry as their stepping-stone to get there. These people have NO interest in seeing the videogame industry thrive. Rather, they're using videogames as a blip on their resume as they move on to other things. I imagine a lot of "game designers" are very interested in moving into the movie industry, too.
hamronbon   696d ago | Spam

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