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Re: Kynan Pearson leaves 343 Industries
Date: 6/6/13 12:08 am
In Response To: Re: Kynan Pearson leaves 343 Industries (Leviathan)

: a new game should be significantly different and not
: just a copy of an old one or else there'd be no point in doing it...

A design approach I would disagree with. Some people criticize series that produce "rehashed sequels," but I prefer games to be iterative. A game series can be highly iterative and still be well-regarded and even successful. Call of Duty is massively successful despite having changed very little from game to game since 2007. I'm not a fan of COD, but that's because it doesn't appeal to me personally; I do actually applaud IW and Treyarch for leaving the mechanics essentially the same. The classic 16-bit Sonic the Hedgehog games were both highly iterative and very successful back in the day, but the series saw its popularity wane when it tried transitioning to 3D and hit the “polygon ceiling” hard, with the first Sonic Adventure being the only 3D Sonic game that was widely regarded as good (at least at the time). While the Sonic franchise’s reputation seemed irreparably damaged by a string of lackluster games and especially the disaster that was Sonic 2006, recent games like Sonic Generations saw Sega go back to a more classic style, and series is starting to get back on people’s good sides as a result. Other series that remained successful despite being highly iterative are Doom, Gears of War, God of War, Soul Calibur, Dead or Alive, the classic Mega Man and Mega Max X series, and the New Super Mario Bros. series. They may introduce new enemies, new abilities, or new items to keep things fresh (and that’s perfectly fine), but at their core they change very little from game to game, and very few of them actually succeeded at making radical changes that worked out. Or to use a non-game example, AC/DC has remained incredibly popular and successful over the last four decades despite retaining essentially the same sound throughout their career. You don’t necessarily have to evolve to stay successful. Sometimes you just need to leave well enough alone and not try to fix things that aren’t broken.

I already talked about thoughts about the changes made in Halo 4 in-depth both here at HBO and in my review, so I'm going to focus on a different series that constantly seeks to reinvent itself and has arguably damaged itself in the process: Final Fantasy. There's a reason why FFIV is still my favorite in the series after 22 years. It had a great narrative for its time (and still is great today), great music & art, etc., but it really excelled in the mechanics. The combat was menu-based and extremely streamlined. Each PC in your party had a distinct class, often with unique abilities, and your party's composition is always changing due to story events (Cecil is the only constant), thus forcing you to keep changing your tactics. This was very common in JRPGs of the 16-bit era. Sure, titles like Chrono Trigger and Lunar had their own unique quirks, but overall 16-bit JRPGs hit a sweet spot in terms of gameplay. 8-bit JRPGs, being much more primitive (smaller worlds, etc.), often required hours of grinding simply because without it, the game would be over too quickly. Not so in the 16-bit era, where there game worlds were sufficiently big that you get plenty of XP while you're simply going from Point A to Point B.

But the mechanics started going astray in the 32-/64-bit era. FFVII still played very much like older FF games, but the materia system changed things a lot. There were no truly distinct character classes, and, while some PCs were better suited for magic than combat or vice versa, everyone was effectively a fighter-mage. I went throught the whole game with a Cloud/Tifa/Barrett party. FFX had a similar problem as, while each character had a distinct class & abilities, you had the same party almost the whole game, you didn't have to ever change tactics. FFX also abandoned the world map, which resulted in making the game far more linear than previous versions, which restricts exploration a great deal; this has carried over to subsequent games, and personally, I hate it when games in a series start become more linear and constrained than their predecessors (see Halo 2, Halo 4, Crysis 2, etc.). Finally, FFXIII had the paradigm system, which is the biggest departure from traditional FF mechanics in the series. Once you get the hang of it and get a good rhythm going, it's okay (not great or even good, just okay), but it definitely doesn't feel like FF.

The FF series (and JRPGs in general) needs to go back to basics. Awesome graphics are fine and all, but its nothing without good core gameplay. Bring back specific character classes with minimal overlap in abilities, traditional leveling (i.e., no materia/sphere grid/crystarium) and inventory, and a world map. Have the party's composition always be changing due to story events, thus forcing players to keep changing their tactics. Keep players on their toes, make them think, challenge them. And above all, have a simple, streamlined, menu-based, ATB-based combat system. In other words, the only paradigm shift I want to see is a shift back to 16-bit era gameplay. If Square-Enix could do that FF would be great again.

Likewise, I hope Halo goes back to basics. 343I tried too hard to reinvent the wheel in Halo 4 instead of focusing on refining and polishing the wheel. Halo did not need to borrow things from COD (e.g., perks, custom loadouts, rank-based unlocks). It did not need to add ordnance drops, or replace de-scoping with flinch, or add quick-time events to the Campaign, or make fundamental changes to core gametypes. Like my roommate always says, "Why can't they just leave shit alone?" Why, indeed. Perhaps instead of trying to change all these things, perhaps they should have focused on taking what was present in Reach (and other previous Halo games) and refining it. "Innovation" is overrated.

Messages In This Thread

Kynan Pearson leaves 343 Industriespete_the_duck6/5/13 9:37 pm
     Re: Kynan Pearson leaves 343 IndustriesDEEP NNN6/5/13 10:05 pm
     Re: Kynan Pearson leaves 343 IndustriesLeviathan6/5/13 10:05 pm
           Re: Kynan Pearson leaves 343 IndustriesGravemind6/6/13 12:08 am
                 Re: Kynan Pearson leaves 343 IndustriesGrimmire6/6/13 1:16 am
                 Re: Kynan Pearson leaves 343 IndustriesCody Miller6/7/13 6:14 pm
     Re: Kynan Pearson leaves 343 Industriesserpx6/6/13 12:15 am

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