Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Yes I'm going to start this one off kinda big.  So lets get to it shall we?  I'm going to present some questions to myself and let you guys read the answers.

1) How do I view the overall attitude of the PC gaming Industry.

Lazy.  Yes that's right Lazy, there is very little happening in the way of innovative game play these days.  When you think of PC gaming these days you think of either Social Browser based games or MMORPG's.  The era of the MUD is over, the racks at your local electronics store are emptying out in favor of digital downloads and you see everyone copying everyone else in an attempt to "Keep up with the Jones'".  Think about it for a moment, Blizzard hit a huge success with WoW and now 80% of the MMO's released are looked at as a "WoW Clone", no one seems to remember that WoW is using the same level and grind, Linear World concept that EverQuest made popular back in 1999.   Seriously look out there, nothing much has changed in the MMO Market in over a decade!  Sure graphics have improved, the rise of the F2P game has begun, but the actual mechanics of the games have changed very little.  Every great once in a while you'll see someone try and spin out a Open World MMO a type that can trace it's roots back to titles like Ultima Online, only to see most of them crash and burn horribly after a short period.  Come to think of it Ultima Online and Eve Online are the only Open World MMO's that have shown any longevity that I can name off the top of my head.

Now I'm not blaming the developers of the world entirely, they want to make a successful game, so they have a job, just like the studios want a successful game that generates money.  The easiest way to do this is to go with what has proven to work, even if it means all you get in the end is more of the same thing that has been pushed out for over a decade, they simply aren't experimenting with the recipe so to speak.

Every great once in a while you'll see someone throw something in that totally changes how you play your MMO's and that's a good thing, Atlantica Online did it by adding traditional RPG elements such as controlling multiple characters in combat, SW:TOR is looking to do it by adding more strategy involving interaction with the actual game world beyond get Quest (A) from NPC (B), or duck around this corner to break line of sight and heal up.   Atlantica hit a home run with their effort I'm looking forward to seeing what the next generation of Star Wars MMO earns for their efforts.   Social games are no different, they play on the same types of concepts that we've seen for ever.  Even Angry Birds is nothing more than a physics simulation when you break it all down.  

Social games?  Well to be honest I don't play them much, but lets take a look at what I have seen.  Farmerville:  I like to call it Redneck Sim City.  Think of a Co-opt version of Sim City for 4 year old hayseeds.  Lords of Ultima:  It's a Browser based RTS nothing more.  It's a watered down Civ slapped into the Ultima universe.  

2)  Where would you like to see PC Gaming in the next 10 years?

That depends totally on technology, what I'd really like to see is real Virtual Reality.  Not the goofy goggles and gloves, but more like the Matrix without the jacks in the back of our heads, a way for us to see and interact with our virtual worlds not as players but inhabitants.  A completely thought controlled, Human to Machine interface.  Think about it, instead of logging into Lord of the Rings: Online you could log into Middle-Earth, see and interact with a virtual setting so realistic it's almost indistinguishable from reality on a visual and auditory level.

Barring that I'd like to see some real changes in how games are structured.  I'd love to see more Open World and less Linear World games survive.  If you don't know the difference Open World games have no set level progression, no set skill groupings, you can make your character as you feel fit, within the available system.  In Linear World games you pick a Class, and travel from Point A to Point B, other wise know and Level and Grind.

3)  If you could snap your fingers and make one change now to the PC Gaming industry what would it be?

Cross Platform compatibility.  Windows is set for a huge decline, it's not because they aren't good at what they do, it's because they market has shifted around them and they were so set on their current course it's appears that they are having trouble adapting.  On the other hand, companies like Apple and even Linux Operating Systems have seen a bump in market share over the past few years thank to Android (Linux Based) and iOS which is used on the iPhone and iPad devices.

Now in my opinion is the time for Game Studios to start looking at better cross platform support, their target audience often keeps up with technological trends, and it would be wise for them to do the same.  Now there are factors in this outside their control, for example with Linux based Operating Systems there are so many different "flavors" that it's difficult.  You have Distributions that are completely custom, others that are based on well known flavors such ad Debian, Mandriva, Fedora etc, and you also have a few that are partly based on a well known flavor like Ubuntu which is Debian based but has so many modifications it's not 100% backwards compatible anymore.  Now where this hurts developers at commercial studios is all of the major variations have a different package format, and a different file hierarchy.  Fedora uses .rpm Debian uses .deb, Puppy Linux has it's own .pup package format, and you also have things like SuperDeb etc. that makes deployment a real hassle.  I'd love to see the makers of the "Big 5" as I call them (Debian, Ubuntu, Redhat, Mandriva, and Gentoo)  get together and work on a universal package installer.  One format that could install to any of these 5 distributions.  What would happen is the changes would eventually flow down stream and derivative distributions would begin incorporating this installer.  Before long the Linux world would largely be ready for commercial support!

That's going to be it for now, I'll do another write up on a related or different topic tomorrow.  See you then!
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