And here we are in 2012, the midst of the nice, quiet season where the deluge of games slows down and we can contemplate in this less busy news cycle. It's also a great time to look back on the last year and think about what the industry at large did well and what they should perhaps be doing in the future. This was the year where Modern Warfare 3 didn't just predictably sell well, it broke entertainment records at large, and where a surprising number of your friends were probably talking about Skyrim that might not otherwise.
And today, a lot of game production teams are coming back from the holidays refreshed, reinvigorated, and ready to start creating the next unit shifter. What I've come up with is a list of ten areas where I'd love for the game industry to be thinking and exploring in the coming months as they develop the next crop of 2013-2015 releases. Nearly all are geared towards continuing to expand the gaming audience in some way. A few of these are old news, and some are my own particular interests, but that's why it's an Op-Ed and not an "Op-Everything to Everyone."
10. Explore some new points of inspiration for your music
A unsurprising number of outlets placed the soundtrack for the WB Interactive-published Bastion at the top their lists for 2011 and I think deservedly so. Instead of the usual rock or broad orchestral scores found in many big budget releases, Bastion took its cues from folk and bluegrass. And it was a match for the material, a melancholy adventure with its nameless protagonist in a shattered world.
I'm not saying the sound designers for the next crop of games need to start thinking about banjo infusion in 2014's Modern Warfare, but imagine if a game's soundtrack truly embraced the John Carpenter-esque synth elements in the Battlefield 3 menus? What kind of wonderful, odd alchemy could we see if Hans Zimmer wasn't the overriding influence and we got all-new soundscapes over the next few years?
9. Death to the QTE
I've already nearly burst a vein ranting about this, but seriously game designers: think about why you're putting a QTE in your game and figure out if you might want to do something a little more interesting, something that explores the mechanics you worked so hard to create in your gameplay. You'd be surprised what kind of curious direction you can go in when you simply wall off a toxic, unengaging, and simplistic means of gameplay and storytelling.
8. Expand and get creative with the Season Pass model
What did you guys think of these, because as something of a cheapskate, I kind of liked them a lot. This past year saw titles as diverse as Mortal Kombat, L.A. Noire, and Gears of War 3 offer a discounted DLC bundle if you got in early. Now to be fair, the—if I recall correctly—$15 price tag (or 1200 MSP) for the Mortal Kombat character pack was a little steep to be sure but bundling all of the new characters together like that was an incentive: I wouldn't have paid $3 for each of the character individually, but packing them together and telling me they were on sale... well, I'm easy like that, I guess. Likewise, Epic was savvy in offering all of their Gears DLC for a nice 2400 MSP (discounted over the holidays to 1800) and I have to imagine that telling users upfront that they'll save a third if they just commit to getting the DLC right of the bat must have grabbed some converts.
And by "creative," I'm going to be honest and say I have no idea what this would entail. I just hope publishers will look at this like retail sales and figure out cool and interesting things to bundle in with a season pass beyond a nice chunk of DLC—maybe throw in a PSN/XBLA version of Unreal Tournament 3 with the purchase of a DLC bundle for the next Epic retail title or the original Mortal Kombat 3 with the inevitable Mortal Kombat 2.
7. Start saying "no" to the apocalypse, nukes, and zombies
I'm saying it right now: the decade of doom has passed. The last ten years have been defined with being on the brink, being afraid that someone is going to slip in a dirty bomb or that our beef with Russia or China will escalate, or that the living dead will rise up and blah, blah, blah. If we could have one present-day modern shooter without the threat of nukes or the same tired old nexus of generic terrorists or Cold War reignited bogeymen, if we could get past the fact that yeah, zombies are cool (that's why there are so many damn games about them), then I think there might be room for some new, not at all stale scenarios for the upcoming games.
Oh, and no vampires unless it's for a Darkwatch sequel, okay?
6. Figure out the promise of the cloud, already
OnLive is still attempting to carve out a niche for itself while the 360 and PS3 both have functionality now that allow you to save games and content to the cloud. Similarly, the movie industry is really pushing consumers to adopt the cloud digital copy as a feature in recent Blu-ray releases. So there's a nebulous push to figure out make the cloud a thing people should be excited about in terms of delivering content. And I'll admit, being able to take your game save from one console to another without a memory card or external drive is kind of cool but is that all it's really good for?
I'm genuinely asking here. Both Sony and Microsoft have created tiers where you can save a little bit for free and save a little bit more for a sum but I'm not sure that I'm especially excited about having my game saves hiding out on some servers which might then be a victim of, say, a pernicious hacker attack or a simple service outage. Right now it's just a simple feature and nothing anyone is trying to push on gamers, but I have to imagine there's more promise to it than simply an invisible hard drive for your stuff.
Pages: 1 2