The Exigent Duality
Is This So Difficult? - 13:18 CST, 2/03/23 (Sniper)
I've been writing about the dismal state of the video game industry for over a decade, thinking each step along the way that it couldn't get worse-- that I should continue to hang around within the hobby.

My rationale was that the medium was a toddler going through an ephemeral "difficult" phase-- one it would grow out of soon enough. Once the hipsters got bored and moved on to destroy something else, things would improve, surely! And the hipsters did inevitably vacate. Unfortunately, in their wake a new group came to town: college "educated" Millennial normies. Instead of advancing from troublesome toddler to flourishing and rejuvenated child, the video game medium grew into a drug-addicted pregnant teenager who wound up in "juvie" after having stolen my car keys and used my vehicle to run over elderly pedestrians.

Long-time readers can attest that I was never happy with the "Metal Gear Solid"-"Half-Life"-"Halo"-induced transition from Chess to Epic Hollywood Blockbuster-- but from 2000 to just a few years ago, there were enough games which put enough pieces together for me to more-or-less enjoy them. I had to plug my nose a little, but the smell was tolerable. In the 2020s though I'm finding it almost impossible to find new things to play. Presentations from The Big Three are unwatchable! "What is this garbage?", I think to myself:

  • I don't want a game "tailored for a modern audience": I don't want Victimhood Olympics; I don't want African lesbians with shaved heads; I don't want gigantic, monstrous tranny characters; I don't want narcissistic, fat, self-entitled females with weird hair-dos, giant glasses, facial piercings, and tats. If you insist on having an overt narrative with characters, ditch the ideology. No one cares what you or a handful of bozos on Twitter think: stop being so pushy. Normal people find your perverse woke religion grotesque.

  • If you simply have to put a story in your game, can it involve something other than "anthropogenic climate change" and Marxism? I get it: you like Greta and think corporations are evil. Stop repeating yourself. Enough already.

  • I'm tired of every game having the same control schemes, the same core mechanics, the same mini-map in the corner with tab-based menu with crafting and quest logs. "Let's make another third person action game with dodge rolling!" Meanwhile people tell me to "play indie games"-- they are either half-baked artsy-fartsy emo nonsense, or shameless Famicom-nostalgia cash grabs.

  • I want a game with good music! Give me compositional complexity, and melodies I'll remember for decades. Listen to the "Ys Book I & II" soundtrack on YouTube for inspiration. Whatever happened to game music like that?

  • Stop making everything so polished! It's ok and even preferable to have your title feel "gamey". It's a game, for Pete's sake! Instead of valuing absurd levels of animation blending and "realism", just make the character movement nuanced and fun to control. Embrace the sandbox: let the player quick save and load anywhere, don't be so rigid and dictatorial in your level designs-- ditch the "set pieces."

  • Games don't need to be one hundred hours long! Make your games six or seven hours, at max. Then people can play through and enjoy them over and over, memorizing little facets and mastering the levels.

  • Stop shoehorning RPG mechanics into everything! Yes, "Mass Effect" was a fun first-person shooter-RPG chimera-- in 2007. Enough with that template! Make simpler games, with fewer buttons. Follow Yu Suzuki's outline: "Easy to learn, difficult to master."

  • I know hardware and graphics APIs are totally homogenized. I know almost every game is made in one of two engines-- Unreal or Unity. But can you at least make an attempt to do something outside the box? "God rays", depth of field, and shader materials are fine until you realize that almost every modern game looks identical.

My focus from here-on-out is going to be something like this: Emulate! Go back and enjoy the thousands of games from the 70s-through-90s that I missed. Try taking early 3D games and using modern tools to insert ray traced effects like global illumination. Be picky! Only buy one or two modern games per year.