Developer's Sin
  Last update at 17 Sep 2018 10:59

I want to discuss on how today's devs's sin for making awful games. Of course we all have the share of sin because we buy it, but hey, we buy it because we have the console, and we want something to be played on the console.

Note: If you think this article is too long, there's a TLDR version at the end of the post.

Better Graphic Equals Better Game!

Probably the number one reason why FPSs are dominant, the game puts you on first person perspective, allowing you to immerse on the beautiful graphic of the game. However, the gameplay of FPS is the same over past 10 years. So is this what Sony unveiled as "new improvement in gameplay?". Doesn't make sense, better graphic does make the game's presentation better, but does not change the gameplay whatsoever.

Not Utilizing What A Machine Can Do

A sore example is NIS's games for PS2 system. PS2 gave birth to graphically amazing Soul Calibur III, yet NIS doesn't bother utilizing the system and bought us Disgaea. Take a look at the Disgaea 2 screenshot (stock screenshot since I don't own the game):

That doesn't look so bad.
That doesn't look so bad.

And compare it with a game released 6 months later, Odin Sphere

That's what you call Sprite Porn.
That's what you call Sprite Porn.

Are NIS even trying to make a decent sprite? If we talk about Disgaea 1:

Wait, this was on PS2?
Wait, this was on PS2?

Compare that with Final Fantasy Tactics from the good ol' PS:

OK, now it's sad.
OK, now it's sad.

That's pretty tight. The sprite quality doesn't differ much. Disgaea 1's game size was around 1.1 GB. WTF? Isn't a DVD can hold up to 4.7 GB of data? For comparison, Odin Sphere uses 3.4 GB of data. 1.1 GB of data can be split into 2 CDs. Which means Disgaea 1 is still eligible for a PS game.

NIS isn't the only one responsible. We got Capcom who brought us Megaman 9 in 2008:

Believe it or not, it's on Wii, PS3, and Xbox 360. Image courtesy of Nintendolife.com
Believe it or not, it's on Wii, PS3, and Xbox 360. Image courtesy of Nintendolife.com

While, on 1998 we were brought this on the SNES:

Believe it or not, it's on SNES.
Believe it or not, it's on SNES.

WTF? Why couldn't they make it like SNES? Shoving that aside, why didn't they make it with HD sprites like Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix? Sure pretty graphics aren't everything, but they at least have to make the game appealing, at least!

Challenge vs. Tedious

Old gamers here must remember the Edge Master mode, where we face a definite challenge for each chapter:

OK, let's see what I can tear the impostor with.
OK, let's see what I can tear the impostor with.
I guess, ring out him with diminishing life?
I guess, ring out him with diminishing life?

That is what you call a challenge. In fighting game, a fair instruction on how you beat the opponent. How about SC4? Remember "Devote your strategy to a singular strike." when the actual command is to "Defeat your opponent with horizontal strikes"? What the hell? Singular strike equals A? What about using B? what about only poking the enemy once and not using a combo? Why did it have to be so cryptic? So SC4 resorts to trial and error to solve the challenge. That's tedious.

How about this one in SC4: "Use your ultimate attack without reservation." It is vague, but you can only guess between Unblockable and Critical Finish. It turns out to be Critical Finish, what's the problem? Problem is, the enemies on that stage have amped 150% Soul Gauge, making soul crushing them a tedious work. I tried this before, even at Hard difficulty, out of 30 battles (2 rounds each), with 50% Soul Gauge, I can only perform Critical Finish once. Yes, one freaking time.

Other developers are not less guilty. Sega for instance, with their great game Vakyria Chronicles. The game's tactical style and easy learning curve make this the second tactical comsole game I ever play till the end. However, Vakyria Chronicles deploys Save Scumming (the method of saving your game before taking a decision because if the result gone wrong, you're at major disadvantages, so you have to keep reloading your save to get the best result) at harder difficulty level. This is very apparent on extra DLC mission I buy.

Then we have the notorious White Knight Chronicles. The RPG allows your character to have 80 levels. It's not that hard to grind that big, but…
1. You're capped to L65 until you reach Guild Rank 18
2. By the time you hit 65, you will be, naturally, at Guild Rank 16
3. To reach Guild Rank 18 from 16, you need 2 700 000 points
4. Fastest way to gain Guild Points is to repeat a 4 minute quest that give you 17 500 points.
5. That means you have to play that particular quest 155 times before you can advance to level 75. Yes 75. To get to level 80, you will have to be at Guild Rank 20.
Imagine if you play a game like Disgaea but the game caps your level with some excuse other than storyline. That's 255% bullshit!

Not only on RPG, platforming games today suffered this too. Remember the fair challenge of old games like Crash Bandicoot or Croc? Now take a look on today's platform game. The reviews descriptions most likely contain "punishingly hard". I tried a bit and discovered that "punishingly hard" equals to "slippery sluggish control", and "impeccable timing". It is as if games are made for people who are like "w3 c4n c0mple4t d15 g4m3 cuz w3 r 1337!!1one!!".

What is the point of making tedious, fake difficulties? Isn't the selling point of a game is for everyone to be able to pick it up and play it?

Any level of people can play this fighting game!
Any level of people can play this fighting game!

Online Capability Means Less Offline Function

As technology becomes cheaper, so does the price of internet subscription, and console games began to provide online content. That sounds awesome isn't it? Wrong.

Take a look at Soul Calibur III. How many fun way you can utilize the game? There's Chronicles of the Sword, Soul Arena, branching Tales of Souls that reminds you a bit of Edge Master, Custom Character Creation, Survival, Battle Theater, and Exhibition Theater.

Lots of mode for a single game!
Lots of mode for a single game!

Soulcalibur IV? Arcade Mode, Story Mode, Character Creation, Tower of Lost Souls. That's not even half of Soul Calibur III's content.

That's all the game has to offer.
That's all the game has to offer.

So, in order to fit the Online capability, the game has to be butchered by more than 50%? What kind of game design is that?

Let's go back to the notorious White Knight Chronicles. We're presented with this world map:

Reminds me of Final Fantasy Tactics
Reminds me of Final Fantasy Tactics

What in God's name happened to these:

I spot Adlehyde to the southeast!
I spot Adlehyde to the southeast!
I think I want to take a Chocobo Ride from this point.
I think I want to take a Chocobo Ride from this point.

Why they cut the explorable world map and replace it with just a simple map? All RPGs starting from middle sixth generation have no explorable world map. The last RPG I see with a world map is Wild Arms 5, after that none.

However, they also can add more content using online mode. Sadly, these content came with bullshit. Take a look this Toshinden 3:

To get extra costumes, beat the game using Naru at "Impossible" difficulty
To get extra costumes, beat the game using Naru at "Impossible" difficulty

How we all eager to see extra costumes that we finish the game several times to get it. This also same case on Tekken 3. How about now?

Rp. 181 000? We in Indonesia can eat decent meal for 2 people for FOUR days using that much money!
Rp. 181 000? We in Indonesia can eat decent meal for 2 people for FOUR days using that much money!

I really mean it. While $1 = Rp 8500 here, with Rp 181 000, Luz and me can eat decent meal of stir fry meat and stir fry vegetables for four days, with each day eating twice. This is not what gaming like on the era of 5th generation game. You pay for the game, and you can enjoy all of the content.

Still on same topic, what happened to the story? Back to the Soul Blade Edge Master mode, we were presented by in-depth story of each character, example, Mi-na:

Page 1 and 2.
Page 1 and 2.
Page 3 and 4.
Page 3 and 4.
Page 5 and 6.
Page 5 and 6.
Page 7 and 8.
Page 7 and 8.
10 pages from the character bio to fighting first enemy.
10 pages from the character bio to fighting first enemy.

So, the devs back then wants you to see how much work they put on making a character. And once you finished reading that book, you feel satisfied, having to know the character's journey from beginning to the end.

Compare to Soulcalibur IV, you get an overused artwork, along with a one page bio that is COPY-PASTED to story mode opening. What the hell, Namco?

Let's not start with RPG story. Today's RPG have less twist than old RPGs. See that particular Final Fantasy IX screenshot up there? That was on middle of 3rd disc with 32 hours of gameplay. Today's RPG? most of then can be finished within 30 hours. Even more notorious, the White Knight Chronicles can be finished in less than 15 hours, with all regular sidequests finished.

How can we get less?!
How can we get less?!

Creativity is On The Edge Of A Horn.

New games on 2010/2011 have become less and less diverse take a look at this image from Cracked.com:

You know that something gone wrong. 1990s gaming convention were never this dull.
You know that something gone wrong. 1990s gaming convention were never this dull.

I wonder what happened to the platforming game? When we will experience a game like this:

I roll back to play this when I want some jumping action.
I roll back to play this when I want some jumping action.

In era of PS2, decent platforming games suddenly disappear without any trace. Sure we have classic character like Crash Bandicoot on PS2, but the gameplay was so slow and sluggish, that even the old developer of Crash series despised the new game.
I had given up hope, but PS3 gives me something: the Little Big Planet.

Whoa, at last... a platforming game!!
Whoa, at last… a platforming game!!

The game has everything. Fair jumping physics, lush and colorful graphics, tranquil music, and user-generated content. I almost call it a perfect game until…

IT FUCKING BLURS.
IT FUCKING BLURS.

I have to rest for 6 hours after playing the game for 30 minutes. I never feel this sick before, the closest I ever felt sick is when I play Rascal on PS. That was more than 10 years ago, I thought the gaming today have improved vastly. What were the dev thinking?

"Oh okay, we have this seriously awesome concept… what else do we need to make it more awesome? Oh, how about adding MOTION BLUR?"

TLDR Version

Hey you write this article for so long, make a TLDR version!
So yeah, you're right, my big points for dev sins are:
- Big company games emphasize on graphic rather than gameplay.
- Games made for a machine does not utilize the machine's capabilities.
- Tedious is the new challenge.
- Online capability make offline experience suffers a lot.
- Gaming is going backwards, there are less diverse game on market now than on 1990s.