Thursday, 3 January 2008

EXTRA! EXTRA! Paperboy hits out at lazy developers!

Laziness. Apathy. The same old same old. It seems that every Christmas exposes the laziness of developers. We see the rehashes, and the heavy dose of sequelitis, and the previous-gen games given a next-gen coat of paint. Am I the only person in the world who sees the Christmas charts as a depressing confirmation that games aren’t worth anything? That they are really for the idiots, for the people who simply have to buy Fifa every. Sodding. Year. Yes, I know, I know, you need your reserve team up to date and the cup holders accurately modelled in the Kop Stand. I understand you need to see the new kit that has the three lines rather than the three stripes. After all, without these cosmetic changes the game is rubbish, and you would never dare play it.

Fair play, it can be annoying to play a sports game with old players. I don’t really enjoy my version of Brian Lara Cricket where W.G.Grace still dominates the crease. What bothers me more is the unquestioning purchase of the sequels without consideration or thought. 10/10? Bought it. 5/10? Bought it. 2/10, and has images of cat molestation on the front cover? Bought it. For the love of god, read a review. Please. I am begging all of you who think that buying yet another Need For Speed is an expression of your free spirited nature, put the game down slowly. Even if you intended to steal it to buy cheap cider to drink down the park, put it down. In fact, do us all a favour and have a carefully controlled car accident now resulting in your death. It will save many lives in the long run.

When you look at the charts, bloated from too much turkey and not enough exercise, that you realise developers are lazy because we want lazy games. I see the intelligent, thought provoking games, and I want to protect them from harm. I know the Christmas chart is a cruel place to be. The Fifas of this world, they will riddle these games with bullet holes while they pilfer their cash. I want to hold them against my chest as they bleed out, railing at the world and all of its infinite cruelty.

Because sometimes the good games die young. We are in a gaming market where entire studios can close down because people weren’t interested in truly original games like Okami or Viewtiful Joe. (God bless you Clover). Games are money machines, and to make that money you have to have a flashy advert or the enigmatic substance that is 'hype', and that is the truth.

Everyone holds up games like Ico as examples of how the public can realise greatness when they see it, and risk their moolah on something new. Well, a small newsflash for those people…ICO WAS DISCONTINUED. Everyone conveniently forgets that it is only available now because Shadow of the Colossus was projected to sell enough units to support its re-release (it did, barely).

But then you look at Assassins Creed. Admittedly, the press on it has been mixed in their reviews – ranging from half good and pretty to frankly repetitive and pretty. But who wasn’t seduced by that advert of Altair walking through the crowd? Who didn’t see gaming salvation in his stubbly chin, and think to themselves ‘YES! Thank you, Jebus, thank you!’ and then start a tribal dance in their undies? It didn’t matter if it was just a series of tasks repeated endlessly until you want to self-harm. Because the advert told you it was good, and he looked moody on the cover. The amount of copies this baby has sold were so high, the studio put their entire catalogue back three months because they didn’t need to rush anything out to scrape together money.

So, who’s lazy when we get down to it? The developers who give us the warmed-up leftovers? Or the public and their simple needs, satisfied by our never-ending love of shooting things with things, or moving a ball to a scoring zone?


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