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The List: The Top 5 Ways to Drain the Game Swamp

By Garrett Fuller on January 10, 2017 | Columns | Comments

The Top 5 Ways to Drain the Game Swamp

No one likes politics these days. However, video games have a huge swamp of their own to deal with. It is the one that has been created over time by too much hype and oversold knock offs. That’s right, too many games chase the money of creative titles and try to duplicate their success. We lived through it as MMO players. Early designs had solid ideas which were perfected in Warcraft and then duplicated across dozens of games which tried to reach some success. You also saw that template used in MOBAs which are now coming into their twilight years. You will always have lasting success in games like League of Legends and World of Warcraft, but the times have changed and it is now innovation that will rule out once again. The game industry has just gotten too big and clunky to survive in its current state. So, how do we drain the swamp?

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5. Engines and Development

It is now easier than ever to build your own game. Whether it is an RPG or a mobile game, the world has access to more engines than any time in history. Whether you use: Unreal, Unity, or Lumberyard there are a load of classes and tools to build upon. Teams that were once huge 200 person studios are now forced to cut down and streamline. Successful games are being made by smaller independent teams with a much more agile agenda. We need more support from the Engine companies to help teams build their products.

4. Money

Money is always an issue and most games are forced to Early Access so that some income can be generated. No game is fully “launched” anymore in a whole package playable format, that is, unless you are a big title console game. Those games are forced to build hype…cough…No Man’s Sky…in order to be successful. Money has been misspent in the game industry since I began writing in 2005, actually it was misspent long before that. Games need to remember what they are, a form of entertainment. If the last ten years has shown us anything it is that solid game play always wins out. You don’t need flashy graphics or endless stories to win over fans. You simply need a fun mechanic that taps into all of our hearts. Investors need to look at better ways to support games and build upon their success. It remains a multi-billion dollar industry even right now.

3. Games that Transcend Mobile

This was a tough one to word. However, I think the mobile market have become an overblown flood of horrible money grabbing games. Yet, everyone has access to their phones all day long and something of quality needs to be made. As much as I like Clash Royale, there are times I want to throw my phone. I find myself spending money on it often too. I know better, but I think having a game that I can play on both mobile and PC, or even console will win the day. That is not that far away, but it needs to happen soon. As many games cross pollinate, no one has truly built a full bridge between the two.

2. Turning Design on Its Ear

RPGs are amazing. RPGs are also boring, repetitive, and eventually really frustrating. The D&D module design remains with us from 1974 and very little has changed. Sure it works, it even works extremely well. However, how can we turn this design around and push the boundaries of development? Teams have to get away from statements like” “We NEED a skill system, every game has one.” These are the elements that gamers are comfortable with, but tweaking them and changing ideas are the only way we progress. As a lifelong RPG fan, I am sick of boosting a stat every level. We are in the midst of too many games working out the same way in the end. It is time to change our policies.

1. A New Era

Investors, Designers, and Publishers needs to start thinking of new ideas and building upon them. Games seem to continue to rely on their old tactics and that does not cut it in the overall design. We have grown a huge generation of gamers out there. They are younger, smarter, and faster than anything we have developed. It is time to start putting forward new ways to play with new ideas to follow. As a designer, it makes sense to remain open to new forms. In the age of big games and huge titles, no one saw this little building block game named Minecraft come out of nowhere. That is where games have to continue to look for innovation.