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Modern Action Game Development: Is It DOOMed??
Split from Doom4 topic as I believe this is a pretty pertninent and passionate issue in it's own right.

All of us folks on func are passionate about some form of old skool gaming, right?? Almost certainly Quake / Doom and some their contemporaries, as well as tangential franchises such as Thief, System Shock, etc.

As such we have a pretty strong appreciation of what made those titles great (and often still great). Including but not limited to: User-friendliness, direct controls, simplicity, freedom of movement and exploration, fast paced action, atmosphere, purity of purpose, etc etc.

But also most of us have some passions about modern contemporary titles. Fallout4, Witcher3, Skyrim, XCom EU, Soma, Wolf TNO. Slick graphics (well okay not FO4...), cinematic presentation, strong stories, dialogue, cutscenes, RPG elements, specific missions etc etc.

(I'm skipping low budget indie games here but feel free to compare those if it's relevant)

Nevertheless, as per the Doom4 thread, I think there is a general feeling that games these days are missing the characteristics that made older games great, and that attempts to recapture those characteristics are incompatible with the demands of modern gamers AND the ethos of modern studios, and that attempts to blend old and new and especially remake or reboot old games are doomed...

So:

Is this the case??

Discuss.
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Replying To MH.... 
There's a real element of "they changed it, now it sucks" in this, isn't there? This must be a horrible position for the developers to be in; change too much and they get comments like this, not change enough and they get accused of stagnating or recycling the same game over and over (like what happened to id in the late 90s).

I don't have a lot of sympathy for a lot of game devs....because so much of what they get wrong is so utterly obvious, it seems that they must be doing it deliberately to piss players off.

Such as:

Unbindable controls
Fixed FOV
Un-disablable headbob
Unskippable intro movies / adverts
Unskippable dialogue / cutscenes
Bad save points before such cutscenes
Bad save points related to boss battles
Missing or ineffective skill settings
Onscreen instructions still with console button hints
Wasteful design requiring invisible barriers to herd player.

All of which happen too much in modern games, and almost all of which were the sort of things we could take for granted in older games. Quake I can rebind my keys to play with my dick if I want, just from simple menus. Quake2 if I wanted to skip the intro "cinematic" then I could just do with without editing a fucking .ini file. Unreal if I wanted to save right before fighting a Titan because hey common fucking sense I might die and not want to replay the whole level, then I could.

I know this isn't the main issue, but when a major dev releases a full finished game, that apparently has been playtested, and does something as amazingly fucking stupid as put a savepoint before a long cutscene before a tough arena battle, and somehow thinks that having to rewatch the cutscene every time you reload is a good idea....They deserve to have a horrible time. 
User-friendliness Of All Things.... 
 
 
Bad save points before such cutscenes.

I think there's a special cauldron in hell for devs that place a savepoint before cutscenes. 
 
In the 90s games were made for PC dorks that probably had to have a lot of patience and some technical skill to even get the fucking thing to work in the first place. Game design could be more challenging, non-linear and exploratory because you had these people's attention by the very nature of them.

Games these days are hugely expensive to make and designed to sell to a casual mass market that will get bored in the first ten minutes unless you hit them over the head with easy, non-confusing, visually spectacular fluff.

You are not going to see a big-budget game made with 90s design sensibilities. You might still see it in the indie scene.

Or just shut up and play Dark Souls. 
Did You Sit On A Traffic Cone Or Why Are You So Butthurt? 
Very insightful thread about a topic that was never discussed on func before. Surely it will invoke constructive and interesting discussions. 
Kinn... 
In the 90s games were made for PC dorks that probably had to have a lot of patience and some technical skill to even get the fucking thing to work in the first place.

I find it's worse today. The amount of .ini hunting and editing you have to do to get basical functionality like FOV 90 or something...!

The rest of your post....maybe... 
There's Still Hope 
as machinegames and avalanche studios still manage to make proper games (wolf: tno, tob or mad max respectively). i think it mostly depends on a studio and on how people in there motivated to make certain title.
if they're under top management press to produce boring bollox (even if it's franchise but they're forced to make it as being said) there's no hope, if they're passionate of what they're making and have certain freedom then there's good result.
so i think it's getting harder for big studios with big publishers to make something original nowadays due to costs and pressing from indie devs with their originality.

ps. mad max fanboy here. 
 
I find it's worse today. The amount of .ini hunting and editing you have to do to get basical functionality like FOV 90 or something...!

Ah yes but you're not supposed to be changing the FOV. Configurable FOV is never part of modern game design and probably hasn't been since, I dunno, 1999? In fact, only someone who was brought up on Quake would even think of doing that. It's a dev feature at best, like all the hundreds of other obscure tweaks and cheats you can muck around with in that .ini file. 
 
Quake was a 4 person/5 person team of kids making a game. Kids still make games today.

Some of them are incredible:

Check out Unturned made by a 16 year old. It is a zombie survival game with crafting, vehicles, deathmatch and coop, a myriad of items.

Video: http://cdn.akamai.steamstatic.com/steam/apps/2032712/movie_max.webm?t=1402962994

http://store.steampowered.com/app/304930/ <--- notice the 160,000 ratings. The game is $5, but there are purchasable items.

This isn't the only example, but is exceptionally notable because it was work of a 16-year old. 
What Kinn Said 
Stop hacking, hackerfuck 
What 
several modern games i played recently had fov slider! (still sadly limited by 100 or even 90 degs) but yea, general trend sucks.. 
 
In spite of their many flaws, I've really enjoyed the trend of a few modern games (like Resident Evil: Revelations 2 and Alien: Isolation) to rely on the thematic roots of their respective franchises while still being treated as modern releases.

Sometimes that works really well. Revelations 2 plays in every way SO much better than RE5 or RE6 and is still a spooky and goofy third-person shooter, and we'll see what the RE2 remake will be like - while sometimes it doesn't work so well, like Alien, which, as much as I loved it, was yet another stealth/craft/shoot AAA title that a lot of people didn't bother to finish. 
 
I definitely play more modern indie than AAA games but that's mostly because my newest console is a PS2 and my Macbook has Intel HD graphics (and frankly at this point even new indie games are starting to outstrip my system). I might as well get a PS3 at this point but the only games I care about for it are Demon's Souls/Dark Souls and Deadly Premonition. The Last of Us is great too (despite some flaws) but I already played it on a former roommate's console.

Indie games are cool because there are tons of young devs out there with lots of news ideas, as well as people who are making loving "retro" titles, usually in the vein of 2D action games and platformers, adventure games, or vaguely Earthbound-ish RPGs (Undertale, Lisa, OFF, etc.). Then again there's a glut of arty-farty games with really terrible writing that get heaps of praise for some reason, Dear Esther and Her Story being the worst offenders imo.

Unfortunately you won't see much nowadays like the games Shambler mentioned, afaik but hey�there's always mods and custom levels. Do you *really* need a Thief reboot when there are lots of quality fan missions out there? Still, I'm waiting for a small team to do the equivalent of a Cave Story or Shovel Knight for old school FPS. 
 
I don't have a lot of sympathy for a lot of game devs....because so much of what they get wrong is so utterly obvious, it seems that they must be doing it deliberately to piss players off.

You really should try being a game developer.

You'd be able to put your money where your considerable mouth is and show all these chumps how it's really done, totally eating their lunch with the magic bullet of old school game design, and all the pros and ex-pros on this board can watch the games industry grind you into a greasy paste. 
Lun. 
You should really try sniffing my balls. They're extra greasy after being to the gym.

Seriously though. I'm talking about deliberate choices to GET IT WRONG (and I don't mean subjectively wrong like turning Doom into a slow horror-themed game). Choices which sometimes seem to be more obtuse and complicated than actually just letting things be functional for the player. And choices that concern aspects of games that were default RIGHT with the dawn of 3D FPS gaming.

Semi off-topic though so feel free to ignore those issues... 
 
Can you give an example? I'm honestly curious what you think devs miss that is totally obvious. 
See List Above, Warren 
 
 

Unbindable controls
Fixed FOV
Un-disablable headbob
Unskippable intro movies / adverts
Unskippable dialogue / cutscenes
Bad save points before such cutscenes
Bad save points related to boss battles
Missing or ineffective skill settings
Onscreen instructions still with console button hints
Wasteful design requiring invisible barriers to herd player.

I pretty much agree. You can find all of the above in most of the big titles released in the last 5-10 years. Not all in every game, but usually more than one.

Fixed FOV I could live with if the default wasn't almost always poorly chosen. 75 degrees? Really?

Unskippable intro spam. Almost every game seems to think this is the most awesome feature ever. Wrong. Very, very wrong. Possibly the most annoying thing ever put in a game. One time only, please, and skippable if not plot or specifically game related

Onscreen instructions with console button hints. I always feel embarrassed for the dev who forgot to fix this obvious error.

Invisible barriers. This is bad, but what I think is worse is when you can't backtrack even though there is absolutely no reason to prevent it. 
 

Unbindable controls
Fixed FOV
Un-disablable headbob
Unskippable intro movies / adverts
Unskippable dialogue / cutscenes
Bad save points before such cutscenes
Bad save points related to boss battles
Missing or ineffective skill settings
Onscreen instructions still with console button hints
Wasteful design requiring invisible barriers to herd player


Actioning that laundry list of pet peeves will do absolutely nothing to turn a modern game into an oldskool-feeling game. 
I Can Only Guess Of Course. 
Since most AAA titles nowadays is really just a complex screenshot generators, they care only about the looks and extreme low FOV might be a cheap hack to solve every FPS problem - wrong scale of characters comparing to world.

I think most of modern games issues could be divided in 2 groups:
- it makes better screenies for adds, so screw the player
- whole product has only 2 hours of pure gameplay so we will use any possibility to waste player's time 
Except 
the invisible barriers one. That is the only thing in the list that touches upon a non-trivial difference in design philosophy between oldskool and nuskool. 
Kinn. 
Which is exactly why I say it is semi off-topic. But I think some of those aspects are symptomatic of some modern game design. 
BTW. 
It is worth pointing out, that despite my little rantful list, in general there is a lot that I like in modern gaming. I've enjoyed loads of games in recent years, haven't even got around to Alien Isolation and Metro 2033 Redux and Legacy Of The Void and am thoroughly looking forward to XCom2, Dishonoured2, Total Warhammer, and seeing that Doom4 is like, to name a few examples.

Personally I've enjoyed diversifying into other genres, I am also not so attached or even experienced in certain franchises to find their reboots abominable, and have enjoyed Doom3, Tomb Raider 2013, Thief 4 etc. Which is fortunate for me I guess.

OTOH I still find the issue in general rather interesting, especially since my favourite recent games have not been pure FPS (as it would have been in the past). Daz and OTP and others were chatting about this in #terrafusion the other night, about how in certain eras there would be truly great and longstanding FPSes, but recently there haven't been. For example in the late 90's: Quake, Q2 Unreal, Deus Ex. In the early 2000's: HL2, Far Cry, Crysis. In recent years.....well WTNO is good but it didn't seem that memorable. STALKER got mentioned but seems a bit specialist. I personally think Dishonoured is the latest brilliant FPS for it's gameplay options (and a neat setting). But the numbers of classics seem to be diminishing.

Obviously there is a LOT of subjectivity and personal opinions in the last bit, but I think the point is reasonably valid. 
And Moar.... 
Games these days are hugely expensive to make and designed to sell to a casual mass market that will get bored in the first ten minutes unless you hit them over the head with easy, non-confusing, visually spectacular fluff.

You are not going to see a big-budget game made with 90s design sensibilities. You might still see it in the indie scene.


Good reply. I think that is a big part of the issue, and indeed confirms that it IS an issue.

However I don't think it's out of the question. I've seen devs responds to the backlash by, for example, putting in FOV sliders, and highlighting their action orientated gameplay (and indeed isn't Doom4 doing the latter??). And like Vondur mentions, some games are putting in old skool style stuff - WNTOTOT was quite clear that you could have lots of big guns and shoot them lots. And dropped flaming zombies from the sky - which is definitely in the ethos of things.

Are AAAAAAA+++ WB 10/10 cinematic experiences and visceral action / user-friendly controls and options really incompatible?? 
Meh 
...what they get wrong is so utterly obvious, it seems that they must be doing it deliberately to piss players off.

I don't believe there is a conspiracy among devs to piss off their player base, but I can relate to the sentiment in regards to certain things.

For every single thing the devs 'miss' there are a thousand other things they saw and addressed. Time, money and sanity are finite resources. I suspect that large amounts of thought and time are put into simply listing and prioritizing things like this to be taken care of and, sometimes, things just don't get addressed in a way that is satisfactory to everyone.

That being said, there are some things that I have a hard time rationalizing, like fixed FOV. That shit keeps me from even buying/playing the game. Is it that hard to put in an FOV slider? That's not a snide remark, maybe it really is that hard, I don't know.

In any case, it would be nice to see things like FOV sliders, skippable intros, and mouse smoothing options become a standard. 
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