Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Little Rant About Indie Games

I love indie games.  Where AAA game developers are too big and take little risk, indie games are more often innovative and fun.  However, there are times when indie developers make stupid design ideas that can take a great game and totally suck the fun out of it.

One problem I have with big and small games is this obsession with online play.  Online games can be really fun, but to me this is just a gimmick.  The multiplayer should NEVER be the main selling point for a game.  It should be more like a special feature on a DVD.  You are not required to watch the "behind the scenes" in order to enjoy a movie, but it's there if you enjoy that stuff.  If the single-player is weak in order to give the game spectacular multiplayer, I will avoid it.  The fact is once a game loses it's steam and the multiplayer is its only worthwhile feature, then it is basically worthless.  There is a reason I still play games like DOOM and Half-Life.  The single-player games are fantastic and the multiplayer is there almost like an afterthought.

I recently played an indie game where you need to have a log-in to use the level editor.  The only point to the log-in is to share highscores and custom levels.  What if I don't want to share anything?  It's not like I have to pay to use it, but it is still annoying as hell.  What if the server is down or my internet is off?  Do these guys really not see how retarded it is to have these "always on" games?  The reaction to the Xbox One PR disaster should give a lot of these devs an idea of how the average consumer feels about games that need to be connected to the Master Computer all the time.  Think about it!

Another major gripe I have with indie games are game elements where challenge is often confused with making the game as much of a frustrating chore as possible.  It almost feels like an elitist game programmer who thinks he is making a modern Contra but is really making a game that punishes the player for making little mistakes.  Contra is a tough game not because it punishes the player but because it is tough to master.

One really good example of an indie game that confuses unfairness with challenge is Unepic.  I really wish I could give Unepic a high rating, but the stupid bits just keep showing up to slap the player across the face.  One boss fight requires you to drop all of your potions on the floor or the boss will cause the player to lose control and start drinking potions.  On top of that, you'll lose all of your stuff after you're forced to watch yourself die all because you didn't take the time to research on the internet what you need to do.

Another point in the game has these jesters that transform your weapons into toy hammers.  It would be a funny if the change was temporary instead of permanent.  The only way to get back your weapons is to gather up 500 (!) prayer points (a lot of grinding) and find this hidden room at the other side of the map.  So your best weapon is now a worthless toy hammer that does 1 damage and now you have to go on this boring adventure to get enough points to get your weapon back.  Then it can happen again and again until you're past that part of the game with the jesters!

The final grand annoyance is the final boss where you have to periodically switch with a new character (who you never played as before) to protect the castle while your character has to go fight the final boss.  There is a timer that tells you when the next wave of enemies are coming so you know when to switch back.  However, the window for you to fight the wave and make progress with your main character is so small that by the time you beat the first wave of enemies the next wave is already attacking you!  I finally uninstalled the game and haven't played it since.  Making your game unfair and frustrating doesn't make it "challenging" and "edgy".  IT MAKES IT A SHITTY GAME!!  Go back to start.  Do not collect 200 dollars.

Another huge problem I have with some indie games are the inappropriate graphics.  The game can be a simple 2D game, but some developers feel the need to use super-ultra-uber-chocolatey-advanced-super-shaders that severely limit their audience.  Would it be so bad to forget about the super shaders and just use the simpler shaders?  Why do these games need NASA super computers just to run the ultra-kickass graphics to enjoy the game?  All it does is ruin the game's chances at success because the customers with the appropriate hardware are more sparse.  On top of that, a lot of these devs don't even bother to tell people about these requirements, especially for people who are not as tech-savy as them (that elitist thing again).  Now you have unhappy customers who payed money for something they can't even play.

There are even games where the graphics looks horrible, but the game still requires the computer from the starship Enterprise to run.  One good example of this is the indie game "99 Levels to Hell".  The graphics are piss poor.  They look like some third grader drew them.  However, this 2D platforming game runs choppy because they use these shaders and lighting engines that bog down the computer.  You can't even see the difference these pointless graphical features provide.  WHAT IS THE POINT!?  LORD HAVE MERCY IF YOUR GAME DOESN'T NEED THE LATEST, GREATEST 4.5D GRAPHICS CARD!!  On top of that, the game is boring and repetitive so it doesn't really make a difference to me anyways.  As always, gameplay over- way over- over the moon over graphics.

Like I said, a little rant.  It just bothers me to see these things happening in games.  A great idea is completely flushed down the pooper because of poor execution is a dang shame, in my honest opinion.

tl;dr A good game doesn't rely on online features, frustrating difficulty, and super graphics.

Forsaken Eagle

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