Gaming’s New Year’s Resolutions

Muse’s Gaming Editors, , present what they believe ought to be the New Year’s resolutions of the gaming world

Image: Carlos Hergueta

Photo credit: Carlos Hergueta on Flickr

Last year was a disappointing one for gaming. The industry was blighted by problems of broken games, rushed releases and an increased reliance on gimmicks. There has also been the issue of sexism within the gaming community. Video games have increasingly shown themselves to be a form of art: there have been fantastic visuals and fully engaging characters. However if they wish to be treated as a form of expression, they must accept responsibility for those members of the community who lack respect and constantly bring down the merit of gaming. In 2014 we saw a drop in the quality of AAA games, the likes of Assassin’s Creed Unity being a monumental flop. With 2015 now in full swing, we are looking forward to games that deliver good amounts of content and execute it without needing to patch on release day. It would be great to see a change of attitude and practice from both game developers and within the gaming community as a whole.

Improved Narratives
Storytelling in gaming has been disappointing for a while now. It’s not unusual to see the plot and characters of a game taking a backseat to the more technical issues such as gameplay and visuals. Of course, these things are vitally important, but that shouldn’t mean that narrative has to suffer. Take Destiny for example – despite the decent weapons, level design and multiplayer, Destiny was let down by a weak plot that felt like a re-hashed version of Halo’s storyline. Gamers all over the world were left asking themselves, ‘Why should I care?’. In many cases, the most memorable games are those that succeed in telling a good story. Red Dead Redemption is a great example of this: a game that manages to succeed in having both brilliant gameplay and narrative. John Marston’s story was gripping, and his untimely demise will always be one of the most memorable moments in the history of gaming.
With rumours of a sequel in the air and with the likes of The Witcher 3 and Batman: Arkham Knight lined up for release, games that have previously show a strong blend of gameplay and story are undoubtedly popular. The community can also rely on strong indie developers to merge simple new mechanics with strong storytelling Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons showed how this was possible. With this in mind, 2015 is looking up with regards to story telling

End Early Access
One of the most dreadful things to happen to the gaming industry has been the introduction of early access games to the market, notably on PC. It may seem that allowing users early access to the content in order to review and test it (for less than the release price) is a good idea, giving more decisive power to the consumer. However most of these games never see release, projects that are undertaken end up being cancelled, and this has left a large amount of consumers out of pocket and out of luck, with no possible way of being refunded. This is something that has to change. It is leading to the common misconception that indie games are not well made, harming the otherwise thriving PC market. In order for this to take place, Steam and Kickstarter need to take some responsibility for what is sold on their markets, actively stopping the ‘Green Light’ and ‘early access’ systems as these perpetuate the problem. The removal of content that is not finished, and has no promise of being so, would stop gamers being misinformed about the experience they’re buying into.

Fewer Broken Games
This year was plagued with disappointments, with games such as Watch_Dogs and Assassin’s Creed: Unity being released practically half-broken. It’s a shame when the final product fails to meet expectations, especially considering the retail price for games today. Things get even worse with the chaos that follows a botched release and the hurry to produce patches to bring a game up to standard. Just a little more tender love and care would not go amiss. In the case of Unity, we have a game that showed a lot of promise, with the hope of rejuvenating the series, only to be scuppered by a hurried release. As a result, it was met with disappointment and ridicule. In 2015 we’d like to see fewer titles being rushed through the development stages, with more time and care being devoted to finishing games properly. Hopefully the industry has learnt from the mistakes made by Ubisoft, and we’ll never have to worry about this again.

Higher FPS
One of the biggest parts of a video game that continues to be overlooked is the frame rate at which it runs. 60fps should be the standard that any game hopes to achieve, but reviewing bodies like IGN and Kotaku fail to give any critical analysis regarding this feature, despite it being crucial to the full enjoyment of the game. As a result of this, developers are focusing more on a system’s horsepower towards graphical fidelity, which is only a superficial improvement. The upcoming release of The Order 1886, highlights this problem perfectly. The game will run at 30fps as the developers believe that it reflects their ‘artistic’ desires. It is hard to be respectful of this decision. The truth is that in order for the game to run on the current generation of consoles, it has to sacrifice something. As reviewers never pick up enough on the issue of frame rate, it goes unnoticed. So really, if this problem is to be fixed, reviewers need to focus their critical analysis. In 2015, we would like to see a greater emphasis on this attribute as it greatly improves the whole gaming experience.