Cry’s-is 2.0 (censored version)
As some game developers have just embarked on their road to success only to die on the way, a "great" mortgage crisis and a total apocalypse have begun.
A nice website game-design.ru was the first bell that rang. It didn't start this all, but it was the last straw (so we can say it finished it all). I'm speaking of the words in their podcast: "Now we tend to improve the graphics and simplify the gameplay".
Excuse me, dear developers. What do you want – to become a museum everyone enjoys looking at or to make people enjoy your game? All your increased graphic requirements and "photorealistic wonders" are plain nonsense — and a difficult-to-understand kind of nonsense.
People want to see nice pictures and have fun. They don't want to think about all these "Core2Duo", don't want to install and run anything anywhere, or rack their brains. When YOU want to have fun, are you prepared to learn something in order to do it? You write on forums: "Oh yeah, back in 1992 (1993 to 2002, depends on the person) games were so much better" — that's because now you don't want to learn something new. And who does?
I cannot open a game and forget that it's just a game. Why the developers do not care about player's impression of the game, do not care how to make it easier to start playing? Under development now is a huge number of megaprojects which are not interesting to play even for their developers. "People will swallow this, we're out of budget, out of time, out of developers, and there's pirates", and other lame excuses.
A simple experiment:
1) Google search for "igra" ("game" in Russian)
2) Yandex search for "igra" (Yandex is the most popular Russian search engine)
Let's explore the search results:
Which of these links we can just click and play?
Not a single one. Let's take Google's results only, Yandex is even worse. Let's start from the ads:
1.a. — Dark Orbit, yeah: I, the person who played games since the times of DOS, was able to find my way through the interface only after 15 minutes of struggle, and there was even no understandable guide on how to play. Needless to say, such guide is a must. To cut it short, no one on the Internet will play if they don't spend a heap of money for promotion. No one will play because players don't know how to.
1.b. — A portal of "flash games". I clicked on the first popular game. I was supposed to click on "how to play", which is below the "play" button. But I clicked "play". Unclear how to play? Close it.
1.c. — A block of ads:
Online game "Gladiators"
Gladiator fights in Ancient Rome
Play at home and at work!
Do you know when you will die?
Take the unique test
Learn the date of your death!
New online RPG game
Download the client and play for free
in Perfect World. More than 30M players.
I got interested in "Learn the date of your death" quiz, the gameplay is simple, but in the end you're being asked for money to get a result. Not funny. Bye.
1.d. The link to http://jaggi.ru lead me to another "Play" button at http://jaggi.ru/games/aqua-ball where I had to download an 11.2-megabyte file. Yes, probably there was a game in this file. But I clicked "play", not "give me the link to download/install/run/learn etc." I learned to use a PC and browser, what else do I have to learn?
These were advertisements; let's see the search results.
1.e. http://onlineguru.ru/. Keywords: "Arcade, For cell phones, Erotic games, Flash jokes, Shooters, Platformers, Racing, Sports, Fighting, Puzzles, Animated, Logical". Users have to learn what is what. People learn at school or work, why do they have to learn anything here?
http://onlineguru.ru/racing/ — I clicked on "racing", it looks less ugly than everything else. The next screen shows this text, which explains much:
"Extreme Trucks part I europe
In this game, you drive a huge car through dangerous obstacles in the mountains.
In this game, you sail a raft on a river and avoid various obstacles.
Good circle racing game with nice graphics. The car moves after your mouse cursor.
Standard circle racing game with average graphics, where you should reach the finish line as quickly as possible.
In this game you ride a horse, which you should bring to the finish line before others, jumping above obstacles.
You are controlling a bike, driving through a forest through all kinds of obstacles.
Jet boat racing
In this game you participate in speedboat racing. Your task is to be the first to finish.
Here you should destroy enemy cars by colliding with them."
Is there anything attractive? The only entertaining thing here is the stupidity of those who wrote these descriptions. I remind you, this is the first link in search results. Google promises me games here. But the first game I tried is unusable – the car gets destroyed all the time.
1.f. Novosoft.ru — "Pump games for free from..."
I don't need that, I want to play! What does the word "pump" mean anyway? Is this a branch of Gazprom? What’s your offer — gas or oil?1
1.g. http://www.carnage.ru/ "MMORPG CARNAGE :: free online role-playing game (on line ..."
Go to this website and try to find a link that says "Play"2.
(A LOT OF UGLY STUFF LIKE THE ABOVE SKIPPED)
1.h. Online games bigmir)net "A logical game with a unique concept. Aim and shoot, forming groups of three or more beads of the same colour, and don't allow the chain of beads to be..."
I could play only this first game after I've read its description and clicked "play". Then the same boring stuff continues: "Multiplayer Tetris. Two difficulty levels and three types of blocks, cool music and bright design — those are the unquestionable advantages of Blocks!"
Who is this Tetris? How many players are inside of it?
At least they don't offer me a "Flash game". What is a "Flash game", is it a game with a flashlight? Have you ever seen an ad on the Internet that says "Flash ad" on it? Does any YouTube video have a title "Flash video"?
This is the problem of game development as an industry – it doesn't entertain.
In order to start playing, you need to know. And you need to know much more than just "pressed a button/scrolled a page/clicked on Santa".
Do you really think you work in this industry? In the industry of obscure stuff that doesn't entertain but merely kills your time, while you wait for the moment when you finally start enjoying the game? Is there anything in the above links that can be called entertainment for a regular PC user?
Right now game budgets are wasted to create 10 screens with logos of everyone who took part in creating this piece of crap. Come on, we've already seen your logos on the cover! Budgets are wasted for unnecessary settings. Still, not every screen has a "Play" button, not to mention how difficult it is to actually start playing. So we sit waiting a whole minute for every screen to load on the latest Core2Blahblahblah costing hundreds of dollars.
The game might be still unusable – thanks to its expensive copy protection system, which is meant to defend the game against those several thousands teenagers who will never buy a single game for the money asked for this crap, and even after they play for free less than an hour, they will curse this game on every forum. The worst thing for a regular user is that this copy protection is still useless against such a teenager with a passion for freebie.
Only game developers and publishers do not know the saying "for a wise fool, no fool protection is fool-proof".
And so the game has 50 buttons, mouse, cat, gamepad + 20 screenfuls of settings + enormous manual written by Martians "in PDF format". What does this PDF stand for, "Play, Dumbass, or go F*** yourself"? That's how game developers treat their players, their customers. And console games are hardly any better.
Mini-games for portals aim to be like real games from the point of view of the player, and even a bit better than PC retail or console games... At least the people who can use an operating system and a browser may hope to get some entertainment. These people, the "target audience" for game developers, may only hope...
This "crisis in the industry" will never end unless you, reader of this article, start making games for people. So that normal PC users could start playing at once, so that they instantly get motivated to play when they see the splash screen. What your products are doing now to the consumers cannot be called "game process" in any way.
©2009 Salavat Valiullin, firstname.lastname@example.org
1 Mostly used in Russian internet segment, Russian word «skachat», has 2 meanings – «pump» (in general use) and «download» (network slang).
2 Ironically, after the developers have read the uncensored variant of this article, they finally added a "Start game" button for new players.