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Forums - Sony Discussion - Creative freedom, bravery, and risk in games development/publishing

JackHandy said:
IcaroRibeiro said:

I don't know if I have anything else to add on your thread. I think it's common sense humans don't like challenges and innovation, they like familiarity and routine.

This is absolutely true, but it makes you wonder why people purchased so many games during the 8,16 and 32 bit era. Most of those games were either the first of their kind or damn near close, and people ate them (innovative and new styles of games) up in ways that they don't now. It kinda makes you wonder. Did society change? Did the gaming industry change? Was it a little of both? 

Whatever the reason, I wish we could go back to the way it was before. Back then, everything (including the consoles themselves) felt so groundbreaking, fresh and exciting. 

I think the answer is gaming was such a novelty that people hardly had any standard to compare to anything released before. Today people already have a very well defined set of preferences and well-know experiences, so every time they play they will try to associate the new experience with the past experiences and the odds of rejection whatever is new are bigger

Back to times where gaming was a novelty it target mainly kids and kids like changes, challenges and discover new things. Those lovely, joyful and open minded kids now are boring, cynical and lazy boomers and they turned to be the main target from studios. Maybe we all should stop playing video games and let just kids play like in old times, I'm sure innovation would be praised or at least more than today  

 



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Jaicee said:
Mnementh said:

As mentioned before, I see that Death Stranding has some creativity to it. But the point also is: Sony never would've greenlighted it, without such a name like Kojima attached to it. And that is the point: in the past they greenlighted games like Loco Roco and Patapon. That is why this quote by Jim Ryan pisses me off as it is. Because I stand by it: Sony is the least creative they have been since entering the gaming console space.

...

Microsoft of all companies is bolder than Sony. Sure, they have their safe bets with Forza and Halo. But then they have Flight simulator, which pushes technical innovation at something new than the usual "more polygons, more effects". It is also not the usual gameplay. And while Starfield and Redfall look like what you expect from the industry, MS still has games like Psychonaut, Grounded or 12 minutes.

I've responded to most of what you wrote in other posts around this thread, but just wanted to respond to the stuff quoted above briefly.

I have no formed opinion of Jim Ryan as yet. He mouths some phrases that I like, but also sometimes sounds more like a typical corporate exec to me. We'll see. All I've got to say about that subject at this time.

Anyway, as to the idea that a game like Death Stranding wouldn't have been greenlit if not for the Kojima name...mmm, possible, but I don't know. I would just say that what I see is the way Hideo Kojima was treated by Konami versus the way he's treated by Sony and the contrast is night and day.

What I see from Sony right now is them publishing games (like Death Stranding) that introduce whole new genres, games (like Returnal) that bring previously obscure genres like roguelikes and innovative story structures into the AAA gaming scene, the first AAA video game ever to center a lesbian character, sequels that radically challenge assumptions about the original title in a franchise, etc. I'm just wanting that to continue whether it makes a lot of money or not. That's all I'm really getting at here.

Kojima and Konami obviously had a bad breakup, all that drama was incredibly stupid. Still he is a well-regarded name in the industry, I think every other publisher would've taken his game.

You again mention AAA. I don't see Returnal as innovative, as other games did similar things, you see it as such, because it is an AAA game doing that. Well, here is the thing, I don't so much care about the budget. A game is a game is a game. That is why I don't see with Returnal. I also see games as part of media, and therefore don't see innovation, if movies did it already. It still can be good, and that is fine. I am more interested in innovative ideas to play, something that Loco Roco and Patapon offered, but these experiments just don't happen anymore at Sony. Another traumatic movie like story on the other hand  might be good and well, but nothing I see as creative innovation. You see it differently it seems. You make a difference if a game brings stuff to the AAA space or if it has plots that we also see in cinema. That is fine if you think so. It just happens that I see things differently. But as the assumption in the OP is highly subjective, that may be OK.



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Hiku said:

I remember Shuhei Yoshida said something about how they never expected The Last Guardian to sell a lot, but they made it because they knew the fans wanted it. I imagine those kind of passion projects are easier to pitch to the CEO's, or justify to investors when you have some safe bet games alongside them.

I really like Shuhei Yoshida. Although being a corporate businessmen he still understands passion for gaming and how to develop gaming as an art form. Or if he doesn't he understands well to convey that anyways in his statements.

I think a mix of safe bets and new ideas is basically something benefitting the gaming sphere the most. We all love the next big entry in our most beloved series, but still also like being surprised with genuine new ideas. If one is financing the other, that is the best thing.



3DS-FC: 4511-1768-7903 (Mii-Name: Mnementh), Nintendo-Network-ID: Mnementh, Switch: SW-7706-3819-9381 (Mnementh)

my greatest games: 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020

10 years greatest game event!

bets: [peak year] [+], [1], [2], [3], [4]

Hiku said:

I remember Shuhei Yoshida said something about how they never expected The Last Guardian to sell a lot, but they made it because they knew the fans wanted it. I imagine those kind of passion projects are easier to pitch to the CEO's, or justify to investors when you have some safe bet games alongside them.

Ueda left Sony during development, and a contract for a new game was never made.

Thats all you really need to know in respect to how Sony viewed TLG's development and sales.

They may have wanted to get TLG out for fans, but they clearly weren't prepared to go through that again.



IcaroRibeiro said:
JackHandy said:

This is absolutely true, but it makes you wonder why people purchased so many games during the 8,16 and 32 bit era. Most of those games were either the first of their kind or damn near close, and people ate them (innovative and new styles of games) up in ways that they don't now. It kinda makes you wonder. Did society change? Did the gaming industry change? Was it a little of both? 

Whatever the reason, I wish we could go back to the way it was before. Back then, everything (including the consoles themselves) felt so groundbreaking, fresh and exciting. 

I think the answer is gaming was such a novelty that people hardly had any standard to compare to anything released before. Today people already have a very well defined set of preferences and well-know experiences, so every time they play they will try to associate the new experience with the past experiences and the odds of rejection whatever is new are bigger

Back to times where gaming was a novelty it target mainly kids and kids like changes, challenges and discover new things. Those lovely, joyful and open minded kids now are boring, cynical and lazy boomers and they turned to be the main target from studios. Maybe we all should stop playing video games and let just kids play like in old times, I'm sure innovation would be praised or at least more than today  

 

That is a wonderful observation, and I think you might be on to something. I had never thought about how the age of the average gamer might affect things in this way. Back then, it was mostly kids and a few teens sprinkled in and those demographics are a lot more open-minded. And with an open-minded consumer comes the opportunity for publishers to be adventurous when it comes to what they can sell. And of course, when publishers are willing to pay out for adventurous games, there will naturally be a lot more developers trying to make them.

Unfortunately, I don't see a workable solution short of another gaming crash. And is that even possible anymore? I don't think so. At least not for the foreseeable future, anyway. Gaming has become as mainstream as movies so we're kind of stuck right now. 



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IcaroRibeiro said:
Azzanation said:

I look at TLOU2 the same way i look at The Last Jedi and the Rise of Skywalker. The new SW trilogy movies aren't innovative or risky in anyway and the direction it took with legacy characters and story plot took a massive nose dive compared to what the audience would have preferred or liked. I am a huge SW fan and i am quite vocal on the approach the new movies took. Its nice to add new characters weather they are male or female but to just slaughter old favorites just to push a motive is far from acceptable in my books, this is something i hated with the new SW films. They killed off majority of the old characters and pushed in the new characters without justifying the causes or at least showcasing the audience they actually cared about them. Example: They made Luke Skywalker a coward and it took a TV series to re-justify his character.

I hear the same arguments with Joel, many TLOU fans liked him, he was a badass, yet was killed off so quickly and carelessly which was one of the major factors in the criticism by the public. Its not because Abby is a female, because the other main character Ellie is also a female that is a fan favorite, its the point of killing Joel and now we have to like the new character without a choice. The same thing happen with Halo 5, when everyone was forced to play Agent Locke instead of the chief, it wasn't because Locke was black, it was the fact that gamers wanted to play their hero and Locke hasn't done enough to earn his place just yet. 

It really comes down to good timing. I agree some of the criticism based on TLOU2, SW and Halo 5 is quite ridicules however that's just fanboys using the negativity to their own egos, however we cannot let that blind us on the real issues with these games and movies.

The older characters actors wee pretty old. Killing them was the right thing to do, as they were also old in narrative context. Harrison Ford was specifically direct on his demand to only play Han Solo again if it was the last time. 

Both Han and Luke had nice ending arcs for me, I don't see exactly what make people mad about them, and I'm also a Star Wars fan. I'm just sad Leia was the only one who couldn't get a more satisfying end, as Carrie passed away before most of the movie was filmed 

I also think people get too invested on fictional arcs and characters and starts do get too stressed out with small things. People play new IPs and with new characters all the time, I don't get why the concern to play a different character in the same franchise. Like, I understand Lara Croft is the face of Tomb Rider since the beginning, but why exactly would be so hurtful to play another character? I just wonder 

Azzanation has made a great analogy by relating some of the criticisms that TLOU2 an Star Wars sequels have faced, even recognizing that some of them were overblown, but the fact remains that both Sony and Disney upset a significative part of their audience by making some weird decisions upon already well constructed stories, it isn't that people get too invested or obsessed on fictional arcs and characters as you say nor that everyone is against change, the thing is that when you are making changes just for the sake of making changes, you may end up instead doing a disservice to that stories, worlds and characters, for example, aside from all the points Azzanation has already mentioned, my grandpa who is almost 90 years old and isn't a "hardcore" Star Wars fan, could only say after watching The Force Awakens: "WTF i just watched, they just basically recycled the plot of the original Star Wars, not only that but it's as if all the things the old protagonists made in the previous three movies amounted to NOTHING", and that is basically why lots people started to grow more and more annoyed and later disgusted with those sequels, that kind of disservice lands hard on people that doesn't just dismiss the things they are watching, playing or reading as mere afterthoughts. When you say : "The older characters actors wee pretty old. Killing them was the right thing to do, as they were also old in narrative context", we aren't saying that you can't kill or retire their characters in some way, but when you take characters that were supposed to have very high relevance inuniverse at their historic and lifetime periods, then proceed to invalidite every single achievement they had, and on top of that you kill them or so it seems just for the sake of it that is a disservice, as a users from other forums put it: "Yep. Nobody cares that he died. They care that we were given a random old man on a rock with zero relation to Luke and zero likability, who then proceeded to die in the most awkward, meaningless way." or other user goes with "It's not who lives or dies, it's how they're treated as characters, and how they do or do not ring true to the original trilogy. That's all this has ever been about for me."

As for the angle OP was originally discussing, i think JWeinCom, Mnementh and others have already discussed in great detail exactly why a game like the Last of Us 2 while not a bad game, the changes it made didn't necessarily break any creative molds but instead played it safe and it even looked like a disservice to some of their fans:

"the reasons to dislike TLOU2 are similar to the backlash to Metroid Other M. The game decided to characterize important characters in new ways, and it didn't sit well with everyone. But that doesn't mean these directions were bold or brave and creative"

"Basically you have to make some choices, if you progress a series to new hardware and changed societies. I don't see bold creative choices in TLOU2, just an adaption to the zeitgeist"

"TLOU2 was a creatively safe game, as it used well-tested gameplay, pushed visuals according to the general direction of the industry and adapted plot and characters according to the mainstream zeitgeist. That indeed is safe."

And i'm with Leynos with this:

"The term "hardcore gamer" is cringe and needs to be dropped from the vocabulary of people. I hate the term in general but found it laughable at the general use of it since the 7th gen usually means the exact opposite. Imagine someone goes to a movie and comes out saying "I saw Avengers so I'm a hardcore movie fan!"


Hardcore gamer belongs in the same trash bin as ___ Killer (remmeber terms like "Halo Killer" ?) and Casual gamer."



foxmccloud64 said:

Azzanation has made a great analogy by relating some of the criticisms that TLOU2 an Star Wars sequels have faced, even recognizing that some of them were overblown, but the fact remains that both Sony and Disney upset a significative part of their audience by making some weird decisions upon already well constructed stories, it isn't that people get too invested or obsessed on fictional arcs and characters as you say nor that everyone is against change, the thing is that when you are making changes just for the sake of making changes, you may end up instead doing a disservice to that stories, worlds and characters, for example, aside from all the points Azzanation has already mentioned, my grandpa who is almost 90 years old and isn't a "hardcore" Star Wars fan, could only say after watching The Force Awakens: "WTF i just watched, they just basically recycled the plot of the original Star Wars, not only that but it's as if all the things the old protagonists made in the previous three movies amounted to NOTHING", and that is basically why lots people started to grow more and more annoyed and later disgusted with those sequels, that kind of disservice lands hard on people that doesn't just dismiss the things they are watching, playing or reading as mere afterthoughts. When you say : "The older characters actors wee pretty old. Killing them was the right thing to do, as they were also old in narrative context", we aren't saying that you can't kill or retire their characters in some way, but when you take characters that were supposed to have very high relevance inuniverse at their historic and lifetime periods, then proceed to invalidite every single achievement they had, and on top of that you kill them or so it seems just for the sake of it that is a disservice, as a users from other forums put it: "Yep. Nobody cares that he died. They care that we were given a random old man on a rock with zero relation to Luke and zero likability, who then proceeded to die in the most awkward, meaningless way." or other user goes with "It's not who lives or dies, it's how they're treated as characters, and how they do or do not ring true to the original trilogy. That's all this has ever been about for me."

Well personally I couldn't care less to ""disservice"" for fictional characters. I want a enjoyable story that convey my emotions, twist my expectations and provide me fun while still making sense from narrative standpoint and world building. The only movie on SW new trilogy that fail in that criteria is the last one, where you had Palpatine creating an army out of nothing and destroying the same navy only with their thunders

That's said I 101% disagree that new trilogy did any older characters disservice, watching them I only saw respect and nostalgia from the visual effects, to the plot, to the art direction, character design, world building... that is in reality an access of nostalgia and east eggs that kinds blocks the trilogy to run by their own legs 

About the old cast, they are all treated by the plot as important, key characters. Their presence all have plot significance, they aren't just "there" as luxury third tier characters

The problem is for fans those franchises are more than something to have fun, they are like a cult, a religion. They hate anything that deviates to a set of principles they already defined and believe to be the essence of the franchises

Han Solo always needs to be the smartest guy, he can't be foolished not even by the son he loves, raised and truly believed he could turn around because God forbids for a dad to believe in his children. Luke is a legendary master Jedi, he can't make mistakes let alone have weakness, he would never be deeply affected by the lose of his students, or losing faith because Luke is like Jesus and Jesus is flawless 

That's the reasoning of the average SW fan. That's why they will never enjoy anything related to the franchise the say to love. They raged over prequel trilogy, raged over new trilogy, raged over Solo spin off. I'm sure they will just hate the next trilogy as well



The SW discussion is tangential but reveals how people treat their entertainment like a religion 

FF fans just can't get over the fact the franchise won't ever be turn based again, at least not the the main entries. Instead of trying to appreciate the new gameplay but its own they already decided they can't like an action adventure FF because FF needs to be turn based because that's the universal truth of the universe, 1+1 needs to be 2 and FF needs to be turn based  

That same Fandom then proceed playing action adventure games for other franchises because they actually like action adventure  games as long they are not Final Fantasy 



Hiku said:

[1] So I guess you're saying that generally, the more risks you take, the less likely it is to be as much of a commercial success as if you played it safe with entries in familiar franchises and formulas?

And do you want the big companies to essentially make more AAA 'inde games' (creative, original, etc) with high budgets?

[2] It makes sense that familiarity tends to be the safest bests most of the time. But aside from looking at how much they sell compared to other games, repeating new entries in a franchise is also very important to get more eyes on the franchise and have it grow to where it could have been a long time ago.

Final Fantasy VII, Persona 5, Nier: Automata, Yakuza 0, Dragon Quest 11, Monster Hunter World, etc.

There are a lot of these games where one particular entry in the series does a much better job at attracting a wider audience than usual for whatever reason.
And then you have those newcomers try out older games in the series, and probably more often than not realize that this was something they would have liked all along, but didn't know it at the time.

[3] I'd like to think that game developers tend to compromise between cash-cow safe bets, and projects that are expected to make less money.
And the former can fund the latter, so for that and many other reasons, we tend to see those much more often.

I remember Shuhei Yoshida said something about how they never expected The Last Guardian to sell a lot, but they made it because they knew the fans wanted it. I imagine those kind of passion projects are easier to pitch to the CEO's, or justify to investors when you have some safe bet games alongside them.

First of all, I'd just like to say thank you for this especially pertinent and genuinely thoughtful reply. I was wondering if this thread was ever going to become the substantive and enjoyable conversation that I was hoping for instead of the idiotic and thoroughly exasperating brand-based slug fest it was for most of the first six pages. Thanks for helping shifting the direction! Seriously.

Okay, that said, let me divide my response into three parts corresponding to the number you've seen me add above.

[1] That's definitely something I'd like to see more of, yes, because while it's really nice just to have so many new developers out there offering such a wide array of really unique experiences, what I think would have a more meaningful impact on gaming culture writ large would be for some of their indie spirit, if you will, to make its way into the mainstream where it'd be more visible. And also just for smaller developers in particular to be able to access the resources they need to optimally realize their visions. I'd like to see, in short, mainstream gaming become more like it used to be and less stale, ossified, and mono-cultural than it has become.

[2] I don't see any intrinsic merit to franchise-building, personally. Franchises are the rule among major companies and practically don't exist among smaller developers. Their main function, one can only conclude from this simple reality, is to transform an innovator into an entrenched power that doesn't innovate anymore and in fact actively stifles other people from doing so by rendering them comparatively invisible with their massive production and marketing budgets.

That's not to say I'm against like sequels, remakes, this sort of thing per se, I just feel that they should earn the right to exist and should be rewarded only when they do. Some really do, IMO. You listed six games, for example, of which I've only personally played the first three before, so I can't really comment on the others. However, I will say that my current approach to established gaming franchises is well-exemplified in the case of Nier: Automata. I bought the game because it looked and sounded interesting to me in the coverage. I think it's one of the best games ever made. It's the only installment of the Drakengard series I own. I have no problem or difficultly ignoring every other installment because none of them sound especially compelling to me. I approach franchises and sequels the same way I do new IPs, in other words. I do so on a case-by-case basis. I get a little info on them and then go with my gut rather than feeling like "I have one, so now I gotta catch 'em all!" Not a collector these days. But lots of people think differently about it. I used to think differently about it too. I just got tired of playing highly similar games.

[3] Unfortunately, you're probably right about that. Such is the nature of a profit-driven system that revolves around supply and demand. And I've observed that we are, in fact, seeing more first-party support for newer and smaller developers these days across the board too, and find that refreshing and encouraging!



IcaroRibeiro said:
JackHandy said:

This is absolutely true, but it makes you wonder why people purchased so many games during the 8,16 and 32 bit era. Most of those games were either the first of their kind or damn near close, and people ate them (innovative and new styles of games) up in ways that they don't now. It kinda makes you wonder. Did society change? Did the gaming industry change? Was it a little of both? 

Whatever the reason, I wish we could go back to the way it was before. Back then, everything (including the consoles themselves) felt so groundbreaking, fresh and exciting. 

I think the answer is gaming was such a novelty that people hardly had any standard to compare to anything released before. Today people already have a very well defined set of preferences and well-know experiences, so every time they play they will try to associate the new experience with the past experiences and the odds of rejection whatever is new are bigger

Back to times where gaming was a novelty it target mainly kids and kids like changes, challenges and discover new things. Those lovely, joyful and open minded kids now are boring, cynical and lazy boomers and they turned to be the main target from studios. Maybe we all should stop playing video games and let just kids play like in old times, I'm sure innovation would be praised or at least more than today  

Ya know, you might be right about that. I mean it won't happen, but you might be right about what it would take to rapidly return this medium back toward the kind of spirit that it used to feature.

Anyway, just wanted to voice my appreciation for this thoughtful observation because the essence of it, like how aging seems to affect most people's buying habits and instincts, including when it comes to video games, seems true to me.