Thursday, January 1, 2009

Make It Better.

As you read this, I’m battling a nasty hangover in Chicago, Il. I hope you are too, wherever you may be. It only seems proper to ring in 2009 with a headache – you know, to show some solidarity with our friends in The Industry who have suffered recession-class migraines for the past few months. To them, I beseech:

Don’t forget us. There are now two estates of gamer: casual and not-so-casual. Wii Fit may fly off the shelves like Tickle-Me-Elmo, and I toast its success – it’s a damned smart racket, and I wish I thought of it first. But while Soccer Moms and PTA Dads alike are bonding over Cooking Mama, “Hardcore” gamers are getting warmed-over shooters like Fracture, Haze and Army of Two. Streamline resources, and develop intelligently. Those who want to chop carrots shall chop carrots, and those who don’t should be taken more seriously. To that end,

Reboot old, venerable IPs. It worked with Fallout 3, and by all reports, it should work with Bionic Commando. Why can’t we see a System Shock 3, or – dare we wish? – a Descent 4? Use a decade’s separation to reinvent games with an established fan base. You’ll piss off a few, sure, but that’s what forums are for.

Stop. Releasing. MMOs. World of Warcraft has that shit bottled up. You think you can cut a slice off their 11.5 million minions? Unlikely. Put your money elsewhere.

Pay attention to independent developers. Valve did, and Portal is canon. Games like Braid and World of Goo are happening right now in loft apartments across the country, and deserve the resources and publicity afforded by powerful publishers. And publishers? Give them due publicity. Don’t let them stagnate on Gamestop shelves before consigning them to the bargain bin.

Bungie, resist the temptation. Let the franchise crawl under the porch and die with a shred of dignity. We both know what I’m talking about.

Don’t be afraid to make a Mirror’s Edge. A noble failure is still better than a mediocre shooter.

Don’t be afraid – to acquire new IPs, make smaller, smarter games, or be quirky, strange, new. Don’t be afraid. For the inventive and bold, a recession is an opportunity.

Happy 2009.