Over the years, I've noticed a disturbing trend: the increasing ADD-like behavior of gamers. They can't sit through a cut-scene longer than two minutes without having a nervous breakdown, they have to be mashing buttons 99% of the time, and they require the constant flashing and rapid-fire animations and cinematics throughout. I find this annoying trend hitting movies as well; the camera can't sit still for half a second and we're shifting at lightning speed between scenes. Obviously, this is a direct result of a generation that values speed of communication over substance and quality, and I think it's beginning to have a detrimental effect on games that are supposed to be deep and strategic.

Take Final Fantasy XIII , for instance. While it can easily be argued that we left turn-based behind because we now have the technology to make combat feel more "realistic and involved," I also think it's because people quite honestly can't sit still long enough, anymore. Have you noticed the almost complete termination of the RTS genre? Sure, it still exists, but the days of Command & Conquer and Age of Empires are long gone; it used to be an insanely popular genre and now, only the select hardcore play these games. Same goes for flight sims (even though they've always been few and far between) and really, many RPGs and strategy-based titles. I'm not necessarily saying the depth is gone or even less obvious…that would be inaccurate. But it seems developers want to hide it more; they want most of that to happen automatically and behind the scenes.

In FFXIII – you'll have to wait a bit for our review, as Arnold and I intend to dive in fully – we've heard the same thing time and time again: the battle is extremely fast and actually encourages you to use the Auto-Battle function. Read a few of the reviews that have already hit; you'll see what I mean. Yes, you have to make strategic decisions, but they have to be lightning fast and the existing stratagems are used automatically and manually selecting abilities is not recommended. That's just too slow. The bottom line is that it appears we're thinking a lot less during combat. Furthermore, as you really never talk to NPCs and the exploration is cut way down due to the linear progression, all we can really do is keep moving forward. In other words, the pacing is pretty damn fast; taking time to stop and smell the roses likely isn't in the cards.

Bear in mind that I'm not providing you with any personal commentary prior to our review. I'm not saying the game is good or bad. I fully expect it to be beautiful and entertaining, as all FFs have been. I'm a huge FF fan and always have been; the idea of passing on FFXIII is so foreign to me, it's not even worth mentioning. However, the distinct – and relatively abrupt – change in the style of this franchise is worrisome; the "twitch-gaming" boom that apparently wishes to leave calm, enjoyable pacing behind and continues to assault our senses at faster and faster speeds is beginning to chafe. It's one thing to have this in games that might actually benefit (action titles and shooters, for instance), but a role-playing game is something very different to me. Maybe others will feel differently, but I believe the disturbing "can't-sit-still" trend is having a profoundly negative impact on the industry.

At the same time, we still do have games like Heavy Rain , which are wonderfully mature and promote real storytelling, character development and actual thought . And it's doing well, too, so that's great. But shouldn't FFXIII be a little closer to Heavy Rain than to God of War ?

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TheHighlander
TheHighlander
10 years ago

Thoughtful editorial, I await the review with interest. I agree wholeheartedly about this twitch-gaming boom and for me it's a bust. I understand that technology moves on and so on and so forth. However, markets segment as they grow in size, so what's wrong with the game market segmenting? Consider that if the total gaming market consisted of 30 million gamers at one point. Perhaps a third of them were RPG fans. Now 15-20 years later, with 120 million gamers, at very least those 10 million RPG fans still exist, but as a much smaller proportion of the total market.

And yet game makers like SE look at the 120 million gamers as one market and assume (falsely) that they should be able to capture the same proportion of that market as they did before. When their traditional games do not in fact capture more users but the same old audience they start to change things up to meet the needs of all those new gamers. Slowly but surely they get close to a tipping point where the cumulative change to their formula is sufficient to alienate their existing audience, but not necessarily enough to grab the new audience.

So, why do it? Why not make games for the existing audience and make different games for the new audience? Instead of expanding their audience they are shrinking it. Right now it's the so called twitch-gamers vs more traditional hardcore gamers – the gray beards.

I think SE's biggest mistake (and it's one that many game makers are making) is failing to see the new market as an emerging market and the old market as a stable market. They missed the segmentation and are trying to cater to the whole as if it were one homogeneous mass of gamers. Which of course it is not. The sooner this lesson is learned, the better.

BTW, I noticed that you used the word linear…tsk, tsk… 😉


Last edited by TheHighlander on 3/4/2010 10:13:40 PM

Kowhoho
Kowhoho
10 years ago

Wow, good read. You wrote a bit of an editorial of your own!

rogers71
rogers71
10 years ago

Educational as always Highlander. Great post!

Natalisrubbish
Natalisrubbish
10 years ago

HEAR HEAR HIGHLANDER!

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
10 years ago

This dude right here is our best poster. 🙂

And that says something, because we have a lot of them.

Natalisrubbish
Natalisrubbish
10 years ago

@ Ben
Without a doubt Highlander is the best poster, so much thought and detail not to mention very fair.

TheHighlander
TheHighlander
10 years ago

Y'all are making me blush!

Banky A
Banky A
10 years ago

Awww that's cute Ben.
Highlander, you better not be modest. You're a legend.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
10 years ago

I doff my cap to you sir, well played.

FullmetalX10
FullmetalX10
10 years ago

yeah highlander, it's no wonder you have a lot of fans(including me) on PSXE, your comments are always fun to read and educational. Carry on, plz.

Dante399
Dante399
10 years ago

Totally agree!!!!

www
www
10 years ago

Hey Highlander stole my fans 😉

Cavan
Cavan
10 years ago

have no fear, civ 5 was annoucned for the autumn, turn based strategy at its greatest, what more do you want? lol

LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
10 years ago

I call bullshit.

Highlander for informing the public, me for the entertainment.

OtisFeelgood
OtisFeelgood
10 years ago

lol @ LV

D1g1tal5torm
D1g1tal5torm
10 years ago

Good comment, but I'm going to play devil's advocate here and say..

looking at it from SE's point of view, the marginalised customer base they already have wasnt meeting it's targets in terms of forecasted growth.

It's not enough these days for a company to just stay in business.

So logically, what would you do?

You look at gaming trends, evolution if you prefer, and your current market exposure. You identify that making alterations to the gameplay may lure additional users, whilst still retaining your existing market.

How many of you FF fans really aren't going to buy this latest version?

And secondly you increase market exposure by going multiplatform.

It's a case of simple economics.

More sales = More Capital

Gamers never come first; they're going to only go down the pecking order in the future.


Last edited by D1g1tal5torm on 3/5/2010 8:19:43 AM

Silent_J
Silent_J
10 years ago

Nice going Highlander,very informative little piece you got there.Maybe Ben and Arnold should let you write some editorials for PSXE.

@LV
you are truly the entertainer because you always crack me up lol


Last edited by Silent_J on 3/5/2010 9:50:13 AM

TheHighlander
TheHighlander
10 years ago

LOL!

@all

A man has to know his limitations, and I know mine. A commenter I am, and a commenter I shall be.

@D1g1tal5torm

Good counterpoint. In reply I'll just say that the point I am making is that SE and many other devs cannot serve both communities with the same product. I disagree about a part of the customer base being marginalized, that logic would mean that market segmentation never occurs and all that does happen is that non-core consumers become marginalized consumers who go un-served by the market place. That's a lot of dollars to leave on the table if that's the way people operate.

Game developers need to pay attention to the segmentation of the market. They have always had to recognize that the market did segment based on genre – fps vs racing games vs RPG. What is so hard about realizing that within a genre there is further segmentation solo fps vs multi-player fps, racing sim vs arcade racer, turn based vs real time based RPGs, and so on. As the pie get's bigger the slices become proportionately smaller. However I would rather have an eighth of a pie that weighs 4 pounds than have half of a two pound pie. I think that is the thing that some devs are utterly missing. In their drive to keep half the pie regardless of the size of the pie, they are missing the fact that a smaller fraction of the larger market is at least as lucrative as the larger fraction of a smaller market.


Last edited by TheHighlander on 3/5/2010 10:04:18 AM

Bobby_Kotick
Bobby_Kotick
10 years ago

Very well written my boy. I have a few openings at the company, would you like to come work for me?

Shams
Shams
10 years ago

Highlander is one of my favorites, too!

TheHighlander
TheHighlander
10 years ago

LOL, I can't add! my math on pie slices is all off.

I was trying to say that a smaller fraction of a far larger pie was better than a larger fraction of a smaller pie. but an eighth of 4 is a half, and a half of 2 is 1, so my math is very poor. My apologies. Perhaps a better way to put it is I'd rather have 10% of 120 million customers than 30% of 30 million customers.

piratedrunk
piratedrunk
10 years ago

I honestly don't think this was the case. I think they were going for something exciting but I don't think any twitch-kid could stay put through 10 hours of cut-scenes.

I love turn based games but I always look forward to the advances made in FF games. That said I would be stoked if the made a return to something closer to FFX some time that was not only turn based but about as fast as you could hope for if you were fast yourself.

inkme101
inkme101
10 years ago

i never got into rpg's but i really want to! i just think itd be like learning how to ride a bike for the first time at the age of 80. games now a days just go to fast for me. i give most everything a rent because i crush it in like a few days time. i dunno. what would be a good easy going rpg to get me started?

piratedrunk
piratedrunk
10 years ago

If you don't mind the graphics being dated you could always pick up FFVII on the psn. Regarded by many to be the best rpg of all time and a fantastic turn-based battle system. If that game doesn't make you an rpg fan for life I'm not sure what would.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
10 years ago

Depends on if you like jrpg or wrpg setting best. Dragon Age could be considered a nice starter wrpg. But why not just pick up FFXIII and jump right in?


Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 3/4/2010 10:11:13 PM

SvenMD
SvenMD
10 years ago

I agree with world – Since FF games are a complete story each new one is a brand new adventure. They have recurring themes which are nice to the loyal fans, but you won't have a problem jumping right into XIII… I might look up what a chocobo or a moogle is though. 😉

Kowhoho
Kowhoho
10 years ago

And perhaps you could put some research into Cid. He's a recurring character…kind of.

SnipeySnake
SnipeySnake
10 years ago

The name is reoccurring, not the character.

Beamboom
Beamboom
10 years ago

WorldEndsWithMe has a very important point: Depends on jrpg or western is your style. I love rpg's, however only western rpgs. I've tried japanese ones but they did not fetch my attrention or imagination at *all*. And as such I'd never reccomend a japanese rpg for a first time rpg'er.

Instead I'd say get either Fallout (if sci-fi/apocalyptic setting is of interest) or Oblivion (if fantasy/elves & spells are your cup of tea) if you want a RPG that's filled with loads of stories and are slow paced. In those two games you can pretty much decide the speed and intensity, and they are both good games.

totozero18
totozero18
10 years ago

FF-VII, VIII, X, XI, IV,(stay away from XII) Xenogears, Valkyrie Profile, Persona, Tales of (Whichever you choose) Ar Tonelico. Golden Sun (GBA), idk, Valhalla Knights,There's lots of jrpg's to give a go to.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
10 years ago

Beamboom: Considering that most of those Western RPGs fail in the storyline/character development area – all in an effort to provide more "freedom" – they all feel more like action/adventure games to me. They also all have very similar combat mechanics, whereas at least with JRPGs, I get constantly varying systems.

Besides the Forgotten Realms RPGs, which are still just full of titles that are more like one D&D clone after another, I found all older Western RPGs intensely boring.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
10 years ago

That's the key isn't it, whether or not there is actual thought behind the strategy we use in battle. It seems from the little I have read that FFXIII is rather fast paced and in this sense it feels like a bit of pandering to the twitch crowd, which I suppose the 360 fans will like more than series loyalists. Not buying this game isn't an option of course, but I do worry about us gamers rewarding bad trends.

If too many concessions are made to the thoughtless, the automatic, and the flashy, I fear that genres will cease to exist and we will be left with one big pile of genre-less games that are all flash over substance. Nothing but sound and fury.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
10 years ago

That's exactly what I'm worried about. It's why I'm so happy to see Heavy Rain doing well. If that game had failed, I might've lost all hope…

shadowscorpio
shadowscorpio
10 years ago

Your very right. I think most of us are so frustrated because we're hoping that somewhere there will be a turnaround back to how this genre was, but currently doesn't seem likely. I think we'll have to wait for ff 13 and versus 13 and maybe even FF14 to make a decision as to whether we can justify supporting Square-enix any longer…


Last edited by shadowscorpio on 3/4/2010 11:55:26 PM

Beamboom
Beamboom
10 years ago

The past will never return, Shadow. That's why it became the past. However, judging from this site there is a large enough crowd who want their heavy rains and fallouts and so on.

Speaking of Heavy Rain, I got around to try the demo only yesterday, and even though I got confirmed that this game is not for me (I *hate* games where I am instructed what buttons to press, I feel like a monkey!) I'll buy this one just to support the uniqueness of Heavy Rain. It deserves every bit of support it can get, I realized that after the demo.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
10 years ago

"The past isn't dead, it isn't even past"

-William Faulkner

LittleBigMidget
LittleBigMidget
10 years ago

Stupid MS and their DVDs. I'm convinced that anyone still buying the game is denial. F*** MS and F*** Sqaure Enix

BikerSaint
BikerSaint
10 years ago

If you say you can remember the 60 & 70's, then….you certainly weren't there!!!!
~ My "Free Love" Generation ~

The future's over-rated
~ The Saint ~

inkme101
inkme101
10 years ago

i remember watching my buddies play ffvii on ps1 back in the day. i wasnt into playing it but i loved watching it. the first time i saw the leviathon i remember thinking "wow look at these graphics, no way it gets better looking than this!" lol but what the hell did i know? it was the 90's i was prolly high!!! lolololol

Kowhoho
Kowhoho
10 years ago

I essentially became a gamer because I watched my older brother play Diablo II and FFX.

Natalisrubbish
Natalisrubbish
10 years ago

Haha epic post "it was the 90's I was prolly high!" That was great.

totozero18
totozero18
10 years ago

Same here I used to watch a friend of mine play FF-VII, he could never defeat sephiroth thou. (Every character was a lvl-99)


Last edited by totozero18 on 3/5/2010 6:53:55 AM

natho86
natho86
10 years ago

I miss old school RPG games.

Roach721
Roach721
10 years ago

Also RTS.

Riku994
Riku994
10 years ago

"lightning fast" And her name is Lightning… I get it… On a related note, PTOM gave this game 5/5 stars.

SnipeySnake
SnipeySnake
10 years ago

PTOM?

Edit: Oh playstation magazine


Last edited by SnipeySnake on 3/4/2010 10:22:36 PM

piratedrunk
piratedrunk
10 years ago

And Gamesradar gave it 10/10.

So stoked for this.

SnipeySnake
SnipeySnake
10 years ago

Though i dont really like gamesradar, i actually like there ff13 review, the random pictures are pretty funny too.

darxed
darxed
10 years ago

Yeah, good reviews are finally seeing the ligth… I really can't wait to play this!


Last edited by darxed on 3/4/2010 10:36:51 PM

SnipeySnake
SnipeySnake
10 years ago

Tuesday…..i really can't wait!!

Is it mostly like FFX?