Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Austin, TX, USA
Re: Bosses and Innovation
Um...wasn't it SiN that first integrated cutscenes into gameplay? I mean, it was released before HL...hehe.
Anywho, I agree on the "some things work, others don't" stuff. However, these innovations that work do so usually because they enhance gameplay rather than simply being a gimic.
It's like special effects in a film. A film can use some new type of effect. But, it should help the film tell the story and not just be there for the sake of being a new effect. In other words, if the story/film calls for something to be created/done in a way that was never done (at least that way) before, then the effect is being driven (called for) by the story. However, if the film creators find some way to use a particular technique, just because they like it, or, it would be cool to have it in the project, then, the cart is sort of being put before the horse.
While it's important to know what your audience likes, unless you have a public poll, you are likely to get a pretty even response across the board. Each game type and game player has their likes/dislikes as to end bosses. With something like a poll, you are more likely to get a bell curve response that gives you a better idea of what people on the whole want in a game boss.
I look back at how many new gameplay elements/features were in SiN. Many of them are pretty standard in modern games (even if SiN doesn't always receive credit for them). The gameplay of SiN called for, or was made better, by the use of these innovative elements. It wasn't something so "out there" that made people say WTF?, or, that's a neat gimmic. It's the fact that these features WERE good additions to the gameplay that has caused many other companies to use them (and/or develop their own versions in a parallel development way, assuming they never played SiN).
While some of these things were innovative at one time, they are now standard. That doesn't mean they are not good, simply they are more or less expected, and therefore, not as amazing as when originally encountered. So, that just means it's time for something new and innovative to come along to enhance/add to the modern gameplay experience.
In the case of game bosses, they really have not advanced or changed much over the past several years. This means they have become a "standard" thing. And, that is an unfortunate thing considering that a boss should be a "big" moment in a game. Seeing the same types of "big" moments from game to game without something new to make is seem even bigger/better tends to cause these things to all blend together.
Don't get me wrong, I think games need and end boss. And, it's nice to play a game every now and then that has a "standard" game boss. However, that seems to be pretty much what all the games out now have. I haven't heard someone say, "OMFG, you just MUST see the boss for game X" in a LONG time. It's been more like, the boss in game X was kul, but it reminded me of the boss from game Y.
Well, if I played game Y, then where is the "real" incentive to go pay for game X if the end result/battle is going to be pretty much the same. And, in the case of a gamer that didn't like game Y, it's even more likely they won't give game X a shot. It's sorta like what happened to SiN when it got bad reviews. WE all know it was a GREAT game because we based our purchase on playing the demo. But, there are a great number of gamers I have talked to (okay, extolled the greatness of the game) and tried to convince to give the game a try. :}