Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Are We...

... too caught up in our own self importance to properly label things simply because we think we're awesome enough to hold back the mythical MMO game title of "next generation"?

I'm not saying what is or isn't next generation as far as MMOs go. I'm just saying we seem to have increased the size of the measuring stick for MMOs being "next generation" than we have in all other game types.. or real life for that matter.

Let's look at the definition of "generation"

14th century

1 a: a body of living beings constituting a single step in the line of descent from an ancestor b: a group of individuals born and living contemporaneously c: a group of individuals having contemporaneously a status (as that of students in a school) which each one holds only for a limited period d: a type or class of objects usually developed from an earlier type "first of the…new generation of powerful supersonic fighters — Kenneth Koyen"

2 a: the action or process of producing offspring : procreation b: the process of coming or bringing into being c: origination by a generating process : production; especially : formation of a geometric figure by motion of another

3: the average span of time between the birth of parents and that of their offspring

Do I need to define "next"?

We'll use 1:d for what applies to MMOs since, out of all the MMOs, only AoC is supposed to have procreation in it.

a type or class of objects usually developed from an earlier type

It's really that simple. Why do we have to make it so complicated and make the phrase "next generation" seem like some sort of holy artifact that no MMO developer can achieve?

I think we're wrong and it doesn't take a lot of neurons firing to see that most of what is coming out is next generation simply because it literally is the next generation. I suppose, technically speaking, that means when a game is released it stops being "next gen" and the ones that aren't yet release become "next gen". And then the ones after that...

If we were to measure the next generation of humans like people measure MMO generations, well, we'd all be the "caveman generation" because we look similar enough, act similar enough, have similar requirements and ultimately have the same insides. Sure we walk upright and have figured out more things than Human 1.0 did, but we're still humans.

I think people are mistaking "next gen" with "not in the MMO genre anymore". As long as you're looking at something that falls under the MMO genre you're going to find similarities with other games in that genre because... well, that's why they're in that genre. Duh.

Why is being "next gen" so important? And why does it require our stamp of approval to be considered "next gen"?

Stop getting so caught up in that damn phrase.

It's next gen simply because it has most of what was in the previous generation but has also added a few things. You don't need to reinvent the genre to be true "next gen" because that means it's a new genre, not a next generation of an existing genre.

So do you like the game or not? And why?

I'm off to work on my next child, I'm aiming for it to have two heads and four arms because then it will definitely be "next gen".


Evolving Squid said...

I disagree. "Next Gen" has to be a substantial change - preferably an improvement - on the previous generation. It's not enough to say "well we added red widgets, so we're next gen"... you have to substantially build on what went before.

When I'm told something is next gen, I don't want to see more of the same-old. I expect to see innovation. I expect to see improvement. I expect to see something new. And I expect those things to be substantial, not just some insignificant trick.

And it is important to set the bar high. If the bar is set too low, it becomes a meaningless marketing buzzword.

If you look at computer programming:

First generation: you programmed with switches and wires.

Second generation: you programmed by coding machine language. Assembler was NOT a 3rd generation here as you still were really programming machine language but using text instead of hex/octal codes.

3rd generation: High level languages with abstraction - C, Fortran, etc. Includes OO languages.

4th generation: CASE-type development tools. The programmer is essentially removed from the language and writes programs by assembling abstract blocks in a tool which generates executable code.

5th generation: You feed in specs, the computer programs itself.

6th generation: AI... the computer programs itself based on its own assessment of what it needs.

In each case, the underlying mission (take ideas, make a computer do the work) is the same, but each generation changes the paradigm.

Similarly for games, a next generation game should change the paradigm. In that way, Wii is arguably "next gen" because it changes the traditional way console games are played. Vanguard, on the other hand, is really the same generation of game as Ultima Online. UO was a next-gen game... prior to UO you could kind of have LAN parties or maybe dial-up and play head to head, but the massively multiplayer concept was a huge paradigm shift over what was there before.

All of which is interesting, of course, but avoids the actual, important question which is what you say: Do you like the game, or not?

Really, whether or not it's next gen SHOULDN'T matter to the player.

Grimjakk said...

Its marketting. Simple as that. Two little words that don't mean anything apart from a very subjective perspective.

Besides... games are made up of many, many interlinking systems. How much of that has to be revolutionary for the game as a whole to be "next gen"?

Honestly, the true "next gen" MMO probably isn't even going to be what we'd recognize as an MMORPG. Its going to be a platform that lets users create and link their own MMO spaces.

THAT'S next gen. A REAL new paradigm.

There's nothing wrong with slapping a new coat of paint on an old idea, as long as its still fun.

SmakenDahed said...

So the computer industry uses a bigger measuring stick than most other things?

Yes, ultimately my point was - who cares and it's nothing more than a marketing tool.

"Its going to be a platform that lets users create and link their own MMO spaces."

Neverwinter Nights?