Posted by Video_Game_King (35795 posts) -
Warning: the following piece may be so insane, conspiratorial, and otherwise idiotic that you may think the author is Dan Brown. Also, this isn't very good. You have been warned.

(And we're back!) Last time, I left you guys with a bit of a cliffhanger, setting up an argument that I didn't end up making. Well, I'll fix that mistake and make the argument I couldn't make back then. How, you ask? Why, with Bastion, of course! What fault can we find with it? Well, not much...other than it's a total rip-off of Fragile Dreams. Don't believe me? Let's look at what they share:

  • Minor items that reveal a lot of world building backstory
  • A post-apocalyptic plot wherein a kid with a litany of weapons must go out into the world, searching for survivors
  • A grand science experiment that caused this Apocalypse and threatens to do so again
  • A guilt-ridden grandpa figure who was involved with the experiment and sends our hero out on his adventure
  • A stark white villain who, upon seeing the true intentions of those around him, becomes quite mad and wishes death on the world's survivors
  • This fucking scene

Wow, that is A LOT to take from a single game. But wait, what about Fragile Dreams? Is it innocent in all this? No, not really. Remember that scene I linked before? (If not, how? It's emblazoned in gold.) Turns out that shit came from Lunar: Eternal Blue. Although there is another game that shares even more with Fragile Dreams: Bastion Final Fantasy VI. Again, let's compare:

  • The apocalypse
  • The grandpa
  • The tower
  • The magical nihilist
  • The search for survivors
  • The letter

And again, quite a bit so specifically taken from another game. Here's what it all looks like mapped out:

And so we are forced to call Bastion bad, simply because at least three games before it did quite similar things. Oh, I can already here it: "That doesn't necessarily mean the game is bad; certainly, we must devalue Bastion, but it can still be good." First off, I've seen games criticized for four games before them, so this is well within the territory of bad (at least on these grounds). Second, this introduces another problem beyond simply being bad. Now what were we saying before? About devaluing Bastion? What's the problem there? After all, we don't even have to hold an opinion of it, yet. It can still be good; it can still have any opinion. It just to be devalued in some way. Or, in math language, it's gonna be X-5 (or whatever number you want to assign it; I don't care, and it's not important). But wait a minute: did we just jam a value onto the game before we've seen any of it? Isn't that essentially forming some type of opinion of it (or at least limiting what our opinion will be)? Yea, I think Sherlock Holmes is gonna have a problem with that.

I sense that some of you still aren't convinced by that strange argument. Well, then, time to break out the big guns. That's right, we're going with...Phantom Brave: Heroes of the Hermuda Triangle? OK, what the hell is wrong with this? Yea, it had a story so utterly girly that scientists are still trying to understand the subvaginae it spawned (vaginae within vaginae), but the music was bitching, the customization had some teeth to it, and there could be some crazy maps. But how do I know about a game I've never played? Simple: it's a rip off of a game I have played, Phantom Brave: We Meet Again. What's that? Remakes aren't subject to this rule because they're being honest about their sources of inspiration? Then tell me why Super Street Fighter II Turbo elicited the response "Capcom can't count to three". Exactly. Honesty and openness account for jack shit. Of course, with this established, we can call We Meet Again a cheap Phantom Brave knock-off...with Phantom Brave stealing quite a lot from Disgaea (even Laharl makes the leap). But yet again, Disgaea is not innocent; it steals quite a few gameplay and graphical concepts from Final Fantasy Tactics. This is where things get interesting.

For you see, Final Fantasy Tactics rips off two video games primarily: Tactics Ogre and Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu. The first is easy enough to spot, since they were both developed by pretty much the same team. The second, though, requires some elaboration: both games share the same damn plot. Sigurd becomes Ramza, Alvis becomes Delita, the Twelve Crusaders become the Zodiac Braves, their weapons the stones, the Loptous Sect becomes the Glabados Church, etc. Now I would like to analyze Fire Emblem a bit more, but given that it, too, is a rip-off of Tactics Ogre (the series only became as political as it is after Tactics Ogre, much like many strategy RPGs of the day), it would make more sense to start with Tactics Ogre.

You know why else it would make sense? Because it's infinitely more simple than what I shall do with Fire Emblem 4. You see, remove the isometric perspective, and all you have is a complicated variant of Shining Force. But is Shining Force unique? Hell no! It's nothing more than a derivative of the original Fire Emblem....which was open about its inspirations of "what if we combined Famicom Wars with Dragon Warrior." The rabbit hole goes deeper still, because Dragon Warrior is a rip off of Wizardry, which is a rip off of Ultima, which is a rip off of Akalabeth, which i-

......Let's move onto Fire Emblem 4. At first, things seem simple, as (at first) it appears to be nothing more than a Fire Emblem rip off. After all, it's got the same gameplay, the same mechanics, the same art, even the same music. But wait, about that music: there's another source of inspiration, and a weird one at that. Listen to that last video again. Anything sticking out to you? That's right: it's the intro sound effects from Super Mario All Stars + Super Mario World. What's that? Too esoteric? A helluva lot closer than the plagiarizing in this video (those two aren't even the same tone), so I think we're fine. Back to Super Mario All Stars + Super Mario World. I don't think I need to make clear what this game is ripping off. Of course, All Stars rips off the games it compiles, and each game rips off the one before it (otherwise, it would be quite difficult to call Mario a series), with Super Mario World doing the same, so this issue only becomes more complicated, and it only becomes even more complicated when we look at the individual games. Super Mario Bros. 2 is but a Doki Doki Panic knock-off, and Super Mario Bros. borrows quite a bit from Mario Bros. (again, I refer you to Super Street Fighter II), which itself takes quite a bit from Donkey Kong. And so this mess ends there...right?

Oh, but why limit ourselves to video games? After all, we've seen so many comparisons to works outside our medium many times before, such as between Snatcher and Blade Runner (really, it applies to a lot of what Kojima does), Star Wars and anything, Donkey Kong and King Kong, and, why, something on our very forum. From there, it's not too large a leap to make a normative claim based on those comparisons (it's been done within games, after all). So what exactly do we get out of this? Well, first off, Akalabeth ultimately rips off Dungeons and Dragons, and....no, that's pretty much it. Things are equally simple for Doki Doki Panic, which is largely based off a Fuji TV show or something. Things only become truly complicated with two games in particular: Super Mario Bros. and Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu. Let's start with the first. Now, as I said before, Donkey Kong rips off King Kong, so we must add that to the mix. But this is about Super Mario Bros, which primarily derives from two other sources: Star Trek and Alice in Wonderland. Now how the fuck does Super Mario Bros rip off Star Trek? Simple: Miyamoto admitted that the idea of teleportation pipes came from Star Trek. He also admitted to inspirations from Alice in Wonderland, as where else can we find a magical land of nonsense where you can change size all over the place with the bite of a mushroom? (It's more apparent in the sequels, especially Super Mario 64.) But is Al-you should know by now that it isn't. It ripped off quite a few poems from its time (go back a bit in the video, and you'll see such in action).

Now onto Seisen no Keifu, or, as I shall call it only within this sentence, Medieval Star Wars. Don't believe me yet again? Well, time to break out some more charts. Clear enough now? Now we can move onto how Star Wars is unoriginal, which shouldn't be a difficult job at all. A lot of its unoriginality is public knowledge, whether it's ripping the general story and editing techniques of Flash Gordon, the general feel of many a samurai film, or the general plot structure of the all encompassing Monomyth of old. But it doesn't e....OK, this is getting fucking confusing. Maybe it will become clearer if I provide a visual representa-

OH DEAR CHRIST! IT HASN'T BECOME CLEARER AT ALL! There's no way we can call anything here good with so much inbreeding and the threat of so much more on the horizon! If anything, we've plunged into some insane world where everything is either perfect because it resembles everything or abysmal for the exact same reason. And the worst part: it doesn't have to end here. I mean, what's to separate me from that child in the previous blog? True, I've played far more games than he has, but even my knowledge has its limits. Just because I'm not aware of other works being ripped off doesn't mean they don't exist; hell, there's probably a vaudeville act out there with the same plot as Phantom Brave or something. You know, I'm starting to think that there's absolutely nothing original.

But there's something worse about a focus on originality, something far worse: it removes from games their power to determine their own quality. Hanako Ikezawa is no longer a tragic figure whose plight moves my heart to and fro, but a mere rip-off of Turanga Leela. Trolls on Treasure Island is no longer to be criticized for its terrible idea realized through a confusing execution, but solely because it rips off Dudes with Attitude. Spiderman 3 is not to be hated for its dorky protagonist and...some other stuff (I should probably use things I've seen as examples), but because it derives much of its plot from a frigging Angry Beavers episode. In fact, go back to the insanity from before and tell me when I last even mentioned Phantom Brave at all. But why stop at mere works? Why, under this system of logic, remakes, parodies, compilations, rereleases, even delayed ports - all of them "inherently" worthless. (I put that in quotes because nothing is inherently original, since originality is a comparative thing.) Sports games, even, would be devalued from the start, if we wanted to extend either of my previous diagrams to include the real world. There's only one way to escape this logic that only examines a game so that it may make it irrelevant: cast off originality altogether.

So now what?

(I suspect that at least one of you thinks that I might hold sameness to be a virtue, after all the discussion.) I hope nobody does, but I can understand why you would think that. Although that line of thinking is closer to the truth I try to espouse, it would lead us to many of the same problems originality would have, as under this alternate system, a game could be good by virtue of its similarities to a bad game. Obviously, that's pretty fucked up.

So what exactly do I mean? Exactly what I meant waaaaay before: a game must only be evaluated in terms of the game itself. Other games must not be dragged into the discussion and should not be used to judge other games. Descriptive comparisons are fine, but not normative comparisons. And that's the end of that. I'd ask you what you think of all this, but if you've made it this far, you're no doubt scathing it at me already.

Online
#1 Edited by Video_Game_King (35795 posts) -
Warning: the following piece may be so insane, conspiratorial, and otherwise idiotic that you may think the author is Dan Brown. Also, this isn't very good. You have been warned.

(And we're back!) Last time, I left you guys with a bit of a cliffhanger, setting up an argument that I didn't end up making. Well, I'll fix that mistake and make the argument I couldn't make back then. How, you ask? Why, with Bastion, of course! What fault can we find with it? Well, not much...other than it's a total rip-off of Fragile Dreams. Don't believe me? Let's look at what they share:

  • Minor items that reveal a lot of world building backstory
  • A post-apocalyptic plot wherein a kid with a litany of weapons must go out into the world, searching for survivors
  • A grand science experiment that caused this Apocalypse and threatens to do so again
  • A guilt-ridden grandpa figure who was involved with the experiment and sends our hero out on his adventure
  • A stark white villain who, upon seeing the true intentions of those around him, becomes quite mad and wishes death on the world's survivors
  • This fucking scene

Wow, that is A LOT to take from a single game. But wait, what about Fragile Dreams? Is it innocent in all this? No, not really. Remember that scene I linked before? (If not, how? It's emblazoned in gold.) Turns out that shit came from Lunar: Eternal Blue. Although there is another game that shares even more with Fragile Dreams: Bastion Final Fantasy VI. Again, let's compare:

  • The apocalypse
  • The grandpa
  • The tower
  • The magical nihilist
  • The search for survivors
  • The letter

And again, quite a bit so specifically taken from another game. Here's what it all looks like mapped out:

And so we are forced to call Bastion bad, simply because at least three games before it did quite similar things. Oh, I can already here it: "That doesn't necessarily mean the game is bad; certainly, we must devalue Bastion, but it can still be good." First off, I've seen games criticized for four games before them, so this is well within the territory of bad (at least on these grounds). Second, this introduces another problem beyond simply being bad. Now what were we saying before? About devaluing Bastion? What's the problem there? After all, we don't even have to hold an opinion of it, yet. It can still be good; it can still have any opinion. It just to be devalued in some way. Or, in math language, it's gonna be X-5 (or whatever number you want to assign it; I don't care, and it's not important). But wait a minute: did we just jam a value onto the game before we've seen any of it? Isn't that essentially forming some type of opinion of it (or at least limiting what our opinion will be)? Yea, I think Sherlock Holmes is gonna have a problem with that.

I sense that some of you still aren't convinced by that strange argument. Well, then, time to break out the big guns. That's right, we're going with...Phantom Brave: Heroes of the Hermuda Triangle? OK, what the hell is wrong with this? Yea, it had a story so utterly girly that scientists are still trying to understand the subvaginae it spawned (vaginae within vaginae), but the music was bitching, the customization had some teeth to it, and there could be some crazy maps. But how do I know about a game I've never played? Simple: it's a rip off of a game I have played, Phantom Brave: We Meet Again. What's that? Remakes aren't subject to this rule because they're being honest about their sources of inspiration? Then tell me why Super Street Fighter II Turbo elicited the response "Capcom can't count to three". Exactly. Honesty and openness account for jack shit. Of course, with this established, we can call We Meet Again a cheap Phantom Brave knock-off...with Phantom Brave stealing quite a lot from Disgaea (even Laharl makes the leap). But yet again, Disgaea is not innocent; it steals quite a few gameplay and graphical concepts from Final Fantasy Tactics. This is where things get interesting.

For you see, Final Fantasy Tactics rips off two video games primarily: Tactics Ogre and Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu. The first is easy enough to spot, since they were both developed by pretty much the same team. The second, though, requires some elaboration: both games share the same damn plot. Sigurd becomes Ramza, Alvis becomes Delita, the Twelve Crusaders become the Zodiac Braves, their weapons the stones, the Loptous Sect becomes the Glabados Church, etc. Now I would like to analyze Fire Emblem a bit more, but given that it, too, is a rip-off of Tactics Ogre (the series only became as political as it is after Tactics Ogre, much like many strategy RPGs of the day), it would make more sense to start with Tactics Ogre.

You know why else it would make sense? Because it's infinitely more simple than what I shall do with Fire Emblem 4. You see, remove the isometric perspective, and all you have is a complicated variant of Shining Force. But is Shining Force unique? Hell no! It's nothing more than a derivative of the original Fire Emblem....which was open about its inspirations of "what if we combined Famicom Wars with Dragon Warrior." The rabbit hole goes deeper still, because Dragon Warrior is a rip off of Wizardry, which is a rip off of Ultima, which is a rip off of Akalabeth, which i-

......Let's move onto Fire Emblem 4. At first, things seem simple, as (at first) it appears to be nothing more than a Fire Emblem rip off. After all, it's got the same gameplay, the same mechanics, the same art, even the same music. But wait, about that music: there's another source of inspiration, and a weird one at that. Listen to that last video again. Anything sticking out to you? That's right: it's the intro sound effects from Super Mario All Stars + Super Mario World. What's that? Too esoteric? A helluva lot closer than the plagiarizing in this video (those two aren't even the same tone), so I think we're fine. Back to Super Mario All Stars + Super Mario World. I don't think I need to make clear what this game is ripping off. Of course, All Stars rips off the games it compiles, and each game rips off the one before it (otherwise, it would be quite difficult to call Mario a series), with Super Mario World doing the same, so this issue only becomes more complicated, and it only becomes even more complicated when we look at the individual games. Super Mario Bros. 2 is but a Doki Doki Panic knock-off, and Super Mario Bros. borrows quite a bit from Mario Bros. (again, I refer you to Super Street Fighter II), which itself takes quite a bit from Donkey Kong. And so this mess ends there...right?

Oh, but why limit ourselves to video games? After all, we've seen so many comparisons to works outside our medium many times before, such as between Snatcher and Blade Runner (really, it applies to a lot of what Kojima does), Star Wars and anything, Donkey Kong and King Kong, and, why, something on our very forum. From there, it's not too large a leap to make a normative claim based on those comparisons (it's been done within games, after all). So what exactly do we get out of this? Well, first off, Akalabeth ultimately rips off Dungeons and Dragons, and....no, that's pretty much it. Things are equally simple for Doki Doki Panic, which is largely based off a Fuji TV show or something. Things only become truly complicated with two games in particular: Super Mario Bros. and Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu. Let's start with the first. Now, as I said before, Donkey Kong rips off King Kong, so we must add that to the mix. But this is about Super Mario Bros, which primarily derives from two other sources: Star Trek and Alice in Wonderland. Now how the fuck does Super Mario Bros rip off Star Trek? Simple: Miyamoto admitted that the idea of teleportation pipes came from Star Trek. He also admitted to inspirations from Alice in Wonderland, as where else can we find a magical land of nonsense where you can change size all over the place with the bite of a mushroom? (It's more apparent in the sequels, especially Super Mario 64.) But is Al-you should know by now that it isn't. It ripped off quite a few poems from its time (go back a bit in the video, and you'll see such in action).

Now onto Seisen no Keifu, or, as I shall call it only within this sentence, Medieval Star Wars. Don't believe me yet again? Well, time to break out some more charts. Clear enough now? Now we can move onto how Star Wars is unoriginal, which shouldn't be a difficult job at all. A lot of its unoriginality is public knowledge, whether it's ripping the general story and editing techniques of Flash Gordon, the general feel of many a samurai film, or the general plot structure of the all encompassing Monomyth of old. But it doesn't e....OK, this is getting fucking confusing. Maybe it will become clearer if I provide a visual representa-

OH DEAR CHRIST! IT HASN'T BECOME CLEARER AT ALL! There's no way we can call anything here good with so much inbreeding and the threat of so much more on the horizon! If anything, we've plunged into some insane world where everything is either perfect because it resembles everything or abysmal for the exact same reason. And the worst part: it doesn't have to end here. I mean, what's to separate me from that child in the previous blog? True, I've played far more games than he has, but even my knowledge has its limits. Just because I'm not aware of other works being ripped off doesn't mean they don't exist; hell, there's probably a vaudeville act out there with the same plot as Phantom Brave or something. You know, I'm starting to think that there's absolutely nothing original.

But there's something worse about a focus on originality, something far worse: it removes from games their power to determine their own quality. Hanako Ikezawa is no longer a tragic figure whose plight moves my heart to and fro, but a mere rip-off of Turanga Leela. Trolls on Treasure Island is no longer to be criticized for its terrible idea realized through a confusing execution, but solely because it rips off Dudes with Attitude. Spiderman 3 is not to be hated for its dorky protagonist and...some other stuff (I should probably use things I've seen as examples), but because it derives much of its plot from a frigging Angry Beavers episode. In fact, go back to the insanity from before and tell me when I last even mentioned Phantom Brave at all. But why stop at mere works? Why, under this system of logic, remakes, parodies, compilations, rereleases, even delayed ports - all of them "inherently" worthless. (I put that in quotes because nothing is inherently original, since originality is a comparative thing.) Sports games, even, would be devalued from the start, if we wanted to extend either of my previous diagrams to include the real world. There's only one way to escape this logic that only examines a game so that it may make it irrelevant: cast off originality altogether.

So now what?

(I suspect that at least one of you thinks that I might hold sameness to be a virtue, after all the discussion.) I hope nobody does, but I can understand why you would think that. Although that line of thinking is closer to the truth I try to espouse, it would lead us to many of the same problems originality would have, as under this alternate system, a game could be good by virtue of its similarities to a bad game. Obviously, that's pretty fucked up.

So what exactly do I mean? Exactly what I meant waaaaay before: a game must only be evaluated in terms of the game itself. Other games must not be dragged into the discussion and should not be used to judge other games. Descriptive comparisons are fine, but not normative comparisons. And that's the end of that. I'd ask you what you think of all this, but if you've made it this far, you're no doubt scathing it at me already.

Online
#2 Edited by believer258 (11557 posts) -

You know, there's quite a difference between "ripping off" (Darksiders ripped off Zelda) and "taking inspiration from". I also don't think that number 2 or 3 or whatever of a series can be counted as a "ripoff" of the first game in that series because "rip off" implies that someone else took a game and "ripped off" all of its ideas and put it into their own. For that matter, if someone makes a game and then makes another, similar game but in a different universe, it's called a "spiritual sequel" a la Bioshock to System Shock 2.

And your entire argument kind of falls apart there. Someone else will really tear into it, I'm sure, but you can do better, VGK.

EDIT: I don't necessarily mean that rip off = bad game, either, because Darksiders. However, one can only be fed macaroni n' cheese for so long before they get tired of it.

#3 Posted by Video_Game_King (35795 posts) -

@believer258:

I know I can do better, but I just wanted to get this out of the way. Besides, there are valid points to be had here, especially later on.

Online
#4 Posted by believer258 (11557 posts) -

@Video_Game_King said:

@believer258:

I know I can do better, but I just wanted to get this out of the way. Besides, there are valid points to be had here, especially later on.

Not really. I don't want to be an asshole, but no, not really. We had this argument before and you did a whole lot better then.

Anyway, I have two questions. The first is: Can you give your definition of originality? The second (a question which I am curious about, not trying to be a smartass about): What did Narbacular Drop rip off?

#5 Posted by Video_Game_King (35795 posts) -

@believer258:

Fair enough, but I do believe the end part, about "removing focus from the game" is a pretty valid concern in this discussion.

Ah, the piercing question! A difficult one to answer, but I shall try......standing on its own? Doing something that has not been done before? As for the second question? I appeal to my "ignorance is not a defense" defense.

Online
#6 Edited by falling_fast (2180 posts) -

I've never even heard of Fragile Dreams (um, as a game, anyway. it's also a pretty decent song by Anathema). sounds cool.

anyways, I don't really care about originality as you seem to be defining it. we live in a postmodern era, after all.

#7 Posted by Little_Socrates (5675 posts) -

@Video_Game_King said:

@believer258:

Ah, the piercing question! A difficult one to answer, but I shall try......standing on its own? Doing something that has not been done before? As for the second question? I appeal to my "ignorance is not a defense" defense.

But doing something original is separate from doing nothing unoriginal, which is the conceit of your argument. If Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 does NOTHING original in comparison to Modern Warfare 2, that is a separate conversation from the core similarities between Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros., which are otherwise very different games.

I agree that originality is not all we can measure a game on, as I'm a post-modernist who fully believes in playing with elements of different media to make something cool from them. I mean, I adore Kanye West, getting uppity about "sampling" isn't an option for me. But there's a difference between sampling, borrowing a melody, and full-on plagiarism as well, and I tend to enjoy the former two.

I agree with that the weakness of the comparisons predicated on the concept of nothing unoriginal allowed makes any later valid points seem invalid. To dismiss Fire Emblem 4 for being a sequel to Fire Emblem and also being a "rip-off of Mario" for using the same start-up music is just weak. It makes all the discussion based on those games seem silly.

#8 Edited by YI_Orange (1123 posts) -

I'm only going to address the very end, because honestly the rest is kind of nonsense.

No one who's opinion is worth anything is going "Super Mario RPG and Bastion both have hammers so Bastion really just ripped it off and is lacking in many of the areas SMRPG excels". Or anything of that like. But it is valid to take something in the context of other games, especially predecessors. Uncharted for example. Uncharted 2 was an amazing game. Fantastic set pieces, great characters, funny dialogue, competent gunplay that didn't really drag you down. Now, look at uncharted 3. The set pieces are still crazy, writing still solid(though the characters are used less than I would have liked), and the encounters got worse. Had Uncharted 2 not existed, Uncharted 3 probably would have been a better game. The big moments in Uncharted 3 were far less impactful because anyone going into that game having played 2 has expectations for the series and is ready for those moments. Uncharted 2, people didn't know what to expect.

Now, this one is speculative, but look at something like Journey. That game moved a ton of people this year, a lot of skeptics(myself) included. Would a Journey 2 have the same impact? I doubt it. Unless Journey 2 were a massively different game and pretty much all they share is a title, no one would be wowed by that experience. We'd seen it before and knew what to expect and by nature will compare it to the most similar experience that comes to mind.

Ok, so how does this apply to long-running series such as fire emblem, final fantasy, mario, etc. Well, for one, people enjoy the gameplay. But also, from my experience(nintendo franchises excluded here) the stories and characters are different enough to keep a player's interest for the duration of the game. You can point out all the similarities between things that you want, but who cares. It's the small differences that all come together to make the experience new.

Also, question, why is it that you believe games need to be taken solely on their own? Is it not valid for someone to say about the new mario game "Yeah, gameplay is still a mario game, but I've played 20 times, so I'm tired of it". Does every new Mario release have to be met with "OH MAN THIS GAME IS AWESOME THE PLATFORMING IS SO SOLID AND LEVEL DESIGN IS INCREDIBLY INTERESTING"?

#9 Edited by FriedConsole (53 posts) -

Old guy talking: There has never been a time when more original games are being released than now. Growing up it was 2D platformer after 2D platformer. There were trend after trend where games were just the same thing like the Pac Man clone era, 2D fighting game era, Myst clone era, Doom clone era...etc. Now there are so many types of games available and so many games in general being released that if you are tired of everything you should probably do something else.

Not to be a dick but the "we need more original stuff" has been a staple in gaming media ever since I started reading PC Gamer in the 90's. You see somebody write it every year and it has been increasing silly considering the environment.

Not to sound like an old guy ranting but you kids have easier access to more original media (music, TV, movies, and books) than ever before. Every time I heard a kid rant about Justin Beiber or Nickleback I wonder why are you bothered by what is on the radio after the invention of the iPod. I don't think I have ever heard a Justin Beiber song in it's entirety thanks to the iPod. [Going into full old guy mode] In my day you had to listen to the radio because we didn't have your fancy contraptions and it was the same crap over and over.

So if you kids feel like complaining about the state of media now just listen to this crap 25 times in a day:

#10 Posted by Willy105 (4688 posts) -

This is madness, King. But it is interesting.

#11 Posted by QuistisTrepe (628 posts) -

As lame as this is going to sound, even originality can be overrated.

Hell, if an idea is good then copy the heck out of it if there's a good game to be had. How many different variations have we had of the classic Zelda gameplay, especially during the 16-bit era? At some point, certain gameplay conventions are established at which point things seem less copied, IMO. I don't need my games to reinvent the wheel, nor do they have to be "fresh" or "original" as a prerequisite to be worth my time.

This only becomes a problem when games reach a certain point to where none of them are particularly distinguished any longer. Japan has learned this the hard way with RPGs.

#12 Posted by Video_Game_King (35795 posts) -

@Little_Socrates:

Don't compare 'em. Keep them on their own.

I'd say not really, since the idea of plagiarism came about at the same time as the notion that originality is good. Used to be you could write Blomeo and Bluiet and nobody would give you crap.

Yea, the comparison part is silly. That much I will acknowledge: a silly little exercise.

@YI_Orange said:

I'm only going to address the very end, because honestly the rest is kind of nonsense.

Aw, come on! The end is where it gets good.

However, I'd say that those parts it does borrow would still (under this logic) be devalued, thus devaluing the entire piece by some amount.

But one must establish that there is the causal relation betweeen the Uncharteds. Again, can only verify the game and such.

If you're going to say a game is good, you're talking about, well, the game, and not your personal experiences. To drag outside stuffs into it is irrelevant and kinda selfish (holding your own other experiences against the game).

@Willy105 said:

This is madness, King. But it is interesting.

Back of the box quote.

Online
#13 Posted by YI_Orange (1123 posts) -

@Video_Game_King: your response is a little bit confusing...I'm not sure what you're trying to say with most of it. Also, by "the very end" I was referring to your blog post.

I think you may be looking too much at score and not enough at text of a review. Granted, that's not a totally unfair thing to do since a large number of people probably do the same thing. However, A review always, ALWAYS, reflects personal experience. Otherwise, no scores would ever disagree. It's the text of the review that's important. If I give a new mario game 3 stars, that doesn't mean it's a bad game. Somewhere in the text of my review it is probably going to say something with the gist of "the game part is solid, but tired". Any good review would do the same. A half-way intelligent person would be able to look at this and either go "Yeah, I've played a bunch of Mario games, that makes sense" or "Well, I haven't played much Mario, so the tired part doesn't really apply to me. This game sounds good".

That said, I'm now thinking again about how reviews are in a weird spot, but that's an entirely diofferent topic.

#14 Posted by Spoonman671 (4523 posts) -

I agree with your assertion that a product's degree of originality is in no way related to its actual quality, but your whole argument in this blog is batshit crazy.

#15 Posted by coakroach (2486 posts) -

@Video_Game_King said:

I'd say not really, since the idea of plagiarism came about at the same time as the notion that originality is good. Used to be you could write Blomeo and Bluiet and nobody would give you crap.

What? When?! What the fuck are you talking about?!

#16 Posted by Video_Game_King (35795 posts) -

@Spoonman671 said:

I agree with your assertion that a product's degree of originality is in no way related to its actual quality, but your whole argument in this blog is batshit crazy.

Already quite aware of that.

@QuistisTrepe said:

As lame as this is going to sound, even originality can be overrated.

Hell, if an idea is good then copy the heck out of it if there's a good game to be had. How many different variations have we had of the classic Zelda gameplay, especially during the 16-bit era? At some point, certain gameplay conventions are established at which point things seem less copied, IMO. I don't need my games to reinvent the wheel, nor do they have to be "fresh" or "original" as a prerequisite to be worth my time.

Yes!

@QuistisTrepe said:

This only becomes a problem when games reach a certain point to where none of them are particularly distinguished any longer. Japan has learned this the hard way with RPGs.

No! Argue from the game, not the context. (I feel like a corrupted MP3.)

@YI_Orange:

Oh. By "the very end", I was referring to everything after (and including) "what separates me from the child". That's the cherry on this turd.

Yea, focusing on the score is a bad idea, but I'm still not liking that "tired" part. Again, it's dragging other experiences into it, and I really just want reviews to focus on the game. "The plot fucking sucks because the characters are whiny assholes" is good, but "the plot fucking sucks because it borrows a ton from the last game" isn't.

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#17 Posted by Video_Game_King (35795 posts) -

@coakroach said:

@Video_Game_King said:

I'd say not really, since the idea of plagiarism came about at the same time as the notion that originality is good. Used to be you could write Blomeo and Bluiet and nobody would give you crap.

What? When?! What the fuck are you talking about?!

This article I found.

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#18 Posted by Turambar (6636 posts) -

@believer258 said:

You know, there's quite a difference between "ripping off" (Darksiders ripped off Zelda) and "taking inspiration from". I also don't think that number 2 or 3 or whatever of a series can be counted as a "ripoff" of the first game in that series because "rip off" implies that someone else took a game and "ripped off" all of its ideas and put it into their own. For that matter, if someone makes a game and then makes another, similar game but in a different universe, it's called a "spiritual sequel" a la Bioshock to System Shock 2.

And your entire argument kind of falls apart there. Someone else will really tear into it, I'm sure, but you can do better, VGK.

EDIT: I don't necessarily mean that rip off = bad game, either, because Darksiders. However, one can only be fed macaroni n' cheese for so long before they get tired of it.

To quote Penny-Arcade, what's the difference between a rip off and an homage or inspiration? Whether you liked it or not. Those are just subjective terms invented to either support or berate similarities across multiple games.

#19 Posted by Hunter5024 (5505 posts) -

I still agree with you yay! Originality is overrated, everything is derivative. Still I think it's a little idealistic to expect people are capable of judging a game without allowing any of their previous history to color their opinion.

#20 Posted by Video_Game_King (35795 posts) -

@Hunter5024:

Although a lame solution, I simply propose that reviewers/gamers/whomever this applies to simply hone their critical reflexes. Try to step outside themselves, only consider that which can be found in the game.

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#21 Posted by YI_Orange (1123 posts) -

@Video_Game_King: The only way to not drag other experiences into it is to have a person who has never played another video game before review every game.

The way I see it, reviews exist to answer two questions.

1.) I am uninformed, what is the general opinion on this game?

2.) I am informed, but would I like this game?

Granted, dragging past experiences into it can hurt the answer for question one, if something is a good game it is still going to receive generally positive reviews, even if someone is just looking at the score. Can you think of an example where a game was buried in negativity due to people leaning on other experiences? I can't. Well, maybe NSMB 2, but even then it seems to be getting the reception of "Hey, it's a Mario game, take that how you will."

The second question actually benefits from past experiences. No one takes every game they play totally on it's own. You can tell me otherwise, but I won't believe you. Now, as someone who has played a lot of games, I have a choice between 2 games.

Game 1: People really seem to like this game. It borrows heavily from the metroidvania formula.

Game 2: Sticker Star was scrapped and they made a better Paper Mario game, similar to The Thousand Year Door.

Taking past experiences into account is going to help me choose which game I want to play. I love the first 2 paper Marios. I have never beaten a Metroidvania style game and usually find myself getting bored pretty quickly. Does that mean one isn't going to come along that I'll like? Not necessarily, but with so many games coming out and limited time/money I'd rather take the risk on something I'm more likely to enjoy than something I have never enjoyed in the past.

#22 Posted by Video_Game_King (35795 posts) -

@YI_Orange:

I can see that you are saying that this is impossible, and I feel I've already said that merely changes the role to minimization. This logic still has value....kind of. Not the chart thing, but the whole "originality's not meant to determine quality" thing.

@YI_Orange said:

Can you think of an example where a game was buried in negativity due to people leaning on other experiences?

This.

The way I've proposed to improve game reviews, however, would not fuck around with this. It's still centered on the game, so somebody who has played those previous games in the series can still put this review into their own context. It doesn't work the other way around, since those people who haven't played it won't know what the hell the reviewer is talking about.

Perhaps I should state here that I am not concerned with the consumer weighing their own experiences and using that to buy something. I'm more concerned with the reviewer who uses their own experiences outside the game as a means of recommendation, rather than drawing from the game itself to give a more widely applicable recommendation.

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#23 Posted by Turambar (6636 posts) -

@Video_Game_King said:

@Hunter5024:

Although a lame solution, I simply propose that reviewers/gamers/whomever this applies to simply hone their critical reflexes. Try to step outside themselves, only consider that which can be found in the game.

Now we're stepping into the area of criticisms vs reviews if that's your proposal. And in response, I don't want reviewers to step outside themselves when reviewing a game. I want their review to be colored by their previous experiences and biases. To attempt such a thing would end with only partial success, leaving such influences still plenty prevalent, but hidden. It is far easier to make it overt, and allow the audience an easier time in parsing the applicable information.

#24 Posted by Nicked (245 posts) -

There's a piece of film criticism by Dudley Andrew called "Adaptation" which more or less deals with what you're talking about.

However, when it comes to games I think a more interesting argument would be "A criticism of novelty". I remember seeing a lot of excited commenters on that Black Ops 2 trailer from a while back. It seems like the near-future setting of that game is stirring up interest whereas it's safe to say that the Modern Warfare brand is pretty worn out. Why? Aren't these essentially the same games? Games that a lot of people claim to be tired of? The novelty of the setting plays a bigger role than the originality of the gameplay ("near-future" itself not being a particularly original concept). How often do we hear people say stuff like "It's a first person shooter BUT ..."? "It's a side-scrolling platformer BUT ...". A novel enough caveat can make a rote game amazing.

Darksiders is another "unoriginal" game that trades wholly on the novelty of being a "dark Zelda". (That's not a criticism, it's a fact. Everyone says that game is great and I'm inclined to agree with that consensus.)

I see this as a problem for the art form because most games end up being about watching bigger and bigger numbers fly off of bad guys, rather than conveying anything real or meaningful about culture and life.

One might argue that no art form ever escapes "novelty", but games more than other media are defined by novelty before they are defined by artistic endeavor. The game industry thrives off of a perceived "newness", which I think can be very limiting.

#25 Posted by Zippedbinders (983 posts) -

All I know is that I REALLY need to track down a copy of Fragile Dreams. I've been looking for a copy off and on for awhile as I fill in the remaining gaps of my Wii library.

#26 Posted by Video_Game_King (35795 posts) -

:

Is it criticism? I don't have much of an eye for criticism. It may be just me, or it may be the general lack of it within the gaming world, but that's the way it is.

To attempt such a thing would end with only partial success, leaving such influences still plenty prevalent, but hidden.

A partial success is better than no success.

@Nicked:

That...sounds exactly what I'm arguing about, or at least an interesting tangent to what I am arguing about. I might have wanted to add in the "consumers are to blame for finding these ideas tired and done before", but it would sound a bit too dramatic, even for something like this.

I see this as a problem for the art form because most games end up being about watching bigger and bigger numbers fly off of bad guys, rather than conveying anything real or meaningful about culture and life.

This, however, I'd disagree with. Although it may be misinterpreting your words, there are tons of games out there that have something meaningful to say, and many of them even use violence as part of the message, or at least the violence doesn't interfere with the message. Radiant Historia, Persona games, Fragile Dreams, Fire Emblem 4, BioShock, Xenoblade Chronicles, on and on and on.

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#27 Edited by Mento (2413 posts) -

I was going to post this last time except you've had a veritable cavalcade of replies that have probably emphasized this point several times already, but here goes anyway: Originality is the lifeblood of the video game industry.

Even jaded hacks like myself, who will deride every earnest-yet-overambitious Indie experiment and $60 AAA flagrant photocopy in equal measure, knows the only way forward for the industry to create a really good, original game. It's what influences the next generation of auteurs to break into game development, what launches the careers of trailblazing visionaries with the hope that lightning can continue to strike the same place multiple times and gives the many big game development and publishing corporations, and the innumerable family-supporting salarypeople in their employ, a new model of a gaming paragon to iterate on with superficial differences for the next several years.

That's generally the reason originality is so highly regarded, at least by those who've been gaming for a long time. I know I've probably overrated games like Disaster: Day of Crisis and The Last Story in my reviews in part because they were something I hadn't seen before (which is definitely not the same as saying they're the first games to attempt what they did; I really ought to read more places like HG101 for the crazy esoteric stuff). It's like that trickle-down economics thing that I'm only tangentially familiar with; every single corner of the industry benefits when a game with any originality does good. So it's in everyone's best interest to get people excited for the truly unique games that come along instead of the next brown military shooter, as competently put-together as it may well be.

Moderator
#28 Posted by Video_Game_King (35795 posts) -

@Mento said:

Originality is the lifeblood of the video game industry.

Only because of the misconceptions I have aimed to do away with.

Good game? Yes. Original? No. That's pretty damn difficult, if not impossible. Every idea has already been done. The job, then, is to do those ideas as well or better than they were done before. That may be what motivates the developers and creators. (I wouldn't know, as I've never been in game development.)

@Mento said:

I know I've probably overrated games like Disaster: Day of Crisis and Last Story in my reviews in part because they're something I haven't seen before

(Guess how that blog is gonna play out?)

Again, I sound like an iTunes program that's frozen midway through a song, but you may be confusing "originality" with "improvements". The industry benefits when one game improves, not when one game is original. Of course, this is assuming that Mentonomics work. Remember how that shit worked in the Animal Crossing Crisis of 2008, where Tom Nook sold subprime Wii games in huge bundles and burst the bubble?

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#29 Posted by believer258 (11557 posts) -

@Video_Game_King said:

Good game? Yes. Original? No. That's pretty damn difficult, if not impossible.

But this is the question you never answered me last time: If originality is impossible, then have all of these ideas been present for an eternity? You might have a chain of inspiration going back to Adam and Eve, but every idea started somewhere.

#30 Posted by Video_Game_King (35795 posts) -

@believer258 said:

If originality is impossible, then have all of these ideas been present for an eternity?

Pretty much. There are only, like, ten stories that can ever be told; everything else is a variation of them.

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#31 Posted by believer258 (11557 posts) -

@Video_Game_King said:

@believer258 said:

If originality is impossible, then have all of these ideas been present for an eternity?

Pretty much. There are only, like, ten stories that can ever be told; everything else is a variation of them.

But games aren't just made up of stories. Let's bring up Narbacular Drop again (and ignorance is not a good defense against my question) - where did that come from? What did it take from? Certainly, according to you, there was a game before it that had the same or similar idea?

On the topic of stories: Even if there are only ten stories that can ever be told, those stories must have come from somewhere and, thus, originality exists, even if it is a far more limited form than most people would like to believe.

#32 Edited by Mento (2413 posts) -

@Video_Game_King: Originality in this case, I think we can agree, is something that's not necessarily brand new but is certainly something huge swathes of the general gaming audience have never seen before. I mean, someone like yourself has probably seen everything under the sun game-wise at this point (especially during a new moon) so nothing's going to be totally new.

A game that's had a few improvements isn't going to change how people do things, unless it's seriously improved on a similar, original game that was just too niche or poorly constructed to be of note to anyone at the time. I suppose that's more the case for your Dooms and Gods of War, neither of which were the first to do what they did, but it's because both managed to establish a new, burgeoning type of game that it led to so many iterations of both those formulae.

Also, The Last Story is pretty novel in terms of how it attempts to combine two very-not-novel types of game in a cohesive way, though there's certainly nothing original about its story (it won't be the last time we see a heroic sort save a princess from a nebulous evil force in a JRPG, as much as the title might suggest otherwise). I can imagine you'll have a lot to deride there - I recommend starting with Aladdin and working your way down the alphabet, like I did.

All I remember about the Tom Nook video game nook-offs (him and his cute naming conventions) was that he got a C&D from Nintendo just from trying to foist bootleg NES games on his unsuspecting loan shark victims, mostly because Nintendo had plans of their own to rip people off by overcharging them for 20+ year old games without some profiteering procyon practically giving the things away under their noses. Did that eventually elevate to Wii game piracy in AA: City Folk? I never played it.

Moderator
#33 Posted by Video_Game_King (35795 posts) -

@believer258:

Why is ignorance not a good defense against your question? If I were to say that Limbo of the Lost was an original game, you would certainly use my ignorance against me in proving me wrong; why does it not work here? Besides, I am not an expert in PC indie games, so I cannot provide the answer. But just because I am unable to provide the answer is not proof that it does not exist. Someone else may be able to provide such an answer.

In that case, then, originality only exists in so limited a capacity as to be completely useless. Hell, the "original" stories to which we point may not even be the originals, given the concept of oral tradition and all that.

@Mento:

A new definition of originality? Quite interesting, that, although it still relies on context too much for my tastes.

I thought it was because they were generally solid games that knew how to deliver the action. Hell, character action games existed before God of War, and I'm certain shooters (maybe of the first person variety) existed before Doom.

I'm certain that's how the story functions, since it begins in the Cave of Wonders and moves into the streets of Agrabah shortly after.

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#34 Edited by MarkWahlberg (4580 posts) -

Every time I try to read one of your blogs I can feel my brain deflating like that one french pastry when you don't cook it right. But I think what you're saying is doing something well is better than doing something new, which is a reasonable argument (up to a certain point, anyway).

#35 Posted by Video_Game_King (35795 posts) -

@MarkWahlberg said:

But I think what you're saying is doing something well is better than doing something new, which is a reasonable argument

Essentially, yea.

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#36 Posted by believer258 (11557 posts) -

@Video_Game_King said:

@believer258:

Why is ignorance not a good defense against your question? If I were to say that Limbo of the Lost was an original game, you would certainly use my ignorance against me in proving me wrong; why does it not work here? Besides, I am not an expert in PC indie games, so I cannot provide the answer. But just because I am unable to provide the answer is not proof that it does not exist. Someone else may be able to provide such an answer.

In that case, then, originality only exists in so limited a capacity as to be completely useless. Hell, the "original" stories to which we point may not even be the originals, given the concept of oral tradition and all that.

@Mento:

A new definition of originality? Quite interesting, that, although it still relies on context too much for my tastes.

I thought it was because they were generally solid games that knew how to deliver the action. Hell, character action games existed before God of War, and I'm certain shooters (maybe of the first person variety) existed before Doom.

I'm certain that's how the story functions, since it begins in the Cave of Wonders and moves into the streets of Agrabah shortly after.

Why is ignorance not a good defense against your question?

Because it simply waves away my point. It sounds like you're essentially saying "eh, I don't know so I'm still right" - that makes for a really bad argument, and it means my counterpoint still stands on solid ground.

On a side note - Doom was preceded by Wolfenstein 3D, and Wolfenstein 3D was preceded by Catacomb 3D. You actually shoot magic in Catacomb 3D, not guns, so the jury's out on whether or not Catacomb is actually a shooter. Sure, you're shooting magic, but by the same logic you can also shoot magic in Skyrim, making Skyrim a shooter. This is a complete digression from being on topic, so just take it as a fun fact and move on.

#37 Posted by Mento (2413 posts) -

Well, there's things like Super Mario 64 too. It's not original in its presentation, its characters or its story. It simply took a problem that had no extant solution (how to make an existing 2D platformer work in 3D) and found a way to do it that hadn't been done before. And I believe it did pretty well for Nintendo.

I guess with video games, there's many different interpretations for "original". As you say, if you're applying that adjective to a game's story I don't think a single one of them is original (I'm fairly sure the events of The Guns of Navarone were in response to the Nazis taking "all Greece's base", so that's probably where that came from). How designers will occasionally solve problems, long-standing or otherwise, and create great games with that new feature that end up selling like gangbusters is really what I mean by video game originality leading the way.

Moderator
#38 Edited by Video_Game_King (35795 posts) -

@believer258:

Yet my ignorance to any games similar to Narbacular Drop is not a strong enough argument that the game is original. Doesn't the onus shift toward proving that a game is original, not that it is unoriginal? At least I think that's what I'm saying with all this talk of ignorance.

Consider it like this: many people do not know that Romeo and Juliet borrows essentially the entire plot from Pyramus and Thisbe. This does not change the fact that it borrowed from that. The wording's weird, but what I'm saying is that the story is unoriginal, even without us knowing how it is unoriginal. In order to prove something is original, you'd essentially have to list every creative endeavor in the history of man and explain how it bears no similarity to any of them. Quite the daunting task, especially since it takes one example you don't know about to reverse it.

Well, you're shooting, so it's still a shooter in some regard. Also, it's hard to call Skyrim not a shooter when you can shoot arrows and stuff.

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#39 Posted by believer258 (11557 posts) -

@Video_Game_King said:

@believer258:

Yet my ignorance to any games similar to Narbacular Drop is not a strong enough argument that the game is original. Doesn't the onus shift toward proving that a game is original, not that it is unoriginal? At least I think that's what I'm saying with all this talk of ignorance.

Well, you're shooting, so it's still a shooter in some regard. Also, it's hard to call Skyrim not a shooter when you can shoot arrows and stuff.

True, but I can't find any examples of a game similar to Narbacular Drop before said game was released. I guess I'm trying to prove to you that originality is possible more than I'm trying to prove that it exists (i.e. debunking evidence that it doesn't exist without bringing in any evidence that it does) because I can't think of or find anything similar to Narbacular Drop before it released. So we come to a stalemate falling a little more in my favor until you can find a game similar to Narbacular Drop before its release. But then I can say "Now find a game before that one", and we get to do this all over again. Conclusion: It's a logic loop and the only thing I've succeeded in is proving you wrong without proving myself right.

Fuck it, I'm going to play Battlefield; we can argue over the genre which Skyrim falls into later. Or not at all.

#40 Posted by Video_Game_King (35795 posts) -

@believer258 said:

Conclusion: It's a logic loop and the only thing I've succeeded in is proving you wrong without proving myself right.

I'm guessing that's gonna describe our discussion here in general. Or Internet discussion in general.

(Oh, and games can have multiple genres. Skyrim can totally be a shooter and a thing that isn't a shooter.)

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#41 Posted by LikeaSsur (1486 posts) -

Wow, I never knew how many similarities there were. Thanks for this, it was an interesting eye opener.