#1 Posted by sickVisionz (1299 posts) -

If a big budget shooter comes out, people get upset that yet another game in this genre is coming out. if the art style contains a lot of gray and brown, they groan even more and call it generic. If a 2D indie platformer is announced, people act like that's a sparse genre and herald it as the beacon of true creativity. If the art style is pixel art, it's praised as being the most original and unique thing ever made.

How come making games in a flooded genre with a generic art style is loathed in big budget games but praised in indie ones?

#2 Posted by i8246i (120 posts) -

Why don't you take a little bit more time to *actually read and listen* to the communities/stories/podcasts/videos/forums of multiple gaming websites before making a sweeping generalization?  
 
I mean, look at the Battleship movie-game tie-in for the 360/PS3.  When the quick look started, everyone on the GB crew, and I myself, were ready for a crapfest...
 
Instead, what we all saw was a game with some fresh ideas and decent execution that was rushed out the door and confined to a movie license.  Had the team behind the game been given more time and some decent writers, the game could be *worth* its $60 price tag.
 
And that's just one example out of hundreds of videos where perceptions of what a video game "should be" have been turned on its head.  And that is from one website, from one review team.

#3 Posted by ManlyBeast (1221 posts) -

Cause there are more expectations for a big budget shooter.

#4 Edited by killacam (1320 posts) -

...

the heralded indie games you speak of are regarded so because they utilize interesting and unique mechanics and story and whatnot. the platformer aspect is the most superficial part, and the great games have much else going on (braid, limbo, etc.)

ps i thought this was going to be some fantastic pass, to ALL the indie games

#5 Posted by The_tato (73 posts) -

I think some of it has to do with the amount of people working on the projects. If you have 100-200 people working on something that is generic and lacking in any real creativity it seems like the studio is just trying to cash in. When 2-8 people make a game with generic design but one original mechanic or idea, it seems much more impressive as a whole because the perception is that just building the game was an accomplishment.

#6 Posted by Salarn (484 posts) -

@sickVisionz said:

If a big budget shooter comes out, people get upset that yet another game in this genre is coming out.

Could you be more specific? Big budget shooters like MW3 or BF3 sell millions upon millions of copies, that's not a sign of upset people.

#7 Posted by sickVisionz (1299 posts) -

@Salarn: You seriously haven't heard or seen backlash from Call of Duty?

#8 Posted by Salarn (484 posts) -

@sickVisionz said:

@Salarn: You seriously haven't heard or seen backlash from Call of Duty?

It has a 88 average on metacritic, sold 6.5 million copies in 24 hours, and has 25,000 people playing it right now on Steam on a Friday at 9am EST (can't easily get PSN/XBL numbers)

I've seen some bits and pieces about backlash on the CoD:MW3 but it doesn't appear to have impact on the game's success. Are you referencing something specific?

#9 Edited by SerHulse (709 posts) -

@sickVisionz said:

@Salarn: You seriously haven't heard or seen backlash from Call of Duty?

The backlash against CoD doesn't stop it from selling millions, it could very well be a completely different group of people (1 group hates CoD, the other buys it, everyone else ignores it)

And similar to what said, indie games that are held in very high regard are ones that all have at least one unique selling point, be it genuinely great art, sound design, great gameplay, story or atmosphere.

There is more too it than merely being a 2D Platformer with Pixel Art graphics, of which, the reason that that is prevalent in Indie Games is for the relatively cheap and easy development process, (it's just quicker and easier for a 1 or 2 man team to create a 2D pixel art game)

But again as said a 100 to 200 man team has vastly more resources to do more than 2D, more that Pixel, but don't. That's the difference.

EDITED: My terrible grammar

#10 Posted by TentPole (1856 posts) -

@Salarn said:

@sickVisionz said:

@Salarn: You seriously haven't heard or seen backlash from Call of Duty?

It has a 88 average on metacritic, sold 6.5 million copies in 24 hours, and has 25,000 people playing it right now on Steam on a Friday at 9am EST (can't easily get PSN/XBL numbers)

I've seen some bits and pieces about backlash on the CoD:MW3 but it doesn't appear to have impact on the game's success. Are you referencing something specific?

I am pretty sure he is talking about message board backlash in general and not overall sales.

#11 Posted by Salarn (484 posts) -

@TentPole said:

I am pretty sure he is talking about message board backlash in general and not overall sales.

Yes, that's what I assumed, but I wanted to be sure. Forums posters only represents about 2~3% of gamers based on numbers from EA and Blizzard. People who are on a forum talking about video games are a completely different breed than the majority of people playing the games.

The reason why the internet responds differently to indie games is because indie games can more specifically target gamers. When gamers are specifically targeted with games that are exactly what they want, they are much more likely to post positive things than negative. When mass marketed games do anything there are enough people out of the millions of players that 2~3% will feel like a tidal wave of discontent. The bar to entry of posting negative comments is much lower than posting positive things.

#12 Posted by sickVisionz (1299 posts) -

@SerHulse said:

And similar to what said, indie games that are held in very high regard are ones that all have at least one unique selling point, be it genuinely great art, sound design, great gameplay, story or atmosphere.

There is more too it than merely being a 2D Platformer with Pixel Art graphics, of which, the reason that that is prevalent in Indie Games is for the relatively cheap and easy development process, (it's just quicker and easier for a 1 or 2 man team to create a 2D pixel art game)

But again as said a 100 to 200 man team has vastly more resources to do more than 2D, more that Pixel, but don't. That's the difference.

EDITED: My terrible grammar

I'm referring less to games that are out and have been reviewed and more of overall sentiment. If a new military shooter was announced, there would be people saying things along the lines of, "yet another one," in forums, in the podcasts that I listen to (Bombcast, Weekend Confirmed, Game Scoop) and from the staff on sites that I visit. If a new 2D indie platformer with pixel art graphics was announced, there wouldn't be a similar reaction despite the genre and artstyle not being any less prevalent in indie games than military shooters are in mainstream games.

And this could be without any gameplay footage seen so there is no qualitative measure of the game other than a lot of games like it already existing. For mainstream, that's going to be an instant knock that the game has to overcome but in indie games it's not seen as a negative at all.

#13 Posted by Humanity (11622 posts) -

@Salarn: Theres overall displeasure from a lot of people about the lack of creativity in the Call of Duty series at this point. Sales won't reflect this because you have a ton of people who had just bought a 360 and are going to get their first Call of Duty title - which will be a crazy experience. Those of us that played through these games notice how it got into a slog.

I think a lot of people are missing what I ASSUME is the point of this thread - mainly how not a lot of people criticize the overusage of the "retro" look in a lot of indie games these days. Some people are getting a little tired of it - and sometimes it's done out of necessity. A lot of the time the style is used to make up for the lack of real content or style and thats bad. I'd much rather indie developers strive for a style like Bionic Commando ReArmed or Limbo - still side scrolling but with a modernized aesthetic.

#14 Edited by Salarn (484 posts) -

@Humanity: Every Call of Duty, has out sold the previous on it's relative platform. There were 1.7 new 360 sold last year, assuming they were all to new users, and assuming that they all bought MW3 that would only account for small percentage of the 14+ million copies sold of CoD:MW3 to date. (For reference, Back Ops is at 13m, MW2 12m, WaW 11m, steady healthy growth) Maybe this year Black Ops 2 will see a decline in sales, and the bubble will burst, but I would be very surprised if it was a significant drop off.

Every sale is a vote to make more of that game. Yes, a lot of people on the internet upset about how the CoD franchise is being handled, but that's okay, even if they are not buying it. It doesn't invalidate the people who are buying and enjoying the games. The only negative part is that bad games in a series have a delay in the decline of sales, it's not uncommon pay for a sequel of a movie/book/game and get burnt and then wave off the next sequel no matter how good it is.

-----

In regards to the art in smaller dependent games, a lot of it is technical or skill limitation. If you don't have a 3D engine or modeler, you use 2D. If you don't have a composer you use beeps and boops. If you don't have a programmer you use game maker. If you only have a vector artist you use flash. If you don't have a writer you put in more explosions :P

Pixel art is great because it's easy to use in a tile based setup, measurements, physics, everything is easier on that simple uniform box size.

Why are few people criticizing art in indie games for as much? BlackOps2 is so big you can't avoid it, press and marketing are going to shove it in your face if you are interested or not. When it comes to indie games, you have indie "darlings" and everything else, the games are filtered to be likeable. Indie booths at PAX, GDC, E3, etc... are hand picked by the organizers. The weaker games just don't get any attention because it's not worth trashing them and a bit cruel if someone did.

#15 Edited by SerHulse (709 posts) -

@sickVisionz: Think about it like this:

Modern (or even not-to-distant Past/Future) military FPS's have such a bad track record for being unique and having something special about them (at least in my opinion), that when one gets announced you can hear an audible groan at "yet another one". This is because a "unique" feature of a game like this is: 'you can change the scope!' or 'not quite as linear as the last one!'

Now of course that is a sweeping generalisation, but, modern military FPS's are so interchangeable, there hasn't been much in the way of actual evolution, (anecdote: I remember during the EA presser, leaving for a second and coming back to the part when they showed MoH, I swear I thought it was Battlefield, right up to the mark and execute part).

Indie games on the other hand have a very good track record of being something different, so you don't get the groan of "yet another one" nearly as often. An Indie developer has to try so much harder to stand out and how they choose to stand out from the crowd is up to them:

  • Some choose a unique visual style (LIMBO)
  • Some go for unique atmosphere (Dear Esther)
  • Others might choose unique gameplay (Amnesia)
  • Yet more choose to take a central concept and perfect it (Super Meat Boy, VVVVVV, Braid, Bastion)

If someone chooses to differentiate themselves through something other than visuals, pixel art might be used because of it's ease of implementation for example, I don't know if you've tried your hand at 3D modelling and animation before, but it's really really fucking hard (and more importantly for Indies; time consuming). The prevalence of Pixel art in my opinion is very excusable, as in the vast majority of the time there is something else unique about it, something one cannot say about most military FPS's.

(IMO)

#16 Posted by Humanity (11622 posts) -
@Salarn Yes I know that Modern Warfare sells well. So does Madden each year. The issue is that a large part of the gaming community isn't happy with the direction those games are taking. The sales figures have nothing to do with this. The vote with your wallet argument is horribly flawed and unrealistic.

Indie games should face the same sort of scrutiny. If a team of 5 guys work on some pixel platformer for 2 years and it ends up sucking are you not going to say anything because it might hurt their feelings? If it's crap it's crap and if something is overdone then it's overdone.

The central argument being: how come mainstream games get flack for the same drab graphics while "indie darlings" can keep pumping out 8bit lookalike platformers and get applauded as evolutionary art? It is exactly because we have trained ourselves to expect less rather than more from odor developers.
#17 Posted by Salarn (484 posts) -

@Humanity:

I saw your clarification here that it is a "large part of the gaming community", adding the word community is an interesting choice. Do you mean gamers as a whole? Because the online community doesn't represent the average game player, it's been reported for games that require user accounts (such as WoW) that community users such as forum posters at best a few percentage of total gamers. The could be an argument that a big chunk of people buy stupid things low quality things because they don't care. That still leaves the largest part of gamers being people who just want to play the game and don't care one bit about anything except that the game is new and familiar.

A game with record breaking sales and very high metacritic ratings are the earmarks of a quality game. If both reviewers and consumers are supporting the product what else is missing to classify the game as good?

To clarify what I said about indie games being winnowed to only the good ones for showings. I said there was nothing to gain from reviewing bad indie games. Why would show space be given to bad indie games at a convention? Why would reviewers spend money and time to tear down a small unheard of project for being poorly produced? It would be cruel to do so because the indie games that have already failed to be accepted by publishers, conventions, or fan base already know they are bad. If people went out of their way to dig up weak indie games to turn into a front page negative review, that's a petty thing to do.

#18 Posted by evanbower (1244 posts) -

@killacam said:

...

the heralded indie games you speak of are regarded so because they utilize interesting and unique mechanics and story and whatnot. the platformer aspect is the most superficial part, and the great games have much else going on (braid, limbo, etc.)

ps i thought this was going to be some fantastic pass, to ALL the indie games

Haha speaking of which, did you get the humble indie bundle last week? Because that pretty much was that pass.

#19 Posted by Humanity (11622 posts) -

@Salarn: With no disrespect intended - while all your points are very interesting and probably worthwhile a discussion of their own they keep eluding the actual topic of the thread to the point where I'm not sure if you're trolling or if you really just don't understand what is being discussed.

#20 Posted by killacam (1320 posts) -

@evanbower said:

@killacam said:

...

the heralded indie games you speak of are regarded so because they utilize interesting and unique mechanics and story and whatnot. the platformer aspect is the most superficial part, and the great games have much else going on (braid, limbo, etc.)

ps i thought this was going to be some fantastic pass, to ALL the indie games

Haha speaking of which, did you get the humble indie bundle last week? Because that pretty much was that pass.

i did! and it was. and if i said what i paid for it on here, i'd probably be banned.

#21 Edited by Little_Socrates (5834 posts) -

"2D Puzzle Platformer With A Quirky Art Style And A Great Soundtrack" is quickly becoming a series of dirty words in my circle of friends. Despite that, we still loved Fez, Limbo, Braid, and most of the rest of the best.

People totally ignored The Adventures of Shuggy. That's also a "2DPPWQAS+GS", but it's not popular.

#22 Posted by Kidavenger (3883 posts) -
#23 Posted by Oldirtybearon (5211 posts) -

well, there is something else to consider. The majority of indie games fucking suck.

That said, there's a handful out there that manage to do something interesting. Those titles wind up being things like Braid, Super Meat Boy, Bastion, Limbo, Amnesia, and a couple of other games you all know about. These are the cream of the crop. They are not indicative of the quality in most indie games. They're exceptions, and they're fucking good.

#24 Posted by Salarn (484 posts) -

@Humanity: I'm not trolling, I put my answer in early for this thread for the original poster's question.

The original question was: "How come making games in a flooded genre with a generic art style is loathed in big budget games but praised in indie ones?"

I could see where you are saying my answers were too broad of scope for the question. If we narrow it down to precisely differences in art, it's a lot of personal taste. Since we, people who post on internet forums about video games, consume an order of magnitude more game content than the average gamer, we get a bit jaded. If a game is reduced to just what it presents graphically, I would not be able to put any weight on a style being stale or not because it's not representative of the entire product and is hugely subjective.

I took the question to be more general about loathing big games and loving indie games. It's a matter of perspective, there are plenty of amazing and terrible games for both big budget and indie. The significant difference is that a terrible indie game won't get any attention while a terrible big budget game will still have a powerful marketing push.

#25 Posted by Humanity (11622 posts) -

@Kidavenger: The list would be bigger but there are hardly 14 amazing big budget games that come out each year although thats a matter of taste I suppose. For instance I would consider Arkham Asylum an amazing, unique game but Arkham City I wouldn't - although it's still a fine game.

#26 Posted by Dalai (7776 posts) -
@Salarn said:

The significant difference is that a terrible indie game won't get any attention while a terrible big budget game will still have a powerful marketing push.

This makes sense. The media always covers big budget shooters since there's a large consumer base that plays those types of games. Indie games always have low sales expectations, at least compared to Halo, Call of Duty, and the like so the media often only cares about the really good games or the ones that somehow crack a million in sales. 
 
But I think sequelitis also compounds the AAA shooter hate as well. Most indie developers tend to make one-and-done games. If we lived in a world where Braid 3, Super Meat Boy World, and Cave Story X5 were a reality, we'd be hating more on indie games.
#27 Posted by Humanity (11622 posts) -
@Dalai
@Salarn said:

The significant difference is that a terrible indie game won't get any attention while a terrible big budget game will still have a powerful marketing push.

This makes sense. The media always covers big budget shooters since there's a large consumer base that plays those types of games. Indie games always have low sales expectations, at least compared to Halo, Call of Duty, and the like so the media often only cares about the really good games or the ones that somehow crack a million in sales. 
 
But I think sequelitis also compounds the AAA shooter hate as well. Most indie developers tend to make one-and-done games. If we lived in a world where Braid 3, Super Meat Boy World, and Cave Story X5 were a reality, we'd be hating more on indie games.
There are big budget games very often released into total annonymity like Binary Domain or Dragons Dogma. Neither were stellar games, neither got a pronounced marketing push - both were high budget titles.
#28 Posted by Kidavenger (3883 posts) -

@Humanity said:

@Kidavenger: The list would be bigger but there are hardly 14 amazing big budget games that come out each year although thats a matter of taste I suppose. For instance I would consider Arkham Asylum an amazing, unique game but Arkham City I wouldn't - although it's still a fine game.

I get what you are saying, the OP was more about praise/critical reception, there are far more AAA hits that come out each year than indie games, that fact alone probably helps the indie games that break through because they are so rare/special.

#29 Posted by Sergio (2587 posts) -

Who knows? Perhaps some people just want to root for small, indie developers. There have been indie games that a lot of people gush over that I was more lukewarm towards; it's just preferences. I personally didn't like the art style in Sword & Sworcery and Fez, and found the former to be below average and the latter just average in terms of the games I've enjoyed.

Online
#30 Posted by c0l0nelp0c0rn1 (1958 posts) -

@sickVisionz: You obviously haven't heard Jeff's thoughts on LIMBO or Vinny's thoughts on flower.

Online
#31 Posted by Salarn (484 posts) -

@Humanity said:

@Dalai
@Salarn said:

The significant difference is that a terrible indie game won't get any attention while a terrible big budget game will still have a powerful marketing push.

This makes sense. The media always covers big budget shooters since there's a large consumer base that plays those types of games. Indie games always have low sales expectations, at least compared to Halo, Call of Duty, and the like so the media often only cares about the really good games or the ones that somehow crack a million in sales.

But I think sequelitis also compounds the AAA shooter hate as well. Most indie developers tend to make one-and-done games. If we lived in a world where Braid 3, Super Meat Boy World, and Cave Story X5 were a reality, we'd be hating more on indie games.
There are big budget games very often released into total annonymity like Binary Domain or Dragons Dogma. Neither were stellar games, neither got a pronounced marketing push - both were high budget titles.

Both were at E3 2011, over 50 critic reviews on metacritic, both had quick looks on Giantbomb.com, so I wouldn't say total anonymity.

However, they didn't receive much in other types of publicity, so the market spend was likely minimal if any. On the scale of 'AAA' marketing spend they were probably near the bottom, shame really, both titles had some interesting things going on. Games like diablo or CoD will have major TV spot and multi million spends. Even F3AR had a multi million marketing spend with TV spots.

Compared to the best pigeon dating simulationthat indie development has ever produced, with some of the highest quality rendered 2D pigeon graphics in videogames. It doesn't even have a metacritic listing. That's a game with near total anonymity that was released this year.

---

Yes, we're splitting hairs now, and I'm giving you a hard time because it's Friday and the weekend is looking great. Seriously though, Hatoful Boyfriend is hilarious, here is a let's play of itit's well worth the read.

Cheers!

#32 Posted by YukoAsho (2248 posts) -

@sickVisionz said:

If a big budget shooter comes out, people get upset that yet another game in this genre is coming out. if the art style contains a lot of gray and brown, they groan even more and call it generic. If a 2D indie platformer is announced, people act like that's a sparse genre and herald it as the beacon of true creativity. If the art style is pixel art, it's praised as being the most original and unique thing ever made.

How come making games in a flooded genre with a generic art style is loathed in big budget games but praised in indie ones?

See, I'm right with you. 90% of indie games take shit wholesale from the NES era and get called unique and innovative, while another 9% are notable only for how far the author has a stick shoved up his or her own ass.

These games are given a free pass because people like the media-generated story of the scrappy underdog, and because the gaming media still wants to feel important. That and there are people who belong in art museums writing for game sites.

#33 Posted by YukoAsho (2248 posts) -

@Kidavenger said:

Exactly how many revolutionary indie games are there?

Braid

Limbo

Super Meat Boy

Bastion

Fez

Journey

Defense Grid: The Awakening

Torchlight

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP

Minecraft

Terraria

The Binding of Isaac

Dungeon Defenders

Orcs Must Die!

14 universally praised "indie" games over the last 4 years, there are atleast that many highly rated AAA games that come out every year.

Great games, perhaps, but I'm not sure I'd call Super Meat Boy, Limbo, Orcs Must Die or Torchlight "revolutionary." They all stayed in very strict genre confines. Hell, even Terraria is just 2D Minecraft...

#34 Posted by tourgen (4568 posts) -

Indie gets a pass because:

  • They aren't $60
  • They don't ask me for an "online pass" code entry before I can play online modes
  • I can usually get them DRM-free through Indie Bundles or (more recently) from GOG
  • They'll use usually take a risk with visual style or a new game mechanic
  • They aren't usually trying to be "more accessible", instead they're trying to be fun to play
#35 Posted by Humanity (11622 posts) -
@Salarn It's fine, always good to learn something new! I've already had a hard Friday though since neither my Max Payne 3 or Vanquish orders were delivered so now I'll have to like, go outside, or something during the weekend.