Saturday, July 28, 2012

Where are the great iPad games? Where are our arthouse games?

Seriously, where are the GREAT iPad games?  Where are the games that capture your imagination and completely engross you?  Not with graphics, but with craft.

I'm 34 years old.  I grew up playing King's Quest games, where a rich world lay before you, and you interacted with it using verbs you typed in.  It fired the imagination on all cylinders.

It can be hard to separate your memories as a child from the actual true qualities of a game, but I simply cannot believe that a game like King's Quest 3 is anything less than miraculous.

Later I played Thief, immersed in it's richly crafted world, beautifully simulated systems of light and shadow, sound propagation, and characters who "thought they saw something... but noooo, must have been nothing".  I love these richly realised, deeply detailed worlds.  The art, writing and sound design in the game are superb.

These games crafted a rich tapestry of their game worlds.  The player must navigate a high-resolution space BETWEEN "alive" and "dead".  These games barely care how much ammo you have left, or the accuracy of your aiming.  They're about a much richer story space, where you try to figure out the secrets of locations and characters, the missing pieces of the puzzle, how to sneak past a wary guard, or what might entice a character to help you out.

I know that I have rose colored glasses for these games, but I don't believe for a second that it's impossible to evoke these values that I long for, still.  And you don't need high definition 3D graphics to evoke these feelings, although it does benefit from great art and writing.

I look for games with this richness on the iPad, and I come up empty handed.  Nothing.  
Some would argue that it's a high demand to expect these games on iPad, considering that tantalisingly good games are far and few between on the high end platforms like PC, Xbox 360, PS3 or Mac.  Maybe that's true.

I don't think it's a matter of these games being especially hard to make (although they do take great skill and care), I just think that they are not perceived to be the sort of games that will make the most money.  Because a dinky little throw-away game will probably sell more, due to mass appeal, and an audience that largely isn't looking for a deep experience, but instead wants a fairly shallow, non-committal experience, especially on iPhone, but also to some extent on iPad.

I'll take that as true.  That's fine.  But I'm still disappointed that a platform perfectly capable of running these amazing experiences is not being exploited by some developers to give these experiences to people.

Where are the truly great games?  What brings a thirty or forty year old back to the glowing screen, promising "we have something truly great and wondrous to offer you."

I guess as I've gotten older, I really want better WRITING.  And not just writing, but an actual PURPOSE TO WRITE.

Why are today's games being made?  

What do they have to say?

I understand that many games are not written for the purpose of engaging people in this manner.  That's fine.  But seriously... 



I know it's not easy to make these games.  And perhaps a sense exists that there is no calling for these games.  That no one will play them, or at least not enough people.

Well I want to challenge that.  I want to build up towards making games that are considered arthouse games.  Games with something to say, or at least, a great sense of style, of story, of writing.  To have an artisticness to them, even if this is in the entertainment side of arthouse, like Amelie, or Pulp Fiction, or Twin Peaks.  I'm not asking for "high art", just something unique and joyfully intriguing.

I don't want to be a star marine.  I don't want to drive a racing car.  I've done that.  I loved it.  But my life is calling for other things now.

Maybe it's not possible.  Maybe it is the wrong medium.  But I'm determined to find out.  Can I make a game that meets my own desires for atmosphere, story and exploration?  

I want to make a game that I'd be delighted to find myself.  One that makes me love the maker, to feel a bond for the joy they've crafted in that world.

That is my mission!

Indie Game Developer

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