Less Is More

For the past couple of weeks I have been plotting the layout I would place all the furniture I planned to buy for my new apartment. With the old stuff being thrown out, I had a lot of room in the much larger apartment to accommodate some nicer things. It has taken quite a bit of time to whittle down to just a few hundred choices. Yes, I know, that's still a lot. It is almost certainly too much for my apartment, so I must do something to yet further reduce what I want.

Game developers call the occurrence of packing more features into a container which wasn't designed or intended for them as 'Feature Creep'. There are countless games out there that have had this design burden strike their developers. In fact, I seriously doubt if a single game has remained unscathed on some level of feature creep. Designing games is a significant task that takes a lot of time, which goes above and beyond and one person's complete abilities to control.

Two days ago my friends showed me a new game, based solely on the web browser, called 'The West'. It is a game about the American West (surprise) at a time of cowboys and cattle ranchers. The uniqueness about this game, besides its sole place on the web browser, is its simplicity. There are hundreds of ways to play the game, yet only a handful of truly unique options that you start with. The developers crafted unique qualities into the game to give it life and longevity.

What we are seeing in many games released on the market today is sterility, quite frankly. Sterility in innovation and uniqueness on such a scale as to become a catastrophic plague upon the industry. How many shooter games are there? Unique qualities exist, but in most cases they are just another shooter. Instead of guns they may employ lasers, instead of magic wands they may employ mind powers, but they are still "aim, pull trigger, kill, run, rinse and repeat" type games.

While many worry that the game industry is moving too quickly towards casual type games, of which 'The West' is one of them, I feel this trend may allow Indie developers and the industry as a whole induce innovation and creativity on a level that has been slipping away at larger companies. Everyone is too caught up in making money and not making innovative and fun games. It isn't about how many quests a game may have, but how fun the quests are that the game does have.

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