It is nice to look back on what has occurred, because I feel like perhaps I am seeing a slightly more accurate picture of what happened than would be portrayed as a public face during the actual events themselves.
I “worked” with Origin systems (Ultima Online) for a while in a volunteer type position, a Seer, who coordinated plot development on a massive player-wide scale throughout part of their online game. During that time, I was able to get something of an inside look into how things were structured behind-the-scenes and how shifts in management and changes in approaches affected change everywhere else. I also followed an online game Horizons for four years as it went from “birth” to release- and the original creator/lead of it was removed for someone else. Their vision was to create a game that was based on creating a solid game fitting what players wanted- not just what would reap immediate money, because in the end if you met the needs the money would follow. Of course, that vision held somewhat to the release point, but I think it was lost as management changed. It is so easy to get pessimistic and think “Is it really possible, now, for people to make good games and still make the ‘big money’ they want?”.
I’ve watched movies, and it seems to be some of the shift with that industry is now happening to gaming. They make hits, and make huge money- and instead of continuing to try new things to reach groups, they want to keep making more money. The push for “hits” and “success” puts the wrong people in charge and the wrong motives behind it. The people who have the creativity to make the hits are pushed too hard, or aren’t allowed the room for even minor failures that have to happen for a big success. This “watered down blockbuster” approach goes on until finally, the whole thing collapses as people get tired of it and someone else- someone daring- comes out with something new, something truly good, and then all the other biggies try to copy it or “own it”.
My question is- is there anybody left who has what it takes to revive the adventure games in this new “blockbuster era of gaming”? The trick is finding someone who can tap the market, make revenue, and balance “profit” with “quality” without ever sacrificing true quality. I think that the director of the Incredibles said it well when he talked about his experience with the Simpsons: he would rather have used poorer quality animation from overseas (which is what the Simpsons started as) with an excellent plot, than stick with great animation and the generic poor plots infusing everyone. And in the end, the good stuff won out- the Simpsons became a big hit. Why? Was it great graphics and huge clout? No… not really.