Gaming Cynic: The Indie Game Nightmare

You’d be stupid not to see that the indie gaming scene has taken the world by storm. Despite the big boys still having a stranglehold in terms of financial dominance, it would appear that the little guy is way ahead on respect, artistic merit and humility. Gamers are tired of being nickel-and-dimed with crappy DLC, hate the over saturation of certain genres and in all honesty, don’t believe there is an original idea left in the minds of the AAA companies. Frankly speaking, most of us don’t even trust the creators of certain beloved franchises to do their own series justice when it comes to sequels. I’ve often wondered what would happen if indie developers had an opportunity to breathe new life into games like Call of Duty or Halo? One can only imagine what direction these games could go in should the bottom line be the least of a developer’s problems. Seeing as that will most likely never happen, I instead decided to focus on how certain high profile indie games would turn out should the opposite occur. Behold the nightmares of a future where indie franchises go AAA!

Throughout May, Horrible Night will be Going Indie and featuring indie game related articles in support of the Indie Game: The Movie screening in Indianapolis on May 23.

Braid of Duty: Historical Battle Scenarios

If there’s one thing Activision knows about gaming, it’s that people hate ingenuity and love shooting super sweet guns. Despite Braid’s fan base being more interested in things like logical debate and the expansion of one’s mental prowess, Activision thought it could expand that fan base by taking the concept of time manipulation and steering it in a much more masculine direction. Instead of Braids here, Tim, using his abilities to solve puzzles and fix mistakes he’s made, he instead uses it to travel back in time to prevent a fellow time traveler (a Russian with a thirst for world domination) from creating an allegiance between Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. The catch; Tim can only move through the levels in strictly linear paths while cautiously participating in certain scripted sequences historical events so that he doesn’t throw off the time space continuum. Fortunately for him, his best friend happens to be a sexy female history buff who guides him from the future via a special pair of glasses that update him with mission objectives and other pieces of information deemed pertinent to his quest. Unfortunately for Tim (but fortunately for gamers), the Russian time traveler evades capture in the end, thus unnecessarily prolonging extending the storyline so that sequels can be released on an annual schedule.

Braid of Duty

When it comes to saving the world, time isn't always on your side except when it is.

Limbo 5: The Conspiracy Chronicles

Capcom decides early on that while sequential titles in a series make the most sense, it knows that gamers will grow attached to the mechanics of the original, thus making the over the top action of Limbo 5 hard to stomach. Not unlike the folks at Activision, the Capcom decision makers know that even though people really enjoyed Limbo, players actually hated what made Limbo so appealing in the first place, which is the sense of dread and fragility conveyed by a protagonist that is generally unprepared for the predicament he find himself in. Capcom also decided that since multiplayer gaming is so popular, every game needs it, even if the game’s genre doesn’t lend itself to anything outside of solo play. Limbo 5 is given a 4-player cooperative mode that sees a squad of ragtag special forces soldiers traveling back to Limbo to save the president’s daughter from a shady corporation that is using Limbo to produce WMDs. Limbo 5 is generally well received, but people struggle to connect it to the first game as the only similarity between the two is the name of the setting and the little boy (who is now an adult and a highly decorated Navy Seal, indicating that the new development team failed to pull anything but a direct interpretation from the conclusion to the original). Fans are commonly heard saying “Limbo 5 was a fun game, but it wasn’t really Limbo.”

Minecraft II: Minecraftrim Scrolls

The hierarchy of Bethesda loves the idea of releasing games that are more or less in beta form, which makes their participation in the sequel to Minecraft quite sensible. The hatchet from the “Scrolls” lawsuit has been buried, and Marcus “Notch” Persson decides that the resources made available in the partnership far outweigh the potential risks that come with working alongside a former “nemesis.” The planning meetings are full of very creative but diverse ideas, all of which are approved and planned for the final release. Over 10,000 hours of game time is boasted, not counting the countless hours that come with exploring “off rails” or taking part in the 100 million side quests that are procedurally generated based off of each gamer’s individual tastes. After a half of a decade,the development team produces a very buggy version of Minecraft 2, quickly reassuring the top dogs of the organization that what they’re seeing is a work in progress and still needs quite a bit of testing. A few elderly white (though one does claim he’s 1/32 Cherokee) board members quietly discuss the product and propose releasing it as is, thus allowing the public to “help with the testing, making them feel like they’re part of the project.” Notch smiles and quickly agrees, seeing as that’s how the original played out. Before he has the time to rethink his opinion of AAA companies, the whitest and most elderly of the gentleman announces that this move will help increase profits for the shareholders as their stable of dedicated game testers will no longer be needed. The game is released at full retail price and works for most people, though not without a staggering level of glitches and game breaking bugs that are eventually deemed “hardware problems.” Owners of the PS3 version of Minecraft 2 only make it to the title screen before the game slows down, freezes and then kindly suggests they fill out the comment card stuck to the case.

Minecraft Skyrim

There's so much to do, no one will ever notice the defects!

Fez Effect

Fez went way over the heads of the guys at EA. They realized in hindsight that they purchased the rights to the game based on its success and critical acclaim as opposed to any sort of knowledge of what Fez was actually about. The members of the board stared blankly as an intern in the advertising department attempted to take them through the game. He pointed out the player’s ability to rotate the screen in 4 directions, which started a panicked fit of screaming from a small contingent of members, the bulk of whom were focused on how unprepared they were for 4D technology. One mentioned a trip to Disney World and a ride that he thought he remembered being in 4D. A few others recalled the ride and unanimously agreed that it was pretty fun. They immediately summoned their marketing department and tasked them with surveying gamers, specifically on how they felt about 4D gaming.

4d

Am I 4D yet!?!?

The information gathered showed that gamers were leery enough about 3D gaming and weren’t remotely enthusiastic about the prospects of 4D gaming. Despite this evidence, the board was still buzzing about how much fun they had at that 4D ride and started the process of converting the world of Fez into 4 dimensions, though they soon found themselves struggling with what the fourth dimension actually was. Some thought it was touch while others thought it was smell, though all agreed it had to be one or the other as they felt giving the player 5 dimensions wouldn’t be very profitable. They eventually settled on taste, which in the long run didn’t make a whole lot of sense but then again, people who don’t play games making decisions about games never really made much sense to begin with.

Gaming Cynic – I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. My usually jovial self will be taking a mental health day. Instead, I’ll be looking at everything in my life through a half empty glass. I’ll get over it, but my pissy mood wants to burn some bridges first.

Sources

Giant Bomb (original images)
Home Security Store (image)

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