Games 2000

Well, well, well. The big 2000. That's a lot of zeros. Seeing as you'd have to have been living under a rock for the past year to avoid the "Millenium Predictions," ranging from the future of curing diseases to the future of pasturizing milk...yup, we've heard 'em all. But there might be one that you've missed, or want to hear more of: What about games? Well, herein lies a game developer's views of the past and future of games.

One thing that I hope the gaming industry starts to branch away from is the timeless cliches that infect nearly all genres. Be it the brave prince out to slay the evil dragon or the twisted aliens invading's enough. Time to start hiring more creative people. Time to realize that a professional game cannot be done (or at least done well) with just programmers, artists, and musicians. I hope that the 21st century brings the "design team" into gamemaking.

The other day I was in the movie store and passed through the "Classics" section. Next to Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn I saw something I didn't expect...Aladdin. You know, the Disney movie. Of course you know about it...chances are you saw it. Chances are that around 250 million people saw that movie, and millions of them saw it twice or more. Think about it. How many people are out there that you've met who haven't seen Pinocchio, or Bambi...not many. And those who haven't are considered weird. Why haven't they seen it? Everyone else has. Now where am I going with this? Well, calm down, I'm just getting there:

Why not games?

I believe that something that games are going to show us in this millenium is that they can appeal to mass audiences. Nowadays us developers are quite impressed by a company who had a game that sold one million copies--those are the big guys like Blizzard or id Software. But what if one day games sold hundreds of millions of copies? Why not? Perhaps the constant integration of computers, consoles, and TV will make games more appealing to the masses...we already have WebTV, it just hasn't really caught on yet. Just give it a little while, and you'll be able to browse the web, watch you're favorite show, and play Half-Life in one sitting with just a remote control and a gamepad.

But before that happens, we should at least embrace the slow in-coming of DVD's. Besides all those fancy features that are thrown at you about why it's better, here's a simpler reason: It holds more stuff. Period. Riven's jam-packed 5-CD-ROM extravaganza was easily placed onto a single DVD. The PlayStation2 will be using DVD's, and one of the first games--Oddworld Inhabitant's Munch's Oddysee--will be one of the largest and most graphically stunning games ever...all on one DVD.

What does it all mean? It means that games are going to look better (obviously) but even more importantly be longer. LucasArt's Curse of Monkey Island was put on 2 CD-ROMs and was openly advertised as around 40 hours of gameplay...the "norm" for GAs at the moment. But what if, in the 21st century, you can have a game with 100 hours of gameplay, longer and better cutscenes, better and more sound, multiple gameplay options and every 3D Accelerated card in existance supported on a single disc! Gaming would change forever!

Ah, yes, 3D Accelerators. Bringing us crisper, faster 3D graphics to all of our games...and in my opinion they are also the Devil's Advocate. If you ask me something will have to be done so that someone with a state-of-the-art Pentium III but no Voodoo Video card can still play an FPS without totally missing out on all the cool graphical stuff. It's just not fair. Here I am saying that soon mass populations will be enjoying games and something like Quake 3 Arena comes out and leaves everyone without an accelerator in the dust. Hopefully this problem will soon be fixed.

Well, this concludes my ramblings for the time being. Games have come a long way since interactive entertainment was talking with your buddy, waiting for that kid playing Space Invaders to run out of quarters. Hopefully they will continue to grow and surpass what we can't even imagine here at the modest beginnings of a new millenium. Happy Year 2000, everyone!

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Alex Kriss

Date: 2000 Jan 2

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