Hello there, my dearest, darlingest Lusi-sprites.
It has been said that ³Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity – not a threat”. This quote is often misapplied to Albert Einstein (what quotes aren’t misapplied to Einstein on the internets?) but can actually be credited to Steve Jobs, and I am sure various other
executives and marketers throughout space and time. We are told to embrace change, to purchase the latest and greatest products. Our old beloveds are out of date and obsolete. Voices of dissent are accused of being old-fashioned or downright ‘fraidy cats, stuck in their ways and afraid of change.
Why, though? At least in respect to games and other media.
Allow me to preface this rant by stating that I would not wish to shackle
the creative soul. I do not think that innovation is a bad thing per se. I just vehemently oppose this notion that seems to permeate our culture about change being absolutely necessary all of the time.
The best and certainly most relevant example of this is Final Fantasy. I shall endeavour to inflict as little damage as possible upon this dead horse, as the game has been discussed here ad nauseam. It seems as if the more recent instalments in the series have striven to change everything. Heavens forbid the modern audience has to re-use a game mechanic they have already encountered. Each game must find a way to change the battle system, levelling/progression system, magic system, etc in addition to the more obvious changes that must be made to graphics, audio, and plot. But … why? Many of the older systems were very well-received by players. Would people really mind playing another Materia-based game, or another class-based game (like FF4)? As long as the story and characters are new, I think people would be happy. Happier than they seem to be with the “innovations” that have come out recently (re: FFX-XIII).
Let me digress for a moment. I like sandwiches. I like a good ol’ ham and swiss on white sandwich, perhaps with some chips. It is tasty, I know I will like it if I make it. I also like to fancy it up with gourmet bread, different cheeses, sauces, varieties of luncheon meats. Just because I enjoy the Tuscan chicken with red pepper sandwich they serve up the street, it does not mean that from time to time I do not crave a plain ol’ ham and swiss.
Right now, as much as I enjoy the Paradigm system, appreciate the customizability of the License system, etc etc, I really want to play a JRPG with job classes, turn-based menu combat, and traditional level-based progression. I also want a ham and swiss sandwich.
Is this so wrong? Is it wrong for me to wish that game developers would ease up ever so slightly on the innovation? Invest more in character and plot development, and re-use tried and tested game mechanics? With a little tweaking of course, but nothing approaching the massive overhauls we have seen lately.
This is not meant to be an FF-specific rant. In general, RPGs are becoming rarer, and those that come out are shying away from traditional elements, likely fearing that no one will be interested in something they have seen before. Has it not occurred to them that maybe gamers are craving an old, familiar style?
Maybe I am just crazy.