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Nothing New Under the Sun

There’s this piece over on Gamasutra, a good one. It’s an interview with Chris Crawford where the first thing he really says is:

Well basically, new ideas don’t go anywhere. So the industry is just rehashing the same stuff over and over. During the 80s there was a lot of experimentation, a lot of new ideas being tried (many of them really bad) but there was at least experimentation. Now we don’t see any experimentation whatsoever.

At first, I thought “right on, Chris! Give ‘em hell!” because after all, what is EA but The Place That Madden Made? They built a massive company on releasing roster updates for fifty bucks a shot every year. The more I read the interview, though, it sounded more and more like a crotchety old man shouting at the kids to get off his damned lawn.

Trust me, it’s hard to disagree with the man who made Eastern Front, but when he says that Nintendo is “…just sort of reshuffling the existing set of ideas” and then goes on to say that his company is doing “interactive storytelling.”

Well that’s just breaking all sorts of new ground there, Chris, isn’t it? “You’re the hero…and you let the story go” applies to quite a few things out there, not the least of which is Oblivion. Going forward, it’s even more odd because, well…it sounds like he’s just building a MUD. When asked if players would be creating their own content in his system, which he refers to by the groundbreaking name of “Storyworld,” he replies:

We can’t let the player create his own verbs because the verbs are the heart of the game. And in a sense they are the rules. However, we can have… I differentiate between designers (who we call Storybuilders) and players. The designers create the rules within the systems, and then the players get the palette of verbs to play with.

Sounds a whole hell of a lot like a MUD to me. Worse, it sounds like a man who’s going that we as modern gamers can’t appreciate what came before. He used to program in Assembly, folks. On stumps. They didn’t even have fingers back then.


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