Limitations are STILL your friend

How’s that creativity working for ya, SquEnix? Japanese developers have an obsession for creating something new. Whenever a game designers from East comes in with an idea for a game and its design, the Eastern man will tell you how it will be new and nothing like has ever existed because it was the creativity he holds that gave the design birth. A Western developer will be more grounded and explain that his design will be like this game with elements of this and that game, but mixing with something his own or tweaking these elements.

And it’s the Eastern games that are in dire situation.

A long development time has always resulted in mediocre game at best. Eight times out of ten the game is nothing short of disappointment and falls into bargain bins faster than rock tied to a brick sinks to the bottom of the lake. Final Fantasy Versus XIII has has been under works for six years. In that time Squenix could’ve released at least four or five games with the same budget and they’ve could’ve made money. I’m adamant that creativity was reason to this elongated development time, if you can call it that. Most likely they were trying to do something new in their minds, but as with many artists, the developers most likely never understood what they were aiming at, or didn’t have a clue what they were supposed to be doing. In other words; they were not crafting anything, but sitting on their assess and telling each other how awesome their creative ideas are.

When it comes making a product that you want to succeed, you need to remember that creativity isn’t the key. It’s the lock. Knowledge is what you need. Creativity is not knowledge, it is the anti-knowledge, fiction of the mind.

A Final Fantasy game is actually easy to craft properly. Combine elements from both computer role playing games and arcade simplicity to create deep but simple gameplay, much like what Dragon Quest did. Final Fantasy games could be played with the D-Pad and one button alone if done properly. A computer RPG has a lot of content, and story is there to frame the world and this content, not the other way around like Squenix thinks. If they want to make story the foremost thing, then they should just make new Final Fantasies into million dollar Visual Novels with quick time events. They wouldn’t be making games any more, but they would be making better products. Final Fantasy XIII was an abomination of a game. The staff wanted to avoid making cities because it was hard and lot of work in HD. Tells the tale of creative developers and how HD is taking its toll on game development. On the NES and SNES you saw large cities and beautiful forests everywhere. The story was there to make the player travel throughout the world and fight against whatever evil was there. Final Fantasy games actually need purely evil characters much like Ultima games. That’s why Xenosaga’s story isn’t as compelling as it tries to be.

I’m not even interested in Final Fantasy. I was around FFVI, but it wasn’t until much later I visited the PlayStation and later games. They were pretty horrible. At least Dragon Quest games let me play the damn game. Final Fantasy Versus XIII would’ve followed the same line of downwards spiral that the series and company has been in for the last ten to fifteen years. The merge with Enix didn’t do anything to lift the quality of the games either. Some have argued the other way around. People may blame on bad sales or disinterest in the current franchises, but the main reason is creativity. Creativity won’t bring in any money.

Final Fantasy I was created under heavy pressure. It was supposed to be the last game developers were to make under the same roof, so they put in a simple but complex story for a NES game, refined command system from Dragon Quest and overall polished product. It was made in about a year, and it saved the company. There wasn’t just limitations from going out of business, but time was limited as, as was the resources they could pour in. With such limitations they made a product that launched the company into a new age.

You can’t have a successful product without limitations
. Allow creativity to take control and all the work has been for nothing.

This attitude really pisses me off. I’m willing to pay for my games the full price if they’re good. I paid full price on DonDonPachi Resurrection (shooting games will never be massively popular due to their nature) but I can’t recall what was the last game I paid full price before that on either HD console. Wouldn’t it be better if more people would pay full price on their games rather than waiting for sales and second-hand stores to have them?

Even if this rumour on Versus XIII is called false later on, you can mark my words that this product can never the money SqueNix has invested into it. As such, I’m glad that they decided to outsource their games to other developers. This way developers who want to make good Final Fantasy game are able to make more money and show how’s it done. This would be the best case, but seeing how the industry’s rolling I doubt that this’ll happen any time soon. Developers, please prove me wrong.

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2 thoughts on “Limitations are STILL your friend

  1. I agree with you that FFXIII was an abomination–I couldn’t stand to complete the game. However, I think that for a successful video game you do need a balance of story (creativity) with knowledge. I don’t see creativity as a lock like you do. I see it as more of a key to knowledge, if that makes sense. Without creativity, all games would simply be alike–mere button pushing, and who wants that.

    1. If you want to create a good story you need knowledge outside your radius of expertise. A good story does not stem from good ideas and creativity based on those ideas, but on experiences. There a re numerous of examples of of writers who have become bad writers as they have given more freedom on their creative side, both from themselves and from their editors, which have lead to loss of quality. One of the best examples is Tom Clancy. A well written story is grounded on limitations, just as is any product. Creativity is what you want to do specifically, what you want to see, not the people who pay for your product. What games need specifically now is craftsmanship, not creativity. Games are meant to be played, not to be watched or read. We have films and music for that.

      Creativity does not serve the public; creativity only serves individuals. If you wish to serve the public (ie. create a successful product) you have no room to allow to serve one individual. You must serve the public. Otherwise you might as well create an unique product for this one individual and be done with it. This is kind of work, but then you need to know what demands and needs this one individual has, which also sets limitations and guidelines to follow. Creativity as such only serves the artist, and if a whole industry only serves one person at a time, then the industry deserves to fall down.

      A product, be it written, musical or anything else, must always stem from craftsmanship, not from creativity in order to be considered good at any level.

      You simplified games to their core; merely pushing buttons. In the same level we can say that films are nothing more than something to watch and music is nothing more than something to listen to. Pushing buttons is what games are, but that it merely the interface, which can change. You don’t push buttons in either Pong or Pac-Man, and both of these were immensely popular, and Pac-Man still is. Creativity had nothing to do with either games, as they were done to serve an open space for the public. Creativity is the anti-knowledge, which leads into games like FFXIII and E.T., and to an extent games like 3D Mario, which sell considerably less than 2D Marios that need more craftsmanship than creativity. A 2D Mario games requires effort and work to make, whereas 3D Marios have been described by Miyamoto as more like a party to develop. Creativity does not “create” games like Final Fantasy, Ultima, Super Mario, R-Type, Metroid, Akai Katana, Virtua Fighter, Odin Sphere or Street Fighter II. All these forementioned games are made with craftsmanship. Craftsmanship is knowledge and experience; creativity is the complete opposite.

      With games it’s just pushing the buttons, but the question is always what the buttons do and how they work. The game’s content is not decided by creativity, but by goals and aims given; by the existing limitations and frameworks, not by creativity. If current games were more about pushing those buttons rather than laying down the controller for an FMV, they’d be more successful, especially on consoles.

      Perhaps comparing creativity to a lock was not completely thought. Creativity is more akin to a sprout, which then through watering (experience) and sunlight (growth) becomes a full flower (craftsmanship.) Without water the sprout will die, and without sunlight it will become unhealthy and pale. Who would want to choose to stay as an unhealthy sprout when you can become a vibrantly colourful flower for all to admire?

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