I have a feeling a person or two might stumble in from Kotaku since my most recent post seems to be one of my most successful. If so, hi! If you stumble in some other way, also hi!
I'm using this space ('cause it's my space, and why not ) to clarify two points about my position on the Shadow of the Colossus topic I discussed.
When I ask "Why Can't We Make Another..." I'm really making two slightly more subtle points:
A) Why is this particular feat (that, being Shadow of the Colossus) put on a pedastal as an experience that absolutely cannot be topped/repeated, and for what reasons do we feel that way? I think it's fair to ask that question even if (or especially if) you think the game is over rated.
B) Why is it if a game mechanic works, and is proven to work, it doesn't get stolen right away?
As I said in the comments to my last post, Ico is a perfect example. Yes it's from the same "series" as Shadow but obviously this team did a lot of things right. And they basically solved the Escort Mission problem in games. I hate most escort missions in games and I would probably hazard a guess they are not universally popular. But I loved Ico: one giant escort mission. What was special about Ico's escort system was the tactile response of being able to hold the hand of your companion, and drag her around with her as a single unit to keep her from danger. Basically as far as this game is concerned, making for a compelling escort mission experience is literally a solved problem. Yet it's taken how long for someone to decide to be inspired by and use that mechanic again? Fable III, as far as I know.
I think sometimes it is the nature of the industry that "good things" are not borrowed for whatever reason. I'm reminded now of a talk given at Game X 2009 by Richard Rouse III about "The Homage and the Swipe" in game design. I learned from this (apparently originally this was mentioned at GDC 2007) that the cover mechanic in Gears of War was inspired by a lesser-known game called Kill Switch. Gears of War was a huge hit so now it seems like every shooter has a cover mechanic... But it took one really big hit using this idea first before it took off and was everywhere. By comparison maybe my ranting about how to use a horse or an open environment in a meaningful way is a little more subtle and/or risky than "press A button to duck behind chest-high walls."
But to be frank I'd like to see every game with escort missions looking at Ico because even if your game overall is different, that game has a lot to say about how to make that sort of mission not suck.
There's other mechanics from different games that I feel should be stolen more but that feels like another rant topic for another day. I think that game mechanics even 'proven good' don't get swiped unless the game is proven both good and successful. (IE, makes money.)
There's a point that a lot of other people took issue with in that "a big world with nothing to do" is really boring if done wrong. Agreed. In fact big huge maps of nothing are something I nail people for with their level design all the time, so I don't want to be pegged as the designer that thinks your game should have nothing to do in it. I think it's just a matter of knowing what the world is suited best for and figuring out the right balance of "stuff" versus "not stuff" that suits your personal game.