Sunday, 15 March 2015

Advent of a New Era

A week or so ago, probably a bit more since I take my sweet time these days there were some announcements made. These announcements had two things in common. They were about the game engines, and they were about future of free game engines. I am talking about the announcements regarding Source 2, Unreal 4, and Unity 5.
If this was a poker I'd be waiting for a 3, 6, or an ace at this point for a straight.

As I do not really know a lot about the game engines I cannot say much about the technical side of things. What I can say though that in this case free means a lot of good things for the gaming in general. We have all probably played more than just a couple of games made in these three engines or their direct predecessors. And just from our own experience we can say that the technical side of these engines is in general nothing you can complain about.

What is more, this is probably what gaming needed the most. The next boost, the next kickstart for its Renaissance. While our medium does evolve, especially recently people came to feel there is too much iteration and not enough of innovation. While various kickstarters, and other crowdfunders helped in that regard, what we most often got was a lot of nostalgia with polish instead of any real innovation. I know some people might disagree, and demand that I define innovation, especially when I rant about Assassin's Creed innovating too much and getting it from worse to worse from game to game instead of just iterating on the established formula from AC2.

In any case, what these announcements bring to the table is just that, innovation. Fresh blood will enter the playing field and try to build their own vision of what a good game is. I look forward to this. I am sure there will be many failures, probably oceans of tears, sweat, and blood as well. There will be some abominations, and many failures but I am willing to wager that among the sea of shipwrecks there will be a couple of diamonds as well. For that I think this endeavour is worth it. Especially because we have nothing to lose.

This is the real beauty. The budding young game developers can cut their teeth in these game engines without really sticking their neck out. What we the audience have to do is only wait for the finished product and that pass our judgement. Is it good, or is it bad. Because all three options are essentially free, there are royalties involved if the game is successful, the young developers do not have to lie awake at night in the anticipation of Damocles' sword falling at the worst of possible times.

Another thing that should by all logic follow but probably will not because deep inside everyone believes that greed is good, is a lower price of games. But I think we can only dream about this one. No matter how much lower the initial costs of business, the developers are not about to eat their profit away just because they saved at the start.

At this point you are probably asking, what are the bad sides. This all sounds so great, but it is usually too good to be true. And after some thinking I discovered a potential flaw. But it is not one that has to do with the three offers, but the one to do with human beings. Crowdfunding. This is the only problem that might occur with this. While there has been a sort of calm in the crowdfunding craze territory, with this piece of news that might change. I guess it is human nature to get hyped about an idea that resonates well with you.

And the fact is, there will be some disappointments when people invest their money but projects fail anyway. But then again, it is their own fault. If you want to play it safe you buy the game after it is released. If you want to support the idea of a game being released, you have to be aware that you are buying a promise, and promises are easily broken. And then the only thing you end up with in your hands is thin air. You know, that kind that you cannot even breathe in because by the time you try it is already gone.

So here is to the advent of a new era, and let us see what comes of it.

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