July 4th, 2012, 01:51 Posted By: wraggster
DICE general manager Karl Magnus Troedsson has criticised the lack of innovation present in many firstperson shooters today, believing that too few studios take the need for technical evolution seriously.
"The FPS is a very hardcore genre, and the hardcore crowd of the FPS is probably bigger than some other genres," he tells us. "And that crowd has extremely high demands on what the games are and how they develop.
"If they don't see some kind of new, if not revolutionary then at least evolutionary, step of rendering in every game they will start to lose interest. And I think that is what's happening. Because a lot of franchises out there don't take this seriously; to actually make sure that we don't just challenge ourselves on the gameplay aspect, or perhaps some other area like distribution method, but also how it [feels], how it looks and how it sounds.
"DICE has a strong history, for good and for bad, of doing this. We constantly bash ourselves and say, 'We could have done that better'. It might just be a rendering feature but in the end it adds up to the complete experience of what we're doing."
Troedsson points to the coming tech transition - both to new hardware and more powerful engines - and a move away from modern settings as temporary salves, but warns against using thematic switches in place of broader ambition.
"I think we're going to start seeing people moving away from the modern setting, because every now and again settings or themes start to get stale and then everyone jumps over," he continues. "Y'know, at some point dinosaurs are the hottest thing and everyone is making games with dinosaurs, but there are trends. It used to be WWII, and recently it's been the modern era and people are now moving towards near future.
"But it's a bit cheap to just say, 'Okay, we're going to switch and go back in time or into the future and that will be innovation'. It will definitely drive the franchise forward for whatever game, but it's not true innovation, it's more a thematic change that has a perceived value to the gamers out there. But as a developer you can only make so many games in one particular era, and then you personally start to get a bit bored with it."
That propensity toward trends at the mainstream end of the market, rather than a greater diversity of themes, is, of course, what many critics of the genre would point to as its major problem. But it's hard to begrudge big-budget teams' need to minimise risk in the face of a cripplingly conservative buying public. And while Troedsson acknowledges that more needs to be done, spectacle remains high on his list of priorites.
"I think it's our responsibility as game developers to always push ourselves when it comes to the experience of games," he concludes. "To always make sure that when we put games in the hands of consumers that we are proud of what we've done.
"I'm not saying we're going to build an FPS that will make you cry, or anything like that [laughs]. But we want people to be amazed when they look at our games. And I think this is more important than becoming number one in whatever way you look at it - though naturally part of that comes from a very high level of competitiveness here within DICE. We want to make the best game that we can, and we want that game to be the best one on the market. If gamers think that, then we've done our job. We're not there yet, but we're working on it."
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