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Video Games - Waiting for a New AAA Game (that isn't Elden Ring)


Gorn
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Old thread was locked, so here's a new one.

Seriously, where are all the games? We're almost year and a half into a new console generation, with very few major games being released, at least in genres that interest me. From this year, Elden Ring is the only one that I can think of, and it's not something that I ever plan to play.

Is it the lingering effect of the pandemic and working from home? Developers taking lessons from Cyberpunk's release and taking extra time for polishing and finishing their games? Publishers waiting until more people buy new consoles and graphics cards to increase their potential audience?

On the plus side, at least it gives me time to tackle my backlog.

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Posted (edited)
52 minutes ago, Gorn said:

Old thread was locked, so here's a new one.

Seriously, where are all the games? We're almost year and a half into a new console generation, with very few major games being released, at least in genres that interest me. From this year, Elden Ring is the only one that I can think of, and it's not something that I ever plan to play.

Is it the lingering effect of the pandemic and working from home? Developers taking lessons from Cyberpunk's release and taking extra time for polishing and finishing their games? Publishers waiting until more people buy new consoles and graphics cards to increase their potential audience?

On the plus side, at least it gives me time to tackle my backlog.

It's the fact that video games - at least the high-profile AAA ones - are becoming increasingly unsustainable in both time and money to fund or develop and release at a decent clip. I remember a few years ago someone at EA pointing out that around 2001 they were releasing 50+ games a year and they were down to less than a fifth of that.

There is of course a lot of excellent stuff going in the low-budget or indie space, but when it comes to the big big games, I think they are becoming more and more difficult to make, without some kind of major tool or AI breakthrough in the future.

That's why we got 3 big Bethesda RPGs in the Xbox 360 generation (Oblivion, Fallout 3, Skyrim), 2 in the Xbox One generation (Fallout 4Fallout 76) and we'll probably only get 1 in the Xbox X/S generation (Starfield).

Edited by Werthead
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22 minutes ago, Werthead said:

It's the fact that video games - at least the high-profile AAA ones - are becoming increasingly unsustainable in both time and money to fund or develop and release at a decent clip. I remember a few years ago someone at EA pointing out that around 2001 they were releasing 50+ games a year and they were down to less than a fifth of that.

There is of course a lot of excellent stuff going in the low-budget or indie space, but when it comes to the big big games, I think they are becoming more and more difficult to make, without some kind of major tool or AI breakthrough in the future.

That's why we got 3 big Bethesda RPGs in the Xbox 360 generation (Oblivion, Fallout 3, Skyrim), 2 in the Xbox One generation (Fallout 4Fallout 76) and we'll probably only get 1 in the Xbox X/S generation (Starfield).

A lot of that is caused by developers stubbornly sticking to in-house game engines even when there is less and less reason to do so. Let's agree to switch everything into Unreal Engine 5 for this generation, shall we?

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8 minutes ago, Gorn said:

A lot of that is caused by developers stubbornly sticking to in-house game engines even when there is less and less reason to do so. Let's agree to switch everything into Unreal Engine 5 for this generation, shall we?

That would only help around the edges. Regardless of the engine used, the time and cost of producing modern graphics is insanely high. I'd be perfectly happy with at least some games locking in to 2014-ish era graphics and focusing on gameplay and story, but no AAA developer wants to do that. 

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Yeah, the engine is good and all, but it's still just a helper there and doesn't make it insanely fast to do it. There is a lot of moving parts to building a game well and all of them are expensive:

- Customizing the engine to do what you want can be as much time if not more than doing stuff custom, especially if you've gotten an in-house system you understand well

- Developers have to be familiar with the engine you're using, which is tough

- Artwork takes a massive amount of time to do no matter what engine you're using, with tons of revisions based on poly count, feedback, problems with mesh, revisions to the actual game

- If you're doing mocap work that's a ton of time to work on the animations properly

- all dialog/recording is difficult as shit

- when you make changes you have to test basically all the things, and that is either expensive at scale with lots of testers or hard at scale with AI based bots and telemetry and crash captures and video

- build and deployment systems are hard when you're dealing with 50GB drops of resources to people all around the world every day, sometimes multiple times a day, in a secure way

- There is a TON of revising things as things come in - you get new art, have to fix bugs, have to fix the engine, then fix the art, then you do a plot revision because the game isn't working, or you have to do an entirely new section of the game because of a mechanic, or a new mechanic isn't working, or... (games cannot 'fail fast' like a facebook page can)

- Everything is waiting on everything else - you can't do real testing without the engine and some gameplay, you need art assets of some kinds, you need vertical slices and interactions and physics and craziness.

- Oh right, you also have to make sure it works on all the platforms too

- And scales with player load

- And works for finances 

This is why, for instance, FromSoftware's engines or mechanics haven't changed appreciably much in, like, 10 years - because it's significantly easier to do that and not have to do a ton of the above when you've already put in that work. Or why Pokemon, which should be a stupid easy game to program, has had so many problems. Or why EA is saying you will use this engine - because at the scale they operate it's so ridiculously cheaper and faster to do that than have 10 different studios doing their own special thing. 

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6 minutes ago, KalVsWade said:

This is why, for instance, FromSoftware's engines or mechanics haven't changed appreciably much in, like, 10 years - because it's significantly easier to do that and not have to do a ton of the above when you've already put in that work. Or why Pokemon, which should be a stupid easy game to program, has had so many problems. Or why EA is saying you will use this engine - because at the scale they operate it's so ridiculously cheaper and faster to do that than have 10 different studios doing their own special thing. 

Yup, and EA's problem wasn't mandating one engine, it was mandating the wrong engine: Frostbite was absolutely excellent at creating multiplayer first-person shooters and absolutely crap for everything else, especially RPGs.

People keep moaning about Bethesda using their Creation Engine, but they have said that switching to a 100% brand new engine would add ~2 years of development time to the game when they make the switch, and the lost revenue is not worth it.

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At some point they'll make the switch, though chances are reasonable that it'll be another in-house engine or a revision of one they have. Because that engine has all the tools to import art assets, import textures, import models and objects, do builds and queues and different passes, file bugs, log defects in certain parts of the game, work with old and new platforms. Really, while engine work is a big deal it's not the insane win that it was when, say, Quake was being sold to Valve - and even then it had to be HEAVILY customized to work for everyone. Heck, the biggest single thing that is super hard is to take whatever pipeline you have for your art objects - meshes, objects, animations, graphics, etc - and turn that from your art team to your game engine. That alone takes months of work to work right, and while that's not happening you're just shooting yourself in the dick. 

Unreal Engine and Epic's big strength was figuring out how to onboard and get people using their engine and tools faster and supporting them as an actual service contract, and that's why they've done well with it. But even that only goes so far. 

If you want to figure out big wins? Figure out how to take the art tools out there and easily port their output at scale to any engine you want. And I'll spoil it for you - lots of people have tried, and it's always failed, because it's hard as hell. 

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13 minutes ago, KalVsWade said:

- all dialog/recording is difficult as shit

It seems like we can't be that far from companies having the option of using something like the Lyrebird AI and recordings of voice actors to automate this. Might not fly with the voice actors, but it seems like they'd be considered replaceable.

I'm for it if it speeds things up, plus then you're not locked into something because you can't get Peter Dinklidge back.

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To me as an outsider, an obvious advantage of using a well-developed third-party engine is the use of pre-built, existing assets. I don't care if the same UE5_oaktree asset is used in 10 different games. An oak tree is an oak tree, no need to invent hot water each time.

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Someone remind me why games have to have ever increasing levels of graphical fidelity / texture resolution when no one's been able to buy a new graphics card for several years and most modern AAA games already run like shit even on high end systems?

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2 hours ago, Gorn said:

To me as an outsider, an obvious advantage of using a well-developed third-party engine is the use of pre-built, existing assets. I don't care if the same UE5_oaktree asset is used in 10 different games. An oak tree is an oak tree, no need to invent hot water each time.

That really isn't an advantage unless you're also using the same kind of art style, same assets, same interaction with those objects, and same general behavior as the underlying prebuilt assets are. Also, making assets like rocks really isn't the meat of what people do; at this point those tend to be procedurally generated and textured by the dozens by artists. 

 

33 minutes ago, Poobah said:

Someone remind me why games have to have ever increasing levels of graphical fidelity / texture resolution when no one's been able to buy a new graphics card for several years and most modern AAA games already run like shit even on high end systems?

You can get graphics cards now without any real issues and most AAA games run pretty great on them. CP2077 was gorgeous on 3070+ hardware, as an example. And the UE5 demo stuff was pretty amazing. 

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5 hours ago, KalVsWade said:

- Artwork takes a massive amount of time to do no matter what engine you're using, with tons of revisions based on poly count, feedback, problems with mesh, revisions to the actual game

Here here! I do an insane amount of graphics design work as part of my day job, and people just don't understand how complicated it is to make art digitally. They think you press a button in Photoshop or in Lightwave or whatever you're using and it's done. It doesn't work like that. 

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Where are all the games? Well there's a whole bunch of new ones out right now. I'm drinking my morning coffee and am about to go into Diablo: Immortal for a few more hours. 

Meanwhile, Tunic looks awesome as hell, V Rising has become a wildly popular early access game, Vampire Survivors has taken the world by storm, and I'm still working through Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning, which shippped with a DLC pack - and if rumours are true, one more might be on the way. 

There're plenty of great new games out there that've come out in recent years, including Queen's Wish: The Conqueror, Saint's Row the Third: Remastered, Shukumei Star (which is constantly being updated by its developer), Hardspace: Shipbreaker, which @Werthead has mentioned on a few occasions, Titan Quest keeps getting new DLCs (yay!), and even the three-man shop of Redeev keeps providing updates and fixes for incredibly fun ARPG Anima: The Reign of Darkness

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Have you tried V Rising? Any good? I put it on my wishlist for now. Not enough time to play the games I want, and I've gotten myself stuck in 7 Days to Die at the moment. Picked up WH40K Chaosbane on sale so I'll see what that's like over the weekend I think.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, kungtotte said:

Have you tried V Rising? Any good? I put it on my wishlist for now. Not enough time to play the games I want, and I've gotten myself stuck in 7 Days to Die at the moment. Picked up WH40K Chaosbane on sale so I'll see what that's like over the weekend I think.

I'd intended to try out V Rising, but then Diablo: Immortal launched, so, uh...bye bye free time! :)

Edited by IlyaP
Grammar!
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Being a guy who plays most of his games on a Switch (and occasionally on a decent but not amazing laptop) I'm quite happy to see triple-A gaming reduced in favour of banger after banger from the indie scene :P


I wish Tunic would hit Switch though. 

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Posted (edited)
55 minutes ago, IlyaP said:

I'd intended to try out V Rising, but then Diablo: Immortal launched, so, uh...bye bye free time! :)

Don't need to tell me, there's never enough time in a day :P

 

And yeah, the indie/small studio scene is popping lately, and I'd rather play several of those than drop two month's worth of fun money on a single title. 

Edited by kungtotte
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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Poobah said:

Someone remind me why games have to have ever increasing levels of graphical fidelity / texture resolution when no one's been able to buy a new graphics card for several years and most modern AAA games already run like shit even on high end systems?

In the UK at least graphics cards have returned to RRP or at least only 5-10% above RRP, not three times the price. Rock Paper Shotgun has excellent regular round-ups on the best deals available.

8 hours ago, IlyaP said:

On my computer. Devouring all my personal time. One game at a time. Send help.

I've been vaguely pleased to have caught up on my backlog of "games I want to play and actually will play" list. I still l have a huge backlog of "games I bought for £1.50 in a Steam sale seven years ago and now I'm not feeling it" though, many of which will probably remain unplayed forevermore.

Edited by Werthead
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