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Opinion: Lowered Expectations

by on August 12, 2016
 

This week marked the release of No Man’s Sky, the highly anticipated game from Hello Games.  Reviews are slowly being released (with GameOctane’s review coming soon) and so far, reviews have been mixed.  There is no denying the excitement of space exploration and the promise of endless worlds to find.  However, there seems to be something missing that is preventing the game from receiving glowing reviews.

It reminds me of the typical ebb and flow of emotions towards a game.  When a game is announced, excitement begins to build.  As the months go by, we are teased by trailers, interviews, and quick gameplay videos that excite us even more.  We reach peak excitement levels when we see the release date and preordering becomes available.  But more often than not, our excitement dwindles when we get our hands on the game.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that a game is bad, but our expectations can create a false reality where the game must play and be exactly like we want it.  It is difficult to control, and when a game does not meet expectations, we lash out on social media and in reviews to let everyone know about our disappointment.

All of this has got me thinking about my disappointments in gaming.  These games may not be bad.  However, they are games that advertised features that did not make the game or made it to the game in poor fashion.  The idea is not to spend 750 words crapping on developers.  However, I wanted to reflect on the emotions that come with the announcement of a game and the emotions I felt while playing it.  These are games that I had high hopes for, and yet did not meet my expectations.

Fable

It’s hard to have this kind of list and not include Fable.  Let’s take a look at an interview with Peter Molyneux, head of Lionhead Studios, as he talks about Fable –

Pretty exciting, right?  I remember going into a Walmart and having an employee talk to me for 15 minutes straight about Fable.  We were promised a lot of things with the first game – marriage, family, physical attributes changing if you align with good or evil, having to eat and drink in order to survive….we could go on and on about promises.  Did we get these features when Fable was released?  Hardly.  In fact, we didn’t get a lot of this until Fable 2 and 3.  Even though I enjoyed Fable, I can’t help but think about Peter and his many, many promises leading up to the release.  It’s hard to meet expectations when you talk about features that never make it to the actual game.

Aliens: Colonial Marines

Speaking of let downs, remember the E3 demo of Aliens: Colonial Marines?

I was absolutely pumped when I saw this demo.  The Alien series is one of the best franchises of all time.  How can you possible mess up an survival horror game featuring Aliens?  Somehow, they did.  We have all read the story on Aliens: Colonial Marines.  The gameplay was abysmal and was extremely buggy.  Too many minds from various companies changed the game, making it almost unrecognizable from the demo we saw at E3.  Some gamers actually tried to sue because of false advertising!  It’s unfortunate that a game with a promising premise would turn out so badly.

The Kinect

Obviously, the Kinect is not a game.  However, I wanted to add it to the article because of the potential.  I admit that I was excited about the possibility of voice command, controller-less gaming, and the idea of more interaction with video games.  The Kinect was a cool concept that just didn’t work.  The sensor had a hard time detecting myself and my family.  The games became unplayable because it couldn’t cleanly track my movements.  And the voice commands didn’t register 100% of the time.  The Xbox One came with the Kinect, but you will notice that later additions did not bother to add it to the bundle.  It had potential, but was ultimately did not live up to expectations.

There are many other disappointments that I could list, but I worry about how these types of articles will effect developers.  It can’t be easy working the long hours it takes to create a game for us.  I can’t imagine the amount of late nights, frustrating coding and debugging sessions, and the back and forth between a developer’s idea and the expectations of the publisher.  I worry that our hatred and ‘trolling’ of developers will cause great developers to walk away from the industry.  Why work on a passion project for years, only to have thousands of ‘fans’ on social media, hiding behind their anonymity, take a giant dump on your work?

As you play highly anticipated games like No Man’s Sky, try and keep your expectations in check.  Don’t assume that every detail from an E3 trailer or an interview will ultimately make the game.  If anything, focus on how games make you happy.  If a game plays well, looks great, and takes you to a world that you have never experienced before, then applaud the developers and their efforts.  If you need to criticize, keep it constructive.  Helping a developer instead of trolling him or her will ultimately improve gaming experiences for yourself and future generations.

Feel free to share some of your disappointments or gaming surprises in the comments below!!

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  • B-Stauff
    August 13, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    Great article! I made an effort to keep my distance from the hype of No Man’s Sky. I knew the general premise of the game but decided to purchase it once I had a much better idea about what to expect. I’ve since played a few hours and enjoyed what I’ve seen so far. I can expect it to get monotonous but I’m already expecting that. It’s greatly changed my perspective of this game.

    Now, I’ve had a much different expectation with the game Destiny. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy the game but I was sucked in with early trailers and got way too excited. My expectations were way too high. This caused me to not enjoy the game as much. My expectations definitely changed the way I’ve enjoyed these two games.

    Reply

    • Ryan Welch
      August 13, 2016 at 8:22 pm

      Ugh, Destiny was very close to making the list. I’m with you – I enjoyed the game for a long time, but the grind just killed my excitement. I let myself get too hyped up for the game. It will be really interesting to see how Destiny 2 turns out and how (if) they change anything.

      Reply

    • August 17, 2016 at 11:21 am

      Oh yeah you made some great points. Destiny I was done with in about 3 weeks. I think they fixed most of the gripes I had, but I was already gone. NMS has been pretty much as expected. We hope to get a write up on this shortly to share our thoughts on the game.

      I know many people are not preordering games anymore just because of the hype games bring now a days and fail to deliver.

      Reply

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