Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Once and Future Gamer

Well, it has been quite a bit of time since my last posting. This is not to say that I have not been religiously checking the indie games tab on the marketplace, but that perhaps the games released there are not up to my extremely critical standards.

XBLIG are still my games of choice, despite being banned from the club that produces them, and despite the service's catering to the demographic that enjoys senseless violence, gratuitous sex, and mindless button mashing. Why bother taking the time to try every game that appears you might ask? Because you never know.

You never know if that simple 2D shooter produced by one person in two weeks will keep you entertained for months, or if the endless variations of dating simulators will somehow breed a previously unknown genre of game.

Boxart, screenshots, and horrible reviews might dissuade some gamers but there are many of us out there who are willing to try any game in any genre on the slight possibility that it might offer something new to the gamer who now has thirty plus years of gaming experience.

I wouldn't call myself a modern gamer. Most new titles seem derivative and shallow. The indie channel takes us back to the beginning, when games were programmed by one person or a few people in their spare time, with monetary gains only given as an afterthought.

"Fool" you say, "Money has been at the core of all human progress since the beginning."

Perhaps it has, I suppose I could call myself a postmodern gamer. And throw all conceptions away, beginning anew.

Why is there so much shovelware? Is this a rhetorical question?

It is difficult to make a decent game, and it is rare indeed when a gamemaker creates something decent on their first try. But our indie channel is filled with these first attempts from fledgling gamemakers. We were expecting mountains of shovelware from the beginning.

Previously, these early efforts of the makers would never have seen the light of day, banished to a lone computer or some obscure site on the outskirts of the internet. With the games hidden in this way, the makers might never receive feedback on their creations, which is so crucial to all the makers future efforts.

So how do we allow fledgling makers to showcase their initial creations and generate the crucial feedback, and at the same time maintain a decent gaming standard on the indie channel marketplace?

We could create a separate space on the dashboard for beta versions of indie games. A sort of underground, only visible to those who have signed up to use it. In this space early versions of the makers games could be freely sent to other makers and testers, generating the feedback. And when the game is deemed decent enough, sent to the marketplace. This might sound like the CreatorsClub/AppHub to you but there is one major difference.

The determining factor that takes a game from the underground and sends it to the marketplace is that of quality.

"Ludicrous! No game would ever make it past a quality standard, that is too subjective of a metric."

This quality control could be tested by allowing peer reviewers to psuedo review games based on quality. By adding a poll to a games AppHub page, with a simple yes or no box for quality, we might begin to determine if a quality control makes any sense. And if we should consider actually implementing a quality control standard.

It is virtually guaranteed that a quality control would stop the shovelware moments after the control was implemented. But might we also lose out on those games that at first glance appear to be shovelware, and only shine after being experienced? Well, this is the reason for the creation of the underground space, so that many can use the makers creation and determine if they shine enough for public consumption.

In this way the games could be regulated while still maintaining a facade of independence and equality for the channel, anyone who wished could join the underground space, although space might be limited and granted on a temporary basis. This would require major changes to the Xbox Dashboard which is apparently extremely hard to do ;)

No comments:

Post a Comment