The Top 7... trendy game-design crutches

What do developers love? Falling back on these new-school clichés

Why do they love it? We suspect that, at some point during the development of Assassin's Creed, the developers at Ubisoft decided they needed some way to make things a bit more X-TREME. And since Altair with a BMX bike would have been a little silly, they had to find another extreme sport that fit more readily within the context of brutal-yet-subtle-murder. Thus, parkour suddenly became THE way to get around in games, and apparently it's never going to go away, no matter how little sense it makes.

Case in Point: inFAMOUS

Seriously, why did having electric superpowers make Cole really good at climbing things in inFAMOUS? Couldn't they have at least come up with some kind of silly lore-driven workaround, like those micro-fibers on Spider-Man's fingertips?

4. Unreal Engine 3

Why do they love it? Unreal Engine 3 has become so synonymous with big-budget Western games that simply announcing you'll be using it gets your game headlines. Developers don't use it because they necessarily want to, but rather because using Unreal Engine 3 automatically guarantees the game will be considered "graphically superb" by a gaming world which dubs that which is shiniest, best.

Case in Point: Damnation

When Gears of War pioneered the “Unreal Engine 3 look” on consoles, it inspired years of wannabes to come chasing after its coveted aesthetic of “dirty and gritty, with a thick coat of saliva.” Damnation is a prime example, aping the weathered look of the Gears games, but none of their playability or charm. It’s also proof that “Unreal Engine 3” doesn’t necessarily mean “good-looking,” as anyone who’s seen it running for more than five minutes can attest.

3. Genre-Mashing

Why do they love it? A game developer who mashes two genres together reeks of the same desperation as a starving gamer running to the fridge at 2 a.m. only to find it barren. A developer who exclaims, "platforming-first-person-shooter-adventure-... MMO!" is just like that starving gamer, who in our example goes on to craft the curious culinary concoction of stale spaghetti with mustard and a Powerbar on a sesame seed bun. We can all agree that it was... interesting, but most of the time we end up swearing we'll never try it again.

Case in Point: MAG

OK, so, wait: Each game is like an RTS, but only for one person on each team? And that person gives orders to a bunch of sergeants, who are playing an RTS/FPS hybrid? And those sergeants then relay commands to 230 other soldiers, who are playing a pure FPS? And it's sort of like an MMO too?


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