The leaps in gaming technology provides players with a more in-depth experience each and every generation, but there’s more involved than the big guy with the idea and a bunch of texture artists. I’m sure you’ve probably completed a fair few titles in your time, did you ever watch the credits all the way through? There can literally be hundreds of people involved in video-game development, covering every area from texture artists to marketing teams, but do you ever get the feeling that some talent just disappears into the endless waves of names?
Most companies have a name that’s recognized to gamers, usually product leads or CEO’s, but if I asked you to name 3 of the best quality assurance testers in the industry, could you name any?
There are many other areas of video-game development that I feel don’t often receive the praise they deserve, and some of them are vital to a good experience with the final product. Music and sound effects is an area that has received much more attention in recent years but there’s still many unsung heroes that have the ability to conjure emotions and reactions just from a string of noises. Another area is lighting and other ambient effects. Some may find these trivial to the game experience but titles like Left 4 Dead have proven that intelligent lighting can do wonders for a video-game.
Why does this happen? Well personally I think it’s because of the state of games in today’s industry. Everything is a franchise, a sequel, a mindless attempt at improving a game which can sometimes lead to accomplishing the opposite. We’ve seen some big games enter the mix with this generation but we’ve also seen some great franchises hit the dirt face first. Think back to your first RPG experience, that first experience that showed you video-games meant something. I’d bet my last dollar that hearing the music featured in said game would bring back some of the emotions you felt during that experience. Even as a grown man I struggle listening to Aerith’s Theme from Final Fantasy 7.
Moving back into this generation, I don’t recall many titles that really pushed the boundaries of musical composition. Some titles managed to pull it off, such as Mass Effect and The Elder Scrolls, but why does this seem limited to RPG titles? Do you recall any emotionally driven soundtracks from Call of Duty, Battlefield or any other title that’s pushed out year after year?
What are your thoughts on the unappreciated aspects of video-game development today? Do you think gaming is more than just textures and mechanics, or are you happy to play a game with nothing but great game play?