December 2020

Bad game design choices: Remakes, Clones, Sequels etc

What is worse than creating something? Creating nothing. How can you create something while at the same time creating nothing? Well you simply copy. Artistically a copy is nothing, or close to nothing. I once heard that the definition of art is to create something new and unique aka being creative and if you just copy, you are not being creative or artistic by definition and therefore a remake game, or clone is not good game design, as nothing or not much new is actually created.

I noticed this trend quite some time ago in the industry where the focus was on creating remakes, clones, sequels etc instead of actually creating real new games. At first I was not sure, if I should not write an article about each one in those categories, but then decided to put them all into one, since I want to get done with this series somehow and the issue with all of those is kind of similar. Of course to some degree making remakes, clones, sequels etc is legit, but if it becomes all you can do, you actually can do nothing or close to nothing.

Of course creating art almost always involves taking something that exist and modifying and combining it to create something new, this is art, but the difference to non-art is, that art is actually created, while a pure remaker only takes things that exist, copies them, modify them a bit and claim he has created something, while in reality he just stole something.

I'm not condemn remakes, clones, sequels etc in general, it is more a gradual issue, like other things I wrote about before, like the previous invisible walls, you sometimes have to use them, but in general it is a bad design choice and this issue is the same, you sometimes have to steal or copy, but in general it is the worse choice, sometimes even a good choice, if you copy the right and good elements.

Let me do some brainstorming what we have:

1. Remakes
This one is quite bad, those are often done by "the community" aka fanboys of the original game, that are tired of the company that created their favorite product does not care about them, so they decide to take things into their own hands, but not realizing, that could take things into their own hands for real and instead chose to just copy the original and the worst part, the result is often worse than the original, that is why this is so stupid. Sometimes fan remakes turn out quite good, but I still think in many cases that time could have been better spend to create something new and original, so the creators can build up their own business and portfolio, instead of defining their existence as a copycat. Sometimes also the original companies that made the original or other "professional" game developers do those kind of remakes, the result is probably better, but it is still a bad design choice, since they often just try to simply profit from someone else's popularity and save themselves the time to create something artistic themselves and instead copy something that worked before.

2. Remastered
The difference to a remake is that even less new is created and an original game is just being recycled, mostly by the original company and less from the community. This is probably the cheapest method on milking more money from the people with doing as little as possible work, often they just take the original cheap game, crank up the graphic settings, that have been intentionally cranked down when it was released to fit the computer processing power at that time to now fit the new generation of gaming PCs which results in better graphics and eventually include some community created content, like mods, improvements, bugfixes, then combine everything and sell it again as some kind of new innovation for a now very high price again. Kind of genius, selling the same thing again without actually creating anything.

3. Clones
Clones are similar to remakes, with the difference that they are more artistic, as more new things are created, while the thing that was cloned from was "only" used as a basis for the clone. The cloner at least tries to hide more or less the thing he is copying, while a remake maker copies some game directly without bringing new or much new innovation, without trying to hide it. However the cloner just mediocre like tries to hind the fact that he is copying something, since often it is still obvious that it is a clone.

4. Rip-offs
The rip-off is another variation of the clone which is a variation of the remake, the difference is, that the rip-off is worse. A rip-off game just tries to steal an original game, re-brand it and try to take the fame and profit for their own. This is mostly done by competing game development companies to destroy their competition or to just make easy money and ride on the newest trend. This is bad game design, as they do not care to create anything their own, the primary goal is to invest as little work as possible, while making as much profit as possible.

5. Sequels
This is kind of a more legit way of doing it, those are mostly done by the original company that created the original game, to profit from their success. If done right this is fine, if done bad it will look like a cheap way to make profit by milking the fanboys. I'm kind of undecided about this one, it is like half the sequels turn out to be good or better than the original and the other half turn out to be worse, however it is still kind of a bad design choice, since creating something new and original is almost always the better choice and many artists put all their creations into the same universe anyway, but the audience often does not realize it, this is how genius artists do it, everything they create totally feels and looks like something unique, while in reality, it is all in the same universe.

6. Recycled
I just came up with this as a sub category to remastered, a recycled game is the same as a remastered game, the only difference is, that it is not remastered, but taken as it is and put on the market again to make more money. This often is done by the original company that created the original game when the game has become very old and abandoned ware, then they sometimes just take it and put it on the market again for a relatively high price while before it was often available for free. This is combined with appealing to the mobile market, since old games are kind of ideal to recycle them to the mobile market as I already wrote about in bad game design choices mobile games.

7. Re-implementations
This is kind of a more rare case as it is mostly limited to the open-source game "developer" (rip-off) scene. A re-implementation is nothing of the above, as nothing is remade, remastered, cloned etc all they try to do is create a new open source framework to run the old game with, in other words they simply try to steal the original proprietary game in the illusion to make it free software. However this stays an illusion and is just insanity, because the proprietary game will always be proprietary, the result is hardly ever better as the original and in most cases the projects fail anyway or get never done and are stuck in eternal development hell.

I try to summarize the different mindsets that stand behind each of those atrocities of game design:

The remaker thinks: "Oh this game is so great and perfect, all I can do is copy it and maybe improve the graphics or so, but I cannot change anything, because the original is already perfect and changing anything would be heresy. Only the game dev gods of the old could create real original games, now we and nobody else can create things again and doing so would be heresy, so all we can do is remake, what is already perfect"

The remasterer thinks: "That game is fine and people still love it, let me upgrade it a bit, steal the content the community has created and sell the same thing again and milk even more money from the idiots, the fun part is, that we actually sell the content the community created back to them, as if we created everything"

The cloner thinks: "That game is great, I would like to have something similar, for myself, but I admit, that I'm just stealing and I'm not trying to hide it, I'm semi powerless and the only way to create something is to take inspiration from real creators. The remaker is partly wrong, the old game dev gods were only semi perfect, we can still improve on them a bit, but also we cannot create anything completely new and original on our own, we need to base everything on the creation of the gods"

The rip-offer thinks: "Damn that competitors product is so great, we need to steal it, they are not allowed to be the only people to profit from their invention, we abide by the copyright laws, but we can just work around it and pretend we created something new and original on our own, while in reality it is a direct re-branded copy of someone else"

The sequel maker things: "The original works fine, let us create the same thing again. Why create anything new, if what we got still sells well. Creating anything new for real is always a risk, so better go with what worked in the past and as long as this works, we do not need to create anything new"

The recycler thinks: "Let us sell the same product to people again as if it was a new product, especially to the mobile gamer idiots." Well often the recycler is not the same person as the original creator, the recycler just takes someone else's work and re-sells it, but the original creator is fine with it, since earning money for nothing is always fine.

The re-implementer thinks: "Proprietary software is evil, we need to create technology to steal everything from the evil proprietary companies, so everything will become free and somehow better. The companies are powerful, but evil, because their power enables them to produce things for real, we however are powerless and good, but we cannot create anything, because we are powerless, but this is somehow good and to make up for us being powerless, incompetent and useless, we need to steal from the evil creators to give to the useless, which makes things somehow more good, free and moral"

The conclusion is that these all are bad design choices, because everything of those mean a reduction of artistic value as less new and unique is created, with the exception of the sequel which can be a legit thing. The core problem is the duality of the world or the problem every artist faces of having the choice of being true to himself and actually create something new and original what is in his heart or if he just rides the trend to be popular and compromises his integrity by doing so. I just realize now that I could have called this series of articles differently, because in the core it is about integrity and good vs bad art, but bad game design choices is good enough and I have already started calling it like this and if you did not understand the gist of it before, you probably understand it now.

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Bad game design choices: Invisible Walls

Almost every gamer probably also knows this one, it is those invisible barriers that prevent you from going out of the map or going somewhere you are not supposed to go. For game designers this is often a necessary evil, because there is no other way to do it based on their resources, but it is an ugly solution, therefore a bad game design choice.

First this was planned as multiple articles, because there are many kinds of invisible walls, each for different reasons, some physical, some metaphorical, let me make a list of the basic types of invisible walls in games:

1. Invisible physical walls at the edge of the map, to prevent you from leaving the map, as there is nothing there.
This is one of the necessary evil types of solutions, because designing more game world than necessary is just a waste of resources, so you have to make a cut somewhere. I used this method also in Übergame, sometimes I made a harsh cut, where you could just look into the void and in other levels I designed 500 meters of desert into every direction before I made the invisible wall. On another level I made 500 meter landscape in every direction that could be explored and then a 10km or so backdrop landscape that cannot be explored, just for backdrop, well it can be explored using the editor, but there is nothing there. I list those examples, because as an indie game developer I have limited resources, so I have to make a cut somewhere, some are more ugly others are less. I constantly list bad game design choices, but I give you some examples of more elegant solutions to this problem, the most elegant solution is probably the infinite ocean, extremely easy to create, just one click, then a few minutes or maybe even up to hour to adjust the settings and voila, a perfect solution and easy on rendering resources as well, the computer will just render the ocean until infinite and players can even swim as much as they want and they will never hit the unrealistic ugly invisible wall. Cry engine for example is designed around this solution, where every level would just be an island in an infinite ocean, kind of a clever design. However always having infinite ocean is unrealistic as well, you can also have an infinite landscape, though this is harder to achieve, of course you can make a simple plane with grass texture, but this will feel unrealistic, so you need to add some kind of terrain. Another semi elegant solution is to make mountains that make some kind of natural barrier, but dedicated gamers often find ways to climb those mountains, well if it is hard they probably earned to see the edge of the world. In the past the resources were limited, so the game world was basically just tubes or corridors that were textured like cities, countryside etc, but everything beyond that tube was invisible wall, so in the past it was a semi legit way to design games, but nowadays I would say it is an intentional bad game design choices as there are better solutions now and limited processing power is no longer a good excuse for not properly designing the game world.

2. Invisible walls to prevent you from going to places inside the map.
In point one I mentioned how old games were mostly just tubes, corridors and small arenas and the rest was backdrop cut of with invisible walls to prevent people from going outside, well there are also invisible walls to prevent people from going inside certain places at the map and this is probably a much less legit reason to have them, because why limit players when there is no reason? Limiting players to go to places that do not exist is kind of legit, because you cannot go to places that do not exist, well in video games you can and the result is ugly, but to block players from reaching places they could reach, because they exist is very retarded, it is as the game designers create parts of a level and then prevent players from going there and make use of it, intentionally destroying fun. I observed those kind of invisible walls in remakes of old classic shooters that were often competitive, like Counter Strike or Arena shooters. This is an intentional dumbing down of gaming and there is hardly a legit reason to do it, other to destroy the fun and make the game more boring and predictable, which is apparently an important factor in competitive games. You have to understand that those games started out with the first kind of invisible walls, where they were necessary, because the levels were just tubes, corridors and small arenas and everything else was nonexistent backdrop. Now the genius retard developers come and fill those backdrops that did not exist in the past with actual existent level geometry that theoretically could be walked into and used for gameplay, but only theoretical, because they then put invisible walls, to prevent you from going there, to keep the game mechanics like the old games, as if all the new graphic and rendering technology was just there to look at and not to be used in any actual gameplay. This is a good example of intentional bad game design choices to intentionally make games worse. It is like the level designer was thinking "Oh all those old levels are so small, plain and have no world around them, let me fix it and make them bigger, more geometry, more detail and actually model some backdrop scenery so you don't look into the void", but then when he was done doing so "Damn I made the game so good, I don't know if the players will be able to handle all of this, let me better just wall it off by using invisible walls, so nobody can ever go there and use it for gameplay, the stupid people from today are not able to handle complex level geometry, they can only navigate simple corridors".

3. Invisible walls to force you following the storyline.
This is more a single player game solution, while point one and two were more for multiplayer games, but not exclusively. Game designers often face the dilemma what to do to force players following the carefully crafted storyline. The elegant solution would be to guide the player so he will figure out by himself where to go and will not want to go back in the storyline, or even if so, let him and design the game so, that he cannot fuck it up, or create natural realistic barriers or reasons the player cannot go there anymore. The ugly bad solution is again, just use an invisible wall and just use brute force to put the player into his place. Well people react differently to being forced into one direction without leaving them freedom of choice, stupid people may tolerate it more, but you can really piss off the more curious type of player with this kind of game design choice. Story based games are a dilemma in itself, which is probably material for an extra article, because a story based game has to give the player the illusion that he has freedom of choice and can influence the game, while in reality, he is just playing an interactive movie that has a pre determined fixed outcome. The game designer has to give the player the illusion of freedom and so long the illusion of freedom is intact the player has a good experience, but an invisible wall can give the game away instantly.

4. Temporary invisible walls.
All the previous examples where fixed invisible walls that were always there, but some games also use temporary invisible walls or just freeze the player into a position. This does not fit the definition of an invisible wall directly, as often the game just freezes the player instead, but for simplicity sake I include this mechanism into this article, since both methods are kind of similar in the outcome. This is similar to point three, as those walls are often used in storyline games. An example would be to lock the player into place or preventing him from going further in order to force him to watch a cutscene or so, I once saw a documentary about game developers and one developer said "We spend so much time on that cutscene, so we just force players to watch it". It is similar to an unlocking system, since the level geometry exists, but is walled of until you are allowed to go there. Another example also involves cutscenes, where they have to put an invisible wall on the cutscene as long as it plays, because it is just for show and cannot be interacted with, only if it finishes, the result of the cutscene is programmed to be interacted with, so the invisible wall will be deactivated when the cutscene is done. This solution is also kind of ugly and a bad choice, a good solution for this would be to make it so the player can interact with the cutscene or create a more legit reason the player cannot go there.

5. Invisible walls for more primitive collisions.
From a game developers perspective there is a difference between visible mesh collision and collision mesh collision. Often used for performance reasons, which is also bad for the gameplay, but kind of necessary at times, but less so nowadays, but otherwise used to prevent complex interactions with the game world. You have to understand as game worlds get more complex in geometry and detail, they theoretically also get more complex about how you can interact with the game world. This however is just in theory, because intractability has to be programmed as well and to save them all that work, game designers often just wall it off with invisible walls, so the level geometry looks detailed, but it cannot be interacted with in all the detail, it is just a thing to look at. This is similar to point two, but the difference is that here there are not sections of the game map that are walled off, but rather individual objects or geometry that is locally walled off, to prevent interaction. Let me tell you about a good example why this is so bad: In the past I used to make levels for the mod Action Half-Life and one of the most fun things was a gamemode we invented ourselves and it was storm the room and it worked as follows: One Team had to capture the room and secure it and the other team had to storm it, often only having one door to go through. Here comes the interesting part, first we played this gamemode on regular maps, but then I started making my own maps, where I added a lot of detail and intractability into the map for example: You could hide behind the sofa, or in the shower, or under the table, you could even open the wardrobe door, go inside and close it again. The storming team had to carefully open the door or use the vent as backdoor and then guess if there is one behind the sofa or inside the wardrobe and then decide whether to use explosives or high caliber rifles to shoot through the wood and kill the hiding player. Let me cut if off here, I could explain even more details, imagine all the gameplay related complexity here and this all in a game that was released 1998, kind of in the gaming stone age, but still the way you could interact with the gameworld was still more complex than most games today and this is because it is intentionally. For example furniture is just there for decoration, you are not supposed to go behind the sofa, under the desk or inside the wardrobe and to make sure you don't go there, some designers even wall it off with invisible walls or similar mechanics, to make sure nobody uses the game world in a way that was not intended and the intention in many games today is that the player is not supposed to have fun, prop models are just props to look at, never to be interacted with unless explicitly necessary for the storyline and some games go even as far as to wall off everything with invisible walls or collision boxes to prevent any finer interaction, the game level is just intended to be a corridor. Of course this all is just idiocy and a bad game design choice. Before I forget, yes there is a legit reason for those types of invisible walls and it is to prevent players or NPCs from getting stuck, as you know the more complex the geometry, the more complex you have to program the AI, so you have to make a compromise somewhere and make your game more primitive at times to prevent bugs.

6. Invisible invisible walls.
I did not really know how to call this, but there are also invisible invisible walls, that are often not even physical, but instead trigger some kind of script, that kills you or prevents you in some way in going further into somewhere you are not supposed to. As game designers figured it is an ugly solution to just put an invisible wall to prevent players from going where they were not supposed to, some instead turned into putting invisible invisible walls where the player would not notice that he passed into a zone where he was not supposed to be which would trigger some game event that would then prevent him from going further. Examples for this would be a simple script kill, or the game would tell you that the outer zone is inhabited by monsters that will kill you if you go there etc. This solution seems to be more elegant than the first solution to put a simple physical obvious invisible wall there, but on the second look it is only slightly better, because it quickly becomes obvious to the player that he is not supposed to go there, some people even see this as a challenge too beat the game developers by beating their unbeatable script system, in which they sometimes even succeed with, through some glitch or loophole, which then again shows what a bad design choice this was, but at least the developers tried. Well I have to admit, this is quite some improvement, because even I often don't know how to make it better, because humans are naturally curious, at least some and they will always try to beat the system as they subconsciously know they are fenced in inside a video game world. If done well and plausible such an invisible invisible wall is hard to detect and will feel very natural. For example in Crysis where even though you had a big open world with an infinite ocean, they would still script kill you when going off the supposed map, by saying they could deactivate your suit aka kill you, which was plausible within the game and a legit thing, even though I would say that game did not have the necessity to do so, because they already solved the problem by having a fully accessible game world surrounded by an infinite ocean, so they could just have let the player roam freely, but somehow they still chose to do this, well at least it was plausible and did fit within the game.

So I think those were all kinds of invisible walls, I try to categorize them as good as possible, but many things often overlap as I described already in certain points.

Let me get to the final conclusion, from a game design standpoint having invisible walls is often kind of a legit decision, even though it is bad game design. How is that possible? Well game designers have to consider to appeal to a large audience, which means also the stupid people, which there are plenty and stupid people cannot handle freedom that well, they get confused and angry, so they need to wall them in and force them into the storyline. It was always kind of confusing to me that humans were so different and I could not understand that people would love an intentional dumbed down game more than a complex one. Through some of my own experiences I can confirm and partly understand why. I used to make some levels for the game Far Cry to play in private on LAN against others, I did so because the levels that came with the game were too boring and not complex. So what I did was to make a level as complex and detailed as possible and I found the more complex and detailed, the better. One map was a simple jungle hut where the player was as big as a mouse and the hut was filled with almost all the prop models the editor had to offer, it was a super cramped untidy apartment and everything was prepped with planks and mouse holes, so you could get under and behind the cupboards, walk up and down, behind and under, so an experienced player could get around the map almost unseen and kill everyone in a sneaky way. Another map was an extremely dense jungle, so dense that you could only see a few meters, leaving only a few landmarks with a bit more open space, which meant you really had to rely on your orientation and hearing to survive in that map. To make a long story short, I ran a private dedicated server and occasionally random people joined so I wanted to play with them, but most did not like the new, much better, much more complex and better looking levels, some even said "Please make mp_surf" or some kind of other boring default map. I really found that weird, why don't people like better levels that offer much better gameplay? Simple reason, it makes them feel stupid, which they are. Of course playing a regular game also makes them feel stupid, as they will likely lose, but they will feel much more confident on for example a map they know well. A stupid random player probably will feel worse the better the level and the gameplay gets, because the more the game becomes a real challenge and the more you have to use your brain, the more stupid people will feel stupid.

So because when stupid people will feel stupid, they will not like to play the game, so modern game designers have to design games so that they appeal to stupid people, so the game cannot be too complex and challenging. In order to design games idiot friendly, the developers have to put invisible walls everywhere, similar to the way human babies are given a playpen, where they can roam "freely" without hurting themselves and feeling stupid. Of course video games are more a thing for human children, but they are supposed to train you for real life, which is not possible if games are designed without freedom to do wrong things or just to experiment.

Invisible walls of course do not solely exist, because of the customers dumbing down, it is kind of half because the developers are bad, like lazy design where they cannot do it properly and just wall it off and the other half because they have to put invisible walls there, to prevent stupid people from feeling stupid. The problem with it however is, that while on the one hand invisible walls make games more casual friendly, it will on the other hand piss off the pro gamer, but the casuals are the majority, so most game designers chose to appeal to the casuals, which results in a worse game.

I just had a vision of metaphorical invisible walls that are inside peoples heads and the invisible walls inside video games are just a projection into the outside world of what is inside most peoples heads. When I design games or more like game levels I just materialize what I invented inside my head. My vision probably just led me to the probably prime reason why invisible walls are such a bad game design, because they defeat the primary reason video games exist and this is to do things you cannot do in real life. You know in real life you cannot do everything, well you can, much more like in video games, but it has such serious consequences that you basically can't do those things or at least many of them only once, this is where video games are so great, in video games you can just do freely what you want without real consequences, however this is where the bad game design choice of invisible walls comes in and destroys all the fun by preventing you from doing what you want, especially from going anywhere you want, well and this is why invisible walls are a bad game design choice.

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Bad game design choices: Mobile Games

Mobile games are another big problem in the gaming realm, I'm not talking so much about mobile games in general, but the trend in designing regular games to appeal to the mobile market, because making mobile friendly games brings with itself a whole lot of problems that make games worse in general.

This issue is a bit similar to cartoonification and of course often paired with pay to win features, since mobile games usually have no or little initial cost, because of the spoiled audience. Mobile games are kind of a culmination of everything that is bad in the gaming industry. For an open source fanatic mobile games in general are a no go, because mobile devices are in general not open source friendly, but even for the regular plebs, the trend to mobilification of games has lots of negative implications, so lets get to the issues with mobile games.

1. Making games mobile friendly makes games worse in general.
For those who do not know, a mobile device is basically just a retarded computer, it is a regular computer but smaller and because it has to be small, there is a compromise in processing power. So what you do when you create mobile friendly games is, that you revert the evolution in gaming quality that has been done over the last decades and revert it to a much more primitive state. Lets say we have a history of 40 years of gaming evolution, where games got better and better over time, because of increased processing power of (desktop-)computers, now as computers got more powerful, there is also a trend to make them smaller, where you reduce the processing power again and in terms of gaming it means, that the games designed for it are like 10-30 years behind quality wise. So imagine all the new innovations that have been made in computer gaming technologies and now imagine a mobile game developer saying "Fuck this new shit, I start in the gaming middle ages or even stone ages again" that is why appealing to the mobile market is bad, because you are forced to retard your product.

2. Mobile games are often paired with other bad game design choices to rip people off.
Because mobile games are worse in general quality wise, developers have to use tricks to hook people to them, like making them free and then pay to win, with microtransactions and addicting game mechanics. So you not only have a worse product in general for consumers, those products are also worse in terms of treating the customer and ripping him off, which furthers giving him a bad experience.

3. Mobile games give a worse gaming experience.
This is also crucial, because on a desktop PC you have a big monitor, a keyboard with lots of keys and a mouse, but on a mobile device, you have a very small screen and no keyboard and no mouse, which gives you a lot less control over the game, therefore the game has to be further retarded so it can be operated with very primitive input methods. When developing my game I noted, that I'm running out of keys to bind actions to, and a keyboard has over 100 keys and you can use hotkey combinations as well, but still they are not enough, now imagine a mobile device, where you just have a few buttons, or not even that and can just tap the screen, what you are going to do with that?

4. Mobile gaming audience is more retarded.
Lets face the facts, a real gamer will have proper hardware to to proper gaming, someone who refuses to do that, can't be a real gamer, therefore he has to be a retarded gamer or whatever you want to call him, which further accelerates the retardation of games designed for mobile.

5. Mobile gaming make all of gaming worse.
By companies investing more resources into making more mobile games or making their regular games mobile friendly, so they can run on all platforms, they make regular gaming worse, by reducing the resources spend into developing them. Of course companies usually want to make max profits, they are forced to appeal to the mobile market as well, because it is the biggest growing market, so they often not only divert resources to make mobile games, they also often design their new games from the beginning with the intention to retard them so they can also run on mobile devices.

6. Mobile games make people more stupid.
And finally of course the retardation of the device and the product also leads to a retardation of the user of those things, which leads to an increase in users of retarded devices and products, which then repeats the cycle and it becomes an endless loop of dumbing down.

7. Mobile games make an excuse to monetize and recycle old abandoned games again.
I used to occasionally look at abandoned ware websites, where you could download old classic games and such for free, because sometimes I wanted to replay my favorite old games again out of nostalgia reasons and I no longer had the original copies. Well since the mobile market, those platforms are mostly dead now and the old games are on sale again and sometimes also ported to mobile devices. By flooding the regular gaming market again with those old games, you further degrade the overall quality of the games available, sure classic games have their niche place, but they don't deserve to become mainstream again, times have to go forward, not backwards.

8. Mobile games kill the open source games.
To me this is one of the worst consequences of the mobile boom. To the general public it does not matter that much, but as an open source game developer this development is really really bad. An even worse factor is, that at first this looks like a good development, since the mobile boom also causes a boom of the open source game development scene, but at the same time subverts it to becoming just something that can be exploited to produce non open source products for commercial reasons. I once chatted with a mobile game developer saying those open source game content creators are so stupid, because he can use the content for free, make cheap games and earn millions with it. Especially those "open source game developers" are prone to becoming mobile developers, because what they are developing are mostly retarded classic style games anyway and they of course fit the mobile market perfectly. So what the mobile market does to the open source game development scene is, that it invades it, turns it around to become a mobile game development scene and therefore destroying the open source game development scene, like a parasite that invades the host to strengthen himself and kill the host. The worst part is how hidden and hard to understand this issue is, because the general plebs cannot understand that mobile devices are inherently hostile towards the open source philosophy. Mobile devices are locked down by design, which is the opposite of the open source philosophy, therefore making open source development on and for them close to impossible, I mean even for desktop devices making an open source game, that runs on open source operating system, with open source drivers made with open source tools is really hard, but on mobile game it is pretty much impossible.

So the conclusion is the mobile gaming boom makes gaming worse in general and for open source gaming it not only makes it worse, but has the potential to cause complete destruction and the stupid hipsters have no clue what is happening to them.

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Bad game design choices: Cartoonification

This phenomenon is a bit harder to describe so much that I had to invent my own word for it and it is about the intentional retardation of video game visuals to make them more cartoonish or children friendly. There are many potential reasons which can make this a bad design choice, so lets get into it.

Video games in general aim to be realistic and there is a constant push to increase realism which is primarily based on the visuals, but there are games where this is not the case, they are being intentionally cartoonified and I tried to collect the reasons that probably make game designers chose to do this and then make some counter arguments. Of course Cartoonification is not bad in general, but in many cases it is, as it is hard to get right, but we will get to that.

Reasons for Cartoonification of games:

1. Make them more children friendly.
This is probably one of the most common reasons. Designers think if it looks cartoonish, colorful and primitive, it will appeal to children. Well on the outside it does, because people associate those two things with each other. However I think this is a general problem with our society to think that children do not deserve the real deal, but instead a retarded dumbed down version of things. Yes for certain types of games it is probably better to have it more cartoonish, friendly and colorful so it will appeal to children better, however with computer graphics this is hard to do right. I can remember myself as a child when the first computer animated cartoons came out on TV and damn most of them were creepy. With computer graphics it is hard to get the cartoon look right, because even if you get it slightly wrong, it will look creepy, this phenomenon is called the uncanny valley, look it up if you want and this is probably already the best counter argument. If you have or are a good artist, you may go for it, but there is big potential to fuck everything up with this design choice.

2. Make an excuse for shitty art.
I just ended point one with the argument, that good artists can go for it, however the problem is, that most who go for the cartoon look are not good artists, but bad artists, who think they are good artist or want to pretend they are good artists or at least cover up that they are shit artists. This is especially the case in the indie dev scene, because most devs probably think "Damn I can't make the art realistic, but hey I will just make it intentionally shitty and say it is intentionally shitty, which then makes it good, because I succeeded in what I planned to do. The bigger problem with this is probably, that many consumers fall for this bullshit. I literally had people commenting on Uebergame, that the graphics are bad, because I intended them to be realistic and not perfectly met my goal or what the person thought was my goal and then they said, if I had made them intentionally bad, then it would have been good graphics. It was quite hard for me to understand their mindfuck, but this incident lead me to this article, but I waited with it, because I could not figure it out yet. I saw so many developers slap some shitty after effects on their game or chose some shitty art style just to pretend they are somehow creative and good artists, because they have so much "style". Well the reality is, cartoonification or similar is a valid design choice, if you can do it, but to be able to do such a style you need to master the normal realistic visuals first, then you can try out your own style or make a cartoonish version. It is similar with learning music, first you have to learn it for real, then you can do freestyle, you cannot just skip the learning it for real part and start freestyling.

3. Save time and resources.
This is somehow similar to point 2, but for a different reason, a more valid reason as it seems to be. However even there is a delusion coming with it, people think if they make art intentional retarded, it saves them resources to make, but this is not always the case. I mean if I take myself and my skillset and imagine I had to do some stylish abstract cartoonish art, I would probably just build something realistic and then degrade it using some modifiers in the modeling program or some filters in the image editing program. To me it is easier in many cases to build the real deal instead of some cartoonish version, because it is easier, in fact probably most professionaly do it that way. Modern art creation programs help you also with this and even if not, you can just buy proper art. Making things intentional retarded is only valid if you really want and can go for it, or are some genius but autistic computer genius, who is good at programming, but really bad at art. Sadly similar with point 2, there are consumers who fall for it and are impressed by this probably thinking "Wow this game looks so bad, the creator is probably a programmer genius" well even if they are, it is still a bad design choice.

4. Pretending to be a better artist then you are.
This I also covered in point 2, sadly also this works, but you may be able to fool many of the average consumers, but you cannot fool a skilled artist with this, he will quickly spot that you have no talent and some portion of the consumers as well, even if it is often unconsciously.

5. Hide bad visuals by making the art style incomparable to other realistic games.
This may be a semi valid reason for an indie dev, because he will not be able to compete with the big companies. I say to that, yes, but this should not hold you back trying to reach something great. If you aim high and reach only mediocre, then it is still better if you aim low and achieve low, at least to sane rational humans, not like those insane people I mentioned in point 2 rating the games quality based on what the creator wanted to achieve, where they claim aim low and achieve low = good. Well on some level I even agree with this statement, because of consistency, since if you don't exactly get where you aimed at with your games visuals for example, you can again arrive at the uncanny valley effect, which you can look up again if you want, but this describes it very good. For example, if you aim high and only partly achieve that quality, where some areas of your game are still bad quality it can feel weird to the player, that is where an aim low and achieve low mentality can win. However even there is a catch, because with modern game engines and modern graphics, it is sometimes very easy to accidentally create high quality art, which then fucks up all your game in a similar way. I saw this effect in some very popular modern AAA games, where on the first sight I thought "Damn this looks so realistic", but moments later I saw that it was supposed to be cartoonish and only thought "Wtf this is so wrong and hurts in my eyes." no idea how that many people can tolerate it, but I say this is definitively a bad design choice.

6. Getting away with low effort games to make more profit.
This is a combination of multiple reasons, with the big difference, that the company doing it knows it is doing it, but does not care, because all they want is profit, so they make it look cartoonish, to appeal to children which increases their potential customer base greatly and get away with low effort bad art etc just to make more profit. The reasons before were probably mostly used by idiots as a justification, but this one is more on the evil side, as it is intentional and often paired with pay to win and gambling features etc which is where it goes from being bad design to being evil.

7. You are a hipster and hate reality and its rules
There are still a certain kind of people, that do things intentionally wrong, just for the sake of doing it the wrong way and those people are commonly called hipsters. The hipster is probably the culmination of all the reasons I mentioned, he is the master of it all, by not being a master at all. Sometimes a hipster can become so good at being intentionally bad, that the result becomes good again, but this is kind of rare, think of the uncanny valley in reverse, where there is this small sweet spot that makes things creepy and in reverse it makes being a hipster cool if you hit that sweet spot of hipstering.

Well I think thats it and I coverd most of the issues with cartoonification. I write those articles mostly on the fly, based on some notes I made some time ago, this was a complicated one, but I hope to ony day a game dev or artist will read this and say to himself "Fuck this pseudo cartoonish art, I will create real art from now on"

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