If you are anything like me, you may find some of the recent trends in the gaming industry to be somewhat troubling. “Trends” is pretty broad and could include anything from on-disc DLC to the patronizing use of booth babes at E3; but those are issues for another column. Today, we’re talking about complexity.
Now, by complexity I mean the emphasis on cramming as much “stuff” as possible into every game. Take the Mass Effect series. ME2 was already an expansive, graphically complex game that brought together third person-shooting and choice-based storytelling. I can’t think of anyone who felt that they needed more content from their Mass Effect. But then ME3 comes along and Bioware decides that what their story-based space opus needed was-wait for it-a multiplayer mode! On top of that, Kinect support was added because it would enhance the game experience Microsoft told them to.
But why is this the case? In one sense it’s commendable: game makers are trying to give gamers the best bang for their buck by building blockbuster games. In another, however, publishers are simply trying to cater to the largest audience they possibly can and, in doing so, are creating a watered-down, commercialized product. Complexity is by no means a bad thing. Mass Effect 3 was still a great game and other complex products like TES V: Skyrim and Civilization V are the best of the best.
The true casualty of this movement, however, is simplicity. And in some sense, this article is an ode to simplicity. Perhaps we’re a little biased at Brass Monkey; but we build games that are simple but fun. Our designers have a singular vision and the games they make are the projection of that vision. Despite what the big publishers may have thought, simplicity always has and always will have a place in gaming. Pong, which started it all, is about as simple as you can get. Early Mario games were incredibly popular and yet all you did was run to the right and jump from time to time. Even today, browse through the iOS App Store and you’ll see that the most popular games are not the scaled down ports of Need for Speed or some terrible FPS; instead, they’re the simple ones: Temple Run, Angry Birds, Tiny Wings, etc.
Simplicity is essential. It may not be glitzy and you may not spend hundreds of hours playing Temple Run like you would playing Starcraft II, but simplicity is just as amazing. The complex balancing of Starcraft is just as beautiful as the addicting leveling and flawless physics of Temple Run.
At Brass Monkey, simplicity is near and dear to our hearts. We will never build the next great RPG or real-time strategy game; but we will always find ways to turn simple into fun. Those who think gaming is about quantity not quality have it all wrong. Indie game development is amazing because it is simple. Let’s support it as best we can.
Brass Monkey® is video game console that uses smartphones as controllers and any screen with a web browser as the main display. We’re working tirelessly to improve our tech and bring innovative new games to our platform. Come play with us!