Monday, August 24, 2015

It Just Depends On What Kind Of Music You Like

I've been wondering for a while why I buy highly rated mobile games and wind up not liking most of them.

Today, I realized why, and I can describe it in terms of music.

In the sixties and seventies, rock music focused on the album. Yes, singles were released, but the focus was primarily on the album. Most of my favorite albums told stories. They were journeys.

They were substantial.

Interestingly, many of the most popular bands of that era were also the best in terms of quality of music.

Today, rock music is floundering. Most of what we'd think of as "rock" music is crap, really. And because of digital distribution, the focus has shifted from albums to songs.

Now, think about games.

When I started gaming, playing games like Ultima IV, the games were epic. They were journeys.

They were albums.

They weren't all albums. There was plenty of crap put out back then. But it was the objective of so many developers to put out something substantial.

Today, with the rise of phones and tablets as gaming devices, it's forced a change in gaming design. With mobile devices, the essential gameplay element is the tap. Tapping on the screen.

That alone would simplify games for developers who want to put out a product across all platforms, but mobile devices are also perfect for playing games for a few minutes at a time.

The length of a single song.

So the mega-hits in mobile gaming aren't albums, generally. They're songs. Hell, they're riffs--not even songs.

Fortunately, some older games have been ported--like King of Dragon Pass--and they're certainly epic albums. And a few, rare developers (like Luca Redwood with You Must Build A Boat) have somehow managed to create a hybrid game that is almost an EP in music terms--not as long as an album, but packed full of quality and entertainment.

I'm still finding plenty of terrific games to play, but really, it's an indie rock kind of situation now. Except for one or two big titles like MLB: The Show, almost everything I play is by smaller developers.

People who still make albums.

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