On the value of innovative techniques in games

This is a short excerpt of text that I originally wrote as part of my final internship report in June.

I prefer to look into new ways and new techniques of doing something, instead of just going with what everyone has already done a thousand times before. This does not mean that I do everything from scratch, it means that I also see a place for the lesser known techniques, that still require a certain level of skill to implement and work with, in addition to looking for new ways of doing something myself.

And when thinking of new techniques, you will eventually find obscure blogs online where some random unknown people have thought of a similar or just exactly the same technique as well, and some of them have succeeded, but never really got their techniques well known, and some of them will have failed, but when one person fails it does not mean everyone else will fail.

Sure, it takes less time to just implement what is already known, and you’ll have faster results. But there’ll be nothing new, no reason why anyone would be interested in the game, nothing that makes it unique. A lot of unique gameplay possibilities come from simple technical tricks that are rarely done, such as the portals in Portal, and not from endless brainstorming sessions, that are wasting the available production time. If you’re only willing to implement what already exists without considering any fundamental changes, then you’re essentially just going to ship nothing but shovelware.

For example; any halfway competent run off the mill programmer can implement a somewhat optimized heightmap landscape system, since it is very easy to understand, and there are literally hundreds of tutorials for it, but they will rarely think beyond these commonplace techniques. They had enough training to follow instructions, but they do not have the skills to do something for themselves. Generally they will reject unknown techniques as being wrong, simply because almost nobody uses them, and rarely will they consider implementing any unusual techniques that may actually be more suited for the application.

Unless you’re willing to ship shovelware, unless you find quantity more important than quality, there is only limited room for people without any skillful insight in a game development company.

Pretty much all webbrowser games are shovelware.

Nonetheless, there is a very large business to do creating shovelware. All the poor quality products and services on the market can only use games of equally poor quality in their marketing campaign. Using a game that goes beyond the current standards as a means of advertisement, for whatever rubbish products or services that are released on the market, does not serve it’s advertising purpose well, as the end consumer would find the product to be very poor compared the the quality of the marketing campaign. On the other hand, for a product or service with a sufficiently high level of quality, throwing an interesting innovative game in it’s marketing campaign could prove to be very successful.