This is my first article I've written to post on the Internet. In fact, I wrote it in about 3 hours. (this will be several posts long) The Ultimate Game And where the gaming industry (and technology) may be headed What makes the ultimate game? Some might say its some fighting game where everything is blown to bits with lasers, or a racing game with hundreds of levels and shear realism. However, games like this have one serious flaw that is the demise of 95% of all games after 5-10 years. Replay factor. While a game may have stunning graphics, metal robots that blast each other into a million parts, or fighting games where characters lose more pints of blood than a blood-bank in a single round, they often get monotonous after awhile. Theres only so many times you can race through the same course, and fight the same bad guys before the game becomes a case of going through the motions, or even a mathematical algorithm. What type of game then, would make for the ultimate game? In my opinion, the genre of such a game would be a Simulation-RPG, or more specifically, a Sim-MMORPG. However, this wouldnt be just any old simulation like The Sims, or SimCity, but a complete customizable world -- no, universe! Technically speaking, theres already a universe in every game you play. These universes are limited to the imagination of the game designer. Some games manage to extend the game-play universe into the imagination of the gamer. This, along with a multiplayer environment, is on the right track to creating the ultimate game. Granted, not all games have to have a multiplayer element to be a great game. Before I go any further, lets take a look at the history of gaming, and where its going. Below is a sampling of genres of games: Platform Games - These are games like Mario Brothers and Mega Man where you move through a level defeating enemies, and collecting items to increase your abilities. These types of games are essentially side-scrollers. Unless you had a real classic on your hands, the replay factor was often low. After beating the game a few times, the player would generally know the ins and outs of the game. These are the types of games that could be played in one sitting (about 2-3 hours). With the birth of 3D gaming systems, this genre is starting to fall to the wayside, as one of the challenges of a 2D game was that you didnt know what was over the next ledge. In a 3D world, you can view 360 degrees, and clearly see whats coming. Action Games - Either a side-scroller, or overhead view, these games also involve moving through a level, and defeating enemies. Unlike platform games, these games had more of a storyline. These games tended to be more like shooters, fighting and military games. These have evolved greatly in 3D gaming systems, mainly in military games. Action games have virtually merged with shooters. Strategy Games - There are two types -- Real Time Strategy, and Turn Based Strategy. These games definitely relied on the creativity and imagination of the game designers. A good strategy game would allow for a myriad of playing possibilities. If played on a map that was always randomly generated, the possibilities were almost endless in terms of strategy, and game-play. The downfall of most strategy games, however, is the AI, followed by game design. The AI, along with game designs (attributes of the player/team, starting units, game strategy, etc.), can mean the difference between an actual game, and a game with bucket loads of cheesy exploits. Fortunately for these games, game-play can last for hundreds of hours, and will be played for years, even decades. The most famous of these are the Civilization and Age of Empires series. Each caters to a specific crowd -- single player and multiplayer, as well as the players creativity in creating scenarios. Still, these games can be played either way. One downside of these types of games is the micromanagement, and/or allowing players to create a mathematical equation out of the game (i.e., moving units around in a RTS within a certain amount of time per unit -- also known as a click-fest, or seeing how many points you can get in a certain amount of turns.). Simulations - There are plenty of simulations out there. The most common are transportation (flight, automobile, etc.) simulations, city simulations, and a host of other types of simulations. The shining glory of these games involves the physics, interaction, and/or economics of the game. Simulations are essentially art imitating life. The best known simulations are the SimCity and The Sims series. Like strategy games, simulations also have huge replay value by capturing the players interest in creating their specific world and watching it as it grows. Like strategy games, the micromanagement can still be there, but the player doesnt always have to worry about it. In a way, some simulation games do involve a little bit of strategy. RPGs - There are two types - Japanese console RPGs, and American RPGs. Whats the difference? American RPGs have a system of classes, and Tolkien-esque races (orcs, elves, hobbits, etc.). Japanese console RPGs are more focused on storylines. Some Japanese RPGs do contain classes, but function more as jobs, or different types of fighters (archer, knight, ninja, mage, etc.). These games typically last 20-30 hours (always half the advertised playtime once the player knows the ins and outs of the game), but may or may not have more than one way to play them. Some RPGs are linear, forcing the player to move from one area to the next. MMORPGs follow the American style RPGs with classes and races. Games like Everquest and Morrowind are very popular, especially for their replay value (sometimes considered too long). Japanese console RPGs tend to be left to the single player community, but there are a few exceptions. RPGs also have a few aces up their sleeves to keep the players interest a few times over. First, there might be many side-games to play. Usually, these involve casino, card games, and puzzles. The main purpose of these is to acquire rare items, or increase stats. The second is side quests, which might contain optional secrets to discover. The rewards may be an alternate ending, or a secret character. MMORPG - More of an offshoot of an RPG, this involves going out along, or with a team and completing quests. These games can be much longer than typical RPG games. The problem is the player usually needs to pay to play on the server, and requires constant playing to make the money worth it. Another downfall is if a player wanted to play the game 10-15 years from now, and there was no server to connect to. Shooters - This is a genre that has changed from a 2D game with a light-gun, to 3D games where players run through a maze or building shooting almost anything that moves. Personally, I havent played any shooters -- aside from Duck Hunt -- to really say how this genre is going, but it seems to have merged with action games in terms of the military-style games out there. Some could say the military shooter-type games is an off-shoot (no pun intended) of the shooter genre. Arcade-type shooters though (Galaga, Centipede, shoot the space aliens-type games), are a dying breed. Shooters that use light-guns have gone the way of the do-do bird. Puzzles - The most famous is Tetris, but there have been many other puzzle games, in all shapes and forms. Many games on the Internet (sites like yahoo, funnygames.nl, etc.) have puzzles. The vast majority of games now are Tetris-like clones. The replay value of these games can vary, depending on if the puzzles change each time the game is played, or if its the same puzzle (or sets of puzzles) over and over. Contrary to what some might say, these are still popular games. Competition Games - These games continue to do well, as its more competitive in nature, albeit its two or more players pressing keys in a certain order, or maneuvering in a certain way. Ive combined several games into this category, as it can be rather broad. The subcategories are Fighters, Sports, and Racing. Of the three, fighting games seem to be the most popular. Sporting games have pretty much saturated the gaming market. These games do well for a few months, or years at best, then players start losing interest in them, and move on to the next and better competition game. Games Genres of the Past Adventure Games - These are probably as close to an RPG as one can get without being officially called an RPG. Some of the most well known adventure games were Kings Quest and Loom. You didnt always fight monsters or level up, but you had to solve puzzles and obstacles. These games also had a story line. Adventure games now have all but blended into online RPGs, where one can create their own adventure if they wanted. Educational - These are still around (and very rare), but not really in the mainstream gaming arena. The most classic of these was the Oregon Trail, where the player could learn the history of the Old West and pioneer days while playing the game. The replay is whatever the kid can take. Kids have short attention spans, and the games are generally stuck in the lower grade levels, making it less likely to be played after a few months. The idea of educating the player is now relegated to an optional feature in some games where the player can find out more about a particular topic the game chose. Virtual Reality - This was one of those neat things that never really made it. I think of this as something that came well before its time. Maybe in a few decades (when huge, bulky helmets and gloves are reduced to the size of sunglasses, and technology is fast enough for a huge 3D world with many people), this technology might make a comeback. Labyrinths - This genre either died out or evolved the moment 90s came around. Games like Wolfenstein and Doom broke the 2D mold, and 3D-like games were born. Maze-like games in itself are no longer around, but in a way, have found their way into First Person Shooters (i.e., exploring a cave or a maze-like building). Text-based Adventure - These were Graphic Adventure games before the graphics. The only surviving form in the 90s was MUDs (Multi-User Dungeons), a sort of primitive MMORPG game.