In my last post I skipped across the topic of how game design quality has dropped heavily over the past decade: Games that once had small amounts of extremely replayable (stop telling me that isn't a legitimate word) quality content have been replaced by games with massive amounts of rather mediocre content, in a scenario where higher budgets are easier to find than good designers. That's a rather sweeping and mostly unfair statement, stemming from my longing for the quality of games long laid to rest, but I can't help looking back at the past and feeling it is justified...
I wonder how many of today's gamers who like to think they appreciate a good plot have played Planescape: Torment? How many of the people who raved about Fallout 3 ever played through the original? For all those who loved the branching story in Mass Effect, have any completed all three endings in Deus Ex? Which fantasy junkies who loved Oblivion can also say they have clicked their way through the Baldur's Gate series?
There is a certain magic in those old games which you just don't find any more. It's almost as if they were from an age where designers weren't quite so jaded about their player base. When I think about the designers I have worked with recently I can think of very few who see their target markets as anything more than dumb teenagers or bags of money.
I bet my left testicle that were this generation of game designers presented with the idea of a branching plot and multiple endings, most would give you a look of incomprehension and say "What's the point? Most people don't even play all the way through once!".
(..and out of the idealistic few that said "Sure, let's do it!", it would probably be the first feature axed for budget reasons anyway.)