Assembling Allies
Friday, February 8, 2008 at 4:32PM
Richard Terrell (KirbyKid)

 

Critical-Gaming is growing. The blog now features original podcasts, videos, essays as well as other content that promotes the development of Critical-Gamers. On that note, I introduce Peter Gault. Peter contacted me expressing his interests in gaming. Because his views lined up with the views and aims of being a Critical-Gamer, the only course of actions left was to join forces. As the Critical-Gaming blog finds the best place for Peter and his contributions, don't forget to show your support.

 

Here's an article that Peter wrote. Hopefully this will be the start of a back and forth correspondence between Peter and myself in which we will discuss innovation and where Mario Galaxy fits within the spectrum. So without further ado....

Quality as Innovation by Peter Gault

Seth Schiesel, in his 2007 games of the year round up, criticized Super Mario Galaxy for its supposed lack of innovation; such a statement, while questionable within itself, also brings into question the definition of innovation. If we are to take innovation as simply being “things that are different” then yes, I would concede that Super Mario Galaxy is not “different” from the other Super Mario games. However, innovating a game is not simply tacking on feature x, which hasn’t been done before, and saying, “look, innovation!” Rather, a game provides an innovative experience by providing a fresh experience; this can be from new features, but also from refining the features that have been previously developed.

Before addressing the question of innovation in SMG, I would like to use another case study, World of Warcraft. WoW was not innovative, if applying the definition used by Seth Schiesel. Player vs. player combat, mailboxes, and dungeons were all things present in previous MMO’s such as a Everquest or Dark Ages of Camelot. However, World of Warcraft innovated the genre by tying these elements together in a way that no other MMO had. For example, the mailboxes, while not a new feature, were integrated well with the auction house; one could bid on an item, and then go out questing in order to pick up the said item anytime from virtually anywhere on the map. This support of the questing structure enhanced the flow of the game, providing for a better overall experience. Likewise, the player vs. player works so well because any player can easily jump into the battleground quest while being able to wait and do other things in the mean time. World of Warcraft did not succeed in bringing in a ton of new features, but innovated on the features already present.
In a similar manor, Super Mario Galaxy innovates by providing arguably the best Mario experience ever. Granted, it is based off previous games, but it refines that experience with a tighter control scheme and a better camera. Overall, it provides an awesome experience for the player in ways that Super Mario Brothers 3 can not.
As the game industry looks to the future, it should not simply be thinking, “how can I provide new features?” Rather, the thought should be, “how can I provide a better overall experience?” A game that can refine and redevelop a genre is innovative in its quality, not its novelty.

 

-Peter Gault

 

Article originally appeared on Critical-Gaming Network (http://critical-gaming.com/).
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