What Innovations Would You Like to See in Modern Gaming


I found this inspiring (from a review of Overgrowth): “Instead of using health bars it takes how much force a part of your body took and if there in too much, you will die. This means that a single kick can send you into a wall and you can die or a fight can last quite a while.”

What Innovations would you like to see in modern gaming?

What conventions should be done-away with?


People like collecting sets of numbers and lists of things. I’d like to see deep games where players are so caught up that they happen to forget all that, and it’s only upon reflection later that they hadn’t noticed or cared; and then they can replay it for collecting purposes if they want. I’d like more games that don’t have development resources and time spent on the presentation of collections in assets and mechanics, etc. Collecting and numbers are just inherent, going to happen anyway, how life gets on with living, and will continue to get cranked out every year, but try to make it subconscious in more games.


Excellent question.

The thing about conventions is that they come into existence democratically – that is, some feature becomes a convention not because it was forced on everyone but because it was valuable enough that a lot of users independently desired it.

There may be a very good reason why some convention exists, possibly making it perilous to wish that convention into the cornfield. Conventions in themselves aren’t a bad thing. The real problem is when developers implement some convention in their game solely because it’s a convention, rather than because they consciously determined that the feature is a good fit for their game’s design goals.

So I’m a little hesitant to suggest doing away with any convention. But I might be willing to temporarily misplace some convention that’s gotten so hidebound that virtually no one now questions why they implement it.

OK, all that caveating done:


Generic RPG In A Box – something in between a general-purpose game engine (e.g., Unity) and a fully-built-out game, so that it’s got all the libraries and tools licensed and packaged for creating and populating a dynamic 3D world; all creators have to do (“all” they have to do, riiiiight) is actually create the content for a particular game.

Less Fear of Surprise – I’d like to see more developers willing to tolerate (within non-crashing limits) emergent effects from combinatorial systemic interactions. Too many games today – I assume because publishers spending millions of dollar-equivalents are naturally risk-averse – seem to be made under the theory that they must control every nanosecond of the player experience or too many players will declare “this is boring!” and give their game a bad Metacritic score. The result is too many games with “If you don’t play it as we intended you’re Doing It Wrong” Syndrome. (Not implementing save-anywhere is frequently an indicating symptom of this disease.) Instead, let systems bang into each other! In addition to the setpieces, let there be surprises so that players have something to talk about with each other.

Better Game Recommender – I’m still waiting for someone to build a game recommender that uses the model described by Richard Bartle: people rank their favorite games, then the recommender looks for the person whose favorites are most similar to yours and recommends to you the games that the other person (who may remain anonymous or not) likes the most that you don’t already have. Rather than some complex, too-smart-for-its-own-good algorithm, this approach is simple, easily implemented, and IMO would clearly deliver exactly the kind of recommendation that gamers actually want. (In fact, you could do this with any product; we’re just talking games here.)


Mechanics Uber Alles – Too many game creators (IMO) start designing a new game by focusing on an idea for a mechanic. Maybe it’s riding some vehicle, or it’s some form of direct damage-dealing, but it’s almost always about some action the player takes in the game world that’s repeated (in variations) as the core of the short-term play loop. This can work when the mechanic is a really new one (like hiding from enemies while needing to risk exposure to achieve goals), but I’m not sure there any many such truly new mechanics left to invent. Instead, I’d like to see more developers try wrapping a game around a new Aesthetic (BioShock came close to this), or some curious form of world Dynamic (an example of which is the Creatures genetic breeding game), or even new Kinesthetic ideas (VR, AR, new input devices).

Bought It, Beat It, Sold It – Why are games made to be throwaway experiences? I’d like to see some games made that try to become a lifelong companion; not just replayed, but that offer something new and worth exploring every time you go back to that game.

I’ll need to think about this some more.


Yeah, man. In the case I presented, it’s not even a democratic thing, it’s an everyday human trait. I’ve been bored of it all since the early 90s.


I’ve written about this at great length elsewhere, but basically, I’d be interested in seeing innovations in the area of morality.

Specifically, I’d be very interested in seeing combat with moral repercussions; and combat which is more than mere fights to the death.

And also, killings which have repercussions more than alerting nearby foes or slightly and temporarily modifying some counter like faction reputation, wanted level, or bounty cost.

For example, a desperate bandit tries to demand your money. You kill her. You find on her body a baby bottle. you find in a house nearby a crib with a baby in. Was that baby hers, or did she kill the parents? Either way, is the baby now your problem, or are you going to walk away and leave it to starve in this deserted shack?

That’s not scripted. That’s emergent gameplay.

Now make it so in combat, people can cry “I yield!” and mean it, and where they don’t switch from talking to homicidal rage in one step but more like several dozen or more that normal humans do, each level designed to get the other side to cave, or to allow you to cave, without too much loss to either side.

So, you had the choice not to kill that bandit. You could have used the options that already exist in games (talked your way out, disarmed, stunned, blinded, run away, etc), as well as just never escalating up to deadly blows anyway.

Now repeat that for every fight in a game. Every threatening person has loved ones, dependents, prisoners who need feeding, or at least a schedule that their death will impact. It’d have to be a game where fighting was not the main point of the game - not a shootemup or hacknslash.

An Immersive Sim, for instance.


It doesn’t go as far as what you’re describing here, but Kingdom Come: Deliverance does at least let you choose whether to accept an opponent’s offer to surrender: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIfSE1-vpx4

Giving that choice more, and longer-term, consequences, though, and doing this for most of the actions that are taken in the game world by both players and NPCs… that could be pretty amazing. In fact, that’s pretty close to being a component of this idea I’ve been poking at for a few years now of a Living World game – one that’s unapologetically more of a world-simulator than a scripted-story game. Letting characters do things to each other, and enabling systems that respond to these events so that the world changes over time in plausible ways, feels like a fertile area for game development.

I don’t think there are too many gamers interested in something like this. But I believe there are a few people who’d find a systemic, dynamic, living world like this irresistible. :smile:


I was surprised to see Skyrim went quite a ways towards this: fist fights, yielding, bounties and more all gave killing more meaning.
Like you say though, it’d make for a very un-fun game for most if they went the whole way with it.


Groveling and pathetic villains.
Groveling and pathetic innocents.
Whimpering and quivering.
Characters thinking of the love of their life and not wanting any of this.
Characters in the wrong place and wrong time, with a range of skills and competence.
Animations of silent resignation and acceptance, with or without pride, painless or excruciating or in shock, adrenalized or exhausted, manic or collapsed.

The heavy lifting done by the voice-actors, with animation checkboxes and sliding scales to mix combos.


Speaking of this, let’s do away with the heavily-muscled, meathead protagonist in favor of an everyman like Gordon Freeman. Machismo has been done to death.