Ask five different people what they believe gaming's heyday to be, and you're likely to get five different answers.
"PlayStation 2/Gamecube/Xbox era was the best! LAN parties of Halo 2 and Super Smash Bros Melee parties!" will be interrupted by an angry Frederick yapping, "...better than F-Zero on SNES and Sonic & Knuckles' lock-on cartridge?! I think BIGLY much not!"
But one thing that's almost certain to be unanimous? Ask those same people when gaming was at its worst, and you're likely to hear "right now” - simply because there seem to be so many impending dangers, and so many downsides to our beloved hobby that didn’t exist before.
And let's be clear here - it's objectively not worse - we live in an age of instant access to hundreds of thousands of existing games, of playing against friends across the globe, and a smorgasbord of gameplay and accessibility features to allow you to play your game in any way your wee heart desires.
That said, however, it's difficult to look past some of the more cynical additions that have crept into gaming, like an insidious little earwig into your ice cream, laying dormant in malignant stasis, ready to jump out and earwig you right on the tastebuds. Also, the earwig has a sword.
10. Too Many Cooks Spoil The Normal Maps (Studio Collaborations Going OTT)
When I worked at Ubisoft circa 2015, the studio manager was discussing what the future of gaming would be, and believed that, through inter-studio collaboration, Tom Clancy’s The Division would be the world’s first “quadruple-A videogame.”
That statement implanted in me a little seed of unease - if the future of gaming could only be achieved with two or even three studios, surely that would raise a ton of new problems. Would we have any creative control? Would we compartmentalise the game to avoid overlap? How would the lead studio even entertain quality control? Being an “underling” studio, quite a few of my then-colleagues regarded it as the most stressful project they’d ever worked on.
Put it this way - my colleagues and I discovered the answer to “how could anyone ever nit-pick a flat orange circle?,” was “with an extensive list of bullet points.”
Fast-forward to the modern day and Ubisoft’s Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora seems to have taken inter-studio collaborations to the max, with Ubisoft Massive, Ubisoft Shanghai, Ubisoft Dusseldorf, Lightstorm Entertainment and FoxNext all pitching in to see the project through to release. Based on personal experience, I don’t envy the developers between those six-plus studios one iota for such a (big, blue) mammoth task.
If such grand inter-studio projects are to be more commonplace in the future, I foresee quite a lot of production and communications problems. Perhaps though, much like the Na’vi, they'll discover the secret to true harmony with their peers, and the projects will be as easy as fusing their fleshy blue pigtail tendrils with the weird fungus-medulla of a flying blue dinner plate bird.