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Old 10 January 2010, 00:30   #1
Dastardly
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Gaming Clichés and Their Origins?

We've all seen them so many times that we barely even notice anymore, but where do the most overused ideas in games originate?

The fire level, the ice level, the water level etc. What game did that first?

The end of level boss/guardian?

The 1UP?

Name your clichés here and where they started if you know!
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Old 10 January 2010, 00:44   #2
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Fire and Ice ????
looked nice and i loved their previous work but it was too clichéd and too plat-formed for me.
the thing that annoys me the most in games and especialy on-line games is the cliché of health and health top ups. I mean, look at Half-life, it was a breakthrough in fps storytelling but the crates and 'plug in the wall' health boosts made me mad. its time for a new idea. or just death.......... the old miggy games had difficulty curves that were savage [just try playing Paradroid 90 on the miggy for a few hours] but we still play em and love em. games these days reward you just for sitting there like a fat fart - and that annoys me evenmore.
if i play fps games on xboxlive like Call o Duty i have to play hardcore - a bullet touches you and you die. it has to be that way or its a farce and i get p*ssed off.
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Old 10 January 2010, 01:44   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dastardly View Post
We've all seen them so many times that we barely even notice anymore, but where do the most overused ideas in games originate?

A while ago I stumbled upon this:
Game Innovation Database
At the time it was presented as a "pure" wiki. Now the presentation is a bit weird... Nevertheless, you might find some answers there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pubzombie View Post
a bullet touches you and you die. it has to be that way or its a farce and i get p*ssed off.
You should look for games with an instagib gameplay mode then (Quake series, UT series).
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Old 10 January 2010, 02:22   #4
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An interesting (if somewhat clunky) site. It is exactly what I was talking about
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Old 10 January 2010, 02:27   #5
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I'm not sure which game they started with, but I have also noticed so many games copying the same cliched formula. There always has seems to be:

City level
Forest level
Desert level (Sometimes also a Pyramid level)
Sewer/Underground level
Underwater level
Fire/Lava level
Techno/Future/Space level
Slippery Ice/Snow level

Some early games I remember having nearly all of these were Wonderboy in Monsterland, maybe Alex Kidd. Perhaps later games designers could only rip off earlier games with their levels, maybe all forest levels originate from Pitfall for example.

I guess cliches like this are often taken as design rules by developers. They feel they need to include one of each type of level to make it more "complete", so it'll have everything the previous platformer had, but with hopefully something more to offer, but nothing less.

Have a look at this game for Playstation called "The Adventures of Little Ralph", it's more of a modern 2D platformer yet it still falls into all the same cliches for the levels, starting with the city and moving on to the sewer, the desert, the forest...

Sometimes when making your own game, it's hard NOT to let it become a little cliched. I mean, in real life I run through the city and forest all the time, so it's not unrealistic.
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Old 10 January 2010, 08:23   #6
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Quote:
The fire level, the ice level, the water level etc. What game did that first?
It could be Konami's Gradius series (Also called Nemesis in Europe) I, II, Salamander, etc. these shmups made school especially for the various levels sets they presented to the player (among other things like the bottom options bar).
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Old 10 January 2010, 11:04   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cammy View Post
City level
Forest level
Desert level (Sometimes also a Pyramid level)
Sewer/Underground level
Underwater level
Fire/Lava level
Techno/Future/Space level
Slippery Ice/Snow level
Perhaps the reason for this is simply to supply the player with different settings, and in turn different things to look at.

Having to play through a game set in the same environment becomes monotonous quite quickly - look at the original Wolfenstein, for example. And then see how Id tried to spice things up graphically in its successor, Doom.

As for me personally, I'm trying to write a fantasy novel at the moment, and I've slipped in a few different environments, purely for the reason to keep things interesting for the reader.
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Old 10 January 2010, 11:45   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Muzkat View Post
Perhaps the reason for this is simply to supply the player with different settings, and in turn different things to look at.
Sure it is. And its easier to make another forest tileset than to think about something not of this world

btw dont forget about castle level and graveyard level
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Old 10 January 2010, 13:01   #9
Dastardly
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btw dont forget about castle level...
That's a different thread
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Old 11 January 2010, 17:35   #10
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Here's your answer to the boss fight question: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boss_%28video_gaming%29

As for other cliches, here are some:
- fruit as bonus objects
- a girl needs rescuing
- the player is the only person who can save the world from a massive evil force
- in beat'em-ups the enemies are punks/skinheads/junkies/body builders/ninjas/freaks

The reason behind cliches that I can think of is that most games would recycle successful ideas thinking them as selling points for the game. Why else would all the games from a certain period look mostly the same?
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Old 12 January 2010, 16:21   #11
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A lot of those are popular because they feel right. The player probably lives in a city or near a forest, and really wants to rescue a girl, or beat up bad guys, or be a hero. If you made a game where the main character had to do something evil, the player might notice a disconnect between what he would do and what his character would do, and that reduces immersion and stops us relating to the character. It hinders our imagination, which is a big part of what these old games were about.
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Old 12 January 2010, 16:58   #12
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Is the environment a game level is set in a cliche in itself?

As an example of what I mean: is every Western automatically a cliche cos it's set in the Wild West?

If a player's gonna be moving around in a real world setting inside a game then they're going to *have* to be moving around in a forest, desert, arctic, outer space etc. cos those are the only environments that exist in the real world waiting to be replicated into the game's virtual world.

To me it's more the things that occur, or that the player has to do, within these environments (ie. the plot, expanding the Western example) that are the cliches rather than the setting.
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Old 12 January 2010, 17:51   #13
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Jonathan, Worms make you do pretty evil things and we love it! Also there would be a 'disconnect' or lacking motivation for a gameplaying girl to rescue a girl, perhaps balanced out by chance to beat up on men. There's a serious disconnect between what I want to do and what genres let you do.

These days (or even in the mid 90s), a platformer could basically be infinitely cliché-free, but as long as you did the 'same old' it would still be boring.

Seems the innovation has to be in the player's possibilities, what he does in the game. Then if it has to be a genre (f.ex. due to platform limitations) that's not too bad, as long as it doesn't get in the way. And it can even involve forest and sewer tiles then.


What you do then defines the player's role in the game, and the "specifics" like graphical style, presentation, genre, "hard things to solve to progress" follow from that.

Examples:
Elite - you travel in a huge universe, you trade and shoot ships. Roles: trader, navigator, fighter pilot, either in good or evil mode. Huge change in thinking.
Tetris - you rotate and fit puzzle pieces, but it's an action game against the clock.
Lemmings - your "soldiers" move automatically and you're their "general", giving them roles to beat the map. They can walk, block, build, dig, explode...
Worms - Basically your soldiers can do what Lemmings can do, but also use a huge selection of weapons, and you control them individually. The map is also an enemy to be used to your advantage or hinder your progress.
Exile - JetPac with a single huge interesting world, it's up to you to discover its secrets. You're a marooned spaceman. You can fly, walk, use many weapons, turn mushroom spores into bombs, use misc robots, tools and alien creatures to accomplish tasks.
Paradroid - you're a mind control device sent to take over 'a' spaceship full of robots. You can solve a puzzle to take over a robot, and then you can move in 8 directions and shoot. Prime example of the simplest of control methods, yet what you do is enough fun to make you play it. No idea why it works, but it is immersive and there's this feeling of exploring a big hostile world.


I'm 100% sure you could make a fun genre game with cliché graphics with AMOS, SEUCK, or any other tool, as long as
1) The role of the player is specific and interesting
2) You do different things that are fun/interesting to do.
3) The method of doing those things (jumping, kicking and punching, shooting, pushing blocks, flying a heli, eating stuff, whatever) can be super simplistic, but the controls should give a nice feedback. Ie. the core gameplay can be "moving a sprite in 8 directions with the joystick" and nothing else, the important thing is that the control that lets you "do cool stuff" doesn't get in the way/is annoying.

If 3) is addictive in itself and sound/gfx/presentation is immersive, that's a huge plus ofc. But immersion is harder to achieve on limited platforms compared to what we're used to now, with detailed 3D, infinite sound channels and infinite memory.


Scoring systems, lives, hi-score tables, 1ups, bosses etc came from early arcade games and were invented to make the player insert another quarter. Games were simple, so a hiscore was a simple means to add a layer to the basic game idea. Why play? To learn how to get the most score to appear in the hiscore hall of fame, to survive as long as possible to make the quarter last, to beat that boss. Converselty, bosses were added to challenge the player so he wouldn't be able to play forever on a quarter. etc.

There's not really any need for those gimmicks in a purchased game that someone plays for fun at home in his spare time. Elite was the first game to properly challenge this mindset.

Last edited by Photon; 12 January 2010 at 17:59.
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Old 16 January 2010, 03:22   #14
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you're "The Chosen One."

VERY sick of that cliche!
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Old 16 January 2010, 05:14   #15
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I guess it's a necessary evil to convince the player that yes, every living thing is out to get you, and yes, your goverment has sent you alone up against the enemy hordes, because... they had budget cuts. Or something.
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Old 16 January 2010, 09:48   #16
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You're the chosen one in every game, it just depends whether or not you were prophecied as such
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Old 16 January 2010, 10:39   #17
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I once read that Zork introduced the 'z' as a substitute for 's', like in "warez".
Well, is that a cliche, or a habit?

I'd say many cliches date back to Atari2600 and Nintendo and NES (rescue girl: Dinkey Kong), and some even to mainframes.
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Old 25 January 2010, 23:53   #18
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I know you're the "chosen one" in pretty much every game, but it annoys me when you're *literally* referred to as that! :-)
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Old 25 January 2010, 23:56   #19
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Not in Lemmings.
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Old 18 February 2010, 20:15   #20
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I really hate that EVERY beat 'em up has to be like every other beat 'em up:
-weapons disappear soon after picking them up and always when level changes
-weapons (and everything else that can be picked up) disappear if not picked up soon
-corpses disappear
-ridiculous powerups, you open a pirate style treasure chest and find meat, propably hundreds of years old, and yet eat it in a microsecond and gain health
-2 or 3 buttons, one for attack, one for jump and if third then for magic/special
-generic opponents and levels (sometimes it's hard to figure out why they redraw those basically same enemies and levels for every game)
-hundreds if not thousands of stupid similarities in every game of the genre...

Who set those rules and why can't there be an exception - or is there ? I've gone through sooooo many beat 'em ups and never found any which would break the "rules" and inwhich the weapon wouldn't disappear after a few hits. ridiculous to pick up a machine gun so you can shoot 4 bullets with it. Almost as if there had been some kind of Beat 'Em Up Bible that made every game follow those stupid rules...

For once I'd like to see something different and not lose the cool weapon I found a few seconds after picking it up...
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