My growing dissatisfaction with the games produced by the industry has been troubling me of late. I've purchased three games this past month, and although they all please in the average sense, nothing is blowing me away. Prince of Persia was a sure-fire bet to be a crowd-pleaser, and while my take-away experience with it was in general a positive one, I can't get past the negatives, nor the lack of anything truly innovative. Yes, it's a good game. No, it doesn't get my vote for game of the year, and I would not have given it the insanely high marks it's been getting (as high as 9.6).
That's not to say that the rest of you shouldn't like it. Hell, love it. Please. Lust after the beautiful wall-striding and swinging backflip jumps off a wall to a nail-biting ledge-grab. If you enjoy their combat system, kudos to you. I want to be sitting where you're sitting.
But the problem doesn't lie with the game-developer, or general consumer. It's me. I'm afraid that I've killed my only remaining hobby.
This happened to me years ago when I started working in traditional TV and film animation (paper, pencil, Saturday morning, etc.). I stopped drawing in my spare time (which was the love of my life) because I was doing over 80 drawings a day sometimes, and I no longer cared to draw after that kind of workload, especially if I wasn't getting paid to do it.
Now I work in videogames. I've been making them for a living for three years now. I know the ins and outs of a game engine, at least as far as gameplay is concerned. When I play other people's games, I start only seeing the flaws in the system: animations that could have looked better, interpolation systems that are too linear, poorly weighted models and ineffective approaches to game balancing. Clumsy non-intuitive interfaces. Tired level design. Pointless hoop-jumping game mechanics. I hate this attitude. I want to go back to the blissful ignorance of sitting down and enjoying the gaming experience. This is like seeing the most mind-blowing magic trick ever, and then having someone explain the trick after you've demanded to know how it's done. It's a very deflating experience.
I don't expect many people to identify with this process; I'm really looking for other developer thoughts and comments. I know there's a few of you who read this site, and I want to know if you're going through a similar experience. Is this just a phase? Does it ever get better? Are you still actually playing other people's games? I know a few older game developers, and they don't play games anymore, and I think it has everything to do with seeing the man behind the controls for Oz; once you know how it's done, the magic starts to wane.