Let’s Talk About Progress

Progress is a funny thing sometimes. We assume there is always something better to be had, wringing every little bit of advancement we can out of something… and then we squeeze it even more. We’re raised with the thought that everything needs to always be improving. Even when it’s no longer obvious we push forward under the idea that there must be something more. Applying this to games seems to leave us in this awkward state though. What if there is nothing next? If there is no more forward progression? Do we still push devs even if it’s an unsolicited expectation; an inevitable disappointment? Are we at a state where we’re expecting progress for no other reason than for progress sake? Because it’s beginning to feel that way. The science enthusiast in me says we’re looking for there to be a new evolution of games because we want there to be one, not because there is evidence suggesting there should be. The technical expanse has hit a terminal point. Developers are now limited by budgets or creativity instead of the devices they build games to be played on. Storytelling has no barriers. If the dev can imagine a way to do something, it can be done. So what is this next level we’re waiting for in anticipation?

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I had two posts I was working on before this happened. The first was a growing disdain for Final Fantasy Record Keeper. In a nutshell I feel like it was devaluing the characters and worlds I loved. Final Fantasy was becoming a mundane thing as I chipped away daily at a game with no story or end. The second, I was writing up a full recap of the major E3 2015 briefings to share my take on it, and I was working on it through the unveilings. Then something happened it all stopped. Rumors had swirled earlier that day just as I had every other day of a Final Fantasy 7 remake being announced that night… again, like every other E3 since that PS3 tech demo was shown. Only this time, it actually happened. At that moment I lost any desire to write about anything else.

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The thought was put forward about preserving archival versions of the video games that we’ve grown to love. Been thinking of this topic for a couple of days now. It didn’t sit right with me when I first heard it. Per my usual it just rattled around in my brain for a while. Arguing points and counterpoints with myself trying to sort out how I feel about it… often while playing those same games in question. Sometimes I manage to come to a conclusion of some sort? Usually though it doesn’t come without some form of compromise or addendum to the original proposal. The long and short of my final feelings on the topic are “What we’re doing now is more than enough.” this time. Key points that got me there?

  • Art exists within a time and place
  • Art is not always meant to be preserved
  • A user’s perspective holds heavy bias
  • Technical feasibility and futility

A lot of these intertwine and don’t exist in isolation of each other so expect some overlap. It’s more like a web of thoughts than a trail at this point.

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