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Do we need "Defiance?" Are shooter MMOs the stupidest idea ever?

I'm referring to the video game, not the concept, obviously. I find myself a little cynical about this little venture, and I'm just wondering what others think.

Several of my friends have gotten quite interested in this game/show, and I have to admit the show isn't too bad! It's not exactly riveting, but it's not awful. Some original-ish ideas, good special effects and character design, and so on, so forth. If you're interested in wasting your life on formulaic TV shows that neither challenge nor surprise (i.e., most TV shows) instead of doing something productive or self-bettering or even interactive, then give it a watch.

But I can't understand why people are excited at the prospect of the co-existing "tie-in" nature of the show and game.

Think carefully, people. Who makes TV shows? Who makes video games? They're not the same people. Both "sides" of Defiance's production, the game development team and the TV show crew, are essentially thinking of the other as nothing but advertising for their product; at least, that's my first thought.

Sci-fi, shooter MMOs are rare, and rarer still is one that succeeds. But MMOs are the money-making golden hens of the video game world. TV shows are big money, liable to succeed if the right executives are given a few backrubs to secure good timeslots (edit: because people will watch fucking anything nowadays, even another stupid crime drama featuring a quirky dumbass and a gritty walking stereotype). In short, the game seems like nothing more than a marketing experiment. It's nothing more than a video game tie-in than happens to run alongside a TV show instead of a theatrical release.

That's not to say that it's not a good game. No, what I'm saying is that it''s probably not a good game, or will have the legs cut out from under it very soon when the studio loses interest. It has the same flaws as any other video game that invokes an intellectual property and/or directly ties in with whatever is being released by the well-entrenched, selfish, arrogant institution that is Hollywood.
Are they really concerned with making a good game? Or, what about their promise that it will be a great new form of semi-interactive entertainment? Is it really, or are they just going to abuse this MMO fad to get money out of it? I'm very cynical about that.

It's worth pointing out a simple fact, one that may piss a few people off. That fact is this: shooters suck ASS as a basis for MMOs. They're awful. Fantasy is pretty much the only workable genre.

There's nowhere near the level of diversity and beauty in a game with a modern-ish setting. You can't have weaponry upgrades that make any sense - one sword can be more powerful than another because it's blessed with the power of Snarfglob and made of mithritanium, giving +5 to orc stabbing, but there's less diversity between firearms - and firearms are far better than any other weapon.

Put down your replica katana and LARPing mace. Drop your hunting bow, even. A pistol wins. So in a setting with modern firearms, no other weapon can match it. No chance. So everyone has to use guns primarily and you can hardly have a gun equivalent of this and this. Armor will also be similarly utilitarian, non-magical and not aesthetically interesting.
If this sounds irrelevant or shallow, bear in mind that the reason most people play WOW is their addiction of gaining better, cooler looking gear, usually in sets, to get higher numbers, and to make their character look more awesome. It's a huge part of the game's depth and persistence; not to mention the sheer flexibility and magnetism a high-fantasy setting provides.

There's also stuff like, say, the diversity and impact of the gameplay, which is hard to match when everyone has puny sci-fi guns, and nothing else can possibly match them. If a sword somehow surpasses a gun in Defiance's game, then we have serious segregation between the game and the show, and all credibility goes out the window. Star Wars somewhat managed it by the introduction of technology such as ray-shields, lightsabers, psychic friggin' powers and the fact that most man portable weaponry in the Star Wars universe would be considered useless by modern standards (give me an M4 over Chewie's dumbass bowcaster any day). And how can you possibly make all the races interesting and diverse in such a gritty sci-fi setting?

Don't get me wrong. I know it can work to a degree. There are sci-fi shooter MMORPGs out there, I know. You also should see how I play MGS4 or Rainbow Six Vegas: half the time, I fiddle around selecting the right guns and armor and equipment to fit whatever theme I have in my head. I'm like a kid, still, I still haven't lost that ability to apply my imagination and find deep meaning and fun in video games.

I'll make my guy look like a Russian Spetsnaz operative, with appropriate gear; or a South American guerrilla fighter, forswearing the advanced weaponry for an PKM machine gun and a PMM pistol. A SWAT officer with just a shotgun and sidearm. I roleplay and entertain myself in these video games like I did when I was ten.

But there's just not the same level of depth, in either R6V2 or Defiance, to match a game like WoW. It's simply not as expansive, not as addictive, and it already smells like a cash-in to a lot of people. I don't have much hope for its survival. The show will erroneously get priority and sway over the interactive, money-making media, due to the back-assward, stale nature of this industry.

The reason I write this is that I'm curious about the very concept of a parallel running tie-in like this. A small part of me loves the idea, and thinks it can succeed. Hopes, even. But the seeds of doubt and cynicism flourished quickly; video games and movies just don't have a great relationship. Remember, video gaming was almost killed by a shitty tie-in specifically created as nothing more than "free advertising" as far as the studio was concerned. There's not a lot of love lost between the two, with prominent cinema personalities vocally lambasting the newer form of entertainment, despite it being wildly successful.

Video games "cannot ever be art" and all that matters now is the bottom line. That's why we not only get Transformers 3, but fucking Tomb Raider 12.

As cool an idea it is, I just wonder if there's any place in this bleak, monopolized world of "entertainment" for something like Defiance. Is there any space for new and original ideas of execution and intellectual property? Remember, Defiance isn't something new made by up-and-comers, producers and directors we've never heard of before with new ideas. It has money and influence and profit motive behind it.

I dunno, maybe I'm just grumpy. Sick of seeing good shows be canceled, sick of seeing the little guy, the newcomers with ideas, be cast aside, and sick of seeing new ideas dropped or twisted. This just seems like more of the same to me...

Oh, interestingly: one of the writers for Defiance wrote episodes of The Adventures of Sonic The Hedgehog.

Show isn't bad. Game isn't bad. But I still have misgivings.
Viewed: 50 times
Added: 5 years, 9 months ago
5 years, 9 months ago
It seems to me that your frustration stems from an amalgamation of problems surrounding the industry, and not pinpointed on one specific fault. I cannot alleviate all of the concerns you have, but I would like to address a couple of the points you made. Granted I'm just a stupid college student who grew up on the grand space dramas of Star Wars and, to a much lesser extent, Star Trek. So take my opinion for what you feel it's worth.

First let me tackle the whole problem of Sci-fi universes, and how they really don't make much sense when you consider the tech we currently have. I fully agree that most creators find this a difficult nitch to worm their way around. Star Wars is an obvious example of this; lightsabers versus bullets? Please. But most sci-fi actually is part fantasy, and wants you to suspend your disbelief to show off cool special effects and wow your mind. I never once watched Star Wars and thought, "why don't they just make a fully automatic machine-gun?" That would ruin the fun and mysticism that IS sci-fi. Some disbelief has to be acquiescently tossed out the window to fully absorb the awesomeness.

I'll use another example from my childhood that really only stands out upon reflection: Power Rangers. Holy waffles is Power Rangers absurd at wanting to display amazing special effects at the cost of believable scenarios. Multiple seasons had blasters, resembling those in Star Wars or Star Trek, but they hardly ever used them. Normally the weapons would only be used after some extremely unnecessary flip off the face of some baddie so you could witness ridiculous martial arts and a light show all at once. If it weren't a show, you'd be staring at them with an incredulous visage and barking at them to just shoot everything. But there is a cool factor to martial arts, katanas, blasters, and other things we could easily outmatch with current weaponry, and I can forgive a lack of realism to giggle on the inside.

Now for the video game and TV show tie-in. Can it work? Sure. The success of both will depend on the connection between the fans and the show, and, more importantly, the amount of communication between the two studios. I don't really have personal interest in either project, but I could see it working. Even if shooter MMOs aren't my thing, people still play them, and they apparently watch Defiance. Is it a cash-in? Probably, but that's how modern capitalism goes. You market what's going to sell; and MMOs sell faster than hotcakes from the best bakery in town.

However I find the intermingling concerning. Not because there's some marketing fault or I fear it will fail, but because I fear the concept of combining media. Literature, movies, and video games are all separate systems with a set of distinct features. They all tell stories differently, relate characters differently, and stimulate the mind differently. I find the movement of video games and TV shows to become more cinematic to be troubling. Writers and creators should utilize the form of media that they have adopted to its full capacity, without having to funnel concepts in the direction of some big-budget action flick.

Don't get me wrong, I love adaptations. The Lord of the Rings made a fantastic film franchise, and Star Wars makes for some thought-provoking literature. But if we force all creators to make material that demonstrates the same experience as a film, with similar pacing and character interaction, then the form of media cannot be utilized properly.

Imagine if someone wanted to make a comic version of "Tai's Story". There probably wouldn't be any real issue, as comics have many of the features of literature. But what if someone were to make a "Tai's Story: The Video Game"? As hilarious as such an attempt would be, it just wouldn't work. Worse yet, what if someone had told you to make "Tai's Story" resemble a film?

I guess that I am just as grumpy as you, but my grumpness stems from other concerns.            
5 years, 2 months ago
... And I forgot to reply to this too.

I feel terrible. :S All I can say is, I read every comment. If I fail to respond, especially to good comments like this, then I treat that as a personal failing of mine. Ugh.
5 years, 2 months ago
Don't worry about it. Most of my opinionated writing feels like puerile drivel in retrospect anyway. I have no idea if I even meaningfully contributed to the discussion. Media analysis isn't really my forte X3.

Still have a few of your journals to catch up on, myself. Hope you won't mind belated comments.
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