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.