Interesting perspective, kidpython.
I don't take your comments as an attack from which Josh needs to be defended. In part that's because I agree with your conclusion. Most games, 12-13 years on from the late PC era, are made to try to eliminate any possibility of the player being bored or confused for even a millisecond because, OMG, they might tell their friends they quit and their friends won't buy the game! That may be understandable since the bigger games these days have enormous costs, and it's considered too risky to make a game that doesn't do exactly what it's told. If you can't control the experience, how can you know whether you've hit the scheduled milestones on the master project chart?
This means that modern games are stripped of any possibility that they might ever do anything that's not been scripted and tested and focus-grouped into the same specific moment-by-moment experience that the developer wants all players to have.
There are two big problems with this mindset. One is that it assumes that there is only one unitary Gamer who demands intense sensations (action) and competitive accumulation of goods (loot) or real-world public prestige tokens (high scores, leaderboards, achievements, etc.). That's false. Players have different interests, including the exploration of interesting dynamic worlds. The success of more open, player-centric games like Skyrim and Minecraft (now the third-best-selling game of all time) supports that view.
The other problem with the "you'll have the play experience I created for you or none at all" attitude is that it fails to let games do what games are uniquely good at. We have a name for the kind of entertainment experience where you see exactly what the creator wants you to see: it's called a "movie."
Computer games are special because they have the capability of detecting the choices of the player and changing the world of the game to affect the player's next choices. Nothing else does that. So to make games in which choice has no real meaning is to completely miss the point of what computer games are for.
Such games may be a lot of fun... once. "Played it, beat it, sold it" games get made because there are plenty of gamers who do like that kind of low-engagement experience. The popularity of mobile and Facebook games also attests to the frequency of players who aren't looking for deep intellectual or emotional choice-making.
But there are other kinds of players who do enjoy those deeper kinds of engagement, whose idea of fun is dynamic places in which they can invest their thoughts and feelings -- not because they've "lost touch with reality" or any such nonsense, but because they find dynamic worlds where their choices matter to be a special kind of fun they can't get anywhere else than computer games.
Games designed to support emergent content, games with forms of ALife, games with multiple ways to solve play challenges... these games are worth making, too. There are enough gamers who enjoy being surprised to make games with unscripted, highly dynamic worlds both critically lauded and commercially viable. The numbers aren't in for Goat Simulator, but that's probably the epitome of "unscripted" right now, and look at the very positive buzz it's gotten. Some people really like sandbox worlds.
Which brings me to Limit Theory. I don't know the final form its gameplay will take. But Josh has said, from the Kickstarter on, that he's not planning on writing any Main Storyline for LT -- you will be free to do the kind of things you enjoy. That, I think it's fair to say, implies a requirement for a dynamic, emergent gameworld, and so far that's exactly what we've seen Josh delivering.
It looks like you've joined recently, kidpython, so I encourage you to search for the many comments Josh has made, and the many responses he's given to forum members (including me), about his unique style of software development. Unlike most makers of big games, who start with a "vertical slice
" of pre-defined gameplay and then build the systems to support that gameplay, Josh has focused on building the foundational systems first. That means a lot of what we've gotten to see so far just isn't that interesting from a pure gameplay perspective. There isn't any gameplay -- as many gamers would define that term -- yet.
What there are more of every day, though, are the bottom-level dynamic systems that are mandatory for a game where players can (within reason) decide for themselves what they feel like doing. A game like that will live or die on the depth and reactivity of its interacting systems. A game like that needs a world
to be invented from the ground up.
Which is exactly what Josh is doing.
Again, I ask that you not see these comments as a defense of Josh's approach, which he doesn't need and which I'm not qualified to offer, anyway. It's just one forum member's view of how Josh's development style does make sense, especially for the kind of dynamic game you say you're hoping to see, even if it's not the production model common to other games made by other kinds of developers.
Thanks for giving me the chance to comment on this.