Final Fantasy IV Designer: "Creativity Is Limited Now"
Since its growth as a major entertainment force back in the 1980s, gaming has managed to evolve considerably over the last couple decades. Franchises such as God of War, Uncharted, and Gears of War offer some of the most stunning graphical design in the medium's history. In terms of technical innovation, the Wii, Xbox 360 Kinect, and PlayStation Move have all put a unique spin on the traditional input method for video games. But according to Final Fantasy IV designer Takashi Tokita, one aspect of gaming that seems to have degenerated is creativity.
In an interview with Gamasutra, Tokita discussed the massive resources developers have at their disposal, saying that these days, game makers have access to better tools for creating games and translating their ideas into them with better precision. However, due to such a large emphasis on marketing, even these versatile tools aren't enough to keep creativity from stagnating. "Now, we're becoming too concerned about marketing and all these other aspects, and that's limiting us right now," said Tokita. "There's this saying that essentially means that 'you're crossing the bridge and checking every stone while you're crossing it'--that's how I feel development is right now."
The "other aspects" Tokita is talking about are outside influences, which he feels truly derail the concept of a game. According to the designer, creativity in games would thrive if less emphasis and attention was put on "everyone's opinions, and the internet, and everything you hear, and what everyone else is making." Tokita believes that by keeping their minds focused on their initial plans and goals, developers can make unique titles that burst with creativity. "I feel like creating things without getting too hung up on the little details, and paying more attention to the importance to the concept itself, is the way to move forward," stressed Tokita.
With so many developers losing sight of the creative aspect of their games and producing titles like Dragon Age II (which isn't a bad game but certainly doesn't push boundaries in terms of concept), it's hard to disagree with Tokita. After all, back when marketing, competition, and sequels weren't so important, games were undeniably more interesting. These days, you have to look really hard to find a game that's intriguing and totally unique. The independent development scene focuses on these aspects of game creation, but major publishers and developers sadly do not.
The gaming industry is currently oversaturated with military first-person shooters, motion-based shovelware, and underwhelming sequels. There's no doubt that creativity is running low. Hopefully mainstream companies take a page out of the indie guidebook and start moving forward with their ideas by creating compelling, rewarding games that are modeled after a vision--not the popularity of a genre, the potential for merchandise, or another company's idea.