But what really sets the game apart is its commitment to deliver a story that we don't get anywhere else in games [...] and show us one way that games can communicate something that's not juvenile, trite, or outright embarassing like most game narratives. If the development team had been allowed enough time to polish the game to the level it really deserved [...] this unique experience could have reached more people. What could have been.I have written similar things about Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness, but this post (found via GSW) by Steve Gaynor is talking about Kane & Lynch, the game now notorious for its possible involvement in the Gerstmann firing. The idea of noir games is interesting. I wonder if the Infocom detective games count as noir? I never played them, but I always assumed they were copying Chandler's Marlowe.
I think it's worth noting that both games -- Angel of Darkness and Kane & Lynch -- came from the same publisher, Eidos, and in both cases it appears that the publisher forced the game out before it was completely ready. It's a helpful reminder that publishers want to make money first and art second..
For me I cannot escape the question of "Why go dark with Tomb Raider?" Maybe it was just sour grapes on my part not seeing the series go the way I wanted, but the whole time TR:AoD was in production I knew it would fail. Oh of course the fate of the world lies in one woman's hands, of course a secrete society hidden from history is at work, and by all means leaping through Paris killing thugs and stealing junk will solve everything. To me such a scenarios is just a sign of bad writing. But then again, I’m just a sour puss about stories I don't like.
As far as Kane & Lynch I think Eidos rushed the game because that was what had to be done. Nobody was going to give that development team the time they would have needed. Maybe it needed another six months, but the figures didn’t add up. Publicly traded companies get hammered for not doing things when they said they would. Saying they were going to delay Kane & Lynch would have put SCi Entertainment Group PLC (who owns Eidos) into a financial tail spin…maybe? So even if the cost for another six months of works would have been low, the cost of doing that would have been catastrophic if the stock value of SCi Entertainment Group PLC went through the floor. I think in a board room in London K&L deemed done from a financial standpoint. You likely have the pulse of how the financial side works better then I do, but the business of making anything is often more about the money then the thing from what I hear.
It's a helpful reminder that publishers want to make money first and art second.
Two impressions. First, I thought, "Art second? I believe you mean, 'Art never.'" I mean, they are publishers, right? It's the programmers that should be worried about art, not the people signing checks and pushing the creations into commodities.
And second, along those lines, it doesn't mean that art in games isn't happening [not that you specifically argued against this]. Doom 3 is art. Quake 3 was art. Heck, WoW is art for another set of reasons. Space Invaders with the six sprite trick on the 2600 was art. So too Atari 2600 Chess (iirc) with the Venetian Blinds trick, or River Raid (II? not researching any of these right now) with the boards created from the game's own code standing in for random number generation. Many are "purty", another potential art form -- there's a reason the tech demos impress. Furthermore, smart programming proves to me that there's art in the 0s and 1s, even if the story, etc, doesn't keep pace. Most importantly here, publishers do appreciate some of these art forms unique to their digital creations. Activision (again, iirc) allows id to be done "When [they] say it's done," eg.
I'm bound by degree to mention Dickens writing serials for cash. The time limit imposed by publication/publishers sometimes helps produce art, though personally I can't stand Dickens. See Melville for a more palatable example.
(Perhaps more to your definition here, as I realize this is something of an extension of the movie/art parallel that comes up now and again, I believe we both enjoyed Silent Hill enough to suspect that comes close in a more, though not completely, traditional sense. I haven't cried after a video game, but SH certain haunted me a bit wrt choices I'd made [moreso than gore, etc].)
PS: You might also want to put in a disclaimer that you understand TR:AoD with another year of development isn't assured of being art. ;^)
Doom 3 and Quake are art? I am dubious. They are certainly technically excellent, but I always pictured them as falling squarely on the science side.
Super Mario Bros. is art. SimCity is art. MULE is art. It may even be argued that Grand Theft Auto 3 is art (the sequels, however, I don't think so). DOOM, well, I don't think it qualifies.
The plain fact is, game megacorps, in the United States at least, seem utterly incapable of producing art. When the publisher has so much say in the product then pandering is basically inevitable.
AOD failed because it just tried to do too much and didn't do anything well. The half-baked stealth, the meaningless RP, the inexplicable relocation of the jump button from where it had been since time immemorial.
Core, not Eidos is responsible for these things. Yes, fourth quarter was a-coming, but surely someone could have noticed how poor the games controls were in four years? Seen how boring selecting dialog was, how gross picking up candybars from the gutter was?
How much is art worth? Must a publisher fund development indefinitely to achieve it? It's not like they get credit for anything anyway. If AOD or Kane and Lynch been art, would people have applauded Eidos?