It's my opinion that the hobby has kind of lost sight of the creative process of making new game designs, and is almost exclusively concerned with either porting coinop games or adapting trademarked properties from movies, TV, comic books, etc.. (usually with hacks).
Now, I don't think ports are necessarily a bad idea. On the Vectrex for instance, the official library left huge gaps just waiting to be filled, and homebrews have done just that. I also like the technical challenges of porting coinop games to the 2600. Juno First with all of the moving objects is a good example. Prince of Persia is hopefully going to be another example.
But I think when the inevitable topic of "what would you like to see next for a homebrew" the assumption is that we're talking about which PORT would you like to see next. The idea that someone would come up with a totally original game, like Oystron which I hold up as the gold standard, is not even considered. And in the Coleco thread people are making a justification why originals are a bad idea that sounds like the marketing department of Infogrames! "Sorry, new ideas are too risky. Known properties will sell better." Is this what the hobby has turned into?
And I'm not sure this way of thinking is a homebrew thing. This is true of all entertainment in general, where everything seems to be a remake, a reboot, or a "port" from one medium to another (superheroes and graphic novels being the big thing right now).
Now most if not all of us have MAME and if we want the perfect arcade experience we can have it. And so many of these games have been played to death already, I'm wondering how much true play value some of them offer rather than just getting put on the shelf as a collector's item? But remember when you brought home that new Activision game and popped it in for the first time? That was a new experience. A new play mechanic. A new theme. That has value and I just don't see a lot of appreciation for that in the homebrew scene these days.
When I was interviewing Tod Frye, paraphrasing him, he said that management at Atari Inc., after the success of Space Invaders, went from thinking that coinop ports were a good thing to do, to thinking that they were the ONLY thing to do. And while this was lucrative, it was not very creative. Activision on the other hand tried to avoid ports, and while Kaboom was inspired by Avalanche, Megamania by Astro Blaster, and Dragster from Drag Race, none were advertised as direct ports. As such I think the Activision catalog stands by itself more as a creative body of work.
So I'm not saying ports are bad, but I really would like to see more passion for new game ideas. It's so easy to take that creative short-cut and start from a preexisting idea. That's something that you really have to resist because once you go down the port route, there is almost an endless number of ideas to cop if you count everything that's come and gone in the industry. You have to make a commitment to start from a blank slate and I don't see a lot of people doing that, nor do I see many people other than myself even clamoring for that. So it's a self-reinforcing thing.
My feeling is that homebrewing becomes too routine or (dare I say, corporate?) if it's only about "what do we port next".
Edited by mos6507, Thu Nov 5, 2009 9:22 AM.