I still remember the weird feeling of "I was there" that struck me the first time someone reminded me that "First Person Shooters" or FPS used to be called "DOOM clones", because DOOM was seen as the "original" FPS. It's a weird transition, going from one product-linked title to another openly classifying title. At some point, for some reason, DOOM was no longer the end-all and be-all of shooting games from a first person perspective. Well, I was more a Wolfenstein guy, anyway, but still....
And today, we have tons of FPS games. We even have some variation, other than "what guns are there?" and "are the enemies AI or real people online?". Player Unknown's Battleground (PUBG) is not even being called a FPS, but has seemingly launched the subgenre of "Battle royals", while "Arena shooters" run from Overwatch to the insanely high-speed Tribes: Ascend, not to mention all the more DOOMish games like the Deus Ex series and Mass Effect. And even they are diversifying; unlike Deus Ex games, DOOM really wasn't into the whole "stealth" thing.
I need to think about these things right now, because I still struggle with my recent issues on originality. A commenter in one of my earlier blog entries even commented that I should stop trying to do all kinds of weird things, that I had a sort of responsibility to focus my work around what a game needed in order to be fun, rather than my own needs to dabble with new and original concepts. That comment really bugged me, because I ENJOY doing fruitless but original / challenging stuff! But it's not the easiest way to get something solid from your efforts. Or something good, for that matter. People often enjoy things they can easily understand, such as things that are genre-obedient enough that they do not take a 48 hour course to start playing. Originality is a double-edged sword, you might say.
So I was advised to do something less original, and more concrete, identifiable and most of all, simple to imagine and produce. I did a small game inspired by my efforts to clean up after a bunch of kittens I took care of for a few weeks (i.e. a game that involved cleaning up a mess that just... kept... GROWING), and it was an enjoyable two-day challenge. The result was even a bit entertaining, though mostly because of the OCD aspect of cleaning rooms and keeping the mess (identified by a simple blue color) from spreading back in there. Gave some ideas for future games, too! But I feel a need to get back into something more fulfilling again. Something a bit more heavy, so to speak. And yet, something that is not TOO original, just to stick to my "responsibilities".
Personally, I started programming when I was a small kid. My dad and I would enter code from books on our family ZX Spectrum and watch little symbols act like race cars and stuff. But I only really got into games programming back in 2011, after I got very into, and then later got very frustrated by, Minecraft. I wanted that game to take community (read: Modder) ideas more serious, and even did some modding at some point (I gave up when new Minecraft versions made everything I did incompatible for the umpteenth time). So if I am meant to try myself at something not too original, but still new, I thought I would have another shot at that. It all starts with a Minecraft clone, which I am making now. But then, hopefully, I will take that in completely new directions, the kind I felt the original Minecraft cast aside, foolishly.
So once upon a time, an FPS was known as a DOOM clone. Nowadays, people like myself fiddle with Minecraft clones. I can't help but wonder what Minecraft clones will be called in a couple of years, when and if a vibrant genre evolves around the concept....
Just for kicks, here are some questions you can answer in the comments, if you want to impress me or be my friend: What alternate name would you suggest for the genre "Minecraft clones"? Or what game would you like to make, but change some very specific things in? Tell me in the comments, let's make this more than me rambling into the cloud!