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How can Ghost Recon get back to its original vision?


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Jeremy Peele of Video Games 24/7 wrote an excellent article that outlines what would need to be done for the Ghost Recon franchise to rediscover its identity. It is, of course, just wishful thinking on the author’s part, as Ubisoft sadly has neither will, vision, nor competence to create a tactical realism shooter true to Ghost Recon’s roots and legacy. Still, a highly recommended read, even if only for the melancholic sentiment of Ghost Recon nostalgia.

“... Like its environment, Ghost Recon is cold and cruel. There’s no damage indicator, because if you’ve already taken damage, you’re dead. Victory is decided entirely by which combatant gets the drop on the other. You’ll spend long, tense missions crawling on your belly, sending your squads forwards as spotters. In contrast to the drone-filled adventures to come, the original game doesn’t fill your pockets with gadgets designed to detect the temperature change caused by a bead of sweat on a terrorist’s forehead a mile away ...“

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How can Ghost Recon get back to its original vision?

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Reading over this post and the VG247 article again, I wanted to strike this point home once more:

By now, I am absolutely convinced that Ubisoft, one of the largest game development conglomerates, with over 16,000 employees, studios all over the world, and billions and billions of profits in their coffers, are actually incapable of creating a true successor to original Ghost Recon (2001), which was made by a still independent Red Storm Entertainment, under the lead of genius game designer Brian Upton.

Even if they wanted to (and admittedly that’s a huge “if”), I’d wager that Ubisoft’s entire organization really lacks the talent, let alone the spirit, to do it.

There’s a much better chance for small independent game devs, like e.g. John Sonedecker’s Blackfoot Studios and their Ground Branch, to re-capture the essence of what made Ghost Recon so great.

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I was going to make another post making the case for Ubisoft to seriously consider a remaster of Ghost Recon and Ghost Recon 2, but I think it would be fitting to reply here. I'm going to try and not get on to random rambles about different things in the games industry but there is a point nevertheless.

I don't necessarily think Ubisoft is incapable, I think that may be a bit strong. However, I'm not going to sit here and defend them. Ubisoft has peaks and trophs of being in the limelight for the right reasons, and being in the limelight for the wrong reasons.

They're now in that troph, with the overwhelming failure of Breakpoint, and with the accusations of rampant sexisim being levied against them. It's a personal opinion here, and I'm not expecting Ubisoft to take any of my word for it. But it seems they're in the same rut they were in after GR:FS didn't do so great. They did the right thing there and walked away for a few years to knuckle down. We god Wildlands which was so close in a lot of ways.
I thing VG24/7 hit the nail on the head here by affirming that the Ghost Recon franchise has a fundamental identity problem. Ubisoft seems to love saying 'We're taking the game back to its roots' but most of the time its little more than a reference in dialogue (See: every name drop in GRFS). It seems almost as if there is a fundamental trauma, almost, preventing Ubi actually taking the Clancyverse back to what it used to be. And to that, Ubisoft, I say, we're not stupid, we're not buying the 'back to roots' story anymore.

As I, and the rest of this community who have pitched in their ideas in the Story thread I have up here at the moment. There is also a fundamental issue with the storyline, it's less a line and more of a scribble. Which is most likely directly feeding into that identity problem. how are you supposed to know the identity of the game you're developing if you haven't built the foundational lore? 

So Ghost Recon has an identity crisis. How do they solve that? Doubling down on the path they're on isn't the answer.

I know what I'm about to say is not alike in any sense, but some things can be pulled from the experience nevertheless. 2018 was a really rough year for me, I was for all intents and purposes pretty broken as a person and I was dealing with a mound of repressed memories and pretty severe trauma, it was one of the lowest points in my life. My boss, a very wise and respected man, told me, the best thing to do to start myself onto the track of wellness was to go 'back to basics.' Do the most basic things just to keep yourself going. Find what makes you tick and go from there. It wasn't a magic wand that fixed everything. But it helped me pick myself up and move onto a path of managing it.

Ubisoft needs to do the same. Slow the hell down, get the finger back on the pulse, and patch the wounds.

There's been a recent resurgence in the tactical shooter genre, Squad, Insurgency, Ground Branch, Arma (even though it's technically a military sandbox), hell even CoD:MW2019 had hardcore modes that fans absolutely loved and kicked off when it was removed temporarily.

There's also been a trend for the past few years of remastering and rebooting. And they seem to have done this relatively smoothly with Assassin's Creed already. I mean, hell, look at TES:V, how many times has it been remastered and re-released now? and this, this right here sets the precedent. Why are Bethesda re-releasing and remastering TES:V?

They're biding their time. Massively open world games like the Elder Scrolls series are not easy nor quick to make. Ubisoft knows this. It's common knowledge that Skyrim's engine is as old as time itself at this point. But we know TES:VI is coming and has probably been in development for a very long time.

So, Ubisoft are sitting on a gold mine here. They would be blind to not see the influence Ghost Recon 1 has had on games such as Ground Branch, especially seeing as Ghost Recon's own lead artist is project lead and a Ghost Recon 1 modder worked on the game for 3 years. Arma has been a hotspot for former Ghost Recon 1 lovers and fans since 2007, and Arma 3 has been their most popular title yet. I am constantly bumping into fans of Ghost Recon 1 & 2 (mostly 1 because 2 wasn't on PC) in these communities. We have conversations about anything from how Ghost Recon's gameplay was revolutionary in a majority of aspects, to how Burke has won 'best ass of Ghost Recon' for 16 years running. I'm not kidding, I have the discord conversations to prove, and this was a conversation that started long before Ghost Recon 2's release, too.

Anyway, crass humour aside here. We've established three things here. Ubisoft needs to figure out what Ghost Recon's identity is, Tactical shooters are facing a resurgence, and remastering and re-releasing games is a great way of biding your time and continuing to make money while you figure out what you're doing for the next title.

What can Ubisoft do, to bide their time, assist them with finding Ghost Recon's Identity again, and also still gain them money?

Remaster Ghost Recon, and Remaster Ghost Recon 2.

 Ghost Recon 1 remastered, done right with modding, is, I'd wager, about 2 years of time bought, you have the expansion packs right there.
Ghost Recon 2 remastered, done right, on PC, with modding is a further 2, maybe 3 years.

They can do it on Unreal Engine if they're concerned about releasing tools for Anvil.

It'll allow Ubisoft to finally gauge a response as to what Ghost Recon's identity is. Rather than just saying "we're going back to the game's roots" they are. In the most literal sense possible.
Moreover, they can tap into the community of the old guard along its development. We're right here, I know if Ubisoft were to approach me and ask me for help fixing up their lore, I'd do it in a heartbeat, and I'd do it for the love of the game and the love of the players. We're a fountain of knowledge on what made this game so great and we know what can be improved upon, because we've been exposed to it for nearly 20 years now.

So, remastering Ghost Recon and Ghost Recon 2 gives them 4-5 years where they're simply going back to basics. They're not having to figure out anything extra than grafting the games onto a new engine, redoing the art (which is based off of real stuff and can probably be photogrammatrized to speed up production I will quite happily let them borrow my RAVs for this cause.) and fixing up the core gameplay features that need fixing. Boiler plating it onto unreal engine means all they have to do is incorporate modding capability and some documentation where needed. The rest of the tools are provided by Epic or external vendors (autodesk etc), no overhead there.

Within that 4-5 years of bought time they can bring in some senior members of the production team on Ghost Recon's series. They can analyze feedback from the community, even discuss with community members. Then they can discuss as a group, what the foundational identity of Ghost Recon is and work to that identity moving forward and develop a game that conforms to this vision.

Anyway I realise this is a wall of text, thank you for coming to my TED talk.








 

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I would definitely love to see Ghost Recon 2 (the Xbox ver.) make its way to the PC. If Halo 3, 4, and Reach can make it, why not Ghost Recon 2?

As far as Ubisoft in general is concerned, I genuinely think they have quite a few decent game designers still hanging around. Clint Hocking is probably one of the more notable ones, leading the development of Chaos Theory and Far Cry 2, two fan favorite games. He's now leading the development of Watch Dogs: Legion, which looks to be quite a bit of fun!

 

So Ubisoft definitely has the talent laying around, it just remains to be seen whether they can make use of them effectively. I would definitely love to see Hocking design a Ghost Recon game.

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Sounds great, but "modern remasters" is a strange thing, most of them are not so good as expected. Add new visuals - check, add bugs and ignore community - double check. Also, there are examples when a good old game, that was very popular in late 90s and 2000s, can't achieve popularity in 2020s. Quake Champions, for example. It plays similar to Quake 3/Live but most of the players choose PUBG and stay away of hardcore arena shooter and it makes devs to optimize things or even to stop development.

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These modern remasters are normally done when a company has moved so far away from their vision that they have lost sight of what made the games good. 

 

We will have to forgive bugs, Ghost Recon itself was a buggy game on its release. 

 

Ubisoft has a unique position in which they are one of the few AAA game developers that actually listen to the community, even if it is a slightly more passive measure. Adding hardcore modes, fixing glaring issues with breakpoint's gameplay based on community feedback, no matter if they were too little, too late. 

 

If Ubisoft were to tap into the community of the old guard, they could stick the landing, I'm confident of that.

 

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No DRM, offline single player, built-in local and online peer-to-peer multiplayer and dedicated server, full mod support (for absolutely anything, incl. complete user interface and gameplay mechanics, physics, AI, character and equipment models, level design, mission scripting, etc.) with open source editing tools.

There. You’re done. The modding community would take care of the rest.

But Ubisoft will never do it. They are just too greedy (and evil) to allow anything but online-only DRM and micro transactions ridden bugfests to leave their doors.

Their corporate “culture” doesn’t lend itself to attracting freethinking talent, either - only bootlicking and brown-nosing wage slaves allowed.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Omg, you sound like a child Apex. Ubisoft too greedy and evil. They trying to cater to the masses that's all, don't over read into it, it's not a plot. If the community as a whole starts to desire slow paced games, Ubi will shift. Simple. And they could absolutely do it if they decided to.

It's interesting you say that Ground Branch could do it. We've been waiting well over a decade now, it's unfinished and they can't do single player campaign. No, they can't do it as they stand now.

Edited by Lightspeed
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11 hours ago, Lightspeed said:

Omg, you sound like a child Apex. Ubisoft too greedy and evil. They trying to cater to the masses that's all, don't over read into it, it's not a plot. If the community as a whole starts to desire slow paced games, Ubi will shift. Simple. And they could absolutely do it if they decided to.

It's interesting you say that Ground Branch could do it. We've been waiting well over a decade now, it's unfinished and they can't do single player campaign. No, they can't do it as they stand now.

Insider here, things are improving drastically on the ground branch front! :D
Let's keep it civil, yeah?

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  • 2 weeks later...

You all know that every market becomes monopolistic, right? How many publishers were closed in the last years? Many, too many. In the end it doesn't matter how good your games, but how good you know the rules and how good you play this game.

You can make really great games loved by modding community, but it doesn't mean that Activision won't buy you and close because they can. 

So, you make something that helps you to be on top, not too high and not too low but near. Ghost Recon is popular? Ok, we make something named Ghost Recon. Is it good? Doesn't matter. Is it Ghost Recon we all love? Doesn't matter. Money? Sure, we need them. Modding? Next. Our game will follow trends, be nice and maybe simple and "how do you called it Ghost Recon? Such a strange name you know, bit ok lets name it that way." Our games is still loved by comminity, they made mods and so on? Nice but what about sales? 

Russian devs don't make games anymore, except some online stuff like WarThunder and smaller project. There were plenty of good games in the past, but today they don't even try. Of course it is expensive and a chance to lose is to high. Simple as that. I am a part of russian comminity of a good old russian game, which is still REALLY popular after 20 years. Some young guys made (still work on) a similar game for Android and it's popular too. Does it mean that official publisher will make a remaster of this game? Well...

Quote

But Ubisoft will never do it. They are just too greedy (and evil) to allow anything but online-only DRM and micro transactions ridden bugfests to leave their doors.

Is there any alternatives, maybe Devolver? Does anyone know big publishers cured from "DRM and micro transactions ridden bugfests" desease? :)

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21 minutes ago, AlexKimov said:

You can make really great games loved by modding community, but it doesn't mean that Activision won't buy you and close because they can. 

You don’t have to sell (your soul). Money isn’t everything. In fact it is nothing.

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Well, I couldn't agree more, but that's how it works and there is Survivorship bias . Yes, Remedy Entertainment (based on latest news) is independent but what about Blue Byte, Red Storm Ent or other? Games are made for money, we can't deny it, they can be bad, good or whatever word, but they must meet enougth buyers to be successful. 

Let's speak about studios like Activision/Blizzard. Is this Activision that make everyting wrong or it's the world and situation in this world. My answer "Yes". 

Bobby Kotick is a "bad" guy but a great businessman. He can sell you the same game nth times in a row (kill of duty). That's why they will be ok for years. Same with Warccraft 3. So, do whatever you can, this https://www.taxwatchuk.org/reports/world_of_taxcraft/ or this https://www.theverge.com/2019/2/12/18222484/activision-blizzard-layoffs-cuts-jobs-record-results-2018 = image 1. 

Money isn’t everything, but almost everything is based on money in capitalism. Until society will be ready to move forward, as it was made before with feodalizm and slavery. )

image.png.9d616322900cb8222fc8f8695c6da9b0.png

Edited by AlexKimov
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Politics are a banned subject here at GR.net, and for a good reason, so I won’t dive too far into this, but the problems we’re facing root far deeper than capitalism vs. communism. Money used to mean something long ago, when it was backed by real values, nowadays it is just one of the many multipliers of control.

The world is on a highway to hell due to philosophy, or better a complete lack thereof. Today’s ruling “ideologies” are nothing but a smoke screen, in an attempt to cover up the age old war for power, that has been raging behind the scenes for millennia. It’s the eternal fight of good vs. evil, and the bad guys use both communism and capitalism as means to the same end. What they perceive as being “rich” and “powerful” is just a result of their sad twisted existence, incapable to create anything of true value, hence unable to appreciate it.

All the money in the world cannot buy honor, integrity, identity, strength, pride, intelligence, loyalty, courage, diligence, nobility, benevolence, culture, beauty, or love. The world today is ruled by the diametrical opposite of these values. Everything is upside down, in total opposition to nature herself. Mankind must wake up right now - or will soon die in its sleep.

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Politics are a banned subject here at GR.net

Yep, this thing is not only here, it's everywhere, you'll be banned on reddit.com once you tried to use dangerous words like "communism", but what is politics? It's just a struggle between social classes. We don't need to go depper, just to realize only this simple thing and of course there is politics in my words, because  "tales" about money is everywhere I've had enough of this. Nothing personal, comrade. :)

Edited by AlexKimov
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If you want a GREAT cookie you go to Grandma's house, you don't go to Wal-mart.

If you need 10 dozen cookies for an office Christmas party you go to Wal-mart, you don't ask Grandma.

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On 28/08/2020 at 14:52, Ick said:

If you want a GREAT cookie you go to Grandma's house, you don't go to Wal-mart.

If you need 10 dozen cookies for an office Christmas party you go to Wal-mart, you don't ask Grandma.

3ucMtUS.gif

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Great article link and post ApexMods! I especially liked Jeremy Peel's reference to what used to be called Ghost Recon's 'Ghost Perspective', that this isn't and is not intended to be a first person perspective, and was something I wrote about decades ago in the context of 'there is no "I" in team' and the limitations of realistic scale view distance in realism games -- great to see someone else pick this up and ❤️ it from another well articulated perspective.

Everyone here is obviously a fan of OGR has made this a great thread, even though we're 'not allowed' to talk about what's really going on. Being French there's a lot I could add that doesn't put Ubisoft in a favorable light, but I'll say summarily, it's virtually impossible for Ubisoft to make, remake, reimagine or remaster the original Ghost Recon.

Consider: Ubisoft had zero involvement in the creation of the original Ghost Recon, they functioned as a publisher for RSE back then, shortly thereafter bought RSE, and nothing they've added to the 'franchise' since (which is a franchise in name only) beyond talented artists has been original or even brings tactical realism game design forward.

Is anyone here aware of any games designed by Ubisoft internally (not by some bought company that's now a fragmented team fighting for game design concepts) of any genre that have even a fraction of the depth of play, or thought given to design poured into the original Ghost Recon? I sure don't see it...

In fact everything Ubisoft looks like a neck down, dystopian product nightmare headed toward over-simplification for Eloi where the company's ultimate game design destination will be putting shaped pegs in holes with exploding banners running up political slogans, commercial advertising, and the game's primary mechanic will be paying  money for new shapes and colored pegs... Thank you, no...

Just as the original Ghost Recon didn't come from an 'AAA' publisher with a seven figure budget, a management committee the size of a small government, and a team of wage slave developers numbering in the hundreds, it seems unlikely it's spiritual successor will either.  In fact virtually every game with compelling game design is coming from independent developers.

I'd love to be wrong, and would even pay for that privilege.

Edited by 101459
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  • 2 weeks later...


Glad to see mod talent is still here keeping the fire going. I think dropping mod support for the franchise was the biggest and most unrecoverable mistakes Ubisoft made; GRN is a great site, but there used to be thousands, in many languages, some were even GRNs equal -- surpassed it in some regards not as good in others... 

The lack of a current gen mod-able Ghost Recon game, the long term continuity that offered is something Tactical Realism fans value (look at ARMA) and is an enormous loss here to fans of the genre, as well as all the free marketing which is an enormous, and very well earned loss for Ubisoft. 

All these OGR sites (fan sites, mod sites, tactical study and software sites), the mod talent they attracted and promoted, fans that would discuss and nit-pick everything is a level of fan/fan/developer interaction that while still alive, was definitely kicked in the crotch by Ubisoft as hard as possible, then lied about, then beaten to a pulp, and finally thrown from speeding car and left to bleed to death.

But OGR, it's fans, mods and mod talent have survived, and even thrived as a reminder of what was. That so many games actually have taken an enormous design inspiration from the original Ghost Recon (and the developers admit as much) --  make it noteworthy that no Ghost Recon game that has followed under Ubisoft's direction has inspired any such thing. Just a few that come to mind where it was interesting to see things like the squad features of OGR explored and developed:

· Full Spectrum Warrior & 10 Hammers
· U.S. Navy SEALs Tactical Strike (another ICT game based on FSW)
· The nFusion Engine Games (Line Of Sight Vietnam, Elite Warriors: Vietnam, Deadly Dozen)
· The Conflict Games (Global Terror, Desert Storm, Vietnam)
· The SWAT Games
· Close Combat: First to Fight

While not given to squad features games like Red Orchestra, Insurgency, Squad, Ground Branch carry on a lot of the realism, military professionalism, and atmosphere that was a Ghost Recon exclusive. Original Ghost Recon's influence even extended to Ghost Recon mods for the nFusion, Unreal, SWAT, and ARMA games, but just like commercial games, there are no mods taking any inspiration from any Ubisoft directed Ghost Recon bowel movement "product"...

As everyone has reflected here; it would appear that a Ghost Recon game that even remotely resembles the original, no less something with mod support is somewhere between never happening and impossible due to the company's absurd level of paranoia, dysfunctional design and corporate culture that goes all the way to the top (he who shall remain unnamed steers the ship)… But you'd think (or hope) as a token 'good will' marketing gesture Ubisoft would see the wisdom other publishers and developers have in such a move, and with a game as old as OGR offer the source under some kind of open license.

Knowing the principles though, the good will is just not there, and even if this did make it up the chain from someone in marketing as a good promotional move, it would no doubt be finagled into something more resembling a ploy -- where even if it could make it past legal, there would be onerous legal boiler plate in the license that was not particularly open -- kind of like Rockefeller giving dimes to kids for news or photo opportunities, then having his lackeys take them back after the press left.

 

Edited by 101459
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