Cosmotecture

A more serious look at video games

Posts tagged gaming

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Red Dead Redemption: I had a lot of fun with it. I was very glad that they made it. And I’m glad they tried to do some emotional things, or some poignant things. But the ending to that game was totally absurd, ok? Because, they have this long plot where for 20 hours, you’re trying to work your way up and get to the right position as this character, and because it’s in the realm of an open world shooter, it involves shooting a lot of guys. The stats screen tells you how many guys you shot—I think I shot 860 guys. Imagine a movie that’s trying to be a serious drama—just picture that—a serious drama where the main character shoots 860 guys, and then goes home to his family at the end, and you try to have this touching moment where he’s caring for his family. It simply doesn’t work because you’ve changed the value of human life, right? Part of that shooting those 860 guys was [also] burning down a village of poor peasants so that you could get in with the Mexican army. And throwing molotov cocktails in to their house and stuff? Those are families just like your family you’re trying to have this poignant moment with at the end. So I think that poignant moment thing is good; but it does. not. work in that kind of a game—it simply doesn’t.
Jonathan Blow, again in a recent Gamespot interview, touching on one of the biggest obstacles facing games: dissonance. It’s the wince-inducing sound produced when the narrative and interactivity collide in contradictory ways.

(Source: gamespot.com)

Filed under gaming video games red dead redemption jonathan blow game design

34 notes

When I was in college, we had 20 years less of history of games. So there were fewer patterns established—because games are young, right? But the upshot of all that is a lot of games I play now, they’re not really doing anything that games I played 20 years ago weren’t doing—except maybe cosmetically. And maybe the game design’s a little smoother and the technology is much better and all that stuff. But just in terms of when you sit down as a player and the feeling’s you’re having and the way you’re trying to get things done and the mode in which you’re interacting with the game—it’s not really different. And after decades of that, you sort of say as a person I kinda want something else than this thing. I’ve done a bunch of that; it was fun. But how many more hours of my life am I gonna spend on what is essentially that same activity?

So for me now, the things that are progressive and thought-provoking and challenging—not in a difficulty-reflex challenge, but challenging me as a person—those are actually what I think is fun. And playing a first-person shooter where there are some guys in a shooting gallery is not very fun, even though it might’ve been much more fun when I was 17 and hadn’t played that many games. And so I think that’s also when [an argument] kind of starts, and some of the people participating in that discussion…haven’t played 40 years worth of games, and they just don’t have the same perspective; and they’re like “how can you say that’s not fun?” But those same people, 24 years from now, might very well see that perspective.

Jonathan Blow, in a recent Gamespot interview, on how decades of gaming hone and narrow your tastes, and leave you desiring genuinely meaningful experiences

(Source: gamespot.com)

Filed under gaming game design jonathan blow video games

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Why everybody loves Final Fantasy Tactics
Epic music, political intrigue, somewhat broken yet totally engaging and synergistic game mechanics, and Calculators/Arithmeticians—that’s why.
A few random notes on the article:
I never got ‘stuck’ in that game. I don’t see how it is possible if you grew up playing JRPGs, because you learned to have multiple save files, for that potential or the possibility of getting a corrupted save file
"The story has all the weight and intrigue of a Shakespearean tragedy" — alright, that’s a bit grandiose, but yeah—intrigue for sure
I really need to play the PSP version, just for the translation. The original is… lacking, you could say. But it didn’t matter much to me back then, because the game evoked a thing, and subjective imagination filled in the gaps

Why everybody loves Final Fantasy Tactics

Epic music, political intrigue, somewhat broken yet totally engaging and synergistic game mechanics, and Calculators/Arithmeticians—that’s why.

A few random notes on the article:

  • I never got ‘stuck’ in that game. I don’t see how it is possible if you grew up playing JRPGs, because you learned to have multiple save files, for that potential or the possibility of getting a corrupted save file
  • "The story has all the weight and intrigue of a Shakespearean tragedy" — alright, that’s a bit grandiose, but yeah—intrigue for sure
  • I really need to play the PSP version, just for the translation. The original is… lacking, you could say. But it didn’t matter much to me back then, because the game evoked a thing, and subjective imagination filled in the gaps

Filed under fft final fantasy final fantasy tactics gaming jrpg

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Penny Arcade Ouya Report

Initial report detailing opinions on the prototype hardware and software from Kickstarter Ouya devs. Mostly positive, but the controller could use some work.

Even though Boxer8 and the Ouya are nowhere near the scale of Sony or Microsoft and their XBox 360 and PS3, it’s still crazy to think that this little TV gaming console is becoming a reality, and that indie developers and gamers are shaping its design to a certain extent.

image[Ouya prototype controller and console next to an XBox 360 and PS3 controller]

Filed under ouya gaming tech

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I find it mind-boggling that the NRA suddenly cares about the harmful effects of ultra-violent video games. When our law was before the Supreme Court—while several states, medical organizations, and child advocates submitted briefs in support of California’s efforts—the NRA was completely silent. Now, rather than face reality and be part of the solution to the widespread proliferation of assault weapons in America, they attempt to pass the buck. More guns are not the answer to protecting our children, as evident by the fact that armed guards weren’t enough to stop the tragedy at Columbine High School. The NRA’s response is pathetic and completely unacceptable.
California State Senator Leland Yee

(Source: kotaku.com)

Filed under leland yee gaming violence sandy hook nra

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Far Cry 3

It is an impressive game in many respects. It has themes, it has moments of inspiration. It goes farther than any game I can recall in integrating your visceral self with the game through sound and animated flourishes. It presents an idyllic game world that recalls reality but is engineered to be gamic. But it, like too many games, is not cohesive, through and through. The parts don’t add up to a whole; they’re off by themselves doing things, unconnected or weakly connected to the rest. And there are some social themes and premises that are just way too problematic. 

I can, in my head, mend some of the lacking aspects together and see how the game could have been better, arguably. The pieces for a better game are there; they’re just not structured or arranged correctly. But there is still this persistent and fundamental problem when trying to reconcile our world of photorealism, with all its interactive and non-trivial complexity, and a concentrated, gamic world: the more realistic and less abstract you try to make it, the greater the obligation the game world has to expectations of the real world. Fail to match those expectations and you lose the player little by little. It also hurts the legacy of the game through time, where it runs the risk of its initially high valuation depreciating considerably. Not sure what to call this phenomenon yet, but I’ll think of a term, because I’ve noticed this a lot lately.

Also, whoever thinks it’s still awesome to put QUICKTIME EVENTS in games needs to retire from the gaming industry. Seriously. Especially QT events where if you fail, you just restart the lengthy, narrative-interrupted event over and over.

Filed under far cry 3 gaming video games game criticism

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Kotaku: Here Are Three Possible Reasons For Including Rape In Far Cry 3

If you need a good example of awful game journalism, this is it. Well, maybe it’s good insofar that it sparks some kind of debate, but the ultimate conclusion the author reaches fails.

In Far Cry 3, there is implied rape between one of the island’s criminal inhabitants and his captive, which is the protagonist’s friend he is trying to rescue. The author makes this out to be some kind of dissonant inclusion—that it doesn’t make any sense, or that its inclusion has no artistic merit or justification. But the towering, looming, and ironic elephant in the room that she misses is the implicit acceptance of overwhelming violence and murder depicted in the game (and others). The contrast is way, way too high between implied rape as a small detail in the narrative and the slaughterfest that is the actual interactivity, and is endemic to gaming in general. Violence and killing has of course become abstracted and is part of the fabric of gaming.

Heck, the game allows you to kill civilians going about their business with nothing more than a ‘do not kill civilians’ message.

Filed under gaming far cry 3 game journalism