First off, sorry for the complete lack of posting lately, I’ve got so much going on behind the scenes right (some ‘pay the bills’ client work, as well as some really exciting stuff) now that getting to the blog isn’t as easy as I’d like. I still try to leave comments and poke around the forum while stuff is compiling (around 15 seconds for Fraser’s Ride, a full minute for World 2, yikes!), but for the most part, here’s a bunch of stuff I’ve been holding off on that I wanted to try and address.
My last post mentioned the Too Human demo, and gaming sites have been reviewing the game sense, but the sort of stuff that really bugs me about the game is stuff that you never find in reviews. Game reviews always try to stay objective and non-biased, and I really think that that’s the worst possible way to review a game. Anyways, the first thing that really bothered me about that demo how you can shake the joystick back and forth, and your character freaks out back and forth, facing whichever way you were turning. Now, I know I always discount realistic physics in games, but I think there’s an important distinction to be make. I love physics in games, even (especially?) animations that imply physics with no sort of real impact on the game. I love taking sharp turns in Jet Set Radio and watching the skater lean into the turn, I think the heavy weight of the main character in GTAIV feels great, if not a bit unresponsive. 2d RARE games always had a great sense of momentum (Snake Rattle N’ Roll, DKC, even Battletoads). I always stress games giving feedback to the player, and when a game can portray a sense of weight, that’s what much more data being sent to the player to round out the experience. The original Metal Gear Solid had a problem with that, and today, letting your character turn on a dime is just unacceptable. Holding the joystick at an enemy and watching Balder hack away at a enemy just feels terrible. It’s basically the polar opposite of what the Wii is about, I intend for that enemy to be attacked, and Balder just does his thing, everything in between is left out. In this case, there’s not even a mashed button or tilted joystick to relate to each strike.
Anyways, thought I’d just like to address that, since it seems like ‘next-gen’ means something different to everyone. Plus, I guess I just really, really liked Silicon Knight’s awesome Gamecube game, Eternal Darkness.
[fyi: I'm terrible at writing long blog entries, I keep getting distracted and walking away from my computer]
Lets see, what else can I throw my 2 cents in on… Ah, the age old debate of ‘games as art.’ Duh video games are art, and not just because they’re made up of other arts, like music and graphics. Art is nothing more than a creation that’s meant to be interacted with. Most art is one-sided, to be looked at, or to be listened to. Today, people like to make crazy things that they consider art, like a leaky faucet, or a light up floor. Gameplay itself is an art, the way a person interacts with a game, the emotions and other data sent to the player, and the player’s reaction. This itself is an art. I would argue that video games as they are today are an imperfect art, in the same sense that gazing at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel through a 3d ViewMaster would be an imperfect interaction with the art.
‘Game feel’ just isn’t emphasized enough nowadays, probably because people have such a hard time putting their finger on exactly what that means in the first place. You can’t really bullet-point that in a sales pitch or commercial. But I would say that the ‘feel’ of a video game is the most artistic part of it, the purest interaction, best when it’s subtle and detailed, and even mostly subconsciously conveyed to the player.
To an extent, though, I almost want to feel insulted when games are called art. I mean, that’s it? Only ‘art’? Like Oscar Wilde once wrote, ‘All art is quite useless’ (This is, however, the internet, where the more useless something is usually means the more awesome it is).
While I’m at it, ‘realistic’ physics rarely help gameplay, or the feel of a game. I tried out the Force Unleashed demo on ps3 recently, and sheesh, did they forget to put gameplay in there? I mean, grabbing a stormtrooper and watching him flail about was fun, well, the first time. After I was able to clear out a room and get one guy left so I could actually appreciate the ragdoll instead of just getting grenades exploded at me, there wasn’t all that much left to do with him. But the camera follows them if you throw them really far. Because throwing baddies really far is epic. Apparently.
Less tech demo and more game, please!
P.S. Almost forgot, behold! Chuck and Norris!