Blackened Skull

There is no gene for the human spirit

Posts Tagged ‘Game design

In the moment

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Had a brief few thoughts on one of the topics that I hadn’t yet attempted to write about. That topic being, ‘How do games approach the issue of ‘ageing’?’

Most linear gaming models aren’t equipped to pay real attention to the effects of ageing of playable characters within that gaming world. The player is usually contained within the moment even if the narrative describes a passing of time. We don’t normally see time take its toll on the ‘heroes’ we play even if many years have passed between cut-scenes.

Assassin’s Creed III spans 30 years of Connor’s life from the period of 1753 to 1783. I’m hoping that other than the superficial look of the character, I’ll get to see some meaningful maturing and depth of the Connor character.

Scars that don’t heal. Now that’s something I’d like to see worked into a game narrative much, much more. I know by their nature videogames tolerate violent actions to the point of banality. But I’m far more interested in the mental scars that characters could carry. Where previous actions should bear down on perception of present events and age is depth of character and not just adding some facial hair and a drinking habit.

Written by David Osbon

November 5, 2012 at 12:04 am

Losing multiplayer

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A little trend seems to be developing with next years videogame title releases. With Bioshock Infinite looking likely now not to have a multiplayer option, 4A Games have confirmed that Metro: Last Light will now not have multiplayer.

The link above to a Q&A with 4A Games reveals something which I’m beginning to believe is very centric to the videogame development process;

Q: How much better would the single player campaign have been if you’d just focused on that right from the start?

A: Fortunately, we never dedicated too many resources to the MP component beyond prototyping – it never entered full production. By making the decision when we did, we think the single player campaign will benefit as a result.

By allowing a multiplayer option, game developers are likely allowing the single-player experience to suffer. Videogames are at their best when the worlds they create don’t fall apart under the duress that multiplayer can put upon them. I believe that dev teams need to be clear from the outset what they want to create. Either a single-player experience with a fully realised world or look to create something new that isn’t a pastiche something that I believe the current state of multiplayer is now.

Written by David Osbon

October 22, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Traditional not transitional gamer

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This a game without the bloat of the modern blockbuster – no co-op mode to allow two friends to assassinate hand-in-hand; no lip-service multiplayer to distract the development team and divert their budget; no upgradable hub to grow or furnish; no open world to impress and weary. Rather you’re given a series of handcrafted missions, each with its own optional twists and turns, each with a start, a middle and an end, the plot written by a designer, the script penned by a scriptwriter and the narrative transcribed by you.

– Simon Parkin, 8th October 2012

The above extract is from the Guardian’s review of Dishonored. It easily sums up how I like my videogaming experience when I get the opportunity. I say that because most videogame titles released today are now a mixture of SP, MP and Co-Op. The sum of those parts don’t often make for a better experience. I prefer a standalone single-player game where developers have not seen their imagination soured by the publisher and their marketing tick-box.

Dishonored will be the first purely SP first-person game that I have played for some time. I really am looking forward to the experience and it got me thinking…what have been my favourite pure SP game experiences that I have completed on the current console generation?

Here’s just a few of those titles that I believe are worth mentioning…

Bioshock – 2K

My PC at the time didn’t have the minimum spec. to run Bioshock. I was disappointed and decided to buy a console and so ending the PC as a gaming format option for me.

Bioshock showed me that games could have meaningful consequences to players actions. It allowed the player to believe in the character and world around him. I applaud 2K because it did something that cinema and TV do well but gaming generally doesn’t – successfully show the passing of time. The above clip is the last scene in Bioshock – if you played nice – and bookends the story with a conclusion that leaves you with no ambiguity.

I mentioned in a recent post that I had a few topics that I hadn’t written-up but hope to soon. One of those topics – How do games approach the issue of ‘ageing’? – is something I wish to explore fully in a separate post but you can see that 2K weren’t shy about ageing your character to his death-bed in this last scene of Bioshock. Death and ageing are two key areas that I believe developers have been very lazy in their approach to. In a pure single-player game experience the topic of age and death could be big, big moments for the player and those moments shouldn’t just be just for allaying NPCs of their place in the story.

— Part 2 to follow —

Written by David Osbon

October 9, 2012 at 11:35 pm

Environmental damage?

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I love a game world that allows interaction beyond opening a door or turning a handle. Lovely detailed cut-scenes and a well-told story are one thing but stale, generic interactions that matter little to the way a game is played always tend to be a turn-off for me.

If we look at a game like Borderlands, it has a total number of 17,750,000¹ guns that a player can possibly find and use. That’s a vast arsenal and one that I’ll never see in total but it’s there waiting. The sequel is due to have even more weaponry but I don’t discount the other props that can be handled or manipulated in-game. Even if the interaction is muted it is far better to have the hacks and audio diaries of a game like Bioshock than the static dull world of Call of Duty.

How developers re-imagine the interaction between game character and game world and what props to include in that interaction will determine if I enjoy spending my time within that world. While watching a gameplay video of Borderlands 2 with Randy Pitchford, a comment was made about damage a player’s character takes from falling. The consensus was that where would be the fun in fall-damage? If it allows the player more freedom of movement within the game then that is a good thing. I tend to agree with this point. If rules of gravity or natural law can be bent or broken in a way that fits the game world then developers shouldn’t be afraid to go with it. Games development should have the scope to look at the world differently and not have to represent a chronicle of historical conflicts as entertainment.

So how do you see it? Would you rather have more worlds like Call of Duty Halo or would you prefer developers take a few more risks with how they approach game worlds and the opportunities of player interaction with those worlds?

¹ Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition 2012 pg.43

Written by David Osbon

September 15, 2012 at 11:54 am

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