Thursday, November 21, 2013

21st November Link Collection

I am now convinced that the virtues of clarity and craft, to which I had subscribed absolutely as a matter of course, impose significant limitations on our expressive potential that can be difficult to see until you play something like this.
A product, which is a special kind of designed work, has at least two intrinsic features. One is to perform the task for which it was made; the other is to convince you to buy it. (The next time you hear the phrase ‘ludonarrative dissonance’ ask yourself whether the dissonance you’re discussing might actually stand between ‘what marketing decided would generate money’ and ‘what the designers defiantly attempted to produce’.)
Punishing us for touching the Cross Guys even though that is exactly what we must do to proceed reeks of poor affordances; it seems to place the design at cross purposes, obfuscating the rules of the system and causing us to form an inaccurate cognitive model of how the game works
In their role as the protagonist’s jailers they must usually be avoided; in their role as the wielders of power, however, it is occasionally necessary to exploit them even when this does us harm. (The mechanics deceive, in other words, because they model deceptive power structures.) That the world forces some among us to use the ugliest of personal traits to their advantage would, in any other context, be considered a thoughtful bit of hard-won wisdom that speaks to the human condition. In videogames we are, for many discomforting reasons, unaccustomed to receiving such wisdom.


It explains how in original chess draws are more and more of a problem and that high level play is becoming less and less interesting.
Game 1 Viswanthan Anand vs Magnus Carlsen:


What if we take games, but re-frame them in other terms with other values?

I think it’s the defensive fanbase, not passionate advocates for change in the games space, who are ‘too sensitive’ and obsessed with what they believe is ‘correct’.


... the culture around video games is strangling the wider conversation of play and games as a medium.
This is a technophilic narrative of play and games, where we ‘evolve’ from Chess and Go to Mario and Halo. It’s a misnomer; design hasn’t advanced in a way that makes video games particularly special outside of being new. I find many of the questions and problems thinkers face is because we look to video games and the mainstream discourse on them as the totality of what can come of games.§

Now it’s okay if your game is about setting up all these gunfights, but then don’t pretend it’s part of some great story. Everything has to be “real”! This happened with Mass Effect, when everyone got upset about skipping the combat, because then that means you didn’t earn the cutscene. “Earn every single story bit, you lazy bastard! Oh no, am I discussing my experience of Mass Effect with someone who didn’t earn it?” Same with Dark Souls; people told me I had to earn it but I didn’t have the time and I wasn’t interested in the difficulty, I was interested more in all the player messages and unpredictability. Games are this artform where this is so important, and I think it’s holding it back.§

The whole purpose of introducing the distinction between abstract and concrete thinking (which is better understood as a continuum than a strict dichotomy) was to highlight the role of imagination as a limiting factor for participation in play of certain kinds.§

From the inaccessibility of the Game Developer Conference to the toxic overtones of the Penny Arcade Expo, there hasn’t been enough space to accommodate the growing diversity of people interested in playing, creating, and thinking about games.

... writers have no shortage of definitions for environmental narrative. I grabbed a handful at an IGDA panel on environmental narrative in 2010: Tom Jubert, writer for Penumbra: Overture (Frictional Games, 2007) and The Swapper (Facepalm Games, 2013), suggested it was the parts of the story told without dialogue; Rhianna Pratchett, writer for Heavenly Sword (Ninja Theory, 2007) and Tomb Raider (Crystal Dynamics, 2013) said it was nonlinear, nonverbal storytelling; James Swallow, Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Eidos Montreal, 2011), said it was about discovery of the story – about the players finding out for themselves, rather than delivery of story through dialogue or text.

While there are a great many “bad” people in the tech sector, I do think that alliances with workers on the “factory floor” of AAA production is productive and helpful for small games creators. They’re natural allies in that they are alienated from their labor which is extracted from them through long hours of crunch situated in incredibly abusive cycles of storm and stress that shave years off of their lives and provides incredibly poor (but decently compensated) lifestyles.

If the true measure of new hardware’s worth is how stark the difference is between it and what came before, then this is the most next-gen game that 2013 has yet produced.

“What is Final Fantasy?”
... the most accurate response to Karmali’s question might end up being: Final Fantasy is dead.
... if the storytelling that formed the core of the Final Fantasy experience is no longer in favor, at a time when Square Enix needs the brand itself to be bigger than ever, and the franchise to appeal to as many players as possible, is it even still possible to keep Final Fantasy relevant? Or is it more likely the case that whatever is carried over in the series, and preserved from its ashes, is something that, good or bad, just simply isn’t Final Fantasy anymore?

As with a religious text, discussions could be had over issues of interpretation. Whether we find them in our world or a virtual one like Antichamber, we’re better off struggling with these words of guidance, even when perplexing, than we are ignoring them.

I’m interested in Season Two because I loved Season One, but I’m also interested in seeing how we talk about a young female protagonist in a terrible world. I’m interested in seeing what happens to her, how she’s treated when she meets others, and how we engage with those issues both in and out of the game.

The levels are designed not for their organic nature as a believable world. In fact, the fable-like nature of the story hides the fact that little about the geography makes sense. Instead the game is designed to allow the camera to work on its own, mostly independent of the player’s control while still meeting the needs of the player. Camera movement and framing are the other main methods—besides cutting—that convey information and meaning in film. These are the techniques that Brothers borrow and adapt for the video game medium’s own uses. The rest of the game had to be designed to accommodate this.

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