Thursday, April 17, 2014

Take it like a man or perhaps ...?

With recent reactions over an article over at Rock Paper Shotgun concerning Moebius, I've fallen into my thoughts again, wondering where does criticism and personal views on the matter stop being useful and instead form or affect a general view that's inaccurate, subjective and hurtful to a product and the people affiliated in any way with it?

There's more to videogames than just playing
Sometimes we find ourselves enjoying the way we construct a sentence or reference our personal interests in subtle ways, and we convert people's reactions to our particular way of writing to a graphical/comical idea of it. Slowly, gradually moving towards that direction, hoping subconsciously to re-trigger the same reactions, we've grown addicted to. At the same time, we fail to grasp the concept of a joke being overused, and we see the newcomers reaction as acceptance. In the end, a failure to realize the importance of providing your opinion/thoughts in such ways that it's helpful to others is ever-present.

Of course someone should not butcher his thoughts censoring them in such way that they reflect political correctness, but he should definitely understand the importance of his work. And let's take what I did into account as an example.

Some days ago I stated that I found PISS lacking a hook, and that very issue, had been troubling me from finishing the game. The fact that I was deemed unable to run a complete playthrough of that game, also made me decide to avoid writing a review about it - I just felt the need to explain the reasons behind my slacking. Haven't we all tried something and found it hard to get into, then actually do a proper effort to grasp the concept, ultimately wondering how we felt unable to see the genius at first?Personally I strive to give everything a proper chance to win me, and my thoughts on PISS are ONLY focusing on what was troubling me to get there.

Videogames as a form of entertainment, also occasionally attributed artistic values, is haunted by the subjective rule. What is that you ask? Well, simply put, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It's imperative therefore to allow everyone to appreciate what we cannot, overcoming the obstacles that we faced - obstacles that rendered the product unpleasant for us, and ideal for those who appreciate differently.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Cyberpunk: Replicating the ambient perfection of neon lights and corruption.

To me, the genre always meant exciting, new, exhilarating horizons being broadened, applying both mentally and perspective-wise a mesmerizing effect on my personal being. That is when the cyberpunk-ill medium transcends from the focus on one aspect and instead triumphantly establishes domination in every way.

Portraying flawed characters and an ironic seemingly idyllic view to the future whether it's dominated by a certain political view or a technological discovery/revolution, there is a thin line between breathtaking and thought provocative to just lasers and neon lights. Though I love those things a whole lot. They may be part of a niche, narrow view of the genre, but I still hold them dear, they are elements of a greater whole, even if they appear as shallow members solely created to wow introductees.

Aren't they pretty?
I believe that taking any story and transforming to a Cyberpunk impression is the easier way, and the most common one. Always have I felt that to be the wrong way. While it's nice to see a plot under different glasses, perhaps adjusting its parameters differently. It works in the same way that for example a live action movie is remaked as an anime. Not a huge fan, but it's interesting enough to give it a fair chance.

However creating a reality based on estimated projection values on combining factors, plowing through plot holes and physical rules to narrate a story arc that would only be done justice under those calculated, specific list of circumstances and variables, is where the genre shines. It should always be visible to us, that it's not about telling conventional stories within unconventional surroundings, but rather -  mystify the audience with the setting, engulfing the reader, in ways that he feels the primal instincts and fears in different unconventional ways, purging reality of all the veils, like...

Like tears in the rain..

Sunday, April 6, 2014

By the rivers of (Techno)babylon

So, why is this AGS game keep appearing on your rss feed lately? Why is it referenced so much lately?

Because, besides missing the 4th part of the series for quite a while now, it appears, according to a gamasutra interview of Dave Gilbert, the game is still being worked on. I'm quite unfamiliar with the factors affecting its current production and the goal in terms of game design and polish value currently set by the developer and the parties affiliated (which I'm also mostly unaware of).

But Ben Chandler is providing artwork, yet not sure if he's drawing over or completely re-designing materials for the game. Perhaps both. I find myself accepting Dearden's choice (the developer) to enrich and re-introduce the saga. Technobabylon  is getting remaked, but I'm not sure in what way. However, since it's going commercial under Wadjet Eye Games, I'm definitely quite certain, the game will combine part one and two, perhaps even three, though the trilogy's end, wasn't really well received. 

Can you say pretty labs?
Technobabylon revolves around the premise that people choose to accept the false sense of achievement presented in multiplayer videogames, over their actual control on their lives, slowly deteriorating physically and mentally, getting addicted equally to the phenom of drug use. Such is the protagonist of the game, but as life problems pop up, it will be impossible to get a last dose of the virtual world. The second game of the series, creates one of the most wonderfully revealed ties between two games seemingly so different in almost every aspect, that literally the rembrance of it, still takes my breath away.

I do hope, the great content will be kept if not intact, at least in the same or better spirit, maintaining the consistency and surprise factor present in the freeware release of the three episodes so far. Even though, I feel this should have been out faster, I still got overly excited over the release of Technobabylon. Count one pre-order from me.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Trying hard and failing decently

Well, I've been trying to get the mindset to actually bother with PISS beyond the first 20 minutes of gameplay, but it seems impossible. Perhaps it's the wall of texts that keep appearing in my face that prevent me from fullfilling aforementioned task. And since I've promised a weekly post, I'll have to deliver one.

So the topic of this post, if you haven't giving up already, is story hooks. A hook is a plot device that interests a person in the continuation of the story or the grand reveal if such exists, by simply grasping the attention/curiosity of the reader. The same applies to videogames, some use gameplay mechanics to attract the player and keep him interested, others use more story driven mechanisms. Adventure games as a genre, usually create a hook via an introductory scene to either attach the player sentimentally with the protagonist or create an element of curiosity or some other thing I'm oblivious about.

Perhaps the setting works as well. I believe my favorite hook in a medium can be attributed to Kurosawa's Rashomon. Though the delivery completely failed to satisfy my expectations, I was "chained" till the reveal/explanation. Admittedly paranormal elements rub me off horribly. I find the explanation to paranormal reasons to be the cheapest way to explain situations. It's really dangerous to create a sense of mystery and then use the oldest trick in the book, trying to fool a mature audience, only ending up fooling A-graders, if that.

Blade Runner: A hook based mostly on the setting.
Other entertaining examples would be Blade Runner, practically missing a hook, eventually getting to it. Several sequences, even though proven to be cult classics later, initially are viewed with prejudice. I mean showcasing technological gadjets, doesn't get the story going much anywhere. But it's fancy.
I think Blade Runner works the same way that Beneath A Steel Sky does, the setting and the world are terribly interesting in their own diverse ways, spawning that explorer child into the viewer/player.

In conclusion, PISS is missing a hook, and I really want to review it. I've lost my line of thought.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Case of Tuesdays

I was wondering a lots about stuff, and discussions from IRC have led me to actually bother writing an article, here on the blog, apologies on the slower content, but things in the community are a bit slow for my interest.

So I've been spending much time working on Troll Song, mostly working around the interface fixing and adding snippets for easier implementing of future actions. Thus I came up with a small list of things to do on the game you make AFTER actually making/working on a complete game. And by complete I mean a game that has been rendered under the shower of several polish, that when someone shows you the first version of it, you say "wow, it was bad back then".

Anyhow, when you've bothered working your ways around your first actual game, you learn to do things, but as most of them are a first, you end up doing several mistakes. What I've noticed whilst working on Troll Song, is that I'm transfering skills/snippets and knowledge from previous efforts/projects, thus improving my current workflow and result. Practise makes perfect, and it's no lie, it extends to game design.

So the promised list follows:

1) Do re-use stuff that can actually be re-used. Like that pretty cool Savegame UI, don't go porting the same characters for crying out loud, think generalization and masking. What feature of your previous game can be transfered and adopted by your new project? Then port it properly. Copy-paste won't work 100%, you'll either discover mistakes/omissions, or you'll realize it can be improved in certain ways, thus you'll enhance it. This is the utter realization, that you've evolved from the time you created that thing till today. And you should get yourself a tea for that, it's a good accomplishment.

2) Split your work, give it extensibility. Always, and I mean always don't create considering this is the final version of your creation (regardless whether it's a code, a background, a character, an animation, a story element/plot). It's not. I've seen spectacular backgrounds get replaced by even more spectacular ones, and other backgrounds completely redrawn cause they couldn't work that way. You need to project into the future and replicate the same result hastily without much effort, even if the idea of you re-doing this, puts you down. And it probably does.

3) Spot patterns and use them to your advantage. This is huge but do treadlightly, otherwise you'll end up having the same animation for 12.000 things. Basically translating from gibber to english, if you see an animation proving to be practically the same for some other situation, without breaking the uniqueness factor, go ahead, be courageous and use it elsewhere. If you see a code behavior being repeated make a global method/function out of it, and be a man of yourself.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Heroine's Quest ON STEAM

Great news, Heroine's Quest that sweeped the awards a few days ago, created by Crystal Shard, is now on Steam, and you can get it without paying a nickel. Cause it's free. And now it has achievements!!

Monday, March 17, 2014

AGS Podcast: They call it something else, but I forget

Yay, wow, another episode, damn, those are coming a bit too fast than I care to bother, I haven't listened to anything but the first two minutes of this, and this is out for 7 minutes, by the time I'm writing this. Thing is this whole post, will be rendered senseless, because I'm going to program it to appear two days letter (or later suit yourself).

It's the same recipe again and again, so here's episode 39.