18 December 2010
8 December 2010
1 December 2010
17 November 2010
14 November 2010
13 November 2010
So basically, it’s some guy saying that Metroid: Other M is a good game because the writing is perfectly fine and that if you're opposed to what they've done you view women in one of two extremes (in the kitchen or cold-hearted, man-hating witch). I feel i just have to respond to balance out the stupidity. Onward!
He says that Stoic means that someone overcomes their negative emotions through a journey – however, that’s not the dictionary definition, nor how society uses it ERGO that is not what it means.
Stoic means to overcome your emotions through not allowing them to control you. You’re stoic if you show emotion but don’t let it affect you or your actions in a negative manner just as you’re stoic if you control your emotions so that they don’t shine through and are observable to the outsider.
Now that that is out of the way, I’ll move onto the orders thing. Samus and her team have all the equipment needed to survive in the game but are under orders NOT to use it until told to use it. Game mechanic-wise, it’s no different from finding a piece of equipment and being able to access a new area. Logically it is BATSHIT INSANE.
Seriously, if we’re going off the logic that Samus is a trained and battle-hardened bounty hunter and that this team of military personnel are similarly experienced then they will have full authorization to use necessary force and equipment to allow their survival. No right-thinking military commander is going to expect his troops not to put on their gas masks and biohazard suits if the shit hits the fan just because he didn’t give the order. It’s completely counterintuitive and takes away from the human reality that is projected onto the game. If this was a game about ants or bees where those lifeforms mindlessly obey their superiors then, yes, that makes more sense… but these are human beings and we, being human, understand the human condition very thoroughly.
Next we’ve got the personality switch for Samus. We’ve got a development studio that is known for their disrespectful and immature portrayal of women (i.e. oversexualisation, huge boobs, whiney voices and ‘helplessness’ even though they are hugely capable warriors) compared to the stoic (though I would never have described Samus as such), strong, non-sexual, lethal and capable Samus Aran. To put it into film terms (and ignoring Batman because that’s the example the video uses), Leon: The Professional, trained his whole life to be the best at what he is, he’s smart, logical, tactical, fit, capable and taciturn (perhaps stoic too). Even in the face of absolute terror and the finality of death his focus is pin-point sharp. Samus has also been compared to characters like Ripley in Aliens who is a little more emotionally weak than Leon but she still has most of the other characteristics however, she has to rely on her luck and anger/inner strength to get her through those situations so in my opinion she’s less like Samus than Leon is.
So, what do we get in Other M? We get the Hayden Christensen version of Darth Vader in comparison to James Earl Jones. It’s a slap in the face of the character and I’m wracking my brain to think of another action ‘hero’ like this to compare to Leon but there aren’t any I can think of – the closest is Shia LeBoeuf in Transformers. Honestly, I despair if the meaning of multidimensional characterization means that characters who are established as being strong and capable and free thinking in dangerous situations become self-doubting, helpless and mindless drones. It’s a completely ridiculous to argue that this is a good thing and provides character development when it’s completely the opposite. Leon would not cower in fear at an enemy he had previously thought he’d vanquished. He would not turn into a quivering wreck and be unable to act.
And regarding his Princess Peach comparison? Was he not around when the discussion about the fucking tantrums and emotional ‘powerups’ in Super Princess Peach was ongoing? He comes off as a completely unknowledgeable and anti-progress in computer games writing and characterization. There’s a world of difference between continuing to portray a character as weak and fragile and subservient and actually regressing a character to that state.
Then he takes GREAT leap of logic to assume that people who dislike this change in characterization is those people equating a “strong independent woman” with “pathological man-hating ice queen”… He just used a straw man (no I mean in the video) right before this bit to devalue the arguments opposing this change in character. I mean, the irony is strong with this one. /Yoda
This guy’s argument is vacuous and mindless in its stupidity.
Then he goes on to say that a slight change in gamers’ perception of Samus’ character has resulted in a huge blow out of anger… And yet, these are not small changes these are huge changes. Darth Vader is Stoic – Anakin Skywalker is not. But at least in those films it makes some sort of sense – there’s a character progression, a suppression of his human emotions (except for a seething anger that powers his dark side force powers) as he becomes less than human. If, in the middle of The Empire Strikes Back, this type of character change had manifested itself everyone would have collectively gone “WTF?!” and been very angry with the writers and director for breaking some pretty cardinal rules of human interaction and storytelling. Unless someone’s having a huge emotional or mental breakdown (of which there are many signs beforehand) then there’s no justification, no logic to doing that…. And yet he’s defending exactly this in his argument. In a word: Ridiculous.
Next he somehow gets onto an idea that the strong characterization of Samus (that gamers projected onto her) is rejecting her femininity. I mean…. WHAT THE FUCK?! I know of no women who would instantly pulverize this guy (probably metaphorically) for being such a huge sexist scumbag. Either the straw man he’s constructing here is so big he doesn’t see the looming shadow of ridiculousness OR he really has no idea that femininity does not equate to weakness and subservience. I am actually a little lost for words at this point because his arguments make no sense and are offensive to fans of Samus and other strong women in media.
Yes, being a strong woman does not mean you reject your femininity…. But, and this is a HUGE thing here, women can define what they feel is feminine. I’m a guy and I’m not some hulking brute of a man. I’m sensitive and I cry occasionally and I get overwhelmed when things get tough but I don’t collapse and I don’t become a mindless drone to a superior ‘just because’ or because I have unresolved emotional issues regarding my parents. I consider myself to be a strong man. I still have weaknesses but that doesn't mean they rule me.
…. and finally he compares her to Ripley, saying that she is an anti-social loner who is strong but cold and emotionally distant. I’m thinking that somehow we watched two very different cuts of all the Alien quadrilogy films…. It’s as if he completely misinterpreted Sigourney Weaver’s acting and the character of Ripley. I seriously don’t get it and I think it’s possibly where a lot of his argument comes from and simultaneously falls down. They take a lot of pains to show Ripley's emotional side and the complex interactions between fear, survival instinct, anger and motherly protection in those films. She is never a loner or anti-social or emotionally distant.
This, all in context, makes his high-horse ponderings about other gamers’ views on gender hysterically funny and very sad and worrying. The problem is that a lot of the things he mentions in the conclusion are good parts of a three dimensional character (add your own echo effects here) but that the execution and depiction of those character flaws and intricacies in Other M are so childish, out of character and (I’m going to repeat childish here) immature as to be offensive to the majority of sane people. If you’ve ever watched any of the “Awesome” series you’ll be intimately familiar with over-the-top characterizations of erstwhile human emotions and troubles and that’s the line of portrayal that Samus has in Other M. There’s no subtlety or loving craft gone into it…. Instead it feels like the designers have looked at the checklist of ‘interesting’ human traits (like this guy reels off at the end) and chucked them in without any sort of thought on the logic behind those choices and how they’d fit with a murderous bounty hunter in space.
You know who had ‘issues’? Boba Fett. He was not only conditioned against the Republic but also saw his father beheaded by the Jedi order. Sure, his character wasn’t fleshed out but did you see him fall into a quivering blob during the fight above the Sarlaac on Tatooine when faced with a Jedi Knight (Luke Skywalker)? No!! And you know why? Because that would have made no sense.
His insulting final thought that there’s only two extremes for female characters being ‘allowed’ by his opponents just seals the deal and it’s sad that so many misinformed, like-minded individuals have latched on to his pretty much derogatory and intellectually worthless comparisons and arguments to reinforce their own negative opinions of what is allowed for female protagonists and characters. There is nothing progressive about Other M’s characterization of women.
31 October 2010
21 October 2010
23 September 2010
22 September 2010
19 September 2010
Well, there's one less thing that's good about PC gaming. DRM-free older games on Good Old Games are no more. Seriously! Just go and have a look.
Sucks... doesn't it?
I hadn't even downloaded some of the games i had bought, because of our monthly download limit, such as Masters of Orion 1+2. They say, in the very light blurb on their replaced main page, that they will try and give a way to redownload the games for their customers some time this week. We'll see how that pans out.
As such, it's a nice little test of all these claims by companies, like Valve, who claim that if the worst comes to the worst and they are bought out or go out of business then they will release patches for their games to enable their customers to continue playing them. Not quite the same scenario since, if you have the installer for the game already then you're covered - which was one of the immense pros of GoG.com.
The two most disappointing aspects come of all this: It looks like the DRM-free model is dead. The idea, despite what GoG themselves have stated in their words, seems dead and unworkable. The reasoning for this is linked in with the second aspect which is that there is essentially no reason given for this closure. Worse, it was so sudden that it seems unreal. They had only just added new games and had a sale on Activision titles.
What their blurb seems to say is that "the idea of DRM-free old games is unworkable... but we couldn't make it work." Since they were the only game in town with this then... well, there was practically no competition and that potentially means that the publishers and developers who were making the contracts for their games on GoG.com didn't want the service to work. If the publishers and developers don't believe in the service then the service will not exist. Essentially, DRM-free games are gone; the future is a bleak mishmash of always connected DRM-authentication combined with ultra-small and lower quality games that contain little DRM but which are still tied to a service environment like Popcap and Zynga with a minority of small and lower quality independent titles like Evochron and Minecraft that subsist on their playerbases over incremental updates in a symbiotic relationship.
It's possible that publishers and developers will change their minds on how they treat and interact with their customers and my bleak prediction of the future of gaming will not come to pass. However, given the current economic and political trends that seems unlikely... The bright side of this all is that music will never suffer the same fate as games and movies due to the lower budgetary requirements and level of difficulty to produce a track or album (e.g. skillset, technology and manpower) than it is to make a movie, TV show or game.
I look at times like this and I wonder what sort of a world I will be experiencing in 10 years time...
GoG's release below:
We have recently had to give serious thought to whether we could really keep GOG.com the way it is. We've debated on it for quite some time and, unfortunately, we've decided that GOG.com simply cannot remain in its current form.
We're very grateful for all support we've received from all of you in the past two years. Working on GOG.com was a great adventure for all of us and an unforgettable journey to the past, through the long and wonderful history of PC gaming.
This doesn't mean the idea behind GOG.com is gone forever. We're closing down the service and putting this era behind us as new challenges await.
On a technical note, this week we'll put in place a solution to allow everyone to re-download their games. Stay tuned to this page and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates.
18 September 2010
17 September 2010
16 September 2010
15 September 2010
The Easy Button Episode 11
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Not to fret, instead I thought we’d celebrate through a good game of Blood Bowl (or two)! So I figured I’d set up a league and see about doing one of these autobiographical/fictional playthrough diary thingies.
Let’s set the record straight right here at the very start: I’ve never played Blood Bowl before. In fact, my only experience playing any of the Games Workshop games has been a little of the 40K universe, Necromunda and Warhammer Quest. These games are not really at all similar to something like Blood Bowl … well, apart from all the blood! In fact, I’m not really even very good at any of those games (nor, as you’ll see, at Blood Bowl itself).
On the other side of the equation I’ve played games like Championship Manager and in various Fantasy football leagues… never finishing in the top few places in any of them.
To put it short: I’m a newbie, a fool and an idiot for thinking I would be able to manage a team in a sport that I know nothing about. But that’s never stopped me before. So, just to make it so that you’ll have something to read I set the game up so that it was in classic rules mode and also on Easy (I’ll be playing against the AI).
**And so it starts!**
Liistgar Anstronmel (that’s me) is calling on his fellow evilies *ahem* …er, I mean vile and underhanded Dark Elf brethren to show these other pitiful races what-for! I’ve come into a bit of an inheritance after one of my distant relatives fell on a sword he borrowed from me…. (right after I gave it to him) and I’ve booked a place in one of the lower Blood Bowl leagues. Our team shalt be named: Valkyrie Warriors!
I started by looking over the types of players and seeing what their strengths and weaknesses were…. And immediately bought 4 Blitzers, 2 Witch Elves, 4 Linemen and a Runner. Let’s see who we’ve got!
Riisilneth – Witch Elf
Camfindys - Witch Elf
Argthar – Blitzer
Lanlil – Blitzer
Enddar – Blitzer
Rianndrir – Blitzer
Lamael – Lineman
Rynnear – Lineman
Malion – Lineman
Banfil – Lineman
Mortbean – Runner
I had a little spare cash after that spending spree to get one cheerleader to increase my chances of getting luckier random events that can happen upon kicking off. It basically appears to be a luck modifier to my untrained eyes…. Something that every team desparately needs in Blood Bowl.
More to come soon! I should be posting one up every couple of days.
10 September 2010
It's simultaneously a great-but-..... amazing take on humanity in desparation, greed... racism and passion. Episode 11 is coming soon - i promise!! But i'm watching the film. It started off, passionately enough. The 1920s or 30s era of America was depicted fantastically! The desperation of the characters is shown and expanded upon. Then, however, the film has a weak point where it depicts tribal africanism and becomes, IMO, quite racist in its depiction - not because those particular characters are black but because they are depicted in the most unthinking savagery that it becomes degrading in its spectacle.
Of course, there are many fictions within this period of the film that also do not work; such as the carrying of the sacrifice (Anne) during transit on all fours. (I think that she would have been crushed at this point as no load-bearing stress on a fist would not crush the person within the fist).
Then, further on, the fight between the ape and t-rexes....... the anthropomorphism between the 'lizards' (aka Tyranosaurus rex'es) makes no sense. Why would a being dedicate itself to the eradication of some entity it had just barely been made aware of, no less 3 or more T-rexes all coming to the same conclusion at the same time.
Clearly, if i were a T-rex, standing 3 stories tall, i would concentrate my efforts on a prey that was able to satisfy my appetite for more than a few seconds (aka the female sacrifice) otherwise i would ignore it. That is standard evolutionary procedure...
The worst thing of all is that the writer (as in the actor) is a metaphor for the courage of the writers...... which is possibly the most impotent and offensive part of the whole narrative.
Then, of course, the inverse existence of any participants that show adversity in the face of existence.... draws parallels between white and blonde idealism......... To a point. Mainly since Jack Black is dark haired. It is, to be fair, a strange realm, to be sure...
19 August 2010
The Easy Button Episode 10
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17 August 2010
Minecraft is about as open-world a game as you can imagine. You start off by spawning into a 3-D world made of blocks of stuff. This stuff can be anything from water, dirt, gravel, and sand to coal, iron ore, diamonds, or gold. You have to build everything, the game gives you nothing at the start. But by mining different blocks of stuff and combining them in your inventory (actually, a crafting table in your inventory) in different ways, you can combine different sorts of stuff into tools or better items.
For example, you can take sand and coal, put them into a smelter (which you build using a different recipe) and create glass blocks. These glass blocks make great windows for your tower (or pyramid or house or - well, you get the idea).
The beauty of the game is that only your imagination is the limit. Well, and a few laws of physics. Gravity works, for example; you will fall to your death more than a few times. Also, at night monsters spawn (zombies and spiders and I am sure a few other nasties) and will try and kill you, so you will need some shelter in order to live through the night. Of course, you can make weapons to defend yourself but only after you find the appropriate raw materials.
My comments on this game would not complete without acknowledging the old-school, 8-bit graphics. While I like the simplicity of the presentation, others may not like the retro look of the game. Their loss. This game actually looks fantastic - some of the views are awe-inspiring.
Build roads. Explore dark caverns. Create towers. Plant trees. Do a million other things. Just get it and play it.
Free older version is available here. For-pay (9.95 Euros during the Alpha) version available here. The free version is browser-based, the for-pay version can be run in a browser or as a standalone application. Since it is written in Java, it should run on almost any computer.
Oh yeah, one other thing: it supports multi-player. There is a server version available. I have not tried it yet, but I hear that it is pretty cool sharing the world with other people (as long as they aren't assholes :) )
Support an indie developer and buy this. You will not be sorry, except for all the sleep you will lose. I will leave you with a video - enjoy!
7 August 2010
So i was going to buy it.
Why is that word in the past tense, Duo? Well, my friend it's because of the stupid way in which you need to buy it. You can go to the site, click on download the game - click on purchase the game and then the real issue comes to the fore. You have two options for payment: credit card and paypal. Regardless of whether you want to do either one you are required to enter your:
- First and last name
- Your email address
- full address including postcode (ostensibly as your mailing address)
So, not wanting to give out these precious details with no restrictions or legal wrap around them, i clicked on paypal which does not require any of these things to work. Funny thing is that you STILL can't proceed with the order. It's ridiculous. The whole point of paypal is that you only give out your email address and the funds are transferred from your bank account. This just smacks of fishing for information to resell onto other companies.
Worse still is the whole "mailing address" thing because, quite clearly, on the page before it states:You will get download links for 3 versions of the game (Windows, Mac, 32bit Linux) and the soundtrack (in MP3 format). Please note that you are not ordering CD version of the game! Also you need at least 1024x768 screen resolution!
So it makes even less sense.
Amantia design - i'm willing to buy your game, just make it so i can do so without giving away my first born.
4 August 2010
27 July 2010
Or not quite... at least for me. I've been long-term unhappy with the way that Valve's support system works. They appear to be understaffed, resulting in long wait times for simple queries or issues which are also often written in the form of copy/pasted FAQ standardised responses.... Hey, Valve, if the answer was in the FAQ then don't you think i would have looked there first as when you go to submit a ticket it tells you about 10 times about the FAQ...?
Then there's the whole golden egg in which VAC bans are definitive, 100% correct and are unable to be queried, petitioned or appealed. The logic behind this is that VAC is never wrong. Only that, as seen this week (and in previous instances), it can be.... Since right-minded people know that software is never 100% all the time and that humans themselves can also make mistakes and you end up with a system which is almost, in effect, the gaming death penalty for your Steam account.
I say almost because VAC bans result in the loss of the online portion of your game and all other games utilising the same engine under your account for VAC-enabled servers.... What you will also find is that the account itself it labelled as being VAC banned which can and will result in third parties banning you from their servers if they look at your profile. It's also the case that the ban is permanent. I feel that, for such an infraction (and while i never cheat myself and hate cheaters with a passion) banning more than just the game that you were caught banning on is wildly unfair though many with a scorched-earth, shoot now, ask questions later mentality see these issues as collateral damage in a war in which it is acceptable to have that collateral damage. (These are words from discussions i've had with people in various places like RockPapgerShotgun!)
What gets me the most riled up about this instance is that before, the unquestioning Valve-lovers stated emphatically that VAC was never wrong and if you complained in the forums for being banned these people demonised you, basically spitting on your virtual body with Valve's moderators (and at other places too) doing nothing to stop this.... there's no question of innocence because VAC and Valve are never wrong.
So now we have an instance where Valve has widely and publically stated that the system had picked up a false positive due to "a combination of conditions" (though there have been other times in the past whereby innocent use of mods has resulted in a ban). What this results in is not questioning of the system as it stands but instead people who rally to Valve's banner will now confidently state that if you're banned you're either a cheat OR Valve will rescind the ban and apologise for it. There's no admission that Valve simply will not catch all times that their software and their personnel fail (which will happen) and it means that they can just continue steamrolling away without any real thought towards the consequences to any innocent person crushed by a ban - both through financial/game and also social means.
The support/deterrent sytem needs improving and there are several things i'd have in mind to improve it:
1. Make bans an escalation offense. There's a reason why the death penalty (or any other piece of legislation that effectively destroys that aspect of a person's life) is not approved by the majority of people. Most systems have a graduated response.... after all, you don't lose your car and your driving licence because you went 2MPH over the speed limit once.
- First instance of cheating - warn the user that they have been caught cheating via a PM or email and then ban them from online activities across the whole of steam for a week or two. - This gives them time to appeal and also sort out any problems with their account. i.e. if they've been hacked or whatever (imagine if Blizzard or your Bank closed your account every time there was suspicious activity going on in it with no way to appeal or try and sort it out!)
- You then get a probationary period after this of, say, 8 weeks in which time, if you are caught cheating again you go straight to number 5 on this list.
- Second instance of cheating you get a 6-12 month online ban in the game you cheated in and get a temporary label on your account detailing which game you cheated in.
- Once they have served this sentence they get the label removed and are on probation for 6 months. If they break their probation they go onto numer 7.
- Third instance of cheating you get a 12-24 month ban in both the singleplayer and online portion of that game and the label is again added to the account.
- Probationary period after this is again 6 months.
- Fourth instance, you get a permanent ban in the game you were cheating in - both online and offline and people will be able to see that you are banned from the game in your steam account - though there won't be a label on the account next to the name.
So, say, if you are banned initially you would get a ban of two weeks. If your appeal fails you will be playing with extra scrutiny on you in the eight weeks following that. If you don't cheat in that period then you go back to being 'threat level 1' though if you are banned a second time you will be banned for 6-12 months. If you are caught within that first probationary period then you could be banned for 12-24 months. etc. etc.
The bans would also not be stacked across different games. So if you were banned in Half Life 2 then your copy of TF2 or L4D would not be affected. Plus, there would be a time-out clause in the system as well whereby, if you were banned once... if you weren't caught at all again on any game within another 12 months then you would only receive a two week ban if you were banned a second time after that 12 month period.
It's not perfect but it stops people from being unduly punished in the case they are innocent... It also helps people who were tempted to cheat to mend their ways. You could even cut out the appeals process and i'd be happy with this system... but having no appeals and no graduated response is just a double whammy that is bound to impact many legitimate players.
23 July 2010
15 July 2010
The Easy Button Episode 9
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13 July 2010
The ESRB has a "Privacy Certified" badge (which i had no idea existed) but what this badge is and what it represents is a little more nebulous than it sounds:
"The role of the ESRB Privacy Online program is to make sure that member websites—those that display our seal on their pages—are compliant with an increasingly complex series of privacy protection laws and are offering a secure space for users to interact and do business online"
"This includes addressing issues like what types of personal information can be collected, how companies must handle that information with respect to individuals' right to privacy, and ensuring that people are informed of exactly where and how their information will be used."
This is all good... though i'm not always satisfied that this complex information is easily and clearly provided to users. Those massive T&C for websites are usually no better than the EULAs of games.... lots of legal talk that makes little real-world sense.
"But online privacy protection doesn't necessarily mean the same thing as anonymity. It's about making sure that websites collecting personal information from users are doing so not only in accordance with federal regulations but also with best practices for protecting individuals' personal information online"
This is where i have a problem. "Best practices" is essentially a cop-out phrase that means "there's no industry standard, we just took an average of what everone's doing and then said that was okay". If no company is performing well then the standard they are held to is lower... if one or two companies are holding themselves to a higher standard it does not affect the average overall if the larger percentage of companies are more lax. The ESRB, PEGI and other industry bodies need to sort out a base-standard of privacy along with an easily understandable bit of text that explicitly outlines what is collected and what is done with that information. It also needs to be higher than legal requirements as they are often the very lowest rung of responsibility.
My problem with the whole Blizzard forum thing is that it is the primary means for tech support since, from what i've heard, the phone support is completely overwhelmed by demand. The article says that the ESRB worked with Blizzard to make the whole thing opt-in and 18+ only.... however, that doesn't seem to be the case since you could not opt to use the forums without using your/a real name.
And this is why we need higher standards. The ESRB, in a response to the privacy complaints from all the people who wrote to them about the debacle over at Blizzard's forums, sent out an email containing each and every person's email address. Granted, it's probably minimised a little through the fact that these people were all concerned about privacy and are so unlikely to take advantage of other people's disadvantage.... but it's certainly a bloody nose considering all the talk of privacy within the email itself!
"ESRB, through its Privacy Online program, helps companies develop practices to safeguard users' personal information online while still providing a safe and enjoyable video game experience for all."
7 July 2010
I was finally finishing Mass Effect 2 (caution, thar be slight spoilers here!). I'd done all the loyalty missions. I'd upgraded my ship, flew through the relay thingy, fought a bunch of weird bio-mechanical dudes. I killed the last big baddie. I'd saved my crew. Hell, I'd saved the entire damn galaxy - humans, Turians, Solarians, Quarians, Geth, Asari, even those funny little guys with the breathing problem that kept calling me "Earth-clan". It was all very dramatic - intense, and fulfilling, and (more to the point of this post) cinematic.
As the last big foozle explodes, stuff starts falling all around. Again, a very tense, tightly directed sequence that is the payoff for thirty-ish hours I invested in the game. As my party and I are running for our ship, a slab of something from the baddie's ship falls on Shepard and knocks him down. Shepard gets up....
...and his backpack clips right through the huge slab of alien masonry.
Oh, videogames! How much money was spent on that final sequence? How many man-hours and blood and sweat and tears by extremely talented people? How much of myself was invested in that final scene? (Too damn much, for this to make me react the way that I am) And, sure enough, videogames show that, once again, they are videogames.
Provocative title aside, what is my point? My point is really that video games have a long long long way to go before they can be considered as being able to deliver complete emotional experiences. Videogames as a medium are at the point where, for a small sliver of time, they can be provocative, terror-inducing, funny, tender, capable of inducing a panoply of emotions. The problem is that this is only for a tiny sliver of time; then, it's back to the grindy, videogamey foundation. It's not that videogames are not capable of creating an emotional response, it is that they cannot sustain it for any length of time.
Think of a game, any game, where you've had an emotional response. Think about how long you were actually responding. Then think about something that happened shortly thereafter that "took you out of the moment". I could have been a technical glitch or an achievement pop-up (dammit, don't show those when they would be off-putting in the game to show!). It could have been some ham-fisted story-telling, incongruous dialog or action by an NPC. It could have been something else. But I am pretty certain that something happened that killed the emotion you were feeling. You may have gone on and had fun with the rest of the game, but something important died then. Something important about our shared hobby and us as people.
"It's just a game!" I hear you saying, oh hypothetical reader. "Who cares?" And you have a valid point. It is just a game, something we do for fun and entertainment. But we also watch film and read books and listen to music for the same purpose. We would not tolerate something like this in those media; it would be decried as being "bad". Poor dialog, for instance, in a book or film makes for a bad book or film, not a great one.
Why should we give videogames a free pass on this? Mass effect 2 was a really well written, well directed game; I don't think anyone would hold it up as being "bad". On the contrary, one could successfully argue that Mass Effect 2 much much closer to the pinnacle of videogames story-telling and "cinematic" experiences than the nadir. So we are not talking about a "bad" game here by any means. Which I think proves the point about why videogames are so far from being able to carry an emotional response for any length of time - if a really good game works less well in this regard than a poor piece of music or a novel, that's a problem with videogames as a medium. The fact that it works well sometimes, for small instances of time, just makes the "videogaminess" of it all stand out in contrast that much more.
What gamers accept as being "just a game" would not be tolerated in the worst Uwe Boll claptrap. Games have the ability and the promise to be so much more than they are, but we settle for so much less. And that's sad.
5 July 2010
30 June 2010
Colour and depth-sensing lenses
Voice microphone array
Tilt motor for sensor adjustment
Horizontal field of view: 57 degrees
Vertical field of view: 43 degrees
Physical tilt range: ± 27 degrees
Depth sensor range: 1.2m - 3.5m
320x240 16-bit depth at 30FPS
640x480 32-bit colour at 30FPS
16-bit audio @ 16 kHz
Tracks up to 6 people, including 2 active players
Tracks 20 joints per active player
Ability to map active players to Xbox LIVE Avatars
Xbox LIVE party chat and in-game voice chat (requires Xbox LIVE Gold Membership)
Echo cancellation system enhances voice input
Speech recognition in multiple languages