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Worth Reading 05/10/13

Turn the subtitles on, flip the voices to Russian, and walk through a post-apocalyptic set of links.

Immersion is a curious word, a descriptor trotted out more often than visceral. (Before you start crawling through my own writing, I’m likely as guilty as anyone else.)

But immersion is absolutely the word (feeling?) I’d use when conveying the experience of playing Metro 2033 with Russian voices turned on. I can’t remember who made the suggestion when I decided to play Metro 2033, but it’s a vastly different experience. Metro 2033 is set in Russia, so what sense does it make to hear English voice actors with crap Russian accents? Dmitry Glukhovsky, the Russian author of the book Metro 2033 is based on, shared this sentiment with me at PAX East this year.

Making the switch is interesting for a number of reasons, including the fact that Metro 2033 (and Metro: Last Light) doesn’t translate every piece of dialogue. Deliberate? Technical? I don’t know, but much of the ambient dialogue is lost, meaning chunks of environmental details are left to your imagination. These characters and situations are not often talking at you, though, and you’re free to quietly to fill in the blanks of what’s happening. Exploring post-apocalyptic Russian underground systems feels foreign to me, so I’m not sure why I should expect everything to be politely explained to me, either. It feels much more natural.

I can see why it would bother some people. In fact, the reviewers guide for Metro: Last Light recommends this style of playthrough on the second time around (I’m not following that!). I’ll probably miss out on some plot details and world building, but people who are playing in English are missing out on much more.

Hey, You Should Play This

ROM CHECK FAIL is five years old, but I’ve never played the damn thing, so I figure it’s worth passing on. ROM CHECK FAIL is a mashup, but one that mixes and mashes games and mechanics in the most surprising ways. Your best bet with ROM CHECK FAIL is to strap on a seatbelt and go for the ride; predicting where it’s going is pointless. It make you depressed at how little companies do with these older games, and what might happen if they loosened up a bit and stopped trying to reboot everything.

Sometimes a person needs a reason to throw a keyboard at the wall, and F*** This Job provides ample opportunities to indulge in possibly breaking some equipment. There’s not much to F*** This Job except to slowly master the few ways to manipulate your character’s ability to jump, and then curse the unbelievable timing needed for some of the later stages. When jumping pads were introduced, I came this close to turning the damn thing off, but a few lucky hops saved me, and I did manage to finish the game.

It doesn’t take much to cue the waterworks these days, but Fragments of Him, where a man tries to move on from a relationship shattered by a fatal car accident, hit home hard. The “game” part takes the common feeling of avoiding familiar people, places, and things that remind you of what you’ve lost, and makes it the core mechanic. Saying more about how it plays out is best left unsaid, except to provide fair warning to anyone who might be triggered by the game’s sensitive material. I had to walk from my desk.

And You Should Read These, Too

While technically this story has nothing to do with games, I couldn’t help but think about games the entire time. Games are scrutinized, broken down, and analyzed in front of test audiences to an incredible degree, especially social games. Some of the metrics mentioned in the story are hysterical, such as the inclusion of...bowling? I have to wonder what the similar processes for games. We hear about some of ‘em. How many times are we told that most publishers aren’t willing to back games with unproven models (women in the main role, no violence, etc.)? It makes depressing sense.

"For as much as $20,000 per script, Mr. Bruzzese and a team of analysts compare the story structure and genre of a draft script with those of released movies, looking for clues to box-office success. His company, Worldwide Motion Picture Group, also digs into an extensive database of focus group results for similar films and surveys 1,500 potential moviegoers. What do you like? What should be changed?

'Demons in horror movies can target people or be summoned,' Mr. Bruzzese said in a gravelly voice, by way of example. 'If it’s a targeting demon, you are likely to have much higher opening-weekend sales than if it’s summoned. So get rid of that Ouija Board scene.'"

So much of the discussion about sexim and games has happened through impassioned words. Damsel in Distress, a product of the Toronto Independent Game Jam, doesn’t damningly critique the tropes that we’ve been discussing over the past year or so, but rather takes those ideas and riffs on them. In Damsel in Distress, the princess in question is more than capable of taking care of herself, and it’s the knight in shining armor that has a problem with it. It’s not currently available, so I’m pointing you towards the developer’s explanation of intent.

“Knight and Damsel’s inspiration actually comes from a few places, but one worth mentioning is Feminist Frequency’s first Tropes vs. Women in Video Games video, Damsel in Distress. I’m not particularly interested in this context of debating the quality/value of the series, but one thing that struck me was an aside that in your average video game, if a princess is captured, she waits passively to be rescued. Yet for heroes, being captured is just another challenge to be faced (and heroes getting captured happens all the time. It’s basically all James Bond does.)”

If You Click It, It Will Play

Crowdfunding Has Promise, Hopefully Developers Don't Screw It Up

  • Energy Hook is just one of many projects starting their funding goal at $1.
  • Anamanaguchi is raising money to make a bunch of kick ass music videos.
  • Doodle 3D lets you print 3D drawings in a 3D printer, and now I want a 3D printer.

Tweets That Make You Go "Hmmmmmm"

So how does Twitter feel about women drawing sexy women, like Mari Shimazaki (Bayonetta), Mariel Cartwright (Skullgirls), and Anna Anthropy?

— Derek Yu (@mossmouth) April 24, 2013

World of Warcraft subs drop 1.3 million in 3 months. You don't win friends with pandas.

— Aoife Wilson (@AoifeLockhart) May 9, 2013

I will always be more interested in game worlds that define their boundaries with conundrums rather than arbitrary "gates." also, space.

— Nick Breckon (@nickbreckon) April 28, 2013

Oh, And This Other Stuff

Patrick Klepek on Google+
103 Comments
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Posted by Nerdware

Cool. Love these.

Posted by mlarrabee

Always play in Russian.

But the whole time I was playing Metro 2033 I just kept feeling like the Russian wasn't right, that it was Assassin's Creed Russian.

Online
Posted by Daneian

That Mega Man acapela is fucking amazing.

Posted by PattyCakes

I'm gonna have nightmares about cat people. THANKS PATRICK

Posted by Carousel

It's good to see wendyvanity getting some spotlight.

Edited by Hailinel

Why. Why would anyone want to make Mega Man 2 any harder than it already is? Quick Man's stage is already enough to give a grown man twitching flashbacks.

Posted by Graham_Nix

After all the horror games he went through, that cat video is truly the scariest thing Patrick ever showed me.

Edited by Soapy86

I don't really understand using Russian dialogue. It sounds like it would be great for a subsequent playthrough. However, Patrick's rationale of, "Metro 2033 is set in Russia, so what sense does it make to hear English voice actors with crap Russian accents?" doesn't hold water. It also doesn't make sense for a Russian protagonist to not understand his fellow Russians and need to read subtitles.

Edited by 49th

I knew exactly who made that cat video from the thumbnail. Unfortunately I have come across that creepy channel before.

Posted by Oginam

@daneian said:

That Mega Man acapela is fucking amazing.

All of that guy's stuff is amazing.

Posted by StarFoxA

Delibrate?

Edited by Funger

Shawn Elliot is a god tier wordsmith. Damn shame he doesn't write more often. Always a pleasure when he does.

Posted by dvorak

meow.

Edited by mewarmo990

Metro 2033 is set in Russia, so what sense does it make to hear English voice actors with crap Russian accents?

I can't begin to describe the sense of 'wrong' that I felt playing Jade Empire (I speak Chinese). Where some people speak with American accents, and others with phony Asian accents, all while I'm getting fake Bioware mythology shoved in my face when there's already plenty of real-world literature to draw from. At least it was a fun game. The gun you could win off John Cleese was hilariously overpowered.

I had a similar feeling recently with Tomb Raider. You would think professors and graduate students of East Asian history would bother to learn to pronounce words and names of those cultures correctly. The actual Japanese-American character doing it is weirdest of all.

Edited by ch3burashka

That Drive 'intro' brought the goosebumps all over again. I actually watched it a few days back (again) when it popped up on Netflix, and I tells ya, that movie is goddamn amazing. I don't think I've seen a comparable movie that does so much with so little dialog. And dat musac is fantastic.

Also, how sexy is Ryan Gosling?

Edited by Fobwashed

Candy Box was in a window on my desktop for days. I THINK I got to the end. . .

Edited by Reisz

Eight minutes Patrick! EIGHT MINUTES OF HIDEOUS CAT MUTANTS! WHY?!

Posted by WesternWizard
Posted by TheManWithNoPlan

That cat video legitimately Fucking disturbed me. Seriously, What the heck was that, one of the unmentioned layers of Hell?

Anyways, I've gained a new appreciation for acapela. That guy is awesome. I checked out his other stuff and it was equally great. I'm also really excited for Metro Last Light. Steam's giving a 10% discount for anyone who owns the first one.

Posted by Nicked

Indirectly related to that 'film script equation' story, here's a talk by Steven Soderbergh that deals a lot with film budgets, tracking and independent/corporate cinema. There are probably relevant parallels to how the game industry works.

Edited by MarkWahlberg

Metro 2033 is set in Russia, so what sense does it make to hear English voice actors with crap Russian accents?

I can't begin to describe the sense of 'wrong' that I felt playing Jade Empire (I speak Chinese). Where some people speak with American accents, and others with phony Asian accents, all while I'm getting fake Bioware mythology shoved in my face when there's already plenty of real-world literature to draw from. At least it was a fun game. The gun you could win off John Cleese was hilariously overpowered.

I had a similar feeling recently with Tomb Raider. You would think professors and graduate students of East Asian history would bother to learn to pronounce words and names of those cultures correctly. The actual Japanese-American character doing it is weirdest of all.

Game development priorities: 300 hours to get her hair fancy. 0 to read a book.

Posted by SgtSphynx

@pattycakes said:

I'm gonna have nightmares about cat people. THANKS PATRICK

Same.

Edited by ZironZ

A large amount of the background dialogue in Stalker wasn't dubbed into English and I felt that did add quite a bit to the atmosphere. So I can see where Patrick is coming from.

Posted by Animasta

@zironz said:

A large amount of the background dialogue in Stalker wasn't dubbed into English and I felt that did add quite a bit to the atmosphere. So I can see where Patrick is coming from.

to be honest though the english voice in stalker games were the best. particularly the bro stalkers, they were great.

Edited by Crembaw

Some interesting reading this week. Apparently indie games are racist?

Feel free to skip the following post; it's entirely possible that I'm spewing garbage.

You know I consider myself a pretty liberal guy but if the Social Justice Intifadis can't decide among themselves on the individual stipulations of how X, Y, or Z is racist they're never going to win this culture war they so desperately want to fight. Like, there are some pretty clear cliques which have formed within the so-called 'indie game community' based on regionality and so on but I was under the (apparently mistaken) illusion that racism was systemic and institutionalized and neither of those things match the people of the Fucking Bay Area just happening to be pulling themselves closer and closer.

If Indie games have become some kind of movement then we clearly have gone on some wild fucking train ride that is just going to all end when the bottom falls out of the video game market again.

Honestly I am trying to read and inform my way into the conversation but if it's so completely dense and unintelligible to me -- a person putting in some amount of effort to decipher what the Hell either Darius Kazemi or His Respondent are even talking about -- then imagine how alienated average people are going to be by this kind of thing. There's a lot of Big Talk about bringing ever more diverse and variable people into this fold called 'Video Games' but it seems like the talk just keeps going in the opposite direction, getting more and more complex because 'video games' want to be art and seen as such and therefore need to be spoken of in high language. Invariably this high language is far too obtuse to actually be useful as anything other than Window Dressing to scare off people who aren't already in the fold.

Anyway I guess I'm just a confused plebeian. Again, feel free to skip this post.

Edited by Elwoodan

I played metro on Russian to practice my comprehension while taking intermediate Russian (my 4th semester) last fall. The feeling of hearing, and understanding a language you weren't born with is really, really awesome. Though the amount of 'metro slang' they use was hard to understand, for instance your probably never going to learn the word for 'handcart' in regular conversation.

Posted by Sergio

Glad to finally see someone in the industry employ some actual thinking and discuss one of these issues. It seems lately we've had a lot of "journalism" from what amounts to be glorified game reviewers and bloggers.

Posted by steelknight2000

I don't know Patrick, it was really frustrating not understanding the ambient dialogue in Metro when I tried playing in Russian. Maybe if everything was properly subbed. The Russian accents for the most part felt authentic and not phony like they do on TV and in movies.

Online
Posted by Draxyle

That acapella guy is a song wizard.

Posted by Shaunage

No subtitles. LEARN RUSSIAN. We're trying to be authentic here.

Posted by Tajasaurus

I heard that same thing about switching the voices to Russian when I first played Metro 2033, and while I can see why people prefer it that way, having my eyes continually drawn to the bottom of the screen to read subtitles was more immersion breaking for me than getting over kinda bad Russian accents.

Posted by jukeboxzer0

Holy shit! I heard purity ring in that guillotine video!

Posted by ArbitraryWater

@crembaw: No, you're not wrong. Sometimes I feel like "Game Journalists" aren't actually writing for regular people. Instead, they're writing for other game journalists, especially when we start getting into game journalists talking about games journalism or the whole "Games as Art" debate. I wouldn't say that Giant Bomb is entirely free of this circlejerk, but their tone and style definitely keeps things focused.

I found that response article pretty inscrutable as well, the most I got out of it was "INDIE GAMEZ IS RACIST because not everyone can live in the bay area and the people who do are friends". And I was mostly baffled.

Posted by allodude

That cat video is what I needed tonight to force myself to sleep early.

Posted by cooljammer00

Energy Hook is basically all the good parts of the Spider-Man 2 game made by the guy who invented that system.

Hot damn!

Edited by NoelVeiga

Liz Ryerson´s post is a bit... It goes to places that tend to piss me off.

"But there are gatekeepers in the indie market!" Yeah, guess what, there are gatekeepers everywhere. As it turns out, things didn't get mediated in triple A just because there's a ton of marketing money involved, things get mediated because that's how human beings process high volumes of information socially. The stuff some people like is checked out by other people and that means that people at key networking junctures get to boost stuff they personally like. If you're going to be underground you need to be prepared to receive no attention. The complaints about not being able to be recognized alongside the complaints about the artistic cynicism of the people that are indeed popular always comes across as disingenuous or envious to me.

I am also fucking baffled by the statement that there is a "ultra-capitalist, highly fascist idea of tech culutre's that humankind can overcome any kind of obstacles facing it through better technological products - or building more "perfect" systems". It seems to me that at the core of marxism there was always an idea of proto-game theory being used as social engineering. Changing the rules of the game through redesigning the societal game. There is nothing anti-technological in marxism and nothing inherently capitalistic in technology. There's a strand of touchy-feely leftist thought out there that is very confused about what the left is supposed to mean, which being very neatly to the left myself I look at with a lot of disappointment. It's probably the same kind that would lead you to write long essays without using capital letters.

That said, I do agree that there is nothing inherently superior about interactive fiction made with Twine. Holy crap, is this true.

Posted by EchoEcho

@mewarmo990 said:

I can't begin to describe the sense of 'wrong' that I felt playing Jade Empire (I speak Chinese). Where some people speak with American accents, and others with phony Asian accents, all while I'm getting fake Bioware mythology shoved in my face when there's already plenty of real-world literature to draw from. At least it was a fun game. The gun you could win off John Cleese was hilariously overpowered.

It's been a while since I last played Jade Empire, but I got the impression that people who spoke with an accent were those who grew up speaking the old, fake-Chinese language that BioWare made up for the game, whereas those who didn't have that accent grew up primarily speaking the newer (aka "English") language.

Also, saying Jade Empire was "shoving fake mythology in your face while there's plenty of real-world literature to draw from" is a lot like saying Dungeons & Dragons is "shoving fake mythology in your face when there's plenty of real-world literature to draw from."

BioWare wanted to make an Asian-inspired setting of their own, influenced by actual Chinese mythology -- much like D&D (or Lord of the Rings before it) drew inspiration from British and European mythology. They never claimed it was actual Chinese mythology, only that it was inspired by it, so it seems like a really bizarre thing to take offense at.

Edited by Angouri

This was the GDC panel that caused me to rethink my role in the media

I think that Porpentine was a little dismissive of AAA games and her claim that AAA can't deliver the personal experiences you can get with indies. Take Bioware's games: they are celebrated (or lambasted) based on the depth and emptional connection that the creators can make with their audience through the medium. There is something to be gained from looking at the ideas of a well-established team and understanding how they grapple with human issues. Analyzing the ludonarrative dissonance in games like Tomb Raider is fascinating, and has a lower barrier to entry than trying to understand what LIM was actually trying to portray (yellow blocks and blue blocks don't get along? and that leads to violence? huh)

Posted by Mercer

AND A REAL HEEERRROOOo

fucking amazing

Posted by Wilshere

Aww yeah!

Posted by dudeglove

I'll never fathom why people like dubbed movies/games. The original will always have particles of emotion that won't be found in any localization. It's what's meant by the phrase "lost in translation".

Speaking of which, thanks for reminding me to actually go and play Metro. I never actually started it.

Posted by Zevvion

Great post. That Guillotine Simulator seems like a fun little thing to show around.

Wish I had the money for a dev kit of the Oculus Rift. I probably should wait for the retail version though.

Edited by marbleCmoney

I can't say I really feel like I miss anything playing Metro with English voices. The atmosphere's still there for me, and missing out on plot details or world building because doesn't sound like an enhancement. It doesn't make sense that you're listening to Russian dudes speak English, but it also doesn't make sense that the Russian protagonist wouldn't be able to understand them. I'm not saying it can't add a little something for other people, but for myself I just don't feel like it would add to the experience.

Also, "crap Russian accents" are my jam.

Edited by Parsnip

I've never understood the 'subs over dubs' mentality.

As someone who actually grew up reading subs on everything but children's shows, I'm so over subs.

Posted by Winternet

ROM CHECK FAIL is great. And it's been around for a while.

Posted by EnduranceFun

Patrick attacks Orson Scott Card's character while maintaining tolerance of equivalent left-wing "bigots." You know, Leigh Alexander, Kotaku, Anita Sarkeesian, that Polygon guy. I guess you aren't a shitty person if you hate men, or white men, but criticism of gay marriage legislation is taboo. This flagrant disregard for integrity is part of why the games industry doesn't acknowledge the pretentious crap that slivers from SanFran's collective 'games journalism' anus.

Posted by Jaqen_HGhar

Actually been playing Metro 2033 recently for the first time. Read the book a few weeks back before playing the game, despite my sometimes "crippling" fear of moving forward in games like that. The tension is just too much for me at times. I started it out on Russian, to get the authentic feel, but I switched over to English after a few hours. Specifically when I got through the level called "War", when I found what looked like a stealthy shortcut to where I had gone guns blazing. Checked a walk-through and sure enough, a pair of guards talk about this shortcut near the start. But because they don't subtitle those things, I had no idea. Which is silly, seeing how my character should understand them just fine.

Posted by samcwic

Card has homosexual friends. He has written sympathetically of homosexual characters in his novels. But because he opposes gay marriage, that makes him bigotted, no matter how he treats homosexuals on a personal level.

Also, "homophobe" is a stupid word. I remember when it meant "fear of being regarded as homosexual," but now it has become an attack word to use against anyone whose expressed opinion doesn't follow the politically correct viewpoint. It is applied in a reactionary way to anyone who feels that homosexuality is wrong, regardless of the reason for his opinion.

Posted by MrCaptain

@soapy86 said:

"Metro 2033 is set in Russia, so what sense does it make to hear English voice actors with crap Russian accents?" doesn't hold water.

Why not? I always ALWAYS use the original language of if i can.

Can it be because english is not my native language, so I'm used to reading subtitles from when I was young?

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