Look at me mom, I'm inconsistent!

 

                The problem is that the more photorealistic the graphics get it’s easier to notice what is going wrong. Take as an example stairs; they can look great there is nothing wrong with the models and textures. Well let’s not talk about Alpha Protocol it’s probably not a bad model the textures are just lacking. I would take a screenshot of what I mean, but I’m not going to subject myself to that game again. What I am talking about in terms of stairs is however, the fact that for many games there is only one solid movement animation. Don’t get me wrong I know most games have more than one animation for movement. I’m talking about the fact that they are all made for the player to run on a horizontal axis. There are generally no animations for walking up/down stairs. Even if there is such an animation in the game it doesn’t feel like your character is running / walking up a staircase there is no weight to them, I’ll talk more about weight later though. There are some games that get these animations feeling and looking right, the first game that comes to my mind is Alan Wake. Now call me crazy *please don’t I can’t take the pressure* but you have no idea how much time I spent in Alan Wake just running up and down the stairs and marveling at the animations. Alright, as soon as I wrote that I began to feel crazy let’s forget I ever said such a thing. This animation is a make or break for me in terms of immersing myself in the game. I don’t care how nice the graphics are but if I walk down some stairs and it looks like he/she is floating above it, it reminds me that I am in a game and not inhabiting the character. Alright so the first paragraph was all about stairs, things can only get more interesting from here right? Right?

Alright now it’s time to talk about rock physics and yes I’m serious. If they are going to try and make the game realistic, yet walking along you can move a generously sized chunk of rock just by bumping into it with your feet, there seems to be some kind of gravity problem. Either that or your character must have spent all his time in the gym on his legs, they must be huge. This is a problem for me and I especially noticed how much it bothered me, when I saw gameplay in Crysis 2 where chunks of a building exploded off of the side of it and then bounced harmlessly on the cement or car. Needless to say I cringed at that moment. Lucasarts has created the euphoria system to give everything the ability to realistically react to opposing force glass, wood, and metal are all wonderfully realized put a rock in front of someone and it will stay the exact same rock no breaking apart in the least. Now I understand this is probably not that big of a deal for you in games. As I’ve already said I’m probably just crazy.

Speaking of crazy I want to touch on one topic very lightly because I know it’s a heavier handed topic for another day. The animation of shooting or getting shot is a very tricky thing to pull off when the player character can shoot any body part they want. This becomes a problem because I don’t want to see the same animation when I shoot some in the balls compared to when I shoot them in the face. Yes I know that everyone seems to use ragdoll physics, that’s fine it’s a good physics model but when they die and then float to the ground and land with no weight to them. Not to mention that after they fall they have the same problem that rocks do in the fact that they are essentially weightless. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked across a room after my genocide of people that aren’t me, and had a dead body get caught on me and I panic and just started shooting at it and peeing myself. It was on Dead Space don’t look at me like that. This has become more and more of a problem when everything is looking more realistic.

That’s quite enough of that discussion it was starting to become tedious, well more tedious then I usually am I guess. Now, I want to talk about a characters weight, no I’m not calling anyone fat except for the Volus their fat and everyone should hate them. What I am talking about however is feeling a characters weight in the world. If I’m playing as Master Chief I want to feel like I’m am heavier than the marines running around if they stand on a dead piece of wood I should break down into it. I want to feel the strength that a genetically engineered super soldier has. Show him breaking things just by trying to grab it. As it stands there are few games that really show the weight of the protagonist let alone NPC’s. This is a problem if you want me to feel a connection with a game, let alone the character I inhabit. The best game I can come up with a very weight conscious character is Uncharted 2. The beginning train sequence where you climb up the side or inside of the train gives me a feeling that the character actually inhabits this world. He can’t climb up everything because the object may not be able to hold his weight.

These things are essential *to me at least* to get me immersed into a game, world, character, and story. Don’t get me wrong I still fall in love with games but they tend to be few and far between as of late. It’s the realism in certain games that makes the games great. While, fucking this up can prove disastrous to any game trying to immerse you in its world and characters.

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Making Mature Games

 Making mature games has been a task that this industry of ours seeks to understand with a constant pace.


There have been several games that have been seeking that glory filled valley of mature games, from Custer's Revenge to Heavy Rain. The have tried many ways to make mature games for gamers that are getting older. There is even a rating for mature games and a rating for games aimed at adults. The only problem is that AO games have become synonymous with porn video games, games such as Rapelay. Is the problem with the distinctions between the mature games and the games that get put under the banner of the AO games which invariably get put behind the retailers desk, or more common just refused outright to be sold, or even played on the consoles of the time.

  Custer's Revenge was a porn game nothing really else, the point of the game was to get from one side of the screen to the other side of the screen so that you could rape the Native American woman tied to a post. That was the entire game just do that over and over, not exactly what I would call going forward for the industry. Makes you glad that our industry has matured since that day doesn’t it? If only however we matured more, while the game graphics and structure and story have advanced we are still children trying to figure out how to properly use our industry to say what we want to say.

  Another such game that is trying hard to bust into the area of mature game content is Heavy Rain, a game centered on a story about child kidnapping and what one father will do to try and save his son. The story is a very mature one in an industry almost centered on space marines and nerd wish-fulfillment ala Half-Life. Games that want the player to feel strong and powerful against opponents that they normally wouldn't be able to face, being able to save the world, or the princess, in the process. These are not mature games in the sense that the older gamer generation wants the games to become. These are games that revile in blood, gore, and sex games that want to be taken seriously by other mediums while allowing you to kill hordes upon hordes of enemies in minutes.

  Do not get me wrong, those games are some of my favorite video games, however these are not mature games not in the sense that movies have mature movies. Heavy Rain on the other hand gives a very mature setting and story along with a nice set of consequences for your actions. I believe this is how the medium will become able to really use the term mature game. What really makes these games mature is the story, the sense of vulnerability in your character, and consequences to your actions. Such games do not even need to be constricted to Heavy Rains formula, take Mass Effects game play; it's all about the action when something happens. They want you to move about to shoot when you want to shoot to stop when you want to stop. They want you to inhabit this character and this universe. This is exactly what they are creating for the players, a universe constructed by your decisions and give you the ability to change the galaxy to whatever you want it to be become, or find out that the decisions you chose have more far reaching consequences than what you thought they had when you first decided to kill that Rachni.

 This is what I believe the more mature games will soon steer more towards, consequences and storytelling will soon become more popular and not just in RPG games. Here is hoping that soon mature games won't necessarily mean there are tits and someone's head is getting ripped off.

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