Superharman's comments

Posted by Superharman

I'm enjoying it. Playing about a level a night which seems like good pace for a game like this, anything more and I can understand how the combat would become a little stale.

Posted by Superharman

This entry originally appeared here on my personal blog More Harman Than Good.
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
As I read over last year’s game of the year winners, two games seemed to dominate both lists, Mass Effect 2 and Red Dead Redemption. This was unsurprising for the most part, both are games that are quite good. The reasons they are good though go beyond any technical aptitude or even in some regards, consistent story. Reasons generally stated for both games being as good as they are come down to immersion.

A similar thing happened with Bioshock in 2007. While the game was far from the being the most technically apt shooter, it was good enough. What drew the players into the game though was the immersion into the city of Rapture. Almost second to the world was the story which was fairly standard fare for a first person shooter, there were though key sub-textual themes that I’m sure any gamer with an arts degree (guilty) found engaging.

The examination of themes in Red Dead Redemption (moving on, religion, racism etc.) isn’t quite as strong as Bioshock, but it is good to know that video game writers are layering these topics into their narrative. The story is also a little schizophrenic, particularly when the character journeys to Mexico. When it is strong, it is amazing, some of the characters you meet in the game are particularly compelling. However, when it is weak, I found myself pushing through to get to the better bits. Unfortunately, because this is a game, getting to those bits was filled with frustration in a lot of cases because the game has issues on a technical level. I went back to the game recently and had trouble changing weapons, something I always found problematic in the game. So how does this game that has these problems win game of the year awards? Because while there are technical and story problems they aren’t enough to overshadow the fact that Rockstar created a world so immersive, open and complex that the player can’t help but lose themselves in it. Ever wanted to be an old west gunslinger? Well here is your chance.

Mass Effect 2 does a similar thing, it puts you in the role of a space captain able to take your ship to different planets. The game has a vast science fiction environment for you to explore and new people to meet. Like Red Dead, Mass Effect 2 has story structure problems which comes down to both being such long games. Similarly, while the game is technically competent, it isn’t perfect and not the best example of a third person shooter. Both games though allow strong diversion from the main narrative, and it is perhaps it is these diversions that immerse the player into the role of the character. Having the freedom to do what you want as a player goes beyond just going on a critical path and shooting everyone you see. Players it seems like to become the character and giving them open world environments where not everything they do involves combat helps to draw them in

I’ll be writing a little bit more about immersion and game environments over the coming weeks. To me, it is the topic that makes games the key unique experience that they are. It is also what I think is key to driving games forward as a story telling medium and getting strong stories in the form.

Posted by Superharman

For your reading pleasure, allow me to note a moment in my thesis where I mention the Fallout series:
 
" The post apocalyptic setting is a common science fiction setting often termed as a sub genre. It is also a setting used in popular genre works outside of literature. The 1968 film Planet of the Apes for example takes place in a post nuclear environment as do a number of popular video games including the Fallout series. The post apocalyptic setting allows the artist to explore a destroyed world while raising issues associated with the cause for the disaster, in the two examples above, the fear of a nuclear war. Similarly, The Road uses its setting as a comment on modern environmental concerns. "

Posted by Superharman

Good talk. Had a number of the same questions myself.

Posted by Superharman

This one joins the anticipated list...

Posted by Superharman

I do a lot of writing, I play a lot of games. Do games influence my writing?
 
The other day my housemates were having a joke that I don't really seem to do much all day but play video games despite the fact that I do a hell of a lot of writing when they're not home. One of my housemates quipped that I am probably just stealing all my plots from games. It was a pretty interesting thing to think about. I think that most creative people are influenced by a great deal of mediums. I consume many books, comics, films and of course, games. It only makes sense that these various mediums have an influence on my work.
 
Naturally though, games are a little more unrefined than the other mediums. What a lot of games do seem to get right lately though is plot. While dialogue and character in a lot of games may be a little lacking for the most part, most developers know how to structure a plot. Of course, more often than not a three hour plot will be extended out to make a 10 hour game and that can often make the story fell a little awkward. Anyway, I'm not saying anything new here, back to the question at hand.
 
So the other day I was plotting a story, could be a short story, could be a novel, I haven't really decided yet. As I was working on the characters and their motivation I sort of realised that my main characters situation was somewhat like that of a favorite game character, Manny Calavera. I don't feel like I should drasticly alter my character because of this for a couple of reasons. The first is that Manny himsel is a vessel for a number of film noir characters and that is the general feel I am going for with this work. The second is that the similarities are only really on the surface (employment situation) and even there they are minor. I feel like though that my subconscious led me down this path because I played Grim Fandango. 
 
Of course there was another time when my subconscious ran me into problems. I was reminded that my plot was a little too similar to something else causing me to put an entire project in the bin but that didn't happen here. It's just a matter of knowing the differences between influence and copy and being able to justify those influences if anyone ever asks.

Posted by Superharman

Had this one pre-ordered for a while now, good to know that my money wont be going to waste.  Now I just need to work out a headphone option so I can play it at night loudly without waking up my housemates.