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31  Creation / From the ridiculous to the sublime / Re: Modernist vs Romantic/Classicist 3D presentation on: July 25, 2015, 07:06:53 PM
As such the closest analog might in fact be poetry. And then I agree: let's abandon the ubiquitous classic epic poem in favor of modernist colleague and experimentation with language.

I do think of some games as decorated poems (where the decoration stands on equal or greater foot to the poem). So I was drowsily nodding along with this, but then you said abandon classic epic poems and I had to spit out my coffee in shock.

I'm just going to take a guess and presume Michael is alluding to the (ubiquitous) "epic" video game program. It should be abandoned, but I'd personally liken the appropriate form of abandonment to training wheels.
32  Creation / Notgames design / Re: Lose control on: July 24, 2015, 07:21:05 PM
I would like to add that games tend to tell stories inefficiently.

I definitely enjoy the first person out of body experience, but that necessarily adds time to the clock. I think how you play should ideally be up to player, which would not be difficult if games are made with preexisting platforms that bring these options to the games for no extra work.

NOW. Good movies work by suggestion. They are cut down to the bone. So you'd never waste screen time walking through a doorway just for navigation sake. Often in movies you'll notice that if its clear what a scene is about, the scene will not address the thing that it's about, not give it a moments dialogue or anything, because that's just telling the audience what they already likely know, and it would feel like a beating to just regurgitate what the audience already knows. Games can be extremely guilty of this.

In cutscenes it is practically unacceptable how literal games can be. Beating their audience up as it were. But it's a tougher question when asking, when you press X to walk through the door, what then? Do we waste the time playing the open/walk-through-door animation? Or can we just cut to the next scene? As if the door is an exit to the next scene. It depends on the focus of the game I think. And the focus can be changed if it will make the game easier to make, nothing wrong with that (a lot of the time doors represent loading screens, but ideally games should be seamless, and cuts should be instantaneous. Load screens are a failing that we can't criticize enough)
33  Creation / Notgames design / Re: Discovery on: July 24, 2015, 06:57:14 PM
Still in a received medium like film, you feel like things are revealed to you, but never actively discovered.

Potentially inspiring distinction.

So there's a switching of roles: in a film the creator is active. But to feel discovery, the spectator needs to be active. Or feel active?

I almost missed this post! I don't know.

The creator is present, but I'd hesitate to call them active, since film is a passive/received medium. They are definitely active while making the film.

What's active is your imagination, and faculties for judging what is happening. And as QXD-me demonstrated, you can discover connections, if you are actively looking for them (I don't know if I experience film this way, I prefer they wash over me, and that probably affects the kinds of films I--present-I--seek out (mostly foreign language arthouse films.))

But film in this way denies the body. The body is what games can bring to the table; traditional storytelling/idea conveying medium wise. This is why when you say Discovery in the context of games, the mind leaps to unearthing a physical artifact of some kind, or stumbling into a scenic vista.
34  General / Wanted! / Re: Tale of Tales All-in-1? on: July 24, 2015, 06:18:44 PM
I think our games can stand on their own perfectly well. And there is no need to play all of them. Just play one.

I mean stand on their own as a purchase, and commitment to jump through all of the hurdles involved. I don't think any game really stands on its own. I'm thinking since you can't just put the games on television, how could you make it as close to changing the channel or tuning in later, with no extra fuss in the meantime.

I think most people who'd be of the mind to buy this kind of a package would look at it as a way of getting money to your studio and not over scrutinize it. But I understand if it's a hassle to setup. If you don't have a "donation" (patronage) system on your website... I think a lot of small artist studios really miss out by not providing a way to donate after the audience has experienced the product. Donating "what you want" before experiencing it is kind of silly if you think about it, and it's probably a good way to not get as large a donation as you could have.
35  General / Introductions / Re: Just reading through the forum mid-2015 on: July 24, 2015, 06:10:20 PM
I think if you do not welcome some orthodoxy you're going to drown or freeze trying to explore the bottom of that iceberg.

I'd like to ask all of the people who've entered these halls whether they think of themselves as developers/artists first, or revolutionaries. Because if you think of yourself as a revolutionary you have to plan and adapt like a revolutionary, towards an end that everyone is able to articulate.

Something that aggravates me a little bit, is people who want to skip to the end of the story. That's fine if you just want to look ahead, and see how it ends. But that's not how you get to the end of the story (and obviously you miss out on everything.)

(full-disclosure: I always do read ahead to the end of the story... this is how I know when I'm fully invested in it.)
36  Creation / From the ridiculous to the sublime / Re: Modernist vs Romantic/Classicist 3D presentation on: July 24, 2015, 06:05:57 PM
I feel like story forms the backbone or skeleton of just about anything that is going to have a lasting impact on society at large.

You can look at a project like Proteus. I think that's a good name for it, because it looks like a wonderful platform for making worlds that are alive, and it's protean in the sense that it's only a hint of what's to come. But for me the power of a tool like Proteus is to adorn the skeleton of a story. And if there is no story, it's aimless, and all of the atmosphere in the world is directionless and almost pointless.

Dances that people watch tend to have an embedded story, same for most music and opera. Architecture is a little bit too elite an artform. I'd rather think about sculpture and landscapes. But at least videogames provide a way to experience architecture outside of the public squares. Anyway. I'd definitely describe Proteus as modernist. There isn't a medium that is such a natural fit for modernist exploration, that I consider it a crime to not explore that. I think we'd feel a lot more liberated if the artistic style was decoupled from the production, because you can do that with digital media very easily. You just have to get yourself out of the lone artist sitting in a corner mindset.
37  Creation / From the ridiculous to the sublime / Modernist vs Romantic/Classicist 3D presentation on: July 22, 2015, 10:50:34 PM
I don't like to talk about art theory, and I'm not good with names.

I have a classicist background in drawing. Not production art, I don't have the patience, but very quick and very classical sculpture like concept art, with mechanical pencil, mind's eye to paper, kind of like fashion drawing only with a minimalist's attention to detail, and markers for coloring.

What I mean to say is I'm very sympathetic to classicist/romantic art. But I'm not sure it's the best fit for videogames right now, or even in general, in the long term. The thread that I see running through modern art, is the question, of is this form or that form truly of esthetic value, or is it merely of sentimental value? And can we comprehend anything in purely esthetic terms or not?

I feel like modernism is a perfect fit for 3D games, for two reasons:

1) it's much more practical to make games with a modernist esthetic. This requires only simple low polygon models with rudimentary textures. Sometimes there is sheer joy in just seeing how abstract you can possibly take things. Great for rapid prototyping (asks people to make esthetic value judgements that reflect on our primitive instincts: more "graphics" please?)

2) for me I can't help anthropomorphizing my electronics. I feel like ultra realistic graphics, which are almost required for non-modernist art styles is cruel to my electronics. It requires lots of heat, every frame, lots of processing power, lots of everything, it just feels like the height of extravagance, and I'm not sure it would feel any different if every ounce of electricity was converted from sunlight right outside my door, or if the computer were passively cooled, or computed with pure light not generating heat. I could rationalize this but not being born of an age of abundance it would still feel extravagant, and I'm not extravagant by nature in the slightest. It just feels like a wrong fit to me. Inelegant.

(edited: and of course it also requires expensive electronics. I expect that most computers in the United States are not capable of playing PC games with baseline graphics. Still all new computers have integrated graphics that can technically do everything that a GPU card is able to do. But they are just optimized for HD video playback and window compositing. It seems to me like department stores only sell this kind of PC. Best Buy probably still sells gaming PCs/GPU cards.)

Realism dominates film, but that's because its functionally photography, so realism is easiest (and I think a lot of film can just be boiled down to fascination with the actors themselves, or how we see ourselves in their chance micro-behaviors.) Film loves to revel in animation, and any kind of non-realistic style they can, but it's cost prohibitive and not practical. Japan has made an art form of this in anime, the most utilitarian form of animation. Yes it's still back breaking animation, but it's special effects budget is flat, infinite even, and that gives it a niche.

Mediums have strengths and weaknesses, and at this time in history when video games so desperately need to get off the ground, and we need all hands on deck, I think it's even irresponsible to promote so thoughtlessly an esthetic style that is realistically not attainable by most people who might be able to make really brilliant 3D games.

We should come to appreciate the modernist style above all else, and then only then, treat ourselves to a bit of extravagance now and then, opting for that plain old "realistic" presentation setting. The setting that we take for granted every waking hour it is unfolding all around us.

Thoughts? Impossible beauty standards. What do you think?
38  General / Wanted! / Tale of Tales All-in-1? on: July 22, 2015, 09:18:02 PM
I'm wondering Michael, since Tale of Tales has closed it doors for at least this era of its games.

Is there or can there be a single game download that can be like a ToT collection? So that we can install 1 program, and uninstall 1 program, and not have to fuss with every individual game. And if so how big would that download be? Could it cost like a standard $60 game or so? Maybe less being digital only (possibly excluding Endless Forest since it's multi-player.)

I think a lot of your games might not stand on their own. Just for the fuss. But as a collection? And not just a bundle that gives you all of the games. It has to be packaged together in a single download/installer so the pain of fussing with this is only felt once (I often lament that Windows can only uninstall one program at a time, and it takes so long)

39  Creation / From the ridiculous to the sublime / Re: Games are wasting time on: July 22, 2015, 08:36:18 PM
There is a lot of scientific evidence to show that adults have a hard time keeping their attention focused on something for more than 90 minutes. I suppose it's just part of our rhythm, since we sleep in 90 minute chunks as well. That's why you have intermissions for events (even sports!) that last more than 90 minutes.

It has been argued on Gamasutra that film is about short edits, so videogames are about continuity. I remain unconvinced.

I can anecdotally confirm this. I think people who binge watch and watch longer than feature-length movies in a single setting are probably depressed somehow. We would've called them couch potatoes 20 years ago. Studies have suggested as much. Reputable or otherwise.

I think Sunset looks like an interesting game, but I dread playing it for more than 90 minutes. I wonder if it would have sold a lot more copies if people who are potentially interested in it didn't read that you work an hour every day for a year! And then realize that the hour must be compressed somehow so that a year is only several hours!! I understand that maybe it doesn't work any other way, but that's a major commitment. Today there is so much media if something isn't firing on all cylinders for you it's so easy to pass.

The house reminds me of my aunt's vertical house who with her spouse owned/operated an architectural firm in St. Louis (still more or less does I think. She is a vicious Ayn Rand conservative nazi who may even belong to a weird secret society or two!! Edited: for the record this is a mischaracterization, but a heart felt sentiment nonetheless.)

It seems like the perfect game to stream off a Netflix like service in theory. Either getting drawn in or turning it off. It's too much work to download, install, play, uninstall, it's just not worth it, not any of it. This isn't the way to change the face of videogames.


PS: Please STICKY this thread. Never forget Smiley
40  General / Introductions / Re: Just reading through the forum mid-2015 on: July 22, 2015, 08:04:23 PM
Hi, and welcome Smiley Can you elaborate on what you mean re: your last few sentences? I'm not sure I get what you're saying.

Thanks! Someone is here. Maybe we can resuscitate this place.

Rule of thumb, "a few" being 3: "Could it just be one-upmanship? Or do I just require time to adjust. It seems like it is/was a largely male dominated community."

Funny you say so. I just used "Dragon Cancer" as an example for one of Michael's design threads of late (Lose Control) that has repeatedly vexed me to the point that I would be embarrassed if I had any shame. What is your role in that game BTW?

What I mean is just that I'm floored a little bit by how much of the discussion seems driven by a palpable desire to part company from videogames. I find it ahistorical and more than a bit extremist or fundamentalist. I wonder if this desire is true or artificially inflated. And is it even a healthy one. You get men together in close quarters and things will become a pissing contest.

EDITED: I'm really not trying to take anyone down a peg. I'm making excuses for being generally confused, but also wondering why or how things can be this confusing at the same time.
41  General / Introductions / Just reading through the forum mid-2015 on: July 22, 2015, 07:46:32 PM
Dear anyone who's suffered my posts,

It's 2015 and I'm just reading through the forum... maybe the entire forum (it's a little intimidating how big it is.) And I probably won't be able to resist leaving a mark on every other thread. Just to help process what I read.

I'm sympathetic to the tumblr blog posts post Sunset. I think if I ever find myself at the nexus of a large inflow of money I will just give a chunk of it to Michael to do what he wants with it.

I'm quite dedicated to cinema-like-games. Not necessarily with meaning, but with esthetic and or ethical values and messages. I find myself agreeing with Michael's blog posts, but have a difficult time with some of the concepts being discussed inside the forums here. I'm not sure why the eagerness to so thoroughly break from convention. Could it just be one-upmanship? Or do I just require time to adjust. It seems like it is/was a largely male dominated community.
42  Creation / Notgames design / Re: Lose control on: July 22, 2015, 07:15:46 PM
(I clearly can't wrap my head around this. Too much into game/cinema, not sure if there can be anything outside that box or not.)

I deleted three posts because it dawned on me your three points seemed to be towards addressing a hypothetical game project instead of a general design principle. A stop-gap project to sidestep lingering problems you've identified? They don't seem like permanent problems as you put them. The awkward computer could always be upgraded could it not?

Typically games solve this by cutting whenever you do something. So if you open a door, cut to scene of opening the door. So it doesn't matter what the configuration was when you did the door "activation".

You can solve these problems with programmatic solutions also. You might want to look into "inverse kinematics" and animations can be blended. I'm not sure what the obsession is with super convincing games myself. The medium hardly has an identity yet and everyone is so eager to jump to doing super experimental work intensive productions.

I find realism bankrupt mainly because shadows. The current state of the art for shadows is so primitive that if Super Mario Bros. is an "8-bit" game, then shadows today are 12-bit shadows (as much as I resist calling them two-bit. Only large untessellated vertex shaded shadows have qualities suggestive of shadows. I think the future is in shadows that will themselves be models, meshes.)

Maybe it is more modernist, but there is nothing wrong with an abstract visual style, much like the Dragon Cancer game employs. And in this style, maybe a little awkwardness will go unnoticed. I don't feel like we've earned the right to progress beyond this level of presentation, and I feel like artists who do so are a little bit ignorant of history and a little too gung-ho for their own good.

Generally anything is acceptable, it can just be hard to communicate to the player how to interact.
43  Creation / Notgames design / Re: Discovery on: July 21, 2015, 06:13:32 PM
As for whether it is universally human, I would like to think that everyone feels it a bit, but I have seen people get very angry when their stories aren't spelled out to them in the simplest and most direct of terms, or when their game isn't "properly" tutorialised and they didn't bother to try and figure any of it out for themselves, sooo..... at best it matters to different people different amounts.

Something I find strange about games is all of the dialogue tends to come from an omniscient and absolutely sincere place. I'm unclear on how you can have a mystery or thriller when no one can tell a lie, and all information presented is the absolute literal truth. My theory is either I'm imagining this, or misleading players is considered to be inviting their ire, because they may play the game, perhaps for extended periods of time based on misleading information, and they will come to see that as a willful wasting of THEIR time.

Probably the most legendary example is Castlevania II (Simon's Quest) where all of the villagers would lie in a classic "Transylvania" setting way. This in a very direct way would lead players off on wrong hunches. My favorite game is King's Field II. In the original trilogy there is a magical item called the Truth Glass which is used to get what is presumably true information. The rest of the game seems to have fun wrapping its world in vagaries, plays on language, historical misunderstanding handed down through generations, outright lies, and nothing ever being what it appears to be. It did a much better job than Dark Souls, which gets a lot of praise for the way it doles out its "lore", but King's Field did it in a way that is more art than nerd kibble, and has a much more natural and attractive fairytale like world (discounting the PS2 one and later spinoffs)
EDITED: Dark Souls is very popular nowadays for being a game-y series. But I neglected to say that originally the company that makes it advertised it as a successor to the King's Field series. But it really is not similar in any way at all. It is something like the Shadow Tower series that spun-off King's Field play-wise, only with a change of perspective/pacing.


P.S. I think art can do this without reducing itself to a puzzle box, or a game of guess what the crazy director is thinking! It should be employed for atmosphere sake and atmosphere sake alone. I suppose "connecting the dots" is discovering a connection.


EDITED: I haven't played Silent Hill 2. But it seems to have a lot of fans here, and I bet it's a rare game that doesn't present things the way they really are (I played the first game, and didn't get sucked into it. The second is Pyramid Head and friends and it never struck me as especially original or enticing, not being inclined to enjoying settings like Silent Hill myself.)
44  Creation / Notgames design / Re: The contradition of the narrative avatar on: July 19, 2015, 09:05:15 PM
Controlling an avatar with preexisting knowledge is no different from characters in a book or a film (you don't know anything about them other than the events that transpire within.) Basically you just get to control the main protagonist unless the game moves you around or is party based. They are the audience surrogate.

Framing devices are fine. Exposition dumps and characters talking to themselves are unforgivable. Talking to yourself is less offensive if its internalized and can possibly be a useful tool, but will probably come off as unrealistically prescriptive if so. Asking the player to answer questions I find highly problematic and antithetical to storytelling. Missing foreknowledge is only really a problem if asked a question that doesn't seem to be breaking the fourth wall (eg. is this boring you? Shall we do something else?)

Knowing/communicating where to go/what to do is the only real problem with no simple answer.
45  Creation / Technology / Re: 3D tribulations on: July 19, 2015, 08:27:39 PM
This thread strikes me as selfish. The obvious solution is to make a big commons of artifacts in different styles all meticulously cultivated. Call it a cyberspace if you want, but not a facelift for the WWW, just a catalog of all digital art that might have practical future applications.

No TurboSquid dumping grounds. A concerted and open effort to make tools and cohesive elements available to use. If you need a character, making a Frakenstein monster is always suboptimal. What you want to do is cast all of the characters together, in order to optimize onscreen chemistry. Scout for locations in the cyberspace before resorting to desperate measures. Reduce, reuse, recycle.
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