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1  Creation / Notgames design / Re: Rethinking endlessness on: April 17, 2011, 01:21:36 PM
But when the game is very atmosphere based, like I think Assassin's Creed is (didn't play it, but it seems like a lot of the attraction is in the atmosphere of playing), then the whole game becomes a dead end.

I think that's far too negative way of looking at this. The experience of beauty and immersion in atmospheric games far outweighs the potential of endless strategic variations in conventional games for me. And the fact that something ends is good: it leaves more time for life.

I agree with you, atmosphere, immersion and esthetic beauty is one of the most powerful offerings the video game medium has. The finiteness of these experiences don't have to be a bad thing, as you say, but it's a pity if the end consists of "okay now I feel fed up with this" rather than being a thoughtfully designed part of the experience. What I meant was that that fed-up feeling is likely to make the whole experience less positive in retrospect.
2  Creation / Notgames design / Re: Rethinking endlessness on: April 16, 2011, 06:57:57 PM
I think doing the same thing - anything - over and over the same way is always going to end with the empty feeling. Discovering a new favourite food, then eating it so often that it becomes uninteresting. I've felt like that with music from time to time, "why do this, I know all the notes and timbres and chords and ways to put them together into melodies and songs and recordings, what's the point in doing that again". Of course, the real problem there is that I for some reason have been "stuck" in a certain style, a certain type of music or approach to music. It becomes an uninteresting dead-end, yet backtracking doesn't seem very attractive.

But leaving music altogether for a few months and coming back can make wonders. I see new problems, want to investigate new patterns, and see even those old things in a different light.

Most computer games probably aren't flexible enough to allow that. The possible actions are often quite limited, and trying new combinations of them is not very rewarding once you learned and used them all for a while. Highly abstract games like boardgames, cardgames etc may be different, as the focus is so completely on these actions and their possible tactical combinations. With the right rules the depth of possible discoveries - strategies and counter strategies - can be huge. Even if you tire of a certain aspect of the game for a while, you can come back later and discover new things.

But when the game is very atmosphere based, like I think Assassin's Creed is (didn't play it, but it seems like a lot of the attraction is in the atmosphere of playing), then the whole game becomes a dead end. Once you reach the end, you're likely to reach that "what's the real point of this" feeling, and the whole thing can seem like a waste in retrospect even though you actually liked the experience.

Question is, how could a not/game be devised to allow you to come back with fresh eyes and see something entirely new?
3  General / Check this out! / Re: Jonathan blow on games that are consiously addicting on: December 03, 2010, 10:22:52 AM
There's a swedish tv programme ("Lyxfällan") where they help people in debt get their personal finances straight - in a recent episode they helped a couple where the unemployed wife spent more than 40 hours / week playing Farmville and some other Facebook games. She called this activity "unnecessary but a lot of fun". It had clearly ruined her life and, I suspect, put a lot of strain on their relationship.

I wonder how common that is in adults?

EDIT: An interesting note here is that this is a reeaally bad show, which exploits both its participants and its viewers by building up fake suspense, drama, etc. In some sense, it's just like Farmville. Maybe these strategies for "hooking" the audience are prevalent in all commercial media and art - tv, games, music, news...
4  General / Check this out! / Re: Jonathan blow on games that are consiously addicting on: November 26, 2010, 10:00:34 AM
But that question is not simple, since what makes your life better is an extremely complicated question. Is eating candy making my life better? Yes, because it tastes good and leaves me with a momentary satisfaction. No, because it's not good for my teeth, the sugar can affect my mood, etc. At almost any given moment, most of us could probably spend our time at something morally better or something of greater impact on our life quality than what we choose to do. Art is important, but only occasionally does it really change your life in any important way.

Here's another idea though... If I chose to try and play some game, there must be something about it that is interesting to me. If the game lets me experience that, without demanding more of my time than necessary, then it can't really be very abusive, can it? If that's the time it takes to really experience whatever it is I want to experience, then that's my choice, whether the experience actually turns out to be valueble or not. The game is offering me an experience, but it can't really predict how I as an individual is going to respond to it.

However, if the game starts to waste my time without really contributing to the central interesting experience, then it is almost by definition using or abusing me for its own purposes.

Is writing this post making my life better? Probably not.  Lips sealed
5  General / Check this out! / Re: Jonathan blow on games that are consiously addicting on: November 09, 2010, 01:05:25 PM
Saw this a while back. I think it's really interesting but it's extremely difficult to find a distinction between something that is addicting and something that is just enthralling. In some sense, all games that are competitive in any way "use" that psychological force to make people keep playing. Maybe what we need is, quite simply, notgames.
6  General / Check this out! / Re: Myst Opportunity: 8-bit Immersion on: September 28, 2010, 05:16:30 PM
Cell shading is an example of how you can ignore the mathematical accuracy and go for beautiful results.

Cell shading is just as mathematically accurate as the default pipeline Wink

Yeah I realized right after posting that "mathematical" wasn't the right word at all. "Physical" maybe.
7  General / Check this out! / Re: Myst Opportunity: 8-bit Immersion on: September 28, 2010, 11:32:24 AM
I wonder if it's possible to get that painterly feeling into a 3d-environment.

Why do you want that? A 3d environment, that is.

Other people have already answered this very well.

What I dislike with most 3d, the way it looks today, is that the presentation of the world is very objective. 3d rendering is almost always about pure math - you're computing how a certain 3d model would look from a certain angle. A painting is usually a subjective presentation of a scene.

If you make a painting, who cares about whether you got lights and shadows mathematically correct? It's about the mood and atmosphere, not the accuracy. Celshading is an example of how you can ignore the mathematical accuracy and go for beautiful results - there should be more ways to do it, to emulate paintings or completely new graphical styles.
8  General / Check this out! / Re: An article about not assuming what players will definatley do on: September 11, 2010, 11:23:05 AM
Great article. It reminds me a bit of how children or young teenagers who start to watch "grown up" movies often have a hard time understanding everything. They often miss things that are clearly hinted to, and when they realize this they tend to ask questions about all kinds of things, including things that have yet to be revealed.

When grown ups watch movies, we might assume that they are a "neutral" form a storytelling, but you clearly have to learn how they work before you can enjoy them fully. The same is probably true for all types of media...
9  General / Check this out! / Re: I just released our new horror game "Amnesia" on: September 10, 2010, 08:23:36 AM
I saw the interview this morning, on the rare occasion of me checking SvD's mobile website! For some reason they don't seem to have published it on their regular website.

Here's a crude touched-up google translation for the 1% people on this forum who aren't from Sweden.

Experience as a weapon
Swedish game developer Frictional Games tries to find its own paths, outside the publishing system. Despite limited resources, they want to teach us to play in a new way to experience rather than to win.

Thomas Grip says he has butterflies in his stomach, but it can not be heard over the phone. The butterfly flutter is drowning in the sound of all the visions he stored inside and now bubbling over of.

Thomas is a founder of Frictional Games, a small games studio headquartered in Helsingborg, and is responsible for the overall design of the PC game Amnesia: The Dark Descent, a horror story released today. The butterflies in the stomach comes from expectations on feedback from players and critics.

Frictional Games has financed the entire production process itself, and now also manages the publishing and PR without help from a publisher. But Thomas Grip seems to enjoy the outsider role. To ask him what is wrong with today's gaming industry is like pushing a button.

"Oh wow, it's so much. The narrative is at the same level as in the 90s. The stakes are so high that no one dares to take the next step. That is why we get games full of marines and variations of Conan the Barbarian. Today the best games' stories are on the same level as the worst action movies."

Should the game medium learn from film and literature?

"No, they are no good role models. In the literature there is a several thousand year old tradition of storytelling with dramaturgy, turning points and character development. Many game developers are trying to copy that instead of seeing storytelling in the game as something new. In a novel set at the North Pole you must weave together a story just to illustrate how difficult the situation is. In a game, you can instead experience it directly by interacting with the environment."

How is Amnesia different from other games?

"You don't have any weapons. You don't kill any monsters and you shoot no one. You are an ordinary person. Even that many find strange. In a horror game where you have a weapon in front of you bobbing up and down the screen, the reaction when you hear a monster approaching will be "Yes, a monster! Finally I get to shoot!" In Amnesia it's the opposite. The player stands no chance against the monsters. The only way to survive is to avoid them."

But don't players expect to kill things?

"Yes. When you sit down with a game many think automatically, "What should I do to win?" But you don't sit down with a book thinking 'How do I get faster to the last page?" It's the word "game" that misleads. It should really be called "interactive experience". But of course it is difficult to replace a word we're used to. Instead, we try to educate people in what games can mean. We want the player to think "How do I immerse myself into this game and experience as much as possible?""

Some of your fans write on your site that you are the savior of the game medium. Why?

"Haha, I try to take both praise and complaints with a grain of salt. But you should not be afraid to have high goals. Although we have limited resources, we can be part of taking the game media in new directions."
10  General / Everything / Re: CNN thinks games are art (but forgets about the artists?) on: September 03, 2010, 03:34:00 PM
Interesting observation. Though I think he picked Van Gogh and Michelangelo because they are artists that everyone knows about. Their names are more famous than the names of their separate works. In games, only the really big companys like Nintendo and Microsoft can be considered public knowledge, so it makes more sense for him to refer to the games' titles. I assume this article targets the general public, and it's more likely they recognize the name of those games than the name of their creators. If the article targeted gamers, they could easily refer to Blow, Söderström, Ueda, Rohrer, the Miller brothers, etc.

Compare it to movies - The Shining vs Stanley Kubrick, Star Wars vs George Lucas, Pirate of the Carribean vs Gore Verbinski, etc. More people probably know about the movies than their directors.

It might also be the simple fact that a painting doesn't need marketing, and the work itself usually doesn't include words. Hence, the name of the painting is never as important as the image of the painting.
11  General / Check this out! / Re: "The Wilderness Downtown" - interactive HTML5 music video on: September 03, 2010, 03:16:25 PM
The only thing that stood out to me was the daylight panoramas... they could have put some kind of transparent green layer on top of it to make it blend in a little better with everything else.
12  General / Check this out! / "The Wilderness Downtown" - interactive HTML5 music video on: September 02, 2010, 11:40:54 AM
I found this to be both intensely emotional and impressive from a technological point of view... try it out in a modern browser.
13  Creation / Reference / Peter Molyneux's Milo and Kate on: August 24, 2010, 09:55:28 PM

There's reason to be sceptical towards all the bold claims when they talk about this stuff, but it's also hard not to be a little excited. If this isn't a notgame I don't know what is.
14  General / Check this out! / Re: Myst Opportunity: 8-bit Immersion on: August 23, 2010, 02:49:24 PM
I actually had similar ideas popping up in my head when I first saw this a couple weeks back, how immersive they are and how they feel just like scenes from some unfinished adventure game. Some of these images are absolutely stunning, and it's even more impressive when you consider the technique.

I think one thing that makes these so cool is that they are pretty much animated paintings. I wonder if it's possible to get that painterly feeling into a 3d-environment...
15  General / Check this out! / Nicholson Baker plays video games on: August 21, 2010, 12:54:54 PM
I would like to read this article.

The writer, who had never held a video-game controller until last fall, describes his experience playing a series of video games, sometimes alone and sometimes with his sixteen-year-old son. The first thing he learned is that video games—especially the vivid, violent ones—are ridiculously hard to play. They’re humbling. They break you down. They kill you over and over. To begin with, you must master the controller.
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