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What games inspire you?

What games inspire you?
« on: March 10, 2011, 06:40:15 am »

Hello everybody, this is my first post here.  I wanted to reply to this topic, but decided to restart it because it's a little old, and because my question is actually a bit different.  Let me know if you think it should be moved somewhere else.  What I want to know is, what games (or notgames) inspire you?  What games do you find yourself emulating, consciously or unconsciously, when making your own?  What do these games share in common that has had such a strong influence on you?

Many of my strongest influences were already mentioned in the previous thread, but I was surprised that Myst wasn't one of them.  Myst and Riven have probably had a stronger influence on me than any other game I've yet played.

Another game no one mentioned is Super Metroid.  Ironically, what I like most about it are its least game-like qualities.  The most memorable moments for me weren't the boss fights, powerups or minimal narrative, they were feelings--the feeling of being lost, for instance, or the feeling of finding hidden treasure, or the exquisite and irreproducible feeling you get when you finally figure out how to enter Maridia.  It is exactly those sorts of feelings that all my favorite games share in common, from Silent Hill 2 to Braid to Don't Look Back, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, I Wish I Were the Moon, Pikmin, The Path, Dear Esther, etc.: that moment of discovery, of finding something new, or of being lost, on the verge of finding something new.  To me, that's what games are about.  Does anyone else feel that way?
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Re: What games inspire you?
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2011, 09:28:54 am »

Doom 2 was crucial to me. I played it long before I even considered making video games. But it did influence my designs of web sites, for instance. The thing that did it for me was the sense of immersion that Doom 2 created: it really made me believe I was in its world. That this is not just nostalgia caused by my first exposure to a 3D game was confirmed by recently replaying Doom on my iPod touch. It gave me the same feeling as I had, what, 20 years ago, on my first PC?

I think the reason why Doom 2's immersion is so good is that all of its elements fit each other very well, and enhance each other. The music supports the graphics, the controls support the sound effects, etc. In Doom 2, there's none of this awkward feeling of clumsiness, e.g., that I often feel in more recent shooter games. I also don't mind murdering every thing that moves in Doom 2 (as opposed to being appalled by the violence in most contemporary shooters): it doesn't feel like violence, really, it feels more liking hitting the right chord on a guitar.

I admit that in a lot of our work, I try to recapture my experience of Doom 2, somehow. I realize that part of Doom's power comes from its "primitiveness" but I refuse to take the retro path. This sort of thing must be possible (and indeed should be improved upon) through contemporary aesthetics.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2011, 09:31:18 am by Michaël Samyn »
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Re: What games inspire you?
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2011, 05:13:13 pm »

@Michael: I think the you shouldn't confuse retro with simplicity and tight design. And as you said, playing it is like hitting the right chords on a guitar - that's because it's such a tightly designed game. I've been hearing this from a lot of different quarters lately when it comes to modern FPS. The recent Yahtzee review of Bulletstorm touches on Doom and Painkiller, which was a throwback, though not in a retro visual sense but in it's mechanics. This striving for realism in FPS mechanics is undermining the fun factor. One of the reasons I like HL2 is because aside from all of it's cleverness, visuals and narrative dressing, at it's heart it's an old-school run and gun shooter.

@Malcolm: I didn't comment on that thread but I know what you're talking about. The exploration and discovery in many of the games you mentioned is what interested me as well. Also the strange dream (or nightmare) quality of some of them.
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Irony is for cowards.
Re: What games inspire you?
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2011, 06:34:32 pm »

The game that first got me hooked on games was probably Pokémon Red (if I can remember correctly). In 2000, when I was 8 years old, my family was going on a trip to Australia and a friend of ours let us borrow his Game Boy Color and his copy of Pokémon Red in order to endure the long flight. It was a new and exciting experience for both me and my brother. After that we started to take up gaming, though we didn't play as many games as most enthustiastic gamers our age did (not because we couldn't find anything to play, but because we were greedy little bastards who clutched our allowances hard).

1-2 years thereafter, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time convinced me to become a game developer. I studied programming hard (though due to my young age found it quite difficult) and made small games and "demos" in QBasic on the old, dusty computer dad's work would otherwise have thrown out (MS-DOS, failing harddrive, a nostalgic piece of machinery). I went on to find RPG Maker (or rather, a friend did) which I found quite limited and later Game Maker (recommended by the same friend) which I still use today for several projects.

A major turning point (although I did not realize it at the time) was when I played Metroid Prime. For the first time I played a game entirely for exploring an environment and for the first time, I felt that the gameplay was getting in the way of the experience. As my tastes matured, I found myself grow farther from the medium. I found solace in the independent game scene but it still wasn't enough. I began to lose hope in games. It was a similar process to that I had gone through in film (from quite eagerly watching mindless entertainment to finding mainstream cinema to be a waste of time and stop watching film altogether). I also went through the same process in literature, from being quite an intense reader to not finding anything of interest.

It was at this time that I found the development blog for The Path, which restored my hope in an interactive medium and with it I also found countless other experimental games and developers. At about the same time, my hope for film was restored as I discovered Tarkovsky and Bergman, and my interest in literature was refueled with Tove Jansson.
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