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Discovery

Discovery
« on: July 19, 2015, 02:39:11 pm »

A pleasant aspect of videogames is discovering things. One could make a film of someone's exploration of a game. It's an entirely linear experience. But watching a film doesn't feel like a journey of discovery as much as moving the camera through the world yourself. I think this even applies to a completely linear game. The fact that you are moving the camera, even if there would be only one path that can be followed makes all the difference!

So what is that difference?
Is simply deciding on the pace sufficient? Would the feeling of discovery disappear if you couldn't pause? Or is it being able to look around that makes the difference? Would a fixed camera direction ruin it? Or does it not matter as long as there is some kind of control over something? And is this a universally human sentiment? Or am I the only one for whom this makes such a huge difference?
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Re: Discovery
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2015, 05:45:08 pm »

I think this effect stems from feeling that you are bodily there doing the things. The more you straightjacket this the more this effect is compromised to the point that the medium's very strengths are drained from it leaving you wondering what is even happening? what is the point? wouldn't this make more sense as a movie?

I think you have to work with the strengths. And discovery is part of the immediacy, and that only comes with bodily games. That's not the only thing you can do with realtime-3D art, but it's the only thing where discovery has a potency. In fact I find that frozen worlds tend to be the only places that discovery works. In a frozen world things progress locally, but do not ripple outward from that. Occasionally there is a catastrophic event that alters the world globally, irreversibly, which is like a turning of the page. This is like a painting. Unlike in life, at least where there are people, you can stop and just stare at the faces or features of the world, and the NPCs won't think you are strange for it. You get to freeze time and just enjoy it...

You can't literally freeze time, because some things like flocks of birds will move of their own accord. But if you had to manually pause the world just to stare, it would lose this painterly quality. Still if you really want to freeze the flock in flight you must. In theory you can switch into director/editor mode at that point to get a different angle on the flock. But it can't be as simple as pausing, because computers need a way to go into a low power state, and that has to be the first effect of pausing.

A major contention I have concerning contemporary games, is every game feels like a bullet hell shooter to me. No matter the format, no matter the genre, because there is so much happening at once everywhere and so many confused details with no coherency or sense of composition, that inhabiting the world feels like a kind of hell. Navigating through a flurry at all times on instinct into what feels like in the moment the present safe space. This perfectly describes bullet hell. I just don't think it's what game designers think they are doing when there are a million different moving parts on every screen. Where do you look? Where do you go? Is it information overload. Where is the focus in any given scene. Where is the director? Has anyone seen the director? Oh he's permanently out to lunch. That sounds like a good idea, I think I'll join him Smiley


EDITED: In retrospect I want to say that I know what you mean about discovery, but that personally it doesn't really affect me. I like spoilers, I enjoy something more the more I know about it going into it. I know in watching a movie I never feel like I discovered something. But I'm not sure discovering something is such a dopamine rush, as much as just appreciating what you found. You probably found lots of things you didn't feel like you discovered, because you didn't appreciate them. Still in a received medium like film, you feel like things are revealed to you, but never actively discovered. As an active experience is transformed into a passive experience, it takes on different qualities.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2015, 06:48:10 pm by Mick P. »
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Re: Discovery
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2015, 09:25:14 am »

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?
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Re: Discovery
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2015, 11:10:35 pm »

I think the important part of discovery is that it requires something from you in order for it to happen, that way you can have some sort of ownership or personal attachment to whatever you have encountered. Even minor interactions, like deciding the pace, can provide it, though they may not do so to enough of an extend that you really notice it.

This can happen in film too. For example if a film is difficult to follow, dense and/or complex or if it is very open to interpretation then it will often require some effort from the viewer to put together their own interpretation of the film, to me at least this provides a very similar sense of discovery to that of games. Just as you can discover the mechanics, world and narrative of a game you can discover the narrative of a  film from what is shown, though I do think that videogames have more scope for this and are more often engaging in this way.

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.
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Re: Discovery
« Reply #4 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.)
« Last Edit: July 21, 2015, 08:04:44 pm by Mick P. »
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Re: Discovery
« Reply #5 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.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2015, 07:00:00 pm by Mick P. »
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