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 on: August 05, 2015, 08:26:04 AM 
Started by Michaël Samyn - Last post by Mick P.
^Continuing here instead,

I don't have any trouble with immersion, but I wouldn't define it this way. For the first time ever immersive isn't being underlined by the spellchecker. So it's officially a word now I guess, or Firefox has switched to a more freewheeling dictionary.

Immersion is unique to games. Immersive would've been a word decades ago if it had anything to do with books or movies. People confuse it, saying immersive when they mean engrossing. You can be engrossed in a book, or a film, but never immersed in it. To be immersed is to be dipped into it.

To be engrossed is to have your full attention. To be immersed is closer to hypnotism or dreaming, your brain is essentially convinced that it is in a new reality completely.

So what can be immersive? Can graphics be immersive? Not really. As long as graphics are not glitch-y they are sufficiently immersive. Can language be immersive? Not really. As long as language is consistent it is immersive. The same goes for all of the senses and uses for them.

For example, cartoons cannot be immersive. They can come in any visual style, and we accept them, just as we accept the visual style of our particular reality. If you dream you are in a cartoon, it feels real, and if it feels real then you are immersed. We don't say dreams are immersive because we don't make dreams as such, but dreams and our reality are the only real analogue to video games we have. This is why guys like David Cronenberg obsess over video games even when they don't know or understand the first thing about them, but they understand their relationship to reality/realities.

In practical terms, what then enhances immersion? Well I think we are incredibly biased to first-person video games where immersion is paramount. This is just because we spend so much time in a first-person reality. If somehow we were freed from that our attitudes/bias might change radically; but I don't think playing lots of non-first-person games could ever achieve that even in the slightest.

The senses have to be excited from all directions. Again this is just a biological bias. We are used to that. In real terms this means everything that can produce a sound should produce a sound. Again it doesn't have to be a realistic sound, but this seems like another strange bias, because there are very few examples of non-realistic sounds in our history of music and recording. Cartoon sounds and computer game beeps.

Also senses of movement have to be engaged. If you push against something it needs to push back. If I had three wishes for video games I'd wish that analog thumbsticks could push back. But for now this means the avatar/perspective needs to be pushed back, it can't merely glide around obstacles like metal on metal.

Textures and suggestions of smells and tastes are very important, but our technology is heavily biased toward audio/visual cues. Still what makes me hopeful is that all of these things are really very easy to accomplish with computers. Still no game that I know of does them well, especially movement is very impoverished even though it doesn't present any hard problems and you can reckon around it just by getting out of your chair and doing some simple kinesthetic experiments with your own body.

Graphically when I look at contemporary games I see glitches everywhere I look. I think if only there were fewer things on the screen at least there would be fewer nagging glitches. One last thing that I find essential to immersion is believability. A shallow reading of this word looks something like the article featured in the OP. But I mean something very different...

Early video games are really feats of design. Something like Donkey Kong isn't supposed to make you believe you are rescuing a potential love interest from a King Kong, still it's an expression of values of design, so it is intricately designed like a mechanical monument to its designer's brilliance. Consider what reality would be like if that was the case? Everywhere you looked you'd see so many coincidences that you'd soon conclude that your world was made by a shrewd watchmaker, and you'd begin to be suspect of their intentions. That's fine if an oppressive atmosphere is what a game seeks to deliver, but if not this kind of over "level-design" instantly breaks immersion. Why should there be a reward at every mountain top? The inverse of this is often explained as game design 101. This is immersion poison. Immersive worlds are chaos, they don't reward, they punish. Walk a hundred yards down an empty corridor, and what do you find? A dead end? There must be something here, why would there be a dead end? So you keep looking, and looking, and looking, well you've been playing too many video games. This is in fact a dead end, and that is how immersion works. I'm not sure we are all ready for immersion, but it's kind of the reason I am so passionate about video games, second only to my frontiersmen curiosity, third to my supreme devotion to media, fourth to ensuring I'm never bored out of my mind for even a second Cheesy

 on: August 05, 2015, 06:46:09 AM 
Started by Michaël Samyn - Last post by Mick P.
How does one play a Koyaanisqatsi of games?

It's interesting in a way you ask it that directly, because in a way it is very easy to make Koyaanisquatsi interactive, either through camera movement, translation movement, determining cuts or rates, &c., &c., but it is hard to know whether it is 'good' because for that you need the right audience to experience it.

It is rather temping, now you have me thinking about it.

*Guardedly adds it to the daunting stack of 'rather interesting game ideas'

To me this sounds like a way to make different versions of the same thing. An editing tool. I think we spend too much time making/playing games and not enough making/thinking in terms of tools and improving/studying existing games. I think that's why progress is glacial. I don't like having the option to look around when interesting things are happening, it creates a sense of anxiety, never knowing if you are looking at what you are supposed to be looking at. So I only see something like this as a development tool for if you think you can edit better and are unhappy with the edit, or think an alternative edit would be interesting.

PS: We should be asking these things directly. It reveals that we are not really thinking of them critically if we do not have clear answers. Too often the words here are amorphous, nebulous. Games are anything but.

 on: August 04, 2015, 03:02:59 AM 
Started by Michaël Samyn - Last post by Jeroen D. Stout
How does one play a Koyaanisqatsi of games?

It's interesting in a way you ask it that directly, because in a way it is very easy to make Koyaanisquatsi interactive, either through camera movement, translation movement, determining cuts or rates, &c., &c., but it is hard to know whether it is 'good' because for that you need the right audience to experience it.

It is rather temping, now you have me thinking about it.

*Guardedly adds it to the daunting stack of 'rather interesting game ideas'

 on: August 04, 2015, 01:36:50 AM 
Started by Michaël Samyn - Last post by Mick P.
Your enthusiasm is inspiring! Thank you. But I think it's impossible to create in a vacuum in 2015 and emerge later as a hero from outer space. Acknowledging the progress already made is a good thing, hopefully it can encourage you as you move forward.

It's funny that you say this, because this is entirely my point. The idea of creating in a vacuum, which is literally how games are made, is outmoded, and ahistorical. We need to be creating together asynchronously and acknowledging and studying the entire history of video games. Even if you don't believe that is necessary you only alienate yourself in neglecting to do so, and make your position weaker in the process, gambling with the possibility of bringing everyone along for the long journey ahead.

The same goes for our hero from outer space. The approach I advocate for is self sacrificing and does not brook private fame or fortune. It may be a sad or even strange testament to our time that there'd be just one hero from outer space, but if that's all there is, then that's all there is. Does anyone in their right mind really want to be famous on a world of 7B? And is it not criminal that we are not all fortunate from cradle to grave? Michael is surprised there are a few naysayers out of 7B. I'm not.

I am not convinced Minecraft is a prototypical not-game, but if it is then the next generation may have a radically different concept of what a game is, and if there is anything to Minecraft's creative elements, that could translate into an eagerness to make video game like worlds, and given a "Minecraft 2.0" from somewhere (perhaps even outer space) that could conceivably bring real creative diversity to videogames and fast (CALL THIS IDEALISTIC FUTURIST SCENARIO-A)

 on: August 03, 2015, 11:39:05 PM 
Started by Michaël Samyn - Last post by Mick P.
How does one play a Koyaanisqatsi of games?

I find the most effective approach to be not raising the player's expectations in the first place. Characters are NPCs that quietly wait for your interaction and lend you their ear in the most intimate way affordable upon request.

Think of a scene as still life waiting to be interacted with. Better yet if the visual mode of delivery is in agreement with the level of sophistication of the theater troupe. 

This will be off putting to audiences who've been trained to expect feats of the computer that are mostly just heat. But if you pull it all together in a total package it will win their hearts, and either way it will satisfy the bays of the less-domesticated-of-us.

EDITED: If you look back at most of the best remembered games, and you look closely you might not have noticed that none of the characters have faces. Sometimes blotches, rarely eyes, sometimes little to nothing at all to suggest a face. If eyes are the window to the soul, your artwork better look like it has a soul. I think only the Metal Gear Solid games 2~4 really manage to overcome this problem. You were probably smart on Fatale to get a Japanese artist in there to do the model for Solome. The 3D artists in the west don't even have bead on this. It's a suicidal tightrope walk that probably shouldn't be attempted under any circumstances. You can get away with with more with a cartoon style, but that can limit the kinds of things you can do tone/mood-wise (in theory this doesn't have to be so, but no game exists that has cracked this mold. I think you'd have to simulate hand drawings to the point that its indistinguishable that computer is doing them in real-time, and that would also mean making it appear like they are not overly rotoscope-y.)

 on: August 03, 2015, 11:24:15 PM 
Started by Michaël Samyn - Last post by Mick P.
This fits a thought I just had regarding your Patreon post of late.

Games are primitive mostly because computers are primitive. We slap semi-photo-realistic skins on them, but that's divorced from their actual primitive nature. We'd be better off if games' appearances matched their primitive nature.

So, no we are nowhere close to Chris' concept, and should just embrace this primitivism for the time being. To every thing there is a season (edited: I don't mean to diminish Chris' approach; problems don't solve themselves.)

(I do worry about gamifying emotion. It's a novel way to make games less accessible. Input based storytelling is an evolutionary dead-end I'm certain. The only inputs that make sense are navigation. That can be navigating a landscape or navigating a tableau and even navigating a narrative, but it cannot alter the narrative and remain satisfactory. It will only satisfy the simple minded.)

 on: August 02, 2015, 05:12:26 PM 
Started by Michaël Samyn - Last post by Jeroen D. Stout
I think it is more that games are bad at rapid successions of intelligent interaction. The problem is, methinks, not so much depicting humans (especially with the technology of today) but making it interactive without having the 'video / choice / video / choice / video / walking / video / choice / video' type structure which is currently in most of the human-driven games (Life is Strange or any Telltale game) or the 'watch an audiolog' approach (Bioshock, Gone Home and their new game). It requires leaps in AI to be able to make such things interesting to play with.

The problem with the landscape games is that Gamers (who-ever that is) are culturally disinclined against them. I wish we had invented games in another century, we would be drowning in travelogues and imaginary landscape games. But by that same thought; we do need a Koyaanisqatsi of games, too.

 on: August 02, 2015, 05:05:30 PM 
Started by Michaël Samyn - Last post by Jeroen D. Stout
There can be something a little ironic about the desire for drama. I think games culturally inherits from the very narrow space of 'Big Drama' rather than, say, travelogues, pastorals or character-driven pieces. To some extent, some pieces of drama from the past aren't that dramatic by such standards. At least my experience reading older literature is frequently that of realizing I can calm down and just enjoy the act of reading itself, rather than reading for anything.

Like that, games can be about the pleasure of (inter)acting, rather than interacting for the sake of Big Drama. Not to say they cannot be 'dramatic'; Cheongsam is dramatic in a slow character-piece type of way. There's room for a lot in games but we need some different cultural heritage.

 on: August 02, 2015, 03:08:30 PM 
Started by Michaël Samyn - Last post by Kjell
This is exactly why i feel that the Myst approach still has merit.

 on: August 02, 2015, 03:07:54 PM 
Started by Michaël Samyn - Last post by Kjell

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