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Thread: NOW what are you playing?

  1. #13001
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    Quote Originally Posted by Sulphur View Post
    I'm not sure a game like that would have the correct infrastructure to support the requisite amounts of transdimensional predator moth sex, but I have no doubt I'd enjoy seeing it try.
    Everyone knows that transdimensional predator moth sex (which, incidentally, is the name of my as-yet-inexistent punk rock band) calls for the genre of the dating sim. A more eldritch Dream Daddy, if you wish.

  2. #13002
    Thing What Kicks
    Registered: Apr 2004
    Location: London
    Transdimensional predator moths, dining out in wardrobes throughout the multiverse.

  3. #13003
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    Oh, these predator moths, excuse the language, fuck your shit up.

    But they make for the dreamiest of dates!

    Narrator: They don't.

  4. #13004
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    Perdido St. Station narrated by Ron Howard sounds like a thing I would put down cold, hard cash for.

    In other news: Rage 2's grown on me a little, as the wasteland opens out to swamps and canyons lit by spectacular purple sunsets comparable to Witcher 3's otherworldly twilights. It's clear that the engine under the hood is doing some pretty incredible work even if the art direction leans towards blandly pretty; everything under the game's sun casts an accurate shadow, even the ragged patches of grass and the tiny rocks scattered across its acres of sandy basins. It never shakes the feeling of being empty and hollow, though. Still: the powers and gunplay ensure the combat never gets old, even if the enemies and locations do. It's similar to how Doom 2016's core loop was enjoyable enough to keep smashing through its levels until ennui took over 3/4th of the way through.

    Here is also a rundown of some other games I am playing -

    Katana Zero: what if you took Jubei from Ninja Scroll and deposited him into a grotty cyberpunk future with a list of people to kill, and gave him a drug habit that Groundhog Days him
    Ashen: Dark Souls but less dark, also easier, but what I want to know is how all these people are talking to me when we haven't so much as a single face hole between us to pour the words through
    Innocence: A Plague tale, or 'How to scar two children for life in ten minutes or less, and then continue to do it with hordes of rats, because some of the worst nightmares have teeth'; also possibly the best-looking, best-written and best-acted game of 2019 so far (use the French language option). Note that I haven't mentioned the gameplay, because it's clunky and stiff and something you merely tolerate, like the animation.
    Last edited by Sulphur; 21st May 2019 at 01:11.

  5. #13005
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    I find that bad animation can ruin good voice acting for me. It's probably the main reason why I got increasingly fed up with Telltale's more dramatic stories.

  6. #13006
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    Ah, I meant the in-game animation/feel of the controls for the player character, which belie the fluidity you'd expect from the general standard of the graphics. The animation in the cut-scenes and faces isn't an issue, and there isn't that Telltale awkwardness of relying on a palette of stock expressions or clipping to keyframes.

  7. #13007
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    Ah, thanks. That does make a difference. With Telltale it was really mainly the exaggerated, repetitive expressions, reminiscent of those early photos and films cataloguing what expressions look like: anger, sadness, confusion. It's especially in The Walking Dead S2 that they began to grate.

    When it comes to animation as characterisation, I'm not sure we have much if anything on PC that's up there with the work that Naughty Dog does. It's one of the reasons, and perhaps the main reason, why the story and characters of Metro Exodus fall flat for me. I can accept bad writing much more easily than bad character animations, because I find that you can make bad lines believable by means of acting, but bad acting can ruin the best writing.

    On a different note: having finished the RDR2 story, I've now returned to Spider-Man to play the DLC. After the oddly unwieldy RDR2 (which I'd nonetheless defend to some extent), it's nice to play something that doesn't get in the player's way.

  8. #13008
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    Well, I don't know if there's anything on PC exclusively, but Ninja Theory's work on Hellblade is the benchmark for facial motion capture on basically any platform, I think; even Enslaved before it managed pretty well without the exact same tech. ND has the advantage in that their budget let every scene be fully motion/performance captured instead of completely hand-animated (which was what Telltale's smaller budget meant for their production pipeline), right from Uncharted 1.

    Anyway, I think my issue with Metro Exodus's story treatment is one of how they approached it: beneath all the chatter and earnest line readings bolted onto NPCs locked into routines like very pretty Westworld automatons, it's designed to boil down to disposable flavour. Even if the acting was good, I doubt it'd make the throwaway lines less throwaway. (*ahem* 'I hate sand, I must say. It's rough and coarse and it gets everywhere.') It's also a point of difference that I don't mind bad animation if it's shackled to poor writing; it's easier to ignore both if they're equally bad.

    This is speculation since IANAGD, but for linear experiences there's a difference between constructing a game to hit certain points which dictate where the plot goes (we need a sewer stealth section, then a snow level, and a desert level...), and constructing a game where the story outlines and informs the experience (The Last of Us, The Witcher 2). It's similar to the difference between, say, the character-driven plot of The Sopranos and a standard procedural that forces its characters to conform to a standard episodic plotline every week.

    Or I might be talking out of my ass. I do know that Crytek went with the former method for Crysis 2, and hired Richard Morgan to bolt a story onto a preliminary list of cinematic moments/locations, and that didn't turn out particularly well.
    Last edited by Sulphur; 21st May 2019 at 03:52.

  9. #13009
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    I agree that the budget makes a huge difference, but with Telltale you could tell all too well where they cut corners. Animation doesn't have to be lifelike, but it has to have personality and flair. I remember too many scenes where it seemed that they had about three of four stock expressions: Kenny - angry face, Kenny - sad face, Kenny - confused face. As I remember, their scripts were pretty good, but they might as well have communicated the emotional nuances by means of a tiny selection of emojis.

    Metro Exodus has the opposite problem. The script requires the characters to express credible emotions, but the character animations are so robotic. Your Westworld comparison is good, but this is an alpha version of Westworld, and it is all the more apparent because the character art is actually pretty good, especially in combination with the environments and lighting, so there's more of a harsh contrast.

    Then again, right now I'm pissed off with the game anyway. I really enjoyed much of the Taiga location, but in the end it boils down to an extremely reductive moral reckoning. I spent much of my time sneaking and knocking people out, but when I got attacked I fought back with deadly force. In the end, though, I was treated like a monster for doing so. If the game wants its ethic-o-meter to be plausible and interesting, it needs to have more robust systems allowing for sneaking and non-lethal attacks, and it needs to communicate better how it's assessing your ethical 'performance'. The previous location was worse in that respect, in that I consistently freed slaves and knocked those out that were about to give me away, yet obviously I'd crossed some internal line and got the 'bad' ending - but there it was framed in a way that made sense character-wise, so it didn't feel as egregious. I'm honestly not sure if my problem is primarily one of bad systems or bad writing, so it's probably a bit of both: the systems lack granularity and clarity and the way the characters react to my actions doesn't feel particularly credible. Which also explains why I actually liked most of the Taiga location: much of the time I could just focus on traversal, stealth and combat and not worry about conversations intruding on my enjoyment.

  10. #13010
    Thing What Kicks
    Registered: Apr 2004
    Location: London
    Regarding Ninja Theory and animation, they've been great at that stuff since their inception with Heavenly Sword thanks to close collaboration with Andy Serkis.
    While Heavenly Sword was incredibly derivative of God of War, I still deeply loved it and the characters / performances, and the animation and character art is a massive part of that.
    Load times sucked ass though.

    Interesting aside:
    Anna Torv, who played Nariko in Heavenly Sword, plays Dr. Wendy Carr in Netflix's Mindhunter, which is really good, and I highly recommend if you're looking for a new series to watch.

  11. #13011
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    True, they put a lot of emphasis on their character animations, and it shows. They're a relatively small studio, aren't they? And their games would probably not be seen as AAA, yet they have far better animations and character work than most AAA studios.

  12. #13012
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by Sulphur View Post
    Even if the acting was good, I doubt it'd make the throwaway lines less throwaway. (*ahem* 'I hate sand, I must say. It's rough and coarse and it gets everywhere.')
    Don't underestimate what a good actor can do, especially with the help of a good director and cinematography. I think that even that sand line could be made to work. For example, imagine if it was delivered in a more of a film noir style and instead of trying to be sappy, it would have much darker implications and instead of a romantic soundtrack, you'd have something more sinister playing in the background and if it was a character who was more fundamentally flawed from the very start and the scene was used to foreshadow their downfall by showing they can't be happy even in paradise.

    And I think that the reverse is also true. Many famous lines would fall flat if it wasn't the right actor saying it in just the right voice.

  13. #13013
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    Well, the reverse is absolutely true, because that's what good direction is about. The point is the sand line is filler, with no subtext; good direction and editing either chops it out if it's unimportant or uses the scene's tone for context, foreshadowing, or subtext. That there is none is telling.

  14. #13014
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    And that's what a good actor is capable of doing. They can give the most throwaway line more meaning than it ever had on paper. Kind of like a good comedian can make even a phone book funny.

  15. #13015
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    I think that's overselling dramatic chops when reality demands a very careful balance to be maintained between the tone of what the screenplay intended and what's acted before the camera. An actor's interpretation may not jive with the ethos of a production, and it's the director's job to ensure their talent is leveraged in support of the overall vision instead of letting them go off-piste without justification.

    The sand line was clearly intended as a jokey throwaway, and giving it undue importance through dramatic reframing via the soundtrack, cinematography, and line delivery sounds like a critical misreading of its purpose, a bit like hiring Tommy Wiseau to play Willy Wonka and then soundtracking the entirety of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to Jerry Goldsmith's score for Alien.

  16. #13016
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    So, you're saying that George Lucas, the Director, got the writing of George Lucas, the writer, completely wrong?

  17. #13017
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    I'm saying that bad directing and bad writing make a bad movie regardless of whatever valiant efforts an individual actor might make. I guess you can appreciate a good performance even if the rest of the movie's a complete shitshow, but I've rarely (if ever) seen that save a movie in toto; it just makes the experience slightly less (or slightly more) of a schlockfest.

    Here's something that Ebert loved to quote from a review of a movie called 'Q' (or 'The Winged Serpent') produced by Samuel Arkoff, which apparently featured a Quetzalcoatl terrorising New Yorkers after making its nest in the Chrysler building:

    'Reed: Sam! I just saw “The Winged Serpent”! What a surprise! All that dreck--and right in the middle of it, a great Method performance by Michael Moriarty!
    Arkoff: The dreck was my idea.'

    Ebert, ever-generous, gave the movie 2 and a half stars.
    Last edited by Sulphur; 21st May 2019 at 16:23.

  18. #13018
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by Sulphur View Post
    I think that's overselling dramatic chops when reality demands a very careful balance to be maintained between the tone of what the screenplay intended and what's acted before the camera. An actor's interpretation may not jive with the ethos of a production, and it's the director's job to ensure their talent is leveraged in support of the overall vision instead of letting them go off-piste without justification.

    The sand line was clearly intended as a jokey throwaway, and giving it undue importance through dramatic reframing via the soundtrack, cinematography, and line delivery sounds like a critical misreading of its purpose, a bit like hiring Tommy Wiseau to play Willy Wonka and then soundtracking the entirety of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to Jerry Goldsmith's score for Alien.

    Um... a screenplay is not a suicide pact. Neither actors nor directors are required to stay true to the intent or the tone of the script, even when it's less open to interpretation and prescribes in great detail how a scene should play out. Moviemaking is very much a collaboration and everyone, especially actors, can add to it. And that's not even going into the practice of retroscripting, which happens in larger or smaller scale in quite a few movies and can improve the script quite a bit. A lot of directors are willing to let actors bend the dialogue to some extent and they can ignore what an actor can bring to the table only at their own peril.

    I'm not saying that a good actor alone can save a bad movie by a director that doesn't give a rat's ass (which is not to say Hayden Christensen is a miracleworker, though). I'm saying that a good actor can bring even the most throwaway line to life with their performance in a way that often seems to be underestimated and overlooked. And of course it's not just an actor's performance, it's also the direction and the mise-en-scène and the editing and all the rest of the jazz.

  19. #13019
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    Quote Originally Posted by Starker View Post
    Moviemaking is very much a collaboration and everyone, especially actors, can add to it. And that's not even going into the practice of retroscripting, which happens in larger or smaller scale in quite a few movies and can improve the script quite a bit. A lot of directors are willing to let actors bend the dialogue to some extent and they can ignore what an actor can bring to the table only at their own peril.
    Exactly, it's a balance of both. I'm glad we agree on everything else. What I've been saying re: Metro Exodus is -- maybe choose a better example next time.

  20. #13020
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    I haven't played the Metro games, so I can't speak to that, but I'm talking about the general principle of the thing. You'd be surprised what good actors are capable of (especially with the right direction), that's all I'm saying. Even the most mundane lines like "No need for alarm, Ladies, just passing through." or "It's a long way down." or "I have a bad feeling about this." can become amazing when a great actor is on the job.

  21. #13021
    Quote Originally Posted by Starker View Post
    I haven't played the Metro games, so I can't speak to that, but I'm talking about the general principle of the thing. You'd be surprised what good actors are capable of (especially with the right direction), that's all I'm saying.
    A good actor uses their voice, cadence, posture, movements, and facial expressions to deliver their lines, a good director makes sure these things fit with the character being portrayed, the situation at hand, and what is to come after. Games will too often just focus on the voice itself possibly along with the cadence, rarely do games that don't employ motion capture touch upon the other facets the actor brings to the table. And games will quite often forego the tasks of the director, or at least not give them time to properly handle things.

  22. #13022
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    Nearing the 3/4 way mark through the Protoss campaign in Starcraft. Love this game, though it occurred to me during this play through that Blizzard loves to retcon all their "evil" factions in later sequels into being good guys or more shades of grey.

    Take the horde from Warcraft 1 & 2, in game 3 it is revealed that oh no the orcs were tribal hippies all along, but had been demonically influenced via the burning legion to become the bloody thirsty version they became, and then for Starcraft the Zerg (which are the Tyranid's from Warhammer 40K through and through) who were this nearly unstoppable biological evil force determined to wipe out all life (like the Tyranid's) in Starcraft 2 it is revealed were under the influence of Amon (an evil Xel Naga), and so become more shades of grey-ish. What does Blizzard have against people playing as the bad guys? That's often the most fun. And yes I know, you get to play as the bad guys in Warcraft 3 with the Undead Scourge, but I'm talking about established bad guys being changed to not so bad in later sequels.

    Does not change the fact that the original Starcraft is fantastic. I do like the RPG elements that Starcraft 2 added, but then SC2 had less of the traditional gameplay which the original has in huge amounts. So you get good things in both I guess.

  23. #13023
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    I tend to burn out on the Protoss campaign of StarCraft 1. The Protoss vs. Protoss missions are exhausting.

  24. #13024
    Thing What Kicks
    Registered: Apr 2004
    Location: London
    Quote Originally Posted by icemann View Post
    And yes I know, you get to play as the bad guys in Warcraft 3 with the Undead Scourge, but I'm talking about established bad guys being changed to not so bad in later sequels.
    They even did the same with the Undead when moving to WoW.
    Next up, Diablo IV: Diablo saves the world!

  25. #13025
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    Diablo was just a misunderstood soul who wanted to be loved, but could only communicate his love through tender disembowelment.

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