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Thread: Shortening Games: Molyneux

  1. #1

    Shortening Games: Molyneux


    Interesting: Anyone got any opinions?


    One way to look at the reason why games are, at the moment, incapable of hooking us on any more than a primitive
    emotional level, is to compare them with films. Games are engineered to provide us with multiple hours of play, films last
    a couple of hours. The difference is that you watch a film in one sitting, but you play a game bit by bit. That, I reckon,
    detaches the player from the game and any feeling of genuine involvement; you can add to that the fact that, on the PC
    at least, you always have the opportunity to save. If you fuck it up then it doesn't matter: you can go back to where you
    last saved. Therefore you have nothing really riding on whether you do the right thing or not; games become just a
    sequence of tests rather than an involved narrative.

    Now, let's go back to the issue of playing games bit by bit. Drawing a filmic comparison, Psycho is always ruined when
    it's shown on ITV, because the ad breaks take you out of the film and destroy the tension that Hitchcock has been
    building up. It's the same with most games. No-one's going to sit through forty solid hours of gameplay, no matter how
    good it is. But if we could distil the total emotional experience of forty hours of gameplay into two uninterrupted hours...
    Two hours where you play the game from start to finish, where if you get things wrong then it's not Game Over but you
    do pay for your mistakes; the loss of close in-game colleagues, the feeling of failure, all those dramatic tools that cinema
    and theatre have been using since the year dot. Similarly, getting things right is repaid in a positive way. This is the sort
    of thing that, as discussed last night, needs the input of real scriptwriters. Thankfully, we're heading into an age where
    gaming is design-driven, rather than technology-driven. Moore's law probably has another ten years left in it, at least in
    terms of computer graphics. We'll reach a point where having the fastest graphics engine will mean nothing, and it'll be
    having the best stories that counts.

  2. #2

    I always found The Secret of Monkey Island had the efect on my that Molyneux desires. Great locations, good dialogue, interesting characters, atmosphere, mysterious/humorous plot. It really drew you in, got you to fall in love with it, ended, then gave you a further three sequels so that you don't feel all sad and lonely.

    It's not as though Molyneux is on a search for the Holy Grail, it's been done before, mainly in adventuer games, but this doesn't have to be so. Deus Ex definitely has the right idea, no one genre will ever achieve the perfection that these developers crave, but an amalgamtion will. I want everything Monkey Island has (although i'm not sure if the third and fourth ones possess the 'magic'), but i also want action, excitement, tension, control (something that is lacking in adventure games). I want to feel part of a living world. I don't want to be restricted to blasting and switch flicking, or wandering around solving problems, or building a base and collecting resources, i want it all. Although obviously the base building bit might not fit in that authodoxically, and no FPS has ever had good puzzles. But then i don't want a FPS with puzzle/strategy elements. I want something with it all in.

    I want what Molyneux states, emotion, character bonds, credibility (Deus Ex did lack this), but i don't want it in one two hour burst. That would be unsatisfying. Games exist on a much grander scale than films, this is irrevocable, two hours would not do. At most two hour chapters. Neatly wrapped up into one package, something that has everything mentioned above, but carries on into another two hour package, Star Wars style(e).

    Or is this what the Cassandra Project is aiming to do?

  3. #3

    Molyneux hit the nail on the head. But, IMHO, the ability of the 'entertainee' to control the involvement level is a *good* thing...self-control and all that.

    An Underground view of Thief
    Dark Engineering progresses
    Madness down the Rabbit Hole
    All the latest Conspiracies
    And a master plan to rule them all.

  4. #4

    I seem to have missed the comments by Molyneux that everyone is referring to. Can anyone give me a link?

    The Narcissus Entity

  5. #5

    I'm clearly an idiot. I thought those were your comments KG, having heard you express very similar opinions before.

    I suspect that gaming will have to diverge in order to accomplish the various aims of its creators. Games of 20-40 hours will need to start taking advantage of that length to provide the kind of detail, complexity of plot, and character development that can be found in books, and an opportunity will hopefully open up to create short, intense pieces of entertainment in a similar mould to films. At the same time, games which are abstract and not narrative driven at all are still an important part of gaming.

    I must admit, i'm slightly hesitant to be always casting games in terms of other media. I think it could really limit the medium if we get stuck saying, 'right this game will be like a film, and this one will be like a book'. The study of other forms of entertainment is useful to discover aspects of their operation that could be relevant to gaming, but ultimately we have to synthesise those insights into something which is uniquely a game, otherwise the opportunities of the medium are wasted.

    The Narcissus Entity

  6. #6

    I agree colcobb. Games are a wholly different medium, and trying to make them more like movies will only hurt them in the long run.

    Paying full price for a two-hour game is also not something Id do. Admittably the development costs would be lower if games were made shorter and itd show in retail, but I dont think publishers would cut prices by too much. After all, theres still marketing and whatnot to pay for, and theyre greedy bastards.

    Dividing the storyline in 'chapters', as someone mentioned earlier, would have the desired effect. The storyline just needs some decent pacing. You dont complain If a book takes too long to read do you? You just avoid pausing when things are too exciting and continue later.

    So in conclusion: the parts about the length is bollocks. The rest we like (especially real scriptwriters).

    Im young, but I know that Im aroused

    The former dancing leprosy infected psychotic lapine.

  7. #7

    I dont think that the crux of his point about length how long a game is, its about the disjointed nature of gameplaying detracts from the level of emotional involvement in the game.
    So constantly saving, replaying, stopping and starting, fragments your experience of the gameworld, and particularly saving, dying and replaying constantly jolt you out of your emotional involvement. In my experience, reading a book in tiny pieces drastically lowers the amount of involvement you have with it, compared to going through it longish sittings, likewise with film and television.

    I suppose the proposal for a very short intense gameform is just a possible solution to that problem, rather than and end in itself. A long, but persistent and unbroken, gameworld could equally be a solution, a game where you dont die, you never have to save (the game just automatically keeps track of your progress) in which you can become totally involved.

    The Narcissus Entity

  8. #8
    Tim Was Already Taken

    Originally posted by Brem_X_Jones:
    Games are engineered to provide us with multiple hours of play, films last
    a couple of hours. The difference is that you watch a film in one sitting, but you play a game bit by bit. That, I reckon,
    detaches the player from the game and any feeling of genuine involvement; you can add to that the fact that, on the PC
    at least, you always have the opportunity to save.
    No, this is wrong. Games aren't films.

    I think they're closer to books in this reguard, they aren't less immersive because of it. In some ways, they're more so because it helps to convay the passage of time. If a caracter is isolated and lost for part of the book/game, by reading/playing it in chunks you get some sense of the loneliness that the caracter feels. You can't really convay that through a film.

    For example, when I first read the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy, when I was younger, I read the "trilogy" in one book. So every evening for some months I lived in Author Dent's world, to the point where towards the end I suddenly remember this book was going to have a conclusion, and then what was I going to do?

    When I first went through the airfield level of Deus Ex (level 3) a similar thing happened because I took a lot of hits about half-way through and had to spend a lot of time hiding and running away there after.

    When it came to trying to sneek past some robots whilst having "no legs" I felt, while playing, isolated, hunted and vunerable. I can remember thinking that I'd really like to be back at UNATCO HQ where I could get to a MedBot and be safe. It was like if I was out walking the dog, and got lost and then it was dark, and I'd really want to be back at home in bed with the TV on. Clearly, playing installments was part of the cause for this. I was playing through that bit for quite a while, hence the feeling of being stuck out in the middle of no-where, surrounded by hostile men who wanted to kill me.

    I was really involved with the game because of I wasn't going through it in one sitting, but playing a bit each evening. I was there.

    you can add to that the fact that, on the PC
    at least, you always have the opportunity to save. If you fuck it up then it doesn't matter: you can go back to where you
    last saved.
    I agree with this, that and the fact that you can die and come back to life. But saves are a necessity and it's game the designers fault. You don't get enough information before you start a level to be reasonably expected to do it first time through. Thief, Tomb Raider and Half-Life and especially guilty of this.

    That said, they could take out save freedom and just rely of HL style auto save points.

    some sadness reigns

    [This message has been edited by Tim Was Already Taken (edited February 21, 2001).]

  9. #9

    I don't agree with Molyneaux's analysis.

    As has been said, games are a new medium. Films have an immensely strong narrative theme, but no interaction. Games have to equally balance the two. We are in a 'new area' here, this new media that has the potential to create the films that we can star in.

    In a film, a lot is conveyed in the minutiae - facial expressions, camera angles, lighting etc. These just cannot be replicated in a game environment (yet). We need the 30+ hours to gain the level of involvement that takes 20 minutes in a film.

    What might help this process (as has already been shown in Deus Ex) is attention to detail. After playing DX, I played NOLF, and found myself annoyed at the fact I couldn't interact with 'useless' pieces of the environment like books, plants, guns etc.

    astly, I think we need to ask where it is games are ultimately going? What do we want from them?

    Centrally we want to be entertained. But I think most of us really just want to be in our own film. For the emotionally stunted, they want to be Neo in the Matrix. For others, the chance to be the morally ambiguous Batman, or even Lester Burnham from American Beauty. We want to be the centre of attention, able to act realistically or unrealistically depending on our whims.

    Anything that furthers this goal is what we seek. After all, B&W is making waves even before it's release, because it is perhaps the first game that will attempt to access and mirror our personalities.

    Just a thought...

  10. #10
    Count Hans von Hekeldicht

    Comment 1) Two-hour game. Immersive. Limited save environment. Resident Evil.

    Problem 1) No saves fails to take into account that games crash. It's true, they do. Has it occurred to you that Word's autosave feature is designed to protect in case of power cuts? How many times have you lost work to a power cut? How many times have you lost work to a crash? They crash, and if you haven't saved recently it's bad. Very bad.

    Problem 2) Games are meant to be fun. If they're not fun, they're not games. Military-built simulators don't have to be fun. Games do. All well and good, but games also (almost invariably) involve situations that are personally challenging. Kill the bad guy, defuse the time bomb and yes, save the princess.
    No one, but no one, wants to know about the black-coated stranger who ran into the building, got shot a few times and then failed to defuse the bomb and blew himself to smithereens. Well, maybe the first time.
    Games are not about immersion. Immersion is a potential aim of a game, but it is certainly not the be-all and end-all. Some people want games they can just pick up and put down - these are getting fewer and further between. Remove saves and it gets worse. Unless you're prepared to spend hours and hours you won't get anywhere. That means that the designer is telling you how to spend your time, not providing you with entertainment.
    If I had access to a Giants level skip at the moment I'd use it. I'm playing the first base-building level and I'm sick of it.
    Now yes, removing saves isn't the only option, but there's only so far you can go. Deus ex machina are a universally bad thing.

    Damn Ion Storm for turning a perfectly good phrase when discussing plot into what looks like an appallingly naff attempt to look clever.

    "Ho ho ho" Jabba (not Santa)

  11. #11
    Count Hans von Hekeldicht

    Or if you'd like me to put it in Kieronese:

    "Save games pave the way for the translation of our own human failings into the super-human actions of our digital avatars."

    "Ho ho ho" Jabba (not Santa)

  12. #12

    Trouble on the first base building level?

    Hint: You need to kill all the Vimps, then they reappear. So slaughter away - you'll have more than enough energy.

  13. #13

    Owen, (sorry, grey_area) I'd agree with most of that. But I think that perhaps molyneux's comments are being taken too generally.
    It seems to me that he is making a specific point regarding the deficit in emotional involvement in videogames, due in part to their fragmentary and discontinous nature, and is drawing on film as an example of how greater intensity and continuity could change that.
    I dont think he is suggesting a wholesale appropiate of the techniques of filmaking into gamemaking.

    And tim (sorry Count van Wotsit) i would imagine that the proposal to get rid of saves doent necessarily have to mean that you must play the whole game
    through in one sitting without getting anything wrong, but could instead be a system whereby the game state is persistently maintained, and whenever you leave, you start again wherever you left.

    Slightly tortured analogy this, but Microstation CAD system has a disk based file system which constantly maintains your work by writing small amounts of data to disk as you go along, so you never have to save, you never lose any work, and if it crashes you just pickup where you left off.

    The downside is, if you make major changes (decisions) then leave the program (thus deleting the undo record) you are stuck with your changes (irreversible consequences to decisions).

    The Narcissus Entity

    [This message has been edited by colcobb (edited February 23, 2001).]

  14. #14
    Count Hans von Hekeldicht

    Col: Tim was taken (laughs at own joke)

    Grey: Yes, I knew that. I'm having trouble finding more than four Smarties, but I've figured out how to pick up all four first time now. It's just not maintaining my interest.

  15. #15

    It bugged the hell out of me too, but stick with it - now base building is my favourite pastime, and I often replay the base levels.

    Besides it's the centrepiece for the multiplayer apparently.

  16. #16
    Count Hans von Hekeldicht

    I'm getting the impression that's about all it's there for. Sigh.

  17. #17

    Personally, I think that the concept of treating games as movies, and of classifying movies, games, books, and other expressions of an author's idea into specific genres to be frivolous. There are many different types of games, and it is true that many fall into broad genres. However, in recent years, many games that combine traits from vastly different genres(ex: Rainbow Six, Uprising and Battlezone: action and strategy; System Shock 2, Deus Ex, and the upcoming Hired Guns: action and roleplaying, and in Hired Guns' case, strategy, also). These games held the attention of the players that bought them, and recieved accolades from critics. Sadly, they also didn't sell well in the market, precisely because of the tendency for [gaming] media to try to pigeonhole games into genres, mostly to make it easier to provide reviews based to preconcieved criteria. Although this trend has started to change, just five years ago, if an "action game" had a strong storyline that was brought into the game itself, it might be classified as an adventure game. Rogue Entertainment's first title after their Quake expansion pack, a gem of a game called Strife, suffered from poor sales in a large part because of a hybrid classification. Undoubtedly this, along with the status of being the last game to use id software's venerable DOOM engine, led to poor sales, as it turned off many gamers who weren't sure this game was any good.
    An action movie with a real story is rare in the movie business. Is it impossible? Of course not. However, people are used to conventions in movies. Action movies, for instance, have a paper-thin plot, and a whole lot of shooting things. Rambo is considered a classic action movie. Is Rocky? No. It isn't considered action. It has a plot. If Arnold Schwarzenegger were to contemplate the human condition and ask himself why he had to go around lopping off everybody's head in Conan the Barbarian, then viewers would consider it a crappy Conan movie. We expect certain topics to be discussed in arthouse movies, and others in romances. Independent movies are more "serious movies," and have better acting. Is that always true? No. But it's a result of years of conditioning to expect certain things from certain types of art.
    Maybe Molyneux wasn't making a generalization when comparing games to movies, but the more people try to pigeonhole an art form-- and games are an emerging art form-- the less they allow for creativity. And constantly aiming to make a game more "like the movies", or anything else, for that matter, will undermine what a game is really capable of-- namely, creating totally new experiences for the player. Why think of games as movies? Sure, it can work for some games. But does it necessarily work for all of them? I ask this: did you truly ever care about Mario's emotional bonds with his brother Luigi when you were trying to get to level 9-3 in Super Mario Brothers?[Ignore the atrocious movie] Will you care now, if you go back to that game? Most likely, no. Because it doesn't make sense to get emotionally involved with a game like SMB. That, however, doesn't make it any less of a superb example of a game. It was a pinnacle in the art of game design.
    But I digress. Somebody (KG?) on the Cassandra Project team was of the opinion that emotional involvement would be best served from allowing gamers scheduled dollops of gameplay, rather than continuous gameplay, as that would numb the player. I believe that to only be true for certain types of games. Granted, the Cassandra Project has a deeper theme and message than just "finish the damn game already." Not all games need a deep train of thought to get the player emotionally involved. I assume that the movie-like time limit is to facilitate thinking on what the player just experienced. Not all games will need to give the player thinking time. The upcoming MAJESTIC has the same basic tenets as Cassandra. The player truly has total freedom. And the game is definitely an adventure. MAJESTIC aims to involve players emotionally, to immerse them in the game. Users won't just play for two hours a day. The game uses real life phone calls, AOL instant messages, and various and sundry real life websites, along with sites created specifically for MAJESTIC. The game personalizes itself to the player. And the game plays the player. Constantly, at any hour of the day. However, will that numb the player? No. Because in the players eyes, this is happening to you. At this point, Anim-X, the developer of MAJESTIC, just say that the plan is to get the players personally involved into a mystery by putting them at the center of the storm. However, the theme does indeed seem to be MJ-12 (hence the name), absolute distrust of the government, and various conspiracy theories. So the goals of [!] and the Cassandra Project (or is [!] the Cassandra Project itself?) don't seem that different. However, the game mechanics will be different because, while the games may have the same basic goal, they each go about it a different way.
    Oh goodness. I guess I can sum up my whole (misguided, useless) post in this sentence-- different games will use different methods to draw the player in because the games have different goals and different visions on how to present those goals to the player; games will not necessarily conform to any one system, nor is it truly necessary for a player to be emotionally involved in each game, despite what Molyneux says-- unless the game is meant to do what MAJESTIC and Black&White are trying to do-- turn the player him/herself into a part of the game system.
    Please, if you read this, take this in good faith-- I need sleep. I was referring only to game mechanics, not commenting on designers' visions. Go ahead, now. Laugh at me; I'm going to sleep.

    Say "good night" Skrilla...
    Good night, Skrilla!

    We can create a new Skrilla...better...stronger...faster...
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  18. #18

    Well, y'all seem like the well-informed, highly-educated types, so I feel a little out of place adding my fistful of opinion here, but I won't let that stop me

    Building on (Or perhaps merely paraphrasing) what Skrilla posted above, regarding SMB and film genres, different people enjoy different experiances. A person may concider themselves a "Movie-goer", yet only really watch comedies. Similarly, a person may concider themselves a "Gamer", yet only play MS Flight Sims. To both the "Movie-goer" and the "Gamer" the experiances they both opt for when chosing their next purchase are what they will likely percieve as being what games or movies "are all about." The "Movie-goer" may have the time of his/her life watching a no-brainer like Something About Mary, but be thoroughly bored by a comparitivly highbrow flick like American Beauty.

    In the same way, our "Gamer", able to trade off hours of sleep for flying a simulated Cessna over a virtual Stoke-On-Trent, may find the sort of super-immersive, character driven, emotionally connected experiance that seems to be the goal here to be tedious or pointless.

    To wit: While there is a huge market for super-immersive games, there will always be buyers for the no-brainers like SMB. I think I've probably managed to miss the point of this thread completely, but this is just something that sprang to mind while reading. Look at Snake. It's simple, it's not particularly challenging intellectually, but it does the job; Occupies the player while on the bus/train/loo, or, as is most common, during Psychology lessons at college.

    Now, MAJESTIC sounds like a lot of fun, but whether or not it works remains to be seen. Who here remembers Nokiagame? That, I believe worked on a similar concept. A mystery that is played by the palyer in his/her everyday life, by reading newspapers, answering phonecalls to their (Nokia) mobile phone, watching 15 minute programs on Channel 4 etc. My experiance didn't last very long, unfortunately, as the first key phone call was sent out while I was in a lesson. Without thinking, I directed it to my voice mail, but it didn't record. As a result, I had no idea what the hell I was supposed to be doing, and I got dropped from the game within the first two weeks.

    Nokia game suffered from more problems of this ilk, confusing objectives, tedious gameplay (OK, so I've downloaded these damn MP3s, some of it is music, and one's an old lady chattering to herself. Now what?), possibly because it was being run in several countries simultaneously, but the fact remains, it wasn't really immersive.

    If I felt like I was actually in the middle of an adventure, I'd have had no qualms with quietly getting out of my seat and leaving the classroom to take the call. But I didn't. I felt like my lesson was far more important. Yes, yes, admittedly, there is always this "suspension of disbelief" thing that will always be the crux of any form of narritive entertainment, and will make taking phone calls from creepy video games take second place to my education, but maybe having it dial repeatedly until I picked up, or just dial straight to voice mail would've worked better. Getting a creepy phone call is one thing, but in some ways finding scary messages on your voicemail is worse, because you can't react (Need proof? and leave your number on the message board).

    To me, the pinnacle of immersive games development would be a program (Or better yet, system) akin the holodecks of Star Trek. Being able to create a living, breathing environment to spec without having to learn how to code, mesh, or map. If I want to just wander the streets of a virtual Paris, fine. If I want to battle global conspiracies, fine. If I want to fly a Cessna over Stoke-On-Trent, fine. That is what games should be about. Possibility. We don't need FIFA game after FIFA game that differ very little, we need more original games. Original in the way that Deus Ex was original for allowing the player to choose the direction of the game through subtle and integrated decisions. Original in the way that Half-Life was original for throwing in some real-world compoents, and a smidgin of thinking, with the tired old mindless blasting of its brethren.

    Ok, I think I'm starting to ramble a bit, so I'll leave it at that and Skrilla can tell me that I've just managed to paraphrase his entire post

    "Do you want to be like the real UN, or do you just want to sit around squabbling and wasting time?"

  19. #19

    Please excuse the spelling and grammar, this
    is typed in a rush at work

    The one thing that I think a lot of people
    overlook concerning game immersiveness and
    appeal can be summed up in one word:

    Some games drop you in a situation and
    expect you to play it through to the end,
    the world does not "exist" outside those
    boundaries. Even games followed by sequels
    can fail to create a cohesive background
    over which the action takes place. These
    "backgroundless" games are good if you want
    to kill enemies for an hour or so, but they
    have all the immersiveness of a puddle.

    Some games go a step further and include
    suggestions of background, bits of story.
    Freespace is an example of this - there is
    an implicit background, but it is poorely
    developed and documented. These are the
    "Fog games" - you can tell there is more
    out there, but you can`t see it. Even
    Thief is guilty of this to some extent, a
    situation that has been greatly rectified
    by fans - looking at the fan stories and
    guides on CoSaS it is easy to imagine a
    living, breathing Thief world. DeusEx is
    better, but only if you do some research
    as well. Many of the concepts, entities and
    technologies are talked about in real life,
    from conspiracy theorists to engineers working on nanotech through to government
    corruption and social engineering. The background is there, if you look for it.
    IMO the fact that Thief and DeusEx do not
    come with bigger manuals is a terrible

    Then you have the games that come with a
    good background, fleshed out by in-game
    texts or dead tree manuals. These seem to
    be a dying breed - the advent of DVD box
    games and the increasing greed of publishers
    has reduced the number of games that ship with big manuals to virtually nothing.
    Anyone here remember the original Hired Guns?
    That game with several manuals - including
    a background story which introduced the
    characters, a description of the universe
    the game was played in, the planets in the system and more. Any having talked to the
    background author, that is only a small part of what it could have been. The game was
    good, but it was made all the better by the
    knowledge that you were doing this job in
    a well defined universe, the experience was
    more tangable. Microprose sims used to be
    accompanied by huge manuals containing technical details that wouldn`t be out of
    place in a Jane`s military book. They gave
    shape to the world you were playing in,
    something that many modern gamers never
    see (it would be interesting to compare
    literacy levels among young players from
    the decline of big manual games to now..)

    Sure, fans can flesh out the missing details
    as has happened with Thief and, to an extent,
    DeusEx. But this can only go so far, you can`t have fan works relased with the game.

    But building real backgrounds, believable
    universes takes time, effort and patience
    (I know because I`m doing that now for a
    game) and that doesn`t sit well with the
    mentality of publishers. That is one of the
    things that quite impressed me about DeusEx:
    someone at Ion Storm has obviously sat down
    and done their homework on the organisations
    and concepts covered by the game. It`s just
    a shame it wasn`t taken to the next step.
    It is a good sign for T3 though, provided
    Eidos don`t get into a strop over release dates for it..

    So what does all this rambling come down to?
    Background may not make or break a game, but
    trying to create an immersive experience which has a strong emotional connection with
    the player is far, far easier if the game
    takes place in a world that the player can
    visualise properly.

  20. #20

    What is this, a mass PCG forum exodus? I don't like, I tell you I don't....


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  21. #21

    Dont worry, its only the nice folk from PCG that are coming here.

    So far anyway.

    The Narcissus Entity

  22. #22
    Count Hans von Hekeldicht

    And me.

  23. #23

    *completely ignoring what has been posted about -- i'm just responding to the first post*

    I like the idea of shortening games into 1-2 hour episodes. It's unique in that the tension can -- and has to -- build much faster in 2 hours of gameplay than it does in 25 hours total in order to keep the players attention. NIt'll force the creator of the game to develop a much more enthralling game -- ideally -- in less amount of time.

    Not to mention the fact that people who are bandwithly challenged -- myself -- can enjoy these mods.

    But i don't think games will ever be sold in episodes. The public simply wouldn't tolerate returning to the store each week to buy a new episode. However, this is a different story if we are talking pay-to-download games, which will most likely be used in the future.

    Anyway -- keep up the good work. Brilliant idea.

    "Yes i feel emphatic about not being static and not buying philosophies that are sold to me at a steal. Just when you thought it was safe to think, in comes mental piracy. What im looking for cannot be sold to me. I wish they all would stop trying cause what i want is and will always be free."

  24. #24


    The quick-fix, instant-association game idea, eh? Here's where we reach some tricky ground. You see, normally, to identify with a character, you need to spend time with them, long enough to get to know them. And that doesn't mean the first mission kind of thing. It takes about five minutes chatting to your brother in Deus Ex to get some *clue* about your past, and it's only by the time you've defected that you have really begun to 'bond'. And yet this is normally several saves/loads away. The reason it's this far away is to preserve the *game* aspect of it. Or rather, the less RPG-keen player's 'game'. Personally, I'd be happy with four straight hours of social interaction, with little bits of action to break it up (ie, the other way around to Deus Ex). But why don't films need this kind of work? Because you go into them with an attitude, one that can imediately identify the good guy, and from then on view things from his/her's perspective. So why can't games do this? Simple - we players, who are effectively making the movie, often don't feel that it is natural for us to do something. We might be pacifists, but be made to kill, or vice versa.

    So what's the solution? Serialistion. Not as in release 50 'sequels', each (like the first) 2 hours long, but as in make the game in segments, each of which is distinct, but may further a general plot. These segments are each a few hours long, and once completed, you may endlessly return to that segment. But then this is still dis-jointed, and what's new about this idea - AvP did it! Here's what I suggest to solve this. Firstly, multiple characters, each of which has their own episodes, which all intertwine. By doing this, if you get board with one plotline, you could play a different side of it. Maybe you souldn't even be made yo play these other lines. Ad what about limited item transfer between segments?

    Anyhow, I've begun to rant. But the important idea about the above is that it's not actually from TV, but from the best of books. Many authors write epic enjoyable stories across several volumes (Amtrak Wars, anyone?), each of which ends in a cliff hanger. But the begining of the next throws you into one of the other lead characters, gets you engrosed in that plot line, *then* leaves it to solve the cliff-hanger.

    Hell, I'll simplify further. What we need is cliff-hangers involving a character we've begun to identify with, the ending to which is held back for a period of time.

  25. #25

    So do you think that we might eventually see production studios which deliver weekly content on par with the television industry? Followed on, of course, by The Games Channel ( a broadband-only service ), Electric Sheep Network, and The Independent Games Channel.

    This is where skeletal animation becomes a good thing, deformable geometry becomes a good thing, dynamic lighting becomes a good thing (ok: I'm a programmer, don't ask me to be anything other than lazy!). And the Mod community becomes a semi-commercial enterprise, in all likelihood.


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