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Postby klimov on 07/09/12, 00:02:18

Having played L.A. Noire and Red Dead Redemption lately, I'm suddenly of the opinion that gaming has potential... Perhaps more potential than maninstream cinema the way things are going... Really detailed, immersive worlds created by both of these games, just a shame that the writing/direction is so weak especially in the latter. Long-term solution I think is to remove cut-scenes altogether and just build up the interactivity / sandbox elements more and more, hopefully it'll go that way.

You know what I'd LOVE to see is a sandbox game based on Cormac McCarthy's Suttree! :clap:

Nb. for anyone L.A.-based, I'm wondering how accurate the map in L.A. Noire is (quite accurate apparently)?
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Re: games

Postby Draesk on 08/09/12, 06:55:28

Unfortunately, while you live in the cinema world and see how things there are going down-hill, I live in the gaming world and, frankly, the same thing is happening. The technology is moving forward, yes, but the big publishing houses are doing exactly the same with games as they are with movies - the quality of the gameplay, the length of games, the effort being put into them is all, on the whole, getting worse. They're developing games in such a way to turn the quickest and biggest buck possible. The lowest common denominator of gamers are latched on to and then continually pandered to. As with movies, there are, of course, a few fantastic games still being made. Unfortunately, even some of those are suffering lazy technical development or pointless restrictions by their publishers, pulled forward only by the vision of a few key developers who keep having their work neutered by the money-makers. To be honest, the parallels between the gaming and movie industries at the moment are striking.
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Re: games

Postby _Marcus_ on 08/09/12, 10:22:06

Draesk wrote:Unfortunately, while you live in the cinema world and see how things there are going down-hill, I live in the gaming world and, frankly, the same thing is happening. The technology is moving forward, yes, but the big publishing houses are doing exactly the same with games as they are with movies - the quality of the gameplay, the length of games, the effort being put into them is all, on the whole, getting worse. They're developing games in such a way to turn the quickest and biggest buck possible. The lowest common denominator of gamers are latched on to and then continually pandered to. As with movies, there are, of course, a few fantastic games still being made. Unfortunately, even some of those are suffering lazy technical development or pointless restrictions by their publishers, pulled forward only by the vision of a few key developers who keep having their work neutered by the money-makers. To be honest, the parallels between the gaming and movie industries at the moment are striking.

I would say this is quite accurate. I'm a games journalist in my spare time and I see the same thing. Movies and games go hand in hand these days. No one risks anything with big budget stuff and the smaller, more visionary games don't get the attention they deserve or are being forced to include features that only cater to the mainstream. Focus on multiplayer, shorter and shorter single player campaigns, nickel'n'dime-based DLC and games that frankly are harder and harder to tell apart is becoming the norm. Also, there's some really fucking ugly, rampant sexism going on within the gaming community that frankly sickens me, but that is worthy of a post all of its own.
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Re: games

Postby Draesk on 08/09/12, 12:37:43

The current mad dash that's seeing single player campaigns dropped or neutered in favour of cookie-cutter multiplayer content is so massively disheartening. There is no variation in the MP content that we're seeing and, frankly, I don't really want to play with a bunch of 14 year olds who do nothing but sit and play that particular game 24 hours a day. The DLC situation is even worse (EA have to be the worst for this) - not only is important plot content that was already complete prior to release being cut out of games and re-released later as DLC for an extra 20 bux (Mass Effect 3 & the Prothean DLC), but DLC is being used an excuse for developers to release games that simply aren't even finished; why bother - they can release it early, rake in the dough faster, and just put out all the important cut content via DLC and charge even more for it! Woo, split a full game up and release a bunch of it as DLC and suddenly a £30 game ends up costing £150.

Worse is when they release a game prematurely, with broken shit all over the place, missing content, etc. and then just don't bother fixing it. They'll release a bunch of shitty DLC (ooh look armour for my team in different colours - let me just throw my :10bux: at you for that) to rake in the money, but still leave the game broken. They don't even try to hide the extent of their profiteering anymore. EA, Ubisoft & Activision/Blizzard are by far the worst. Sadly, even id has turned into a shitty combo dev/publisher house, spewing crap that's broken (RAGE flat out did not work if you had a dual-core AMD processor and a nVidia card - the glitches for everyone else were unbelievable; most folk managed to fix a lot of it themselves by editing config variables using the dev console. id released a single patch for RAGE. It did NOT fix the graphical issues; it instead disabled the use of graphical config variables simply so that people could not edit it themselves, I shit you not).
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Re: games

Postby _Marcus_ on 08/09/12, 14:50:27

That's why I'm glad Irrational had to cut the MP out of Bioshock Infinite. Their games, more than most, show the true power of a well told, lengthy single player campaign. A tacked on MP mode would absolutely lessen the experience.

Also, more focus on MP is in no way moving games as a whole forward. Sure, MMO:s and the like can create some beautiful things but in general it is the single player experience, where the story teller (director/producer/creative director) has full control, that drives the medium artistically. There are just so many games that are living proof of this. For instance, can you imagine Bioshock as an MP experience?

I fully agree with you when it comes to DLC. It's been both a way to pretty much extend an already finished narrative that really doesn't benefit from extending it, and also something that fixes a broken game - be it technically or gameplay-wise. And don't get me started on on-disc DLC...
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Re: games

Postby klimov on 08/09/12, 23:29:14

All true I'm sure. Certainly, I've noticed those pernicious little games on the iPhone, increasingly ubiquitous, which are initially 'free' but then to progress you're expected to purchase endless credits in-game; some are targeted at children too, no doubt in the hope that their parents haven't locked their iTunes account, which I find particularly opportunistic...

I suppose what I was referring to in the initial post though was the actual thematic content of some of the games. It's anathama for a Hollywood tentpole not to feature at least one superhero or rate anything higher than a PG-13 / 12 certificate, whereas 18-rated games with fairly edgy content are pretty popular in the gaming world - although I suppose I am primarily just talking about Rockstar here...
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Re: games

Postby Draesk on 09/09/12, 08:36:10

18 rated, fairly edgy content? Rockstar unfortunately hasn't really been the one for that in years (and GTA4 was a bit of a fuck-up). I would agree that gaming sees grittier, edgier and generally darker content, though I would still challenge that most of the games with that feel end up being diluted by the fact that this kind of content usually goes hand-in-hand with the lowest-common-denominator gameplay - dark stories are almost too common, in a sense. So many are even following the exact same theme now: modern warfare, zombies and post-apocalyptic survival. At least we got over the WWII craze at last.

While I wouldn't really call Rockstar's stuff edgy or even all that gritty in comparison to some of the games that comes out these days, they do at least usually put out fairly solid gameplay (if not the best graphics or animation). Yes, most of the cookie-cutter console games (complete with shitty PC ports) that we see these days have really gritty 18-rated stories (the game publishers don't seem see the 18 rating as a barrier to younger gamers playing their game; they know the 14 year old hardcore gamer is going to get his hands on it anyway), but the story itself, and the gameplay, are completely hollow. The trick, and the rarity, is getting a story like this that is deeper than just it's nature - more than being gritty, dark and edgy for the sake of being gritty, dark and edgy. Those elements on their own do not, a good story, make.

As for Free To Play games; a rather unfortunate development that is infecting more than just the iPhone market. As many people have said, it's free to play, but you've got to pay to win. Most of these games are obviously designed in such a way that, should you not pay for credits in order to buy stuff in-game, then you will be stuck with the most simple, watered-down, empty, hollow game experience possible, and progressing in the game will either be straight up impossible, or so frustrating without additional paid-for game elements that it'll drive you to either quit, or, what they hope you'll do, buy more shit. These things are gaming cancer.


Edit: Talking of gritty games with a good story, gameplay and graphics: I'm playing through Deus Ex: Human Revolution again. Love this game. The original is worth a run through too, especially with the compatibility updates and texture packs out there.
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Re: games

Postby TC on 09/09/12, 08:38:35

the last games i played that had a great story were jade empire (wish they'd do a sequel, though they'd probably find a way to fuck that up) and f.e.a.r. didn't play the sequels there.

la noire looked cool, for sure, and i heard good things about it. never did get a chance to play it.

i've heard mixed things about the walking dead game, thanks for the positive suggestion in the WD thread. :)
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Re: games

Postby Draesk on 09/09/12, 08:56:35

TC wrote:f.e.a.r. didn't play the sequels there.


The original F.E.A.R. was awesome. Graphics years ahead of its time, excellent gameplay, fantastic story that was pretty deep in places - the game became dark and edgy as a result of a good storyline, not the other way around. Man, what a game.

The first expansion, Extraction Point, was pretty good too. Not quite as good as the original, but definitely worth a play-through following on from playing the first (you don't really want to just jump in and play it on its own if you haven't played the original in a while). However, the second expansion, Perseus Mandate, was a pile of shit. It was just so bland.

You know, as much as folks hated on FEAR2 & FEAR3, I actually enjoyed them (2 more than 3). They didn't quite manage to emulate the original - and, to a degree, that's good; you never want a carbon copy. The gameplay is stellar in both, but the story is lacking just that little something extra that the first had. 3 lost more in the story as they concentrated in adding extras into the gameplay. At least it was a trade-off, instead of the life just being sucked out of the game. Also, 2's expansion is to it as Extraction Point was to the original.

A Jade Empire sequel apparently isn't off the cards. The problem is now that BioWare are owned by EA, so indeed, I would not hold out much hope for it even if it does see a release.

Also, if you like zombie games, try Trapped Dead and Dead Hoarde. Fun little things.
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Re: games

Postby TC on 09/09/12, 09:02:55

i did play extraction point, thanks for the reminder. f.e.a.r. was so damn creepy. playing that in the dark with headphones got me clammy.
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Re: games

Postby _Marcus_ on 09/09/12, 15:25:05

The thing everyone in the gaming business is trying to achieve these days is "gritty realism", wich usually means fuck'all when the game is actually released. In many ways, storytelling in games has evolved. But I would make the comparison that games haven't reached their "Citizen Kane moment" yet. The game that changes the way we make and play games, forever, hasn't been made. Right now it's just everyone following the current big trend and with the budgets for AAA-titles growing, and the risks along with them, I don't see a title reaching Citizen Kane-like heights in the near future. One hopes the next generation of consoles might change that, but as of right now I'm afraid it's going in the opposite direction.

Even though the sandbox-games like GTA and Red Dead Redemption (big, big fan of RDR by the way) stand out as big achievements of the medium, they don't really hold up as story telling devices when you look closely enough. Then they're just as straight forward, from point A to point B in three acts, as can be. And I feel games could, and should, be so much more than that. Interactivity is key, but the way things are going right now, developers are taking away the interactivity in favour of huge spectacles, set pieces and quicktime-events. You dont play games anymore, you watch them.

Oh, btw - Fear was a great fucking game. The other ones not so much.
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Re: games

Postby Draesk on 09/09/12, 22:37:57

_Marcus_ wrote:Even though the sandbox-games like GTA and Red Dead Redemption (big, big fan of RDR by the way) stand out as big achievements of the medium, they don't really hold up as story telling devices when you look closely enough. Then they're just as straight forward, from point A to point B in three acts, as can be. And I feel games could, and should, be so much more than that. Interactivity is key, but the way things are going right now, developers are taking away the interactivity in favour of huge spectacles, set pieces and quicktime-events. You dont play games anymore, you watch them.


I think we're not completely void of games like that these days. I hold up again the Mass Effect series. They had their flaws (ME1 in it's gameplay, ME2 in going the opposite extreme to try and rectify the mistakes of ME1, and ME3 with the ending that was a big "fuck you"), but on the whole, they had fantastic stories. The depth of knowledge available in these games in the form of back-story and in-game articles on the science of the universe, was astounding in its own right; they spent time putting amazing detail not just into the visual representations, but into the story itself. These were not A to B stories - for the first time, the decisions you made had tangible consequences right across the franchise (to a degree - they screwed you in ME3 by basically ignoring your decision on Anderson, but I still maintain that the sheer number of variables and outcomes is worthy of recognition). While it might not be everyone's favourite genre, the gameplay was right up there, the story was more than something to just keep you trundling along, and even the graphics were top notch. This was an example of a game where the story and gameplay had equal status. Though this had its dark moments, it didn't fall into the category of "gritty realism" that is so highly coveted these days, as Marcus mentioned. This probably hurt the franchise to a degree, but I feel that the quality of the game benefited by not trying to shoe-horn it into something that it's not, just because that's the current industry fad.

I agree that it's not quite the game that re-defines the industry, but it's head and shoulders above the rest of the noise that we're seeing these days. FO3 might have come close, had the whole thing (story, gameplay, even graphics) not been so disjointed.

----

As an aside, something that frustrates me on another level about the games industry these days is how ubiquitous shitty console to PC ports are. Developers make their game, and they desperately try to make a quick buck on it by throwing it out to as many gamers as possible. Unfortunately, that is resulting more and more in near-unplayable products being released to PC gamers. The port-devs will make sure that it works on an x86 architecture, and that's about it. Things important to PC games - key rebinding, advanced graphics options, proper mouse controls, suitable GUI, fucking ASPECT RATIOS (I swear to God, if I see another game that is forced to 16:9 I will lose my shit)... the list goes on. All of these are ignored. In the case of GTA4, it was even more apparent. While they included many of the smaller things, they did not (and still have not) even remotely optimised their code to run on PCs. The fact that I can run Crysis 2 at 1680*1050 with 16xQ MSAA, v-sync, DX11, the whole shebang, without the thing ever going under 60FPS, yet GTA4 with the settings crunched down will STILL not see much higher than 40FPS if I'm lucky, kinda says it all. It's not as if GTA4's graphics are remotely advanced (complete with Rockstar's notoriously shitty animations). I admit that there is perhaps more on-screen, but Crysis isn't exactly a barren world. What's sad is that some of these problems are even appearing in games that were designed primarily for the PC (see: RAGE - ignoring the fact that current hardware is no-where near ready to make proper use of megatextures, the ATI driver fiasco was mind-boggling).

Edit: Ooh, forgot my </rant> tag!
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Re: games

Postby klimov on 09/09/12, 23:17:53

I guess I don't quite get this need for 'story', 'sympathetic characters', etc, in a game. eg. with recent Rockstar games I'd be happier if they removed the narrative and the cut-scenes altogether and focused on even more complex free sandbox gameplay and the ability to forge your own narrative and character (eg. its just a bit silly when you've just wiped out the population of a small town, then you accept a mission and in the cut scene everyone is alive again, and still your best friend!).

Haven't had a PC in almost a decade, so not so fussed about that either :dance:

p.s. Marcus - that sandbox game based on Suttree would be the Citizen Kane moment you are anticipating. I'd happily direct... Not going to happen though, you're right about that! :-)
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Re: games

Postby Draesk on 10/09/12, 00:52:20

An RPG sandbox game with zero story...

Minecraft!
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Re: games

Postby klimov on 10/09/12, 23:52:48

Hmm... I want to interact with an environment though, not build one.
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Re: games

Postby TC on 01/10/13, 13:00:39

recently played through the walking dead game, which was great fun, and the DLC 400 days, which was meh.

immediately after, i finally started bioshock infinite, just finished last night. holy shit, was masterful story-telling and just a HUGE environment. behind every corner is another absolutely huge and immersive world. was really blown away, and very cool ending. well written, fun, difficult... just a great game.
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Re: games

Postby _Marcus_ on 01/10/13, 14:32:31

Bioshock Infinite is my game of the year, or at least fighting it out for the title with Gone Home, a game you really should play if you want to see how brilliantly you can tell a story within a game.
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Re: games

Postby TC on 01/10/13, 14:36:37

yeah, forgot to mention i played through that in 2 hours. the only negative i have is that it's way too short, especially for the price point. great idea, great story, light gameplay but really just too damn short.
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Re: games

Postby _Marcus_ on 01/10/13, 15:01:01

TC wrote:yeah, forgot to mention i played through that in 2 hours. the only negative i have is that it's way too short, especially for the price point. great idea, great story, light gameplay but really just too damn short.

I liked the length of the game. It was a tight experience that fit well with a smaller, more personal story. Yeah, maybe a bit to expensive but still a great, great example of games becoming better and better at telling stories.
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Re: games

Postby TC on 05/11/13, 08:06:21

speaking of bioshock, this made me lol:

213739_slide.jpg
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