Skip

Good evening... and EAT LASER DEATH!
July 16, 2012 7:28 AM   Subscribe


 
*equips black bra of dubious morality, protection against icy blondes*
posted by The Whelk at 7:47 AM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


>STAB
The woman screams! Blood spurts from her wounds.

>STAB
The woman screams! She grabs the curtain and falls to the floor, dead.

>STAB
There is nothing here to stab.

posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:01 AM on July 16, 2012 [17 favorites]


boids
posted by DU at 8:11 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


You are at an isolated crossroads with flat countryside all around you. A stranger has just been dropped off by a bus. He observes that the nearby biplane is dusting crops "where there ain't no crops". The biplane starts flying toward you.

> dive

You dive out of the way, but someone on the biplane starts shooting at you.

> flee to cornfield

You hide in the nearby cornfield, but the biplane starts dumping pesticides on the field, forcing you back onto the road.

> flag down tanker truck

You step in front of a speeding tanker truck, which stops just before hitting you. The biplane then crashes into it, engulfing both in flames.

posted by Cash4Lead at 8:23 AM on July 16, 2012 [4 favorites]



You are in George Kaplan's hotel room. There are various travel and grooming items on the dresser.

> look dresser

You see a travel toiletry case, loose change, a comb, and a hairbrush.

> get hairbrush

You get the hairbrush.

> look hairbrush

It is a normal looking hairbrush. Bulletin -- Kaplan has dan-druff.


posted by Strange Interlude at 8:30 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, The 39 Steps or Foreign Correspondent could easily be turned into a couple of seriously good mystery/sleuthing/spy games.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:32 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


You are in an old bell-tower. You can hear the sounds of Madeleine's footsteps racing up the stairs.

> UP

You can't go up. You get vertigo.

> UP

You can't go up. You get vertigo.

> UP, DAMMIT

You can't go up. What part of "plot contrivance" do you not understand?
posted by ubiquity at 8:34 AM on July 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


On the other hand, The 39 Steps or Foreign Correspondent could easily be turned into a couple of seriously good mystery/sleuthing/spy games.

Rear Window, with its central character confined to a wheelchair in single room, but able to view three dozen other rooms and send sock puppets out to gather evidence, is screaming out to be made into a game.
posted by ubiquity at 8:38 AM on July 16, 2012 [9 favorites]


Rear Window, with its central character confined to a wheelchair in single room, but able to view three dozen other rooms and send sock puppets out to gather evidence, is screaming out to be made into a game.

Unfortunately, EA's marketing department would insist on adding a sniper rifle.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:40 AM on July 16, 2012 [8 favorites]


Unfortunately, EA's marketing department would insist on adding a sniper rifle.

But think of the bullet-time extravaganza as you successfully achieve a Miss Torso Torso Shot for critical damage!
posted by Copronymus at 8:48 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Rear Window, with its central character confined to a wheelchair in single room, but able to view three dozen other rooms and send sock puppets out to gather evidence, is screaming out to be made into a game.

A version of this that uses Miis or Xbox avatars would be wonderful. I'm envisioning my Zoidberg Mii in the Raymond Burr role...
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:50 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


One element I think would be fun in an RPG is characters set up kind of the way that Psycho does.

OK, this is my character, I am in this story... What?!? Well... OK, I guess this is a mystery instead. I'll go and investigate... OK, that's interesting, OK... Hmmm, I wonder if "Eroica" is significant.... What!?! Um, OK, this is my character; I am getting worried.... Aaaah! Don't kill my character again! I like this one! Jeeze you are creepy!

*A few well-known video game spoilers below, I suppose.*

I've seen games where you switch back and forth between characters, and sometimes their settings interact in surprising ways (Final Fantasy VIII, and the unreliable narrator in Final Fantasy VII come to mind), but nothing where you are set up for one story and given a different one (the opening of one of the Silent Hill games was a bit like this -- it turns out to be a dream).
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:04 AM on July 16, 2012


Flawed as it may be, Heavy Rain comes to mind for a lot of this discussion.
posted by naju at 9:26 AM on July 16, 2012


It's a nice response to that horrible Atlantic piece. That's the first article that made me throw a magazine out of my bathroom in rage.

The smug condescension of it is only exceeded by it's fawning over Blow, who makes good games, but really, really needs to get over himself.
posted by lumpenprole at 9:30 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Because he understood that movies are "life with all the boring parts cut out."
posted by Pudhoho at 9:53 AM on July 16, 2012


The Atlantic Blow article was appalling. Jonathan Blow made a damned good game, but it's most notable for its art style and music, neither of which Blow made himself. The gameplay mechanics made for a well-made puzzle game, but Blow's attempts to tie them into a "Mulholland Drive-inspired" story about princesses and atomic bombs were laughably pretentious and poorly executed. Which is fine, because the game was still good and Jonathan Blow is a smart man, but that article tried to make him into Orson Welles, and it shat on the rest of the industry in the process.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:58 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Movies became their own art from when they stopped trying to be stage plays in front of a camera.

Games become their own art form when they stop trying to be movies.
posted by straight at 9:59 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Which they were actually doing pretty good at until graphics technology advanced sufficiently to permit it... I'm kind of hoping that we will get over that soon.

Oh, and I should have included this Previosuly for the Atlantic article... I'd forgotten I'd posted about it.
posted by Artw at 10:16 AM on July 16, 2012


I didn't think much of the writing in Braid--the actual texts themselves--but I admired the ideas, the way he was trying to make each level's time puzzle mechanic a metaphor for something in the relationship he was writing about. If we were used to looking for metaphors in game mechanics I think he could have been more subtle in his writing. As it is, I think I would have missed those connections if he'd been less blatant about it.

Reading the texts was not great, but I thought that having read them added something worthwhile to the experience of playing the platforming puzzles.

And I think the ending level was brilliant and evocative all by itself without any need for accompanying text, emerging entirely from the clever level design. It captured a little bit of that feeling you get on those rare occasions when you see yourself from someone else's point of view.
posted by straight at 10:18 AM on July 16, 2012


Games become their own art form when they stop trying to be movies.

That's an important point. The really interesting games to me are those that use the mechanics of the game itself to tell the story. That's what makes Braid so effective, though I keep coming back to Passage as the best example of this--the emotional resonance of the game is inextricably bound up with the gameplay, as opposed to being moved off into cutscenes.
posted by Cash4Lead at 11:01 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Telltale Walking Dead games felt pretty Hitchcockian. Great mise-en-scene in the climax of the last episode.

It's interesting to watch how the debates about whether games are art parallel the debates about whether movies could be art that took place a hundred years ago. One of the main arguments at the time was that film could only be art if filmmakers focused on the features of film that made film a unique aesthetic medium. This is called medium essentialism, and theorists differed over what they thought the essence of film was. The Soviet montagists thought editing was the key; Andre Bazin thought the mechanical nature of the camera meant it was particularly suited to realism. Today's commentaries on video games as art often similarly subscribe to some sort of medium essentialism. Like this article, which argues that because we've got other media to deal with narrative, games should not focus on it, and instead create experiences "in gaming-specific terms." People used to say the equivalent thing about movies, and the arguments come across as silly now. Firstly: good luck identifying an essence of any medium. And secondly: why think that artists should always try to exploit this essence? Narrative is a powerful tool; it was good for the movies, and it was good for video games. I see no reason to think that games are better when the mechanics are used to tell the story. That sounds like the montagists arguing that films are best when the editing (rather than the mise-en-scene, the script, etc.) are used to tell the story.

Now video game commenters are trying to reinvoke auteur theory, another dead theory that is extremely vague and, when precisified, either flatly false or trivial, but which was historically used to argue for aesthetic legitimacy. If this trend continues, expect to see more articles on the psychoanalytic and cultural significance of video games.
posted by painquale at 12:35 PM on July 16, 2012


Passage is great. Gravitation by the same guy is greater. Journey and Shadow of the Colossus are among the only big production games that play by those rules and succeed; Bioshock and Mass Effect get talked about a lot but neither comes close, in my opinion.

The most brilliant game to date is Pathologic, for my money, but between its intense difficulty and awful translation I think only about three people in the English-speaking world have played it through to completion, which is a damn shame. To beat Pathologic is to realize the potential of video games which Braid and Passage merely hint at.
posted by Rory Marinich at 12:39 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


There was an adventure game based on Hitchcock. "The Final Cut", it was called. I honestly don't recommend it -- even if you found a copy and got it to work without glitches (which is more than I've been able to do), it frankly doesn't feel very Hitchcockian overall.

But... it had moments where it got it right. And it had a lot to do with audience complicity. This is one of the areas where Hitchcock was a master. He knew that his audience was willing to pay good money to watch Janet Leigh get murdered or Jimmy Stewart go through the worst day of his life. But in a game, you can take it a step further. There's a scene in The Final Cut where a NPC making a film instructs you to stand in front of a bluescreen and pretend to shoot a dummy with a prop gun. When I played through that scene, I knew full well that I was setting up the player character for a fall, helping someone fabricate evidence that he had murdered someone. I went through with it, of course. But the game takes care to draw it out, make you follow its instructions step by step -- stand on the mark, draw the gun, etc. -- like a game of Simon Says. And the effect is to make you repeatedly acknowledge that yes, you really want to do this, even though you know what the effect is going to be.

So, yeah. If a piece of bad Hitchcock fanfic like this game can do that, I think I agree that Hitchcock himself could have been quite a game designer.
posted by baf at 1:10 PM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Like this article, which argues that because we've got other media to deal with narrative, games should not focus on it, and instead create experiences "in gaming-specific terms." People used to say the equivalent thing about movies, and the arguments come across as silly now. Firstly: good luck identifying an essence of any medium. And secondly: why think that artists should always try to exploit this essence? Narrative is a powerful tool; it was good for the movies, and it was good for video games.

Yes, but when filmmakers make the variety of choices you're talking about, they are doing it in the context of that whole conversation. They are aware of essentialism and auteurism even if they consciously choose to focus on narrative (and even then, they usually mix in techniques developed by the montagists or the auteurs or other schools).

Games haven't really had that conversation yet. Most of the time game makers seem to be blindly aping movies without much awareness of the unique tools games make available to them. They're not choosing to focus on narrative so much as failing to consider any other options.
posted by straight at 2:02 PM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


But the game takes care to draw it out, make you follow its instructions step by step -- stand on the mark, draw the gun, etc. -- like a game of Simon Says. And the effect is to make you repeatedly acknowledge that yes, you really want to do this, even though you know what the effect is going to be.

So, yeah. If a piece of bad Hitchcock fanfic like this game can do that, I think I agree that Hitchcock himself could have been quite a game designer.
posted by baf at 10:10 AM on July 16 [1 favorite +] [!]


Select the gun, and then, select your horse.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:57 PM on July 16, 2012


I feel like this thread isn't complete without a reference to Killer7.
posted by byanyothername at 4:36 PM on July 16, 2012


If a piece of bad Hitchcock fanfic like this game can do that, I think I agree that Hitchcock himself could have been quite a game designer.
I might be totally off here, but I feel like that two-paragraph comment was more insightful than the article linked in the FPP. Seriously, 500 words and change (I'm eyeballing it) to say “Hitchcock was an auteur and some other auteurs makes great games”? Come on. “Hitchcock as game designer” is a great premise (great enough to make me click through based on headline alone). Do it justice, article author. Connect all the dots, don't just draw a line between two of them.

(Still, thanks for posting, Artw.)
posted by scottjacksonx at 1:23 AM on July 17, 2012


Wow, Spec Ops - The Line sounds mental, from a computergames as storytelling/art pointof view.
posted by Artw at 12:58 PM on July 21, 2012


« Older Note: object sizes are not to scale.   |   Prometheus: rebuilding hallowed vfx space Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post