Ghost Cities Of Light
May 18, 2011 12:48 PM   Subscribe

Like most game companies, Square Enix records every significant activity that occurs in their online environments. Jim Blackhurst took a database of "terminal impact events" in Just Cause 2 and mapped each of the 11 million player deaths to to the geography of the game to create a haunting visualization.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul (27 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
It seems really fitting that this appears on the same front page as a post about Edward Tufte. But would he approve?
posted by marmaduke_yaverland at 12:58 PM on May 18, 2011

I bought Just Cause 2 on a lark after it was pretty cheap. It is way more fun than you might expect for a GTA-clone. Definitely more fun than I had playing GTA IV.
posted by dhalgren at 1:07 PM on May 18, 2011

Wonder whether it's possible to see what a map of points corresponding to real-life deaths would look like.

I'd guess concentrations at hospitals, roads, and homes.
posted by weston at 1:10 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

I didn't die nearly as often as I thought I would while playing through Just Cause 2, given that the game doesn't really have a stealth option and enemies continually respawn. I'd say 80% of my deaths were "Oh, fastest civilian motorcycle in the game, YOINK" and then I'd promptly drive it into a bridge pylon in Panau City. Other notables include blowing up a crane with satchel charges while I was standing on it (oops) and dying pretty much any time I tried to get the low flyer achievement. Airplanes were pretty much useless in the game unless you were deliberately flying them into something.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 1:11 PM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

Just Cause 2 is fun

So very wrong, so very funny.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:23 PM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

Oh, that's gorgeous. And I am gratified to see, at around 1:17, that I am far from the only person to be taken by surprise at the fucking deadliness of the walls of the twin blimps of the floating disco. Thanks for the warning about that, Sloth Demon.

Just Cause 2 is as stupid as it is fun, and it is very, very stupid. The first time I parasailed away from a truck I was driving toward a gas station and floated around over head while it exploded and showered me in bonus points, I couldn't stop laughin.
posted by cortex at 1:25 PM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

Yeah, it's ridiculous and lots of fun. It is not really a "gta clone" in my mind though... the gameplay and story telling are completely different.
posted by utsutsu at 2:15 PM on May 18, 2011

Aircraft in JC2 don't have rudders.
posted by BeerFilter at 2:30 PM on May 18, 2011

I absolutely love Just Cause 2. Just this past weekend I hit the 75% complete mark with just shy of 85 hours invested in it over the past fourteen months. I play it off and on in little concentrated bursts. It's such a fun experience. I can't recommend it enough.

I've been collecting video exploits of my adventures over the past year if anyone cares to see them. There's mighty explosions, great moments in personal stupidity, dumb AI, and much more.
posted by Servo5678 at 2:33 PM on May 18, 2011

It is not really a "gta clone" in my mind though... the gameplay and story telling are completely different.

Really? A third-person sandbox game where you can steal vehicles that includes a "wanted level" and many other GTA elements? I understand what you mean about the gameplay, but to me it seems more like GTA+ than something completely different.

Almost every review of JC2 I've read has made direct comparisons to GTA IV, so I know I am not the only person who thinks that.
posted by dhalgren at 2:34 PM on May 18, 2011

Yeah it's a GTA clone in spirit, I think fans of the game reject that comparison because JC2 is just so much more fun than the GTA series has ever been (their opinion, obviously).

Just Cause 2 is a Blockbuster Movie Explosions Simulator without a pesky plot to get in the way of MOAR EXPLOSIONS PLZ*

*Ok there's a plot...but I was too busy shooting water towers and blowing up gas stations with by crashing motorcycles into them to really notice it. Oh yeah and grappling hook + speeding cars = tripwire = fun
posted by jnrussell at 2:38 PM on May 18, 2011

I felt like it was a video game designed by video-game designing aliens attempting their first work for a human audience, with only a children's encyclopedia set and a audio description of GTA4 to use as sources for what humans are like.
posted by BeerFilter at 2:39 PM on May 18, 2011

Well timed. I just picked this up, probably in the same sale as dhalgren, but haven't bothered to play it since PSN was down. Now I think I'll be making this my summer game project.
posted by Amanojaku at 2:48 PM on May 18, 2011

Like most game companies, Square Enix records every significant activity that occurs in their online environments.

... Just Cause 2 is a single-player offline game. Why do they have this data?
posted by kafziel at 3:01 PM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

I also wondered the same thing on reading about this, kafziel. I don't remember hearing about that before.
posted by BeerFilter at 3:03 PM on May 18, 2011

Hey! Some of those tiny points are me!

... Just Cause 2 is a single-player offline game. Why do they have this data?

Why not? Game developers have been doing this for years. I'm not sure how widespread the practice is, though. The post also doesn't mention whether this data is from the XBox or PC versions (or both), either.
posted by neckro23 at 3:08 PM on May 18, 2011

Just Cause 2 deserves credit if only for the Lost easter egg [spoilers, natch].

Actually it deserves credit for a lot more than that, but I really enjoyed stumbling across that one.
posted by quin at 3:17 PM on May 18, 2011

I guess it's just that sandbox games, and near-sandbox (Mafia, Prototype, things that are almost there), and become so common place that I ceased to think of most of them as "GTA Clones". To me, just about the only thing in recent history that I thought of as a GTA clone was the Saint's Row games, and those are also good fun.

I am not a particular JC2 fan, I far prefer the GTA series actually. I picked up JC2 for $5 from a Steam sale and it delivered way more than my money's worth.
posted by utsutsu at 3:28 PM on May 18, 2011

Just Cause 2 is one of those games that brings home to me two things: 1.) It's very good that I don't have superhuman powers or high-tech equipment, because 2.) I would be an utter, utter dick.

Basically, you would be able to follow me by the sounds of people screaming "AHHHH HE GOT ME WITH HIS METAL WIRE THING", is what I'm saying.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:40 PM on May 18, 2011 [7 favorites]

The windmill post had me in tears. Definitely picking up JC2 at the next Steam sale.
posted by longdaysjourney at 5:29 PM on May 18, 2011

Oh unmerciful beautiful god, that's available on Steam?

I was planning on turning my life around when I turned 31 last year. Stupid wonderful Team Fortress has put me back by at least six months.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:13 PM on May 18, 2011

Valve does this for Team Fortress 2 (or at least used to). You can still see where the images are supposed to be at the bottom of this page. Most of it was unsurprising, except for the attack/defend and payload maps: Don't stand by the gates!
posted by clorox at 2:01 AM on May 19, 2011

The game is perfect for pick up n' play sessions, even if you don't have much time. Every bit of chaos you create is autosaved and there's so much to do on the way to whatever you were originally planning on doing.

I don't think I'll ever get 100%, but by god a man can try.
posted by NationalKato at 10:49 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Beautiful visualization. It immediately had me thinking about real-world deaths.

And then I ruminated on what it might be like for some extra-planar creature, one who could only sense the physical world where some event of psychic impact had taken place. Might their perception of the real world be similar to this visualization? Some spirit being that could only sense points in space-time that were the result of birth or death or great pain or joy or tragedy.

Very cool.
posted by darkstar at 4:45 PM on May 19, 2011

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