Wednesday, 31 December 2008

It's all in my head

I hardly ever have a "normal" dream. It's always running away, hiding, falling or dying. Last nights was particularly vivid and disturbing and might have had something to do with watching 'The day after tomorrow'.

The sun exploded.
I watched from my bedroom window and waited, full of dread, knowing my imminent death, for the wave of destruction to hit.
That feeling was too real, it felt terrible.
I've also had a dream where I was washed off a cliff by a giant tidal wave and drowned, but it also felt completely real.

I think I need a psychiatrist.

Do dreams really mean anything? I don't actually want to die in a natural disaster, y'know. Maybe I'm trying to give myself a revelation so I finally get the motivation to make something of my life, because it can end in an instant.

I also watched 'The Happening' recently. Now that's disturbing. The plot sounds completely mental but somehow M. Night Shyamalan makes it a believable living nightmare. Even if you don't like the film, it's still an interesting "happening".

Monday, 15 December 2008

A little thing called gameplay

I've never thought about the definition of gameplay, always just taking it as a general term for how fun a game is to play. I suppose, primarily though, I think of it as how the player moves around, getting from point A to point B, how much the player is involved with that process and in what ways.
Gameplay, beyond the general explanation, is more than that though. From what I've found, the term can often be used to describe the levels of playing within the game and how they affect one another.
Normally these levels will be a local scale and a global scale as used in strategy games. Recently, Lionhead Studios tried to incorporate these effects more dominantly in 'Fable 2'. While it seems like a good concept that doing evil deeds will make you look more evil and affect how the people around feel about you and vice versa, this must also lead to consideration of other aspects of game design. I found that because of this freedom to change your in-game personality at will, that I could not form a connection with the character. One minute I'm being called a hero, the next, a complete !*£$%", and how am I supposed to get attached to my family when they're completely materialistic and use me for my gifts? The dog's the best part. Anyway, that's more relevant to my previous blog but I just had to air my thoughts.
Back to the issue of gameplay. As I said earlier it can also be used loosely as a way to describe how to get from A to B. Games such as 'Portal' and 'Braid' could be said to have a more unique gameplay than others by using theories of time travel and other dimensions so to speak, which also means using your brain! Shock, horror, I know. I've never concentrated on a game so much as Portal in quite a while.
Then there's also the physical movement of your character and what he/she or it can do. Games can thrive on a new way to play just because it's different to what we're accustomed to and people catch on. 'Crackdown' and 'Mirrors Edge' for example have taken gameplay to new heights (excuse the pun, couldn't resist) by allowing the player a greater freedom of movement over large areas & heights. By doing this, they had to develop a new way to move around and interact with the environment, and this encourages the player to take a more mentally active involvement in the game in my opinion.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Game design - character & story

Game Design - Story & character
It's taken me a while to gather my thoughts for this blog. However, gamasutra.com really has been an invaluable source that raises points I might never have considered.

To start off, the importance of good story and character design is a point that will never cease to exist. It is true that there will be so many people who will buy so many copies of a sub-standard game just because they can, but why whould you want to?
You would have thought the companies might have liked to bring next-gen to the storylines aswell as the graphics.
Take Mercenaries 2 for example, it does what it says on the tin, but what a hell of a boring tin that must be. Someone wants revenge, you blow some stuff up, get shot, yadayada. I suppose we've grown not to expect too much from a sequel but can't someone break that chain?

Character design can be typical and as I've learnt, also skin deep - http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20000720/gard_01.htm - reading this was a big help.

People judge others by looks first; how you compose yourself, characteristics etc. and we stereotype. This obviously applies to characters on tv, in films and in games as well. As Bonnie Tyler appropriately sings, we do indeed "need a herooo".
As well as being aesthetically pleasing to look at, our hero characters need to be someone we can relate to or look up to, someone we root for and not despise. A balance of background, characteristics, looks and personality will lead to a strong character.

Using Mass Effect as an example again, 'Shepherd' is a hero to be watched more than played. The story can be changed to a certain extent, and you can make her/him really mean but it's much more satisfying to see her emerge from the devastaion at the end, intact and the saviour of millions. Although you have control over how she responds to people, this doesn't take away the believablity.

The film 'Hancock' uses an actor's (Will Smith) real-life personality to conflict with what the audience should be feeling about him based on actions in the film, causing us to hope he becomes the hero rather than stay the 'bad guy'.

Personally, I have quite a typical attatchment to certain characters and stories, whether it be in films, books or games. I tend to like a touch of fantasy mixed with reality, so maybe odd creatures, or magic involved. The main character, reasonably good looking, maybe lacking confidence but still independant gets dragged into something unexpected, adventures entail and so on. Maybe a bit of a love interest thrown in, with a dark, mysterious, talented character. I'm also a sucker for some witty sarcasm.

I've put links to info on my fave fiction books on my other blog:

http://flumpinator2.blogspot.com/