VR and Theme Park Attractions

I remember years ago, I came across an article on Gamasutra that likened Game Design to theme park Ride Design (maybe it was this one?). I generally think of VR as theatre, but with particular reference to immersive theatre. And of course, theme park ride/experience design also has links to theatre, whether immersive or site-specific.

Finally, the links have been connected in this amazing experience:

The future is looking very exciting for immserive experiences!

Horror Games – Indulging the Wickedness

Today, I finished playing a game that was recommended to me by a friend a while ago, called The Cat Lady. I can’t say I particularly enjoyed this game. I realised pretty quickly that revenge is a pretty bad motivator for me, and the horrific images they showed seemed to neither shock nor repulse me. In fact, the only thing that drew me back was how strongly my friend had recommended it. But, I also kept in mind that my friend loves horror games, while generally I do not. Continue reading

Don’t be it, just experience it

I just finished reading the GDC talk by Richard Lemarchand, Lead Games Designer at Naughty Dog, “Attention, not Immersion.” Firstly, I highly recommend reading it if you haven’t and didn’t see it at GDC.

But I actually wanted to post about something he mentions about 1/7th of the way through (pages 17 & 18)…

If I could reach into your mind, make you forgot who you were while leaving your
skills and emotions intact, and have you literally believe that you were Nathan Drake,
hanging out the back of a cargo plane with the desert floor a quarter-mile below you,
and gun-wielding enemies above you, you probably wouldn’t be excited and
entertained in the way that everyone at Naughty Dog hopes for, for players of our
…you’d almost certainly be scared witless! No disrespect, you understand.

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Trying out Zoundry Raven

So I’ve noticed I’m the worst blogger EVER. So have you. Or rather, you’ve not noticed, because you didn’t even know that I blog because I never post.

As a result, I’ve decided to try out some desktop blogging software. I found a few recommendations for Zoundry, and while there was another (free) tool also recommended, their website was down and I have a zero patience policy so I downloaded Zoundry Raven instead.

So far, it’s… well, it looks almost exactly like I’m sending an email. So it could be super sneaky for those of you who want to blog at work but not look like you’re blogging. And maybe I’ll feel like I’m emailing people and so I’ll blog more. Who knows?

Prelude to Imagined Situations

A friend of mine writes children’s stories, and is blogging about to process. She just wrote a blog post about sad stories: how much she loves them, and how she doesn’t feel like she can write them. A particular line caught my eye:

So in a way, I guess sad stories have been a release for me when I feel down and am unable to express myself adequately in real life. Instead, I can escape into a sad book and feel emotion through the veil of the characters.

Whether that’s healthy or not, I can’t say.

But, for all that sad stories capture me and offer a release, I cannot seem to write a story that has a sad ending.

So I wrote her a LONG reply. I’ve (barely… I removed half a line) edited it a little for here, but I’m putting it up because it’s on the same thread as a blog post I’m preparing that’s a little more “academic.”

Regarding whether it’s unhealthy to enjoy the experience of someone else’s misfortune via a sad story or whatever- well, I am writing a blog post about this, but no, it’s not.

Tragedy was considered a very important part of Ancient Greek culture- it guarded against excesses of virtue/vice. It caused the audience to first feel horror at the experience of the hero, and then feel relief that it wasn’t happening to them, followed by a fear that it COULD.

Aside from this, there is enough research into play and fantasy, especially of negative emotions. These emotions occur to us, we all know they do. We like to feel fear on rollercoasters, we like to cry over sad stories. But we don’t want to really be falling for our lives or have something sad happen to us. Hence, we enjoy experiencing them in Imagined Situations (Vygotsky’s term for it), suspending our disbelief (see Coleridge), but deep down knowing that we’re safe. Do we enjoy the actual experience, or reawakening safe? I’m not sure.

I just went largely off-topic based on one line you wrote :) But I think that while sad/tragic/scary/horror stories have their place, so do happy stories. We all want to believe that we can achieve something great. We want to see someone like us achieve happiness. We want to feel happy for someone we deem worthy. I don’t actually believe they are opposites, but they complement. I love Hans Christian Andersen, but I love the Grimm brothers as well as the similar stories Dad has read me from Slovakian folklore. I also always loved Aesop’s fables. Many of these are extremely abstract and use large amounts of symbolism. They are warnings, they are moral. They had poor narrative structure sometimes. They often involved something potentially very bad happening, but then order being restored. They were warnings that at the end said, “It’s okay. Don’t live your life naively, but don’t live in constant fear.”

I also loved Little Golden Books and one called Whistle For Willie, which was about a little boy who couldn’t whiste to call his pet dog. I think in the end he learned how to whistle? But I loved just being in his world, drawing on the pavement with chalk with him. Every story has its place. Sometimes it’s nice to live in a happy place for a little while :)

Review: REDDER

REDDER. I freaking loved this game. It’s so simple, but the right balance of easy and difficult!

Making a game that doesn’t require a lot of information to play is always tricky, and Gamejam games that don’t have a tutorial or anything always win an extra award. Redder just relies purely on using ←↨→ and spacebar (although the up arrow also works as jump). Pretty easy- you don’t even need to know the convention of using WASD!

And talk about the right amount of story… that (extremely) brief intro communicates the context of the game exactly. Exciting diamonds = fuel, the spaceship runs out and you, little astronaut, need to go look for more.

It starts off relatively easy, and while “hard” and “difficult” aren’t exactly the right words to use here (for me, they imply “impossible” and “I keep dying”), it becomes increasingly tricky to get to the diamonds, often requiring more and more foresight, skill, and spatial orientation (the map helps).

I’m a sucker for pixel art, and I think it really works well for REDDER. Plus, I don’t know if my computer was somehow glitching (I don’t think so, but I’m open to it), but after you’ve been playing for a while, getting closer to your goal, some trippy stuff starts happening. It’s not enough to distract you, and it breaks up the visual monotony of walking through the same chambers again and again purely because you missed the jump and fell to the ground three chambers below.

I also really enjoyed the music. I would like to say more about this, but all you need to know is that it suits the visual style as well as the theme, and doesn’t get annoying after playing for hours (at least, I didn’t get bored of it. I wouldn’t mind playing it now…)

I played it at AdultSwim Games, but you can find it on its native home at Newgrounds.

Dressing for a Games Job Interview

If I shrug my shoulders, you won't notice that my jacket doesn't fit properly

Okay, so I’m writing this because it’s what I’m thinking about right now. And it’s making me super frustrated.

Why? Because everything I’m looking for assume that you’re male. So, apparently, I should be wearing dress pants, discreet belt, polished shoes and the big debate is whether I should be wearing a tie or not with my buttoned, collared shirt. I might as well just go dressed as Marlene Dietrich.

This feature article at Game Career Guide is moderately helpful, except for this amusing suggestion:

Jason Weesner, a developer at Crystal Dynamics and Game Career Guide writer, suggests dressing as if you’re going on a first date.

Riiight… so I guess that means wearing something sexy, low-cut, with high-heels? But only lip-gloss, just in case the chemistry is too much and we end up pashing furiously.

Yeah, no.

Why doesn’t someone just say something like, “think about the impression you’re trying to give- creative, professional, approachable”?
This, to me, seems like a better way to think about putting together something to wear. I think that does mean that I need to buy new shoes. Smelly $5 ballet flats or ratty, hippy-looking Cons don’t seem to make the cut.

Research on Web Content Viewership

Recently I saw this report on the behaviour of viewerd of web content vs that of tv.

There are a number of interesting results regarding demographics and percieved value (ie how much they want to watch it) and the social/viral nature of web content’s success.

But most interesting to me was the level of engagement that viewers typically afforded to web content.

Similar to what I suspected, viewer behaviour is somewhere between the typical behaviour of film viewers and television viewers: not as loyal and stead fast as film viewers, but not as promiscuous and you’d-better-keep-me-entertained-because-I’ll-totally-leave-you-for-another-station’s-show.

What I take from this is that, again, the structure is bound to develop into something similarly hybrid between the two types.

Games as art: the deeper issue

My friend Simon just wrote his opinion on whether games should be considered art. I wrote a wordy response to it, and I either planned to or already have written my opinion on whether games should be considered art. It doesn’t matter.

DISCLAIMER: I’m going to be awesomely ageist here, for (I believe) good reason. Also, please note that someone is “old” to me when they start acting “old.” You can be an old fuddy-duddy at 10, and young at 100. It’s a mindset, not a physical thing, mkay?

Continue reading