Monday, June 28, 2010

safe spaces

Everyone talks about Eternal Darkness and Metal Gear Solid and how they “broke the fourth wall” ie violated the commandment to never acknowledge the audience (which videogames routinely ignore in order to deliver tutorials anyway). So why haven’t there been more attempts to duplicate their success?

we have this weird conception of what belongs in a game and what doesn’t. killing hookers or unarmed civilians or arabs is somehow normal and conventional. we praise games for pushing the technological, but we don’t look for people to really give us a good mindfuck. the most creative thing we can muster up is a twist ending. not sure why this is, except for a dearth of creativity – but creatives are still less expensive than the latest 3d engine and voice actors and motion capture.

it’s probably a matter of tooling, then – the instruments of game design aren’t well-defined. the problem, of course, is exposing arbitrary complexity to a non-technical audience. some people think it’s an issue of having a clearer language around game design – how would you explain a game to a 3rd party, and have them output something whose mechanics are even remotely similar? Others think it’s an issue of cutting down the complexity of tooling and getting those tools into everyone’s hands – making the workflow less complex (RPGMaker, in particular, is atrocious at handling dialogue and scripting – 2 of the most important elements of an RPG!)


I just finished Braid for the second time. The game gives you a lot to chew on – it’s not necessarily hard, but the puzzles make you think in different ways. I think that Blow does himself a disservice to treat the plot like it’s some zen fucking secret when he could be honest without being directive (FOR INSTANCE:“It’s a game about loss, trial and error, and what fixing your mistakes means” instead of “I am literally incapable of using words to communicate the plot I wrote, using words” one-hand-clapping bullshit.)