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Old 5th Jun 2011, 11:53   #1
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Thoughts on Clutter and Junk

Iíve been playing Star Wars: Jedi Academy lately. I didnít play it when it first came out, but good word of mouth and a budget Steam price proved hard to resist. Overall, itís a pretty good game too, although Iíll never be as effusive about it as my pals. One thing I canít get over, though, is how incredibly dated the game looks...

http://www.bit-tech.net/blog/gaming/...tter-and-junk/
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Old 5th Jun 2011, 12:20   #2
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Bioshock does this very well, each room is filled with plenty of things that makes the world seem so much more realistic, as if it's actually lived in!
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Old 5th Jun 2011, 13:14   #3
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I think the best game I have seen to get the happy medium is the original FEAR. Because there was something special about seeing all the crap on tables etc explode into pieces during a slow motion gun fight.
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Old 5th Jun 2011, 14:14   #4
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Quote:
"Instead, the first memory that comes to mind is that I must have spent hours of my life just picking up and selling ladles, clay plates and cloth-covered pots. None of these items were good for anything at all and Oblivion wouldn’t have lost anything by not featuring them..."
Hmm. This to me seems to be a rather unfounded criticism. I don't recall Oblivion ever forcing players to collect and sell trivial junk. Instead, it was just there to aid immersion, which you favour. You chose to waste your own time collecting and selling this junk, rather than just thinking "Ooh, look, this house is full of household junk". So why complain about it?
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Old 5th Jun 2011, 14:30   #5
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Would you consider people and vehicles clutter and junk? I'm asking because I always feel thats what's missing most from open world games. As machines get more powerful a simple slider which adds people, vehicles and general crap onto the screen and at a longer draw distant could add a lot I feel.

It's one of the reasons I get so annoyed the likes of Red dead and LA noir aren't out on the PC. They don't have to go mad upping the detail, just give us lots more of what's already there. Towns and cities that feel alive and busy.
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Old 5th Jun 2011, 15:30   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bawjaws
Quote:
"Instead, the first memory that comes to mind is that I must have spent hours of my life just picking up and selling ladles, clay plates and cloth-covered pots. None of these items were good for anything at all and Oblivion wouldn’t have lost anything by not featuring them..."
Hmm. This to me seems to be a rather unfounded criticism. I don't recall Oblivion ever forcing players to collect and sell trivial junk. Instead, it was just there to aid immersion, which you favour. You chose to waste your own time collecting and selling this junk, rather than just thinking "Ooh, look, this house is full of household junk". So why complain about it?
My point about Oblivion was that there was SO much of it and, rather than being where you could just see and appreciate it, it was forced into the interactions of the game too. In great abundance.
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Old 5th Jun 2011, 16:03   #7
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i can always remember that crap being picked up too and i sure never went looking for it. but there was always a stupid plate or two to get rid of. Don`t think it caused the problem though it was more the fact you just kept collecting it and didnt really need too.

A more realistic level of tat adds to the immersion and ambience though.
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Old 5th Jun 2011, 16:10   #8
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Jedi Academy had great/fun multiplayer (to an extent), but that was about it IMO.

Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast was where the SP experience was to be had and the story was infinitely better.

I thought you'd played it before Joe (JKA that is) since you mentioned having played Jedi Knight for a few years in one of your columns... or was that the older Dark Forces series?
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Old 5th Jun 2011, 16:31   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vdbswong
Jedi Academy had great/fun multiplayer (to an extent), but that was about it IMO.

Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast was where the SP experience was to be had and the story was infinitely better.

I thought you'd played it before Joe (JKA that is) since you mentioned having played Jedi Knight for a few years in one of your columns... or was that the older Dark Forces series?
That was the original Jedi Knight. The series went:

Dark Forces
Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight
Jedi Knight: Jedi Outcast
Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy
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Old 5th Jun 2011, 17:01   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
Quote:
Originally Posted by bawjaws
Quote:
"Instead, the first memory that comes to mind is that I must have spent hours of my life just picking up and selling ladles, clay plates and cloth-covered pots. None of these items were good for anything at all and Oblivion wouldn’t have lost anything by not featuring them..."
Hmm. This to me seems to be a rather unfounded criticism. I don't recall Oblivion ever forcing players to collect and sell trivial junk. Instead, it was just there to aid immersion, which you favour. You chose to waste your own time collecting and selling this junk, rather than just thinking "Ooh, look, this house is full of household junk". So why complain about it?
My point about Oblivion was that there was SO much of it and, rather than being where you could just see and appreciate it, it was forced into the interactions of the game too. In great abundance.
True. Those items could have been on tables and in kitchens around the world, but they didn't need to have to be obtainable or have physics interaction. There's a reason it's named clutter: your inventory certainly doesn't need it. And you can say just don't pick it up, but eventually you're going to find some in a chest where your mouse immediately gravitates to the 'take all' button.

Yes, the lack of clutter inhibits visual immersion, but too much interaction only distracts the player from what's important to accomplish. You can pick up trash in Half Life 2, but Gordon is never going to put a can in his inventory.
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Old 5th Jun 2011, 17:48   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lazy_Amp
You can pick up trash in Half Life 2, but Gordon is never going to put a can in his inventory.
He might do if he's going to need a drink later.
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Old 5th Jun 2011, 18:08   #12
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I love the amount of random clutter in Oblivion, please don't complain about it in case they decide to remove it in future TES titles!

In Morrowind of course, the clutter was actually worth something, so you could break into someone's house and steal stuff amounting to a decent value then flog it to anyone you like, so long as it's not the original owner. Oblivion ruined playing as a thief by making clutter worthless and only allowing you to sell to fences, meaning you HAD to do the thieves' guild quests if you wanted to be a thief.

Anyway, clutter in general is a good thing, definitely. I see Bioshock has already been mentioned - that game got it right too.
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Old 5th Jun 2011, 22:43   #13
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the witcher2 has a tat overdose.

I search creates and always hit the spacebar to 'collect all' as selecting idividual items is fiddely. As a result I have to spend alot of time going through my inventory and getting rid of collected tat.

It's nice that it's nice that it's there, and it's nice that we can interact with it, it adds a level fo immesion - but why does it need to be a collectable item really?
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Old 6th Jun 2011, 00:18   #14
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Step 1. Add tat and junk to your game
Step 2. Make it possible to add to your inventory
Step 3. ?????
Step 4. PROFIT!

It's a good formula, don't take it out! ME has that problem, all of your gear is usable, but becomes junk once you get good kit, although you can't tell unless you compare.
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Old 6th Jun 2011, 00:44   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MiNiMaL_FuSS
the witcher2 has a tat overdose.

I search creates and always hit the spacebar to 'collect all' as selecting idividual items is fiddely. As a result I have to spend alot of time going through my inventory and getting rid of collected tat.

It's nice that it's nice that it's there, and it's nice that we can interact with it, it adds a level fo immesion - but why does it need to be a collectable item really?
Just about everything you collect in the witcher2 can be used in crafting. Things like rusty weapons amount to junk though; You're given better weapons from the off, why include rusty crappy ones?
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Old 6th Jun 2011, 02:40   #16
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on the point of oblivion, i think that it would have worked much better if you could actually use a cup, or had to have bottles on you for potions, or something to that effect, where you could actually use things like that...
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Old 6th Jun 2011, 03:08   #17
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A very good post, Joe. I've always wondered why some older games just feel old, other than the obvious advances in game mechanics. I've thought about how some games just appear overly simplistic, but I never gave much thought to the little pieces of junk that are all over the place in modern games (e.g. mugs, clipboards, body parts).

Funny enough there is an entire art to scene decoration in motion pictures and live theater. One of the best ways to get your audience to believe that a character lives in a room is to populate the room with little details. Most viewers don't think about it much when the toothbrush is sitting on the counter, but you'd be surprised how many people get that nagging feeling when the counter is empty.

Going back to clutter in games, my wife relates it to the number of times she's made us all wait around in the safe rooms in Left 4 Dead because she's reading the graffiti.
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Old 6th Jun 2011, 09:20   #18
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Do weapons count as clutter?
I remember picking up way more than ever needed in STALKER, and then not knowing what to do with the money

How is Star Wars: Jedi Academy compared to KOTOR?
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Old 6th Jun 2011, 09:51   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xir
Do weapons count as clutter?
I remember picking up way more than ever needed in STALKER, and then not knowing what to do with the money

How is Star Wars: Jedi Academy compared to KOTOR?
I'd define clutter as items without anything other than aesthetic (or possibly in-game economical) use to the player. If you can do something with it other than sell it or look at it, it's not clutter. But, yes, STALKER often loaded me up with too many guns too!

Academy and KOTOR are completely different types of games, not really comparable at all. Both have pluses (fluid lightsaber control in JA, depth of characters in KOTOR) and both have minuses (the lack of real character development or control in JA, the gruelling and pointless length of KOTOR). Both are worth a look for the price.

As for clutter, it's been far too long since I last played KOTOR.
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Old 6th Jun 2011, 10:01   #20
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One game that sprang to mind with this article is metro 2033. The propping (junk) and level of detail make this one of the most immersive games I have played.
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