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Gaming Why Aren't Games Better?

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Sifter3000, 17 May 2010.

  1. lacuna

    lacuna Member

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    It is explained in HL2. Its been a while since I played but Im fairly sure the vortigaunts that you meet in the storage container early in the game (that charge your suit for you) tell a bit of the story and then maybe later on when you are fighting the ant lions? I don't recall being confused while playing the game and I never read anything about a game while playing it in case I hit on a spoiler.

    As far as I aware, valve haven't made much effort to provide any additional reading on the backstory and whatever is available on the net is just what people have gleaned from the games.

    An ex-games journalist I hope. That looks like a deliberate effort to not understand the game as there are no reasons for coming to those conclusions. "Alyx doesn't seem to like Mossman, must be her mother" Yeah, thats an obvious one despite the fact that Eli tells Gordon that his wife died in Black Mesa when Alyx was just a child...
     
  2. GiantStickMan

    GiantStickMan New Member

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    I was actually confused as all heck playing HL2 to begin with, i felt like I had missed something and it actually dullled the experience somwhat for me, though i can't say I jumped to any of those conclusions.
     
  3. Saivert

    Saivert Member

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    To be true I didn't care for all the details in the game story of Half-Life series. I have learned more about the story from forums. But that is because there is just too much else going on (mainly me trying to stay alive and not get killed) in the game. It is a game after all, not a movie or a novel.
    If I'm just going to listen to a story I will chose the other mediums. Games will never replace movies, novels for me.
    I just think its unrealistic to try to force games into being one.
     
  4. Xir

    Xir Well-Known Member

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    Ummm, I couldn't shoot them, so they must've been on my side! :D
    Isn't that enough logic for a FPS?
     
  5. CardJoe

    CardJoe Freelance Journalist

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    Nope, not explained there. There are glimmers of info if you click on every Vort and harvest every screed of dialogue, but it's thin stuff. They talk about you freeing them from the Nihilanth, vaguely - but that only takes it back to HL1 where Nihilanth was never really explained. Most people who play just HL1 come away thinking the story is "OMG, experiment goes wrong, aliens come in and I go in and shoot them all and then mysterious Gman comes along". In fact, the Combine are an integral part of even HL1 and the plot is more like "Experiment is sabotaged deliberately, energy portal opens up and a subdued and oppressed race from another dimension is used by the Combine to invade earth."

    There are hints to the Combine in HL1, but again it's very difficult to spot. It's alluded to in the shackles the Vorts wear, the muffled (read: Inaudible when in-game) lines Gman yells at Kliener in the opening and the reversed sound effects that Nihilanth screams in the final battle.

    HL is a great game and it has a great story, but there are some big and important parts of the story that aren't told well within the game. But people don't realise because they think that story = Alyx and digital acting.

    Actually, I was mistaken before - he was a tech journo, not just a games journo. And actually he isn't in the trade anymore, no. Still, it goes to show how easy it is to misunderstand - especially since, IIRC, Alyx's mother is only mentioned twice in the entire series - both in the same scene and once of which you have to actively trigger by staring at her photo for a while.

    I don't particularly care about the mother that much anyway, but it's interesting that the same person who makes that mistake is often the same one who loudly proclaims how excellent HL's story is.
     
  6. CowBlazed

    CowBlazed New Member

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    I liked how the story in HL wasn't spoon fed to you, also how there was speculation on almost anything in the story and how only discussing it with other people brought out some of the underlying themes.

    Expecting the story to be so cut and dry and obvious is expecting games to be like other mediums.
     
  7. thehippoz

    thehippoz New Member

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    that's a good point.. tech is moving so fast devs don't have time to really optimize for the old stuff

    I love it myself- but I can see where it gets to be a nightmare if the platform is changing too quickly
     
  8. somewhereoveryonda

    somewhereoveryonda You'll never know when to buy!

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    Games are better.. look at the quality of what you see! And there just as addictive as ever.. though the old games do prove that simple things please simple minds :D
     
  9. TheUn4seen

    TheUn4seen New Member

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    I don't have time right now to read all comments properly, I just skimed through them, but I see several problems both in article and comments.

    First of all, the article is based on a wrong assumption: "films, fine art, music, all of these generally aim for emotional impact first, fun later.". I see this as a completely missed argument, mostly because:

    -Fine art, fine music and fine films are very niche, really. How often do you see people watching films by Jarmusch, listening to a classical sonata or looking in awe at "Moscow I." by Wassily Kandinsky?
    Fine games are just as rare as fine art.

    -A simple quick look at the repertoire of the biggest cinema chain in my country reveals absolutely no movie that would aim for "emotional impact", in fact all of them are mainstream movies for a quick watch-and-forget time wasting. One can argue that even the most dull game is still more emotionally involving as people tend to commit more to a character they control directly instead of simply watching some guy on the screen.
    My point is: most movies are mainstream crap, created for people with average and lower than average IQ, aimed at quick fun, without any deeper thought or meaning getting in the way of explosions/romance/idiotic jokes/etc. Mainstream games are very similar, but even then they involve more emotions and at least force players to be at least partially active.

    (I have more arguments, but I also have a pile of damn documents I have to get ready for tomorrow, so I'll cut short for now)

    And, finally, the main argument. I know that it won't make me popular, but the biggest problem is the fact that the vast majority of people are idiots. They don't want music, movies or games to make them think, they want a quick fun. Only 0.5% of all people have intelligence that allow them to enjoy something more than mindless shooting, half-naked pop stars or repetitive, dull games.
     
  10. ForumNameHere

    ForumNameHere New Member

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    I, too, don't feel that the technology behind the product has any relevance directly. It might be tied up in the larger problem, which I feel is the commercial nature of the gaming industry these days; that's already been mentioned, I think. It's all about making as much money as possible, which means appealing to as many people as possible = lowest common denominator. Emphasis on common. I mean, here in the states, newspapers are written on an elementary school level so EVERYONE (well, nearly) can understand, want, and BUY,BUY,BUY them. If you can play the right cord, it doesn't have to be good as long as enough people like it: my daughter LOVES Hannah/Miley. Her (Hannah's) act has been refined over the years as it was complete rubbish initially, but is still tripe by my standards, yet she continues to outsell anything I'd (and most folks on this board, I would assume) consider worthwhile. Thus, her work is propagated. Much to my sorrow.
    Perhaps part of what we're dealing with here is the vernacular: should the term "game" be scrapped entirely as the medium searches for legitimacy? It seems to me that searching for something meaningful/moving with a "game" is bit like going to a party to discover the meaning of life (6 X 7) or why it is that you hate your parents and like to sit alone in the dark. Because game ALWAYS equals party, right? Not on this board perhaps, but with the lowest common denominator it does.
     
  11. ForumNameHere

    ForumNameHere New Member

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    Whoops, meant to quote the postabove me but missed.

    I think un4seen had the same thought as me at the same time and said it much better: most people ARE idiots. And sadly, even individuals who aren't idiots become such when in significant enough numbers. I mean, hey, it was MY credit card that bought the tickets that my wife and daughter used to see Hannah--all so my daughter could come home and be like "she sang her new song 'I love rock and roll'. You just gotta hear it!" She was all like, Joan who?

    So, yeah, that's the problem here and pretty much everywhere else for that matter.
     
  12. CardJoe

    CardJoe Freelance Journalist

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    Not at all. I don't have a problem with the story in HL - I think it's pretty damn good and there are some things, like all the allusions and multiple objectives and concurrent plots, which I really like. I like that the story isn't cut and dry. What I don't like though is that praise for the game has reached such critical mass that people go on and on about the storytelling and how amazing it is without actually stopping to think about it or realising the truth.
     
  13. juststsomeguy26

    juststsomeguy26 New Member

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    ... yeah whats that saying about learning from past mistakes ?. We had a long period of stagnant hardware back in the atari day of the 70s-80s. That led to a huge crash in the gaming market and the legend of a certain landfill in Mexico where hundereds of thousands of E.T game cartridges had to be buried.
    New technology is a good thing. It allows us to do new things (Yeah I'm a programmer). Innovative features are often made possible by new technologies like the Wii controller and the coming Natal.
    Emotional invivolment a matter of story and script, they define the feelings that are meant ot be potrayed, and technolgy really is of benefit to that. Do you really thing a a charachter made up of two dozen polygons back in the days of ff7 can convey emotion better then a modern avatar made up of X number of thousands capable of protraying the look of agony on some guys face as you part him from his legs ?

    What i think the author is picking up on and misinterpreting is the way games are marketed, not the way they are made.
    With films and music, what makes this weeks number 1 better then the last ? this year blockbuster better then the one 12 months ago ?
    Nothing, nothing bar peoples desire to fornew things, variety being the spice of lfe. You can only watch a move so many times in a space of time before it gets boring.
    With games however the experiance has a greater scope. On a modern game one gaming sesion to the next isnt going to be the same even on the same title.
    Games can have storys that unfold diferently dependant on your decisions, combat can go diferently if you miss a crucial shot, multiplayer brings in potentialy limitless variations from human interaction.

    So, why buy a new game if you like the one you have ?
    Drawing the comparison to films and music the default answer is for the variety, the new story etc.
    Games however are not like more traditional media. The limits of what a game can be are constantly evolving with technolgy. While the underying tech may be out of sight out of mind, new platforms like PSX->PS2->PS3 provied obvious benchmarks.
    From a marketing perspective this offers something films and other media lack. The ability to state as fact thata games for a PS3 are superior to PS2 games.
    This principal extends as far as boasting about shading techniques used and higher poly counts. The basic point of which is all the same

    Boasting about technolgies used lets publishers market games as "the best at" or "better then " and "imporvments on" as opposed to a static media like films where storys and scripts change but the only measure of one film being better then another is peoples opinions.
     
  14. Bayaz

    Bayaz New Member

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    Games are not better because developers spend too much time and resources on the graphics and not the gameplay. Article only needs to be 1 line long.
     
  15. roulio

    roulio ROULIO

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    I think the problem is the industry, who pumps a lot of money in the game comanies. Because if you are responsible for a lot of money, you won't do something risky. Doing a sequel of a successful game IS NOT risky. But trying something new, or a new way of gaming IS risky.
    And most big companies buy the engine, so the technology improvement shouldn't be an issue!
    That all I think is a big problem having to do with the global financial crysis. There are some people who want /need to make more and more money. So they invest in popular things. At the moment e.g. the games industry.
    But then they are forced to earn money with the investment. This force will be handed over to the game companies manager. With this pressure, he won't do something risky. So a sequel is created.
    If it doesn't sell well, because people are sick and tired of another sequel or maybe at the same time were other/better blockbuster releases, they blame the software pirates.
    Just to save their heads.
     
  16. mac007

    mac007 New Member

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    Suppose you have a point, stories are quite similar - good against evil. Who cares end of the day as long as you're having fun. Do always want better graphics, more real sound (if that makes sense)- hey we're guys more polygons is better.
     
  17. MrWizard6600

    MrWizard6600 New Member

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    I can't agree with anything in this article.

    Classical cinema has always followed the next big cash-cow model of evolution, it’s how all forms of media, or for that matter it’s how all forms of industry evolve. The niche oriented forms of film, such as film noir, steer the evolution of mainstream Hollywood cinema, because when a Hollywood producer sees a niche market not included in movies currently produced he can try to integrate that market into his general audiance, in my example what results is movies like Enemy of the State.

    And, Mr Editor, a question I think needs asking is: how is virtually shooting people fun? Humor me for a minute: I think the majority of games aren’t “fun” per-se, or at least fun requires a pretty broad definition. At least in one form of fun, it isn’t the medium that’s fun, it’s the challenge that I think the mind finds entertaining. In Modern Warfare 2 it isn’t the act of “shooting” a 3D model in a particular spot a certain number of times that we find fun it’s the challenge of fulfilling a difficult task; killing him before he kills you is fun. I hate to boil it down to something almost mathematic but what’s enjoyable about games is that they present you with a system, and you have to find a solution to some problem in it. In Modern Warfare 2 the system consists of different weapons with different characteristics, hiding spots, cover, and ghilie suits. An elaborate system, one which you have to navigate through before the other guy does. There are other forms of “fun”, maybe more difficult to explain, ones derived from immersion in a narrative for example, but certainly accomplishment is the biggest part of “fun” in gaming, and it’s a different form of entertainment than the fun derived from a good movie.

    We need to stop looking at one form of media’s cultural relevance as compared to another which is over 200 years older. We need to stop thinking that games get mentioned in the technology section where movies get mentioned in the culture section less as a failing of the game industry and more as a success of the film industry.

    But regardless of which form of media you compare it to, the fact that modern warfare 2 was banned in Russia for the “No Russian” section is a testament to its cultural relevance. A form of media that grossed over $600,000,000 in its first week, played by hundreds of millions of people, was banned in a country because of an inflammatory section of narrative.

    I do believe that this media, at least in its current state, will always be “smaller” and/or “less culturally relevant” than say film or novels because it fails utterly at attracting women. As it exists now more than 80% of games are aimed exclusively at a male audience.
     
  18. sadeed

    sadeed take me, im hallucinogenic

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    its sad to to think that the ever expanding medium of video games (an entertaining way for children to develop hand eye coordination and quick reflexes in both movement and decision making, or maybe just a way to edge out the dullness of day to day homework and nagging from parents.) is moving closer and closer into the realm of "same ol' same ol'". i think that the industry should start searching for a different type of person to oversee the game development process. someone not so business oriented, and hopefully an avid game player and constant movie-goer. someone needs to be in there expressing the need for drastic new approaches to combining the action packed gaming that most of the playing world has an ever driven itch for, and the unexpected artistic approaches to the ongoing over population of similar games.

    as a gamer myself i dread the every so often trips to the game stores, (though places like gamestop help out with the ability to purchase used games for a cheaper price and still return them after another dull victory for in-store credit) to try and purchase something else to grip onto my need for going fast; mostly because i hate speeding tickets. i hate looking upon the almost endless seas of games with their waves upon waves of technicolor printed covers, some of which can often be mistaken for other games or even movies you swear youve seen but cant recollect.

    though i see the situation being a long term problem for my favorite mode of entertainment, i also have hope that some day, somewhere, someone will change the industry for the better in the way i have explained, (though i have no idea if i actually got my point across) or maybe, just maybe i will find the financial stability to finally go to school in my pursuit of design, and land myself smack dab in the middle of the video game industry to change it myself. wouldnt that be fun.

    by the way john, i enjoyed your post.

    -kirstein
     
  19. lacuna

    lacuna Member

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    *sigh*

    I blame Crytek.
     
  20. phantombudgie

    phantombudgie New Member

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    Going to have to put my hand up and agree here. I play games for fun, not for the challenge but to enjoy the action. And I like it better as the graphics improve.
     

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