Monday, 16 January 2012

New year

As usual, when I go home I have no computer, so I got no work done over the holidays.
The work I did do, however, was dissertation-related.

My topic is something like "-Clever title-:How Video Games Are The Optimum Media For Horror".
I've been looking into topics like Agency (the feeling of possession of an action)

Also, in my scare spare time, I have been working on a secret project.
All I can divulge is the tentative title, Machina, and this colour/style test.

This spinning diamond is an example of the sort of colour scheme and shine effects that I want in the project. I may even have spinning diamonds, too.
The project itself is still very early in development, so I'll need to do a bit more work on the story/characters before divulging much more, although I have been playing about with the Unity Engine - if that's any kind of hint.

Games Corner


It's just...awful.

Some major complaints for me were:

  • Poor framerate (even when NOTHING is happening). 1
  • Floaty camera controls .
  • Frustrating combat. 2
  • Loose movement controls (The 'forward' action on the thumbstick is misaligned, so you end up walking in circles).
  • Awful framerate (when ANYTHING happens).
  • Tooth shine. 3
  • Bad writing and voice acting. 4
  • The above remove any/all immersion and as such, the game is not scary in the slightest. 5
  • Poor framerate (even when NOTHING is happening). 1
  • 1. This makes no sense to me. My hypothesis is that the game is poorly optimised. I noticed full reflections in the protagonist's eyes, something which not only makes her look weird, but doesn't even need to be there. We never see her eyes close-up except for the rare few cut-scenes, so it doesn't add any emotional value or ease of empathy.

  • Floaty camera controls .
  • 2. I understand that this is supposed to be a survival horror game, and that an awkwardness and unfamiliarity in the character's fighting style add to the tension and feeling of vulnerability, however, combat in AMY doesn't add to any sort of tension. On occasion, the camera flips around and shows the impact from a different angle, which would seem to add to some sort of cool effect, but the cutaway is so short that it is just jarring and disorienting.


    Also note the super-shiny eyes.

    4. Horror films and games in the past have always been a little underbudget (indeed, low budgets are what made the cult horror films such as The Thing and Alien the successes that they were) and in most horror movies (and games),the acting or writing often suffer.

    Something Resident Evil 4 happily continued

    Video games generally suffer from poor writing and voice acting as it is, so it should have came to no surprise that AMY's is doubly poor.

    5. This is something that I am addressing in my dissertation. Horror games (as the name suggests) should include elements of horror. This doesn't mean just putting in zombies and calling it a day. Call of Duty: Black ops has zombies in it, and that's the most power-fantasy non-horror game you can get. Even The Legend of Zelda:Skyward Sword has zombies in it. Horror requires a lot more than just a rotting antagonist. It requires atmosphere and empathy - something AMY's flickery frame rate and awful character performance removes entirely.

    Now, perhaps AMY gets better later on in the game, but I honestly couldn't even get past the first chapter. I even had Olly come over and try it, too. He managed to get a little further than I.
    The worst part of the whole problem is the disappointment. I was looking forward to this game, and how could I not when AMY was marketed as "Ico, but with zombies". I was also hoping for another good horror game to add to my analysis for my dissertation. It certainly made the cut, but only as an example of how NOT to make a horror game.

    Amnesia, on the other hand...

    The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

    I am a massive Zelda nerd. Like an allergy, it only sufaces and consumes my life with when a new Zelda game comes out.

    Thanks DeviantArt

    So I was pretty excited for Skyward Sword.
    I have a lot to say about it and a lot to analyse, so I'll probably leave it for a separate blog post or something, but I wanted to talk about it a little bit.

    Go run and get it.

    The wiggly Wii controls take a little getting used to, such as aligning the Wii remote in order to get the slice-y directions right. Another problem I had is that the pointer (used for navigating the menus and aiming weapons) doesn't use the actual Wii I.R. pointer.
    Instead they use the Wii Motion Plus to guess where you're pointing. It's fairly accurate, but the cursor moves very slowly across the screen, and often it becomes misaligned which requires the player to re-align the pointer.
    The game looks surprisingly nice, despite some ugly close-up textures put through the painterly filter.
    I feel like Zelda games haven't advanced beyond those on the GBA, with a very small library of static looping animations and text boxes. Also, some voice acting wouldn't go astray. The worry is that giving Link a voice would ruin the experience of the games. I don't think we're asking for Link to have a voice, but for everyone else to speak. It makes them feel like actual people, and it's hard to empathise for an inexpressive looping animation and a text box.
    Look what it did for the Metroid Prime series, with 1 and 2 relying solely on text boxes and the occasional vocal sound from one of the few NPC's. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, however, has full voice acting for all of the NPC's - an enormous departure from the rest of the series. but it worked. Samus remained her silent, stoic self, but the world around her felt alive.

    Then Nintendo took it too far...

    I'll save the rest for another post, which will also have some art, I'm sure. I do have lots of nice things to say about it, but it's easier to get the bad things out first.

    Bye bye.

    1 comment:

    1. That test is fascinating to watch. Does the project involve robots?


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