01-19-07, 07:14 PM #1
Certain Video Game Designers ....
There is a certain group of video game designers, and no, I don't know names, and it's not a permanent roster ... perhaps it's a class or classification. Anyway ....
So what's with these designers who put together what are otherwise vastly brilliant games but can't get their heads out of their asses long enough to not be malicious? I'm playing GTA San Andreas, for instance, and there are hideous bugs on the critical path. Talking to a friend of mine in testing, we came to the conclusion that if his crew ever shipped a game in such lamentable condition, he would be out of a job. But more than just the bugs, and GTA is a good example, what's with the stupid gameplay requirements?
- The "dance" mission, for instance, is hideously stupid, and there is in me enough compassion for fellow dope-smokers to realize that including many, many occasions for dancing is just an example of cheap stoner humor. Yes, I would have done that, too, I suppose.
- But what about saddling a high-power performance car with offroad tires? My friend called such notions "lazy level design", explaining that it would be much more impressive to have to shoot during an earthquake, or while a building is falling down around you than to simply give a player a gun that doesn't shoot straight. At the time, he was enjoying the old Deus Ex suite, and was annoyed at the "refire" time on the sniper rifles. A small issue, to be sure, but I agree. It hurts the suspension of reality inherent in any such story: What, you spend billions building a cyborg with nanoaugmented technology, and ... he can't slide a bolt? Of course, it's a later century, so why would it be a bolt-action rifle? The difficult motion or the kick of the rifle when sniping ought to be enough to overcome. Perhaps I am being too hard on people with this aspect: maybe deadlines have something to do with it.
- The problem with "metagames", it is observed, is that eventually the possibilities lead to something stupid. Again, GTA/SA. The missions with RC planes and helicopters simply are not fun. Sure, it's cool to walk in and play an old video game at the 24/7, and maybe some people get off taking their girl dancing. But at some point, enough is enough.
- I won't even speak of the offroad chase with quad-bikes. 'Nuff said.
- Swtiching gears: Oni is a game I'm glad I played on my iMac. I find console controllers enough of a challenge, and while hopping over and ducking under lasers is fine even in a souped up "3-D" sidescroller, no, such levels are not good for third-person perspective. I felt like I was playing a particularly frustrating round of Mario.
- Even in The Incredibles, a game of which I'm not particularly fond, there is in the early going a couple of occasions where you have to work blindly, unable to get a proper perspective on where you're going. This is annoying as hell when people are throwing bombs at you and such.
I think back to some of the games I've been simply awed by: Half Life, Deus Ex, Descent. These titles seem to have no problem getting from A to B without punishing the player simply for playing the game. Even Quake 2 still finds time on my machine now and then.
What I don't understand, though, is how we come to the point that a consumer must buy a product for fun only after acknowledging that they are prepared to not have fun. Yes, learning a new game environment is frustrating sometimes, but that ought to be enough. Compelling a player to "go dancing" again and again is torture enough. Look, I know the game environment can get huge, and I expect the occasional clipping error or hole in the sidewalk. But leaving the "Wasted" bug on the critical path? Putting combat boots on a racehorse? Flying model helicopters in a fight to the death while picking up random crap with magnets? Please. Did somebody think this crap would actually be fun? I can get in an argument with my child's mother and make as little headway. Why not include a mandatory anal-sex level with erotosensitive dildo (sold separately) so that you can't just stick the thing in your armpit and be done with it?
The joke, of course, is that the difference between the dance scenes and anal sex levels is the difference between marijuana and cocaine (as in, what the designer prefers), but at the same time, knowing what I know about any other artistic industry, it well could be that the designers, too, are horrified by the final product.
But at some point, somebody has to make the decision that this is fun. And it's time to 'fess up. Who the hell is responsible for making the most memorable aspects of a revolutionary video game (e.g. GTA/SA) the parts that simply aren't fun?
And what would be an appropriate punishment?
(Okay, I'm done yammering. Now it's off to cap some more hookers and drug dealers, blow up the damn police, and other such mischief.)
01-19-07, 07:19 PM #2
01-19-07, 07:22 PM #3
Between 80-100 wpm.
I'm sorry I cannot more frequently stoop to your low standards of communication and literacy. Thank you for your interest, though. I do enjoy such frank forthrightness.
01-19-07, 07:24 PM #4
Video game design is plagued with having to accomodate challenge with playability and the overall feel of the game. Sometimes these challenges requires us to do things we don't usually like.
01-19-07, 07:36 PM #5
the root of your problems is the high $cost in producing video games
01-19-07, 10:13 PM #6
I agree, which leads us (or, at least, me) back to the issue of "metagames", the games within games. But the balance of challenge with playability and feel ought to have some limits I would think.
I suppose I should ask PlayStation users about things like, say, Oni. Perhaps the Mario-like laser dodging was more entertaining for console users. And I'm also aware that part of my frustration is because of the console controllers: had I a mouse and keyboard for a certain GTA mission (shooting down RC airplanes), the level would have been a snap. (Missile Command is more challenging on a trackball than with a mouse.) But the mission reminded me that the snap-aim switch kept off in most of my FPS games is for console users. I hadn't noticed the difficulty of precision aiming with the DualShock because I hadn't been using it. The X+Y=(XYZ) aspect is nearly invisible when using a mouse. I can't blame the designers for this kind of frustration. And besides, as a throwback to the feel of older video games, that particular mission became kind of fun. Like trying to read neuroscience at a third-grade level. There's always a way to explain it ....
But maybe the Oni bits weren't annoying to the most part of the market. Maybe console users are so thankful to not be a hedgehog or short Italian plumber that what I consider stupid levels are actually above-par for those more familiar with the units. (I've had this thing for about a month. A Christmas present to myself, sort of.)
At any rate, though ... it would seem to me there ought to be a limit.
Search & Destroy:
Yeah, but ... but ... the critical path ought to be debugged .... Er, right?
And, given that I'm surprised at the gameplay of some of the GTA missions, I suppose I'm being a bit harsh, but it's a good thing that alpha geeks aren't subject to widespread celebrity. It is not unimaginable that among those prone to violence, one might eventually slaughter the leading video game designer in a manner more befitting the game in revenge for something perceived as "stupid". There's a line in one of Adams' Hitchhiker's trilogy about having the environmentalists taken outside and shot. There's a Doonesbury four-framer from the first Gulf War when B.D. explains to a reporter that there will be hell to pay for the bad food. "Oh, so some of these guys are in for a serious ribbing?" No, no. We'll be dragging them out of their cars ....
Every once in a while, a game can give me that feeling. Not so with Deus Ex. Not so with Half-Life. Only the laser bits with Oni.
But GTA San Andreas has me puzzled. My friend's company released a product last year, and exponentially simpler. But bugs are hard to find. Two are said to be nearly impossible to reproduce, and a third--the only one I ever saw--went unnoticed because it falls to the player's benefit. (But yes, by the blank look on one programmer's face, it was a bug.) But prior years, with role-play, network, and FPS, it seemed worth the money--on a patchable medium, at that--to clear the critical path of bugs at the very least. I should be in awe of GTA. But I'm not. I'm frustrated like I've never been frustrated before. And it's not necessarily with my gameplay. It's somehow with the game. It's not the violence or stereotypes in the game that offend me. It is, instead, that someone involved in that game's development seems to have taken a certain wicked pleasure in making certain aspects of the game absolutely not fun.
And from one perspective, I suppose, why shouldn't they? They made the coolest damn game in several years. They can do whatever the hell they want. (mutter-murmur-grumble)
01-19-07, 10:59 PM #7
One must also take into consideration the strong difference in "philosophy of design" between console games and computer games, besides simply the controller-related issues which you address. That is to say, console games have always differed from computer games in the genres that predominate, as well as the focus of said games, and this is even more crucial than the controller distinction. Things like the Oni level with the laser-wires are console-esque because console games tend to promote a lot of reaction-based things, where the puzzle is based in how one can sync with the rhythm and advance. This is not so much found in computer games, that tend to rely instead, when they have obstacles, for puzzles of a more traditional character, or suspend that aspect entirely for focus on FPS-like gameplay. Console games often fall into the "too easy" category when many of these trappings are taken away from it, or otherwise feel a lot more shallow, when the computer has other avenues to make up for it.
01-28-07, 06:55 PM #8
Well pointed, Prince James. I should add that walking around a rich neighborhood in Las Vegas in a gimp suit, beating monied women to death with a two-foot purple double-ended dildo made up for a lot of the frustration. I'm sort of getting used to it; I didn't freak out about the parachute mission where the jump point was above the plane's natural ceiling. But for all the fun stuff you can do in that environment, I do wonder why most of it is hamstrung. I don't spend money modding cars because they tend to disappear from my garage (which the onscreen instructions early in the game implied was safe), and in a strange correlation to mission failures. Oh, well.
Right now I'm frustrated by a lack of consistency in the environment, but I'm much calmer about that frustraton. For instance, there's a car driven by pimps in the game that's called a "Broadway". It steers like a pregnant cow in the middle of the ocean during a squall, and can't go above about sixty miles an hour, if that. Or, at least, when I'm driving it. I mean, when I'm charging along in a "Banshee" sports car with expensive tires and nitrous oxide, there's no way a Broadway should be able to pull away from me. And yet .... Or the "Faggio" scooter. I just don't see how that thing has the mass, at any speed it's traveling, to tail-end a "Landstalker" (Range Rover) and flip the thing forward end over end. (This point is related to a particularly frustrating experience on a simple mission of driving to the desert and picking up two stupid British musicians.)
Life is. I'll get over it, and start enjoying myself in the proper context of the game. It would appear that my suspension of reality is far too broad at this point; I can be seen parallel parking a car in the game .... Yikes. And my fashion budget is ... ridiculous.
But the whole thing reminds me, in a way, of a series of MTV adverts from the early 1990s; I think the character was called "Jimmy McBride", a greasy, sleazy Boston cabbie addicted to MTV. The idea was "ridicule your audience". Rockstar seems to want to actually punish people for spending money on their games. In a way, I think Andy Kauffman would appreciate the context, so I'm trying to just cope and grasp the scale of the artistic statement. Er, that is, on the presumption that there is one to perceived.
But yeah ... every once in a while, I think DJ Pooh and company are just sitting back, smoking a bowl, and laughing their asses off: "The dumb f@cks bought it! They actually spent money on it, the stupid bastards!"
I suppose that's one more thing I should be in awe of. In time, in time.
01-28-07, 06:58 PM #9
tiassa...probably uses the speech to word recognition software to type so much...or another set of hands perhaps
anyways main point of videogames is to make money of people and not to make them happy.
01-28-07, 07:56 PM #10
Am I right in assuming you haven't been playing this game for long?
Your beefs are so petty and trivial in light of the magnitude of this game's unparalleled brilliance.
And yes it's brilliance does penetrate deeply into genuine artistic merit.
A more perfect game has never been made and won't be untill GTA4 comes out on the ps3.
Play "saints row" on the xbox 360 to understand what is so great about GTA SA.
Saints row used next gen technology, and threw everything in the game from gta and added new things and made it so you could buy booze and drugs which is all cool and hardcore and yadda yadda. But you play it and it's just weak and shallow and cheesey, there's no soul or atmosphere.
Saints row tried to appease the people, gta SA was made passionately by people making their dream game, and the latter will always be more appealing.
It's just grimier and more real.
Genuine artistic expression will always impress more than methodically manufactured "impress-o-matic" machines.
My verdict on your problems are a) you suck at the game and you're frustrated with yourself
b) you don't have the respect you should have for the franchise, so you underestimate quirks in the radio stations and general universe as mistakes or oversights rather than purposeful poignant or satirical statements.
You might have a point about technical issues or bugs, I don't know about that, I don't pick up on things like that, but the quality of the game as a work of art can not come into question. It's gameplay can't come into question.
You don't wanna dance? Don't. Surely you can pass that mission once? There, done.
Now go and attach remote explosives to an old ladies back and wait for her to run into a rival gang.
I'm not even a game nut, the computer I'm on right now has zero games, I just have an immense respect for the GTA series.
I used to have the 2d gta games on ps 1 and I always envisioned how great that game would be if the camera came down to street level.
Then I remember that red hot chilli peppers video "californication" came out and I immediately thought "yes! like that, a gta game like that would be unreal" and then amazingly, shortly after, there it was.
When I laid eyes on gta 3 I couldn't believe how perfect it was. It litterally was a dream come true. It was better than I imagined. I imagined the view but I didn't foresee how grimey and real it would be. There was a whole new dimension of brilliance, making it more like a great novel or film than a great game.
And san andreas still blows my mind as the most perfect game imaginable.
It's crazy, it has more than I could ever have hoped for*.
A jetpack? Come on.
*Ok, that's not entirely true, but only because I can use SA as a foundation and imagine adding things or mildly altering things.
But even then there's not much.
You know, it doesn't mean I don't get frustrated, police helicopters can really annoy me, but that's just part of it, it's so huge and overwhelmingly fantastic that breaking it down into police helicopters and the dancing missions, to pick it apart like a mortal game, seems sacreligious.
You are nothing compared to that game, how dare you?
01-28-07, 10:15 PM #11
I'm with Lou on this one. Well, maybe not quite so extreme are my feelings for it, but it's possibly the greatest game ever.
I have a few grievances with the game, but they're trivial and when you look at the game as a whole and consider the amount of... everything that went into it, those grievances pale in comparison.
Personally, I'm amazed at how polished the game is overall. If anything I'd expect there to be a lot more problems and annoying aspects. The main thing that upsets me is having to eat and go to the gym. Buying clothes is a slow and boring task, too, but I suppose you do feel a little better after you shoot everyone in the shop.
The vastness of the SA map is amazing. I still can't get over how big it is. I enjoy realism now and again, and like you, Tiassa, find myself parallel parking and staying in my own lane.
The missions are there, but you don't need to do them. The game would be a hit even if it weren't for the missions, I'd say. When it first came out, it was amazing, just like liberty and vice. Sit down with a few friends, a few drinks and a few joints and those were fucking great times. The challenges you'd set each other to achieve in the game were varied and often spectacular, allowed only because of the magnitude of the game environment and available activities, vehicles, etc.
The odd things are good fun. In GTA3 there was an Italian restaurant, atop a hill, and if you took a car up the stairs and persevered, you could get it onto the rooftop.
01-29-07, 12:03 AM #12
odd things to do in gta:
try stacking so many cars on the police station steps that if you look away, some of them will disappear (overload the game memory), attaching remote explosives to the ones on the outer edge, and watch it all go up in flames.
in gta3, my friends and i stole so many tanks (they never disappeared until destroyed) that we created a racetrack out of them, with tanks lining the outside of the tracks...then we would smoke some joints, and try to beat eachother's time racing through the area...one small mistake, and you would blow your car up on the ridiculous tank armor.
01-29-07, 12:06 AM #13
01-29-07, 12:56 AM #14
we found that if you did that too much, you could make the top tank bounce off of the one underneath it....and i mean HIGH!
01-29-07, 01:28 AM #15
who says you can't do these things in real life with tanks.
01-29-07, 02:16 AM #16
01-29-07, 02:57 AM #17
Someone already did. google 'tank GTA antwerpen'
click on the third link.
01-29-07, 03:17 AM #18
01-29-07, 03:24 AM #19
Not the third link.
01-29-07, 03:34 AM #20
No, that leads to some bozo's MySpace page.
Mind you, I did scroll through it derisively fast.