Author Archives: kromero2

IF of Kafka’s Metamorphosis

For my final project I am making an IF game through Inform 7 where I am translating Franz Kakfa’s Metamorphosis into an Interactive Fiction game. It differs from the book in that the player is actually going to be playing the sister of the protagonist rather than the protagonist. The premise of the story is that the protagonist is turned into a roach, and the story shows the decay and decline of the the family as they have to deal with this change. Finally, the roach dies and the family is transformed. I am going to convey the metaphor of this to the event of a terminal illness affecting someone in a family to create a more controversial game where you watch yourself reject someone you love, only to have them humanized in the end of the game. At this point I don’t really have any questions as I am pretty far into the process, so any changes would mean alot of other sequential changes in the game.

For the pecha kucha, I found a GREAT site with example presentations.

http://igniteshow.com/

My favorite is the one about the psychology of incompetency. ūüôā

http://igniteshow.com/videos/psychology-incompetence

Do we really have nothing better to do with our time?

I found that I agreed with almost everything that was talked about in the Casual Revolution article. ¬†As the stereotypical casual game player, most of what was talked about hit home. ¬†I thought the discussion about the Wii was really interesting. When it first came out, the people I was around at the time told me that the graphics weren’t great, but that’s because they were focused on the game play and new technology, and the graphics would come in time. Now I realize that the “ok” graphics were done purposely, and it completely makes sense. This game is meant for everyone, and I think the article get it completely right when it says that fancy graphics can be intimidating. My aunts and uncles love the Wii, and I think it is mostly because it is so casual, and not intimidating in any way or time consuming.

On the note of time consuming, I thought it was bizarre when the article talked about how much time people actually spent playing casual games. It sounds like casual game players spend as much time chunking away at their casual games as “hardcore gamers” spend playing their more involved games. So why don’t the casual gamers just play the more involved games since they are going to put that time committment into it anyways? I realized this is similar to watching tv and watching a movie. Often, I’ll get online, and want to watch something light and easy thats not going to force me to commit more than 20-4o min. So I decided to watch Frasier, and before I know it, I’ve watched two hours of tv, so in theory I could have watched a movie with the same time committment and involvement. But I feel like this sort of relationship completely captures the difference between casual gaming and hardcore gaming. TV and Casual games are like the lite version of Hardcore games and Movies.

Finally, I disagreed with one thing.

“The stereotype of the casual player implies that casual game design
should always be easy. This has, in fact, been described as a good rule for
casual game design: “No casual game has ever failed for being too easy.”

This does not seem fair at all to the casual gamer. What fun is a game if there is no challenge? But thinking about it, and then the picture of Bejewled made me realize that this statement is more or less true. There is almost no challenge in clicking boxes that are the same colors. That seems like games that are usually reserved for pre-schoolers, but here is a huge time waster for school-age kids to adults. So I guess I was left with the question, why do people play casual games, what is the purpose? Do we really have nothing better to do with our time?

Offed with Your Head

Relavant to reading and class discussion:  I likes the different Super Mario brother examples of modding in video games.  I thought it might be interesting to see what other sort of forms pacman, the bread and butter of this video game class, could take through modding.

http://www.moddb.com/mods/unreal-pacman

This is a mix of pacman and the first person shooter game Unreal Tournament 3. For more information:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unreal_Tournament_3

I don’t really have anything insightful to add to this, except that it is a very visually entertaining example of a mod for pacman. What I really like about this example is that it is mixing two games, which opens up for a lot of other variations of mixing favorite characters in different games.

Not directly relavant to current reading or class discussion: To quote Jamie quoting a wiki, “every [official] playtester chose to shoot into the crowd of civilians having received no instruction to do so, calling it ‚Äúhuman nature.“‘

I suppose this is just a recurring theme in our class, actions in video games being comparable to actions in life, but calling choosing to shoot into a crowd having receive no instruction to do so, was a bit suprising to me. ¬†IF this is the case, whether it be human nature in life, or just human nature in video games, I’m interested to know what happens when we blend the lines even more between the two worlds.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/blogs/humannature/archive/tags/video+games/default.aspx

“The Human Nature article on¬†Slate‘s cover today is about a military drone-piloting system that looks like a video game but¬†kills real people. You control it with joysticks and buttons. The company that developed it, Raytheon, sees it as a logical progression for recruits who come into the military knowing how to play games like Doom and Halo.

The question is: Will the transition be too smooth? Will these young pilots, reclining comfortably in their “virtual cockpits” in Nevada as their drones fly over Iraq, feel as though they’re playing a game?”

I don’t want to make any¬†judgments¬†because I think this could be a very touchy subject with many perspectives, but it is EXTREMELY thought provoking when we consider that it is our nature to shoot into a crowd of civilians. ¬†Sorry this was so long!

Limited View

In this chapter, Galloway discusses camera angles.  He spends a lot of time on the subjective angle, which would be the angle for a first person shooter game. I found that I had some different responses when I actually tried playing Quake. Galloway suggested that seeing from a characters view helps you sympathize with that character. While this may be true, I found I had a different experience.

Firstly, maybe because I am used to the subjective view used in suspenseful movies, but I was constantly worried about what was behind me. The first-person view in Quake gives close to a 180 view if that, and with people shooting at you, you constantly have to be turning completely around to see what is behind you. This is obviously unrealistic as in life, if you are concerned about something behind you, you are able to look over your shoulder, and in which case I think the overhead view of the game may in fact be more realistic. The basic idea here is that, in life we are more aware of our surroundings than in the FPS perspective, and this caused me frustration while playing.

Secondly, because I was new to this game, I spent a lot of time bumbling around trying to figure out how to turn.  The turning angle of the character is on a 360 point so besides the view not seeming as realistic, and the movement not seeming very realistic, I found myself actually more distanced from the character I was playing, and frustrated with it. In that way, the FPS perspective made it very hard to empathize with the character I was controlling.

Despite all of this, I am completely aware that I felt unnatural in the environment because I had not mastered the finesse of the movements of the game, and I definitely see where Galloway is coming from in that in some situations it might be  more stimulating to be the character rather than to see the character.

Flow

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)

After our discussion in class, I wanted to look further into what others have defined flow as and whether Whalen was describing flow, or describing a trans. This article is really interesting for two reasons. First, it looks at different areas and explains how people in those areas can achieve flow, such as athletes, musicians, and even spiritual flow. Also, there is a graph set up mapping other states of mind that are comparable to flow on an axis of challenge and an axis of skill level. It is really interesting to see where each state of mind falls.

And thus, although it is nondiegetic, the command cooperates with the diegesis rather than threatening it…well obviously.

To be completely repetitive, I felt the same as many of the others in the class in that the reading was suprisingly manageable. It was also very interesting, with a lot to take in. I would say rather than being confusing, it was extremely dense, with many new area’s of video game study to digest. There was one passage that I read several times and still cannot comprehend.

It is perhaps important to stress that, while many of these enabling acts are the center of most games…Thus the “xyzzy” comand in Adventure,¬† which teleports the player character to and from home base, is technically a nondiegtic machine act, but its nondiegetic status is covered over by the narrative of the game, which insists that the command is a magic spell, and thus, although it is nondiegetic, the command cooperates with the diegesis rather than threatening it….This wormhole through space and time reveals the tension often present in games whereby deigetic objects are used as a mask to obfuscate nondiegetic (but necessary) play functions.

On the opposing side, I want to point out one passage I thought was really interesting that I had not considered before which is on pages 18 to 19 and discusses the role of the player within the game.  It was interesting to see a comparison of a relationship between the machine and game itself and the play, and what implications this has on gameplay, and the players role in the game.

Narratives and Games

These articles discuss the role of narratives in games, and whether games can be expected to have a narrative, or whether this is just a projection of what academics want to see in games. There were several areas that I thought were particularly interesting.

The first area is Aarseth’s imagery of the colonizing literary academic in the new found computer-game land. This was really interesting that he immediately sets up this distance between academics of different areas¬† (“academics from neighboring fields, such as literature and film studies, are eagerly grasping “the chance to begin again, in a golden land of opportunity and adventure”). Clearly the articles were quite opposed to literary academics imposing their need for a narrative and a story onto the computer game. Basically, I was suprised that both articles clumped literature, and film into groups as if that was all there was to them. For example, in my literature class I read Grapes of Wrath and of course I fully expected to discuss the narrative. The book was written to be discussed for it’s literary value. In my spare time, I read Reinventing Romeo which I doubt anyone with a degree in English has ever read, much less analyzed for it’s narrative.¬† They are two different products being marketed to two different groups of people. Beyond this basic example, there are books about everything, to suit any academic area of interest. I would say the same is true for art, and film. It seems to make sense, that while video games are still young now, as they develop, they will branch out to provide different areas of study with more specific material.

Besides this, I thought Aarseth made a very interesting case for narratives in current video games by looking at the translation of narratives to video games and video games to narratives.

“but the cultural conventions, such as the setting and character types of, say, Star Wars, are translated. While, as Jesper Juul has pointed out (Juul 2001a), the story of Star Wars is unextractable from the game of the same name, the setting, atmosphere and characters can be deduced. So, although nonnarrative and nonludic elements can be translated, the key elements, the narration and the gameplay, like oil and water, are not easily mixed.”

I would argue that what is so brilliant about translating a book or film to a video game is that the player, in a sense, becomes the narrator, and that’s the main appeal, over the game itself. As he said before, games are as old as stories, and being able to shoot a bad guy is a familiar game, but when you become Harry Potter, and you are in a battle with Voldemort, not only are you the main character, and the constraints of the game, the rules themselves, and your actions all combine to shape the narration and results of the story and game.

I hope this all makes sense!

Gamers Anonymous

World of Warcraft Deprivation Syndrome

While this is obviously an extreme, it does present an interesting counter argument to Caillois. “There is no doubt that play must be defined a a free and voluntary activity, a source of joy and amusement…Finally and above all, it is necessary that they be free to leave whenever they please, by saying: ‘I am not playing any more.'” (Caillois 6)

There are two sides this video could be interpret ted in relationship to these quotes. First, that is does not go against anything Caillois has said because, while the boy is unwilling to leave his game, he could freely leave if he chose to. Being forced to leave is an entirely different matter.

The opposing side would be to say that this boy does not treat this game as an a source of joy and amusement (well, maybe but to a very perverse level) but rather as a sort of addiction. If this is the case, his ability to be free to leave comes into question. When does a game, and play turn from a game and play into something different ie;  an addiction, or a mundane routine to pass time (computer solitaire)?