PlayStation 3 games
If it weren't for developers like [Defiant Development], you'd easily believe that creativity in the games industry is nearly extinct.
But those guys actually manage to take a really old and tired concept – i.e. a first person shooter – and spin it in order to make something else entirely:
A first person shooter.
Seriously. Hear me out.
Warco is a first-person game where players shoot footage instead of a gun. A work in progress at Brisbane, Australia-based studio Defiant Development, the game is a collaboration of sorts; Defiant is working with both a journalist and a filmmaker to create a game that puts you in the role of a journalist embedded in a warzone.
The game itself — the title of which is actually short for “war correspondent” — follows the story of journalist Jesse DeMarco. Players will experience the process of filming conflicts, going into dangerous situations armed with nothing but a camera. They will then edit the footage into a compelling news story. The scenarios range from intense bursts of action to quieter moments as you discuss the events of the day with fellow journalists in a hotel. Though the main mechanic will be filming the action, Warco is also very much about choice.
Well, this is how [WIRED] puts it, anyway. The developers obviously make it [sound a bit more dramatic]:
WARCO lets players shoot and record what they see ‘through the lens’ – framing shots, panning and zooming, grabbing powerful images of combatants and civilians caught up in war. They’ve got AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades – you’ve got a flak jacket, a video camera, and a burning desire to get the story.
The praise that Bioshock has received from other critics is – after having played through the game – definitely well earned. Even though I'm usually not exactly a very good FPS player, I managed to get through the whole game. And it definitely was worth it. The world building in Bioshock is excellent, be its embedment into the historical background, or the rich story that shines through at every corner, or finally the beautifully captured art deco architecture, which simply is a joy to explore and walk through.
Gameplay itself is reasonably varied as well. While some parts leave the player wondering whether they were just added to draw out game length1, the "magic" abilities one receives over time offer enough variation and allow the player to change his tactics over time.
Later in the game, some near-failure states are added: at one point, one continually looses maximum health, forcing the player to react faster. At another, the player isn't able to choose his currently activated plasmid. Not only is the game randomly cycling between the equipped plasmids, but between others as well, allowing the player to test out previously unavailable plasmids – and requiring him to change his tactics to deal with splicers every minute or so.
With Bioshock having distinct horror elements as well, sound plays an important element as well.
Even though they might leave this impression, all parts are able to tell some part of the background story, allowing the player to dive deeper into the world. ↩
One of the reasons why getting into game design right now is so interesting is the fact that part of the business, of the creative process and of the production is still forming – and in a constant state of flux.
While on one hand, game production teams have grown larger in order to produce even more content (after all, many AAA titles boast to have 50+ hours playtime – which is 25 times as much as a normal action film), other people reduced their teams and are producing awesome games with teams of three or four people.
Jason Schreier over at Wired's Game|Life argues as well that games need auteurs: a single person with a vision for a game, as opposed to "design by committee":
Most games, like most movies, are a massive undertaking involving the work of hundreds of people. But many films — the best, some would argue — are driven by the central creative direction of a single auteur. No matter how many other people work on a project, auteur theory holds that it is possible for a single, strong creative vision to shine through. Bringing such a dynamic to videogames could result in stronger stories, more compelling gameplay — and fewer artistic and commercial failures that result from that well-established enemy of the creative process, design by committee.
And, which is even better, the industry is slowly adapting that as well.
Thanks to Gbanga, I just stumbled over the trailer for Journey, the new game of thatgamecompany.
Yes – I will get a subscription for PSN, if necessary, to play that. It looks gorgeous – and it seems to cater to my explorative and non-competitive game style. Definitely looking forward to that!
Just a few games I stumbled over this morning.
Now, a new game called Journey is to be released. It features nothing more than one person and a huge desert one has to cross. And that is all. It has multiplayer capabilities through the fact that one other random player is added to the same game. The players cannot communicate with each other. But they may share the journey for a while.
Not only is this a combination of two of my own, as of yet unused ideas, it seems to have been beautifully and poetically executed as well.
This kind of reminds me that I should get some of those XBox Live Arcade / Playstation Store Points / Credits / Thingies so I get a chance to play Limbo and Flower, some of the other small but exceptional games that are simply a must-play.
I know, I know, I have a tendency to pretty much reblog every feature story from Gamasutra, but hey, they do have a talent to pick out the really interesting questions.
Like morality in games. In an interview with Jordan Thomas and Emil Pagliarulo who worked on BioShock, Oblivion and FallOut 3, they explore what happens when players are given moral choices, how they can be elevated from a simple good/evil scheme, and how players react.
While Thomas is probably correct that few players will say they want to be all good all the time, the feedback on moral choices in games might suggest otherwise. In short, although many games offer up the option to be diabolically evil, most players want to be good. "Interestingly, when we looked at the actual stats for Fallout 3 we learned that a really staggering majority of people chose to play the game as the good guy," says Pagliarulo. "So it's really interesting to me that even though we gave players the choice to be evil, to be the jerk -- most of them chose not to."
Interesting in this article are the comments. A comment by Andrew Vanden Bossche reads:
I want a game that presents me with fun and interesting options, not one that judges me. If evil isn't interesting to players, maybe it's time for a different duality.
Another one argues that sometimes games can evoke that murky moral playground without even offering choice and cites Shadow of the Colossus as one example.