The Sunday Papers

By Kieron Gillen on June 21st, 2009 at 2:19 pm.

Sundays are pain and a list of reading about games without a pop song. But mainly pain.

Failed.

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78 Comments »

  1. Wisq says:

    To connect two of these two articles together, I think the Team Ico games really demonstrate how powerful unhappy or even just bittersweet endings can be. If Ico or SotC had ended with a sappy reunion and everyone went home happy, I would have been more immediately fulfilled, but they would have lost a large chunk of what keeps them fresh in my mind after all these years. And that includes the inherent sadness of each game’s environment and the mini-”victorys” in SotC, with each killing of a collossus feeling like you’ve just killed someone’s beloved majestic pet.

  2. Wisq says:

    (Well, okay, technically I connected the Ico mention to the first comment in the K&L article. But it was a good enough comment that I retroactively associated it with the article. So, meh.)

    (And yeah, bring back edit!)

  3. rob says:

    Less is More: taking that concept to its logical conclusion, one could happily argue that a written story doesn’t belong anywhere near games, a media which harbours vague notions of interactivity.

    less is more? then nothing is most!

    personally, I’m primarily concerned with films, and for every ‘less is more’ mantra, there’s always an example to the contrary. always.

    ‘less isn’t more, more is more’ – james cameron said that, and I’m sure yajushiro ozu would disagree. the point is, who gives a shit – they both made great films, and while aliens is a rather different proposition to tokyo story, they’re both fantastic films.

    likewise portal and planscape torment – though poles apart, they’re both great games.

    over-intellectualising this stuff is such a massive turn off. a good story is a good story, as far as I’m concerned.

  4. rob says:

    yasujiro*

    (obligatory ‘fix the editing’ comment)

  5. Thants says:

    Ah, but if less is more, imagine how much more more would be.

  6. Arathain says:

    Less is more is a silly phrase. It’s one of the cliches we use to avoid having an actual discussion. I say that even though I used it. Bad me.

    The actual semi-discussion killing answer is that anything can work, as long as it’s done well. Narrative free, atmosphere story like ICO? Great. Hyper-wordy philosophy-fest like Planescape? Also great. Do it well. Quality over methodology.

  7. futage says:

    Windows 7:
    It’s like the step up from Windows 98 to XP. It’s just clearly better. Whether it’s any better for games is arguable, some seem a bit faster, some seem a bit slower and the vast majority seem exactly the same. But it’s so much faster and more responsive at the between-games stuff. You don’t need beefy hardware to run it (it’s considerably faster than XP on my netbook, too). I can see no reason not to use it. Just stick to the 32 bit version unless you have a tonne (>4gb in metric) of RAM otherwise you bring unnecessary strife upon yourself for no gain (stuff which works fine in 32bit often doesn’t in 64bit, particularly things like old games and drivers).

    Narrative stuff:
    I think this question arises from the mistake of centralising narrative in discussion of videogames. Games are not like films or books very much at all but people continue to use those media as the primary comparison and, worse, guide. games and books tend to tell you a story – it’s far more meaningful to think of them as a monologue than a dialogue.

    Games can be anything from lego (or ‘catch’) to interactive fiction where all the player does is progress the story. But even in the latter cases games differ in that the player is the agent (the reader of a book or watcher of a film can feel great empathy with the agent but they rarely become the agent except in a very abstract symbolic way (as in myth)) – a good linear game will make me feel like I made free choices rather than had them made for me.

    I think the best game narratives (or rather good game writing) are not really narratives in the traditional sense at all, they’re context – they set the stage. The actual narrative – the one constructed from what I do as a player – … I dunno, I think it’s of very limited use to think of this as a narrative except as an exercise. Like, I think it would be to miss the point if, watching a kid play with lego, you focussed more on the story they were telling/acting than the decisions they were making and the things they were building.

    So I think when games try to mimic linearly-narrative media by trying to get us to empathise with the agent (as I believe fallout 3 did in places) while telling us things (such as “you care about your dad” (perhaps I didn’t, perhaps I thought he was a dick), they tend to suck. When they show us things (and here the showing can be very rich and verbose) and let us or the agent (depending on how far that’s reconciled) decide what we do and think then they tend to rock.

  8. futage says:

    Edit’s gone again, ey. “games and books” in para 2 should obviously be “Films and books”.

  9. malkav11 says:

    @Howard – just because every iteration of Windows -until- now has been a buggy unusable POS until the first SP at the very least doesn’t automatically mean Windows 7 is. And, in fact, most people I’m hearing from suggest that Windows 7 is, right now, more compatible, stable, and usable than Vista. I mean, I have no intention of installing it because I don’t want to have to go through another OS install to run the release version, but if I could go RC1 to release without the gigantic hassle I’d probably be in Windows 7 right now.

  10. Vinraith says:

    I switch Windows operating systems when forced to to run the games I want to, and only then. I’ve never seen the point of “upgrading” to take advantage of “new features” precisely because I can’t recall a single Windows feature that’s ever mattered to me in the slightest. I’ll upgrade to 7 when I have to, why would I waste time and money until then?

  11. futage says:

    @Vinraith

    I’d generally agree. There is generally no point upgrading things (things in general, not just OSes) unless you have a specific problem which the upgrade solves or the upgrade offers a benefit you can use. I didn’t upgrade to Vista because, on trying it, I found it to be shit.

    Windows 7 is different. It’s mainly down to how it manages memory, it’s nothing magical or owt. It boots faster, it’s responsive to input sooner after booting (in XP I’d have to wait several seconds (SECONDS, man) for the menus and stuff to be actually usable after the desktop appears, in W7 it’s ready as soon as it’s there), programs start quicker, games start quicker, alt-tabbing out of games is quicker by far and other stuff like that. It’s just more usable.

    If they’re not benefits you can use then I dunno. As for money, get the RC and it’s free until next March. I’ll cross the bridge of what to do then when it comes. That’s so far in the future that capitalism might well be abolished by then anyway.

    The downside, and it’s a big one, is that fucking ugly start button they’ve insisted on using. But I resource hacked mine to be a little cartoon stegosaurus instead of a fucking big glowy sphere thing, so it’s soluble.

  12. Howard says:

    @ malkav11
    I’m hearing that too, but you know what? All that tells us is that people STILL have their heads up their backsides with regards to Vista.
    The level of hate that that OS has generated is utterly nonsensical. Sure it was a bug ridden POS upon launch but XP was FAR, FAR worse and was in fact utterly unusable when it was released. Speaking as someone who spends their days configuring, building and repairing PCs I can categorically tell you that Vista is, now we have had SP1, a perfectly usable OS, far superior to XP in every measurable way (assuming you have a decent PC ofc, the other cause for anti-Vista feelings).
    People are raving about Windows 7 simply because it *isn’t* Vista, and that is just pretty darn childish to be honest.
    I’m no fan of anything that M$ do so I am not here to preach the virtues of one of their products over another but this uninformed hysteria over Vista is starting to grate.

  13. verspunken says:

    If Brad Wardell and Stardock want people to switch to Windows 7, then perhaps they should ensure their own software is compatible. I’m running W7, and had a major issue trying to install Demigod using Impulse. Granted, one of the Stardock guys was able to help me out with an update file (thanks GreenReaper), but still, why wouldn’t Impulse download that update by itself?

  14. Jayteh says:

    Actually the Pixar story reminds me of something the Blizzard WoW devs did for a terminal kid.

  15. AndrewC says:

    Kadayi wrote: ‘Cage & Bay or Perlman & Del Toro….’

    Ken Loach directing Benny Hill?

  16. Kieron Gillen says:

    People who don’t like Shellac’s Prayer To God deserve to get dumped, so they can like Shellac’s Prayer To God.

    KG

  17. Web Design Forums says:

    lol @ kieron gillien. nice article. nice read.

  18. Frye says:

    @Howard: You are absolutely right about the unfair treatment of Vista. Never listen to gamers when it comes to judging an OS. They confuse a 2 percent drop in framerate with a bad operating system. Completely ignoring its superior behavior on multicore systems (by splitting up bits of the OS into more processes), the neat precaching (so you use that 4G of ram finally), even little things like automatic defrag when your pc goes idle. More services running IS NOT necessarily a bad thing. I’m getting a little tired sometimes explaining to customers that their nephew who likes Crysis knows shit. I know this is a gamer’s blog but even for us gamers calling Vista BAD is just silly.

  19. Howard says:

    @ Frye
    Thank you. Another person of good sense at last =)
    The main thing I noticed about Vista is that I just don’t crash anymore. XP was up and down lock a bloody yo-yo, especially when playing games. At least Vista can recover from a driver failure and drop you back to your desktop unlike XP that just sits there, locked solid, staring at you in confusion.

    All that said I have high hopes for Win7. M$ seem to have actually listened to feedback and are for once making some smart moves. Of course it could all crash and burn on the day of release but we’ll see. In the meantime I just have to ignore people who froth inexplicably about it without having any knowledge of why it is supposedly good or bad. Ignorance and technology are such a fun combination…

  20. Sinnerman says:

    Less is more isn’t really that good a phrase. Maybe it could be said that ICO is designed in a very Japanese Wabi-sabi way while Fallout 3 most definitely isn’t.

  21. Rath says:

    Re: Windows 7
    I’ve just read this on the wiki article about it;

    “A new version of Virtual PC, Windows Virtual PC Beta is available for Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions. It allows multiple Windows environments, including Windows XP Mode, to run on the same machine, requiring the use of Intel VT-x or AMD-V. Windows XP Mode runs Windows XP in a virtual machine and redirects displayed applications running in Windows XP to the Windows 7 desktop. Furthermore Windows 7 supports to mount a virtual hard disk (VHD) as a normal data storage, and the bootloader delivered with Windows 7 can boot the Windows system from a VHD. The Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) of Windows 7 is also enhanced to support real-time multimedia application including video playback and 3D games. That means the Direct X 10 can be used in a remote desktop environment.”

    Sounds good to me, apart fom it not being available on the lesser editions.

  22. Sonicgoo says:

    I believe the response to Mies van der Rohe’s “Less is more” is Venturi’s “Less is a bore”.

  23. Serondal says:

    Wow, the Pixar story had me crying like a 4 year old girl at work. I hope none of my co-workers saw me :P It is a sweet story but at the same time brings up a lot of fears I have as a father of 2 young kids. I can’t help but put myself in those parents shoes and imagine what it would be like if my daughter was dieing.

    The kid is pretty strong though, she was ready to die and everything. Very surprising little girl indeed. It amazes me that Pixar would do something like that, very hart warming in times like those we find ourselves living in when credit card companies can’t even find it in theri heart to remove a 25 dollar late fee for a starving family.

  24. Kieron Gillen says:

    Serondal: Yeah, it totally got me too and I don’t even have kids.

    KG

  25. Serondal says:

    I forwarded the story to my dad who doesn’t read this kind of blog ect. He is about 20 times more emotional then me he is probably going to be rubbish for a week after reading this LOL. luckily he’s retired and he has time to waste so spending a few days crying non-stop won’t hurt him to bad.

    I cry a bit when I accidently kill a dwarf baby in Dwarf Fotress so you can imagine how easy it is to make him cry! :P

  26. ...hmm... says:

    that is a very sweary song

  27. Crispy says:

    As someone somewhere has said, the ‘Show, don’t tell’ rule in films is superceded by ‘Do, don’t show’ in games. That’s for the interactive element, at least. I think the ‘Show, don’t tell’ rule still applies for narrative-driven games.

  28. Santiago says:

    I believe the best that was done in mixing narrative with gaming is in Braid, where you get to experience the narrator’s realizations about personal evolution through the actual game mechanics. The end scene, when all comes together, could not be better narrated in any way other than through the game mechanics themselves. It was a masterpiece and something completely novel for me.

    Second place would go to Passage for the same reason, in this case making the sense of loss physically tangible (it did make me cry), but there was no actual game there.

    I think the marriage between games and narrative takes place at a much lower level in the mind than in books and movies and the potential is tremendous, but mainly uncharted territory yet.