The Sunday Papers

By Jim Rossignol on March 3rd, 2013 at 10:44 am.


Sundays are for feeling the after-effects of too much black beer. As you languidly lounge, longing to recover, you discover a trapdoor in the internet. At first it seems dark, but soon you will see tiny grains of light.

  • Keith Stuart on Far Cry 3: “Freedom within recognisable constraints is the perfect game state – it is textbook design. Far Cry 2 messed this up because everything was so big and soooo far apart, and the systems grinded against each other. Narrative and ludology constantly bickered and occasionally fought, and when the player stepped in and said ‘stop it guys, it’s not worth it’ something bad would usually happen. Far Cry 3 is a regimented democracy in which the aristocracy (the missions) live in benign separation from the proletariat (the open island) everyone knows their place. And there in the background, facilitating the interplay between the two, is the great fast travel system, which lets you gather resources for a mission without having to drive around for hours in a jeep. Exploration is always, always, on your terms.”
  • Tom Bramwell on microtransactions: “I blame the platform holders, to a large extent – especially the console makers. It all goes back to why I found the PlayStation 4 announcement a bit disappointing. Sony and Microsoft’s new systems may have their fair share of innovations, but when those innovations are confined to things like business models, sharing options and horsepower, that’s the only place where corporations like Electronic Arts can concentrate their own new ideas. Perhaps, if PlayStation 4 and the new Xbox were designed with a philosophy that originated in furthering game design, that’s where EA would focus instead.”
  • True PC Gaming have been as busy as ever, with interviews with Deadlight dev and the DmC guys.
  • Ruminations on game music in Read Dead Redemption and Far Cry 3: “The song itself is non-diegetic – that is, it does not “exist” in the “game world”, but is artificially laid on top of that world. When you drive around Grand Theft Auto’s Vice City listening to Gary Numan or Tears for Fears, you are hearing diegetic sound: the songs are being played by Wave 103, one of many fictional radio stations in the game. In Red Dead, the howls of coyotes, the sounds of your horse’s hooves, and John Marston’s speech are all examples of diegetic sound: we are given a clear grounding of where those sounds emanate from. But Jose Gonzalez isn’t riding alongside Marston as he enters Nuevo Paraiso.”
  • This man used to smoke a lot of dope. But didn’t we all? “I remember the remainder of my undergraduate college experience through the haze of a thick cloud of pot smoke. In my senior year I lived with a friend who owned a Mac and a copy of Bungie’s original first person shooter, Marathon. I had enough doses of sobriety to compare playing Marathon sober to playing Marathon while I was baked. The difference was pronounced. Ripping a bong hit before I sat down to fight the Pfhor was a no-brainer, and the late-night smoking and NHL sessions with my former roommates continued as well. If I hadn’t been a film major with no tests to take and nothing to study in my last year of the program I doubt I’d have graduated.”
  • On synergy in games: “Reading and game playing are both about personal growth, but they approach it in different ways. Reading is about being exposed to ideas, expanding your horizons, and finding new ways to view the world. Game playing, in contrast, is about testing one’s self and growing through skill acquisition. You play games on the most basic level to test yourself and improve.”
  • The emotional price of making videogames: “Payton is struggling with similar issues and has become increasingly aware of struggling with a healthy work-life balance since starting to work for himself. “I’ve worked a minimum of 70 hours per week since République began development in November 2011,” he explains. “As I did with Halo 4, I only play games, watch movies, and read books that are relevant to République–that’s my hobby. Making games is my hobby; it’s my passion, and it’s my lifeblood, as I liquidated everything I had to get this sucker off the ground. I even sacrificed my relationship with my girlfriend, ending a five-year relationship.”" Dude!
  • Ruminations on realism: “Games have a huge advantage over the confines of the real world: each game has its own set of rules — its own laws of physics and matter and energy. Every new game we try is a whole new set of rules to learn to live by. We learned early on that mushrooms slide across the ground while stars bounce off it. Walking on steak dinners and hams can instantly replenish our health. Orange portal entrances lead to blue portal exits, and vice versa. Driving a battlemech into a lake helps prevent overheating. And you may not be able to shoot that Sectoid cowering behind that fence, but you can surely vaporize that fence with a well-placed plasma burst.”
  • And, by contrast, an article on games as impressionism: “Impressionism only works as a reflection of some reality, though – in this case, we have to posit the notion of some “real” Whiterun, with a population of thousands, that exists in the “actual” Tamriel. The game is only showing a representation of that city, as best it can. It’s brush strokes of experience that create a loose shape for your brain to fill in. The fact that, of course, there is no actual Whiterun either makes this thought exercise that much more pure or that much more wasteful. Your choice.”
  • Here’s a realism round-table from whence they originate.
  • Be afraid.

Music this week is Jacaszek’s Goldengroove. Also I found this again the other day, and it is the greatest. Shame there is no official version.

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105 Comments »

  1. Matt says:

    But I liked driving around for hours in a jeep.

    • Diziet Sma says:

      And nobodies stopping you, but now you’re not being forced to! :D Everybody wins!

    • Gormongous says:

      Yeah, I don’t think I’m a very fun person to talk to Far Cry 2 about. Every feature that someone brings up as a flaw, I happened to like for similar reasons. There’s no bad in it, just good or different.

      • The Random One says:

        I feel exactly the same way! It feels like all of the bad things are the game shouting at you for expecting an African mercenary simulator to be fun. It was like what Far Cry 3 tried to do, but it succeeded (to a fault perhaps).

      • Arglebargle says:

        Bad design is not suddenly good because you liked the gameplay. I still enjoy playing Master of Orion 3, but I would never call it a well designed game. Far Cry 2 has several absolutely terrible design decisions, and what’s worse, they were known by the developers, but they just couldn’t bring themselves to make a fix.

        • Lyndon says:

          The difference is that those “Bad” decisions are the things people like us liked.

          Guns jamming is a “bad design decision” but I liked it because of that.

          Lack of fast travel is a “bad design decision” but I liked it because of that.

          Respawning checkpoints is a “bad design decision” but I liked it because of that.

          Literally every reason people complain about Far Cry 2, is a reason I liked Far Cry 2. It’s not like I liked the game despite these “faults”, the “faults” are the reasons I liked the game at all. So they’re not really faults are they?

      • quijote3000 says:

        Still, you’ve got to admit, most people didn’t like it, at all. So, that’s the definition of “bad”.

    • phenom_x8 says:

      You would be much more like it on FC3 when your radio turn on this songs while driving :

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYhhoagCQc4

      and of course without respawning guard in every intersection.
      (no..nope doesnt mean FC2 was bad, but driving around in FC3 was much more fun due to both things)

    • InternetBatman says:

      I don’t know why everyone complains about the jeeps in Far Cry 2. Jeeps are far, far slower than boats in most circumstances. I enjoyed aimlessly roaming around the countryside in them. Also, railroads and buses could get you around large sections of the map with little trouble.

      The thing I hated about Far Cry 2 was its willingness to force you to pointlessly travel (one mission had me blowing up shit in the town I had just been in for the last mission), the fact that you had to work for both sides, and the innumerable ways it restricted you. I wanted to kill all the faction leaders early on, and the game should have had the mechanics to support that. I wanted the game to shut up about how I was part of the problem and let me go fix it. I hated the endings. I want to know why the hell you can’t just use your cellphone for missions. I hated to the yellow filter over everything and removed that as soon as possible.

      I will say that the brief period leading up the end where you kill pretty much everyone was cathartic. It should have come half a game earlier.

      • Werthead says:

        Essentially, you’re saying FAR CRY 2 would have been better if it had been FALLOUT NEW VEGAS?

        The think I loved about NV is that you could indeed kill all of the faction leaders (and tons of your followers) and take over the whole town yourself if you wanted. Or, rather than wait for the final massive shoot-out on the dam, you could go to the main bad guy’s camp at any time and, as long as you could handle it, wipe out his bodyguard and kill him and the game would just adapt to it. No one had invincible plot armour and the game was great at adjusting to whatever you wanted to do. I’m not sure if FAR CRY 2 could actually have done that (FPS are more limited than RPGs in what you can do) and kept working as a game, though.

      • Tei says:

        Farcry 2 is a game unplayable for a person with combat awaresness, having random enemies spawn around you its confusing, very confusing.

      • qrter says:

        Basically, you wanted the game to be something it wasn’t trying to be. That’ll never make you happy.

        Far Cry 2 has a pretty specific story it wants to tell you, and creating a situation where you are able to “fix things” isn’t part of that. (This is beside the futility of your proposed fix – kill a leader, best scenario the faction dissipates, reforms into a “new” faction, and on it goes. One of the themes of FC2 is that all the violence just breeds more violence but with different dead bodies.)

        You might not like the story you’re hearing, but that doesn’t mean the storyteller has to change his or her story.

        • InternetBatman says:

          If a game wants to tell a story that’s all well and good, but an open-world game is exactly the wrong type of game to remove a player’s freedom. The article hit the nail on the head when it said story was constantly fighting mechanics.

          Also, I think it’s pretty lame to make a player commit atrocities to progress, and then blame the player for those atrocities.

          • WrenBoy says:

            To be fair though though, its rare to find a game whose mechanics dont struggle against the story. Far Cry 3 certainly isnt an example.

            Far Cry 2 is far from my favourite game but I found the article to be annoying in its criticisms of it. I realise it was a Far Cry 3 article but all the posters on this thread were able to back up their complaints with reasonable examples in no more than a sentence or two.

          • Oozo says:

            The article maybe hit the nail on the head in certain regards.

            However, the sentence “narrative and ludology constantly bickered and occasionally fought” is off.

            ‘Ludology’ is, as the ‘ology’-part of the word implies, a certain way of analyzing games, and thus not on a level with ‘narrative’.
            Sorry for pointing that out, but I find it really irksome to see that the word is used to, it seems, replace ‘gameplay’.

            (I know that the latter has a lot of problems itself, but using ‘ludology’ instead definitely is not a solution to those.)

  2. The Dark One says:

    When the BigDog picked up the block and started stamping about, I was genuinely worried for it.

    • Sam says:

      It desperately needs to pee, but its cruel human creators have given it no urethra. It can only express its emotional state by throwing blocks around.

      In time this heartless state of affairs will be echoed in the last remaining humans really wanting to scream, but finding they have no mouth.

  3. felisc says:

    Through the link in that “Emotional price of making videogames” i ended up on the beer show by G.Zeschuk. Pretty cool. I had no idea he looked like an antifolk singer.

  4. Koozer says:

    About impressionism: game developers fall into the same traps artists did – striving for absolute realism in your work takes a stupidly long time with a ridiculous attention to detail, while never quite reaching their goal. The flaws are generally obvious. Impressionism on the other hand achieves all the same feelings underneath the picture, but with much less time and (physical) effort involved.

    See: Super Mario World Vs. Super Mario 64, Team Fortress 2 Vs. Call of Duties

    • AndrewC says:

      I too believe art should be judged with time and motion studies.

    • Askeladd says:

      Since some time ago I began thinking of games as pieces of art. Not necessarily EA games.
      I can’t really agree with what you said Koozer, because game development as we know it just started a few years ago, and already grew this much. Just compare it to the timespan actual hand painted art had time to develop and how many art genres exist!
      Are you saying we should stop trying to archive realism? But then we’ll never get into the matrix. I hope they fix the stupid AI and not just the graphics.

      Kidding aside.

      For example the good old Hyperrealism: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8c/Fruitbowlwithmelons.jpg

      Also:
      I agree with you that trying to archive ‘realism’ is taking much time, but I look at it in this way:
      When Leonardo da Vinci had painted the Mona Lisa the brush he used was already perfected as an tool. On the other hand game developing is rapidly improving its ways how to create their art.
      It’s like they only just begun building their ‘brush’ and it seems to be a pretty big ‘brush’ that can do almost everything.

      • Emeraude says:

        I’d say you’re mistaking two things here: the technology we use to render things, and the principles according to which we design those things.

        Even if we could render perfectly* realistic games, at decently manageable cost, I’d say what we now about graphical arts so far can make us posit without too much doubt that it wouldn’t be an optimal solution for most games.

        This is one of those misconceptions that plagues any art form before it reaches maturity I guess, the idea that more is always better. It’s been particularly true on the game design standpoint itself.
        The holodeck is an empty promise.

        *: by which I mean not suffering from problems like the uncanny valley.

        • Askeladd says:

          But what we design is dependent on what tools we have to do so. And the tools are made for what we design. It’s a back and forth between the designs we want to make and the technology that enables us to do it. And I’m not just talking about the visual effect when I mean ‘technology which enables us to design’.
          Visuals are one thing but they are more or less limited by the power our systems have and aren’t really needed in every game.
          New hardware like the Oculus Rift is also a tool which helps developers to create their ‘art’ if the ‘art’ they want to create makes any sense using it.

          To make myself clear: I don’t say all games will/shall look like Crysis 2050 or we should concentrate on better visuals alone. I believe visuals are the easiest figure to solve when it comes to realistic games.

        • Sparkasaurusmex says:

          Well that can’t be true.
          If you really look at technology and art, the holodeck is inevitable. It can’t NOT happen. Well, unless we nuke ourselves to extinction first.

          • Dances to Podcasts says:

            When holodecks happen we will be nuking ourselves into oblivion, since every nutter will be able to make a holodeck nuke.

    • Koozer says:

      I think I unintentionally came across a bit biased there. I wasn’t trying to disparage all attempts at realism, I was looking at it more from an efficiency based point of view, and how flaws in realism are obvious. Of course everyone is free to paint/code as close to life as possible, but painting a hyper-realistic bowl of fruit will inevitably take longer and greater skill than doing a potato print, but both should be recognisable as bowls of fruit.

      In the case of Skyrim as the article mentions, the ‘realistic’ landscapes don’t really hold up to close inspection at all – water looks rubbish, rocks are fuzzy and low-res, vegetation is in weird wavy 2D planes. These don’t help when you’re trying to imagine what the ‘real’ Tamriel would look like. On the other hand, something like Minecraft, Dwarf Fortress or Love can give you the impression of a landscape that you can interpret yourself, but without your brain constantly complaining about all the flaws in attempted realism.

      • sjml says:

        I think you’re slightly missing the point of the piece. It’s not about visual fidelity, where, yes, the uncanny valley and technical limitations totally block attempts at full realism. Rather, it’s focused on interactive fidelity, where the relationships between game objects and amount of representation is a fluid depiction that hints at a “true” reality.

        • Koozer says:

          I see that is what the writer is saying and I don’t disagree, but for me ‘hinting at “true” reality’ with the game mechanics doesn’t mesh well with the attempted realism in the presentation. It’s like a reverse Dwarf Fortress; striving for realistic interaction, but with one of the most abstract presentations imaginable (I’m not trying to argue DF is better here by the way, just different!). A better example might be A Link to the Past – that has very abstract representations of reality both visually and mechanically, and they work together so that my brain never quite feels justified in questioning the strange reality.

          • JabbleWok says:

            I don’t know much about computer game reality, but I know wot I like.

    • Gap Gen says:

      I like the Minecraft approach to realism: everything has easily understandable, cartoon logic, and behaves more or less predictably from a simplified real-world standpoint. Provided you don’t try to figure out how to build an iron farm on your own, of course. Village mechanics be some dark magic.

  5. lordfrikk says:

    Whoa, I wouldn’t expect to see Jacaszek here, of all places. His album Treny was one of the most bizzare, yet enjoyable experiences, and incidentally also one of my favourite albums. Too bad he didn’t came even close to replicating the success with the following albums, even though Glimmer was much better than I expected.

  6. Runs With Foxes says:

    I can’t believe we’re at the point where Far Cry 3 gets praised as Freedom Done Right. What a sad state of affairs.

    • keefystuart says:

      Well, I tried to make clear that it’s freedom done right *for me*, for what I want from this particular type of game – and certainly not universally right, for everyone. I know so many people that love Far Cry 2, and I probably would if I had much more time.

      • Max.I.Candy says:

        Liked your article btw. It matches my views also, but do bear in mind that at the time of writing you say you are about half way thru and that the first half (before reaching second island) is the best half.
        Anyway its good stuff and FC3 was my surprise hit of 2012.

    • Max.I.Candy says:

      Its a sad state of affairs when you cant believe that this is subjective, and Mr Stuart even starts the piece with
      “I’m beginning to think that Far Cry 3 may be my perfect game. I don’t mean the perfect game for everyone”.

    • Triplanetary says:

      Yeah I don’t understand how anyone can regard Far Cry 3 as the perfect expression of freedom in gaming. The fucking save system makes it unforgivably easy to lose progress, which discourages free play, and the game is constantly trying to push you back onto the main quest.

      • Max.I.Candy says:

        Speaking from personal experience (obviously); There was precisely 1 (ONE) occasion in the entire game where the save system put me back very slightly from my original position and made me loose approx 60seconds of gameplay.

      • FriendlyFire says:

        F9 to quicksave, F11 to quickload.

        It’s not perfect (won’t reload you exactly where you were), but you won’t lose any progress.

    • i saw dasein says:

      Yeah FC3 didn’t feel free to me at all. The game constantly tells you what to do and forces you to do it a particular way. For example, the assassination missions require you to use a knife and require you to use a knife. Don’t feel like using a knife or sneaking? FAILSTATE. The hunting missions usually require you to use a certain weapon, too. If you want to kill a tiger with a submachine gun when you’re not supposed to: FAILSTATE. The main missions are the same. You’re simply not allowed to complete them in your way. For example, in the mission near the start, Jason has to get something from a wrecked ship. After getting that something, I tried to run off into the jungle — after all, Jason is supposed to be a scared young man, still uncomfortable with killing. But the mission won’t end until you kill every last enemy, for no reason. I can think of many, many examples.

      All of this drives me bonkers, because it removes the best part of Far Cry 2. For me, FC2 is a game about planning. You are given a mission and you are given the freedom to complete it on your own terms. So if you’re given a mission to assassinate someone, you can approach it stealthily, you can find a good sniper perch, you can go in guns blazing or try and use a mortar. You make a plan and then execute it. FC3 tells you what weapon to use, how you must complete the mission, and limits the mission to a tiny piece of geography. It’s stupid and I hate it.

      • drinniol says:

        The knife is only for the assassination target, you can kill everyone else from a hilltop miles away. The hunting missions had no analogue in FC2 so that’s a moot point tbh but it was clearly done to preserve some challenge in the mission.

        All in all I blame the Hyperbolic Internet Machine (Him!) for exaggerating FC2′s problems to the extent that FC3 overcompensated.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        FYI, you don’t need to sneak for the assassination missions. Just select your targets carefully if you decide to go balls-out run-and-gun.

  7. Terragot says:

    From my own experience, the emotional price of making games is a far cry from the emotional price of being stuck in a job / life you have no desire to be in.

    I sometimes wonder what kind of works would appear if we weren’t stuck with the self-obsessed filling director roles.

    edited for clarity

    • Low Life says:

      Hey! I checked your blog and found your piece on Grid-based level design – an interesting read, and just what I needed right now. I’ve been fiddling around in Unity doing some first person stuff and I was kinda stuck with how to approach the level design process, but it would seem like that’s solved now. Found a couple more articles on the subject and it really does seem to be an awesome way to handle things, especially with me doing things alone (and not going for anything too fancy).

      Cheers!

      • Terragot says:

        Hey. Yes, I came from a similar situation – moving from .bsp based world building – and needed a rapid way to prototype and make amends without the workflow of moving from Blender to Untiy constantly. Glad sharing my experiences came to some use.

    • lijenstina says:

      It’s not that simple. Productivity of overtime goes down the more you do it. Your brain gets bored with the same repetitive tasks and you burn out following mostly unattainable mentally set goals and standards. That boredom that creeps into the development sucks the enjoyment out of making the game until the only feeling is to get the damn thing finished and shipped out.

      You don’t feel anything while you are playing the game because you know all the shortcomings of it, all the cut corners, all the engine faults and limitations. You can’t judge it properly. Some time off gets you think about the problems and look it from an another perspective. The leisure time is needed so you can concentrate better your effort at what are you doing. At least that is my perspective on things. If you take them too seriously you are making a way to feature creep, overambitious design that destroys or hurts the game in the end.

      • Terragot says:

        My point was we have an article on people in privileged positions moaning about being in those position. I completely agree that overtime sucks out the creativity, but generally when it kicks in it’s bug fixing time anyway. These people have been given a podium and an audience, and they say making games is thankless, so I’m going to make beer instead. I just think these people would benefit from stepping outside themselves for a moment and looking at where they are and what they have. It would be absolutely disgusting and completely insulting for me to even dare moan about my circumstances right now, and I’ve a fraction the luck these lot have had.

        Heavy lies the crown maybe, but calluses come from the pitchfork.

        • lijenstina says:

          I agree with that. Empathy is often neglected and even ideologically suppressed.

        • Shuck says:

          I know the people who worked on one of the big PC games: 80 hour weeks for over a year; no weekends off, no personal life. Every one of them that was married had divorced by the end of the project. Fast forward 15 years and this group of skilled and experienced workers, the types of people who bring something to an industry, are all burnt out and talking about their desire to leave the industry. And that’s pretty common. Most of the people I know with the most experience in the industry are looking to leave it; the burn-out rate is huge. The industry eats people up and spits them out, as the work practices are abusive. You can keep it up for a few years when you have no life, but after that…
          Frankly those dynamics don’t encourage good work, either. At a certain point, the more hours you put in, the less work you get done overall. Mistakes start increasing, the work quality decreases. And when you have no life or interests outside work, that work becomes the circle-jerk of self referentiality that the game industry has been for so many years. You end up with an industry full of fan-boys making games for other fan boys. That’s been changing, and so have work conditions, luckily. But there’s still something to complain about, for many reasons.

          • Terragot says:

            I much prefer working in game development than I do erecting concrete panels in the cold and wet for 12 hours a day, or working 14 hour night shifts in a hotel, or soullessly answering telephone complains for the local counsel, or being completely ripped from any form of a personal life and broken down into a machine format within the marines. Now I’m not usually one to open up about my past dwellings, but having done all these previous jobs, game development crunch is a joyous diddle.

          • Arglebargle says:

            And those aren’t the usual alternatives. Most game programmers I know have opted to work elsewhere in the computer industry, with much saner results.

        • arccos says:

          Everyone has problems, and they’re important to the person that has them. We don’t really need to compete on who has the worst.

          In the case of overwork in the games industry, there is a problem, and people that talk about it are trying to be part of the solution (changing the culture).

          If you have worse problems, address them if you can, but complaining that others are focusing on fixing their own problems seems rather silly.

  8. The Greatness says:

    Interesting to see a Magic article linked here. Mark Rosewater writes a lot of good stuff, but I thought it would be too Magic-related to link to here.

  9. harbinger says:

    http://www.somethingawful.com/d/feature-articles/gender-video-games.php
    I’m pretty sure it is satire, although after spending enough time on RPS I can never really be entirely sure of that anymore, since some of these articles meant to be serious often go beyond satire.

  10. wilynumber13 says:

    http://www.giantbomb.com/articles/the-little-fighting-game-that-could/1100-4587/

    Even if this game weren’t coming to PC pretty soon, I still think this would be worth reading just to see the huge difference between what consumers think games cost and what they actually cost.

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      And yet a few dedicated modders can do more work than that for nothing

      • JackShandy says:

        For veeerrry strange definitions of “More Work” and “For Nothing”.

      • Brise Bonbons says:

        I’m sorry but this is totally rubbish. Those modders are not doing it “for nothing”, they are donating their highly valuable (considering the skills they possess which enable them to mod at all) spare time to the community at large. You also clearly have no idea how much effort is involved in traditional animation; it would take a team of modder-artists months or years of night and weekend sessions to generate this many frames of animation. And that’s assuming that they never want to cook dinner or leave the house or have a relationship…

        I think it’s ridiculous to bring up modders at all in this context. If anything we as a community should be looking for ways to better compensate modders for their work, not try to drag every small or midsized developer down to the point where they’re all donating their work to the “give gamers free shit so they can afford more Sim City DLC” fund.

      • Dances to Podcasts says:

        I like the bit where one of the commenters points out that those numbers are still ridiculous and everyone falls over him going ‘ZOMG READ THE ARTICLE!’.

        • Hoaxfish says:

          I saw the specific numbers called out on an equivalent Gamasutra article, but I can’t find it right now. I think there’s a little bit of inexperience on both sides.

          How many kickstarters have there been where the final spend is far different from the kickstarter figures.

      • wilynumber13 says:

        Over the course of two years, maybe. I don’t think you’ll find any modder who has made a fighting game character of Skullgirls’ level of quality and work, though.

      • Gargenville says:

        Yeah man just look at these legions of high-res, balanced fanmade 2D fighter characters built from scratch!

      • Kaira- says:

        All those well-made, sounds, 1500 frames of animation and all that for fighting game. Surely modders could do that. Or we could live in the real world.

  11. bit.bat says:

    Keith Stuart’s article points out all the things that I did not like about Far Cry 3 and finds them positive. While I do understand that Far Cry 2 vs Far Cry 3 is a matter of personal preference, reading things like this as positives: “It makes you feel clever without actually demanding too much from you” really makes me sad.

    • keefystuart says:

      Oh no! I’m sorry the article made you sad. I understand your objections entirely – as I mentioned above, I know lots of people who preferred Far Cry 2, and want open games to be profoundly more open and challenging. In some circumstances I agree. It’s just that, for what I want out of an island-based action adventure with lots of pirates and killing, Far Cry 3 does the job perfectly. It understands its constraints and provides the optimal experience within them. As far as I’m concerned that is.

      But don’t be sad – I’m hardly a representative voice in this industry and although Jim was kind enough to link to my article, I suspect you are more likely to find acceptable views from the great writers on this bloody wonderful site.

      • Max.I.Candy says:

        Who also happen to think FC3 was a pretty good game ;)

      • bit.bat says:

        Hey I was not expecting a response, thank you very much!

        I think the sadness does not come from reading the article, its just the general realisation that based on the commercial and critical success of games like Far Cry 3 (and similarily structured games like the Assassins Creed games) open world games might be moving in a direction that I do not prefer. I do not want anyone to think that I find their view unacceptable so I apologise for that!

        • SuperNashwanPower says:

          It’s worth remembering that games like skyrim also had massive success too. I know it’s also not everyone’s cup of tea but for me Bethesda’s is my favourite open world model, with a bit of stalker thrown into the gene pool. Hopefully we won’t only see FC3-alikes in the open world space

          • Emeraude says:

            The problem, of course, being that for many old fans, Skyrim was quite similarly moving in a direction they didn’t like, I mean:

            http://uk.ign.com/articles/2011/10/11/skyrim-the-rpg-for-the-rest-of-us

            Was sadly true on many respects.

          • SuperNashwanPower says:

            Hmm intertesting, and maybe valid point. I am not sure that I am a ‘serious’ RPG player then. When I think of what I would deem RPG, I have enjoyed the STALKER series, Fallout 3 & NV, Dark Souls, Deus EX: HR, Skyrim, some of Oblivion, and am currently playing System Shock 2. I am not sure if they count then :)

            Can you name me some “hard” RPG’s? I would love to check them out (I am a single player … erm, player)

        • keefystuart says:

          No problem at all. I think the beauty of games right now, is that we don’t have to worry about the decisions of a few triple A developers warping the whole industry – there are enough indie and smaller developers doing different things with open-world environments. I really do think that, as systems-based designs become more prevalent, we’ll see an even greater range of ‘sand box’ type games. Far Cry 3 may well be an evolutionary dead end for this genre – if you look at things like Under the Ocean and Starbound – these might be truer expressions of where emergent design might be going.

      • kibble-n-bullets says:

        Full points to both you and bit.bat for being a good sport about things.

        Personally I can’t feel like I’m exploring when everything notable flashes or has an icon above it’s head. It’s impossible to ignore the mini map that tells you where that plant or gem is and which way that bad guy is facing. Of course I modded out the mini map and flashing things but there still were too many questions suppressing a sense of authenticity. How does a green plant become a medical syringe? Where did the syringe come from? Shouldn’t it take a bit of know how to turn this leaf into something I put in my veins? Couldn’t the developers have turned this into a plot focus? Why am I killing every animal that moves and then wearing its bloody carcass? A goat for a pouch and two lizards (or whatever, but not two goats!) for a bigger pouch? What about my brother? Seriously, what about my brother?

        I also can’t believe they made an in game map for one title and then removed it for the next. Like Dead Space never happened.

        Cheers.

        Edit: I gave up after ‘failing’ my first mission, which was entirely linear and forced a skill set I didn’t want to use.

        • Avish says:

          “Edit: I gave up after ‘failing’ my first mission, which was entirely linear and forced a skill set I didn’t want to use.”

          The freedom in FC3 is very limit and not only in the linear story missions.

          - There is only a handful of things you can do in the open world part of the game.
          - You can’t access the second island until you reach a certain point of the story.
          - Even the non-story mission are very restrictive for no real reason (hunt animals with specific weapons, kill target only with your knife, drive to the supply point in a specific, well defined route).
          - The game tells you where everything is (even without buying a map. Just walk a certain distance from a relic and it’s on your map.), you don’t have to explore the island to discover things. It’s not exploration, it’s a guided tour. Besides the whole open- world part feels like a fun and safe vacation, which makes the story look more idiotic than it really is.

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      @Bit.bat – not to worry, I too have been grinding the disbelief axe when it comes to FC3. Reading RPS take on it is like I played a different game to them. Only one writer here reflected my view at the time, It was alec or adam I think. To clarify, I thought it was naff :)

      Its good if other devs start to see open world as the way to go, but done in a way that is not shallow and empty like I found FC3. The open world stuff was good, but all over in a few hours for me, leaving a dead Island and a poor, linear campaign behind.

      • Sparkasaurusmex says:

        When I played FC3 I kept thinking, “What’s wrong with me? This game is supposed to be great!”
        It seemed like a fun theme park for a while, but certainly not a “freedom” type of game or open world exploration.

        • karry says:

          My sentiments exactly, after i tried playing XCOM, which every writer on RPS seemed to get the equivalent of free blowjobs from.

          • Jim Rossignol says:

            Meanwhile: RPS writers enjoying themselves!

            But in truth, the fact that so many comments on RPS amount to “I didn’t enjoy this even though others did” is actually reflected in RPS itself. John wouldn’t even play XCOM, and Alec hated FC3.

            Both of them are wrong, of course.

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            For what it’s worth I think XCom is awesome

          • lijenstina says:

            Start reading metal reviews on the internet. Oh boy. “This is the best thing evar !”
            Then you realize is from the genre of metal you personally despise. :)

          • SuperNashwanPower says:

            “..and Alec hated FC3″

            I’ve always liked that guy :)

  12. daphne says:

    Good on you to link to Mark Rosewater, Jim! That was a pleasant surprise. The man’s a treasure trove of game design knowledge.

  13. HadToLogin says:

    Vote with wallet argument is stupid. I voted for more UT and less GoW and it done shit.

  14. subedii says:

    That article on the emotional price of making games was really good, thanks for linking it.

    To me it shows that there’s still a long way to go towards fighting those kinds of pressures and “the crunch” in order to establish a better work-life balance. It needs to happen at a managerial level, but to be blunt, often times I feel as if the workers themselves are their own worst enemies in that regard.

    Throughout that article there’s this constant, almost nervous refrain that “I’ve had to scale back a little… but that doesn’t mean I’m not as committed as I once was, please please don’t think that!”, as if somehow trying for even a semblance of separation of work from home life, of some kind of work life balance, is still a bad thing.

    And to them it is in some ways. They feel as if they’re not pulling their weight, not COMPLETELY emotionally invested in the product like they feel as if they’re supposed to be. Zeschuk’s quote at the end is extremely telling, that you’re supposed to devote yourself so completely to the project, otherwise you’re not going to get anywhere.

    Frankly, it’s that attitude that’s ALWAYS been the problem when trying to sort out work-life balance in the games industry. There’s almost a disdain in game development circles for people who try to have some semblance of a work-life balance, and that’s terrible.

    An article from a few months back that really grated with me was one from one of the devs at Hello Games, whilst they were making “Joe Danger 2″ for XBL. It’s titled “Loving the Crunch”, and how awesome crunching is supposed to be. Right from the start it showcases that same kind of disdain work-life balance.

    http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-07-29-loving-the-crunch

    No one plays a bad game, and thinks “well at least the team had a good work/life balance”. I want the developers to have sweated and suffered to make it perfect. I thought LA Noire could have used more elbow grease from Team Bondi. I want Ken Levine fat when BioShock Infinite is done, pizza matting his beard (obviously we’d still love you Ken, you beautiful David Duchovny look-alike you). If I passed George R. R. Martin’s house at night and saw no light on, I’d wake him up shouting how he should be finishing Game of Thrones. Work harder and make better things. Making games is supposed to be fun anyway, isn’t it?

    THAT is the kind of attitude you’re dealing with. Personally, I find it horrific, and that this is a view that is so widely espoused throughout the industry is still a major issue. I used to think that The Crunch was mainly a management / organisational issue, but lately I’ve been thinking it’s not just that, the guys doing the work also perpetuate this, and you end up with an industry with an extremely high burnout rate.

    So, he sacrificed himself, the whole team did. They did the “Macho Coder” thing, spending nights blasting away at the keyboard, completely DEVOTING themselves to the game project like all good little workers should do.

    So what was the end result?

    videogamer.com/xbox360/joe_danger_the_movie/news/joe_danger_2_sold_90_fewer_copies_than_the_original_during_opening_month_report_claims.html

    EDIT: I wanted to link this but if you put more than one link in your post it leads to moderation.

    EDIT 2: Aaaand now my post can’t be seen anyway, great.

    Was it all worth it in the end? You did your flagellations at the altar of development, you made sure you completely screwed work-life priorities with all the disdain you said you should have for it. Were you rewarded?

    Maybe I’m missing something since I don’t work in the games industry. And maybe I just do more reading up on this topic than I do for other industries. But the idea that the games industry is some kind of special little snowflake that requires people to burn themselves out and give themselves so completely to the project that nothing else matters, it’s something I don’t agree with.

    This is all subjective. I know a lot of coders would lambast me for daring to say this, but I’ll say it anyway: The biggest problem is simply that people talk about good work-life balance literally as if it’s the antithesis of good game development. And that is such a terrible attitude to have.

  15. frightlever says:

    ” You play games on the most basic level to test yourself and improve.”

    Nope.

  16. Hoaxfish says:

    4chan’s 2nd yearly /v/ga event happened yesterday: http://vidyagaemawards.com/

  17. webwielder says:

    This sums up my thoughts on Far Cry 2 vs. 3: http://www.quartertothree.com/fp/2012/12/03/far-cry-3-may-be-good-but-its-a-far-cry-from-far-cry-2/

    In short, FC2 is an intense, immersive, imergent experience that never lets up, and FC3 is a fun video game.

    Although my fun with FC3 is mitigated by not being able to quick save my position, meaning I can never try anything daring or risky without having a good chance of being sent back several miles, having my map marker removed, and being reminded to go on the next story mission.

    Also, the variety and richness of FC2‘s landscapes was much more enjoyable than FC3′s samey bright green grassland with some trees.

  18. Hodge says:

    BigDog! That thing is awesome.

  19. cervor says:

    That article about Skyrim’s gameplay is conspicuously empty of Skyrim’s gameplay. He’s basically considering world design from a superficial point of view, which is possible with almost any other game, or as pacing and other formal considerations in other media, and is still mirroring the pre-release expectation that it would be actually a good game (or more than good-looking mediocrity). It’s also interesting that he includes numerical considerations, since Skyrim is so empty of any notable first-hand experience to talk about. Maybe it’s a good article for what it does, it’s a stimulating take on it, but it seems to say nothing else than that Skyrim has some good visual world design.

  20. Uthred says:

    Odd how Mr Bramwell missed the large sections of Sony’s conference where both Sony representatives and 3rd party developers talked about the console was developer focused which helped aid innovation in game design. A large number of post conference interviews with various developers mention this as well. Perhaps he wouldnt have been so disappointed if he’d been paying more attention.

  21. Strangerator says:

    Gaming while high – I didn’t realize how prevalent this had become. The author of the article seems to be worried that the anti-gaming people will latch onto this in order to attack gaming.

    My biggest concern… is this why games are getting so painfully stupid? Is being high the key ingredient that is preventing me from enjoying labotomized console experiences? I don’t think developers are targeting this specific audience but it could definitely explain why “stupid sells.”

  22. OfficerMeatbeef says:

    I respect Tom Bramwell and usually like his writing, but his article really seemed to go off the deep end about halfway through? He’s seriously saying that Sony made 2 consoles that were, if memory serves correctly, first rather difficult to develop for and then almost a total nightmare to program for, but that made designers do more new things better because it was so hard to do? Oh and also of course because one of them used a goddamn ridiculously pretentious (and I try really hard to avoid using that word but it seems too perfectly apt in this case) name like “Emotion Engine”?

    First off, the idea that designers will do new and interesting crazy stuff in response to having to implement it in a totally awkward and difficult way seems exactly the opposite of any logical analysis to me: surely the more difficult it is to make things work, the more likely designers will stick to the things they know how to do simply so that their vision will at least be plausibly doable? The PC pretty obviously illustrates that by virtue of its countless actual outlandish and different designs being produced by individuals or small teams daily, largely because they have access to countless tools that facilitate doing this for many skill levels.

    Second, is he suggesting that these companies WOULDN’T have implemented the kind of microtransaction nonsense we see years ago if the infrastructure and technology had allowed it? He speaks like designers are the ones who’ve ever gotten to make these calls in the past; I honestly would be very surprised if any designer (without a significant stock holding in their company, at least) has ever even considered the kind of microtransactions we’re talking about here, much less pushed for them.

    As for the CliffyB blog post Tom’s referring to… all I can say about that is if he’s really honestly trying to argue that Valve’s current use of DLC/”microtransactions” is comparable in any way to how EA/Acti/etc. is dealing with it, he is either significantly and catastrophically overreaching for his argument, delusional, or outright ignorant.

    • Josh W says:

      In my experience, if something is hard to work with, you’ll stick to what you know, but if it’s really hard to work with, you’ll see what you can get to work and go from there.

      So I can easily imagine that the constraints of the playstation 2 led to interesting results.

  23. Bramman111 says:

    No thanks, I have more than enough as it is.

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