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mashakos
22-06-2011, 06:20 AM
here is a picture of a newly released ipod/iphone game:

80

Now, I'm almost 30. So I can remember a time looong ago when 2D with more than 16 colours onscreen was the cutting edge. If my 10 year old self was asked to comment on this screen cap, I would say "lame". I would find the art "adequate" but would not excuse the lack of onscreen action or the lame platforming from the NES era.

BTW, this would have been in 1992, when developing at this level of quality required working on art pixel by pixel and coding was done in assembler. This actually took an effort to develop. Dveloping at this level today probably does not even need programming, but lame kiddie "scripting" or maybe even just simple editing using a game maker.

So, WTF indie devs? Indie developers used to be known for taking risks and putting their heart and soul into their debut projects. There were groups on the old computers that released Public Domain titles that had a level of quality that matched the big name titles. Have all indie devs gone soft, or are they hoping to make it big with the least amount of energy possible?

At least there are some who are still carrying the torch:

81

82

amandachen
22-06-2011, 07:10 AM
"Indie" doesn't mean all the things you think it means. Yeah, different games have different graphical styles. So?

sinomatic
22-06-2011, 07:12 AM
Indie does not automatically mean deep/meaningful/creative/original/clever/intelligent/artsy or any other of those things. There's a huge demand for games now, given the ubiquity of mobile computing devices. (Some) People want basic, easy to play games, and (some) small devs will provide basic, quick to make products for them. There's room for that, alongside the indie devs who are making quality products that rival AAA titles, or producing less mainstream, less commercial games exploring existential angst and the like.

J Arcane
22-06-2011, 07:15 AM
You complained about pseudo-retro graphics, and then posted a screenshot of Super Meat Boy as a counter example.

Huh?

Rakysh
22-06-2011, 07:24 AM
I think he's all joking and shit. I agree it's hard to tell. And I think people being exposed to gaming for the first time can play things from history without saying "lol super mario ripoff" and so there's a gap in the market for that sort of thing.

mashakos
22-06-2011, 07:28 AM
"Indie" doesn't mean all the things you think it means. Yeah, different games have different graphical styles. So?


You complained about pseudo-retro graphics, and then posted a screenshot of Super Meat Boy as a counter example.

Huh?

both of you are missing the point I'm making. Whether it's Unreal Engine 3D or 2D pixel/vector art, it should be compelling. Most of the stuff coming from indie devs is lazy, uninspiring or plain broken. I should have added a pic of World of Goo in there as well.

amandachen
22-06-2011, 07:32 AM
Most of the stuff coming from indie devs is lazy, uninspiring or plain broken.
Well, that isn't a problem confined to indies, is it?

mashakos
22-06-2011, 07:33 AM
Indie does not automatically mean deep/meaningful/creative/original/clever/intelligent/artsy or any other of those things. There's a huge demand for games now, given the ubiquity of mobile computing devices. (Some) People want basic, easy to play games, and (some) small devs will provide basic, quick to make products for them. There's room for that, alongside the indie devs who are making quality products that rival AAA titles, or producing less mainstream, less commercial games exploring existential angst and the like.then why are bad games being praised just because they're indie? Hey if a starving developer make some basic mobile game for casual audiences to pay the bills good for him/her, but I get annoyed when this phoned in game gets press coverage from the gaming media (which should be catering to actual gamers btw) while others who might be working on something significant get ignored because they're not playing PR agency.

mashakos
22-06-2011, 07:35 AM
Well, that isn't a problem confined to indies, is it?
Gamers and critics are much more discerning where AAA titles are concerned.

Rakysh
22-06-2011, 07:38 AM
Thing is, compelling graphics is subjective. I think the first one is nostalgic and such, which I find quite compelling. And I think indie games tend to have to survive on their own merits a lot more than AAA games.

sinomatic
22-06-2011, 07:41 AM
Can you be a bit more specific about which games you're referring to?

Also, your original argument was about the quality of games, rather than how the press respond to them. Do small, 'worthy' games get overlooked for crappy ones that know how to sell themselves? Yes. Does this happen in every single creative medium? Yes. Is it right? Of course not. But that's why we comes to places like this that will champion the cause of the lesser-known-but-worth-looking-at.

And I'm not sure I believe in the line of 'actual' and 'casual' gamer. Its a vague, cloudy divide that helps neither side.

amandachen
22-06-2011, 07:43 AM
These days, you can find a bazillion bedroom-coded games at the click of a button. Sure, most of them suck and most of them aren't ever going to be properly completed.

But what can you do about it (except whine)? Well, what you can do is throw money at a developer who you think makes good stuff. Like Cliffski. He makes good shit and also has a good attitude about it.

Anthile
22-06-2011, 07:43 AM
Independent developers are hardly a homogeneous group. Look at me, I'm an independent developer myself (well, barely) and all my skills are self-taught. On the other hand you get people like 2D Boy, who are former EA employees, or Number None, who developed Braid on a $200,000 budget and hired a professional artist. Most other independent developers are somewhere between those extremes. Hell, I think most of them would be happy if they even had something they could unironically call budget.

Don't like the graphics? Don't buy it.

J Arcane
22-06-2011, 07:44 AM
Meat Boy's visuals are incredibly drab and parts of it's play mechanics are seriously ill-considered, and the Hawken shot you posted is purer "bloom-n-brown" than I even see from mainstream developers anymore.

"Indie" just means "no publisher". Doesn't say much about the quality, and that's not anything new. It's been going on since the days when we called it "shareware". And beyond!

I mean, come on, Passage? Really?

I kind of get where you're coming from on the retro graphics, they're often an excuse not to bother with decent art assets, but well, when you're a tiny indie studio you're pretty much stuck with whatever you and some mates who'll work for free until this thing takes off can pull off. It's a situation I know all too well as a hobbyist game designer, and as a writer who's recently dabbled in comics. But at least with the former hat, I have the option of dialing it back to what I can actually draw, and it even helps the game look "trendy" to the right audience.

mashakos
22-06-2011, 07:49 AM
Can you be a bit more specific about which games you're referring to?

triple A titles that have been panned by critics or bad indie games that are seen as classics?


Also, your original argument was about the quality of games, rather than how the press respond to them.

how the world responds to mediocrity influences it's propagation, so it's important to talk about the standard of quality and it's acceptance.

amandachen
22-06-2011, 07:59 AM
how the world responds to mediocrity influences it's propagation, so it's important to talk about the standard of quality and it's acceptance.
Should I whine about your typos? There's a lot of bad art, bad writing, bad software, and bad opinions on the internet. We just have to live with it.

mashakos
22-06-2011, 08:05 AM
Should I whine about your typos? There's a lot of bad art, bad writing, bad software, and bad opinions on the internet. We just have to live with it.
so, the next time another Kane & Lynch is released, I should accept that all coerced critics consider it the best game ever made?

sinomatic
22-06-2011, 08:17 AM
I'm just a little confused at the overarching argument here - you are annoyed at indie devs for not making games that are graphically pretty/compelling enough (which is highly subjective in itself, and an argument that can be levelled just as easily at non-inde devs).

You're then annoyed at the press for some of these 'phoned in' games for getting press attention just because they're indie. Though you haven't given any specific examples, so its hard to know whether the games that you think got more attention than they deserved is something the rest of us agree with or not.

Bad games, of any level, are going to get good press attention sometimes. For a variety of reasons. Because the devs have previous goodwill, because there is a huge marketing campaign behind it, because its cheap/free, because its controversial etc etc etc.

Its horrible (and I very much doubt you'd get much disagreement on that point), but the only way round it is to go to sources that you trust in the gaming press. Which, I imagine, is why we're all here at RPS in the first place.

mashakos
22-06-2011, 08:21 AM
"Indie" just means "no publisher". Doesn't say much about the quality, and that's not anything new. It's been going on since the days when we called it "shareware". And beyond!
yeah... but before the internet, you would only be aware of good shareware/PD. There were a few times when CU Amiga or Amiga Power would feature a bad indie game to mock it into oblivion, but that would be the extent of the exposure to crap indie titles.

Nowadays we're flooded with these so called indie "classics" that are either straight copies of older games or just plain bad games.
Example of average indie game blown out of proportion: Cave Story
Example of straight up bad indie game: Yume Nikki

It's too bad because this mixture of diamonds and dirt leads people to steer clear of indie altogether. I recommended World of Goo to a co-worker who still keeps his NES in his living room and the first thing he asked me was "made by which company?". He lost interest once I mentioned "indie"

amandachen
22-06-2011, 08:45 AM
the first thing he asked me was "made by which company?". He lost interest once I mentioned "indie"
Publishers and developers are two different words. Figure that out and then explain it to your friend.

mashakos
22-06-2011, 08:49 AM
Publishers and developers are two different words. Figure that out and then explain it to your friend.
lol, are you mad at me?
EDIT: most people don't know the difference (or care)

amandachen
22-06-2011, 08:58 AM
EDIT: most people don't know the difference (or care)
Figure out the difference before you start a forum thread about it.

mashakos
22-06-2011, 09:00 AM
Figure out the difference before you start a forum thread about it.
yup, sounds like you're pissed.
Being a software developer myself, I should be able to tell apart a publisher from a developer e.g. Tim Schafer

EDIT: Since you threw your hands up in the air, I'll add this for the thread.
A lot of gamers my age, with little free time and responsibilities, who got burned by trying games that grew popular by word of mouth (whether indie or from a publisher) end up sticking to the sources that brought them great titles in the past. For my friend, that translates to a narrow selection of AAA publishers and developers: Nintendo, EA, Guerrilla Games and Naughty Dog.

He just doesn't take recommendations any more because he can't tell if a game is good because of it's own merits or because of the current hype surrounding it.

It sounds strange but lack of time makes people very cautious and even conservative in their choices. That's why RPS is my salvation. Would have left PC gaming if it wasn't for this site.

Anthile
22-06-2011, 09:18 AM
yeah... but before the internet, you would only be aware of good shareware/PD. There were a few times when CU Amiga or Amiga Power would feature a bad indie game to mock it into oblivion, but that would be the extent of the exposure to crap indie titles.

Nowadays we're flooded with these so called indie "classics" that are either straight copies of older games or just plain bad games.
Example of average indie game blown out of proportion: Cave Story
Example of straight up bad indie game: Yume Nikki

It's too bad because this mixture of diamonds and dirt leads people to steer clear of indie altogether. I recommended World of Goo to a co-worker who still keeps his NES in his living room and the first thing he asked me was "made by which company?". He lost interest once I mentioned "indie"

Okay, I'm outta here. Good day to you, sir, or whatever people in your alternative universe say when they're done with the discussion at hand.

SeanybabeS
22-06-2011, 09:24 AM
You do seem rather scatty on the point you're making though.

First it's graphics (or visuals) in indie games. Then it's the compelling nature of indie games. Then it's media/critics reaction and elevation to indie games. Now the point is that the people you know won't step outside AAA publishers and your inability to draw them in to indie games?

Some Indie Developers are doing wonderful, innovative and compelling things and others are filling gaps in the casual gamer market. Just look at the devs doing the things you like and support them.

TheLastBaron
22-06-2011, 09:26 AM
so, the next time another Kane & Lynch is released, I should accept that all coerced critics consider it the best game ever made?

First of all, K&L is not an indie game, second it was given negative reviews by most critics. K&L2 got a 4/10 on Eurogamer.
I don't understand what your overall point is. Are you saying indie games are inherently bad? Are you saying that every indie game is considered a classic by critics? As far as I've seen the only indie games that have been given much press and have been unanimously praised by critics have been good (i.e. SMB, WoG, Minecraft, ect.) If you point is that there are alot of indie games and most of them are shit, well then you should read up on Sturgeon's Law (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturgeon's_Law)

Doesn'tmeananything
22-06-2011, 09:31 AM
Your argument here is confusing, if a bit ridiculous. So you complain that the majority of indie games are crap. Well, that's hardly any news, as it is quite so in any form of media where only minuscule percentage of stuff is actually worth your time. Being 'indie' doesn't have the prerequisite of being good, it never was that way.

Also, I'm not sure that your examples were indeed that illustrative. By your logic, some harmless retro-styled little game, on a platform that is famous for providing quick entertainment on the go, heralds the decline of the whole indie-games development industry? Going into highly subjective field of visual style wasn't that good of idea, too, since people here showed both sympathy and disdain towards that iPod game and SMB plus Hawken respectively.

And then you say that some games are praised, and gratuitously so, just because they are 'indie'. For some reason, this time you're quite chary of giving any examples. I just don't know. Incessantly shifting from your original point doesn't help either.

Edit: Okay, what is wrong with Cave Story?

arienette
22-06-2011, 09:43 AM
An astonishing number of logical fallacies in your argument mashakos, I suggest if this debate is to go anywhere you boil it down to one or two main points. Give reasons for your thinking and significant examples.

Wolfenswan
22-06-2011, 10:53 AM
Look at my post (okay you're probably doing this right now but whatever). Now look at my signature. Click my signature. Listen to it and repeat as necessary. Go on with your life.

Malawi Frontier Guard
22-06-2011, 11:06 AM
Look at my post (okay you're probably doing this right now but whatever). Now look at my signature. Click my signature. Listen to it and repeat as necessary. Go on with your life.

I disabled signatures but I'm damn sure I know what you got in there. Good advice.

amandachen
22-06-2011, 11:19 AM
yup, sounds like you're pissed.
Being a software developer myself, I should be able to tell apart a publisher from a developer e.g. Tim Schafer
Okay. Are you saying Tim Schafer is a publisher or a developer?

lhzr
22-06-2011, 11:31 AM
can't tell for sure whether this is a troll thread or just a plain old stupid one. i'm inclining towards the latter, though, because the OP seems honest. either way, it's nice that people still have the energy to try and educate random other netizens with regards to basic, common sense stuff.

mashakos
22-06-2011, 11:53 AM
Most of my posts in this thread are replies to statements. To get the thread back on track I will ask this question: Why has the indie scene degraded from it's heyday in the 80's/90's ? (please keep your sanity and do not compare indie games with those released by major publishers. Also, if you weren't around during the PD scene it's ok to not answer.)

I think this question could be expanded to include all of software development. You don't see any present day Steve Wozniaks popping up with revolutionary new systems, it's all big corporations drip feeding us incremental updates to gigantic products that honestly cannot be rivaled by individuals.

somini
22-06-2011, 11:54 AM
If it wasn't for you I would never know about the first game you presented, but then you said it was a really bad game. Then you complain about praising and giving publicity to bad indie games...
I call Tim Schafer into the thread without clarifying tour position whether he is the devil or the messiah of games.
You say the Cave Story is a bad game.
Your "narrow selection of AAA publishers and developers: Nintendo, EA, Guerrilla Games and Naughty Dog" have maybe a couple of games published for PC, but you say you are a PC gamer at heart, and the RPS is your salvation.

What the Hell?

mashakos
22-06-2011, 11:55 AM
Okay. Are you saying Tim Schafer is a publisher or a developer?
My best guess is it's some kind of a hat :/

mashakos
22-06-2011, 11:56 AM
You say the Cave Story is a bad game.
didn't say it was a bad game. Read: average indie game

It's alright, but it's not Citizen Kane.

somini
22-06-2011, 11:58 AM
Most of my posts in this thread are replies to statements. To get the thread back on track I will ask this question: Why has the indie scene degraded from it's heyday in the 80's/90's ? (please keep your sanity and do not compare indie games with those released by major publishers. Also, if you weren't around during the PD scene it's ok to not answer.)

I think this question could be expanded to include all of software development. You don't see any present day Steve Wozniaks popping up with revolutionary new systems, it's all big corporations drip feeding us incremental updates to gigantic products that honestly cannot be rivaled by individuals.

So you are saying that all indie games are bad, because they can't compete?
Tell me 5 good indie developers from the 90's. I will tell you 5 that appeared in the last year, and they are at least as good as those older ones.
And all that conspiracy theories about big companies, really? Can you try to NOT play COD? You can avoid the "big corporations drip feeding" by not playing their games...

arienette
22-06-2011, 11:58 AM
Why has the indie scene degraded from it's heyday in the 80's/90's ?

Please state why you think it's degraded, and why you think it was better in the 80's. Because as far as I can tell, it's bigger and better than ever. The last five years have seen an indie explosion. Be it PC, XBLA, PSN, iphones or whatever.

somini
22-06-2011, 12:01 PM
didn't say it was a bad game. Read: average indie game

It's alright, but it's not Citizen Kane.

But it's a game, not a movie!! What kind of comparison is that?

And can you tell me a better indie game than Cave Story? Do you even know any?

lhzr
22-06-2011, 12:02 PM
so, mashakos, what you're saying is that you have a problem with people liking stuff that you don't. the solution here would be to relax, not to make a thread about it.

mashakos
22-06-2011, 12:03 PM
And can you tell me a better indie game than Cave Story? Do you even know any?
that's easy (http://www.anotherworld.fr/anotherworld_uk/)

somini
22-06-2011, 12:09 PM
that's easy (http://www.anotherworld.fr/anotherworld_uk/)

Wait,what?? Anoher World is an indie game?? Ok, I'm out of here, this is a troll, plain and simple. Someone lock this thread.

About Another World
"he began to seek a publisher for the game. He first spoke to his former employer, Delphine Software"
"Upon publishing, Delphine did not perform a playtest of the full game, only having previously tested the first portion of the game. Delphine's U.S. publisher, Interplay undertook a full playtest"
in here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Another_World_%28video_game%29)

mashakos
22-06-2011, 12:14 PM
Wait,what?? Anoher World is an indie game??
I was referring to the 2006 remake. Nice wiki skills though! :)

soldant
22-06-2011, 12:28 PM
Nice debate guys. I actually partially agree with the OP. Not fully, and I don't think all the examples are good, but I'm definitely seeing a shift in the indie scene where people seem to excuse horrible platformers because "they're artistic". I can't believe how many times I've seen people rant and rave about some "fantastic" game done entirely in pixel art with terrible gameplay mechanics because it talks about... oh, I don't know, the story of a flower petal as it falls onto a still pond and the effects of that resulting ripple.

I agree with everyone else that indie games are not instant gold and there are just as many crappy indie games as there are games from the major publishers, but it seems to me that people will often blatantly overlook significant flaws or an obvious lack of effort just because a pretentious story or message was slapped onto the "game". But it's pointless arguing about this; developers can make whatever they damn well please, whether it's a good game like Terraria or a load of overhyped, unimaginative nonsense like The Path. Seriously sometimes I think some devs just want to push a viewpoint and decided to making a "game" (such as they are) is the perfect vehicle for it.

lhzr
22-06-2011, 12:33 PM
Dveloping at this level today probably does not even need programming, but lame kiddie "scripting" or maybe even just simple editing using a game maker.

someone's jealous, i think. got bored with debugging sql calls, mr programmer? feel like you could do so much more with your programming skills? feel like you're wasting your life away slaving in a cubicle just so the Man can get richer?

perhaps you could find more constructive ways to channel your frustrations than hating on indie devs, eh?

that'll be 50 bucks. but since problems are rarely solved just with one session, keep in mind i offfer 10 for the price of 9.

RobF
22-06-2011, 09:15 PM
Another World? Why is it that people praise bad games like that just because they're arty?

Yeah, yeah, I'm going to hell. Anyway. Can we just make one thing clear, pretty please?

No-one really praises shit indie games because they're indie or arty*. Most of the time, best case scenario for a shit indie game is that it'll get completely and totally disregarded and you won't hear diddly about it on most of the websites in the universe. Other times, you'll probably hear everyone pointing out that actually, it's a shit game.

If you're hearing about it via word of mouth and someone saying they liked it? Chances are, they probably liked it, right? I mean, that's more logical and sensible than some crazy conspiracy where bad things get praised unlike in the old days where Mr and Mrs Cockitup went on holiday and it was all fluffy clouds. Except for when Mr & Mrs Cokytupp (http://twitpic.com/5fcrya) went on holiday, obviously.

I say this as someone who's been on both sides of the fence. One writing about games and the other writing games. Whilst there's some I've took a hammer to for being truly soul destroyingly terrible, most I just ending up ignoring because it's one guy in his bedroom and whilst there's no excuse for a bad game, there's no excuse for being a totally bad person either.

There's no shift in the indie scene either. Well, not like that anyway. Here's what's happening.

We're at this brilliant stage, something I've wanted to happen for bloody years now and we're pretty much there. We've not got it quite right, but opportunity wise, we're right here: Anyone can make a game now. You don't need C++, you don't need ASM, you don't need to code to the metal. You don't need a fully featured roll-your-own-gamedev-style-3d-engine. Mainly, you just need an idea.

So more people are making games. Along the way, some people will make brilliant games. Other times, people will make shit games. As someone who's been doing the indie thing since 2002, that's the way it's always been in the 9 years I've been making and writing about games and as long as I can remember (http://twitpic.com/4sgzzc)

There's more people making games. A lot of the people making games are making their first game. A lot of them are doing it not for financial gain but just to make games. I think that's cool. I don't get stabbed up by bad videogames. That's all cool. Once upon a time, I made crap games. It's a good way to learn is making crap games.

I'd far sooner folks be making games full stop than not. I'll take the chance of 50 crap games for the chance of one good one coming from someone who wouldn't/couldn't have made a game before. That's a price worth paying to me. Plus, y'know, I don't actually have to play all the flavours of games.

And, of course, there really isn't an indie scene to "shift". But that's a whole other rant.

*I mean, there's probably some sites out there in the universe that thrive on saying nice things about rubbish games as long as it keeps the flow of review copies coming or something but there's probably two of them and only one kid and his mum reads them. And IGN. Hohoho.

TheLastBaron
22-06-2011, 10:44 PM
Yes or No question: Are you saying that there have been no good (not average) indie games to come out in the last 5 years.

soldant
23-06-2011, 01:53 AM
I'd far sooner folks be making games full stop than not.
A lot of them are hardly qualifying as "games" though. They're more like "interactive art", and not particularly good "interactive art" at that. While I agree that it's good that there are more people trying their hand at game development, it's also becoming a rather useless vehicle for transporting pointless and ridiculous social commentary delivered by ridiculous text messages designed to be "thought provoking".

That I think is the key issue: these art-types who are interested in pushing their message, not an actual game, shouldn't be pretending to make games. They should move on to other form of art. The "gameplay" is flimsy at best, yet people will excuse it entirely because it has some sort of message attached. The point I was trying to make was that the progressive rise of this segment of the indie "scene" (probably a poor choice of words) seems to get away with making bad games purely because they have a vague message attached with some sort of ridiculous artwork.

How about The Graveyard? (http://tale-of-tales.com/TheGraveyard/) It's described as a "computer game" by the authors, but the entire game is walking forward to sit on a bench. After that a song plays that talks about death. There's no real gameplay, which the authors admit. These kinds of things shouldn't really be called "games". Heavy Rain probably only just qualifies as a game due to its quicktime events and occasional requirements for careful movement of thumbsticks or button presses.

People will always make crap games, it's one of the ways people learn. I've been trying my hand at making games for ages and I still haven't made anything worth releasing (IMO), but then again I do it mostly to learn about what goes into games rather than actually delivering something. But this strange new creeping sector of "artistic games" firmly resides in the indie sector because apart from a few exceptions, nobody's going to want to sign them because they're not games, they're just interactive pieces of art. That said at least most devs of these "games" don't have the audacity to charge for sitting through their pretentious message.

Basilicus
23-06-2011, 04:51 AM
or a load of overhyped, unimaginative nonsense like The Path.

Is it quite possible in your imagination of imaginations that different people enjoy different things? The Path involved quite a lot of gameplay and discovery of the world. It's the only game I can think of to approach and talk about rape in a mature, emotional way. It's also one of the few games I can think of that allow you to see the same worldspace through the perspectives of different characters and understand it beyond the simple mechanic of "different characters have varying attacks/strengths/speeds."

You might not like an abstract game, but that hardly means it's unimaginative or doesn't do something important. I found it to be a very valuable experience and one of the more chilling games out there.

Then take something like Super Meat Boy. It's all about perfecting a technique. There's very little story or worldspace to get lost in because all it is is gameplay - nothing else. No creation of a universe has taken place; I look at it and see an overlong ripoff of N-Game. I don't like it, but I can certainly see how others do. Gameplay for gameplay can be a wonderful thing - it's just not often my bag. Gameplay for exploring a new world and understanding new characters and a compelling story? Now that's what I like.

To me, gameplay is empty without the universe around it being full and detailed and passionately created. You still need gameplay to be there in some form or other, but the gameplay without the universe supporting it? Not my bag.

vinraith
23-06-2011, 04:57 AM
Is it quite possible in your imagination of imaginations that different people enjoy different things? The Path involved quite a lot of gameplay and discovery of the world. It's the only game I can think of to approach and talk about rape in a mature, emotional way. It's also one of the few games I can think of that allow you to see the same worldspace through the perspectives of different characters and understand it beyond the simple mechanic of "different characters have varying attacks/strengths/speeds."

I'm curious, what exactly did the Path actually say about rape in your opinion?

To me, especially after reading interviews with the creators after playing it, it seems like one of the most sickeningly manipulative titles I've ever played. Rape imagery was used to create a generally disturbing atmosphere and... that's it. If there was a commentary in there, I couldn't detect it, and the devs as much as said they didn't know what they were trying to say either. This is not a topic you use as window dressing to make your game scary, I find it difficult to articulate just how vile I find that. Suffice it to say I'll not be purchasing or playing any of the future output.

soldant
23-06-2011, 05:35 AM
Is it quite possible in your imagination of imaginations that different people enjoy different things?
Entirely. But like Vinraith said, The Path was little more than a poorly defined message tacked on to a ridiculous game. There's nothing deep or meaningful about it at all. Having dealt with actual victims of rape, I'm honestly surprised that anyone would believe something like The Path could even come close to relating to such an experience. I don't know if I'd call it manipulative, but it's certainly not deep at all. Also The Path is suitably ambiguous that you could twist it into anything you like, sections only may be interpreted as rape. It's pretty clumsy in its approach in that way. People have come up with all sorts of different answers to what The Path actually means, because there's no clear direction in it at all. And the developers probably did that on purpose; making up something totally ambiguous means that other people can do the work for you to find "meaning" in what you've made, whether you intended it or not. Unfortunately The Path doesn't even manage to do that particularly well, so it's a ham-fisted approach.


You still need gameplay to be there in some form or other, but the gameplay without the universe supporting it?
I agree that gameplay without context is next to useless in today's gaming world (it worked in the 80s/early 90s, and that was it) but the "context" that some devs are using are flimsy and come off as someone raving about white paint on white canvas. Ambiguity does not automatically mean something is abstract and artistic; it often just means it's poorly defined. Many of these "games" seem to be using this technique to consider themselves "intelligent" which frees them from gameplay (like making a totally linear path with little to no interaction). Going out of your way to be ambiguous requires no effort. It's like assembling a bunch of vaguely-connected items in a dark room containing a scared child and people saying it's a metaphore for a lost childhood. It's like the PS3 crying doll commercial. It's like Marcel Duchamp's Fountain. Oh wait, of course it is, the devs for The Path mention his definition of art in their interview. Their interview (http://www.bit-tech.net/gaming/pc/2009/04/08/the-path-interview-are-games-art/3) practically supports my viewpoint, where they say "If there is a message that we are trying to communicate in our work, then it must be that there are no absolutes". And later: "Everything in the game was intended to be confusing and vague." It's not hard to be vague and confusing, you just need to be incoherent and inconsistent. That doesn't suddenly make for a great game, a great piece or art, or a great union between the two.

If you really enjoyed it, then that's fine, nobody's saying you can't enjoy it. But these kinds of "art" receive way too much praise and attention for what they are. They're barely games. They're barely art. They only succeed because they stick out like a sore thumb in the landscape of gaming, which is exactly what artists want: exposure.

Basilicus
23-06-2011, 05:35 AM
To me, especially after reading interviews with the creators after playing it, it seems like one of the most sickeningly manipulative titles I've ever played. Rape imagery was used to create a generally disturbing atmosphere and... that's it.

I'm not sure how they were supposed to include it in an experiential game, if not via the atmosphere.


If there was a commentary in there, I couldn't detect it, and the devs as much as said they didn't know what they were trying to say either.

I'd be interested in a citation for that claim, as I haven't read anything from the devs that made me think similarly. I believe the commentary the game was making had to do with simply dealing with it and moving on, and how that's the ugly piece of what life requires of you - that it becomes a part of you and shapes who you are, and your only way of fighting back is to just keep on existing and personally evolving. Sometimes the best you can do is just to keep going one day after the next.

Kieron put it well in his Eurogamer review:


Others have come claiming it's a rape simulator - which, for the record, I consider unsupportable by the game, even if you take everything on a solely literal level. It is, at worse, a being raped simulator - though I'd say that was a misreading too. What do I think? Metaphorical story of one girl's growth to adulthood, with the "death" of each girl leading to the birth of the next. But that's an essay. I don't know for sure. If you play it, you'll have your take. That's kind of the point too.

I also believe that art doesn't always have to have a specific goal in terms of what it wants to say. It gets to mull over topics without always making a decision, look at it from various angles or sometimes - to simply replicate the experience in an abstract way so as to make the audience better understand what they themselves have not undergone.

vinraith
23-06-2011, 05:41 AM
I'd be interested in a citation for that claim, as I haven't read anything from the devs that made me think similarly.


Well, the pertinent link was involved in a conversation on this topic two forum software changes ago. Let me see if I can find it.

Well, this isn't what I was looking for, but it'll do:


Everything in the game was intended to be confusing and vague. Nothing was deliberately clear. Anything that seemed clear to you was only so because of you, not because of us. You gave those things meaning, not us.

This doesn’t mean that we fill the game world with random elements. Quite the contrary. We tried to put elements in the game that are extremely rich in meaning. That can symbolize many - sometimes even contradictory - subjects. We deeply believe that the everyday language we use in conversation severely limits our perception of reality and forces us to think in oppositions that do not exist, or would not exist without language. Our artistic “language” is a vehicle that allows us to talk about things that cannot be captured in words.http://www.bit-tech.net/gaming/pc/2009/04/08/the-path-interview-are-games-art/3

Oh, and Tale of Tales also quite clearly hasn't a foggy clue what they're doing. This is something I found in looking for that other quote. I'll have to retract my statement that they were using rape imagery to create a disturbing atmosphere, in actuality they don't seem to know what they were using it for. To wit:


We never ever set out to make obscure or confusing work. We want our work to be pleasant, to make you feel good. It makes us feel good to play The Path and we know that many people feel the same. But other people are confused and weirded out by the game, sometimes even depressed. We’re a bit disappointed by that.http://darkzero.co.uk/game-articles/interview-tale-of-tales-on-the-path/

First of all, this flatly contradicts the earlier quote, which is telling. Second, it creeps me out more than the game did. They think that experience is "pleasant" and should "make you feel good." That's... really something.


I also believe that art doesn't always have to have a specific goal in terms of what it wants to say. It gets to mull over topics without always making a decision, look at it from various angles or sometimesArt can mull, art can present multiple sides of an issue, but The Path presents no sides of an issue, it just uses the imagery for the sake of using the imagery. Rape is a serious issue, using it in this manner is irresponsible at best.

Basilicus
23-06-2011, 05:46 AM
Were you going for this?


The more relativist, sober explanation is that we just juxtapose random elements in the hope of triggering some association in the mind that leads to some kind of meaning. Though our choice of elements is far from random. So this is not correct either.

Because if you're criticizing free association as a means to mining a creator's subconscious for potential connections and metaphors, and then installing what you've done into your art for others to reverse-engineer the meaning themselves, then you're going to have to do away with 99% of Western literature and tell Freud and Jung they should redo the basics.

vinraith
23-06-2011, 06:12 AM
Were you going for this?

That one too. Actually the more I look at what they have to say about this game, the more clear it is they have nothing to say about this game.


Because if you're criticizing free association as a means to mining a creator's subconscious for potential connections and metaphors, and then installing what you've done into your art for others to reverse-engineer the meaning themselves, then you're going to have to do away with 99% of Western literature and tell Freud and Jung they should redo the basics.Mining the creator's subconscious through free association still inherently implies that the creator is injecting meaning into the work. In this case, to borrow your phrasing, there appears to be no meaning to reverse-engineer because the creators don't appear to have given any thought to what they were creating. That's the central lesson I extract from these various interviews, at least.

So again I'll ask: what do you think the game was saying about rape? The authors certainly don't seem to know.

soldant
23-06-2011, 07:23 AM
Because if you're criticizing free association as a means to mining a creator's subconscious for potential connections and metaphors, and then installing what you've done into your art for others to reverse-engineer the meaning themselves
Vinraith hits the nail on the head here; there's nothing in The Path. The authors themselves, from their interview, can't seem to decide on whether or not anything has true meaning in the game. On the one hand they say that any conclusions drawn from the game are purely that of the person playing the game, but in the same interview they hint that there is meaning behind the various elements. In any case they did an extremely poor job of either conveying or failing to convey a message.

If you want to talk about "mining a creator's subconscious for potential connections and metaphores" then arguably the game has no merit as an "experience explorer" game. It becomes a vehicle for whatever biased interpretation the creator decides to push, whether intentionally or not. I'd argue that there's no real subconscious element here at all, they decided what they wanted to put in the game, and any "free association" comes from the authors being deliberately ambiguous and poorly focused on their work, which seems to have no real purpose at all.

Their interview tells the whole story behind this game. There's pretty much no point to it at all, it might as well be a random collection of elements with no possible relationship. Again, being "abstract" is more than just being random and ambiguous. The authors themselves can't decide on how they made the game. The fact that they try to define it as "random, but far from random" just shows how ham-fisted their approach is.

RobF
23-06-2011, 08:01 AM
A lot of them are hardly qualifying as "games" though. They're more like "interactive art", and not particularly good "interactive art" at that. While I agree that it's good that there are more people trying their hand at game development, it's also becoming a rather useless vehicle for transporting pointless and ridiculous social commentary delivered by ridiculous text messages designed to be "thought provoking".

And some other stuff snipped not to be rude but for brevity

Right. But we can still break this down into good games/crap games or good experiences/bad experiences and come to similar conclusions.

When we have stuff like "Explore the five stages of grief like never before" then yeah, we've got people making guff experiences and everybody should cringe because that's inept. When we have stuff like that XBLIG game where someone just wanted to make a game with a message so err, made a platform game, whacked some sad overwrought piano music onto it and threw some meangingful text in, we've got people making guff experiences. Tale Of Tales are infuriatingly rubbish at walking what they talk too and generally strike a pose more than they succeed, yes. But!

We get them, then we get Digital:A Love Story (http://www.scoutshonour.com/digital/), we get Air Pressure (http://bentosmile.com/2010/03/01/new-game-air-pressure/), we get Opera Omnia (http://www.increpare.com/2009/02/opera-omnia/), we get Braid (http://www.braid-game.com/) and Memory Reloaded (http://www.molleindustria.org/memory/memory_reloaded.html) and more.

I'll take 30 Tale Of Tales games if it means I get 1 Bento Smile game, or 1 Christine Love game or 1 Increpare game or 1 Molleindustria game or 1 Jon Blow game.

Yes, there'll be charlatans, idiots and imbeciles making games with messages or non-games masquerading as games or installations but there'll also come great things. I'll take the rubbish for the great things. It's worth it. It's how we progress.*

Games/ungames/not games/installations? Don't really care what they're called, videogames aren't a pure breed, never have been. Not since Atari made this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbrQ_FygdHA&feature=related) or Croucher made this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwJBsYJ16IE) and beyond. If it keeps the door open to experiential stuff like Child Of Eden? Oh yeah, I'll have some of that. And other good things will come too from the gene pool of games expanding further.

*Taking the opposite stance to Tale Of Tales in where to funnel games is, IMO, just as much a problem as the Tale Of Tales stance. It leads to dead ends and not pretty ones. Games are really great when they're allowed the freedom to blossom and expand in all directions, it means we end up, eventually, with better games. That's worth fighting for not crushing.

Basilicus
23-06-2011, 03:49 PM
If you want to talk about "mining a creator's subconscious for potential connections and metaphores" then arguably the game has no merit as an "experience explorer" game. It becomes a vehicle for whatever biased interpretation the creator decides to push, whether intentionally or not.

Well, yes. I don't mean to be an ass in saying it this way, but, Welcome to all art and entertainment ever made by a human being. You're basically trying to shut it down from both angles:

1. They didn't know what they were aiming for and their lack of personal direction (bias) means the game can't possibly achieve real meaning.

2. They knew exactly what they were going for and their bias (personal direction) means the game can't possibly achieve meaning.

There's no way around your logic because it basically shuts down all art everywhere from ever achieving meaning.


Again, being "abstract" is more than just being random and ambiguous. The authors themselves can't decide on how they made the game. The fact that they try to define it as "random, but far from random" just shows how ham-fisted their approach is.

It's a pretty simple equation to me. They free associated the scenes and images they wanted to use, analyzed why they themselves wanted to use them, why they were the pieces that jumped to the forefront of their mind, and then tried to include them in a manner that would provide the player pieces to an experiential whole rather than a directly explained narrative. That's actually how a lot of artists work.

They used images that held meaning to them but aimed to include them in such a way as to remain open to interpretation by the player. I don't see why a creative approach used very often in other mediums requires such unbridled hate when used in videogames.

What they describe in changing meaning is something that's taken for granted in other, more 'experienced' mediums: that good art should belong to and be given meaning by the player (or reader, or viewer) as much as by the creator. This is accepted in every other artistic medium, but when Tale of Tales tries for it, it's a betrayal of the very core of gaming? Really? I prefer to look at it as an evolution: Messy, certainly, and essentially imperfect, but moving toward (and achieving in some ways) a next step in growth for the medium. Evolution is full of both dead ends and incredible successes, but many of those dead ends create wondrous anomalies and many of those successes are never what you'd expect to thrive. Taking the metaphor too far? Damn right, but I think you get my point.

vinraith
23-06-2011, 04:24 PM
analyzed why they themselves wanted to use them, why they were the pieces that jumped to the forefront of their mindI think the interviews make it pretty clear that no such analysis occurred, which is exactly my issue with the game and Tale of Tales as a developer/artist. If I'd gotten any sense that said analysis had occurred, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

And lest someone get the completely absurd idea that I'm bagging on all artistic indie games here, I'd say my position aligns pretty well with RobF's. Some trash in the field is simply the price of doing business, there are certainly some gems out there too.

AndrewC
23-06-2011, 04:24 PM
Forget it Basilicus, they're PC Gamers: the particular kind that deeply mistrust emotional content as it relies on uncertainty which they are fearful of above all things, that treat artists as a 'them', that probably listen to heavy metal, that are conservatives who think themselves liberal, and are the gaming equivalent of Hick's 'what yu readin ferr' yokels.

That which I do not understand makes no sense.
That which I do not care about does not matter.
That which I do not know about does not exist.
'I read a book once and it wasn't very good so there's no point in books' - that kind of person.
If you see the word 'prententious' in the same sentence as a pejorative use of 'art' or 'artist', congratulations, you've found someone you can ignore until such time as they learn to be excited instead of fearfully dismissive of that which they do not 'get'.
That bit's easy: the real challenge is that gaming, and particularly hardcore PC gaming, rather draws these sorts of people to it, so we must ask ourselves to what extent we are them too.

vinraith
23-06-2011, 04:31 PM
Forget it Basilicus, they're PC Gamers: the particular kind that deeply mistrust emotional content as it relies on uncertainty which they are fearful of above all things, that treat artists as a 'them', that probably listen to heavy metal, that are conservatives who think themselves liberal, and are the gaming equivalent of Hick's 'what yu readin ferr' yokels.

That which I do not understand makes no sense.
That which I do not care about does not matter.
That which I do not know about does not exist.
'I read a book once and it wasn't very good so there's no point in books' - that kind of person.
If you see the word 'prententious' in the same sentence as a pejorative use of 'art' or 'artist', congratulations, you've found someone you can ignore until such time as they learn to be excited instead of fearfully dismissive of that which they do not 'get'.
That bit's easy: the real challenge is that gaming, and particularly hardcore PC gaming, rather draws these sorts of people to it, so we must ask ourselves to what extent we are them too.

So, to be clear, your post full of personal attacks is enlightened and wise while our posts in a mutually respectful conversation about the artistic merits of the game are anti-intellectual?

Neat.

AndrewC
23-06-2011, 04:44 PM
Fun, huh? But yes, I am saying that the opinions expressed in this thread, specifically about Tale Of Tales take the form of 'get your art out of my games' close-mindedness and that, yes, most of the more negative parts of comments threads come from this close-mindedness - min-maxers refusing to accept that there's another way to play RPGs, PC elitists dismissing anything remotely console related and so on and so on.

The actual quality of the ToT games are not relevant to this. They could suck, but the negativity of the original posts stated that all art games are invalid by definition, because they felt the ToT games suck.

I would hope you took the lack of respect in my post to represent the lack of respect i have for these positions.

vinraith
23-06-2011, 04:51 PM
Well, I can only speak for myself here, but I'm not saying anything remotely along the lines of "get your art out of my games," I'm simply suggesting that good artistic output in any medium has an obligation to be thoughtful, especially when it's deliberately using provocative imagery and addressing sensitive and to many folks deeply painful/personal topics.


but the negativity of the original posts stated that all art games are invalid by definition, because they felt the ToT games suck.Which is an argument we can readily dismiss as absurd, I think, which in large part is why the thread has moved on.

coldvvvave
23-06-2011, 05:20 PM
This thread is gold.

Basilicus
23-06-2011, 06:02 PM
But yes, I am saying that the opinions expressed in this thread, specifically about Tale Of Tales take the form of 'get your art out of my games' close-mindedness and that, yes, most of the more negative parts of comments threads come from this close-mindedness - min-maxers refusing to accept that there's another way to play RPGs, PC elitists dismissing anything remotely console related and so on and so on.

Got to disagree with you. I'd say the opinions on Tale of Tales focus on strong reactions to the one particular game we're discussing: The Path. Your earlier claims that other posters have never read a book and only listen to heavy metal (which is rather awesome for certain moods, by the way) must either be based on a lifetime of downright creepy surveillance of other posters or must be assessed as baseless and assumptive. Furthermore, Vinraith and Soldant are being quite cogent in their arguments, implying they have, perhaps, read a great many books, out of which they learned a specificity of language that allows them to engage in multifaceted debate about the artfulness of a specific creative work. I think Vinraith is being a bit strong in his stance against the game, but it is a game that evokes those kinds of reactions. I can either understand that strong reaction and take it in stride so we can move on to talking about the game, which I hope I have done, or I can take his strong reaction personally, which is a bit of a waste of time, to say the least.

Just because I disagree with their arguments does not mean that they are mindless heathens who make assertions based on little more than opinion - in fact, claiming so while adding nothing to the discussion about the game itself implies those same qualities about you. In conclusion, I appreciate the support, but let's not talk about each other; let's talk about the game.


The actual quality of the ToT games are not relevant to this. They could suck, but the negativity of the original posts stated that all art games are invalid by definition, because they felt the ToT games suck.

The quality of The Path is absolutely relevant to this, as the entire Tale of Tales segment of this discussion could essentially be categorized as "What is the artistic value of The Path in a growing medium?"

As for Vinraith and Soldant, they disagree with me. That's all there is to it. The disagreement between various people who obviously love games themselves is interesting - there's the chance for all of us to learn from each other and broaden our perspectives.

AndrewC, we're throwing our subjective viewpoints into a pot and mixing them together to see what it concocts. Perhaps it'll be a minestrone! Minestrone doesn't taste very good when you throw crap into it, though. Don't put crap into our minestrone. Sprinkle in some pepper or go get us some oyster crackers. Oyster crackers are delicious! Please make our argument more delicious, not more crappy.

vinraith
23-06-2011, 06:13 PM
I think Vinraith is being a bit strong in his stance against the game, but it is a game that evokes those kinds of reactions.

I'll be the first to admit that, while I think the "they didn't give this the thought it deserved" stance is born out by their own interviews, there's a very real degree to which the game's treatment of the topic at hand just pisses me off. In that respect, I suppose, it has at least succeeded in provoking a strong emotional reaction. It's a bit meta, though, since I'm not so much angry about the imagery as the game's use of it.

Anyway, if you think my reaction's strong, you should hear my wife's commentary on the game. She's the trained literary critic, I'm just an astrophysics student way outside his realm of expertise. :)

Basilicus
23-06-2011, 06:34 PM
Anyway, if you think my reaction's strong, you should hear my wife's commentary on the game. She's the trained literary critic, I'm just an astrophysics student way outside his realm of expertise.

A few thoughts:

You can't possibly have a wife. That would go against AndrewC's perception of you as a hardcore gamer who hates society and rejects emotion. You also can't possibly be an astrophysics student. We've likewise already established you can barely read. :P

I find it interesting what backgrounds we come from, as that may inform how we view a game like this. I'm an American who worked several years as a film critic and journalist before the economy tanked and such things became anachronisms, and I'm currently a writer (taking odd jobs) involved in the preproduction of an independent film. So...very film-heavy, and my suspension of disbelief is the stuff of legends...so I'm usually very willing to accept and adapt my own imagination and analyses to expand into and fill the cracks and flaws of games that are more abstract and suggestive. This is one of the goals Tale of Tales claimed it wanted to achieve, so maybe I'm square in their target audience.

vinraith
23-06-2011, 06:41 PM
You can't possibly have a wife.I find that constantly surprising myself. :)


I'm an American who worked several years as a film critic and journalist before the economy tanked and such things became anachronisms, and I'm currently a writer (taking odd jobs) involved in the preproduction of an independent film. Yup, American here too. You being a writer and film critic explains a lot, I may not agree with you on ToT games but you certainly write about them eloquently.

soldant
24-06-2011, 01:08 AM
Essentially the thread is art vs game, so there's probably no real point in continuing. Let me just say though that I've throughly enjoyed this, so glad I finally joined these forums after lurking for ages. Makes a nice change of pace from the last forum I was at, which has slid into Australia's answer to 4chan. And an exceptionally bad one at that.


But yes, I am saying that the opinions expressed in this thread, specifically about Tale Of Tales take the form of 'get your art out of my games' close-mindedness and that, yes, most of the more negative parts of comments threads come from this close-mindedness - min-maxers refusing to accept that there's another way to play RPGs, PC elitists dismissing anything remotely console related and so on and so on.
That's a bit harsh. I can appreciate a good "artistic" game and I have absolutely no problem with such games. The problem is that most of them that aim for this goal aren't very good, either as a game or as a piece of art. They come off as developers making particularly bad art, or artists making partiuclarly bad games. For a game to succeed it needs to be at least competent in both executions, and that goes for any game, whether it's primarily a game or primarily a piece of interactive artwork. My biggest issue is that plenty of people elevate many of these things to the pinnacle of gaming, simply because "they tried". I'd rather not celebrate mediocrity.

IMO, if you want to make art and have no idea how to make a game, either learn or don't make it into a game. The Path could have easily been a movie (and probably would have been better) because there's no real point to the interaction except as an arbitrary lock-out mechanism for the ending. The same could be said for The Graveyard except the interactivity is even less in that instance. So why make it a game? Because it's different, and they know that'll get them exposure, whether it's a bad game or not. That's all I'm saying. As for Tale of Tales' interview on their own game... well, I'm a nurse, so I don't pretend to be any great shakes at being an art critic, but when they can't even pin down whether or not their symbolism has any meaning, or even what context all of these events take place in, it doesn't provide much of a foundation for finding true meaning. It's too easily shattered. In either way, IMO of course, The Path is a pretty poor example of "games as art" or "art as games" and isn't particularly praiseworthy. There's no need to call me a degenerate finger-picking bogan who chews a keyboard for hours on end.

mlaskus
24-06-2011, 02:06 AM
It's amazing how such a crappy thread turned into such a lovely discussion. I love RPS.

Rii
24-06-2011, 04:33 AM
That's a bit harsh. I can appreciate a good "artistic" game and I have absolutely no problem with such games. The problem is that most of them that aim for this goal aren't very good, either as a game or as a piece of art. They come off as developers making particularly bad art, or artists making partiuclarly bad games. For a game to succeed it needs to be at least competent in both executions, and that goes for any game, whether it's primarily a game or primarily a piece of interactive artwork. My biggest issue is that plenty of people elevate many of these things to the pinnacle of gaming, simply because "they tried". I'd rather not celebrate mediocrity.

I think there are several factors at work here. In describing some of them I'm not attempting to detract from your point, merely looking to explore Why This Is So.

- Indie is still very much in its (second) infancy. It wasn't that long ago that Introversion could label themselves 'the last of the bedroom programmers' with a straight face. It doesn't appear as though we're in any danger of losing the indie scene again, but for the moment there's still a novelty factor at work.

- For many, indie has come to be a significant part of what it means to be a PC gamer. Sure there's XBLA/PSN and some wonderful titles have been released (even exclusively) there, but everyone knows the score as to which platform is #1 in the indie stakes. Call it a reaction against mainstream publishers' neglect of the PC, or whatever. Intellectually we can dismiss the idea of platform identification and all the nonsense that goes with it as foolish, but there's no doubt that it exists and likely colours the views of even those who think themselves immune to it.

- Games with artistic aspirations are still very much a minority, and their place in the medium still very much up in the air. Contrast to film where the arthouse scene is well established and understood and even bleeds into the mainstream on a fairly regular basis. Film as art is something that is, whereas with games it's something we're still fighting to establish. There's a sense that what we as consumers play and say in the here and now actually has import for the future of the medium.

- Some flaws we can excuse. When we play a game or watch a film, in addition to the experience itself we're always aware to a greater or lesser extent of its nature as a product of man, of a particular time and place, subject to particular constraints - and having a particular budget. If I were to excoriate Half-Life in a review today for looking like shit I would quite reasonably be inundated with complaints, no differently than if I were to lampoon The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari for having no spoken dialogue. Context is important. And that context, appreciated intellectually, can alter our subjective experience of the game, film or whatever.

Opinions differ regarding the kinds of contextual considerations that are and are not reasonable to take into account or allow for, perhaps most controversially with regard to the question of authorial intent. Have your views on a film ever been affected as a result of outside information introduced after the fact? It happens to me all the time, perhaps most recently with Certified Copy. I watched the film and had some confuzzled thoughts about it, went on to read some more articulate thoughts and theories from others who'd seen it, and then so-armed went back to watch it again. Those two experiences of the film weren't identical, the latter was informed not only by my first viewing but also by all I'd read in the interim. And our awareness of and the allowances we make (or don't make) for the context of a particular work is not only an individual matter, but it's also often subconscious. Where one sees wilful blindness and obstinance in another not perceiving the flaws in a particular game may simply be that other's honest experience of it.

soldant
24-06-2011, 04:46 AM
Call it a reaction against mainstream publishers' neglect of the PC, or whatever.
Actually I'd say that indie development thrives on the PC because it's an open platform. If the consoles had a sandbox mode where any code could be executed without major restriction, it'd be a major security risk (from their perspective) and indie devs would probably also take more advantage of consoles.


There's a sense that what we as consumers play and say in the here and now actually has import for the future of the medium.
Nobody's ever disputed this. I never said that art has zero place in games or that we should discourage it from taking place. Just that there's no reason to heap praise on something which isn't very good.


Context is important.
Which is exactly my point. The "game" part of the "artistic game" is still very much a part of the context used to decide if the work has merit or not. You shouldn't ignore or forgive blatant problems in the "game" aspect because there's an "art" aspect attached. It just further reinforces the idea that if your "art game" is a bad "game", it probably shouldn't have been a game to begin with.

Matzerath
24-06-2011, 05:37 AM
Oh Jesus, are you guys debating the value of 'The Path' again?
It's amazing that a game that so many people dismiss as crap (I like it) can even now inspire volumes of impassioned discourse. Must be art or somethin.

StrangLove
24-06-2011, 08:06 AM
And now we all snuggle?

Back OT, I think that there is certainly a lack of originality in some indie games, but that does not make one ignore the fact that so many more feature original gameplay and interesting visuals. The Indie Dev-o-sphere is much nicer than the AAA one.

Rii
24-06-2011, 11:24 PM
Nobody's ever disputed this. I never said that art has zero place in games or that we should discourage it from taking place. Just that there's no reason to heap praise on something which isn't very good.

Which is exactly my point. The "game" part of the "artistic game" is still very much a part of the context used to decide if the work has merit or not. You shouldn't ignore or forgive blatant problems in the "game" aspect because there's an "art" aspect attached. It just further reinforces the idea that if your "art game" is a bad "game", it probably shouldn't have been a game to begin with.

I think you missed the part where I said I wasn't trying to detract from your point. ;)

It's like we can say that racism is bad, but it clearly exists and it's useful to explore the reasons for it. If nothing else it helps one avoid falling into the same pitfalls oneself.

TheLastBaron
28-06-2011, 03:11 AM
It's amazing how such a crappy thread turned into such a lovely discussion. I love RPS.

This. I love you guys.