Category: opinion

KISS the Painkiller

OK, I’ve been rather busy with school. However, since I built a new computer a month ago, I certainly have found some time to give it a workout.

I’ve finished Doom 3. It was enjoyable. I jumped quite a bit. Perhaps I am all id (ha! I made a joke!) but I found it satisfying. At least one review I read lamented that the horror was only jumping out of the closet at you style and not psychological in nature. Too bad. I like things jumping out at me. Maybe I’m jaded from killing so many sprites and polygons, but psychological horror doesn’t creep me out that much. I like gore.

Unfortunately, I hate cut scenes. Why? Why? Why? I don’t want some damn cut scene to show me the monster. I want to see the monster myself.

I have moved on to Painkiller. I enjoy it. The pure mayhem is fun. The gameplay is a bit simplistic and arcade-y, which is a nice change of pace. There ain’t no reading of memos or combinations to remember, just monsters to chop up. Sorry story people, there is something to be said for just running around killing bad guys. I don’t know what the bad guys in Painkiller are supposed to be, and I don’t really care. I mean there are skeletons in suits of armor. What is their motivation? What is their backstory? I don’t care. They are tying to kill me, ergo I will shoot and chop them into little bits.

While some have compared Painkiller to Blood or Serious Sam, it reminds me most of KISS: Psycho Circus: The Nightmare Child. The KISS game was actually really fun — even if, like me, you don’t wish to rock and roll every night and/or party every day. The mayhem and weird weapons and shooting are all good mindless fun. I give them both nine thumbs up. Now, don’t ask me what the story of the KISS game is, because I have no idea.

I am l33t!!!!

I’m posting this on my l33t new system amd 64 3500+, ATI radion x800 pro. I’ve only got 512 ram currently since the other stick of 512 i have prevents teh machine from booting. So I need to order some of that “mached pair” stuff.

But my system is l33t enough to play Doom3! So yes, contrary to a prior post, I bought Doom 3 (unfortunatly, the Ban Doom site doesn’t seem to be up any longer).

The first thing I noticed about Doom 3 was how little I noticed the graphics. They because instantly naturalized for me. Of course I had seen lots of screenshots before playing it, but I was surprized that I wasn’t really wowed by the graphics. They are, of course, awesome, but the game comes on and that’s what it looks like, and I just sort of acccept that. It is only when I consciously compare it to other games, that I notice the graphics.

The second thing I noticed was the damn cut scenes! AARRGGGHHH!!!! Why? Why? Why? That was the first thing I was afraid of those years ago when we first saw some E3 footage. As of yet, aside from teh introductory cut scene, I really haven’t seen any reason why they have to go to these stupid cut scenes to either advance the plot or show the monster crawling out of the wall. If I care about teh plot, I will look at the people talking. There are planty of monsters jumping out that scare me. Perhpas the monster slowly coming out at me is supposed to be some sort of slow reveal/paralyzed by fear type of thing. Unfortunatly, the only thing it does for me is piss me off when I can see the damn (see, damn, demons. It isn’t cussing if they really are damned!) monster coming at me and I can’t shoot at it or back away from it and I have to act the isntant they give me back control. But I don’t know when they will deem to allow me to control the character again, so I’m constantly impatient and worrying it will take half a second for me to react to being a player and not a watcher and the stupid cut scene will cost me some health. CU7 5C3N35 R teh 5UCK!!!!

Young Lust

With the imminent release of DooM 3, I, like a lot of people, am thinking of upgrading my computer. I’ve currently got an Athlon 1900+ based home-built system. I am totally lusting after these newer systems. I always had overheating issues with this computer, so I do not think I will be building my own this time and so those small form-factor LAN party cases are SO tempting! However, I am going to try to wait a month or so.

In investigating from whom I am going to buy from, I am amazed at all the fancy cases and lighted cases and other flashy stuff that is on the market today. There are some obvious crossovers between the case-mod community and the muscle car guys (even down to using many of the same concepts and techniques). However, there is also a lot of model building involved with people making cases out of ammo boxes, and putting coffeemakers into cases.

The common thread in these similarities is that gaming, cars, and model building are all hobbies dominated by men. It is interesting to see how videogame players keep finding ways to perform their masculinity despite the stereotype of gamers as nerdy and rather unmasculine. So even we dorks can find activities that women are traditionally not active in! So this performing of masculinity is somewhat doubly bound, although case modding mimics car customizing, I don’t really think that having a tricked out computer has the same cultural capital in the larger non-gaming society as having a tricked out car.

I guess I’m a bit more old school though. I don’t want my case to have a window or to glow. I want my computer to look bland an unimportant but have a kickin’ motor under the hood.

I hear they like it when you call ’em chicks…

A few days ago, Slashdot had a discussion titled, “Recruit More Women Developers, Attract Women Gamers?” which was mentioning the MSNBC article, “Gaming tries to shed boys’ club image” which discusses the attempt to get more women developing games so that more women will buy them. Of course a lot of the comments on Slashdot amounted to “make games that are fun, everyone likes fun” which totally misses the point that what is fun for one person isn’t fun for everyone. One of the posters brought up the Pew Internet study on college gamers (pdf file) but that study might be a bit misleading. I responded:

Actually I was at a conference back in April and one of the presentations discussed studies of the gender of gamers, and I think they referred to that Pew study specifically but I may be misremembering. Anyway they said that those studies tend to be a bit misleading because in general men and women tend to play different kinds of games, for different reasons and for different lengths of time. They said that women tend to play more card games and things like bejeweled online while men tend to play more of the retail buy in a box at the store and install games. Also they said that men tend to play for fun while women tend to play more out of boredom. Finally they said that men tend to play online for longer periods of time than women.

Now of course these are all generalizations and there are certainly exceptions, but I buy what they were saying and so we need to take studies about gender in gaming with a grain of salt to make sure that they aren’t whitewashing over some real differences.

Now the reason why I’m posting this isn’t because what I said was really insightful or anything, but because of the response I got. A woman gamer wrote a really great response to my post in which she discusses her thoughts on women and gaming. Go read it. It’s really interesting.

FInally before I go, go look at that MSNBC article again. Notice that first picture? While the gaming industry may be trying to attract more women, at least the people who picked the pictures for this article are still thinking in very traditional ways. “Let’s put up a picture of a game that women would be interested in!” “Oh, I know! They like the Sims! Let’s put up a picture talking about kissing and boys and all the yucky icky stuff girls like. Eeeww I hope I don’t get cooties from posting this!”

addiction

Over at games.slashdot.org there is a story entitled, “Drug Addiction Integrated Into Achaea MUD” that while doesn’t have many details, talks about an interesting gameplay element that the MUD has recently added. While not the first online game to add adiction (according to a couple posters over at slashdot A Tale in the Desert also has addictive drugs.

The addition of addictive drugs which have negative consequences is an interesting subject. What is the purpose of having such a thing in a game? Is it to lend it a feeling of reality, to make the gameplay experience more realistic? Is it moralistic and attempting to teach us the drugs are bad? Does it turn addiction into entertainment?

I’ve not played either game, so I don’t know how the drug addiction is implimented except from what is written over at slashdot, and I can’t offer any great insite. However it is certainly worth pondering what this does to the gameplay experience, especially in a world where we are told that some drugs are bad and yet every other commercial is for a drug that we are supposed to ask our doctor about. Are there good drugs in these worlds? Are there fairly harmless stimulants? As the games we play become more complex, there are more complex question that need to be asked.

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

The ESA has released their annual “Essential Facts” brochure (PDF file) with their statistics about who is doing what in regards to videogames. Yet again this year there is not one word of race. It would be nice if someone somewhere with the resources would do a study to see what the racial breakdown of videogame players is. It would also be nice if the ESA would release their raw data. I can understand why they don’t because this is designed for the general public, but it would certainly be nice to have more specifics on the data. I mean these numbers are already suspect in my mind because they come from the industry and so are spun in the best possible way. However, without even knowing how the data was gathered, what questions were asked, or how the questions were phrased, the data is next to worthless for anything by a soundbite — which again, is what it is designed for. It is just kind of sad that the most complete statistical data on the gaming industry is unacessable to the people who are really the most interested in it.

lazy summer days…

I made it through my first year of my phd. I’ve got an incomplete, but I’m working on it, i swear!
So E3 has started. Amazingly, I am soooooooooo unimpressed by what I’ve seen today. It seems like there is a huge concentration on graphics and physics. Not a whole lot of talk about gameplay going on…
Oh well, no exciting new games just means more time to catch up on my work.

Artisans and craftsmen (and craftswomen)

There’s an article going around about on of the founders of Bungie starting his own studio. In the article (ok, its more of a press release, really) he says that he is going to outsourse a lot of the development. THe article ends with an interesting quote:

“It’s kind of broken,” Seropian told Reuters, speaking about the current model of development used by the bulk of publishers. “It’s kind of antiquated – it’s how they were making films in the ’30s.”

Well, I don’t think that is really the “problem” (if there is one). The difficulty isn’t that videogames are made like 1930’s films. It is like they are made like 1730’s items — that is, by hand and not mechanical reproduction. I left this message about it over on Slashdot:

I don’t think this will be as cost effective as one might think. Basically the videogame industry is still in the pre-industrial artisanal (sp?) era. Everything is still made by hand. If you want to make a chair, you still need to build the chair piece by piece. There is no equivalent to a factory-made chair. So rather than the unskilled labor we now have in most factories, we have skilled craftsmen and artists.

Until technology exists for the equivalent of unskilled labor to design the chairs, wheels, and furniture of a gaming world, the costs of developing games will still be high.

I forsee a day soon when a start up will open that specializes in creating the props of vidoegame worlds so that game designers will have a situation similar to that of the players of the Sims where they have a wide variety of chairs (or whatever) to pick from and they just plop it into the game pre-fab without having to employ someone to exclusively make such props.

Now certainly there is something to say for props that are build explicitly for the game. They provide a sense of stylistic unity. But I really do see a day when pre-fab props will come to be used.