The Awkward Honeymoon Period of Cut Scenes and Gameplay

There has frequently been a tension in videogames which lacks proper definition, and renders criticism vague and at times unfulfilling. There are many moments when the action is intense, frightening, complex, difficult or exhilarating and the button-presses just don’t quite match. I’ll term this interconnectedness ‘gameplay weight’, and want to give a few examples of how it’s been done right, how it’s been done appallingly, and why and how it’s changing.

Doodle Jump for iPhone: a perfect example of how seriously people take modern exponentiontial challenge-based games.

This concept didn’t require as much examination in the 80s and early 90s. Games were still for the hardcore, so gameplay being exhaustingly nerve-wracking the whole way through was common. Other games started slow and the gameplay just scaled up and up and up until you were finally defeated. No matter what your skill level, this game would always find the level of intensity in gameplay which matched your skill and push you just that little bit further. These games still exist today in the form of Doodle Jump, Lumines, Geometry Wars and many others, but they’re now considered small distractions, providing short bursts of excitement in contrast to the awesome scope and power of the big ‘AAA’ blockbusters.

Gameplay began to slow down and become more considered as cinematic prowess in games grew stronger. The advent of 3D, increased potential for emotional investment in characters, and the ability to imbue games with genuine fear brought about the ability for developers to consider a drop in the pace of gameplay where story was taking the fore. This phenomenon has left room for gameplay which just doesn’t belong with the action in one way or another as developers continue to explore this new world of cinematics clashing with gameplay. After all, games require established rules. A certain button-press must do a certain thing or the whole concept of ‘play’ falls apart (which can sometimes be a nice trick developers play, but that’s another story). However, repetition of animations or movements is hardly compelling cinema. So how do developers tackle this tension of establishing rules with unique results every time?

Press X to win! Scaling unfathomable heights can sometimes be mind-numbingly easy.

Assassin’s Creed from Ubisoft Montreal demonstrated revolutionary climbing mechanics at the E3 games convention in Los Angeles in 2007. The gameplay video which turned heads showed all four limbs on a digital character reaching for different climbable objects on the sides of buildings, and crowds were awe-struck as Ubisoft proudly proclaimed that the game recognised any nook, ridge or wedge in a wall. In a world where gamers were used to testing the climbability of a wall by jumping at it a few times like a dog trying to get out of a pool, the idea of a properly agile character was tantalising.

The intuition of the character to land such incredible jumps robs them of their spectacle.

When the game released, it disappointed in a few key areas (most of which were addressed successfully in Assassin’s Creed II), the most notable of which spawned a meme. All the climbing in the game was realised by holding down a couple of buttons. The character made all these intricate and complex feats of agility with so little input from the player as to render the excitement limited. The revolutionary climbing ‘mechanics’ were merely revolutionary climbing ‘animations’. Ubisoft Montreal had shown a revolutionary use of 3D animation and pathfinding, but lacked the stroke of genius on the gameplay side of things to back it up. Even the spectacular jumps between rooftops were automatic, rendering the reward of a successfully timed press of the jump-button moot. These things were not all bad (in fact they opened successful play of the game up to a skill-level of gamer which would otherwise never be able to tackle such a complicated 3D environment) but the hardcore out there (which most game reviewers are) cried ‘Press X to Win’ from the rooftops (at least in game – game reviewers can’t climb rooftops in real life), lamenting the lack of difficulty the climbing provided.

1997 - This was about par for quality in gameworlds. Hardly up to scratch for conveying emotion and telling stories.

The humble cut scene in games (scenes usually based around cinematic sequences where the player has no control) became huge in the late 90s, and has persevered through until today. Inside a game-world, animations were still too clunky and facial movements still too subtle (or sometimes too atrociously overdone) for story and gameplay to co-exist. Aside from in-game voiceovers, the main driver of plot was always in the cut scenes. As technology allowed stories to be told without the need to cut to pre-rendered videos in between levels, stories started to be told at all times during player-controlled gameplay. This brought about a new problem: how do you tell a convincing, emotionally affecting story while someone is busy repeatedly jumping in vain at a wall which looks like it should be climbable? Any impact your narrative may have will surely be mitigated by the borderline-retarded behaviour players exhibit when testing nearby boundaries.

The solution, so far, has eluded us. But there have been a few valiant attempts to infuse gameplay and cut scene, which I’ll list here. And each one has brought about some interesting developments in gameplay weight:

The same button press recreates this identical scene every single time in God of War: Chains of Olympus.

God Of War: ‘Quicktime events’ are events where the player is suddenly asked to break from typical gameplay, forget the usual controls and just prompted to suddenly mash a particular button, swing a thumbstick in a particular direction, or press a button within a certain fraction of a second. God of War popularised the notion of incorporating quicktime events into gameplay; each finishing move for larger enemies had intervals where the player was required to engage with a simple button press or two to keep the action moving. Failure to complete the assigned task would trigger an alternative animation where the hero Kratos fails his next act of derring-do and is thrown to the ground. The player must run back in and attack the creature again.

Holy crap, you're on the HEAD OF A GOD!! Surely such a spectacle will have incredible gameplay to match!! Or just pressing square.

This meant that the player would go from frantically mashing eleven buttons-per-second in the middle of combat to triggering these finishing moves and entering a ‘safe zone’ for a few seconds; they knew they had a brief reprieve where they could just watch the first awesome stab or two at Monster A’s throat before the first quicktime event demanded their attention. This unusual rift in gameplay weight made the most intense sequences the least interesting in terms of gameplay. The reward for combining a few of Kratos’ signature moves to make a takedown of a particular enemy look exceptionally cool was gone. Every single time you killed a particular type of enemy, the end-result was always the same animation. And worse still, that good ole’ vocal hardcore out there didn’t feel like the quicktime events were an accurate measure of their skill, and were so frustrated by failing one of these sequences that many called for their removal.

A fine example of how to drive a cinematic sequence using gameplay in Uncharted 2.

Uncharted 2 Among Thieves: This exceptional contemporary action title by Naughty Dog contains great examples of how to use gameplay during cinematic action sequences, and how to do it right. In the grand finale, the hero Nathan Drake (voiced by Nolan North OMG!!!! <<sarcastic) is running along a bridge at full speed, escaping from a temple on a mountainside which is collapsing at breakneck speed. In Sonic the Hedgehog (all of them) as well as countless other games, the quintessential escape-after-beating-the-baddie sequence to mark the ending moment of a game is a simple cut scene. Sometimes it’s done so brilliantly it brings a tear to the eye (Shadow of the Colossus), and infusing the moment with gameplay would lose vital aesthetic appreciation of the spectacle. Uncharted 2 knew better. It was an unashamed Indiana Jones-style adventure, and wasn’t pushing for high art. It had an awesome action set-piece on its hands, and gave the player full control to capitalise.

During Uncharted 2‘s escape sequence, running was a simple hold of a button, but you had to manually aim each jump between unstable bridge fragments, and death was the result if you failed. A God of War game here may have been content with a scripted animation where the player continued to pass quicktime events to ensure a successful next jump, but Uncharted 2’s manual control made this one of the most tense and memorable moments of the game, following on from a similar sequence in Bungie’s 2001 effort Halo: Combat Evolved. In both cases, it didn’t ruin the story if the player failed the sequence several times over (and it was difficult enough that the player could expect a few missteps). It is this difficulty which makes the player sit up, re-focus and pay attention at crucial moments. Who wants to relax during the explosive finale after a huge boss battle anyway?

Heavy Rain utilised quick time events to great effect when driving its action sequences.

Heavy Rain: In 2005, Quantic Dream created a game called Farenheit (aka Indigo Prophecy), where they recognised the potential of quicktime events and decided to base an incredible cinematic experience entirely around them. During social, slow-paced scenes the player could control the focal character, but generally this was at little more than jogging speed. When the action kicked off, the player had upwards of 20-30 quicktime events to pass to see their hero narrowly avoid certain death.

Flash forward to 2010, and Quantic Dream had expanded on this concept with Heavy Rain, a serial killer thriller where the drama is propelled, again, by a series of quicktime events. This game perfectly demonstrates a consciousness of where gameplay weight counts. By using incredibly simple quicktime events to fuel the action, adjusting the speed of the demands and the tension to very specifically match the on-screen drama and excitement was easy, and Quantic Dream have demonstrated a keen understanding of tone needing to match ferocity of button-pressing for the truly exhilarating rush an action sequence deserves…

Exhilerating stuff. Actually moving your controller like it says is positively exhausting as well.

…while on the other hand completely failing to realise that during a player’s down time, when their character is brushing their teeth, NO ONE wants to actually shake their motion-sensitive controller in time to the toothbrush – ESPECIALLY not when failing to move the thumbstick means you have to start brushing your teeth all over again. Seriously, has anyone here ever accidentally flicked their toothbrush out of their mouth and re-applied the toothpaste to start again? Ridiculous. A wag of my finger to Quantic Dream – and yet, a tip of my hat for their attention to gameplay weight during action scenes. This developer hasn’t hit its stride yet. It has the potential to do great things though.

In Bully, the simple 'mash X' quick time event was used effectively during struggles such as this.

So there are many other examples of gameplay weight being done well or poorly and having it making or breaking a game I’m sure. There is definitely room for quicktime events in gaming. After all, that moment in so many action games where the burly enemy has you in a hold and you need to mash X repeatedly to represent strength and push him off is a tried and tested formula present in everything from Ninja Gaiden to Bully. Some of these concepts run the full gamut of action gaming, others like brushing your teeth in Heavy Rain we hope to never see again. Then again, Sony have just had Quantic Dream allow Playstation Move functionality (the motion sensitive controllers). I may just have to pick up Heavy Rain again and see if the change in gestures from wiggling a thumbstick have made a positive difference.

Stay tuned for my next rant about gaming, where I’ll be talking about modes of transportation in open spaces. The usual open-world mainstays will be on trial as well as Halo: Combat Evolved and a few other interesting ones.

Posted in Videogames | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Moral Minutia

WARNING: I am using the terms ‘moral’ and ‘evil’ throughout this article to describe situations which may not seem befitting of such grandiose labels. Rest assured that I do so only because framing everyday minor problems as moral dilemmas gives us vital tools for discussion.


An awesome image I found of instinct versus reason.

Moral philosophers and psychologists have long grappled with questions concerning the nature of our conscience. Plato believed morality to exist outside of the person it was being attributed to. ‘The good’ and ‘the evil’ were abstracts which applied to people only insofar as the instance of their application made them temporally relevant. The rational man (sic) was able to think beyond mere instinct, and could see these concepts simply by thinking through the values from the hypothetical lens of a third party with no prejudice or emotional involvement in any given quarrel. The problem with this argument was that it supposed that this newer class of human was somehow able to achieve this miraculous perspective. Pondering a dilemma for a short moment placed such a person so incalculably further towards advancement than his peers as to render him on par with the gods.

Later, we would come to see David Hume arguing that human instincts were the basis for any kind of moral judgement, and saying that ‘reason is perfectly inert, and can never either prevent or produce any action or affection.’ Indeed reason (as an abstract produced by humans) was never able to directly produce or affect anything *in* humans. How could an abstract concept supposedly dictate values to the same beings which created it?

From here we delve into the realm of moral decision-making being an instantaneous and split-second moment in an emotional being’s life. (Although it is worth noting that modern philosophers such as Peter Singer have argued that our instincts betray us in a world succumbing to overpopulation, and that a return to rational morality is in order.)

A rendition of the basic 'Trolley Problem' by an artist who has yet to sell any of his work.

I was first introduced to the ‘Trolley Problem’ a few years ago at uni. In it, philosophers Foot and Thompson proposed a moral dilemma:

A trolley car is hurtling down a track towards five people, all of whom are certain to die if the trolley maintains its path. You can see this, and are standing next to a switch which will re-route the trolley car onto a different track. The kicker: the other track has one person on it, who is also certain to die should you pull that god-forsaken switch.

A more complex version of the Trolley Problem from an artist who owned colour paints.

The moral questions which have plagued bored uni students for a gargantuan amount of time begin with ‘Is it wrong to pull the switch’ and ‘Is it wrong to do nothing and let people die’ to more complex variants. These demonstrate the increasingly close link between psychology and philosophy, such as ‘What if the person on the alternate track was your mother’ or ‘What if your family is on one side but your one true love for all eternity is on the other’ and other such themes.

I was thinking today (as usual) of videogames, and at one of the common criticisms they receive. Videogames are too simplistic, they’re all about shooting people and things, they lack subtlety, they’re dramatically impotent.

A videogame exploring the nuances of human interaction between building and spider superpowers.

All of the above are true. Videogames are creating worlds which are burdened by limited technology which tries to mimic the real world. It is a gargantuan task to try and perfectly mimic the nuances of a particular type of cloth falling through an unpredictable pattern of wind. This, however, is precisely where games are at. They try to recreate the most obvious (and therefore simplest to recreate) display of human emotion for the purpose of storytelling there is: violence.

How people used to pose when spear-throwing

Man A throws a spear at Man B. Game determines whether or not it hits by giving a few basic calculations to the physical properties of the scenario.

All too often, though, corners are cut when the calculations required become too complex. If the spear misses Man B and hits the rock behind him. At what angle does the spear ricochet? Does the impact of the spear in the rock cause it to jolt slightly? Does that jolt cause Man C standing on the rock to lose his footing?

The point is, we’re a far cry from the butterfly flapping its wings and causing a tsunami in a videogame.

An early videogame attempts to simulate human emotion.

But we’re trying. AND we’re trying to replicate other facets of human life as well. We’re trying to tell stories. These stories require us to mimic human emotions. Games can ‘script’ themselves to play out in the same way that novels can, but to create a character who responds in a natural way to stimuli requires creating an emotional ‘engine’, the very first baby-step prototypes of which are still laughably simplistic, and will be for a very long time to come.

Our own capacity to learn from birth isn’t all that dissimilar to the trajectory of representation now besetting videogames. The first thing we learn to do as creatures is move our vessels (violence). From there, we begin with identification and communication and eventually conform to societal patterns, and begin the hostile quest of navigating our social world to be as successful as possible.

In such a complex world, how much value does the Trolley Problem really have? Of course, it’s a hypothetical situation, and therefore shouldn’t be a realistic scenario. Moral discussions have been too extreme and too focused on such black-and-white topics as causation / prevention of death to be of significant daily use for some time.

Conflicts of life and death proportions rarely arise in daytime soaps, but they're useful moral teaching tools nonetheless.

They are, however, getting better. Moral study increases its complexity (alongside law) to determine the exact amounts people ought to be taxed for various goods, how to apply human rights in a very wide variety of situations, but the study doesn’t extend into the realm of the petty. Yet it is in this realm of snide comments, unwelcome gestures, fierce body language and more where we are determined to be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ people by our peers.

The fact is that once we’re dealing with moral concerns which are too small to fall under the purview of the legal system, we lose interest. It becomes infinitely more complex, harder to detail and harder to organise and understand.

Google Maps: Helping you not have to ask directions from strangers since 2005!

But what are these minutias if not moral dilemmas? When approaching a stranger on the street to ask for directions (until Google Maps was invented) it is customary to open with ‘excuse me’. This is of course shorthand for a sentence which goes something like ‘Please excuse my transgression of your personal space, I mean you no harm’. If a stranger on a plane points out the beautiful sunset visible from the window to the passenger next to them, is it aggressive? Even if the passenger responds appropriately with a ‘thank you’, is it ‘right’ or ‘good’ to place yourself in another’s space without being asked? Even if the intention is to share something beautiful with them? Each instance of unsolicited comment is ostensibly a ‘demand’ from another person for their attention. Is being demanding of others who are unknown ‘bad’ or must we constantly be ‘excusing’ ourselves for our transgressions?

This is not an area of study which appears very relevant. Surely the Trolley Problem is worth examining because it speaks to humans’ ability to manoeuvre the trickiest of situations, and therefore will determine our worth as a species at a more fundamentally important level. But how many times would it take for the moral transgression of a stranger interrupting someone’s calm without saying ‘excuse me’ before it were worth the same amount of Plato’s ‘evil’ as one instance of a salesman lying to a potential customer to ensure a sale? How many times would a salesman have to lie to that potential customer before the amount of evil were equal to someone neglecting to risk their own life when they knew that to do so would certainly save the life of another?

Of course, I’m not suggesting that ‘evil’ can be quantified, or that it should be. But the trillions upon trillions of instances every single day of the most minor of acts of ‘evil’ (at least in intent if not in scale) are worth examining because they form the fabric of our mundane lives just as much as the extreme instances of selfishness may on the battlefields of war.

There are countless aspects of everyday human interaction which could stand to be put through the rigorous examination of moral scrutiny. What to one person is ‘being friendly’ to another is harassment. What to one person is ‘playing the game of sales’ is to another outright lies. Indeed each and every discourse, arena, region or even time-of-day comes with a different set of social rules which subtly vary the meaning of the smallest of gestures.

Humans begin their lives learning to move, to use their senses to identify their surroundings, to communicate with what they perceive, and finally to learn the rules of engagement. The study of morality begins with the good or evil nature of violence, moves on to consider context (including the ‘letting die’ vs ‘killing’ concept), begins to consider smaller things including deception and lying (communication), and finally to a more thorough examination of the rules of a grand society. Surely the next logical step for morality is to go smaller than it ever has before, and determine the ‘goodness’ or ‘badness’ of the simplest of everyday gestures. As incidences of violence decrease and society reduces its propensity for conflict, morality must concern itself with hitherto unseen dilemmas.

A person’s out-of-line behaviour can sometimes come to a halt when someone is able to point out the social moral rule being broken. In a world where ‘looking at someone funny’ can be grounds for deserving an assault, shouldn’t we strive to establish a workable dialogue about what constitutes the difference between looking at someone ‘regularly’ and ‘funny’? If we were all armed with language which allowed for succinct declarations of what someone was doing wrong in (even the smallest of situations) we’d have more time spent not bickering… in which we can get on our spaceships… and conquer Mars… for looking at us funny.

Posted in Moral Philosophy, Videogames | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Acquisition as Reward in Open-World Videogames

In a rather eloquent speech given by in March of this year, Patrick Liszkiewicz attempted to analyse why so many people (26 million daily at the time) played Farmville. Unlike the SimCity’s of this world, Farmville does not reward players with greater services with which to manage their creations, nore does it give the player more challenging scenarios to unlock, nor does it increase the ‘difficulty’ (if it can so be called) of the gameplay itself. As Liszkiewicz notes, the end result isn’t even aesthetically pleasing. So, he muses, why do so many people play Farmville?

Witness the joy of a banal life! In your spare time!

His conclusion: because so many other people are playing it.

Ignoring the logical flaw in that argument, it’s important to note that Farmville, devoid of the social network from whence it came, would be a passing flash game earning little to no kudos as it quickly became buried by me-too Sim-style clones the browsersphere wide. The simple act of having acquired a certain amount of crops, machinery and other peripheral nonsense is bolstered so severely by the social factor that pride can carry the game the rest of the way, from total obscurity into tens of millions of ‘players’ per day.

Worthwhile in a single player game?

This design cannot carry over into full or moderately priced games, neither boxed nor downloadable. Typical games (non-Facebook ones) must come fully featured with many bonuses, challenges, upgrades, play styles and functions to satisfy the savvy and demanding customers who indulge in them. In the single player world, games must deliver satisfaction which (it must be presumed) will never be bandied about by show-offs eager to display their Tropico 3 prowess to friends. These single player games must offer incentives for continued and repeat play beyond the ‘everyone else is doing it’ notion.

How then do different offline videogames meet the challenge? Certainly, some genres rely little on acquisition as reward, and accordingly pay it little mind.

Notice the things missing from Farmville: variety, complexity, challenge etc.

The narrative-driven action game relies on its players pushing through it for the thrills, the story (when a videogame story is actually half-decent) and more often than not, for sheer progress. After all, one level will, with very few exceptions (except perhaps Halo: Combat Evolved), be entirely different from the last. Reason enough to push on.

The role playing game deals very heavily with acquisition, players permitting such titles to force them to endure the same pseudo-action sequences more times over than *any* other genre without tiring. An arbitrary increase in the number of hit points the enemies possess being marshalled carefully alongside the damage points dealt by the players’ latest weapons actually ends up being enough to keep players interested.

The open-world adventure game is probably the most fledgling genre in terms of acquisition. Most games which fit this mould have some token method of giving the player a sense of achievement for exploring their vast and open landscapes. Since they cannot rely on a new level every few minutes (most offering three ‘areas’), the rewards must be stronger. To give a few examples:

Flag hunting: only PART of a well-balanced side-quest diet.

Assassin’s Creed: This game made the horrific mistake of lacking variety in its execution (literally). It then gave the player a series of towers to scale and flags to find (for some reason), but these were simply adding numbers to a stat (unforgivable outside of role playing games). Ever since Grand Theft Auto 2, the series has known that such arbitrary notions of acquisition such as collectibles strewn throughout a game world can only be used as filler, and should never be relied upon to prop up the entire ‘side-quest’ portion of an open-world experience. Crackdown managed what Assassin’s Creed attempted, but pulled it off. They offered similar simple icons to collect, but had them relate directly to upgrades for the player, and since there was actual skill involved in the acrobatics of the game world, trying to reach those teasing few orbs the developers had dropped in hard-to-reach places was a genuinely enjoyable challenge in itself.

That moment when you've finally saved enough dosh for your next business venture in Vice City: priceless! (Except for the price tag)

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City: What many have deemed the pinnacle of the series was also the game which had the most unique task/reward system. The purchase of a new property was a proud moment in the virtual life of any Vice City player. When you first buy yourself the cab company, pointless though it may seem next to the grandiosity of the Malibu or the sheer criminality of the printing press, you are left positively beaming with excitement. Why? The tiny interiors? The depleted bank account? No, the game attached several pseudo-missions to each purchasable building which had their own pacing and crescendo, leading to that building having been ‘completed’ and starting to earn the player cash. The purchase signified a genuinely new challenge emerging, each and every time.

Ironic that Vice City Stories should lack narrative-based acquisition, given the title.

This method was beloved by fans. Rockstar North tried again in the Vice City PSP redux some years later. In Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, the player had a much more hands-on approach to empire building, in a mode North decided to call ’empire building’. They had exchanged the quasi-narrative-focused build up of each business in favour of generic ‘your business is under attack’ or ‘do a drug run for your business’ errands. The finite nature of these missions in the original Vice City, however, was their silver bullet. There was an end to the mini-episode where you had not only produced the requisite cash to purchase the building, but you felt personally attached to it because you’d been through a lot to make the darn thing profitable. There ended up being little in Vice City Stories to differentiate the businesses from one another, so by the time the player had seen what was on offer, they were already raking in enough cash to leave the side missions be. The business acquisitions therefore ended up being quite similar to the gang territory snatching of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

Meeting yet another repetitive asshole. To make this area playable.

inFamous: In what almost appeared as a rushed out hack of a side-quest routine, Sucker Punch’s inFamous gave the player a handful of mission types (which each increased in difficulty), which repeated endlessly until the game’s end. Narrative for each was isolated and hamstrung at best. But Sucker Punch realised the weakness of their off-story game, and pulled the oldest trick in the book: vital rewards. Who needs cash in Vice City Stories by the time you’re a third of the way through the game? No one, really. But who needs areas of the notoriously hostile Empire City from inFamous to just give them a freaking break once in a while? Everyone. Just knowing that you have the freedom to skate around the city’s train tracks and power lines without getting dropped like a stone by dusters and reapers was so valuable an incentive as to make the grind worthwhile. Of course, if the side missions were more varied and unique to begin with, the rewards needn’t have been so necessary for progression or enjoyment to begin with.

These guys mess your whole game up once you've earned that privilege.

Interestingly, Grand Theft Auto III failed to detect this paradigm, making gangs *start* to attack you as a ‘reward’ for having completed each one’s narrative portion of the game.

What the above few examples all have in common is that unlike traditional 90s open world games, which were predominantly RPGs, action games cannot easily lend their reward systems to stats. A more powerful version of the same machine gun doesn’t cut it – an action game requires a completely new gun with new damage effects; something hitherto unseen with which to wreak havoc on the virtual citizens nearby. This has always limited the genre in terms of tangible rewards considering the development costs of each new useful weapon or item. Developers of such games must take as much care as possible to make the player feel like they’ve earned their upgrades, and that they have a real-world effect.

Key lessons according to Leigh:

  • If you’re going to reward a player with cash, have that cash mean something (see 2006’s Bully).
  • If you’re going to put a player through a repetitive grind (of any kind), the reward has to proportionally increase to match the frustration of familiarity. People will tolerate frustration in this manner if the light at the end of the tunnel is bright enough.
  • Masking the construction of an empire as player-controlled when there are no real choices as to how the empire ends up looking does not work (both Assassin’s Creed II and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories are guilty parties here).
  • Imbuing simple gameplay instances with just a little uniqueness from narrative can be enough to keep us interested. (Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, we salute you!)
  • When all else fails, make it hair-pullingly difficult to progress if you don’t complete the grind. For some reason, it worked. (inFamous just barely got away with it this time but a wag of my finger is armed and ready.)

Leigh H

Demanding a proper incentive strucutre in his open world games since 1998!

Posted in Videogames | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Welcome to my blog!

Okay, it’s been a long time coming that I’ve wanted to be able to actually mouth off about life, the universe and everything, so here we are.

After a rather large bunch of years in the videogame industry, you can safely wager there’ll be a hefty dose of gaming content in here, but flanking that will be my own philosophical musings, notes about web media, film criticism and possibly some social theory/observation.

My pledge: in a disposable online world I shall only post things worth posting… except for this. This is just fluff to say hello. And since I’m being inconsequential, here’s an hilarious image!

I also reserve the right to make dad's jokes.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments