Sunday, 25 March 2007

Week 3 - Pixels and Brainstorms

Back again! I've been a few weeks late updating this blog, I got a little lazy here and there - not to worry, it is in the past... I was considering lumping the two weeks together in a single entry, however I feel it would be easier to read if I kept them separate.

Well this week we were introduced to the 8bit computer game 'defender'. We played this on the class computers and competed for the best score. I didn't really play it that much however. I found it interesting seeing a side scrolling game with an interface that has been duplicated and mimicked by so many games - even recent ones. There is a small radar-like display showing terrain and enemies / ally parachutists that are off-screen, which enables the player to use more strategy by utilizing this additional visual information.

Funny just as I was typing this [at 5am on a Sunday morning, check my sleep blog for an explanation], there was a huge BANG outside my window (Ponsonby Road) - I rush to my window... and there at the intersection, a white car with a mangled tail-end limped to the side of the road, whilst the 4WD vehicle that hit the back of the white car sped off into the distance. A gray saloon car witnessed the collision, and the driver performed a quick 'U' turn proceeding to chase after the 4WD [probably to grab its number plate digits] however it soon returned to accompany the victim.

- In this case, the white car would be the parachutist [victim], the 4WD would be the enemy [or coward] and the gray saloon would be the rescuer i.e. the player.

Well anyway, after this we had a group discussion about what we enjoyed to play and what we would like to see in our game. To elaborate a little: What the theme/feel would be; possible story-lines; crazy ideas; what we DIDN'T want in the game etc.

I found this a valuable exercise for it allowed me to get a grasp on what sort of games my classmates like, and it seemed to present to me in an abstract form what peoples ideologies and work ethic would be like. Whether they have a short attention span, what aesthetic each person prefers, and most importantly - the discussion gave some strong clues to the culture and influences that these people were surrounded with. How could this be?

Because game provide us with immersion and temporarily mask our immediate physical reality, they have a powerful effect on the structure of the brain... our imaginations, the way we approach situations. Even if these in-game experiences may only indirectly influence our life (rather than applying game rules to reality, such as... if I shoot this person in real life, they will just re-spawn elsewhere or even as soon as I go off-screen, plus I'll get points for the kill [yeah right]), I believe that our dreams; our interactions with humans and the environment; emotion; comparing new experiences to past experiences for memory etc etc... all may draw upon our choices and memories taken from playing video games.

What is interesting is I may relate a new experience like say... stumbling across a waterfall in a dense rainforest - to a similar waterfall I passed by in a game. This may be the sound, the visuals or the emotion. Heck - the real life waterfall could trigger an in-game memory of a meteorite that hit the earth which sent a shock-wave through my hair, which fell like a golden shower, which reminds me of when I last lifted a reality toilet seat, and depressed the flush button, sending my fallen processed bodily fluids gushing and surging through the waterlogged toilet pipe.
Which brings me to the opposite of this. Which is however - not unrelated.
When I read a story, I will usually draw upon my real life experiences to create that imagery for me to involve myself [visually] in the story. It most probably be an amalgamation of many separate visual experiences to create a final coherent one to fit the description the story gives me in the way that I see fit. This visual statement may likely evolve and/or alter over time as more written detail is given to me.

I feel that in a game with graphics, very little imagination is necessary, for in most instances all the imagining has been done by the art department and what the gamer is interacting with is a final product of their thinking and tinkering. Same goes with movies, except with movies there is no interaction with the environment, only transportation into another's perspective and way of seeing. Games, novels and poetry have these limits also, however not to the same degree as the static physical state of film [frames are static images, game engines are often not, unless previously rendered].
Games, written stories and poetry as their mediums generally require far more brain power than film.


Jason said...

Dude, you rock, keep it up. This is acceptable trade for that "betrayal" essay you owe me :P

Can you think of ways the games could be less scripted and imagination external? Is there something there that could be used in our game?

Good points, well covered


JosephExplosive said...

Thanks! I appreciate it. Funny I was going to do a blog on that IT vs. games vs. students vs. HOD vs. Tutor altercation but it completely slipped my mind.

About in game visualising... sure. I'll dedicate a section in this week's blog to discussing that.
If anything comes out of it, I may present the resultant ideas to the team.