• Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by itsamoose

  1. Dishonesty in Storytelling

    I recently had a little break from work and finally had a chance to sit down and play Dragon Age: Oranges Origins and am really torn about it. First off I generally like the game, but mainly because there is just so much there and I'm particularly drawn to things with a lot of hidden depth that you can really sink your teeth into. Since i'm rather late to the party on this one, I've had the opportunity to go around the internet and see what others thought of this game, and the general feeling I get is that the combat system worked for certain people, but the story elements are almost universally loved. In my mind the problem with the combat mechanics is that they seem to be indifferent to the fact the game takes place in a 3D world (magic spells go through walls, characters must be at a very precise distance away to melee attack, etc), but the system I believe is competent enough for it to be fun. My big problem with the game so far isn't necessarily in the action of the story, but in the way thematic elements are presented. Bioware seems to have this desire to have some meaningful allegory to the real world in its story, but since virtually everything is also folded into the combat system and world I can't see it as anything other than a dishonest or perhaps juvenile representation of the real world. Take the mages for example. For those that don't know, in this world certain people are born with some kind of magical ability, and are generally feared or outright loathed. This seems to be where the writers at Bioware want to talk about Racism/homophobia/other horrible things, but they have an extreme divergence from the real world. First off, homosexuals (at least to my knowledge) cannot launch fireballs from their hands. Neither can african, asian, native american or any other people. In the real world this discrimination is based on irrational fear, but in the game it is based on an entirely rational one, and the conflation of the two really irks me. Another example is the game allowing the player to make atheistic or agnostic statements about the in world religion. However throughout a few points in this game you come across the physical manifestation of these religious elements. You actually speak to the equivalent of Jesus' disciples, artifacts of this religion actually, explicitly, cure disease. Imagine if the shroud of turin was able to consistently cure cancer, or if we had hard evidence that the holy grail imbues everlasting life. To be an atheist in this world is more akin to being a holocaust denier than a principled thinker. I've noticed this kind of thing in games before (mostly Bioware games, to be honest) but it has never bothered me until playing through DA:O. I like the idea of games tackling some of these more difficult subjects, but I can't help but feel like we've always gone about it the wrong way. I also came across a quest last night where one character is facing old age, but rather than simply present an old woman dealing with the approaching end of her life they felt the need to make it the result of some spirit's meddling. Is it just me, or is the explicit systemization of thematic elements in games just a bad idea?
  2. US Military use of War Games

    If you are interested in the history of wargames or at least formalized wargames, I'd recommend this book. I'm about halfway through it currently, its quite an interesting read.
  3. Dishonesty in Storytelling

    What I meant by this is essentially what is the basis of the design and what is the result of it. Do you start with a set of mechanics, and then try to fit some theme to them, or the other way around. For example you could take a brawler of some description and simply change the health bar to a "happiness meter" and the health pickups to SSRIs, but that doesn't make the game about depression (and is quite crude and gross, I'm certainly not suggesting anyone do this). All you have really done is taken a set of mechanics that can exist independent of a theme, and applied some arbitrary theme to them. This is, in my opinion, what leads to clashes between a game's theme and mechanics where that conflict need not exist. On the other end of the spectrum you could say I'm going to make a game about depression, then implement mechanics that fit as opposed to some pre-defined system, as seen in Depression Quest. I would imagine most games are somewhere between these two extremes. This is a great example of the latter version. The idea of a game where you have a theme, and then apply whatever mechanics to it that make sense. Maybe the distinction here is ultimately useless because mechanics are so malleable, and the kind of problems I'm complaining about can only be seen when the overall implementation is poor. I agree that if the point you want to make is a systemic one, then make it systemic, but more often than not I think this particular aspect is rather one dimensional. Also I don't hope to have any conclusions drawn from this, its something I've been thinking about recently (particulary with regard to long form RPG systems) and wanted to get some other opinions on it. Thanks to everyone for the input so far.
  4. Where to Find Game Assets (Audio/Textures/Models/Etc)

    Turbosquid has a few free models, probably not great for the final product but will work for prototyping.
  5. Dishonesty in Storytelling

    I haven't played any of Rod Humble's games or Cart Life, but from what I understand they use mechanics to support the theme rather than the other way around. The characters' starting states, for example, are based on their life experiences rather than some statistic or racial identity. When developers start trying to have the theme of a game inform it's mechanics, problems seem to arise, except in rare cases where the theme and mechanics overlap (Bioshock, Spec Ops: The Line, etc) which seem to be exceedingly rare. Perhaps I was jumping to conclusions with that explanation, I'm only 1/4 to 1/3 of the way into DA:O so far (I think). Although something like this exists in a number of games in things like priest/cleric classes or some in-world objects.
  6. Dishonesty in Storytelling

    I don't think the actual existence of the deity is the issue, rather that the belief in the deity gives (as bkbroiler put it) immediate and material benefits. Imagine if simply being a Christian made you run faster, jump higher, or have a higher IQ than people with other belief systems.
  7. Dishonesty in Storytelling

    While that comparison does make more sense on the surface, going a little deeper I still feel it has the same problem. That is to say, having the ability to use magic (read mental health issue) is almost seen as a benefit. To me this prevents the game from saying anything substantial about mental health issues if, in fact, it has this kind of idea about them. This makes more sense to me, but I have a hard time saying anything definitive since I don't know the intentions of the writers. Edited for clarity
  8. Unity Tutorials

    Most of these are video tutorials, but here are the places I've found most useful 3DBuzz - Lots of unity specific stuff, as well as modelling, general programming, and other software packages. I actually taught myself C# by watching their XNA 101 series. Infinite Skills - Similar to 3DBuzz, but with a few more advanced tutorials such as Networking in Unity BurgZerg Arcade - A series of tutorials mostly focused around creating an Action RPG Unify Community Wiki - This actually took me a bit to find. Has a plethora of unity related resources, scripts, etc. Unity3D Student - I haven't tried this one, but it looks good for beginners Unity Learn Modules - A bunch of tutorials either made or commisioned by Unity. MSDN C# Reference - Microsoft's reference for C#. Not unity specific but quite helpful for scripting. Gamasutra - This is just a link to one of the many Unity-focused tutorials on Gamasutra Pixel Prospector - Great site for all this indie game development, lots of stuff listed here There are a couple more I can't seem to remember but they are mostly repeats.
  9. Dishonesty in Storytelling

    I'd actually prefer to see games handling these kinds of topics, I just don't see the need to tie them in to the game's systems. To me, that is where you start to run into weird thematic issues that only exist because the designers make an attempt to quantify ideas like love, faith, and happiness (usually represented as some kind of progress bar).
  10. Movie/TV recommendations

    No, the ending was quite abrupt, but since the movie had been so weird up until that point it didn't seem too far off base.
  11. Movie/TV recommendations

    Has anyone see the movie Her yet? I went to go see it last night and absolutely loved it. It is one of those rare instances of science fiction not focusing on some kind of dystopia or military conflict, and does so beautifully. If you haven't seen it yet, is an illustration of the overall tone of the film (NSFW). It has a way of being romantic, funny, and serious all at the same time.
  12. I haven't played Rome II as extensively as most (only about 20 hours at this point) but I find myself less enthused each time I load up the game. My room mate on the other hand has put in about 180 hours into the game so far (Steam says 360 hours, but he tends to leave his PC on for long stretches of time). I watched him play a bit last night, and it seems like even that far into the game the experience doesn't really change from the beginning. He's unable to field the size of an army he needs, is constantly dealing with revolutions and uprisings and at this point is really just treading water. The whole game seems like effort was spent on marginal changes that in aggregate could greatly affect the game, but are so convoluted that they can't be understood. I got the same feeling playing Rome II as I did playing Ryse--the designers really like the movie Gladiator. While I enjoyed some of Ryse's absurdities (they were largely tangential, mostly big burly guys growling about honor and vengeance and a bit of gore), the number of levers and minute considerations it leads to in this game seems completely unnecessary. I've been a big fan of the total war games up until this point, but I can't shake the feeling that there was little oversight on this project. I still can't really figure out how the orientation of my house really affects the game, and all the upgrades and other trinkets you get along the way seem to make little difference in the way the battles unfold. There is even a feature where you can as if you were a third person shooter. I feel a bit like a bully at this point for ganging up on the game, but I can't shake the feeling that no one was at the helm for this game's development. I'd really like to hear the reasoning behind these kinds of decisions from the designers themselves if you can manage to get one of them to appear on the show. From the outside it seems like the developers were more concerned with the appearance of the simulation than the actual simulation. I'm hopeful to here that Caesar in Gaul addresses some of these issues, but at this point I just don't think I'm willing to slog through the rest.
  13. This actually isn't terribly uncommon. Back in college I conducted a study on "Lookism", which is loosely defined as preferential treatment of people based on their appearance. That study, though limited in scope, was based on one where researchers found that exaggerated features on something tended to make people prefer it less to similar objects without those features. I can't seem to find the original article my study was based off of at the moment, but what was interesting about it was that this was true of everything from coffee makers to pets to people.
  14. Episode 190: The XCom Review Show

    I tend to agree here, it seems as though a good deal of the difficulty comes from not a reliable means of dealing with specific situations, most notably running into a pack of aliens after having spent most of my squad's action points, or when a squad member panics. Thinking back on all the missions I've failed, that failure seems to always be a result of my inability to act as opposed to an action I've taken. I've completed a playthrough on normal, and am a few missions into a classic campaign now, and seem to be favoring strategies that avoid these situations as opposed to finding new ways through them. One mission stands out in particular, where my entire squad was killed in due to all of them being in a constant state of panic over the course of 3 turns. While I very much enjoyed this experience, I haven't as of yet found a reliable means of lessening the chances of this taking place, or countering it directly on the tactical or strategic levels. Regardless of this, I am still very much enjoying the game.