Thursday, 14 February 2008

Week 10 - The Elements of Game Design - Story and Character

Its got to be said, characters can make or break a game, or any story. After all, they are the ones you control, listen too and interact with. Obviously TV programs and films are different in the way that you do not interact, plus the fact that a film only has 2-3 hours to introduce, develop and explain a character, where as books, games and TV programs can take longer.

The first games to really bring characters into them were games like Full Throttle. They actually used voice actors and were able to develop them which added so much more depth to the game.

I also find it interesting to play Grand Theft Auto 3, and to notice how the main character never speaks a word! But yet the story still keeps you hooked. I think this is due to the characters around you and how they have strong but different personalities.

When I play a game or watch a film, the script can really make a difference, for example the film Enemy at the Gates, a film about the rise or a russian sniper during WW2. It had an epic story line and battle scenes but was let down by a terrible script in my opinion (and Jude Law).

Bad acting can make just as much difference. Take Assasins Creed. Altair, possibly the coolest looking and moving character I've ever seen in a game, but was played by some American (in the Middle East!) who sounded more wooden than my desk, and weakened the character as a result.

Though, I think that it is very important to have convincing and nice looking characters, because first impressions really count. Whether you think it or not, your mind will automatically asses something (or someone in our case) within the first few seconds of seeing it, and make a judgement. It's then up to the writer and actor to build their personality and change that persons mind to how they want you to see that character.

So when you first saw me, you would have made a subconscious decision on whether you liked me or not.....I wonder if its changed?

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Week 9 - An introduction to Game Technology

Throughout my gaming life I've used about 15 controllers from different systems, from the basic but classic snes controller to the bulky and clumbsy xbox pad. As controllers they all do fine and serve their purpose, but sometimes it's the little touches that can really make it stand out from the rest.

Take for example the z button on the back of the n64 controller that made it feel alsmost gun like, or the c stick on the gamecube controller which looked alot like a nipple. One thing I have noticed is that Nintendo seem to be the ones who take on new ideas and have really pushed the idea of a game controller along. Their latest game pad the wii-mote is something completely different and never used before in games, and for that I praise Nintendo (although I am not the biggest fan of the wii), they are always in search of new ideas rather that churning out the same old thing.

As far as my favourite controller goes, I'd have to say the PS2/3 (as theyre more or less the same) is the most functional, and you can see this from the way that it 'hasn't' developed much over the years. A close second would have to be the gamecube controller because it was just so damn comfortable. It felt like it was moulded to fit your hands, as if you'd pressed your hands into a ball of clay and made a controller out of it.

Looks though, is a different matter. The N64 pad was iconic, with its three handles almost looking like some sort of hybrid super-controller. The PS3 pad however, is a bit too industrial looking for my tastes with its perfect cricles and straight lines. But it shocks me to say that the xbox 360 controller is my favourite for looks, partly because I'm not a huge fan of it. I think it's the smoothness and curved contours that draw me to it.

When I look at the future of gaming I can see controllers moving more towards motion sensing, even though I do not think it enhances the gaming experience a great deal. Who knows, maybe one day we'll be able to hook ourselves up to a PS5 and let our minds be the controllers.