Friday, June 18, 2010

The Kind of Shooting & Swinging More Games Need

A New Type of Shooter

A sort-of recurring complaint of mine these days is that not nearly enough games make use of the in-play camera. There's a sort of tendency for this to be ignored in a larger context for quite a few reasons. A big contributor is that PC gamers always have access to this in one way or another (and the progeny of all PC gamers still affect consoles significantly). The second extends into 'real life' and is indicative of how shallow most people have become now. One can learn quite a bit about someone by giving them a DSLR of any type and demanding that they 'go take pictures'. An instant reaction to my complaint here usually runes along the lines of:

"Well wtf am I supposed to do with a camera? Take pics? That's not fun!"

Anyone that writes about their experiences with games will/should easily be able to empathize with my demands here, as the simple relation of a one's vision through a photo is like --- I don't know, photography? There's a tendency to avoid the mere notion of 'art' and photography is one of the biggest proponents of this ignorance. This is to say, the willful avoidance of craftily organizing one's one sight of the world. Yes, it makes you an artist, no it does not make you special. It's one of the most easily accessible forms of art there is, but at the same time it isn't, as the craft is DAMN expensive. That in itself kind of bolsters my case for more in-game cameras, as developers can build a simulation of even the most expensive DSLRs in their titles; if there's one thing gamers are actually good at, it's the fanatics making use of the tools they're given. How about an achievement that unlocks such a feature/upgrades (instead of some dumbass trophy)?

Given that so many games are quickly becoming so visually dense, it only makes sense to capture some of those moments using the digital age we live in. It means more to me as a single-player experience, but I'm aware that the social-bugs can make just as much use of them (take a look at Halo 3 for example). Outside of some of the more well-known titles, simply having a sliver of one's experience can be thunderously rewarding. Gamers are always raising endless arguments for their personal creation of context (and also how the developers are meant to communicate to them that context). However, when push comes to shove, asking them to actually display a piece of themselves in that argument is equal to hurling dirt clods at a house and expecting it to fall over.

Oh, and don't even get me started on trying to find a decent screencap of a game (sans the horrific watermarks you sites sometimes plaster on your images) either. This would easily kill off that not having a decent shot of a game. I don't mind the developers watermarking an image, but game sites doing it is just an obnoxious and unnecessary filter I'm tired of veering around.


Thanks to Michael Abbott, I was linked to an 'Iwata Asks' segment of Nintendo's E3 site. Amidst the conversations on several of their revealed projects at E3 was the one I'm obviously most interested in, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. There's a conflation with my complaints in terms of what Twilight Princess did/did not do and it's one both Aonuma and Miyamoto admit to in this video. The density of play in Twilight Princess for example, was very ---- for lack of a better term, erratic. It ended up becoming far more counterproductive and it simply didn't help that another title had launched right alongside it. Admitedly, had not Okami launched in the same year, I probably never would have even noticed something like that (but let's avoid that comparison today). However it did, and it has affected the Zelda franchise in general to some extent, at least to an extent we all should pay attention to now. It's almost admitted by them in the video that the Wii individually was meant to communicate their ideas of a 'better way to play'. I among many have a knee-jerk reaction to the mere utterance of that, but there is a certain train of thought explained that I can respect (and by extension, give a chance too).

That admittance was the portion of the video where Miyamoto comments on the Wii MotionPlus, which essentially turns the Nintendo Wii into what we were all hoping for to begin with. The control which Skyward Sword now grants the player over their weapon is significantly more resolute than that of Twilight Princess (i.e. waggle). The problem now is that Nintendo squandered its reserves by launching Twilight Princess to begin with. That's not meant to bash the game but rather point out the degree to which it will deflate the actual prominence and awe the new sword palatability is meant to communicate. Many of 'us' will end up taking it for granted simply because we're familiar with and complacent to the Wii's entire visage now. This means that Shiggy & Aonuma's excitement in design becomes layered behind yet another slab of 'language'. It also means that at the end of the day, granting Skyward Sword's most ideal release, its greatest muscle becomes 'lost in translation'.

Concerning the game's new visual path, I'd have to say I'm a bit torn in two. First and foremost, I'm not a fan of Impressionism. Even given its proxy to Romanticism, it's a bit too proud of being an excessive tangent spawned from that movement (liking the parent doesn't mean I have to enjoy their bratty child). On the other hand, there's a distinct factor I'm willing to admit excitement for towards the game's release: use of movement and light (both very key to Impressionist works). Only those at E3 have actually seen how the game moves up close, but this also sheds light (no pun intended) on a darker side of the game's visuals as well; this is that I think only a few (even Nintendo here to some extent) will look at the game's usage of such a period beyond the general gist of:

"Omg cool! It's using a relatively popular 19th century art period as inspiration! I shallowly feel a bit more cultured now!"

They're actually more likely to just say 'cool! art!' these days, but you get my idea...

The way this game moves and feels is going to be immensely important now. The way its landscapes are rendered, the way those polygons move, and everything the light touches will become subject to intense scrutiny to those such as myself. Color is also an extremely important factor, but my detesting of it as an artistic ideal renders my opinion here a bit --- unstable. I don't like the colors that were shown in the trailer and I don't expect that to change over the next year. I will however, easily get over them, granted the game efficiently makes use of any of the above factors in relation to it. If there's a way to make the models 'bleed' to some extent, Nintendo might be on to something huge. As it stands though, I expect the Ueda games to remain one of the few (if not only) Impressionistically visualized games in existence (and I don't think those guys really did it on purpose either).