Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Academic Inegrity

I can't get this idea out of mind. It's nothing too profound:

While working on my Masters in Film Music composition, I have already geared my studies toward video game music and interactive media. If you are no stranger to any video game blogs or industry news, then you would know of the rise in market share held by video game publishers. Granted we are now finding out that the video game industry is not recession proof, as it was previously thought, it is still a media giant.

I have been dialoguing my interests with a professor, the head of the film scoring dept, and he empathizes with my struggle for creativity and originality in video games as he had a similar experience with the less then warm treatment of film music by the academic world. So I pass the dude today, and in our talking he drops some little nugget about how he sees that many students are focusing on the video game industry, particularly in the music tech department.

Meanwhile, back at the apt:

I start up the F.E.A.R 2 demo, which I only played on recommendation from a classmate (a dude I respect intellectually, but not his video game tastes) and I just thought it was a perfect example of the watered down crap American developers pass off as "cool" and cutting edge. It was a fucking nightmare, and not because it was scary because it wasn't. The controls go from twitch-tastically unwieldly to tank-ish ooze walking. The cues that were supposed to draw you in to the atmosphere were just confusing and off putting.

Now in my "Audio for Games" class, I get to take my first look at the unreal engine.

This is not how to make games. It is essentially a multi-tool where you take this poorly designed little "cutouts" and place them throughout the environment, hopefully out of the way enough so that passing rockets don't interfere on their way to make giblets out of some 10-year-old. You can choose "Awesome High Textured Machine Gun" or "Halo-esque Floaty Legged vehicle"

It just bugs me. I mean, obviously I want to make a buck, work regularly and be creative, but this lowest common demoninator game making is the equal of a jerry bruckheimer or that other asshole who made transformers whose name I can't think of right now because I'm partly watching the "Colbert Report".

Basically, I am committed to this industry artistically as much as I am dependant on of it financially. I really don't have the patience now to articulate that, but I will in time.

I just chose to shit on people now, it was brainless and rude. but chathartic.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Psych-Fi II

I feel as if my previous response to a truly significant game like "Psychonauts" was inadequete. I mean, what exactly is the point of me writing this blog if not to say the things I feel are significant; ideas that people haven't expounded on yet. This becomes particularly important with a game like "Psychonauts".

I think my response was only so short because of the time that has passed between the release of "Psychonauts" and the discussions that have already been held. In this case, it is just me showing up so late to the party.

The thing I can say that I feel is unique is to focus on the actual gameplay mechanics of "Psychonauts" and it's pitch perfect platforming design. There is a never a point where conceptual design takes prominence over actual playability, and there is certainly a dose of experimentation when it comes to the twisted world that "Psychonauts" resides in. Wether you are progressing up a series of barely connected platforms deep within the recesses of the wind of a paranoid psychotic or sliding "up" a ladder in a grotesque circus bit top, there is always a organic nature to the design in which the next jump is clearly designated.

The fusion between concept and gameplay is so tightly connected that there is never really a seperation between the two. The levels are chock full of appropriate props and themes where in each jump, swing, tightrope walk or pole climb, is part of a greater narrative scheme.

Truly brilliant. I will stop at that, and just say that "Psychonauts" is probably one of the most simply enjoyable games I have played in the last 5 years.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I finally have had the privelage of completeing Tim Shafer's "Psychonauts" and I don't even know where to begin with the praise. It is apparent that so much thought and care was put into every aspect of creating this game. It is hard to say anything new at this point; years after the release of the game and the subsuquent backlash over the less then stellar sales, which lead to some of the most profound discussions regarding the success of actual inovation in an financially reliant industry. All I would like to say is that the their such a complete vision that runs throughout the entirety of the game. Every character you meet is interesting and memorable and when allowed access to their minds, there is dramatic and psychological depth that far surpasses the seemingly silly outer artistic layer. "Psychonauts" has everything a great videogame experience is made out of.

On the handheld front, I began "Moon". "Moon" is a FPS on the Nintendo DS which was created as an original IP by Renegade Kid and Mastiff. Renegade Kid is a pretty new studio, responsible for last years "meh" DS FPS, "Dementium: The Ward". Mastiff has had several hands in producing a bunch of Japanese beat-em-ups, some alright and some not so alright. Either way, the meat and potatoes of "Moon" is a Doom-esque romp through a glowing sci-fi futuristic lab facility. The gameplay is there, I will admit that, its fun, not too complicated and has some adventure qualities to it that enhance the experience by drawing you in. The problem with a game like "Moon" is that it just doesn't live up to the sophistication that science fiction has already shown itself capable of displaying. Another crew-cutted personality-less space marine dude sent into a mysterious facility filled with pugnacious robot enemies with some human enhancing product being created. The big break so far is that this "super serum" is produced using the aid of human organs (*shudder*).

I know, right.

Its nice to look at and its fun to play, but it isn't going to stay with you after you finish. I got "Elebits: The Adventure of Kai and Zero" waiting in the ranks after I complete "Moon", so at least I got that to look forward too.

Oh yea, and about that so called "big article" I was going to write. I'm putting it off for a while, I don't want to spoil anything so I won't reveal any content or subject, but its going to be really interesting. I will let you (aka nobody) know about the progres in the future.