The Unbearable Awesomeness Of Being

Friday, November 26, 2004

I Shot The Sheriff

Have you heard of JFK Reloaded? Of course you have. At this moment, only trichordates and foreigners have not heard about the game that destroys everything that America stands for by allowing you, as Lee Harvey Oswald, to shoot at Kennedy's digital noggin.

Personally, I'm impressed. Most people don't think of videogame as art, but it's certainly capable of messing with emotions and causing controversy as the best art can do. Escatologists, rejoice: The human moral can still be jabbed painfully, you just need 3D Studio. Nobody batted an eyelid at the Osama Bin Laden or Hitler-killing games, because they're obvious and patent archetypes of Evil. Kennedy is a symbol of Good, and attacking him means you are attacking all that is Good by proxy.

Why people are being so vitriolic at JFK Reloaded? It's a Stair Dismount with a president's face on the doll. It offers a prize for hitting the bullseye. I theorize it's because it jabs at one of the most complex and brittle axioms of human thought: That imagining doing something, and actually doing that thing, are unrelated things. State and religion across the ages has tried to restrain thoughts in order to restrain actions, and there's the ever present fear that putting an idea in a person's head might make them act on it. Doctrination, the game humanity has played upon itself since it decided a straight bipedal stance would help with the ladies.

In conclusion: 2005, WTC Reloaded. It's just a simulation.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

To Play The Impossible Play

The Theory Of Fun website (Not linked because of religious reasons) sustains that people seek but are bored by routine in games. Personally, I'd say people seek but are quickly bored by easy rewards in games. However, I like their idea of making puzzles the maker doesn't know the solution of. Games are usually a challenge of wits or skill between the player and the creator (Kojima knows that), and if the maker is dumb, the player will win easily.

The HAWT solution of the moment is to use other players instead. But is it possible to, say, guard a sidequest item behind a monster you have no idea whether anyone will be able to defeat? I managed to do that in DROD once, with a corridor 4 tiles wide full of goblins. I had no idea how to get through it, and some testers showed me. (I forgot again.) DROD makes this easy to do, since the 'large mob of goblins' monster can vary between utterly deadly in open quarters to dead meat in a narrow corridor. Just add and remove walls to suit the difficulty to your liking. Of course, there -was- the possibility the thing was impossible, in which case I might have been lynched.

Perhaps the way is to make a random or genetic puzzle/monster builder, with a solver that ensures there is SOME way to defeat it. Make a couple of hundred, scatter them across the countryside, and watch the players make for your throat.

Videogames in Violence

Videogames are violent. TV told you that, the RIAA told you that, your mom told you that. You've tried the argument, 'but mom, TV is much more violent!' and it obviously did not work, because nobody watches TV by choice. TV is not just a habit, it's reflex. Where was I? Oh, yeah.

Anyway, in this article I forgot where it was, they were interviewing kids on what they think. One particular homeschooled 14-year-old girl came up with the idea of 'coming up with something to replace violence that boys of all ages would like.'

At that point, I was enlightened. I bet you understand, too.

It's time for videogames to have more sex.

More love, less war. Enough with Peach just 'baking a cake' for Mario in return of him passing through an entire mutant turtle horde with nothing but two boots and an incredibly resilient forehead. Enough with Meryl and Aeris and lord knows how many hero's girls dying before the end of act two. THE FUTURE IS THE NOOKIE. Will Wright knows it and he is rich. You know what to do.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004


Remember text adventures? Excuse me - interactive fiction. Nowadays it's about as niche as stamp collecting, but why is it so niche? I'm sure interactive stories can entice people. (Japanese dating games prove that.)

Personally, I think it's the fact IF technology stopped in 1980. No further effort has been made to evolve from the roboticized commands (PUSH CRATE. UNLOCK DOOR WITH KEY. ASSIMILATE.) and standardized puzzles. The thousand-fold increase in computing power went completely past the Inform/TADS crowd. This is mostly because programmers, not unlike certain species of birds, have preferred to use all the extra computer cycles in making games shinier, instead of smarter. IF is notoriously hard to make shiny.

I'm not sure how IF can benefit from computer superpower, but I'm sure something can be done. A better parser, a better object system. A new world is possible.