Thursday, November 3, 2005

MGS highlight

During yesterday's Neil Young keynote, he talked about "innovation" (more rant on this later - innovation my ass) and the keynote was titled "can a game make you cry?"

The basic message was "immersion requires big budget high quality HD-type content if people are going to buy it".

During the Q&A, a french canadian developer got up there. Not a wimpy looking guy, your typical tatoo'd programmeur-du-jour, and said the following (written in phonetic-quebecois-english for full effect)

"You talk about de need for critical acclaim. And you talk about de need for de big boodget. Der is a painting in France called de monah-leesah. It is famous. It might be very expensif too, if you can buy it, but you can't buy it."

Then he pulls out a peice of loose leaf paper from his pocket and unfolds it, holding it up in front of 600+ people, to show a cartoon drawing. Noticably choked up, he says, "Dis is a picture dat my son drawed for me. This drawing makes me cry, and de monah leesah doesn't effect me one damn bit".

I think that Neil thought he was a crackpot, and gave a tepid answer. I thought it was the most profoud comment of the conference. Spore team, you listening? User-created content has a whole lot more impact if you love the creator.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Americans who admit to learning anything from French guys are kidnapped during the night, executed, then fed to the masses via fast foot outlets nationwide.

Jeffool said...

Wow, now that's a hell of a way to prove your point. I like it.

Touches to humanize games are so often done in a generic authoritarian way rather than by exploiting the one advantage games have, their interactivity. Normally you'll hear a sappy song, see a skewed shot of a photo of the lead character's long-lost girlfriend, etc. Things that imitate visual and audial cues created by film to evoke a desired emotion.

Instead, I'd love to see more of what Black & White did. It pulled contact information from Outlook and used the names of friends and family as names for villagers in the game. Could you imagine GTA:San Andreas if 'your' mother died? And 'your' brother was hassling you? And 'your' friends were conspiring against you?

Sure there should always be default characters, in case players want actual escapism. But maybe if there was an open framework explicitly for games to get info about players, it would be easier for more games to incorporate? I mean, I don't know why people have to create more than one 'avatar' for any sports game from EA. You'd think you could save one character and use him across all future games. There's infinite ways to interact with the player moreso than keystroke and mouse movement.

Great, I'm on a rant now. I'll have to blog about this myself. (Nice blog, by the by.)

Craig Perko said...

I've been thinking a lot about the same idea. My question is: can you design a game which is built specifically to get players to invest themselves ("love") in the things they have made?

Hmmm... SecondLife doesn't do it: although some people certainly love the things they've made, it doesn't help them to love what they have made.

I wonder at the best way to do it. I have some ideas, but none of them are easily implemented...

kim said...

Craig, Jeffool: Neither of you seemed to be grokking my point, though you made valid ones of your own. My point was this: I'd ranted a while back about how 99% of user-created content will be crap. I will now re-write that rule: 1% of user created content will be of mass-audience appeal. Another 20% may be of interest to a small community: That author's friends and family.

Anonymous: Soilent Green is PEOPLE!!!

Chris Wombat said...

-Sent here from IGDA recap of Game Summit.
Kim is right, the whole speech was trumped by that guy and his drawing. What to do with that?
So I think that the point is that you make a game where the player can create stuff that matters to him and is able to show it to other people who are interested. They are not able to force it onto others.
Ok, now to integrate that into my current work...
And Soylent Green is French Cuisine? (wow, that rhymes too!)
Great blog Kim! thanks.
Cheers.

neil said...

The guy may or may not have been a crackpot, but his point was really well taken.

Anonymous said...

For the "feeling in video games" stuff, I'd say user created content is just one of many way to achieve it.
In my mind, it is not the best because a lot of it is made just to fool around with the system and has no real emotional value to the creator (I encountered that a lot in Animal Crossing). Well.. I may be wrong, it depends how it is used. I like, what you said about Black & White and Outlook. But it is to be used with caution since out of game references may also destroy the suspension of disbelief.

The other way I see that is not often discussed is simply the good old drama like they have in movies and novels. I dont know how many times I heard about that part in Final Fantasy VII where a character (Aegis?) dies and it is so moving that people stop playing out of sadness. I also recall a lot of the drama from Final Fantasy II (1991) that simply moved me everytime I played.

As for myself, I'm working on a "zombie adventure game" where you have to save randomly generated NPC from the zombies.

My goal is to build a strong drama but that is non-linear. To avoid the pitfall of "multi-path", I instead use the randomly created NPC to fill in roles that are complementary to the game. That way, I can keep the control on the flow of the drama but still gives the player a feeling of accomplishment that lasts until the end of the game (the more NPC he saves, the more interaction with them will be present in the later stages of the game).

The guy from www.lostgarden.com had something similar with his space opera game "space crack" concept.

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