Wednesday, November 19, 2008

MIGS (Post 4 of N): Randy Smith's talk

Randy's talk was entitled "Games are Art, and what to do about it."


As I get older, my attention is turning away from games and toward other media. Play less frequently these days [me too!]. Is this because I've changed? Games have? or are they not changing in the same way I am? Decided to spend some time thinking about this.

Some games I worked on (Thief , Thief II, dark messiah, Deus Ex, System shock)

Lots of talk about “games and art”. I spent some time thinking about this. 
Looked at some other media. 
Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics: pic of Superman vs Maus 
- ‘Closure is the space between the panels’
- Is Interactivity the games equivalent of Closure?
[McCloud is must-read for everyone in games. This one and reinventing comics as well]

Well, what is interactivity:
Interactivity: “How user input is translated into Activity on the screen”
Good enough definition for this lecture.
- Magnitude of interactivity is how much the game listends to and applies player input
- (indigo prophesy reference) Discrete vs (Tony hawk) analog
- Stepwise vs continuous
- Isolated vs connected
- Designer-authored vs player authored

"choose your own adventure" books are really “choose between several of someone else’s adventure” books

- Interactivity is technical …for now…

Language of cinema

- Media literacty (example of day-to-night fade. Used to be the film had to 'explain' this wasn't an eclipse, just elapsed time - by say showing a guy waking up in the morning)
- Dialog and such (no interactivity)
- Shooting, running (lots – because we know how to do it)

- Magnitude of interactivity

A functional definition of art

“Joseph campell – The hero with a thousand faces”

- Consistent trends
- Certainty of death
- Need for connection
- Fundamental isolation
- Stories as functional

Robert mckee [missed the quote/definition]
- Any screenplay worth a damn contains relevance, honest

- How should I live my life?
- What is life like for you?
- ‘getting through the thick wall’

Comparison between ‘art games’ and ‘product games’

Top 10 movies list, Titanic on top.

Why think about games as art

- You could reach more peopoe
- You could make more money

- Art works because it reaches people: Aesthetics

How it works, how it feels

Narrative: how it works
o Children of men: walks you thought how it works to as he transitions from self-interest to selfless.
o Cinematography gives you how it feels.

Sinead o’connor ‘nothing compares to you’
o Narrative is in the lyrics - how it works
o Music and voicing – how it feels

Message comes from – topics of the artistic piece.
- How the piece represents the work represents how it feels

Passage [art game]
o Left to right, ages to old – metaphor for life
o Picking up spouse
o Metaphor for memory and anticipation

GTA4
o How it works to escape the cops [mechanics, balance speed with out-of-controlness]
o How it feels to escape the cops [releif, pacing, less heightened sound effects]

- Artist --> mechanics --> dynamics -->aesthetics --> player
- When leader is knocked out, the rest of pack scatters (mechanical)
- Players often attempt to knock out leaders quickly (dynamics)
- Aesthetics – “I feel like  calculating hunter identifying and taking out the leader"
- Leader is identical to others – player can’t identify – “I feel like I flail in desperation”
- Possibility space
- An understood designer authored range
- Discovery through play
- “which is the right aesthetic for your message? (flail vs calculating) – depends what you want to get across…

FUN! Fairness, goals, clarity, balance

The Dogma of fun
- Topics -> aesthetics, messages --> mechanics
- Topic: licensed IP, your own idea, team project
- Aesthetic: what are you trying to say? What excites you? Why? Keep asking yourself
- What mechanics and tuning will produce that result

Post apocalyptic MMO example
- Expression of human struggle
- Tenuous alliances
- starvation economy
- individual more vulnerable than a group
- Why? Starvation economy? why do I like that as a designer? then ask why again to that answer.

Example: RTS meets FPS
- Tiberium
- Jump jets - LOD renderer - lonliness of leadership
- Audio and visual touches - fog, fade noise out
- Giving RTS orders from 1st person
- Soldier react to being sent into battles

Summary
- Maturing art form
- Interactivity is our distinct thing
- Mechanics carry the aesthetic
- Overall interactive work is a possibility space
- Are we going to be the ones to mature thie art form
- Limited range of topics
- Attached to dogmas
- Interactivity is technical, but the barrier to entry will drop some day

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