Recently I watched a good video by Mark Brown about the Last Guardian. He analyzes how the game communicates story through gameplay and he looks at one specific moment in the game. If you don’t mind mild spoilers on the Last Guardian then go check out the video, it’s pretty good.
This got me to thinking about other moments in games when story is being told through narrative.
Of relevance is an older post I made about Riven and how it manages to merge narrative and gameplay so that they are one and the same. The image at the top of the post is also for Riven, but there’s no storytelling going on there. I just like that view.
A long time ago I came up with a bunch of ideas for silly and absurd FPS guns. I made a couple blog posts listing out these ideas way back when. Because of the ridiculousness of the guns, my friend suggested that the hypothetical game they would appear in could be called Shifting Zones of Craziness.
And now I’ve come up with a third list of guns (that don’t exist) for Shifting Zones of Craziness (a game that doesn’t exist). (The Land Shark Gun, which is pictured at the top, does exist and is in the game Armed and Dangerous.)
Trebuchet: Player is carrying a trebuchet on his shoulder. It launches rocks at the enemies.
Vampirism Gun: Turns opponent into vampire. If they don’t drink the blood of other players then they die. Secondary fire is a UV sunlamp.
Magma Vomit Gun: When you shoot another player they become infected with Lava Illness. They randomly vomit magma out of their mouth in a short arc which creates pools of magma on the ground. The magma can hurt all players including the one vomiting, so if he’s running forward when he vomits then he’ll take damage.
Glitch Gun: A player shot with this gun glitches through the geometry, falls through the level, and dies.
Grandma With Soup Gun: Fires a grandmother holding a bowl of steaming soup. When a player is hit by the grandma, she follows him around demanding that he eat some soup because he’s nothing but skin and bones. The player must stop and eat the soup. If he doesn’t, the grandmother calls him ungrateful which immediately kills him.
Cthulhu Gun: Fires a slumbering Cthulhu. If anyone bumps into him or shoots him then Cthulhu awakens and all players die immediately.
[~2700 words; ~1600 on jump cuts; ~1100 going off on tangents towards the end]
I was musing about video games the other day and for some reason, out of nowhere, I got this vision for the use of a sequence of jump cuts that I don’t think has ever been seen in a game before.
And the more I thought about it the more I realized that the act of suddenly, and without effect, cutting from one scene to another is almost never used in games. Almost all games have an uninterrupted, linear sequence of events that play out through an unbroken span of time. The breaks that do happen are between levels, if the game has levels, or through cutscenes that create bridges between two different locations.
This is part three of four to my analysis of Bungie’s Destiny.
Check out Part 1, where I look at visuals, level design, enemy design, etc.; Part 2: where I look at things like story, weapons, and whether it’s worth buying; and Part 4: where I predict the future of Destiny’s story based on evidence that Destiny is a symbolic retelling of the story from Bungie’s Pathways into Darkness, but from the point of view of the monsters.
So, the way in which things are named is rarely critiqued in video games. Yet I think it’s an aspect that is important.
In Destiny, Bungie drops the ball on how it names… everything. What it amounts to is that the poorly thought out way things are named in Destiny is a microcosm for all the other ways that Bungie dropped the ball with this game.
The way some things are named in Destiny is so bad, I’d expect it from a ten year old, but not from an adult professional, working a nine to five job as a writer for a multi-million dollar video game developer.
Just read on to see what I mean.
People seem to be pretty disappointed with the recent Aliens: Colonial Marines game. That reminds me, I’ve been pretty disappointed with every Aliens vs. Predator game that’s come out. In my opinion they aren’t really AvP games at all and a true AvP game does not exist… yet!
Hey! Remember enemy thieves in old computer games? Maybe not? They’d steal your equipment or your weapons and you’d have to chase them down to get your things back. I remember that. I remember how frustrating and painful those moments were. And yet, I look back at them with a certain fondness.
I opened the manila envelope. I read through the files. The picture they painted was a panorama of how the Sublime Society tried to influence the development of Diablo 3 so it would include an Archivist mini-class.
At the top of the stack of papers was the start of it all, a hand written memo:
The Archivist should be able to:
1) Read books
A memo dated a few weeks later elaborated:
The Archivist should be able to:
1) Read books
2) Put books on shelves
3) Know things
I nodded my head. This all made sense so far; those are all things an archivist should be able to do.