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Emotional Games (Boo Hoo)

June 28, 2012

my goodness, it’s Thursday night…

Focus testing, yep, there was some more of that on Friday, and I made quite a few changes to the game based on it, and now I would say the game is complete bar a few bugs and some balancing! (but I still need another round of focus tests to check that people understand the new stuff and that it is clearer than before).
If you remember, last week I was all “yeah I am gonna patent a thing” then I fond out it would cost me a fortune. So no, now I am not going to patent a thing…I will just wait til someone else makes it, or I get enough money to somehow throw a year of my life into it with a  few other folks.
One of my flatmates moves away this weekend. It’s a bit sad, we have started playing Halo a bit and spent many hours talking about crazy game design ideas, it’s fun to have someone around who can get equally lost in this stuff. We have been talking about new game ideas, turn based Tower defense, is an entertaining one, and is now added to my ever growing list of games I want to make.
I have a cold, which is making my brain process data at the speed of mash potato, and is probably why I haven’t written my blog until now. It doesn’t help that I am constantly finding my mind drifting to “what next”, but I am going to have a lazy weekend thinking about it…I want to make something more ambitious than the first two titles, but I realize that even my smiliest games take quite a long time so I don’t think I am ready for that yet. I hope I can pick an idea that can be the simplest yet, one of those stupid distractions that is more like a mini game from Warioware than a full title. I think when games are 99 cents people don’t expect much, its more about having a short fun experience…So long as it has some unique twist or fun selling point. I could of course be totally wrong that is just how I see it, if I buy a game for that price and I have half an hour with it then I am pretty happy. Plus I just want to build up my catalogue a bit before embarking on the ultimate project.
What is the ultimate project? well there are a few, I have a 4X game I want to make (you know those games where you take over the galaxy) but it has a few unique elements that make it a bit more special, then there is cannon fodder, it has long been the game I have wanted to remake, it’s actually the game I have been thinking about for 15 years or so, and has been the single game I have consistently dreamed of having a go at (it won’t be cannon fodder you understand, just something a bit like it). I guess it would be fair to say that this has kind of become my ultimate goal in game development to one day make this product…but yeah it’s huge and would cost a fortune so I am not making it for another few years at least (if ever). Then there are about 4 platformers that I want to make with weird little things going on here and there, most of them are kind of puzzle games, and it would be a good idea for me to get a better understanding of code before making any of these, because the ultimate plan would be to make one, and then build the others onto of it thus saving me a lot of time. There are a few takes on tower defense floating around, plus the never ending desire to make XCom again (although someone else is already doing that so I probably don’t need to bother).
The thing I really want to do right now, is make something beautiful, I don’t know if I am ready/good enough yet, but I want to explore the games as art / games as emotional experiences thing. I know it sounds pretentious, but yeah I love all the games that do that to me, from Journey to Ico to Fez and Rez…the thing is it isn’t about the game story or whatever, in most cases it’s about setting up that lonely mood, which you just do by throwing some peaceful graphics on screen and some chime-y music! yeah everyone is doing it these days, it’s starting to feel like a cliche already to me, but I still want to make one!
I have always found it funny that movies like Titanic or whatever get these massive awards and leagues of followers and are considered by most to be better films that “Honey I shrunk the Kids”, or “Police Academy”. They seem to command this huge respect simply because they are moving. I don’t think this means they are better films, it just makes them a certain type of film. Make a 3 hour film, make it sad and your suddenly making something that people will fawn over. Make a 1 hour Rambo film with more explosions and guts than ever seen before and people will call it trash, it isn’t trash, its just different, the big point is that it was equally successful at accomplishing what it set out to do.
In much the same way I think Ico was an amazing game, but I wonder if it didn’t have that amazing emotionally driving soundtrack and mysterious foggy universe would it have been that good a game? take out all the mood stuff and imagine it as a 4 hour mario game in bright primary colours with fun times being rammed into your every face hole (well just ears and eyes, mouth and nose still aren’t involved with games….yet). Replace the defenseless helpless girl with a daft looking green Yoshi (dinosaur guy from mario). So yes imagine it like that, would the actual game stand up to such accolades? It would probably be a bag of old monkey turd.
When people are in a certain emotional state they think things are just amazing because they are being moved…we seem to value laughing / having fun / learning / tension / excitement / blowing things up as somehow less important than crying. It’s an odd thing, and I actually feel the same way, but I can’t help feel it’s a little superficial, particularly when there are so many easy ways of making people feel like that…
Even thinking this, Ico is still one of the best games I have ever played, so yeah probably not for my next game, but some time soon I am going to try and make something that makes me feel sad and hopefully you too, I love playing those kind of games so I want to make one.
As a side note it’s good deed of the day time, my friend Luigi has started up a blog where he talks about video games and stuff including 2 posts about epic mickey…his comments about the level design being broken rather than the camera are probably closer to reality than he realizes.

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