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Opinions and ideas.

Just a way to rant and get opinions and ideas out there without really taking up a giant page on the forums which people won't read if it's too long anyway.

Author: samuraislyr

Could games evolve like film?

Posted by samuraislyr Monday June 9 2008 at 12:31AM
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Just a slight thought but as I study film in my classes, I sometimes wonder if games could or will take the same direction. What I mean is Hollywood has created conventions that we see all the time. These are our genre films- detective films, superhero movies, horror films etc.

If you have seen one, you have seen them all. You know the superhero won't die, you know the case will be solved, you know how a horror film plays out. Now this is not always true as many directors and such love to play around with conventions but for the most part it is.

This is really what we are seeing in games these days. Genres where if you have played one, you have probably played them all.

The MMO genre- EQ, EQ2, WoW, AoC, LOTRO- all of them are exactly the same with changes in theme, characters, graphic style and such but they are virtually the same. The RPG genre-this actually would get broken down into two sub genres- the western RPG and the eastern RPG. Western RPG tends to be more focused on becoming a character, choosing between good and evil as well as just doing whatever you want to while the eastern is more focused on story and the grind of leveling. The First person shooter- half-life, halo etc. Really do any of them differ all that greatly? Same conventions really, different story and sometimes you get new tools but virtually the same. There are countless more but perhaps you get where I am going.

In film starting around the late 1920's to the 1930's and beyond, directors began to experiment with film (this is arguable for some since experimenting with film really started for some at the very beggining back in the late 1800's). This is where experimental films, Avant-gard, art cinema or whatever name you wish you apply to it comes from. I will stick with Avant-gard since I am most familar with this label.

Avant-gard as many may or may not know is a french word for basically the front line. The first to die in battle. It got applied to film as directors began to break new ground on what film could show. Most of these films are very unpopular and cause many to get very angry. They are meant to break the conventions of film and what is possible to show and convey meaning. Many do this in controversial ways. I'm almost surprised that youtube actually has one but if you are actually interested in what I am talking about here is a link for Un Chien Andalou or An Andalusion dog. The music is not the original music but the message is still there.

*Warning* It will not make sense and it has somewhat disturbing imagery. Stay away if you don't think you can handle it.


There are countless ways that games could really begin to do the same thing. Now I'm not saying that games should be confusing, somewhat unentertaining and disturb us but there is possibilitly for games to take at least some of the conventions of Avant-gard and apply it to games.

There is another film movement that happened somewhat recently...the dogma 95 one. Happened in 1995, Basically it called for movies to be more truthful. No fancy sounds, no music, no fancy cameras only handheld ones and more. The movement still made films that had a story to them but they very much reminded one of the Avant-gard films that continue to this day. Festen or the celebration, one of the greatest films I have ever watched is a product of this movement. read the wiki article if you are truly interested in it and watch the clip from Festen if interested as well (unfortunatly it's the best youtube has, at least you can see some of the interesting camera angles and the fact that there is no music)

Now it's a little hard to take the concepts of film and apply it to games and yet it shouldn't be. What is a game supposed to be? For many, it's supposed to be an intereactive film. For others pure entertainment.  Considering gaming has only been around for say almost 30 years I'd say (I'm not terribly sure but sounds about right) is it high time for a gaming movement? Do we want games that can't be put into a certain genre? Can games evolve such as film has and continues to do so?

Honestly at the beggining of writing this, I felt like I knew what I was talking about in terms of games but now I'm almost lost. Can a game break new ground and send a message through what it shows rather than through a story? Can games be artsy? Should they be artsy? Obviously games are created for a profit for the most part but with a significant rise in smaller companies over the years will we begin to see games that are more than just games? I honestly don't know. I'm not even sure if films and games really go together sometimes but at the same time, they feel similar. Games and movies are meant to entertain. One has you watch and the other has you interact. With interacting comes a whole new mode of telling story, of destroying conventions, of being more than just pure entertainment. T

I feel this was an interesting little blog to write. I didn't answer any of my own questions, only created more (though it did help me to study a bit for my film final :P). So really, after this long and perhaps boring blog on film and games, any thoughts?

AoC opinion and a bit on other MMO's

Posted by samuraislyr Sunday June 8 2008 at 4:03AM
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So I've played AoC since open beta. Can't say that I  absolutely hate the game but nor do I hate it.

Now I've played numerous MMO's starting with Everquest back in the day. I was young (well younger anyway) and didn't have a job or anything so a pay to play game was not exactly great to my parents and the fact that I would sit there for hours. Well I started to get bored with EQ a bit anyway...and so I hated P2P for awhile.

Didn't really play anything until Guild Wars. Absolutly loved this game... it wasn't grindy, it had a story to it to guide me into the world and it was fun. Only problem was after about a year and a half, most of my friends got bored with the game for awhile and so it got lonely. Really need friends to play the game.

I went to try WoW and well I like it for about 40 levels if that... then it just got boring. Something about it just was boring... quests didn't give enough exp (quest grinding felt like quest grinding) and well it felt like it was destroying one of my favorite RTS series and the story behind them. It just irked me and even when I try to play it again since some of my younger cousins play it... I get bored within a week.

I am now a lifetime member on LOTRO. I love this game, it feels like guild wars 1.5 in a way. Guest grinding feels about right and the quests are interesting enough to not be terribly boring plus Turbine is only strengthing my love of the lore and not destroying it. Also since I'm a lifer I don't feel as if I have to play everyday.

Ok, *phew* now that that is out of the way let us talk about AoC.

Honestly my laptop is not a beast. A Macbook Pro 2.4 Ghz dual core, 8600GT, 2 GB ram but it can run AoC on medium averaging about 30 FPS. Not bad plus even if the game dips, for some reason the game still runs pretty well.

The graphics are pretty and fit the lore of Conan nicely... I've just recently started reading the Conan stories since this game made me want to read them and I really apperciate what the Devs have done. Enough about graphics though, everyone has heard they are nice.

Gameplay is confusing..(not like hard or anything but hard to rate at this point and time). I'm a bit of a quest whore so my first time through the game I love to do just about every quest I can possibly do. I'm not sure really how many quests there are but there is a pretty good amount for one that would rather quest grind then just grind mindlessly. I think this game is actually a roleplayers paradise. The close-up with dialogue options to NPC's is a very nice touch for an MMO. It reminds and plays much like RPG's such as Mass Effect and KOTOR. Now there is not a lot of consequences for your actions or choosing to call an NPC a spineless weakling which sort of is bad and it would be awesome if Funcom implemented a alignment system where depending on what quests you took and what dialogue options you choose you could get special emotes or something.

I feel as if this game as many now a days is more about the journey rather then the end... you read the quests, you become your character... you feel sadness, anger, etc. for various NPCs. Some of the Tortage quests were fantastic for this. Now the journey is a bit flawed, I will admit and that is why I feel I can't fully apperciate or rate the gameplay yet. I've cancelled for now but I'm watching what Funcom updates and if they fix at least The Missing Child quest I will probably resub. That will make the game go to about level 38 or so before running into some more serious bugs. Actually I might wait till they fix that quest and the instances in Khosphef :P.

I like the journey in this game, I'm just sad it's flawed at the moment.... it is fun to just relax and learn about the world of Conan, to become my character and to see many things. I even got to enjoy writing a small fan fiction of my character... it's not fantastic but it was fun to do anyway. Honestly I almost never roleplay but for some reason, the lore for Conan even moreso then Lord of The Rings makes me want to roleplay a bit and with the dialogue options with NPCs it seems like fun. I do wonder if there is enough content to skip quests if you roleplay a vicious character (seems like there would be to about 40 or so) After that it gets a bit sketchy. I think people that don't mind the grind that appears and the people that do mind the non-quest grind are really just complaining about the fact that they have no choice on the matter. They are FORCED to grind. Most MMO's give you the choice, you can grind mobs all day if you wish and get pretty good exp or you can quest and level or both. To not have the choice makes many people angry.

What about combat and instances you say? Don't instances make the world seem small and the community as well? Yes and no. The world does seem a tad bit small at this point but hopefully Funcom releases that new content soon and it should feel comfortable at least. Honestly the community is not affected by the instances at all... unlike Guild Wars where you are all by yourself and not connected to the town chat channels, each area has a chat channel like an MMO. I play on a PvE server and most people are pretty friendly and cool... I've made a few friends already. There are a few occasions where jerks pop up but that happens.

Combat is fun... it's not the most evolutionary system in the world but it is a step up from most MMO's. It's fast-paced and the animations look good. I hope more MMO's will take this system and fine tune it as technology improves. I won't say too much since I believe most people get how the system works. I'm not on a PvP server and since I've been stuck in the PvE story, I have not tried PvP and so I can't comment on that.

So what do I say for all those on the fence? Wait a bit... probably give it another month or so to really commit to the game. If you can't wait though... take it slow. Don't rush to the end game... that's not where the enjoyment is. It's the journey from 1-80 that can be fantastically fun. Write a background to your character, read the Conan books if you haven't already to get a sense of the world some more... try a few classes out to see which is more enjoyable and such. I'd give this game about an 8 right now and if all the bugs were fixed and the new content put in the game would probably be a 9.5 or 10. This game is basically an Online RPG (they got the RPG part down very well) and the massive part is maybe a bit skewed. It's still a fairly large game and it sounds like it will get bigger but most companies only really get the MMO part right and the RPG part is pretty much left behind.

*phew* Long entry but I wanted to get that opinion out there for anyone interested. I know the hostilitiy towards AoC is pretty harsh but the devs did a pretty good job, no matter what anyone says.