Have we reached the Uncanny Valley yet, gentlemen? The place where robots or animation start to get creepy, because of the way they mimic life but happen to be just off? Who knows, but some of the results on the way there are interesting to watch.
Quantic Dream, creators of Heavy Rain, just debuted a new tech demo at GDC this week known as Project KARA, the story of a robot/AI that accidentally becomes self aware during production. Unlike their last project, KARA was created by use of full performance motion capture, rather than separate body/facial animation capture. The quality of the performance is rather impressive (even if the writing always isn’t) in this piece – and what’s more impressive is that all of this is being handled in real time through the PS3.
Cage has noted that this isn’t tied to a specific project at all, but rather a demonstration of where they’d like to go with their next project. What do you guys think of this short? Uncanny Valley territory? Impressive? Lame? Go!
We’re back this week with Episode 24 of the podcast, which takes place entirely in real time. Sort of. We actually had a lot of technical difficulties with this one, but I think Nick did a great job of lessening the horrors that we faced.
Technical gremlins aside, this week we participate in the same tomfoolery that you’ve experienced from us every week, only this time we talk about Quantic Dream versus Rockstar, Square Enix’s fall into irrelevance, the most annoying fanboys in the world and Mass Effect 2’s Arrival DLC. After that, Nick drops a new game of Either/Or on us, and we hit up the PS3’s sales, Nintendo versus Angry Birds and the new trailers we got last week.
It’s been said often, but Bioware is the developer that gets the most praise when it comes to infusing a game with player-made choices (and more recently, Quantic Dream). However – is choice always the best route that a developer can take? Could choice restrict or limit game design? Could choice make a game less interesting?
That’s the question that Robert Green at Gamasutra poses this week. Green discusses the choices in games that have mattered most to him, and the ones that really fell flat. He makes some spot-on points about good and bad choices just for the sake of having them, and how they don’t really add much to a game. Green also waxes eloquently about how putting players into a class or upgrade box before giving them all the information they need is limiting for the player as well.
I totally agree with the assertion that players need more information before choosing classes and certain upgrade paths. The skills you have at the end of the game can make or break its enjoyment, and I hate not knowing what becomes more important later on. I’ve spent dozens of upgrade points leveling up completely useless things before in games, and it’s fairly irritating. I also agree with the idea that hard choices are better than simple morality choices.
What do you guys think about how choices are being used in games? What choices have felt too simplistic or not impacting? Which choices have really stuck with you?
GamesCom is happening this week in Germany, which is yet another awesome convention that we didn’t get to go to. I hear that flights to Europe are pretty expensive, however, so maybe that’s for the best. At any rate, we can expect to see a lot more delicious info about up coming games in addition to all the usual interesting interviews and quotes that come out of these big events.
Take this talk given by Quantic Dream’s David Cage for example. If you’re unfamiliar with the studio, they recently put out Heavy Rain, a different sort of animal by video game standards. Sony put a lot of money behind the game, but even the studio was expecting a flop. Heavy Rain was received rather well, and had pretty good sales number to boot, so David Cage has decreed that gamers are ready for “new paradigms”.
What he means by that is for the last 25-odd years, all we’ve been doing is killing, racing, and hopping on platforms. He feels that violent games are very narrow in their emotional scope, and games like Heavy Rain have a broader impact. He goes on to add this little snippet:
“Games should be art and not toys, if you are uncomfortable with the word ‘art’, then ‘entertainment’ is fine. Toys are disposable, art is poignant,”
Very interesting perspective from David Cage, to say the least. While I think games can function as both a toy and as an art form, I know this is also one of these divisive things that people love to talk about. What do you think or Cage’s statement? Was Heavy Rain a one-off, or will we see similar games in the future?
Not a whole lot of people played Indigo Prophecy, the cinematic mystery thriller from Quantic Dream that turned out to be one of my favorite games of last generation. It played like a movie and a point and click adventure, with quick time events for the action-heavy segments. It was Myst, a noir film, and Dragon’s Lair all rolled into one.
Well, the next Quantic Dream game, Heavy Rain, looks even more impressive than that one. Coming for the PS3, the game has some incredible graphics, and really seems to have unique gameplay that we don’t always find. This E3 demonstration has some of the first glimpses we’ve seen, and I’m really intrigued now. I know not everyone will love the QTE action sequences, but personally, I’m ok playing those since it’s such a unique game. What do you guys think?