A Spectator to Next-Gen Games – E3 Inspired

God of War III will be awesome
God of War III will be awesome

Random Observation/Comment #189:  Video games will always hold a deep flame in my heart.  Unfortunately, the majority of my time is spent on a much more challenging game involving a mesh of genres, including action/adventure/mystery/RPG.  The game is often frustrating and there are times where I wish there were save points, respawns, or undo keys, but I guess that’s part of the designer’s tweak.  The goal of the game is unclear, and it is everything but linear.  The choices you make in this game will build your character points and influence the players of those around you.  Your preference of good and evil are completely in your hands, and the degrees of freedom in this complex space are worth exploring.  I’ve personally chosen the Engineer character class, but I don’t think I’ll be waiting for any Spies or Scouts to steal our briefcase anytime soon.  Warning: this game gets especially time consuming when you become involved with players of the opposite sex.  There are those unforgettable moments with high replay value, but these won’t seem as sweet without the while(1)-smash-head-on-keyboard contrasts.  It’s complicated, but one thing is for sure – teamwork will save you from the zombie revolution.  Story of my life.

The E3 2009 press conferences (seen on demand at gamespot) really caught my attention yesterday (as in, the entire yesterday).  I spent 6 hours watching trailers for that wow-factor in graphics and next inspiring idea.  Everyone is contributing their new take on the next generation of gaming, and it would be silly if I didn’t have my own opinion.  The hardware projects released by Sony and Microsoft (Project Natal) were pretty cool, but I was really looking at the new game titles that will be released in the next quarter.  The sequels are drawing the most attention, but my interest is in those different perspectives.

For example, Unchartered 2 does an amazing job molding the game-play with the movie sequences. When they were showing the game demo, I felt like I was watching a professionally directed movie sequence.  The camera blurring and overall excitement of the game just made me feel immersed into the story even if it were a small segment.  Somehow, it’s not necessarily the graphics that make the game a must-buy anymore.  Every trailer and game demo I’ve seen has made my mouth dry from amazement at how much detail is placed into the new sequences.  The physics engines and facial expressions now just seem default even though they were absolutely revolutionary when half life 2 came out with it a few years ago.

So what is the jaw dropping equivalent of the half-life 2 physics engine this year?  I think all of the games have drifted more into attracting a larger audience.  Yes, teen and tween boys (and some really cool girls) love to play games, but why not have the game so entertaining to watch that the entire family could sit around the TV basically watching the game unfold like a real movie.  I sometimes prefer to watch someone play over my own control because I stop noticing the detail once I’m completely into the game.  I’ve often found this true for Oblivion.  I’m so focused on the missions that I forget how smoothly the map loads, and how much freedom I truly have throughout the game.

As a spectator, I want to see plot twists and large explosions more than the repeated fights with the same background and enemies.  This doesn’t mean that there needs to be a hundred different maps, but the flow of the game must keep the audience and the player intrigued.  This is why I think Heavy Rain has an amazing idea with a large tree of reactions to situations while still watching the story unfold before you.  Basically, you’ve been placed into a fictional situation and you’re able to make all the logical decisions of every detective solving a mystery.  It’s like watching 24 and seeing all these suspenseful foreshadows for the next upcoming events – I think finding this angle will not only start a fantastic series, but maintain that addictive nonstop play factor.

As these games get more and more complex, I find myself falling behind.  It’s like I’m playing with a ball and cup compared to the graphics we had 5 years ago.  I don’t think the games will become more difficult to play since the video game industry is trying to capture more diverse age groups, but there are certainly a number of skill sets that can only be obtained by experience.  For example, thinking of the best ways to build your character in a MMORPG for head-to-head battles does not just click after the first day of playing. You really have to understand all the spells and the dynamics of the game to get that extra intuition about what would make a killer build.  Especially for the new team-play games coming out, we must all be trained as a multifunctional commander that can see the full situation rather than just worrying about not getting shot and killing the guy at the end of the hall. It’s becoming more focused on completing the objectives, goals, and missions, which adds that extra ego boost of accomplishment.

Anyway, I’m glad I grew up where this video game world didn’t completely devour all of my time (although, I probably spent 4 months of my life playing counter strike).  I hope that I will always keep up with this form of entertainment and be able to maintain that bridge between generations.  I want to be a cool Dad, like Stu.  He plays more video games than I do.

~See Lemons Miss Video Games

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