Game Eaters

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Living Game Worlds - Round Two!

Unlike Clara I didn't get to attend both days of the GeorgiaTech conference with Will Wright. (I had to work.) But I did attend the second day, and there were some interesting bits.

Spore is amazing. It is one of those epic game designs that people endlessly talk about but no one seems to be able to pull off. It's a game that begins like Black & White and ends like Master of Orion, all involving one smooth, simple interface that a child could use. I love Wright's designs, but curiously his games have never held my attention. They do for plenty of people, and that's great. But I'm still waiting for the Will Wright game where playing the game is more interesting that hearing Will Wright talk about how he designed it. I'd still much rather attend a lecture by Will Wright about The Sims than play The Sims. His Spore demonstration had me drooling, but I'll have to wait and see if my own experience of playing Spore is as exciting and delightful as Will's presentation.

Another bit that sticks in my mind is the Storytelling panel--YET ANOTHER storytelling panel. They seem to be at every game-related event. This one was more of the same, but it was shaken up a bit by some guy from EA Sports. God knows what he was doing on a panel with Michael Mateas and Chris Crawford. Don't you hate it when some mega commercial schmoe comes to one of these academic conferences and shows a "demo reel" that is basically an advertisement? I just felt embarrassed. Here we are trying to have a serious discussion about storytelling and the medium of games, and I'm hearing "YEAH! MADDEN 2005 RULZ! EA IS YOUR GOD!" coming out of the speaker a foot from my ear. Feh. At the end of the video I and the small crowd around me tried to stifle our laughter, but the feeling of hokiness was just too overwhelming. So yep, there it was, going from Madden's "innovative" feature stacking to Facade's indie sass. Would you like some chocolate syrup on your steak?

5 Comments:

  • A good start here... i like what i see. Keep it coming. The only thing you're missing is a link to GameCritics.com. ; )

    By Anonymous GC_Brad, at 12:17 AM  

  • Wish granted (see link list) :D

    By Blogger Clara, at 6:43 PM  

  • I actually thought the EA dude had an interesing point though I agree that the video was a bit much.

    Basically, what they are trying to do with Madden is recreate the narrative experience that a player has with the real NFL season. It is an interesting proposition, and definitely not an easy thing to get right... we'll have to see how it goes.

    By Anonymous Jose Zagal, at 1:09 PM  

  • Oh I think the EA guy had a perfectly valid point.

    Sports games can be quite story-oriented, and I think that's a interesting frontier of narrative experimentation (especially in games like WWE where simulating the soap opera of pro-wrestling is the basic thrust of the game.)

    I just think the way he presented it screams "Yeah, they made me come here so I'll just make up an excuse as to how EA Sports games are narrative, show a clip, and go home."

    It would have been really interesting to hear one of the WWE designers talk about narrative.

    By Blogger Matt, at 1:36 PM  

  • Hmm... obviously, I wasn't there, but maybe it's possible that the "EA Guy" was perhaps in the opposite position.

    Namely, he wanted to bring in the topic of sports games having an important narrative element at their core and EA (or the company philosophy/policy/etc.) itself simply required that a cheesy video be shown, because that's in the guy's job description or something like that.

    I've gotten the same impression from what I've seen of Microsoft's presence at GDC 2005. It seems like they have some good ideas but their presentation is so commercial-whore-like it's creepy.

    By Blogger Darren Torpey, at 8:35 AM  

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