Posted during the weekend at Softpedia.

In a recent interview with The Telegraph Dan Houser, of Rockstar, talked about The Lost and Damned, the DLC for GTA IV, but he also added a few considerations related to the maturity of games and how he hopes that the “growing up” does not happen to soon as  “it’s really fun at the moment because we’re not in any Academy and the medium’s not codified”.  Houser seems to believe that somehow the the freedom of videogame creators would be constrained if games become more like books and movies.

I do believe one can argue against his idea but I believe the real moneyquote in the Telegraph interview is this one:

We always try to get the tone of the story and tone of the graphics to feel seamless. We’re trying to make a world that feels like it exists. And the old graphics were far more cartoony because that was all we could to, so the story and the writing needed to be as well”.

Houser basically says that we need graphics which grow in quality approaching near reality in order to have narrative in game which approaches the level currently found in books/movies/other arts. Well, let me call bullshit on this statement.

The level of graphics development and the level of maturity of the story are not connected in any way, except if the game creator really wants to tie them up together. The narrative in adventure games has been quite well developed since their appearance, even if the graphics were poor. Even in the GTA series (how I lived the first game in that series, with its top down look and orange conga walking pedestrians) a complex story could have been told in the graphics of GTA III. Polygon counts are not a prerequisite for good game writing.

I kinda side with the Helghast in Killzone 2. The intro clip draws inspiration from two very different sources which have been ignored by videogames even if they could power a couple of videogames on their own. The first one is Churchill’s famous speech in which he urges the British to get ready to defend their country against the Nazis. The second is the space based assault which happens early on in Starship Troopers.

Take a look at the intro movie for Killzone 2, which is coming out next month (and which Sony really needs to push harder, if you ask me):

 

Doesn’t it seem like something taken out of Starship Troopers combined with the Churchill speeches on the valiant defense of Britain during World War II? The drop of the ISA soldiers looks like the first drop on Klendathu, the bug occupied planet where the brain resided, which ended pretty disastrously for the humans. And the discourse that general Visari makes is built pretty much like those of Churchill.

Now who’s going to ask Guerrilla about their inspiration sources?

 

 I believe than one of the greatest mechanics ever devised for videogame use is the “quicksave”. It’s simple: it allows you to save the current state of your gaming experience. Reasons can vary from impending possibility of failure (FPS?) to the need to return to a certain important choice later to try out another branch of the game (RPG?).

Why is it “quick”? Well, not because it is somehow faster than the normal save, as far as the writing-to-the-hard-drive part is concerned, but because a quick F5 (the key to which the quicksave is usually bound) is way easier and quicker than getting into the Game Menu, selecting Save, choosing a save slot, deciding whether to overwrite or not and then getting out of the menu. A quicksave is simple, it’s (now) intuitive, it’s convenient and out finger have become hardwired to use it.

If we look at the train of though of those who play games (myself included) then we can find a real need for a quicksave function. Some of the thoughts about games appear while we are planning. Alt-Tab and open Word document is not something we want to do. Sure, we can finish the session and then write a few words on which we will later expand. I know I sometimes do this. At other times I file away (quicksave) the thought for later use. There are a lot of instances when the thought gets lost, never to be re-visited and expanded upon. A “quicksave thought” function would be very nice, like the dictatel which Leto II used in God Emperor of Dune. Unfortunately we don’t have that and will probably never have during out lifetime.

This blog is my attempt at quicksaving thoughts. They might be long or short (probably more on the long side). Some of them will be spawned by new titles, some by old favorites, some by the posts of the authors of the gaming blogs I follow. Some of the posts/quicksaved thoughts might even be less about games than about the game infused society we live in. Until I get something interesting (oh, the pressure) to post that is really gaming related, anyone can go and read My Gaming History, in which I tell the story of my relationship with gaming, and a short About the Player/Writer.