• Advertisement
Sign in to follow this  
  • entries
    45
  • comments
    111
  • views
    49670

What If People Were More Important Than Things?

Sign in to follow this  

304 views

This week I talked with a fellow who has started a foundation for artists, and is enthusiastic about seeing more positive computer games. We had a great conversation, and I learned that he's on a first name basis with several folks in the game industry (a VP from EA is on the board, apparently), but I came away from the conversation a bit troubled and wondering just exactly what a "more positive" game is.

I know I'm not working on GTA. In fact, two big things bug me about that game: the first is how it gets false props for being one of the first open ended games evar(?!); but the second is how its sleazy nihilism seems so lauded. Debates on violence and whatever aside, I consider the latter a corrosive example of a "negative game".

But where does that leave a supposedly positive game? Is it supposed to be filled with hearts and flowers and Sims you seek to drown in a pool? If your game has violence or conflict, is it automatically negative?

I've twisted myself into knots over this and the best I can think of is that it is the lack of consequences that make a game positive or negative. If you genocide some helpless race in a 4X game and the galaxy responds with kudos, that's not positive. (Although, tough luck explaining that nuance to Senator Clintion).




Straylight Update

The title of this post highlights my hopes for making planets and other locations much more interesting.

I break the problem into two categories: How to make uninhabitated locations interesting, and how to make settled areas feel alive.

Uninhabited Worlds: An Awful Waste of Space
Maybe its the case that a realistic cosmos is filled with dead, lifeless worlds. But as a character said in the movie Contact, "It would be an awful waste of space."

So let's instead imagine a galaxy whose worlds have been left with the muddy bootprint of thousands of intelligent species, most of which have gone extinct in the 13 billion-odd years of the universe's existence. Some have flourished into galactic empires, others have never left their cradle.

I'll use this scenario to reason three types of uninhabited (by intelligence, anyway) worlds: There are what I'll call the "Utility Worlds," the "Wildlife Worlds" and the "Ruined Worlds."

Utility Worlds have something that's continuously useful, such as minerals or control stations that can boost warp travel. They often form some sort of strategic lynchpin, either at the company, faction or empire level. Storywise, they're uninhabited because they've been lost in fallen empires, or by periodic attacks by Siegers, or when the galactic wormhole network has from time to time reconfigured itself.


Wildlife Worlds are filled with plants and animals. This will be a mix and match affair of life that's been cross-polinated through the wormholes that connect the many worlds. Unfortunately for hapless colonists (and fortunately for the player), many of these creatures will be the most aggressive and deadly mixes that have managed to survive. Although the shapes of creatures can only have so many forms, I'd like to create a huge variance on the stats and abilities.


Ruined Worlds are those with riches and traps, some of them exceptionally powerful and dangerous. Ships might, for instance, find the equivalent worlds they can land on but not leave until solving a puzzle, or ones where automatic defenses left over from a million year old war shoot them out of the sky. From these worlds, technology can be mined and brought back to help one's own empire/faction.

(btw, I'm calling these "worlds" but technically they can be mixed and matched. You could, for instance, have a Ruined Island on a Wildlife World.)



Inhabited worlds take on a totally different flavor. In these locations, I'd like people to be more important than machines. Ultimately, this boils down to your weath and access to equipment or ships (or "stargate" equivalents) being linked to helping and impressing the right people.

I think the key to doing this is using stats and status effects, and setting up NPCs to be somewhat like puzzles. I also think its critical that NPCs actually move around in the universe, particularly so that they can either find and confront the player or interfere with the areas that the player has touched.

I've got a bunch more to say on this, but this post is already a bit too long, so I'll reserve the rest for the next time...
Sign in to follow this  


3 Comments


Recommended Comments

Guest Anonymous Poster

Posted

Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
This week I talked with a fellow who has started a foundation for artists, and is enthusiastic about seeing more positive computer games. We had a great conversation, and I learned that he's on a first name basis with several folks in the game industry (a VP from EA is on the board, apparently), but I came away from the conversation a bit troubled and wondering just exactly what a "more positive" game is.


I'm interesting in what the artist foundation guy was implying by "positive games". I can guess from your post that he agreed with you that the theme of GTA is negative, but was he implying that the "hearts and flowers" type games were positive?

Despite a popular opinion here to the contrary, I think that games can affect your thinking, which is why violent games like GTA should only be played by those mature enough to understand this. So I do believe it is possible to craft games to get people to think and act in ways that are deemed positive for society. In the worst case this could be propaganda or brainwashing, but it could also be used for training up good role-model citizens (maybe there isn't much of a difference, is there?)

Share this comment


Link to comment
Are you planning on integrating Inhabited with Un-Inhabited?

As a Ruined Island on the outskirts of an Inhabited World could create a 'wrong-side-of-the-tracks' type area, providing some intrigue.

Just my ramblings...

Share this comment


Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Advertisement