Talking Simulator

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Tim_McM
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Re: Talking Simulator

Postby Tim_McM » 27 Mar 2017, 03:18

I wonder how much of the "we need bits of all these games" is a misguided attempt to attract a wider player base?

If you put in content from lots of different game styles then you've got something in there that will appeal to a lot of different player types right?

In a way it's similar to M:tG's philosophy of every set having things that appeal to different people, which is a big part of what makes it successful, the difference being that in M:tG you can avoid, or at least ignore, cards that don't appeal to your interests or play-styles, a part of the video game medium is that you can't avoid the bits you don't like.

To do that you'd probably need a basic pattern of semifractal corridors with each intersection having a choice of doors, one with a puzzle lock, one with a room full of mobs and one that requires careful object manipulation to get through. Each ends up in the same place but you get to go through in the playstyle that appeals to you at each junction.

Further back to Cam's theoretical ideal horror game where death would be a preferable to continuing:
A game with 8 different horror environments, every time you die in one you respawn either at the beginning of one you haven't yet started or where you died previously in a different environment. Which environment you reset into is random and the game only ends when you've completed all of them. Each death just means you have to deal with a new set of horrors.
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Re: Talking Simulator

Postby SAJewers » 27 Mar 2017, 11:05

So the DNF TS reminded me of this interview I saw years back that was done with Jay Brushwood, who did some work on DNF when it was 3D Realms. Bit of an interesting listen: https://youtu.be/EQLqjm_njhk?t=50m10s (Interview between 50:10 and 1:18:00
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Re: Talking Simulator

Postby jamesklock » 01 May 2017, 17:02

Hi, all-- I've been walking Talking Simulator since the beginning, but am not able to catch it live-- I've been watching the archives on YouTube. I'm just catching up on Alien Isolation now, and I notice that it's the last video that's been posted there. Is LRR still putting archives onto YouTube, or should I be looking somewhere else to catch up?
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Re: Talking Simulator

Postby Garwulf » 02 May 2017, 07:20

As somebody who has now written a number of articles about video game history, this is a point of some recurring annoyance for me, that I wanted to get off my chest somewhere other than chat: video games are NOT a "young" medium.

They're not as old as film, but the first computer game (that we know about) shows up in 1940 at the New York World's Fair (it was called Nimatron), and as early as the 1950s programmers are writing games in the university and military environment (in fact, the attempt to make an RTS work that I know of happens in 1952 with a USAF simulation called "Casey", making real-time strategy one of the oldest video game genres). The medium doesn't reach the point where a video game industry is viable until the 1970s, it is true, but people have basically been putting games on computers for as long as there have been computers to play them on. Or, put another way, video games are only a couple of years younger than television.

What the medium DOES have, however, is a type of amnesia. Unlike books, music, movies, or television, video games are completely wedded to the technology used to play them. So, while you can watch Citizen Kane on multiple formats without it changing the content in a meaningful way, the same can not be said about video games. There is a distinct lack of "forward compatibility" that makes the experience of playing many of the earliest games lost and difficult, if not impossible, to recreate. Even games from the 1980s need specialized emulators to work on modern machines.

So, there is an issue with the retention of institutional experience prior to the late 1970s and early 1980s, for lack of a better term, but this is not the same as being young.
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Re: Talking Simulator

Postby My pseudonym is Ix » 02 May 2017, 13:03

Well, when it comes to artistic media, age is a relative thing. The first films were being shot in the 1890s, but they weren't widely popular as a medium for popular culture until around the 1920s (despite earlier films having a dedicated following and producing many films that are very well-regarded even today).

That said, you're right- videogames aren't a young medium. But they are a strange one to contrast with film; although games have been going from strength to strength (and, more importantly, market share to market share) as the industry has developed since the 70s, it's taken an incredibly long time for them to be taken seriously as an artistic medium. Even nowadays the idea that videogames can be mature and intelligent and handle serious topics is unusual to many. And I think this is at least in part because of two things- teenagers and technological limitations.

Early videogames (as someone born in 1995, I'll be honest and say I struggle to date everything between Pong and Resident Evil so bear with me) were restricted by some fairly basic graphics and spatial restrictions. It's quite hard to tell a nuanced story that takes advantage of gaming's inherent interactivity when you've got 128 x 128 pixels to play with (see above statement about bearing with me). So games ended up being toys for teenagers, adolescents with disposable income who wanted something entertaining and immediate to engage their attention- which is why so few early videogames had very involved story or artistry or nuance. It's vaguely similar to the stereotype from early cinema that filmgoers were all uncouth, unsophisticated types (a stereotype that largely fell apart as feature films became popular). Although I didn't grow up with this era of gaming, I get the impression that relatively few of those who did really stuck with games as they got older- lots of casual adherents as teenagers who found games didn't hold their attention so much as they got older. Now games are older, more graphically advanced and more capable (after 40 years of concerted R&D) of holding people's attention, more and more adults are playing games, and those who do are getting older and more into positions of respected authority. As such, games are gaining the kind of cultural authority that is allowing them to develop more as a medium- but this phenomenon is relatively recent. So from that perspective, games are a young medium.

That's how it seems to me anyway- but I'm going mostly off cultural osmosis and hearsay here, so I'll happily bow to the knowledge of someone with the experience of Garwulf if you see fit to correct me.
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Re: Talking Simulator

Postby Garwulf » 04 May 2017, 07:57

My pseudonym is Ix wrote:Early videogames (as someone born in 1995, I'll be honest and say I struggle to date everything between Pong and Resident Evil so bear with me) were restricted by some fairly basic graphics and spatial restrictions. It's quite hard to tell a nuanced story that takes advantage of gaming's inherent interactivity when you've got 128 x 128 pixels to play with (see above statement about bearing with me). So games ended up being toys for teenagers, adolescents with disposable income who wanted something entertaining and immediate to engage their attention- which is why so few early videogames had very involved story or artistry or nuance. It's vaguely similar to the stereotype from early cinema that filmgoers were all uncouth, unsophisticated types (a stereotype that largely fell apart as feature films became popular). Although I didn't grow up with this era of gaming, I get the impression that relatively few of those who did really stuck with games as they got older- lots of casual adherents as teenagers who found games didn't hold their attention so much as they got older. Now games are older, more graphically advanced and more capable (after 40 years of concerted R&D) of holding people's attention, more and more adults are playing games, and those who do are getting older and more into positions of respected authority. As such, games are gaining the kind of cultural authority that is allowing them to develop more as a medium- but this phenomenon is relatively recent. So from that perspective, games are a young medium.


You're not entirely wrong...but you are missing some large parts of the picture.

First, up until about the 1990s, there was a big difference between computer games and video games - we lump them all into a single media now (and kind of combine them when we talk about the history), but it wasn't always like that. And, the computer games tended to be much more sophisticated than the video games.

Most of that, though, was because of technology, and not necessarily in the way you might expect. Graphics is what comes most often to mind, but interface is at least as important. Consider the original NES - the controller has a pad for direction, a start and a select button, and two buttons for doing things in the game. That's it - so any game that goes onto that system has to be playable on that controller. Whereas, a computer of that time had a keyboard, and this allowed things like complex flight sims, adventure games with puzzles, etc.

But as for why we started talking about them so late, I'm fairly sure that's a generational thing. There was a very active computer game scene throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, but the computers were so expensive (we're talking $100,000 for a PDP-1 in the early 1960s - literally, it cost less to buy a house) that this was limited to universities and those businesses big enough to have computers in the first place. The home computer shows up in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but they're not nearly as successful as the video game consoles (the Atari, Colecovision, etc.) - so what is appearing in the homes of most adult Baby Boomers are video games that are simplistic, and legitimately can be considered little more than toys. So, if you're a Baby Boomer raising a kid in the 1980s, video games are toys - and that's a hard perception to challenge under those circumstances.

On the other hand, if you're a late Gen Xer (like me), you played the video games on the Atari, Colecovision, or NES, and then you graduated to computer games - your family would have had a PC (possibly just one for the whole family), but if your family had the money, there might be more than one. And on it, you played computer games that had been telling stories and exploring ideas in various ways since the early 1980s. So, the idea that computer games were a medium that could tell stories and explore ideas was something you took for granted.

Well, all of us late Gen Xers started coming into our own around the end of the 20th century, and we started talking about computer games in a way that the Baby Boomers didn't, because (as far as I can tell), we didn't have the novelty factor. But, again, by the time we started talking about them in a serious way, the consoles had caught up too, and computer games had been maturing for two full decades on the PC (which had a continuity of platform and reach - various types of MS DOS, etc. - that was previously not possible).

But, I mean, you look at something like representation and diversity, and its a conversation that video game developers were probably having by the time the 1990s rolled around. So, I think there was - and still is - a disconnect between what the developers are doing and how far we've gotten in our own cultural discussion of what video games are doing with their content just because of that generational lag.
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Re: Talking Simulator

Postby Garwulf » 03 Jun 2017, 07:02

So, this probably won't be relevant for at least a couple more weeks (or whenever they get around to PUBG, which they did say they were going to do), but I went and got my hands on Battle Royale (the novel) by Koushun Takami.

Initial comments: Holy shit, this is a great book! It's over 600 pages long, and I devoured it in under 36 hours. It's also one of the most effective horror novels I've read in a very long time, with an beginning that sets the scene and creates a jaw-dropping level of horror (in fact, it's rather like Saving Private Ryan where if you can get through D-Day, you can get through the rest of the movie - if you can get through the initial briefing, you can get through the rest of the book).

The people who made PUBG were also clearly aware of Battle Royale, if not fans. There are a lot of similarities in the setup. Both take place on a deserted island with some settlements, both have structures wherein people fight and hide, and both restrict the "game" area with lethal results if you're caught outside it - in the novel, sectors of the island are declared unsafe, making the "safe" zone smaller every couple of hours and forcing the students to move around, and if any student gets caught inside an unsafe sector their explosive collar detonates. And, from what those who have played it have said, the game is almost unbearably tense, just like the book, where you can cut the tension with a knife right to the end.

What PUBG doesn't take from the book is many of its underlying themes. In the novel, the Battle Royale (called "the program") is used by a fascist government (a weird cross between WW2 Imperial Japan and North Korea) to keep control of its citizens - basically, by announcing the winner after each "program," they're demonstrating how easily people will turn on one another, thus preventing anybody from trusting anybody else enough to organize a resistance movement. It also explores what people will do when put in a kill-or-die situation (this manifests somewhat in PUBG with emergent gameplay, but since none of the players are actually playing under the threat of real death if they lose, it can only go so far) - some play the "game" with relish (one of my favourite moments is a student incapable of feeling emotion telling the friend who he just murdered that he had made the decision to play the game by flipping a coin), some try to hole up and hide as long as they can, some try to fight back (there's a plot to bomb the school from which the game is being organized), and one even has a psychotic break (chapter 70 sets the scene with "after all, the time had come for her to carry out her greatest mission...as an anime space warrior"). And, the ending is bittersweet (and I'm going to try to avoid spoiler territory as best I can): there are some characters who do find a way to beat the game, but that is all they can do - the book ends with them being fugitives on the run from a police who will summarily execute them if they ever get caught, desperately trying to escape from the country.

Now, I don't know if Cam and Alex will talk about Battle Royale (and its sibling book The Hunger Games) at all during their PUBG Talking Simulator, but there is a bunch to decompress about violence and how it is used that the book explores. If you haven't read it, I can't recommend it highly enough (the new "Remastered" edition is a very good translation) - just be aware that this book WILL shock and horrify you (and, as I said, if you can get through the opening briefing, you should be fine for the rest of the book).
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Re: Talking Simulator

Postby Tim_McM » 04 Jun 2017, 22:15

I read the manga not the novel but I would agree that Battle Royale is a very worthwhile read by itself and has many interesting parallels with PUBG.
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Re: Talking Simulator

Postby Garwulf » 05 Jun 2017, 15:48

Tim_McM wrote:I read the manga not the novel but I would agree that Battle Royale is a very worthwhile read by itself and has many interesting parallels with PUBG.


There are apparently some interesting differences between the two - the English translation of the manga was actually re-written to better attract North American comic book fans. So, the backdrop is changed to be a reality TV show, and a lot of the dialogue is modified to have a more North American flow and pacing.

That said, what I've heard and read about the Manga is that it really is very good, and the extra space (it's around 3,000 pages long to the novel's roughly 600 pages long) is used to flesh out the characters and their arcs. It also apparently has more sexual content (the novel has one attempted rape that ends badly for the rapist before it can go very far, and some mention of sexual abuse in the backstory of another character, but that's about it).

(I was doing some research on this today for something that I'm not sure I can talk about for at least another couple of weeks...so I won't say more.)
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Re: Talking Simulator

Postby Tim_McM » 05 Jun 2017, 23:27

Garwulf wrote:
Tim_McM wrote:I read the manga not the novel but I would agree that Battle Royale is a very worthwhile read by itself and has many interesting parallels with PUBG.


There are apparently some interesting differences between the two - the English translation of the manga was actually re-written to better attract North American comic book fans. So, the backdrop is changed to be a reality TV show, and a lot of the dialogue is modified to have a more North American flow and pacing.

That said, what I've heard and read about the Manga is that it really is very good, and the extra space (it's around 3,000 pages long to the novel's roughly 600 pages long) is used to flesh out the characters and their arcs. It also apparently has more sexual content (the novel has one attempted rape that ends badly for the rapist before it can go very far, and some mention of sexual abuse in the backstory of another character, but that's about it).

(I was doing some research on this today for something that I'm not sure I can talk about for at least another couple of weeks...so I won't say more.)


Hmm, guess I should try and read the novel at some point then if only for completeness. (If that's all the novel has then yes, the manga has significantly more sex and sex related content)

I think that the game show background adds an interesting meta-story to it given that it is an incredibly voyeuristic series and the references to people enjoying the violence leads to some interesting self reflection about your own enjoyment of the same content even through the additional filter of known fiction.

Part of the reason I liked the manga was the amount of effort exploring the characters and backgrounds of the "main cast" (10-15 of the 40+ named characters) which was managed without significantly detracting or distracting from the main narrative.

That's possibly the biggest difference between BR and PUBG, BR's actions conform to a prescripted narrative whereas PUBG is emergent narrative where most of the events occur off screen.

Given that we still have unspecified amounts of Nier I guess we'll call this thought seeding and just wait patiently, I look forward to reading your thoughts if/when you get to share.

________________________________________________________________________

On Nier: I see why it's interesting to some and the story telling choices are certainly worth discussion but It's really not my jam so I'm not really finding myself with much to say about it.
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Re: Talking Simulator

Postby ritchards » 22 Jun 2017, 15:50

I would like to hear Cam and Alex take on The Beginners Guide, although maybe after they had already played it to get a better discussion going. Although it is a dialogue heavy game (which is another good reason to have already played it.)
Maybe pair it with Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist (from the other guy who did Stanley Parable)
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Re: Talking Simulator

Postby AdmiralMemo » 24 Jun 2017, 16:51

Seeing both of those on i, Horner already, I think that it would be great for Talking Sim. :-)
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Re: Talking Simulator

Postby AdmiralMemo » 05 Jul 2017, 14:08

I just played 11 hours of Orwell (8 hours for my first run and 3 hours for my second, trying to optimize things I did from the first run) and I think it would be a mighty fine game for TS. It'll provide good analysis of the decisions we make in life, too, honestly.
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