So many games per console, but not all are looked upon equally.
We talked about the way dialogue and story elements were delivered in older generation-style games in the previous post which talks about player-paced plot-delivery and how clunky this mechanism is, especially when compared to the evolution of plot-delivery and character-paced delivery that we’ll discuss in this post.
There are two means of delivering the dialogue gaming, using either the In-Game Engine (IGE) or using pre-rendered Full-Motion Video (FMVs).
The IGE delivery uses the in-game gestures that the characters are normally seen using. They are made up of primitive gestures that when tied in sequence make up the acted emotions of the scene. These primitives are generally simple gestures like move over to point A, waving your hand to say “Hi”, putting your hand to your chin to show “I’m Thinking,” looking down to show “That’s Depressing/Disappointing.” For those who’ve played any MMORPG, these are simple emotes, showing a generalization of what emotion you’re trying to portray, but are blocky and look irregular because the motions aren’t fluid and are 1-dimensional.
FMVs, on the other hand, are scenes crafted by hand or by motion-capture suits in order to have the choreography and the dynamics of the scene seem realistic, being lived out on screen, rather than actions being dictated to them “Now look angry. Now look frustrated. Now look like you’ve been inspired with an idea.” In PS1/N64 ear games, FMVs were choreographed by the 3d artists, meticulously moving the arms and legs to proper locations, keyframing the locations that characters needed to be at in order to make the scene seem believable and compelling. Nowadays there is a mixture of this 3d-Artist ballet intermingled with real actors providing motion-captured animations so that the timing, the delivery and the drama feel organic because of its timing, the subtle strenuousness of basic movement when walking across a room while monologuing.
But these are the only the delivery systems for plot and dialogue, but the actual content being delivered can vary and impact how the player engages and experiences in the games themselves.
When the character’s emotions don’t match their actions, it looks extremely odd. Like someone is just reading lines from a script, trying to grasp at but not completely understanding how they’re supposed to act, voice, or react when something dramatic happens. They stand there making some idle gesture while some sounds come out of their mouth, or the player is freely moving the characters around while dialogue is being played in the background and the player is supposed to understand the emotion being portrayed based on a partially synced audio/video? This is the problem when companies develop a competency for portraying emotion through just dialogue or just video. With many developers not able to completely develop an understanding of getting their game’s acting and dialogue to be wholly believable, I wanted to at least delve into the different mechanisms developers can use in order to connect emotion, story, and motivation to the player.
When two must fight over one
And both are similar to one another,
They must evolve.
If one becomes successful,
The other must find a way to win,
Or find another to pursue.
What are developers making?
When a game is developed, developers try to keep in mind the audience that they are trying to reach. What the above  shows is where their focus is being put with many games opting to stay in the traditionally popular categories of Action and Sports, with fewer and fewer developers focusing on genres that typically swing towards one series in particular. Fighting games have their Street Fighters taking up the majority of its audience, Gran Turismo taking up the Racing genre, etc… But what’s important is to focus on the differences between the consoles, in particular the PS3 and the Xbox 360 since we already focus on the Wii last time and the conclusion was that it was a gimmick machine that printed money for Nintendo and Ubisoft, but rarely for any other developer. LINK
This is not a tale of triumph, one of mischief or of woe.
It is a tale of rivals, finding a crowd for which they’d know.
With a crash of thunder and spark of genius,
Came a brave little console, here to guide us.
But how will he get there, through peace or through wrath,
Little Wii-Knight, motion controls in-hand, creates his path.
What’s interesting about having all of this data at your disposal is seeing quickly how consoles can be remembered, or to drudge up old arguments with harder proof about what assumed at certain points but couldn’t really prove it yet. What the above shows is just how much developers spread across various genres on various consoles. Below are the pictures split-up.
Infamous, the experiment in developing an original Superhero with the freedom of creating abilities and lore that’s untied to any pre-existing superhero universe. Two surprises from the PS3 generation was the ambition of Infamous and Prototype in creating an original open-world Superhero universe, but it would seem that Infamous had the staying power between the two with its 3rd installment released on the PS4. While the first 2 followed Cole and his very Spiderman-like origin story and his various continuous acts of self-sacrifice throughout the two games, we move on to Delsin and his X-Men-like origin story. The game tweaked a few aspects from the past few games but still did a great job at creating an original identity to both Delsin and the game instead of just another iteration of the same franchise. That doesn’t mean that everything went well, which is the topic for discussion to see how the experience can be overall different.
I’ve come to help you with your problems, so we can be free.
Just how much room for improvement is there? When I look at a game, what gets me interested can vary greatly. Mechanics, story, perceptual shifts and so on are all aspects where the medium of gaming is leaps and bounds over the immersion of other media, but when going through the list of games month after month, there are very few examples that I can point to that “this is what gaming should exemplify and aspire to be, and the rest of you lot are the uninspired novelists hunting for words in a coffeeshop for hours a day.” I guess that’s a bit hypocritical because I’m in the middle of writing this at a coffeeshop-esqure environment, and have written at length in such an environment for quite some time because it is important to know where you work best and this environment is one of them for me. And I’d like to think that my level of output is greater than what some put out, especially after seeing how much time of others is spent on FB or random YouTube searches, but I digress.
The point is, most games that people tend to jump on the hype-train don’t have much to set themselves apart from predecessors and contemporaries, especially when there is so much more that can be done within the various genres that it makes it a chore to find a game that doesn’t “borrows heavily” from another which came out all of a few months prior.
A lot of this seems to come from incestual idea-sharing, where there are only so many new ideas that come out and once an idea is created, it gets passed around like an answer sheet throughout a class of overachievers. Only a few people create new ideas every development team tries to figure out how they can use that idea in order to make the game seem current and ingenious.