Thursday, 3 March 2011

Interaction Design

Right interactivity has been a major driving force in pumping out more add ons for consoles and becoming the consoles themselves like the wii for example. However, consoles have also become not only a way to play games in new ways but also simulate the real thing. The gadget show did a great episode looking into games and if the add ons and peripherals could really help you in becoming a Martial arts fighter or pilot. Check it out its very interesting to see the results

The physical interaction with controllers has been something that has always pissed me off, like i need to buy extra crap to make some stupid animated monkey dance on screen where I have to then clear it up after it has made mess all over itself through joyess amounts of fun its had after watching me dance round like a epileptic dog on crack and i'm meant to find this entertaining even though in real life no one wants to clean up someone elses mess or be tired out even more from the soul sucking and boring life of the everyday office job drudgery. I tend to put games down straight away if the controls are in any way awkward or messy or both and get frustrated when simple tried and tested control systems aren't implemented that would make the game run smoother and actually make it slightly enjoyable.

Now, I don't have small japanese hands so the PS3 controller makes me incredibly angry and want to throw it out my window, where as the ergonomically designed 360 controller sits in my hand as if I evolved to have a joypad in my hands from birth. Oh and not to souund like i'm whining about all the peripherals I have to find new places to store them in, but whose genious idea was it not to have the Wii remote come wiothout the knunchuk attachment and the strap already put on to avoid morons from throwing it at their TV through them waving around frantically to try and gain more points!

Well I must admit to playing singstar, lips and just dance and next on my list for the 360 Kinect dance central and they are fun. Though Just Dance gave me a real work out, no i'm being serious I mean i'm pretty fit but that put me through some sort of real dance studio exercise I woke up the next day with muscles aching that I didn't even know I had! I can see how these new healthy games are meant to make you fit but only if you actually put more effort than it takes to raise your hand that you usually use to stuff a cheese burger or pie in your face...

I don't think we are on the verge of a major breakthough with the interactivity of games not until we start entering the worlds of films like The surrogates, and GAMER (
( oh and just for the record The surrogates graphic novel is way better than the film.

Even weith the release of 3D technology games are still no where near taking that technology any further, even the best 3D films are still a little ropey here and there and its mainly just a gimmick these days to get people to buy more stuff to stop the world from ending because we aren't already paying enough to every man and his dog who are being taxed by everyone else.

Interactivity involves people getting up and being interactive themselves and with other people, not just being the bedroom gamer that xbox live and PSN have seem to push people to be. I mean am I sooooo old that I can't see that playing split screen and having friends over for Pizza and to earn bragging rights on the latest games isn't as cool as making 14 year olds with no social skills cry over the internet as you here their sobs down the microphone after repeatedly spawn killing them?

Personally I feel people are becoming too dependant on living life through a tv screen and wondering what things really feel like rather than going out and doing them for real and not for more achievement points or trophies. I mean whats more fun going bowling with mates and wearing those ridiculous clown shoes watching people fall over down the alleys or sitting at home waving a stupid white stick at a tv which tells you, your an idiot be better at waving the white stick!

I leave it to you....

Sound in Games

Sound is such an invisible force in games. You don't really notice it whilst it's there, but if we were to take it away, you would surely see people quickly checking the audio options bumping up the sound levels and frantically cecking all the audio cables are still plugged in.

Now its not just the sound of footsteps and the realistic sound of brains splattering up a wall when you get a head shot with a 50. cal sniper that i'm talking about. I'm talking about the atmospheric and and epic scores that are composed just to make you cry, laugh sit on the edge of your sofa or other bum cushioning device. But before we get into the whole live orchestra sat in front of MGS4,
I want to point out far in game sounds have come and affected our everyday lives.

Travelling home the other day I was just on the train to London, pretty boring and normal when all of a sudden I hear a few seats in front of me the mario coin collection sound go off and a guy picked up his phone ans started reading a text. Now pretty much everyone had looked up and a slight smile on their face remembering the Super Mario games and then immediately began to scowl at the crosswords they don't understand. Still on the subject of Mario, a great viral youtube video of a guy who took the original 8 bit sounding theme and thought it would be cool to beatbox it with a flute!

A little less recently another ringtone/ text alert sound caught my attention as the classic "!" MGS sound went off and I almost caught myself running for a cardboard box to hide under... well ok so its not all about making cool sounds for your phone, but games have really tried to make gaming a wholistic experience. Sound is a very emotional part of our sensory perception of things and can totally change the way we view dramatic moments and relate to events that happen in games. Halo in my opinion, really honed in on their music with large orchestral scores and grandious "LETS KICK ALIEN ASS!" style music to coincide with the games very dramatic intergalatic war based shooter. Uncharted 2 was something that was clearly inspired by the indiana jones scores and kept the music very tight to the way the environment and culture would be represented throughout the level. For example quite eery tibet throat singing was used throughout the creepy tibetan ice cave level in the hunt for the chitamani stone. Now i'd hate to say it but COD Modern Warfare 2 did have a few moments of great music to go along with the mindless killing of NPC's, especially in the Gulag level towards the end of the game (which by the way was totally stolen from the film THE ROCK starring Nicholas Cage and Sean Connery

Little Big Planet is actually quite thoughtful in the way it allows you to create levels. I mean sure all the visuals and cool interactive effects are there to keep you entertained but they also give you a variety of soundscapes and the use of sound triggers They even went as far as allowing the characters you can make to have a sort of weird simlish
language ( to communicate with you, with the help of added speech bubbles! I've created and messed around with the creation tools in LBP and the levels really only come to life when the sounds are added, which is personally the last thing I though would make the levels fun and totally made me realise how stupid I had been in overlooking the most basic of senses that I clearly take for granted!

Actually really good sounds to look out for are in Dead Space 2 well and the first one! That is a prime example of a game that without sound just wouldn't work at all. You can hear the necromorphs running through vents and the humms and buszzes of generators and the clangs of metal falling all help to make wet stains appear on the front of your trousers as there is nothing more scary than the sudden loud bang of a door opening next to you randomly and you can never tell if something is going to come running at you from the dark. Even the futuristic gun sounds are interesting, this is clearly a field waiting to be played in further and hopefully one that big composers can really influence the gameplay just as they influence the story and character in the film industry.