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Blog: "What videogames lack: Deeper intent"
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Thomas Offline
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Post: #11
RE: Blog: "What videogames lack: Deeper intent"

Adventurer4Life:

The post is not about evoking deep emotions, it is about having a deep emotional goal behind its creation.

Still, your comments are interesting and valid. It is very interesting if games can really evoke the full spectrum of emotions that we have in books and movies. When it comes to mimicking human expressions I do not see this as a large obstacle because 1) animated movies can be just as sucessful as one with live actors and 2) tech like the one used in Benjamin Button is that not that far from possible real-time. So we either have or will soon have the tools to imitate characters with deep emotions.

But your main point is really if the protagonist, ie the player, can be made into feeling emotions as the character, right? To take your example, can the player play the role of one of the lovers in a romantic drama? I find this very, very interesting and I see two ways this can be done:
1) By creating a situation where the player truly, by themselves, feel this emotion.
2) Forcing the emotion, by "fooling" (think hypnosis) the player that they are really having this emotion.

There is not a distinct lines between these two options, but I think it is well worth making anyway.

When it comes to 1, this is highly subjective as it would be very hard to satisfy most player's demands for a certain feeling / attachment. You would then have to have a pretty sophisticated system that can adapt to the player. I'd say that this would be very hard for certain things like love and so on.

Option number 2 though, I think is much more plausible. We know that people under hypnosis can be made to believe certain stuff (at least they will say afterwards that they DID feel this, which I think is enough when it comes to subjective experiences). Hypnosis, as far I as I been able to research (as in reading books,etc), is just a sort of play between people. I think it is possible to do something similar in videogames too and in this way convince players that they really do feel a certain way. While this might sound a little scary, it is not that far from what movies do. What happens is that emotions in other people trigger similar emotions in you. When watching a sad scene and sufficiently immersed, the feelings of the character pop up in yourself as well*. Books also work in a similar manner but bypassing the visual input and directing the input directly (through symbols).

By designing a video game in a proper way, the same kind of transfer should be possible to happen, using a mixture of the techniques in hypnosis and film/books. Basically a video game could basically "tell" the player that they are in love with another character and the player will accept this.

Of course this is just my hypothesis and I might be terribly be wrong. The only way to see if it might work is to try it out. We have already tried it out a bit in Amnesia with cues that tell the player when to be frightened (through music, visuals, etc). It is just some very early tests, and it has have so-so success, and we will try to evolve it, step by step and see what can and cannot be done. Only way to know what is possible Smile


* See this as an example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0pwKzTRG5E
10-10-2010 09:19 PM
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hollowleviathan Offline
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Post: #12
RE: Blog: "What videogames lack: Deeper intent"

I can disprove that simply from personal experience. The romance in Planescape: Torment was no less accessible and powerful than from movies. The inability to stop myself from killing Andrew Ryan, the choice that games give me, taken away, was uniquely powerful and not available in a non-interactive medium. How much richer is the fear in the horror genre, when instead of yelling, "Don't go in there!", you yourself must muster the strength to 'go in there'?

The protagonist does not and is often not silent and non-evocative. Psychonauts, Zeno Clash, Mass Effect all have talkative and opinionated protagonists. They all express emotion according to the plot or according to the players decisions. Quite often these characters are voiced and motion captured by the very actors you claim are somehow superior to them.

There's always going to be people who dismiss certain art styles out of hand. Go into the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, there's controversy displayed on the walls. It's shameful folly to dismiss everything in a genre out of hand.
10-10-2010 09:58 PM
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Adventurer4Life Offline
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Post: #13
RE: Blog: "What videogames lack: Deeper intent"

(10-10-2010 09:19 PM)Thomas Wrote:  When it comes to mimicking human expressions I do not see this as a large obstacle because 1) animated movies can be just as sucessful as one with live actors and 2) tech like the one used in Benjamin Button is that not that far from possible real-time. So we either have or will soon have the tools to imitate characters with deep emotions.

I think this is debatable. I myself have no problems relating to cartoons and modern 3D, if done well. We have all seen Disney turn a tea pot into a living character or w/e. Still this leap of imagination seams to be beyond many people. I have had a few discussions with others who just can not relate to a cartoon figure in anyway.

(10-10-2010 09:19 PM)Thomas Wrote:  But your main point is really if the protagonist, ie the player, can be made into feeling emotions as the character, right?

Yes this was the crux of it. I feel there is a big gap between the player experiencing something themselves and relating to something though empathy.

(10-10-2010 09:19 PM)Thomas Wrote:  When it comes to 1, this is highly subjective as it would be very hard to satisfy most player's demands for a certain feeling / attachment. You would then have to have a pretty sophisticated system that can adapt to the player. I'd say that this would be very hard for certain things like love and so on.

I couldn't agree with this more. The mind boggling amount of alternative choices and paths is currently far from possible. Maybe when we have complex AI systems able create content and reactions outside of the game designers doing it manually this could work.

(10-10-2010 09:19 PM)Thomas Wrote:  What happens is that emotions in other people trigger similar emotions in you. When watching a sad scene and sufficiently immersed, the feelings of the character pop up in yourself as well*.

Yea, but doesn't the fact that in a game you "are" the character mean that this is creating a step, or a break from the immersion. Suddenly you are no longer role playing that character but watching it like a film?

(10-10-2010 09:19 PM)Thomas Wrote:  Amnesia with cues that tell the player when to be frightened (through music, visuals, etc).

That is an extremely good point, one I hasn't considered. Could we be made to feel like chaotic evil person (yes I am old and a pen and paper rpg player) simply by changing the way the game world reacts to us. Describing our character to us in the way we are able to interact or experience stuff.

Now I think about it the "maddness" effect is something along these lines?

(10-10-2010 09:58 PM)hollowleviathan Wrote:  I can disprove that simply from personal experience. The romance in Planescape: Torment was no less accessible and powerful than from movies. The inability to stop myself from killing Andrew Ryan, the choice that games give me, taken away, was uniquely powerful and not available in a non-interactive medium.

Black Isle... those guys were total legends.

Still I am not sure this is the same thing. Again this is like the "dog" example I spoke of before. Having a reaction to a game character, that is "not you" is a much easier thing to do.

(10-10-2010 09:58 PM)hollowleviathan Wrote:  The protagonist does not and is often not silent and non-evocative. Psychonauts, Zeno Clash, Mass Effect all have talkative and opinionated protagonists.

I would class all those games as something you watch and "direct" not as in you "are the character yourself", witch is something a bit more ballzee that Friction seams to be interested in. They are more like "choose your own adventure films"

(10-10-2010 09:58 PM)hollowleviathan Wrote:  There's always going to be people who dismiss certain art styles out of hand.

I am not dismissing anything. I LOVE computer games. I make them myself infact. I just think there are areas that need a lot more work, or at least smarter people than me to work on them and that even attempting them will in fact ruin the project. Witch is why Thomas is talking about tricks to "fool" the player, rather than trying to get them to connect truly emotionally or just presenting them a story and expecting them to "get it"

Happy Adventuring
-- A4L
My Review Chan - http://www.youtube.com/adventurereviews
10-11-2010 04:27 AM
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hollowleviathan Offline
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Post: #14
RE: Blog: "What videogames lack: Deeper intent"

(10-11-2010 04:27 AM)Adventurer4Life Wrote:  I just think there are areas that need a lot more work, or at least smarter people than me to work on them

Definitely. It took decades and decades of theory, practice and study for film theory to get to where it is now, and still many movies are made without those ideas. It's going to be a fair amount of time before videogame theory coalesces into something, ah, useful.

Half-Life 2 uses a lot of advances in player direction theory, how to direct the player advance the map and notice what to do next without them being aware of the direction. Their play on our emotions are much more subdued/primitive due to a mute avatar.

(10-10-2010 11:16 AM)Adventurer4Life Wrote:  I think the meaning you are wishing for games is not achievable... like at all.

I suppose by this you just meant 'currently'? Again, you say that being tricked into feeling emotions means that the medium is not succeeding, but it's just terminology. We feel the same emotions that we see on others' faces, a fact often exploited in film. It works the same way in videogames.
10-11-2010 06:05 AM
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