June 20, 2003

I need to get back to work on some games. I've obviously got an overstuffed queue of stuff to work on, since I've done approximately jack shit in the last long while; the problem is deciding on what to do, and doing it. I think I'm going to start on something easy, sort of a space trading/exploration/combat game in the spirit of Elite or Galtrader. We'll see how that goes. But first, I've got to get my bug tracking system back up and running... It also sounds like a good idea to me to put together a brief "ludology" of the games I've written in the past, as most of them are gone, daddy, gone. Yeah, I'll get right on that.

I've been reading a bunch lately in various places about game design, and how games (and "video games", in particular) should be considered an art as much as anything else. I tend to agree with that. Sure, there's a lot of crappy art, but that doesn't make it something else. I also like how that little semantic dodge lets me work on games, and call myself an "artist", as I generally don't think that I have a creative bone in my body. So, does that mean that playing games all day is the equivalent of spending time in a museum? Who would complain to an artist that they spend all day inside, working on their work? Except their landlord, when the rent comes due, that is...

I'm also re-reading Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics, which is an excellent primer on the form for those who are unfamiliar with it, and a deeper look at sequential visual art for those who have enjoyed it for years. There's an interesting section near the beginning where he proposes that, because some comic characters lack detail, they provide a nice, generic, "iconic" medium for the reader to identify with, thus immersing them in the story more fully. As characters, or objects in the comic, become more realistic, they are seen more as external, more visual objects, and the reader becomes an outside viewer, looking in. While reading, I would occasionally substitute the word "video game" for "comic" in my head. There is much lamentation for the "good old days" of video games, when pretty graphics didn't matter as much as gameplay. Perhaps it is that, as games become more realistic, the player sees it more as a "show", and doesn't identify with the characters or avatars in the game as much. In the classic Atari 2600 game Adventure, the player is represented only by a small square which moves around the screen. I remember playing this game for hours and days and weeks and months, never getting bored. Compare with something like, say, Dungeon Siege, which had excellent graphics, and okay gameplay, but didn't nearly grab me as much, for some reason. Of course, there is the inevitable comparison to Nethack (June 20, 2003 01:17 AM)

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