Monthly Archives: August 2009

What’s worse?

Seasonal allergies, or canker sores?

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colemak: success!

hi-games typing 30 seconds – 113 wpm
hi-games typing 1 minute – 99 wpm
hi-games typing 2 minutes – 98 wpm
hi-games typing 5 minutes – 93 wpm

previous best was 97 wpm with qwerty.  yay!

So it took about 2 months.  not too shabby!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmXr2xbHVS0

of course, all most videos are craptastic without sound, but it’s especially noticeable with music videos because audio and video complement each other so well.

I’m taking a stab in the dark here, but most of the time (?) the audio is produced first.  That doesn’t mean that the audio might not be modified, or tuned to fit a video, but overall it doesn’t make much sense to make a video and then make audio to it.

….most of the time.

But then, you look at how the movie industry works, and realize that most of the time it’s done the other way around.  So composers for film scores have a kind of tough job.

Let’s think of this another way, though.  Music videos intermix music and video.  Okay, cool.  But what about motion?  Well, dance intermixes video and movement.  Is there anything that mixes all three?  Well, DDR and Beatmania might seem to count, except the “video” component of those isn’t particularly interesting (flashing arrows…falling bars…whee).  Maybe it doesn’t make sense to mix all three though.  It would be something like dancing while watching a music video.  Which would probably be fun, but also kind of pointless when instead you could either dance, or watch a music video.  The only thing that I can think of is Rhythm Heaven, though the movement in that one isn’t quite as big of a factor, so it’s more of an interactive audio/visual thing rather than actually providing the same sense of movement as DDR.  But it’s still good, and unique.  Maybe if you put Rhythm Heaven on a DDR mat…

lol.  but mainly this post was an excuse to say “i appreciated this video because the music fits nicely”.

As an addendum, the Dead Fantasy series is more of a movie than a music video.  But I know for a fact that in this case the music came first–monty oum actually plans out everything based on the music, and it shows if you watch any of his videos.  Which is just another reason they are SO GOOD.

nocturnal

Yeah, so last night I tried going to bed at a reasonable time (midnight/1am as opposed to 7 am).  The result was that I woke up at a reasonable time (8:30 am?).  Then at around 1 or so I just got inexplicably tired and had to sleep until 5:30.  It wasn’t even food coma because I ate lunch at like 9:30.
I don’t think I’m made to function during the day.

Biting off as much as you should chew

When people play video games, or watch movies, or read books, they look for different things.  I’m not talking about genre differences–though those are important too–but things that can apply more or less to any “type” of video game/movie/book/etc.

Perhaps this is most relevant to video games, so lets look at some possible things that people might look for in games:
-Graphics
-Music
-Plot/Universe/Characters (all different yet basically related)
-“Raw” Gameplay
-Multiplayer Aspects
-Replay Value

Of course it’s not easy to really separate it out into categories like this.  For instance, you might like the characters in a game because they’re drawn really well (graphics), or the game might have great replay value not because there’s a whole bunch of stuff you missed out on the first time (think RPGs), but because they core gameplay is just so good (tetris).  But you get the idea.

Personally I can say that, for games, I probably value “core” gameplay over anything else.  But the “universe” and music is also sometimes important for me, because I’m really interested in the fictional worlds that are created in games–even those that aren’t necessarily story-driven, like R-Type.  Whereas for watching anime, I probably value the characters and art style much more than anything else, with plot, and actually humor probably coming in behind that.

So shouldn’t you just make games/movies/books that are good in EVERY category?  Well, not quite.

First off, it’s really hard to make something that’s good in -everything-.  There’s nothing fancy about it–if you try to be good at everything, you most of the time end up not being good at anything.
Secondly, people differ a lot on what makes a game “good” in one of these categories.  To me, 24×16 pixel sprites probably look better than anything that can ever be rendered in 3d, but that’s most definitely not the case with everyone else.

But more importantly, some of these values are in conflict with each other.  Sometimes in -direct- conflict with each other.  For example, if I create a game that’s really, really difficult, then a bunch of people will be upset because they lose all the time, get frustrated, and give up.  At the same time, if I create something that’s pretty easy, then the story/plot/universe people won’t complain because they get to waste less time restarting a level because they died, but the hardcore gameplay people will just be bored out of their minds because there’s no challenge.

Sometimes it’s possible to reconcile these differences.  The difficulty one, for example, is addressed in a lot of cases with variable difficulty settings, so that all of the hardcore people can set the game on insane mode and have 6 times the normal amount of enemies and be forced to only use a pea-shooter, and all is well.  But it doesn’t always work out so neatly.

For example, there’s a rather large (I would venture to call it “fundamental”) schism between single-player and multiplayer gaming, and in almost all cases I fall entirely in the single-player camp of things (with the biggest exception being SSBM, probably).  It isn’t trivial to make a single-player game into a multiplayer one or vice-versa, because the mechanics just don’t translate.  In TGM, you’re essentially playing a survival game–you need to be fast enough to match the forced speed that the game puts on you.  So how do you make that into a multiplayer game?

Well, the traditional approach to multiplayer tetris is to have two separate playing fields, and send “garbage” rows to the other player at the bottom of their stack when you clear multiple lines.  But wait–that’s a totally new concept–one which essentially changes the way you need to stack.  In addition, you’re no longer playing against increasing speed–you’re playing against rows of garbage.  AND, you’re forced to play in an aggressive way in order to send garbage, because otherwise you’re not going to win.  So it’s not really even about survival anymore, it’s about attacking and defending.

So that didn’t work.  Okay, how about “doubles” tetris, where two players share a 20×20 play field?  Well, that’s neat too, but having the 20×20 field throws normal tetris stacking techniques out the door, and things like 20G movement don’t really work anymore, or at least they don’t work how they’re supposed to.

The problem is the same for turning a multiplayer game into a single-player one.  Here most of the time people just create AI opponents to take the place of other humans.  This works…to a certain extent.  But not really.

So what I’m saying is that you should just pick a really specific audience and specialize your game to cater to them, and they’ll love it, right?  Well, not exactly.  First off, I lied when I said it’s impossible to be good at everything.  It IS possible to be good at everything, but at a certain point it’s almost going to be like developing separate games.  Take Goldeneye (N64).  This was a killer game, probably one of the most well-known and well-played titles on the N64.  But it’s got BOTH good single-player missions and great multiplayer (okay, I admit I don’t actually know how the multiplayer is on a competitive level).  But they don’t have =that= much to do with each other–i.e. the reasons that the single-player missions are good have almost nothing to do with the reason that multiplayer is fun.  And you can, for example, see the same thing attempted in Star Fox 64, except for the fact that in Star Fox 64, the singleplayer is much, much better than multiplayer.

So really, you -should- try to just do everything…in an ideal world.  Okay, I lied again.  It really is impossible to be good at everything, because you don’t have infinite talent, time, or funds.  So it’s up to you to figure out how much you want to bite off.  Large commercial companies (Nintendo, Blizzard) can probably easily afford to spend some time and money making their games well-rounded.  And it makes sense–it’s not that hard to design a singleplayer mode for something that’s primarily designed as a multiplayer game, and it’s not that hard to add in a storyline to something that’s mainly designed as a “gameplay” game.  If it helps you appeal to a larger audience, without turning away other people, then why not?  But in the end if you look at Starcraft, no one really cares about the single-player campaign.  It’s not bad and there was obviously a bunch of work put into it, but NOBODY CARES.  Well, nobody cares =anymore=.  See, Starcraft is famous because of the multiplayer, but it wouldn’t have done nearly as well if it didn’t have that single-player campaign in the first place.

From the perspective of someone who’s not actually in the industry, these are all decisions that have to be made when you design a game (or anime, or movie, or book, etc).  It all depends on what you’re trying to do, and how much you’re capable of.  But if you’re some independent developer working as a one-man team, there’s no way in hell you’re going to make something that’s got an intricate storyline with neat graphics and live orchestral music and deep gameplay and a bustling online playerbase.  Out of all the elements, things like graphics and music are probably the hardest things to do well in that type of environment (working alone).  There just isn’t enough manpower, and chances are that if you’re really good at coding, you probably don’t also happen to be a world-class composer (not to mention you have to -produce- the music, not just compose) AND a great artist.  Or god help you if you’re working in 3d, which means you need models, textures, level editors, and all that fun stuff.  So most of the time you just have to settle for getting something that has great gameplay (since that takes less time, even though it’s “hard” in a different way) and plays solidly and just get it to not look like crap.

Unfortunately it also means that certain types of games are almost impossible (or just not worth it) to make by yourself.  RPGs are a classic example because they require a shitton of different things to work together.  And that’s just talking about -offline- stuff.  (As cool as the idea might be, you’ll never see an MMORPG produced by one person.  It’s impossible.)

Okay, that deviated a little bit from what I was originally trying to say.  I think the overarching point to make was just that different people look for different things (which should have been obvious anyways) and that it’s impossible to please everyone because not only is it not feasible in terms of time and effort, but it’s also impossible because of conflicting interests.  So you can either try to please as many people as you can and forget about the few things that aren’t perfect, or you can try to please a very specific group of people and shun everybody else.  Of course, the latter having the advantage that since you’re so specialized, you can make your game REALLY good in a certain way.  Which helps set it apart from others.  Yet because it’s not as widely appealing, it won’t be as popular in a mainstream sense.  Okay now I’m just rambling pointlessly…