Wednesday, 14 January 2009


We interrupt this not very consistent flow of blogs to bring you a personal blog, yes my first own blog entry and I'm glad that I have decided to dedicate it to the fiwe just saw, thats right, The Mist. Now coming into this movie I was thinking, omg killer mist, and I immediately thought back to that Simpsons Halloween episode with the green mist, so I was going in expecting a hilarious attempt at making deadly mist scary.

I'm actually quite glad that I was proven wrong because while the mist did herald death, not by a poison mist but by Cloverfield's relatives. After a good while of viewing this film I began to wonder what I would do in that situation because, the way those people in the film reacted I found it to be irritant and made me say many times to myself, why would they do such a thing? Especially with how they rallied with the religious woman. Are people so fragile that they allow themselves to follow a mad woman shouting out cooky phrases like she is the vessel of god...I'm sure if God ever chose for someone to be a vessel he wouldn't allow such a self righteous cow to be it. I really hated how she would so loosely link the bible to what was happening, it was like she was mix and matching to her own needs imo.

But what really hit me and what I thought was the biggest kick to the balls anyone could ever dish out someone was the ending, my god that was a depressing ending, even though I suspected it could happen I didn't think that they would actually go through with it, the fact he used the same gun he used to protect themselves to off them was just gut wrenching, and then only to find a few minutes later the military come strolling by without a care in the world.

Man that was a depressing film, and the fact that he survived made it worse, I think I'm going to watch Dead Set, at least there everyone died and it felt I got some closure but here, its just weird....

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Spending time with the joystick...

Alright first off, this is a rather old blog task XD still studying the banana controller are we? =P Anyway enough of this tomfoolery on my part TO BUSINESS WE SHALL GET!!!

I may be an art student but for some reason I rarely appreciate the design of a console or its controllers, I guess I’ve always been a fan of the games themselves. There is however one instance where I truly looked at a console and gone phwoar, but I’ll get back to that later, although I think I’ve already mentioned it in a previous post =P.

The design of consoles and their accessories have often followed the times, with early home version of pong and the Atari 2600 following the grey plasticy dullness of the 70s and this trend of greyness following through to the 90s with the snes, the megadrive and neo geo only breaking the trend by being molded in black plastic and of course as time went on the consoles changed with the times, now we have the applewii, the shineh3 and the at the moment looking like something from a hippie film 360. The interface controls of these consoles have rarely changed, with there being the on button, bit where you plug in your controller and the place where you input your cartridge/disk. The main differences would be the inclusion of memory card slots.

Now as for controllers, *whistle* they’ve been through the most changes starting off as being a lowly rotary dial to move a stick up and down a screen to the wiimote. It seems that controllers only seem to get more complicated over the years, well I say complicated, more really the number of buttons has increased. Have a look at the Home Version of Pong developed in 1975, a simple setup, like I said one dial, or two in this case because it was a two player game but this was all that was needed back in the day.

The next stage was changing this dial into a stick, or as it was more aptly name THE JOYSTICK! This piece of kit was basically a stick which took over the place of the dial and offered much more in terms of maneuverability, the joystick of the 80s often had one extra button, probably for shooting games, joysticks still live on today but are often used for other things, flying aircraft and for laying the beat down on kids at your local arcade, they are rarely used for mainstream consoles and have been replaced in spirit by the analog stick, I’ll go more into that later.

Next the revolutionary design of the Nintendo entertainment system, the first real joypad, with directional pad, start and select button and the action buttons while only two offered an interesting gaming experience, I have to say I loved this controller when I had one, although I have to say it was bested by the sega mega drive’s controller which offered the same layout but was much more rounded and more comfortable to handle. The next incarnation of the entertainment system the SNES rectified this and also had a rounded controller, although I can’t say much for handling as i’ve never actually owned a snes D:.

Now another controller that came out on the nes tickled my fancy much more, and also began the start of the additional peripherals to play certain games, in this case it’s the first light gun! Or otherwise known as THE ZAPPER, this was a gun shaped controller used for games such as Duck hunt, an amazing piece of kit which lives on today as light guns in arcades much like its joystick ancestor.

Now Next in line for the heritage is *drumroll* the playstation flight controller which introduced to the world THE ANALOG STICK, yes this lil beauty is the joystick in spirit form, well it first came in a package of two, designed for use with flight sim, this dual analog system was them imported over to the playstation, which became the next staple controller, with its four button interface and dpad, stick layout which is the basis for later controllers such as the dreamcast and Xbox.

The next in line for the analog stick awesomeness is the N64 controller, which offered a pressure sensitive control stick which acted more like a digital mouse and offered almost 360 degree movements. However the N64 changed things around a little bit, it had an interesting setup having c buttons and a z button at the back alongside the normal setup, I have to say it was comfortable and on some occasion felt like there were two controllers in my hand as switching to the dpad made it feel like I was changing the controller completely. It also introduced the world to the rumble pack, which was just amazing in how it made the player feel like they were getting hit, a revolutionary trait which has continued in mainstream consoles to this day, to give it that extra edge.

The next set of controllers ranging from the Dreamcast, Playstation 2, Xbox and Gamecube did little to change the experience except maybe update the aesthetic and in the case of the Gamecube change the cbuttons for a cstick. The real update comes in the latest generation of controllers. The main aspect (shown with the gamecube’s wavebird) is the fact all of the latest controllers are wireless, getting rid of that restriction and fear of pulling the console to the floor.

But of course the true innovation is the motion sensor aspect of this gen, while the ps3 has tilt sensors, the wii is where it shines in motion sensor gaming, allowing players to emulate the characters on screen for a more immersive experience.

Ergonomically, I see that controllers have become more suited to the hands, like in holding the Xbox 360 controller, my hand wraps around it neatly making for a comfortable experience, I would say the same for the ps3 but in honest opinion I feel it’s gotten less comfortable than the ps2 controllers, possible due to the new design of the R2 and L2 buttons.

But enough of these controller talk, I want my virtual reality D:

" You can feel your eyes burning already can't you?"

Gather round boys and girls for I have a story to tell ye....

Now games have not always had a story, from the likes of pong to excite bike, these games had no coherent plot yet were extremely enjoyable to play back in the day, however nowadays I believe that stories in games have become an important staple of the gaming experience and more than often a well structured and immersive storyline can make a game so much more enjoyable.

"dammit I buggered the ketchup again"

A game where I believe the story to have a good story is a lil game known as Fahrenheit or Indigo Prophecy in the lands of freedom and maple syrup, the game followed the main character Lucas Kane as he wakes up in a toilet cubicle only to find a dead body on the bathroom floor and his arms severely cut up from knife wounds. The main aim of the game is to find out how he ended up in that situation; the game also follows two police officers as they investigate the crime. The player takes control of these characters and in a unique way must do certain actions that propel the story in one of the various story routes. For example at the beginning when Lucas finds himself in the toilets, he must decide whether to hide the body, clean up the blood on the floor using a mop and to clean up his hands, if the player fails to do one or more of these actions the likely hood of getting caught by the police officer who enters the diner where the bathroom is situated will rise. The consequences of each choice become more influential as the game goes on; in some cases failing to save someone’s life or failing to acquire certain items can lead to an alternative ending.

"Hard day's work in the life of amnesiac possibly killer dude"

This is the type of game that a strong storyline, well a well conceived one (especially since it had alternate endings) can help propel a game’s success, the same can be said for many role playing games such as the final fantasy games and World of Warcraft, the first despite having similar game systems, the stories are what keep fans and new players coming to the franchise. The latter however is more open ended, and while it has an immense back-story as I’ve heard (too much to read for my head) which helps set the games context it seems it relies more on people’s own stories, creating their own plots and what not as they immerse themselves in their custom made characters.

"I may be getting close to figuring out why WOW is so popular!"

The key point I’m trying to make in mentioning Fahrenheit and well games like WOW is that these are games which immerse you into the character you’re playing, Fahrenheit makes you panic with its quick time events and small aspects which make you relate to the character and often put yourself in his place as you panic to clean up the apartment of any signs of blood before the police officer investigates, and with WOW well you create your own story. Personally for me I often immerse myself in the stories, get in the same frame of mind as the character, although in some cases I like to just sit back and watch things unfold like with metal gear solid =P.

Now one thing that bothered me in this entry’s brief, that call of duty was mentioned in the line up of games were we had to question whether a game had a story, I’ve played various fps war games and despite the outside look of that they’re all the same, I rather enjoyed their stories, like call of duty on the Xbox, titled the big red one...yeah....I enjoyed it because it portrayed the campaign of the 1st infantry division of the US forces, as the title, the big red one, aptly named for their big red patches.

Now compared to a game like second life.....which I’m not even sure can be called a game could it? It’s more or less the internet with avatars :/ but ah well I dunno, for now I’ll compare it to COD, SL doesn’t have a set story and while a huuuge online game of sorts, it doesn’t even have the back-story of warcraft its basically a big world where everything is made up by its users. But considering its popularity I guess it stems from the fact it’s a huge world with user made content, it allows them to create their own stories from scratch even though they may not be as well thought out as world of warcraft it still gives them satisfaction.

"Whatever Floats your boat"

So in short I believe a strong story can be a very helpful factor in creating a successful game however I believe that it’s not always the case as even with a weak storyline, players can often make an amazing experience by adding their own personal touches to the game.