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Harold Pichol
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Spot on analysis. I played them as a teenager and they always felt like interactive comics; not really games. Like you demonstrated, as games they were pretty awful -I love how people are like "no, that's not true!" but can't really say how- and I remember telling myself that every time I would get stuck, I would use a walkthrough. It’s not fun to turn around over and over with puzzles that don’t make any fucking sense at all. Fool me once. About the storysensing and “visual promise”, I tend to define that as the theme, a bit like the theme of a music album. Let me get an example: the stories -plots- of Monkey Island or Grim Fandango suck. They are lame and an excuse to solve weird puzzles. Where these games shine and are absolutely amazing still to this day, is with their outstandingly original and perfectly done themes. The pirate world ala The Simpsons, genius! Travel agents of the Department of Death? I’m sold. Even if I’m just watching a movie :) Themes cover the synopsis, the aesthetics, the writing. It’s a whole. It’s more about settings than dictating what you have to do and what the game is about. To me the plot doesn't really matter. A bit like Cohen movies which use simple plots but play continuously around themes, adding stuff you would not think, making them so special. Today games have a lot of adventure stuff incorporated in them but IMHO themes suck so hard! Space marines vs orcs vs “war reality” or “action movies I loved”, where is the original stuff that is not aiming kids? Almost inexistent. We have better games but much more awful, bland, overused themes. Zelda on Wii is a fantastic game but the heroic fantasy setting makes me cringe. I’m not excited at all to move on in the game despite great gameplay. Both to me, are important and need to match. In this sense, sometimes I’d rather play a Day of the Tentacle than a Dead Space… Or I wish ID Tech5 would be used in a game with a fun, touching setting instead of a boring Mad Max/Fall Out setting. Whatever the game mechanics involved, it would be so refreshing. Also, it reminds me of Roberta Williams talking about the change in demographics that occurred with more “average” people accessing games. What do you think about that? Do you think that people playing adventure games on PCs during the 90s were different from the people playing say, Heavy Rain today?
Only big publishers will be able to do something on it. That's the huge difference with PCs and smartphones. Because risk is high, we'll see -as they're already rolling them out- the same IPs and same games with a Wii U twist. Nintendo will do great stuff as usual. But my point is that the days of only thinking about the platform are really over. Developers have the power. They make platforms successful and like you said, PCs and phones and tablets are flowing. Developers can do what they want on it and push toward interactivity between devices (both MS and Sony showed things going this way). Wii's advantage was instant. Wii U's advantage? Not so much. I think Kinect by being for both consoles and computers is a good move. Traditional publishers do their 60$ sequels -they can't take risks, not at these costs- and enthusiasts and indie people can experiment. It will never happen with the Wii U and I think that today in a world of fast development, it's a deadly mistake...
Harold Pichol is now following The Typepad Team
Jun 9, 2011