Arbtirary thoughts on nearly everything from a modernist poet, structural mathematician and functional programmer.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Game design

I've been thinking about video game design again lately; I think just like movies, game designers are trying too hard to make worlds understandable, and not hard enough to make them unique and alive. I want to see a fantasy world with surreal landscapes; you should see Dalí or Kush everywhere. I want characters like Marquez's. I want creatures like Tolkien's-- not in appearance, but in imagination and originality.

Castes need to be broken; roles need to be changed. Turn our ideas on their heads. We gamers talk about games as art, but where are our artists? Gears of War? Assassin's Creed? Beautiful games, to be sure, but we can achieve a whole new level of beauty-- a whole new type of beauty-- with video games. Who is doing that? I see cloud ships and sky harbors; I see cultures that represent these things; I see a player making a drastic change in these cultures; where are they? When will we see our beloved games wrapped up in literature and art in a new way? Where are the cubist and surrealist game designers?

Game makers need to spend less time making games look amazing, and more time making them feel amazing. Is there tremendous detail in Van Gogh's work? Or Picasso's? How about Dalí? Then fuck detail: we need worlds that come alive and strike us with awe. Until someone steps out and does that, we will be stuck playing tired old FPSs that play exactly the same, RPGs with the same classes, and fighting games with a Bruce Lee look-alike. Some companies have been making small steps in this direction, and have been welcomed, but we still need something drastic. We need someone to step out and fail, keep pushing and succeed in everything that failed, and perfect everything that worked.

I know I've been ranting for a while now, but it just struck me as I imagined a harbor city on a cloud. Can you imagine piloting a ship from the clouds, through a pirate attack, and down to an ocean harbor? Then why hasn't this game been made?

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