Tag Archives: game

Limiting the vision

As I asked in my previous post, is limiting the vision of a game due to technical limitations good or bad? Should we look to other tools that would live up to the expectation of accomplishing that vision, or should we just stick with what we have and make the best out of it?

But I think my question touch a more philosophical note in me, and I’d like to write it that way.

Vision?

What do we mean by vision? Let me put it honestly in the argumentative spirit it came from: when someone says they don’t want to ‘limit the vision’, and when they’re relying someone else to actually realise the vision, it means that they want a free ticket to every ride in town, at any time, for any reason at all. What they mean is feature creep. They might want to add stuff in; particles, explosions, heavier models, bigger textures, other bells and whistles. They might want to add a new kind of gameplay because they think it’s more interesting. Or maybe they want replace the whole engine.

They might say they’re expanding the vision of the product. They put it that way because it sounds better than ‘I changed my mind, because I was never really sure to begin with; let’s do it this way instead.’ Better not to look as dumb as they really are, so they make it out they had this in mind all along.

When you work alone, your decisions will echo in your bones, because if you decide to change game engines, you’re passing sentence onto yourself and doing the time yourself. There’s not much room for ego because there’s no one else around to pass the buck to.

But when more people are involved, let say in a thing called the Creative Company, ‘expanding/modifying/altering visions’ becomes a problem because it’s easy. It’s easy for people who are actually detached from the actual creating process to think of ideas. When there are no consequences to your thoughts, you obviously will just think of any shit that comes into your head, right?

So, am I saying, that easy==bad? Sure. Because it’s usually borne in the bed of laziness. easy==lazy. That’s precisely why it’s bad. That’s precisely why it’s not an idea you can depend on to be sound, no matter how clever it sounds now. Some people in the past introduced the argument that it’s helpful for ideas to be free from the burden of the hard toil necessary to achieve it because, said this person, if anything is seen too hard to do, people will likely lose heart and abandon an idea that would have otherwise been brilliant. Fair point, and it explains a lot of great things in the world, like slavery and cotton fields, to name one of many. Despite its seemingly sound reasoning I’ve only heard it from the mouths of those who don’t know or don’t want to dirty their hands to work the fields. I think my reasonable answer to that argument is that if people forego a good idea because it’s too hard, the only thing lost is the elite’s vainglory, and we can definitely lose a bit of that. And, perhaps the idea is simply not good enough to sacrifice what has to be sacrificed. Perhaps the idea is only good for those who have nothing to lose by having it.

Technocreativity

I think that creativity is expressed primarily by the limitations we impose on ourselves. I don’t believe in the propaganda that boasts that you will can express your creativity because new doors/features/tools/technology have now been opened to you. For example, as recent as a few months ago, a Disney-esque Samsung ad declares at the end: “We make what can’t be made so you can do what can’t be done.” Clever and nonsensical advertising, sure enough, but the point they’re making is even more nonsensical. The consumer actually does nothing. All they’re doing is — what’s the popular verb for this nowadays? — consuming a product. Or they’re consuming an experience. You’re made to believe you’re empowered.

So, in the same vein, is technology empowering us to be more creative? No. We are just more reliant on technology to express our creativity. It shapes or forms how our expressions look like, but it doesn’t necessarily improve them; it doesn’t make us more creative. We might have a greater palette to choose from, but excepting those who are obsessed by stats, why should we give a fuck how much greater our palette is? But that is the problem, isn’t it? Aren’t we all us obsessed by stats? Don’t many of us largely concern ourselves with specifications: which has more VRAM, more Ghz, less latency, more bandwidth, read/write speeds, terrabytes, etc. We are sold and are persuaded that we are better off creatively because we have better hardware or software. And I wonder, how should we rank ourselves against the people’s creativity generations before? Should we, given how we’ve technologically advanced, fancy ourselves superior?

And if new technology doesn’t make us more creative, why should we update our progs at all? Because new technology is our medium. We have no choice because we are born to it and to the dizzying rate of how it changes. But it’s no Muse of Creativity. It will not heal anyone of laziness. In fact, it is far easier to be lazy because there are too many conveniences at our disposal. And even the sincere among us are more readily confused because technological possibilities are too narrow a framework to build creative minds.

If technological updates are too fast, it is no sin to stay where you are. If you can keep up, move on to the new.

The only thing the differentiates a good and a bad decision is the laziness not to know the difference.

 

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The fun is in the making…

There are two kinds of people. People who like to play, and people who like the make things.  And among those who like to make things, I can see two more kinds of people between them:

  1. Those who like making stuff.
  2. Those who like having made it.

Those who like making stuff, consequently, eventually — ideally — like the fact they made it.

And then there is a kind of person who prefers to have done it already. Of course, if it were already done before he started on it, then he couldn’t be considered a creator — and he wants to create. But if he could do it with a push of a button, or use an Imagino-matic device, that would be the most ideal situation.

But how much work does he want to do? Does he want to work just enough to feel like he’s earned a six-pack from a 2-minute calisthenic workout? Or is it like giving birth to a baby?

There’s more than a line, or a degree, or a quantification that crosses the boundaries of convenience and perseverance. How much automation is there before it’s actually automation? How much are we really putting in for the amount we’re getting back?

The nature of software is that we build on top of one another. We don’t write Assembly because there is no practical benefit to it.  But now, I ask a different question: When it comes down to it, would you be willing to start from scratch? It’s not about delineating degrees of laziness versus masochism. Instead, it is an attitude, an approach to life and learning.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking an easier route, especially if you took ‘hard’ to get to ‘easy’: you’re worth your own weight, like any good SAS trooper. But some people don’t want to take ‘hard’ at all. They just want to be shown a way that produces results. They don’t see problems as natural curiosities; for them, they’re irritants, not accelerants.

In the CG industry where I work, there are many varied roles, and people vary a lot in this regard. An animator has animation skills and he doesn’t have the inclination to rig a character, and I wouldn’t hold it upon him to do so. But I would expect him to be committed to all things animation. A modeller may not take interest in matchmoving, but his anatomy should be solid.

So it surprises me that there are so-called game devs who feel insulted to have been forced to troubleshoot their own game-related problems. But aren’t game devs supposed to regard game development problems the very point of game development? Isn’t this what ‘making a game’ is all about? Isn’t this actually the fun part?  ‘Making my game’ is supposedly what we enjoy. But in fact, what some people actually mean is ‘Seeing my game made’.

I don’t know. Maybe I think too old-school. I look at 2400AD and think Chuck Bueche, and the whole lot of them back then, were having loads of fun playing around with bits and pixels. And I am having tons of fun, too, and every bit and byte grateful that in this day and age we have such an easy time making games. But the thing is, I wouldn’t mind it at all if it were much harder.