Monday, August 18, 2008

Flower Power!

UPDATE: Seen a few posts on other sites (that have linked to this post) where people are assuming the reason Flower works on an emotional level is the graphics and the music. Let me just say- without giving anything away- that Flower's music and art- great as it is...and it IS great- is NOT the core thing I am responding to. That is why I think Flower is so special. And so rare in games.

I am not one of these guys who can be so easily manipulated...there are classic games- some of my faves of all times- that people call 'art' just because you hear the wind blowing and the colors are kind of washed out/blown out and there's not alot of killing going on and it's all kind of echoy and the game I am thinking of, btw (in my top 5 of all time) but it does not- in my book- get to be called art just cause it has this layer of 'arty farty' over the gameplay...and hell, I think flOw got some of it's love because of this same sort of 'arty farty' presentation....just like GOD OF WAR got some of it's love because of its brutal presentation....and that was- design wise for GOW- I get the technique, I understand it and like using it. It's a short cut technique to making the player feel, and it works by taking techniques that the player has already been trained to respond to- usually by the movies-and simply applying them to games. But let's be honest about it: it's cheating. In these cases, the games never really earn the emotion they ellicit (and you'd think critics would call us on it, but they don't. I mean, man,Twisted Black got MUCH better reviews than the core play deserved because of the dark theme that was simply us ripping off movies like Seven....not that TMB is not a good game, I think it is a really good game, but it was NOT as good as TM2, but you would have never known it from the over blown review scores.)....either way, that technique is not why I am responding so strongly to Flower. The cheating technique is there- by the way- in Flower,in spades. TCG does it better than most companies these days. But that's not the magic in the least not for me...


Hey guys- sorry for the lack of updates last few days. Just been swamped.

A coupla quick hits:

#1- Got a great demo of That Game Company's newest game FLOWER when I was in Santa Monica last week. Holy Shit! Now I had played the first level before and really liked it. I had liked it alot more than flOw which- as I always say- I APPRECIATED but never really enjoyed as a game experience. But this new game? Shit, man. It's on the road to being a classic, no doubt. And I don't say that lightly cause while the core game mechanics are fun, it- in my mind- lives or dies by the emotions it creates while you play. And you guys know I'm a disappointed cynic when it comes to video games evoking subtle emotions in players. But I'll tell you what- from what I saw on Friday- these guys/gals at TGC are well on their way to having made one of the most emotional games of all time. I love what I saw. And if the whole game feels like the stuff I saw last week...well wow! Just wow! And the coolest thing to me is, hell, now I'm inspired to step up to the plate and try to do something a bit more meaningful as well. Maybe not with our current title, but one day soon. Thanks TGC!

#2- I was having a hard time coming up with some ideas today so I figured I'd take my mind off work by sticking my Mighty Muggs Indy that I got from Comic Con into my fake bamboo plant and pretending he was in the jungle.

Yep, I am a total loser :) I am not sure if this is one of the benefits or one of the pitfalls of working at home, alone, where there is no one around to judge you :) Except little kids...who happen to think stuff like this is cool. Still, 5 minutes after I did it, I took Indy out of the plant and put him back on the shelf. I just felt too lame.

#3- Saw Tropic Thunder- a few great lines, Cruise rocked, Downey rocked. Rest of the movie=rental, and better still: cable flick.

#4- Not plaid Braid yet. Probably will, people seem to like it alot. Anyone on here played yet?

Ok, gonna try to get a little more work done. Talk later!



Anonymous said...

About Braid have you read any of the news surrounding the developer and XBL and what not....Pretty interesting stuff, and I still can't get over how many it takes to make games and how long it takes to make a profit!

PM said...

good to hear flower is more fun that flow. i always like how flow looked, but never really enjoyed playing it.

PS. you guys should make a trophies patch for CAC. bet it would move a couple thousand to all them trophy whores.

Anonymous said...

Is da_criminal your psn acount if it is add me granata226

nipun_coolguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
nipun_coolguy said...

Hiya David!!!

Flower looks like a 'treat' in the making for gamers like us.

BTW, that Mighty Muggs Indy looks very cute. I'm also a very BIG fan of Indy movies but this one was uber crap and a major disappointment. Seriously, I expected somethin' brilliant, if not EPIC, from Mr. Spielberg. But, I guess it wasn't meant to be like that.

Still, I'm gonna buy the movie even though it's not worth its price tag. It's just to suffice my 'Indy hunger' as a fan. I know that same is the case witcha. :)

Have A Great day, Dave!!!

Josef said...

In other talked-about downloadable game news, I'd be really curious to hear your thoughts on Bionic Commando Rearmed.

Also, palmtree Indy is adorable. :)

Known Aim said...

Braid is pretty damned good. It's suprising how many different time mechanics / puzzles within each time mechanic that have been squeezed out of the game.

really quite impressive

Shpydir said...

I thought Braid was pretty fantastic. Like any other game, it has its flaws (which are way more apparent now that I've played through it a couple times). Overall, I really liked the way the game play, music, theme/story, and art reinforced each other.

As for Bionic Commando Rearmed, it's probably the most fun I've had being advertised to.

Pierre Compignie said...

Hello David,

I've found your post very interesting, but I don't fully understand it. What kind of game would you call art? Some games that bring new ideas on the table to entertain the player, or games that actually move him/her?

Besides, I could use some exemples to get your point of view.

Anyway, sorry for my bad english, I'm french and I want to be a game designer too, someday :)

God of War was cool, but it could have used some "meaningfulness"... It's up to you to bring that dimension to the video games you make. Anyway, can't wait to play your future works. Have a good day!

SrRaven said...

I have played Braid, allthough the Demo only. It is quite a good game giving me a really nice vibe. The puzzles are so clever that they really make you feel special when you solve them.

I'd really advise anyone to at least try the Demo, I will probably buy it sooner or later.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for your feedback! And yes, that Mighty Mug Indy is sooooo cute!

Anonymous said...

I still think you're wrong Dave. There are plenty of us out there who feel that Twisted Metal: Black was a far better game than TM2. Yeah, you designed them, but I'm sure I played them more so I have some insight.

TMB brought some core elements to the weapons mechanics, car maneuverability, and all around defense that TM2 seriously lacked. Further, TM2 had some core weaknesses that many of us who loved Black find ourselves unable to go back to playing TM2 (for many of us it feels like a freeze + ram fragfest x monotony rather than the diverse battles we got with Black).

My luck this will turn into a dumb flame war about which is better if anyone from TMA happens to see it. That's not my point - it's okay for someone to prefer one over the other BECAUSE IT IS SUBJECTIVE FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. My point is I worry you run off more recollection of both games than recent experience and if you're not careful you'll mothball some serious innovations that were brought to the table with Black. I suppose ideally you'd have someone who played TMB for years, and someone who played TM2 for years, giving you input on what worked for those games. I assume that rarely happens though.

IGN still ranks Black in the top ten all time PS2 games ever. Please don't scuttle Black's fan opinions as fluff because you happened to run into a lot of hardcore TM2 fans, or even if you disagree with them yourself. There's plenty from the other group too and they can provide you with good insight on what you did right so that maybe you can build upon it . . . or maybe not.

----End Rant----

da criminal said...

Kil, hey! Thanks for posting.

Love TMB- got nothing but love for it, other than I think it's too fast of a game and the level designs are too open with not enough spaces that feel unique and focused...the level spaces tend to flow into each other too much for my tastes...I like deathmatch games where there are clear senses of individual spaces....but I don't knock TMB and don't feel TM2 is perfect...I like TM2 more because I feel the play speed is better for allowing a bit more depth and thought to occur between and during attacks...with TMB the weapons fly so fast and the fire rate is so low (meaning you can just unload missile after missile) that I find most folks miss out on the strategic value and tactics the game is built to promote...I get that a lot of the TMA guys can do it, but I feel more people- beyond the hardest of the hardcore at TMA- are able to get their heads around the play style of TM2 and they feel the style of TMB is just noise and chaos and thus, for them, that game gets old after a few levels because it feels like there are no tactics or strategic opportunities to engage the mind...

Either way- I love them both and am always happy when I see you out there defending the series we both love so much- so thank you! And I hope you guys dig what we are working on next!!!


Anonymous said...

braid is great and changing!

Werner Nemetz said...

I didn`t expect that Flower could bring up emotions in the player, on the other hand I have seen only one trailer or tech demo of the game so not any gameplay in action. Would be interesting to see how Flower can trigger emotions. Although if it is about emotions like Joy then it would be understandable, but if it`s emotions like sadness or something similar than I can hardly imagine how the game works at all from what I heard so far about the gameplay.

Right now I can only remember 3 games that had any emotional effect on me with Metal Gear Solid Series. FF7 when "cute" (for 32 Bit times) little Aerith gets stabbed and Shenmue, but thats more like anger and fury because there is no Part 3.

Anonymous said...

Is TMB fast paced? That probably sounds stupid since that's one common comment of the game. However, in our current world of Halos, Call of Duties, Battlefields, and Warhawks is it still exceptionally fast? I can no longer be objective. I remember when I first played I thought it was, but my last few months online before the server died the missiles would feel aggravatingly slow at times.

In either case, I don't envy your position. A multiplayer game, especially if online, must be accessible for new players but deep enough to keep veterans coming back for more in order to maintain an online community - which in turn brings in new players. I'm sure it's no easy task to keep it both accessible for the newb and yet complex and deep for the vets so that as the months, or even years, go by people keep coming back for more.

BUT you and your teams have done it so many times before that if it weren't for this blog I might start to think it was child's play to you. My gut feeling is you'll make a great game again, and with any luck, it'll be another classic.

In fact, you know what? Go eat at a fancy place tonight because sometime in the next year or two my friends and I will be gladly throwin' another $60 your way. This one is on me.

grasshopper said...

I know this is off from the original topic but I agree with Kil...Loved TM2 but I would take Black hands down over 2 in every way. I think that may be because I liked the more open levels of Black...ehh I liked the gameplay more too. One thing I'm not a fan of is the crazy small levels like Moscow or the Drive in...I don't know if its my play style or vehicle choice but it basically turns into Twisted Metal Nascar for me.
Back on topic I've really been looking forward to flOwer, I really liked flOw. Good to hear its turning out pretty good. Still not quite sure what it even is but I cant wait to give it a try.

Brice Gilbert said...

Braid is great fun and is very interesting for a downloadable game. As always don't buy into the hype and you will probably have some fun.

maartyrr said...

i dont know Dave...I really can't see how tm2 has more depth than tmb? If you could, would you mind explaining exactly what you mean (sorry, I just can't get my head around that) After playing both games exclusively for the past 7 years, I've always felt that tm2 came down to a lets-freeze-than-ram tatic.

In tmb you can't rely on that manuever and instead you made the game inwhich we relied on honing our skills with the weapons in the stage as opposed to the front of our car. Isn't that how it should be? I can understand why incog tried to dumb down tm:ho to level the playing field so that anyone could pick up the game and have a close battle with whoever their opponent was - no matter if they were a pro at the previous tm games or not.

I blame the marketing/sales aspect of Twisted Metal black online that caused the game to have such as huge jump from noob to pro. Im sure you are aware that the game was given away free when you mailed in the network adapter. Out of my local buddies that bought a ps2 network adapter only 2 people out of 10 got the game. I was lucky to find a used copy at eb games for 40 bucks. I think it was a couple of years down the road sony released a tmb/tmbo bundle pack as a greatest hits version of the game. By that time those who were waiting to play the game for the first time were left in the dust by the players who had gotten their free copy in the mail. I recall seeing an explosion of new players on the severs for 3 weeks only to see them quickly disappear. I don't see that being the case the next time around.

I do understand your concern to draw in a larger crowd and have the game appeal to the masses and no just the freaks (i say that with love) from tma. The only suggestion that I can think of is incorporate a match maker service like halo2 or burnout has - its one way to keep players with equal skill levels together so neither group is left out. Noobs can always evolve but you can't add strategy to an over simplfied game.

oh and one other thing. You claim that TMB was way to fast - What do you think of TMHO's speed? car speed? weapon fire speed? To me that game always felt the fastest. Not to mention that Hammerhead's acceleration and turning felt no different than Spectre.

Anonymous said...

I don't think creating a "moody" environment is cheating. I think dark and atmospheric levels are apart of the gameplay, that is, I am able to move toward, away, around, through, against, and other directional words; and that my friend is what I consider to be "interaction." Interaction is the art medium to-which video games lay-claim.

So GoW and TMB didn't just have fun gameplay mechanics, they allowed me to "exist" in an interesting world. I wasn't just stabbing people in the face, I was stabbing people in the face in the middle of Ancient Greece! If I were stabbing people in the face in the middle of a baby nursery, I may have had a different emotional reaction.

Anonymous said...

Hey jaffe i have read your blog for awhile now.The whole twisted metal debate i dont know i like tm2 for certain reasons and black for certain reasons cant say which i liked more but reviewers certainly liked black more which does help a games sales.But if you bring somthing new to the table that is fun you could have those awesome reviews to.You dont usually reply to alot of people but i had to post just incase you do.Also the stuff you said about flower is cool.

da criminal said...

ultima33, I reply when I can :)

Thanks for being a long time reader!

And yeah, we're gonna try to make ANY game we make- including if we make a new TM- as good as we can. We tried with Black but I think what happened is we fell so in love with the speed of the PS2 and the size of the levels we could make and the art style that those things got in the way of making a game that was accessible to more than hard core. We love and NEED the hard core but what I loved about TM2 was it appealed to both hard core and not-so-hard core.


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