Thursday, April 23, 2009

Zen and the Art of Arty Games

55 comments:

Anonymous said...

David, I'm not sure if you've talked about it in another blog, but I'm just curious what your thoughts on Passage are. Does it make you cry as it seems developers freak out whenever whenever they talk about it.

da criminal said...

Cry? No. And I'm a very, very easy cry. It does not make me cry and if it makes you cry you have way too much estrogen in your body. BUT it is emotional and pushes a few buttons that make me feel a little bit- which is more than the vast, vast, VAST majority of video games do.

LeChuckie said...

I love the fact your blog post takes precedence over your work life (when asking the woman to call you back, made me chuckle).

da criminal said...

While I appreciated her call, it's not like Sony or Eat Sleep Play was calling. That does take precedence.

iceveiled said...

I don't know if I'm nosy or what, but whenever I'm hanging out with a friend and somebody calls I always want to know who it was. It drives me nuts because whenever they get off the phone I always have to ask "who was that?". It doesn't even matter, for some reason I'm just curious.

So who was it Mr. Jaffe?

kadab said...

very cool david.
you were ranting at full speed

Drew said...

ugh i wish i could give you my idea for this game iv been wanting to do for some time now... well its more of the story that i think would be awesome for a game or an animated film.... i think it could work both ways.... anyway its a game based on the characters emotions... something that has been done but not the way i have it or so i think... i know you may get this alot from fans and such but i think this would be a fun game for you to work on and if not can you give me some tips of how to go with this idea "that i know in my heart will work".... thanks and i hope you send me a msg

lb003g0676 said...

Hey man, I ahte this crying idea.

Maybe games just aren't capable of the same kind of thing as movies, you know?

We maybe just need to discover what games CAN communicate.

Shadow of the Colossus is great beyond it's art direction. It's great that the horse is a character communicated by it's non-functional interactive control.

Confusiona nd frustrationa dn uneasiness in The Path, is awesome. It's something that is always avoided in games, but they use it to communicate the setting and story.

lb003g0676 said...

Sorry for awful typos

Anonymous said...

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."

where do u draw the line between accepting the world as it is and the desire to make a change which may fueled by ego?

da criminal said...

I accept everything as it is and then decide what I want in my life to change and work towards that. Acceptance does not mean apathy or complacency...it simply means- to me- being with and accepting what is. Just because you accept what is does not mean you should/can not work to change what is. But for me, a vast majority of suffering stems from fighting against what is versus accepting what is and then working to change the things you want to change.

lb003g0676 said...

And just to respond to Jaffe in his first post.

I don't even cry in movies, but fuckng telling people that they shouldn't cry in games unless they have too much estrogen is fucking ridiculous.

Just becuase you don't have a wish to create 'artsy' games, rather focusing on the art of creating entertainment, doesn't mean that you should acknowledge that they are a medium that can incur those reponses from humans.

Saying, 'you shouldn't cry, you have too much estrogen', is like saying, 'it's only a game'.

And I feel that is major problem in itself, in that it give the audience even the hardcore a reason to doubt the credibility of the medium they are interacting with. That's fine with movies, becuase they aren't interactive, but when you ahve input you want people to absorb the tone, or to allow them to choose a tone. Or even restrict them from expressing a tone through their avatar.

TrevDogg said...

aahh another reason why ur blog is one of the best. u give real points with valid info. a jaffe rant is golden, u should have like a radio talk show :D funny stuff, make me want sunday to hurry up so i can watch the bonus round. soo stupid they span it over a month..

da criminal said...

I am not mocking people who cry. I cry at EVERYTHING- tv commercials, greeting cards, paintings.

My point was/is that my feeling is that when people say they cry over games it makes me suspicious because as someone who plays pretty much all games at least a little (and thus has a darn good lay of the land as to what is out there) and as someone who is prone to the waterworks at the drop of a hat, the fact that folks are going on and on about a game making them cry feels very...well, like I said- it's suspicious to me.

I only have my own experience to go on, but if a game is emotional, then it's emotional. I'm not opposed to that. I'm just saying that as someone who easily cries and someone who plays tons of video games, you'd think that ONE of these supposed tear jerkers would have at least given me a little bit of a sniffle. But alas, nada.

And so I tend to think folks who talk about how they cried when Aeris died (cut scene by the way) or in Ico or whatever are either:

a- more hyper sensitive than I am...which is hard to believe...
b- diluting themselves because they WANT the medium to be more than it CURRENTLY is...
c- simply full of shit....

but hey, if you tear up in games, good for you. I wish I had had that experience, but so far? Not even close. I really think it's a brain thing...when you brain is engaged in gameplay, the emotional part of your brain tends to get pushed aside so you can focus on your task at hand (resource managing, aiming, tactical spatial reasoning,etc)...

PezQ said...

Damn, Can't view the video...

thatguy0130 said...

Hey Jaffe
I personally was truly moved by the last bit of Metal Gear 4. Not the end end but when he had to do down that hall and then them fighting at the end. There was alot of emotion in that fight.

Gazzo said...

Neat little post, and I agree, I really do. I don't think a message needs to be stated for a lot of games, some people just want to make fun. If you can make a message that corresponds with that fun and helps make the game MORE fun, awesome, fantastic, do it. But if it's just going to get in the way of the fun...what's the point?

I haven't commented in awhile, so I figured I should. I really loved the last post, I laughed when I saw the door handle. Good times, good times.

Grogmonkey said...

I don't tend to 'get' artsy stuff; games, films, books, whatever. I mean, I've watched and understood (conceptually) highbrow things like Pi, but I'd sooner sit down with an afternoon of Aliens or (God help me) a Steven Seagal film. I tend to think a lot anyway, so perhaps it's just more escapist for me to view/play stupid, macho violence than something that's just geometric shapes, flashing lights, mood music and implied intellectualism.

You're right about the whole 'acceptance' thing, too. In a lot of cases, people rage against things mostly because they don't accept that it is what it is (governments, society, etc), rather than realising this is just 'how it works' and then attempting to affect change within the confines of that system.

Change comes from within; you can't force it upon something (except in the cases of revolutions, but I suspect we won't have those that often anymore). It's a philosophy I apply to myself whenever I can. I am what I am, to have regrets is to deny who I am now, and if I want to change I have to understand all that.

And I don't buy in to the 'tearing up in games' thing too much, either. Like you, I am pretty bad for crying at the drop of a hat (movies especially, but it's happened with books before, too. I think it's an over-active empathy gland), but I've rarely been effected by a game. Even the Aeris thing (where I did feel myself going slightly), was only on the second time through where I knew what was going to happen and created a charged emotional state myself - it wasn't the game doing it, it was my conscious knowledge that I SHOULD be feeling something.

As an aside, I listened to Rant in E-Minor by the late, great Bill Hicks the other day. You really remind me of him in many ways. Not just in a passing resemblance (which I admit may be imagined), but by the astute (occassional) angry ranting. Anyway, I think not quite knowing who you reminded me of has been bugging me for a while, so getting that similarity down has taken a load off!

Hellhound30 said...

The first time I teared up because of game was Final Fantasy 10. When Tidus tries to give Yuna a hug... That was sad...AND in kingdom Hearts 2, when Sora finaly finds Riku... and thats about it really... Either way great post mr. Jaffe.

PezQ said...

I know you love making games, and being part of the whole industry ( at times, anyways). But i also know that you enjoy movies, and wanted to become a filmaker at one point. Are there moments when you regret that you "chose" games over films ?

Let's imagine that some rich arabian sheikh came up to you now, and gave you 150 million dollars to do either a game that you've always wanted to do, or a film... Which would you choose?. ( And you have to choose one or the other. you can't just take the money and run. Those are the rules.)

PezQ said...

I know you love making games, and being part of the whole industry ( at times, anyways). But i also know that you enjoy movies, and wanted to become a filmaker at one point. Are there moments when you regret that you "chose" games over films ?

Let's imagine that some rich arabian sheikh came up to you now, and gave you 150 million dollars to do either a game that you've always wanted to do, or a film... Which would you choose?. ( And you have to choose one or the other. you can't just take the money and run. Those are the rules.)

Toyboxx said...

I've recently noticed a sudden need for change within the video game industry. Change for something more intellectual than space marines staving off alien invaders, and I totally agree. That formula of gameplay is old and outdated and a call of restructured thinking is what we need to keep things fresh and new within video games. However, at the sametime analytical thinking could be the bane of the industry as well. Do we want to make dull games while trying to convey a message?

I was watching someone else's video blog a few days ago, I won't drop names so don't worry, and the blog was about Six Days in Fallujah. Ever since this game has been announced by Konami there have been mixed reactions which is great as it sparks conversations and intrigue to what this game could be about in terms of gameplay mechanics and what have you. But in this blog post the question that was asked was 'are video games too fun?' Have we really come to this?

Being philosophical is one thing to help the video game industry grow, but to potentially eliminate the fun factor out of games is a bad idea.

Fun, intrigue, and philosophy can coexist together. And to eliminate any of these formulas we have nothing.

TrevDogg said...

hell i felt bad for sev in killzone2 when he (SPOILER) loses his friend garza. not to the point of crying but i still felt bad because the animation on sevs face when he turns away made me feel something. idk what it was but i felt srry for the dude even though its just a game. but the only time i really felt compelled to cry was at the end of FF10 like hellhound said. the music and the story was soo gripping in that game i shed a tear. i think most FPSs/TPSs dont transmit some kind of emotion but most RPGs do it VERY WELL ;-) anyway i agree on one point that if ur doing too much gameplay ur brain isnt focused on the emotion part. that is also why i believe RPGs achieve that sense of emotional strain because ur not engaged in non stop action packed gameplay. im not sayuing RPGs are action packed but ur most certainly not button mashing/aiming precisely. anyway theres my two cents dave, let me know how u think about the role RPGs play in this emotional zen game discussion :-D

TrevDogg said...

*arent
this site needs a edit button :P

da criminal said...

Some of you miss my point- I am not saying games can not/should not be about more mature ideas and topics. I am explaining why- for me- those things no longer matter and no longer motivate me, on a personal level.

David

lb003g0676 said...

In a wonderfully coincidental parallel, I am studying art, and am an artist - I'd love to work in the games industry doing that. Eventually.

But to me, it's suspcious when people cry at paintings. I don't understand that at all.

Anyway, that was just something that occurred to me then, not trying to make a point.

But yeah, you're right, I am always suspsicous of it too. And just to adapt my argument, isn't it a good thing, if there are people admitting they are crying over games.

At least if a game really does move someone, then they will know it's more than 'just a game'.

Anyway, it was still careless wording, so I stand by my inital reaction. But I see what you mean now.

Zodiak said...

lol i love when u don't click the button right away...it gets me a chuckle

da criminal said...

PezQ- That's a great question!

So great that I spent a good portion of lunch today thinking about it :)

I would LOVE to be able to make films. I just love the movies so much. But the reality is, it's a better fantasy than a reality for me. Whenever I sit down to do the work of writing a script, I get bored and lose interest. I love watching movies and if I could scramble my genes around to give me skill points in a certain area, writing screenplays and directing them would be places I would put many of my points.

But alas, I love the end product of film but don't really enjoy the work of making them. So I just dig being a big movie fan and embrace what I think I'm pretty good at: designing/directing video games. Good news is, most days I really, really love the job as well. So it's hard to beat that!

So 150 mill? I'd prob. spend a few days trying to write a script until I realized- as I always do- that it's just not my bag and then go off and self fund a new game company.

Thanks for the question!

David

Gazzo said...

David - I didn't mean what I said to be what you said or anything, I was just saying why I, personally, don't think a message needs to be in a lot of games.

Parjanya said...

again to the crying part: I think there are a ton of games out there that have the potential of making me cry. I had tears in my eyes during Metal Gear Solid 3 and 4. It might have had something to do with the fact that I grew up with the MGS titles and seeing them go is for me like growing up but also that after playing a game for 24 hours through you're brain will easily give in to emotions of all kinds. When you're tired and dehidrated then crying is a logical consequence while seeing your favorite character (not just video games) of all time die.

But maybe that's just me...

Parjanya said...

btw.: I love the God Of War games but the emotional part has always been something I missed in them. I'd love to see you make a huge story based game that does focus on combining games and movies. I am convinced that both media work together very well if done right. And then you could just take the 150 million and make the best video game that feels like a giant movie ever. That's a win win isn't it? That's what I would love to do after finishing my game designer/producer education here in Germany at the games academy frankfurt.

Jinxstar said...

Hey Criminal. Off topic but are you going to be a Comic Con. I want you to sign my GOW game box.

Chad said...

Hey Jaffe I think it's cool your into zen.Alot of people think that kind of stuff is just mystical crap.But eastern thinking is very valuable for your mind.I have been doing martial arts for 8 years now.Which martial arts is really a eastern philosophy instead of fighting.It has opened a whole world of understanding for me.You should look into it.Martial arts is heavily influenced by zen and buddhism.About the crying over games i think it depends on how much your into the game.I mean I love games so much.But I can never understand the people who dress up like game characters and some even get game tattoos .I don't think it's a bad thing but i just can't relate to being into a game that much .I could see people like that crying over a game .I think emotionally we all are very different . I have problems being sad about anything but when I see anyone cry even a complete stranger I relate to them and want to cry too. But that is normally the only way i cry .Well anyways you should travel in Asia I have lived in South Korea now for 1 year and it has taught me alot .Loved today's post can't wait until you post again . Chad

Anonymous said...

Hey jaffe, you should really read the tao of jeet kune do. It's a lot of martial arts philosophy but there is a lot of stuff in there for non-martial artists, a lot of taoist stuff if you are familiar with taoism.

P.S. I know this is a dumb question and sorry if i offend you, but how is your last name pronounced like jaf or jaffy, btw, LOL @ the end of the video

Anonymous said...

Will you Jaffe be showing off your game at E3?

Plus has it been cooler being able to make your game on your own time over.

Plus in general hows life having your own company and being able to do what you want.

Plus have you seen any of the games that will be most likely at E3 or TGS like Tears 4 Blood, Legend of Dragoon 2, Unearthed, Johnny & Eight Days.

If so whats your thought on them.

PezQ said...

Thank you for answering!

one of the reason i ask is because at the moment im torn between spending the time to write a 6 hour tv-series or focusing my time on my "art"( man, i hate that word) Which is drawing. I want to become a concept artist and work on videogames, BUT I also want to become a Writer/director. And i feel i can't do both, so what happens is that i don't do anything about either. Im stuck in the middle.

Did you have these types of feelings when you got started ?

The second reason i asked that was because there is something in your eyes when you talk about movies. I wasn't sure what it was. Was it more like a longing for a career you might have had, or was it just the spark enthusiasm of a major film fan. Or maybe little bit of both...

P.S once again, sorry for my crappy English, althou' they do teach us english at school here in Finland, i was too busy at drawing on my school books :D

greekdude247 said...

I always felt games can do what films do and then some. Why can't I have a game that IS a movie and some game buts in between? I'm fine with that. I was fine with the 90 minute Metal gear cut-scene, in fact I was excited for it! Why couldn't you have your film dream and mesh it with a game?

GrYnder said...

Bahaha, it cracks me up when you get phone calls during your vlogs and you answer them. Jennifer from Facebook? What? Haha.
--
I had to hold back a few tears during the final scenes of Final Fantasy X. I never really feel emotionally moved by games, but between the musical score and the scene itself, it actually made me feel something. Can't say it's happened during any other game, though.

And no, this does not fall into your category B there ("Diluting themselves because they WANT the medium to be more than it CURRENTLY is...") I'm not a huge FF fan, or RPG fan, but I actually felt sad at that point. It's nice when you expect a happy ending, and you get something a bit unexpected.

Barter In Blood said...

jaffe you should make an extremely arty and independent game that is completely based on relaxation simulation like.. a Buddhist temple game (haha), A waterpark simulator, a beach simulator, or something like that.

have the FOUNDATION of the game be realistic, so the game targets to make the experience feel real, and from there, you can add fantasy elements.

let's say you do a beach simulator. it could be a first person experience of going to a huge and exotic beach with many many features and discoverable things, like if you managed to obtain S.C.U.B.A. gear for diving and a boat, you can drive your own boat to areas such as reefs and go fishing or exploring underwater and whatnot.

or we could take the darker side and you could make an adventure company type game. they always have such beautiful adventures and plots and storylines and puzzles and peril, but the problem is, I can't connect to those kind of games because of the point-and-click style..

let's put it this way..

Myst+Oblivion+your originality
x Eat, Sleep, Play
-------------------
= Arty Game of the Year (or decade, IMHO)

Anonymous said...

Hey David, I thought you were going to tell us when your going to be able to announce your new game?

william said...

Jaffe, dont watch the english dub. Turn it off!!! It is a good movie- Give a chance man. I thought it sucked too till I turned off the english dubb.

Anonymous said...

wow, your blog really made me think

are video games all about entertainment? or as an art form, an expression of life through a person or a groups perception?

i guess it could be both, since entertainment could be seen as art, and vice versa. and it could depend on the person whether they're just looking to kill someone in Killzone 2, or they're looking to sit down, relax, and experience the beauty of nature that is flOwer, and who knows, maybe gather something philosophical from it?

Bryant said...

Great post, Jaffe! I personally have a hard time following that whole Eckhart Tolle philosophy about always remaining present and accepting the world as it is. It brings peace to me at times, especially when I'm nervous, but I just can't resolve it with my own goals and ambitions for the future. I feel like it's holding me back from pursuing my own calls to action. But that's beside the point.

I think your approach to the "art game" topic focuses primarily on the "message" model of meaning. In other words, you're trying to come up with a concrete message -- some belief or idea or observation..."Drugs are bad"...whatever -- to convey to your audience through the medium of your choice. This is the Passage approach, and the approach taken by all the fables parents tell their kids when they're young. I feel like it's a bit pretentious and unfulfilling. And like you said, if there's some message you feel the need to express to your audience, just come right out and say it (like here on your blog) instead of wasting so much time creating some grand context around it.

The approach that's much more interesting to me, and maybe to you, too, is one where you try to express your limited understanding of a really complex problem or question. Braid does this to a fair extent; it asks, "What are the implications of quantum mechanics?" There's no clear cut answer here, but Braid gives us a thought experiment of sorts where we can glimpse at some of the possibilities and form judgments from there.

I think a lot about the tension between individual and collective consciousness. If we're all pieces of some universal energy, and we just recombine with that energy when we die, how do I justify the importance of my life as an individual? I have no idea O_O Maybe it's worth me spending a few years creating a piece that tries to explore that further...

What are some of the bigger unanswered questions you have in your life right now? How could you make a game about that, and do you think it might improve your understanding of the topic at all?

Robert said...

I find it weird that developers always try to put "depth" into games. I mean, fuck it all, just make it fun. Seriously, I think devs should focus on making a good game first before tackling some sort of "depth."

CleanNJerk101 said...

David i'm completely sorry for going off topic & not contributing to the discussion but look at this asshole.

http://twitter.com/David_Jaffe

The only reason I found this one in particular to post about was because i've encountered a couple forums on some sites where they do indeed unknowingly claim this is you & have large discussions at times about the thing this motherfucker spews out about you/bieng you.

CNJ

Diometris said...

Hey Jaffe,

I completely understand your point about being too focused on tactics, reaction, planning, and etc. to feel emotionally involved in games to the extent that you could cry over them. It reminds me a lot of the mentality described in war, where your just too caught up in the moment, thinking about what to do next, to really fear death even though it could happen so easily.

That's likely one of the reasons JRPGS like FF7 can succeed in making so many people feel emotionally involved to the extent that they do. Since they tend to feature a lot of passive exploration through towns and environments. Also, they usually have slow-paced, cinematic combat that honestly doesn't require too much thinking to be good at once you get it down.

Of course though this passive nature only encourages a deep emotional attachment.. I would say it's still secondary to things like the story, characters, and soundtrack.

ConceptCreature said...

I think I understand what you're going through with the lack of motivation you had that morning for making that game.
Just recently I finally got a full-time gig as a concept artist, and it was what I've always been striving for in my life.
But now that I have this great position, the strange thing is that it's kinda made me lose motivation to do anything extra-curricular in that same genre. Now in my spare time, I'm doing comic book illustration for the first time in my life, but even more so, lots of scriptwriting.
And I suddenly realized that, as a creative person, redundancy has a tendency to make creatives seek new challenges and other pursuits that, in a way, make you use a different part of your imagination.
I think that's why someone like Todd McFarlane has pursued so many different aspects of creativity. First, he revolutionized the way comics were drawn and published, then he turned the toy market on its ear, and even now he's developing a new MMORPG that's probably going to reinvent the way that those games are done.
So maybe you should be utilizing a different part of your brain for creativity? Maybe make a short movie, just to try out your initial dream, when you moved out there in the first place. I might be way off, but a lot of what you talked about sounded similar to what I have gone through recently, so I thought maybe I'd make that suggestion for you.

Daniel said...

I really enjoyed that post, it raised some interesting points.

Anonymous said...

Off-topic on this post, but as something of discussion recently.

I recall you went to see Richard Dawkins speak the other night.

I was just wondering if you have ever seen the seven part interview RD did with Father George Coyne on youtube?

It's a discussion between a former director of the Vatican Observatory and the well known athiest. It is very intriguing.

ihatereading369 said...

Beware - Off topic:

Did I really just watch a David Jaffe blog post without so much as a single curse word in it?? That has to be a first.

Haber said...

Don't know if you've seen this yet. Interesting take on Art vs. Game by Adam Sessler http://g4tv.com/thefeed/blog/tag/172/Sesslers_Soapbox.html

Mr. Deja Vu said...

I never got the whole "crying during a game" thing. I can only ask........"REALLY?!?!?!" I mean there are some games which are somewhat emotional and I get goosebumps and stuff over my body but other than that......I can never seem to cry during a game.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Jaffe, did you cry in seven pounds?
Every game designer wants to express their thought through their game. Independent game can help you more easily to express our idea. You don’t need to get the agreement of others; you don’t have to demo your idea to other; you don’t have to accept other’s opinion on your design. Just express what you want to say. However, real world is another story. Why we can’t see much independent game in the market? The most important thing is they don’t know how to marketing their game. Why you want to express something? Because you want people to hear your voice. That is the same reason why you post your feeling on youtube but not on the paper. You want more people get your idea. But there is no perfect thing in the world. If you concern about the market, you may have to concede some of your perspectives. So find a compromissary way to do the independent game. I believe independent game will has its own market.
Making independent game is not an easy thing, making a remarkable independent game is another story. How to make a game remarkable? Make the player remember the game. How to make remarkable game in limited beget? Forget advertising, graph, sound. The only element left for you is story. An emotional story could be a best choice. I can still remember a game I played 10 year ago because it really moves me.
Anyway, looking forward your new post.

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