Benny's Adventures

in Life: Things to Do on Sleepless Nights

Two days ago I was unable to sleep until 7AM. Yesterday I managed to get to bed at 11PM but woke up around 3AM. My sleep cycle is a mess but I’m doing everything I can to rectify it. in the meantime I’ve decided that if I’m going to be up unable to sleep anyway, I may as well make the time useful rather than lay in bed trying futilely trying to sleep or playing games.

On Saturday night (or Sunday morning, if you prefer) I researched the fluid mechanics of draft tubes and as a result I now know how draft tubes work. Early this morning I started to solve systems using Lagrangian mechanics so that I can begin to understand the theory behind the research project I’m working on. In both cases these are things I’ve wanted to do. Instead of taking time when I am sleepless to goof off, I’ve managed to turn sleepless nights into something a bit more productive. If you have a To-Do list, simply follow that and you’ll be immensely productive.

The inevitable exhaustion at random points during the day is troubling but since I had been productive instead of lazy while I was unfortunately awake, I had the luxury to rest during the day.

I didn’t sleep however! I’m going to sleep now and hopefully not wake up until later in the morning tomorrow and have a normal day tomorrow.

Let’s hope it works!!

12 July 2010 Posted by | Life | , , , | Leave a comment

in Gaming: The Illusion of Choice

Another repost from the older blog. However, this is the last one! (I didn’t work on the other one for too long.) Original publish date is May 28, 2009.

Many games claim an open-ended story that responds to the choices of the player as their strong point. In light of one of the most recent games of that nature, I wanted to let out some of the pent up frustration I have with games that supposedly have choice.

I have not played inFamous, so I will not comment on that game specifically though from this comic that Ctrl-Alt-Del put out it seems that this game is just another cookie-cutter binary game. You can either be good or evil and that’s all.

Again, I can’t comment on inFamous so let’s start with the first game in my memory to do this: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. The game was epic and I loved it. It was one of the first games that I played that allowed me to be good or evil. Also, in a lot of cases there were somewhat neutral choices too.  However, the good or evil choices were the most viable options due to the reward.

Another game along this vein is Fable. Fable came out and had a binary morality system that made you look good or evil. Aside from this and several other minor details, the good/evil aspect of the game played very little role in the story. Still, it was good to see games begin to play around with this idea (KOTOR in 2003 and Fable in 2004). Now, about 4 year later we have games like Bioshock (2007), Fable 2 (2008), and the depicted inFamous.

Perhaps I’m missing some great games, but it seems to me like all the games getting lots of publicity that boast a morality system have a very simple binary one. Every choice you make is either amazingly good or amazingly evil. There is no in between. Some games teased at greater complexity. Neverwinter Nights and Oblivion come to mind, although sometimes it was more of unintentional I think.

I want games to actually become more complex. It doesn’t have to be completely infinitely complex immediately. For example, let’s start with 3 choices. A good, a bad, and a neutral one. Then add a fourth line. Then a fifth. Eventually you’ll have an intricate set of choices and consequences that have been refined over many iterations.

Thinking back to my previous post about photorealism, I feel like once the “realism” limit is reached, the necessity for more gimmicks will lead to more complex decision-consequence relationships. It’s kinda sad that it requires that sort of impetus, but hey, whatever it takes, right? Though if it comes sooner than later, I wouldn’t complain!

12 July 2010 Posted by | Gaming | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

in Gaming: The Quest for Photorealism

This is a re-post from an older blog I had whose ideas I still like. This particular post was originally posted on May 26, 2009, so quite a while ago.

Epic claims that we’ll have full photorealism in 10 years. Crytek is supposed to have approached photorealism with their Cryengine 2. But what’s the point? We’re going to run into a wall – the day we actually reach photorealism. What will we have then? A game that looks gorgeous but doesn’t play as well as it could have.

Where else could improvements be made? AI, phyiscs, load times, animations, and pathfinding are things that I can think of right now off the top of my head. And on top of that, what about frustrating game gimmicks like doors that don’t do anything at all or arbitrary limitations that make no sense (Altair not being able to swim, for example… don’t you think that a highly trained assassin would have to at least be able to stay afloat in water?).

I don’t have a problem with gorgeous graphics. But why does it have to be the same drab look for every game?

What about games like Okami or Shadow of the Colossus or Legend of Zelda? I loved playing games that looked different like that.

More than that the parts of games I appreciated most were when things behaved like they should. When it comes to photorealistic games, a door that can’t be broken down with a rocket launcher or grass and shrubs that don’t give to your movements or walls that don’t do anything when shot just ruin any sense of immersion. Even in a clearly fantasy (wait a minute and you’ll see what I mean) game like Halo where regardless of any “realism” there is many fantasy elements (Plasma weaponry, and hey you can’t forget the needler) exist and behave like you’d think they should. I remember a moment where one of my friends and I were playing a deathmatch game and we tossed plasma grenades at each other… and my friend died in a suicide. We watched the video of that moment and it turns out the grenade I threw stuck his grenade and they both landed on him with his grenade attaching to him… thus leading to a suicide. In context of the game, this made sense and it was AMAZING! Moments happening naturally like that are so rare these days.

Reaching for photorealism is nice but if the industry loses sight of other aspects of games that make them fun in an attempt to one-up each other the gamers are the ones that lose out. We’ll get gorgeous games that will look like real life but play like N64 or PS games. While we’ve made great leaps in graphics over the past few generations but things like pathfinding are pretty much the same. There are gems each generation that shine brilliantly yet get overlooked under the viciously blinding assault of increasing bloom effects.

In the future I want games that learn from the past. Far Cry has an open world that I like – no random enemy spawning (at least, that I’m aware of). Nintendo console games (especially the Metroid series) have great ways to hide loading times that don’t become obnoxious (like in Mass Effect). There are just… so many things that have already been accomplished! Why must we backstep in other areas to reach so hard for something that’s inevitably a dead end road anyway?

Think about it. Once we hit photorealism, what’s next for graphics? What’s more realistic than what we see in real life?

12 July 2010 Posted by | Gaming | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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