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just_nonplussed Blog

alien's influence on the metroid games

just seen alien. i watched it a long time ago but i couldn't remember much about it so i watched it again.

i'm not much of a film buff, but i really enjoyed it. the special effects and set design is amazing, it looks so real. the characters are also good. i like the guy with the beard who spoke quietly and smiled in a strange way.

my favourite scenes are when the older captain of the ship (john hurt?) starts acting funny and starts throwing ripley about. and when she's knocked out he starts stuffing a magazine down her throat! it's so weird (was it sexual?), and then the other shipmates come to her rescue. after vain attempts to get him off, one of them starts smashing a fire extinguisher over his head, and his head comes off! i was like, what??! i obviously didn't remember this bit. i also love the bit where ripley undresses and she's wearing those tiny white knickers. all the bits with the cat are great too. did i mention the aliens at all??

anyway, when watching alien i noticed some similarities with super metroid, but also with the first metroid game. first of all, i know it might sound small, but the green text on the computer with the pitch black screen and the sound of the keys tapping. i always remember that bit from super metroid. i think it's a significant comparisson.

next is the overall feel of the ship. the small flashing lights, the narrow halls, and most importantly the pentagonal doors that slid open with air pressure. okay, so they aren't a bulbous blue, but there was a great moment in the film where the beardy guy with the blue eyes went into the vents with a flame thrower and he has to go through that camera-lens style 'door' and it really reminded me of the doors in metroid prime and in super metroid how the doors split into segments when shot; how they envelope samus.

then there's a bit at the end of the film where ripley talks into some kind of recorder. and it reminded me of the dialogue scenes at the begining of super metroid and metroid fusion where samus explains what has happend in the past and what her current mission is.

then there's the 'escape the ship before it blows up' scene, which was a very memorable part of super metroid.

giger's overall mechanical-meets-organic style is a big part of the visual design in metroid. do you remember the alien thing coming out of the wall in the first metroid? it looked like scenery, and its mouth held the lift. all the metroid games have this feel to the envrionments.

well, i'm not trying to prove anything, but it's my opinion that metroid was influenced by alien. but to what degree? could the inspiration have come from somewhere else? does it matter?

probably not. it's just interesting.

RE:RE: do you prefer gameplay over graphics?

'shadow of the colossus' is a great example of the subversion of 'traditional' interaction (lots of buttons and actions) into the concept and the aesthetic. It's kind of what the 'bit generations' games do; very simple but new mechanics, which aren't gimmicky but substantial and innovative.

Sotc also tells a narrative through the interactions and through the level design (well, through everything). It shows the huge capacity for graphics and level design to tell a story, and for interaction to become fresh again.

Another demonstration of the power of all elements of a game to be interactive is 'soundvoyager'. It barely has any graphics, very simple controls (left & right, sometimes able to rotate, sometimes able to press 'A') and you don't even need to look at the screen to play! Yet, I rated it 9.5 and consider it to a great game. It works because the sound and the controls are connected and work together to produce gameplay. It wouldn't work if there was no relationship between the sound and the controls.

Ha. I didn't get your joke. I just thought you misunderstood the post. I was thinking… "But I didn't say graphics were the best…"

Yeah, writing sucks if you're trying to be funny or casual… eh. Maybe that's why I have to be 'robotic' with my language when writing.

RE: do you prefer gameplay over graphics?

I haven't played any 'the legacy of kain' games. How do those games tell their stories? Is it mostly through cut-scenes?

I feel the same about 'final fantasy VIII'. The interactions are quite simple (lots of tapping 'X' and walking around, and flicking through menus), but the world feels very large and immersive; the pre-rendered backgrounds and stirring soundtrack create these feelings and spaces. That immersion and engagement is interaction. It's not the same kind of interaction you get when playing street fighter for example, but it's still interactive.

Street fighter is more condensed and focuses on immediacy, quick movement and multiple button presses in particular orders. You have to be quick and memorize moves, so all the people who complain about FF not having any 'gameplay' are probably moaning about there being no 'real' immediacy to combat (like action games) or no need to memorize and react quickly. This is silly really because I don't think they would criticize chess for being 'slow-paced'.

It all depends on how you define concepts such as gameplay and play, I guess. I wonder how many gamers can explain to others exactly what gameplay consists of and what the nature of play is. It's tough to explain, but play is a very broad concept and games…well, there are board games, party games, pen and paper games, computer games, etc. they're all different categories though, they just share stuff in common.

I've posted on a couple of 'gameplay vs. graphics' boards before and I've looked at the replies and no one mentions graphics, and they all say gameplay (perhaps one will mention something about graphics), but they don't explain why and they can't explain what gameplay is. So I go in there and I post something saying things like they're both equal and they rely on each other (as does everything in a game). Then people begin to agree but a lot of them still ignorantly post one word: 'gameplay'.

So I just kind of got annoyed. A lot of time and effort is spent making graphics and I don't think people would buy games if they didn't have textures or if bits of polygons were missing, or the textures were so blurred that they couldn't distinguish the ground from the houses, or what character they were talking to.

The title of my post was just a better phrased version of "graphics vs. gameplay! Who wins?", and I asked the question to prove in my following post that it's not a competition and gameplay (as it is perceived) is a product of all the media elements in a game coming together. It was more an extra 'piece of the puzzle' that was hanging around from the forum debates a while ago, so I thought I'd blog it.

do you prefer gameplay over graphics?

Saying, 'do you prefer gameplay over graphics?' is like saying of painting 'do you prefer colour over line'? So do you prefer abstract colour patterns or watercolour street scenes with sharp lines drawn in lead?

Colour defines both the abstract painting and the figurative painting (likewise, interaction defines games, of all types), but the latter relies a lot more on line to define its forms and create a narrative with representations of people and places, while the former's abstract colours may rely a lot more on creating a raw emotion and interior mood with pure colour and less reliance on line and demarcation. they both use colour in varying degrees and for different purposes.

Tetris relies on pure, immediate reactions and quick button presses with a simple objective. While Final Fantasy XII creates immersion (through graphics) and a sense of place in its bustling cities and towns. You enjoy spending time in that world. You enjoy the detail and interaction with characters. Yes, the detail in the visuals doesn't match the detail in the physical interactions, but these kinds of worlds are clearly very interactive if you can spend 30-80 hours engulfed and absorbed in travelling, battling and augmenting your characters. And what about the numerous character interactions and dialogue interactions? Interaction is still there, it's just changed its form.

I don't like using the term 'gameplay' as it doesn't make much sense. I prefer to use the terms 'interaction' as it's much broader, and the term 'play', without the prefix 'game'.

Next time a gamer friend says to you 'do you prefer gameplay over graphics?' ask them if they prefer Rothko or William Blake. See what response you get…hehe.

There's no gameplay without graphics. so the argument 'gameplay vs. graphics' is pointless. it's a matter of degrees of interaction and visual detail.

deciphering computer/video game (CVG) terminology

wrestling with terms such as 'tight' and 'sloppy' controls.

i guess 'tight controls' refers to the accuracy and intention of the player to land where they jumped or to shoot where they intended. it might also refer to the responsiveness and feedback of a collision?

'sloppy controls'...um, refers to innacurate and mechanically faulty movements/interactions/camera adjustments? something that is inconsistent and unintentional.

first blog post!

first entry.

i haven't really had a blog on a gaming website before. but i usually seem to have lots of things to say and express, so i hereby declare this blog open! :)

i'll post stuff when i have things to say.