Why do we love the brutal worlds of video games?

I don't know if anyone else can relate, but something happens when you play a lot of games. Suddenly you find that you can guess all the hidden layers of gameplay and patterns of enemy design and stage design before they even appear in the game.

BingMag.com Why do we love the brutal worlds of video games?

I don't know if anyone else can relate, but something happens when you play a lot of games. Suddenly you find that you can guess all the hidden layers of gameplay and patterns of enemy design and stage design before they even appear in the game.

BingMag.com Why do we love the brutal worlds of video games?

For example, it is possible:

  • After entering a large and empty room, you are sure that the last giant will appear there
  • Seeing A crack in the wall, sure you can crack it
  • Seeing a waterfall, sure there's a secret place behind it

Designing video game worlds around stereotypes and Common symbologies are great. This approach not only makes the process of making games easier, but also gives the player the feeling that they are in control of the game and know what they are doing.

However, there are some games that are designed with a different approach. . The focus of these games is to throw you deep into a brutal world where you don't belong and where you must survive. But it may be difficult to adopt this mentality that you are in a cruel world, because somewhere in the back of your mind you know that this seemingly mysterious environment is made up of familiar elements and while designing it, the creators have taken your comfort into account to some extent.

Let's take an example of two games that proudly present themselves as weird games and ask the player to survive in a complex and strange world.

These two games are Journey to the Wild Planet (Journey to the Savage Planet):

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and Control:

BingMag.com Why do we love the brutal worlds of video games?

are. Both games have a strange and fantastical plot, but very quickly their wonderful atmosphere is neutralized, because it is clear that both games are based on familiar and safe clichs.

Journey to the Savage Planet is off to a strong start. At first, to progress, you have to use your disgusting space food as bait and sprinkle seeds around to create cool effects (like throwing a seed to make a spring-like surface and jump on it to go to higher levels). But when that wonderful veneer is peeled away, you'll find yourself dealing with common Metroidvania-style game mechanics.

These weird bumps are just a place to hook:

BingMag.com Why do we love the brutal worlds of video games?

These explosive flowers are basically the bombs from Zelda:

BingMag.com Why do we love the brutal worlds of video games?

Even these squishy orange slimes are standard videogame health upgrades:

BingMag.com Why do we love the brutal worlds of video games?

Control, while it has a good story and a great plot, and tries to engage you with weird Lovecraftian elements and chaotic parallel worlds that are leaking into the normal world, gameplay-wise it's about the most standard third-person action game you could expect. Be. Even your magical transforming weapon, which can transform into anything, only morphs into four standard video game weapons: a pistol, a machine gun, a sniper, and a shotgun. (Of course, there is a secret weapon at the end of the game, but it's actually a grenade.)

BingMag.com Why do we love the brutal worlds of video games?

This The stereotypical elements, along with the dull design of the enemies, have caused the game to be stuck in a strange state: on the one hand, the background of the Bureau is fantastic and surprising, but the effect of this pleasant strange atmosphere is largely neutralized by the stereotypical and standard gameplay of the game.

The problem here is not that these games are bad; The problem is that the way you interact with the game is at odds with the feeling these games are trying to convey to you. When games take us into strange and unknown environments where we feel like we don't belong, they make for a very fun experience, but there's a struggle in the middle: a struggle between the sense of a world that's mysterious and indifferent to us, and the sense of recognizing familiar design patterns. which are used to build this world. This conflict reminds the player that this seemingly dangerous and strange world is designed only for him to have fun in.

Therefore, the challenge of games that want to depict a cruel world is to be strange and Unpredictability in itself is not much fun. Just play the LSD Dream Simulator game for five minutes and you will be bored to death.

BingMag.com Why do we love the brutal worlds of video games?

Games need a foundation of fun gameplay, but the more they use familiar and clichd ideas and designs, the more damage is done to the impression of an "indifferent world".

I think I've succeeded. Find a solution to this problem. Of course, maybe a little It may sound unusual, but the solution is... cats!

Let me explain.

During my research, I experienced three games, each of which had an interesting approach to their world-building. Cats played a central role in all three games. I also structured the different approach so that the first name of each one forms the word CAT which means cat.

The world that can make the player feel that he does not belong to it has three different aspects:

  • Challenge
  • Alien
  • Turbulent

The most successful games have achieved in creating a sense of indifference, they include all three aspects.

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(I know I I do a lot of CAT maneuvering, but I'm already leaning on it and I can't stop!)

Let me start the discussion with the easiest way to create the feeling of an indifferent world. This is the way to increase the challenge of the game. Many games claim that their environment is unpredictable and dangerous, but they fail to convey this feeling through gameplay. For example, the enemies and environmental hazards that the game introduces as threatening elements are very easy and forgettable. Resident Evil 8's Vampire Castle is a good example of this. The game plays a lot on the lethality of Lady Dimutrescu and her daughters, but when you encounter them in the undefined parts of the gameplay, it soon becomes clear that their presence is limited to a small part of the castle and you can hide in the room. store or puzzle - that you know they won't enter - use your video game knowledge against them.

BingMag.com Why do we love the brutal worlds of video games?

This The dichotomy creates the odd situation where the artificiality of these terrifying enemies is revealed almost as soon as they appear, and rooms with normal zombies are oddly scarier because they don't announce their presence from that side of the room, and neither do your resources. consume them, so you have to fight them, not just run away from them for a while.

The reason Lady Dmitrescu and her children are designed like this is to help the player and prevent them from getting on their nerves. That's fine, but to maintain this sense of indifference, the sense of menace and mystery inherent in the game world must have mechanical weight, rather than relying solely on gesture and allusion that is revealed to be artificial with a little precision.

That's why I have a special interest in the Xenoblade game series. Because these games have a world that resists the player and his attempt to dominate. Take Xinoblade 3 as an example. (I don't intend to spoil the story of the game beyond mentioning that there is a cat in the game!)

BingMag.com Why do we love the brutal worlds of video games?

In the Zinoblade game series, the game world is full of enemies whose level is much higher than yours and if you are not careful, they will destroy your life. For example, there is a desert area in the beginning of Zinoblade 3. In this part, in addition to going through a series of dangers related to the story of the game, the presence of a series of level 50 bony dinosaurs in the environment will intensify your feeling of helplessness even more, because if you are not careful in using environmental attacks (AoE), they will kill you. They will kill.

BingMag.com Why do we love the brutal worlds of video games?

Also, this game has a habit of pitting you against tough enemies and bosses without warning. and many of them are more challenging than the enemies related to the main story line of the game. This approach forces you to always be alert and keep in mind that enemies may appear in any fight that will overwhelm you in a moment.

Of course, Xinoblade is not the only collection of stubborn giant enemies. It uses to prevent you from completely dominating the game world. Many other enemies play a similar role. The Guardians in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild are practically unkillable at the beginning of the game and act as a soft gate to prevent you from entering the special endgame areas, constantly using the power that Hyrule destroyed and there was nothing left to kill you.

BingMag.com Why do we love the brutal worlds of video games?

Stitches, A monster in World of Warcraft was a huge high-level zombie that - before Blizzard changed its role in the game - roamed the main road of Duskwood, especially in its safest area, just to scare the low-level characters. was attacking them.

BingMag.com Why do we love the brutal worlds of video games?

Leviathans in Subnautica are also the biggest and most threatening creatures in They are the sea, and they force you to be on your toes constantly, as their distant howls remind you that you are a nuisance in the subnautica ocean and that you are never completely safe.

When stillness and immobility become dangerous in itself, being in a certain area increases the sense of tension. One of the best examples in this field is the time cycle in Outer Wilds. This mechanic keeps you under constant pressure, knowing that you have a limited amount of time to explore before the universe explodes and kills you. This makes even visiting planets you've visited before carry a high risk.

However, it should be noted that the idea of being challenging should not be confused with an extremely high level of difficulty. If you make a game too hard, the experience can feel as artificial as an overly easy game. For example, in survival horror games that are based on sudden, pointless terrors, dying a few times may give you a sense of security, because death doesn't matter anymore, and allows you to do enough trial and error to learn how to outrun enemies.

But in a game like Amnesia, it is easy to run away from enemies and it is impossible to die due to losing your mind, but these simplifications make the game even more scary, because it makes time feel more vulnerable and trapped in this scary castle.

This brings me to the second of my awful CAT acronyms: Another way to make the world feel cold and cruel is to make it Make it look like an alien environment. I don't mean to be alien necessarily to be science fiction. It means a world that is different from our understanding of the real world and how we move in it.

By changing the topography of a game environment (that is, the arrangement of different elements in it) and the way we move in this world, we can It made the games much more challenging. In games that have a modern and realistic storyline - such as GTA and Far Cry - it is easy to communicate with the movement and routing system of the game, because you play the role of a human in a world that is similar to the real world, and therefore moving and routing in It's familiar to you.

But in another game like EXO ONE, you play the role of a strange spaceship hovering in the air on an unusual alien planet, and for that reason only to interact with the environment. The game requires a lot of effort. The alienness of the game environment and its movement system alone can create tension in your mind, even if you don't encounter anything dangerous. The reason is that you don't have the safety valve of familiar experiences.

BingMag.com Why do we love the brutal worlds of video games?

This conceptual familiarity It does not originate from real life. For example, in the Tomb Raider series, the edges on the wall are arranged to guide you on your way up:

BingMag.com Why do we love the brutal worlds of video games?

Or in Mirror's Edge, the surfaces you can use for platforming are marked with color:

BingMag.com Why do we love the brutal worlds of video games?

The purpose of these tips is for the game to reassure you that you are going the right way and you don't need to worry about falling.

But in games like Getting Over It) and Lorn's Lure - which is in the works - the game environment does not guide you in any way and is designed to not only not make it easy for you to move around, but to deliberately present it at its most challenging. Slow.

BingMag.com Why do we love the brutal worlds of video games? BingMag.com Why do we love the brutal worlds of video games?

Probably the biggest An example I came across recently in this field was a game called Hyperbolica. Hyperbolica is a puzzle game where everything is in hyperbolic space. Hyperbolic space is a complex concept in geometry that I'm not in a position to explain, but the basic idea behind it is that space is curved in such a way that parallel lines are always moving away from each other, and that you can go four times with Make a 90 degree turn to the right, but don't stop at the point you were at first.

BingMag.com Why do we love the brutal worlds of video games?

Yes, this concept is very strange, so you can expect strange things in the game: for example, skipping around a circle is many times more than skipping along It takes time and the horizon is not what you expect. Basically, to play Hyperbolica, you have to relearn the principles of spatial geometry. This makes the game experience almost excruciating, even though the game itself is very lovable and helpful.

This feeling is called The Uncanny, and it's a feeling that Lovecraft did a great job of conveying. . Something that looks familiar, but has an unfamiliar mechanism, can be many times more than what Completely unfamiliar is more excruciating. This is the feeling that Control, the game I mentioned earlier, conveys very well. In municipal stages, the game constantly gives you the feeling that something is out of place, and this feeling is wonderful.

Throwing away your defaults and adopting new ones can keep you in this imbalanced mindset for a while longer. holds. But in my opinion, the best game that used the strange to create an alien environment is Stray. The main character of this game is a cat, and the game uses this difference in perspective to make the experience of simple mechanisms very enjoyable.

BingMag.com Why do we love the brutal worlds of video games?

Most of the game takes place in old urban environments and garbage dumps, which are visually simple to understand, but given that you play the role of a cat - a creature whose way of moving and perception is different compared to a human - You have to look at these familiar environments with a new perspective.

You are in a world designed specifically for humans, but to advance in the game you have to think like a cat. This means you have to constantly look for small ledges and cracks to jump over and avoid landing on the ground as much as possible, because doors and streets designed for easy human navigation are not optimized for a cat.

BingMag.com Why do we love the brutal worlds of video games?

There are also brilliant moments early in the game where your brain freezes for a few seconds because it doesn't know where to go, but then You'll remember that you're playing as a cat, and you can crawl through small cracks or climb over bookshelves.

Playing as a cat feels great, because it feels like a place where you're going. You are giving a depth that you would not normally pay attention to. In this game, the pipes are not just background decor, but an alternative way to progress.

However, the feeling of discovering a new world doesn't last forever. Sooner or later you will come to the realization that you are playing the role of a cat and you will notice the formation of a series of patterns. For example, one of these patterns is that air conditioners play the role of a standard playing platform. Of course, this is a small point, but the discovery of these patterns, which are caused by the game's limited budget, reduces the magic of its world design.

Of course, this is not the game's fault. Tramp is a remarkable game in all its aspects, but the problem here is that humans have a very high ability to recognize patterns. When we realize the cold mechanical laws that govern a seemingly living and unpredictable world, we can no longer look at it as an unknown and strange world. Is there a solution to this problem? Can games keep their patterns secret?

The third and last thing I want to talk about is turbulence. To talk about this concept, I need to introduce you to the third and last cat I want to talk about in this article: Slugcat from Rainworld.

How the game works. is where you play as a lovable creature named Slugcat who is half snail and half dog:

BingMag.com Why do we love the brutal worlds of video games?

Slugcat is lost in a big, post-apocalyptic city that has long been abandoned by intelligent beings and is ruled by dangerous predatory creatures, mysterious devices and deadly rain.

The first game solution to show you the game world. It doesn't matter that the detailed ecosystem is made up of horrible monsters, most of which want to eat you. All creatures, from the smallest insects to the largest monsters, have their own systemic AI, and even when you're in a completely different part of the map, the game continues to simulate this AI.

This means that this The gameplay is completely unpredictable, and as you roam around each environment, organic AI interactions are constantly happening around you. For example, two lizards may start fighting when they see you, because they are not willing to share you with each other. Their greedy war gives you an opportunity to escape.

BingMag.com Why do we love the brutal worlds of video games?

These primitive tribal creatures are searching for prey in roam the map and you can use them as a sort of bastion:

BingMag.com Why do we love the brutal worlds of video games?

Generally all the creatures on the map They have their own feeding place, territory and even their own nest, and your presence in these areas affects their behavior towards you and other creatures.

Perhaps you can draw a mental map of the game world and the creatures living in it in your mind. and collect items like lanterns, sonic bomb-like objects, and worms that act as hooks, but you can never control or predict the interaction of the game's various AIs. For this reason, the whole experience of the game is strange and unusual.

Unpredictability is the reason why many game environments are attractive. For example, Battle Royale games also have a very tense plot that constantly surprises the audience. Even if you know the map like the back of your hand, know the position of the enemy and have prepared all the necessary tools for each conflict, there is no way to predict the reaction of the rest of the players. Therefore, these games have the potential of surprising and crowded conflicts that may happen at any time, anywhere. These games force you to always be on your toes and weigh all your options against this unknown factor the performance of other players. It is not necessary to resort to other people. Just like the example of making the game more challenging, this feeling can also be achieved through the basic design of the game world, and there are a few different ways to implement it.

What matters is that the player is always guessing. and can never accurately predict what is going to happen. In a game like Psychonauts 1 and 2 (Psychonauts 1 and 2), there is a special sense of innovation and wonder, because each world in the game is not just a background for applying the same gameplay mechanism, but each world provides new rules and new ways of thinking about the game world. For example, in one stage an angry bull has rammed during the stage and you have to avoid it, in another stage the whole world is a minigame, in another stage you are a giant and everything else is small, and in another stage you have to ride the whole stage on a Roll the bowling ball.

BingMag.com Why do we love the brutal worlds of video games?

Half-Life games are also about making the world look bigger and More complicated than it really is, they've worked great. Their method is to give the impression that beyond each stage - which is roughly the size of a linear corridor - there is a big world. For example, in Half-Life 1 you see the crew of the Black Mesa complex, each in their own struggle to survive. In Half-Life 2, combine forces attack you from certain areas of the city, which do not exist externally in the game. In Half-Life: Alex (Alyx) from time to time, Alex encounters a story field in the game environment; Like a zoo surrounded by Antlions. These interactions make the game world feel larger and more unpredictable, even though all Half-Life games are very linear.

BingMag.com Why do we love the brutal worlds of video games?

In 90% of shooter games, enemies appear right in front of you, so when one of them sneaks up on you from the side, you realize just how shocking the experience can be.

This chaos can be found in It was also used to create a sense of humor. When you play The Looker - a parody of The Witness - you think you know exactly what to expect. But the game, relying on this knowledge, constantly cheats you, surprises you by suddenly changing the format of the game, and lays the groundwork for the biggest fraud in the history of the game, which I do not intend to reveal.

Games can:

  • Creating danger
  • Confusing the player (Disorientation)
  • Adding random elements (General Randomness)

They create the image of a cruel world, but there is one common point between them all. All of these games try to transform fun game design ideas to make them look threatening or distressing, but they don't do any harm to the game. However, feeling like a stranger in an indifferent world cannot last forever.

BingMag.com Why do we love the brutal worlds of video games?

Not only yourself. Games come to an end somewhere, but if you can never master them, they don't seem like much fun. The most fun aspect of struggling and fighting against a seemingly cruel world is when the odds finally turn in your favor and you can take control of the situation. You can gain this control when you learn the patterns and rules that govern these environments.

The Metroidvania style is entirely based on this idea. In these games, you first start the game in a wild and undiscovered environment and you have no power and your tools to defend yourself are also limited, but when you get close to the end of the game, you are well acquainted with the game world and the secret rules governing it and you can Move easily in the game world and fight with enemies.

Therefore, to solve the problem of games that want to present an indifferent and cruel world to the audience, but their efforts in this direction seem artificial, this transition should be the most smooth. The possible form can be done. When you suddenly discover the inner workings of an enemy's AI, or the quirks of a dodgy control system. You get it very quickly, as if the game has failed to achieve its goal.

Therefore, games that want to present a cruel world to the audience, must control the speed at which the player is surrounded by the game's intricacies. It might be strange to say, but as we play games and come to an unconscious understanding of how they work, it becomes harder and harder to get into a mindset that continues to make games seem unpredictable to us, because we have so much experience playing games that we hardly know anything. We are surprised. So even though game makers can hide their desire to entertain us behind the techniques mentioned in this article, we also have a duty: that as our experience in playing games increases, we should look for more experimental and strange games and make them. Let's play.

In other words, we shouldn't expect accessible games built for high sales to be able to surprise us forever. Maybe the survival mode of Minecraft seems scary at first, but as soon as you understand its mechanism, this feeling disappears.

So instead of complaining, or you should take advantage of new experiences, or find weirder, more chaotic, more experimental games that can convey the feeling of a cruel and strange world.

Generally speaking, go and play a game that Your normal taste is out of your comfort zone. Because games that are willing to break the rules not only have the greatest potential to create a sense of surprise, discovery, and triumph, but there's no better way to deepen your understanding of games as an art form. Perhaps with enough thought and contemplation, you will reach my level and understand the glory and genius behind the "meow meow" button of the Tramp game!

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