#26 2021-11-23 16:13:16

OneMadGypsy
Guest

Re: Quake 9

@triple_agent

That was an interesting read. Do you have a space, more proper than quaddicted, where these philosophies are collected and preserved? I'd probably subscribe (or whatever) if you do.

#27 2021-11-23 17:44:47

triple_agent
Member

Re: Quake 9

OneMadGypsy wrote:

@triple_agent

That was an interesting read. Do you have a space, more proper than quaddicted, where these philosophies are collected and preserved? I'd probably subscribe (or whatever) if you do.

No, I create whatever places I feel like, neither am I concerned with preservation of anything, nor do I aim to capitalize on my creativity here.

Last edited by triple_agent (2022-10-29 18:23:40)

#28 2021-11-25 00:00:40

triple_agent
Member

Re: Quake 9

I imagine that young people, who lack yet an extensive or "viscereal" knowledge of the world around them, tend to do better with appreciation of "digitalism". This, gives rise to a question of formative influence, the consumer media - overly simplifying an image of reality - could have over the children. On the other hand, adults - unless channeling an experience through the lens of sentiment - easily become turned away, if a thing, defies their definitions of reality and therefore, what is worth of personal time and energy investment.

Ultimately, an adult - the way I see it - is a person, who would most likely ask: how will this enhance my chances in the race of survival and success? In leisure, taking time to simply rest or meditate; expand own intellectual horizons or just chill out - could make for a more attractive option, than to put effort into processing of boldly artificial information, investing own self in a dimension, which superficially, does not bring any explicit profit - unless, it does bring one a profit; but such, are few, rather than many cases. People forget that gaming, is actually an effort; it does require one to "do" something - it costs energy. The rest, is reward estimation.

Someone said that a successful game, under contemporary conditions, should primarily address the young audience - justifying the stance with sheer merit of commerce, minding how the young and the adults, prefer to spend whatever the money they have - and I think this to be true; although while addressing the young audience, one ought to remember that the task, is eventually of formative nature.

There are games and there are meta-games. Meta-games - "the games above games" or "the games to play the game" - speculatively a thing of adults; do focus mainly around life narratives and life practices, such as constructing of certain facades and appearances in front of others. To a degree, it is a game of liar. Likewise, contemporary gaming industry, in the meta-game of success in commerce they play, fail to give their young audience a constructive example of an adult, socially responsible behavior.

I think the latter, is the ultimate toxic influence, the gaming world, suffers nowadays.

Last edited by triple_agent (2022-08-25 03:09:45)

#29 2021-11-26 08:55:39

triple_agent
Member

Re: Quake 9

Digital games, are meant to exhibit the technological capabilities of contemporary age, in a way understandable to the public. That, used to be a paradigm.

Even though the classic purpose of "showing how far can we get with what we have" is not gone and will not be gone, as long as technology advances - despite the changes, throughout the time, one thing, has remained constant in the landscape: the games, are still meant to "wow" you.

Ways and means to "wow" the recipient, have diversified - as the gaming medium, became more widespread and popular - assuming manifold contexts and layers, to achieve the effect. For example, to those aware of the original, an old game, can "wow" with how well it may be restaurated and brought back. Open source communities, can "wow" users worldwide with excellence or usefulness of a project done with little to no budget at all.

Independent games, crafted by solitary developers or small studios, can "wow" with extraordinary and creative ways in design, possibly giving rise to some new trends. Minimalist games, can "wow" with interactive story intricacies and impressive complexity of universes created. Puzzles, may "wow" with clever challenges and a sense of intelligent completion.

Ultimately, a community around the game, may "wow" with enthusiasm and love for the project, bestowing a deeper reason to remain involved. Players, may "wow" developers with constructive feedback and diverse contribution. Developers, may "wow" tinkers with pliability and accessibility of the game technological aspects.

If a gamescape, does not "wow" you - it is likely not worth of your time.

Last edited by triple_agent (2022-08-25 03:14:38)

#30 2021-11-27 08:07:28

triple_agent
Member

Re: Quake 9

What is "singularity"? It is the ultimate clash of paradox. If there was a virtual reality matrix so perfect, that it mimicked the sensual reality, to a degree of confusion - connected to a virtual reality gear, that became so feasible, widespread and popular, that people, practically transited into living solely within the virtual reality, through the use of said virtual reality gear - what would have become of the sensual reality itself?

We would live on a map - a map, that matches the landscape it is supposed to describe, with such precision, that the map, resultantly has become to ourselves the landscape it was supposed just to describe. It could start with cars, portraying the road image on a car front glass - now turned to a big monitor - so that to give a driver clear information, diminishing the risk of failure due to changing weather conditions or human perception issues.

Chaos factor, such as animal collisions, should be calculated in and likely evaded, through a highly advanced observational system - most probably, operating from cosmic space - cooperating with equally advanced GPS, marking every move and physical change around the road. Not all roads would be available with such service at start, but eventually - everything.

In the end, going back to reality, would be like going on a trip to another dimension; a dimension less predictable and maneuverable.

Some say that on a cosmological level, the amount of computing power, required to properly emulate the sensual world, roughly equals the amount of matter within the same universe; matter capable to be employed in relevant computational processes [theory is philosophical rather than scientific]. In other words: you need a universe, to generate a universe. Life, indeed is tautological - the purpose of life, is life.

What if we had two exact copies of the same world, each drawing the other, redundant? What would happen, is probably - the singularity; an acting paradox, like a gap between, which would consume both the pretenders.

If there were two copies of the same world, available at your hand - one evolutionary, one artificial - which one would you choose, knowing that the other, due to laws of economy and nature, eventually should collapse and turn to nothing; leaving you only with the instance chosen? What would make you choose what you think that you chose? What would be the difference?

I think, the difference, is all in our minds - like in everyday life, it is not really about what is "better", but it is what we believe is to be right. Belief, makes all the difference - but it is exactly the game we play. That is why, power struggle, is a struggle to control the belief; because belief, drives choices.

Last edited by triple_agent (2022-08-25 03:25:20)

#31 2022-02-05 23:53:55

triple_agent
Member

Re: Quake 9

After long enough time of waiting in my humble library, I have finally given the 'OUTLAST' a try. What is my opinion of that game? It is by all means a gaming experience to be had; it is an experience to enjoy or "enjoy"; it is more of a good experience or even of a good story, than of a good game. In fact, I would not really recommend 'OUTLAST' as a game, to a conventional, competitive gamer. 'OUTLAST' is almost like a musical piece or an act, turned to digital game - if you like 'Black Metal', that is.

The game puts great emphasis on viscerality and intimacy with the gameworld. The gameworld, is rich and detailed, finely crafted - albeit feeling "copy & paste" quality at times. The engine in work, is 'Unreal 4' or 'Unreal 3', which provides decent, modern enough features for visual impression and gameplay characteristics, without though being a maverick neither in terms of performance, nor slickness, I believe.

Much like 'S.T.A.L.K.E.R.', the 'OUTLAST' puts high priority on intimacy between the player and the gameworld, via the protagonist link - while the protagonist, is represented by two essential features. One of these features, is a tool of immersivity - which I shall discuss further - while another, is viscerality dynamics.

I think it is fair to bring 'S.T.A.L.K.E.R.' and 'OUTLAST' both in the same league, even if their approach towards the priority of immersiveness, differs. 'OUTLAST', essentially embraces a formula known as "walking simulator". It means that, despite being a first person view game, it is not a shooter. You cannot fight back, even though there are opponents, trying to kill you. You can run, you can hide and you can maybe evade somehow, but you cannot fight back. Some people enjoy it, some cling their teeth. Notwithstanding, the game, does have a goal and a set of challenges, to define victory or loss, which makes the thing a journey, rather than a stroll.

The flesh element - the "viscerality" - is highly present in 'OUTLAST', as far as digital games go that I know of. It is remarkable in the movement dynamics, in the way how protagonist visually reacts with environmental geometry; it is present in the fluidity - or heaviness - of motion. It is present in the sound of heartbeat, in the sound of breathing, in the occasional visual distortion caused by trauma, in the soft swaying of view. From many angles, it attacks your cognition. "Viscerality", is about being tied by the bonds of flesh and knowing it - or being constantly reminded of that; it is about celebrating the timing of flesh, as opposed to the abstract immediacy of "digitality".

The other key manifestation, through which the protagonist brings player the experience, is an iconic camera-corder; a tool, through which alternative world perception, becomes accessible - in few different modes. While the basic camera-corder mode, may work indefinitely, the night-vision mode, depends on battery lifetime - the batteries, are collectibles in the game and need to be loaded into the camera, much like ammo into the gun, if we spoke about some tactical shooters. Question: what weapon is most suitable for a journalist? Both the camera-corder function modes, allow for a digital zoom, which is beneficial - but not crucial - feature in the game.

Trivia: in 'DOOM 3' - which was released nearly a decade before the 'OUTLAST' - there was a parameter, called "battery" or "batteries". I could not link this parameter to any known practical game function. I speculate that the flashlight, at some stage of game development, was meant to work within battery lifetime limit - with batteries, being collectibles, like it is in 'OUTLAST' - which I think, in 'DOOM 3', could be detrimental.

Even though in 'OUTLAST', the protagonist does not utter a word - unlike protagonists in 'Prey' [2006] or 'SOMA' - he is not a card blanc type of player avatar. The protagonist, writes a journal, through which his perspective upon the events witnessed, becomes known. Mechanically speaking, the journal, is updated via the camera-corder, in such way that only events captured with the camera lens, become discussed in the journal.

Having said all of that; finally, what is 'OUTLAST' about, in my opinion? Philosophically speaking, in one word, it is about escapism - it is about the mind, painted in the colors of flesh. It is also about the rite of passage and learning how to live again; it is about resurrection. I could also say: it is about life and death.

There are things about games like 'OUTLAST', 'S.T.A.L.K.E.R.' or 'DOOM 3', which make me wonder about the common traits of their appeal to myself. I figure out, beyond "viscerality", it must be something between these:
1. Worldscape darkness; tactical meaning of light.
2. Superb soundscape quality; defining the world in terms of sound.
3. Gameplay mechanics emphasizing tunnel vision and hunting mindset.
4. Extreme detail and quality in worldcraft, combined with rewarding secrets.
5. Zoom mode, best provided via dedicated equipment, as part of tactical gameplay.
6. Finely expressed atmosphere of suspense, dread, euphoria, rage, mystery or sorrow.

What kind of experiments does a dead doctor perform on living patients?

Last edited by triple_agent (2022-02-06 17:04:41)

#32 2022-02-20 05:39:50

triple_agent
Member

Re: Quake 9

I tried 'Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number'. Last thing I would have thought, is that this game - which I was doubtful about, initially - should captivate me primarily with the story. The story, is very good - a bit 'Pulp Fiction' or 'Amores Perros', if that was your kind of thing, but very good.

Technologically, narratively and - in my opinion - by the subtle virtues of design, better than the original 'Hotline Miami', the 'Wrong Number' brings a comparably elevated gameplay difficulty level, which may - and certainly will - aggravate potential novice players.

Both games - the first and the sequel - maintain almost exact gameplay formula, albeit - unlike the first 'Hotline Miami' - the 'Wrong Number' does not essentially employ an insta-death rule in all instances regardless.

Narratives in both franchise installments, contain a good degree of mystery or obscurity, although I assume what they universally tell about, is this: escapism, disconnection from reality, side effects of choices taken. Apparently there is a thing to being a human and a desire to break free, somehow - to go beyond. The 'Wrong Number' particularly emphasizes the theme of mental health; blurring of line between dream and reality; facts and thoughts; psychedelic and medicine; you and me. Life is a pipe dream - life is a movie.

What 'Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number' does exceptionally well, is how it stimulates the senses; it makes you go "wow" once you get the hold of it - like an old car, revealing a sport-grade heart, hidden underneath the mask. The synth-heavy and progressive soundtrack, is amazing - just listen. The gameplay, is fast and furious - not specifically tight but very satisfying in the way how it feels; in the way how camera shakes accordingly to the relevant gunfire; in the way of sharp and adequate soundscape; in the way how map tints in reaction to protagonist placement; in a plethora of trades only contemporary avant-garde game design, could have brought to the table. 'Hotline Miami', is not an old-school game.

'Hotline Miami' ooozes with style - it is far from "woodenary correct".

The visuals, are less than simple - they are crude, but they are what they need to be, in order to achieve the result - decorated with modern post-processing effects. One color in all of different ways, dominates the field sooner or later; which is the color of blood and gutter. 'Hotline Miami' revels in brutal imagery, depicting a world of social decay; it is a gaming franchise building career on the premise of brutality, which reminds me of certain classic 'DOOM' mods, not related. Some players dig it, some less so; little brutality helps to animate the action for sure.

'Hotline Miami' is an example of "digitalism" done right and I value that. I think the top-down shooter genre - which the 'Hotline Miami', is a representative of - shows it can just handle any good, operable game idea; making me disagree with those possibly claiming the genre to already be passe, with future belonging unequivocally to the first person view formula, in particular as the "VR" technology, ascends.

Some say games are temporary, but technology is forever. Let me disagree with that as well.

What does it have to do with 'Quake'? In the context of this thread, discussing certain ideals in theoretical game design, I gave few examples for what I understand as "visceralism" and one example for what I deem "digitalism" - the difference between the two which, has lately become my main subject here. Arguably, if to think about it, the extreme end of "digitalism", are abstract symbols without organic association - it is maths; therefore the most "digitalistic" game, is to be sudoku. The most "visceralistic" game, in turn, is to be war. Is digital gaming as we know it nowadays, not something between?

'Quake' is a game released in the year 1996. It is not a spiritual successor to 'DOOM', but it is another legitimate milestone in the world of first person view action games. Some claim 'Quake' to be THE milestone in the world of first person view action games. Either how, 'Quake' brought us closer to something - to something we consider good in gaming. I believe the evolution line of 'Quake' and all of action shooters developed by the old 'id Software', belongs in the "visceral" mindset. I believe that if 'Quake' as a franchise, is ever to take a next step, it needs to step up from the realm of abstract "digitalistic" arena shooters and embrace the effort. 'Quake' and 'Quake 2' were groundbreaking technological achievements; spearheading, is part of what defines 'Quake'.

The question is, practically speaking, whether "visceralism" in game design, addresses only big budget games and grand developer studios? Simultaneously, what I believe, is that it is not about the graphics - the graphics help, yes - but it is about the details summoning the feel, because the feel, is a foundation for immersion and immersion, is paramount. Even empty world, if immersive enough, is worth living in - because the story, ultimately, is written by the imagination of a player. It is all about the desire to be there.

Last edited by triple_agent (2022-02-20 17:36:53)

#33 2022-02-23 02:20:50

triple_agent
Member

Re: Quake 9

Excellent example in the realm of 'digitalism', is a game called 'BABA IS YOU'. It is a hacking/coding inspired puzzle, embracing retrograde dungeon-roguelike aesthetics and a 'Sokoban' playstyle.

While simplistic in appeal, 'BABA IS YOU' is an ocean of creativity and fun, with amazing depths.

What appears particularly remarkable about 'BABA IS YOU', is how it translates coding nuances and possible absurdities - as I imagine them - into greatly accessible gaming experience. Although perhaps not entirely true if to claim that anything in 'BABA IS YOU', is possible - it just seems so, from a mechanical perspective. Objects and functions - by decree of a player - change places, transmorph, shift; even the identity of a protagonist, can be switched. The notion of "YOU" in the game, is negotiable. The constants, are mostly few.

Nevertheless, one crucial condition, ultimately is binding - namely, the condition of what is "WIN"? Exclusively "YOU", can "WIN" - the rest, is an experimental journey.

In 'BABA IS YOU', the subject of player interaction, is a set of stage-relevant rules. These rules, are given in the form of code-like statements - hence the title: 'BABA IS YOU', in which three 'Sokoban'-esque blocks, put in proper order within a chain, solidify the protagonist condition: "BABA" + "IS" + "YOU".

Nominally, you play as a cat-like creature named 'BABA'. This may change, though, through reconfiguration of the statement; bringing other elements or excluding some.

In 'BABA IS YOU', the player needs to re-write the stage rules, in order to achieve the goal - the process, is fun and oft absurd simultaneously; like trying to prove a real life statement true or false by changing the syllables, so that eventually, an entirely different statement arises - which paradoxically, emerges as a completely valid method, in the end! Such is the crazy world of 'BABA IS YOU'.

Aptly, in the game, there is no need to write anything or dabble in the actual code of any kind; everything is playable and player-friendly. Pushing the word-blocks around and experimenting with their configuration, may lead to various outcomes; useful or not.

In the titular condition of "BABA IS YOU", random disconnection of said blocks, leads to a "crash" - reversible - as the game, that moment, becomes deprived of any player-controlled entity; therefore, there is no operable "YOU" anymore. Player interaction results, are immediate. 'BABA IS YOU' is a puzzle game with strong emphasis put on strategy and logistics of execution.

In terms of 'digitalism', 'BABA IS YOU' represents an extreme vein, in which actual game mechanics - or a subset of these, to be precise, responsible for stage-relevant mechanics - are fluent and subject to change. Such vision, could potentially imply that the game world, is unstable and to a degree, it is unstable - but in most proper, enjoyable way. The only permanent rules in 'BABA IS YOU', apparently are those responsible for the protagonist movement and the thresholds, keeping the program together. Other category of permanent rules, is the "grammar", dictating how to properly shape conditions, which the player learns by trial and error.

'BABA IS YOU' successfully shows how in the realm of 'digitalism', an extraordinary idea - especially an idea of minimalist character - can thrive, without excess energy spent on superfluous means.

Last edited by triple_agent (2022-02-23 16:01:08)

#34 2022-05-16 11:51:34

Mugwump
Member

Re: Quake 9

"Quake 9"? WTF is Quake 9? Do you mean a hypothetical future game? That would be so far down the line! For now, after 26 years I'd be happy with the real Quake 2 we never got...

#35 2022-08-23 01:44:13

triple_agent
Member

Re: Quake 9

If someone asked me to name one title in the digital gaming world that is exactly unlike 'Quake', then 'Papers, Please' is what I would say.

First thing to note in the realm of difference between the two, is the perspective. We do know that 'Quake' is a flagship first person view shooter; the one that helped to define former genre standards. In 'Quake' the protagonist goes out into the world, in order to explore and achieve. The world picture in 'Quake' is relatively dynamic and can be viewed from many different angles, depending on player choices. In 'Papers, Please', in turn, the perspective is fixed and never truly changes. Instead of having the protagonist venture into the world, in 'Papers, Please' the world rather comes to the protagonist, presenting certain circumstances and enforcing certain decisionmaking. In 'Papers, Please', note how the introductory narrative states the protagonist has won a job in a socialist job lottery - without mention of any achievement or struggle; it is all fate. In the given aspect, 'Quake' embraces a dynamic paradigm, while 'Papers, Please' a static one.

While in 'Quake' the gameplay revolves around traversing of various spaces, in 'Papers, Please' it is much about the management of a very narrow desk, in an increasingly more complex environment. In 'Quake' it is the protagonist who invades and conquers the world, according to what we as players can observe - although such interpretation not exactly holds true according to the game narrative, in which our protagonist, is actually a defender. In 'Papers, Please' the world around the protagonist - much like some wild nature - progressively claims more space and thought, consequently consuming also more of the desk the protagonist works on; his last bastion of individuality and freedom within the job turmoil. In 'Papers, Please' the protagonist does also actually star as a proper defender, functionally speaking.

Both games, do have a narrative. While in 'Quake' the narrative is highly linear and simplistic - even marginal - as well as detached from the gameplay action in presentation, in 'Papers, Please' it is subtle and skillfully interwoven into the gameplay pattern, conveying a story without much words being spilt. 'Papers, Please' do also offer multiple endings - at least three or four of the major kind.

While 'Quake' essentially is a fantasy game with manifold impressive landscapes, diverse opponents and a powerful hero - who is to triumph over any opposition - in 'Papers, Please' we are being treated with a dystopian, bleak and grey, socialist urban vista of concrete monotony. In 'Papers, Please' there are truly no opponents - there are only people, all coerced by various circumstances into certain roles, positions, statements. The only real opponent in 'Papers, Please' is abstract - it is the notion of oppressive system; the concept of systemic violence, extending itself through the hands of those it touches or holds. In terms of a "hero", there are no heroes in 'Papers, Please' - there are only those who have more or less to loose than the others.

Both games do feature combat or combat elements, although it does feel quite absurd to even compare them in this regard. Regardless, while 'Quake' is all about entertaining combat non-stop, in 'Papers, Please' the combat comes as a surprise; it is quick, stressful, lethal, unexpected. In 'Quake' the protagonist is a solitary figure fighting an army in a glorious crusade - in 'Papers, Please' the warfare is ultimately more psychological than factual. What is being targeted in 'Papers, Please' with sparse acts of direct violence, is of symbolic value - the borderline outpost; an insolent symbol of oppression.

In 'Quake' every figure is anonymous; we do not know much or even anything at all about the 'Ranger' - our protagonist. 'Ranger' is just a jacked and ripped dude with a cool piece of metal in his hands. In 'Quake' we do not know much or even anything at all about the opponents - they are some rather nonuniform freaks spawned by some other freak, because he went nuts or something. Honestly, nobody cares - we as players, do not even want to know anything about any of that, because apparently it does not really matter. In 'Papers, Please' we probably wished not to know anything at all either, because seeing a human - like any of us - in a victim of systemic oppression, makes it all more difficult to handle, I imagine. However, through the gameplay loop in 'Papers, Please', we are being put as a mediator between the system and the individual; a place of high tension. In 'Papers, Please' our protagonist is being identified only by his professional title; "the inspector", which does bear some similarity to the 'Ranger'. Although, this is where the similarities end.

"The inspector", is supposed to be a perfect agent and a tool of the system - in a purgatory world, where nothing is perfect. "The inspector", although having no real name or any personal characteristics of sort - thus posing an easier fit for the player imagination - still has a family and a living place to support; poverty, is a great feature in the clockwork of systemic violence. "The inspector", is also being a victim; just like any of commons.

'Quake' is about heroic journey, while the journey, focuses on a figure. 'Papers, Please' instead tells of a certain image; the image of a world in collision between a daydream and a nightmare.

The difference, in my view, dwells in more than just genre comparison - if 'Papers, Please' fit any particular existing genre; reminding rather of the early days, when gaming formula experimentation was more common. The difference, dwells in the mindset; it is about the paradigm and the purpose.

The question is, could 'Quake' in any creative vision learn anything from a title as remote as 'Papers, Please' and if possibly so, what thing ought that be?

Last edited by triple_agent (2022-08-23 02:33:36)

#36 2022-08-23 01:50:48

triple_agent
Member

Re: Quake 9

Mugwump wrote:

"Quake 9"? WTF is Quake 9?

I guess 'Quake 9' is nothing; it is a space for my own reflection.

Mugwump wrote:

Do you mean a hypothetical future game?

It would be easy if I said "yes", but the truth is - no, not really.

Mugwump wrote:

That would be so far down the line!

I do not believe in continuity - 'Quake 9' is an abstract, arbitrary choice of a name; like a ship name.

Mugwump wrote:

For now, after 26 years I'd be happy with the real Quake 2 we never got...

The original 'Quake' does not have any sequels, unless a sequel is what meets engine-wise stated criteria.

Last edited by triple_agent (2022-08-23 01:51:50)

#37 2022-09-03 08:23:49

triple_agent
Member

Re: Quake 9

John Carmack in a public speech once said that the main reason behind the idiosyncratic implementation of flashlight in original 'Doom 3', was a case of performance. The way I received the picture, was that flashlight combined with simultaneous firearm effects - backgrounded with dynamic lighting - would simply cause too heavy dips in the engine performance on hardware relevant for the time.

Some could say that John Carmack has handicapped 'Doom 3' gameplay with his authoritative decision (thus 'Doom 3: BFG Edition'), but I say: nothing more far from the truth, even though I agree the result is one of a kind. Nonetheless, John Carmack - as he let himself be known to us - is an engineer and therefore his decisions, are those concerned primarily with engineering issues. His reasoning behind the flashlight function in 'Doom 3', was perfectly valid. Despite being controversial, the decision, has made 'Doom 3' strongly recognizable for this unique, almost absurd feature, known as the duct tape paradox.

The case, represents a cognitive conflict between life realism and game realism, in which the sense of life realism - as certain set of expectations - hinders reception of the game quality.

Speaking of 'Doom 3', if you have ever wondered, how would it look like as a top-down shooter, then probably there is a thing coming close to giving a clue how could an answer look like.

'Shadowgrounds' borrows some ideas from 'Doom 3' in terms of gameplay features, next to drawing sincere inspiration from 'Aliens' setting and ambiance, with certain 'Pitch Black' vibe in the enemy roster design. Somewhere down the line, one could argue for the 'Halo' influence in terms of certain foreign aesthetics.

The game, has a quasi-professional, modlike quality to it; technical execution, leaves a lot to be asked for. However, thanks to a less technologically demanding framework - as compared to 'Doom 3' - the 'Shadowgrounds' delivers full pack of dynamic lighting amusement within impressively dynamic gameplay pattern, which - accompanied by a job well done on part of developer sound department - creates solid experience in the aspect of combat. Noteworthy is furthermore the soundtrack, the themes of which range from electronic suspense and noise, through symphonic meditation and awe, all the way to pure heavy metal mayhem.

Unlike with the intimate combat encounters, featuring nearly always just a few enemies at most in the face of protagonist in 'Doom 3' - certainly one more technologically driven choice - the 'Shadowgrounds' often has protagonist face swarm in a defense scenario.

'Shadowgrounds' - much like 'Doom 3' - does feature a PDA with collectible logs; it does also feature a finely readable mini-map - reaching beyond 'Doom 3' scope of necessity - as well as a system of upgrades for the weapon roster, remarking the notion of a protagonist, being an engineer.

The story - there is; checkmark. Narrative is being conveyed through cutscenes, dialogues - with rather cringe voiceacting - and said collectible text logs. The story in 'Shadowgrounds' is like a thin layer of butter on a thick slice of bread. If your purpose, is to eat the bread, you should be content - if you do not mind it being a bit stale, that is. If your purpose, is to eat the butter, you will be disappointed.

The physics and the NPC-AI in 'Shadowgrounds' are far from perfect. The game is also not free of glitches - in fact, it does get quite glitchy, even somewhat broken, but for what the 'Shadowgrounds' appears to be - which is: a humble tribute done on tight budget, the way I see it - it does well and in some cases, it is even impressive; without though ever feeling any innovative or masterful.

'Shadowgrounds' has a major expansion pack: the 'Survivor', which is a self-standing release, partly counting as a sequel. The 'Survivor' brings quality of life improvements to the gameplay formula - such as ability to collect medkits for later use, among else - making it a more flexible thing to play. The weapon upgrades availability, comes managed through experience points system. Progressive, experience based unlockables, are emphasized in the gameplay trajectory of the 'Survivor', generally working in favor of keeping things diverse, fresh, surprising enough and interesting - which is essential in any form of contemporary entertainment. The text logs are gone and the voiceacting - along with the narrative - has become significantly more convincing.

Instead of having all of the massive arsenal being available just to one protagonist, story in the 'Survivor' has been divided between three characters, all of which have different tools and advantages to their use - the advantages, that need to be unlocked, much like weapon upgrades in the original game.

'Survivor' relates to the original 'Shadowgrounds' much like 'Dead Space 2' relates to the original series installment; it is refined on more than one level, but the feeling, has changed. From the physics standpoint, the 'Survivor' appears more solid; a good deal of glitches must have been worked through by developers, but ultimately, it remains a product of similar quality to the original - which is, not perfect. Despite possible flaws and technological debt, the game soundtrack is still kickass and the visuals, are nice for the time.

In terms of ambiance, the 'Survivor' draws heavier inspiration from post-apocalyptic action genre than cosmic science-fiction or horror, even though one could argue there is a switch in said regard somewhere halfway throughout the campaign. The difficulty balance, while sharp at a very first glance, has morelike been tempered in my opinion, as compared to the first 'Shadowgrounds'.

Exploration reward in the 'Survivor' is enhanced with actual "secret" coins, allowing to unlock hidden game features, available after the campaign completion - even if to argue there is little in the way of any exploration value, embedded in the linear, cutscene-ridden gameplay fashion.

Finally, all the way from making an observation on the flashlight feature in 'Doom 3', to the 'Shadowgrounds' series overview, it shows how one single quality or decision - sometimes a detail - can affect an entire resultant pathway of thinking. 'Id Software' from the very beginning seem to have known what their niche ought to be; they are the greatest historical contributor to the first person view shooter genre in digital gaming world. Speculatively, what if it was not by choice or a flash of genius, but by emergent, open-ended process instead, starting with a small decision and then leading through consequential chain of transformations, how 'Quake', was to be born?

That is why, I value a sense of integrity, because in all flux of change or in the face of unknown, there must be a guiding light, leading through the birth pangs. Compromise, could mean mediocrity.

It is interesting, by the way, how we live in an era of "first person view" - of "my opinion", "my history", "my self". The big narratives are gone. Not that it is a bad thing.

Last edited by triple_agent (2022-09-03 22:56:54)

#38 2022-09-18 09:49:43

triple_agent
Member

Re: Quake 9

"Cyberpunk" is a dystopian world image; a vision, which we ought never want to fulfill in reality, I believe. It tells about a clash between the hemispheres of civilization and culture; how the values of civilization, affect the values of culture and what could be an aftermath of major incompatibility between the two - in particular, when the culture, proves unsuited for the impact of technological legacy influencing it. "Cyberpunk" is a world of paradoxical discomfort; a world where the folk recreate their savage or put their savage on top of whatever they have.

2020, in the gaming world, has been a year of the "cyberpunk" genre; a symbolic anniversary, inspired with the original 'Cyberpunk 2020' tabletop role playing game. The year 2020, however surprised us in life, picking up a "biopunk" theme instead of the cybernetic one - but it was all punk nonetheless.

In the gaming world, few titles became loud on a canvas of the mentioned - upcoming or present by the time - anniversary. One of the silent ones, was 'Dex'.

'Dex' is a traditional-vein, digital role playing game, much bearing the vibe of classics such as early 'Fallout' or 'System Shock'. 'Dex' is a platformer kind of simple but sufficient 2D aesthetics, atmospheric soundtrack, mostly decent voice acting, excellent writing and dialogues with great world-building value. It has fair enough, non-linear gameplay characteristics - taken after some good genre examples. Fluency of motion and combat, leaves much space for improvement, but for the sake of story experience, the thing is worth to endure. Combat in 'Dex', although not perfect, does offer certain tactical edge, making it possible to fast resolve, if approached properly.

Much like in any self-respecting, faithful "cyberpunk" production, the world in 'Dex' appears divided between the sacred and the profane; the spirit and the flesh - the digital and the material. It tells of a binary perception and a dualistic, "yin-yang" universal philosophy; the grand ceremony of opposites.

'Dex' does bring the iconic "cyberpunk" subjects, such as the question of body augmentations - particularly those of cybernetic, machine origin. The game plot attempts to move the God-complex stone - what if I could be everything, everywhere, all at once; what if there was a thing out there, capable of such feat and what if the rough concept of Internet expanded, had something to do with it? What if the things we own, start owning us or turn against us one day? What if the hardware and the metal-brain, actually are not the key to life or wholesome living? What does it mean to be human - the question eternally recurring?

Further narrative problems revolve around the ethics of rebellion, anarchy, monopoly and power, dependency and addiction, survival, equality, personal freedom and the meaning of choice, sexuality, supranaturality, transhumanism, tradition, price of progress and the value of an individual. These mostly are sociological issues of late modernism, leading to postmodernism and posthumanism.

Nonetheless; there are guns - "lots of guns" (not really). There are martial arts, oriental chi-mysticism and Chinese food. There is the notion of social darwinism, embodied in the imagination of a wild, carnivorous, faction-ridden "street". There is the Nietzschean superhuman, the revaluation of all values and a girl with blue hair.

Gameplay design in 'Dex' allows for diverse approaches to most questline problems, depending on the actual character build. The character build itself, relies on few factors, selectively developed with skill points in the process of experience-based leveling up.

It is worthwhile to mention the game - as a faithful "cyberpunk" production - does distinguish between two types of virtual world: the "augmented reality" and the "cyberspace". Former, is associated more with the realm of mundane - it is your dynamic, adaptable messing around with stuff like security cameras - while the other, deals with specialized breaking into secure information grids. The "augmented reality" is accessible any moment during the gameplay and reflects a special connection the protagonist has with the cybernetic part of world given. On the other hand, "cyberspace" can be accessed only through certain stationary terminals, allowing to deal with abstract representations of information storage and defense.

Sparsely do I consume refined "cyberpunk" or "shadowrun" content in the digital gaming scape; it is not my cup of tea in all honesty, but for what joy I have had with 'Dex', I say it is a wholesome experience. The "cyberpunk" universe is complex and difficult to handle, but 'Dex' presents it in much comprehensible, competent fashion. Good example of some professional, in-depth approach to "cyberpunk" problematics on part of 'Dex' developers, is a quest called 'Singing the Same Tune'. I was astonished with existential load, delivered in the background of what could have seemed like a shallow detective runabout. In the end, it was a story about passion and human relations, about finding own identity - understanding what is human.

Understanding what is human, has been a subject of narrative meditation - as well as gameplay moderation, from mechanical standpoint - in the original 'Cyberpunk 2020' tabletop role playing game; much like in another game of the era, 'Vampire: the Masquerade'. While in 'Vampire' it was about morality and instincts, in 'Cyberpunk' it was about finding balance between man and machine. Too much hardware in flesh and one forgets what does it mean to be human, while "it is the human that knows when you are doing wrong" ['Good Cop, Cyber Cop' quest in 'Dex']. Not enough machine or not enough instinct and you become simply invalidated.

Finally, "cyberpunk" is a difficult genre. Problematics therein discussed, appear addressed mostly towards the minds mature. The effect, seems achieved through highlight of meaningful contrasts within the framework of pessimistic social commentary - the "punk" element - conveyed through the lens of science-fiction googles and sensational, near tabloid-cheap exaggeration. In short: make it look reasonably threatening, make it look future-absurd and make it look outrageous to the common; good if it also appeals to lower instincts.

In my opinion, the "cyberpunk" genre could be one of the most prominent in digital gaming world; right after the fantasy of sword and sorcery kind. Mostly though, for what I observe, "cyberpunk" nowadays serves just as a mercenary theme, oft interwoven in some grander science-fiction tapestries of more subtle glamour.

I guess it must be the case of explicit social commentary - the "punk" element - what is being primarily given up on; perhaps rightfully so. Pessimism, easily becomes monotonous and wearing. Do we need "cyberpunk" to tell us the digital gaming scene, has seen better times? Fortunately, 'Dex' tells us that great stories or great ideas, do not need great canvases to be convincing.

Last edited by triple_agent (2022-09-18 12:11:45)

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