Transparent Seas

Mitch Bowman's internet domicile.

Monthly Archives: January 2012

What Can The Games Industry Learn From The Faults of The RIAA and MPAA?

For all the hardships that come along with being a young medium, many of which have been hashed over quite thoroughly by the gaming press, there’s also some advantages that come with being the new kid on the block. The long and celebrated histories of music, books, television and film have led to a great respect for these art forms in popular culture, which is something videogames are still very much pining after. However, in the case of music and movies particularly, this history has led to the establishment of institutions that have mutated over the years into something pretty undesirable.

I’m speaking, of course, of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Formed as trade groups to represent the interests of record labels and production studios, these groups have evolved into a very well-funded lobbyist group, which manage to impose significant corporate influence over government legislation. This is generally accomplished via direct “contributions” (read: bribes) to Senators and Members of Congress. When one considers that the RIAA claims to represent the people who “create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legitimate recorded music produced and sold in the United States,” it’s easy to see just how much money and influence is behind such organizations. It would be difficult for any educated consumer to conclude that these trade groups are a positive influence over their respective industries. Read more of this post

The Action-Adventure Interactivity Bell Curve

There’s been a big trend towards including freerunning and climbing gameplay into a lot of games in the last few years, particularly action-adventure games, and this has generally been an enjoyable step forward for the genre. Graphics have advanced enough that having smooth contextual animations for all sorts of running, jumping, climbing and rolling moves is completely doable. Almost all the recent big-budget titles with free roaming elements have managed to make them look pretty good. Many of them have failed to make them feel good, however.

I recently finished Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, and playing around with its climbing and freerunning aspects gave me an interesting idea. Thinking back through some other recent action-adventure games I’ve played, a theory began to emerge: The level of autopilot present in a game’s free-roaming mechanics form a bell curve of enjoyability. This may not immediately make much sense, but let me give you a couple examples. Read more of this post