Solidity

Things in games almost always turn out to be what they appear to be. There’s very little perceptual trickery in games, and almost no blurred lines. The industrial landscapes never look like this. Stories never (deliberately) have a David Fincher dream-logic twist. Everything is too immediate and makes too much sense. Escher levels are rare, although they do occur.

When games command the attention of so much sight and sound, why aren’t perceptual tricks the norm in games? Is it just because they’re hard to pull off? Or is it because they are a trick in the first place?


14 Responses to “Solidity”

  • Aanand Says:

    Strange. I was just thinking the only game ideas I can come up with these days are ones which involve all of that stuff.

  • bob_arctor Says:

    Yeah. Agreed.

    Only example I can think of is The Sword. But you were thinking that already I presume.

  • Rossignol Says:

    Aanand do you mean the only game ideas you can come up with yourself? Or game ideas generally?

  • Rossignol Says:

    I’m not saying there aren’t tricks in games, I can think of a few clever ones. It’s just that generally games are filled with solid, face value stuff.

  • bob_arctor Says:

    Which is dull. More freaking out should be done.

  • DAT500 Says:

    Killer 7 is the game David Lynch never made.

  • Jonty Says:

    I can report that Prey is *all over* the Escher angle, pun not intended. But there does seem to be more of an interest in tricksy visuals recently: how about Darwinia?

  • Owen Says:

    How about Psychonauts. There were several levels in that with incredible Escher-like maps, that were quite disorientating.

  • Rossignol Says:

    Psychonauts is a good example. Few games are as imaginatively rich as that. But then I guess you’d hope that a game about psychic exploration would have some such cleverness to it – even though really things still are *as they appear*, without any trickery. It is largely literal, with only the Napoleon level being really genuinely conceptually messy.

  • Aanand Says:

    Ones I come up with myself.

    And yes, as DAT mentioned, Killer 7. In a better world people would be praising that and not Beyond Good and Evil for imagination and writing quality.

  • Rossignol Says:

    Imaginative yes, but I didn’t actually enjoy playing it as much as I enjoyed Beyond Good & Evil.

  • Thesper Says:

    It would be interesting to see how a more tricksy gameworld stood up to sustained playing. As you were saying a few nights back about EVE, if you play a game enough, everything except the ruleset gradually strips away. In anything competitive, such misdirection might be infuriating.

    Incidentally, the original MDK did an incredible job of taking what were essentially a series of boxy arenas separated by tunnels and turning them into a bonkers dreamworld. It was all internally coherent too, never causing you to raise the question of why you were going on a bombing run over a warzone in a fighter jet piloted by a four-armed dog, despite the fact you were supposedly infiltrating an alien city-crawler.

    In terms of misdirection, the arena that consisted of dozens of mirror coated platforms in an arena or mirror walls

  • Thesper Says:

    *off mirror walls was pretty good at confusing your traditional platforming sensibilities. Although I guess even Mario has pulled some fairly cunning tricks in his time.

  • Rossignol Says:

    There are lots of smaller scale perceptual tricks that can be pulled by games. Walker mentioned the DS game which asks you to say ‘I love you’ to one of the characters. Leading to the possibility of people sitting on a tube shouting ‘I love you’ into their hands. The reality of it though is that you could just blow on the mic to make a noise and cause the same progression in the game. It didn’t need the phrase, just input. For you though the experience is quite loaded.