Friday, February 24, 2017

Silence is Deadly

Silence is Deadly

  As I play through Uncharted 4, I keep asking myself the same question; "Why am I sneaking up on enemies?" it makes sense, to be stealthy, within the context of a game, but why does a game that is more focused on being Indiana Jones find itself being full of stealth? For a moment, let us reflect on why there is stealth in games and why there maybe shouldn't be.

  In the Uncharted series, the control of Nathan Drake is handed to the player, as they criss-cross the world in search of ancient artifacts, lost cities and mysterious tales of splendor and riches. The game at it's core is a 3rd person, cover-based shooter with excellent action pieces that are second to none. However, in playing through the first three games, I was often left with the awkward sensation of questioning stealth gameplay. As you enter what are essentially shooting arenas, players are given the option to try and remove foes with stealth, first. However, the mechanics of the first three games feel underdeveloped, with Drake moving too fast and noisily to be swift, and, when moving slow, being out of cover too long, allowing foes to spot you and begin the firefight. On the other hand, Uncharted 4 does tighten up the stealth mechanic, allowing faster movement while still undetected, meaning faster elimination of foes before the heat of battle begins. The question that continued to ring in my head was one of 'why?'. Why, when I play a game that does action, relationships, graphics and character models, music and dialogue so well, an entire series that is dripping with fantastic moments in every piece, why do I need the inclusion of 'stealth?' in short, I don't.

  The problem, as I see it, is blending too many mechanics. Character choice is something that is becoming needed in games, simply to be considered par. Allowing the player to feel as though they could change up the pace of action is not something that a game should require, but rather, creators have worked themselves into a corner of needing. I say this, not to speak out against any one game, and more games than Uncharted suffer, but the suffering is not limited to stealth; games take on RPG elements when needed, simply to give players a sense of progression, games require online achievements, when, in reality, the world is not totally online (looking at you, Mortal Kombat 9) 

  In the end, it can leave gamers feeling as though they are playing wrong or somehow incorrectly, when a game has elements that maybe should not have been there in the first place. I found myself wondering why Drake and I couldn't sneak, and it was simply because that playstyle was not refined to the level I needed it to be to fit into how I play Uncharted. The same problem arises when I play Metal Gear Solid 5; The Phantom Pain. Action sequences or large-scale gun fights often result in Snake suffering, simply because that is not the piece of the game I even consider playing, when I dive into Metal Gear. Does that mean the error is on me, the gamer, for not playing the game well enough in both sides? Am I possibly less devoted than I should be, if I'm unable to shift my playstyle minute to minute? Perhaps. In Metal Gear TPP, gameplay can be done over and over, allowing missions to go any which way, I would stand by my argument, however, that the stealth is still an awkward weak point in Uncharted; it is introduced in every game, then thrown away simply because it isn't useful.


  Games crossing over and sharing pieces is something that lets us see them for the art they are. A game that may have outstanding platforming but lack in combat may be improved upon by a different game altogether, a seed can be planted by anyone at any time, with its effects not being seen for years to come. It is important, whether reviewing or building a game, that we look at all of the pieces. As a builder, maybe it is more important that some sit to the side, as a reviewer, we must be aware that if something does not fit or fits uncomfortably, we can see it and hope it finds where it belongs.

-Matthew Squaire

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Press Start to Continue

A Breathe of Fresh Air

 The above line, five words, was all I could think as my conversation with the host of Press Start to Continue ended. Aside from a great conversation, insightful ways of thinking and pushing artists that they found interesting, the conversation was fantastic because it ended on what was a great closing thought. I am incredibly pleased with my conversation, and hope you all enjoy listening as much as I did.


Friday, February 10, 2017

Thomas Szakolczay Interview


  Waking up Friday morning is my favorite feeling. Earlier in the week I had a chance to chat with Thomas Szakolczay, from Infinity Ward. However, due to the podcast coming out every Friday, I had to sit on the feeling that something I had was special, yet unsharable.

  Below, my interview with Thomas, where we cover art, his life, one time he made something to viral on  the internet and what working on a Call of Duty game looks like, from an artist perspective.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Chris Avellone (Prey, Star Wars KoToR 2, Fallout NV)

   The next question.

  In talking to Chris, that was a thought that plagued my mind. In covering each question, his answers were so genuinely interesting that my mind kept reeling back to "Oh my gosh, what will the next question bring out?" Much like opening a gift and the pleasant surprise leading to the excitement of opening more gifts.

Chris was that gift.

I sincerely hope this peek into his (silent) writing process is able to help someone, either a writer or would-be game creator. Make something, your future audience is already waiting.