Aug 25th 2010 1:46PM ElrithCC - As an artist that works extensively with video games, I actually disagree with you, because the way you speak about art in video games is like someone talking about just the set designs in opera. Sure, one part that can be beautiful, but it is the combination of the various components (acting, costuming, performance, set, score, musicianship, etc.) that produce the "work" of art. To be fair, I think that like film theory was 70 or 80 years ago, the current theories of the art of video games is quite unsophisticated. We kind of know what works and what doesn't work, but we don't have anything nearly as complicated as is needed to speak of the whole experience of "gaming" as an art experience.
Actually, part of the trickiness in speaking about the art of video gaming is that owing to the collective effort (which certain theorist from the 1930's argued meant that movies weren't art) combined with massive "entertainment industry" capital means that the relationship between the viewer/player is probably more akin to the relationship between blockbuster movies and art films etc. That not all video games are created with the same art-mindedness (i.e. Okami Vs. Any random movie tie-in video game). Only infinitely more complicated. But the point may stand that owing to the way that differentiation here works, we don't the the auteur theory or a theory of the gaze (that movies needed to generate strong theory) to let us dig in from that side.
Additionally, your argument doesn't hold up in the history of video gaming - think for instance of home many more people love Final Fantasy 6, which has poor art implimentation by modern standards, but near perfect integration of all it's elements that fuse into a grand narrative experience, than love the latest gorgeous, but boring button masher. The same with Team Fortress 2 - it is far from the prettiest FPS, but it's considered one of the best. Even WoW's consistent domination of the MMO genre can't be chalked up to it having the "best" art - it is old and janky looking compared to many games on the market, but has an integrated world and play experience that is unrivaled.
To some extent we're working with a strange combination of judging the "art"-ness of a video game somewhere in the middle of trying to talk about a triangle of Tolkien-esque world building, Wagner's Gesamtkunstwer theory (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gesamtkunstwerk) and some element of the performative aspects of communal ritual or sports - really the third is game design theory. (To say what those three corners do: The immersive-ness; the self-awareness; and the ability to provide an arena or stage that allows the players to perform their part in the art with as much complexity, organic-ness and nuance as possible).
Anyway, fantastic article, and this is just my two or three cents. Anyone that likes this book should also check out "Coming of Age in Second Life" by Tom Boellstorff and "Third Person: Authoring and Exploring Vast Narratives"!
Aug 20th 2010 12:34PM I just wanted to comment on a job well done to the author - I'm actually a full time artist who has done work a the edges between photography and video games (even WoW) and this is a cool idea. I had actually done a process where I used a laser film writer to make black and white negatives of screenshots so I could make chemical darkroom prints of the landscapes. Other parts of the project was creating a panorama of every player corpse I came across while leveling from 1-70 and documenting the graphical glitches in the game. Check it out at http://www.eronrauch.com/land/index.html if you're curious. Awesome job on this!
Jun 28th 2010 1:51PM One of the comments that I think is telling is "Back then, the dungeon seemed so foreboding and we didn't think too much of losing countless hours navigating the temple's twisted architecture."
One of my complaints isn't necessarily that I hated my first experiences kludging around on coffee cup number three at 2AM on hour four of running [read: getting lost and wiping] ST or BRD. In the same way I didn't hate continent hopping the first time I was experiencing this incredibly vast world built for WoW (which was my first MMO). I didn't even hate the second time I had to run a dungeon to open a new boss to finish an epic quest chain that made me feel like one of the characters having an impact on the world. Heck, I didn't hate wiping for a month on Illidian or Yogg.
Rather, I hated the third time I had to run a dungeon because I was out of decent quests. I hated the 50 or 60 times I ran H Mechanar to get the Sun Eater for the guild's new tanks. I hate killing Sarth 3D and then having to farm the instance for a couple months to get gear while waiting for Ulduar. I hated leveling my second toon. I hated that I never got to see AQ at level because the BC dropped and ultra-cool content became a "nuisance".
I guess what I'm pointing out is that if you're like me, and play WoW for interesting experiences, not just as some Farmville-esque way to pass boredom, the real nemesis isn't a particularly long or difficult dungeon (I'd love to see a puzzle-dungeon that was full-length with almost no fighting!), but the grind in all it's disguises.
It is the grind, of knowing, in data terms, while one quest might be "Get 10 Warg Pancreases" and another might be "Get 10 Buzzard Kidney Stones", they are the same. It is the massive farm process in raiding or PvP that makes you jaded and removes that initial spark of magic. It is the necessity becoming desensitized to the glamour and magic when you used to run out of quests and have to grind mobs. It is the pain of having to grind rep. Of doing dailies. Of making spending my otherwise wonderful ocean-side afternoon trying to skill up those last couple points by making 80,000 [Boring Robes of Inevitable Disenchanting Mats With A Cool Name]. Of running the same path back and forth across the "Uncrossable Sea" 20 times.
To pick up on Possum's point, I want to see Blizzard provide as many varied experiences as possible that we don't have to grind or rely on shear randomness to complete. If you look at the greats of fantasy literature, there are experiences both intimate and epic, tragic and ecstatic, brief and lengthy, individualist and massive... I just hope that Blizzard works to removes the tendency, in some ways, that the longer you play WoW the more that the game seems strive to wither the wonder and curiosity under a barrage of repetition.
Jun 21st 2010 4:31PM Check out both the album "Deathconciousness" by Have a Nice Life, and additionally "Exploding Head" by A Place to Bury Strangers. If you want something a bit harder, try "Folie Circulaire" by Withered.
Apr 18th 2010 3:36PM To dpoyesac:
Massive respect for dropping Manichean in a WoW blog comments section.
Mar 22nd 2010 4:13PM There is a book called "Third Person" which is a fantastic collection of essays, interviews and research papers on the complexities of these vast narrative universes like WoW that we're seeing more and more in popular culture. The different essays in the book are hit or miss, but there are some real gems from both people that have worked on large narrative projects and also from scholars. Check it out! http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=2&tid=11757
Feb 15th 2010 12:10AM A few quick considerations about FoL builds. 1) They have to be the most precisely and amazingly highly geared holy pally possible. Massive spell power (more than most of your DPS casters), 50% crit & haste capping FoL down to 1 second with judgements etc. 2) Given such gear, the FoL spec pally's throughput is theoretically higher than an INT stacking HL spammer. But the reason is that FoL build pallies still lay in to HL. Muchly. Nothing says serious HPS more than an FoL pally dropping HL's into a tank with 3500SP+ and 600+ haste and 50% crit and instant holy shocks critting + procs. But because you have so little regen comparatively, you can't sustain this massive HPS for very long. 3) FoL-build is essentially a support spec. If I remember right it was designed for hard-mode raiding. That is, you will never see *just* a FoL-build pally in a serious 25-man raid. But instead you will always bring a HL-build pally foremost, and if they have to bring a second pally (or third pally) having that additional Paladin go to an FoL spec will lend the raid flexibility since they can pump insane HPS when needed for panic moments, raid heal fairly effectively if needed, and do GCD-speed 10K+ maintenance healing. It's almost like having another class of healer...
*One caveat - in Ulduar hard-modes and ToGC, the FoL-build was very strong owing to catching tank spikes from the massive hits that were common. In ICC the value of an FoL-build pally is much more debatable. I've seen some insane numbers from FoL-build pallies who can play with the requisite precision, but it seems like HL-build pallies are getting the job done really well in ICC.
Jan 15th 2010 1:15AM As a passably geared destro lock (in the replenishment spec, notable for huge burst combined with the lack of any points in threat mitigation) it can be a tremendously un-fun time to get a tank that is either lazy or inexperienced. Fifteen or twenty seconds, or even more for tanks that invariably end up being off-spec dspers, is often not enough time to give the tanks for threat generation because with a few lucky procs and crits you can rocket from 0 to 60K+ threat in a small handful of gcd's. But you could also get no procs or crits and do 10K threat in the same time.
It's like russian roulette every time you do anything but spam incinerate (and despite popular perception, we locks hated that old shadowbolt spam spec almost as much the mages so far below us on the charts did). Not casting until trash mobs are 3/4 dead isn't fun. Only dps-ing the back half of a boss isn't fun. And the alternative, which is not using any semblance of your rotation, isn't fun either.
Mostly, this isn't a huge issue, since most tanks are in the good to excellent range, but one solution that lets me have a ton more fun is to put on all my pvp gear, and switch to my affliction pvp spec, which does very low dps comparative and has next to no burst, but which lets me actually actively play my toon with a majority of it's tools and not pull a Homer Simpson and have a pecking water bird toy hit Incinerate... However, this invariably seems to be taken as an insult (and I'm silently thinking I wish the tank was paying more attention to his threat generation than my spec...) even if I've been a great sport, never complained, never pulled etc. /shrug Whatever the case, LFG tool sure beats trying to pug Shattered Halls of Black Morass back in BC so I'll slog along with a smile despite my long cue time :D
Jan 2nd 2010 12:58AM Nice to see another Gnomer goon around these parts... Did you happen to catch the epic trade battle about the price of PS a couple weeks back where a number of folks where on a tirade about people pricing it under 5K gold?
Dec 15th 2009 1:48PM You know, while I relish the evil, mage-hating, lulzing-at-the-incessant-the-destro-pvp-forum-QQ, fireponies, EJ-flow-charts, etc. etc. etc... I was out at the bar and after a few beers into the evening chatting with another friend who's main is a lock and we did did come to the disheartening, perhaps alcohol-induced, conclusion that "Oh wait, warlocks are the one class in the game that Blizz could remove and no one would really notice..."
Basically, if you gave shadow priests the ability to do serious dps they would be close enough to affliction very few people at a passing glance, and certainly no warriors even on closer inspection, would notice (except for the fact affliction has to do damage to themselves to get mana back)... Our middle tree is basically a hunter with pets who have random consonants strung together as opposed to the traditional monosylabic "Cat" (and has to do damage to themselves to get mana back)... And since the death-knell of 0/21/40, destro isn't even cosmetically different from a fire mage (except that destro has to do damage to themselves to get mana back).
I guess that's why we cut ourselves, so at least people with grid will notice there is a warlock along...