One surefire way to ruin the drama of any story is to have a protagonist that doesn’t care about the drama of the story. Unless you’re making a comedy, the protagonist of any story should take that story seriously and should not actively undermine the dramatic tension of climactic moments. Having a character who does this consistently in an otherwise straight-faced drama is just poor storytelling.
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What is learning? Many games try to answer this question, intentionally or tacitly. It’s also an essential question for educators like me. I spend considerable time and energy considering possible answers, with good reason. For example, if learning is just accurately recalling facts during a timed, multiple-choice test, then I should devote most class time to teaching facts.
I believe learning is more complex than simple recall, and the ways that I instruct and assess real people demonstrate that belief. Similarly, game designers demonstrate their beliefs by how they simulate fictional characters’ learning.
I received a press release this week, the subject line of which read: “This War of Mine Creators Unveil Their New Game – FrostPunk”. What followed was the standard stuff that appears in game press releases, a link to a press kit to download, a link to the game’s first trailer, and a few very brief paragraphs describing the game.
Now, it isn’t my normal practice to do much with initial press releases for games, other than file them in my e-mail to really take a look at when the game is closer to release and I might need to contact someone about getting a review copy for one of our writers. However, this press release had me at “This War of Mine Creators”. I played This War of Mine on its release in 2014, and, I mean, I played a lot of This War of Mine. It was one of my favorite games of that year.
Space is lonely, even the name implies distance and solitude. On Earth, we are often just a few feet or yards from other people, but just a quick jump to the closest solar system (Alpha Centauri) would take four years traveling at the speed of light. Even Mars, the closest planet to Earth, is six months away by contemporary space travel. You can fly to China in twelve hours, drive from New York to LA in two or three days, but in space, time is stretched out and distance becomes truly unfathomable. So for a game like No Man’s Sky, which to some degree prides itself on its realistic scale of size to the universe, it should come as no surprise just how lonely playing the game can be. As the title of the game implies, there is no one around, and the gameplay echoes this concept like a blunt object over the head.
To call intelligent life scarce in No Man’s Sky would be an understatement. The player traverses vast uncategorized planets filled with plants, animals, and fish, but often little to nothing that can talk to the player. There are occasional intelligent aliens that the player runs into, but these encounters are brief and due to the game’s science fiction leanings, are spoken in a language that the player often doesn’t understand. There is a debate as to whether or not No Man’s Sky has “true” multiplayer, in which two players can be on the same planet simultaneously and hang out, but even if it does, the chances of running into another player are about the same as running into another human if there were only a dozen on earth.
// Moving Pixels
"The common cries of disappointment that surround No Man’s Sky stem from the exciting idea of an infinite universe clashing with the harsh reality of an infinite universe.READ the article