Monday 9 December 2013

know your medium

I don't often blog about other people's work because I'm usually too wrapped up in my own nonsense.  However, some of you might remember that a little while ago I posted about a Punchdrunk installation/play/contemporary dance piece I had been to see.   In talking about the show I was most interested in the unique narrative possibilities of that particular form.

Now, I have always thought that the computer game was a really interesting medium in narrative terms.  It seldom if ever seems to play to its inherent strengths though.  A favourite game of mine was Elite ... it came out a long, long time ago.  The reason I liked it so much was because it gave the player a world to play in whilst imposing no scripted story at all.  You went from planet to planet buying stuff and selling it on, trying to buy stuff cheap where it was plentiful and sell it at a price where it was scarce.  You used your profits to improve your ship.  Because the computer that Elite was played on had very little memory, galaxies couldn't be pre-designed, they had to be generated randomly within given parameters.  It's called procedural generation I just found out ^-^.   What does this mean in narrative terms?  It means that no two players are playing the same game for one.  It also means that you must provide much of the narrative yourself.  I don't know if anyone else played Elite and also did this but I would use the game as a springboard for playground games, games with my toys at home or games in the sketchbook.  It really felt like MY story.

I have often wished for a game that was nothing but procedurally generated environments that I would be free to explore.  I felt that with the power of today's computers there was the potential for endless forests, oceans, deserts, mountains... no two alike.  Such a game would be a story-maker's dream!

Viv just set me a link to this article on boing boing. The game they show, No Man's Sky, looks like EXACTLY what I had hoped someone would make.  I think I could make books from a game like this!  I pray they don't get cold feet and try and rein it in.


  1. Great idea, this procedurally generated environments.. looks a lot like life itself, no? ;) Love your blog!

    1. Hmmm, yes, like life! perhaps too much like life... I am a sucker for a good roleplaying game. Have already lost at least a year of my existence to them. Perhaps I should avoid this after all ^-^

  2. You do like the game, that is for sure. My brother who now works at the best master thesis help service is a very big fan of this game. Just yesterday he gave me a call and told me more about each character’s strengths. I am not the gaming type but I love seeing my brother happy. It's good to know that you appreciate the game too.

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