Monthly Archives: November 2012

Catherine review review

matthew pellett

Catherine is a puzzle-platformer psychological horror adventure game for the ps3 and 360 game systems. The game distinguishes itself from mainstream games with its unique mix of block puzzles which take place in the main character dreams, while the story is explained within the waking world. The main character, Vincent, is cheating on his long term girlfriend. Throughout the game he struggles to find the correct path to take. Should he stay with his girlfriend or break up with her for other girl. While the main protagonist struggles with this question, he is subjected to terrible nightmares. If he doesn’t escape the nightmare, he doesn’t wake up.

                Matthew argues that neither of the girls is appealing to the player. He didn’t feel that the game provided him difficult choice. Since both girls have their own faults and neither girl was presented as the right choice, Matthew “didn’t feel guilty [for cheating], or conflicted [over which girl]”. He complains is that the protagonist is an “unlikeable wuss” and it annoyed him while playing. Matthew uses a Fallout 3 as an example a player-built vs. a pre-fabricate relationship.

                Ok, first let me start with the genre of the game. Catherine is a psychological horror game. Psychological horror is known for making the player feel “emotional instability” and to “create discomfort by exposing common or universal psychological vulnerabilities and fears”. The annoyance that Matthew felt is not poor game design, but a due to careful planning of the protagonist’s personality and situation.

                He argues that both girls were the wrong choice and that he (unlike the protagonist) didn’t feel conflicted over them. The protagonist is between a rock and a hard place when it comes to these girls. It is because that neither girl is the obvious correct choice that the main character is so conflicted between them.

                Matthew brings up fallout 3 and how the developers introduce the player to a girl and backing off to let the player to develop the relationship as he pleases. I find this example extremely interesting because Catherine and Fallout 3 are completely different genres. Fallout 3 offers a wide variety of choice for you to choose from. Catherine offers some choice, but it doesn’t allow for the player to act unlike Vincent’s personality. This seems to be the cause most of the frustration with Vincent’s character.

                Catherine is not a game for everyone. Unless you’re a fan of the genre, this game may not provide you with the experience you’re looking for. This is not an adventure game.  You cannot judge Catherine as if it was an adventure game. Your argument is invalid.

Game designers make games for their audience. You should expect to like a game just because its popular. You cannot argue the story is bad because you didn’t like it.

Advertisements

Facial expressions help game immersion

JAMIE MADIGAN: “Upon seeing facial expressions, mirror neurons fired as if the subjects were making those expressions themselves, then triggered activity in the brain’s emotional centers so that subjects could actually feel the emotion being imitated.

Iacoboni notes that this process puts us immediately in ‘somebody else’s shoes,’ in an effortless, almost automatic way. This is why we get so immersed in the movies we watch and the novels we read.”

 

Learning from movies.

Dr. J. W. Wiley’s blog post offers a list of several movies which make him cry. This list includes the movie title and the specific scene in which the author cried.  At the end of the post, Dr. Wiley asks his readers “if other men cry as much” and “is crying a gendered emotion.” The comments proceed to extend his list as each responder lists movies scenes in which they cried. They also justify each other that it is normal cry in these movies.

So you must be thinking “why post this if it has nothing to do video games?” Let me answer you, Video games are made for people and people includes Dr. Wiley and his reader. Psychology plays a big part in crafting a video game. That is why we can benefit as game designers by looking at these emotional movie scenes and understanding how they were able to make their viewers cry.

The post itself is poorly formatted. Every paragraph in the list begins with “every time I see ” X … I cry.  There is no indentation within the paragraphs and on the whole hard to discern paragraph from paragraph.

If you ignore the formatting you will see a very rich data mine. A list of situations that made the author cry is very valuable in understanding how to evoke emotions. These situations can be watched and studied so that game designers can mimic and replicate the same scenes in their own game. The comments extend the list the author provided and can give even more insight into the psychology behind the movie scenes.

As a game designer you have to “look outside your field in order to find great experiences” that you can put into your games. These experiences are what make games so thrilling to create.

Lim_ak-“Think about the most memorable female characters in games, Samus and Alyx Vance immediately come to mind along with a handful of others. They were full characters in and of themselves and that’s what makes them awesome. But there aren’t enough of them, women make up half the population on the planet we should be doing better than this.”

If you take a gander at the comments, I feel you will find some serious and valuable