Je continue mon tour d'horizon des blogs et sites sur le game design, avec le premier sur lequel j'ai mis les pieds, et qui m'a fait découvrir nombre des autres : Brainy Gamer. Une fois encore, c'est en anglais uniquement.

Sous ce titre légèrement ironique se cache Michael Abbott, dont vous avez peut être entendu parler dans l'actualité vidéoludique cette année. Il s'agit en effet du professeur qui a introduit Portal au programme obligatoire de son université.

Il est passionné de jeux vidéo, enseigne l'art dramatique, est père de famille et ses posts reflètent bien son profil atypique. En tant que précurseur de la blogosphère du game design, il est régulièrement cité sur Critical Distance, même si je trouve personnellement que la qualité de ses derniers billets est légèrement inégale.

Le site reste néanmoins pertinent grâce aux podcasts organisés de temps en temps avec d'autres membres de la blogosphère, des passionnés, des journalistes, des game designers (comme Clint Hocking game designer de Splinter Cell et Far Cry 2, Steve Gaynor de Minerva's Den ou Jenova Chen de Flower) et par les posts déjà publiés.

Il participe également au Vintage Game Club, qui se réunit pour revisiter des titres phares du jeu vidéo et les discuter avec le recul des années (récemment Planescape Torment et Prince of Persia Sands of Time sont passés au grill).

Quelques extraits de son blog pour vous mettre l'eau à la bouche et le pied à l'étrier.

Faire du roleplay dans Red Dead Redemtpion malgré les limites du jeu
The next day, I headed back to Armadillo and, purely out of curiosity, decided to visit the cordial racist shopkeeper again. When I entered the store he was speaking to another customer. "Seems like all the railroad does these days is drop off more and more foreigners." Then he noticed me and offered a warm greeting. "Welcome friend." When I approached the counter to speak to him, he reeled off another nugget of frontier enlightenment. "You won't find anything Jewish-made in this establishment, sir."

And that's when I shot him

Sur la paternité dans les jeux vidéo
Games rely on heroism as a sturdy foundation for interactive storytelling, but unlike the Iliad, they rarely explore what it means. They seldom contemplate the human consequences or the personal cost. No game I've played has approached the moment in the Iliad when Priam falls to his knees and begs Achilles for his slain son's body. This grieving father moves Achilles to tears, and the two lament their losses in the war.  (...)

No game I've played has come close to conveying what it means to be a father. Fighting to avenge the death of a wife or child can provide a handy context for gameplay bad-assery, but nurturing and responsibility don't translate so well. Lots of games have made me feel like a fighter, but no game has ever made me feel the responsibility of fatherhood. No game has touched me in a way that feels familiar and real to me as a father. 

No game, that is, until Bioshock 2. 

Sur le design des missions dans Assassin's Creed 2
Narrative games rely on assigned quests for 'gameplay,' and we accept this often ridiculous convention because we enjoy completing fun-to-do tasks with useful rewards attached to them. But, decades in, narrative game designers find themselves charged with a nearly impossible task: find new ways to make these hunter-gatherer missions feel like they're vitally integrated into the story. AC2 fails miserably on this score until it finally drops the effort altogether and blossoms into the game it seems to want to be. But, oh those first few hours.

Sur la narration dans les jeux vidéo
 struck me as a muddled mess of storytelling and stylistic incongruities - a narrative filled with characters for whom I felt no attachment. , on the other hand, had me on the edge of my seat for many hours, deeply invested in the lives of its characters, driven to explore its world, and immersed in the fiction of both.

If we examine why we care about stories and characters, it's mostly about investment. Emotional attachment, empathy, feeling connected, caring about outcomes. These two RPGs present very different methods of hooking the player and eliciting concern and attachment. One succeeds because it leverages the player's motivated, explorative, self-driven experience; the other fails because it relies on a hackneyed, disjointed "epic" plotting (told in 3 separate plot-lines via cutscenes) with incongruous settings and 2-dimensional characters.

One succeeds because its formal systems directly feed the player's connection to the world and characters; the other fails because its formal systems bear no discernible relationship to the stories the game wants to tell.

En espérant que ça vous donne envie de jeter un coup d'oeil ou de l'ajouter à votre flux RSS.