PROCEDURAL GENERATION WITH OSWALD HURLEM

I put a call out on Twitter for anyone who had a burning desire to talk about games to contact me. Oswald Hurlem, game designer, had read my article, published on this site, about why I don’t like procedural generation and got in touch; our conversation is below.

 

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One thought on “PROCEDURAL GENERATION WITH OSWALD HURLEM

  1. For me personally this argument ends at art. For games like chess, randomization makes perfect sense. If that’s why you play video games (not for art) then you’re golden. For art on the other hand (I will throw almost all games under the bus) video games rarely impress me; and so if the odds are slim to nil a video game will impress me already, artistically, I don’t see how removing the artist from the equation gets any close to the ultimate goal of validating the game’s existence to me.

    I can understand the temptation. But consider the audience; Their precious hours. If a game is different every time it’s experienced, then at least let the part of the audience that is interested in that, build a consensus on which iteration (a deterministic seed) is the best, so that the part of the audience with limited time and interest can enjoy the best possible experience–in that version.

    P.S. Esethetics aside. I have a fondness for what are essentially anti-games. I mean by this games that take the usual advice about how to make a fun game, and do the exact opposite! A complete disregard for convention creates the illusion of an uncontrived world that defies expectations. My favorite game of all time (I guess) does this. I recommend it highly to Ed. I would describe it as very Lynchian and also the quintessential 3-D video game. It’s called King’s Field II, from 1995. I learned earlier this year that a sequence from the end links up with David Lynch’s Premonition of an Evil Deed, in a way that nothing else ever could. Both come to us from 1995. It reminds me too of a VR installation, also 1995, called Osmose. I like to think there’s evidence of an unseen world (is it an “evil” world?) but if these are telegraphed influences at the 11th hour of 1995 that works too.

    Part I from 1994 is probably the first modern 3-D video game published. (Descent is the next contender for this dubious honor.) Very much the anti-game, it leaves you at the end of long corridors, with nothing but your own thoughts. It doesn’t reward you. It opens ti a giant land squid (kraken) stage right, and ends with little pissants in the final stages (there are no loading screens) and seems in truth uninterested in combat altogether. It’s happy if you saunter past every monster. It’s uninterested in punishment and reward. This is liberating. Part II is head and shoulders above its siblings. It has a transcendent quality. The English language versions takes liberties with the translation.

    (The Dark Souls series traces back to this series. I’m not a Dark Souls fan. I think it’s too peculiar to speak to the mass and legacy of humanity. Its controls are unworkable too. King’s Field is classical. It is “first-person.”)

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