True Life: I’m a LOTRO Addict

I am very proud of myself… I’ve made excellent strides in the gaming world. For those of you that don’t remember, I am the newbiest of newbs (the writer who basically had only played iphone games), so when I downloaded LOTRO and was told that it would be a part of my grade for the course, I was wary at first. Initially, I struggled with the controls of the game, not realizing that the arrow keys could be used in place of the “a” “s” “d” and “w” keys for movement; not being able to move with ease was frustrating and really put a damper on my enjoyment of the game. Another issue I had at first was navigation through the game with the quests. I did not realize that one merely had to follow the glowing ring on the map to find the next part of the quest, and because of this, the going was excruciatingly slow. A silver lining the this issue was that I learned how to move before I learned how to navigate, and so I spent a long time fighting wolves in Thorin’s realm and reached a higher level by the end of the intro period that most. On the issue of navigation, I wish that staying on the epic quest line would be more self-explanatory because I’ve spent a lot of time doing side quests that I would in some cases prefer to avoid.

With that being said, these were just issues I had at the beginning of my journey. Since I’ve managed to get over these problems, I have become completely enamored with the game. If I’m waiting around, I play the game. If I’m bored, I’ll play the game. Not feeling like going out on the town? I’ll visit the Prancing Pony in Bree. I am seriously getting addicted to LOTRO!

One aspect I really love is the role playing. I love the fact that I can customize my character’s wardrobe and appearance, as well as the specific skills I can gain as an Elf Champion. I think one reason why this part of the game is so appealing is due to the fact that I am an English major and avid reader. When I am reading (especially in the Lord Of The Rings series) I can imagine myself in the protagonist’s position and wish I were apart of the action. By playing LOTRO, I am able to engage with the narrative in a way that has never been open to me before, and that helps to fulfill this desire.

Additionally, the quests provide just enough challenge to be fun and engaging, but are not difficult to the point that I want to abandon them as a lost cause. Even if my character dies, I feel like I can evaluate my performance and improve enough to give the challenge another go and ultimately be successful. While this game isn’t as strongly based on learning as the game Braid was, I still think it is an important factor here. In playing this game, you learn new strategies to help you play more efficiently and creatively.

One thing that I have learned since starting this game is that apparently Lore Masters get to have animal pets. Since I have been enjoying playing so much, I think it is time for me to create a new character of the Lore Master variety so I can acquire some of the cute and friendly creatures I’ve spotted along the way!

-Sparling Wilson

Sims 3: Vivian Stuart’s Profile

In class on Thursday, we were given the assignment to write a blog of our choice, so I am writing about my experience remediating the Sims 3.  A couple of days ago, my partner Molly and I finally decided on how we are going to present our game, Sims 3.  We figured that since Sims 3 is a family life simulation game, what better way to remediate it than to bring our simulated characters to the real world: Facebook! So far the project has been really fun to build, I mean who doesn’t want to play Sims 3 all day taking screen shots and making Facebook profiles for your characters? I can’t imagine anyone would turn down that life style. So far we have profiles for Vivian and her husband Colin (they just made their marriage Facebook official yesterday.. so cute) and we are working on a “Sims 3: Sunset Valley Neighborhood” page for them to like.  We plan on creating albums for major events in their life and creating statuses periodically to truly bring these characters to life.  It has been challenging at times with getting the right screen shot and such but it is a very convenient way to do a group project.  Molly and I are both very busy and can rarely find time to meet up, but with Facebook, we just need the username and the password and we can edit the project from wherever we are. It has been great! The only potential issue is that I am the only one with the game on their laptop, but we just divided the work so that it evens out. Overall it has been a good time and we am looking forward to sharing it with y’all!

-Emily Blake

Sims 3: Blast from the Past

Playing Sims 3 in class on Thursday immediately made me feel like I was 10yr old again, fighting with my sisters for a turn to play.  Although it was a different version of the game (we played Sims 2), most of the controls are the same, which made it easy to pick it right back up pretty easily.  Molly and I spent the whole class creating a family because of the extensive details that go into creating a sim.  We ended up only fully creating the mom from scratch and randomizing the dad.  From there we used the genetics button to create a child with characteristics from both. This is a new, super cool feature in the Sims 3 and it is awesome. So far I have loved playing the Sims game again.  I really think it is a good game choice for our presentation because of its highly mediated nature.  The screen is always full of control bars and buttons and when you click on anything in the game, multiple options appear for different actions.  You can also see a sequence of actions for each character on the top of the screen.  However, the nature and purpose of the game is to create a family life and invest in the characters’ lives, enriching them with relationships, careers, and housing.  In this way, it is ironic that the game is so mediated instead of attempting to be more transparent and realistic.  This game is very interesting because of this contrast.  I am very excited to explore the relationship between the game’s narrative qualities and its mediated qualities for the project!

-Emily Blake

LOTRO: The Struggle is Real

Lord of the Rings Online has definitely been a new experience for me to say the least.  I have never played a game like it before.  The virtual world is so interesting and complex!  It has definitely taken me a while to feel at ease within it (though that may just be because I am directionally challenged in reality let alone navigating a completely foreign fictional world).  However, I think I am finally starting to get the hang of it.  I have been stuck on one quest for three days now (The Wrath of the Elves) and have therefore become very familiar with the Ered Luin area.  Its not that the quests are difficult to understand, its just hard when you aren’t familiar with the layout of the world yet.  Many times I have had to exit the game and google where something was in order to move forward in that quest.  Also, the controls are very confusing.  When in battle, I have no idea what I am doing.  Half the time I am literally just hitting random keys. However, most of the time the quests are really fun and straight forward.  I like having a narrative to follow in the game.  It gives me a sense of purpose.  My most frustrating times so far have been when I am simply roaming around aimlessly without a quest to follow.

Aside from my incompetence with slaying goblins, the game is surprisingly really fun!  I love reading the book and finding the places I read about in the game.  For instance, I loved the Prancing Pony assignment because I had just read that part in the book.  It was cool to explore the famous inn for all of its other qualities that aren’t expressed in the novel, in a way bringing the Prancing Pony to life.

Overall, the game has been a really cool and interesting experience yet very frustrating at times, the struggle is real.

-Emily Blake

(Movies vs Games)=Art

Movies and games have a lot in common: the genres are largely the same (action, horror, thriller, etc.), the quality varies enormously on a case-by-case basis, and typically the costs to produce the final products are enormous (the time, effort, and number of people involved). A major distinction, however, is that movies have long been considered to be an art form while video games remain controversial, which seems rather unfair. When movies first appeared as a media the films were just things you could see in person but recorded so they could be viewed by anyone: that is not art as we know it, just copying and pasting. It took a long time for directors to develop the tools to engage an audience. In the same way the video game industry up until now has been occupied with making games that perfect mechanics, not with engaging players and leveraging the unique aspects of video games as a media to create a truly enthralling experience. Only recently have games like that begun appearing, and they are still infrequent. Regardless, video games will soon be art just as movies are, and while there will certainly still be bad games designed to make money just as there are bad movies designed to make money, the number of video games that are art is sure to rise.

An important distinction to make is artistic and art: artistic is a style while art is a product. I will elaborate on this with an example. Fable 2 (or even Fable 3) is an artistic game: the designs are varied and just out-of-reality, the story is well crafted, and the whole universe is woven into a grand experience. However, the game is not, as I understand it, art. The experience is riddled with annoyances that take you out of the experience, like an inventory and health bar system. The character interactions are incredibly limited (compared to real life, anyways), and the combat is repetitive. The concept is great and amazing but the execution is only average, and thus it does not feel like art. It just feels artistically done.

Geometry Wars is, by contrast, an impossibly simple game with an incredibly simple idea: stay alive. You play as a shape and shoot at other shapes which chase you. There is no plot, no characters, just mechanics and graphics. However, the controls are fluid, the experience is intense, and the whole game is incredible clean: it just works. It might not be artistic (despite the pretty colors it is still just a bunch of shapes that follow your shape), but the game is art. It is refined, brings a concept to life incredibly well, and is a blast to play.

For a game to be art, like a movie, the experience must be great. Unlike a movie, however, the experience is composed of more factors, including mechanics, graphics, gameplay, etc., and not all of these and the movie factors have to be great for the experience to be incredible: games can be great with just mechanics and graphics, gameplay and plot, or any other combination of factors. This is my conclusion: games can be art, but the industry needs time to understand how to make games that are art. It is similar, but not the same, as movies. The experience is still what matters, but the formation of the experience is so much more complicated when making a game, but the possibilities are, appropriately, much greater.

~HungryRug

Child Of Eden: Electronic Art

Video games have transformed from the days in the arcade. They have moved away from the 16bit blocky graphics to fully immersive 3D worlds, where a player can get lost in for hours at a time. Art, if done right, should elicit emotion in the viewer; art should enthrall and entice as well as satisty.

Recently, a game came out that can only be described as “trippy”; not only was it based in space, but was controlled by your body motions through the Xbox Kinect. Child of Eden is the kind of game where if you play it for long enough, you might lose touch with reality. You use your hands to control your ship, which blasts through artistic forms and enemies, often creating something visceral and beautiful at the end.

In this game, one controls the stars in space as you create incredibly artistic forms and images. You’re blasting stars for points, but you’re also a cosmic painter; your hands are your tools and you traverse multiple galaxies. It enthralls and excites, and leaves the player feeling better for playing it. Certainly not all video games are art, but some are certainly striving to be considered, and I believe Child of Eden is one of those games.

 

-Spencer Smith

On the bright side…

Never thought I would forget to post one of these things. Meh, whatever. I did make a hell of a lot of popcorn though. Anyways, I want to start by saying that I have never seen so much dedication in one person as I noticed in Wiebe. He pressed on through every defeat and every obstacle and still came out on top. He worked hard, got himself in line, and took the top spot for King Kong score.

Honestly, I would have to say that people like Wiebe are real inspirations to the world. One thing I noticed though that I thought was funny is that his wife took the same stance that most people do when they see someone get into gaming. She couldn’t stand it at first and eventually through time and persuasion, was able to understand his ambition. We just had a blog post over the difference of playing and gaming and I say that Wiebe fits the textbook definition of a true hard-core gamer. We have discussed the positions of many people on gaming, including the position that the world itself revolves around the rules of some game. Getting back to the inspirational aura of Wiebe, I have to say the guy lives what we all want. He worked hard doing something he loved to accomplish a goal over and over again. Sure, he was beat down a few times, but he never gave up, and as cheesy and cliche as that sounds, it still rings very true. Who doesn’t go out to do something they love to get recognition for it?

~~D3LTA04