Archive for January, 2015

SteamOS – Bringing Gaming and a ‘Lot of Others’ to Linux

Video Games – The Reason why I haven’t completely switched to Linux yet. I mean it seriously, as an exclusive PC gamer and a full-time user. I know what Linux systems are capable of and what they are not for this matter.

With SteamOS, Valve might just revolutionize the PC gaming industry all over again and this time it just might not be in favor of the dominating Windows system after all.

SteamOS_Logo

SteamOS as some might know it, is a Linux Based Operating system for the hardcore gamers out there, and   . . . . . . . . . . . . .   that is pretty much what it is. I know it does not sound all too impressive at the moment and quite frankly the initial results are not compelling enough to make someone switch to the new ‘beta‘ system.

But what really matters here, is the potential this thing holds for the PC gaming crowd, I really hope that all other PC gamers like me have had a chance to try out Linux and once you do I sure most would have been overwhelmed at the staggering amount of features and control thrown at you, yet disappointed once you realise that Linux Systems can’t play your games properly (Don’t mention WINE in the comments, I’ve tried it doesn’t work)

SteamOS brings promise, I do not know how this is going to work out, if there’s going to be a ‘package’  or some completely different version of a specific distribution, but a revolution is coming and you will soon be able to play “games for windows” on your preferred Linux distribution. The reason how this is going to make a big difference is by finally giving open-source software some respect for the great work that can be done using it and appreciating the people make them.

For some of you who are thinking how the gamers are going to create a market shift from Windows to Linux, know this – “We are not short in number” If you play games then you are a gamer, and I know that the reason why some of you haven’t yet switched to Linux is because of those few games you would like to play once in a while.

Let’s just hope this works out and we can finally get rid of that pesky and annoying dual-boot screen.

Games and Films as Art

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI think its better I don’t randomly rant in the comments about why I included this specific post in this specific category again and again. So let me start by presenting and explaining a few important and solid points in the simplest possible way (mathematically of course) :

>>  games and films are a medium of storytelling  >>

>>  storytelling is literature  >>   literature is art . ||

This implies,

          >> games and films are art.

Hence Proved.

What is Storytelling?

neural connections" When you learn something new, your brain rewires and a new neural connection is made, which if brought into practice strengthens. "

Storytelling is the art of delivering experiences, experiences that leave a new neural connection.

It is quite simple actually, (that is again, if you understand my mathematical explanation) literature has long been used to tell wonderful stories, stories that engage, stories that inspire, stories that have left a mark on society, stories which can thus be considered art.

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Literature does this by using the readers imagination – you imagine these worlds, people and stories similar to the ones imagined by the author and they are very well successful in delivering the underlying experience intended for the reader. I admit that they do their own thing in their own way, yet it is simply one way of delivering a storytelling experience.

How do Games and Movies do it?

Let’s start with movies, movies are again in many ways similar to books or literature but at the same time whereas literature relies on the readers imagination, Movies do not do so, they deliver the exact visuals, audio, sequence and direction predetermined by the creators, yet again this is their way of doing it.

Video Games come in between both of these mediums in terms of how they engage the mind of the person pursuing one of above activities. Unlike Books, they are more restricted in what they provide. Yet, unlike Movies either, they add the element of interactivity, the ability to tell your own stories. Games like LIMBO or Far Cry 3 showcase this, yet all games possess this.

Games Remain to be Accepted.

Not all, but some Movies have been accepted as being a form of art but games remain to be included in this category of mature and meaningful content (which by the way, some games are full of).

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“Why?” is all that I ask, many people still think of games as stuff for kids – immature and stupid. At the very most some people accept it as a medium for ‘relaxation‘, we all know that it is a very specific genre these people are referring to here in the immense world of gaming.

A very few, selected amount of people consider some of these games to be ‘Art’. But the truth is most of them are closer to art than these people think, closer than movies, closer to literature, right there with the people I haven’t discussed yet ‘Painters’, you know,  like Leonardo Da Vinci for example!

 

LIMBO – Entering the Indie Gaming Universe

Although LIMBO was recommended to me by various sources during the time of its release, I could only , finally play the game when the iOS version for the iPad came out. I must say the experience was such that it made me regret the fact that I didn’t play the game earlier. With the Xbox One version just out, I thought I should share my views on this wonderful piece of art.

It has long being argued by some that – “video games reduce your imagination power”, this is not true irrespective of the game you play, but the Art-style alone of this game proves the statement completely wrong, the mystery that surrounds the main theme and story again lets your imagination run wild. The dark setting, premise and feel of the game’s atmosphere literally forces you to think beyond what is presented to you.

The Sweet Surprises

Now I should better present to you the point that exited me the most while playing this game, ‘the sweet surprises’  as I like to call them.

I know it might seem a bit difficult to understand what ‘sweet surprises’ in a game that looks like that are, and I hope I will be able to explain them to you without spoiling anything in the main game.

The Official Demo of the game showcases this concept of mine very beautifully. First you will have to engage your mind and solve a well thought out puzzle scenario, using standard platforming and minimal controls (the main mechanism of the game) and when you are ready for more of the game, the demo will cleverly end in an unexpected way, with a sweet little surprise. I simply love it when this type of  little details work in games, they might seem linear and scripted but they do make the journey rather more exiting.

In LIMBO, these surprises may seem scripted but they are maintained throughout the game with well executed consistency. Plus the sweet surprise can be anything ranging from a new mechanic or a small detail that might reveal the past or future of the story.

The Art of Storytelling

LIMBO showcases what the future of gaming holds, from silly but entertaining passtimes and puzzles; games have evolved into a medium of storytelling. Granted that Movies and Books are in more peoples hearts than video games but the interactive medium holds so much more potential merely because it delivers experiences rather than stories. Games at many times also succeed in placing the player right in the boots of the protagonist making the experience even more everlasting.

People always say – you learn form experience, you learn by making mistakes, you learn when you go through it yourself, etc-etc and that is were games truly succeed as a medium of storytelling, It helps you learn. You are not just watching, you are experiencing, – You are learning.

Independent Development

It is also great to see that this comes from a indie game, the triple-A games always held potential, but failed to take risks and try something new. The development team behind LIMBO clearly was not afraid to innovate, it is something that excites me most towards the indie gaming universe – ‘their ability to innovate without the fear of failure’.

This game was actually my entry ticket to indie games yet I regret that I did not play indie games before. Independently developed games do not have either the budget nor the resources to create the immerse worlds that triple-A games succeed in doing. They depend on innovate game-play mechanics and storytelling to make their game stand out rather than huge open-world sandboxes or “Real HD” graphics.

Most of the time these mechanics in indie games do not work out as well as the ones in triple-A titles or the storytelling fashion is not comfortable or immersive but when these games do succeed in innovating, evidently – You get a Masterpiece