NOTE: S….S-S-Sixth time trying to get this post to work, cross your everything you have and see, this is getting tedious beyond comparison.
We all go to various different experiences for various different reasons, gaming is no exception. I myself am an audio nut and love great sound and music, others love fantastic characters and some just might go for the visual flair. In the end we are all looking to feel satisfied with our time spent, a feeling that can be derived from many different elements of a game. Let’s take a small moment to really just feel good about the things in games that tickle our fancy, whether we expected it to or not.
Sound: oh goodness oh woe is me oh golly gosh how will I ever limit this point to anything short of an essay! I adore sound in games, I can happily say I grew up playing games in a time where games were limited for music and had to go with a strong focus on melody. I personally believe restrictions like these force innovation and squeeze out some truly masterful results, at least on occasion. The pleasant and surreal tones of a wide open field full of flowers with the instruments welling up into a celebration of the moment, the blood pumping chip-tune that is creating some frankly creepy sounds that fit so perfectly with the pacing of the characters run. Music is a language that knows no boundaries, I don’t even need to understand the words to get behind the energy and emotion behind a song. Some of my favourites include the soundtrack of Sonic 2 (I despise those goddamn Slicers in Metropolis and the Aquis in Oil Ocean like nothing else, but I come back to die to some fantastic beats every damn time) and of recent memory, A PS2 game known as Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil. A great game for anyone to try out, it manages to hit so many things right it’ll stick with you for sure.
Sound Effects: Is this cheating? Pffft no I didn’t say I was gonna try and keep it a paragraph each, but this’ll be the only time, it is for a good reason. Sound effects can become as iconic as the music or the characters of a franchise, I don’t know how many people I knew who were so happy that Aliens: Colonial Marines was using the original assault rifle sound from the movie. Beyond just being a good ring to your ear every hop skip and a jump, sound effects are essential for communicating a sense of power and bewilderment in a fictional universe. The thunderous clang of a blow to the head or the sweet, delectable whir up of that one gun which gives you chills every time you hear it charging up. It seems to me that there is a lack of appreciation in sound design anywhere beyond atmospheric games like horror and such, sound must follow the rules of animation: the build up, the action, and the aftermath. It has to be exciting or dreading or what have you beforehand, be impactful when it hits then be followed with a cool down. I can’t tell you how many times in say for example Monster Hunter I giggle a little bit when I hear that charged attack reach all of the stages, rising in volume and pitch a bit, ringing in my ears with a strong confirmation sound of my well timed button release and the DEEP cutting strike of my greatsword complimented with a loud thrashing of the creatures armour. Yeaaaah I could go on about this stuff for ages I love it, but I should really try and move on, posts with more than 1000 words aren’t exactly a thrill to scroll through.
Animation: This element of a game seems to not be as noticed as the others or is just sort of under appreciated much like sound design. I for one love a good looking movement, the fluidity of an attack or that one way they move their eyes to make my character look so pissed off, it brings out the part of me that adores tremendous choreography in any situation. I have talked about power portrayal in video games and how the complex appreciation of physics among other things can really make something seem believable (I recommend it, not a bad time waster in my honest opinion… as the author). Breathing life into a world is so much more than lore or design, it is about the believability of the life within the boundaries of the game world, expressive characters may not excel at subtlety most of the time, regardless it provides a deeper connection to see communication beyond word and action. Body language seems to be something of an anomaly to the animation teams, although I expect it is to do with the quantity of the work and the quality loses its important over actually shipping the product. I see all this motion capture and wonder how even when they have information and movements directly from a real humans face, something just doesn’t seem to fit. I suspect it is something to do with the many depths and layers that result in actual human expression versus a game model, to have models so intricate that they imitate not only the outside but the muscular and skeletal structure of the human face? I am clearly asking for too much, perhaps in the future I may find we can create such an ideal. My point overall (as I seem to have gone off on a tangent, an easy error when talking passionately about a topic) is that I just wanna see an in-game hug look really fucking real. I wanna look at that hug and know without a doubt there is so much love and care in that gesture, not models clipping into each other or cloth floating into her or his damn head, I wanna see believable expressions of humanity.
Graphics: Uhhhh…lets make this one short, too many words already and possibly the largest topic of them all. Games are not all about the graphics, however that does not mean they are not part of the formula in making a game be a cut above the rest. Ugly textures will bring me down from the fun high I was having with the core gameplay. There are many core parts to a game that will be ever present in the game, the graphics having the highest encounter rate. Presentation and attention to detail aids the painting of the picture inside someone else’s imagination, an imagination gone wild no less. Yeah I have love for my nostalgic games, but do you know what keeps them ever present? They have aged very well, I can gawk at the lands put together and still feel like they gave this game their fullest attention. My love for the game itself is only matched by my satisfaction that they did the rest of the game justice by making her look her best.
Oh there are so many more areas that bring us joy and satisfaction, I don’t know what I was thinking trying to ever attempt any sort of listing of them. I hope you had some memories of great games you have enjoyed or perhaps are even playing now that is making you really savour each moment like not much else has in quite a while. I’d like to hear what you look for in a game to really fall in love with the experience, what pulls you back to those same worlds and same characters every time? Where do you think gaming needs to go to make the playful hours just that much more delightful to be a part of? Maybe you think we are already there? Thanks for reading, I’ll be sitting her just humming along to some catchy tunes from my all time favourite games.