Friday, 15 July 2011

Finished Bioshock

And I've finished Bioshock - by virtue of the last boss being a bit of an easy kill.

(Too many people design games the wrong way and make the last boss insurmountable - Puzzle Quest is the latest I've encountered which falls into this category).

Surprisingly, I restarted, looking for a higher difficulty and found there wasn't one. So much has been written about Bioshock - enough for discussion about it to coin the phrase 'ludonarrative dissonance', but very little of it on the actual game mechanics. Sure, they're a bit rubbish in places, but the looting and collection game is bizzarrely satisfying: there's never been more beautiful places to root through other people's trash; and the advancement mechanic, although it never quite comes together, hints at a number of strategies I didn't explore (I zapped and hacked and trapped, and grinded Vitachambers whenever I ran out of first aid kits, which happened too frequently). I hear Bioshock 2 fixes much of the awkwardness in combat which I've written about previously - and with the involvement of the studio which wrote the hugely enjoyable Dark Messiah: Might and Magic, I might have to pick it up the next time there's a Steam sale.

And what is it with Unreal engine games making the protagonist feel about 4 feet tall? Bioshock, the Ball... I feel like an angry Tom Cruise every time I play these.


Jonathan Stickles Fox said...

You are probably right about the player being only about 4 feet tall. Most game environments are unrealistically large, even ones designed to feel cramped; you lack the fine movements of the real world, so the world is inflated to avoid a sense of claustrophobia and give freedom of movement despite only being able to run around.

Valve shrinks all characters by 25%, which makes their characters about 4'6" tall, with camera height exactly 4' above the ground. This is compared to the standard corridor height of 8'. The world is normal, but you're tiny. Since all other characters are similarly diminutive, you don't notice it as much as you'd think. Props go on a sliding scale, in theory using the same scale as the environment, but still needing to feel right from the low eye level. So tables may be lowered, chairs might be shrunk, but a car is likely to be closer to real size.

Andrew Doull said...

That's Valve for you: clever chair design.

(Thanks for the clear explanation, btw).