More art, but the frustration’s a bit more Reggie Perrin.

18/01/2010

Maybe there’s still some horror, but it’s the existential horror of the banality of existence. You know the type.

In conversation I’ve come to realise that I didn’t really say all I could in my last post about Judith. I’m not going to say any of it now either really. I am going to say why I didn’t say some things about it, and then say them about a different game instead. Maybe I won’t say them about that either. Hey, this post sure is a must-read. This is the only Wittgenstein joke in it.

I didn’t really give much of a description of Judith, just told you to go and play it. Today I’m going to tell you to go and play Every day the same dream Okay WordPress took ages to do that bit then so I actually had time to read my last post and maybe I actually described the game as best as I could. Still didn’t explain why that was the best I could do though.

Today’s game is even shorter than the last one. Plus there’s no need to download, it’s one of them flash thingies. I was reminded of its existence by DO NOT CLICK this Gamasutra post DO NOT CLICK which annoyingly sort of says the thing that I didn’t say about what I couldn’t say about Judith. DON’T READ IT YET. Cos it says too much really, so maybe it’s crossed my invisible line and doesn’t really say the thing that I want to say.

YES that’s it. That article talks very nicely about the way that there are some stories and the way that they are told that can only be told in Video Games, or are better, or at least different. It then goes on to sort of tell you the story, describe the world. It tries to avoid spoilers, but THE WHOLE THINGS A SPOILER. If some stories are best told in video games, don’t tell me what it is. Just shake me by the shoulders until I obey you and play it. Well if it’s short. Make me a cup of tea at least. Is it alright to smoke in here?

Brevity is key. Plus it’s free and is Flash. Every day the same dream (which was a runner up in this Experimental Gameplay Competition is less than ten minutes long, and fuses the way it tells the story with the story. That is probably more than enough information. I mean it, I might delete some of the information in this paragraph. In which case I’ll definitely leave in the previous sentence.

If it cost you money, you’d want a review to tell you more than just if it was good. Unless you really trusted the reviewer. You’re never going to spend £30 on a game if you don’t know what it’s like. You might not want to know the whole plot, but you’d probably like to know the genre. However, in games the plot is so often neither here nor there. What matters is the gameplay. We’ll sit through 10 hours of shitty story that doesn’t really hang together if the bloom and explosions are right and we can pretend to be super soldiers. Yes that’s right I own Crysis:Warhead. I did not buy it for the plot. So a review can talk about how realistic the shotgun is, if that level of realism matters, the framerate, the look and feel, how cluttered the maps are, the freedom or no, they can certainly afford to tell you the set up of the plot. Probably the ending too to be honest. It’s like a Hollywood blockbuster in that respect. There are some films that you go to see to throw popcorn at the screen and have a good time. Having said that, imagine if you saw the film Predator if you’d only seen the trailers for Commando. You’d be enjoying Arnie the action hero and then be very happily surprised when it went all SF. Well I would be. Films always pick up when the alien reticules appear. Sod you then.

However, if someone was reviewing a 5 minute film or animation they’d restrict themselves to an analysis of the quality. Well they might. Just tell you if the actors in it were good, if the idea worked, whatever. Well I’m not going to tell you that much about this game either. Really short games I don’t want to tell you about the game mechanics. I’m not telling you if there are actors in it. Its short and free just play it. Then you can read that Gamasutra article.

Right. I’m becoming nicer and more like a proper blogger every day hongu. I’ve included links and acknowledged the existence of others. I’m even going to post a picture of the game I am reviewing. Oh noes surely that goes against everything I just said!

startup screen for every day the same dream

That's all you're getting

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2 Responses to “More art, but the frustration’s a bit more Reggie Perrin.”

  1. Eccentrica said

    OK, I played it.

    There follows what wouldn’t count as a spoiler anywhere else, but you’re bloody stringent about these things.

    I think this game is so good at evoking a mood and immersing you in a horrible world that it verges on being actually unpleasant to play. The question (*a* question) is what you get from playing it: why would you want to be immersed in that life? Which is I suppose why it’s more art than play.

    Definitely getting spoiler-y now…

    I also wonder about the ending. Part of the reason you tolerate the frustration and the monotony (because there’s a high monotony/novelty ratio) is that you’re hoping that there’ll be some kind of reward at the end: colours, beauty, excitement. And it doesn’t give you that. I’m not sure it would take away from the chilling power of the *spoiler*

    suddenly empty world if you then got something more beautiful in the great beyond. Especially when there have been those little glimpses of beauty throughout. I mean the whole game could be exactly as it is and I’m not sure it would lose anything by adding something at the end to leaving you with a slightly warmer feeling. Rather than a sense of emptiness and despair, which I can make myself at home with a small aubergine…

    • Doggy said

      Yeah well I may be stringent about spoilers this time, but you’d better not be expecting anything like consistency round these parts. I’ve made several people play the game in front of me and have had to tease them in the right direction just so they didn’t get bored and wander off. Serious gamers tend to be happier with attempting to subvert the norm. That made gamers sound cooler than I meant. I just meant, I’ve played a lot of games and when I see a sign telling me to go one way, I naturally try the other way to see if there’s a hidden level. Mind you, I do that in real life too…

      EDTSD is possibly the best art game that I’ve played. In TV you’re supposed to “show not tell” and this seems to do the gaming equivalent. The points this game seems to be trying to make about monotony and frustration are made by actually playing. It marries the desires of the player with the desires of the character, that type of thing. Nyaah everyone says that about it. It’s frigging beautiful and it’s quite short. What more could anyone want?

      Would it have been any better if it had ended with a warm feeling? That could have seemed just as cheap, and you can make that at home with a small diuretic…

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