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N'Gai Croal on video game realism - talks Killzone 2 and more

Barrett2

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Dec 7, 2007
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Firestorm said:
Verisimilitude is a fancy word now? No wonder our magazines are written like they're aimed at 12 year olds.
Writing style should match content. If you're talking about video games, you probably don't need to dress up your writing with words like "Verisimilitude." In this context it comes across as a bit arrogant.

And you don't need little known words to make your point. More often than not obscure words or terms are just cover for writers who can't clearly and concisely articulate an argument.
 

-COOLIO-

The Everyman
Jun 9, 2007
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lawblob said:
Writing style should match content. If you're talking about video games, you probably don't need to dress up your writing with words like "Verisimilitude." In this context it comes across as a bit arrogant.
when would you use it then

books? movies?

OUT WITH YOU


video game readers need to learn a new word every once in a while too. we're not retarded.
 

Barrett2

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Dec 7, 2007
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-COOLIO- said:
when would you use it then

books? movies?

OUT WITH YOU

Use it in a serious literary work or academic article. But in an article talking about sweet graphics? Unnecessary, IMO.

Note of clarification; I also consider Portrait of An Artist... to be one of the better books I have read, so I am not against complex writing in general, I just abhor it where I deem it unnecessary to carry the material at hand.
 

BobsRevenge

I do not avoid women, GAF, but I do deny them my essence.
Oct 14, 2007
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people still expect to derive a certain amount of visual pleasure from the games that they play, whether it’s Halo 3’s gleaming green-purple-chrome colour palette or the saturated deep blues and nightvision greens of COD4.
...

n'gai

If there is one game more bland than Killzone 2 its CoD4. That game has no visual pizaz to it at all and is imo one of the most visually bland games ever. There is nothing particularly attractive about it at all. The defining aesthetic seems to be some dumb color filter based on Saving Private Ryan mixed with night vision. The entire CoD series reaks of armchair soldiers trying to live out some cinematic war fantasy and the terribly bland visuals reflect this.
 

BobsRevenge

I do not avoid women, GAF, but I do deny them my essence.
Oct 14, 2007
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Firestorm said:
Verisimilitude is a fancy word now? No wonder our magazines are written like they're aimed at 12 year olds.
You seriously think it isn't a fancy word? How often do you hear it in coversations with people?

I'm not sure I've ever heard it in my entire life. Yes, its a fancy word.
 

Threi

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Mar 22, 2007
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Fafalada said:
ME just replaces Brown and Gray with Red and Blue - in the end it's still one of the least colorful games this generation, with an aim to depict a sterile, depressing world.
Actually the dominant colour(s) change with every level.

The Red/Blue colour scheme is just the first area commonly used in screenshots and advertisements.
 

Shins

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Firestorm said:
Verisimilitude is a fancy word now? No wonder our magazines are written like they're aimed at 12 year olds.
Game journalism is truly shooting for the stars, appealing to that core "14-year-old who's been schooled in the art of ctrl+F7 composition" demographic.
 
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I think he might be on to something. As a designer, I can appreciate what Guerrilla has done in crafting a well balanced and cohesive, striking visual style. And as someone who has a thing for oppressive visual themes, I find something to like about that too. But it's definitely not a pleasant game to look at, and there are few moments where one can marvel at the decor. Playing something like Gears 2, there is a sense of wonder about the environments that is just plain absent from KZ2, with objects of mystery and/or beauty in a hostile environment.

It's a very well crafted, very real world that Guerrilla presents, but it's not terribly appealing.

To take some of the heat away from KZ2, it's not the only recent game with this problem. I'm no far into the game yet, but RE5 feels much the same. A very real, tangible but wholly unappealing world.
 

Firestorm

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lawblob said:
Writing style should match content. If you're talking about video games, you probably don't need to dress up your writing with words like "Verisimilitude." In this context it comes across as a bit arrogant.

And you don't need little known words to make your point. More often than not obscure words or terms are just cover for writers who can't clearly and concisely articulate an argument.
Writing style should fit audience. Croal isn't writing this for the "i love my haloz" crowd. He's writing it for the an audience which thinks video games aren't just toys for children.

And personally, I can't think of any other single word that can be used to describe what you can with verisimilitude. You're on the fucking internet, google it if you don't know what it means and expand your vocabulary. It seems like a pretty good word to know if you're going to be analyzing any form of media.
 

Fafalada

Fafracer forever
Jun 22, 2004
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Threi said:
Actually the dominant colour(s) change with every level.
I finished the game - the dominant colors are shades of red and blue - with yellow replacing red underground/indoors.
Notable thing being that everything "living" like plants are always white/gray.

And even if you disagree, the point is the world is always contrasty, but never colorful.
 

HK-47

Oh, bitch bitch bitch.
Oct 24, 2007
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nib95 said:
Sorry, but the locales in Killzone 2 are far more unique than Crysis. I'd also imagine beach/Island has been done more in games as well. As much as Killzone 2 does lack colour, I actually found the art direction and design very unique. Was like a war torn darker version of Neo Tokyo (Akira style) meets Tekkonkreet meets Baroque meets Mad Max.
Did you think I was arguing against you? Well thats the last time I'll stick up for Killzone
 

HK-47

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Oct 24, 2007
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Firestorm said:
Writing style should fit audience. Croal isn't writing this for the "i love my haloz" crowd. He's writing it for the an audience which thinks video games aren't just toys for children.

And personally, I can't think of any other single word that can be used to describe what you can with verisimilitude. You're on the fucking internet, google it if you don't know what it means and expand your vocabulary. It seems like a pretty good word to know if you're going to be analyzing any form of media.
Its just another instance of the rampant anti intellectualism in gaming. Its why we have very few stories and characters worth analyzing. Its why we are woefully lacking in good critics.
 

DeadTrees

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lawblob said:
Writing style should match content. If you're talking about video games, you probably don't need to dress up your writing with words like "Verisimilitude."
I won't defend that eyesore of a review, but sometimes "verisimilitude" is just the most appropriate and efficient word to use. Ferinst: "The dialogue in The Sixth Sense has all the verisimilitude of the average Nigerian scam email."
 

Azih

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This isn't anything very new, there were plenty of people who didn't like Bioshock because it felt dank, claustrophobic and depressing, even though that was exactly the setting the game was aiming for.

It speaks to the maturation of the medium that technical and artistic proficiency isn't the be all, end all to how good a game is judged to look. If a gamer just doesn't like a certain theme or mood than a game that achieves it is going to cause discomfort. This is a good thing.
 

Orlics

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BobsRevenge said:
You seriously think it isn't a fancy word? How often do you hear it in coversations with people?

I'm not sure I've ever heard it in my entire life. Yes, its a fancy word.
And why should a journalist's blog be written in a conversational tone? Who made this rule, exactly?
 

androvsky

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So even "gaming intellectuals" can't grasp the most basic concepts of cinematography? It looks bleak because it's not supposed to be happy fun times invading someone's homeworld. I don't remember Saving Private Ryan getting criticized for depicting a bleak environment. Yes, as a game it probably should present as inviting a virtual environment as possible to maximize sales and online play-time; and if that's all there is to it according to what is supposedly one of gaming's great thinkers, we might as well flush the whole medium as an art-form right now. Sorry Ueda, might as well quit now, your games just aren't colorful enough either.

Maybe GG can add DLC invincible kitties that run around and help out your squad by jumping into the welcoming arms of the Helgast so you can complete your mission of planting palm trees all along the beach.
 

Super_Chicken

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They should recreate a city (or make one up it's less word) and make it beautiful. Then as we run through it shooting the other army we fuck it up sum! :D

Think crysis minus the jungle.
 

K.Jack

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Mar 10, 2007
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But given the context, should the world of the Helghast be appealing, when it obviously isn't a nice place to live? It's an ugly, effed up, war torn place, so I expect to be depressed and disgusted while I'm there.

So, is his problem that he always wants his games to have a glimmer of hope, some silver lining that rubs him on his back and says, "baby, it'll be okay"? Is it wrong for games to give us bad vibes, negative emotions? When we talk of the realism of war, we tend to focus on inspirational moments and cool catch phrases, while Killzone is more focused on war, death, survival, and consequences. It's the unnerving focus of the game that just won't sit well with everyone.
 

BruceLeeRoy

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Zzoram said:
I understand what he's saying. People were saying it about Fallout 3 too. When a game is too realistic in it's ugliness and destroyed earth, it becomes somewhat depressing. I'm not saying Fallout 3's graphics were realistic, just that the wasteland in the game was realistic in it's sparsity, and it was depressing.
I completely agree with that notion for Fallout that the wastelands really started to wear on you but I never felt that way about KZ2. The oppression of the atmosphere and the enemy your fighting just immerses you that much more into what your playing.
 

Firestorm

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androvsky said:
So even "gaming intellectuals" can't grasp the most basic concepts of cinematography? It looks bleak because it's not supposed to be happy fun times invading someone's homeworld. I don't remember Saving Private Ryan getting criticized for depicting a bleak environment. Yes, as a game it probably should present as inviting a virtual environment as possible to maximize sales and online play-time; and if that's all there is to it according to what is supposedly one of gaming's great thinkers, we might as well flush the whole medium as an art-form right now. Sorry Ueda, might as well quit now, your games just aren't colorful enough either.

Maybe GG can add DLC invincible kitties that run around and help out your squad by jumping into the welcoming arms of the Helgast so you can complete your mission of planting palm trees all along the beach.
Er, why do people seem so butthurt about this editorial? It's not a review. He's not saying the game is bad because of it. He's saying that he was a little put off by the tone of the game. He calls it flawlessly done. He would have just preferred a different way of doing it. And he can have his opinion. He can like what he wants.
 
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androvsky said:
So even "gaming intellectuals" can't grasp the most basic concepts of cinematography? It looks bleak because it's not supposed to be happy fun times invading someone's homeworld. I don't remember Saving Private Ryan getting criticized for depicting a bleak environment. Yes, as a game it probably should present as inviting a virtual environment as possible to maximize sales and online play-time; and if that's all there is to it according to what is supposedly one of gaming's great thinkers, we might as well flush the whole medium as an art-form right now. Sorry Ueda, might as well quit now, your games just aren't colorful enough.

Maybe GG can add DLC invincible kitties that run around and help out your squad by jumping into the welcoming arms of the Helgast so you can complete your mission of planting palm trees all along the beach.
It appears to me as if he understands this just fine, only it does not resonate as well with him as it does with others. And on some level, I agree with him, which I why I, in regards to visual presentation, do not consider KZ2 a personal favorite of mine. It's a design success, but it's not as appealing to me as it is to others.

And that last bit about kittens et blah, that was one of the lamer things I've read.
 

BobsRevenge

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HK-47 said:
Its just another instance of the rampant anti intellectualism in gaming. Its why we have very few stories and characters worth analyzing. Its why we are woefully lacking in good critics.
Its not anti-intellectualism, its anti-pretention. The guy could've just said "game-realism" again and everyone would've known what he meant. Verisimilitude obviously stuck out in this review since we are bothering to talk about it, and it just doesn't read that the word should be used there in a stylistic sense. It just sounds like one of those words kids find using microsoft word's thesaurus for their 10th grade english papers when trying to cover up their plagiarism.

edit: I think what bothers me most about it is that the actual blog post or whatever it is is actually pretty damn shallow. That's exactly what I mean by pretentious. He's trying to come off as a serious gaming journalist but he is not saying anything worth saying. Its not as if Killzone 2 is going to be some sort of style that game designers are going to look towards when they make their next FPS. It is a unique aesthetic that is visually arresting, and if it pulls you in than why should you water it down. Plus its not like they did it to avoid sales, obviously people appreciate the visuals and it helped sell the game.
 

BruceLeeRoy

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AltogetherAndrews said:
It's a very well crafted, very real world that Guerrilla presents, but it's not terribly appealing.
To me its such a refreshing change of pace. When your standing in Visari square for the first time and you see the lightning electrifying the buildings around you and fire erupting on the guys that are running forward I cant help but stare in awe at the spectacle they were able to create. It might look oppressive and dark but it feels real to me.
 

Orlics

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BobsRevenge said:
Its not anti-intellectualism, its anti-pretention. The guy could've just said "game-realism" again and everyone would've known what he meant. Verisimilitude obviously stuck out in this review since we are bothering to talk about it, and it just doesn't read that the word should be used there in a stylistic sense. It just sounds like one of those words kids find using microsoft word's thesaurus for their 10th grade english papers when trying to cover up their plagiarism.
But then the sentence would read: "What do we mean when we say a game is realistic? Realism?"
 

Cipherr

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BobsRevenge said:
Its not anti-intellectualism, its anti-pretention. The guy could've just said "game-realism" again and everyone would've known what he meant. Verisimilitude obviously stuck out in this review since we are bothering to talk about it, and it just doesn't read that the word should be used there in a stylistic sense. It just sounds like one of those words kids find using microsoft word's thesaurus for their 10th grade english papers when trying to cover up their plagiarism.

Is it really that big of a deal? After going and reading what was wrote then coming back to the thread, I expected the discussion to be about other things he said or random opinions here and there.

You people are raising a fuss because he used a word you had to freaking look up? REALLY? What the shit. No wonder gaming journalist write crap that looks like it could be found on any random gamefaqs forum daily. This is really ridiculous.
 

Firestorm

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BobsRevenge said:
Its not anti-intellectualism, its anti-pretention. The guy could've just said "game-realism" again and everyone would've known what he meant. Verisimilitude obviously stuck out in this review since we are bothering to talk about it, and it just doesn't read that the word should be used there in a stylistic sense. It just sounds like one of those words kids find using microsoft word's thesaurus for their 10th grade english papers when trying to cover up their plagiarism.
It obviously sticks out if you've never heard the word before as you pointed out earlier. For people who have heard the word and already have it in their vocabulary, it fits.

This is how you expand your vocabulary. You read something, and when a new word pops up, you look it up.
 
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BruceLeeRoy said:
To me its such a refreshing change of pace. When your standing in Visari square for the first time and you see the lighting electrifying the buildings around you and fire erupting on the guys that are running forward I cant help but stare in awe at the spectacle they were able to create. It might look oppressive and dark but it feels real it feels lived in to me.
As said, they did a very good job, and I for one think that those who claim that it's a generic design give far too much credit to other war games. The question is, how appealing is it? If you want an oppressive and plausible warzone, then they don't come much better designed than this. But it's not for everyone, and I personally felt a bit empty by the end of the game, and I honestly had to ask myself why I was playing it.

BobsRevenge said:
He's trying to come off as a serious gaming journalist but he is not saying anything worth saying. Its not as if Killzone 2 is going to be some sort of style that game designers are going to look towards when they make their next FPS. It is a unique aesthetic that is visually arresting, and if it pulls you in than why should you water it down. Plus its not like they did it to avoid sales, obviously people appreciate the visuals and it helped sell the game.
It is more interesting than this discussion about the merits of the article that you guys are pushing right now.
 

godhandiscen

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Fafalada said:
ME just replaces Brown and Gray with Red and Blue - in the end it's still one of the least colorful games this generation, with an aim to depict a sterile, depressing world.
I am quoting this for posterity.
 

HK-47

Oh, bitch bitch bitch.
Oct 24, 2007
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godhandiscen said:
I am quoting this for posterity.
Yeah, ME had a shit ton of color. And I'm actively critical of Bioware games, but the color scheme of the ME is not one of them. Been to Virmire?
 

Firestorm

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So, uh, do people realize Croal no longer works for the media?
RedNumberFive said:
Just watch the word catch on. Soon it will rival "hyperbole" for the most overused and pretentious word in video game journalism.
Maybe it'll rival "pretentious" for most overused word by neogaf?
HK-47 said:
Yeah, ME had a shit ton of color. And I'm actively critical of Bioware games, but the color scheme of the ME is not one of them. Been to Virmire?
He's talking about Mirror's Edge, not Mass Effect.
 

Orlics

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RedNumberFive said:
Just watch the word catch on. Soon it will rival "hyperbole" for the most overused and pretentious word in video game journalism.
You forgot "narrative."

All jokes aside, the blog post doesn't really read as dense as some of you suggest. It's more flowery than how most game journalists write, but I can't see anyone out of high school finding it difficult to read, especially people on GAF.
 

HK-47

Oh, bitch bitch bitch.
Oct 24, 2007
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Firestorm said:
So, uh, do people realize Croal no longer works for the media?
Maybe it'll rival "pretentious" for most overused word by neogaf?
He's talking about Mirror's Edge.
That would be "casual" and "hardcore".
 

zaidr

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RedNumberFive said:
Just watch the word catch on. Soon it will rival "hyperbole" for the most overused and pretentious word in video game journalism.
Just like "pretentious" is the most overused word in game-journalism-criticism.
 

HK-47

Oh, bitch bitch bitch.
Oct 24, 2007
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Firestorm said:
So, uh, do people realize Croal no longer works for the media?
Maybe it'll rival "pretentious" for most overused word by neogaf?
He's talking about Mirror's Edge, not Mass Effect.
Ha, ok that makes sense. Damn acronyms and abbreviations!
 

zaidr

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Fafalada said:
ME just replaces Brown and Gray with Red and Blue - in the end it's still one of the least colorful games this generation, with an aim to depict a sterile, depressing world.
I really don't think you've played the game past the demo. You wouldn't be saying something so stupid otherwise...
 

BobsRevenge

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Firestorm said:
It obviously sticks out if you've never heard the word before as you pointed out earlier. For people who have heard the word and already have it in their vocabulary, it fits.

This is how you expand your vocabulary. You read something, and when a new word pops up, you look it up.
I said I never heard the word in conversation, which is why it is fancy. I have a vague idea of what it means and I'm sure I've seen it before. Its the only word in the entire thing that sounds really latin and ends with a -tude. If something sounds really latin and ends with -tude chances are it sounds pretentious in something like this. Its not like he's writing philosophy here.

The whole thing sounds pretentious really, so I guess it does fit in in that way. Like I said in my edit to my previous post, n'gai doesn't really have a point here aside from "Oh, I think Killzone 2's visuals are too harsh." He isn't saying anything intellectual at all and there is no depth there. He even contradicts himself by saying that CoD4 is somehow visually attractive when it is even more bland than Killzone 2. Not as harsh, but certainly less interesting. If he wants Killzone 2 to look more like CoD4 than I really don't appreciate his tastes for visuals.

edit: Just reread the beginning, and he is trying to say something intellectual about games before he goes off talking about Killzone 2. I agree, game-realism does seem to go about its ways until something sort of challenges it. Its sort of like movie-realism in that way. Neither are very realistic, but its interesting to watch how it evolves.
 

zaidr

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Orlics said:
You forgot "narrative."

All jokes aside, the blog post doesn't really read as dense as some of you suggest. It's more flowery than how most game journalists write, but I can't see anyone out of high school finding it difficult to read, especially people on GAF.
Exactly my sentiments. I thought GAF had a more adult audience than most other gaming forums. Fixating on a single word because it isn't familiar (even though it works perfectly in that sentence) and derailing the entire thread is disheartening, to say the least.
 

Orlics

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BobsRevenge said:
I said I never heard the word in conversation, which is why it is fancy. I have a vague idea of what it means and I'm sure I've seen it before. Its the only word in the entire thing that sounds really latin and ends with a -tude. If something sounds really latin and ends with -tude chances are it sounds pretentious in something like this. Its not like he's writing philosophy here.
oh god so pretentious