Wednesday, September 21, 2016

It's an Open, Open, Open, Open World

Recently someone was telling me about how they couldn't do some-little-thing or other because of some piddling rule, which seemed arbitrary to me, and I said, 
"You know those rules are just more like guidelines, right? They're not eternal truths. I mean, no one is going to show up and put bamboo splinters under your fingernails if you don't follow them."

They did not see it that way, so I let it go. (I'm getting better!)
It can feel like our lives are on railroad tracks, but reading about videogames, I realized if our lives were a video game, the game would be what's called "open world"--something about which I knew 100% nothing until a few months ago.

In an open world, there are few predetermined limitations––except the unavoidable ones, like, if you don't have a power source, you won't be able to play very long,
or if the game design is bad, there won't be much to do.

We're free to roam, associate with others, develop our characters, change our clothes, make up or disregard the rules of the game. It's up to us.

In a closed game––Pacman, say––you can only play the game as the game is intended to be played.  

Not so in open-world games such as Minecraft (kinda like digital Legos) and the ultra-violent Grand Theft Auto (GTA).

I was just reading a transcript of a podcast "Games and Fandom" on Fansplaining [article about].
 < Image by RedGoldSparks

The hosts, Flourish Klink & Elizabeth Minkel, were discussing how you don't have to spend your time in GTA being violent, you can play it like a "walking simulator" (exploration) game---where you wander around exploring stuff.

Here's a clip from that transcript:
FK: OK, so… If you’re playing Grand Theft Auto, right. You can choose to do exactly what the game wants you to do and go and, like, slap some…

ELM: …Shoot some women in the head?

FK: It’s not the only thing you can do!
Because it’s an open world game, so that’s what the game sort of wants you to do, but you can also just say “fuck that” and go and like… Just drive away!
You literally can just drive away and explore what else is in the world. There’s all these interesting YouTube videos of people who have, like, found a way to drive a car on top of a skyscraper.

ELM: Feels like a problem with the coding.

FK: No, because it’s intentional that you can just choose to walk away from the things the game is sort of trying to make you do. And go explore the world and find out things about what’s going on.
And listen to the radio. Drive around the town, listening to the radio. And just have that be your game.

…I think it’s interesting cause when you choose to do that in Grand Theft Auto…You’re taking something out of this media experience that’s there for you, but maybe isn’t what you are sort of supposed to take.
[end quote]

I wonder... how am I playing my open-world game?

You don't have to stay "in universe", you don't have to buy into the story world---sometimes you can even tinker with the world itself.
Here's an amazing and inspiring example:
a mod (modified) video where the GTA cops dance to the song "Happy" by Pharrel Williams
[note: I think this is very fun, but there is some mild violence in the background]:

The modder, Olanov, replied to a comment asking how he made it:
"I'm not going in great detail here but you spawn a ped of your choosing with either Simple Native Trainer* (SNT) or Object Spooner and then navigate the menus to run animations on them. It takes a little bit of experimenting, especially depending on what you're using but it's fairly straightforward once you get it. "
GLOSSARY  --because I don't know this stuff! [definitions from wikipedia]

*Game trainers (like Simple Native Trainer) are programs made to modify memory of a computer game thereby modifying its behavior using addresses and values [often in order to allow cheating in video games].

In-Universe: An in-universe perspective describes the narrative from the perspective of characters within the fictional universe, treating it as if it were real and ignoring real-world context.

A mod, or modification, is the alteration of content from a video game in order to make it operate in a manner different from its original version. 

to spawn a ped: "In video games, spawning is the live creation of a character [a ped], item or mob [short for "mobile," a non-player character]."

walking simulation: a nickname, often pejorative for exploration games: narrative-focused adventures that allow players to experience their story through exploration and discovery, a subgenre of adventure games, which are "narrative-focused adventures that allow players to experience their story through exploration and discovery. They are story-focused and feature fewer puzzles or even no puzzles at all."


Bink said...

That Happy vid is amazing! I had only seen bits of it before.

If you write your book anywhere like you are writing these fan themed blogs, it is going to be really fun to read! These are great blogs--informative and enjoyable.

Fresca said...

Thanks for the encouragement, bink! the book has to be less chatty but this info is all so fun & amazing, it should speak for itself... (I hope).