Game Development Reference
landscapes resemble much of the United States. And no American in any
group wants to live in a desert or rainforest.
Environmentally driven emotions are diverse and strong. Games have
used environments, weather, and season to accentuate feelings ranging
from depression to giddy triumph.
Heavy Rain : This puzzle adventure game is about a man losing his
son. In the first few scenes, the world is bright and sunny. But after the
boy vanishes, the rest of the game plays out under a downpour, and mostly
at night. That endless rain gives every sequence a morose undertone, ac-
centuating the themes of loss, crime, and depression.
Half-Life : Gameplay begins with the player trapped in the giant un-
derground Black Mesa facility, so there is no natural light for the first 15
hours of play. When the player finally bursts through the door and onto
the sun-drenched New Mexico desert, there's a palpable sense of freedom
Metro 2033 : Two decades after the nuclear holocaust, a community
of survivors ekes out an existence in the Moscow metro system. It's dark
down there, but people have still made a home. They work, trade, listen
to music, drink, and laugh. But the surface is a different story. The vision
of Moscow in Metro 2033 may be the least friendly landscape imaginable.
Shattered buildings lay frozen in giant chunks of ice. The air itself is toxic,
so the player must carry a constantly dwindling supply of gas mask filters.
Thousands of icicles menace like spike traps, pulled out sideways by the
lashing wind. Everything about the place is endless: the sun never shines,
the wind never stops, the ice never melts, and nothing ever grows. I'll
never forget how it felt to pick my way through that rubble. Though most
would call Metro 2033 a shooter or a role-playing game, I wouldn't, because
I don't think it's about shooting or role-playing. I think it's about discover-
ing how a place like that makes you feel.
emotion tHRougH newfangleD teCHnology
Shiny new tech is cool. The first few games with any new graphics, anima-
tion, or physics technology get an emotional rise from certain players just
because of the technology itself.
But this bonus often comes at a cost. Paradoxically, technological ad-
vances often lead to a temporary reduction in the design quality of games.
This is partially because developers haven't yet learned how to best use
the new technology. More importantly, though, the promise of an easy
tech-driven emotional return takes the creative pressure off. So the game
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