Gamasutra has recently had a lot of Letter To The Editor feedback to some of our notable features and opinion pieces, as collected through our Letters to the Editor
, so here's the first weekly roundup, with some of the reactions you might've missed. Click through on each link (free reg. req.) for the full Letter.
Firstly, Josiah Colborn took issue with
a few points in Lionhead and Climax vet Tadhg Kelly's recent opinion piece
saying in-game worlds, not characters, sold games:
"What world does Mario represent? We have a world composed of entirely of giant 'shrooms and bricks, where coins and sinister mushrooms inhabit the plumbing systems. ... Is this world what brought players back to Mario's sequels? ... I would suggest that Mario, at that time anyway, represented a style of game play. Jumping on things to defeat them. Hitting blocks to get power-ups. Holding B to run faster. ... Note in Super Mario World, there was hardly a brick in sight, but the game play remained in the spirit of the original."
Frequent Gamasutra contributor Ernest Adams also took issue
with Kelly's piece:
"Speak for yourself, buddy. To me the story IS an integral part of the playing experience. If the story doesn't integrate well with the game, I'll probably drop the game. A poorly-integrated story, that serves merely as a reward, is a sign of lazy design.
What Kelly describes is the least-common-denominator status quo of low-end interactive storytelling: the cheap trinket grudgingly handed out for successful gameplay. I'm convinced that the medium is capable of more than that. And in any case, his assertion is patently untrue of adventure games, where storytelling often dominates and shapes gameplay."
Matt Greig found the recent Communication Tips for Producers
feature largely on target, but also added
"A seasoned Producer knows that their primary role is the communication of project vision. The top producer must take responsibility for the team understanding the game they are being asked to build. Without constant resteering and restatement of the project's priorities, the team is at risk of delivering functionality that the customer does not value (or, in extreme cases, delivering nothing at all)."
Reader Eric Davies thinks that
the recent Multithreaded Game Engine Architectures feature
may have "missed a few possible points on the differences between data parallelism and functional parallelism":
"Functional parallism is more likely to do a better job of optimizing shared resources, ie, only one process is likely to use the resource (such as the video card). Data parallelism will have lower latency since all the processors will be working on the getting the same frame through, rather than having several frames going through a pipeline. Data parallelism can potentially use shared caches more optimally, since all logical cores will be processing similar blocks of code at the same time. If the data is appropriately interleaved, the data cache could be used more optimally as well."
David Lannan chalked up
our recent FPS Quantum Leap Awards
as too much a popularist bunfight, and wrote in with his own suggestions of unfortunately overlooked titles:
"Terminator: Future Shock, Bethesda, 1995 (pre-Quake), PC
- The first game with vehicle based combat, so far in front of anything else in its time.
- Large open freeplay environments.
Hunter: Activision, 1991, Amiga
- Coupled FPS gameplay with discovery and exploration (well before most other games quoted in the article).
- Included many other types of gameplay, including forms of RPG elements.
- One of the first games with vehicle-based gaming coupled with a 3D shooter/person game.
Games like Mercenary, and other non-texture poly games of the time all encompassed the gameplay realized in later games like Doom, Quake and various other PC popular titles."
Lannan also thinks
that Raph Koster, in his Austin Games Conference speech
may have "lost the plot" with his online-centric viewpoint:
"Have a look at the car industry, mining, clothing, industries - they have all had the initial start of many companies making money, but as the industry becomes more complex and the production costs rise, only the large companies can make good use of 'economies of scale' (economics 101) and so the larger companies floourish, the smaller and midsize companies fail or manage to eke out a meagre living on a niche audience.
The business models that Koster refers to are purely web-based. I guess he doesnt realise that only 5 percent of console gamers are online. And that IS NOT currently growing. It has been static for over a year now. The reason for this is pretty obvious, because console gaming is more 'light' entertainment than something everyone does every night like hardcore gamers do. So rather than think like a hardcore gamer, think like a generic gamer - the generic gamer only want 20 mins of Sprint Cars, or 40 mins of Madden - not 4 hours of WOW."
As well as these highlighted letters, we have also published a number of other selected Letters To The Editor
at the official page. Those interested in contributing further to the debate may submit new Letters
- please note that we will compile and post the best responses weekly, and the letters may be edited for clarity.