08-24-2013, 07:39 AM
Motion: "It is unfair to criticise a game for non-focal elements."
A.K.A. "MeechMunchie wins an argument on the interenet and feels like a blog would be too smug."
Proposing the motion: TwerpOco
, some guy I've never met.
Opposing the motion: Sr. Meechio
, yours truly.
The following argument occurred in the comments of a screenshot of 2012 first-person puzzle game Q.U.B.E. (Quick Understanding of Block Extrusion)
, by Toxic Games. As QUBE's aesthetic is based around a nameless, mute protaganist in a derelict and abandoned science facility, progressing through a series of self-contained bleach-white test chambers via lifts and corridors of shifting panels, I had the temerity to make a snide Portal joke. However, it seems that suggesting that the indie dev scene may take inspiration from AAA developers comes with certain risks...
While it doesn't really go anywhere, it does raise some interesting points, and I'd like to see what you guys have to say.
[Screenshot caption]: "Hey, Cave Johnson here, I'm gonna sue your ass."
TwerpOco: Why would they sue?
Sr. Meechio: There is a pretty hefty Aperture Science vibe
TwerpOco: So? Q.U.B.E. isn't Portal and Portal isn't Q.U.B.E. There are completely different styles of puzzles. So what if it's in a broken lab? Did Portal suddenly copyright the idea of a testing area? Did they coin all fps puzzlers? You cannot make a lawsuit on a "vibe".
Oh, here we go. Time to nip this in the bud.
Sr. Meechio: Valve wouldn't, sure, but Aperture Science would. They're run by Cave Johnson, they probably sue everyone.
And yes, the "sleek white tiles, glowing surfaces and human isolation" aesthetic is directly derivative of Portal, and I don't see the point in arguing that it's not. Look at it. It looks like Portal. It sounds like Portal. It wishes to recall the feelings associated with Portal. The fact that the gameplay is different does not nullify the point that the premise is practically identical. Portal was highly influential in minimalist storytelling. Deal with it.
FPS puzzlers do not have to look like Portal - see: Kairo, The Ball, Amnesia and Trauma - and a little effort in designing an original aesthetic can really pay off. But aping something popular is easier both to make and to sell, and considering the tough circumstances of independent development, I don't blame them. Though I am a little disappointed by the setting's lack of originality, I'd rather a game was made with an uninspired setting than not made at all.
Is being heavily inpired by something a crime? No, of course not; I never claimed it was. As you say, you cannot copyright an aesthetic, and constantly reiterating aesthetics to the point of borderline plagarism is how artistic mediums evolve. So next time you feel like white knighting for an indie developer, maybe you should check whether they're actually under attack or not.
TwerpOco: I see your argument with Aperature and now the joke is funny. My apologies.
I didn't say all FPS puzzlers had to look like Portal. Just becuase a game has similarities in aesthetics and sound does not mean it was a copy. When you say it wishes to recall the feelings of Portal, the only thing I can think of is the alone feeling and completing puzzles. That now justifies it was a portal game? You're comparing American Football and American Soccer. Yes they are both sports, yes they have rules, yes they are played on fields, no they are not the same game. The major difference is that Q.U.B.E. deals with cubes and Portal deals with portals. How is that not different enough for you?
Sr. Meechio: I never said the gameplay was the same! I pointed out that it wasn't! Sorry for wall-of-texting but you are by no means the first person to make this argument.
The gameplay is different.
The setting is practically identical.
The gameplay is not derivative of Portal.
The setting is.
Every time someone points out how unoriginal the setting is, someone throws the gameplay out like some kind of distraction. But it has no effect on the original point.
It is possible for some parts of a game to be derivative, and others not. The art style of Fez, for instance, is highly derivative of Cave Story, but the gameplay is completely different.
Oh and FYI American football is pretty damn derivative of rugby
TwerpOco: Ok then why didn't you mention the setting clearly from the start? I agree, the setting is very similar to Portal in color, feel, and the "testing chamber" feel the game hints at. I would 100% agree with you that the games when looking at the settings are very similar.
American Football IS very similar to Rugby because it was too dangerous for the US (lame). Anyways, I wasn't comparing Rugby and American Football.
Lastly, thumbs up on your post now that I understand. I appologize I didn't understand your very broad statement at face-value.
Sr. Meechio: If constantly using words like "vibe", "aesthetic", "premise", "story", and "look" - and indeed using the actual word "setting" repeatedly - comes across to you as vague or obtuse, then apology accepted.
And that's where it ended.
Nah, of course it isn't. This is the internet!
TwerpOco: @American Football
"Hey, soccer here, I'm going to sue your ***"
You can't have a grassy field too.
Sr. Meechio: Well ball sports are sort of functionally dependent on a soft, flat surface. It's not quite the same.
TwerpOco: Doesn't matter, same setting. They could use dirt, but they felt grass would be better as not to stir up a dust storm. Likewise, the developers of Q.U.B.E. found it more fitting to be in a broken down testing facility. Nothing wrong with that as long as the gameplay is different.
Sr. Meechio: Of course not. I'm not saying that the setting is thematically inappropriate. But it's not a practical necessity, and I think most people would probably just prefer something more original among the slog of post-Portal "YOU AWAKEN TO FIND YOURSELF IN A WHITE FACILITY" games.
If you want to see just how different a puzzle game can be in terms of setting, pacing and tone, I really do heartily recommend The Ball.
TwerpOco: Oh yeah because I play puzzle games purely for the setting. Q.U.B.E. had little to no story and the best way to have the types of puzzles it conducted without it seeming too out of place was a testing facility. Just like you wouldn't play American Football on a basketball court.
Sr. Meechio: Oh yeah because games shouldn't be good at more than one thing
Ignoring your whole ballsports analogy which we've established is irrelevant (due to the fact that sports are dependent on real-world practicalities while video games attempt to defy them), clarity of puzzle design ≠ blank white walls and shifting tiles (see: almost every puzzle game ever). Portal was the trope codifier for this style of setting. It is not ineffective. It has, however, been done to death in the last few years and is uninventive as fuck. There's no reason to believe that QUBE would have been any less effective in an original setting. A puzzle mechanic can't be "out of place" if the devs build a place around the mechanic, can it?
As much as some may try, games are not an experience of gameplay alone. The very use of a first-person viewpoint shows that Toxic have attempted to create an immersive experience, the use of the protaganist's hands making that clear. I do play first-person games for the setting, in part at least. That's what the first-person medium is for - immediacy. If you are going to ignore the setting of a first-person game, you are going to ignore something the devs cared about. It's a shame, then, that rather than pushing that passion into something daring, they went with the safer option of making it look like something popular. But hey, as I said, QUBE is good and I'm still glad it was made. This is is simply an element of it I found disappointing.
If you're curious about how story can add depth to simple puzzle design, try Thomas is Alone.
TwerpOco: They made it in that enviroment so it would make sense without having anything more than a very minimalistic story. My ball-game analogy does work against your argument of "similar setting = unoriginal game".
Sr. Meechio: But a simple story doesn't neccesitate a simple environment - if anything, the lack of story detail should be compensated by a lush, mysterious environment. It's surprisingly easy to get players to accept little to no plot if you play up the fact that the protaganist has no idea what's going on either! Abandoned ruins, alien planets and dream worlds are all popular examples. You could argue against their appropriateness, but they have more character than square rooms and blank textures.
And no, it really doesn't, for the reasons I stated. Ball games are dependent on grass pitches because they have to take into account things such as softness, grip, maintainability, player distinction, weather effects, risk of injury, likelihood of infestation, allergies, sustainability, effects on surrounding infrastructure, seasonal changes, rebound, taste, absorbence, friction and our old friend gravity. In short, all the constraints that come with existing in the real world. Video game environments have none of these things, and are created purely around design and artistic principles, with the intent to create an immersive and intuitive gamespace. RL sports, handily enough, already take place in the real world and so don't have to make any concessions to immersiveness. With half a million football fans screaming in your ears, I really think "setting" kind of takes care of itself.
Real-life sports have an inherent sense of realism, but must obey the laws of our unpredictable planet.
Sports REQUIRE certain settings and creativity is not an option.
Video games have to engineer their sense of realism, but can alter the laws of nature as they see fit.
Video games DO NOT require any real-world limitations, and as such creativity is heartily encouraged.
∴ They are not comparable.
Though, once again, American football is unorignal in the sense that it's based on rugby, which is in turn based on a soccer-ish game of English history. If someone had invented AFB nowadays, people probably would call it a clone. Let's have a ball game played inside an active volcano, already!
i had to spend 2000 characters explaining that sports are different from video games are you happy now
TwerpOco: I don't have time to read all of your lengthy rants so I skimmed. I'd like to stress: It's a puzzle game. You should be happy they tried to add some sort of minimalistic story. My analogy isn't perfect and it isn't supposed to be. Of course ball games and video games have differences and if you can admit that you should be able to admit the differences of Q.U.B.E. and Portal settings.
Sr. Meechio: if you can admit the difference between hedgehogs and onions you should be able to admit the difference between sonic and sonic 2
Sorry that you don't have the time. Apart from the whole ball sports thing, you were doing pretty well at coming up with new arguments. I resent the word "rant", but I'm sure you don't mean anything by it. Probably.
I have repeatedly and laboriously stated: QUBE is a decent game and I'm aware of independent development's limitations. I'm glad it exists and I hope Toxic move on to greater things. But the setting was a complete lift; it was unimaginative and it was disappointing. That is my complaint, and all it ever was.
I don't know guys, how do you beat someone who intentionally
uses faulty analogies? Still, not a single ad hominem argument was exchanged, so I guess it's better than 90% of web-guments.
Last edited by MeechMunchie; 08-24-2013 at 07:49 AM..