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First Person Monster

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  • Brandon J. Van Every
    The media gets on our asses about us running around with virtual guns killing people. Well, what if we don t use guns and we re not people? We could be a
    Message 1 of 7 , Sep 1, 2001
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      The media gets on our asses about us running around with virtual guns
      killing people. Well, what if we don't use guns and we're not people? We
      could be a dragon, or a gargoyle, or a werewolf, or Frankenstein, or
      whatever. Wasn't there some title out recently where you're a dragon and
      you fry townspeople? It's one of the test files for 3DMark. Now, I
      personally wouldn't be content to leave the game just at the level of a
      slasher, I'd want to explore the psychology of being a monster and tell a
      story with it. In particular, why the propensity to hunt and kill is
      "monstrous." We do it to animals, why can't it be done to us?

      On the "acceptable for all audiences" front, instead of monster psychology
      you could explore wolf psychology. SimWolf. Or SimLion. SimArcherFish for
      that matter. I have to admit, being a Great White hunting for ocean prey
      would be intriguing, especially if done with the right production values.


      Cheers, www.3DProgrammer.com
      Brandon Van Every Seattle, WA

      20% of the world is real.
      80% is gobbledygook we make up inside our own heads.
    • Robert Tweed
      ... _________________________________________________________ Do You Yahoo!? Get your free @yahoo.com address at http://mail.yahoo.com
      Message 2 of 7 , Sep 1, 2001
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        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "Brandon J. Van Every" <vanevery@...>
        To: "gamedesign" <gamedesign-l@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Sunday, September 02, 2001 3:02 AM
        Subject: [gamedesign-l] First Person Monster


        > The media gets on our asses about us running around with virtual guns
        > killing people. Well, what if we don't use guns and we're not people? We
        > could be a dragon, or a gargoyle, or a werewolf, or Frankenstein, or
        > whatever. Wasn't there some title out recently where you're a dragon and
        > you fry townspeople? It's one of the test files for 3DMark. Now, I
        > personally wouldn't be content to leave the game just at the level of a
        > slasher, I'd want to explore the psychology of being a monster and tell a
        > story with it. In particular, why the propensity to hunt and kill is
        > "monstrous." We do it to animals, why can't it be done to us?

        Heh, this sounds like a good topic. I think the best twist that has been
        added to the genre is the game "Pokemon Snap" from Nintendo, it's
        essentially an FPS but you use a camera instead of a gun. The gameplay is
        almost identical to any FPS but with no killing or maiming so it's ideal for
        the kiddies!

        > On the "acceptable for all audiences" front, instead of monster psychology
        > you could explore wolf psychology. SimWolf. Or SimLion. SimArcherFish
        for
        > that matter. I have to admit, being a Great White hunting for ocean prey
        > would be intriguing, especially if done with the right production values.

        I like the shark idea. You just swim around looking up at shadows through a
        confusing blur of diffracted light. See anything that vaguely resembles a
        seal and it's time to swim straight up at 30mph with your mouth open. Luck
        determines whehter it's a seal or a human, if it's a human then yer on the
        run from the cops ;-)

        The thing that I see as being a problem with any "sim animal" titles is that
        you lose what it is to be that animal, which a human can never fully
        comprehend. For example, the shark relies more on smell and electrical sense
        than on vision, so how can you put that in a game in a way that works
        intuitively enough for the player to relate to it?

        This is never a problem in a game where the player is human because human
        technology is designed to reflect human experience. We have monitors because
        sight is our primary sense. Then again, what about a "sim eagle", how could
        you increase the resolution of human sight by a factor of 6? It's not
        possible and that leads to problems.

        Monster psychology is not such a problem to simulate, because a monster is a
        product of the human mind and so reflects the human condition. A monster can
        have the senses of a human, but the physical prowess of a much stronger
        animal and the psyche of any human nightmare alter-ego. The monster has to
        relate to humans because if it didn't then it wouldn't be a monster, it
        would just be a dumb animal, motivated only by hunger for it's next meal. In
        order to qualify as a monster it must be motivated by something that resides
        in the dark side of the human psyche, something that we fear and would
        consider evil.

        Since everyone has these dark emotions, the game could be a clever
        psychological device that allows the player to explore them without actually
        going around killing people. In a way that's what FPS's already do, they
        allow people to release their anger and agression without doing a
        "disgruntled postal worker". The problem is that we know the effects that an
        FPS has on the human mind and if we ignore the deranged ravings of the
        hyper-moralists, I think we can safely say that there are no dangerous
        effects.

        However, if you were to design a game specifically to bring forward and
        encourage the primal urges that are generally kept in control by morality
        and conscience then there could conceiveably be a potential danger. If the
        effect was to remove peoples moral control over themselves then you could be
        running the risk of creating genuine monsters. I'm not saying I know enough
        about psychology to know how to induce this effect deliberately, but I think
        there is a risk that someone could stumble across it by mistake.

        That point aside, I think a monster simulator would be a good idea. I
        actually designed a game about 10 years ago that I still intend to write
        some time or another that would enter into this territory. I do have fears
        for that game for the reasons that I have given. It's something I have given
        quite a bit of thought to, since I came up with the idea a long time ago. It
        started off as a basic idea to reverse some of the accepted norms (much like
        your idea) and evolved into humour and evolved further into genuine
        darkeness. I will probably try to emphasise the dark-humour aspects if I
        ever do get around to writing that game. If I don't, the chances are it will
        be banned by the censors anyway.

        Sorry about going off on one there, I think I skipped over a few of the
        points you originally made. I'll wait to see what other people have to say
        and come back to them later.

        - Robert


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      • DasaMan
        ... Just to clarify, these kind of games have been done before. Most notably Wolf and Lion, developed by Sanctuary Woods back in 1993. I believe the Underdogs
        Message 3 of 7 , Sep 2, 2001
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          At 09:02 AM 9/2/01, Brandon J. Van Every wrote:
          >On the "acceptable for all audiences" front, instead of monster psychology
          >you could explore wolf psychology. SimWolf. Or SimLion. SimArcherFish for
          >that matter. I have to admit, being a Great White hunting for ocean prey
          >would be intriguing, especially if done with the right production values.

          Just to clarify, these kind of games have been done before. Most notably
          Wolf and Lion, developed by Sanctuary Woods back in 1993. I believe the
          Underdogs (http://www.theunderdogs.org) will be able to direct you to a copy.

          Dasa - ICQ:10195313
          You write a hit the same way you write a flop.
          - Alan Jay Lerner
        • Brandon J. Van Every
          ... I wouldn t get hung up on literalisms. My shark would swim through the ruins of Atlantis. It also wouldn t be very smart and would react to the ruins of
          Message 4 of 7 , Sep 2, 2001
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            > The thing that I see as being a problem with any "sim animal"
            > titles is that
            > you lose what it is to be that animal, which a human can never fully
            > comprehend. For example, the shark relies more on smell and
            > electrical sense
            > than on vision, so how can you put that in a game in a way that works
            > intuitively enough for the player to relate to it?

            I wouldn't get hung up on literalisms. My shark would swim through the
            ruins of Atlantis. It also wouldn't be very smart and would react to the
            ruins of Atlantis the way a shark would, i.e. by seeing it as primarily a
            source of food. Oooops that 5000 year old statue just got knocked over....

            > In
            > order to qualify as a monster it must be motivated by something
            > that resides
            > in the dark side of the human psyche, something that we fear and would
            > consider evil.

            No, actually the monster could be just hungry, and likes the taste of human
            flesh. It is humans who project psyche on monsters, not necessarily
            monsters themselves. For instance, the Great White shark and all the
            dinosaurs are monsters.

            > However, if you were to design a game specifically to bring forward and
            > encourage the primal urges that are generally kept in control by morality
            > and conscience then there could conceiveably be a potential danger. If the
            > effect was to remove peoples moral control over themselves then
            > you could be running the risk of creating genuine monsters.

            That's what the First Amendment is for. The point of doing a thing about
            monsters isn't to avoid psychological controversy. It's to make the
            criticism "You're training people to shoot other people!" impossible.


            Cheers, www.3DProgrammer.com
            Brandon Van Every Seattle, WA

            20% of the world is real.
            80% is gobbledygook we make up inside our own heads.
          • Robert Tweed
            ... _________________________________________________________ Do You Yahoo!? Get your free @yahoo.com address at http://mail.yahoo.com
            Message 5 of 7 , Sep 2, 2001
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              ----- Original Message -----
              From: "Brandon J. Van Every" <vanevery@...>
              To: <gamedesign-l@yahoogroups.com>
              Sent: Sunday, September 02, 2001 6:19 PM
              Subject: RE: [gamedesign-l] First Person Monster


              > > The thing that I see as being a problem with any "sim animal"
              > > titles is that
              > > you lose what it is to be that animal, which a human can never fully
              > > comprehend. For example, the shark relies more on smell and
              > > electrical sense
              > > than on vision, so how can you put that in a game in a way that works
              > > intuitively enough for the player to relate to it?
              >
              > I wouldn't get hung up on literalisms. My shark would swim through the
              > ruins of Atlantis. It also wouldn't be very smart and would react to the
              > ruins of Atlantis the way a shark would, i.e. by seeing it as primarily a
              > source of food. Oooops that 5000 year old statue just got knocked
              over....

              :-)

              > > In
              > > order to qualify as a monster it must be motivated by something
              > > that resides
              > > in the dark side of the human psyche, something that we fear and would
              > > consider evil.
              >
              > No, actually the monster could be just hungry, and likes the taste of
              human
              > flesh. It is humans who project psyche on monsters, not necessarily
              > monsters themselves. For instance, the Great White shark and all the
              > dinosaurs are monsters.

              I don't agree here. How do you define a monster? Something that eats humans
              isn't necessarily a monster IMO; it depends on what drives it to eat humans
              and if it can tell right from wrong. A dog that bites someone isn't
              automatically labelled a monster, if it bites two people then it is labelled
              a threat and killed but it is still recognised that this is an animal
              instict and doesn't make the dog a monster. A werewolf on the other hand is
              a monster, because the werewolf is really human, overpowered by animal
              instincts. A human murderer can also be labelled a monster, depending on
              their motivation.

              I supose you could consider all man-eating creatures such as alligators and
              sharks as monsters. If you do so then you can continue with the plain hunger
              motivation. I just don't think that makes the qualification of a monster
              myself. However, you still get an interesting cross-over between our
              opinions at this point. The person playing the game is still human. The
              player also has the same animal instincts to hunt, kill and eat. So what you
              are doing is allowing the player to become the monster in the sense that I
              define, because even though they are playing an otherwise dumb animal with
              no sense of right or wrong, as a human they do have this higher-level sense
              and are fully in control of the situation.

              Minor point of fact: No dinosaur has ever eaten a hominid. Your are out by a
              factor of several million years. :-)

              > > However, if you were to design a game specifically to bring forward and
              > > encourage the primal urges that are generally kept in control by
              morality
              > > and conscience then there could conceiveably be a potential danger. If
              the
              > > effect was to remove peoples moral control over themselves then
              > > you could be running the risk of creating genuine monsters.
              >
              > That's what the First Amendment is for. The point of doing a thing about
              > monsters isn't to avoid psychological controversy. It's to make the
              > criticism "You're training people to shoot other people!" impossible.

              What about - you're training people to eat other people! =)

              - Robert


              _________________________________________________________
              Do You Yahoo!?
              Get your free @... address at http://mail.yahoo.com
            • Brandon J. Van Every
              ... No, we re going to get a license for The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, And His Lover for that. Cheers, www.3DProgrammer.com Brandon
              Message 6 of 7 , Sep 3, 2001
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                > >It's to make the
                > > criticism "You're training people to shoot other people!" impossible.
                >
                > What about - you're training people to eat other people! =)

                No, we're going to get a license for "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, And His
                Lover " for that.


                Cheers, www.3DProgrammer.com
                Brandon Van Every Seattle, WA

                20% of the world is real.
                80% is gobbledygook we make up inside our own heads.
              • Brandon J. Van Every
                ... http://www.theunderdogs.org/game.php?id=1276 http://www.theunderdogs.org/game.php?name=Lion Cheers, www.3DProgrammer.com Brandon
                Message 7 of 7 , Sep 5, 2001
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                  > Just to clarify, these kind of games have been done before. Most notably
                  > Wolf and Lion, developed by Sanctuary Woods back in 1993. I believe the
                  > Underdogs (http://www.theunderdogs.org) will be able to direct
                  > you to a copy.

                  http://www.theunderdogs.org/game.php?id=1276
                  http://www.theunderdogs.org/game.php?name=Lion


                  Cheers, www.3DProgrammer.com
                  Brandon Van Every Seattle, WA

                  20% of the world is real.
                  80% is gobbledygook we make up inside our own heads.
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