Delayed Responsibility

I Shouldn't Be Gaming Right Now… But I Am!

Left 4 Dead Blog: Art Direction

Posted by deckard47 on January 15, 2009

I know that things like this are written about  all the time, but since I’ll hopefully be playing Left 4 Dead soon, I decided I wanted to talk about it. It’s a given that I, as a person who passes judgment on various games, don’t know half of the tricks and tactics that go into making good and bad games. This blog post over at the Left 4 Dead website describes how the art design and graphics of the game changed as the designers tried to make the game look and flow smoother. It’s very cool, and if you like the post, they have another one in the same series about designing the game’s intro.

Also, Crackdown is rocking my world. Wow. I don’ know how I missed it for this long. It blows me away, for the most part. Though the premise and language employed are creepy, i.e. how all of the gang who are ethnically coded as Hispanic are called bangers, or how the game talks about the Easturn European immigrants… I guess it’s both better and worse than GTA IV. Better because no one is calling this racist stuff “art,” worse because it’s so much less self-aware (although GTA IV is as self-aware as my cat, so that’s not saying much). Until next time (when I’ll be a professional zombie-hunter!).

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4 Responses to “Left 4 Dead Blog: Art Direction”

  1. Simon said

    @1st paragraph: Yeah it always surprises me when a game journalist gets fired (ie some 1up employees) and then has a job developing games the next week. I guess the idea is that if they’ve reviewed enough games well enough then they know what it takes to design one. It’s a different kind of meticulous, though, to be able to design a level in a 3d engine than it is to write about whether a game is fun to play or not. Lucky breaks I guess. Maybe I should drop out of grad school while I’m ahead.

    @Crackdown: Now you just need to play Saint’s Row 2 to see the full range of “while GTA is trying to spin itself as art we’ll focus on what made the earlier games good and make it better” products.

  2. Simon said

    Oh and Left 4 Dead is going to consume your life, until you’ve played each of the maps around 40 times or so. If you find three good people to play with, you’ll probably never want to play another online shooter again.

  3. Tom said

    I don’t know if Crackdown is un-selfaware, the caricatures felt like they were in keeping with the fact that you play a thugish fascistic super-cop who probably views the world in those terms, the tone of the whole thing felt very Judge Dredd/ Robocop to me (I remember whilst I was playing thinking how it would be a good template for a Judge Dredd game). But yeah, that’s maybe me making excuses for a game I enjoyed playing. After a while you just become inured to a certain level of crass stupidity when you play games and you’re totally right to call it out (one of the reasons I enjoy this blog is that you do).

    I think one of the main differences between Cradown and GTA4, in terms of how offensive I found them (Crackdown not so much, GTA4 quite a bit), is that GTA4 is constantly reminding you that everyone is supposed to be a ‘character’ so your expectation is that they behave (at least nominally) like actual people rather than the obvious automata of Crackdown. A side effect is that in GTA4 the violent criminal who’s shoes you’re slipping into doesn’t allow you to have your own motivation (unlike than the generic muscle bound cipher in Crackdown), it tries to bring you into the fiction on its own terms rather than the take it or leave it ‘story’ in Crackdown which allows you to sandbox it up and do whatever you feel like. Want to spend half an hour stacking cars on top of a building? Go for it! (you won’t be getting a call from your imaginary girl friend).

  4. deckard47 said

    @Simon: Wow, you’re right. I’ve only just played every mission all the way through, and I can tell that all of the different variables are going to be keeping me addicted for a while. Oh, I just tried he Hunting Rifle for the first time, it is really a whole different experience.

    @Tom: You’re right, Crackdown never pretends it’s something it isn’t (also, I love it! I’m so close to maxing all of my skills!). It’s pretty honest. And I’m no stranger to giving games I like a get out of jail free card: case in point, I love playing and talking about Vampire: Bloodlines, but liking that games is akin to liking a Paul Vernhoeven movie – it’s very embarrassing to admit liking something so strangely infatuated with a prurient notion of sexuality and human emotions. I know it was mostly camp, but it was still weird.

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