Worth Reading: Jill Valentine's Chest, The Perfect Tutorial And More

Worth Reading: Jill Valentine's Chest, The Perfect Tutorial, And More

Hope everyone enjoyed the debut of Worth Reading last weekend on Kotaku! Every week, I strive to bring you a brand-new set of provocative writing, commentary, crowdfunding projects and plenty more. You might not agree with what you find, but that's often the point. Let's dive in.

The night before a flight is the worst. Where's my 3DS charger? Should I bring a Vita with? There's some extra space in my second bag and most hotels have access to decent televisions, so maybe it makes sense to smuggle a PS3 and play the Dark Souls II DLC? Though patently ridiculous questions, I'll likely wrestle with and succumb to several of them. And play nothing.

As part of turning 30, I'm spending this coming weekend in Las Vegas with my brother. I'm already drinking water to prevent a hangover, and I haven't had a drop of alcohol yet. The moment I've returned to Chicago, I'm headed going home, grabbing a bigger bag bag, looping back to the airport, and catching an evening flight to New York in order to hang with Kotaku.

There's nothing quite like hanging out with your colleagues in-person. I'm looking forward to it.

Hey, You Should Read These

Worth Reading: Jill Valentine's Chest, The Perfect Tutorial, And More

There's such a fine line between a game explaining what it's demaning of the player and holding their hand through the process. The Legend of Zelda series has been gaming's worst offender for years now. It took hours for Skyward Sword to get going because Nintendo was desperately afraid you might not know exactly what to do. Compare Skyward Sword's tutorialization to the original Super Mario Bros., which Chris Kohler outlines out in his story. It's beautiful. Kohler isn't talking about Zelda -- he's relaying an experience with The Vanishing of Ethan Carter -- but one could easily swap out the names and come away with similar complaints and conclusions.

"The first time I stumbled upon one of the murder-mystery puzzles in The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, I walked right past it. And the second time, too. And the third.

[...]

Meanwhile, the game's opening text crawl was still fresh in my head: "This game is a narrative experience that does not hold your hand."

Well, I thought, if my hand's not being held, I may as well just keep walking and see what's going on. And I walked past a puzzle, then another, then another. This is not me. I am a deliberate player. I like to look at stuff. And I don't like skipping puzzles. I just didn't know what I was looking at. And Ethan Carter wanted it that way.

A game that doesn't grab onto your hand is a refreshing experience these days. But this one could have benefited from a little bit of secret hand-holding."

While playing playing Resident Evil earlier this week, it certainly seemed like Jill Valentine's chest was rhythmically and unnaturally bouncing as she crossed the room. A combination of staying up late and a nearby zombie distracted me, but Kate Grey's point is well-made. My guess: unless you're on Dead or Alive, most developers don't spend much time thinking about this. In most cases, it's probably an oversight. But it's 2015. We can probably try a bit harder. (For the record, this isn't new to this version of Resident Evil -- it came from the 2002 remake.)

"Unfortunately for Jill, who probably just wants to get on with the whole zombie apocalypse situation, her sweater puppies (I'm sorry, this bosom slang is only going to get worse) are completely non-compliant. Jiggling around like they have been possessed by some kind of demonic spirit, Jill's rather excitable funbags have become a rippling distraction to anyone attempting to play the game. Exactly why the developers decided that the one thing the original Resi was missing was a couple of rowdy bazongas challenging the laws of physics, we may never know.

But this is really just one entry in a long and fairly depressing encyclopaedia of Things Game Developers Don't Know About Anatomy. Turn to page 834, if you will, to begin the section titled "Boob Boobs", subtitled "how incredibly wrong people can possibly be about the humble mammary gland".

You'll find a range of breast-related mishaps in video games, from over-stuffed, rigid lumps that protrude from the chest like a fist through a wall, to the comically large hooters favoured by fighting games and RPGs, often set in a parallel universe where breasts have the power to wobble violently, completely of their own accord, like a couple of drunken jellyfish in a mosh pit."

If You Click It, It Will Play

These Crowdfunding Projects Look Pretty Cool

  • Vaati Vidya is responsible for the best Dark Souls analysis videos on the web.
  • Exploding Kittens, with artwork by Oatmeal, sure has raised a ton of money already.
  • Mouffe might be a game I never actually play, but I'd like to to exist anyway.

Tweets That Make You Go "Hmmmmmm"

Oh, And This Other Stuff

  • Steven Levy interviewed Google AI programmer Demis Hassabis, former game developer.
  • Matthew Burns played Lindsay Lohan's The Price of Fame so you don't have to.
  • Alisha Karabinus considered a world where Commander Shepard was only a woman.
  • Matt Gerardi polled his readers on their moral dilemmas in BioWare games.
  • Tanya Short explained how their team tried to overcome imposer syndrome.
  • Cara Ellison discovered all sorts of weird shit in the Internet Archive.
  • Jamaal Ryan wrote about positive trends in gaming's path towards better representation.
  • Chaz Evans highlighted the ways games are now expanding what first-person means.
  • Ed Smith argued for the death of a variety of video game writing trends.

Comments

    Jill’s rather excitable funbags have become a rippling distraction to anyone attempting to play the game.

    I don't disagree but the hyperbole was a little difficult for me to get through here. I would like to do away with boob physics because yeah, it's dumb and boobs don't act like that. However, consider the fact that so many people don't see a problem nor do they actually understand what's wrong with misrepresenting a body part since the "physics" are generally quite laughable that no one takes it seriously. When something that's silly and worth talking about is relegated to a series of creative but overbearing descriptions in an attempt to indict the practice and clearly demonstrates an expectation that the reader must already understand or agree with the sentiment. I'm not saying people must or should do anything a certain way but isn't there at least a discussion to be had about whether the methods used to communicate these ideas and perspectives are actually palatable to those who don't understand yet? They're always extremely aggressive and overtly hip.

    I can say that just as an average person, the way information is delivered to me really matters. If i'm at work and i'm patronized from my first day or i'm at school and I can't learn that well from a book so i need a more experiential approach, there are tried, tested, documented methods of effectively communicating new ideas and enabling an empathetic perspective that are extremely beneficial. I'm just not sure why such blatant alienation is used to communicate these ideas and no one seems to ever attempt to reach people, it's always more about distancing whatever new thing is seen to be abhorrent from one's self instead of effectively showing why. I'm sure it's cathartic for the writer and yeah-no, boobs don't move like that, however; "often set in a parallel universe where breasts have the power to wobble violently, completely of their own accord, like a couple of drunken jellyfish in a mosh pit” is an almost impossible description to connect with unless you're already part of the tight community that sees this as a given - it's important to understand that you aren't 90% of readers. If you're even vaguely defensive like most people, this approach wouldn't work and would likely be rejected on the basis of hyperbole and not sentiment - though, the two seem to be often confused intentionally. I would love for it to be less difficult to explain this perspective to those ignorant to it, I just don't think alienation of part of the audience is the way to go.

    Not sure Ed Smith actually understands narrative either. There's something missing in the comprehension of narrative when people start pulling the "it pokes fun at but ultimately becomes the parody" card. Once you start looking at self parody, things become complex and you need to ask like 3x more questions to work out where the parody even comes from. Just "feeling" like it doesn't do something right isn't enough if you want to give industry advice. And it doesn't do well to assume your first, knee-jerk reaction is correct and you should just start building support for your argument as soon as you think of it. It's almost as if most of these guys can only handle one concept at a time and are unable to even verbalize the connection between two. Perspective and agency is also always ignored in order for someone's individual prejudice to work, and Spec Ops is compared to Far Cry 3; i'm not sure any further comment on a man's complete misunderstanding of cohesive narrative is required.

    Last edited 24/01/15 2:02 pm

Join the discussion!