A Christmas Rant:

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BitWraith
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Joined: 12/11/2012

A friend got me X-Com: Enemy Unkown for Christmas, and I have been enjoying it. It has once again illuminated a problem with the modern gaming industry that bothers me. Storytelling is often horrible at best and completely unnecessary.

Having played X-Com years ago, I was eager for a modern take on the game. I pop the disc in (X-Box version), and proceed to watch a horrible intro sequence. After suffering for a few seconds, I press start. Thankfully, this is a game which allows you to skip these things. I finally get into the first mission, and the game is blathering at me constantly using some out-of-work animated voice person. I enjoy the gameplay mechanics here - and I get a glimpse of what made the original X-Com so great. The mission ends, and it whisks me away to the base where I cannot accomplish anything without listening to some plastic mannequin run his mouth about something not interesting.

Roger Ebert has famously said that games will never be art. I find that ludicrous. I do, however, understand one facet of that statement. If game creators want gaming to be a storytelling medium, then they have to work on the same artistic decisions that movie makers do. X-Com lacks a sense of "performance". I wish I had the capability to make a youtube video with X-Com on one half, and any run-of-the-mill Hollywood movie on the other. What you would see on the X-Com side is plastic looking actors, with absolutely zero expression. They deliver hundreds of lines of dialog, and yet the only part of their faces that move would be their mouths. On the movie half - you'd see human faces that deliver a performance. Anyone who has tried to make a movie will tell you that acting is difficult, and games lack the artistic vision of actors.

I see this effect in most games I play. If the gaming industry wants to be a story-telling medium, then they need to solve the performance problem.

My solution? Cut the crap and let me play the game. If I wanted to watch a bad alien film, I would watch Battlefield Earth (which has BETTER acting than X-Com). Pre CD-ROM, designers didn't feel the need to blather on and on with bobble head characters. Now, I can't use the toilet in X-Com base without listening to some jerk.