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December 11, 2017, 07:16:52 am

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absolute8
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« on: December 21, 2016, 06:19:58 am »

Are our games inhumanely depicting humans?

We have characters that eat and drink, but have no where to take a dump.

We have characters that are gravely injured but receive nothing more than a bit of gauze wrapped around the wrong injury spot.

What's going on?

Sometimes characters have sex in a world where no children are even present?

Don't get me wrong, certain levels of humanity can be very taboo in the wrong context, but how much humanity is enough humanity?

We seem to cherry pick those most stimulating or graphic facets of humanity and leave all the rich details behind, why?

I mean Max Payne couldn't get rid of his constipation until the every next game. I'm just sayin'.

-------------------
Excellent examples of humanity in games:

MGS32 - MGS5 - healing system, codec dialogue, etc.

The humanity of the characters isn't aggressively intrusive on gameplay nor is it dependent on it.

i.e. spinning your character in the options screen causes them to vomit. [MGS3]

i.e. shooting the unconscious Olga causes Otacon to call you and scold you.[MGS2]

MORE EXAMPLES PLEASE

These interactions may seem novel, but they add to the richness of the experience in an almost meta way at times.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2016, 09:32:29 am by absolute8 » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2016, 09:01:16 am »

We seem to cherry pick those most stimulating or graphic facets of humanity and leave all the rich details behind, why?
I don't think Resident Evil 4 needed an extra Quick Time event for Leon attempting to take a crap behind a bush and getting shit all over his hands because you got a button press wrong and he failed to wipe his ass correctly with a handful of leaves.

I mean, it might be entertaining the first 4 or 5 times you did it but after that it's going to get pretty tedious (because chances are you'd be doing it often due to those undefined "herbs" he keeps applying probably not playing nice with his immune system and digestive tract).
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« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2016, 09:20:18 am »

I don't think Resident Evil 4 needed an extra Quick Time event for Leon attempting to take a crap behind a bush and getting shit all over his hands because you got a button press wrong and he failed to wipe his ass correctly with a handful of leaves.

I mean, it might be entertaining the first 4 or 5 times you did it but after that it's going to get pretty tedious (because chances are you'd be doing it often due to those undefined "herbs" he keeps applying probably not playing nice with his immune system and digestive tract).

*Sigh* good grief...

I should have never used that as an example as people love to take things oh so literally in this place.

Listen, if taking a dump behind a bush using a QTE equals making your character more human to you, kudos.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2016, 09:25:58 am by absolute8 » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2016, 10:45:34 am »

Speaking of dumps, Johnny in MGS4 took plenty, and it was actually incorporated into its own gameplay mechanic. You could stun enemies with the smell of your shit both in single player and online.


More games really should take advantage of humanity and incorporate it into gameplay.
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« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2016, 11:01:25 am »

I don't think Resident Evil 4 needed an extra Quick Time event for Leon attempting to take a crap behind a bush and getting shit all over his hands because you got a button press wrong and he failed to wipe his ass correctly with a handful of leaves.

I mean, it might be entertaining the first 4 or 5 times you did it but after that it's going to get pretty tedious (because chances are you'd be doing it often due to those undefined "herbs" he keeps applying probably not playing nice with his immune system and digestive tract).

*Sigh* good grief...

I should have never used that as an example as people love to take things oh so literally in this place.

Listen, if taking a dump behind a bush using a QTE equals making your character more human to you, kudos.

My point (jokingly put) is that "humanity" isn't usually brought into the equation because generally developers barely manage to handle anything "human" with the the sensitivity and subtlety needed. Instead they wind up trying to slap trite game mechanics on top of it and it winds up coming out ridiculous and unnecessary. It is getting better as time moves on, but we are still a ways off before it becomes more common for developers to put more emphasis on it (mostly due to the fact marketers seem to think that explosions and boobs is far more important). There is also the issue of trying to balance assets due to time constraints, financial constraints, engine constraints, etc. Developers can only afford to go so far with unessential things before they are "wasting" resources they really don't have to spare.
 
Life is Strange or the Witcher 3 which I think pull of certain levels of "humanity" quite well. Life is Strange has you really exploring the way people relate to their belongings and the way people influence each other (especially in the way your character actually rifles through the belongings, sometimes to their dismay, and analyzes their behavior in her own internal wording) and the Witcher 3 wraps tends to spotlight human flaws seldom seen in fantasy games (for example, abusive relationships) and really does a good job of making its towns and villages feel lived in and maintained (which creates a nice contrast that really makes the ruins in the game feel much more desolate and forgotten).
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« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2016, 02:08:41 pm »

...developers barely manage to handle anything "human" with the the sensitivity and subtlety needed. Instead they wind up trying to slap trite game mechanics on top of it and it winds up coming out ridiculous and unnecessary. It is getting better as time moves on, but we are still a ways off before it becomes more common for developers to put more emphasis on it (mostly due to the fact marketers seem to think that explosions and boobs is far more important).

I agree with this.

This is exactly what I want to address.

Does interactivity cheapen and trivialize aspects of humanity naturally or is it a result of game context and depiction?

For example, we all can understand why there isn't a single child present in a GTA title. The satirical level of violence in the GTA series would suddenly take a turn into a darker social commentary with the image of kids being gunned down in Los Santos.

So what then, does game purpose denote how much humanity we choose to depict in our games?


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« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2016, 02:12:10 pm »

Speaking of dumps, Johnny in MGS4 took plenty, and it was actually incorporated into its own gameplay mechanic. You could stun enemies with the smell of your shit both in single player and online.


More games really should take advantage of humanity and incorporate it into gameplay.

HUmanity in terms of core gameplay or optional interactivity?

I say interactivity because it is not necessarily a form of play or even simulation. I feel as though Hideo Kojima is a master of this. The Metal gear series is littered with tons of different aspects of humanity, but none of it detracts from the core gameplay and role of the player it just enriches the world and makes the characters seem more real.
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« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2016, 07:15:40 pm »

So what then, does game purpose denote how much humanity we choose to depict in our games?
That is a hard question to answer, but taking a stab at it I'd say that like other aspects of the game it really comes down to "Does this reinforce the vision for the project or deter from it?"

I mean, if focusing on those certain aspects of human reality helps cement the realism in a game that is meant to be a serious portrayal of human social life (or such) then it is probably going to add a lot to the experience. However, if the game is a cartoonish shoot 'em up then you can probably omit a lot of those realities without tarnishing the experience much at all (if not actually improving it).

There are interesting exceptions. Overwatch has cartoonish characters but much like a Pixar movies it pays special attention to the subtle shifting of the characters' facial features to give them a more life-like feel. Despite the game being cartoonish, this special attention to "humanity" really gives the game an endearing feel (at least graphically).

A lot of "realistic" games come out looking downright unsettling with their severe uncanny valley because they left out so many subtle features of human mannerisms and behavior that all that realistic lighting, excessive model meshes, etc. can't save them. To bridge the gap between the realistic and the uncanny valley it is going to take a serious emphasis on how the game world's "humanity" is portrayed.
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« Reply #8 on: December 22, 2016, 08:48:22 pm »

Why "humanity"? Just about half of the things in this thread that have been attributed to humans are mainstays of all life; I don't understand what exactly makes them "human".
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« Reply #9 on: December 22, 2016, 11:19:15 pm »

Why "humanity"? Just about half of the things in this thread that have been attributed to humans are mainstays of all life; I don't understand what exactly makes them "human".

Yeah, that's the real question.

In many games the player characters are some kind of "over-human". They can take for example 20 bullets before dying.
But this is because you would otherwise die too fast in shooters. It would be too easy.
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« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2016, 12:12:55 am »

i think Beyond Eyes fits the subject .
A game where you play as a blind girl named Rae in search for her missing cat.


and That Dragon, Cancer.

down-to-earth games with humanity in an emotional level i think .
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« Reply #11 on: December 23, 2016, 03:16:03 am »

Does interactivity cheapen and trivialize aspects of humanity naturally or is it a result of game context and depiction?
For example, we all can understand why there isn't a single child present in a GTA title. The satirical level of violence in the GTA series would suddenly take a turn into a darker social commentary with the image of kids being gunned down in Los Santos.

I can't comment on gunning down minors, however I did run down a *LOT* of little old ladies - oh the humanity...   Shocked
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« Reply #12 on: December 25, 2016, 03:42:33 pm »

I think that.. in some cases - people play games to escape the boundaries of humanity in a sense. Be it to feel more heroic or deplorable. Like a sort of virtual escape of the mundane and tedious requirements that is life. Why bother adding a poop function to a game when we spend a great deal of time pooping irl. I mean sure there are some instances where it would have a humorous effect but usually those little snippets aren't essential to gameplay.. Anyhow I think that devs use games as a platform to explore our own humanity individually by placing us in control to decide how we tackle particular objectives and the emotions that our own actions spark from within.
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« Reply #13 on: December 27, 2016, 04:17:10 am »

OP raises interesting points. But then let us think about what adding more biological human functions to games would do to said games.
To what a degree would you want to simulate hunger, thirst, and the need to poop? Also, would all games gain from it?
Survival games (DayZ and similar) and The Sims series simulate hunger, sleep, pooping, etc. But that game is also about humans and human needs. It builds from these needs, to create game mechanics.

Now let's see if adding human "biological needs" would work well within other contexts.

Grand Strategy: armies and fleets have "supply" costs, where everything goes. Victoria2 simulates sociology, Crusader Kings2 even simulates the wishes and needs of rulers. Which is good, in their own context.

RTS: there is "upkeep" or "supply" costs for having lots of troops. In Warcraft and Starcraft these things are a mechanic. This is done somewhat bluntly, but works within the confines of a game. Would adding more of "humanity simulation" help? I don't think so. But it would be cool to try and see what happens. Other RTS simulate how troops panic and can't act under pressure (Wargame series, Dawn of War1 to a degree), and this is interesting and important. A lot of these games try to portray the people within them as actual people, and not as fantasy orcs or space marines. Dawn of War shows that certain troops can panic, while others are more tough. This is clever, even if small.

Modern RPG: to be honest, the main point where "humanity" is lacking in games that have character-driven stories, is character motivations, not the fact that nobody poops. Characters speak as characters in a game, not like people. Some games are better than others though.

Action games (that try to look like action movies) don't usually feature eating, sleeping or pooping. Would it add to the game if such things were added? I don't think so, since the interactions with the game world focus mainly on violence.
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« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2017, 08:36:52 pm »

As with everything else in games, you only depict enough to be convincing, right?

The average human is pretty good at innately recognising whether something is human or not. In that, even a layperson can look at a walking animation or listen to a line of dialog or examine a piece of technology and say whether it was 'human' or not.

However, things acting uncannily - EG, human-like but slightly non-human - makes them seem a lot less identifiably human. The whole uncanny valley thing.

The more subtle you make the behaviour, the more specific you have to make the experience. Make your character need to piss, but only have one pissing animation, and there's a good chance you're going to end up with many urination situations that trigger the uncanny valley sensation. You're going to have to do a whole lot of work to add a bit of extra humanization to a character which was already recognisably human without that ability.

Uncanny valley works on a social level too. A town with no children surprisingly doesn't tweak the average person much, for the most part. But if you add a token child, it's all of a sudden somewhat strange. Or, if you add many children, but make them move an act the same as the adult NPCs, it will be very eerie.

Ditto to your example - just slapping a bandage on arbitrarily when wounded is recognizable symbolism. But, if you start placing the bandage accurately, suddenly the nature of the bandage is going to seem strange in many situations. Why are you sticking a bandage on a chainsaw wound? Why are you sticking a bandage on a crush injury? Why are you sticking a bandage on a broken bone? It goes from recognizable symbolism to immersion-breaking nonsense.

Yes, a perfect simulation of any of those things would make the character/society seem "more human", but a halfbaked implementation subtracts recognizable human-ness rather than adding it.
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« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2017, 07:45:27 am »

From oral histories to novels to video games, there is no form of media involved in storytelling that has eagerly embraced the mundanities of life in attempt to find humanity. Details are too often red herrings that distract rather than reinforce the story. Unless you're a very bad, no good movie maker by the name of M. Night Shyamalan, who deliberately skips over those details to reinforce his narrative when they would disprove it.

You are discussing the merits of simulating a system of mechanics for the purposes of verisimilitude and "realism" as opposed to telling a story, like some AAA guy who thinks a new XBox generation can enable the creation of better characters with better hardware. It's the same thing.
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« Reply #16 on: January 11, 2017, 10:59:31 am »

From oral histories to novels to video games, there is no form of media involved in storytelling that has eagerly embraced the mundanities of life in attempt to find humanity. Details are too often red herrings that distract rather than reinforce the story. Unless you're a very bad, no good movie maker by the name of M. Night Shyamalan, who deliberately skips over those details to reinforce his narrative when they would disprove it.

You are discussing the merits of simulating a system of mechanics for the purposes of verisimilitude and "realism" as opposed to telling a story, like some AAA guy who thinks a new XBox generation can enable the creation of better characters with better hardware. It's the same thing.

This! I think some cores of 'humanity' are rightfully assumed by both the developer and the player...taken almost as a sort of suspension of disbelief even.

That said I think bringing in elements of What the OP means by 'Humanity' can be rewarding and more immersive, but only when it would fit the narrative or mechanics to do so... Though a writer and not involved with Video Games, I feel that Brent Weeks (as well as others but he's who I'm reading now Tongue) does this very well! Often times He focuses on how one of his characters stink and need to bathe, or how in the middle of something important, all one character can think about is needing to relieve themselves...

I do feel that those select circumstances, when it pushes the narrative or adds even a touch of tension or a race against the clock, a glimpse of humanity can very much help with identifying characters and relating to the situations and feelings that they face.

Oh how I wished vanilla Skyrim had food, rest, and weather mechanics that actually mattered. Tongue Would have made traveling the winter wastes a lot more compelling imo.
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« Reply #17 on: January 25, 2017, 10:37:01 am »

Well if you think about humanizing mechanics you must think of what the possibility of mechanics is. I think it's very much possible to use mechanics to convey bonding, playfulness, teasing, insight and other things generally associated with "play". I think it's much harder to convey isolation, anger, exclusion, or even something more complex like love. One game I think that does this stuff really well is Paper's Please, by letting you experience through the mechanics the kind of limiting rules an oppressive doctrine puts onto people, through mechanics alone. Journey uses it well too, by having a mechanic that allows you to fly by having other entities cooperate with you. Journey also limits this ability by removing your freedom later in the game, to then give you complete freedom at the end.

I personally don't think you can make eating, or other primal necessities into a mechanic. It's definitely something to consider in your narrative, but I don't think it would be a humanizing mechanic. To me humanity is more the ability to tell stories and convey emotion. In a snobby pretentious game designer way I think even the sense that someone put their soul into a game is humanizing as well, but in a more subtle way.
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