Sat, 08 May 2004top
prince of persia: the sands of time
I don't know how this popped into my head today…I have this weird recurring vision of a character riding a comet into the raging fires of the sun (the way that guy rides an atomic bomb in "Dr. Strangelove) and I'm trying to turn it into a story somehow.
I guess I'm just mulling over the basic idea of crafting a story, and the problems of killing off your main character (or one of your main characters.)
In any case, this reminded me of the cute little conceit that the video game Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time has. The idea is that the protagonist is really narrating his adventures (which is where the gameplayer comes in.) Now, despite the protagonist's pretty amazing capabilities of climbing up smooth sheer walls without equipment, and a hang-time that Michael Jordan would envy, every so often, you (the player) will cause the protagonist to splatter across a palace courtyard or get impaled on iron spikes or get dismembered by spinning razor-sharp blades. The gameplay, naturally, ends at that point, but the protagonist then intones, "No, no, no, that's not what happened," and if you choose to continue, you get to restart right before the fatal event occurred.
That's the kind of detail that most game designers just don't pay attention to these days. Once upon a time, there was this idea that video games would basically become interactive literature—a more immersive telling of a particular narrative. Now most games are all about blowing up or eviscerating as many people or misshapen creatures as you can.
Sun, 07 Sep 2003top
I don't know what put this game into my head, but "Star Raiders" was one of the first games we got for our Atari 400 (the other being Pac-Man), perhaps explaining my early fascination with space and science fiction.
Sun, 17 Aug 2003top
A version of Lemmings running on a web browser. (Link from popdex.com. Check out the Lemmings Compendium for more information.) I loved this game. The object is to get a bunch of lemmings from a trapdoor to an exit. They all walk mindlessly in a straight line, and will plunge happily to their deaths off of cliffs, so you have to direct them by ordering them to tunnel and dig and stand still to block off their compatriots, and you only have a limited number of these orders. With the insanely cute sound effects, there is something murderously hilarious about it. (Nothing like a 100 lemmings screaming "Oh no!" when you decide to hit the apocalypse button to give up the level, causing each and everyone of them to explode and wreak havoc on the playing field. I remember giggling like a madman whenever they'd fall from too great of a height and splatter.)
I first played it on my oldest friend's dad's Amiga 2000 which was an awesome computer. It had two trackball/mouse/joystick ports, so you could actually play against each other, head-to-head, and indirectly massacre each other's lemming populations. (Like by creating a tunnel leading into the abyss, or sending suicide bombers.)
I also had a MS-DOS version, which wasn't as fun because you could only play the 1-player version, and I didn't have a sound card. Talk about a step back. (What could've been if Commodore had actually survived?)