I have a number of things I want to talk about today, so I'm going to go rapid-fire.
First, as I alluded to in my previous blog, let's hit the title piece.
Is Beyond Eyes
art? I actually feel this is a pretty simple question. Beyond Eyes is clearly art. I've been a proponent of the "video games are art" camp for a long time. Beyond Eyes is an interesting case because it's arguably more art than game.
What has made many of the games I consider to merit being called art, and good art, is that they are driven by a strong narrative. That is, they're interactive movies or novels, and those medis are clearly art, so games can be too. The art comes from the story, though there are additional artistic pieces in these games, the narrative has been my focus.
Beyond Eyes' story does not warrant being called art, I don't think. It's simple to the point of almost non-existance. And other elements of those artistic games I noted, graphical art and audial art are far less present in Beyond Eyes than many other games. Certainly, the visual aesthetic of the game is nice, but soft water colors as done by a computer aren't cutting edge, either technologically nor artistically. But they are substantially better than anything I could have done with my paint set, and the graphics are the most artistic part in the traditional senses. The audio in the game is similar to the story: minimalist. Yet, the game is in totality artistic.
What makes something art? My personal favorite definition of art is that it is something that evokes and emotional response. That is, art makes you feel
. Now, that doesn't mean it has to make you feel in any particular way. Van Gogh's Starry Night is going to evoke a very different emotional response from Picasso's Guernica. At least, it ought to.
I'm an INTJ, so I don't really get emotion, but if these two paintings evoke similar feelings, you're probably even further off the charts than I am.
So, does Beyond Eyes make you feel anything? Certainly. At a minimum, reading through all the reviews, the universal feeling was frustration. Rae walks so slowly! That frustration could very well be intentional, and that's also something that the reviewers have noted. To mimic the difficulties of a previously sighted girl now operating on sound alone, Rae moves slowly--which is just as frustrating for us as it is for her. Even more annoying, she gets caught on invisible elements of the world. We can see that the "fountain" is right there, but if we try to walk around it, instead of sliding off as she might in other games--she gets stuck. The frustration also mounts as we try to walk through what appears to be open terrain, only to have something appear out of nowhere right in front of us, again causing us to get stuck and have to pick a different path entirely.
These frustrations are not a perfect analogue of the experience of a blind person, but the frustration is an excellent tool for the game developers, even if it was partially unintentional or bad programming.
Second, the minimal story does have an emotional hook to it. It's simple, and frankly trite, but it's not without merit. I'd initially considered letting my oldest play the game, but she got spooked by the scarecrows, and having played the game now myself, she wouldn't cope well with the conclusion. So it'll wait.
Third, even the audio, as minimal as it is, does add to the artistic value some. Since Rae "sees" with her eyes, she is easily confused. Sound design provides a few opportunities for something to turn out to be other than it is.
Unfortunately, just because it is art does not mean that it is good. Beyond Eyes ultimately suffers most from being too simple and not even doing the things it is trying to do as well as they could be done. It's a fine game and worth playing, particularly on the cheap, but even as a good example of games as art, it doesn't do enough to stand out above the crowded field of games, many of which also show tremendous artistic potential, while being far better games.
Criticisms of the Spring Sale
Human beings are complainers by nature. When things are going bad, we complain about it, but even when things are going well, we still find something to complain about. It's a remarkable phenomenon, and with all due respect to those who may find this a political statement, I think a lot of our current discontent comes from the fact that we are actually doing SO well that we have the luxury to complain about meaningless elements of our lives. The vast majority of us are untouched by war, famine or dread disease that we feel compelled to complain about more abstract problems.
So it, is with our gaming and sales" "Oh, that title again. Just lower the price permanently already." "I already have all of these games." "Of course those games are on sale, they all suck."
A quick hand count tells me that there are over 120 different titles on sale this week on the Xbox One alone. With the Xbox 360 sales included, it's quite the collection, and yes, many of them are repeat offenders, or games that the majority of us would have. Quite a number were previous GwG freebies, so we'd never need to pay for them, but not everyone has been a Gold member for that long. And there are lots of other reasons to rehash sales. Certainly, any sale is better than no sale--except for the poor guys trying to track all of this data. Sales on games, and bundles, and DLC and different discounts for Gold vs. Silver and then TA goes and region tracks the prices too!
But the sale is a fine one and there's really no reason to complain. Except, as I noted, that there's absolutely nothing worse to complain about. If so, I congratulate you on living a first-world life to the fullest.
I just received notification that Neverwinter
has released another Title Update with even more achievements.
After my last Bean Dive I'd tanked my completion percentage a fair bit and switched to ALL DLC as my setting. Even still, 50% is a very manageable goal for me so I knew I'd get there again. So far this year I've earned 501 achievements. In the same time, I've added 15 new games to my pool for the denominator with a total of 339 achievements, of which I've earned 168 (49.6%). With the other 333 achievements, then, I've been pushing up my completion percentage and making progress.
Until the TUs come in.
From these games: Lies of Astaroth
, Gems of War
, Plague Inc: Evolved
, Killer Instinct
sions (the only one that is DLC not a Title Update) I've added 105 achievements to my denominator. 20% of my progress for the year gone to new content.
As for the TUs, I guess I can't complain. Free content and more GS is always a good thing, but I've run out of hours long before I've run out of content.
Not Good At Jumping Games
Finally, as a quickie, here's a video of my playing some Rayman Legends
the other night. There's really no reason for this. It's a typical level and I played it fairly typically. What caused me to record it was that I'd tried similar levels many times the previous day and never thought to. As I was replaying this particular level for the 100th time, it seemed--though certainly far fewer, I remembered the "record that" functionality and thought it might be amusing that when I finally beat the level to have it record that triumph, and because I've set my "record that" time setting to about 3 minutes get 2 minutes and 20 seconds of failure in there as well.
This is gaming, folks. Repetition until it's perfect. Or at least good enough.