Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Where do you feel at home?

Here are some concepts. They help me to fix ideas. I came across an older entry in my sketch book. It said: "feel at home." 
This made me remember, what I'd been thinking about, when I wrote it down. Whenever I thoroughly enjoyed playing a game, it (the game) was capable of really making me feel at home. I don't know how else to describe it. It just felt right to be in that game world at that time. To give an example of this feeling: Zelda, Link to the Past. Also Monkey Island 1 and 2. 
I am trying to achieve this "home-effect" with my game. So, I am wondering what the secret ingredients are, to generate the home-effect. I guess it's a mix of graphics and atmosphere and the fact that the game-world is for one part familiar and cozy and for the other part new and strange. Any other ingredients out there? I would be interested in hearing your ideas.
Also, what are your home-games?


Threeli (Dev Blog) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Threeli (Dev Blog) said...

-Edit for foolish typo, apologies-

I believe in some respects; it's more the new and strange aspect than the cozy that generates the strong feeling of home you seek. I think in most of the common cases, home is the base around which you (anyone reading this) gained understanding of world. So were I looking to evoke a feeling of home (or homeliness) within a game, I would stress learning new concepts in a singular location; as well as keeping that area safe from any harm you might find around the game world.

Bernhard Schulenburg said...

Eli: So, are you saying the "home-effect" is achieved by the contrast between a home-base environment (the place to feel cozy) and an outer world, where it's dangerous?
We have exactly this constellation in Zelda: The villages are peaceful, free of monsters. As the player leaves the villages, danger STRIKES! :D

But I think this is not the whole truth. What about games, without dangerous elements, such as old Lucas Art adventures: You couldn't ever die, or irreversibly foul up. Although there was some tension build-up. (Blast! This, kind of, diminishes my argument. Okay maybe you're right.)

Have you seen Spirited Away? That movie has a lot of home-feel to me, for some reason. A real world girl (could be your neighbour) happens to stumble across a magical world, where strange rules apply. She learns these new rules and finally overcomes the challenge. Then she returns to the real world.
(sounds like damn many other stories: Lord of the Rings, etc...)

Hmm, maybe we should call the feeling I am looking for, the "home-to-magic-and-back"-feeling?

I am trying to think of movies or games that really did NOT give me this home-effect: Doom, Pac-Man, Tetris, the new Bat-Man movie (or any Bat-Man movie). I wonder why. Maybe they're about a different theme? Tetris is about clear spacial relations, Pacman really is, too. Perhaps these games are too much 'one-sided'. Doom is pure tension. Bat-man movies are not about much but explosions, and crass secret technology.

I think another aspect is, there needs to be some amount of complexity to the game world. If the game rules or the environments are too simple or restricted then homeliness will not occur.

Threeli (Dev Blog) said...

See, I think you only partially understand my point. It's not necessarily simply the contrast between safe and dangerous or simple and complex. It's more a combination of a safe location AND a location where you learn to how to interact with your world. Again, this is just my take on it; and it may be far to simple a thought.

As for spirited away; I have seen it and I think it stands to further my case. We as viewers can identify with the girl; not because of location or ideals, but instead how she learns about and deals with her predicament.

Take that how you will.

Threeli (Dev Blog) said...

I quite like how I misspelled too; you might think I read over these or something. haha.

Bernhard Schulenburg said...

I think the point you made about identifying with the story or protagonist is a really big factor, for homeliness. Next question would be how to achieve a strong identification. This would be a different Blog post, for some time in the future.