Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about Virtual Reality (VR) games. Specifically how they’re going to develop in the always innovating game industry. With the release of the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PSVR, we’ve seen a fairly robust catalog of VR games start to come together. Many of them are simple — like playing with objects and physics or watching yourself get attacked by sharks — they’re still quite compelling to most people who play them. So, while they’re carving out their niche in the market, VR games will have to evolve to stay interesting.
There is one key area for VR games to expand upon: non-player character interactions.
We’ve all been there. You loved a show (or a movie, or a book), and then you run out of it. It’s over, on indefinite hiatus, between sequels, or there just aren’t any more seasons on Netflix. All you want is something new to fill it’s place in your heart. And that’s where Volcano Bakemeat can help. Although most video game adaptations don’t always live up to their source material, that won’t stop us. Instead, we’ll attempt to try to find games that capture the spirit of what made the original so special (minor spoilers follow).
Over the last generation or two, there has been a notable shift in the way video games are written. It’s not just enough for a game to have strong mechanics and pretty graphics. Gamers now demand that their games deliver an engaging story – in particular, one that transports them to a well fleshed out world. The escapist nature of video games has been covered extensively by Volcano Bakemeat, and the easiest way to establish that element of wonder is by making sure your world has interesting, in-depth lore.
We have all experienced strong lore: a universe that you want to jump into and never leave. We all know what house we’d be sorted into at Hogwarts or which side of the Force we would favor. Many of the same elements that make for strong lore in other media also works for video games, yet many games get it wrong.
The way I see it there are five rules of thumb to making lore that pulls gamers in instead of putting them to sleep:
The topic of choice in video games is absolutely huge, so in this episode we (attempt) to limit our discussion to one aspect: Even having a choice in the first place. We debate the pros and cons of letting a player choose anything and then talk about the pretentious existential question if you can actually choose anything in the first place (…in video games).
In this two parter, Volcano Bakemeat Radio looks at playable female characters. We talk about why Portal is a little like Mean Girls, what it’s like when a game chooses your gender (and race) randomly, and which characters we’d like to see gender swapped.
In this two parter, Volcano Bakemeat Radio looks at playable female characters. We talk about why Fable 2 made Jessica cry, why a X-Com operative code-named Mama Bear might be Jeff’s favorite woman in video games, and why Paige still feels vaguely uncomfortable playing Skull Girls
I was reading a thread on Reddit’s /r/masseffect recently. A fan had met Lance Henriksen at a horror con. They waved and said “Admiral Hackett.” Henriksen smiled and came over to shake his hand. As he was leaving, he said “Hackett out.” It made the fan’s day.
That lead to a discussion of how cool the series’ voice actors were in general. One commenter, though, mentioned an exception: Yvonne Strahovski (who plays the game’s resident ice queen, Miranda).
Due to the nature of this article, spoilers for MetalGearSolid3, the first God of War, Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem and Mass Effect 3 follow.
So that’s it. You just finished the final boss. You’re sitting on the couch, fingers still a little tense. You put the controller down to watch the last cut scene, when you realize something is deeply wrong. You don’t care. Why? The battle was tough. You were challenged, but at the end of the day, it was just a battle that was slightly bigger and harder than the other ones before it. And that’s probably the problem.