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What is your ideal environment or setting for a game? [roundtable]
Not for every game, but for the majority of the ones you play.

I am on a hiatus from overwrought, humorless games that take themselves too seriously. That isn't the type of environment that I want to inhabit for 12 hours. Unfortunately, it seems to be becoming the norm. I also don't see the point of realistic environments. After all, I can just go outside and shoot people whenever I want.

I guess my ideal is a bright, colorful, cheerful, stylized, relatively pastoral 'alien' environment, with a healthy dose of charm and a tongue-in-cheek 'story' (or no story at all). Consistency is a lot less important to me than variety. And I love when developers move beyond polygons and standard rendering techniques, as in Okami and Valkyria Chronicles.

Games that come close to my ideal? Super Mario Galaxy, Metroid Fusion, Wind Waker, Animal Crossing, Wario Ware, Yoshi's Story, F-Zero GX... that's all I've got, for now, although I'm sure there are more.

I meant to make this a more holistic discussion, but now it seems mostly visual. Whatever.

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Posted: 02/04/10, 17:53:22  - Edited by 
 on: 02/04/10, 18:01:21
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I like games that can play both the serious sides and the silly sides. The cell-shaded Zelda games do pretty well in this respect. Pulp sci-fi is also a good one. Styles that can mix in "serious" matter with bright colors, like Super Metroid.

I absolutely love the world that Ico/SOTC has created, but they did something magical with their art style (and story), and most every other game that tries for that falls very short.

What I really miss though is environments that are so off-the-wall totally different than anything else out there. Remember when Earthworm Jim released? Like half the fun of that game was the bizarre environments (and scenarios, for that matter). Katamari Damacy had this going a bit as well, albeit the environments didn't have a whole lot of variety.
Posted: 02/04/10, 20:11:12
I dunno. I really don't. I love colors, but I also love Fallout. I think the most important thing is: don't make it boring. Vague, I know, but I don't know how to put it any other way.

Fallout 3 is very, very gray, and Fallout 1 and 2 were very, very brown. I didn't care, though. It made sense for the setting, the retro-futuristic design of some of the items and building were enough for the games to stand out a bit, etc. While Ratchet and Clank is colorful and all, but as you mentioned, the world don't feel alive. They don't feel interactive either.
Posted: 02/04/10, 20:14:13
Why, specifically, though? I think it would be interesting to figure out why Ratchet & Clank's many worlds seem so static and non-interactive. Is it just their specific rendering technique? That Pixar kind of look? Because a lot of other games don't have much background animation, but few feel so environmentally dead. I wonder if other games use subtle tricks to avoid that. Or even if it's kind of intentional on Insomniac's part.
Posted: 02/04/10, 20:19:18
Maybe I'm being unfairly harsh here but the levels feel like they're made in a basic level editor, and no one takes a second pass at them to add in details. Compare a single room in Metroid Prime to a whole planet in Ratchet, and it's kind of laughable how you could spend more time noticing cool, subtle stuff in the former.

As for the lack of interactivity, I think we've already talked about this before. Basic things like shooting at birds. Your bullets will go right through them.
Posted: 02/04/10, 20:28:04  - Edited by 
 on: 02/04/10, 20:39:33
anandxxx said:
Why, specifically, though? I think it would be interesting to figure out why Ratchet & Clank's many worlds seem so static and non-interactive. Is it just their specific rendering technique? That Pixar kind of look? Because a lot of other games don't have much background animation, but few feel so environmentally dead. I wonder if other games use subtle tricks to avoid that. Or even if it's kind of intentional on Insomniac's part.

this has me worried for monster hunter. I've seen the videos and it looks amazing but all the animation is close and the distance seems distilled. I guess we will see what happens when i play it on launch day.
Posted: 02/04/10, 20:32:05
Simbabbad said:
And even those I can accept. I liked Disaster Day of Crisis, it felt like its own personal thing. Whereas, say, Arkham Asylum is standard gritty. Those games look like they all share the same texture database.

I don't know, I thought Arkham Asylum's environments were pretty diverse and "colorful"...as much as an insane asylum can be anyway.

The art direction reminded me a lot of BioShock in that way (though not as sexy art-deco, of course).
Posted: 02/04/10, 20:49:20  - Edited by 
 on: 02/04/10, 21:07:35
I have to third Ratchet and Clank's worlds feeling totally generic to me. And it is tough to place why exactly, because there aren't many other games that look like them, and though it kind of steals the Pixar style, I don't watch enough Pixar movies to feel like I'm seeing it too often. To me it just comes down to an intangible... I just don't like the art direction very much. Nothing about it stands out to me.
Posted: 02/04/10, 20:55:22
I like badass dark environments with guns and stuff, but I also like bright and cheerful fantasy environments. Maybe a game that mixes the two (without feeling forced) would have my favorite overall setting. I think Resident Evil 4 comes close, because it gets pretty fantastical at times (giant robot midgets :D), but also has you play as a secret agent with guns and stuff. I think Resident Evil 4 is my favorite game because of that.
Posted: 02/04/10, 20:56:35
Oh, that makes a lot more sense.

Yeah, the demo was very restricted and in a single enviornment-type.

I think it sold the game kind of short, 'cause it didn't feature any of the Metroid-esque back & forth between locations on the island. The game opens up shortly after the tutorial/demo sections and you get to play in spaces that are quite unique and different to each other. (I won't spoil any of it for you.)
Posted: 02/04/10, 21:16:53
Well, at least the writing and voice direction kicked ass.

Arkham Asylum... initially, I was a bit put off by the Gears-esque visuals (and the design of characters like Gordon and Harley), but they kind of grew on me. It's a very cohesive-feeling game. And I do like Batman's character model quite a bit.
Posted: 02/04/10, 21:21:03  - Edited by 
 on: 02/04/10, 21:23:36

or things like Conker and Banjo

FFFFFFFFFFFFF Why is my 360 broken?! I could really go for some Conker or Banjo right now...
Posted: 02/04/10, 21:45:16  - Edited by 
 on: 02/04/10, 21:46:04
PanditNeel said:

or things like Conker and Banjo.
This reminded me of Diddy Kong Racing. What a great game, with a wonderful overworld to explore! Gosh, I wish Mario Kart ripped IT off sometimes...
Posted: 02/04/10, 22:36:26
Diddy Kong Racing was a beautiful game. It made Mario Kart 64 look like even uglier.

And the single-player was good, too (along with that Egg Battle mode), but MK64 Battle Mode was GOD.
Posted: 02/04/10, 23:12:52
I like fantasy/medieval worlds, or natural/nature environments. I prefer to feel like I'm on a vacation or an explorer than to be dropped into a post-apocolyptic world or in the middle of a warzone.

Or colorful wacked out ones. Weird stuff is awesome.
Posted: 02/05/10, 07:39:19
I absolutely fell in love with the look of Wind Waker. Despite having to sail everywhere and it taking forever, the ubiquitous water was absolutely soothing to see and interact with. Critter Crunch is another colorful world I'd like to inhabit. If and when they make a full-fledged 3D Pokemon game, that would probably take the cake as my dream world.

Also, the dreamlike and painterly world of Braid was lovely to behold.
Posted: 02/05/10, 09:43:16
I always wished the waves in Wind Waker were more three-dimensional.
Posted: 02/05/10, 17:15:24
They got a little lively during storms but it would have been nice to have more dynamic shapes.

I like how the sea is handled in Zack and Wiki, even if that's just for appearances:

Posted: 02/05/10, 17:24:12  - Edited by 
 on: 02/05/10, 17:24:29
I got into a heap of trouble on wiiGB when I ripped on ratchet and clank and compared its...badness (yeah, it's hard to explain exactly) to that of Pixar's style. Heh.

I like abstract, colorful, odd humor sort of stuff. If not colorful, then something that seems to have its own engineering principles going for it. Like sanctuary fortress (granted it wasn't totally gray).

Oh, more I don't like: western fantasy. It can burn in hell.
Posted: 02/05/10, 18:25:49  - Edited by 
 on: 02/05/10, 18:32:20
Oh, yeah. I remember that. You're the Pixar h8r. Actually, I've always felt that most Pixar movies were kind of childish, too.

I liked Wall-E, though, and I still have to see The Incredibles.
Posted: 02/05/10, 18:48:05  - Edited by 
 on: 02/05/10, 18:48:54
I loved Diddy Kong Racing's style, but my favorite was the DKC series. They had realistic elements, but made something unique and very cool with it. They had dark and gritty side-by-side with bright and colorful but kept it all very grounded and nothing seemed out of place. And while it wasn't my favorite, the North American motif in DKC 3 was at least an interesting departure. I just didn't like it being quite as awkwardly cartoonish when compared to the glory that is DKC 2.

So stylized reality, though I'm down for some color as well (DKR, etc).
Posted: 02/05/10, 20:46:31
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