PAX 2010: Solace

By: Derek Yu

On: September 9th, 2010

[This is a guest review by NMcCoy. If you’d like to contribute an article for TIGSource, go here.]

So, I just got back from my day at PAX. There was all sorts of delightful stuff on display, fun things to do, and some very impressive demos in the expo hall. The one game that I was utterly blown away by, however, was not LittleBigPlanet 2 or Duke Nukem Forever or Final Fantasy XIV, but a student game in the PAX 10 called Solace. Something that’s been on my mind lately is the fact that while games, as a medium, have certainly been explored as a vessel for expressive artistic statement, gameplay has not often been a part of that. If you take Braid and remove the text, you end up with a puzzle game involving time manipulation that is barely about anything other than puzzles involving time manipulation. On the other hand, if you took Solace, removed the text, and replaced all the beautiful graphics and superb sound design with rectangles and beeps, it would still be about the five stages of grief as represented through the gameplay of its levels – the message would not be conveyed nearly so brilliantly, but nor would it be lost.

Certainly, there have been games in the past that conveyed an artistic statement through their gameplay. Passage springs immediately to mind, for example. But the thing about Passage is that while it may or may not be effective as art, it isn’t really effective as a game. It merits exploration, and provokes thoughts, certainly, but doesn’t really engage the player on a visceral level. In contrast, Solace is fun, challenging, and engaging. The visuals, audio, and level design are all deliberately tuned to evoke within the player echoes of the emotion that they represent. Not just through sympathetic sensory associations, the way a painting or poem or piece of music would – though Solace uses these idioms as well – but through the nuances of the gameplay. The structure of the game expects, and at times effectively requires, the player to demonstrate an understanding of the level’s relevant emotion in order to successfully proceed through the game – and indeed enables the player to do so, with nothing more nuanced than a directional control and a fire button.

Solace, in addition to being a marvelous work of art in its own right, is a lesson to all game designers of what games have the potential to be. In my own game designs, I have often run into a tension between making my game artistically meaningful and having good, solid, fun gameplay. Solace, by being excellent in both regards, has taught me that this is a false dichotomy. If Portal is worthy of a place on a course syllabus, I believe Solace can be similarly instructive, to students and designers alike.

  • rinkuhero

    i'm wary of saying 'most … ever' for anything, but it's in the top 10, yeah

  • Magnafiend

    Personally I like both. Bullet hells test the reflexes and memorization to an extreme level, giving a high sense of accomplishment.
    The traditional games test persistence and rigorous training to make it through each stage without meeting your untimely demise, offering slower bullets and more power ups, but more brutal and hellish enemy placements, often times in spots where you NEED a particular power up to kill them or are forced to dodge. R-Type and Tohou are both among my favorite shmups, let alone favorite games in general. The problem with Solace is not that it's a bullet hell, but a bullet hell that gives you god mode.

  • Mike Hunt

    I am art

  • Dodger

    Some good points but:

    >The differences, huge or not, don't matter.
    >>The entire discourse of this thread proves that statement so horribly >>wrong I'm not even going to go there…

    Guess I should have stated it more clearly, The differences, huge or not, don't matter – to me.

    >>You're confusing genre with message. Two VERY different things. I avoid >>sports games because I'd rather just do it for real than in front of a TV, >>not because I don't like the message it sends about sports, or whatever >>the message there is supposed to be.

    I'm not confusing genre with message, I'm not even really asking if one genre is better than another to use for an art game – because that point is moot. What I'm asking is, does it matter the genre when making an art game IF you can get your message across to some people – OR – does choosing a particular genre benefit the developer by reaching more people, or will it piss more people off by using that genre. For example, there is a lot of disdain towards using a shooter as the genre of choice for an art game. Paul brought up Ceramic Shooter: Electronic Poem, but how many people even know about that one? It's artistically done and still remains a shooter (or Anti-shooter if you want) while maintaining most of the mechanics of a shooter. Personally I found it very neat, both for its artistic style and nature and for its gameplay. It's perhaps limited due to the nature of the art-game-style beast, but aside from that it worked for me, perhaps not many other people. However, due to the low profile of the game and the fact that I don't really remember any discussion about it, it did not receive the same backlash that Solace has received. So I'm just wondering if it's because of the fact that we're talking about a shooter – though I've already noticed how the term “Art Game” leaves a bad taste in a lot of gamers mouths. Personally I don't care for the term myself but I use it as a reference to distinguish them from other games – or “Normal Games” :-)

    >>Depends on the individual. If they already have a preconcieved notion >>they'll hate the game before they even play it, odds are they'll hate it. If >>they've got an open mind, could be hit or miss, but I'm sure they'll be >>turned on more by the mechanics than the 'art' message, since it's the >>mechanics that turn them off in the first place, and the mechanics would >>have to be the interesting thing in order to sway them towards liking the >>game itself. As amazing of a message a game has, if people don't want >>to play it past the first 4 minutes because of horrid gameplay, the >>message is for moot.

    I wholeheartedly agree with you there, especially the open minded nature of a gamer. If they aren't open minded then really there is no point, and besides that, some people just don't want to be bothered with the extra thought processing no matter how provocative or powerful the message, they'd rather just play as a means of escapism, relaxation, or competition. I'm wondering how often people (gamers) get blindsided though, again it would be extremely hard to find data on the subject right now, but much like the person who hates computers, has never played a video game before, refers to technology with negative connotations, and somehow finds themselves addicted to Plants vs. Zombies after playing it one rainy afternoon. I just wonder, where and when do these triggers occur in gamers who aren't really interested, couldn't care less, or intentionally try to avoid them? The one game that makes me ask this question still is Braid. It might be easy to pass off as a platformer, run, jump, stomp, repeat… but it's obviously struck a chord with many gamers and in many different ways. Even though there are still people who I'm sure hate the game or just can't be bothered with it, there are also those who were once addicted to Halo, couldn't really stand such a small game, yet found something special about Braid. There might not be a plethora of these people, but underneath it all there is obviously a winning formula (and a losing formula) for games with an Art Style about them. I just wonder if the right theme and setting can work for any genre. And no, I'm not talking about a tetris clone – but that doesn't mean something meaningful couldn't be made out of a tetris clone, obviously if it was given the right context. Maybe the more appropriate question is, if you want create something such as a game that contains a message and an art style do you select a genre that is the most popular or do you select a genre that you personally enjoy? I guess the more important question after that is, are Art Games made for gamers and people of the general public – is it really a display, or is it made for the developer with the intention of revealing something about themselves – for themselves – even though they're exposing it to the public?

    Shit, I don't know… and at this point I don't care. I guess it's just more important to focus on how much entertainment value or fun factor can be extracted from the experience, whether it's an art game or not, and then there will be far less backlash from gamers and even the general public.

  • divit

    art isn't art

  • Magnafiend

    >I guess it's just more important to focus on how much entertainment value or fun factor can be extracted from the experience, whether it's an art game or not, and then there will be far less backlash from gamers and even the general public.
    Couldn't agree with you more on that one. I don't have a problem with “art games” in and of themselves, but I judge them by the same standards I judge any other game. If it's not a fun game, it's not a fun game, no matter how interesting or brilliant the message behind it. The same can be said of the opposite though, a game could have amazing gameplay but be completely pointless in terms of an overall message or meaning. I prefer games that can combine both, but usually lean towards the gameplay side of things. Games should be fun, and art game or no, a bad art game is still a bad game, it just has some vague message behind it. And back on the topic of Solace, Solace is just a bad art game from what I can tell, because it's a bad game that does a lackluster job of sending across the message the developer intended it to have.

    >does it matter the genre when making an art game IF you can get your message across to some people – OR – does choosing a particular genre benefit the developer by reaching more people, or will it piss more people off by using that genre.

    I think this all depends on what the developer is trying to accomplish. Regardless, if he intends on making a successful game in terms of gameplay it goes without saying he should choose a genre he is familiar with. It's like if someone tried to make an RTS game, but the only game they've played all their life is Madden. It's pretty much destined to fail because they know nothing about the nuances and attributes of the different games in that genre, from the best to the worst.
    If they already have an intended message in mind, then it would make sense to make a game that best displays that through story, gameplay mechanics, and other elements. Though it's not IMPOSSIBLE to make a shooter about the 5 stages of grief, things would have to get pretty innovative in terms of mechanics, visuals, and environment to do so, and Solace is a long way from that goal. Perhaps having the player's ship change throughout the game not based on power ups and such like in Solace, but actually have the ship progress visually through the five stages of grief, with different power ups and abilities having different reactions based on which stage of grief the player's ship was in, and power ups that accelerate or stave off the progression of this change, which continues gradually as time progresses. Perhaps rather than giving the player god mode, each death put them closer to the end of the 5 stages of grief, and the game would end once the final stage was reached, rewarding the player with more gameplay time the longer they took to get through the grieving process.

    I think game designers (not just art game designers, but game designers in general, especially beginners) should make a habit of alternating between playing games praised as the best in their genre, be it classics or newer games, as well as play the worst of the worst, the games labeled as some of the worst games ever made (Action 52, ET, Dr Jeckyl and Mr Hyde, Shaq-Fu, just to name a few). It's better to learn from the mistakes of others, and minimize on the design flaws you make on your own. Saves a lot of time and a lot of pain when you've gotta go back and rework the whole thing because it just isn't fun or something isn't working right.

  • Dodger

    >>”I think this all depends on what the developer is trying to accomplish. Regardless, if he intends on making a successful game in terms of gameplay it goes without saying he should choose a genre he is familiar with. It's like if someone tried to make an RTS game, but the only game they've played all their life is Madden. It's pretty much destined to fail because they know nothing about the nuances and attributes of the different games in that genre, from the best to the worst.
    If they already have an intended message in mind, then it would make sense to make a game that best displays that through story, gameplay mechanics, and other elements. Though it's not IMPOSSIBLE to make a shooter about the 5 stages of grief, things would have to get pretty innovative in terms of mechanics, visuals, and environment to do so, and Solace is a long way from that goal. Perhaps having the player's ship change throughout the game not based on power ups and such like in Solace, but actually have the ship progress visually through the five stages of grief, with different power ups and abilities having different reactions based on which stage of grief the player's ship was in, and power ups that accelerate or stave off the progression of this change, which continues gradually as time progresses. Perhaps rather than giving the player god mode, each death put them closer to the end of the 5 stages of grief, and the game would end once the final stage was reached, rewarding the player with more gameplay time the longer they took to get through the grieving process. “

    I agree, but at the same time I believe that you could also be a big fan of a genre, love that genre to death, then try to make a game under that genre and still make a crappy game or something lackluster or unpopular. In fact it's been done numerous times. Learning from past mistakes is probably one of the best learning “tools” we've got, unfortunately if money ends up being involved that changes the dynamic of game making altogether – especially if the developers expect people to pay for their work. I guess keeping experimental and art style games free or as close to free as possible is the best way to work on their formula. I guess creating those types of games is much more like dabbling in Alchemy, math and science is involved but much of the production is also based on theory residing with the hopes of the developer that this transmutation of his or her work is something people will actually enjoy or respond positively to.

    >> “I think this all depends on what the developer is trying to accomplish. Regardless, if he intends on making a successful game in terms of gameplay it goes without saying he should choose a genre he is familiar with. It's like if someone tried to make an RTS game, but the only game they've played all their life is Madden. It's pretty much destined to fail because they know nothing about the nuances and attributes of the different games in that genre, from the best to the worst.
    If they already have an intended message in mind, then it would make sense to make a game that best displays that through story, gameplay mechanics, and other elements. Though it's not IMPOSSIBLE to make a shooter about the 5 stages of grief, things would have to get pretty innovative in terms of mechanics, visuals, and environment to do so, and Solace is a long way from that goal. Perhaps having the player's ship change throughout the game not based on power ups and such like in Solace, but actually have the ship progress visually through the five stages of grief, with different power ups and abilities having different reactions based on which stage of grief the player's ship was in, and power ups that accelerate or stave off the progression of this change, which continues gradually as time progresses. Perhaps rather than giving the player god mode, each death put them closer to the end of the 5 stages of grief, and the game would end once the final stage was reached, rewarding the player with more gameplay time the longer they took to get through the grieving process. “

    I agree, though we might as well say – game development should be left to the game players. Bringing experiences outside of gaming to game making is usually a big plus if the developer is a gamer, but an equal and opposite effect can (and has) been had when someone who hasn't played games (but is very good at writing literature, directing film, or inventing gadgets) tries to make a game because they think it'll be cool – without ever having actually played a video game themselves. I guess Einstein was right. :-) As silly as that scenario sounds though, it's actually a reality that has happened and on more than one occasion. So you're right for a couple of reasons. If people want to make games they should play lots of games first, this way they are less likely to offend, insult, and disappoint gamers.

  • anarkex

    >I agree, but at the same time I believe that you could also be a big fan of a genre, love that genre to death, then try to make a game under that genre and still make a crappy game or something lackluster or unpopular.

    You might, but you would certainly be reluctant to release it. Besides, this is not about *making* bad games. It's about praising them.

    >In fact it's been done numerous times.

    And you are reluctant to point out any of those times. Perhaps because you have no clue?

    >unfortunately if money ends up being involved that changes the dynamic of game making altogether – especially if the developers expect people to pay for their work.

    I don't know why you think this, and I don't know why you're bringing it up, either. Solace is a free game, and the price clearly did it no favors.

    >I guess keeping experimental and art style games free or as close to free as possible is the best way to work on their formula.

    I guess spouting off absurd conjecture just to ignore all attempts to explain to you why you're wrong is the best way to drag this conversation to untold depths.

    >I guess creating those types of games is much more like dabbling in Alchemy,

    A pursuit doomed to failure that will eventually be abandoned as knowledge on the subject improves?

    >math and science is involved but much of the production is also based on theory residing with the hopes of the developer that this transmutation of his or her work is something people will actually enjoy or respond positively to.

    You just abandoned your own metaphor halfway through there. Let's just toss the word transmute in your usual game philosopher martyrdom speech, I heard that in Full Metal Alchemist.

    >I agree, though we might as well say – game development should be left to the game players.

    I guess so. If you don't like games, what are you doing making them?

    >Bringing experiences outside of gaming to game making is usually a big plus if the developer is a gamer

    what.

    >but an equal and opposite effect can (and has) been had when someone who hasn't played games (but is very good at writing literature, directing film, or inventing gadgets) tries to make a game because they think it'll be cool – without ever having actually played a video game themselves.

    Yeah, and I'd love to hear what bare-bones platformer or Klik-N-Play compo game you'd use as your example.

    >I guess Einstein was right. :-)

    Yeah, about something, sometime, once, probably. The fuck?

    >As silly as that scenario sounds though, it's actually a reality that has happened and on more than one occasion.

    LET'S NEVER GIVE EXAMPLES. Hell, I don't even know what you're talking about anymore.

    >So you're right for a couple of reasons. If people want to make games they should play lots of games first, this way they are less likely to offend, insult, and disappoint gamers.

    I'm sure you think good games will, on occasion, offend or disappoint us, because “gamers are so used to conventions that they feel threatened when someone breaks them”. Keep patronizing us, dude. You haven't said anything that made sense on this page. I'm reluctant to think you've said anything at all.

  • Guest

    I agree with Zaphos that the term itself is kind of, eh… And I also think it helps as a classification. Compared to most pop music, I would say classical music is much more artistic, at least in its deliberate intention and studied creation. Pop music is geared more toward entertainment.

    Similarly, the term “art game” is ridiculous in a way, but it is still a useful classification. And I can imagine a world where, if it were to be executed properly, an art game could provoke a powerful experience. But right now, due to the catalog available to us, it's a distinction that is almost derogatory.

    As a poet, I equate most of these art games to poems that the artist obviously spend very little time refining and whose ideas and conclusions are immature, redundant, overly simplistic, or obvious. The difference between Passage and Shadow of the Colossus (sorry, but it's true) is the difference between a freshman's poem about a broken heart and Apollinaire's “Zone.” Good art isn't just about exposing the raw emotions we feel; it's about applying those emotions to the complex situations found in life. I've yet to experience an art game that spends the time to create something that profound.

  • Zecks

    fart

  • Dodger

    Okay I'm just going to respond to one of your points, simply because you just want to be confrontational now and quite frankly this column is only going to get narrower.

    >>>Dodger -“Bringing experiences outside of gaming to game making is usually a big plus if the developer is a gamer

    >>anarkex -“what.”

    Hideo Kojima also has experience and interest in film making. He includes the interest and experience he has with film and incorporates it into his games. Just one example. So that's – “what”.

    Really anarkex if you want to have a competition at who can be a bigger ass I can only participate so far before I hand in the towel and just let you win because my hearts not in it and it's something that you're striving for. I'm trying hard not to be a prick to you now but if you want to continue being an ass then I'll let you go at it on your own. I'm trying to be civil with you now but if that's not what you want then let's find a more appropriate forum where I can treat you like shit so we can leave others to discuss gaming and their thoughts on games.

  • AshfordPride

    >>I guess creating those types of games is much more like dabbling in Alchemy,

    >A pursuit doomed to failure that will eventually be abandoned as knowledge on the subject improves?

    Hahahaha, oh wow. You just started some sick fires, bro.

  • Dodger

    I was following what you were saying right up until this:

    >>”Good art isn't just about exposing the raw emotions we feel; it's about applying those emotions to the complex situations found in life. I've yet to experience an art game that spends the time to create something that profound.”

    Unfortunately that's debatable. “Good” art is the opinion of an individual much like the expression, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The differences between good and bad art is no more concrete or evident than believing that because a video magazine gives a game high rating that game is therefor good. Metacritic would be an example of where to find such diverse opinions in quality or value of games. Sometimes there is a general consensus, but more often than not the critical opinions of people are all over the map – Metacritic is just an example of how diverse the “professional” opinion (and I use that term extremely loosely) is.

    None of this means people should be limited or can't feel one way or another about Art or Games, or whether you believe games are art. It doesn't really make you wrong or right. In the end, it doesn't really matter. The one thing I know I want from a game, any game, is that I want some sort of entertainment from it. That doesn't mean it needs to be a positive experience in terms of “happy” gameplay. A game can be dark and moody and still be entertaining, but if the focus of a game isn't its entertainment that's when I think the Art, the message, the creativity don't really matter, because it's no longer a game.

  • AshfordPride

    Dodger, if that's what you were trying to say, why didn't you just say that? You need to stop assuming people are inside your head. Nobody here is being confrontational, you're just being hard to understand and putting a lot of stress on poor Anarkex.

  • AshfordPride

    Nah, Touhou didn't invent grazing. It's just my favorite scoring system in the series, and we were on the topic of Touhou.

    Replace Zun with [creator of grazing mechanic] if you want, I don't think it really changes anything.

  • Guest

    You're totally right – sorry for making such an unfair generalization. I guess what I mean is that most art that is published and in the critical spectrum combines emotion with other complexities instead of remaining one-dimensional in terms of content and message.

  • Dodger

    There's medication for that kind of stress.

    And hey, you know what, you're right. If I'm being hard to understand, then why not just say that? It's one thing to say it and another to try and insult somebody with the intention of antagonizing.

    I like to joke around like anyone else, but if you look at all of my comments thus far I haven't made an insult derogatory statement directly or indirectly unless someone had first tried insulting me. I've tried avoiding that now, and tried being more respectful. That's the best I can do. If that can't be met then we've got a problem.

  • anarkex

    Yeah okay. You only chose to answer one part of my argument. Choosing your battles as usual.

    I'm not intentionally trying to be confrontational, Dodger, and I think I've held a very civil end of this conversation with most of the people in this thread. But you spend your posts making wild claims without giving any evidence, asking stupid rhetorical questions that have nothing to do with the subject of the page, insisting on a stereotype of hardcore gamers and developers that contradicts basic logic, and just generally writing hundreds of words to say very little if anything at all. All with a smarmy, pseudointellectual tone that just kind of assumes we all know exactly what you're talking about. Why you mentioned Einstein in a discussion about artgame development is a mystery of the universe I will be contemplating on my deathbed.

    Seriously, just actually think about the things I've posted for once without disregarding everything that's inconvenient for your point of view. If you think something is wrong, you have to figure out WHY.

  • Dodger

    Yes, that's how I feel. I just don't think it would be a good thing if people stop exploring the uses and correlation between video game and emotion. There will probably still be plenty of games that are looked at as art that I either don't like or can't appreciate, but I believe I'm open minded enough to appreciate some of the games that are viewed as art and am able to take some entertaining value from them.

    I just thought of a simple combination of art and video games that sort of does make sense – VideoGamesLive. On it's own it's not a video game, and without the video games involved there would be no concert, but combined they do make something entertaining. It doesn't really progress the discussion at all but I remember one story in particular that Tommy Tallarico told when being interviewed. He mentioned how someone from the audience (either wrote him or told him after the show – I can't remember) told him that he really appreciates and enjoyed the performance, particularly when the orchestra performed the themes from The Legend of Zelda. He told Tommy that he started crying because it immediately made him think of his father who had just passed away, but that he remembered how much he and his father had played and enjoyed playing The Legend of Zelda together when he was 12. Kind of a bittersweet story.

    I just think that's a good example of how Games and Art can co-exist while being combined, but I guess the thing that's most perplexing about the “Art Game” debate is whether or not people should bother making games to be works of art rather than just focusing on the interactive entertainment – all of which can involve art or artistry. I think a message can still be conveyed through the video game, as long as there is no sacrifice to the interactive entertainment value.

  • Dodger

    Obviously my Einstein reference went over your head and I'm sure you're not the only one, because I meant Newton and unfortunately didn't catch my error before clicking the post button. Won't be the first time, and probably won't be the last, but I should clarify because like all human beings I make mistakes and I can't make everyone read my thoughts. Here's the initial comment:

    >>”Bringing experiences outside of gaming to game making is usually a big plus if the developer is a gamer, but an equal and opposite effect can (and has) been had when someone who hasn't played games (but is very good at writing literature, directing film, or inventing gadgets) tries to make a game because they think it'll be cool – without ever having actually played a video game themselves. I guess Einstein (should be Newton) was right. :-)”

    And what I was trying to make a reference to was Newton's Third Law. My mistake, I admit it. The last sentence of that comment wasn't intended to be related to the discussion of art and video games. I admit it was a literal flub on my part.

    You can't accuse me of having a smarmy, pseudointellectual tone though without first facing the fact that you've made the same abuse throughout this discussion in numerous comments under this article.

    You're right, I can't and shouldn't assume though, I should only try to ascertain after listening and being listened to. I'm not trying to come across as smarmy, I do enjoy being sarcastic at times, but I don't think I'm better than anyone else. I'll try to explain myself better, and if I can help the way I come across, I will.

  • Chris

    I don't agree with Anarkex at all, but I'm not sure how it helps to just mock him/her.

  • http://www.derekyu.com Derek Yu

    I like hardcore shmups but miniature icycalms don't make them any better. One Alex Kierkegaard is enough for this world.

  • AshfordPride

    Won't be havin' any a you boys muckin' about in my article with yer appinions 'bout my vidya gams.

    You city boys with yer book learnin' better keep on a-walkin'. Afore somethin' bad happens to y'all. Us artistic folk at the Tigsource communitay don't take too kindly to y'all waving them school-learned thoughts around here.

  • AshfordPride

    Hyuk hyuk!

    You tell 'em, Skeeter!

  • http://www.derekyu.com Derek Yu

    Naw, you got it all wrong – I don't disagree with you guys completely about “art games”. It's the fact that you're less funny versions of bigger and better trolls that's annoying.

  • AshfordPride

    Has the jester failed to amuse, sire?

  • Dodger

    Ashford,

    You need to pipe down and let your “bro” handle himself, because the way you're going on gives the impression that you believe you and anarkex are the last gay couple vs. the world.

    Listen, I'm not out to insult or belittle either one of you, but if you think that antagonizing through anonymous comments is a game then I'm the type of person who will try hard to show that I want to respect you and I that means I also want your respect back. When push comes to shove though, I push back. It's only natural and you don't like to be insulted, no human does. So honestly, I really don't want to insult you, but you truly are hangin off of anarkex's ass right now.

  • rinkuhero

    well, at least you have good taste in miyamoto games (i think pikmin is one of his few good games, along with the first zelda game).

    i also thought pikmin had a clear message though: the world was based on earth, after humans had become extinct. and you were collecting their junk to repair your ship. there was a big cooperation > competition theme in that game, what with the pikmin and all.

  • Magnafiend

    Even if you meant Newton and his third law, I still don't see any relevancy to the topic at hand. The main issue I see with your arguments is there are so many broad generalized statements that really don't have much clarity to them, as well as not giving many examples to help solidify your point. It pretty much reduces your posts to mere conjecture. Also does this statement here:
    >Guess I should have stated it more clearly, The differences, huge or not, don't matter – to me.
    Does that mean you completely disregard the main focal point of this entire debate, the defining factors separating normal games from art games? Because yes, there is a huge difference between the two, and those differences and how they effect the resulting game and the quality of such games is pretty much the focal point of this entire debate. The fact SOLACE labels itself as an art game, yet disregarded all conventional mechanics that would make a game of this genre good, making poor design choices that made the palyer's involvement entirely optional, is the core of the past god knows how many pages of posts. So what does that statement say about your stance on this then?

  • Dodger

    Alright, the whole Newton thing and Newton's Third Law wasn't in reference to Solace or the relevancy of the discussion, it was in regards to my own comment. I used that sentence right after making a comment about opposites and no matter how hard people try to get something or make something to be gotten, there is an equal and opposite effect. That's all.

    As for my stance on Solace and the comment regarding the fact I said that the differences, huge or not, don't matter – to me… I was talking about the whole idea that art is subjective, but the idea of it being good or bad is a selective idea and can only be had on an individual basis – though two or more people can share the same feelings about it. In particular, one of my favorite sayings is, I don't know much about art but I know what i like rings true the way I feel about art or art games. I'm open to trying and experiencing new things in an interactive work of entertainment even if that thing falls into the “Art Game” category. That's where the differences, huge or not, really don't matter to me. Or more specifically, the impact of the combined elements of a so called art game affect the way each person feels about them differently. That's why it's somewhat pointless to try and analyze the differences that you or I thought made the game better or worse because the results will almost always be the same. I would never try to discourage you from talking about what made you like or dislike the game or the elements that made you feel that way, but the pointlessness behind it is that due to our different ideas of what is good and what is bad kind of make us both have to accept each others views, there is no real definitive right or wrong… Usually there is only “maybe”. Maybe the game would have been better had the developer done this… Maybe the idea and / or message would suffer more had the developer done that. Due to the subjective nature of the concepts (involved with “art games”) and critical differences in human nature, appreciation, and behavior, I believe that this sort of thing can only be appreciated from two sort of gray areas, you either agree or disagree with another persons views and that gray area comes from the ability to at least appreciate what the other person is saying even though we disagree (when people are speaking specifically about the same subject that is). This is why the differences (in terms of the games impression on the player – be they big or small) do not really matter, unless of course you're trying to convince someone else that they should see things your way. And that is all I mean, that's why the differences don't matter – to me. The constructive criticism or appraisal is all welcome and interesting to discuss, but we're not talking about rights and wrongs here, we're talking about opinion – which should matter to the individual, unless that individual prefers to be a follower – which isn't a crime either, but then it might matter to that type of individual. Since I do make my own opinions though, these differences seem trivial to me and I like a good discussion, but when when two people have to convince each other of seeing things their way and then escalate the discussion into an argument, things (usually) move away from being a discussion to a name calling comment fest. Rather than want to participate in that kind of argument that's where I did take the route of my name and “dodged” it by saying that the do not matter to me. It absolutely has nothing to do with why people like something, but rather how I or others could easily try to want to make others see the things the way we see them. Not very harmful by itself, but if you take offense to others not seeing things the way you do (you meaning “we” and everyone who participates that might feel offended by lacking the ability to convince) can end up changing the discussion into something less interesting or even obnoxious. So, with that long explanation (I'm really trying to clarify for you here), I was just trying to avoid an argument and asking about other specific points regarding peoples feelings without getting into differences of personal tastes too much. So some of it was conjecture, some of it was random thought, and some of it was curiousness which I was hoping others might be be able to share their feelings on, but not specifically on just Solace, but all shooters in general and the idea of having a shooter that's an Art Game over another genre that may have fit or conveyed the message better.

    It's quite simple really, now just read War and Peace and you won't have to read another sentence for the rest of your life! ;-)

  • Dodger

    Meaning, after all of this, you've read enough for an entire lifetime. (Just thought I should clarify that last sentence of my last comment even more so that this time there is NO confusion).

    cheers!

  • Chris

    The insults being tossed at you by Derek and others is exactly the reason I rarely come to tigsource anymore. What an immature, insular, self-important place this has become.

  • SirNiko

    Played through this, and my opinion is this game is better than average.

    The visuals and the music are slick, no doubt about it. The ary is abstract, but that's just how it is, it isn't a plus or a minus. The focus is on the music and the shooting. The controls are smooth and do what you want them to do, at least when using an XBox controller. I liked the idea of the sound effects for shooting and collecting powerups wending their way into the background music. I would have liked to see this incorporated in more ways, such as enemy attack patterns that match the pace and timing of the music.

    The level design seems to suit the themes for each level. Anger is high intensity with lots of foes, balance is about dodging and attacking the “boss” and depression is about slowly maneuvering between obstacles with no weapons. I feel like it's similar to braid in this respect, that even if you stripped away the theme of “grief” you would still have a series of varied and interesting stages.

    The only downside is that the game lacks a few game-like elements that would give it replay value. There's no scoring mechanic, so you can't compete that way, and the basic gameplay is easy even on “Hard”. You don't actually have infinite lives – if you get hit when you have no weapon powerups you die. The result is play that works like Sonic the Hedgehog, where so long as you can keep getting one more ring you will always survive. Unlike Sonic, there's minimal incentive to not get hit, as there's no scoring in place, and most levels are not very threatening.

    There is never an incentive to stop shooting, and doing so halts the music abruptly. Even in Depression where your weapon is useless I find myself holding A to keep the music going. I see no reason to not include auto-fire by default and map slow-motion to B instead.

    I didn't get the impression that this is a game that was intended to make a big splash, but rather, just something the team through together for a project, polished up, and earned some deserved praise for the final product. I'd be interested in hearing what the team wanted to do (did they intentionally leave out scoring, for example) and where they would like to go with regards to future projects (would they want to make more games like Solace, or move on to make more traditional titles?).

    Ultimately, worth the download and the time it takes to play in my opinion.

  • Ethan

    Welp!

  • [:O)

    Burp.

  • PHeMoX

    Lol @ the discussions here.

    Who cares if games are called art games or whether they are art in the first place. Its all about entertainment and that really comes in all kind of flavors.

    As far as entertainment goes I think Braid is as good a game as Solace, if not better, even when stripped of its graphics ( yes, that would be a better one on one comparison ) or story ( does it really matter? I think it really only gives the game a nice theme to go with its GAMEPLAY. ).

  • Dodger

    Yes, I think the majority of people who have posted comments here have already established that since it has been brought up by myself and several other users who have made similar comments. Where the discussion doesn't get resolved is why do people care if a game is called an art game or a game that is a work of art. I think this mostly has to do with the fact that a game can't first and foremost be a work of art. I think the simple resolution (though not everyone will accept it) would be to understand that a piece of art can be interactive, but a game (whether it involves artistry or not) has to be a form of interactive entertainment. Lose the entertainment and sorry, but your art game is not a game at all so don't promote it as such. The entertainment doesn't have to necessarily be good (since that solely comes down to individual opinion), but the game does have to be made in a way that tries to be entertaining and interactive in a way that shows the game was made in an attempt to engage the gamer in some sort of objective (even if the objectives are abstract). Otherwise putting the word art beside anything game related is nothing more than making an incorrect statement about art and games.

    I don't believe that people really care whether a game is called art game or not, I just think that it would be hard to categorize such a game. Braid easily falls into the category of a platformer because the mechanics are quite clear, but it can also be called an art game because people feel compelled to call it so since they might have gained something or discovered something from its underlying message. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's fortunate that the core game is based on balanced and working mechanics, not mechanics based on working around the art. When the objectives become slightly (or more) abstract then the definition or category that a game falls into crosses more than one genre and I guess it's reasonable for people to find a games art of greater importance when that game leaves a strong impression on them through the story telling, graphical and musical elements, and atmosphere. This is all fine and dandy, just as long as the first “virtue” of any game development (ART or Otherwise) remains the intent to entertain, first and foremost.

    So I can live with what people refer to as an art-game as long as those people make sure that what they're calling an “art-game” is interactive entertainment.

  • alastair_jack

    This reply formatting stuff is really annoying, all the text is getting crushed :(

  • Billybob

    http://forum.insomnia.ac/viewtopic.php?t=3343

    This guy thinks you're an artfag.

  • Mike Hunt

    Only thing left to do is embrace the fact.

  • ghost4

    He also points out that the post doesn't even explain anything about the game. What do you do in it? What kind of game is it? Is it an action game? An adventure game? A flight simulator? Apparently it's not important.

  • Mike Hunt

    It's a grief simulator – gosh guys get with it.

  • Ronnie James Dio

    Apparently we're all still in the 'denial' stage.

  • somes

    hahaha wow anarkex owned everyone

  • Dodger

    Hahaha, your IP address is strangely the same as someone else who commented here and kept licking Anarkexs' ass.

  • Dodger

    What I really like about that thread is how Icycalm tosses the word faggot around as if he's not one! Ooopps, I'm sorry, it's “fagot”… sheesh, if I'm going to quote him, I might as well do it properly.

  • somes

    that's weird. don't know who it could be. anyway as has been indicated like a billion times already, no post here has done anything to lessen the hilarity of anarkex's total domination and everyone else's childish deflections and backpeddling.