Blame it on the sunshine

I’m excited about the future.

I mean, people who play a lot of games are usually excited about the future because, on one level, games are about the future, about the acceleration of technology and the impossible Peter-Molyneux-promises we all want to come true right now. Gamers are notoriously nostalgic, but, let’s face it: we’re really bad at holding onto that past. Systems come and go; consoles break; we don’t always have backwards-compatibility; we play so many new games that we lose the time and interest to play old ones. Gamers love the past so much simply because it’s something we can’t exactly touch anymore. We pine away. Whatever old games are, whatever part of our lives they may represent—childhood, happier times, old opportunities and regrets—they’re things we can’t see, have, change, or re-live. Nostalgia is always a kind of sadness, even if it’s only a faint kind.

But, honestly, who wants to be six anymore? The games I played were often dark and grey and kind of blurry when I was six, and things get darker the longer they live in my memory. Today, though, it’s sunny outside. I’m going to go into town and write a thing and maybe read a book, and tonight I’m going to stare at the BioShock: Infinite screens again. I’ve played an awful lot of grey-ass games, particularly recently– games grey in more ways than one. When I think about today’s games twenty years from now, I’m going to be remembering an awful lot of cement. I’m going to be nostalgic about it all, too, and I kind of dread that. It’ll all come down like a second layer of dark. See, it’s already got to the point where I will lose a lot of excitement for a title if the screens don’t turn up with enough green in them. Green and blue together, preferably. Maybe green and blue and white.

On a scale of 0 to rad, the future is pretty rad.

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  1. It’s because gamers are all cynical and disapproving beasts who will hold onto everything that was dear to them. In fact, this is pretty well the root of nostaliga. I think it’s important to embrace change and improvement as it’s a sign of original thinking, and quite possible a fair departure from what we’ve been reminiscing about all along.

  2. Captain McTimePants

     /  August 14, 2010

    I am drawing a complete blank on what that second picture actually is, what is this “enslaved” of which you speak?

    Also, you like, totally missed out on the images for Ice Pick Lodge’s new game Cargo. Brightness and sunshine, what fun what fun. Now if only I didn’t live in Scotland I’d know what either of those were =P

    Yummy links to a press release and concept art:

    • Enslaved is a game my friend Floomi worked on! And I know he reads this site but never comments, so hi Floomi!

      • lauramichet

         /  August 15, 2010

        enslaved looks like it’s going to be very, very pretty. very.

    • lauramichet

       /  August 15, 2010

      oh man, I should have remembered that!

      I’ve played The Void– or, really, attempted to play it, because I fucked my own game up so badly I simply could not continue or figure out what to do to save myself, so I haven’t finished it. But I did see enough of it, and of Pathologic, to be so totally confused by Cargo’s art direction and attitude that I thought it was a joke when I read the first articles about that press release.

  3. Hooray for colors! They are the best.

    I’ve no doubt that games will only get more awesome in the coming years, but the history major in me is always a little bit sad to see how quickly we discard our own past. All but the very biggest games from decades past are almost impossible to access for most people, and so a wealth of innovative mechanics and unique ideas go unexplored. Games are going to wonderful places, but I can’t help but feel that we’d get there even faster if we broadened our sources of inspiration beyond what’s been popular in the past five years or so.

    I’m glad someone else is excited about Project Dust.

    • As someone that owned a Dreamcast until it stopped working (after ten years!) I heartily agree. Sometimes the past holds more than sweet memories. I played Deus Ex some time near the release of Invisible War and enjoyed it a lot, even though I didn’t entirely get why it was such a big achievement (due to being young and having a horrid computer that made the game REALLY difficult with its stuttering).

      I replayed it this summer and had one of the most sublime gaming experiences of my life. I tried to see as many conversation paths as I could and grew to be terrifically impressed by it. I had played lots of newer games thanks to having a friend with a 360, but nothing honestly could measure up to the experience I had playing DX.

      The future is going to be awesome. But it’s important to remember that the past doesn’t suck because of that.

    • lauramichet

       /  August 16, 2010

      I am so excited about project dust.

      Something I’ve been doing a lot of this summer is reading histories of video games, and I’ve been extremely disappointed by how cookie-cutter they all are. They all touch on the same few things– the same big releases, the same big scandals. It’s like they’re simply recaps of gaming news with no analysis added, sometimes. I keep wanting to read a gaming history that picks up on small, unusual titles, but such a book is simply not out there. It’s just the big titles. Worst of all, these books often ignore PC gaming entirely. arg arg arg. I’ve got Replay sitting here, though, which is supposed to be better. Perhaps it will put focus on these small and imaginative titles of which we speak.

      What I want: a magic console that is totally backwards compatible for all kinds of games from all eras, and comes with a keyboard/mouse attachment too, and can run any executable ever. Also it handles DOS and Amiga games. And can morph into a standing cabinet.

  4. Although we have had games in recent years which have plenty of blue sky and green: Far Cry 2 and STALKER come to mind.

    But there’s been a technical reason for the drab palettes in recent years.

    Current graphics engines ignore light reflections, and the use of bright colours can highlight how primitive the 3D rendering actually is. For example, a bright red object should produce red impact on the surfaces of nearby objects, but because this isn’t modelled with current technology it weakens the realism of the scene.

    I read a great link explaining all this some time back, on why developers have opted for this “realistic dull” palette, but I couldn’t find it. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

    • lauramichet

       /  August 14, 2010

      There’s a mention of this at tvtropes, but they don’t have a link the article there.

      • I think I *found* the original page I read. My brain should stop imagining words which aren’t there.

      • lauramichet

         /  August 15, 2010

        it answers many questions.

        But, really, only for strictly realist games. I intentionally included Minecraft as an example of a relatively low-tech game which had its landscape priorities in the right place: it’s got dark and scary dungeons, but its surface topology is strangely beautiful, too.

      • @Laura:
        The funny thing is, contrast is what makes darkness and dullness effective. It’s why a lot of people don’t mind using the Fallout 3 mod that puts greenery everywhere; dark subways tunnels aren’t really much more menacing than a ruined, wide open wasteland. In fact, the subways are a little more comforting since an attack can only come from so many places.

        It’s good to see New Vegas implementing a different take on this by using city life instead of greenery. Has about the same effect.

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