Atmospheric Crop Circles

May 26, 2010 | Filed under: game design

I think one of the things that makes a GREAT game better than a GOOD game, is that the great game has atmopshere. People in suits think you can buy atmosphere by spending money on FMV or lots and lots of artists, but that’s just not true. Thief 2 had AWESOME atmosphere, at a twentieth the budget of Oblivion. (guess).

One of the ways I try to ensure I get the right atmosphere into my game is to have constant reminders of the theme of the game in my head. Most of the time game development is just typing and scrolling through code, so it is easy to forget that its about lasers, explosions and battlecruisers going pew pew. That’s where headphones and multiple monitors come in. The vast majority of the time I’ve spent coding GSB has been spent either blasting the music from Star Trek or Star Wars through headphones (or out loud now :D) or having a DVD of some suitably epic space battle sci-fi playing in my extra monitor, like so:

It really helps me to stay focused on what I’m doing, and how it should feel. Good games are about feel, not polygons or features. Just Cause 2 makes me *feel* like an action hero, in ways that mere technical ability or hype or clever graphical effects never can. Thats a great feeling. The guys who do puzzle pirates have the money to take this a stage further and they do. Good for them.

The nearest I’ve got to atmospheric experiences concerning aliens today was visiting a crop circle nearby. Never seen one before. Here is me in the middle being silly

Here is the cicle taken by a proper photographer.

They are pretty dull at ground level tbh. I’m sure whatever aliens make them are not ferengi, because there was nobody selling hot dogs, or even a strategically placed big ladder that they could charge admission for, to get a  good view. “Twelve rungs up? That’ll be three strips of latinum please”.

Apparently it’s a maths equation, if the circle radii get converted to ascii. I bet it was those do-gooder vulcans.

6 Responses to “Atmospheric Crop Circles”

  1. bob says:

    nice mention of Star Control

  2. Now I’m envisaging a stern Vulcan supervising a bunch of Ferengi scam artists on day-release, as they stomp around in a field with boards tied to their feet.

    “I am disappointed by your lack of attention to the plan, Pek. Now we’ll need to use the tractor beam to return that part of the crop to verticality.”

  3. adam says:

    Games that could do with being remade well. Not a comprehensive list.

    lords of the realm 2
    chaos overlords
    castles 2 seige and conquest
    transport tycoon
    railroad tycoon
    theme hospital
    sim tower

  4. kone says:

    Got a nice deal at Impulse for GSB complete!
    Everybody should take a look (if you don’t have the expansions, that is)

  5. toby says:

    @adam but Transport tycoon has already been re-made.

    although the TTC Open source project was awesome and completely uber geeking when it came to railways and junctions.

  6. Dave P says:

    The use of 12 segments immediately brings to mind either hours, or months. It would be nice to decode the message.