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Everything posted by TheDukeStarcraft

  1. Good luck with your app!
  2. For anyone interested, on MNA tonight we will be having an 8-player Master's FFA with prize money on the line being provided by aKa Gaming. In addition to that we will have two Bo3 matches featuring Diamonds and Masters. Come check it out at 7 PM MST! www.twitch.tv/dukemumford
  3. Come watch MNA tonight, 7 PM MST! Master's Level 8-player FFA with money on the line! www.twitch.tv/dukemumford

  4. Probably in the next couple of weeks I may start playing 1v1 again in WoL so if you want to add me you should do so as well. I also host a weekly SC2 fight night on Mondays if you are ever looking for some talent to play against. SnowDuke.591
  5. Surrendering is for knobs. DukeMumford
  6. Thank you Sugarbear! Hopefully I get stable internet soon. I emailed Doomhammer and am waiting for his response so I can interview with him.
  7. I was really interested in playing this because I absolutely love conspiracy theory and the idea of Illuminati. If it goes F2P I will definitely play.
  8. I've heard many great things about Indigo Prophecy and did a bit of research about it. For length considerations I cut out a section about Indigo Prophecy and Fahrenheit from the final draft of this paper. I've been meaning to track down Indigo Prophecy for PC because I've really been wanting to try it. But thank you for reading my post Razor! I hope you enjoyed it
  9. Thank you! There should be another broadcast tonight, although I may have a schedule conflict, but watch for me on Twitter and if I go live you'll know! Hope to see some of your casting sometime soon
  10. For my first post, I decided I should upload a research paper I wrote a year ago about Interactive Narrative as demonstrated in Heavy Rain. Warning 1: This is a research paper so it is therefore long and written to be accessible to the general public Warning 2: Major spoilers abound I hope you guys enjoy it! Let me know what you thought about it in the comments! -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Heavy Rain and the Advancement of Interactive Narrative Video games have always been thought of as a device for which one could entertain oneself. However, over the last twenty years, video games have evolved into a medium that does more than just consume time; video games tell a story, they evoke emotion, moments of drama, and instances of artistic enlightenment all whilst still being entertaining. That being said, some video games have continued to set the standard for deep, evocative, story-telling that thrusts choices and decision upon the players that will force them to explore themselves, experience a plethora of emotions both good and bad, and challenge their inner beliefs and moral character. Video games also allow us to deeply explore a range of real-life situations and events in a way in which other mediums desire to achieve. One game in particular that stands out above the rest is Heavy Rain and I will analyze three scenes in the game and will contribute my personal experiences. Story Heavy Rain is an action/adventure game for the Sony Playstation 3. The story of the game is about four random people who at first have no ties to each other, except for a commonality between them: the Origami Killer. The Origami Killer is a serial killer, whose chosen method of murder is to drown the victims; his trademark is an origami animal and a white carnation left on the victim’s body. Although the game features four main characters, only one will be discussed in this article. Heavy Rain is primarily about Ethan Mars -- a father, architect and the main character of the story. He once had it all, a great family with two kids and a beautiful wife, a nice house, a wonderful job and a seemingly perfect life. Then tragedy strikes and things take a turn for the worse, which I will cover later in this paper. I won’t spoil the main story details, just the details that are involved in the scenes I will be analyzing. The story of Heavy Rain is divided up into several chapters, told from different viewpoints based on the character the player is currently using. Story in a video game is a huge part of immersing the player in a rich, detailed and involved experience. As Maria Solomou stated in an article published about narrative in video games: Although traditionally we think of stories as involving the distinct roles of an author, a performer, and an audience, a core argument advanced next is that, in part, what makes videogames so powerful as a medium for advancing narrative is that the player may occupy more than one role — and sometimes all three — simultaneously. Although the story in Heavy Rain is somewhat realistic, it is fantasy based. Dickey notes that "..fantasy and realism can be and often are intertwined" and that "The line between the two is often blurred and the relationship between fantasy and realism is most adequately characterized as a continuum" (Dickey, 2006). To further elaborate, video games create fantasy situations out of plausible real-life situations and thrust the player into these events leaving the player to their own devices to work through the event. These events are further driven by plot hooks, which encourage the player to play by "planting questions that the player feels compelled to answer (Dickey, 2006). A narrative element that is seldom explored is backstory. As Dickey states, "The purpose of backstory is to provide the dramatic context for the game." The first chapter, which is discussed later, provides some of the backstory for the game, mostly for Ethan the main character. I happen to think that this was intentionally done to create a mysterious vibe surrounding the secondary characters, to leave their backstories to the imagination of the player. Gameplay Mechanics Heavy Rain is innovative in that it not only tells an intricate and complex story, but the devices that it uses to tell the story. Heavy Rain is third-person game, meaning the player's view is generally behind their character, and uses a lot of conventions of modern gaming. The first is the utilization of Quick-Time Events, or QTE. Quick-Time Events are moments where an Artificial Intelligence is in control of your character, like a movie, but the game relies on you to press the right button at the right time, as indicated on screen, to help facilitate certain actions. QTE’s are generally timed, and if the user fails to perform the right action, the user is generally punished, either having to repeat the action or possibly the whole sequence. For example, to turn a door knob, the user might have to move an analog control stick in an upwards direction then turning clockwise, similar to turning an actual door knob in reality. In Heavy Rain, QTE’s are important because of the way the story is told. The story in Heavy Rain, much like in reality, does not have respawn points or restarts. If the user fails a QTE, their character’s story could adversely be affected, or even worse, the character could be killed. If the character is killed, they stay dead and you cannot go back to replay the chapter to influence the story. Because of this, it is possible to have multiple different endings with some or even no characters surviving until the end of the game. The story is also influenced by many dialogue choices. Key moments of dialogue can completely affect the ending. For example as the Detective, another character in the story, if you are questioning someone and you fail to receive the information you want that may affect possible dialogue and story lines, or even whole events and chapters not happening at all. The game gives the user complete and total control of the story and outcomes based on the user’s choices and decisions. Additionally, the game does what most games won’t; it makes the player live with their choices until the game finishes. The game is an extremely realistic portrayal of life and reality, in that there are no restarts, and every moment in time continues with no pause or regard to the current situation at hand. In my experience playing the game, I found myself becoming emotionally attached to my characters. The graphics in the game are superb and look incredibly realistic. Quantic Dream, the developers of the game, elected to use facial motion-capture to give the characters more accurate, realistic facial expressions and emotions. You can see in certain scenes the emotion of the character in just their face, which is then further supported by a remarkable script and immaculate voice acting. Suddenly your characters in the game are more real than they were before, and you find yourself caring about the well being of your characters. Another factor that made more attached to my characters is a very unique feature of Heavy Rain. At any point in time, you can hold down a button on the controller and see your character’s current thoughts about their situation. Their level of emotional distress affects how these thoughts are displayed on screen. For example, if your character is calm then these thoughts, shown as simple words floating above your character, will be revolving around your character in a calm, collected manner. Conversely, if your character is emotionally distressed, these thoughts may be shaking uncontrollably or even completely incoherent. I noticed that by checking their thoughts about the situation, I became more aware of the situation and I found myself beginning to empathize with my characters. The character models and seemingly real personalities of the protagonists leads the player to anthropomorphize their characters.. Hartmann notes that computer engineers will use mechanics such as "eye-gazing, biological motion, display of natural facial activity, display of emotions, as well as breathing, natural vocal tones, and display of intelligence" to bring the characters to life, forming a somewhat sociohumanistic bond between human and digital characters. Scene 1 Analysis The first scene I will analyze is the first chapter in the game. The first chapter begins with Ethan. Ethan wakes up his nice house, alone, but happy. His immediate thoughts are calm and relaxed. The first chapter serves as a tutorial for the game, so you learn the basics of the control scheme and what the game will be like. The story in the first scene is that today is the birthday of the older of your two sons, Jason. Currently, your wife and kids are out grabbing supplies for a birthday party for your son. Ethan has many choices with what to do with your free time until the party, such as gardening, working on a sketch of one of your buildings or just relaxing by watching TV. Later, Ethan's family comes home and it is time to have the birthday party. Although seemingly inconsequential, the weather is nice and it is quite sunny, which helps to set this mood that everything is happy. After the party, Ethan and his family decide to go to the mall and buy some new shoes and clothing for the birthday boy. Ethan arrives at the mall and it is a rather crowded day. Ethan's wife decides to take their younger son, Shaun, into a store to try on some shoes, and leaves Ethan to tend to Jason. Jason begins to wander off without Ethan noticing, which causes a small amount of panic. You can tell immediately by Ethan’s thoughts that he is slightly panicked, although not much yet. Ethan quickly finds Jason who walked over to a clown so that he could get a red balloon. Being the kind father that Ethan is, he pays for the balloon only to once again discover that Jason ran off again. Ethan's wife and Shaun come back, and she immediately beings panicking. Ethan decides to leave them there and look for Jason. Ethan finds himself running all over the mall, which seems to have become more crowded. Ethan looks for Jason amongst the sea of faces but he cannot see him. Suddenly, Ethan spots a red balloon, which looks like the same one Jason has. Ethan starts heading towards the balloon only to discover it is another kid with a red balloon. At this point in time, Ethan’s level of anxiety is rather high, his thoughts shaking wildly at the notion of losing his son. Ethan catches a sudden glimpse of another red balloon heading towards the exit of the mall. He quickly makes his way over to the exit to see Jason has crossed the street of a very busy road. Ethan calls out to Jason who decides to run back towards Ethan. As you can predict, a car is coming and Jason is not stopping. As the father, you make the sensible decision to run towards Jason to either push him out of the way or at least take the impact. Sadly, it was to no avail. Ethan ends up being hit by the car with Jason in his arms. Ethan ends up in a coma and recovers. However, Jason did not make it. The next scene that ensues is a drastic departure for the first half of the chapter. It is two years later. Ethan is now divorced and has shared custody Shaun with his wife. The weather is much different as well; it is now dark and raining quite heavily. Ethan picks up Shaun from school, late might I add, and there is definitely an uncomfortable vibe between Ethan and Shaun. Shaun isn’t cheery anymore, neither is Ethan, and Shaun is distant from Ethan. Ethan feels guilty for Jason’s death and is constantly haunted by it. My thoughts of this scene are rather shocking. The game sets up this happy, perfect, idyllic life and then takes it away in one quick moment, which is what real life can be at times. I too experienced panic when I couldn’t find Jason, because I became emotionally attached to my characters after only just minutes of playing. I think this happened because they are more than just digital constructs, they are real, breathing characters that have experienced loss and demonstrate humanity in ways I’ve yet to see in a video game. Additionally, I think the brisk change of weather also helps to set the tone for this total change of events. In the first half the weather is bright and sunny in stark contrast to dark, rainy weather of the second half. What makes this scene so powerful is that in a way you feel partly responsible for Jason's tragic end. Even though this is very clearly meant to happen, you can't help but feel that perhaps if you could have found him earlier that this wouldn't have happened at all. Scene 2 Analysis Much later in the story the Origami Killer has kidnapped Shaun. Ethan is now on the hunt to find Shaun. The Origami Killer leaves Ethan a set of clues to various "trials" to prove how far he would go to save someone he loved. This idea of what we would do as humans for those we loved becomes a motif of the main story and thus brings the humanity element into the story. For every trial Ethan completes, he is given parts of the address where Shaun is being held. This scene is the fourth trial. This trial begins with a cryptic message from the Origami Killer: "Are you prepared to kill someone to save your son?" Immediately you begin to wonder -- who is this person and why must they die? Ethan, driven to find his son, isn't asking himself these questions. He drives to the target's house to discover that the man in question is a drug dealer. Ethan knocks on his door and the dealer, named Brad, answers the door thinking Ethan is buyer, but Ethan has other intentions and pulls a gun on Brad. Brad manages to knock Ethan down and pull a shotgun on Ethan. A small QTE ensues, Brad chasing Ethan all over the house whilst shooting at him. The QTE ends in a child's bedroom where Brad has no more ammo and Ethan has managed to recover his gun. Ethan, now in a position of power, has a choice to make. He can choose to kill the Brad, whom probably deals drugs to children, and consequently better the world a little bit. However, Ethan is no killer and he struggles with making his decision. Brad, pulls a photo out of his pocket showing two children, both his, and makes a plea for his life by stating that he is a father. This complicates Ethan's decision, and the player's as well. I found myself having to pause the game to weigh the consequences of both actions. Killing him would not be true to Ethan's character; not killing him would make me miss out on a clue to find Shaun. What if not finding this clue leads to Shaun's death? A display of Ethan’s thoughts was as conflicting as mine. He felt the same way about Brad that I did. In the end, I decided not to shoot Brad and take a chance without the clue. After playing this scene, I had to take a break from playing to fully weigh what just happened. The scene was actually causing a fair level of distress because I was now worried that without that clue I would not find Shaun. I felt, that by not killing Brad, I might not have been true to Ethan's character in a different way. Ethan is no killer but he is driven to find Shaun. Although I never covered the earlier trials, Ethan goes through a fair amount of personal hell to make it to the fourth trial, putting the safety of him and others at risk to gain clues. Scene 3 Analysis This scene is the fifth and final trial. This trial take places not much after the fourth trial did. The fifth trial begins with another cryptic message from the Origami Killer: "Are you prepared to give your life to save your son's?" The scene has Ethan driving to an address and entering a building. The building has a long, dark hallway to a brightly lit room. The room consists of a table in the center and various cameras around the room pointing towards the table. On the table, you find a tablet, which describes the trial in depth and a vial. The descriptions say that the vial contains a deadly poison that if ingested, will kill you in 60 minutes. By drinking the poison, you will receive the last clue to Shaun's whereabouts but consequently, your life will be taken from you. As with the previous trial, if you choose not to drink the poison, you will not receive the clue and will be one step further away from saving Shaun. This scene explores a very powerful human trait: sacrifice. Can you as a father make the ultimate sacrifice for your children, giving your life to save theirs? Now me personally, I'm not a father so this trial didn't really hit home for me. However, I can empathize with my character. As humans, we are incredibly concerned with self-preservation, and sacrificing one's life is counterintuitive to self-preservation. But I have experienced true, undying love for another human being, and I know that I would have moved heaven and earth for them, and I imagine that is how Ethan felt for Shaun. This comes at a great point in the story as well. It marks the evolution of Ethan as a character. He has transitioned from feeling guilty and hopeless because of Jason's death to strong, motivated and driven to save Shaun. This trial makes us ask the question, would we do the same in Ethan's situation to save a sibling, a parent or a loved one? Conclusion I won’t spoil the end for those who wish to discover it themselves, but suffice it to say the player gets to experience interactive narrative in ways which other mediums envy. The difference between video games and other forms of narrative lies solely in one thing: it is personal and real. Heavy Rain makes it personal in that your decisions directly influence the outcome of the story bringing a more humanistic element into play. You get to experience very real emotions acted out through imaginary characters that seem more realistic and human than they actually are. Although many games of this generation are based around the mechanic of holding the player accountable for their actions, very few games accomplish this in the way that Heavy Rain manages to. Works Cited Hartmann, Tilo, and Peter Vorderer. "It's Okay To Shoot A Character: Moral Disengagement In Violent Video Games." Journal Of Communication 60.1 (2010): 94-119. Academic Search Premier. Web. 15 Nov. 2011. Dickey, Michele. "Game Design Narrative For Learning: Appropriating Adventure Game Design Narrative Devices And Techniques For The Design Of Interactive Learning Environments." Educational Technology Research & Development 54.3 (2006): 245-263. Academic Search Premier. Web. 15 Nov. 2011. Quantic Dream. Heavy Rain. Foster City, CA: Sony Computer Entertainment, 2009. Computer software. Solomou, Maria, et al. "Pedagogical Dramas And Transformational Play: Narratively Rich Games For Learning." Mind, Culture & Activity 17.3 (2010): 235-264. Academic Search Premier. Web. 15 Nov. 2011.
  11. Thanks Sugarbear! No worries, I know you are busy reviewing a billion applications. Take your time
  12. I always try to have a backup game for a day when I am just off my game, like if lose 3 matches in a row of Starcraft. My backup games have been Company of Heroes, LoL (SC2 is backup for a bad LoL day) and games where I can just chill like Anno 2070 or Sins of a Solar Empire.
  13. Razer Tron: Legacy Mouse -- Woot Deal for 30 bucks Not the best mouse but cheap Razer Marauder SC2 Keyboard -- Also a Woot Deal, this one was 60 Steelseries Siberia v2 Black Asus 23" Monitor, soon to be a second one as well
  14. Thank you for playing haphazaRd! You were totally great. I hope to have you come play again!
  15. The overlays look great! Very slick, and the color palette is really nice
  16. You should get on and we should play sometime! And try and get other members of vVv to come play so that we can have a decent team that doesn't get our ass kicked
  17. Will be casting my Monday Night Arena tonight! In about 90 minutes from this post! Today's matches include vVv's very own haphazaRd as well as vVv Razor who will be co-casting with me www.twitch.tv/dukemumford
  18. Anyone play? I've played for a while but not as much as I would like as I have no friends that want to play it. You see, the game is balls hard. And it requires a tight four-man team to beat a level. Now I don't claim to be really incredibly good at this game but I'm better than your average player. So if you play you should add me on Steam: duke_mumford
  19. I still hop on occasionally, but I'm not a fan of how absurdly lucky you have to be to get decent or even godly items that will only prolong your life maybe 10 more seconds on average in Inferno Act 4. But you can add me if you'd like, I play on NA and my email is jeremytarshis@yahoo.com
  20. Good luck Glon! I hope to see you raising an MLG trophy above your head sometime soon!
  21. Don't Play Would like to know more <---- This guy

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