Lunchtime Discussion: Motion

It’s icy today. The snow outside has compacted, frozen and generated a thick layer of ice. Luckily it’s covered in fresher snow still so it’s not just sheet ice yet, but I slipped a few times on my unsuccessful journey to work. What’s this got to do with games? Well it’s got me thinking about motion in games (that’s not quite true, but the whole intro seems silly without it). See when we move in a game do we really feel like it’s real life.

For example ice in a lot of games means that either you slow down, slide across the screen or slip over backwards. That’s not my experience of ice. Yes you do slow down, but you that’s because you’re taking much smaller steps. Sometimes you slip, but you don’t always fall over and if you do it’s not always backwards.

What about exhaustion? Few games really categorise how you feel when you’re truly exhausted. In a lot of modern games you are playing as a soldier who’s trained to their physical peak, but even then you will wear down. That doesn’t just mean you run slower, which a lot of games seem to assume. It means you stop, you catch your breath, you build up to a run slower. These kind of things.

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Even Mirror’s Edge, a game that’s praised for its representation of movement, doesn’t feel right. While I’ve never tested it, I assume you can leave Faith hanging on an edge indefinitely. You try that in real life and see how you feel. What about missteps? Even as an experienced ‘runner’ surely a real life Faith would land awkwardly, or not quite account for some bump right occasionally. It wouldn’t be the essentially perfect traversal she has.

Maybe I’m being too harsh and expecting too much, but this is the same as my comments on camera perspective yesterday, not many people are trying something new. Anyway, lets get to the point of a lunchtime piece, the discussion. What do you feel? Which games handle it well and make you feel like you’re there, which games feel particularly floaty, does any developer have a track record of making games that feel like you’re moving in the real world?

Thanks to glennpfc for sparking the idea for today’s discussion.

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