I’ve dived head first back into mapping for Left 4 Dead after becoming frustrated with the whole thing a few weeks ago. I came back and started the sewer sections, this time taking ages over each area. I’ve been looking over the Valve official maps, all of which have been generously made available in the game files to poke and fiddle around with. The first thing you notice opening a Valve map is how much damn detail there is in every single section.
Vin Diesel’s inimitable growl introduces you to Riddick.
“The dark,” he rasps, “is where I shine.”
It’s the voice of a man who’s about to kill his way out of the highest security prison in the Galaxy.
Butcher Bay is a concrete monster that descends kilometres below the planet’s surface, a high security centre built to hold the toughest convicts alive. Nobody has ever escaped before, but the folk who built the prison evidently didn’t anticipate containing the likes of their latest inmate.
American sports commentators have a wonderful expression that they use to describe a general sense of ‘where the team is at’. The team’s morale, how well they gel with their coach and their sense of team spirit are all referred to loosely as ‘the intangibles’. It’s a term reserved for those elements that can’t really be measured, but which undoubtedly have an impact on the team’s performance.
I’ve been thinking about the intangibles in games, those small elements that, while difficult to quantify, can help to elevate a title from being simply pretty good to something great.
I’ve started this article three or four times before, and failed to follow through, Mount and Blade is one of the hardest games I’ve ever tried to explain the appeal of, it’s graphics are five years behind the times, it’s quests are repetitive, it’s dialogue unimaginative, it’s world derivative, but god help me, I love it. Why? The short answer is ‘the combat’ but the truth is far more complicated than that.
Journey beneath the cut to see me fail to explain why.
Guild Wars and all of it’s expansions can now be found for about £25. Dante and I have had a rocky relationship with MMO games, and while I’m still fairly convinced that the addictive properties of levelling and the social elements allow a lot of these games to get away with some pretty horrible quest design, I was tempted enough to pay up out of curiosity, as Guild Wars has always had a different take on the genre.
Herein lies the ghost of an adventure game that never was. Rather than let hard work stagnate alone in a folder on my PC I thought I’d give the assets some air and let them run free in the boundless back garden that is the Internet.