It’s the Little Things! – Grass Pants Muses on the Good in Gaming

So, the other night, I asked people via Twitter what the best and worst ‘little things’ in gaming were. One guy answered (because I ask things weird times). This guy. I’ll admit, John is definitely the inspiration for this due to our ‘Let’s bitch about cutscenes’ conversation a few days back. Let’s start with the good, because everyone likes good stuff.

Nonessential Animations And Sounds

Remember the days when standing on a slope meant your foot awkwardly clipping through the floor? Yeah, those days kind of sucked didn’t they? It was the weird time where 3D was just getting started and there were a lot of kinks to deal with. Thankfully, we seem to have gotten that down. But that’s not the only ‘little’ animation we’ve been seeing. Look at Guild Wars 2 (yes this is going to be my best example for a lot of these, blame excitement). When you send mail, a carrier pigeon flies away. When you’re using a bow, you squint when firing an arrow. Your feet even get dirty when running around barefoot! It’s stuff that most people will never notice, but ArenaNet decided to add this stuff in for the hell of it. I’ve only got one example for sound, but it’s pretty damn cool. When firing a gun in Guild Wars 2, the casing will clatter against the ground, making a tiny bit of noise. And this noise is different based on what material (metal, wood, etc) it hits. And to make up for my lack of screenshots, I’ve got video evidence of this!

Community-focused Developers

Remember when I wrote about developers actually listening to us? Well, it’s still one of my favorite things about gaming right now. Even when it’s not good, the devs talk to us and give us information or insight. Riot Games is easily the biggest part of this, what with creative developers such as Harrow doing AMAs for new champions, Xypherous talking design, or just cool ideas being made real (Pool Party Ziggs and AstroNautilus, for instance). Mojang’s also pretty good with this. Dinnerbone’s recently implemented wall frames (finally I can hang up that map!) and flower pots and Jeb has gone about working on corner-stairs. And that’s pretty cool; so, developers, consider this another huge thanks for taking the time to talk with us!

Pointless Fluff

This one’s easily my favorite. As you guys know, I’m big on narrative and history. I mean, hell, I’m eagerly awaiting the next comic for TF2 (it helps that Valve has some great writers on board), just for the pointless fluff. This can be anything from cameo appearances (like Falstad Wildhammer showing up in World of Warcraft after debuting in Day of the Dragon), where you get the excitement of being able to go ‘Oh hey, it’s this guy! I loved this guy! Let’s see what badass thing he does next’ and get the satisfaction that the books and side-materials and stuff really matter. My favorite bit of pointless fluff is the lore stuff. Plaques, books, encyclopedias in Civilization games. It’s a nice way to kill some time (or take a pseudo-break) and is easily the best ‘little thing’ added to gaming.

Anyway, I’m going to save my final ‘little thing’ (customizeability of graphics, the UI, etc) for some other time. Mostly because I feel like either John could do it better than me (or at least be able to dedicate more than a little blurb about it), but also because it is entirely too hot to write at the moment. I’ll be back… uh… maybe Wednesday(?) with the second part of this little thing here: A look at all the tiny pains in the ass that pop up. As always, thanks for reading and have a good’un.

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3 Responses to It’s the Little Things! – Grass Pants Muses on the Good in Gaming

  1. John Sato says:

    All right, challenge accepted. :) I still hope that “some other time” will come, though! I want to know what you think too!

    Ditto on the nonessential visuals/sounds thing (and with the other two, now that I think about it). I remember the casings thing from Ghost Recon. You don’t normally notice it, but when you’re standing on metal you can hear the clatter. I think another good example for the sound is different effects for walking on different types of floors. This is in a few games (Deus Ex, Thief, and Splinter Cell being good examples), and its inclusion is always cool (especially in games without stealth!).

    Also, totally agree on the “Pointless Fluff.” I usually read every book I find in an RPG at least once. Reading computer/PIP Boy entries in Fallout, for instance, was awesome.

    Anyways, nice post. I look forward to your list of bad stuff.

    • “Some other time” will come when I think of how to stretch ‘make your customization not suck’ into a full post.

      And I’ve never seen any other game do the casings thing, glad other people do it, though! Have any of the ‘walking’ effects had an effect on game mechanics (stealth mechanics, rather)? I feel like that’d be pretty nifty.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      • John Sato says:

        I know that in Splinter Cell and Thief the type of terrain you’re walking on (creaky wooden stairs, for instance) changes the loudness of your movements, making certain approaches more or less advantageous to stealth. I don’t think it does anything in Deus Ex, though (pretty sure only movement speed has any effect on how loud you are).

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