Microtransactions: Machinima and Incompatibilities

July 26th, 2009

cannon-fodder

Cannon Foddering

My brother and I went through a bit of a Amiga phase about 10 years ago when one was handed down with mountains of floppy disks by family members who had all conspicuously owned an Amiga during it’s hey day. We never played terribly much of the Amiga aside from a few notable classics, I mean why would you when you had a Playstation right alongside it? One of the first consoles we’d actually possessed during its peak period.

One of those classics was Cannon Fodder; a neat strategy title with British sensibilities and humour. Unfortunately the old girl is having problems outputting to the TV – my brother tried to resuscitate her years ago – which means this part of our gaming history has been closed of, as such. Nevermind, emulation ought to do the trick, later down the track. In the meantime though my brother decided to buy a SNES copy of Cannon Fodder, which we snapped up for a reasonable price on eBay, about a week before it went up for $5 on Good Old Games. Frustrated at this poor twist of luck and the finicky SNES d-pad controls, we tried out the SNES mouse to see if the two worked together – common sense right? They don’t. >_<

This brings me to another compatibility issue which I’ve left dormant for too long. There’s an import games store in Adelaide which I sometimes buy games from (I rarely buy retail these days). A few years ago I was given Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops as a birthday present from my brother, fast forward a year and I was given Portable Ops + (the expansion). Portable Ops was bought from Myer in one of their we’re-so-out-of-touch-we-unknowingly-mark-down-prices-on-limited-release-games sales* and Portable Ops+ was bought at the import store. On testing Portable Ops+, it refused to sync up with my existing save data from MGS:PO because my two versions were of different origins, Portable Ops of PAL and Portable Ops+ NTSC. Kind of senseless really.

Machinima

I’m surprised how well I manage to suppress my anger on this blog, because I occasionally fit the angry-at-life persona rather tidily. Considering the already bothered tone of the post, I ought to proceed with a continued level of choler.

You might remember that last semester I studied a games course brimming with cliched topics, including one of which; machinima. As part of the course, I had to read and study machinima, which I’ve honestly never liked. While the course highlighted some of the finer inner workings of the craft, let’s face the fact, machinima is terrible. I mean honestly, the medium is inherently inexpressive, the use of pre-existing game assets kills any individuality, the voice acting is generally poor and the jokes are either in-jokes or pure trite, often juvenile at that. I support the ideology and artistry behind machinima (and all fan-made produce for that matter) it’s wonderfully progressive and these people should be applauded for their versatile creativity. Yet, I can rarely watch any machinima without tensing up into fits of frustration at the pure indulgence of it all. Anyone feel the same way?

*Same reason I got Valkyrie Profile Lenneth so cheap too. You know, I use to sell games and electronics at Myers.

  • I didn’t expect the SNES pad and the mouse to work together. They are on separate ports on the machine. The GoG version is very tempting though even now.

    As for the Metal Gear version problems, this is very annoying. I don’t understand why this problem exists, they save file format should be region independent unless they’ve made changes to the games across regions. Have you looked online for some work arounds? Maybe we could poke around and see if we can ‘jig’ the file to get it working.

  • Totally agree with you on machinima. I feel like maybe a way forward would be for mod communities to develop special machinima tools/asset packs or something along those lines, because the biggest problem is the recycling of assets that just aren’t meant to be expressive in the ways people are pushing them when they do machinima. One of the biggest problems is the lack of camerawork, which is something that has to be learned but is arguably one million times easy to do with a virtual camera than it is with an actual rig once you understand the concepts behind how to dissect a space with different angles. When you shoot a film you accrue multiple takes of a scene so that you can edit something compelling together later, but with machinima I feel that, if any planning is done at all, people just go for one take of each shot they need and then edit it together in a line. Like you, I have some faith that it might blossom in the future… but I’m tired of piss and fart jokes featuring Gordon Freeman, the G-Man, and Louis from Left 4 Dead.

  • I agree with your assesment as well. I like the concept of what machinima represents, but I have yet to see any real artistry involved in its creation/execution. While in-game graphics are getting closer to fully rendered imagery, they still do not compare to them. Now using custom/mod assests is a good path towards creating real works of art/filmmaking, it still lacks any real use of effective camera work. It really does need people who can think outside the parameters to create true works of art using this format.
    While I may dislike it now, in the future my opinions may change. They certainly have for other forms of art. With that being said, there are alot of crap films in the common foms of animation/filmmaking that are being made that get high regards because of the studios that produce them. So, as I said before, maybe it just needs people willing to create outside the box to prove machinima’s worth, people who truly understand that filmmaking is about storytelling, not retarded rehashments.
    But what the hell do I know. 🙂