Showing posts with label company of heroes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label company of heroes. Show all posts

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Deceptive epistemologies in strategy game interfaces, and a theory of strong vs. weak fallibility.

When you play Command and Conquer or Starcraft, you're supposedly some anonymous commander at a console who can see everything and command everyone via some combination of technology and/or space magic. When you play Warcraft, maybe you're looking into a magic mirror. When you play Company of Heroes, uh, you're... uh... a plane is flying above and radioing battlefield recon back to HQ, and some lovely women in neat khaki caps slide pieces around on a map?...

As far as user interface framing goes, there's very little metaphor outside of fantasy magic and holographic virtual magic. Of course, none of these are "problems" in these games, because everyone knows it's a trick -- that is, we all know it's just some stupid bullshit that doesn't matter, and that's okay. ("Tetris doesn't need a plot!!!")

But the only way to coherently read this kind of fiction is to disembody it, to assume you're more like some abstract "force" -- maybe you're the collective human will to survive or collective unconscious manifestation of nationalism, some system of belief guiding all these people and resources toward some grand purpose that few of them can imagine. (Frozen Synapse imagines that you are literally "Tactics," the player character is the squad's abstract ability to think, perceive, and act.)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

France Diaries: Infinite Omaha.

I'm in France right now. This is part of a series of game architecture diaries about France.

Walking through French farms and wandering Parisian streets has been somewhat unreal because merde, I've been here before... even though I haven't. Among all the Omaha Beaches, the Caens, and the Parises I've visited, the layout has been new and foreign, but the architectural language and landscapes are always familiar. It's the same place but it's also not.

Sure, we've all visited countless virtual New Yorks and Londons and Iraqs too, but France is different.

France, as depicted in military shooters, has always been the battlefield of stone farmhouses, green fields, medieval towns, cathedrals -- and it's up to the Americans to sprint up the beach and save this poor bleeding land. It's surprising, then, to discover that France's France is not a smoldering ruin covered in grass sprites.