The most disappointing aspect regarding Reinventing Comics is that, to compensate for the lack of material, Scott has had to spend half of the book on other topics, all related to the digital revolution (using computers and the Internet to create and distribute comics). The pages, nicely drawn by obsolete from the moment they were drawn, fail to deliver any punch or interesting finding.
Pluses in the book: 12 directions of evolution for comics, from the tooics and artful treatment, going through distribution and business practices, to diversity and representation in both topics and industry people. What struck me about the latter is how similar the comics industry is to the early days of the gaming industry (which, in turn, still suffers from low diversity and poor representation; but not like the comics industry)....more
Overall, I disliked the book, but it was interesting to see the wicked problem concept applied to games. You and I probably have a more ethical way toOverall, I disliked the book, but it was interesting to see the wicked problem concept applied to games. You and I probably have a more ethical way to spend our money.
+++ The notion of a wicked problem, explained in the context of games. Not innovative, as shown by prior work included in the reference list of this book, but useful. --- The thin, speculative theories. In the end, the author admits the proposed framework can fail, if used too obviously and without embedding into a broader game context. Simply put, the ethical framework proposed here can seem to players moralist and preachy. -- The survey of relate work is unstructured. -- The use of examples is rather poor. The games selected to exemplify aspects of the theory or simply to analyze are often obscure, and their analysis has a confirmation bias (the author picks from the selected games only the parts that confirm his theory, leaving the others aside). --- The pompous writing. The attempt to cast this as a book accessibble to everyone is deceiving. The long apology to semiotics is a major detractor.
I found Cinematic Storytelling, a textbook on cinematics for movie scriptwriters and directors, an interesting overview of techniques I knew little abI found Cinematic Storytelling, a textbook on cinematics for movie scriptwriters and directors, an interesting overview of techniques I knew little about. In 17 main chapters and 100 techniques, Jennifer Van Sijll structures an answer the main question of How to render a story for the maximum effect on its viewer?
OVERALL, useful material from which I learned much, but with very limited presentation of choices and analysis of the main subject.
Answering the main question turns out to be a set of techniques that use video and audio (the main bits); composing frames of space, time, shapes, and colors; setting and moving cameras and actors, props, and even locations; and directing transitions between all these elements. (Van Sijll addresses these in a different structure.)
Each technique is covered through an example, often accompanied by visuals and/or script excerpts, and a textual explanation (rarely above 500 words) that focuses on a description, one or several film examples, an analysis of the dramatic value of the technique, and sometimes notes on how the technique was communicated by the scriptwriter to the director.
The book is in general very good for the starter in the field, and has good movie examples that I'm sure you have spectated already. There are also negatives. The treatment of each element should have been more thorough, including alternatives and more analysis, even if that meant that text would need to use smaller font. There is no combined audio-video element; there is no discussion about synesthesia (stimulation of one type of human-body sensor leads to stimulation in others). Culture would of course be shallowly covered, due to space, but what is currently in is way too little. The technical details of cameras and others are also not covered....more
Overall, an interesting book that game designers should read. Some parts are slow or shallow, though.
+ Nice, albeit not unique or even innovative, comOverall, an interesting book that game designers should read. Some parts are slow or shallow, though.
+ Nice, albeit not unique or even innovative, comparison of game with other media. Core idea: a medium leads to a spectrum of expression, of things that can be done with it. As the different ranges of the spectrum are explored, the medium ceases to be a place for innovation, of doing new things, and becomes standardized, even boring. This book is about surveying the important ranges in the expression spectrum of games. +++ A surprisingly well-written and accessible book of game critique. Ian Bogost is a game developer with broader interests talking to other game developers with broader interests. +++ Many concepts have been successfully applied by the author in developing games with a purpose. As a limitation, many of the applications are advergames or sims, especially political. I'd like to try Persuasive Games' The Arcade Wire: Airport Security. +++ Idea that people will stop calling themselves "gamers", much as they do not call themselves "TVers" or "readers" (with the exception of fanatic bookworms, such as the Goodreads crowd). +++ The chapter on kitsch is very interesting, and explains well why FarmVille and other social games succeed so well commercially, while being relatively unappreciated (or simply frowned upon) by both hardcore gamers and game critics: it is "an art they [me, you, the masses of gamers around the world] can understand". There's even a hint of religion in there, especially Puritanism. +++ Very interesting and inspiring analysis of zen games, for relaxation and reflection. Selection and analysis of prior zen games also very useful. I really loved Flow, although I've played it only in a museum. +++ Very good coverage of vignette games. ++ Good selection of games for change, including Darfur is Dying. ++ Good chapter on newsgames. Interesting idea in tabloid games, see Zidane Head-Butt. Me: what would be a The Sun of games? Interesting idea in editorial games. + The review of artgames. Many excellent examples when discussing artgames, including Jason Rohrer's. + Nice contrast: casual games are lean back, hardcore games are lean forward. + The speculation on what should constitute a casual game is interesting. + The notion of proceduralist games, which favor introspection over immediate gratification, is also interesting in the context of creating ethical gameplay experiences -- this book offers imo a much better theory on the topic, than Miguel Sicart's in Beyond Choices The Design of Ethical Gameplay. + The idea that lower resolution GFX and SFX can reflect design goals, not lower production quality. + Interesting idea in snapshot games -- games of facile use, little content, useful for a fleeting moment. Not something I'd like to explore, but interesting concept taken from the world of photography, nevertheless. + "The feat made Obama the first presidential candidate to advertise inside a videogame." + The notion of "sublime mastery" and the discussion about how "a low, rather than high, ceiling to mastery might offer greater rather than less appeal". Are we thrill seekers or mastery seekers? Ask players of Candy Crush, Bejeweled, Zuma, etc. + Take on education and training games interesting. (But take on serious games overall too shallow, see negative point.) +/- The chapter on titillation is not deep or thoughtful. +/- The coverage of games with a purpose (gwap) could have been deeper and broader. --- The book slows down considerably at times, especially in music and travel-related chapters. --- Some of the theories are particularly thin. Who can decide if a game is primarily proceduralist or, the contrary, its visual/aural/textual presence is predominant. Except for the artgames that purposely reduce or remove the other elements, different people would experience the games in different ways, and likely not as proceduralist games. Is go, due to its "easy to learn, hard to master" philosophy, a casual game? Is "catchiness" an useful and needed concept? - The references to other media are nicely explained for everyone, but could seem shallow to an art critic. (It is difficult to be an art critic of several media.) - The take on metaphores in games is rather thin. - Shallow survey of serious games. The next edition of the book could cover UN's use of Minecraft....more
I read Game Sound by Karen Collins in a rush, so maybe my review is too harsh: I wanted to understand how sound is produced for (computer and video) gI read Game Sound by Karen Collins in a rush, so maybe my review is too harsh: I wanted to understand how sound is produced for (computer and video) games, how different game genres typical for indie game dev can use sound, what are the typical processes for outsourcing sound production, and what are the main free tools I could use in a start-up or student setting.
Overall, I found answers for roughly a quarter from all my questions, but also found an interesting section on procedural sound generation.
On the positive side, the book covers an interesting and necessary set of topics: Chapters 1-4 set the problem and cover the history of game sound (a bit shallow); Chapter 5 presents the main process for producing game sound (similar but not identical to film sound production); Chapter 6 discusses the inter-licensing of doing between games and the proper music industry (very, very dry); Chapter 7 (mistitled to seem broad, vs the actual content) discussed mainly immersion and why it is not easy to achieve with traditional methods; Chapter 8 (the best, in my opinion) discusses the need for compositional approaches, especially procedural, for game sound, and surveys many previous and current techniques in this area; and Chapter 9 concludes.
I also liked the references, although not so many that I found new (so, my fault). I found really useful material in the chapter about procedural sound generation, so this explains my overall positive rating (which goes contrary to the overall tone of my review).
On the negative side, besides the imbalanced writing style (the dry passages do not match the otherwise good technical writing), the coverage of the subject is imbalanced and often plain shallow. A few examples: a few games, all big-budget and corresponding to AAA titles, are used in most (if not all) explanations; although Chapter 7's title seems to indicate that "genre" will be covered extensively, there is little beyond MMORPG, action, and FPS games; etc. The consequence of this imbalance is that very popular game genres, from casual to action-RTS (MOBAs, including DotA2), are omitted; there is also, for my personal curiosity, the issue of not answering to my main questions.
Other issues, such as the shallow treatment of the material in tables, and the scarcity of quantified elements (sizes, counts outer prettiest, breakdowns of expected durations for various production steps, rates of completion or other metrics of success, etc.) make this text perhaps less suitable for learning about the actual production of sound. It may also prevent even drier text at points, so perhaps it is to much to ask.
To conclude: a good, no-frills, at points dry and at others shallow introductory course....more