The public parts of my notebook.
I listened to a fascinating podcast with Clint Hocking, the director of Far Cry 2. He spent a lot of time talking about the systems: the gun jams, the fire, the wildlife, the malaria.
There is magic in the way, after a gunfight is over, birds begin tweeting, you hear a stream flowing, and tranquility descends. And there is magic in the way you have to adapt your tactics from moment to moment as each hare-brained plan goes wrong.
Hocking had a fascinating anecdote about curtailing the way they designed the animal behaviour. Some people at the company were troubled that players would wantonly shoot up the fauna in the forest. He said they tried lots of things, including letting the player pet the animals. Eventually, they just made shooting an animal as boring as possible. You fired and the animal died like a cardboard cutout falling over. Its body wouldn’t respond to any further shots, and would soon dematerialise. He said this meant players might shoot one animal, but would never shoot a second.
(A note about the image. I rather disingenuously lowered my gun when I took the screenshot. It looked far less beautiful and evocative with a disembodied pistol sticking out into the frame. Which says something about the way games approach the expression of meaningful experiences.)