“Player’s Input” or Why Racing Games are Perfect

“Player’s Input” or Why Racing Games are Perfect


Hello, wo(a)nderers. How do we play games? Well, we interact with them, that’s the
whole point, we interact with the world of the game. In the vast majority of cases we do it through
the playable character, and his virtual body is our catalyst, a mediator through which
we are placed into the game and are able to interact with it. So it is important. And in the vast majority of cases that body
is human body or humanoid at least. Why? Because we are humans, so there are lots of
reasons. It’s easier to self insert yourself, it’s
easier to associate yourself with the playable character, it’s easier to figure out what
the body of the character can do, what it’s capable of, because it lets us use the knowledge
about our body and so on. Another reason for that is that the world
of the game is based on the knowledge about our world, even if it’s some casual game
like candy crush or psychedelic one like “nowhere”. And the more the world of the game refers
to the way our world works, the higher probability that our character is humanoid. So let’s talk about it. How do we actually control the character? Depending on the source material, the number
of muscles in the human body ranges from 640 to 800. That’s a lot. And we have only several fingers to control
that body in real time, so the interaction always ends up being a compromise. In most cases, we don’t really control the
body, we just give orders to it. Let’s use Dark Souls as an example, because
I always end up talking about dark souls in my every video anyway. Here we have specific buttons for specific
actions. We don’t hit enemies with the sword, we
don’t have any kind of analog control over that action, we just press a specific button
to give the order to perform a sword attack. And the same thing goes for anything else
pretty much. The capabilities of the body of the protagonist
a severely restricted by the number of actions it can perform. And this process of restriction is very important,
because the player shouldn’t feel that restriction, he shouldn’t think about it. And of course that process of restriction
is very dependent on the gameplay of the game. If the game is focused on the close combat,
it should provide you with the right tools to participate in the close combat, give you
the right levers of control. Not too many of them, nor too less. One of the approaches to the process of restriction
is that the game should guess what player would want to do in the situation in which
the game places him, so he doesn’t feel restricted. Like here in this situation I need to dodge
an enemy attack, Dark Souls allows me to roll, and I’m okay with that, it’s kind of a
natural move and it does it’s job, and that’s why I have a dark souls kind of roll instead
of ARMA’s one. Of course, since the whole system of interaction
is a huge lie and compromise, video games tend to fail from time to time in terms of
keeping an illusion of control, explicitly showing you that you are just pressing buttons
to play some animation. I mean I’m pretty sure that the human body
is capable of lifting a leg. And since I’m in control of a human body,
I assume that this body is capable of getting on this thing. But it’s not. Why? Well, because f**k you, that’s why. I mean to me (and to many other players) that
ladder looked like a place where I need to go, so it feels like not only the game fails
to keep the illusion of control, but it is also mocking me. So basically it feels like the number of tools,
the game providing the player with, is not enough to accomplish the task the player thinks
he needs to accomplish. And that kind of stuff happens really often
in many video games, doesn’t it? It can be even more crucial in some genres
where the restriction is much more obvious, like some point and click adventure games,
situations that you may encounter there may be extremely absurd, like you’re walking
down some road, and then there is a little fallen tree on your way and your character
can’t get over it for some reason, so you need to make friends with some hobo by bringing
him empty glass bottles, fuddle him with vodka, so you can steal his dog, then you have to
find a special dog-glossary to learn the dog language to ask that dog to dig a system of
tunnels under that little fallen tree instead of just overstepping that little piece of
wood. Of course it’s not the biggest problem of
interaction with your character, but it’s a good example. And of course there are games with totally
different approach. I call it analog-control. Maybe it’s not the best name for that, but…
it’s understandable, I hope. In those games instead of giving the orders
to the body, you have a some kind of conditional simulation of controlling it directly. As we figured out before, it’s impossible
to really control the whole body with several fingers, so those games are trying to focus
on some parts of the body, like hands. Examples are Surgeon Simulator, Octodad, I
am bread, Human Fall Flat. This approach is also very dependent on two-dimensional
input devices like a mouse or an analog stick of your gamepad. And of course it also ends up being a huge
compromise because the body of your character will usually act extremely unnatural because
it will be extremely hard to control it. And advantages are, the gameplay looks hilarious
and it’s still fun to play with it since it allows you to interact with the local world
through physics . Oh, I have to mention that we are talking
only about real-time control. And if real-time is not the case, toribash
is a cool example of it. Ok, so what if we don’t want compromises? What if we want to have a full control over
our virtual body considering that the game refers to the real world a lot and it’s
not some casual shit? Or maybe we’re just doomed to wait until
all that VR thing evolves. Well, there is a way. We WILL be able to control the whole body
of the character if the potential body input is equal to the potential player output. Like in RACING GAMES. So how does it actually work? How do we drive cars? The driver is just sitting at one place, so
does the player. That’s a good start. We have a steering wheel, it’s a one dimensional
input coz it can turn right and left, on the gamepad we have an analog stick, which is
two dimensional, but it also can turn right or left. Ok, so now we have a full control over the
steering wheel. Next, the driver has a gas and brake pedals,
they are also 1D, because they are pressure sensitive, just like the triggers on the gamepad. Oh, and if you are a manual-transmission kind
of guy, the basic zero-dimensional buttons will do the trick. Or you can just buy a wheel if you are into
it. And that’s it. You are in a full control of the car. You don’t just give orders to it, you control
it, without much compromises going on. And it works natural and intuitive. But there is something that makes it even
more interesting. You see, the modern technologies allow to
simulate and mimic the part of reality that is responsible for driving a car good enough,
so the drivers can almost fully rely on their skill from the real-world driving. The modern hardware is capable of simulating
the physics of air pressure in tires, the way suspension works, a dynamic weight distribution,
aerodynamics, the properties of the surface and the interaction with it, soft body physics
and so and on. And this whole thing is evolving very fast. Of course the simulation isn’t perfect,
we’re nowhere even close to the simulation of real reality, but it does a very good job
imitating it, I mean I can’t think of any other videogame genre that has succeeded so
much in terms of being so self-sufficient in all respects, despite being so complex. Furthermore, even some unrealistic arcade
racing games are using that whole realistic physics simulation to achieve an interesting
gameplay. So basically they kind of hack the reality
to make driving more fun. And don’t forget that you are in a full
control of it. And this whole thing is an extremely interesting
phenomenon if you think about it. Well, that’s it for today. I’m sorry if today’s topic was obvious,
but I needed to make this video so I can refer to it in my next ones, anyway I tried to keep
as interesting as possible and I hope you liked it, and if you did you can leave a like,
share it, subscribe you know, all that stuff, or you can dislike it if you didn’t like
it, that’s how youtube works basically. The next video will be released sometime in
september. So, until we meet again.

7 Replies to ““Player’s Input” or Why Racing Games are Perfect”

  1. Great video and very interesting topic, thanks!

    I know you don't get a lot of views on your videos yet, but please don't give up, I really like them and hope you'll get discovered a bit more in the near future 🙂

  2. Cool video ! Really interesting the way you put it, I can't help but seeing racing games differently now x)

  3. Не стоит подавлять свой акцент, звучишь будто у тебя рот полон картошки. Говори как получается – слушать будет проще.

  4. The games where you have to control individual limbs or fingers in a kind of awkward way, I've taken to calling them QWOP-likes.

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