The School Shooter Mod, Part 2

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The School Shooter Mod, Part 2

The boys finally finish off the School Shooter mod.

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Great article.
I somehow managed to agree with everything that everyone said, even though you were all disagreeing with different points.

Also i'd love to see a civillian surviving in a hostile environment game, nice idea.

I'd rather have a guy who says,"Yeah my game is about violence and doing awful things for entertainment, whatever" than a studio like, say, BioWare, pretending its sex scenes are crucial to a mature narrative, only to throw in an embarrassing sexual encounter that exists for its own sake as a lame reward for a friend management mini game.

THANK YOU! I'm not alone in thinking this! Adding sex does not make it more mature.

Frankly, I think that Rebbeca Black's fame will outlive it...

Burn. That was surprisingly harsh and awesome.

Or better yet, a "survival" game where you're an innocent student/teacher trying to survive/escape the actual event by evading/resisting the shooters - maybe with a mechanic to lead others to safety (seriously, that JUST crossed my mind and now I'm wondering why it doesn't exist yet?) And hey... there's always the option of playing from the perspective of a police/SWAT man/team on the scene - something in the vein of Hostages aka Rescue: The Embassy Mission.

All these sound like good ideas. Not the best, but there's framework for a good game in each of them.

OT:
I get Jim's points. Just because it's a tastless game, or a game with a bad message or purpose doesn't make it a "bad game". The gameplay, graphics and mechanics still work.

But I still agree with MovieBob, partticulary the statement that story is important to the gameplay as the mechnics

A good debate. While this time I somewhat disagreed with some of Jim's arguements, I at least understood his position and agreed on a few points of it. James was a lot more active in this half of the discussion than the other half, and Moviebob pretty much summed up my opinions on the matter in the first response this week.

A good discussion by all involved. Well done.

A game where you play a civilian, sound interesting, but like most stealth games also seems incredibly frustrating. You could introduce a very limited puzzle and platforming element to keep it interesting. Weirdly the only games that include avoiding conflict that come to mind are parts of the metal gear solid series and haunting ground...

I'm really surprised no-one has done this set in a warzone or during a terrorist attack or natural disaster...

I'd rather have a guy who says,"Yeah my game is about violence and doing awful things for entertainment, whatever" than a studio like, say, BioWare, pretending its sex scenes are crucial to a mature narrative, only to throw in an embarrassing sexual encounter that exists for its own sake as a lame reward for a friend management mini game.

Jim really lacks attacking pretentiousness, but in doing so embraces games that try to be 'edgy' instead. Frankly, both are stupid. Though wouldn't you rather have Game of thrones with it's clumsy HBO sex, than Sparatacus: blond and sand? It's part of a package, you typically get a better quality product with pretentious sex than you do with than fratboy sex...

The civilian victim aspect sounds like an avenue for a lot of interesting approaches to play. A more aggressive "ambush the guy and stop them with force" (would need to enforce your inferiority and require planning/cooperation) would work but I see more potential in attempting to lead others out/get help or to try to talk down the guy yourself. Those kinds of challenge seem to chime in with the "non-combat gameplay" Extra Credits was talking about.

This is a real emergency, and asking the player how they would react and what they would prioritise would be a very powerful and thought-provoking question.

You would need a preliminary area getting to know the classmates so you feel invested in their fates, but I think there would be a natural connection to the main character since they are an average person in a real-life situation. I'd say a blank player avatar would work better than a fully rounded character.

As example, while a game where you survive a plane crash and have to decide how to treat others and try to get help may be less exciting gameplay wise, but would make for a much stronger role-play situation since the player should have less difficulty remaining detached from the game. The reality of the situation raises the stakes a lot.

This is quickly becoming my favorite article/written debate/thingy/whatever. I may not agree with Jim, but I can understand his thought process and reasoning.

Android2137:
This is quickly becoming my favorite article/written debate/thingy/whatever. I may not agree with Jim, but I can understand his thought process and reasoning.

I'm not sure I fully agree. Even if the gameplay is fantastic a game will lose points if its content feels morally objectionable to the players. While games like the horror genre can unsettle by making us do things we'd rather not and RPGs can force us into making tough choices, your standard action game doesn't need that and the unease you get by being forced to do these acts will just get in the way of having fun.

It's like if a game gave all the enemy soldiers the faces of your loved one. It might still have great gameplay, but I don't think you can deny it would be improved by not forcing you to do something unpleasant that you may not want to.

I tried to follow the conversation, I really did.

But all I can think about now is that I have to see Surf Nazis Must Die.

i liked the way that was presented i enjoyed reading it and it had good points

Someone has to make that "teacher survives school shooting" game. I don't even care if it's a top-down flash game, I want it done.

Good discussion. As usual, James owns.

Why is Jim included in this... I understand what hes trying to say but it just so completely misses the point.

Delta2501:

Android2137:
This is quickly becoming my favorite article/written debate/thingy/whatever. I may not agree with Jim, but I can understand his thought process and reasoning.

I'm not sure I fully agree. Even if the gameplay is fantastic a game will lose points if its content feels morally objectionable to the players. While games like the horror genre can unsettle by making us do things we'd rather not and RPGs can force us into making tough choices, your standard action game doesn't need that and the unease you get by being forced to do these acts will just get in the way of having fun.

It's like if a game gave all the enemy soldiers the faces of your loved one. It might still have great gameplay, but I don't think you can deny it would be improved by not forcing you to do something unpleasant that you may not want to.

I never said I agreed with Jim. I only said I can understand his reasoning. I'm not denying that a morally objectionable game would not be enjoyable. (Indeed, it's why I don't play games like GTA. The idea of murdering even stock defenseless NPCs are enough to make me feel uncomfortable.) But I can understand why he would say that a game with great gameplay should not automatically be bad even if it has extremely objectionable content. If you strip of the game of said content and present it in a less offensive context, you are left with the innovative gameplay. (Again, I shall say I understand Jim's points, but I do not agree. The content of a game is indicative of the developer's intentions and viewpoints. Content is context. If you strip it of it's original content, it's effectively no longer the developer's game.)

personally I'm more in the same logic, but for the opposite reason. In games I do not put thought into why I am killing except for role play reasons. Murder is murder and I do not pretend to justify it. But this is not murder its graphic representations of computer code. Might be in bad taste, but no one is actually hurt so I think nothing of killing them. In fact as a challenge seeker I only do random destruction for cathartic reasons. In GTA for example I killed civilians mostly to attract the attention of enemies that would take effort to kill.

That being said, I think denoting any group as untouchable hurts empathy more then anything. For example, in Fallout 3 and New Vegas it bothered me that you couldn't kill children. Its not that I wanted to or intended to, but by taking away the option you break the narrative. These aren't human children they are immortal gods and you are subject to their whims. Remember Little Lamplight, why did people find it so aggravating? It wasn't simply that you wanted to use force to get through there, I am sure alot of us did similar missions using stealth or negotiations. What was frustrating was that an option was stripped away from you. You were forced to do as they said, and they were placed in an untouchable level.

Then people got a mod to kill children and what did they do, first place they went to use it. Not out of a hatred of children but because the game didn't represent them as children. They were not weak or vulnerable, in fact their untouchable nature made them the most powerful NPCs in the game. You couldn't see them as being to be protected or lives to hold sacred because you knew they were immortal.

Feel free to punish us for it, like old Fallout games where you gained everyones ire if you killed a child, or Assassin's Creed where hurting innocents hurt you. This put you in the mind set that they were living beings and that there were consequences for harming them, instead of just driving you to hitting the fire button screaming "WHY WONT YOU DIE"

I don't agree that BioWare's use of sex is somehow worse than blatant fanservice like Dead or Alive. They've rarely been over-the-top about it. The only real issue is how it's handled from a gameplay and dialogue standpoint. I think they have an efficient way of working it into the narrative, but it's not executed quite as well as it could be. I think they keep it because it moves units (guy players like getting with alien chicks/girls like the romantic subplots) It's a guilty pleasure for people and I think they oblige in a relatively tactful way, all things considered. I don't think being ham-fisted about it in an attempt at "honesty" is a better approach than what they've been doing.

Anyway that's not really the topic. Good discussion, guys. Great points all around.

Yeah, I'm with MovieBob on this one - the SS Mod is just lazy attention-grabbing narcissism.

WRT the romance options in Bioware games: they've always been there, all the way back to KotOR and Jade Empire (although the most you got in the past was a kiss). I think they provide continuity and help build the sense that this is a team effort and there are interpersonal dynamics at play as you travel together. They may not have quite found the magic formula with their implementation of the climax of the romance stories, but I don't think that it's a case of pandering. ExtraCredits had a great article on different ways that a romance could go in a game, and perhaps BioWare would do well to use those ideas next time instead of having a sexual-themed cutscene, but they're still trying to achieve something that adds depth and immersion to the game.

but because at least it's not being pretentious

Oh, Jim. Just when I think maybe you can talk for three paragraphs without needing to remove your foot from your mouth.

The school shooter mod is the most pretentious work this side of the hipstersphere. It's pretentious because it tries to be a big statement without really offering anything to hold it up, and it's prentiously presented because they guy says 'oh you know it ain't no thang' while putting down his shades and winking at us while the Dinosaur Comics narrator says BUT ACTUALLY IT WAS. It's prententiousness squared, pretentious presentation of a pretentious work, and only a fool would not be able to see through its paper thin veil. Oh hi there Jim.

The comparison with Birth of a Nation, (which I don't know and only infer what it is from this article), may be unfair because it was done in a time in which white people being better than black people was actually their constitutional right. Which is to say, it wasn't supposed to be a shocking expose of the filmmaker's evil theories on race, but rather a reflection of the world. We all like to think we'd hold the same ideals we hold today were we born on an earlier age, and in every simple historical movie the heroes hold morals that wouldn't come around for centuries and look down on things that anyone born that age would find completely normal. I wonder what future societies will find of our culture. In that way, the Birth of a Nation comparison is much closer to RE5, since the perceived hatred comes from a cultural crevice - in one, a temporal gap during which we recognized black people are actually just human beings with a darker skin color, or lighter if they're albino, and in other, a spacial gap that makes Japan see no wrong with a game in which you only kill black people because that's no different from earlier RE games since black Africans and white Americans are lumped in the 'foreigner' category in their culture. Pointing and laughing at their perceived inferiority is pretending that the same thing won't/doesn't happen to us, which is a terrible case of tunnel vision.

Jim Sterling seems to be buying into his own persona, which is sad. I reiterate that he's capable of being clever and insightful when he's not trying way way way way WAAAYYYYY too hard to be funny. He actually had something to contribute, even last week.

But now he just ruins it by pretending that the sex in Mass Effect and Dragon Age added nothing and were just there for shock value (projecting much, Jim?).

Still, it's nice to see Bob and James go back-and-forth at the end, I was fascinated by their points.

bring back yahtzee please. These guys arent entertaining.

Or better yet, a "survival" game where you're an innocent student/teacher trying to survive/escape the actual event by evading/resisting the shooters - maybe with a mechanic to lead others to safety (seriously, that JUST crossed my mind and now I'm wondering why it doesn't exist yet?

I love this idea. It could be a wonderful game. If nothing else, it could set up the framework for some very exciting horror games (real horror, not RE4/RE5) as well as making escort missions bearable. Cause that's really what the game would be, no?

Anywho, OT, I can't agree with Jim on principle. I feel that a game that's sole intention was to offend and/or trivialize one of the very things that got the games industry into so much trouble in the first place is just stupid. From a moral standpoint, I've never agreed with games in which the only point is to be evil. At least games like GTA give you a chance to be a good guy. In games like this, I can't see any redeeming qualities.

For an example of how a game can be brainless but still have value, how about Left4Dead? I mean, what's the overarching message there?

Here are a bunch of zombies, have fun trying to kill them.

Nothing more pretentious, but lots of fun and really well made with some innovative AI. That's the right way to do a meaningless slaughterfest.

Sylocat:
Jim Sterling seems to be buying into his own persona, which is sad. I reiterate that he's capable of being clever and insightful when he's not trying way way way way WAAAYYYYY too hard to be funny. He actually had something to contribute, even last week.

But now he just ruins it by pretending that the sex in Mass Effect and Dragon Age added nothing and were just there for shock value (projecting much, Jim?).

Still, it's nice to see Bob and James go back-and-forth at the end, I was fascinated by their points.

I agree with you. This jim guy isnt funny. I think he is trying to hard

Jim: "However, let's say a more talented developer with a lot more time creates a School Shooter game from the ground up. Not like Super Columbine Massacre -- which comes with lengthy essays justifying the game and its message -- but exactly like School Shooter. No deep meaning, no morality, just a sandbox school environment in which you shoot up classmates and teachers for no reason. Would you still say it's bad?"

um... YES!

Because then you're taking an (apparently) talented developer and doing something pointlessly destructive. It's like taking a baseball bat and going around smashing people's car windows instead of hitting balls. There is never any redeeming value in killing random school children, so how could there possibly be anything good in this "sandbox" game?

Yes, I'm aware that most COD players don't really care about the military justifications and just want to murder each other's virtual avatars, but there is still a setting in which (under specific circumstances) their actions could be justified. Dead Space 2, for all its claimed shock value, is at least giving you the justification of "your survival depends on slaughtering everything you see".

Without those frameworks the games would have zero value.

James Has a book, any one know what it's called and where I can get a copy? (I did read that right didn't I?)
I can see where they're all coming from. For example "Streets of Rage" was an awesome game purely because of its gameplay, the story was a joke tbh and no one ever paid attention to it. So in this respect I agree with Jim... However, I also agree with Bob, that narrative is now extremely important in our games, Bioshock is given a great lvl of depth through this.

What School Shooter is is a lazy grab for attention, I doubt the gameplay is ground breaking and a game with an in depth narrative like the examples Bob and James give would be so much more interesting and explore the possibilities of an interactive medium, giving us the story from a different perspective, that we would not experience if the game was not made. School Shooter is dross.

If school shooter is a lazy grab for attention, what can you say about another artical about it on the same web site?

Just leave it.

In the wake of the Columbine incident[1] when public outcry groups were blaming Marilyn Manson and violent video games, I had thought we needed not only a game about a high-school massacre (not necessarily from the perspective of the shooters) but one that celebrated the glories of video games. That is, one that would be a jolly good time to play.

1999 was a good year for First Person Shooters, as we were reeling from (and playing again and again) the original Half-Life. So I was thinking a Half-Life mod that that grossly plagiarized or referenced the original game was ideal, things like a school-bus ride that mirrored the tram ride. The story would begin with a walk to the principals office, him deciding you were crazy and locking you in his office while he called the white-coats. The crazed gunmen would then move through the admin-office, leaving you to escape via labyrinthine air ducts, accessed with a confiscated pen-knife that would coincidentally operate much like the crowbar (or the knife in OpFor).

Good times.

I had worked out that you'd be armed early-on by an encounter with the white-coat guys and would encounter radio-active guinea pigs (from someone's science project), overly aggressive SWAT guys, zombified slackers (thanks to mutant marijuana) and may or may not encounter the two gunmen during the course of the game. I wasn't going to worry about the feasibility of the high-school archetecture, so long as it occasionally looked like an actual school from the outside and a classroom was encountered from time to time.

Then life happened, and this game got filed away with my other incomplete projects.

238U.

[1] While not there there, I was amongst the masses watching the news as events unfolded at Columbine High, as trailing students and teachers navigated their way out via channels with high amounts of cover, and the police tried to locate the gunmen. And I certainly remember the jock-esque kid disparaging the Trenchcoat Homosexual Mafia on national television, bringing to light some of the issues that may lead to shootings in general.

Towards the end, this conversation really started to remind me of the mission in SWAT 4, where you have to fight the Children of Tarrone.

As a player, it really opened my eyes to a lot of my unexamined assumptions about the value of human life, and due process of law.

I won't spoil it, but some people go in with non-lethal weapons when they read the brief, but go kill crazy when they see what's in the basement, while other people go in loaded for bear, but start trying to subdue targets mercifully when they realize what's been happening. Nobody comes out of that mission quite the same way as anybody else, and nobody comes out quite the same way they went in.

As a game designer, that really challenged me. To be able to craft something, which would evoke such a rich tapestry of complex reactions would be pretty incredible.

I kind of pity the guy who made School Shooter for not having the desire to create something like that, since his product is clearly made to evoke one simple reaction universally: disgust.

I hear the 2nd world war germans had a very good execution too, but I'd hardly call them 'good'.

mikespoff:
Jim: "However, let's say a more talented developer with a lot more time creates a School Shooter game from the ground up. Not like Super Columbine Massacre -- which comes with lengthy essays justifying the game and its message -- but exactly like School Shooter. No deep meaning, no morality, just a sandbox school environment in which you shoot up classmates and teachers for no reason. Would you still say it's bad?"

um... YES!

Because then you're taking an (apparently) talented developer and doing something pointlessly destructive. It's like taking a baseball bat and going around smashing people's car windows instead of hitting balls. There is never any redeeming value in killing random school children, so how could there possibly be anything good in this "sandbox" game?

Yes, I'm aware that most COD players don't really care about the military justifications and just want to murder each other's virtual avatars, but there is still a setting in which (under specific circumstances) their actions could be justified. Dead Space 2, for all its claimed shock value, is at least giving you the justification of "your survival depends on slaughtering everything you see".

Without those frameworks the games would have zero value.

Well in his defense that term "bad" has a two-folded answer, which he did answer, if I remember correctly. If everything involved, mechanically wise, in that game works as it should be and what makes a game a game, then no, it's not a "bad" game. However, fundamentally it's bad, horrible even, use any word you want to use to describe it, but the mechanics don't make it "bad" assuming that it's polished perfectly.

I say "bad" because it's such an ambiguous term since it gets thrown around without a real discussion on why it's bad, it's the same reason "good" is in the same boat.

I can tell by the name "School Shooter" what this game is about even though I'm not real sure exactly waht it is. But, I like the way this conversation was presented and Bob's cool went up a bit again. And, I can see what all sides are saying, I'm sure the game is shit but the idea of making a game that explores this idea in a positive way is genius, I would like to see it happen. I am sure their is a market for a more gratuitously violent school shooting game, but Im also sure a amature abortion game could sell to the right demo but kinda seems to be in bad taste (no real way to put a positive spin on amature abortion, but you know what i mean.).

[quote=]I think any game, no matter how shallow, can be analyzed on some level.[/quote]
In that case, why not talk about Ninjabread Man?

Also, I think the idea of an otherwise fun to play game with controversy surrounding it is something Bob brought up in one of his Game Overthinker episodes.

http://screwattack.com/videos/TGO-Complex-Issues

Speaking of Bob, I find his stance on "stories in games" weird. I've been told dozens of times that the best stories in games are the ones in which story meshes seamlessly with the gameplay, and when Bob brings up Japanese interactive story-tellings, their kind of stories in games is the kind where the gameplay might as well not even be there, where the player has no input at all. Not to mention, Bob loves Mario games, and their story... Well, is non-existent.

I don't know, I'm just a little confused by what he said.

Fiz_The_Toaster:

mikespoff:
Jim: "However, let's say a more talented developer with a lot more time creates a School Shooter game from the ground up. Not like Super Columbine Massacre -- which comes with lengthy essays justifying the game and its message -- but exactly like School Shooter. No deep meaning, no morality, just a sandbox school environment in which you shoot up classmates and teachers for no reason. Would you still say it's bad?"

um... YES!

Because then you're taking an (apparently) talented developer and doing something pointlessly destructive. It's like taking a baseball bat and going around smashing people's car windows instead of hitting balls. There is never any redeeming value in killing random school children, so how could there possibly be anything good in this "sandbox" game?

Yes, I'm aware that most COD players don't really care about the military justifications and just want to murder each other's virtual avatars, but there is still a setting in which (under specific circumstances) their actions could be justified. Dead Space 2, for all its claimed shock value, is at least giving you the justification of "your survival depends on slaughtering everything you see".

Without those frameworks the games would have zero value.

Well in his defense that term "bad" has a two-folded answer, which he did answer, if I remember correctly. If everything involved, mechanically wise, in that game works as it should be and what makes a game a game, then no, it's not a "bad" game. However, fundamentally it's bad, horrible even, use any word you want to use to describe it, but the mechanics don't make it "bad" assuming that it's polished perfectly.

I say "bad" because it's such an ambiguous term since it gets thrown around without a real discussion on why it's bad, it's the same reason "good" is in the same boat.

Yeah, I read his argument and I disagree. They're supposed to be making a game. Games can be fun, they can be educational, they can cause deep self-analysis, but they need to have SOME point to them. What he's describing may be a competently executed piece of software, but it still has no point and cannot thus be described as a good game.

If I place a perfect dog turd on a plate and serve it up for dinner, it is not a good meal. It fails in all the important functions of a meal, regardless of how well it was pooped out.

This is, actually, a good place to acknowledge the issue of context which comes up in numerous shooters.

Playing Left 4 Dead not too long ago, I gunned down six police officers in a single campaign. Granted, they were all infected and zombies, but shit; that still makes me (within the game) a cop-killer, and wouldn't Jack Thompson and Hillary Clinton and Fox News have a field day with that?[1]

I sometimes also wonder if the game would feel any different if we were on the verge of a medical breakthrough, and all these berserking commons could be cured, if they were captured and treated in time. It remains an issue that when zombies are no longer magically-[2]raised undead, but alive and infected, which means they are still human. Even if their brains have been fried by some kind of super-rabies or mad-human prion, they would still have rights according to every civilization known.

So, one of the easiest ways to raise the questions that come up with school shooting would be to create a Left 4 Dead campaign that includes wading through a school as part of the journey to safety and rescue. Zombies in school uniforms and faculty attire would hit the point home: The players are still shooting up a school, albeit, one in which not too much academic learning is going on anymore.

238U.

[1] This is why, incidentally, there are no riot-police Uncommon Infected in the German release of Left 4 Dead 2. They didn't take kindly to the idea that the survivors would have to fight peacekeeping officers.
[2] ...or atomically-...

Wow, that "survive a ___" (either war or random shooting) realy does need to exist to an extent that i cannot even explain. How detrimental would it be to create such a thing in a GAME (our beloved medium) and show the world that something so serious can be lived/experienced in a way that so many can barely understand. That game would work so well as a learning lesson for so many reasons. Can you guys(those present in extra consideration) PLEASE continue a talk about such an idea? I would LOVE BEYEND LOVE to hear your thoughts on how that might be introduced into society and the media.

Uriel-238:
So, one of the easiest ways to raise the questions that come up with school shooting would be to create a Left 4 Dead campaign that includes wading through a school as part of the journey to safety and rescue. Zombies in school uniforms and faculty attire would hit the point home: The players are still shooting up a school, albeit, one in which not too much academic learning is going on anymore.

238U.

The nearest existing thing is in Dead Space 2 where you go through a nursery and school and are attacked by kamikaze necromorphed babies and children. The thing there though is they are so far from appearing and attacking like children that you tend to forget it...

127.60TE

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