This excellent feature deserves to be incorporated into more video games: it provides an exciting replay

Game news This excellent feature deserves to be incorporated into more video games: it provides an exciting replay

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We all love video games. And what we appreciate even more is to be able to know all the secrets of a work we adore within the very virtual universe we travel. Because sometimes it's in the corner of a completely harmless corridor that the most incredible joke is hidden. Creating YouTube videos is good, but there is an even more interesting feature that is sadly underutilized. From Half-Life to Alone in the Dark, we move forward on a path paved with good intentions.

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  • The real Developer Direct!
  • Gospel word… with bubbles
  • Joy to give, joy to receive
  • Almost 20 years old, a good idea that was not taken advantage of

The real Developer Direct!

It was while traveling to Derceto's cursed mansion while testing the final episode of Alone in the Dark (2024) that I was reminded of this feature hit like an arrow in the heart. After taking a quick look at the game options to enable the “developer feedback”, I go to the basement of the building. In front of me, the icon of a microphone with the words “dev” swirls. I step on it. Hello and welcome to the Alone in the Dark audio commentary” echoes in the sad place. “My name is Mikael Hedberg and I am the creative director. The man, best known for his work on Amnesia: The Dark Descent and SOMA, then returns to the intro scene I just watched, detailing his redesign in relation to the game. Originally released in 1992.

A little further Rikard Ryberg, the project's art director, speaks when the player walks in front of the winter garden. Recalls the references used in the construction of this new Derceto. A few meters away, it is our national Frédérick Raynal, the creator of the first Alone released 32 years ago, who has his little say. when I turn on his microphone. He says to himself “pleased” to once again pass through the creaking doors of the haunted mansion that made him famous. Me too ! How can you not be when you have such good support?

With such guides, my second run software takes on a whole new dimension. Not only do I take the time to unlock what I haven't recovered before, as in every “new place” that respects itself, but above all I discover all the secrets of production together with Pieces Interactive. With the added benefit of words from the man who started it all, who reveals some juicy anecdotes about a piece of software that revolutionized horror adventure gaming.

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Gospel word… with bubbles

You will tell me – and you will be right – that creations in the world of video games, besides not being new, are not rare. In the 1990s, there were commercial videotapes showcasing the work of various studios. In the early 2000s, the excellent report of Fun TV in Silent Hill 2 was made available in the Konami title's collector's box, while in 2004, Microsoft offered a shocking documentary of honesty about the design of Halo 2 in the limited edition of the software. Since then, we have noticed the arrival of many attempts on YouTube, either for God of War, The Last of Us Part II the Psychonauts 2. Developer word is valuable in the video game worldand there's reason to be excited when we're given the chance to discover what goes on under the neon lights of the studios, even if the exercise is scrutinized by the marketing departments of the industry's biggest conglomerates.

Even if Valve offered as well a report rather conventional in its form, in order to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the release of Half-Life, the American group revolutionized the idea of ​​​​creating dedicated to video games in 2005, on the occasion of the playable technical demo Half-Life 2: Lost Coast. In fact, layers highlighting the Source Engine's HDR performance showed bubbles floating above the ground. When the player activates them, a member of the development team speaks to give information or various anecdotes. Valve then incorporated this interactive commenting system into Episode 1, Episode Two, Portal, Portal 2, Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2, and Team Fortress 2. In Half-Life: Alyx, instead of having to activate the bubbles, the player has to put a headset on their head in VR as if visiting the bridges of Paris on a riverboat. Well done!

This excellent feature deserves to be incorporated into more video games: it provides an exciting replay

Joy to give, joy to receive

Let's just say that this process is simply brilliant. Rather than copying what exists in the world of cinema with its documentaries for viewing on DVD/Blu-Ray bonuses, this commentary system is based on what video games do best compared to other media: l interactivity. It's actually up to the user to decide when to listen to a comment, as well as how much time to spend between two bubbles to deepen (or not) the exploration. Developers, for their part, take advantage of this giant tour of the depths of their production to periodically bring up the debug menu to show player trajectories, 3D model information, or even hitboxes. There is simply no better way to reveal the secrets of a creation!

“When Pirates of the Caribbean started eating, they didn't eat tourists”

When the “comments”, activated in Valve games, the player becomes invulnerable or undetectable by the AI. This is why achievements cannot be unlocked. A choice that Pieces Interactive didn't make with Alone in the Dark: jokes are an overlay to the base game that needs to be turned on/off at any time. Monsters can therefore attack you in the middle of a juicy joke.

These listening comments from objects that work directly embedded in the software world are the perfect opportunity to get into the details design that would have been cut during editing in a classic make-of, in a video, not to exceed an hour and a half. Half-Life Alyx has 3 hours of commentary scattered across 147 points of interest for an adventure estimated at around twelve hours. Yes, it's a long time to go into detail, and that's a good thing.

This excellent feature deserves to be incorporated into more video games: it provides an exciting replay

In Valve's games, this feature gives us the chance to hear Gabe Newell, the company's big boss, offer an introduction as well as a conclusion, not without inviting players to message him after releasing his business email. In Alone in the Dark, this system allows you to learn more about the meta-aspect that is not the most accessible on the first try. And getting the goodbyes from Pieces Interactive artists as well as Frédérick Raynal just before the final boss fight has something terribly surreal about itI have to confess.

Almost 20 years old, a good idea that was not taken advantage of

As you can tell, this great feature would be perfect for most games on the market with a single player campaign. Resident Evil, Uncharted, Elden Ring, Halo, Zelda… all would be ideal candidates for interactive commentary. Aside from Valve's creations and Alone in the Dark, no other major game involving a similar process comes to mind. And that's a shame, because there are many avenues that can be explored to make this functionality better integrated and even more exciting. There was the very clever The Making of Karateka, which is real interactive documentarybut most of the time, concoctions are content with YouTube videos of different lengths.

This excellent feature deserves to be incorporated into more video games: it provides an exciting replay

Each completed game is a marvel in itselfWe can read from the third page of the book written by Jason Schreier,Blood, tears and pixels” (Mother Books). Yes, the video games we love are complex products that bring together a large number of professions. Who would have thought 35 years ago that companies would hire level designers, camera writers or even technical artists? Getting the chance to hear what the writers have to say about their creations in the video game they designed is a luxury that is always very rare. Do a second one run hanging out with the developers on an interactive journey filled with anecdotes is one of the best ways to motivate me to relaunch a title. And I dare imagine I'm not the only one.

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