Tag Archives: Games


The Annoying Valley

OK, you probably know about ‘the uncanny valley’ (maybe start at the Wikipedia article if you don’t), but do you know about ‘the annoying valley’? If you’ve played a video game in the last bunch of years, I’m sure you do.

In an effort to make their AI players more human-like, a lot of game developers add little human touches, like a character saying something to you in a specific situation. But what’s a pain is that they often say the _exact_ same thing in the _exact_ same way (basically, the same sampled audio) in the same situations. Such that you hear it possibly dozens or hundreds of times in the course of normal gameplay. This is annoying, this is the annoying valley.

Some sounds in a game you expect to repeat exactly or nearly exactly, because they would in real life. But humans are so rarely that boring, so the fact that it’s supposed to be a human reaction just makes the annoyance level skyrocket. I suppose you could call that a personal problem, and I certainly understand the relative difficulty of making human speech/animation that sounds/looks good _and_ has lots of natural-seeming variability, but still…


Hair sketching

I wonder if Shahzad Malik has ever played with Barbie Magic Hairstyler:

Shahzad Malik’s Web Page – Projects (see ‘Hair Sketching’ project)

(I already explained how I know about Barbie Magic Hairstyler.)


“Make Your Own Fun/Rules”

These are some pretty great suggestions about modifying gameplay by conventions to get some more life out of your video games:

game girl advance: Make Your Own Fun/Rules.

I try this sort of thing on occasion, but I haven’t yet reached the heights of creativity demonstrated here. Part of it is that I mostly play games by myself, so I don’t really have the social component that is key to those rule sets, nor do I have other people checking me on whether I’m sticking to the rules.

This reminds me of something I’ve been thinking about lately with regard to video games (well, it’s true of all games), which is that the structure of a game, its rules, scoring, criteria for winning, etc., imply a certain value system. To play the game ‘by the rules’ is to agree to enter or pretend to enter into that value system for a while. That can be fun and that can be annoying/frustrating/disgusting. I forsee video games getting more and more direct support for regular gamers (i.e. not modders or programmers) to modify the rules of the game to tailor it to their own value choices.

For example, in Need for Speed Underground 2, I like to play drift races, but I don’t quite like how the game scores them (wagging your ass all over the place willy-nilly gets you lots of points, for example). If I had some nice little control panel where I could modify the scoring algorithm, then I could have more fun with the game and still have the computer track my ‘performance’ for me. Of course, I can always just ignore the scores, but why not have a nice middle ground?


“LEDhead: Classic Electronic Handheld Game Simulator”

Cool enough idea, though I never did like these things that much.
Peter Hirschberg – LEDhead Classic Electronic Handheld Game Simulator