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chingchong

"Christian" Games/ Developers ?

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Andrew:

 

I'd love to read anything you have written (and translated).  I thought that the document you linked to was extremely well written and clear.

 

Just send anything you would like me to read and comment on to 3dcoattraining@gmail.com

 

 

Greg

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It is quite a modern idea to "play a video game" which simulates the real world to some degree.  Games, before this time, were allegories in and of themselves - no actual conflict or violence was graphically illustrated - mostly, these games embodied the idea of conquest.  Chess and many card games come to mind.

 

The Christian simply does not feel the need for conquest or defeating an enemy - since all this has been done freely for him.  The battle and "violence" for the Christian exists within himself - it is an internal battle for the occupation of his mind and heart and imagination.  His actual experience is a transformative one - happening in a way that is all but invisible to the outside world.

 

This process and experience is not "game-like" in any way - so, it becomes almost counter-intuitive to try and translate the Christian's experience into the terms and environments that people who are not on this journey, themselves, know and understand.  "Worlds apart" might be an adequate description.

 

However, there are aspects of the natural world that we find ourselves living in which could be reflected upon, possibly interpreted and made wonderful to the eyes of those who have not seen it.  Simulating the experience of "enlightened sight and vision" - a presentation of "The Paradise" that once was - and parts of which still exist for us to see, to smell, to taste and experience and enjoy.

 

I've always wanted to attempt to present something interactive like this.  However, it is a much more difficult task than I ever imagined.  Even with the natural simulation tools available to us today.  Just look at the actual detail contained in a single tree of any type, photographically - and then look at the best attempts at simulating the complexity and beauty of such a tree - made by graphical experts with the aid of a computer and software - and the difference between the two is overwhelming - and the presentation of a single tree, entirely disappointing.

 

Quite possibly, it is an impossible task for any one person or group of people to achieve.  I can't tell you how many days, nights, weeks, months and years I have dedicated to attempting to produce and present such a "picture".

 

Bob Ross probably came a lot closer with physical media than I ever did with digital media - physical media having the advantage of virtually instant application of the vision in ones mind and imagination.  The limitations of physical media actually encourage production - by eliminating the seemingly infinite number of possibilities that digital media introduces to the process of realistic or impressionistic representation of anything natural - not to mention those things present in "The Paradise".

 

 

Greg Smith

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I was thinking something like that too actually, I was very busy before, and I'm just getting my head back above water.  But I was thinking of even doing like an open project with the 3D Coat and Blender community to help demonstrate what the software can do.  This idea was for a really short basketball clip with another 3D Coat user who also happens to be a Christian brother.  But perhaps that is an idea.  Create an open project and break it up into tasks and allow people to contribute as they are able.

 

Could be a good idea. But first, there have to be a convincing concept (for everyone).

 

 

@chingchong

Syberia has good concept, I played it, but we was considering some freedom for player. We was aiming to do something like Oblivion/Skyrim but with christian background. Include moral characteristics that force personage to do some uncontrollable thinngs....

 

Yes i agree, that RPG is a difficult format to games with christian background. Ive thought about that, too. Ive played many RPG ,with fascination, in my youth (you name it Oblivion, but also Gothic, RoM), and im following the recent developments too, just because i like the graphic develompents and creative settings. Open World RPGs are really tempting, but my main problem with it was (additionally to fighting aspects), that a game with too much freedom and no guidance leads often to massive time consumption. Best would be if such games dont support isolation of the player. So best it should be designed to have a deep meaning and  played with friends or family, as an alternative to current concepts.

 

In terms of choosing PP-Book as source for RPG i think you maybe stuck with wrong format. I know i probably came some years too late, but may i suggest another approach. Actually ive thought also about choosing  PP for making games. But the opinion i came up with is, that best Format for that storytelling would be game in the style of "Tomb Raider" (without the shooting part).  So mostly a Adventure mixup of a  3D Plattformer/ Jump and Run/ Explorer/ Puzzle/ Survival. But it would be to hard to create such game for me, alone.

- I imagine for example the swamp could be designed as Plattformer area, and after slipping and falling into swamp, you would be saved by Helper using maybe a "Quicktime Action".

 

 

For a RPG-Format there could be another approach. Using the View of an Antagonist.

For Example:

- You're the Member of the Inquisition, persecuting some christian ´heretics`, so your first quests would be finding them, inprison them or eliminating them. As as you are confronted with them more and more, youre doubting more and more your role in this tragedy and the legitimacy of the churchs action against, you will find the contradiction between this action and the essence of the gospel; till all will come to your decision at the end of the game.

 

 

Psmith

Posted Yesterday, 07:54 PM

It is quite a modern idea to "play a video game" which simulates the real world to some degree.  Games, before this time, were allegories in and of themselves - no actual conflict or violence was graphically illustrated - mostly, these games embodied the idea of conquest.  Chess and many card games come to mind.

 

I will try to answer you, when im back at home :)

Edited by chingchong

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@PSmith:

I agree with you on your thoughts about conquest and defeating in christian context.

 

And i also feel that the gospel isnt something to treat lightly. Thats my problem with some christian games which exist. For example there was once a game where the character had a "spiritiual" sword to fight battles against romans with it. After defeating, the persecuting romans would be not "killied", but converted to christianity. Although the developer transfered the fighting into a spiritual level, and to some degree i can imagine what  he wanted to express, i dont agree with his approach. It just feels not right to take this for gameplay. Because the act of (to some degree) agressive converting would be highly controversal even if the dev didnt want this to look aggressive. It is one thing to take the picture of battle to convey the personal struggling of the pilgrims soul, but a  whole different thing if you put it in for a gameplay like done. The gospel is violated here.

 

So is there no place for games with christian context or background? 

 

In my opinion there is a place. Because like any other media, games could be a stylistic device for narration. Like you can use animation and film.

With one obvious exeption, its interactive, and you can reflect with your interaction on the narration and on yourself. 

So you can express trough a "picture" the doubts and struggling of a person and offer a solution, without to condemn. There  are other solutions available, besides for example weapons. (as suggested in most common video games). But as i mentioned above, even weapons could be  used as a narrative instrument, in the right context (and with right rating). For example just like in anti- war movies.

 

Speaking of picturing realism. Real conflicts and situations is what we have to deal every day. So using it in any narrative medium is appealing to most people. Offering Solutions and alternatives to common opinions could be fruitful for some people.

 

p.s.  Not a common view, but i believe that the gospel has its place in every media. We just have to pay attention, that we are not violating the gospel with our concepts in any aspect. I believe that Mark 16, 15 tells us that every creation (and also the man made creations) should be steeped in the gospel.

 

 

I hope you unterstand what i meant, as im not a native english speaker.

Edited by chingchong

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Found some interesting links, which i wanted to share.

 

Very fair Kotaku article on christian game developers (not = christian games), not the usual bashing i've expected.

http://kotaku.com/5821259/christian-game-developers-want-to-leave-bad-games-behind

 

Vincent van Brummen from Vertigo Games speaks at the CGDC 2014 about the difficulties they experienced while attempting to make a AAA "christian" game and how it ended, and what they did with the remains of the project (actually they created "Adam Venture" out of the fragments). 

Edited by chingchong

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I digged out my old thread: :D Cause i have something intresting to share regarding this topic.

There is a really decent looking game from a christian based developer on kickstarter, i backed instantly, maybe someone wants to join me.

The Rise of the King - Kickstarter Project

 

Game website

Quote

...the team became motivated to create positive entertainment founded upon a Christian worldview.  The majority of video game development today is built on addictive behavioral tendencies and designed to keep people playing rather than to provide them with any type of meaningful experience.

The aim was to create interactive entertainment that wants more than to merely keep people playing, but to give redeeming, fun and thoughtful experiences.  Rather than attempt to focus on perks, upgrades, levels and gear,  Game-play and Story are the focus of development.  We want people to play our games because they’re fun, not simply because of whats in the treasure chest.

 

 

Edited by chingchong
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On 7/16/2015 at 3:33 AM, AbnRanger said:

Yeah, the games industry is almost entirely secularized and it would be hard to find a game that doesn't attempt to tickle the hormone levels of young teens/males with some busty warrior babes in it...or gratuitous violence. If there is not much of a market for something, it's very hard to attempt to do anything that's high quality. It's why you don't see hardly any film animation with a Biblical/Christian background. It's a limited market...at least in the sense of getting the right funding and marketing behind it. Many thought there was no market for major films based on Biblical content. The Passion of the Christ proved them wrong. And recently, there have been a spate of Christian oriented films that have made profit margins at the box office that would make any production studio or distributor green with envy. So, it really is a quality issue and a distribution issue. If both of those are there, even a game has a chance to break the mold.

I think the problem for Christian games is like the problem with Christian literature, or Christian comic books. 

 

The problem is that invariably the authors are obsessed with their didactic inentions and  not in making a well written entertaining work of art. All too often the work produced is heavy handed, tedious and predictable. 

 

But that doesn't mean that it's impossible for Christians to produce great works of art. Far from it. 

 

What is required is that the artist be skilled enough, subtle minded enough and possess attributes like a real sense of humor or a real talent for his craft. 

 

For example Evelyn Waugh, particularly his novel Brideshead Revisited, or Tolkein and his Hobbit and Lord of the Rings or CS Lewis and his Narnia stories. All immensely entertaining and hugely popular works, but also profoundly Christian works. No one would walk into a bookstore and say; "this is Roman Catholic propaganda" when seeing them yet there it is. They are profoundly steeped in the morality, and the theology of Christianity.

 

So why are they successful works of art despite (or because of) being Christian?

 

Because at no time did the authors censor themselves or talk down to their audience or avoid the unpleasant aspects of the world. In particular Evelyn Waugh was an unpleasant man full of cynicism and combatitiveness. For him humor was a weapon weilded against sin, its purpose to ridicule vice and evil. He wielded it with devastating effect in many of his often scandalous novels. In Vile Bodies, his first hilarous novel, the Prime Minister of Great Britain is depicted as an opium addict who lusts for little boys!  This in the 1920's.  But then Evelyn was a member of high British society and probably had inside information. Being a Christian does not mean bein a milque toast. It's fine to be pugilistic and fight back. Of course at the same time he had an immense aesthetic love for the beauty of this world and the beauty of Christendom that balanced his wickedly funny ridicule of vice.

But back to games; are there any Christian games? 

Yes there are. Total War is a great game for Christians, particularly Medieval Total War. Become the King or Queen of Spain and drive out Islam, build churches, then great cathedrals, pay to produce priests and send them off to convert the masses so you can civilize territories, go on Crusades to liberate the Holy Land. 

 

I even take it one step further by playing according to the moral principles in regard to war as outlined by St. Thomas Aquinas, and did it with success.

 

I think even Total War has ignored the greatest Christian crisis of all; the terrible murderous Guerre de Trente Ans, where half the population of what is now Germany was eradicated in an demented atmosphere of religious frenzy.

 

As I said one must not offer art (or games which are also art) that is  castrated or vitiated of life. One must place Christianity in the real world which is often challenging and complex and perplexing but not without its successes. There are many other Christian games one could create but that would require a deep knowledge of history and philosophy and literature and art.

 

Note that Waugh, Tolkein and Lewis cited above were all profoundly learned men with great subtlety of mind. And you'd better have a strong visual sense, a huge sense of humor and  total mastery of your craft. Stupidity, being a bore, or clumsiness will not be excused just because you were theologically righteous, though if you're that stupid and clumsy then probably your theology will be a mess too.

 

Now Andrew created 3D Coat with the ultimate self stated view of one day creating a Pilgrim's Progress. Andrew has been and continues to be much ridiculed and even the object of hatred for his Christian views. I have never partaken of this and never will. I like Andrew and if you know a man through his works then 3D Coat has allowed me to know Andrew to be an excellent person.  But I would say that of all the Christian works to make a game from, Pilgrim's Progress would be perhaps one of the worst. 

 

It's humorless and overtly didactic and to the modern mind a lot like listening to a sermon by a droning old man that puts you to sleep faster than a  sleeping pill.

 

Now Dante's Inferno on the other hand...

 

dore-divine-comedy.jpg

 

But to the point; how to make a "Christian game"? 

I think part of the problem lies in game mechanics. I've stopped playing games even though I love Total War and I love Arma 3 and I enjoyed S.T.A.L.K.E.R a lot. But there's a problem or problems with games that has turned me away and it lies fundamentally in the mechanics of the games and their AI. 

Most games do not utilize multiple cores. They call for one fast core really.  Now Arma has a mod that utilizes a "headless server" and that has vastly improved the effectiveness of the AI. 

But even at that there's the problem of your interaction with the artificial world of the games. How do you interact in the games? Well you run around explore the terrain and then when you meet other players or the game's AI bots you kill them. You shoot them, smash them stab the, blow them up, run them over, you murder them. That is to say you behave like a pschopath, and that is very unChristian. 

 

And it's very disappointing too. I want to meet artificial characters that can pass the Turing Test. I want to talk to them learn from them, be influenced by them and influence them through speech. 

 

Take Assassin's Creed. The trailers are amazing and you should be in places that are amazing but they're not. It's a boring game of murder again. I don't care if you can jump off rooftops and have a  dozen knives up your sleeve and in your boots.

 

Or take Dishonored 2. I was amazed by its trailer and the story line depicted promised great things. But it's all bait and switch. The story sucks and all you do is...kill people. People with grotesquely cartoonish personalities so it's OK to just slit their throats and be a psychopath with them.

 

Until we have better AI or AL combined with AI characters that you can interact with in a more subtle and human non criminal manner then I despair of the game  medium as not only a  Christian form or art but even as a sane human form of art whatsoever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by L'Ancien Regime
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@ L'Ancien Regime :

Thanks for picking up the discussion, although the last post of me was only to share the concept of these christian based devs (and their motivation, which is worth to support btw). ;)

 

Quote

You shoot them, smash them stab the, blow them up, run them over, you murder them. That is to say you behave like a pschopath, and that is very unChristian... 

 

I agree with that :D, of course you cannot say this for all sort of games (there are some simulators, racing, sports games and point & click adventures which are different by nature).

But yes, if you look at most AAA-productions and video game blockbusters recently (wich are shooters, action adventures or RPG's, killing and revenge is a main concept!  Of course its all virtual, and of course the reality is harsh and brutal, but i believe it is possible to depict the realities of our world in games without being forced to partake in its methods, philosophy or typical ways of conflict resolution (kill your enemy). Thats really not in the way of the gospel. I will not use the term "christian" in this regard anymore, because there was a time when it was very "christian" to kill and to fight wars, and even worse things were done. :-/

Just like i said in one of my earlier posts, i think i you want to try a more positive concept in a game. If you want to create a immersive game with a good story, if you want to create a meaningful experience then you have to think outside of the box. The most popular genres (see above) are not the best choice for that.  A genre like a point'n'click adventure or a hybrid of different genres would be the best to create an experience, which will be like your favourite book. Because that's it. Why should something what is possible in a good movie or a good book, not be possible with a video game. Its another media, but a very interactive one. 

There are many reasons why a "unreligious" game or a "christian" game is bad. First off, if its the wrong audience, then it takes no wonder :D .

Then the poor design of some games... storywise and/or artistically.

Look at the project ive shared above... now it looks very good and professional, but there was a time the concept looked bad & childish because of the art: 

https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=457913575 ; here you automatically would say the addressed audience are kids. 

But with the new concept and the new art, you would say,  its for an older audience: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=904973711 

 

Edit:

Here is a good article on religion in video games i want to share, too:

https://videogamesandthebible.com/2017/04/26/how-outlast-2-video-games-get-religion-wrong/

 

 

 

Edited by chingchong
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Hi chingchong,

just found your forum by searching for christian game development and saw that you made some investigations in this  field already. I'm a christian 3D-artist and would like to participate in a project. I'm more the modeler although I did some animation, working with Lightwave 3D, ZBrush, Vue, 3D-Coat and most recently with Houdini (still learning). Although I'm working on my own I think I should share my skills with others. I would not request for money but it should be a serious project and not only a 'let's try something' - if you know what I mean. I have been searching for years but gave it up and started my own project. But as a team-worker, this is no fun. So it seems you have more insight.
And therefore my question: Do you know a serious project where I could participate in?

Thank you,

Wolfgang

Homepage: http://www.free-d.at

(Wir können auch in Deutsch schreiben, wenn das einfacher ist) 

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