Monday, September 11, 2006

Call of the Wild

Wild Earth demo is worth your time if you like watching nature shows on the Discovery Channel. And I do.

It falls into the category of casual picture-taking game, a genre choked with . . . well, not much actually. Pokemon Snap. A few other games.

There's plenty of fascinating exposition as you observe animals in their habitats doing whatever it is that animals do. The number of behaviors modeled is pretty amazing, and you're tasked with documenting them all while also snapping shots of other flora and fauna.

Wandering around, in fact, I was struck by just how much game players get shafted when it comes to interesting creature behavior.

In a typical game, let's say an MMO, you have hostile creatures and friendly creatures. Friendly creatures kind of wander and chew and maybe flee. Hostile creatures wander until you aggro, then they attack. They might flee when their health drops. That's about it.

They don't stamp the ground and charge to scare you off. They don't rub against trees or wash their young. They don't nurse and they don't vie for dominance and they don't mate.

Bioshock, from Irrational Games, looks to be treading a little outside the hostile/friendly box, with different classes of creatures pursuing different goals. Some won't be hostile until you interrupt their function. Some will defend other creatures. A great studio, so I'm expecting to be blown away while remaining levelheaded.

Must . . . resist . . . hype.

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