||[Saturday 13th May 2006 at 2:56 am]
Dom, let me be among the first to wish you happy birthday.
Yes, I am still up. I'm vaguely considering staying up to see the sun rise, which is something I've not been awake for for many years.
Ended up playing a few games of pool at the grapevine on campus. I must say, I rather liked the atmosphere there. I'd not been there before, and certainly not played pool for many many years (and then it was snooker). Actually did rather well. I won a game against Dan, lost a couple of games against Dom and then later win another when Dom potted the black very early on, and almost won against Will. Stupid cue ball followed the black into the pocket (put topspin on it by accident).
Train back got delayed by about half an hour, due to things generally falling apart on Southern today. Apparently London Bridge had a signal failure (which tends to halt all rail traffic involving the station in question), and then another train broke down near Burgess Hill. End result was the London-Brighton trains being routed via Lewes, and so a bit of a traffic jam at Brighton station.
I wish I'd had my camera with me, as there was a very nice view across the valley. I took a slightly different route back, which takes me a bit higher than usual, and I could see the lights right across the valley, with the moon low in the sky. A nice, big, yellow full moon, with textbook cloud cover in front. Also a bright light in the air above it - probably a planet but I don't know which. I paused for a moment at the top of the hill to just admire the view. There's something about a full moon.
It's even more impressive when you're in the country, and so there's no streetlights or cars. There, a full moon easily gives enough light to wander round by. I suppose the same's true of towns and cities, but all the light pollution tends to drown the stars out.
Will, Nick and I ended up having a long discussion/arguement/debate which I think started out as "Which is better - Final Fantasy 7 or 8?" and appeared to turn into "Hard sciences haven't come up with anything useful in the past 50 years", after passing through such topics as "What is it about Ocarina of Time and FF7 that makes them the best games ever?", "Psychology sucks" and "For the past 200 years the hard sciences have been doing more theory and less experimentation". So a typcial conversation about Life, the Universe and Everything then.
The one about Ocarina of Time got rather interesting. The basic question was what is it about Ocarina of Time that makes it such a great game. It's not one I can actually come up with an answer to, other than it just seems to, well, grab my attention and my imagination.
Actually, I think that's it. I can readily imagine the whole world of Hyrule, and can sort of connect emotionally with Link, which is something that few games offer. Not many games let you get that involved in the plot, and give you that much freedom with your conceptions of it. I cna understand the reasoning behind why Link never speaks (other than to answer a question) - that way you're not forced to conform to the character. If I want Link to be saving Hyrule out of the good of his heart then I can, conversly if I want the only reason to be fame and riches then again I can.
It's not the only case where I can 'see' myself in that world. I've always found the Dark is Rising series of books (by Susan Cooper) to be similar. The Greenwitch is actually there, in my mind, and the forces of Dark and Light are battling it out. I'm with the Drews as they explore the caves and solve the puzzles to find the Grail, and with Will as he searches for the Signs.
I'm now thinking of quite a few games and books that captivate me to that extent. In Myst, there's the Stoneship Age. A tall ship, with a stone island in the middle. It's... again, I'm not quite sure how to describe what I feel when I play it, and how I end up immersed in the world created by the authours. From this, my mind jumps to the Tall ships of old, to a particular song (Tall Ships by Show of Hands, free download from their site), and then on to Cornwall. There's something about the Susan Cooper books and the link with Cornwall. Certainly I want to go back there, and visit all the places I used to go and know.
Thinking about this, I can now understand why there's a particular book in the university library. Creating emotion in games (by David Freeman, ISBN 1592730078). It's about creating these sort of worlds, fleshing out the characters and the enviroments, and allowing the player to immerse themselves in the world and actually believe they could be there. I must have a read of it.