View Full Version : UT2kX MOV - Lords of Xibalba

16th Apr 2008, 12:48 PM
Hi everybody!

Last year I did a Masters course in Game Design and Development in a University in the Netherlands (Utrecht School of the Arts). For my final project/thesis I touched upon the subject of how to bring non-western culture themes to a western market, without sacrificing the integrity of the source culture. I also did a machinima as a proof of concept for the thesis, where I applied everything that I said.

After several months, I finally decided that I should upload the project and thesis for everybody to see. I think it has gained more relevance for us (the Unreal community) specially after the fallout that various people have had with Unreal Tournament 3 and its less colorful palette. :o

As for the thesis, it has some flaws, but ultimately I also believe that I make some valid points regarding the treatment of non western themes and the retreading of the same old same old themes (sci-fi, military, and medieval). And about the machinima, well, heheheh I am definitely not a script writer, cameraman, or voice actor, but I hope you guys can get past its technical flaws and enjoy it. It's very colorful, at least! :D

The zip file including the machinima, thesis, and a small readme can be found in http://hosted.filefront.com/hieloco. There is also an SD video file of the movie in there, in case you don't want to install anything. It's a longer download, though.

In the end, I don't want to sound pretentious like if I know how to fix the industry, but it would be pretty nice if we could discuss arguments and counter arguments in this thread, if anyone would like to give the thesis a read! Oh and one more thing, I don't slam Gears (themewise) just because, but I think that it is the poster boy for this new trend in grayish, too-much-testosterone themes. (I slam Prince of Persia Warrior Within more, anyways.)

Anyhoo, I have gotten quite wordy already, so I'll leave it at that and better use my time in putting my fire retardant suit! :lol:

Oh yeah, ahem... ECE and latest patch required for viewing!


17th Apr 2008, 12:04 PM

18th Apr 2008, 03:36 PM
Downloading,hell yeah!:-)

Glad to have you back brotha!:-)

20th Apr 2008, 08:29 AM
Well done, the movie was nice but this is especially the thesis that impressed me. Bec it's precisely what I think as well, I regret the lack of non-western themed games, a lot. I'm not working in the video game industry, though I do dream of it, but I would love a hell lot to have games taking place in Mayan, Aztec, African or any other pretty unpopular culture. Really, it's something I miss a lot.

And the example you took (Prince of Persia) is a serie that I know well (I'm a fan actually). So reading this yesterday was refreshing and really interesting.

I loved The Sands of Times for it was romantic, a bit naive, dreamy. I like of course the One Thousand And One Nights universe and the game was fitting to my own "clichés" about this world. Warrior Within is really not my thing though (I'm not really attracted by excessive violence and sex), I played it but it was so different from the Sands of Time... I liked the fact that SoT was a bit like a tale for children, it was really a part of what made this game attractive for me. And for the Two Thrones, yeah I like it, the mix between the two other episodes is quite well done, and makes the game great. The first remains my favorite one still, maybe I'm still just a young boy :D

Your thesis is solid, and I have to say that I definetely agree with you. Obviously, with the mass culture nowadays, a game taking place in an original culture needs some solid arguments to meet a reasonable success. Using clichés is certainly a good idea. It can help people to find some familiar elements in a culture they don't know much about. Of course, as you said, too many clichés would ruin the culture (or the game). The clichés must be chosen with care and used properly.

Non-western themed games could "open the eyes" of many people to culture they might have never heard of. How many people know that the Ethiopans were once a great civilization? How many people really know what was the Mayan civilization? I'm sure you got a point there so, keep on the good work :D

Best wishes for the future :)

23rd Apr 2008, 10:54 AM
Thanks for the comments!

Actually, isn't the alleged Ark of the Covenant in Ethiopia? I think they also have a lot to do with the lost tribes of Israel. Such a mysterious premise would be awesome for a game, yet nobody even thinks about it! Instead everybody focuses on the next generic muscle mass to exert as much violence as possible on somebody else (hmmm... Resident Evil 5 with ethiopian zombies... ohhh the irony!).

And don't get me wrong, it's not that these games are bad per se, it's just that developers cannot seem to think about anything else! Heck, the Master Chief, Marcus Fenix, the dude from Crysis, and the dude from Dark Sector (which ripped Gears of all things)... they are all interchangeable at some level! It's like if all Hollywood started making ONLY Arnold, Bruce Willis, and Stallone movies. Again, they have their place, and they are fun, but ONLY those for the last few years?

But I also understand how devs have to sell, so I can see them taking fewer risks. However, devs with boatloads of money should maybe try to take more risks, specially with their themes. That way maybe they open new markets that not even they knew were there!

23rd Apr 2008, 03:09 PM
Yeah, you're right about the Ark of the Covenant -awesome plot :D But yeah, it's not that simple for devs to take risks in such a market. But honnestly, I think they don't take enough risk either. I mean, games evolved a lot in term of graphics, but the rest hasn't changed as much as we are often told. Many old games are still excellent, even with old graphics.

I'm thinking right now about games such as Outcast, Little Big Adventure... though not taking place in real world, they both have an original universe, it's more or less science-fiction, but not classic at all. I really miss games of this kind...

But to come back to the original subject, a game like Assassin's Creed is pretty interesting and could have been done with a completely different theme. Though the game is too repetitive, it's an interesting kind of historical (mixed with science-fiction) game. The scenario could have been adapted to a completely different background like, I dunno... Aztecs and Conquistadors maybe? But instead, the devs chose a more "classic" background (crusades) with stunning graphics and easy gameplay, to make sure the game meets a large success.

Future devs got a lot of possibilities to create new and interesting games actually, but old devs could at least 'give a try' to themes they never really used. Some of them got quite enough money I think, lol.