August 2019
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The People Demand Openness…
By Chris

Game design has come a long way in the last 30-odd years.  We have come to expect a certain level of realism in graphics, sound, and physics.  No offense to the ground breaking Pong but it didn’t really nail any of these on the head.  In its simplicity, however, Pong managed to avoid a trouble that has plagued most modern games…a seemingly insurmountable problem without a solution as unsolvable as Rubik’s cube wrapped in a sudoku wearing a crossword puzzle hat.  I am talking, of course, about the painted-on door.

Yes, the painted-on door.  You know the one.  When walking through your favourite first or third person perspective game, you’re bound to run into a bounty of them.  They don’t lead anywhere…in fact, they don’t really do anything.  They appear to be some sort of an artist’s crutch; too imaginative to paint in some drywall, too lazy to design a room.

It seems a ubiquitous plague nowadays but surely there must have been a genesis of this annoyance.  Research on the subject proved to be rather difficult.  Googling “fake video game doors” and “painted on doors” yielded little in the way of useful results.  I often found my leads ending up in the same places.  I watched Youtube videos of playthroughs of first person shooter grand-daddies Wolfenstein 3D and Doom as a refresher and failed to see anything that even resembled a fake door.  In fact, these games are such fans of real doors that not only do they not have painted-on doors, they hide some areas behind real doors disguised as walls.  Wow!  Those were heady days.

Somewhere along the path to games like Gears of War and Call of Duty, we lost our way.  The problem has become so bad that in some games we are no longer even graced with messages like “Sorry, this door is locked” or the sound of a doorknob rattling.  We are left to assume that a zombie, while hunting for brains, took a timeout to paint a door on the wall.  Yeah, that’s right, survival/horror games may very well be the worst offenders of any genre.

I understand the logic behind the fake door (although, really, there’s nothing behind a fake door).  When walking down the simulated streets of Liberty City, I get why Niko can’t enter every single building.  It would take a mind-blowing amount of effort to program that many building interiors, not to mention the fact that’s it’s incredibly unrealistic for every door of every edifice to be unlocked.  I beg of game makers, though, to give me some kind of tactile feedback that my actions have at least registered.

Since it appears that no one has ever written about it before, this is now the definitive article on fake doors.  Perhaps painted-on doors are actually the deep, dark secret of the video game industry.  Every year, at trade shows and game development conferences, programmers and artists gather together and laugh at us, the innocent, game loving public, and our susceptibility.  In my head, their conversation goes something like this:
Artist: “Why doesn’t anyone question why I put a door there that doesn’t do anything?”
Programmer: “I don’t know but I’m certainly not going to reward their curiosity by putting in a giggling padlock sound.”
Artist: “Hahaha.  They really are all dumb.  I can’t believe more people don’t complain about this.”
Programmer:  “Yup, now let’s put on our money hats and blow this pop stand.”

Truly, my friends, the romance with painted-on doors is over.

Wow, that was truly a LOLercoaster of a good post.  Nicely done.

Personally, I prefer completely non-interactive doors to doors that just make the jangly knob sound, and then never open.  Then I can at least chalk it up to a miscommunication between art and programming.  Maybe the programmer thought that door was just supposed to be a decorative tapestry of some kind?  Jiggle knob noise tells me that he knows it’s a door, he’s just not putting anything in there.  He could at least have the decency to fill the space behind the door with empty crates.  I know these games have serious crate storage issues, since they pile the damned things everywhere there’s room.  Perhaps all these broken doors are just hiding caches of empty wooden boxes?  It’s something we have to consider.

Also, if I ever possess a money hat, I will don it jauntily, and proclaim “let’s blow this pop stand!”.  I might say popsicle instead of pop.  I haven’t decided yet.
3 Comments • Comments RSSTrackBack URI
  1. 2009-04-17 14:30

    I know nobody commented on this post, but I would just like to say that it is totally awesome.

  2. AndrewBoldman
    2009-06-04 8:06

    The article on antibiotics are very good.

  3. 2009-06-04 10:24

    It’s pretty sad that other than me, only a bot appreciated this post enough to comment. Look Chris, the article are very good!

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