Design, Design, Design

What if we found a game’s character who was focused on something else? What if we talked about a young outcast boy who wears sandals, has a bandage around his head, and holds somebody’s hand?

Micah Edmonds

What makes a TeamICO game the iconic story that it is? It’s all about the design. Today we are going to consider the words of YouTube creators who delved into the tenants of masterful storytelling, unveiling some of the elements that make Fumito Ueda’s games, ICO and Shadow of the Colossus, so unique.

There are twelve videos in this post, each sequenced so that ideas from one are developed further in the next. They are:

  1. ICO and Mechanical Connection
  2. Colossus and Narrative Construction
  3. Masterful Design Part I: Narrative and Morality
  4. Masterful Design Part II: Visual Composition
  5. Masterful Design Part III: Cinematic Language
  6. The Beauty of Kow Otani’s Soundtrack: How Music Tells its Story
  7. Shadow of the Colossus and Assumed Heroes
  8. Morality in Gaming: Through the Lens of Shadow
  9. Moral Complexity in Shadow of the Colossus
  10. Morality in Music: Shadow of the Colossus
  11. The Power of Music: Requiem for a Colossus
  12. Shadow of the Colossus Analysis: A Ludonarrative Interpretation

First up we have two videos by Micah Edmonds, ICO and Mechanical Connection, and Colossus and Narrative Construction.

[01]  Micah Edmonds.  “ICO and Mechanical Connection”

[02]  Micah Edmonds.  “Colossus and Narrative Construction”

These next three videos are by Eddie of Angkasa Studio. They make up a three-part series titled “Masterful Design,” which contains: Part I: Narrative and Morality, Part II: Visual Composition and, Part III: Cinematic Language.

Rules of composition come in many forms…

[03]  Eddie; ANGKASA Studio.  “Masterful Design Part I: Narrative and Morality”

[04]  Eddie; ANGKASA Studio.  “Masterful Design Part II: Visual Composition”

[05]  Eddie; ANGKASA Studio.  “Masterful Design Part III: Cinematic Language”

This sixth video is by Amish Black and it stands a rather intelligent and thorough commentary on the music featured in Shadow of the Colossus. It not only describes Kow Otani’s score from a bird’s eye view but, actually gets into some of the theory and compositional choice. Diatonic melodies, solemn marches, minor seconds and augmented fourths; it’s all here in How Music Tells Its Story.

[06]  Amish Black; Writing on Games.  “How Music Tells Its Story”

Select Screen‘s Assumed Heroes is rare. Fan forums contain brief comments on the subject but, none other than this video sit down to do it right. Below is a complete look at a rather overlooked concept: ‘What if you are wrong?’ Assumed Heroes.

[07]  Select Screen; Critical Mode.  “Assumed Heroes”

The narration of Thomas Leonard is contemplative, philosophical and relaxing. Rather than trying to wow viewers, it takes them through a journey of the mind, inviting them to use these next four minutes to re-assess their view of videogame quests. Morality Through the Lens of Shadow.

[08]  Thomas Leonard; Level 30 Games.  “Through the Lens of Shadow

This next video by Folding Ideas is similar. Where Thomas Leonard demonstrates how Shadow appears as a whole, Folding Ideas takes select ideas and puts them under the magnifying-glass. Moral conflict is complex.

[09]  Folding Ideas.  “Morality of Shadow of the Colossus”

Overture takes us full circle by merging the ideas of music and morality into one. Actions have consequences, people have responsibilities and, there are stories that remind us of these things; Kow Otani’s soundtrack serves to reinforce these notions. Morality in Music – Shadow of the Colossus.

[10]  Overture.  “Morality in Music – Shadow of the Colossus”

Yes, there have been a few videos about the music already, but this still stands as a treat, shedding light onto some areas previously overlooked or barely touched upon. Requiem for a Colossus.

[11]  Game Score Fanfare.  “The Power of Music in Shadow of the Colossus”

And for the finale, a culminating video on many of the themes presented above: A Ludonarrative Interpretation.

[12]  Game Overture.  “Shadow of the Colossus Analysis: A Ludonarrative Interpretation”

……here is a hidden bonus video for those of you who ventured to watch this far. Kudos to you! Without further ado, may I present Jacob Geller’s “The Architecture of Fumito Ueda.”

Liked his video? Read more about his thoughts on Ueda’s architectural style here.


Here is how to credit the header image…

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