Fire Hose Games is a new MIT spin off video game start up harnessing the power of the sun to make video games with positive social impact. We are designing engaging games with the following goals:

* Opportunities for User Creativity and Expression
* Fun Applications of Science and Engineering
* New Technology for Highly Usable Video Game Interfaces

We’re already working on our first game! It’s a super secret title about superheroes and love and rebuilding and possibly dinosaurs. It’s going to be really great, if you are in the Boston area and want to come help us test drop us a line at test firehosegames [dot] com and we’ll have you swing by. Keep an eye out for it in 2010 on consoles near you!

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On voice acting in games

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Anyone else here tend to hate video game cut scenes? I know I do. I usually skip right past them as quickly as possible, ignoring large portions of the plot and the characters because I find them unimpressive. My general feeling is that I’m playing a game, not watching a movie, and if I wanted the latter I’d pick up the remote.
However, good voice acting is one of the only things I’ve found that can get me to watch the cut scenes. Most video game characters are still stuck in the uncanny valley visually, but I can always suspend disbelief when characters sound good. Some of my favorite voice acted characters in past games have included Yangus from Dragon Quest VIII, the various worm teams in Worms Armageddon, the cast of Uncharted and Uncharted 2, and just about any Terran unit/hero in Starcraft.
Recently we’ve started playing Batman: Arkham Asylum at the office, and one of the things we immediately noticed was that the game uses all the voice actors from the old cartoon shows; Mark Hamil plays the Joker, and Kevin Conroy takes up his familiar mantle of Batman. As someone who watched the old cartoon shows in the 90’s I thought this was a terrific move, and for the first time in ages I found myself watching cut scenes and talking to characters just to hear what Batman (or the Joker) has to say. While there was a bit of a disconnect with animation styles (see above image) it was still immensely enjoyable listening to the characters, in a way I haven’t heard in quite some time.

Of course, voice acting can go the other way too. The voice acting and dialog of the radio chatter in Star Fox 64 was notoriously bad (especially Slippy) though I like to listen to it just because how else would I know to do a barrel roll? Final Fantasy tends to be pretty hit or miss with voices, with the balance being overall negative. In FF 12 (arguably my favorite of the series) the main character Vaan is a chore to listen to, and only Balthier and Fran have interesting voices.
Do you normally watch cut scenes? How important is voice acting for you in games? Let us know in the comments!

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Fire Hose Games is a group of Boston based developers making innovative games that have positive impact

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