Placeholder Image

字幕表 動画を再生する

  • Now here's a game with a colorful history, despite its monochromatic title.

  • Black & White, developed by Lionhead Studios and published by Electronic Arts

  • for Windows PCs in 2001, and later for Mac OS in 2002.

  • And in the early-2000s PC gaming world, few titles were more hyped up than this one, being

  • the first game from the newly-formed Lionhead Studios.

  • Not only was Black & White the debut title from the ex-Bullfrog developers since they'd

  • gone independent, but it had been in the works for over three years by the time it came out.

  • Back then that was an unusually long development cycle,

  • and originally Lionhead expected to have it done by Q4 of 1999.

  • But release estimates came and went, excitement grew and dwindled, and every six months or

  • so the cycle would repeat with some new interview promoting the project

  • and its larger-than-life designer, Peter Molyneux.

  • And make no mistake, the game looked insanely cool all the way from its announcement in

  • 1998 to its eventual release in 2001.

  • Teaser footage made it seem like a successor to Bullfrog classics like Populous and Dungeon

  • Keeper, its graphical detail was unprecedented at the time, and the promise of cutting edge

  • artificial intelligence with trainable creatures sounded amazing!

  • Then it came out as such a buggy mess that some folks thought they might've shipped

  • a beta version instead of the finished game, and when it did work, some still felt it didn't

  • meet their lofty expectations despite favorable reviews in the gaming press.

  • That being said though, I find Black & White more than intriguing enough to revisit, it's

  • just filled with so many unusual choices.

  • Even the box is an unique choice, with dual gatefold covers showing off the white and

  • black moral paths the game was known for.

  • It's a cliche at this point considering how many games have gone down this route,

  • with evil choices adding horns and spikes to everything

  • and good choices means butterflies and rainbows.

  • But yeah, it was a neat idea at the time,

  • enough to make me grab a copy in the early 2000s.

  • Opening up the box you got the game itself on CD-ROM inside this minimally-decorated

  • cardboard sleeve, a product registration card and this 16-page installation guide covering

  • the excitement of troubleshooting everything from Windows 95 to Millenium Edition.

  • Finally there's the manual, printed appropriately enough in black and white.

  • It covers a lotta ground, with 52 pages worth of densely-packed information

  • throwing everything at you all at once.

  • Due to the way the campaign is structured, I recommend using this

  • as more of a reference guide after you've started playing.

  • Black & White begins with a white and black logo, followed by a Black & White logo, and

  • culminating in a what amounts to a teaser for Black & White itself.

  • No real information or lore is provided, just a minute and a half of random gameplay footage.

  • And it only plays the first time you start the game, too

  • making its inclusion that much more questionable.

  • Once it's done showing off its press kit sizzle reel, it's time to give yourself

  • a name and choose a pre-made symbol, the latter of which

  • will become the defining imagery of your religion.

  • Once you've established your impending godhood, a short cutscene plays setting up the world

  • of Eden and your place within it.

  • By which I mean you have no place at all, until the precise moment that you do.

  • - “A land of innocents has no place for gods.

  • -"Until fate intervenes.”

  • - “Keep away from the water!”

  • Wait! Stop!”

  • - “When people pray, a god is always born.”

  • [ominous music plays]

  • - “Help, someone help us!”

  • Help our child!”

  • We call to the heavens!”

  • - “Able to change eternity..."

  • -"That god is you.”

  • [funky god music plays]

  • Yeah, this intro still really gets me in the mood for some god gaming!

  • That awesome music by Russell Shaw and trippy cosmic imagery, dude.

  • Something about it just gives me chills.

  • - “Are you a blessing or a curse?

  • Good or evil?”

  • - “Be what you will, you are destiny.”

  • Annnnd then just like that, it's a clunky old computer game [chuckles.]

  • Yeah, get ready for tons of mandatory hand-holding and unskippable tutorials.

  • Which, granted, at the time were still a fresh idea.

  • And if you've never played before it's a solid tutorial, especially since the manual

  • leaves something to be desired in explaining things clearly.

  • However, if you have played before and simply wanna start a new game,

  • then this tutorial is a real slog and the option to skip it would've been nice.

  • Fans eventually patched this whole section out themselves, but more on that later.

  • For now though, let's follow along and see how vanilla Black & White works, because even

  • to this day I've never played anything quite like it.

  • So yeah, the basic idea is that you play a supernatural deity

  • represented by a hand floating around the landscape.

  • You've got two advisors representing the good and evil sides of your conscience, and

  • who keep you informed of your godly options whenever big notable choices pop up.

  • And there are a number of nearby human villagers that have started believing in your existence,

  • so your overarching goal is to increase their belief in you by manipulating the world using

  • your god hand and a selection of miracles.

  • But uh, the controls... are a thing.

  • [child screaming]

  • Black & White lacks a traditional user interface,

  • and alternatively went with a mouse-driven layer of abstraction.

  • Instead of windows, icons, and drop-down menus, you've got this floating hand of god

  • and the world around it.

  • Everything is designed to be controlled using your hand and a combination of mouse movements,

  • audio and video cues, and context-sensitive objects.

  • Left mouse button moves around the map, right mouse button interacts with things, and combining

  • the two buttons controls the camera.

  • That is, if you're using a mouse at all.

  • Essential Reality teamed up with Lionhead

  • to provide native P5 Glove support in 2002, stating it was

  • the perfect gaming platform to demonstrate the power and technical achievement of [the] new P5T technology.”

  • If you've seen my Oddware episode all about this device, I'm sure you'll react to

  • that statement with a fair bit of skepticism.

  • As with most P5 experiences, it's not that it doesn't work at all, it's that it works

  • just enough to become more frustrating than if you weren't using it to begin with.

  • Obviously, seeing as the whole game is played with a virtual hand it makes some sense to

  • implement a virtual hand controller.

  • And as a result it does function better than other

  • P5 demonstrations I showed on Oddware, but c'mon now.

  • This game is weird enough on its own, no need to throw an infrared finger mouse into the mix.

  • - “Faith in you is fallin' like a stone.”

  • - Ya don't say.

  • Regardless of wonky glove controllers though, Lionhead was deeply committed to the whole

  • disembodied god handidea in Black & White, making sure players rarely did anything other

  • than click and drag, almost never having to touch the keyboard.

  • Not that I recommend playing like that since there's a buncha shortcuts that are only

  • accessible through the keyboard, many of which the tutorial never mentions.

  • For example, you're told that saving and loading the game occurs inside your temple.

  • So you'd navigate to the building in-world, right click it to go inside, enter into the

  • main central room, navigate to the save game room on the right, then click on a picture

  • to zoom into it, type in a title to save your game, then exit the save room, and leave the

  • temple to return to the game.

  • Or you could just press Control+S on the keyboard and quicksave at any time.

  • I know which method I prefer.

  • There's tons of stuff like this that seems needlessly cumbersome,

  • implemented under the guise ofimmersionandinnovation.”

  • But then you dig a little deeper and it turns out

  • there's actually an easier or more efficient way of doing things.

  • Like how there are unseen controls to slow down and speed up time

  • by pressing Alt+1 and 2 on the keyboard.

  • Or how you can forgo the bizarre screen edge camera controls if you simply use a mouse

  • with a clickable wheel.

  • Anyway, all that to say that Black & White is often simpler to play than it appears at first glance.

  • And thank goodness, because what's here is immediately captivating, at least to me

  • as a fan of the 'god game' and 'city builder' subgenres.

  • Despite what Lionhead said in the marketing, Black & White is less of a role-playing game

  • and more of a real-time strategy game with an emphasis on resource management and puzzle-solving.

  • [sailors singThe Explorers Song”]

  • Each of the five main maps in the campaign contain their own sets of challenges to complete,

  • signified by golden scrolls indicating story objectives and silver scrolls providing side quests.

  • But the core gameplay revolves around accumulating the resources of food, wood, belief, and villagers.

  • Food and wood and pretty self-explanatory, acquired by villagers or by picking them up yourself.

  • Belief is gained by performing miraculous actions within the view of villagers.

  • And naturally, villagers themselves are acquired by reproduction for the most part, as well

  • as converting them away from rival gods to believe in you instead.

  • Overall it's a pretty laid-back experience, lording over the land as your people go about

  • their day working, dancing, worshipping, screwing, building, eating, and complaining.

  • [peaceful ambient music plays]

  • Ahh it's nice.

  • Too bad there's a bunch of nonsense constantly screwing things up.

  • For one thing, villagers often have questionable priorities.

  • So if you don't want them wandering around doing whatever, generate some disciples by

  • dropping people down near specific objects and structures.

  • - "Disciple Forester."

  • This is how you create dedicated builders, farmers, woodcutters, fishermen, craftsmen,

  • and even breeders, all doing little more than eat, sleep, and work.

  • This is also one method of increasing your influence,

  • by creating missionaries and traders to nearby villages.

  • Influence is shown by these wavy colored borders when you zoom out, and there's a whole stack

  • of variables affecting how quickly and how far it spreads.

  • And even then, it's not so much a hard border as it is a loose indicator of your power.

  • Like, you can still reach beyond your own influence to manipulate people and objects

  • outside of your own lands, but only for a limited time.

  • Then you have to go back and try again to refresh your hand.

  • It's a bizarre mechanic at first, where you're constantly moving your god hand in

  • and out of rival territory, but you get used to it.

  • Tossing rocks and trees and things from a distance is also an option,

  • as well as performing miracles.

  • With good-natured miracles like generating food and forests, and offensive ones like

  • tossing out fireballs and lightning.

  • Another way to influence villagers is the creature: a large animal with divine powers

  • that you'll choose while playing the first tutorial island.

  • There are three creatures on offer by default, that being the ape, the cow, and the tiger.

  • However, there are eight more creatures out there in the world to be unlocked,

  • as well as four DLC creatures.

  • Ahh, 2001.

  • When downloadable content came in the form of self-extracting executables

  • found on the developer's website.

  • For free, even!

  • My how things change.

  • Anyway, creatures.

  • They're big and powerful, but not too big and powerful, at least not yet.

  • Each one has to be fed, exercised, trained, played with, and scolded in order to increase

  • their capabilities and size.

  • And as with everything else in the game, this means using your god hand.

  • So your can hand them food, bring them toys, rub them nicely when they do something you

  • want, or give them a good smacking if they do something you don't.

  • [intense smacking sounds]

  • Seems harsh, but it's the only way to get them to learn

  • not to take unholy craps in the middle of town.

  • Or pick up and eat random worshippers.

  • Or whatever else you deem unsuitable.

  • You can also train creatures using leashes, making sure that they only hang out around

  • certain areas and witness you doing certain things.

  • Because yeah, they learn by exposure to your godly activities, eventually figuring out

  • how to perform many of the same actions and miracles.

  • Creatures also carry over into skirmish mode too, so you're not limited to training them

  • during the campaign maps.

  • There are three of these skirmish maps that you can enter at any time, where you'll

  • compete with between one to three AI gods, or the same number of human players over a

  • LAN or the internet.

  • At least, before EA shut down the online servers of course, so playing against AI is the best

  • bet unless you use a custom multiplayer client.

  • But yeah, creature training is key to surviving later parts of the game, and thankfully they

  • do have a separate moral alignment from yours, so they can go around being a jerk while you

  • play a pacifist, or vice versa.

  • Powerful stuff when used to your advantage.

  • This also means that you'll likely attract the attention of other gods and their creatures,

  • which can lead to a battle.

  • Unfortunately, actually controlling fights is not very engaging.

  • It's less direct and more like you're coaching from the sidelines, clicking nearby

  • to say when to attack, dodge, and defend.

  • You can also perform a couple of miracles to help turn the tide, but the delayed actions

  • and camera swooping around the action makes this difficult,

  • especially since these miracles rely on gestures.

  • Oh yeah, that's a thing.

  • Performing miracles means performing gestures,

  • accomplished by drawing shapes on the ground with the mouse.

  • Again, eschewing keyboard usage and menu systems, miracles are selected either by clicking miracle

  • generators or by drawing their symbol.

  • And well, it kinda works?

  • Most of the shapes are easily repeated, but some of them are strangely picky with how

  • they're drawn so it's far easier to navigate back into town to choose them directly.

  • As for gaining miracle access to begin with, there are two main methods of doing that.

  • Raising this statue in your village center will ring bells telling your villagers it's

  • time to worship, and a percentage of them will follow suit depending on how high you raise it.

  • This causes a big ol' worship party outside your temple, continuing until you call it off.

  • Meaning villagers can pray themselves to death if you're not paying attention.

  • But yeah, each village provides access to specific miracles, so the more villages you

  • have the more miracles you can perform.

  • And the longer villagers worship, the more prayer power you have to perform miracles.

  • Or, you can instead drop living sacrifices on the altar, with older villagers providing

  • a little power and the youngest ones being the most effective.

  • [villagers chanting, child crying]

  • [sacrificial gong sounds]

  • So, um.

  • Killin' babies, it's a legit strategy.

  • The other method of miracle-making is completely untied to belief, and results from bursting

  • these one-shot miracle bubbles to provide access to a single instance of said miracle.

  • Simple, straightforward, no need for infanticide!