Posts Tagged ‘Video game’

Since my about the author page is a bit lacking at the moment I’m considering adding a bit from this post to it when I get the chance.

In the Myers-Briggs personality classification thing, I am an INTJ. Now people may not put a lot of faith in these sorts of tests, and yes I am a little skeptical myself, but the description they give for INTJ is pretty accurate. Depending on where you go on the web you might get slightly different descriptions of the types, but most of places I’ve read describe INTJ as “system builders” or are in some way interested in systems. Usually examples are given that INTJs are interested in things like computer science, engineering, language, law etc. because those all deal with systems. All those things are quite interesting to me to varying degrees but there is type of system that is the most interesting.

I am of course talking about video game. My favorite games are tend to be A) incredibly complex systems with many different variables to consider,  B) turn based to give me a lot of time to consider what to do and C) the characters you play as grow more powerful and you have some choice in what areas the improve in and what skills they learn and D) a minimal amount of randomness, a little bit is okay but it shouldn’t have any affect in the long run, and victory and defeat shouldn’t ride on random chance.

Now I do like to play games that don’t have these elements but those are the ones that I like the best. It usually leads to a situation where you can “break” the game. This is a situation where a some powerful weapon or armor, or some ability of the player, or some combination of these elements renders the player so powerful that none of the enemies stand a chance. The game is effectively “broken” because you can’t really lose unless you try.

Now some people think a well balanced game shouldn’t ever be “broken” no matter what weapons or abilities you get you should still face a challenge. I disagree, I think breaking the game is the reward for understanding the system. Balancing the game is just a matter of how easy is it to break, not making it impossible to break. If there’s doomsday weapons lying around at the beginning of the game and the game is broken with no effort than it is poorly balanced. But if breaking the game requires using several different abilities together in such a way that only someone who deeply understands the system would think of, that is a better game in my opinion. A game that rewards people for understanding the system, and the better you understand it the more broken it is. While really powerful weapons and armor are nice to put in a game as a reward for some quest, that alone should not be enough to break the game, it should only augment the game breaking strategies that the player comes up with.

Now as I mentioned INTJs are well known for building systems and I have made a few attempts at making games and am continuing to do so, and the games started out simple but are now growing to somewhat interesting level of complexity. As I am making the game I try to go by my own beliefs about what makes a good game, a complex system that rewards people for understanding it. If people come up with some combination of abilities that breaks the game and makes it easy, I wouldn’t be terribly upset, in fact that’s what I want. Although I don’t want it to be too easy to break the game. No single ability should be too powerful, but if people find interesting ways to combine abilities, that’s great.

I would say designing interesting game systems is probably some of the most fun I’ve had, aside from playing in those systems of course. Although I’m not a huge fan of making graphics for the game, or even programming the user interface for that matter. I wish I could just design the rules for the game and nothing else, but the other parts of the game have to be built or no one an play it.

 

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Before I even start talking about Fear 3, I should mention a larger trend which seems to be poisoning the entire FPS genre except a few specific games. That problem is that they are all pretty much the same. The so called “realistic” FPSs, with the same boring weapons, and you can only hold 2 of them at a time, and of course when you get shot your screen turns red until you take cover and then your health regenerates.

Now I know people see Call of Duty sales and want a piece of that, but it doesn’t exactly seem like copying CoD as much as possible is really a good idea. Now I’m no expert but I imagine if people like playing CoD, they will just continue to play CoD, and they do, they don’t have any reason to waste money on some crappy knock off.

So Fear basically gave up its greatest quality, actually standing out from a sea of generic FPS games, and decided to make its primary design decision was to abandon anything that set it apart from the crowd, and to make a cheap CoD knockoff. The biggest change from previous games in the series is that your health now regenerates like in every other FPS, rather than having to rely on a limited number of health packs to restore health. So of course any tension at all is completely lost, in exchange for fast paced action.

Another change is that rather than holding 3 guns at a time you can only hold 2, obviously because the generic FPS club must have made some rule that you can’t carry more than weapon at a time and Fear 3 wants in on that club. Now I prefer the “unrealistic” games that let you carry every weapon in the game at once, but even still the games that let you carry 3 or 4 weapons are usually okay too. For some reason the difference between 2 and 3 weapons feels really big to me. That’s the difference between hanging on to a rocket launcher or some other super weapon with very little ammo, even if I don’t need it anymore, and saving it for later; and dropping it in exchange for a gun with more ammo. Its just too limited to waste a gun slot on something that only has a few shots, if you only have 2 weapon slots.

Another thing about this game is that they really don’t want you to play this single player. Like Army of 2 or Resident Evil 5, this is part of another, thankfully less common, trend in video games is that the developers want you to play co-op and will make the game a hellish experience if you want to go solo. You can either play as the moronically named “pointman” or Paxton Fettel. Pointman is just generic FPS gameplay, with the slo-mo ability from previous Fear games. Paxton Fetel is a bit more interesting, he can possess the bodies of enemies.

Now for most of the game its a lot easier playing singleplayer as Fettel, but there are a couple parts that are ridiculously hard as Fettel. There are some enemies, that can’t be possessed by Fettel, and his only recourse is to shoot some weak, I don’t know, blobs of spirit energy at enemies, and its not very effective at all. And these enemies that can’t be possessed charge at you and can kill you in a few seconds. So when you get to sections of the game that have tons and tons of that type of enemy, its just ridiculous bullshit. This and so many other things clearly indicate they did not want people playing singleplayer.

And another thing is that the story is complete bullshit. Paxton Fettel is the villain in the first game and for reasons never explained he is now working together with pointman. And even stranger he came back as a ghost, for some reason. I mean lots of people get killed in these games, who haven’t come back as ghosts. Even the slightest hint of an explanation for why Fettel specifically came back would be cool. And even stranger is that Fettel is a ghost who can be killed by bullets somehow. I guess it makes him double dead, which is twice as bad. The story is just nonsense piled on top of more nonsense.

Unlike previous Fear games which were shown entirely in first person, this game has cutscenes in between levels. Unlike other games where your characters might have conversations to drive the plot forward, we are given something even better, long monologues by Fettel while pointman silently stands there like an idiot. Silent protagonists can work in games, but it usually hinges on not showing long scenes of people talking to them while they just stand there looking stupid.

So that’s all I have to say about this game. It a generic mediocre FPS. Although admittedly playing as Fettel and possessing enemies is kind of fun, once you possess them your back to the same generic FPS gameplay, so it doesn’t really improve the game a ton. Almost forgot to mention, previous Fear games at least had somewhat spooky atmosphere with weird visions and some long stretched without enemies to build up tension, but thats pretty mcuh all gone in exchange for more nonstop action. Only a very few spots in the game have anything approaching the spooky atmosphere of previous Fear games.

Sequels are very hard to do right. Looking at games like Fallout 3 or DragonAge 2, its obvious that changing too much will seriously piss off the fans of the original. The most notable exception being Final Fantasy, which is the only series that has an overhaul of the main mechanics, as well as brand new setting and character, in every single game, and people still accuse it of doing the same thing over and over again. Aside from that notable excpetion, the general rule is if you mess around with core gameplay too much people will be pissed.

DeadSpace 2 is pretty much the best that can be hoped for in an environment hostile to change. The gameplay is pretty much the same, everything that was in the old game is still here. It also adds a few new guns, a few new enemies, and of course new levels to explore. Of all the new enemies that they added the most shocking is probably exploding babies. It’s just so edgy. The worst part is that they don’t even drop ammo like all the other enemies do.

The gameplay, like the first DeadSpace, is quite similar to Resident Evil 4 or 5. The main difference being that you can still walk while aiming a gun. Another thing that really sets it apart is that you have to cut of the limbs to kill the enemies. For this reason, the line gun is one of my most used weapons. its available fairly early in the game, and it can hurt two limbs at a time.

I didn’t have the luxury of buying all the weapons in the game, maybe cause I was spending my money on stupid things like ammo and health, so the only new weapon that I tried out on the first playthrough is the javelin gun. Its primary fire is incredibly powerful, and was invaluable for killing the final boss quickly. It secondary fire causes an electric shock of surrounding the place where you just fired a primary shot. I often use this to take out crowds of weak enemies, but it is also useful for taking down stronger enemies. No doubt the expensive weapons I didn’t buy were incredibly awesome and would have made the game much easier.

A pretty big difference between DeadSpace 2 and the first one are the zero gravity areas. In the first DeadSpace, in the zero g rooms you could look at the walls and ceiling, and press a button to jump between them. But no matter what you were always restricted to moving along the floor, walls and ceiling. In this game you can actually float around the whole space of the room, so its much more interesting to have real zero g battles

People who are used to regenerating health may find this game frustrating because it doesn’t have regenerating health and you have to consume items to get your health back. I played on normal difficulty and even I was starting to get frustrated by the last couple chapters. They really pile on the bullshit, with an invincible regenerating enemy that you have to run from, while still killing the regular enemies in the path ahead.

Aside from a few frustrations late in the game it was overall a good game I think. The same solid gameplay mechanics of the first with a few new things added to keep it interesting. If you were a fan of the first game, or a fan of similar games, you should definitely check it out.

This is about the game Bulletstorm obviously, and its really hard to do justice to this game in writing. Its really something you have to experience for yourself.

So first of all the game begins with a bunch of quicktime events. I know many people complain about these, and they are common throughout the game, but just bear with it, because when you get to the real gameplay its incredibly amazing. At first it might seem a lot like other cover based shooters, in style of Gears of War. You shoot guys and when you get hurt your screen flashes red and you hide behind cover. My experience playing on normal difficulty compared to Gears of War on normal, is that you don’t spend as much time behind cover. If you step out of cover in Gears of war you die pretty quickly, and it basically suicidal to d anything but to shoot from behind cover. In Bulletstorm, I might have to run for cover when injured to regenerate health, but I spend most of my time moving around outside of cover.

Now the ting that really sets it apart from other shooters, melee, the leash, and tons of environmental hazards. The leash is an important tool, that lets you pull (most)enemies toward you. This can serve an number of useful purposes, the most obvious being that instead of running up to an enemy, and putting your life at great danger, to perform melee, you can just use the leash to pull them toward. Running out of ammo is  a pretty rare occurrence but if it happens it not really a big deal cause a leash and melee combination is usually sufficient to deal with most enemies. However another useful way to use the leash is if there are hazards between you and the enemy, some sharp bits of metal, or hanging electrified wires, and pull them into it. All these hazards can be put to use by your melee attack as well, cause when you kick them they go flying, into an explosive ball, or maybe a cactus. There are numerous ways to kill people without even firing a shot. I really can’t overstate how important the leash and melee are to give Bulletstorm unique gameplay.

Another interesting thing is the varied levels. The game starts on a high tech ship, with a brief flashback to a futuristic city, but the first real level is a brown wasteland, not to different from something you might see in Gears of War or Borderlands. Now a lot of people complain about the dominance of the color brown in modern shooters, but it would be hasty to judge Bulletstorm on the beggining of the game. After leaving the brown area which, despite the bland color was actually pretty cool looking, you go through a number of different areas with different color palettes. Some areas have lots of water, some have lots of vegetation, some have lots of ruined buildings, but by the end of the game, you’ve traveled through several environments that are all visually distinct.

Some things that people have criticized the game for, are the story and the crude dialogue. First of all the story isn’t exactly a masterpiece, but its not really all that bad either. Without giving away too many spoilers, a team of guys finds out the guy the work for is having them kill innocents, so they decide to kill him. And they spend the game trying to get redemption, for the innocents they unwittingly killed. As far as video game stories go its pretty solid, and I haven’t seen any major plot holes. Crude dialogue is a different matter, and its really a matter of taste. If you like crude humor this game is for you. If you can’t stand it this game is not for you. If you don’t particularly like crude humor, but think you can get past it for some awesome gameplay, than you should consider playing this game.

There’s also some skill shots which I didn’t really mention but basically killing people in different ways will earn you more points which you can use to buy upgrades and ammo. I didn’t really care too much and just kill people how I want and manage to get enough points for all the ammo I need. Overall an excellent game.

Another day, another game prototype. If your new to this use WASD or arrows o move the guy to the help sign for more detailed instructions. After that start a new game. In the first room there are a lot of people to click on to talk to. Go south to fight spiders, and south even further for a boss fight. this fight is pretty intense. After a bit of practice I beat it with just the peashooter and no firing speed upgrade, but you probably won’t want to do that.

You can buy scattershot and ammo for it at the guy by the shop sign. Going west from the room with all the shops and people is a puzzle room with three locked doors you can figure out how to unlock. The left door still goes nowhere, but should go somewhere in the next update. Go south from puzzle room to find firing speed upgrade. Go north and solve another puzzle, than head west.

Don’t shoot, those are friendly robots. Also talk to the guy in that room, and he will tell you to gather three items, only one of which is in this prototype, the rest are coming soon. After you’ve got the firing speed upgrade, and bought a lot of scattershot ammo head on down to the boss I mentioned earlier, and kill him. And that’s all that’s in this prototype.

Here it is.

leave comment etc.

Not a whole lot different than the last prototype I uploaded, but I thought I’d upload it anyway in case anyone is interested. I’ll just briefly explain what’s old and what’s new.

What’s old: If you haven’t played the last prototype, than the first thing you want to do after starting the game is to move your guy to the sign marked help using WASD or arrow keys. After you get help go on over to the new game sign. Trying to load a game when no save file exists could lead to trouble. The game Autosaves every time you enter a new room.

If you’ve played the last prototype, you will notice that in addition to a shopkeeper who sells rate of fire upgrades, which was there last time, there is also a healer, who will completely restore your health and shield for a small fee. At this point you have no money for upgrades, so go to the gap in the wall on the bottom of the screen.

You will find yourself in a room with a bunch of spiders that can be killed for money. If you played the last prototype I uploaded there’s nothing new here.

What’s new: From the room with with the shops, go to the gap in the left wall to see the brand new room I made for this prototype. In that room you will see I finally made a second enemy which is quite a bit tougher than the spiders. I wonder if its too difficult, and I haven’t really gotten around to balancing the difficulty, but for myself it only took a couple tries to beat the robots.

Once your life is no longer being threatened, you will see green or red circles that you can switch by running into them. See if you can unlock any of the three locked doors in the room. The doors don’t go anywhere yet, that’s on the to do list, but still try and solve how to unlock the doors. I think its a simple enough puzzle to put at the beginning of the game, but its hard to judge since I already know the answer.

Here it is.

Any feedback or bug reports are appreciated.

It seems like the vast majority of games involve killing a bunch of enemies. Whether its enemy soldiers, aliens, or zombies, violence is the the main form of entertainment. The show Extra Credits, on the Escapist, has talked about some examples of non combat games, and a few other places on the web have also put forth some ideas. I thought I’d add my voice with what I think would be an interesting non combat game.

I prefer not to use historical events, cause it gives me more freedom with the scenario and how the game unfolds, but if I wanted to give people a general idea of what the game was about, I would say, “think of Gandhi and the Indian independence movement.” The game revolves around organizing peaceful protests,  organizing strikes, and traveling the country to recruit people to your cause.

I suppose the people in the game could belong to many different groups, but for now lets just talk about 2 groups, the small, yet powerful ruling group, and the large, but incredibly oppressed group. Very few people in the oppressed group will be interested in peaceful protests at the beginning of the game, most will just passively accept the injustice, so you must travel around giving speeches to convince them to join you.

There will be another, more militant faction, of the oppressed group. They will start small, but will grow in power throughout the game. As the militant group grows in strength and boldness violence against the oppressors will increase, and in response the oppressors will escalate violence in retaliation.

This escalating violence will be tracked by a violence meter. Not incredibly realistic but serves its purpose for the game. When the violence meter is completely full the country becomes embroiled in a full scale civil war, which is a fail condition for the game. So, in addition to trying to take down the current oppressive government, you must also compete with a more violent faction for support of the people, because letting them get too powerful will cause a civil war.

So what is the ultimate goal of the game? To take down the oppressive government. Unlike a violent revolution, this will be a long and slow process. Protests and strikes will put pressure on the government to make small concessions. Giving people more rights and protections from the government, some elected officials to get partial sway in the government, with the eventual goal of making a completely democratic government, at which point the oppressors will be removed from power, and the game will be won.

What about the involvement of foreign nations? Well that would be very complicated indeed. The ruling group may be getting weapons and other support from other countries. If your non-violent movement gets the attention of international news, they might lose support giving you a better position to negotiate from. There are so many complicated ways other nations could be involved in this game.

You’re free to think of your own ideas and post some comments here. If you happen to know a game like this that already exists, let me know.