Sunday, March 8, 2009

Commencing Booya : A Few thoughts on design - Part I

ok its been a year and some such since I posted here I was way to busy getting an education and generally learning and making some stuff.
Video games are going through a major upheaval again after the 90s the focus is shifting from mature adult based entertainment to casual mass audience experiences. Game design in general now is shifting to accommodate this new change Games are becoming easier and easier to play in fact for most Casual games the design is focused around keeping the controls as simple as possible and making the player to understand the mechanics quickly. Now this is a current trend and most games that are designed this way are based around instant feedback for the most part the challenges thrown at the player are skill driven which means that a player has to learn a set of mechanics and then learn to get better and better at using those same mechanics in slightly different ways. Its a rinse and repeat mechanism and for the most part has become the swansong of the current generation of gaming. It has been tremendously successful and I think that some of the games designed around this idea are excellent and a lot of fun to play.
However this also leads to a one track approach to game design that is basically stifling the industry since its inception Game design has dealt with creating rule sets and defining what the player can and cant do and making the player understand that without confusing him/her completely. But I think that as game designers we need to ask ourselves are we binding ourselves down or limiting ourselves by constantly going back to 1 way of thinking ?

I think that it is possible to create a game where the user is not constantly aware of what he/she has to do next but still have fun. rules are important and necessary in a linear experience but is it possible to engage the player without a constant reminder to him/her that he/she is doing the right thing ? I think that controlling the experience that the player has is important but that can be done by limiting the number of variables in any given interaction if the player can interact in multiple/infinite ways but can do so only in a contained environment.
for e.g.
The player is a detective trying to catch a serial killer and he can do so in any way that he/she wishes the killer is still within a block of where the murder has occurred and cannot escape as the police has cordoned off the block and no one else can get in or out, the killer can be anyone within this city block and you can do anything to find him as the body count continues to rise. The player is not introduced to any mechanics except how to move and talk with people and maybe how to throw a punch. Every time a new game loads up the victim has changed and has been murdered differently. The player can solve the case in any which way that they choose to but they are confined to a single city block.

I think that if the idea is not too outlandish to a player then he/she does not necessarily need to have a set of rules and feedback that they are constantly being reminded of in a world. I think that for an idea like this to work it is necessary to have a world into which the player is close to completely immersed and easily identifies with. This means anything that the player thinks he/she can do they can do without really having to worry about but only in a confined space. This does not limit the players options but it limits the number of things that he can apply those options to.

While the grand theft auto series has been around for a while it does limit the kind of interactions the player can have while in game but it increases the space in which these interactions take place ,making the way in which those same options can be applied varied and seemingly limitless.
Again though the focus is on not really telling the player what to do but on letting him/her choose its a similar idea but while GTA is a sandbox what I'm talking about is a chemistry set with only a couple of beakers and a centrifuge but with every known chemical to man available.

I think that just throwing more options at the player just for the sake of it is not really good game design more is not necessarily better or fun a plethora of choices can overwhelm and stifle a player completely stifling the experience but I think this can be offset by making sure the player can do whatever it is that they want to do and make sure that the player is aware that his/her actions have a consequence or an effect by giving them feedback and letting them know that they have effected the world in some way.

Well that 's the end of part I will continue and hopefully end this post soon

Monday, February 18, 2008

Dice man

Surrounded on all sides by the henchmen of the Assorted Soul Seeking Weirdos In Predominantly Evil Shingalings. It appeared as if my Epic Quest to save all gaming kind would be thwarted by a dangerous mercenary force hell bent on my destruction at any cost.

"Attack him" Screamed their Leader With furious Fury
"Where...............are the Donuts Ment-i-Sent You promised us Donuts" Screamed one of them
"The Lukkha stole the Donuts ScaryJam" said Ment-i-Sent
"May the Dice Grind his bones to dust" screamed ScaryJam
They Charged
"THUMBELINA!" roared the big Daddy as he Leaped into the fray

Within moments they lay on the ground writhing in poignant but not stirring pain
Only one was left Standing Their Leader Ment-i-Sent and his eyes gazed at me trying to bore holes through the fat parts they were positively boring...ish.

"Lukkha Prepare to be fragged" said Ment-i-Sent and followed up promptly By Conjuring from the air two stave's which had Dice Stuck to their ends one with White dice and the other with Black. He made them spin until they were nothing but a blur and then sent them at me hurtling at me Full speed.
With Nowhere to go that made this any more fun I stood there and stuck my hands out

and caught them
both of them
'Ha! take that stereotypical action hero ' I thought to myself
The Stave's were now trying to return to their owner.
"Oh no you Don't I am NOT letting my free ticket to Bad assedness getting away so damn easily" I exclaimed
and they broke into clean halves half went to him and half went to moi.
"Stil badass though" I said
Ment-i-Sent shrieked like a banshee and then conjured a portal and disappeared through it
"After Him B.D Quickly" I said
"Not so Fast my newly made rotund friend, Know that beyond this portal lies the Land that was once almost named Albion The land that has a leaf on its flag Know that after you enter you will have to stay for a year at least and Know that many dangerous and mind boggling games will be played and you will have much to undertake. What say you O most glorious fat assedness?"

"See you on the other side B.D"
And In i Jump.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Bioshocked !

I recently sat through a REALLY REALLY bad tamil movie about this dude and his wife who ALWAYS needs company. I kid u not she actually marries the guy because his family is humungous(like 50 people) and later takes too many sleeping pills when the guy gets himself transferred to a hill station because she can't stand the loneliness AAAARGHHHHHHHHH THE PAIN. What does this have to do with Bioshock I just felt this extreme urge to go poop somewhere after watching this movie I felt as if all the shit in the movie had some how secretly found a way to teleport itself into my body I could hear the words "would you kindly go to the toilet now" reverberating in the air. as I ran desparately toward the bathroom I noticed as soon as I entered that water was all over the place behind me I heard a deep rumbling turning around to find...........

The Big Daddy Stared intently at me for a while Then in a rumbling voice deeper than the deepest of abbysses it said to me "Come with me if you want to live".

"Hey" said the little sister at his side

"I mean.... Come with us if you want to live" he boomed

"But I have to go" I groaned "can this wait?"

"Okay ..... I mean NO do it while we walk we have to embark on a dangerous and potentially world altering journey foolish boy " he boomed

"With soiled Pants ?" I inquired ?

"True..... One can never really be taken seriously if one soils ones own pants can one " he said affably "all right take your time while you ahem......proceed I can fill you in on the details. What is it little one?"

"But I've never seen you go to the toilet" said the little Sister

"There are many things in this world you have not seen little one" chuckled the Big daddy.

"but that means you soil yourself all the time" she said


A photo of something ghastly looking slid under the door of the cubicle I was in.

"That" said The Big Daddy "is the leader of the Assorted Soul Seeking Wierdos In Predominantly Evil Skins and he threatens the future of all gaming kind and you are the only one who can stop him" he said.

"B....but I'm a fatass" I stuttered

"I know" sighed the big daddy "I know but we needed a real lukkha"

I glowed with pride as I sat on the commode.

"we must journey into worlds hitherto unknown Worlds of War Worlds..... of Craft " said the little sister in a sing-song voice

"Ah well i'm up for it lets go" I said exiting the cubicle and washing my hands thoroughly.

"don't Forget to flush " said a new Voice

Some thing had appeared out of thin air and was eyeing us with violently gleeful eyes. "Lukkha" said a voice from under a gray cloak "join us or be fragged into oblivion"

I looked up grimly

"bring it on"

Holy Cliffhanger Endings Batman!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Full Fandango Throttle of Monkey Island

For the Last Decade or so Commercial Success has managed to elude Adventure games with the nimbleness and agility rarely demonstrated by even the most garishly flexible Sea monkey burglars. This has not stopped the Developers of this genre from Consistently producing games that have pushed the envelope consistently in terms of quality. I recently replayed three of my favorite adventure games all of which released in this era (all produced by Lucasarts who have sadly stopped doing adventure games recently and 2 0f em come very happily from the mind of Tim Schafer who has not ). So here Goes

Full Throttle is a full on Biker Noir n Thriller Comedy Adventure With a hero who sounds Really really cool and a villain that sounds nothing Like Luke Skywalker. Yup Mark Hammil is the voice of the main antagonist of this game and boy is he awesome! replete in its splendour as you solve puzzles that are pretty insanely funny(and tough) and simaltaneously listening to the killer lines that this is a game EVERYONE should play.

The Curse Of Monkey Island is the 3rd game in the Monkey Island series and it has every imaginable thing that fans(like me) of this series could ever hope for Including Monkeys. Guybrush Threepwood is back in another Buckle of your Swash Seat Adventure in all its Buccaneering Goodness and This time He and LeChuck Square off once and for all. Pirates of The Caribbean Stole a considerable amount of its setting from this series and Lets not forget the undead Sea Monkeys either! Total Awesomeness Aaahhhrrrrr ! (you know the way Geoffrey Rush Says Aaahhhrrr Matey)

Grim Fandango : A wild Romp Through the Aztec version of the Afterlife Set in modern day and teeming with Demons and Grim Reapers that have Foldable Scythes This is More a Legend than a game. Wildly difficult puzzles and imaginative Characterization puts this game into hall of fame territory.Critics say that this game is more of an interactive video than a game and then go on to say how much they enjoy the interaction part . Basically everybody loves it.

Well Thats all folks . Next up are Bioshock and a Suprise entrant

Thursday, January 24, 2008

FPS Detox: New Year RPG/Action List

Now while I earlier mentioned that I generally play RPG's and only RPG's and then proceeded to review all the bIGGEST FPS releases of 2007 while ignoring FANTASTIC Games like the witcher and Mass effect both of which I am addicted to now but unable to play(my witcher DVD is back home as is my xbox) so to detox myself from endless sprinting and splicer killing and covenant fragging and Cryo suit using I will now proceed to play and review a couple of old School RPG's as well as a few not so well known rpg's and Some Action games on the side as well just for dessert.For the Uninitiated and blissfully unaddicted-to video-games-populace an FPS is a First Person Shooter i.e seen from First Person View and generally entailing large amounts of shooting stabbing and general fragging of most things that move most of these games manage to get repetitve really fast on rare occassions when the designers decide to get innovative and try to revamp the entire process that things get really interesting and hit frachises are born e.g Halo Half-life

RPG's: Role playing games are games that require the player to become completely immersed in their worlds.These games are always set in a fantastical alternate universe where Demons,Orcs,Humans and other myriad races exist and do their best to wipe each other out there are monsters to kill,plenty of loot to accumulate and decisions to make that will shape the future of the world you love in.Now most RPG's draw(or need to at least) from a vast resource of mythology and Sci-fi Fantasy(read tolkien) for the races and monsters that inhabit them.Considering the source material they have at their disposal you'd think that most RPG's would be Considerably different from one another unfortunately RPG's are mostly formulaic and lacking completely in innovation of any kind most RPG's Attempt to ape the popular RPG's in the market and this results in a number of Clones that are not fun to play however there are a considerable number of game that release every year that break the mold and succesfully manage to do something different successfully.Bioware,Bethesda and Black Isle are 3 companies that make awesome games continually.
Well Thats my take on a few popular genre's of games.Now here's my list of games for reviewing in Jan,Feb and March
1)Second Sight(review in the works)
2)Lionheart legacy of the Crusader
3)Baldurs Gate 2
4)Planescape Torment
5)Icewind Dale 2
6)Bioshock(review in the works)
7)Mass Effect
8) Curse Of Monkey Island and Grim Fandango(review in the works)
9)Diablo 2(review in the works)(can you review Divinity)
10)Age of Empires and Civilization Vs Warcraft and Heroes of might and Magic
Well thats about it folks I'll post the Second Sight and Bioshock reviews Shortly For now Adios Amigos

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Second Sight review

Second Sight and a game called Psi-ops released at around the same time in 2004 now Psi-ops had the advantage of being the better looking game while Second Sight turns out to be by a couple of miles the better Game .

I didn't hear of Second Sight until December '07 and once I procured it and finished playing the first level I was hooked. Second Sight has this pretty generic story hero dude wakes up bald in hospital discovers the team with whom he tried to stop evil dude totally died. Here's where it gets interesting hero has flashback thinks he saved weird psychic babe in flashback and when he's in the present psychic babe is alive!(so much for Lost ).

All jokes aside the game has a fantastic plot with a pretty crazy twist in the tale right about the Climax.The gameplay is kinda clunky but it is amazing fun to play around with the psychic gifts that our hero possesses and that is really what counts . In general a game any video game lover shoud not miss. Play it if only to relive the old days when games weren't all about looks.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Call of duty 4 review

Ok Here it is the long overdue call of duty post.
Call of duty 4 is the most engaging action game in the Call of duty series for 2 very simple reasons
1) Length -Unlike other shooters that spend way too much time doing nothing call of duty 4 makes you land in the thick of it and make no mistake it is pretty damn thick the plot is gritty and to the point i.e NO MEANINGLESS SIDEQUESTS

2) Action - The amount of fragging in the single player Campaign alone is sheerly insane I mean guys keep ddying wherever you seem to go and Call of Duty always knew how to mantain an insane pace.

the interface is pretty much the same point and click W,S,A,D to move around and you have a neat knife to melee with.Grenades to blow people up with and Flashbangs to make them dizzy and disoriented.The guns are your standard modern Army issue weapons that soldiers actually use in the field.

The graphics are biyoo-ti-fool. But not anything really special or new. the physics are good but not really great if you have played crysis or any of the recent FPS hits.But that doesn't mean this game isn't visually stunning what it means that it isn't visually stunning in comparison to Crysis which makes the Comparison kinda mean because it looks top-notch really.
and this game has its share of cool moments my favorite being the entire flashback mission which is in uber stealth mode and has a brilliant Climactic shootout 2 guys holding off an army Woah mama! Enjoy this thrill ride for the extremely short duration it lasts