Number 6 of do and don’t like. The Big Finale.

Posted in Game Design on October 9, 2009 by barantas

So, here we are. At the end of a long stretch of complimenting and insulting games, all in good measure of course, I hope you have enjoyed the ride, and now, get ready for the final and thrilling installment.

The game that I do like this week will be… Team Fortress 2. A good fashioned team on team shootemup. The game has several classes all with different health, weapons and abilities. There are three different types of class, with three varying classes in that. The three are Offensive, Defensive and Assist classes. The offensive classes are those that charge forwards to capture objectives and kill enemy players. Defensive tend to hang back and wait for the enemy to come to them where they can strike best making them great for well… defending objectives. The assist classes then help the other two types of classes out one by healing, one by sniping, and the other by going invisible, then turning into one of the enemies only to stab them in the back. All of the classes are fantastically balanced, with no one class being the best over all the others however certain classes do have weakness to others. But this isn’t what makes the game great. To me it is all about the character of the game. It has a very original feel to it. With characters appearances being slightly cartoony and everyone having a distinct outline which not only adds to their character but makes them distinct in image when it comes to the battles. Valve, the makers of the game, make use of this for their ongoing advertising campain. They release videos entitled “Meet the (team member name)” each generally coinciding with an update that they do to the game for free. The team are fantastic in that, though the game was originally released as part of a bundle game with 2 other games, they have constantly been updating the game, releasing new content it is really a case of the makers of the game loving the game and wanting to give more. Either that or they just want to sell more copies. You decide. But overall, it is a fun game, with wonderful feel, graphics, gamplay. Almost everything is perfect, just hope you play with people who are ok.

I am really running out of games that i don’t like to talk about. Mainly because if i do not like a game I don’t really play it for all that long… So I think that I will do spore. It isn’t that I didn’t like it. It is moreso that it just had alot of issues. The game revolves around creating a creature with the parts available, adventuring then evolving, then moving onto being tribal, then ruling the planet, then the solar system. In other words, things get out of your control really fast. The main issue that comes up with the game is, well the gameplay itself to start it is simple, control your character, collect parts and your fine. Then next you control a small tribe, then several cities… and finally. You get to being a spaceship who needs to control the needs of your galaxy. This involves getting new planets, getting resources, defending old planets and trying to forge new alliances. The amount of work really starts to heap up and it becomes more about just tring to keep everything together to survive. Managing to get more planets into your fold, the objective, only really means your going to need to do more work. As far as challenge vs reward goes, thats not a good system. It was at that point i just had to stop playing. The game stopped getting better and just kept getting harder.  Prior to that, a fun game with alot of potential, just a very dissapointing end. Could have been improved by simply not having so much to do, but instead, they released another expansion where you got even more work to do. Way to go guys…

5. The Game that I like and The game that I do not like.

Posted in Game Design on October 5, 2009 by barantas

The game that I like for this post is Batman: Arkham Asylum. The game I do not like will be the all powerful World of Warcraft. Which to start with…

I think I will do the bad then the good. Hopefully it will make you feel better after having to read me talking about wow. Trust me, it won’t be pretty.

Now I realise wow has something close to 47 Bazillion players now. Which means that they must be doing something right. But when I played it there was just something missing. I started as a night elf hunter. As that was the race that was appealing to me. Out of the classes I chose a hunter. This has caused much ridicule from people that do play wow as apparently that is a silly thing to do. I must ask, why does a game give you the option, and not even a complex one like choosing the wrong stats or something, a simple class choice when it is a silly idea. I don’t know, this itself may have been the reason for my failure to enjoy the game, but I think it wasn’t. What annoyed me was the quests. To go and kill X of these bears, then when you are done to come back, so I go back, oh you don’t have a bears paw, you couldn’t have killed ten of them. Not only was the killing of the bears annoying, I didn’t get a pickup so i had to go back until I found one. Bad mission design to start. When i said I don’t really like this, I think im going to get off now, my friend i was playing with said, no don’t it gets really good around level 20. A game where I have to sink hours and hours into doing something I don’t enjoy just so the game can start to get fun. I don’t think so. Bad design again. The characters, the world, the story, all fine. But the last thing that really annoys me. The people. My god. I am sorry to anyone who plays wow. But how do you put up with these people. People who go around bragging about how much they killed, when almost everyone else has done it. People who quote “leeroy Jenkins” every 5 minutes as they run past. Those who insist if you are not playing for the horde, you may as well not be playing. Maybe I need to find another server, but for now i must say, a game where the community, and im not saying the majority, but a game where the community can be that annoying is not a place I want to be. Maybe I just need to find a good guild or something… and turn off the chat box.

Anyway, so batman. First off, It’s batman. There I have said it, I am a batman fan and with his recent death it is nice to see that he gets a nice game to his memory. To start, the nicest thing about the game is the look. It is flat out beautiful. Rendered lovingly to suit the style of the comics. It is dark brooding with that nice hint of insanity lurking at the edges. This can be seen in the colouring and the architecture. Batman himself is well charactered animated and well voiced to give a great overall character. He is then supported by a cast of heroes and villans suiting the game. The joker is the main bad guy. Voiced by Mark Hammell. Yep, Luke Skywalker himself. This is the same voice from the cartoon series and so gives the joker great character. The games cut scenes are very nice and have alot of character, good acting and emotion to them. In other words, the entire game is lovingly made and just like the real batman.

The combat is smooth, so smooth. The combat has one main button. Which is just attack. The way it works is that combos can move from one enemy to any other, and can stretch accross as many attacks as you can manage. It is hard to explain in words, but it really is great. You can also counter enemy attacks and use your cape to stun enemies. Then there are more upgrades that make your combat even better. Batman also has a range of gadgets he can use. These all come in handy at different times and work very nicely. The gameplay consists of travelling around the levels, fighting enemies and getting upgrades. These parts of the game are broken up nicely by bossfights, trying to solve the riddlers riddles he has left around the level for you and mind bending scarecrow gas sections where you travel through batmans subconcious. It is possibly one of my favourite games of all time. Wonderfully made with next to no issues. The only thing that i might not like are how all the guards look the same, and most of the inmates. It’s like having all these other wonderful characters surrounded by cardboard cutouts. A little dissapointing.

Game number 4 that like is one and don’t like is the other.

Posted in Game Design on September 25, 2009 by barantas

I realise the titles are starting to get a little extreme. But hey, thats life… or something.

Todays games, im looking at the classics. The older games that i used to love or hate and still do, mostly.

Back to the NES/SNES I’m going to look at the game I don’t like first. Legend Of Zelda 2. I mean… really, what was this? The map was horrible to get around. There was no help in what to do, you were just thrown into the main part of the map in a temple with a dead lady or possibly comatosed lady lying next to you. To start with I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on and I assume Link ( the main character) didn’t really know either, so this I put down to that the night before he and the passed out lady had too much to drink and now I had to go find the ultimate hangover cure… or something. Link then leaves the temple and wanders arround a giant map. If he runs into any enemy-ish looking blots a battle starts and you are thrown into an awkward sidescroller battle mode where enemies appear from random that you must kill. This is the worst part of the game. This battle system. It is painful to the extreme. if you are on full hearts you can shoot magic from your sword. However, full health doesn’t last much longer than a few seconds if you are lucky. So you sit there and spam the attack button until soemthing does hit you, then go about jumping crouching and hitting the attack button again until everything is dead. It is admittedly, the part of the game that is most annoying, and you want to be able to avoid. It appears the designers knew this so there are paths that you can follow that will let you avoid battles. The only real neccessary ones are a few caves and some forest and beach areas you need to go through. The other part is the levelling system. True that it was an adventure game and generally they do have a levelling system, but this used a strange EXP system that meant that small enemies were worth 1 exp. Pretty soon it came down to having to kill a large number of these just to level. I think that one level i got to required 50 exp. That was 50 tiny monsters I had to fight in that annoying little sidescroller… Anyway, even when the required exp was collected you could then only upgrade one thing. Painful and useless. The game is riddled with errors, such as a man who says “I AM ERROR” when you talk to him. It is possible his name is error, and if that is the case why is he in the game? Very unnecessary again. The game provides no help apart from saying, this cave is dark, you need a light, or this rock is big you will need to break it. There is no hint as to where to find a light or a giant hammer or explosives or some such thing… overall not very good. Gameplay lacks, environment lacks, graphics lack (well it was on the NES so a little slack there i suppose) and overall it just isn’t very fun.

Wow, that was way too long… sorry. Now the game that I do like. Worms. Have you ever played worms? No? well you should! Worms is possibly the most fun you can have with a console 4 people but only one controller. Each person gets a team of worms these generally range from 4 to 6 worms each. The worms are randomly spawned on random terrain with random scenery. So, at the start of the game at least one person is already complaining, but dont worry thats kinda the point. The worms then have a range of weapons that their team can draw from. The basic is the basooka but there are things like an uzi, a shotgun, a homing missile and more. Each team also gets a super weapon these range in power and accuracy and are… roughly balanced. The reason the game works is because there is really good balance. Why there is balance is because everything is randomised. Skill applies to the game a little but it is moreso luck and guessing. The style is great with cartoony appearances for the worms and their surroundings, a range of voices for the worms, and in some later ones appearances. When a worm dies and doesn’t get blown off the map it blows itself up and a happy little tombstone takes its place. It is a game that well crosses violence and humour in a wonderful manner that makes the entirety of the game much more fun. So that is why worms is great, because everything in it is awesome. Oh and the multiplayer provides hours of fun and and teamwork.

Games that are liked and are unliked part 3

Posted in Game Design on September 22, 2009 by barantas

So here we are… The third part. Today we look at more games. Huzzah!

Today I won’t be focusing on any particular type of game. Instead I am just going to pick two random games and rate them purely on how good/bad they are.

So, a good game then… I think Warhammer 40K. The table top battle game. 40K constsis of several different parts, as it is not only a game, but an entire hobby. You start with a player who becomes interested in 40k. They then select an army they like, spend way too much money on buying said army that they then build and paint themselves. I know it sounds like I don’t really like this part, but it is fun. Just a real drain on your money.

Then once they have collected an army which would basically consist of one HQ and two Troops choices. That is one character and two small squads. Once these have been made ect. you can find someone else who has the same limit and actually play a game.

The game consists of each player taking a turn, moving models. Shooting the enemy by rolling dice and trying to get to certain objectives. Once either player has no models left, or the turn limiot is up. You find who was the winner.

The game is quite old now and is now in  its 4th generation. This means it has well refined rules and the gamplay flows very well. The only issue is that some of the Books that have rules for armies do not work so well in the new edition. Games Workshop (the company responsible for the game) does their best to get these out as soon as possible. But it is a long and slow process. This causes the main issue in the game. Balance, The game has about 13 armies though about 5 of those are simply different versions of the same army. Now, the reason that this can cause balance issues is that there are some units that are much better at killing others. Sometimes one army is comprised entirely of one type of unit. New rules have been put in place in the new version of the game to combat this slightly so that one army cannot overpower the other but it does still occur. That really is the only issue with the game. Apart from that the game is extrememly good, and variable. You should never have to play the same type of game twice in 40k. However, if your want, you can for rematches and things similar. The game also has several expansions, for fighting in citys, in planetary attack missions and for games that are too huge to use the normal rules.

So, this one was basically about balancing, and as much as it is a game i like, it has issues, but the rest of the game makes up for it enough for it to be good.Next, a game I don’t like. This is getting a little hard, I do not play too many games I don’t like. Well instead, i will look at a game that i don’t like as much…

Final Fantasy. There is just something painful about it. The main thing is the battle system, so the bad thing therefore is gameplay. The system is generally turn based, and while this worked back in the olden days, it seems unnecessary now. I don’t like having to play a game where you have to think a few turns in advance. I like games that involve less strategy and more skill. I can appreciate why they are fun, the style of it if you are intellectually minded, is like chess. Chess with more moves more strategies ect. The variation on this is FF12. Wow, what a game, it is the game where you dont have to play. They have a thing called gambits, which lets you set party members to do certain techniques when prerequsites are met. Such as, if enemy is nearby, attack, if part member is hurt, heal, and if you don’t want to have to press any buttons you can set this ofr everyone, thats right, the whole party. You can just walk your members in there and sit back, relax and let them do all the work. The game basically becomes a giant maze with some puzzles to solve along the way. I really don’t think thats a real game.

Games I Do and Don’t Like. Part 2.

Posted in Game Design with tags , on August 15, 2009 by barantas

Today I will be looking at board games for my games I like and games i don’t like.

This is a little hard for me, as there never has really been a board game i have really disliked. They are all fairly simple, and the competition is pretty fun and there never seem to be any problems with the gameplay. I have never actually played a board game where one player could painfully overtake the others and the game was ruined by that. The closest thing is monopoly. It’s fun, but eventually it gets a little boring.

So monopoly is the game I don’t like or the closest thing I have to it. The game I do like on the other hand is Game of Life Twist and Turns.

So, Monopoly, unless your have been residing under a rock for many many a year is a game where you try to set up a monopoly by purchasing streets, then houses, then motels. If people land on your spaces they pay you money ect, I hope you know what I’m talking about.

The main challenge of the game is attempting to get a street, that is a decent street most people will land on. It seems there is one certain corner just around free parking that always gets landed on. There is probably some reason for this, something about the number of squares and certain “go directly to” cards. But generally in the game, if someone is lucky enough to get a few of those places early on,  they generally take the lead pretty soon. But then, the second issue of the game occurs, the gang ups. Though they are meant to be a part of the game, and are meant to be “tactical” they just end up meaning the one player who was playing well will start to fall apart unless they are extremely lucky.

These are the two key flaws to monopoly. The rest works pretty well the system works well if those two don’t rear their ugly heads. The games design is nice though. With a board, cards, money system that all work really well. It can become confusing, but newer games have an electronic system for money that makes it much simpler to keep a track of.

Speaking of electronic money systems. Hello Game of life twists and turns. Game of life twists and turns takes the original idea of game of life where you earn money from a job and life points from life experiences and improves on the game. It allows you to move around a board which has 4 different paths, these are about 4 different stages of life. Education, work, love and live. Some give more money. Others more life points. In the end everything comes down to whoever has the most money, with life points being converted into money at the end. This is all followed and calculated on the fantastic little card reader you get with the game. This makes the game simple to follow and take the confusing parts out of it. Making it much more fun.

The most enjoying part of the game comes from the interesting cards that are picked up and the strange story the game develops. I realise this has little to do with the lecture content… but when in one game it turned out that my friend and I kept going on vacations and then he pulled a card that he was having an affair with someone and his wife left him. That was pretty awkward but totally made the game worth it.

As far as challenges go its not so hard, just hoping to spin the right number and get the most points. Whether you win or lose isn’t a major issue. Just having fun along the way thats what makes the game for me.

Week 2 of Designing.

Posted in Game Design on August 9, 2009 by barantas

So one week has past and our team is making headway into our game’s design.

We have decided to make a game based slightly on adventuring, slightly on fighting and mostly on base building. The idea, unfortunately, is fairly sketchy at the moment. However, here is an overview.

You begin as one of several characters, I am planning to have six (that being the maximum number of players the game can have, this will allow for squabbling over the favourite character ect and for the wholesome come from behind victory of the person who got stuck with the shoe [ref. monopoly]) {wasn’t that alot of brackets?}. These six characters may or may not have varying skills that can be used throughout the game. Our team would like this to happen but I worry it may make the game overly complex.

Sorry, lost my train of thought, was reading someone elses blog… Something about the Litch King complaining his throne room was too cold.

Anyway, so the game. The board is going to be hexagonally based, a design which it seems too many people are doing… oh well. The base for your character is situated in the edge of the board you start at. Or… maybe the corner, that may work too *mental notation*. The player then moves from this base, to card pickup points that are scattered througout the “world”. How these are setup is going to require some playtesting. But my main idea is some form of system where X amount of cards (X being 2 to 3 times the number of players) are placed onto the table in any of a set of preset card zones. Cards can be a few things, they can be battle cards or base cards or traps or just one turn personal boost to your speed, or the like. These cards then have to be taken back to the base, where they are added to it, as upgrades, some become constant upgrades, and others get put into a “Deck” the deck is where you can use cards to attack other players, bases or the like. there will be a max the size of the deck can be, so one character can’t over stockpile and cause imbalances.

The game ends when one person manages to get their base up to the maximum level it can be. It is then assumed that the character flees inside as they watch the rest of the area obliterated by their new killing machine which is made from the constituent parts they managed to get together. A thought I just had, possibly, as a final fun part of the game, the bases can do battle, allowing for one base, who may have been close, to wrest victory from the winner with some lucky dice rolls… *more mental notation* this game does look like it will be complex, but with a good rulebook, anything is possible.

Tune in next week for more developments. Same bat time, same bat channel.

Halo Wars

Posted in Game Design with tags , , on August 8, 2009 by barantas

Halo Wars, the much traded in unloved brother once removed of the Halo series.

But I digest. Halo Wars is the RTS (real time strategy) which involves taking a god like view of an army of characters you control. Right here is where Halo Wars first has an issue. It is a console only game, and an RTS was designed to be used on a computer. The controller on a console is not well suited to guiding your camera around the terrain of a level while also selecting and controlling characters. So, in short, the controller is not intuitive, can be very clumsy and unresponsive and had a huge learning curve.

Second, the level design. Painful is the best word i can use to describe it. There was very little imagination, well after the first part of the first level, which was an interesting warthog trip through some frozen wastes, actually quite interesting. But after that, it all got quite bland. With missions being either, just roll through and slaughter everything, these contained a glimmer of fun, to defence missions where the levels were so large it was next to impossible to cover the area between two parts of the map by toggling the little stick, you need a minimap with a mouse to get around properly, it just doesnt work otherwise. So in the short hand. The challenge of the game was too hard or too easy and your only real reward was the next too hard or too easy level.

These were the base problems of the game, otherwise, it was all pretty balanced, the actual fighting all worked out ok, with a rock, paper, scissors system for troops, tanks, and aircraft. The multiplayer almost worked as well however it still carried the same problems as the game.

So that is the video game I like, and the game I don’t like in relation to the topics from the lectures. Next week, two board games. Exciting.