Archive for the 'Games' Category

Exploration and Scene Based Gaming

Gamers can be classified into several categories. I happen to fall into the “Exploration gamer” stereotype, meaning that although I enjoy a challenge, I’d rather face an easy, interesting boss and stroll through lots of interesting locations than have to analyse the strategy of a ridiculously hard (yet dull) boss to proceed. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with this preference either; I just happen to really enjoy games like Seiklus and Knytt Stories more than others might. Even in World of WarCraft or the Elder Scrolls games, my default gameplay activity is to actively avoid combat and just wander around to see everything. (Why yes, I do enjoy playing as a rogue. Thank you for asking.)

The gaming habits of others may differ. (Yes, this post is in response to that one. Go read it.)

The problem with being an exploration gamer is that I’m quite likely to give up way too soon on a challenge and play something else or use cheat codes if I just can’t get past a certain point in the game. This tendency is exacerbated by my sudden decrease in time upon arriving at college. It doesn’t make me any less of a gamer, it just means I want something different out of a game than you do; “the scenery, the story, the poetry of movement”, if you will. I watch intro movies, for goodness sake. 😉

This being said, while the Nintendo patent for scene based gaming mentions the “experience”, I don’t really think it’s aimed at exploration gamers.  No, the patent seems to be aimed at casual gamers who would be unable to complete the game otherwise. At certain points, Zelda really is just a lot of fun to watch. The puzzles can be/are frustrating for the casual market they’re trying to cater to, though. This video walkthrough system sounds very similar to what was implanted in the puzzle game Professor Fizzwizzle, which was loved by both casual gamers and hardcore puzzle solvers. Hopefully this is a sign that Nintendo is going ahead with what aging Zelda fans have wanted for a while: much harder puzzles.

Think about it. Miyamoto has said the franchise “does need some big new unique ideas.” With new ideas will hopefully come an increase in difficulty; an important factor which seems to have been declining in recent releases. Whether the reduced difficulty is perceived or actual is up for discussion (repeated use of common metaphors and concepts may make new titles seem easier to players who have been through several installments in the series already), but people who like a series are likely to play multiple installments of it.

But I digress. If scene based gaming means that Nintendo can make games significantly new, different, and harder without loosing the casual audiance they currently cater to or the old school gamers they attracted in the first place, so much the better.

So what if casual gamers want to watch Zelda like an overpriced DVD? As long as the core gameplay is intact for everyone else, I don’t really see the fuss about scene-based gaming as anything more as elitism.

Retro Remakes 2008 Competition

Every year, Retro Remakes runs a video game remake competition. There are typically about fifty completed entries or so, all in a handy list with download links. It’s like Christmas in July! I mean, December.

New this year there were two new categories which allowed for mashups of existing classics and “remakes” of games which didn’t actually exist. In my humble opinion, some of the best entries this year fell into those categories. Allow me to present three of my favorites.

Blast Passage

blastpassage

Very little to say about this one; it’s exactly what it looks like. It’s Gauntlet mixed with Bomber Man, complete with LAN play. Tell me that’s not an amazing concept. It’s Java and runs in a web browser, so it should be fairly cross platform.

Download: Page 4

Tetroid

tetroid

Metroid meets Tetris. The heart of the game is classic Metroid, but all the powerups are now tetris pieces. You have to fit them into block segments which seal off new areas in order to advance. It’s rather clever; I especially like how some sections require the player to shoot the right piece into the wall to serve as a platform. The music is also brilliant.

Download: Page 4

Retroman

retroman3

This is an extremely interesting entry. It’s very simple; just a run and jump platformer with one enemy type and simple graphics. The genius is that each individual enemy unit is more powerful than the player, and it has an AI system. If the player opens fire, the enemy will either retreat and take cover, or jump and counter attack. If the player starts running away, enemies will emerge from cover on lower platforms and pursue their target like carnivorous rabbits. Yet, the AI is just unpredictable enough to keep things interesting. I love all the applications of game theory here.

Retroman is relatively difficult. An individual enemy, while comparatively easy to outwit, takes several hits to destroy and can kill the player in a single shot. I spent twenty minutes or so attempting to pass the first level; I’ve got no idea if there are any others.

Download: Page 5

Of course, your tastes will certainly differ from mine, and I haven’t had the time or inclination to play all of the entries. If you find something exceptional, feel free to call it out in the comments. 🙂

Project Daydream

So, I’ve signed on as the third developer of Project Daydream.

Project Daydream will be an open source, cross-platform, networked physics simulation sandbox. We’ll be implementing the base layer and online support. Users will be able to script and extend the sim with LUA. The (extremely) longterm goal is to make it an MMO.

Since we’re all busy students, this obviously isn’t going to be complete anytime soon. But we’ll hopefully have something interesting to demonstrate sometime in the next few months.

GLDirect – OpenGL to DirectX Converter

Attention internet! If you have an ATi Xpress 200, Xpress 200m, Xpress 1100, or Xpress 1100m graphics card affected by the OpenGL firmware bug, this is for you. I stumbled across it randomly; it’s called GLDirect. It converts system calls to OpenGL into DirectX calls. So, if you can run DirectX games fine but you’ve been having trouble with horrible (read: completely unplayable) performance in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Neverwinter Nights, Savage, or another OpenGL game, give it a whirl.

I’d love to test it, but I no longer have the time or the affected hardware in question. If you try it, let me know how it works for you in the comments. Thanks!

Super Smash Bros. Brawl First Impression

Also, as long as I’m procrastinating, might as well post this too. It’s only like a week or two late.

  • Diddy Kong is a lot of fun. I was surprised as how fun and balanced a character he was.
  • But Sonic the Hedgehog is definitely my favorite character.
  • Moves are way easier to pull off. Love chaining combos in midair? So much easier now.
  • Way more floaty. Wee!
  • Because there’s a lot more airtime, there’s a lot more focus on combat in the Y-axis. Sonic’s down stomping attack is used a lot.
  • Sonic is now the fastest character. However, he doesn’t really move all that fast compared to the characters in Melee. Thus, everyone moves more slowly.
  • The nerf bat hath smiteth Link, my previous main. He feels a lot less visceral than in Melee. Part of might be the animation cycles; in Meele it was totally possible to pull off two or three spins in a row on DK. Now, not so much. Things feel slower and smoother.
  • SOOO much more of an emphasis on items. I have no problems with items normally, and Nintendo hit the sweet spot with the defaults in Melee. Now it just feels like too much.We’re talking like five smash balls in a single round, and two or three insane ships of doom, split into three pieces which everyone battles like crazy over. Yeah. When you play with items (he said, abusing italics), you fight for items. There are now at least five or six items of power equal to or greater than the stupid hammer. And they spawn all over the place! Seriously, it’s completely insane.
  • However, you can turn it all down and/or off, so I’m not complaining too much.

Productivity, and the Attack of it

So, I’ve innocently been trying to do homework and adjust to living in a dorm with 200 other people again.

Then Kyntt Stories was released early. Then Ubisoft went insane and released Sands of Time, Ghost Recon, Far Cry, and Rayman: Raving Rabbits for free. Then EA, trying to top Ubisoft, released the original Command and Conquer for free. I was told of all this information by various parties within the span of about 24 hours.

Just as school started. I think the world has declared war on my work initiative.

StarCraft Ghost is Alive!

No, really! The rumors of it’s death appear to have been highly overrated. I think. Judge for yourself.


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