Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Future of Gameplay Mechanics…

Thoughts on the future of gameplay mechanics… This is a VERY open ended question, so I will attempt to answer it with an open ended answer. My first thoughts on this question contain three elements.


The first and major change I think will occur with futuristic games will be with movement system and your combat abilities. Imagine this, Assassin’s Creed meets Call of Duty 4 with a splash of Halo 3… Assassin’s creed has some of the most powerful movement system ever brought to next generation consoles, being able to climb almost any wall you see, or being to find an alternate route. Now if you mixed this movement system in with a game like COD4 that has some of the most realistic graphics in relation to weaponry as well an extremely well polished combat system you would have an incredibly realistic game that would be able to successful cross genres. Then if you were able to bring in Halo’s approach to AI (flanking, waiting, stalking), you would only increase the overall realism and fun that is only possible with the use of resources given by next generation consoles.


The second change I think will take place with futuristic games is there approach to level design and sand box design. With most games there is some level of storyline, but I think most games we will take a less linear approach and a more open approach just like in real life. If I want to go to one part of the game and do a certain amount of jobs / quests and then come back and work on the main story line or do some other type of quest, I should not get penalized, but the main game should get harder as I do different quests, and should self adjust to what I have in my inventory.


The final difference I think we will see is the blurring of lines between mini-play and mega-play. This is not to say that they will go away totality but the “mini-games” will be required to enter a specific aspect of the game, going from mini to mega and opening some other part of the game. With games now a days there is just so much space to fill that unless you have mini-games the game will become boring quickly, but if you can step back and play a whole other type of game, this increases the playability factor substantially. You could also use the mini games to be the only way to reach some type of end goal of the mini games, increasing the ability to master a whole other set of skills that in turn could be used in the mega-play…

Monday, October 27, 2008

Repetition regarding storyline, level and characters.

The three games I will discuss repetition on are; Oblivion, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Need for Speed: Most Wanted.


The first game I will discuss in regards to repetition is Oblivion. This is a massive story / quest driven game so there is of course going to be some needed repetition through out the game. A couple of examples of repetition nature of this game are; the people you encounter and or the people you are forced to battle with, the quests for the most part are go collect something and return it for some kind of reward, the final type of repetition I noticed was with Alchemy and mixing plants to create some type of new spell. Going out and collecting plant after plant was a bit tedious but all in all it wasn’t to bad. The only thing I would have changed would have been the way we were rewarded for doing something, why not upgrade our abilities instead of giving us something to put on that would increase that one specific ability. All in all the stated repetitions did not hurt the game play it just made some parts harder and longer to play then others.


The Second game I will touch on is Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. The repetition aspect I found in this game was the online part, the prestige levels (1-55) you have to progress from 1 to 55 all while getting new guns and perk upgrades. In a way this kind of fun, because you get to get better at the game and figure out which guns are better for different levels, but to truly beat the game you have to go and beat every level 55 times and as you progress 10 times it makes for it to be a bit repetitive.


The final game I will discuss is Need for Speed: Most Wanted. I found that your missions and boards were very repetitive. Your missions were 1 of 2 types, working for the mob (bad guys) or for the FBI(good guys). I wish there had been more options then just two. Also, there should have been as many levels as there were game types. This could have been fixed by spending a little bit more time on creating more levels nad not just flipping the levels around to run the course backwards. Gamers know when you take the easy way out and just change the boards by running the track backwards.

Progressions and Advancements in three games

The Three games I have decided to discuss progression on are; Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Socom: Confrontation and Grand Turismo 5: Prologue.


The first game I will discuss (keeping to my normal pattern) is COD4. When I think about progression with COD4 I think about the different prestige levels and different aspects of weapon advancement. In my previous blog post I talked about prestige levels so please feel free to reference that. The weapon progression works like this; all three weapon classes have different upgrades you can attach to make your gun easier to use, there are different camouflage patterns you can unlock by achieving a certain amount of required head shoots, the final upgrade you can achieve are perk upgrades you can apply to certain classes that you as the user create.


The second game I will review for progression aspects are, Socom: Confrontation. I have only recently bought this game so for the progression I have noticed so far are in rankings. This is typical for most military games. This consists of your rank, how long you have played, how many deaths you have caused, how many deaths you have received, headshots, time played, etc… This ranking system is a global one so all of the other players can compare how well they are doing against the world.


The third and final game I will talk about is Grand Turismo 5: Prologue. This is a fantastic racing game exclusive for Play Station. Progression is measured in the form of unlocks. You have car unlocks and you also have car paraphernalia unlocks, these are different things you can add to your car like spoilers, mufflers, nitro, tires, rims, etc… In addition to all of these upgrades you can also view an online ranking system that other people can compare to your rank to see how they are doing against different friends and the world.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Playability and Addiction Elements in Three Games

The three games I have decided to review for playability and addiction element are: Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, The Darkness, and Grand Theft Auto IV.


The first game I will discuss is Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. The main reason I play this game continuity is the online play / environment. It’s nice to step out of my body after a long day at the office, being on your best behavior, to talking smack and kicking the shit out of someone who things there better then you! I have (not that I’m proud of this) 28 days, 13 hours and 47 minutes invested in my top online account. I am also ranked 287th in the world with a top level prestige (gold cross), this game also sold 3,000,000 copies, so to be ranked in the top 500 is a accomplishment I am proud of.

The other two main reasons I play this game religiously is graphics and realism. The graphics created for Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare are top of the line. They are some of the best I feel, for any next generation console. The realism portrayed in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare online are by far the most realistic I have ever played. Its kind of funny, now when I see movies or military TV shows I’m like, “look, it’s a silenced MP5 with an ACOG scope”. Before playing Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, I never really knew anything about guns or weapons in general, but now I can almost name what type of gun is being used by the sound or how it looks.


The second game I will review is The Darkness. This game lacks in multiple areas, but the largest area I identified is its linear approach to game play. There is only one way to play through this game and beat it. They do give you upgrades but only to help you complete the game as directed. The other two areas I noticed were graphics and game environment. The graphics are choppy at best, when you kill your enemy by ripping there heart out, sometimes you have no idea if you killed them or not, because most of the time you are forced to use your demons to kill, a major game mechanic, and a weak one at that.

The environment is 100% played in darkness, hence the name “The Darkness”, this make the play extremely dark and very hard to play! One of the mechanics used to try and help this problem is also a failed attempt. The “heat sensor vision” is like seeing the world threw the eyes of your attached demons. As stated earlier there is a good chance you are going to run into the enemy you are stalking or be seen by them and this will make it much harder to sneak up on them.


The third and final game I will discuss the playability factor on is GTA IV. One of the reasons I have GTA IV is because of its sandbox style game play. This allows you to have as much freedom as you decided to use. There are hundreds of side missions you can decide to complete if you chose to, if not, the main story line is not effected either way. Another factor related to its playability is the online play. Rockstar did a great job in the design of the online element piece. There are over eight online modes that can be played with tones of customization options also, making online that much more fun. The final addiction element I’ll discuss is one of the larger mechanics GTA IV has worked on is it’s driving element. This is a much more specific topic that I personally find interesting and that others may not. Any car you decide to steal, buy or win have there own physics set associated with them, making different car brands more fun, hard, fast, slow, handle better, corner better, etc… increasing the need to spend more time trying to find and master all of the car types.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Three breadths of choice

The three game titles I have selected to analyze the choices that are given and discuses the outcome of the choices are;
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion:
Grand Theft Auto IV
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Double Agent.


The first game I would like to discuss is Oblivion. There are thousands of possible choices you can make in this sand box style RPG that will change little bits and pieces of the game. The part I am at in the game at the moment is dealing with Vampires. I have heard talk from friends about what the effects where but wanted to find out for myself for this assignment. I went and found the first vampire I could find. This is what happens...


I have played the game as a non-vampire, very much enjoyed it and decided I wanted to try to finish it as a Vamp. It didn't take long for me to fight a vamp and get bit, it took three to four days for the effect to kick in, but once it did, trust me you know it! My skin begin to change and my eyes started turning dark red... this was not cool, people would not talk to me and I could not walk around in the day light. I decided I needed to start thinking like a vamp, I decided to try and attack someone for there blood, this didn't work very well, I was easily hurt by fire, but was VERRRRYYYY strong in other ways, this was good to know. Luckily one night I went to rob someone, while they were sleeping and the feed option was there in my dialog box. I decided to feed no matter what it did to the other person (NPC), I needed to get better, and better I got. I was able to rest and go out in the sun, not for long but it was better then before. My skin started to change back to normal, not 100% but at least some people would talk to me, and I could get some of my quests going again. I have been playing as a vamp for a good 2 weeks now, and it is very different then playing as a normal person but it does have some benefits; Night Eye, Vampire's Seduction, Reign of Terror and Embrace of Shadows to name a few. Some of the downfalls are; Weakness to Fire (you are always weak to fire, but even more so now!), Weakness to daylight (meaning you have to work in the night, hindering your ability to acquire missions), Character changes to look like a vamp (hindering your ability to talk to NPC and get missions). I have not finished the game yet but can tell you this, it is far more difficult to play as a vamp. There is a cure out there and I may just have to start looking for it...


The second game I decide to play around with the choices is GTA IV. This is a classic final mission choice.


There are two choices at the end of the game you can decide from. We will call the first one Deal and the second one Revenge.

If you decide to do Deal (take the money), Romen who is Nikos cousin dies at the wedding and you later find out that Romen was going to be a father.

If you decide to seek Revenge then Kate who is Nikos love interest get shot by accident. At Romen's wedding they decide that if they have a girl they will name it Kate to honor her.

I will be 100% honest with you. I really did not care for either of the ending.

In Deal you have to make a deal with Dimitri, which is stupid because you know it's not going to work anyway. Of course, Dimitri betrays you and you end up with a weird and unsatisfactory $250,000 which just feels out of the blue. On the upside, Roman gets killed which makes for a "wow" moment and Dimitri becomes your "final enemy".

In Revenge you get to kill Dimitri right then and there which feels much more satisfying. Unfortunately, Kate is the one who gets killed which feels very "so what" and Pegorino somehow becomes the "final enemy" which feels very anticlimactic.


The final game I decide to make a choice in was Splinter Cell: Double Agent, this was by far the easiest choice for me to make. While yes, you have a trust meter that must be monitored by the player to see who's good graces you are currently on JBA = Bad Guy / NSA = Good Guy. There is a choice toward the middle of the game where Sam Fisher (the main character) must decide if he is going to kill his boss to get on the good side of the JBA. I decided to replay this part of the game but do it both ways to see if there were any effects that happened with this action. I had played the “good guy” way and taken the gun and turned on the JBA agent and rescued my boss the first go round, this made it harder to finish the level because I was in the JBA's headquarters, but I just thought it was the right thing to do. Now, that I have been asked to play the other way, it makes it that much more fun. I took the pistol in my hand given to me by the bad guys and aimed it at him, fired it once, it was over. My meter dropped down almost falling off the chart but leaving me just enough to not have the game end. Was this it? I had killed a good guy, shouldn't I be attacked by the good guys or something... nothing... It made it easier to finish the mission I must say because they all trust me now, but the NSA had now formed trust issues with me, rightfully so! I thought that there would be a big deal made about it but I guess the meter is more for me to keep myself in check and not necessarily help me go down a non linear path.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Roles, Movement Systems, Objects, and Behavior Patterns with Three Characters.

The three characters I have decided to discuss are; Master Chief (Halo 1- 3), Solid Snake (Metal Gear Solid 1 – 4) and Altair (Assassin's Creed). These are three strong characters that I play as on a fairly regular basis.


Some of Master Chiefs roles in Halo would consist of:

Leader: Lead other troops into battle, they will not start a battle until you are ready to do so.
Warrior: You fight to the death or until the level is finished

Master Chief has four main movement sets to be discussed:

Run: You have the ability to break out into a full sprint
Walk: This is the default movement, and what you do before you run
Punch: You can perform this action while walking or running (less realistic while running)
Climb: You have the ability to climb latter's but your jump is so high you can almost jump anywhere in this game

Master Chief comes with the ability to carry objects that can be used later or to help defeat different enemies, listed below are a couple of items that are objects in the game:

Assault Rifle: This is your default weapon that you start with
Plasma Grenades: These are the default grenades that you start the game with

Some of the behavior patterns associated with Master Chief are:

Invisibility: If you acquire the correct item, you can become invisible for a short period of time
Working in a Group: You are assigned soldiers you can lead into battle, but only when you engage the enemy
Strafing: You can move side to side while firing your weapon, to avoid enemy fire.


The roles taken on my Solid Snake in metal gear solid are:

Spy: You can attempt to finish the level without detection or sounding alarms.
Soldier: The object of the game is to fight your way throw, to the end of the board, you can pick sides and help them or you can hurt both sides

Solid Snake from Metal Gear Solid is better with movement then Master Chief is, here are some movement sets from Metal Gear Solid:

Walk: When you walk you are harder to notice then when running or shooting.
Run: When you run if you are near an enemy they will hear you and it will make it harder to get away
Crawl: When you crawl one of the larger game play mechanics kick in. Your clothing change into the color of what ever you are crawling in to help you blend in better.
Jump: You do have the ability to jump, but it is not very high, it is used to try and pull yourself up to the next ledge or story level.
Climb: You can climb latter's and boxes to try and better your vantage point.

When you start Metal Gear Solid you are not given any objects to help you, but as time goes on you acquire many objects, here are some of the objects you can acquire:

Solid Eye (a MAJOR Mechanic): This is a unique way for Solid to turn on a off the HUD, it will also help you tell who is good and bad as well as find different objects.
Mark IV (a MAJOR Mechanic): This is a useful robot you are given to pick up objects in hard to reach areas as well as stun your enemy with out you having to move and put yourself in harms way.
Guns: You are able to buy or find guns around the level that have been dropped by dead NPC's.
Boxes / Barrels: A box can be a perfect way to move around a level unnoticed you can also get inside of a barrel and move around

The behavior patterns found in MGS, by Snake are:

attacking alone: There is only one part of the game that you work in a team environment, all other times you are solo.
invisibility: you are not truly invisible, but there is a meter in your HUD that shows how well hidden you are.
distance: you can decide how you want to play this game, getting close to the enemy or keeping your distance.


In assassin's creed, you play as Altair, some of the roles assumed by your character are:

Assassin: You must assassinate enemies and help the innocent all while trying to stay undetected.
Student: As you progress level to level you learn different and better moves, as well as acquire bigger and better weapons.

Assassin's Creed has one of the best movement systems ever created compared to other next gen video games:

Walk: When walking you draw less attraction to yourself as in most games
Sneak: You go into a type of prayer stance allowing you to blend with your surroundings.
Run / Sprint: If you run into someone while you are in sprint mode you will trip and lose your balance, also if you hit a wall at full force it will damage you and make you lose your balance
Climb (a MAJOR Mechanic): You can climb almost anything in the game, if you can't climb it you can find your way around
Dive: aka “Leap of Faith” you get to the highest point and get a better vantage point, then dive from thousands of feet up into a hay cart allowing you to hide if need be
Hide: In rooms, hay carts, rooftop terraces as well as many other

Altair caries a couple of objects from the beginning but also acquires some as you progress:

Assassination Knife: This is your default knife you start the game with, can be brought out when needed without detection
Sword: You carry a sword on your back at all times, you can switch between this sword and you assassination knife with one button.

Altair has a huge library of behavior patterns, I will attempt to name a few here:

solo attack: you never fight with a group in assassin's creed, this is a strictly solo playing game.
blocking: when you are fighting enemy's you can use your knifes and swords to attack or to defend.
invisibility: when you hide in roof top terraces or hay carts no one can see or find you, this makes you some what invisible. The other instance of invisibility, is when you go into your prayer stance, you can walk right past guards if you are in a group of monks praying.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Ray-Hound Review

The game I have chosen to review is call Ray-Hound. It was created by Hikoza T. Ohkubo and is a free game you can find here. The reason I chose to play this game and review it is because one of my other classes has it as a free play game of the week and decided that I was already going to play it, I might as well review it for 112-85 also.

The concepts and mechanics of Ray-Hound are extremely unique in that I have never had the opportunity to play a game with the emphasis placed on winning or succeeding by using physics and/or trajectories. When I say using physics and trajectories, I understand that all games are based off of that to some extent, but this game relies on it as one of it's main game play mechanics. The game starts in it's “paused” position (Fig 1)

(Fig. 1)

and after you click to start the game you are instantly transported to the beginning of the game (Fig 2)

(Fig. 2)

Almost immediately you understand how to move (not explained, but with experimentation), you use the mouse to control your direction & speed. If you build up enough speed by moving forward you begin to boost yourself, you can tell you are boosting because the front of your ship will change to a “boost” image (Fig. 3)

(Fig. 3)

this will also help you avoid and return fire from enemies, this will be expanded upon in detail later in the review. One of the other things you notice right off the gate is how to use your force field, this is accomplished by left mouse clicking, this is also the games other main game play mechanic. (Fig. 4)

(Fig. 4)

The final aspect I will talk about under Gameplay is how to return the rockets that have been fired at you. One thing that sets this game apart from other games is that you can't start firing rockets as soon as you start playing, in fact, you never fire your own rockets at any point in the game. Your enemies fire rockets at you (Fig. 5)

(Fig. 5)

and the object of this game is to return the rockets fired at you back at your enemy's using your force field. If you can do this successfully and complete the level, time is added to the timer and allows you to play longer, acquiring more points, increasing your score. If you are touched by one of the enemy rockets, -10 seconds is subtracted from your timer, your timer starts with 180 seconds.

The graphics in this game are unique and fitting for the game. They do not crowd the screen by being the wrong size or so small that you have a hard time seeing them. There are 5 major graphics I found. There where 2 minor graphics I also found.


1. Your space ship – this is easily controlled by the mouse.

2. Your space ship (boost) – this is a bit harder to control because you are going faster.

3. Your space ship (Force Field) – you can stay still or move around with you FF active.

4. Your enemy – you can't do anything directly to them, only send back the rockets fired at you with your force field.

5. Your enemy's rockets – you can avoid them or return them with your force field


1. Background
2. Score / Timer / Enemy's remaining

One of the major let downs of this game is that there are NO sounds at all. There is no background music either. It would have been easy to throw in a little .midi file for explosion of the enemy's and or the main space ship and or a small .midi file for the firing of rockets in addition to level changes, they should play some type of transition music.
Another small addition I think that could have made the game better is to have some kind of background track that is set to repeat, nothing to much or repetitive but just something that lets you know you are still alive.

This was another part of the game I thought was lacking. There is no story line what so ever! It would've been nice to know why it is that we are fighting those enemy's.
If I were to develop the story line it would go something like this; a cut scene that shows you running to your ship, I would keep the animation simple to go along with the game play graphics, and in the background you see missiles heading toward you. You are able to jump in your ship just in time to get away, but one of the rockets hits you and damages your shooting system leading to the reason you are having to use the enemy's rockets against him. It would be simple but it would also be a good way to start out the game instead of just setting you in the middle of all of those bad guys.

Learning Curve / Control Scheme
I have decided to put the two of these concepts together because there is no tutorial or button break down that I could find and the readme.txt is in another language.
You are dropped into the middle of battle as soon as the game starts. Nothing telling you how to move or fire. My first (and I assume most people's) idea is to move the mouse and see what happens. It works! I was able to gather that you move the mouse to move around the map but still had no idea that you can bounce enemy's rockets off of a boosted rocket. The way I found this out was by trying to get away from one of the rockets and colliding head on with another rocket, it bounced it off of me and into the enemy.
The next idea I had was to right click and left click to see what they did. Right click paused the game, allowing you to adjust the boost speed and resume. The left mouse button created some type of force field, but I still could not figure out how to fire back at them. Only until I was ready to give up did I realize that by “catching” the rockets with your force field you could return them at the enemy by timing it correctly and letting go of the field to send it flying back at them.
There are three main buttons / controls that are used in this game and not one of them is explained to you. It would've been nice to have a break down of the controls on the first screen before it started, something simple would have been fine, but on the other hand it is kind of fun figuring out what is what, but for the mass population I would guess they do not find this fun and would have quit the game before they had a chance to understand it.
To sum it up, the learning curve for such a simple, unique game was extremely high.

Point Scale

+5 of 5 for original content and cutting edge concepts
+3 of 5 for graphics, HUD, animations, background, sound
+3 of 5 for playability
+5 of 5 for portability, meaning that this would be a good choice to put on a phone, PDA, etc...
+1 of 5 for instructions, learning curve
+0 of 5 for story line

I would would give this game 17 points out of 30.