Game Design

FZD Design Considerations

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Interesting discussion with many implications for not just game creation but generally entertainment design and business.

Demon’s Souls – impressions

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Rating: 4.7/5 (3 votes cast)

Wow, I can’t believe we finished it. It came so close to never getting finished… a couple of times. But so very happy we did. Quick thoughts:

+, +, +, + aaaaaaaaaamazing level design, the connections, the locations, the secrets

+, +, + very interesting world

-, -, – the difficulty is sometimes wildly impossibly hard. Theoretically this could be fixed by some summoned friends, but that system is also broken in design because as the game ages, the servers are more empty and you are left to yourself often when you would most need help. The community is still surprisingly active, which is how we actually ended up finishing it, but not necessarily the ingame one but the online resources. Ingame also there’s a lot of messages and good stuff, but game is very restrictive where it allows to place summon points and thus discourages it

+, +, + some truly truuly fascinating locations, and the variety and surprises are just amaziiing!

-, -, – I had to do quite a bit of grinding until things got more manageably doable

+, +, + greeeat value for money, you could spend a year or two in this fantastic universe

+ pretty good and fitting music

+ quite interesting characters along the way

+, – there are easily stuff you could HUGELY miss forever, your only (reasonable) chance is looking online for guides. This is a plus because it shows depth, but a minus because … well, you could easily miss awesome stuff if you don’t spend hundreds of hours trying out random things. For example there was a major interesting character, a witch, which you would have never met unless you wore a certain specific hat in a certain specific quite secret place which was not obvious to find even after acquiring a quite secret key & character friend.

-, -, + very unexplained and cryptical, though that is sometimes was also interesting

+, + very touching story moments

– there were a few creatures/enemies that were a bit ridiculous/silly

+, + the architecture is quite amazing

+, +, + very deep and interesting system for weapon developments, major choices to be taken, deeply thought out resources and requirements that force you to think hard about what you do

Conclusions: All in all an aaaamazing game if you are willing to put up with it’s insane difficulty curve. It has a lot to offer and hides a HUUGE world under the surface… but one that is quite had to dig out. If you do it though you’ll be left with one of a kind memories. 4 (on a -5 to 5 scale).

Dark Souls: Why It’s Different

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what an interesting perspective!

 

 

Dark Souls 2, the love-hate generator

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Ive stumbled upon some quite smart and deep critiques from people who actually love the game and the series, thought I’d share:

and this video has some interesting points too, despite being at times somewhat annoying:

The Business Behind the Artwork Choices

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Beautifully explained. Why most big games take the safe choices, the budgets for different game categories, the way the pipeline can amplify problems and punish exploration. Very interesting stuff. All explained with the help of going through a hypothetical concept of a dragon for a game.

Skywind = Skyrim + Oblivion

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I gotta say I am incredibly tempted… and impressed.

Imbuing games with emotions – Jenova Chen

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For my first post here, I wanted to share with you something that’s has touched me recently. I hope that you will find some interest in it as well.

 

Every year now, a fair amount of industry professionals meet up to talk about how video games could help shape a better world tomorrow. This event wears the descriptive name of “Games for Change“. Today, I want to share with you this year’s talk from Jenova Chen, the famous game designer of Journey and founder of ThatGameCompany.

Jenova’s talk is about conveying emotions through gameplay : he starts off by observing what mainstream games offer nowadays. This leads him to explaining his projects choices as a student and presenting Cloud, a relaxing game about life. He then presents the philosophy of his studio, and how ThatGameCompany imbued their games with emotions. I invite you to discover his thoughts on the entertainment industry and possibilities offered by the game media :

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_RKKuKvAvA]

Machinarium update: the iPad edition

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As an update to Firefish`s article about this brilliant gem from the Czech private game studio Amanita Design, the new iPad edition of Machinarium was released!!!
Although at first I hesitated whether to purchase it or not, since I`m not that much into testing games on different platforms, I eventually decided to do so – I liked this game too much and was curious about how it would present itself in the modern tablet format.

The game excells on iPad on all levels: perfect graphics, great sound (music is here and there a bit different from the PC version, but still keeps in the same ambiental, spatial, gloomy note). The iPad edition costs much less than the one for PC, but the feeling it gives is way better, stronger, deeper. It feels nice being able to control everything and play with a single touch, easily make the robot move, use objects or adjust his size. This great iPad edition offers a new game experience with Machinarium, it inlays a new perspective on the game, relying on the much closer interraction between gamer and game interface.
Personally, I love playing it on my iPad3 always with headers, so I can let myself carried away into the steel world of robotic adventure. Each time when I play, I`m over and over surprised by the fine details, genuine design, intelligent puzzles and sensitive colour scheme; I must admit, I oversaw some of these while playing it on the good old PC.

A last quick note: the game doesn`t work on iPad 1, unfortunately; due to its ingenious game features, it requires at least iPad 2 to work properly.

If you already tested the game on iPad, I`m looking forward to hearing your impressions on it.

By the way, another iPad joy from Amanita Design is the Kooky app, including film, comics, illustrated book and mini games, all about the lost teddy bear.
After having checked out other Amanita Design works like Samorost and Botanicula, I must say: Nice! They`re original, artistic, with a very interesting touch of humour – I warmly recommend them, not just to Indie game fans, but to everybody keen on games. It`s something new they bring about.

Voice volume is NOT screaming

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This is something i encountered in way too many games so thought i should underline it: i play games for artwork (mostly), and a big part of that is the storytelling, hearing the characters. Unfortunately most games have a lot of shooting and screaming and stuff so in order not to *totally* freak out my neighbors (at strange hours even) while still getting a deep experience i tend to set my volumes something like this

sounds 40%, music 60%, voices 100%

All good and well, except most games tend to take that literally and treat a screaming mutant charging at me as “voice” … which totally sucks. I mean if it was a once in a game experience, i could understand it, but since games these days still go with the duplication of characters (someday i hope they’ll follow the movie industry in this) it’s totally unjustified hearing the same insane charging sound or dying sounds.

So, I would like to make a plea to developers out there, please, if it’s fighting stuff, please consider it a “sound”. Voices are supposed to say something, to tell a story, to convey a message. A dying sound played 50 times conveys no more message than “bang, boom, jzbang, kablooomy” bullet and explosion noises.

Thanks in advance.

Plants VS Zombies

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I would’ve posted this video anyway, … just ’cause it’s brillliiaant… but if I mention that the game behind it is beautiful, addictive and creative too… well… have to recomend it… also: this coming from a guy who generally avoids small stuff and respects the big stuff (currently playing Mass Effect & Witcher & Bioshock & Assassin’s Creed…)
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Osmos

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That Osmos thing has the feel of something that could be peacefully brilliant. Haven’t tried it though but i get good recomandations

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Time tricks in big titles

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I’m happy to note that it seems big time developers ARE paying attention to good ideas in lil indie games & tech demo type ideas: puzzle solving via time loops: yeaayyy! (remember the pointer game i posted here?)

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the creators discuss Bioshock 2

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Sounds pretty interesting… but i am quite worried about the ability of most people to identify with a nonhuman mechanical creature… still, if the artwork is good I expect the game to be good. I’m sorry about it not turning into choices. I do see the potential of a tragic story of a human turned inhuman …

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Dyson

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I’m quite surprised to be recomending yet another non-big-story game… but I tried this thanks to Mat and i found myself very excited by the feeling of controling a colony: you can’t think individually… you think in groups and roughly… i love that kind of intuitive level thinking.
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Dead Space – art & gore doc

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Though i am still largely unimpressed by the visual design (seems still too generic and uninteresting) I am happy about what they’re saying here as it promisses good things: however it may be from a pure visual arts standpoint I see they’re working on the intelectual angle which is at least as important (even to me) in that things which are well thought out (as opposed to just throwing artwork in ther) increase immersion and believability a lot, and it is indeed a strong desing principle that i’ve discovered in my work (i’m a graphics artist/designer) that people really do need to be able to relate and "understand’ what they see: you can’t be too original/weird/different without facing the strong possibility that people will no longer get the message, while the safe & most probably succesfull formula is what they’re talking about: take known objects and just make modifications on them.

The thing that i suspect will go wrong with this game, at least for me, is that they won’t show restraint in the number of monsters: it’s awesome and very personal when you see a crew member with his spine hanging out in mutation, but with the second one it loses it’s uniqueness… and i’m afraid (for practical reasons that i DO understand) they’ll end up havign say 50 or 200 same model reuse throughout the game which will totally make you lose that special feel that you have in a movie where your memory can rewind to "the moment when i saw that super scary baby"… while the chances are much smaller that you’ll remember "baby number 143, and even if you do it won’t be as vivid and speciffic.

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