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Game Design

A Look Back – Call of Duty – Modern Warfares

I just spent the past two weeks going through all of the Modern Warfare games in preparations for another project that I’m working on it was a struggle. The games aren’t particularly long, consisting of maybe 4 – 6 hours for the campaign, nor were the games particularly difficult, since I set it to novice difficulty just to get through the main plot points of the game. The struggle was stepping back into technology that was still infantile when comparing AAA development from a decade ago to today’s technology. The contrast to how Call of Duty creates a voice for itself through Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare franchise from its first inception to its last makes it hard to piece the games as a trilogy, in everything but name and characters. It makes it hard to go home to your roots.

Hot potatoes get dropped, butter fingers
Hot potatoes get dropped, butter fingers

The problem with calling it a trilogy is that there is normally some coherence between the games. Either a coherence in story, people, setting, tone; but as you play through the games, the story is consistent, albeit sparsely given; the people generally there; the setting somewhat there; but the tone is all over the place.

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Change Some Bits Around: Final Fantasy 7 – Aerith’s Death, Choice and Loss

Probably most people’s first memorable sad moment in a game, Aerith’s Death in Final Fantasy 7 sets the tone for the rest of the game as a means of explaining her death, giving it meaning, and having a renewed pursuit in stopping Sephiroth. Aerith’s death aligns everyone’s motivations, opens up character building arcs and allows for a resolution other than “Save the World” when it comes to the end of the game. We have a vested interest in vengeance.

Aeris-ffvii-fmv-altar

Originally, Sephiroth took control of Cloud to try and kill Aerith at the creation of the Black Materia with the ability to summon Meteor but was knocked out before being able to kill Aerith. When Cloud reawakes, Aerith has already run off to the Forgotten Capital in an attempt to summon Holy from her White Materia that she’s had tied to her ribbon. When Cloud and company reach Aerith, Sephiroth has his way with Aerith using the pointy end of his death stick and everything falls apart from there.

But let’s change some of these bits around.

Aerith’s death might be pivotal to the characters in Final Fantasy 7, but they also change the psychological states of many of them. And given the opportunity to change events, do you think the story would pan out the same way?

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Game Dev Tutorial: Twinery 2.0 The Basics

Twinery.org

No I’m not a developer for Twinery, just someone who thought it might be useful for others.

So you want to build your own text-adventuring system from the ground up? Well, I don’t know if I’ll be able give you everything to make it the most interactive experience possible, but I did play around with Twinery enough to get a few features down that are necessary for making such a game.

Why Twinery? Twinery can be used for text-adventuring, pick your own stories, or even just to visualize non-linear story telling in a better way so you have a digital cork board to place all of the information and keep track of it in a more manageable way.

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Video Post: VO Review Grow Home

I got bored and made a video for the last post about Grow Home. It has a silly with video and voices. =)

Transcript can be found here

Let’s Talk About: Grow Home

There is no competition, there is no worry, there is only your task at hand, to Climb and the Grow.

GoneHome_Climbing

Samu, the Zen practice of physical work, through doing, being present and in the moment, leading to an enlightened Zen state. Grow Home embodies this perfectly. Grow Home is the latest in Experimental Games from Ubisoft following Child of Light, and has you with the only real goal of growing a giant plant by plugging its seeds into the floating rocks with glowing Zelda beacons by climbing up the plant and riding the seed to implantation.

GrowHome_Seedling

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Game Design: Personal Choices and Morale Choices

Bad person has taken your girlfriend/spouse/waifu pillow and has her hanging in a potato sack on the perch of one building; also has kidnapped 10 doctors and has them hanging on the top of a different building. You can only pick one group to live and the other falls 30 stories onto the concrete pavement below, which would you pick?

Doing what you want to do and doing the right thing is tricky. You have your own selfishness involved, not wanting to lose something that’s yours, having something taken away from you, but what about the needs of the greater good or the needs of the the person that you want to rescue? What about creating a simulation so you can walk through your choice and see the potential consequences of such a choice?

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Game Design: MusicXGameplay – Playing a beat.

I’ve always had a soft spot for music games. The synchronous harmony of action and rhythmic reward, getting your movements in tune with the game. For many games, it’s not about progress through the game, but progress of the self. You can get to the end of the level on easy mode, but have you developed your reaction, fluidity equaling dexterity to get through the medium difficulty or harder? It’s about challenging yourself at the same pace as the music as much developing the skill and time-specific accuracy that makes me enjoy music games, in general.

DDR
DDR
Rock Band 2
Rock Band 2

The formula helps create a deeper immersive-connection to the game as you play it because you’re forced to involve more senses to interact with one another and influence one another. In this case, you’re forcing your ears and your eyes to influence your movements and reaction time because every action corresponds to some beat.

But that doesn’t mean traditional music games are the only kids in the playground that try to force a player to express themselves with the rhythm that they exclaim.

Continue reading “Game Design: MusicXGameplay – Playing a beat.”

Let’s Talk About: Early Sonic

In preparations for a future project, I’ve been playing all of the old Sonic games for the Sega Genesis to get a feel for how the franchise has evolved over the years. These early Sonic titles were picked because they are widely regarded as being the better Sonic games and on the better side of platformers of the 16-bit generation. But somewhere on its march towards the present the series has consistently stumbled and tries to pick itself back up. But this interpretation of the Sonic’s past is a bit muddy because even at its roots, the games have been a playground of trial and error for how these games want to represent the Blue Hedgehog.

sonic over time

At least for the purposes of this article, I’m limiting the games to Sonic, Sonic 2, and Sonic 3.

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Game Design – Crossing the Innovative Line

At what point is a game too much the same as its past incarnations?

This is a question that comes up every year during annual-release gaming season with franchises like Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, and Mario pushing out the current year’s installment. They don’t ever get released to complete fanfare and pageantry as there’s always criticism about the games being glorified map-packs and rarely ever justifying the cost of a full-fledged title, but to be fair most games change slowly overtime and it’s where the developers choose to focus that change where new innovative gameplay spawns for long-standing franchises. There are ways around this by pairing leaping-innovative ideas with old characters or jump-starting a new franchise altogether where these ideas can be explored and tested to see if they have any footing, but franchises are easier sells and less risky.

A different way to phrase this question then is this: Where is the innovative divide between DLC and Standalone justification?

Continue reading “Game Design – Crossing the Innovative Line”

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