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Gaming Experiences

Bias in Gaming: Defaults and False Choice. 

Legend of Zelda has always had some interesting design choices; from its gameplay, to its level design, to its enemy creation and how it chose to inform the player of how to progress. Oversimplifying its weapons to make sure that they are intuitive to use and easily instinctual in recognizing when to use it. Enemies with only a single mechanic to perform makes them easy to deduce means of dispatching them; and the difficulty comes when mixing placement with variety with terrain forcing you to take into account more variables and manage more moving parts. It shows that they put at least some attention to how they create the experience in their games.

That doesn’t mean that the Legend of Zelda is a perfect fleet and even its best ships have a few holes in them. The one that comes up time and time again is how they handle dialog.

Paragraphs of dialogue being spit at you. Line after line, given 10 words at a time. You sit there hitting the “next” button for minutes at-a-time. At the end of it you’re asked “Did you get all that?”

zelda-owl-gif

And the default placement of the cursor is on the “No.”

You hit “next” and you scream and storm away from the TV, incredulous to wasting your time for twice the length.

A game actively keeping you away from the action by forcing you, the player, to slow down and pay attention. Why would the cursor be set to “No”?

Continue reading “Bias in Gaming: Defaults and False Choice. “

Game Experiences: PAX Prime 2015 Day 1: Freshman’s on FFXIV

It’s a bit strange to have new players come into a game and expect them to be good, don’t you think? 

Let’s step back a bit. Remember when in World of Warcraft, that you can get a free level-90 character or some odd nonsense that there was an uproar? It wasn’t just nerds being elitist assholes, because yes they are but yes they are also right to be upset.

You start a game with a new class and you start with the building blocks for that new class. For tanks, it’s about building agro to make sure that enemies don’t beat on the other people in your party, then work your way up to using damage mitigation moves and finally enemy movement. Damage Dealers deal with learning a rotation and finding out the best order of what skill produce the highest damage output, starting with only a few moves in your skillset and slowly finding a place for each new move that you learn… Healers just learn to heal and cleanse at the right times while dealing with “don’t stand in the bad stuff” mechanics.

But the reason why people were upset about the free level-90 was because you now have new players come in and have all of these moves and no training in how to use them. There are no fundamental building blocks to build on-top of, just a clutter of skills and an intense memorization that needs to happen in just remembering what skills are useful for what situation. You typical “oh-shit I’m about to die” buttons aren’t second-nature and you’re hunting and pecking to find the next move that should be useful instead of being used to a particular combination that gets the job done effectively.

This matters because the Final Fantasy XIV Convention Events have and always will have this problem. PAX Prime 2015 was no different, having a group of 8 random people tackling Ravana Hardmode. Easy enough for people who are into the game, but not everyone plays the game outside of the convention, and not everyone knows the mechanics to survive.

PAX Prime 2015 FFXIV Wideshot

Continue reading “Game Experiences: PAX Prime 2015 Day 1: Freshman’s on FFXIV”

PAX Prime 2015 Daytime Survival Guide

Timeframe: 10am – 6pm

Nighttime Guide (6pm – Midnight-ish)

With PAX Prime rearing its head for August 28th-31st, it might be time to start getting your Airborne ready and figuring out what to do for PAX this year. For those that aren’t familiar with what goes on in and around the convention center, this is probably relevant to your interests.

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Gaming Experiences: How I Learned to Stop Caring and Embrace Easy Mode

It might’ve been a pride thing, to show that I had gaming skill and the proper ability to play a game at harder settings, but I used to always look down at Easy Mode as the child’s setting. The be able to make the fewest mistakes in a game, to show that I had such a high proficiency in my gaming ability that making it less difficult was insulting to me. In all reality it was probably just insulting to my ego. But a difficulty setting is important. If a game is too easy, then it’s easy to get bored in the game you lose interest. If you set it too difficult, then having a lack of mastery of the game means that you’re going to get frustrated and likely drop the game at this point. Some games don’t have a means of changing the difficulty and expect the level design to test the player’s proficiency of the game. Look at any Mario Brothers game and you’re hard-pressed to find any adjustable difficulty setting, but go to Megaman or a Shmup or an FPS and they’ll lean on difficulty settings to better tune the game to the player. This is also useful for replayability where players already have an understanding of the mechanics and are returning for a deeper experience. I think we've all held right when the game started on instinct, and if you say otherwise you have some pants that should be moved from some sprinklers.

Continue reading “Gaming Experiences: How I Learned to Stop Caring and Embrace Easy Mode”

Let’s Talk About: (Zen and the art of) Absolute Drift

sumi-e 2

Have you ever seen a Sumi-e painting before? There’s a distinct elegance to looking at a Sumi-e painting because of its minimalism. The use of a single color (black). The confidence in their brushstroke that this line is exactly how I want to look or even the ability to adjust when the stroke came out wrong. Being able to visualize the mystic beauty of the world with only greyed silhouettes. Able to use the void of the whitespace to your advantage, to give more meaning to the color on the page, instead of requiring color to fill all of the canvas.

sumi-e 1

This is probably why I picked up Absolute Drift in the first place.

Absolute Drift - Intro

 

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EVO 2015 – The Importance of Commentary

Evolution Championship Series (Evo) 2015 just completed this past weekend; a packed Las Vegas ballroom, thousands of contestants across Twelve official games competing to see who’s skillset, in-game knowledge and ability to adapt, and commentators to bring as much insight into the event for the audience as possible. While the event is primarily geared towards the fighting game community, Evo has become a global event where competitors come from around the world, audience fly in from all over to witness the sodium intake and hundreds of thousands more spectator via twitch, YouTube and dozens other restreams.

EVO

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Story Design – Teaching Others What They Won’t Experience

What are you able to show to someone that they don’t already know? Can you make them change their mind about an idea or way of thinking because they’ve been indoctrinated into an idea for years? Can you prove a misconception, shine a light on the dark unknown that we know nothing about? Can you help us see a part of a life that we might never get to experience and help us understand that everyone has it hard, some in different ways and many in ways that we’ll never be able to experience firsthand but maybe we can get a small understanding from the wisdom of those who have experienced it?

There is something to be said about the power of storytelling. Having a story, filled with characters with flaws and faults, having well-meaning intentions fall through because they went about it in a way that played to the desires of another. Stories filled with morales to help us see our own faults and showing the dangers of being blind how those faults can affect others, be manipulated against us, and play to the prejudices and misconceptions that others hold tightly.

And what kind of views are stories lacking in telling? Stories that people that can relate to and that people have always related to will have plenty of stories with many points of view to get a clear understanding of their picture shown in the many hues that you can filter.

The stories that are missing, the ones that can teach us a better understanding of the nuances of the human condition, are the ones that are relatively new and where people have started to learn and understand only recently and who have the relatable vocabulary to express and the mediums that work best in portraying such a nuance.

Continue reading “Story Design – Teaching Others What They Won’t Experience”

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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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

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