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Game Development

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. “

Onboarding and Recovering Progress for Mobile Games

Get Up. Take a shower. Make breakfast. Drive to work. Make Coffee. Start work for the day. Check your phone. Phone starts restarting…

Take out battery. Turn on phone. Phone starts restarting.

Google symptoms. Fiddle with phone settings. Phone starts restarting.

Factory Reset Phone. Phone looks fine.

Start setting up phone again. Download essential apps. Download non-essential apps. Download games. Load up game to restore data.

It’s at this point where one of two things can happen. You can either get your data back easily, or you can spend the next 10 minutes with your eyes engulfed in ever deeper shades of red.

Continue reading “Onboarding and Recovering Progress for Mobile Games”

Effectiveness and the Playstyle Curve

The world and everything that resides within it has its own pace. Some things start and stop with regularity, others just move in their own direction at their own speed till the end of time. And as you play a game, you develop your own pacing. You might want to take your time for every platform that you need to jump from or corner that you need to turn and take in the risks to make sure there aren’t any surprises that you’ll recklessly run into, or you might dive in Action Hank headfirst into every situation tumbling and reacting to anything that’s in your way because you haven’t been punished enough for that recklessness.

It’s up to the developers to teach you what the pacing of the world is and manipulate the player into adjusting their playstyle to match the pacing that is required to be successful in that world. There isn’t an exact speed that the player much hit, but there are limits between the cautiousness and haste that a player needs to be between to play effectively in the gameworld. Visually, this is considered the playstyle-curve to see the relationship between different playstyle how effective those playstyles can exist within the game.

The Playstyle Curve
The Playstyle Curve

When a playstyle fits within the boundaries that of the game’s pacing, then a player is less likely to feel like the game is too slow because they won’t be able to take their time to check every nook and cranny for the inevitable damage that they will take and they won’t feel that the game is too easy because they can’t just run through and have their way with the game without consequence.

Continue reading “Effectiveness and the Playstyle Curve”

Level Design: A Level Full of Rhythmia

Every game, with all its enemies and doors and health bars and platforms, has a set pace. A pace in how they move, when they move, how fast they move. And that pace, the pace of everything on screen, dictates the pace that the player can plan out their moves and it dictates the window that the player has to perform their plan. But when the pace of everything on the screen is rhythmic, meaning that the pacing matches a particular interval, is matched by the rhythm of the player to plan and perform within the window that the game gives then a sort of harmonic resonance can develop between the player and the game, and that can be a wonderful feeling to have.

Continue reading “Level Design: A Level Full of Rhythmia”

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.

Continue reading “A Look Back – Call of Duty – Modern Warfares”

Thoughts On: New AAA Gaming Debuts, Promises and Expectations

New IPs (Intellectual Properties) come and go in any media. Movies have their John Carter of Mars and Vampire Academy. TV has their unpopular spinoffs like The Lone Gunman , Trust Me, and Rubicon. They try to capitalize on a franchise or build up a new one, they are either over-ambitious and  over-optimistic to the point where they just can’t live up to what they were trying to bring to the audience, or they are overly simplified and uncreative, bringing nothing new to the table and not creating enough substance to keep an audience entertained long enough to last even a half season.

Games aren’t any different than more traditional entertainment. There’s a build up of all of this news and press about how the game looks great and plays well but once it’s time for the game to be released, all of that buzz evaporates into a white noise of simply going unnoticed over the wash of other games that get released or older games that people go back to. Although, some games do tend to keep up with the perpetual hype distortion field that it generates for itself and they continue to at least pump out something every so often to the combined purchase power of a few million or so fans.

Continue reading “Thoughts On: New AAA Gaming Debuts, Promises and Expectations”

Game Dev Tutorial: Twinery Day 2: Swigler enters the Hinterlands

For Twinery.org 2.0 Harlowe. Reference guide

This part of the guide is more for advanced use and more advanced routines from the reference guide. Because of this, I’ll be describing the use of what’s going on instead of a step by step guide of a “Let’s Code”.

For understand the basics of Twinery, check out the first post here: Part 1: Basics

Continue reading “Game Dev Tutorial: Twinery Day 2: Swigler enters the Hinterlands”

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.

Continue reading “Game Dev Tutorial: Twinery 2.0 The Basics”

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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