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Game Development

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?

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Game Design: Verbosity, Empathy, and Implied Information

I’ve talked about dialogue delivery in the past and how it can become a hindrance when perception and expectation don’t match, but playing story-driven games like To the Moon  and A Bird Story  has helped to drive home the idea that many modern games rely too heavily on being verbose in their story telling. Long winded narration and dialogue used to inform the viewer every little detail that’s going on within the story. Background that we absolutely need to understand the story in full depth </sarcasm>.

TTM4

What makes these two examples great is their ability to become interesting because of the lack of dialogue in each game.

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Hipsterism, Progress, and Gaming

“Those Filthy Hippies”

The Hipster movement is nothing new, but the name certainly does change among generations. Beatnik, Hippy, Punk. Having a culture that actively pushes against the mainstream is important to have, not because having a contentious disdain for the status quo is generally a healthy lifestyle, but because it leads to new styles of art being actively developed in protest of the status quo.

The general counterculture cycle is this: something becomes mainstream -> counterculture goes against the mainstream -> new art style develops -> art style becomes popularized -> style becomes mainstream.

Most new art styles are evolutions of but also direct responses to the previous art styles. The more that the mainstream leans towards something, the more there is a pull in the opposite direction from this counterculture.

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Game Design: Introducing your characters (what rapport do you speak of?)

A foggy night with a pale moonlight shimmers among still water. Murmuring in the distance interrupts the tranquil silence. A ripple in the water catches your eye and you trace it back to where you think it came. The camera closes in on your face as you try to make out what could be ruining the tranquility of the scene.

Introducing your character into a story is important to give a grounding for who the player will control and their significance to the story. Will I be analyzing my character or the story around them? Will I be able to impose any free will through them? Are they reliable, are their perceptions to be trusted?

You not only establish a rapport with the character but you establish the ground rules for interaction with them.

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Let’s Talk about: The Evil Within

The Evil Within

The Evil Within

For a game with such a great ambiance, able to illicit a darkened intrigue in the splattered scenary, macabre imagery and imaginative reality bending, the game shows that it has a clear vision for itself in some aspects. The problem is that this clarity is only in its presentation, but the game’s execution is all over the place.

Evil Within:scenary
Dark Mental Hospitals, a clear sign of good things to come.

 

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