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gaming analysis

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.

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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.

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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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Gaming on Data – League of Legends LCS 2015 Winter Split – The Best Around by any (K-)Means Necessary

LCS Winter 2015 Split has just finished for League of Legends and it’s time to start crunching some numbers to see how these top ranked players compare to one-another. Several Disclaimers: This post is a big graph heavy, but I’ll try and explain each of them as much as possible; there might actually be some code that some of you might want to skim over; all data was gathered from the Fantasy LCS view that is given for Stat tracking, so data might not be as granular as I’d like and not many features to compare against.

Stats given from Fantasy LCS

  • Average Points per Game (AP)
  • Total Points for the Split (TP)
  • Kills (KI)
  • Deaths (DE)
  • Assist (AS)
  • Creep Score (SC)
  • +10 K/A (KA)
  • Multi-Kills (not used)

Omitted Stats: 

  • Players who didn’t play the majority of the Split were omitted from analysis, 12/18 Games Minimum

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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.

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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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