Learning Game Design

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Archive for November 2008

ArcadeBerg.com

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I have moved this blog to it’s own WordPress-installation on arcadeberg.com

The blog continues there.

Thank you.

Written by Arcade

November 25, 2008 at 9:11 pm

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Expect downtime, problems and an empty blog

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Okay guys, I’m trying to change host for my little blog-thingy. So I’ll change server, those DNS nameserver-thingys, etc.

Therefore there will be an expected downtime for this blog (don’t know when), for a while (don’t know for how long) and there will most likely occur some problems (don’t know what kind) that’ll I have to work on (don’t know how) before it’s all working again and I have all my posts up again.

Now you know as much as I do.

Written by Arcade

November 23, 2008 at 7:36 pm

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SSF2THDR reviews

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Finally Capcom’s Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix is within reach! Being one of the best fighting-games ever I’ve been looking forward to its remake since the first announcement. IGN.com (available 23/11-08) has finally released a review of the game and they like it; thank god.

http://ps3.ign.com/articles/932/932390p1.html (available 23/11-08)

David Sirlin, the lead designer of the game got some really interesting stuff to read on his website about the game. It’s about how he rebalanced it but the good thing is that he motivates his decisions and talks about the process. I’m guessing his writing is much more rewarding to read if you’re already a Street Fighter-fan, so you know what he’s referring to when talking about FIreballs and Dragon Punch.

http://www.sirlin.net/articles/street-fighter-mini-site.html

If you’re an aspiring game designer with interest in Fighting-games; read it!

Can you be more badass than Blanka?

Can you be more badass than Blanka?

Written by Arcade

November 23, 2008 at 11:56 am

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Am I left 2 die?

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Left 4 Dead by Valve seems to be THE game right now.

For a few days now, I constantly get pop-up messages from Steam saying “[Nick] is playing Left 4 Dead”. People at work play it during the lunch breaks. The reviews are all giving it good grades with an average of 88,4% right now at Gamerankings.com (21/11-08) for PC and 88.5% for the 360.

So here’s my question: What’s the big deal?

I tried out the demo for both the PC and 360, I’ve tried to play it single-player and multi-player, with headphones and 5.1 surround but I still don’t see why people are so hooked.

It’s not a bad game at all. Its quality in the production is noticable high as expected when it comes to Valve.  I’m guessing the name Valve earns some addition to sales alone.

I had two problems with the game:

1. The environments are boring. Maybe the game is in some way a technical achievement, I don’t know but the levels feel sterile, empty and not exciting at all. I hear many people argue that it doesn’t matter because they’re too busy looking at the zombies running at you but I disagree. I looked at them (and that’s in no way a level design-injury) because there is nothing else to look at when there aren’t any zombies around. (Yes there are moments like that.)

But that’s all a small issue, I’m personally all about the gameplay and play a game no matter how freakishly ugly it is if the gameplay is fun. Which leads us to the next thing…

2. The game’s feel is for me… Hollow. I keep shooting zombies and when they’re dead I think: “So they’re dead. Now what?” I don’t feel an army of endorphins running trough my system. Actually, I don’t feel many of them at all. And the ones I do feel are kind of slow and seems to be limping. If the game doesn’t make me feel good for shooting the undead, then the zombie-shooter is a failure in my book.

Too bad really. I was really looking forward to the game, mostly for the co-op but I’m afraid I’ll let this one pass.

 

Left 4 Dead by Valve

Left 4 Dead by Valve

Written by Arcade

November 21, 2008 at 7:31 pm

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Terminator Salvation

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Today it finally went public with a press release, the game I’m working on:

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Equity Games Production and Halcyon Games Announce Terminator Salvation – The Videogame, an Intense, Action Game Based on the Highly Anticipated 2009 Film 

BURBANK, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Equity Games Production and Halcyon Games announce Terminator Salvation – The Videogame, an action-packed, third-person shooter, to be released in conjunction with the highly anticipated Warner Bros. Pictures and Sony Pictures film, which opens nationwide on May 22, 2009. 

 

Based on the upcoming “Terminator Salvation” film, the game offers players the chance to assume the role of John Connor, a soldier in the resistance, battling for survival against the far superior forces of Skynet. Terminator Salvation – The Videogame is a third-person action game with concentrated armed combat against all of the Skynet enemies from the film while encountering new enemies specifically designed for the game. The game was developed by GRIN Studios, published by Equity Games, co-published by Evolved Games and distributed by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. 

 

“Terminator Salvation – The Videogame allows players to battle for survival against Skynet enemies utilizing an incredibly fluid and realistic control set,” said Cos Lazouras, President of Halcyon Games. “The player will be led through a visceral story with extremely polished production values to create a fully interactive Terminator experience.” 

 

“Building on the incredibly strong franchise, Terminator Salvation – The Videogame will be a cinematic gaming experience that complements the upcoming film,” said John Quinn, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Operations, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. “Working with Halcyon and Equity Games, we will expand on the Terminator universe on next generation consoles with action packed gameplay and detailed environments.”

The Movie Poster

The Movie Poster

So there you have it; a third-person shooter Terminator-game.

I won’t blog too much about it because I honestly don’t know what I’m allowed to say.

Edit: I added the pretty picture.

Written by Arcade

November 20, 2008 at 5:51 pm

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The New Xbox Experience

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Today Microsoft had the “New Xbox Experience” go online for consumers everywhere to update and be welcomed by a completely new interface instead of the old Dashboard.

Thank god!

First of all; the old Dashboard was never any good! I haven’t ever liked it and was very pleased when they announced the new one way back.

So finally it’s here, but is it any good?

I’d say yes, it is. It’s much sleeker, easier to navigate and first and foremost so much faster! I still don’t think it’s clean enough (like Sony’s Cross Media Bar, or XMB in short) but it’s absolutely not bad looking so I’m not sad.

One of the biggest things with the new system is the implementation of Avatars. As you probably already know they’re pretty much just better looking versions of Nintendo’s Mii. I gotta admit, and this hurts to say, I like them. I really liked the Mii to. Most people like character customization and Xbox’s setup is quite good. It’s easy enough to scroll through the different options and the end result is a somewhat pleasant character. Hopefully they’ll add more items over time since there wasn’t very much to choose from right now.

 

The New Xbox Experience

The New Xbox Experience

But the one and biggest thing now is the option to install game data on the harddrive, reducing loading time and the noise caused by the disc continually spinning in the console. I haven’t tried out this feature yet and I’m not even sure any of games support it but I’m sure it’ll work just fine. There are some videos out here on the web showing comparisons of games being installed and not; the difference of the amount of time taken from starting the game from the Xbox-menu to actually be playing the game after the games Main Menu is amazing in games such as GTA IV, Gears of War and Fable 2.

Too bad I only got the 20Gb HDD… I’m guessing it’ll fill up quite fast with this new feature.

If you’ve tried out the new dashboard-menu-thingy yourself, please let me know what you think by commenting.

I truly welcome change and I must give Microsoft the thumbs up for this one, the New Xbox Experience! Sounds epic, doesn’t it?

Written by Arcade

November 19, 2008 at 6:51 pm

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Pretty Art

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The graphics and art in games have continually changed over time. One way of saying it would be to say that games are becoming better looking. I’ll exclude the discussion about how beautiful pixels are for now.

If nothing else, at least the games nowadays are more technically impresseive and complex than ever before. With games like Crytek’s Crysis and Ubisoft’s Far Cry 2 leading the train of games with “realisting looking graphics”, developers continue to race towards the absolute photo realism in games.

I’m not all that interested in working towards that goal. Today games have severe problems with the uncanny valley. When things are getting too close to getting real we can see all the small problems much more easily and our suspension of disbelief is shattered.

The uncanny valley is based on a Japanese fellow called Masahiro Mori.

The uncanny valley is a hypothesis that when robots and other facsimiles of humans look and act almost like actual humans, it causes a response of revulsion among human observers. The “valley” in question is a dip in a proposed graph of the positivity of human reaction as a function of a robot’s lifelikeness.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_Valley (avaliable 9/11-08)

The things that may break the feeling of the game being real can vary, it can be poor lip sync (Bethesda’s Oblivion, anyone?), “dead looking” eyes, an otherwise realistic environment being empty of objects, animations looking unnatural, a human taking a sniper bullet in the head without even falling down.

And one more thing (oh, some of you are gonna hate me for saying this), if I want to look at the reality, I can just look out the window.

Personally I prefer games working with an artistic style that allows the developers to create anything they want without ruining my immersion. I know not everyone is a fan of this, but I’m a huge fan of cel-shading. Of course, not all cel-shaded games look great just because of it but some games… Oh man… Some games just look astonishing!

A truly great looking game that’s not cel-shaded is DICE’s Mirror’s Edge. If you haven’t tried out the demo yet, do it right after you’ve finished this. It’s available on both the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3.

What DICE has chosen to do with Mirror’s Edge is giving it an artistic style. It’s clean, futuristic, interesting and it’s cognitively brilliant! They use strong colors to get the players attention and if you ask me, every frame of the game is a great screen shot. It’s mainly the environments in this game that impress me. The enemies you meet aren’t spectacular in any way but nor does the game focus on enemy encounters. It focuses on avatar navigation through the surroundings.

Though, let’s go back to cel-shading.

There’s been quite a number of cel-shaded games and I’m glad to see that the amount seems to increase. Just look at Gametrailers.com (available 9/11-08) for example; pretty many of the games shown there are using one or another form of cel-shading. The new Prince of Persia-game from Ubisoft for example; cel-shaded.

One of the games making the best use of the cel-shading technology isn’t new though. In fact, it’s six years old and has had several sequels since. I’m talking about Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Today, six years after its making I can still look at it and say; “Damn, that looks good!” There is not one thing I feel could be done better thanks to today’s tech. It’s amazing how expressive and communicative they’ve managed to make Link. Show me a game using “realistic looking” graphics that old being that impressive?

Another gorgeous game that recently caught my eye is SEGA’s Valkyria Chronicles for the Playstation 3. As far as I understand it’s using their new engine making it possible to render the game looking like it’s painted with water colors. I don’t know anything else about the engine but as far as I can tell, it does its job. The Valkyria Chronicles demo is available for download right now. With an interesting and anime inspired design the developers manage to get every screenshot to look good. It’s far from perfect and unfortunately some textures on the ground etc. seem very plain. But I still really like the art.


(Same video but on Gametrailers, in HD http://www.gametrailers.com/player/37800.html?type=flv )

Imagine a drum whirl, please, for I will now present you with the best looking game… ever? It’s by far the best looking game right now with its release in February and a Must Buy for many. I’m talking about Street Fighter IV. For me, Capcom does everything right with this title when it comes to the artsy stuff. Really, go out and do some YouTubeing and Gametrailersering (?) and watch the trailers and gameplay-videos if you haven’t already.

With a great sense of style, they use some form cel-shading technology along with superb animations, clear and exaggerated expressions on the characters accompanied by some great effects (the ink! The ink!) and use of strong colors. It’s bold and it’s beautiful.


(Same video but on Gametrailers with much better quality: http://www.gametrailers.com/player/40556.html available 18/11-08)

All these games are free to roam about with creativity, using super moves, quirky beasts, bazooka-carrying knights while we as players suck it all in; completely immersed. There is nothing wrong, for within the context established by the art-style, it’s just as plausible as anything.

I don’t want a photography, I want a painting.

When looking at this, I see great things in the future. 

Written by Arcade

November 18, 2008 at 11:17 pm

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