Super quick post!
In a couple of hours GSP Games (Swedish part of Global Game Jam) will start in which I'll compete as a designer. You get 48 hours to develop a game. I'll do some twittering if time allows. Wish me luck!
http://arcadeberg.com/misc/global-game-jam/ (a previous post about it, 29/1/2010)
Finally, Apple's tablet is announced; the "iPad".
I'm so very disappointed in so many ways that I won't even go into to it here, because what I want to focus on is gaming.
I think the iPad will be an awesome gaming platform! One could argue that whatever it can do, you can do on an iPhone but I disagree. Size does matter!
I want to play adventure games on this baby! And pretty much every other genre as well. I can see so many great games requiring you to use both your hands for.
For a long time I've had a design for a (great, of course) game without having a fitting platform for it. The way I imagined it, it would be for Wacom-people, but that never felt ultimate; this does! So what I need now is one or several iPad-programmers and an artist, then we're on a roll!
And here's a thought. There's a keyboard dock (thank you!) for it. Does that mean we can do games that require a keyboard? If so, that's great and open up for even more possibilities!
I'm not sure yet whether to buy one or not. There are so many down-sides, and seriously, no flash!? But I so want to develop for it!
At a lot of work places it's not very liked when people start watching YouTube on their work computers. And to be honest, that can be an issue at game developer offices as well when there's been one too many Lonely Island-videos shown and a few too many people gathering around the computer. But while some companies block some sites like YouTube and Social Networks, blocking YouTube where a designer or an artist work, would be incredibly stupid.
I don't know how many times I've, my designer friends and artists use YouTube since it's such an incredibly simple way to check up references.
- How high does Mario jump in SMB3?
- What was the tune in the first level of Syphon Filter?
- How close is the camera in Gears of War?
- What effects are shown when hitting an enemy in Mini Ninjas?
Anything and everything can be found in just a little while, instead of getting the game, playing for two minutes and then you're done with it. Analyzing pacing, art, effects, audio. Most of it can be done to a certain extent with just video and audio.
Just wanted to get it out there, because I hear a lot of skepticism about watching YouTube while at work.
Today I had my first day over at my new part time work place as a designer. It's a Gothenburg-based company that does games for training and marketing. I think it's a really great and important experience for me to try and do things that aren't "just" games for fun, but having to keep a few more variables in mind, such as learning.
Well, I suppose it's not my first, first day as I've been there before on a few meetings but whatever.
It's going to be a great learning experience, of that I'm sure. And really, that's what I'm looking for.
I still have a healthy relationship with Outbreak Studios and will help out there as much as possible.
Just a quick post.
I'm currently playing Assassin's Creed 2 after having played through the first one a couple of days ago. The first one was a decent game while the second one so far has been superb.
But the thing I wanted to comment on is how well the developers have listened to the feedback from the players. If you want to know what's better in #2 you can read a review, but there's one thing I'll mention.
In Assassin's Creed, you use the X-button (PS3) to "Blend", which is to walk even slower than normal walking to blend in amongst people and raise less suspicion. I found this boring as hell, as normal walking was slow enough and I don't really want to pretend to be a snail-assassin.
In Assassin's Creed 2, you use the X-button to "Fast Walk" which is to keep all the perks from walking, but doing a little bit faster and being able to pick pocket while doing it.
Voila! They did a complete 180 and did the exact opposite which made the game a whole lot more fun. Thank you for listening!
Other games, like Deus Ex didn't have that luxury. The first game is excellent, being one of my all time favorite games while I don't like the second one very much at all. The developers themselves even admitted, although much later, that they kind of screwed up there because they listened too much on what people didn't like with the first one to fix that, but they missed on listening to what we DID like with the first one. One of the designers tells you this in Warren Spector's Master Class of game design. I don't have a link for it at hand right now, but I'll be sure to get it and post a link sometimes. It's G R E A T!
I've been lucky enough to have a couple of posts from AboutGameDesign.com to repost here so I could continue with some intense gaming, but I'm all out now, so I guess I'll have to actually write one this time.
There's been some FPS:ing going on for me with MAG and Killzone 2 so I thought I'd dedicate this post to the importance of feedback when killing stuff.
I can't stress it enough, how extremely importance feedback is in a game. Any game, feedback for everything!
In games, such as shooters, where there's lots of stuff going on and several enemies at once, it's important to know two things (well, a whole bunch of things, but I'll focus on two):
- Am I hitting my target?
- Is it dead yet?
Some games fail on giving me, the player adequate information on this topic, but let's talk about the ones that don't.
Am I hitting my target?
Since MAG (Open Beta) and Killzone 2 (friggin' awesome!) are two of the most recent played games, I'll talk about them.
In MAG, if you hit an enemy when firing, your cross-hair change form into something bigger and goes red. Since the cross-hair is the point of the screen where you'll be spending most of your time and concentration, it works great. But I've noticed one very interesting thing when using a Sniper Rifle.
If you're far away from an enemy and you're using you're scope to zoom in. If you then manage to hit your enemy, not only does the cross-hair change but you'll also hear a fleshy impact sound. The funny thing is that even if you're a mile away, you'll still hear the sound like if it was just and arm reach away. Strange? Perhaps. But it actually works! It doesn't throw me off game with a big WTF; instead I get a clear audible cue that I hit my target!
In Killzone 2, you get a red cross hair once your aim is on a living (or activated, if it's a machine) enemy but it doesn't change whether you hit or not. The spread of the bullets can cause you to miss. However, Killzone 2 is so insanely driven with the help of it's animations and effects, so while no extra HUD-help is there you'll still know when you hit thanks to the blood/sparks and the impact animation played by the enemy.
So while MAG has more of a HUD-based system, much because it's online so you can't start having players to cripple once hit, Killzone 2 has a more in-game approach. They both work fine and one should see to the needs, tools and possibilities when deciding what to implement. But there MUST be some kind of feedback.
Is it dead yet?
The reason why it's important to know when something is dead is pretty obvious, I want to know when I can start shooting something else!
Once again, I'll start of with MAG. When you kill someone in MAG, you get experience points, so that's pretty much the easiest way to know. When the text "5 XP" pops up over the enemy's head; he's dead. Simple as that.
Let's mix things up a bit and discuss some more games. In Uncharted 2 (online at least, I haven't played single player yet) what happens when you kill someone is that you get a really distinct sound effect that goes like "Ding!" that really stands out. The only bad thing with this is that you have to learn what the sound means, as "Ding!" doesn't come naturally as "You killed that mother f*cker!", but once you get that, it's smooth sailing!
Killzone 2 doesn't give any "extra" information as to when someone is dead, so what I did was to keep looking at the cross-hair. Since it turns red when I'm aiming at someone, it goes back to white once he's dead. I guess it's feedback in its own way, but not very explicit.
The problem is that sometimes enemies can take a while to fall to the ground because of long "Oh, I'm dying, the pain, oh, the pain..."-animations before.
Another game where I found that to be an extremely big problem is in the recently released Alien Breed to XBLA. You're meeting these huge Zerg-like creatures, several at a time and once they're dead they take forever to stop moving, so I can never distinguish the live ones from the ones already dead. One could argue that's part of the design but personally, I just find it frustrating!
So there you have it. A few thoughts on feedback when shooting stuff.
Okay, I've done my deed. It's time to got back to Assassin's Creed 2 now!
Hey, I'm busy playing the MAG Open Beta, so I'll just offer another of my reposts tonight from AboutGameDesign.com from the Topic:
Predictions for 2010
I'm not a fan of Achievements for the 360 or Trophies for the PS3. And let me tell you, 2010 is going to be an annoying year for me...
I'm no expert in predicting the future, but I think 2010 is going to expand on the whole social media-thingy that's so hot nowadays. Right now you can have your PS3 post your new Trophies on Facebook and I recon all the big three and Steam will deliver even more such features. I have no doubt in my mind that soon I'll be bombarded on Facebook, Live Messenger, Twitter, blogs, etc. about each and every little thing that all my friends do, even though I don't really wanna know.
Web-integration into the console is a good thing if you ask me, but I don't want to use it for Facebook. I want to have my save-games online and stuff like that.
Something I also expect to happen, even though I have nothing to show for it except for a "gut feeling" is that all these music games will have it's last year of glory. But hey, I might be waaaay of base here. But I think 2010 is going to be the year when there's just going to be too much, so it finally crumbles.
One can't be sure, but I think we'll see a huge amount of great iPhone games this year too, but they'll be hard to find amongst all the crap that's also released.
And finally, Microsoft's Natal. Will it be all Microsoft says it will? I hope so, but I don't think so. I'm very sceptical as to how well the technology actually works and I haven't had the chance to try it out myself. If it's actually as accurate as claimed, so it can detect movements on my wrists and fingers then it just might be the best thing since Surround-Sound, but if not, I find it hard to be "all that". But I'd love to do "iPhone-manouvers" in the air and navigate on the TV. I don't however, want to swing my arms around simply to browse some pictures.
Oh, and one last thing. 2010 is going to have a GREAT first half with a bunch of GREAT games!
Now, let's see if I'm all wrong on all points.
This is a repost of a post by me from AboutGameDesign.com on the Topic:
Designing Controller Input
It's fantastic how well the N64-controller suited Mario 64 and Zelda: Ocarina of Time. And the triggers on the 360-controller works really well for shooting in FPS and for stepping on the gas driving games.
It's by no means a coincidence and you can always look at a controller and see how it's meant to be used.
But what if that wasn't the case?
A while back I was at the release party for Dark Nebula for the iPhone and I and its designer (Anders Hejdenberg) started discussing what would happen if you gave the developers a seemingly random controller to work with.
I can't imagine how much research and surveys there's behind each and every controller Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo release on the market. There's a thought behind each button and stick, of course.
"This would be great for this kind of input. These will be great when using both sticks. Let's make this one analogue." etc. etc.
Even with the Wii Remote there's just as much "this is how it's thought to work", especially with the Nun-chuck add-on.
And some games even bring their own hardware along, like the recent Tony Hawk Ride which seems to be an utter failure. We also have my personal favorite, even though I unfortunately haven't played it. Steel Battalion with their huge kick-ass controllers.
Seriously, how can one not want to play around with equipment taking up your entire table?
Anyway, my point is that there's always a plan of how the hardware is to be used. A convention most developers abide by and make games that fit that grand scheme. Most FPS are controlled the same. Most Driving games are controlled the same, and so on.
But as mentioned, what if you gave the developers a seemingly random input device? Imagine a sphere with buttons all over? Or just a lump of clay which the computer can use to determine the pressure and current form. Wouldn't that be awesome? But what would happen? Would we start getting new kinds of games or just new ways of mapping "old" ones?
Personally, I have no idea. But I'd love to see it happen.