I just got Wolfenstein RPG for my iPhone because I felt I wanted something RPG-ish to play and I hadn't yet played any of the Id FPS RPG-thingies, so I thought I'd give it a shot.
Anyhow, the thing I wanted to share with you was something that happened to me. Have a look at this first screen and look at the top of the screen and then in the center at the syringe that's referred to.
When I noticed the open hand icon and the text "Evade Syringe" I thought; "Whoah! That was close. I almost stepped on the syringe! I'd better avoid it.", so I left it alone and moved on.
I read the open hand as "Stop!" and "Evade Syringe" as a warning. But lookie, lookie, what I noticed shortly thereafter:
The hand means to pick up and not to stop and the text was the name of the object. The "Evade Syringe" was a usable item that I could use to gain some evasion skill for a short duration.
It's not a huge deal, and I won't be making that mistake again. But the hand in combination with that name sure fooled me.
So lesson learned for me, when making user interface you have to think on how it's read.
This is more how a pick up hand looks in my head:
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.
Here's another "just thinking out loud".
I'm one of those guys who like to watch anime. I recently watched the Eureka Seven series. It's 50 episodes, each spanning around 20 minutes. It took me less than a week to finish. After that I watched Clannad After Story. It's 25 eps and took me three days.
The reason I can finish them so fast is because it's passive entertainment that doesn't require much from my side. When I get tired at night, I can watch a couple of hours with anime before going to bed. This is of course true to any kind of show, and not just anime.
Another thing is that since it requires so little from me, it's easy for me to do it for extended amounts of time without getting "exhausted".
Here's what I'm thinking. Is it the same with games?
Games are a very active activity. It often requires me to stay sharp, think hard and execute physical actions, even if it's just with my hands. No game can be purely passive, but the things required from me can differ. I'd say that a Point & Click Adventure Game doesn't require as much activity as a Quake Death match.
Is it easier to spend time with passive games than active ones?
If I want to make a game in which player can spend many hours with without getting tired, should I aim for a passive one? I have no idea.
And how do I make a really passive game? Personally, when I'm tired and I'm still up for some anime (or Dexter, The Big Bang Theory, or whatever) even adventure games are too much. Hm... This deserves some thinking. How do I make an extremly passive game that's actually fun? Not only passive in actions, but also in mind efforts, while still not being too easy and boring.
Every now and then I bash other games' design choices, making it sound like I'm so much better (which of course, I am). And it's not like I each and every time give some examples of how to do it in a better way.
Anyway I thought it would be fun (for you, not me) to see some of my bad designs as well.
Back in the summer 2006 I wrote a game design document for a game I was thinking about trying to have developed as a spare time project. I called it Agumented as a project name and it was a top down shooter with some strategic elements in a Sci-Fi setting. I might have been a fun game indeed, but not earth shaking in it's innovations. In the end, I never tried to develop it.
Looking back at it, the "worst" part about it must be my mini-map.
How it works:
- It's in full 3D, formed as a cube, where each side represent a perspective of the level.
- The player wouldn't start with 100% of the map discovered, unless it's been acquired somehow in advance.
- The cube could be rotated by being controlled by the player.
- It would show your location as well as enemies within your line of sight or otherwise detected with various equipment.
- It would be placed in a corner of the screen meanwhile playing, so keep in mind that it's a mini-map and not a map reached from the Pause screen.
Have a looksie at the picture.
Why it's bad:
If I were to see this design in a game today, it would probably drive me crazy. I can really understand how I thought back then and in theory it works, but the problem is that I don't think it's easy to read at all. To actually understand my surrounding and what's going on, I would have to look at all three sides individually and then combine the gathered data into one piece of information.
Heck, I don't know. Maybe that's easy for a person to do, but if there's a complex environment with walls, stairs and the player's position along with five enemies, I think it would be hard to get an instant overview.
When using a simple top-down map like in most games, we can process the information instantaneously.
Any piece of on-screen-information like this should require an absolute minimum of time and effort to compute, if you ask me. Clearly, that's not the case here.
The mistake I made:
Unfortunately, I think the main reason for why "this happened" was because I wanted to make something new and interesting, instead of using something old that's proved to work. I'm not against innovative thinking at all, but I don't think it should be forced like I did here. I did it "because" even though the results were worse, which I didn't see at the time.
There you have it. One of my bad designs over the years. I hope enjoyed it, because I didn't...
Getting less than great reviews, the Terminator Salvation video game doesn't seem to be a favorite amongst the reviewers out there.
Reviewers tend to write subjectively about their experience with the game, as should they. I decided to write an analysis of the game, looking at different aspects of the game and comparing them to basic game design and simple cognitive psychology. It discusses both bad and good things alike, even though it might be leaning more towards one of them.
Since it's pretty big with around 4500 words, I've decided not to copy-paste it into the blog as I doubt you'd have the patience to read it. Therefore I offer you three ways to do it:
- PDF-download: http://arcadeberg.com/files/arcade_berg-terminator_salvation_gd_analysis.pdf (29/6/09)
- Issuu-link: http://issuu.com/Kizo/docs/arcade_berg-terminator_salvation_gd_analysis (29/6/09)
- Read it here, embedded from Issuu!
And please, leave a comment letting me know what you think. I'd greatly appreciate it.
I admit, the topic is overly fancy but I just have to write this real quick before going to bed. Btw, tomorrow is my birthday. Well, today, if we act according to the clock but everyone knows that the next day doesn't start before waking up after some sleep. Now, of course there are exceptions, for example when you don't sleep and so on.
I overall absolutely hate quick-time events when you have to press the corresponding button shown on screen. I hate because of several reasons but for now, as I'm tired, I'll only discuss one (if ever so slightly).
How do I know where the button is on the controller? I've been playing for so many years I don't know how many controllers I've used. Take the Y, B, A and X buttons used on the 360-controller for example, they're the same buttons as with the SNES-controller but with another layout. I still have the SNES in my head, so I usually get them wrong. And Square, Circle, Square and a Cross? I'll never learn those good enough to be a quick-time master.
The process is basically:
Screen Output -> Decode the information -> Execute input
"Press Square" -> Decoding "Square", making me able to locate the button and press it -> Pressing Square.
I want to give creds to Sucker Punch's Infamous! I played the demo tonight and I was pleasantly surprised as they're showing the layout of the controller, highlighting the button to push. So what they're realling doing is giving us an easier code to crach, a simpler pattern if you will.
Not only does it say "Square", but it also says; "y'Know, the button to the left of the rest. With that information, I instantly get it and my thumb is way ahead of me and is already pressing the button!
Maybe some other game has done it like this before Infamous, I don't know. If that's the case, kudos to you guys as well!
Making the player think about the controller, the hardware between the player and the game world is a crime in my book!
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.
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.
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?