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New Ideas: Game Design

Hey guys, I’m back. Things have been… kind of hard on me personally over the past few weeks. Lots of things just not going the way I’d like, to put it mildly. But this isn’t a blog for me to whinge about my life, and I’m trying to deal with it anyways. For now, I wanted to share a new idea here: video game designs. Now, and this is important, these posts are public and for discussion and dissemination of ideas. If anyone who is making or thinking of making shows up and reads this, by all means; take the idea and run with it. Go crazy, just come back to tell me about the finished product. I’d like to see what the end result of such ideas are. Remember, free to use and spread, just don’t forget to add a little to the discussion while you’re here.

Now, this first one is on a topic that is near and dear to my heart: horror games. The idea actually came to me as I was walking home from the store at 2 am, and I can safely say my heart was hammering with anxiety over the whole thought process, being alone in the night like that.  The basic idea is, learning about a horror game makes the game worse. Here’s the analogy I came up with while on my little stroll.

Imagine for a second you have a nice house, full of rooms to keep your things in, where you can roam in peace. Now, there are all kinds of nasty things out in the wild world, so you  have locks on all the doors and windows. Inside you are perfectly safe from the horrors that lurk in the darkness out there. Hell, they might not even be near your house in particular. Better safe than sorry.
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Story Time: Planetside 2

So, I promised a Planetside 2 article. Awhile ago, actually. But here’s the problem: every time I sit down to write one, it never comes out good. I just can’t get the nuances of game play down properly, or accurately describe how much fun base to base fighting is. So after thinking about it for a while… I’m just not going to do that. Instead, I’ll tell a simple little story about one random day where I was flying a Scythe and wound up having the time of my life.

So, it was the day after a big patch, and I was pretty eager to get some practice flying. I’ve always wanted to be a pilot, just for how sick the Scythe looks, but lacked a lot of certs for it and couldn’t afford a secondary missile pod. So when I finally got my pods, I decided enough was enough with the waiting. Slotted in a Scythe Spawn implant to cut the cooldown as low as I could and took off.

My first few attempts went pretty much like you’d imagine. I’m pretty sure there are a few Scythe-sized holes in the cliffs around the then-Vanu Warpgate, but eventually I got the hang of it. Mostly I’d just grab a Scythe and fly around Vanu air space as low as I could, having to dodge terrain and buildings for an hour or so until I felt comfortable flying. Then it was time for the real fun to begin. Dropped a marker over Zurvan and started making my way there.

Real combat was far, far more than what I had ever anticipated. Reavers and Mosquitos were prowling their own air space, and whenever one came close, flak would churn the air. I managed a few kills over the course of a couple hours, and lost an equal number of Scythes. But the real fight was just about to begin.

By now I was running out of Polymers to spawn more fighters, and we were starting to lose ground to the Terran Republic. Figuring it’d be my last one for a while, I grabbed a Scythe and went hunting. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the most delectable treat flying away into New Conglomerate space.

A Galaxy troop transport and Liberator gun ship, flying around without any escorts.
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Planetside 2 Stream

So, I know I promised another article on Planetside 2, but honestly I don’t see it coming yet. Written four different bloody ones, and each one was terrible and did nothing to really showcase what Planetside 2 is really about. Wracking my mind for a week to come up with something to give you guys to show how incredible the game can be when it finally hit me… why not stream it for a bit?

So I’ve been trying to get FFSplit and Planetside 2 to work properly over the past few days. I think I have it, but latency is still a problem when trying to dogfight. If I can, I’ll bring you guys aerial combat. If I can’t, then I’ll make up for it with more amour play on the ground. The stream will start at 3pm EST tomorrow and go on for a couple of hours over at Tune in if you want to know more about PS2!

I’ll try and keep an eye on chat to answer any questions, and if you guys enjoy it, then why not make it a weekly thing? Make sure to let me know. See you on the battlefield!

Weekend goodness and Planetside 2

So, some of you might know that the NDA for Planetside 2 dropped, hooray! I planned on streaming a bit and writing up an impressions so far for here and the PS2 beta forums, but a combination of family and sickness has held it off a bit. Today should be the last day of random crud getting in the way. If I get back soon enough, I’ll have my impressions up tonight and a stream running sometime Tuesday. If not, then the post will be Tuesday with a little streaming on Thursday. Just thought I’d give a bit of a heads up, so enjoy this little taste of things to come!

Watch live video from bloodyselene on TwitchTV


See you on the battlefield soon!

Review: Wanderlust: Rebirth

So, hell has semi-officially frozen over. Yes, it’s true. I’m doing an actual review. Kind of. Saying it right now; no, there will be no score at the end. It’s a retarded trend that is plaguing the industry that you can attach a numerical value to how much someone subjectively enjoyed a game. There is no objectivity to it. So don’t go in thinking I’m going to sum this all up with a number, because that’s not how I roll. There will be words though. Lots of words.  Second, this is mostly because Wanderlust happens to be a fairly short, enjoyable game that I’m able to do this. Don’t ask for reviews on other, bigger games unless you want the love-child of insanity and a college thesis. Right, we’re done with that, we can look at the game itself.


Control is very simple, movement being WASD and then using the arrow keys to use abilities for three of the four playable classes. Each one has a fairly unique play style with a couple of different styles. If you’re sadistic or boring Alchemists and Warriors can just stand behind enemies and spam basic attacks to wrack up massive combos and give the various wildlife some serious lower-back problems. Warriors can spec in to tanking or just bludgeoning things to death. Alchemists can be the back-stabby rogues or use a variety of potions to blow-up and debuff enemies. Clerics have the hilarious ability to heal and damage with basically anything they do. Specializing for one or the other makes it better, of course, but it’s hilarious to see my friend’s Cleric who was built solely to heal our party through missions run around beating everything to death with the power of healing. And no, not just undead things. You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen someone heal a bear to death.

I wish I could be that cool.

Special mention goes to the Elementalist, the mage with the most ridiculous gameplay of the four. Unlike the other three, the Elementalist can only ever have 2 spells active (used with Right/Left mouse instead of arrows, you have to aim spells), but every spell is composed of runes that have varying cooldowns and combinations. Fire can inflict Burn, which sets and enemies Frost resist to zero. Boulder is a line-shot that penetrates and hits everything in a line. Every element you can pick from has a summon-able pet once you put in enough points to that skill.
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The End

WARNING: Major spoilers for Wanderlust: Rebirth. First and only warning. Read at your own risk.

So a friend of mine recently got the four pack of this game and I got a copy of it (special thanks to ThirtyThree for the game), and I have to say it’s been… fairly decent. Balancing is a serious issue and the game suffers hard from Linear Warrior – Quadratic Wizard syndrome. But overall it’s not so bad, combat can be pretty fun and the continue system means you can pretty much brute-force your way to the end if you so desire, though it’ll be a grind since the levels won’t be awarding any points.

My allies are doing more damage than me. I’m a very sad wizard.

And that ending will utterly ruin the game. I’m not even joking, I went from elation to annoyance to outright seething in no time flat. So here was the run down, we were playing four-player co-op and made it all the way to the last level. Pretty fun all things considered, and the boss had some fun mechanics and was pretty well done. However, due to a mistake one of our dps died. Then I died because the ‘Critical!’ box is massive and I couldn’t see myself standing in the fire. You’d think two years of WoW would train to avoid it, but alas I died and we didn’t have the damage to kill the boss.
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The Appearance Problem

EDIT: Riot, you know how to set my heart aflutter. Just today had Diana announced. I’m not going to pretend to be less angry about Zyra because the next female champion is well armed and armored (but Zyra != Diana, and I will be ecstatic for her), however…  if this is a new initiative to bring out a broader range of characters, then I can accept where Zyra went (somewhat, still not entirely cohesive). I’m eagerly watching. I have high expectations because, in the end, you guys don’t let down. I know Riot can put out phenomenal quality work.


Let me preface this with the dual warnings of vehemence and yes, once again, we’re talking about Zyra. Specifically, how flat and boring the character is because Riot opted for the ‘eye-candy’ approach instead of fleshing out the character in a meaningful way on top of her mechanics and back-story. And as a further warning, there will probably be harsh language in this post for the first time ever. Why? This is why. This is a fucking problem and you should care. But we’re not going to talk about that first. First it’s the obvious problem of Zyra’s graphical design in-game.

Now I know this first part is probably going to ruffle some feathers, but it needs to be said so pay attention. Zyra is a boring and uninteresting character. Whats even worse than that is Zyra is thematically in-game a worse plant character than a damned skin for another character. Who? Blackthorn Morgana. Yes, you read that right, and it is completely sad. A recent skin for a very old champion is a better plant mage than the plant mage Riot was trying to make.

Now, that is a pretty bold statement, so let’s break it down a little. We’re going to mostly compare the two characters in thematic sense, both with spell details and character details. No one bring up the spells themselves, it’s very obvious Zyra wins out here, however it’s the subtle addition effects where she loses to Morgana. First we’re going to the more obvious visual effects on each character. Keep in mind from here on out, I’m only referring to in-game models, not the lore, design, or mechanics of the characters just yet.

Blackthorn Morgana, Riot Inc.

Blackthorn Morgana is an obvious elemental of Nature, specifically Fall or early Winter. This is evident all through the character as the eye rests on her most prominent features, her “dress” of roots and thorns, and the wings on her back. Depending on what team you spawn on, the wings can play an even greater visual component, but for now we’ll just assume you’re looking at her from the front. Her dress of roots is constantly shifting as Morgana moves around, especially on a subtle level as the roots that comprise it slither and shift slowly drives home the feeling of a living creature. Her ‘clothing’ isn’t merely there as a covering, it becomes part of the character and brings a holistic and living aspect to what once was mere cloth and metal. This is further exemplified by her idle animation, as the tips of the roots will constantly push under the soil, as if they were searching for a place to take root and draw sustenance from.
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Really Riot? This crap again?

Okay, I know I promised Planetside 2 today, but Riot officially released Zyra. And holy crap, “disappointment” doesn’t even begin to cover how I feel about this. Zyra looked fantastic in the teaser Morello posted, but her main artwork looks utterly ridiculous and lazy. How bad is it? Well… we need to have a little talk, Riot. Just for a few minutes, and I promise it won’t hurt. Much. I bite sometimes. Sometimes. So sit down and flip a coin while I get started.

Zyra went from being a must-buy to an extreme disappointment in the span of about 12 seconds to me, but not just because she’s naked. Because I know Riot can do better than this. I know you can draw an attractive female character without having to rely on cheap booty-call images to get the point across. How do I know? Simple! Zyra’s own artwork!

Sex Appeal vs. Sexiness/Seduction:

Okay, so what’s the problem? First, the teaser photo Morello uploaded was far and away better than the whole thing. Here’s why- In the photo her entire body is unseen and Zyra’s face is obscured by her hair. This creates an alluring sense of mystery, of speculation that draws a viewer in. I wanted to know more about Zyra. I wanted to see what she looked like. Her “clothing” such as it was gave even more of a sense of appeal, in that it clearly wasn’t fabric or manmade. What kind of clothing style is it? Elegant? Detached? Sultry? The possibilities are endless and serve to increase the mystery about her.

See for yourself. This is as good as it’ll get.

Taking it a step further, her hand coupled with the flowering ‘clothing’ creates a distinct sense of ‘not-human’, a character that has a humanoid form without being ‘human in a funky dress’ because of the mysterious air about her that we just covered. THAT is sexy, that is seducing the viewer through teasing hints and subtle displays.

And all of it is ruined by Zyra’s “full” artwork. All of that mysteriousness is removed because, why should we care to speculate? We know exactly what she looks like now. You’ve removed the allure of the strange and unseen. Yes, her face is still obscured, but now it doesn’t matter. The mystic appearance to her “clothing” is stripped away, because she isn’t even wearing any now. So it’s a naked human female with some off views.

Wait, but didn’t I say she wasn’t human before, just given a humanoid form? Well yes! I did. But that illusion is shattered by showing her full (and almost completely naked) body. Shes lost almost all of the mysterious appeal, and that has removed the sense of other. I’ve seen the image throughout writing this and only just now discovered she has 2 sets of ‘ears.’ And that’s still not enough, the illusion of difference has been scattered. Zyra has turned into a naked human with odd bits of her, not something other that happens to look human.

Now, this is where the old, tired, and pointless phrase “but it’s not flesh! she’s not human!” comes into play. And I’m dismissing it now, because it doesn’t make any sense. You can say whatever you want, if the character doesn’t have the visuals to back it up, no one will care nor will they believe you. After seeing that Riot could tell me Zyra was made entirely of sentient cats that fused together like Voltron to form Zyra and it wouldn’t make any difference. The appearance of non-human has been removed and replaced by “human with weird bits.”

Look me in the eye and tell me she’s anything more than a naked woman.

So what am I getting at?

I’m not going to lie, at this point I feel like I’ve been insulted. Riot has the talent to make and display truly sensational characters across tons of dama… err… appeals. They have the capacity to do so much amazing work, it really does hurt to see a character fall back to the tired and borderline lazy approach of “let’s make a sexy champion. Draw her almost naked!”

Sexiness is not a problem. You can have sexy, sultry champions. Hell, look at Ahri, she’s a great example of allure and charm that’s presented perfectly. She doesn’t have to have two square inches of cloth covering her breasts and crotch like Janna to pull it off, she does that in appearance, speech, and subtle positions in artwork and animations. Drawing a character like that isn’t easy. It takes a lot of work to get everything to work, to display a truly seductive champion, and I think Riot nailed that with Ahri. I think Riot nailed with Zyra too, but went overboard and wound up dispelling most of the magic that was there.

So this is the point of it all, and pretty much a plea to Riot. Please, don’t fall back on cheap and easy “sex appeal” by just having a character (male or female!!) be mostly naked. Give them personality, have them be alive and grow. Plant the idea of a vibrant and living character in out minds and let them expand from that. If seduction and sexiness is supposed to be a part of Zyra, then make it work better than this. Have the character plant a seed of desire in the player.

I’m not going to say “Scrap it and start again!” or “make her wear X style/cothing!” to get my point across. But I am going to ask you keep this in mind in the future. Scantily clad women just for the sake of it are everywhere in the industry. Stand apart from that, rise up to the next level. If you want to make sexy, make it good and make it grow on us. Let those vines of desire dig deep into us as players, not shallow appeal by having more flesh than clothing. That’s all I’m asking. I know it sounds like a lot, but I know you can do it. You’re Riot, one of the best game design companies I’ve seen. Your product is one I’ve spent tons of time and effort in, and enjoy every single game. Go to the next level, make it better. Make it the best you can.

I really want to like Zyra. I really, really do. But I don’t think I can take another “sex appeal for the sake of it” character. Best of luck Riot, I’ll be waiting for the ability details and spotlight. Not to see if you’ve changed anything, but because Zyra intrigues me. She just does so far less than she had before.

Where the hell have you been?

Title says it all. To recap… about a month ago, I had to leave on “vacation” with my family for two and a half weeks, barely having internet access (or in some places, not having it at all). Over that vacation, my laptop broke which means as soon as we got home, I had to ship it off for repairs for another week or so. Only got it back in the past couple days, and I’ve been trying to set everything back up in the meantime.

Downside is, I haven’t had much time to write up a post, and might not for the rest of the week. If I don’t have something up this weekend, I will have a new Planetside 2 post up on Tuesday. This one will be taking in everything we’ve seen so far, and will be explaining why you, yes, you- in the back, with the funky shirt (pay attention!), will want to be playing the game, along with some of the more complex mechanics at work. If you like, consider it to be part two of a series.

On the upside, while I was without internet, I finally found a Games Workshop. Sucks it’s now several thousand miles away, but I managed to snag a few Warhammer 40000 models. So in the downtime I’ve been painting up a basic Tyranid starter army, and it’s actually done quite a bit for my stress. Hopefully that’ll continue, because it really is fun to paint these models.


And so, that’s that. I’m back, and still working on getting life back in order after having everything thrown out of whack for a month. Sorry to have kept you guys waiting and have such a dead period on the site. Now we’re back and ready to inflict on madness on you lot all over again!

Puzzle Games – The Unappreciated Genre

Hi everyone, while Kana is stuck overseas I’ve taken up the role as guest writer. I have posted here before under thirtythreeas, but due to extraneous reasons, that account is stuck in a state of limbo and this was the fastest way for me to contribute.

Today I wanted to talk about the puzzle genre of video games. I’m sure that some of you might sigh or laugh at the genre, since typically its associated with blandness, boring gameplay, and not being “hardcore” enough. But, to be frank, these features are all indicative of bad games in general, not necessarily puzzle games. To be fair, it’s far easier to make a puzzle game and most beginner developers simply do not have the tools nor the skills to create an amazing MMOFPSRPGTSTHINGY. So they make a strike at a puzzle game, and fill the genre with bad, uninteresting games because they’re bad, uninteresting developers. But I digress, let’s move on with the subject. I’ll break down each type of puzzle game in my opinion and address its strengths, weaknesses, games that implement it well and games that implement it poorly. By the end of the article, I hope you’ll look at puzzle games in a somewhat different light and see how fascinating it can be to think through a problem as opposed to shooting through one.

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