Category: Discussion

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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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.

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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League Basics

First and foremost, you may be thinking, “Kana! Why are you posting Wednesday morning?” and the answer to that is simply: TERA Online beta this week! Yes, the closed beta to my Monster Hunter-surrogate begins Friday. So, I’ve decided to push back both posts, though honestly depending on how much footage I record Friday may mean the post is pushed back to Saturday morning. Hoping to get some solid gameplay with at least 2 classes this test cycle. Thinking Berserker and Archer, but if there is a class you’d rather see, by all means let me know! I’d be glad to get some footage about more of what people want. Now then, that out-of-the-way…

Today I wanted to cover something a little different from game mechanics. Going to go over a few of the basic mechanics of League of Legends and how you, the play, can interact with them to improve your game. Going to covering a decently wide range of topics so we won’t dive into too much detail, but if there are questions I can always expand on them later.

Zone Control:

First, watch that. Yes, the video is old, but it’s still every bit as accurate now as it ever was. Zoning has the effect of controlling your opponent through what are essentially mind games. What you want to do is bully the enemy lane (most effective if it’s 1 enemy in the lane, but it can be done against 2) until they have to retreat, then moving into position to prevent them from farming. Even better, if you can hold them well while only last hitting minions, your minions will only push very slowly. For every minion of yours that dies in the middle of the field, as opposed to the enemy tower, is another bit of experience you can deny, gaining more of an advantage. Some champions have insane innate zone control; Ziggs can completely lock out an enemy mid just by using Hexplosive Minefield, though the large radius will probably wind up pushing the minion wave bit by bit.
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Stop SOPA!

Mini-update today, trying to spread the word. If you didn’t know by now, there is extereme legislation in the United States’ Congress that could potentially destroy a free internet. It can be bad enough that my little hole-in-the-blog could be shut down by anyone just by using one piece of copyright material without getting approval. Even under free use, like say, a screen shot of a game. Think about what that means for gaming journalism, streamers who make a living playing games, professionals in the eSports world. We could use a very significant and important part of gamer culture if this passes. Do your part, spread the word. Fight SOPA.

If you’d like to know more about how damaging SOPA can be, or even just WTF it is, TotalBiscuit did an excellent video. Take a look, pass the word, and keep the internet open for us all.

Playful Personalities

Alright, today’s post is going to be a little different. Instead of looking at any one (or more) mechanics of a game, we’re going to be looking at the players themselves. Namely, their distinct play-styles. But, my dear readers, we are going much deeper than people usually go, analyzing my two distinct flavors for gaming, and hopefully getting a few of you to reflect on your own. We’ll be going beyond the position in the holy trinity of Tank/Damage/Healer, beyond the physiological classifications (Explorer, Killer, etc.) and into the specific of a single individual, just to see how similar and different we are even when fitting the same archetypes. So, without further ado, I present to you The Sadist and The Dualist.

The Sadist:

The more-or-less default behavior pattern I develop in open world games, and in any game dealing with a post-apocalyptic setting such as Fallout or Bioshock, but also in games with other players, given the character types sync up well enough. Pleasure comes from my enemies’ pain, and enjoyment from their suffering. To give a short example, think back to Bioshock 2. In a pre-established world where there are almost no detriments to your behavior in any way… I was quickly rampaging through the first level of the game, gleefully ramming the drill into targets and turning it on. A friend who was listening at the time told me to quit, demonic giggling + power drill was just creepy. Any time there is a power curve where I can gain the upper-hand, I will do so and near immediately inflict that power on those around me. Another perfect example of this: Warhammer 40k: Space Marine; you start the game way above your enemies in terms of power, and it is endless fun to pummel them into oblivion. So this means I really like big beefy monsters that maul everything to death, right? Well…
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Alright, this is a little continuation of the last post, mainly to set an example of what you should not do. Blizzard is becoming the perfect example at this, and is quickly showing that they are either incompetent at market research or out-right lying to their consumers non-stop. Neither option bodes well for them. So today, let’s just jump straight into it, analyzing some quotes and seeing just how far away from reality Blizzard has fallen.  All quotes are from Robert Bridenbecker, the Vice President of Online Technologies, and you can see the original article here.

“We can provide a much a much more stable, connected, safer experience than we could if we let people play off-line.”

There is so much wrong here I don’t even know what to say… For starters, Blizzard, how do you provide a more stable experience than someone’s computer? This is ridiculous. The most stable possible the game could be is running as a stand alone copy on a computer without any kind of requirement. Stable? Ha, let’s see. That lovely game you just bought from Blizzard is completely worthless if…
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WTB Power, PST Price

Well, late again to the party, as usual. I blame the dreamworld, seriously, who dreams of  Resident Evil for 7 hours and calls it a nightmare? Obviously I’m more loopy than I thought, if I’ve sunk that low. But no one wants to hear about hilarious zombie dogs and insomnia, so let’s kick this week into overdrive, starting with a little controversial piece that’s filtered down the grape-vine. Yes folks, we’re going to be going over the new auction house system in Diablo III, and why it is the most retarded and blatantly uncaring thing Blizzard has ever churned out. And if you couldn’t tell from that statement, you’re in for a caustic hate-filled bombshell of a post.

First off, I want to reiterate something that Blizzard seems to have forgotten and just to make sure no one else ever forget. Do not sell power for money. I’m not kidding, do not ever do that. Why, you might ask, should game devs not do that? Well, my silent readers, there are several reasons. Let’s go over them all here for now. First and foremost, you will shatter your player-base. Players who spend money will always be, without exception, more powerful than anyone who doesn’t pay. Now, think for a second on who the devs are going to devote time and energy into balancing the game for. If Player A has double the power of Player B, anything you design with Player B in mind is going to be slaughtered by Player A without any trouble. But anything designed for Player A will be unbeatable by Player B because of the gap in power between the two. So you have this choice; create a garbage experience for one player and a balanced experience for the other, or an ever more garbage experience (if Player B can even complete it) for one and a balanced for the other. No one wins, and no, you can’t create content for both that’s deep enough to entertain for long. In today’s hyper-graphic gaming scene, content takes ages to produce and test, and very quickly players are going to be forced into groups of who gets content and who doesn’t. Which leads us right into the next point…
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Map Awarness

(Note: The following is mostly relevant mainly to PvP maps. In a Player vs. Environment situation, you can be sure the enemies won’t exploit every advantage and will perform in a fairly predictable pattern, in turn letting more varied landscapes thrive. In PvE, the world exists as a stage for the play of the characters life. In PvP, the world is merely the arena one choose to kill or die in.)

Alright, the last in this weeks balance set and we’ll be taking a look at maps. This can be the make-or-break moment for any game, as playing on unfavorable 1-sided maps can lead to bad games and lost battles just because the enemy spawned on the ‘right’ side. There are two main kind of maps, symmetrical and asymmetrical, and these are what we’ll covering today. This will probably be a short one, just because of the massive amount of variance between games. You wouldn’t play a game of Starcraft II on a map that was designed for Team Fortress 2, and you would probably be pretty bored playing a Team Fortress 2 map on a massive sprawling map were engagements are few and far between. Before we get into the two main categories, let’s cover the basics.

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Right then. I know it’s a day late, but I’m hoping not a dollar short. It’s that bloody 12 hour car ride, I thought today was Tuesday. Well… whoops. Yes, tomorrow will be a regularly scheduled blog post, and of the normal variety. Today’s will be more of a discussion piece, hopefully getting some gears turning as you read. Back to back posts! I must be losing it to put myself through that. Anyways, on with the show.

Today is going to be a fun one, since this is something that can be found in virtually every game ever. That’s right, items! Various flavors and forms, items are the quintessential backbone of certain types of games, often being both the reward and means to an end. In order to make sure this post actually ends sometime this century, we’ll be mostly talking about items like potions and elixirs, and looking at how they can be balanced for the game in question with a variety of unique and engaging ways. Tomorrow will be the other side of the item world: weapons. For now, let’s get started with the most common potion variant: defensive.
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