Friday, December 30, 2011

Getting Ready for 2012

Oh 2012, what new exciting things can I hope for in this year. Here's what's going down now.

1) Corvidology is working on a fashion app.
2) I'm still chipping away at my VN Line of Heroes. With only minor updates since the last one.
3) I'm also working on a few Dating Sims. I've finished scripting one. I'm so proud of me for figuring it out.
4) 7 Eldest is in book 2. I still don't give it all the love and attention it deserves.
5) Also kind of looking for a new job. ^^

Friday, August 26, 2011

Project Update: Line of Heroes

Lots of progress has been made on this project actually.
I've finished most of the scripting so it is now playable. :D

Artwork is really going to pose a challenge I think. So far I think everyone has 1 sprite.

I still need to make:
Title screen - sketched
Sprites - need costume changes and various emotions.
Music - found some royalty free music and sound effects.
Backgrounds - ugh
CGI - meh
UI elements - might stick with default

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Assume makes an...

Assuming things about your audience can definitely make an ass out of you (and me). And sometimes, it feels like some games designs are built on this foundation of assumptions about its players that might be excluding a large market.

So what inspired this was something I noticed in my email. Several months ago, I had joined Lord of the Rings Online so I could keep in touch with my boyfriend who enjoyed WoW. It was a free MMO (since I was not quite willing to pay a subscription fee). And quite seriously a little gem in the MMO scene.

Today I had received notice that their game guides had been updated and the message was very new player friendly. It had a colorful list of new player and beginner MMO guides to the game.
When I had first heard about this MMO it was at GDC. A developer was explaining to me how LOTR Online was aimed for a more mature group of people and that it was not as 'immature' as WoW. Now my research on MMOs had pointed out that these games attract the most unlikely player types.

What this site full of tutorial guides said to me was: "We are friendly to new players and non-players and n00bs." Anyone just starting out with this kind of gaming experience is going to feel intimidated because there are thousands of others all around playing the game effortlessly. It is like entering a new country where you only know a few words of the language.

My experience playing LOTR online was positive overall. The game cared about the fanbase which consisted mostly of fans of the franchise.

WoW also has a very good Beginner's Guide in addition to hundreds of supplemental guides about the details of the game.  Both LOTRO and WoW have good hand holding in-game tutorials. Although, LOTRO allowed for the very, very beginning of the quest be in an area where the user was alone so they could adjust to the game controls. Personally I find this highly useful as a new player because there's less social pressure in performing well. After that first portion then it opens up to the new player area and I can meet other players starting on a new character. There are several more new player quests that help familiarize the player with the game before entering the "real world".

Easing the player into a MMO is a good method utilized by many games. However, the tutorial itself should be easy to understand. If your game is going to be aimed at general audiences, then you have to do some tailoring to the non-gamer. How the language is presented in the tutorial is important. To some new gamers, some lingo or glossary terms should be established. It may seem dumb to an RPG gamer to have a reminder of what HP stands for but it is intimidating to see all these terms and bars on a screen.

In one of my books on game design, (can't remember which) it stressed the importance of releasing new information to the player in chunks. Give them time to feel like they have mastered one element before introducing a new one.

In Conclusion, designing an accessible game is possible if time is taken to think of how a complete non-gamer might interact with it. What might frustrate them? What would confuse them? How can we alleviate some of the stress associated with learning a new skill? Likewise, you have to choose who you are excluding in your audience. If you make this an active choice then you consciously make a better effort to cater to your intended audience.  If you subconsciously exclude an audience, you are losing by making general assumptions.

For more advice about ingame tutorials, please refer to Extra Credits.
Also about Sharing with Non-Players.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Angry Chicks

Another bit of a rant about games, or really one game. Angry effing Birds.
As an iPhone game developer, I can assure you that the easiest way to piss us off is to ask us about Angry Birds. In casual conversation when I bring up my profession, guaranteed 100% of the time the person will ask something along the lines of: Oh iPhone games, you mean like Angry Birds.
Or my personal favorite:
"Oh you know my son/daughter plays this one game alot...what was it?"
Me: Angry Birds. (There is no intonation of a question in this response. It's a factual response.)
"Yes that's the one."

What. The. Duck. Seriously, has Angry Birds become the FACE of the App Store? It really feels like it has. Yay for that company...they have made it into infamy. And I get so pissed off seeing their fisking merchandise at the mall.

Jealous? Perhaps a bit, but on the other hand I'm REALLY glad that an iPhone game has gotten that huge. That makes the platform meaningful for a wide audience. A larger demographic accepts the iPhone and iPad as a gaming platform.
But it does the rest of us no good if all people are playing is Angry Birds.

The other thing that gets my goat is that this kind of sets a bar as to what the expectations of an iPhone game should be. It's a physics puzzle. Granted there are a lot of these types of games on the App Store but it really hampers creative expansion if the only games that sell well are the physics puzzlers. The company I previously worked for had a staff dedicated to creating full 3D game experiences with wonderful graphics and console like mentality. These games are just not doing as well as the little physics puzzlers.

So here's to hoping that iPhone developers make a game that will finally shake the birds from their throne. And here's to hoping that my company Corvidology is heading down that path with out games.

Speaking of which, we've released our first title: Hubbub.
I'd appreciate the support!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Opinion: Games for Me?

So I spent some time catching up on all the buzz about E3. Well some of the buzz really. And while some may be excited, I've found nothing on the horizon that lifts my spirits. I'm starting to worry about the game development industry.


Nintendo Not Cool Anymore?
You know, I grew up with Nintendo. Its the company that got me back into gaming and was the only console we ever owned. I'm nervous about what this company is doing. The WiiU seems like a smart step as it is well...an iPad in disguise. Although I like the 3DS, I don't see any interesting or fun release titles. I bought a 3DS in part because of the new Zelda and Kid Icarus but mostly because I wanted a new DS that actually connects to my wireless and I can download games on. (Because its a platform my company is considering in the future).

Perhaps Nintendo is banking on their portable devices since their gimmick devices are not doing so great anymore. However, the series that got me back into gaming, Legend of Zelda, seems like its singing its swan song. I'm setting my bar low for this one.

Games for All Audiences?
Outside of Nintendo and a few art games (which are AWESOME) I'm seeing a flood gate of FPS games. With space marines or a sci-fi setting. Not to harp but I'm not a fan of the space genre. There wasn't really any games that I could get pumped about or even INTERESTED. I suppose because they all came out this year. :/

There really wasn't anything that seemed to have an intriguing or welcoming setting for my interests. Which I guess leaves ME time to finish some other games or replaying some of my old favorites.

I suppose I'm just really, really frustrated that the releases are basically focused on two audiences: Adult Male Gamers (dedicating several hours to gameplay) or Kids/Casual (basically "non-gamers").
OMG...really how loud do I have to effen shout here. There is a demographic of Adult FEMALE gamers that dedicate several hours per DAY to games. And chicks LOVE shopping so we'll be taking that DLC thank you.
And as much as I like EA games, they still SUCK at marketing it to BOTH males and females. Which is a SHAME because their games are REALLY well written to fantasy/sci-fi fans of both sexes. And yes their style of game play allows for that. I suppose I'm a floozy and I want MORE than one company to cling to.
Well, I do have Atlus but they've been disappointing of late. While part of me is very curious about Catherine...it's still a male perspective.

Where My Girls At?
Maybe I'm blind, but is Tomb Raider really the only title with a female lead I can look forward to? I mean, I'm proud of where Laura has come from and really what she represents in her GAME (not her marketing). She's a woman in a male-dominant profession, but still treated like an object by marketing. Even SHE is not for female gamers and SHE SHOULD BE.

Really, can't I even have one? What Commander Shepherd?  No...no because it's still marketed as a MALE lead character despite the user being able to change that. And I love the company oodles and oodles but would it hurt to market at game with a female protagonist?

Do male gamers really feel SO EXCLUDED if the lead character is female? Does that make the game "not for you"? I understand if the main character is Princess Peach then yes, less appealing. That game is not for me either. I want more Lara Crofts...I want more Captain Chris (Suikoden 3)...I want more female Hawke/Shepherd,

And I really wish there was more I can do besides rant on a blog. It's whiny and stupid. I get emails every day from the Women in Games group and it is mostly letting off the steam we feel in the industry. So I've steamed off.
Speaking of Steam...I should re-download that and get Portal 2. That'll boost my spirits. :3
Or I can dream of the day when I'm ridiculously wealthy and have a game studio at my beck and call to make games tailored to ME. That would be bad ass.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Irreverence

Controversy and gaming can almost be synonymous. Reasons why or subject matters will offend differ between parties. However, most of this thought bubble was actually inspired by an anime series I started watching and feel confused about my feelings towards it. I feel like I have accepted the 'offense' no longer or never really offended me.

Rooms with Elephants
The series that sparked these thought bubbles is called "Hetalia: Axis Powers" which is an anime series where the episodes are 5 minutes of loose history about the relations of countries during WW2 and other points in history. All countries are 'personified' as characters with certain stereotypical traits.
While the stereotypes are funny generalizations, they are generalizations made by a Japanese perspective. I've only gotten through season 2 but I keep waiting for that 'elephant in the room' to be acknowledged. The Axis powers did some pretty terrible things. Also America did something terrible to Japan. But because the show is a comedy they have continued to skirt the incident. But it looms. The fact they are poking fun at the Great Wars means something about this up and coming generation. And perhaps about the audience that enjoys the series.

I'm actually slightly ashamed that I find aspects of the series hilarious. It reminds me of stand up comedy, which can be very irreverent and that's why it's funny.

Reverence
Outside of comedy, irreverent generalizations or stereotypes are not acceptable to general audiences. With the reveal of the Duke Nukem: Forever 'Capture the Babe' mini-game, had an irreverent stereotype and behavior towards women. Fans of gaming and the series, have already accepted Duke's irreverence as part of his character traits. They see it as comedy. Outside that circle, the laughs fall short. That comedy is not for them and instead it comes off as insulting, degrading and offensive.
This is the same in stand-up comedy. Personally, I can laugh at jokes and skits that poke fun at my own faith Catholicism. However, the line gets crossed when they go for the molesting priest joke. Then they stop being funny to me. And everyone has a different line. Sometimes people can be convinced to 'move this line'.

Drawing the Line
Every person has a line that when crossed upsets them. However a person can change the line and move it. What it takes is treating the subject and the audience with respect. It's important that the potential audience not feel belittled or "abused" if they don't quite like the joke or situation. If set up right, they will give it a chance and possibly change their mind.
For example, I finally did a play through of Dragon Age: Origins with a romance option. This is something that when I first played the game I had no intention of doing. But since that time, I had played other mature titled games with sex scenes (RDR caught me off guard!) and well, I told myself that I'd played Sims2 often enough that I shouldn't be surprised. And I was no longer working in an environment where sex was talked about irreverently all the time.
And when Dragon Age 2 came along, I knew right away I would have to do the romance options at some point. And I'm glad I did because I was surprised that most of the romance scenes I had seen were kind of PG and done in a way I LIKE romance scenes...and how I've written them.

So that said, I have become more lenient to sex in games since they are not really pornographic. Not worse than I've seen (or covered my eyes at) in theaters.

Conclusion
Basically, it really takes a mature person to ease someone's mind about an irreverent topic or addressing social taboos. There are things that I feel everyone should hold sacred and not make fun of...such as victims of domestic violence, abuse, or sexual exploitation of children. The worst move would be to accuse the offended party as over-sensitive (even if they are) or belittle them. As a creator, you have to gain the audience's trust. Once you have it, it's maintenance but losing it will cause major damage.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Meta Stories and Games

Another thought bubble about narrative and games. I've touched on the topic of meta-game elements several times but now we meet it head on. (apply directly to the forehead.)
First what do I mean by meta-game elements and stories? Where will this post go?

Meta-Game
I remember when I first ran into the term "meta-game" while studying table-top RPG games. For example, rolling the dice and points were meta-game elements. It could also mean elements that pertain to the game world but not the main focus of game play. In table top role play, the dice rolls and charts are necessary for the game but that is not the main focus of the game. That is to say that a person doesn't play D&D to roll dice...that's what Yahtzee is for. The goals of the game are to explore, complete tasks, and refine your character.

For a digital translation, this would be interface or the repeated actions in a game. In a game with random encounters (like a J-RPG), the main focus of the game is not these random encounters, those are just a necessity. Likewise, navigating through menus and managing stats are not part of the game proper. It's something you have to pause the game for to manage.

Meta-Stories
This is the concept of a story within a story. The purpose of a meta-story is to immerse the viewer into the fabricated world. Particularly in narrative driven games, there are myriads of little details that add to the story world. Anything from the art of the environment, to NPC dialogue and side-quests build the world making it more accessible to the player.

However, there is another aspect of meta-story that is beyond the control of the game developer. This would be the story that the player projects or perceives. This is the stuff that gamer web-comics THRIVE from.

Meta-Meta-Story
The player's experience with a game often allows them to project a part of themselves into the story. The illusion of control allows for this. It is possible in any game, even ones that do not come with pre-written narratives. These are the jokes, the silly things player's notice, or the moments the suspension of disbelief fail. This is what makes gamer comics what they are.
There are also elements of the meta-story that will just click with players and it becomes their favorite element of the game.

As a developer/designer you can help promote these instances in your game. However they are rather unpredictable. Easter eggs, glitches, or allusions to pop-culture are all ways that help hook a player deeper into the experience or pop them out of the experience for a laugh. These things are also very shareable so it gets people talking about the game with friends.

Conclusion
The devil's in the details they say. And details help flesh out a game that's easy to talk about and share with friends. Thus promoting the title. Granted its not something to rely on and like any spice should be applied in the right amount.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Dishonesty, Lies, and Comedy

Straight up opinion this round, but I have recently started watching Glee after the encouragement from my sister. I've been making my way through the first season somehow but it's becoming harder and harder to continue to like the show. It brought up for me a couple of other things people have mentioned about romantic comedies and high school dramas.

Now for me, the only thing that keeps me interested in Glee is the music. I love musicals and having a TV show that is essentially a musical has some appeal to me. And it should come as no surprise that I was actually part of my school's "Glee Club" although we called it "Swing Choir", but it was basically the same thing. Wear a costume, choreograph a dance and sing at the same time. It was a mixed-bag experience for me because I love to sing and dance but felt bad that there was a lot of rivalry and politics between the teacher and students.

Let's talk about romantic comedies. One of my fellow podcast hosts explained to us once the reason he hated romantic comedies was that the joke or plot was contrived by the couples lying to each other or basing a relationship off a lie. And the big climax is when the truth is revealed. And I have to agree with him. The tension is contrived and lying is a horrible thing to do in a real relationship. I've had friends hurt very badly because of lies in a relationship.
Glee unfortunately has some elements of the relationship built on lies that I think are meant to be played as comedic ploys but everyone knows will have tragic results. It's actually painful to watch as it is so truly tragic.

The romantic tensions are just as bad...if not the same...in the students. Adding more tragedy. The main romantic tensions in Finn, Rachel and Quinn mirrors the tension between Mr. Shue, his wife, and the counselor chick. (I am bad with names.) They are almost point for point the same problem. Perhaps that's a statement about adults who never out-grow high school relationships, but it's nails on the chalkboard to me.

Then there's the weirdness that is "entertainment" high school which is built on contrived stereotypes about high school as set down by Hollywood. Perhaps because I've never went to a public high school so I don't know any better. However, I can't see the students as characters to care about, only their stereotype. There's nothing interesting even remotely about the students, who should be the stars of the show. Maybe it's because I'm not longer in high school and tend to find high school age teenagers annoying that I dislike them. Or maybe they're just bland characters. There are high school dramas that I do like...unfortunately most of them are animated and very silly. Because high school is very silly and so are teenagers. My favorite American high school comedy is "Mean Girls" that had some funny insight about groups in high school.

I can see why my sister would like it as she is still in high school and the other people I know like it never really left high school. I for one, remember high school as a rather miserable experience that was alleviated upon going to college and then moving over a thousand miles from my hometown. Immature relationships, I've seen too many of my friends hurt very badly and effectively crippling them as adults to find humor in immature high school relationships. The highschool I remember was not divided in the clear cut cliques based on activities, it was based on personality types and previous school and who your parents were and your wealth. The Debate Team did not get picked on by the football team. Our cheer squad was not made up of skinny, blondes that picked on the goths.

But there is the music and dancing. This is fun to watch. Having it set the mood of a particular problem or situation reminds me of stage musicals like Chicago, Wicked, or any Disney animated feature. But playing off lies and dishonesty as funny ruins the magic.

Monday, April 18, 2011

LOH: Backgrounds

Thanks to a friend, I'm getting some 3D models for buildings for my backgrounds.
I will probably paint them myself otherwise.

Characters are pretty much designed, except for the main character. I still can't seem to draw her right. :P

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Modding

One of my not-so-secret pleasures about some games is the ability to MOD them aka modify. It takes a lot of time, talent and a workhorse of a computer but the results are amazing. Unfortunately I haven't been able to create my own mod for years thanks to work.

Mods
Mod communities are a proverbial cesspit of creative and talented folks sharing game content for FREE...usually. Utilizing the limits of the game to add something new and provide MORE playtime with that game. If I find a mod community for a game I usually download a thing or two. (Or a million in the case with the Sims).

What makes a good Mod
Mods can vary in type from program fixes, hacks and cosmetic changes to full blown extra stories, missions or DLC.
One of my university courses was to create a Mod using the Neverwinter Nights 2 Toolset for game writing. The whole experience taught me what really goes into creating a good mod.
Pre-planning has a lot to do with it and learning is the other half. Planning and experience really are what make a Mod good.

Getting into Mods
Some games come with a developer like software to help you mod your game! Usually the PC version, I'm not all that familiar with console modding although I'm sure it's been done. Other games have level builders, such as Little Big Planet.
However, some games have communities surrounding them that use freeware or purchased software to create mods, such as the Sims.
Getting into Modding is helpful if you are interested in getting into game development. It can be a nice addition to a portfolio. Mods showcase your talent in game art, writing, programming and design.

Conclusion
Even being mostly a casual user of mods, I really enjoy and appreciate the effort. And I'm always glad to find someone has the same interest I had when playing the game and thinking "so-and-so would look better as a red-head" or "that ending sucked, I wish I could change it" or "I want to play the whole game naked". <---Probably most common mod ever. :D
Meh...just another fluff post.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Interactive Storytelling

Narrative has become a packaged deal with video games. The need for well-written games is becoming a selling point and a norm. And this is a good thing. Narratives have had a good long history in video games and where it is heading is an interesting journey.

Text Adventures/Point and Click Adventures
When games appeared on computers they took the form of text adventures. Programmatic inputs were necessary to interact with the world. And for the most part, players had a very strong connection with the narrative and story. Even to the point where they cried.
However, once these types of games became graphical like the Sierra Adventure games, a level of connection was severed slightly. While the input was the same, the output wasn't fuel for the players imagination. What could have been an epic was reduced to cartoon or comic style graphics.
It's similar to the experience of watching Lord of the Rings animated and reading the novels. The iconic almost comical style of the animation somewhat lessens the experience of the story. However, with more realism and cinematic styling as the live action films, the connection is restored and perhaps even enhanced by the visuals and audio.
Games have not yet achieved this realism nor do they always employ cinematic communication that has become so effective in film.

Role Play Game/Platformers
Moving on, one of the most story driven genres of games is RPGs and Action Adventure games. Role Play Games generally have the same game mechanics with minor variations here and there. So the draw of the game is not usually the mechanics of random battles and such. Characters and a plot to engage the player allows for that extra draw. It is what gives the game purpose. Platformers are like this too.
Especially for single player games a reason as to "why" the player is playing becomes tied with their involvement with it.

The Consoles
With the current generation of games available, narratives are everywhere although many retread tired ground. Nearly ever game genre has a story-mode to go through. Things are slowly becoming as diverse as films. There are horror stories, fantasy, sci-fi, war, melodrama, westerns, mythology, folklore (not the game the stories) and even historical.

Visual Novels
So have games become like literature in a sense? A visual means to tell a story?
There is a genre of "games" called visual novels that are just that. On screen characters and dialog that can be clicked through. Some of which are full of branching dialog. They are slowly becoming more prevalent in games but not in a Japanese Dating Game style...well...actually they sort of are. Currently, Western Visual Novels are broken up by exploration and battle systems between story cinematics. Games like Neverwinter Nights 2, Mass Effect and their ilk have a massive branching story that both validates player's actions and shapes the environment.

But then there are games like Heavy Rain which are like interactive movies.

Sandboxes, Legos, and Roads
It's all about how much control you put into the player's hands as far as the story goes.
In a sandbox game, the player defines the world however they like and tells their own story. (By sandbox games I do not mean games like GTA4 or Red Dead Redemption. I'm talking about games that can be full modded like the Sims or NWN2 toolset).
Other games give players tools to customize their story playing experience such as character customizing, choice systems and other world changing options. (This is what I think of with GTA4 and their ilk.)
And there are games that limit the player to one character and one storyline.

In other words, in sandboxes the player is the author, Lego games the player is co-author, and on road games the game developer is the author.

Appealing to a Wider Audience
The greatest difference between movies and games is their general appeal and accessibility.
Most people can handle sitting down and watching a movie. Not everyone can pick up a controller as easily.
Then there is the appeal of game stories vs film. In general, a war story only appeals to a limited audience. While I personally enjoy films like Gettysburg, I'm not particularly interested in films like the Hunt for Red October or Patton.
There are many well made and well loved war films and stories, but not so for games. They appeal to a niche.
Same with things like high fantasy, comic super heroes, and sci-fi. These are all niche audiences. Sure you CAN make stories from these genres appeal to a general audience. That is what film has been doing very well in the last decade or so. They have rebooted high fantasy tolerance with films like The Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, and their ilk. Comics with X-men, Iron Man, and Batman. And even sci-fi with the new Star Trek movie and Avatar.

Part of the appeal is that the audience doesn't control the story. It's told to them. But also elements like using specific actors, highlighting elements that appeal to many audiences (humor, romance, action) and balancing them accordingly.
Conclusion
I think video games stories should take a hint from Hollywood. They know how to make a story fit with a general audience. However, at the same time there are many very under appreciated games that tell wonderful stories that are either only small releases that no one hears about or advertising shot in the foot or they're just old.
With the multiple ways a narrative can be presented, I think games have untapped potential for delivering a truly emotional experience.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Script Done

I finished the script a couple of weeks ago. Finally. Wow it took far too long to write that. Now I need to design and draw characters. >_< And backgrounds.

I'm periodically collecting music and sound effects.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Role Play

When I was young, I role played all the time. When it was snowy out, I'd pretend I was a dinosaur and build a nest out of snow and pine needles. Sometimes I was an arctic fox or a squirrel or a unicorn. Sometimes I'd be my favorite Ninja Turtle or a Time Traveling Scientist. And there's some part of us that never really out grows this love of role playing...being someone we are not.

RPG
You could argue that ALL video games are in a certain sense a role playing game. (Just not in the genre). In a first person shooter, you are playing the role of a soldier, in a flight simulator you play the role of a pilot, in a real time strategy you play the role of a god. Yes you can be whoever you want to be in a game. You can disregard the rules of proper society and set things on fire without remorse or guilt.

However, the concept of Role Play as in the RolePlaying Game is vastly different than my child-like concept of playing pretend. I don't get to immerse myself in a role playing game. In fact I find RPG to be a huge misnomer. It borrows from table top role playing sure but what makes a table top experience immersive is that you still have to use your imagination.

I think the current scope of RPG games is frightfully limiting. I can be some breed of warrior knight, some kind of thief that does a really terrible job of sneaking around, or some sort of magic user that can also resort to fighting. Suddenly the only conflict presented to me is a combative one. Even in Japanese RPG games which usually have more colorful characters paints me into a fighter character somehow.

Limitations
Obviously a game can not hope to please everyone. However, I'm starting to like the concept of 'sandbox' gaming. Or Mod gaming. The development team of the game give me a storyline to follow but I'm also in a sand box. I can flit my time away not doing the main story mission of kill baddie x in doom fortress 25 and instead picking space flowers for my collection. The character may have a preset personality and look but when he's not in the main mission he's my performing monkey.

Granted, Red Dead Redemption is really my first taste of what a sandbox game is. I had played a moddable game before and loved it. But this was a new kind of fun. Sure, most games have elements of side quests and exploratory elements, but in a game like Zelda, I might get punished for it by means of a nagging NPC reminding me that there's another leg of mission to complete. It still has a linear structure to it.

Too Much Sand
On the other end of the spectrum, a game that is just a sandbox becomes The Sims. There is no objective unless you make one. Any game that has a large modding community usually lets a less than stellar programmer/3D artist create their own world, their own persona and act out nearly any fantasy.

This allows for what I would call "True Role Play" in the sense of playing pretend. I can be whoever I want to be in The Sims. I can be an anime character, a furry, a robot or if I pop in Spore I can be a dinosaur.
I can create my ideal friends and play dollhouse. However, the Sims is largely a single player experience. And as everyone should know, it's no fun being a deinonychus without a poor sucker stuck being a defenseless Anatasaurus.

Role Playing Together
I'm sure some days there are people that wish that the internet and by default online gameplay wasn't full of immature dickheads ruining the overall experience.
This ease of communication makes it possible to Role Play as your fantasy with another person. Both or you (or more) are free to make up the story as you go and live an experience not offered by graphical places. The downside to Massive-Multplayer games is the crowded space which doesn't allow for those of us playing 'pretend' to play in peace.

In that case...thank goodness for LAN multiplayer games.

Conclusion
My ultimate dream then would be a sandbox game that I could mod so that I can play with a small group of friends over a LAN connection. This brings out the best environment for child-like, narrative roleplay. Which at my age...I actually better play out by myself or only through text.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Wild Horses

For the past year or so, I've been playing with the design of a horse riding RPG type game and I find recently that it's pretty much been made to an extent.
Yes, I finally got Red Dead Redemption and my lord it is a FUN game. I never was a fan of Westerns...not after reading Shane. *shudder* it haunts me so. However, I'm changing my mind on the genre ever since the movie, "Australia" and I got the idea for a story about a rough 'n' tough unicorn herder. (It's badass...I just need to draw it properly.)

But RDR has gone ahead and done it for me pretty much with their Undead pack (which I will totally get just because I can rope and tame a unicorn.) I'm actually a bit sad someone beat me to the punch.

Well, it's certainly been inspiring for me and it kind of works like a demo in a way for what I was planning. It also shows me the scope I can take it if I go the 3D route.

Some things I might improve upon:
Horse Stamina Meter - needs more of an identifier, that mini-map circle seriously lacks clear symbols. I mean I get it after awhile but I had NO idea that a horse had stamina.

Speed differences
- these are not terribly obvious.

What did I just catch?
- There are horse breeds with specific stats but it's not obvious just by looking or even by catching one what kind of horse I caught. Except for the donkey or the sickly horse, all other horses have the same basic build. There's nothing wrong with this but a notification about what I've caught informs me the player if the horse I've caught is any better or worse than my current steed or one of the horses necessary for an in game achievement/quest.

Breaking Meter
- I could go both ways on this one. Part of me likes not knowing how much longer I have to stay on and part of me wants some indication because it might tell me something about the stats of the horse. (Since I think that the best horse in the game should be the hardest to break.) This ties in more with the previous point.

Custom Paint Job - You know, get some local Indians to war paint the horse or something. >_> The game was called Grand Theft Horse in some review, I thought it'd be cute. ^^

Still, any game where horse riding plays a central role is awesome. I especially appreciate it when it's useful and not just horse showing. I mean seriously, I feel kinda bad that horses are obsolete and now only serve as recreational fun. Then again, as a kid I never wanted to own or drive a car because I wanted a horse to take me everywhere. ^^

Monday, January 10, 2011

Let's Plays

Recently, I've discovered fun Let's Play videos of people playing some of their favorite old games and giving commentary. Much mirth is to be found in these. I might try my own hand at a few.

So far here are some of my favorites:

Paw from That Guy with the Glasses
Let's Play Quickly: Kikoskia

Wow that's really not a lot. I'll add to this list as I discover more. In anycase, while I love watching game reviews that play snippets, I really love these because I can experience the game without playing. It's especially helpful when I'm at work because I can not play games at work (I just make them. :P). Sometimes they play obscure titles I know I won't ever have access to.

Enjoy!