Tag Archives: game development

Far Cry 4 does a lot of things well. It does driving well, it does badass knife kills well, it even does a pretty good job setting up combat scenarios. Probably the best part of the entire game, though, is the inclusion of tons of different animals and, subsequently, the inclusion of animal bait. It was the specific uses I found for these living elements that made me look more into the term “emergent gameplay.”

A while ago I heard some podcasters complaining about the use of the term when it came from PR reps who worked for big publishers. The podcasters were arguing over whether or not the term was being overused to the point where it was starting to sully the reputation of games even before the game was released. Of course, instead of looking into the term myself, I took this to be true and taught myself to hate the word “emergent”. I have now come to realize that there’s more to the concept than I previously thought.

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Cthulhu Gloom

A friend of mine got me a card game called Cthulu Gloom for my birthday a few months ago. I didn’t really get a chance to play it until recently, partly because it’s so much easier to pick up a new video game and learn the rules in a virtual environment than it is to actually read a pamphlet full of foreign-looking text and try to suss out how to play something you’ve never seen before.

Still, I took the time to play a few practice rounds on my own before sitting my co-worker down on our lunch break and forcing him to have fun with me. Having now taught the game to two more people, I’m beginning to realize what a huge advantage table top/card games can be when thinking about designing video games.

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wario ware diy

For those who read my blog way back in the day, you’ll know that I’ve tried my hand at making games. Even if I haven’t done much on that front in the past little while, my desire to make games hasn’t faded in the slightest. So when I saw that there was a way to gamify learning how to make games, I pounced on it right away.

Wario Ware D.I.Y. for Nintendo DS was exactly what I needed. It’s based off the main series in that the games you make are simple minigames, with only one type of input and maybe one or two goals to achieve in a few seconds before the time runs out. The minigames might not look like much, but that’s part of the reason why D.I.Y. is such an effective teaching tool.

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I recently ran across a mobile game called Blek. It’s a paid app so I avoided it stupidly until I saw it show up on a few “Top 10” lists across the internet. So I paid my 99 cents and jumped in.

The game didn’t really seem like much: the opening screen was just a black circle and a smaller blue circle with a hand drawing a half-circle shape. Weird. No instructions, no menus, no flashy splash logo. So I touched the circles, but still nothing.

Finally, after “clicking” around the screen, I swiped my finger and the game opened up. The sketchy black line I had drawn multiplied over and over again, bouncing off the wall and, fortunately, colliding with the blue circle. That was it, tutorial over.

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woman1Meeting a woman who plays video games is no longer a cause for surprise; instead, it’s gone through a weird variety of reactions from “you’re obviously a poser” to “man, I wish I could wife that!” Both are equally generalizing, obviously, but the concept of women in the field of video games seems to fascinate people.

For anyone who’s perused my author page, you’ll know that I have a degree in Creative Writing and English Literature but what it doesn’t say is that my specialization was in feminist and gender studies literature. I’m not an activist, I’m not even an outspoken person, but I am interested in watching out gender dynamics play out in everyday life and more and more lately, the video game world has become my everyday life.

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DestinyI haven’t actually played Destiny yet, although I have a feeling that, for the first time in a very long time, I might be willing to engage with a game that is made to be played as a multiplayer experience. The game will be “always online” which basically just means they want you to be online so they didn’t waste their money implementing tons of multiplayer stuff. I’m not certain if the game stops you from playing without an internet connection, but if it does, I’m sure it won’t for long.

Everything I’ve heard about the multiplayer experience in this game makes me reconsider my long-standing hatred of playing online in general. While playing COD or Halo against others online wasn’t fun for me just because those types of games don’t appeal strongly to me, playing games like Borderlands 2 online was still pretty disappointing in some respects, something that Bungie seems to be directly addressing in Destiny.

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Even though I grew up largely on action-oriented games like Wario World, A Link To The Past, and Pilotwings, there was always something about Final Fantasy that drew me in. As a writer, I like to tell myself that it’s the intricate storylines but that’s just not true. The reality is that I love menus. I’m not ashamed to admit it: if there’s a bunch of different classes, armour materials, crafting gems, weapon types, you name it, I’m there.

When I opened up A Dark Room by Doublespeak on my phone, skeptical because of the crummy-looking screenshots, I was immediately turned off because it was so far from the pixel-art, one-touch controls of so many other games out there. But I forced myself to play it a bit more, trying to get into the menu system a bit. It was about half an hour in that things really opened up and that rush of manipulating menus kicked in.

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Dissidia 012 Duodecim

After seeing a number of articles on the upcoming Hyrule Warriors, I can’t contain my frustration anymore: we need new intellectual properties. My biggest encounter with rehashing an IP came when I was looking for games to play on my newly purchased PS Vita and stumbled on Dissidia 012: Duodecim. I didn’t really look too much into the game but it came highly recommended so I eventually downloaded it. I was in for a surprise.

I booted it up and felt a wave of disappointment wash over me: it was a fighting game made entirely out of Final Fantasy characters. Why does this bug me? Why does it deserve such derision? Why is this guy such a stuck up snob? The truth is, I really like the game as a standalone entity. That being said, I have a theory about the relationship between creativity and reusing IPs: they are inversely proportionate. Basically, the more you reuse an IP, the less you have to care about the way it’s presented.

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mario and luigi dream tream 2

I recently picked up Mario and Luigi Dream Team for the 3DS and was kind of shocked at how condescending it is. I was walked through so many menu tutorials and explanations of basic RPG elements that I almost put it down out of exasperation. To be fair, I had just come from playing games like Bravely Default and Bioshock Infinite, so it’s possible I had maybe forgotten what it was like to play a video game made for children.

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868-hack cap

Michael Brough has frustrated gamers before with his extremely cryptic games like Corrypt and Zaga 33, but 868-Hack is probably his best yet. Why? Because it’s easy to understand yet still incredibly complex. I’m going to be talking about how the balancing in this game makes it stand out as a simple structure that still has great depth. Many games employ some very complicated balancing strategies that are never really witnessed or understood by their players: 868-Hack is the opposite, opting for a balancing system that is bold-faced in its simplicity. It’s for this reason that I saw how much potential it has as a lesson in balance.

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