Let the Games Begin

Gaming 1 Comment

Look at all thtat GTA IV!

Not much to say here really. There’s a whole lot of GTA IV going on. People are playing it at work, people are coming in late, people not coming in at all. Tonight, every single person in my Xbox Live friends list that was playing anything was playing GTA IV. Amazing.

Addicted to PMOG

Games for Fun, Gaming No Comments

PMOG Shoat PigI bet you’ll be hearing a lot more about PMOG (passively multiplayer online game) in the near future. I learned about it a few weeks ago and signed up for the beta. Well, I got an invite to start an account today, and I can say that I’m officially addicted.

The concept is simple: install a firefox “game” plug in, browse the web, and get points (datapoints in PMOG). Once you get enough points, you level up. As you visit various sites, you might stumble upon a “portal,” which is placed by other people playing the game. These portals might take you on missions which in turn, get you more points. Missions are just a string of sites that players connect together with “lightposts,” which are basically just comments on each site. So far I’ve learned how to set up an emulator for my DS, where to shop for girls, or the scoop on letterboxing, all while leveling up.

There are some other interactive elements such as dropping off crates with goodies for other players, dropping mines to take points away from other players, and deploying “St. Nicks” which prevent other users from planting mines on that page.

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Eragon: ‘Cheeves Ahoy!

Games for Points, Gaming No Comments

Urkel or Urgal?I’m a total point whore. Sometimes, in the name of getting more points, I’ll play a game that others might not touch with a 38 foot pole. Either to my advantage or my detriment (depending how you look at it) I’m an extremely brave and patient gamer who has a high tolerance for games that aren’t your typical AAA title.

After 1000 pointing Eragon for the 360, I will say that the game is pretty much what you’d expect. A less than average game, based on an even less than average film, based on a “best selling fantasy novel.” The game mostly consists of killing the same few enemy types over and over (one type is called an Urgal, which sounds a lot like Urkel) seperated by some cutscenes based on the movie’s story line. I never saw the movie, mainly because it looked crappy and I don’t get points for sitting through crappy movies, unlike playing a crappy game.

I will say a few nice things, mainly because I feel bad for the people who probably worked really hard on this game, and they need to know what they did right. First of all, shooting the bow and arrow was actually pretty cool, and I liked the “zeroing in” mechanic. It works by holding down right trigger and A. Eragon will start drawing an arrow back and a green targeting reticle will appear over and enemy, which will then start shrinking. Once the controller starts vibrating and the circle stops shrinking, if you let off A, you’ll get head shot which usually kills in one shot. This doesn’t work on armored enemies though, which often repel this headshot mechanic and reminds you that this game is kind of annoying.

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The Doctor

Game Development 1 Comment

I recently got into Dr. Who on BBC America. Wow, what a wacky and creative show.

So, where’s my Dr. Who point and click adventure? If there was ever a game to bring back SCUMM, Dr. Who would be a good reason for it. You remember SCUMM games right? Think games like Star Trek 25th Anniversary, Maniac Mansion, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, and Kings Quest. Great puzzles, adventure, humor, and unexpected events. Dr. Who would have been perfect for that style of game. To bad SCUMM went the way of the dinosaur. Pixel hunting drove those games to extinction.

Somebody, make that game and I’ll promise to buy it!

Ninja AI

Game Development 2 Comments

Ninja AI I’m not talking about Ninja Gaiden or Tenchu Z. Nope, I’ve been seeing Ninja AI in many games I’ve been playing lately. Ninja AI are simply AI that move from one place to the next in a blink of an eye. That’s all good if you have some crazy robot that teleports itself around, or ghosts that phase from one place to the next, but it’s buggy and annoying when humanoid AI that are supposed to move around semi-realistically end up darting around, swapping from one animation to the next in a single frame.

The worst offender is when AI is in the middle of a run cycle and decides to do a 180 and run in the opposite direction. It’s 10 times worse when the AI is leaning forward. Why? Well, as shown above, the player has just undergone heavy fire, dispatched every bad guy in his vicinity and is now taken a second to line up his shot. His finger is on the trigger, ready to take down that last asshole. Now, if the AI is behaving semi-realistically and decides to turn around, he’ll transition into a stop pose, then blend into running the opposite direction. This gives the gamer a chance to anticipate the AI’s directional change, or at least take a pot shot and possibly still hit the target. Even if the player misses, he’ll have some idea of where the AI will end up, can line up his shot accordingly, fire, and take the guy down. What a great reward for playing the game with some skill.

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Before I Forget: Rainbow Six Vegas 2

Games for Fun, Gaming No Comments

Rainbow Six Vegas 2 BoxI completed Rainbow Six Vegas 2 (RB6V2) a few days ago. I have to preface by saying that I enjoyed the first one immensely. Sure, the first RB6V has some issues and bugs, but overall I had a good time playing co-op with friends and got a few weeks of multi-player out of it.

After buying the game with three other friends from work, I learned that RB6V2 only has two player co-op! Well, I guess technically they have four-player in terrorist hunt mode, but story mode is where it’s at. I could see why from a design standpoint why they reduced it to two. The implementation of re-spawning on any other alive member of the squad makes the game incredibly easy, even on higher difficulty settings. This was the case in RB6V2 , since it allows one player to be extra aggressive and draw fire, and the other guy to hang back and basically be the mobile spawnpoint. In RB6V, having three extra spawnpoints made the game challengeless.

A friend of mine and I played all of RB6V2 on co-op on the “realistic” setting with little trouble. Another friend of mine has been playing through on realistic on his own, and having much more difficulty. I decided to help him out on the last two levels, and his impression was that all tactical gameplay went out the window after I joined in, but that it was a lot of fun to see me killing other guys and whatnot. Evidently, the difficulty doesn’t scale well for co-op, but the fun factor scales appropriately. Game design issues aside, I think it was a mistake to move away from four player co-op, if only because it’s what people expected from the first game. I will say that the co-op portion of the game is much smoother in the sequel, especially with hot-joining. The server / map list from RB6V wasn’t really gamer friendly.

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