E3 happened last week, and the press briefings was as usual the focus of both fans and press from all over the world. Any game website, magazine and enthusiast blog worth its salt wanted first hand reports from the briefings, which also gets streamed to viewers at varous websites.
What struck me was that announcements at the briefings were often met, not only with applause, but loud cheering. I know why people cheer. Attendees at E3 are not only enthusiasts, they are fans. They love games, and if they do not base their living on games, they base whatever free time they have on games. And as with all kinds of fans, they have their favorites. Some just a preference, others think that a huge, multi billion dollars company need their undying and unyielding loyalty and defence.
And so they show their enthusiasm about game announcements and sales numbers.
What I wonder is, how anyone who bills him/herself as a game journalist, think that they can report in an objective manner, when they themself often think an electronic piece of plastic under a TV needs someone to write long diatribes on the internet. Can you with a good conscience write a long piece called “Who won E3?” when you yourself have a company’s logo stamped on your heart?
I recently began playing the new X-COM: Enemy Unknown. Yes, I’m way behind the curve here, the reason being I bought Assassin’s Creed III at launch instead of X-COM. What a mistake that was.
In any case, despite not being that fond of strategy, the feel of the game and obvious care and quality just won me over. It’s so fun to order my units around, shooting Thin Men and capturing Mutons and Floaters and other aliens that could share their names with different kinds of poop.
That being said, what really captures my imagination is the potential of a Star Gate game, made in the XCOM engine. It has been said around the ‘net many times before, but this is something I’d really have fun playing.
The basic framework is already there. A team of soldiers explore new battlefields on each mission, aliens probably show up (Goa’uld, Ori, Replicators and so on) and shit goes down. Research is done using materials and artifacts gathered, new wings of the base is built and used and in time, you get to defend Earth as well as explore the universe.
In fact, the only really new thing in a Star Gate game, should be the possibility of other nations competing with you. Every game should have a randomized country controlling the second Star Gate, each country with a different attitude towards the player (in this case the player would always be American ). Russia would not coorperate, while the UK might be more coorperative.
Unless someone makes a total conversion of XCOM, I don’t think this’ll ever happen, but the thought pleases me.
This is the first post in, hopefully, a series of posts, detailing a game I would really like to make.
Essentially, it’s a game where you travel through famous paintings and drawings, all the while solving puzzles and navigating the world of the painting. Ideally, you’d progress in a classic left-to-right direction, travelling from one picture to another when you reach the edge of the painting or an appropriate portal (a door, a hole, something).
You have to “unlock” paintings to progress. You might need, say, a key to open a door in order to get to the next painting (level). To get the key, you have to examine the current painting or a previous unlocked painting, in order to find the key.
Each painting represents the possibility to introduce new tasks and missions, along with possible graphical changes. Imagine the main character getting a makeover for each painting, to emulate the style of the painting. Not only would it be a neat visual trick, it would also let the player look forward to the next level, just because something surprising might happen.
Each unlocked painting would also unlock information about the painting and the artist, giving the game the air of something educational. You might learn something, or you can just ignore the information. Your choice!
After last night’s musical success, I began thinking about games (naturally). It could have lack of sleep, but I figured that the Eurovision Song Contest could be adapted into a really fun game.
The first phase of the game is some sort of social strategy game, where you have to forge alliances between countries. “If you vote for us, we’ll vote for you”. That sort of thing. I’d like to think of this as a cross between that idea from Fable III, where you promise to do things for power, and then the nuclear exchange from DEFCON. With less death and more flamboyant men, hopefully.
The second phase is actualy just a carbon copy of either Garage Band or those old music “games” from Jester Interactive, Music 2000 and MTV Music Generator. Pick bass, theme (upbeat pop, rambunctious rock or… slightly boring ballad), beat, lyrics and so on. I love to fiddle around with these programs, so I would absolutely spend ages making cheesy rock ballads.
Third phase is the performance. Using the song you’ve made yourself, you enter a rhythm based game (think Guitar Hero, Dance Dance Revolution and such). You are judged by how good you are, but also on the connections and voting blocs you made during the first phase.
Last year, while I was trying to find an easy program for making adventure games, I stumbled across Quest. It’s a tool for both making text adventure games, but also gamebooks like those Choose Your Own Adventure things.
Back when I was a lad, I loved those books. It was usually some sort of “You’ve been bitten by a WEREWOLF. Do you go to the WIZARD (Go to p. 25), or will you instead find the WEREWOLF and kill it (p.31)” and I always used at least one finger as bookmarks for certain passages. Some called it cheating, I called it early checkpoints.
But Quest. You can both download the program (no Mac version, sadly) and create games directly from the website. As far as I can see, the engine is very flexible. Especially if you’re willing to muck around with the program’s templates. The games generated is, as far as I can see, 100% HTML so you can, if you know your HTML, make the game very appealing.
Right now I’m adapting a game called Little Lisa to a sort of CYOA-light experience. It’s entertaining and I get to write all sorts of nonsense, while always having to remember to take everything in account. Rooms without exits, circular choices and much more, it’s fun! There’s lot’s of planning to do, something I probably should have done beforehand, but you live and learn.
The experience I’m getting from this little project will be used on my next one.
I want to make some sort of hostage simulator, where you have to (hopefully!) talk your way out of a hostage/kidnapping situation. I hope to make it slightly dynamic, so the kidnapper changes depending on your choices. But that’s a bit out in the future for now.
Most times I really don’t like April’s Fool jokes on game sites. It’s not that they are bad, don’t get me wrong. There’s many jokes that I’ve giggled much at, quietly wishing I had come up with them.
This year, for example, Harvey Smith and Raf Colantonio’s Developer’s Commentary of Dishonored. They do their best to make insane “Behind the scenes” comments and if you didn’t know better, you’d think Peter Molyneux was hiding somewhere in the background.
ThinkGeek’s Creeper body pillow is both hilarious, absurd and just appealing enough to make you want it slightly. It has the huge advantage from creepy anime body pillows, that if someone see it in your bedroom, they will not automatically assume you’re a huge weirdo.
And then there’s the April’s Fool jokes I don’t like. The ones that actually seem like good ideas. Like the special Commando class ArenaNet presented the 1th of April, 2011. Granted, I really don’t play MMORPGs in any shape or size, but I can guarantee you that the change to blow up trolls, dragons and other fantasy creatures with moderns assault weapons would have made me buy a game on release. This world need a game where you use modern weaponry, military tactics and hightech gadgetry to blast a dragon a new one.
Even worse, this year, I was really hyped about the trademark for Deus Ex: Human Defiance. Was it a trademark relating to the movie? Was it a brand new game? No one knew, but man we could speculate. And then it was a 2D adaption of Human Revolution.
Swedish Mojang actually did something similar. Under the name Minecraft 2.0 Mojang presented a Minecraft experience for a new generation. Most of the things this version of Minecraft included was clearly jokes. But among the jokes were things that was clearly good ideas and could (Should?) have been implemented in Minecraft, making it a better game in the process. Dyed glass, for example. Something people have had to turn to mods to get, was now something of a joke. The quantum entangled redstone, having the potential to make the cumbersome and frankly a bit naff redstone system more accessable, was also just a joke.
What I’m saying is, that you should never present something that’s actually cool and which people want, as a joke. Which brings me to Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon.
I’ve just played a few hours of it, but I can safely say that Ubisoft has delivered exactly what they promised. They joked about a Fra Cry game being the 80s incarnate, and when people declared they wanted it, what did they do? Mock them, saying “Who’d want that?”? Dismissing them? No, they damn well let their designers run wild and make a game which was more 80s than mullets, pastel colors and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
If you want to make a joke, please be prepared to make it into a product afterwards.
Now I’m off to get that Creeper pillow. It’s for, uh, a friend.
I usually dislike change. I like it when I have a schedule I can look at, having concrete plans and knowing exactly what the future brings. And yet this website represents something of a change. Here I will put up things I make, things I think about and… well, things in general.