Gordo’s Gaming Blog

My adventures in the many worlds of gaming.

Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Game/TV Duality

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Games based on TV shows and TV shows based of games have a long history. The classic examples (and as far back as I can remember, I’m afraid!) are Pokémon and Mario. Nintendo had a good franchise in the video gaming industry, and expanded it to enrichen the experience of the followers of the franchises. Whether or not they did that, is a matter of personal choice, but I remember, as a kid, playing the Pokémon games on my gameboy, and then switching on the TV to see the anime. As I was a kid, I cared little for the cheesiness or blatant moneyspinner that was the TV show, I just enjoyed seeing a different angle on the universe.

Recently, TV shows based on films have been on the decline. Indeed, there’ve been several video games based on TV shows, and practically 1 per film that comes out, but that’s often shovelware (though there are those who argue that the Mario & Pokémon TV series’ were the TV’s equivalent of shovelware!).

Sci-FiAnyway, I was interested to read earlier a joint MMO and TV series being produced by the Sci-Fi channel. It certainly is an interesting prospect. It could work if they seperate the two franchises into seperate departments. I think the TV series should show the universe as a whole, the political and military movements of it, and the lives of the political and military leaders, while the game allows the player to explore it on a ground level, seeing how the changes affect the life of the average Joe. Having the two angles on the game could really increase the players’ immersion.

On a side note, conerning the World of Warcraft Film, which is kind of related – I think the company responsible are going in the right direction in making a ‘War movie’ not an adventure movie. The people who go to see the movie will undoubtedly be mainly players, and to allow them to see the major characters in the game doing something other than just standing stationary in their cities will be quite exciting for them. However, if they went to see what would effectively be 2 hours of CGI rendered gameplay, they wouldn’t be impressed.

Written by Gordo

June 2, 2008 at 5:46 pm

Posted in General, MMO

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June 2008: A Preview

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So, a new month is upon us, and I decided to use my rather lacklustre gift of foresight to predict the month’s hits and misses.

Hits:

  • Alone in the Dark – a game from a very popular franchise. Only a fool will say it’ll flop.
  • Spore Character Creator – shameless moneyspinner that it is, Spore is one of the more eagerly awaited games of the year, and that guarentees sales.
  • Mass Effect (PC) – a great game for the 360, every proud 360 player will have told their PC adoring friends to get this game, and it’ll sell.
  • Metal Gear Solid IV – with raving reviews and a strong franchise, every PS3 owner will be saving up their pennies to get this game. And a lot of non-PS3 owners will take the plunge because of it.
  • Ninja Gaiden II – the closest thing the 360 fanboys will get to a game to boast about this month to their PS3 counterparts.
  • Lego Indiana Jones – not just shovelware, the Lego series has done well with a mix of engaging gameplay and very profitable IPs. Combine it with being on every platform known to man (and a few more besides), and you can bet on it selling.

Misses:

  • Prince Caspian – looks like shovelware, smells like shovelware, tastes like shovelware. It probably is shovelware.
  • Hellboy: The Science of Evil – another attempt at a film based game that I fear will follow its compatriots back to hell.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit – is it just me, or do people not care about DBZ any more?
  • Kung Fu Panda – /facepalm

Ones to look out for (they could do anything):

  • Sid Meier’s Civilisation Revolution – strong franchise, but will it’s lengthy absence and convert to console cause it to flop?
  • Legend: Hand of God – I said Legend: Hand of God. Obscure little game only releasing in Europe this month, looks half-decent. But will it’s lack of marketing come back to haunt it?
  • Sims 2 IKEA – They’re scraping the barrel so hard, some wood’s getting thrown into these games. I am, but will the rest of the market be sick of Sims 2 shovelware too?
  • Wheelman – I don’t quite understand the premise of this game. Is it a film? A film game? A game made like a film? Anyway, it’s got Vin Diesel in it (he’s more expensive nowadays… did you get it?), but will that be enough?

At the end of the month, I’ll review my previews, and see how close I was. Probably, not very, I’d be willing to bet.

Metal Gear Solid IV

Written by Gordo

June 1, 2008 at 9:40 pm

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Quests, quests, quests.

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Have posted about Age of Conan recently, and currently playing it, and also discussing it a bit on Keen & Graev’s blog, it got me thinking – what is my ideal questing system?

First of all, it’d have to be engaging – properly engaging. I mean when I see someone standing, bolt upright like a board, with an exclamation mark above their head, I have no empathy for them. Even if they they go one to tell me how their son was killed by bandits from a nearby pirate camp, I’m just thinking – ‘What the hell are you standing there like that for then!?!’. No, for a quest to be truly engaging, the person I get the quest from, I must be able to empathise with. By that I mean, if I see a drunken man with eyes that haunt you as you look into them, due to the pure sadness they convey. If I saw that quest giver, I’d talk to him. First of all he wouldn’t want to talk about it, being a man and all, but then, as I probe deeper, he gives away the story, but doesn’t ask for help. Something I hate about quests in RPGs (MMOs specifically) is how all these NPCs stand around all day, demanding help. Life just isn’t like that! So, you, being the kind and heroic protagonist decide to help – or, alternatively, in a game like Age of Conan, you see a benefit for yourself, so you help.

Secondly, the storyline should be non-linear. By that I mean, at each stage of the quest, you have choices. You are told what has happened, and your action is your choice. Take the man with the son killed by bandits example I gave above. OK, well, you see this guy has had his son killed by bandits. What do you do now? Depending on how you play the game, it’s your choice. You could charge into the camp, and slay them all, and bring back a portion of the spoils for the grieving father as compensation. You could go to the leader of the town he resides in, and ask his advice on what to do. You could explore a completely different line and simply try to take the mans’ mind off it, maybe (if you were playing Age of Conan), by hiring him a prostitute, or if you were playing a more morally centric game, by finding him a nicer woman for companionship in his time of need. Now, I’m sure many players, given these choices, would choose to raid the camp – there’s profit in it for them, as well as killing. But, my ideal questing system would give players free choice to act how they see fit, and in the process, getting different rewards and outcomes. E.g. you get monetary rewards for raiding the camp, but if you set this man up with a woman, he might give you his prized possession for making him happy again. Or if you spoke to the town’s leader, you might be given the authority to raid the camp, and although your monetary rewards would be fewer, you might be awarded a title of the saviour of ‘Mmosville’.

Thirdly, although this sort of ties in with the second point, the objectives should vary. Killing stuff all the time is just as repetitive as running, and the quests I hate most are those which command you to kill 50 of the same creature. Quests with a true storyline should evade this point, and by giving you the option, you can do as you choose. Sometimes you might feel diplomatic, others, you might prefer to let your weapon do the talking – but variety is good, and simply grinding killing quests is just as bad as grinding mobs in the first place.

Fourthly, there should be minimum ‘downtime’ that is, time when the quest storyline is not being advanced. Running miles ruins a quest for me, I feel bored by the time I get there, and have lost the urge to act that I got when I left the NPC. I guess it ruins the empathy I felt, as I zone out, I lose immersion from the game when it happens. And in RPGs, when you’re playing a role, you need to stay in that role – you need to be immersed. Hence immersion!

Finally, your actions should affect the world as a whole – this point is fairly self-explanatory. You should leave a town after having quested there for a while, with citizens now saluting you as you walk past, and thanking you. Not standing stiff as a board as you leave, in the same way as they did on your way in.

Written by Gordo

May 28, 2008 at 9:45 pm

Posted in General, MMO

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Oddworld’s back!

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I was thrilled to read this morning this article! The Oddworld series of games I fell in love with as a child; Abe’s Oddyssey and Abe’s Exoddus in particular. They were the first games I played that truly evoked a feeling of atmosphere; the low-resolution but beautifully rendered, and 2D but seemingly 3D graphics contriubuted to the amazing style the games had. A parallel universe where a whole race enslaved by the greedy capitalist armless Glukkons. At the time, it spoke to me only as a really fun game, with funny looking and funny talking character. But now, I see how deep it truly was; satiring the world we live in in so many ways – drawing on clichés from other games, films and books. The slave – given a feeling of destiny, and later, given a destiny, given the power to bring down the evil business empire of Rupture Farms and Soulstorm Brewery. A true underdog story; and one that is great fun through and through.Abe

Other features I loved about those two games were the lack of UI! It may sound crazy in an age where often games are judged purely on their UI – but it was a game that didn’t need a UI; and Oddworld Inhabitants were incredibly brave to leave it out completely. You could say the same about Rockstar, for the truly minimalist UI featured in GTA IV. Did I ever miss a UI while playing? Never. Was I glad at some times there was no UI? Absolutely – it allowed me to truly appreciate the beautiful, stylised world put before me. For, as all backgrounds, and most areas in the foreground were simply images, it displayed beautiful landscape and view distance. Another one was ‘GameSpeak’ as it was affectionately called. You could communicate with NPCs in a way I’d never seen before! Your commands allowed you to gain allies, enemies, and, as was the main objective of the game – to save your fellow Mudokons.

But then, years later, disaster struck Oddworld… Munch’s Oddyssey and later Stranger’s Wrath were released. I was going to play them – I even bought them, but I couldn’t do it. I looked on the back of the case, and I saw these 3D worlds, games based on combat, not on puzzles and wit. Games where the developers had spent so much time feeding a graphics-crazy world, that they had neglected what made Abes’ games so special. And I felt sad as I looked at those games, and I continued to feel sad as I took them back to the store. But I know, if I’d played them, it would have been the biggest let-down since realising Santa Claus doesn’t exist. It would ruin the memory of Oddworld, its’ crazy inhabitants, wonderful characters and storylines, and totally immersive world. It was so Odd, it seemed real.

So, you might ask, if I was so disappointed with Munch’s Oddyssey and Stranger’s Wrath, what would I have to look forward to in this new project? Two things: one, is that Oddworld Inhabitant’s took a huge break, of about 3 years, a sabbatical if you will, and I hope they used that time wisely, to reflect, gather their thoughts, and prepare themselves for an awesome new project. The second – time. They’re not rushing this game, just as a fine wine can’t be rushed, they’re now going to work on it slowly, and we’re told not to expect a release for several years. Well, Oddworld, I can wait. I just hope you decide to look long and hard at Abe’s Oddyssey and Abe’s Exoddus; they’re a fine example of what a game should be.

Written by Gordo

May 27, 2008 at 11:26 am

Welcome to my blog!

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Hey everybody – I’m Gordo, and this is my gaming blog.

Recently, I stepped into the world of Hyboria, as I started playing Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures. I’ve only been playing a few days, and my experiences so far are limited, but so far it’s fairly positive.

This blog won’t be exclusively concerning AoC though – I’ll talk about the gaming world on a whole, as well as the other games I play (I don’t just play MMOs!). Recently, I completed Mass Effect on my 360 – a game which I thorougly enjoyed! It spliced classic and more realistic Sci-Fi, introducing RPG elements, as well as shooter, and some elements of an adventure game.

However, this post is just an introduction, to allow you to get acquainted with me; and in the following days will come more detailed analysis and views about the games I currently play, and have played.

Sometimes I’ll do a full review of a game, sometimes just a short discussion about a particular feature, and sometimes I’ll look into the future, or step back and have a look at the wider gaming world and community.

I hope you enjoy,

Gordo!

Written by Gordo

May 26, 2008 at 4:36 pm

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