Hey all I’m back with an answer to a question I was asked a couple times. It’s my Thoughts on 2020 E3’s Cancellation!
It was cancelled?!?: In case you’ve been living under a rock and/or stuck without an Internet connection for the past month and a half you should know that this years E3 was cancelled due to the Coronavirus, COVID-19.
So thoughts?: I’m not surprised at all, hell I had a personal trip to visit family in California planned for about a week and a half ago that got cancelled because all three West Coast states have had Stay in Place Orders statewide since March 23rd. So many people are taking this very seriously and are trying to slow the spread of the virus. E3 being cancelled is not at all surprising, I mean even the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have been postponed till next year, although they’ll still be called the 2020 Olympics. So again I’m not surprised, I won’t be surprised if most of the United States is under a Stay in Place order by the time this column is posted.
What about all those announcements?: I’m almost positive we’ll be seeing a lot of Nintendo Direct style broadcasts from various publishers and developers this year. It’s still got the ability to hype up the holiday season lineup while being able to prevent the virus from spreading by hosting a huge event for a few thousand people to be near one another with very little distance.
This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m looking at Google’s new console now that is has been out on the market since November. It’s Stadia 4 Months Later!
Stadia? what’s that?: Exactly, Stadia was being hyped up to be the big console killer, to replace all consoles and allow anyone to enjoy a game in super high definition without having a super gaming PC. 4 Months later and it’s still pretty much an unknown and has a grand total of 29 games available to play. That’s a terrible lineup, but that’s not all! Nope it’s had mutiple technical issues, from streaming lag impacting gameplay to not actually meeting resolutions as “promised”. That last is in quotes because pretty much every single line on the Stadia webpage has an asterisk on it with at least a quarter of it being footnotes for gods sake. So while it sounds like a great idea, it just won’t be until the US has a standard internet connection that isn’t utter crap.
So it’s like I said prior to this being released and when it was being hyped up months ago. Stadia is a great dream, but that’s all it will ever be until the US gets better internet for everyone.
This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m going to cover a topic I’ve been meaning to cover for a while. It’s all about Enemy Programming!
Enemy Programming?: What I mean is what goes into programming the various enemies you face in a game. For example in a First Person Shooter how to deal with enemies without them becoming too hard for the player to deal with.
Too Hard?: Yes too hard, most enemy programming nowadays at least when it comes to their behavior coding needs to be tuned lower so players can actually win against them in most AAA games. This has been the case for over a decade and this was one of my first lessons in Game Design and Programming. You had to plan out where and how enemies would act, where they would generate (spawn) and how they would approach the player. In most games this means giving them a specific path or paths you intend for them to deal with so they don’t just pop up from behind the player and waste them.
Pop up behind?: Yes, the enemies would actually flank the player and or leave a building and re-enter it to hit the player from behind. Think of it like this, when you command a large squad of Zerglings to attack a Terran Bunker and you don’t actually tell them to go surround it, no you just point them at their target and they do their thing, automatically swarming and circling the structure. This applies to pretty much most enemies in games. But say if that Bunker only had so much space to attack on certain side because it’s at the top of a ramp, but that same plateau it’s placed on has another entrance you’ve scouted out that would let your Zerglings attack it’s other sides. Well those extra Zerglings would move around to attack the other sides by going up that other ramp. In a First Person Shooter that would cause most players lots of issues, thinking that they only need to watch a certain angle and deal with it from there. That’s what I’m getting at when it comes to Enemy Programming.
What else?: Well this is where stuff gets fun or hilarious. Issues like this are what cause some really fun strategies to occur, like the infamous Atheon cheese of Destiny fame where you just used grenades to push him off the edge and instantly killed him and completely ignored the encounter’s mechanics. The programming was so constrained in certain ways to allow the players to actually beat the fight, but didn’t have certain other coding to prevent the Atheon from falling off the platform thereby completely preventing the fight from becoming trivial. Most developers have to take these sorts of scenarios into account for every encounter a game has in it. Most do a pretty spectacular job, although some like Bungie have failed spectacularly at times.
That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday, see you next time.
Hey all I’m back for this week’s Video Game Tuesday with a look at the previous year. It’s my Losers of 2019!
Anthem: Let’s just get this out of the way, Anthem was hyped up to be the big “Destiny” killer, it wasn’t. It was, and still is, a terrible game that was rushed and completely mismanaged for YEARS at BioWare. The gameplay is repetitive and the story was utter crap. Coming off the big failure that was Mass Effect Andromeda, BioWare again proves that they have fallen since Mass Effect 3 released. Am I still upset at the way ME3 ended? Abso-freaking-lutely. That was such a letdown to what was an otherwise epic series and the fact that it all boiled down to 3, 2 if you really screwed up, choices in the end was and still is an atrocity for hyping up the series to be all about lasting consequences for choices. So when I heard about Anthem I was skeptical, not only because I’ve been burned by Destiny so badly, but because BioWare still hadn’t gotten my forgiveness for Mass Effect 3. The fact it launched so utterly broken and lackluster just proved my suspicions were correct.
The “Dexit” Issue: I understand both sides of the argument here, Pokemon Sword and Shield wanted to focus on the new ‘mon and didn’t want to be dragged down by the other 700+ Pokemon that came before. However for the first mainstream entry on a console, Sword and Shield really alienated pretty much any veteran fan with the their decision to not include all the other Pokemon. Yes it’d be difficult to animate all those individual Pokemon, HOWEVER they have ostensibly been working on this for years. I’ve always held the belief that Nintendo was holding the option for a mainstream console edition in their back pocket since Red and Green (Blue for us Americans) released all those years ago.
That they didn’t have some people working on animating every Pokemon into 3D since 1996 is utterly laughable. Yes they might have needed to update some of them, but honestly they could’ve been having people work on those for years and years in their spare time. That said I understand that actually taking all that artwork and making it fit into a single system would be a huge undertaking. However it’s not like Sun and Moon didn’t have 3D models in those games and any good Game Artist always keeps high resolution models for safekeeping for future uses. Even if said models need to be pared down to fit current systems, they should have had plenty of the original files for future proofing.
Our Wallets: For real though, there were some great games that were released, or re-released in 2019. From Link’s Awakening to Death Stranding there were tons of games that were released and our wallets were probably thinner at the end of 2019 than they were at the end of 2018.
Days Gone: I had high hopes as an Oregonian for this game, but it was the typical zombie game with nothing really standing out.
Activision: They end their contract with Bungie, cut tons of jobs and lined the pockets of their CEOs while alienating tons of fans. Even the Blizzard portion of the company, for all it’s supposed to be pretty much a seperate entity didn’t escape unscathed from the leftover backlash from BlizzCon 2018 and lackluster launch of Battle for Azeroth. I didn’t have a lot of respect for the Activision side of Activision Blizzard before 2019, but it certainly was reduced even more after 2019 even for the Blizzard portion.
This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m covering a topic that bugs me sometimes about some older games. It’s all about Mini Games!
Mini Games?: Games within a game, usually pretty simplistic and don’t always impact the larger game. This is the most common place and way they are implemented.
There are other ways?: Yes! Some games like WarioWare, or Cooking Mama, are pretty much all separate Mini Games, although they tend to have some thematic connection. Still that is all those games are, Mini Games and there is no larger over arching gameplay, or plot to them.
So what’s the problem?: Frankly I just see the latter type of games as cash grabs by the developers in order to grab a niche corner of the gaming market. Thankfully they aren’t nearly as prevalent as they were a bit over a decade ago, but I still don’t really enjoy it when publishers make a big “game” made up of purely mini games.
But they were great for short play periods!: Yes, that’s the problem I have with them pretty much exactly. They were meant to be played for very short bursts, and your progress didn’t really matter in the end from one play session to the next. They were made as pure time waster games, rather than something that had a progression path, be it an RPG with leveling up or other types of games like Pokemon where you tried to catch em all.
But you must have liked at least a few Mini Games?: Yes, some were great. Like the matching color game in Mega Man ZX, which played a lot like Bejeweled, or the Bejeweled add-on in World of Warcraft, back when people had to wait on Flight Paths for many minutes. Those were great for short bursts, or when you were waiting on your raid group to get together, however I could always go back to the larger game as a whole after those periods.
That’s my small rant and my final post for 2019! See you all next year, or in four days.