This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m talking about why I think Bungie has made another Vault of Glass rather than making more mistakes in Year Two. It’s all about the King’s Fall Raid!
Why am I talking about it?: Because I thought Vault of Glass was some of the most fun I had with 5 other people in a video game in ages last year. But when Crota’s End was released I was severely disappointed in the design of the game where instead of making things rely on just mechanics it also relied on every single freaking thing being a bullet sponge. It was an absolutely terrible design and I hope the person who was in charge of making the final call on design choices for it was demoted at the very least. It was a miserable experience, and I’m not even taking into account all the various bugs, including the ones they included in their supposed “fixes”. Vault of Glass was buggy, but at least it was fun. Crota’s End was just a failure.
What did King’s Fall do right?: Well there a ton of puzzles, from jumping puzzles, to a literal maze in the darkness without your Ghost lighting anything up. It was fun to go through it, and I enjoyed it. Getting to the bosses was a lot of fun, and while there are still bugs that affect the raid they are a lot less frequent. For the most part at the least, I experienced a consistent bug where Oryx wouldn’t stagger and would consistently wipe us, despite having two Gunslinger’s use Celestial Nighthawks and their Golden Gun to try to stagger him when his chest cavity opens up. From what I’ve read online, a single one of the Hunter’s shots should have been enough to stagger him by itself. Instead it didn’t and even including the other Hunter and the rest of us firing sniper shots into his chest we consistently died.
My overall judgement: 90% of it is a success, but it’s marred by bugs that have been in the game since the Alpha and bugs in the raid itself. I’ll beat Oryx, and call it good. If my friends desperately need my help, I’ll help. Otherwise I’ll just play Destiny occasionally like I have been.
This week on Video Game Tuesday I’m looking at Artificial Difficulty vs. Real Difficulty. It’s another Game Design topic!
Artificial Difficulty: This is a kind of difficulty that developers implement when either they hate their players, which is incredibly rare nowadays, or when they overestimate the skill of their player base. A good example of this is the original C’Thun encounter that launched in World of Warcraft, or more recently Oondasta the World Boss that launched in the Mists of Pandaria expansion. The encounter mechanics are so unforgiving that players either can’t complete it at the intended level, or only the absolute best players can finish it if they are incredibly lucky. The latter happens in Destiny’s newest raid with the Crota encounter in Hard Mode. There is a difference between something being hard and something being stupidly difficult that requires perfect play by the players and no bugs occurring. My team and I have spent at least 24 hours attempting to kill Crota on Hard Mode and we still haven’t done it because of various bugs. These bugs range from perplexing to downright frustrating. One of the perplexing ones was when Crota started teleporting around the encounter area or knights walking through a force field and promptly murdering us. A frustrating one is one like the time kept standing up immediately after going down despite no person disconnecting (this is caused by the “fix” that Bungie implemented to prevent people from exploiting the encounter by disconnecting the host player to keep him kneeling down so you could hit him with the sword as many times as you want without him ever getting back up to attack the swordbearer.) Another frustrating one was when rockets fired by one of my team didn’t register at all and would just fly through him, and the rest of the map. Players can’t control other players, and making one mistake shouldn’t make the encounter immediately fail. This isn’t even counting the bugs that the player can’t stop from occurring at all.
Real Difficulty: This is a properly tuned section of gameplay that is punishing, but not unforgiving to a single mistake and requires a player to coordinate properly and precisely without making a mistake 90% of the time. A good example of a properly tuned encounter that is difficult would be the Lich King raid encounter in World of Warcraft’s Wrath of the Lich King expansion. This was an incredibly difficult encounter because it required everyone to be on top of their game and make very very few mistakes. However it wasn’t impossible to beat, and once people got the mechanics of the fight down it was easily completable. Yes a single death during the encounter made it much harder for people to continue and if it happened to a key player like the tank it would spell disaster. However that is a rule of thumb in World of Warcraft, if a tank goes down it becomes 20 times harder for the fight to become completable. There are mechanics that allow for you to recover from that mistake, which in WoW’s case is the battle resurrection abilities of certain classes.
What is the Game Devs Duty?: If an encounter has too many bugs or isn’t tuned correctly and this prevents players from completing the encounter it is their duty to spend all their resources, meaning man hours, fixing the problems. They don’t get to ignore the fact that the thing is bugged horribly and just keep on developing new game content. They are expected to fix any problems with current game content first. Blizzard, despite what many say, is a company that has repeatedly done right by their fans and players by fixing their mistakes in a timely manner. They do not take more than half a year to fix a single bug, Heavy Ammo Bug I’m looking at you!
Overall: I guess what I’m saying in this article is that people need to take responsibility for their mistakes and fix them before moving onto something new. There is a reason QA plays a huge role in Blizzard’s development of World of Warcraft. Bungie and other companies like Ubisoft, cough Assassin’s Creed: Unity cough, haven’t done right by their consumers in this past year and need to step up their game. If that means future games will take longer to release, 80% of their fans and players would understand and prefer that to a buggy release of a game they want to love.
This week on Video Game Tuesday I’m still straying off my usual path to talk about what goes into making a video game.
Game Designers: They are the people who come up with the idea of making a game, they decide what the team is going to work towards. A Designer doesn’t code or make the artwork, but knowing the basics of each is very useful.
Concept Artists: They turn the ideas of the designer into pictures that will inspire the rest of the art team to make what the end user will experience.
Modeler: They turn the concept art into 3D models that go into the game. They do not make them move, that’s another persons job.
Animator: They are the people who make the models move, they are responsible for bringing the artwork to life through motion.
Skinner/Texture Mapping/Visual Effects: They make the models come to life through colors and other techniques. Sometimes a modeler does this in addition to their own job, but it is often a separate job.
Programmers: They make the game work, these are the real hard workers of the team and everything will fall apart if they make a mistake.
QA: These are the game testers, they often repeat a level or section of the game over and over again trying to break it, and find any bugs in the code that the Programmers might make. Also they make sure that the actual gameplay is fun and balanced. It’s not fun and games to be a QA person and it’s often filled with long hours of doing the same things over and over again in an attempt to figure out exactly how something might be broken.
That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday, sorry for the short post today I’m still getting over this blasted cold.
This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m going to cover the Second Rule of Game Design. Sorry if you wanted me to keep talking about Destiny I may in the future go back to it (Read: Yes I will probably be talking about The Dark Below, just not today).
The First Rule: I mentioned in a previous Video Game Tuesday the first rule, which is KISS or Keep It Simple Stupid. This sounds easier than it is actually done in Game Design, like I mentioned in that article. But that’s not what I’m going to talk about today.
The Second Rule: Steal Other’s Idea’s. So you may be thinking, “Michael you are condoning theft of other’s ideas?”. I am in a certain way, and not outright thievery. If you can use someones idea instead of having to come up with all on your own you should do so, why reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to. The most obvious way this happens in the Video Game industry is through the use of game engine software, such as the Unreal Engine Series or CryEngine. Companies who can come up with a really good engine to make a game don’t just make money off the game(s) themselves they can also make money by letting other’s pay huge amounts of money to use their software to make a game. Of course that takes a lot of money and most Indie devs can’t afford to do that, which makes games like the upcoming No Man’s Sky really amazing from a game design standpoint.
Another way you may notice this happen in the Video Game industry is through the use of game mechanics, where a game plays very similarly to another game. A very recent example of how to do so properly is Middle Earth: Shadows of Mordor. The Developers who made that game also made the Arkham series of games, and they took the excellent combat system from those games and used it in Shadows of Mordor. I can’t think of a poor example at the moment as I’m still coming off this blasted cold I got on the way back home from Thanksgiving, but they are out there.
So yes Game Developers (and lots of other industries as well) often use other peoples ideas to get their games to sell, like I said above “Why reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to?”
That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday! Leave any comments or questions below.