Hey all I’m back, and I’ve got the promised discussion that I talked about in my Berseria review. It’s all about That Berseria Scene. Major Spoilers after the jump, so proceed at your own risk. It will ruin the game for you if you haven’t gotten significantly deep into the story.
Video Game Design
Video Game Tuesday: King’s Fall is a Success
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.
Video Game Tuesday: Grinding
This week on Video Game Tuesday I’m going to be talking about grinding.
What Grinding is: In RPGs, one usually gains strength and abilities through repeatedly killing monsters, over and over again.Forget trying to figure out the right combination of elemental attacks; just walk around a certain area and kill smaller monsters for a week, then pound away at the ‘boss monster’ as if you were the Incredible Hulk. (taken from tvtropes.org)
That is the basic idea behind grinding, and while it often applies to leveling your character up, it can also occur in other areas of a game. It’s also often attached to rare weapons/items in some way, either through having to grind to obtain such things reliably or to increase their power.
Why it can be bad: Sometimes, often in older RPGs, you need to hit a certain level to continue with the storyline or beat a certain boss. Most players hate this, and it’s been phased out of most games now, although some more recent games still have it. Final Fantasy 13 is one of the more recent examples where you are encouraged (through the use of incredibly hard bosses) to grind enemies over and over again before continuing in certain parts of the story.
Where it can be good: To earn really special weapons in games, if you just get lucky instead of having to “earn” it you are often despised by other players when they see you having that item. Legendary items like Valanyr and Shadowmourne from World of Warcraft are good examples of good grinding to earn it because you have to complete a long quest line to earn it; compared to the Twin Blades of Azzinoth is an example of the just getting lucky process.
Where it annoys me: I hate being forced to grind to continue in storylines, unless the combat system of the game is particularly fun. I didn’t mind grinding in Final Fantasy 13, I loved the combat system and the chance to use it more wasn’t a bad thing at all to me. Games like Destiny however force you to obtain better gear, and you could only earn it through pure chance and no other way, before continuing in the story. I don’t like having to leave it all up to chance, and many others don’t either. I’d much rather have a surefire, if slower way, of obtaining gear. A good example of such a system is the Tome system from Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn. I earn through various activities Tomes that will allow me to buy gear if I’m not getting very lucky. It might take me a different sort of grind to get those tomes, but that type grind is often much more enjoyable because there are more than one way of gaining such items.
Grinding in General: Grinding will never go away, it can be faster to just grind out something in some occasions. A good example of a good grind is the spirit bonding system in Final Fantasy 14. If you go to a certain place in South Shroud you can fight quickly respawning enemies in a very tight circle that will give 5% of spirit bond per lap around. I can deal with that, as it doesn’t take more than a minute or two if I’m alone, and 15 seconds if I’m partnered with a White Mage, to go through a single lap.
That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday.
Video Game Tuesday: GTA 5 vs. Watch_Dogs, A Study in Design
This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m covering the differences between Grand Theft Auto 5 and Watch_Dogs and what makes one super successful in the long run and the other not so much.
GTA V vs Watch_Dog’s Landmass: First the world of GTA V is probably bigger, if in no other dimension than in the Z axis which is sadly miniscule in Watch_Dogs. In GTA you don’t just have the island of San Andreas to drive around or boat around. You can swim under water, and more importantly fly through the air. Want to get on that really tall building to have a look at the cityscape? You can do that easily by taking a helicopter or just jumping out of a plane and parachuting down. You can’t do that in Watch_Dogs and while you could access certain rooftops easily by climbing I feel that it would’ve been in Ubisofts best interest to make this game a modern Assassin’s Creed and allow us to climb up any building. Who didn’t want to get on top of the Sears Tower and just look out at the city? (yes it is called something else now, but I’m too lazy to look it up at the moment.) Winner: GTA V
The “Livelyness” Aspect: I would’ve said that Watch_Dogs had the more lively city, at least on the current gen console systems, but then Rockstar pulled out their trump card and remastered the game they just released a year before and put it out on the same systems. Not only did San Andreas now feel much more alive than Watch_Dogs ever did, but there was so many more people on screen than before. Winner: GTA V
Storyline: It’s not even a close contest. Watch_Dog’s might have had some of the best writers in the industry working on it, but the fact that Aiden felt and played like a less neat Batman was just disappointing. In contrast GTA V has three main characters that are all varied and entertaining, from the younger Franklin to the ever psychotic Trevor. I’m not even going to touch upon the huge amount of side characters that GTA has over Watch_Dogs. Winner: GTA V
Gameplay: I would’ve liked Watch_Dogs a hell of a lot more if the cars didn’t drive like a piece of soap on a wet floor. The fact that I had to resort to using a motorcycle for pretty much the entire game sucked. Not only that, but there weren’t any NPC’s driving them, which when you were invaded by a less skilled player you could easily tell where he/she was. Sure he could get away from you a lot faster, but that doesn’t matter as it would count as his loss as long as you found him. That being said the invasion aspect of Watch_Dogs was easily one of my favorite new systems I’ve used in a game in years. I loved hacking other players and seeing them scramble around to find me while I hid right under their noses. I even got to the top percentile of the player base in invasions and tailing. Winner: GTA V
Customization: Again not even a close contest, GTA had you able to customize not only your clothes but choose completely different outfits for each character and change their hairstyle and add tattoos if you so desired. Not only this, but you could customize your vehicles. Winner: GTA V
Multiplayer: Like I mentioned above the invasion system of the game was easily one of my favorite systems, but that was only two game modes and the others were sadly lacking in depth. Racing was always a pain in the butt due to the crap driving system, and the Team Objective mode was also impacted by that. GTA on the other hand has been regularly updated with new content, and that’s not even counting the creation system where you can make your own maps for each game type, plus the online lobby system in the remastered versions is 30 players, and that may even be bigger in the upcoming PC version. Winner: GTA V
Graphics: Hands down not even a contest. It’s GTA V and this is prior to the 4k resolution that the PC game will have. The 2012 Watch_Dogs looked amazing, but the full game didn’t live up to those standards. Winner: GTA V
Sidequests: The sidequests in GTA are just more interesting than any in Watch_Dogs, and that’s a pity because if I had to pick only one sidequest in each game I’d say that Watch_Dogs had the best sidequest with the ctOS server stations around the city those were lots of fun to do. Unfortunately those weren’t repeatable and I don’t feel like replaying the game to do them again. Winner: GTA V
Overall: Watch_Dogs had some really interesting systems in place, but they weren’t expanded upon enough to beat the sheer amount of content that GTA V has at it’s disposal. I love to see players run around looking for me, but I can only do that so many times before it get’s boring or too easy. Variety is the spice of life and Watch_Dogs had no spice. Clear Winner: Grand Theft Auto 5!
That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday.
Video Game Tuesday: The 2nd Rule of Game Design
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.