Sunday, 14 December 2008

Week 11 - Gameplay

One of the important aspects of gameplay is user interface. Although it may look extremely complex at first, with various options and tools in front of you just as you start, it is learnable and the player gradually gets used to it. Take Eve Online for example. The user interface is extremely complex, however but one is introduced to elements slowly though the tutorial, and gradually gets used to it by trying out different things. By finally understanding the complex user interface, the user is able to do many different things in the game. However, clunky interfaces causes the game difficult to manage and run, thus draining the fun. Players do not want to have trouble controlling characters, perform basic tasks, or deal with the UI that is not very clear or responsive.

One thing I think games need to avoid is oversimplication. A game should not be so simple that it leaves the players bored and disappointment. The first example that comes to mind is Spore. I loved it so much at the beginning, controlling my sea creature was so much fun but then it gradually become more and more tedious for me. I just didn’t want to touch it after awhile.

Gameplay elements should be considered. There should be several in order to allow for more things for the player to do. At the start, I would not want to be completely overwhelmed, so I would not expect everything to hit me all at once. How the player would respond to the game, especially psychologically, should be taken into consideration while designing the gameplay.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Week 10 - Characters


I love characters. When I read a book, watch TV series or play a game that has a storyline, one of the most important things that keeps me going is a favourite character within the story. I like loveable characters whom I cam empathize with, with likeable character traits. For instance, while it's possible to empathize with Tidus from Final Fantasy X, he whines way too much and is difficult to like. I have to enjoy “being with” the character. This means that, in games, I prefer characters in third-person so that I can see the overall situation around them, watch their expressions and their reactions to different situations, instead of in first-person where I become the character myself.

If there is no loveable character in the story, then I may lose interest. I am currently watching a TV series where there is an amazing character at the start, but then his screen time becomes less and less, and I ended up getting a little… bored with the series! However he has returned and has become more epic than ever.

Normally, if there are more than one protagonists, I would prefer the weaker character, especially if they have suffered some sort of misfortune in the past. As I mentioned above, I like to sympathise with my characters and watch them behave and deal with the world they are in, watch them grow and develop, and see where they end up at the very end. So in storylines, it is those type of characters that feel more human and realistic than the annoying good-at-everything perfect character.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Week 9 - Game technology

In the beginning, games consoles and controllers had extremely boxy angular shapes, like many other things during those times (buildings, vehicles, etc). They were made so that they “did the job”. Take the Atari 2600 controller for example. Being one of the first joysticks made, it was extremely awkward to use and heavy, with only 8 directions.

In 1985 there came the Nintendo Entertainment System. Still brick-like, but I sort of begin to associate it with some of today’s consoles. Thanks to the NES control, the games industry revitalized and took a big step forward.

6 years later, Nintendo released the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Its technology improved vastly, as did its appearance, with a some curvy shapes on both the controller and the console.

Now, we have the sleek and sexy designs of the PS3 and Xbox 360. They are great to look at, I frequently drool over them at game shops, and the controls are made to be more comfortable to hold and use.

Makes me wonder what game consoles will look like in 10 years time...

My first ever console was the Game Boy Colour, which I received as a gift from my parents for passing the entrance exam into a good secondary school. If that hadn’t happened, then I would probably not have had a console at all until less than 2 years ago when I got my PS2. When playing, I prefer holding the Xbox 360 control because it is extremely curvy and my hands fit comfortably around it.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Some final pieces

Some finals: 2-Point-Perspective, Abbey Park and Space Station.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Note to self: do not eat

Final version of my organic character. Not cute anymore, heh...

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Week 8 - storyline in games

Normally I play games for the storyline, but if I want to experience something fun and exciting, I would probably go for a good beat-’em-up game like Tekken 5 or Mortal Kombat, or a puzzle game like Portal.

Another game I enjoy is Dynasty Warriors. Koei based the Dynasty Warriors series on real historical events, a clever way to tell a great storyline from all the different playable characters’ point of view, and at the same time give players a fun and adventurous way of learning history of the Three Kingdoms in 3rd Century China! My favourite game at the moment is “Romance of the Three Kingdoms XI” by the same company. It is similar to the Dynasty Warrior games, however it is an exciting turn-based strategy game. And of course, being a strategy game, you have complete control over your people and your cities, allowing you to take control of your own events in parallel with the historical events during the game. Now I find this extremely interesting, weird and rather shocking sometimes because it means that I can change history… (in the game only of course)! It’s so strange thinking that had I not executed this one general, he would never have introduced the other general, which would NEVER have led to this famous battle of whatever, or had I released those prisoners AFTER whichever important events, would the historical events after that ever happen? The “storyline” and the way it lets you choose your paths in this game really makes me wonder… History is full of big “WHAT IF”s, and this game really makes me think.

I was pretty shocked when I executed an extremely righteous general (on the enemy side) and kicked the Emperor off the throne to crown myself, thus ending an entire dynasty and starting a new one of my own…

Right, enough fangirling from me…

In general, if the game has a storyline, then it should be strong and engaging, with interesting characters, preferably a loveable one! If I dislike the characters then I probably would not enjoy the storyline as much. I would like the characters to be intelligent and be involved in a complex and intelligent storyline with interesting twists. To me, a great storyline also evokes a lot of emotion to make me feel like I am completely part of it myself. A good example is Final Fantasy VII.