Fun n Games

This is a blog about my thoughts and ideas related to computer/video games design, management, usability, testing, bugs, critiques etc...anything that does not have to do with programming!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Laugh along Burnout 3

How does one end up laughing like crazy while playing Burnout 3 if you are interested read on. Before I get on that I have to say that I have another post under construction about Burnout 3 which is going to be back dated as I started it long back and have been adding some thoughts into it. But to the topic on hand...

Typically its a very gritty and action packed game you hit other cars and race at mind numbing speeds so where do you find the time to laugh. It so happens that if you play this game with veterans then it results in intense competition but if you end up playing with absolute newbies (like my rommate) you end up having a good time. We were playing Team Crash with him not having a good idea about how to play the game (I think this is the only car game he has ever played) and crash after crash we would just laugh hilariously with the way the car bobbed around at weird angles, heights and speeds. But in the process I also realised some things
  • After a point the game stopped being about making the biggest crash but it simply became a complex set of manoeuvres so that both of us could get the 4X multiplier
  • The amount of planning that went into getting the combination right who takes the boost, who takes the curve who doesnt, who goes ahead and who follows etc. made me realise that there was more to this game just in the sense of tactical planning when played in cooperative mode as compared to just picking a car and smashing it on to an intersection
  • Even the selection of car was a very very careful decision that was made, I always picked the heavy ones he always picked the fast ones, this suited our individual styles I guess
  • The fun no longer was confined in the digital world but it also happened in the interaction we had with each other, the taunts and the jibes included.
I know this game is supposed to be about racing and crashing but if we get a few laughs along the way I dont mind it.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Medal of Honor - Rising Sun

Medal of Honor Rising Sun

I dont know why but everytime you finish a game (regardless of the platform) you get a sense of completion and maybe even a sense of achievement, is that being stupid or silly or is that your small private moment of glory. I had one such moment today about 15 mins back I finished Medal of Honor Rising Sun, I know its one game in the endless line of games that EA had created but so what! Apart from that its the first shooter that I have actually managed to finish on the PS2 or any cosole for that matter. Believe me there were times where I wanted to give up but that fact alone in the back of my head kept me going.

So how was the game? I had played the demo of MOHAA some time back for the PC never got it though as I was playing way too many games at that time and like books I like to finish a certain set of games before I delve into the new ones maybe thats why I keep lagging and cant keep up with the market coz unlike movie if (and this a big IF) there is a good game released every week then I shudder to think about what will happen to the peopl who just want to keep up with the latest. But i digress here is my assesment of the game
  1. The game had a good amount of gameplay time on the normal difficulty mode I dint quiet count it and would not be fair either coz this being one of the few fiost person shooters I have played on PS2 took me some time to get used to the console so i am guessing about 20 odd hours of time...ya I think thats a fair estimate some of it were good others were just mundane.
  2. I must confess I am a fan of the WWII shooting games I have at different times played the various games out there in that genre I posted a critique of Call of Duty as well so the scenery the various levels in the game and of course the weapons are something that I look forward too. this game did not disappoint on those count.
  3. But I must say there are some serious errors that kept showing up in the game some of them plain annoying the most insinuating ones that I noted were as follows
    • If this is suppose to be an army game where are my comrades, I can understand a small mission or two where I have to bear it out by myself but this was ridiculous there were entire missions where I was just going about by myself and my stupid commrade characters were there just to say "oh ya we are in trouble please get us out"
    • Enemies are take a good sniper rifle with a scope, a steady hand ,good focus and aim, and fire a shot at the head of the opponent and all he does is shrug it off like a mosquito just bit him I dont care what kind of a person you are you have to die. If that wasn't enough in the last level an enemy soldies is standing right next to a gas barrel and a fighter plane for crying out loud I shoot the barrel the plane and the barrel are blown to pieces but the soldier out there pretends to have a seizure of some sort is thrown off balance for a couple of seconds and then he is back at you what do you have to do???
    • I think since the designers could not come up with an innovative way to make the game difficult they chose the easy route out they just put the damn save points further and further apart with each passing level to the point where it got annoying I know the console limits you for the saves but please dont use that as an excuse to not be able to design a well balanced level
    • Then there are other game mechanics related things which I am willing to let go but I ust add that there are other games out there in the market that allow you to do them things like wshen the gun is in the zoom mode (read as eye level) I can still move about and sneak up on an enemy.
    • Talking about sneaking looks like every soldier is either high on adrenaline or have each been bitten by the spider that helps them develop an amazing sense of where I am. There is no way I was able to sneak up on people without aerting them this maybe my fault but I could not help wondering is it?
Even though I have given a laundry list of faults with the game, maybe its because I am picky, but I did enjoy the game, the story progression and the simple fact that it takes place in the WWII setting but I am sure glad I did not buy this one but borrowed it from a friend of mine :) Maybe the next one I will buy or rent it first and then see if I want to buy it

Sunday, June 05, 2005

is that it?

That the question a friend of mine asked what does it have to do with games you may say? Well let me put it in context for you and then probably you will get it.

I have a friend who thankfully has nothing much to do with the gaming industry and so can give me an objective view about the industry without having a personal agenda apart from being a wannabe avid gamer (hope you got that). We were discussing about games about how much we play etc. the kind of thigs gamers talk. He brought an interesting point across to me which I need to quote
I used to play a lot of games earlier but nowadays I get bored by games really fast and I cant play any game for more than a few hours and then I cant help wondering is that it?
Now that is something that got me thinking do mainstream games appeal to only a certain age group and are we just designig to tackle those age groups. Put it in a different way do games after a certain point make you realize that you have become old and you are not ft for it or they in turn are not fit for you? How any 40 year olds would admit to having jumped on the beats of DDR?

Is there a way to make the games so that more people (like my friends) can enjoy the game and say is that it? BTW just if you are wondering my friend is still in the 18 to 34 brackets that marketing departments of big publishers are trying to reach out. Maybe its a simple case of gamer fatigue that after a certain "X" number of years you just lose interest in games and if you do why is that is there any answer for it? If so I want to find out for sure.

Which makes me think do people ever reach a point after seeing a movie for 15 mins just walk out and say is that all there is to a movie I guess not.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Replay - Call of Duty

Call of Duty

I never got a chance to take a serious look at Call of Duty and I must say this is an old game (relatively) compared to some of the games that I am playing at the moment. Infinity Ward the guys behind the game have done a great job with the game giving you different weapons from different countries perspectives, the US, Russian and English to be precise the mechanics are very smooth and they make for a very interesting gameplay experience. However there were a few complains I had with the game so I am going to dwell on those mostly

  1. The game was too damn short...I played it on the PC on medium setting and I must have taken a little under 7 hours to run through the game while it was great for my ego which felt great about finishing a game in 3 sittings straight but the gamer in me was ticked off that such a short gameplay time for a good game like this.
  2. Why on earth would you enter a battlefield without a weapon? I can understand if you are caught and taken as a prisoner of war then you are "surviving of the land" but in other conditions you should be able to scyphone a weapon some how...the level in stalingrad where you have no weapon I passed at least a dozen soldiers who were dead with their rifles at an arm length from me why would i not be able to pick one of them and start blasting away. If they did want to add difficulty you could make it such that if you are not a rifleman and you pick a rifle your aim would be awful this could have been done easily by adjusting the crosshair as it moves in motion
  3. Either get the controls of the tank right or dont have a tank level...there was I think a couple of short levels in which you had to steer a tank they were just a pain in the butt to navigate. The levels did not last 5-6 mins tops but they felt like an age by themselves. Please please give me control of the damn machine gun, the games AI failed to recognize that there was this stupid lone soldier with an anti tank panzer whatever and he kept shooting at me right in front of my nose and the machine guy cant take him out!!!!
  4. There were at least 3 or 4 instances where I got stuck in places where I could not get out of maybe I crawled in some space and then I just got stuck no matter what I tries crouch, crawl jump or walk I could not get out of there the best thing to do was to throw grenades at myself and restart from the last check one instance I ran out of grenades so I had to kill one of my fellow men and the game promptly threw me out sayin I am a traitor to the motherland...frustrating? You bet!
So here is what I thought about the game. How to improve it?

  • Add a level where you are taken prisoner of war with other people and have to survive using minimal weapons and melee attacks, a little bit of stealth would not hurt, but dont make the player switch to being Sam Fisher!
  • A much better tank level with a little more gameplay and complete control over the tank.
  • A longer game!
  • Last but not least some levels that would require you to traverse beaches etc. I think I am not putting it across well in wors but something like different locales than the ones already in the game...maybe thats asking too much
Overall a fun game I think I am gonna go through some other similar games in that genre and see how they measure up.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Little Known Games 01 - OMF 2097

Here is the first in the series (hopefully!) of smaller games that I have come across and have liked a lot. I will try and keep this straightforward...make no discrimination about how big the budget was or whether it was 2D or 3D or released on a very niche platform. I will give credits to any images etc. I use by defalut I am using Mobygames as my image source unless I mention otherwise

OMF 2097

This was a game that I played years ago I think somewhere in the mid 90's I got a copy of the demo version of the game in one of the computer magazines that I was subscribing at least that is how I remember it. I had played Mortal Kombat whichever version was current then so I was not very knew to the 1 on 1 fighting genre of games but what caught my eye with this game was that it was not humans fighting but huge robots that were fighting in different arenas and yo could use those arenas. However being in 2D you did not get much of the feel about the robots being huge. The game had very simple and I must add intuitive controls. The usual kicks and punches and two special moves per robot thats it no more complications, no "up-up-down-left-right-jump-punch-kick" to shoot a tornado of fire at opponents and no such fancy weapons or thumb numbing combos.

It did allow you to combine the kicks and punches but the keystrokes never crossed more than five. I guess thats what I liked. It had a very nice system of upgrading your robot and customizing it with colors. However the game made more sense as a complete package. You get in fight and win money based on how you fight. You can upgrade armor, or you could spend the money earned in getting differenmt attributes like agility, defense, strength etc. increased. You could take a very puny robot and play enough with it and make it a monster which could not be defeated. Imagine all this in just the demo. I played a lot of hours with that game. What they also had was a cool feature which converted the entire match into a story with you being the central character of the story, whether in the shame of defeat or the pride of victory. This coupled with the choice of robots was enough to whet your appetite. But i was not finished i wanted to take advantage of all the different arenas, tournaments and robots available in the full version. However I did not find the game in the market and had to just satisfy myself with the demo only. But somehow I knew I would play the full game so I ade a monster character with al the files and saved the character as a backup in my files I changed computers but the files remained with me. Finally I managed to get my hand on the full version of the game 3 years later...but by then the computers were too fast for the game and the game ran at an incredulous speed and I just couldnt compete :-(

What I liked most about the game was the way it took my character and the name I gave it and put it in the center of the stage making ME very important. I think a game that gives you that kind of personal sense of victory or achievement and boosts your ego a bit encouraging you to do good. This apart from the very simplistic game mechanics and controls made this game or rather its demo a very enjoyable experience.

The makers of the game have released a new version in 3D called OMF Battlegrounds which I also liked because of the way you can use the arena in which you fight. but I havent been that crazy about it.