Posts Tagged ‘art’
I guess I need to update my shirts over on Zazzle (based on an idea by the Big Bear Butt himself).
…oh, and Blizzard? If you want to make a Fish Tank Gnomish Hunter Pet, I’m very happy to build you one that looks like this. I’m very familiar with modeling, texturing, rigging and animating video game characters, having worked in the game industry for almost a decade. I’m also presently open for contract work.
I also find it interesting that this is happening at the same time as a melee-based Hunter spec. Coincidence or conspiracy? Dun dun dunnnnn!
It’s been a while since I actually had enough time to play anything on my Steam backlog. I still haven’t since last time I posted about this project, but I have been playing a few smartphone games and even a PS3 game, so I’m splicing them into the project. Gaming is gaming, more or less, and it’s worth writing a bit about these. Standard boilerplate disclaimer/description, with a rider that most of the images this time around are swiped from the ‘net, since I couldn’t get screenshots:
I’m going through my Steam list (and then some, as it happens) alphabetically, picking up games I own but haven’t played to see what’s there. 15 minutes each is all I’m budgeting, but I reserve the right to get sucked into a cool game. Some I’ve played already, though, so I’ll mention them in passing here and there, giving them a rating like the other games.
I’ll be giving each of these Backlog games a rating of sorts, as follows: Regret (uninstall and forget), Remember (uninstall but wish for more time), Revisit (leave installed for later) and Recommend (wish for more time to play this right now). This is a squishy continuum of sorts, and deliberately imprecise. This isn’t an in depth survey-and-review, it’s Spring Cleaning of my video game backlog.
First, I’ve mentioned Slingshot Braves before, which I’ve played on my Android smartphone and an Android tablet. It’s a fairly solid game, as far as actual combat goes, but the progression system and gear acquisition system is… not good. If you’re up for some good combat-billiards…ish sort of gaming, it’s worth checking out for a bit. Just don’t spend any real money on it, and don’t expect to make much progress once the leveling curve ramps up. The “Gacha” system, popular in Japan but with all the stink of F2P underbellies, is kin to the lockbox system we see in many Free To Play MMOs, where you can pony up about $5 worth of premium currency (earned either slowly in-game or via cash purchase) to open a thingamabob that might have a small chance of being useful instead of something you will just break down into materials you could literally earn in a three minute mission. It’s a waste of money. I’m not above wasting money, but this just itches in all the wrong places. It’s a game I Regret, but only because it could have been so much better, not because it was awful to actually play.
Yes, that’s his best armor. Optimus Striptease, The Chief and Tutu Gogo. The game’s gear design is largely the same old ridiculous chainmail bikini sort of crap, but once in a while they do something cool like steampunk armor, so there’s gold in there somewhere.
Automatic RPG is silly. That’s OK, as the charm of the goofy writing takes mild jabs at badly translated Japanese games and other RPG tropes. The gameplay is minimal, even banking on the “it plays itself” mechanic to sell itself, and it’s kin to mildly entertaining time wasters like Candy Box and Candy Box 2. It was fun for a while, seeing what gear the team found and what conversational malaprops happened, but there’s not really any meat on the game’s bones. The Fire Emblem-like minimal graphics are good for what they are, and the competent music is probably out of a game dev bundle somewhere, but they serve their purpose well enough. Again, not something to spend money on, but it’s fun to see what people do sometimes. I don’t exactly Regret playing it, but it’s close, and it won’t last for more than another week or so, unless I forget I have it installed.
Random aside: The current (for another 12 hours) Humble Weekly Bundle has some game-making programs and assets that are worth investigating, if you’re itching to dig into making games.
There’s also a ton of stuff in this bundle:
Terra Battle is my current favorite mobile game. It’s from the Mistwalker crew, complete with Nobuo Uematsu and Yoko Shimomura music, as well as art from stars in the JRPG community, so there’s more to it than Just Another Mobile game. The core design is derived from the Puzzle And Dragons mechanic of swiping a unit around, nudging other units into place for some sort of attack, but the increased depth in its tactical considerations of placement and team composition is much more satisfying than games of that ilk. Sure, there’s a Doctor Who and a Mario P&D variant if those are your IP hooks, but Terra battle takes the core design further, and does a great job at making it more satisfying.
The goal is not to line up units or whatzits to match three in a row and have them pop, but rather, to move your fighting units around to pincer enemies in, since the only way you attack is if you can set up your units in that sort of pincer. This spreads things out, rather than clumping them as in a match-x sort of game, which shakes up the formula nicely. Also, units that are lined up with the units initiating the pincer can lend some support, especially mages and healers, so mastering the entire battlefield and positioning is critical. It’s rewarding to learn the system and plan things out well, making the most of your assets.
(Image from this review, complete with a customer complaint.)
Mistwalker has also promised to do a console Terra Battle game, though the last time I checked, they didn’t know what sort of game it would be. I’d love to see them tackle a Final Fantasy Tactics sort of game using that IP. I can dream.
I Recommend this game, with the caveat that the bog standard “free to play” shenanigans pop up with its own sort of “gacha” system for character recruitment. Extremely rare mages are somewhat overpowered, but I was able to finish the game’s main storyline without needing them and without spending money. Rare characters are not critical to success in the game, and the game is more generous with its premium currency than most, but still… it’s not something I want to spend money on. I’d be perfectly happy to pay $15 or so for a faster leveling pace and guaranteed recruiting (say, in given story missions) in a Buy-And-Play version of the game, though.
It’s a solid game, fun to play, at least until frustration sets in with a slow leveling curve and some of the game’s more annoying bosses or level hazards (spiked floors in chapter 18 are eeeeeeevil) pop up. I finished the main storyline without spending a dime, and I think I have a good feel for what the game offers. I played way more than the 15 minutes I’m budgeting for this project, but I love just playing the game, so I don’t mind.
And then there’s the biggie. Motorstorm: Apocalypse.
I love this game. I Recommend it. It’s ridiculous, entertaining, and just a blast to drive through crazy, shattered locations. Yes, I’m a sucker for apocalyptic land-and-cityscapes, and the overall look of the game is really what sold me, but the gameplay is really, really solid in my book. The challenge of driving any of a fairly wide variety of vehicles through tracks that don’t always stay in place is just fun. They really embrace the post-apocalyptic setting, but only as a vehicle for making sweet places to drive in absurd scenarios. Drive through an earthquake, a hurricane, or just a huge rainstorm, all while plowing through buildings and skating across roads that break as you drive on them. Drive anything from a semi truck to a superbike, taking advantage of the terrain and your ride, which makes replay interesting as the same track plays differently according to your vehicle. Sure, it’s all contrived, and Michael Bay-like explosive events conveniently happening as you drive by are sort of silly, but it’s all so goofily fun in a wonderfully conceived and realized world that it’s hard to complain.
The “comic book” storytelling is weak, with palpable yearning to be Image Comics in video game form and a thin story with cliche characters. It’s not offensively bad, but it doesn’t really add to the game.
I was hooked in the first five minutes of driving through a broken city, though. I’ve played through about half of the story and driven on about a third of the open “free race” tracks. There are more tracks that I get to unlock, but out of the gate, there is plenty of fun to be found.
It’s not quite as great as Burnout Revenge in my driving library, but it’s easily in second place, just edging out Burnout Paradise. And yes, all of these edge out any Mario Kart game I’ve played. Perhaps that’s sacrilege, but the pure mayhem in Burnout Revenge (crash events, especially), gorgeous explorable world in Burnout Paradise, and the broken, beautiful world of Motorstorm: Apocalypse are just more fun for me. Sure, I had a blast with the original Mario Kart on the SNES back in the day, just like I had a lot of fun with Goldeneye, but these days, the field is a bit more stuffed with options. I also haven’t played more than a few glorious minutes of DIRT 3, which seems like it might fit in the top 5 somewhere with a proper review.
This is also a good excuse to share a few of my favorite short films. First, there’s Ruin, which is most on-topic. This post-apocalyptic short film is apparently a “tiny” piece of a bigger world, and I’d love to see more of it. The character is a bit JRPGgy, in that he’s slightly oddly proportioned and moves in some regular cycles, reminiscent of Final Fantasy characters in their prerendered movies, but that’s the animator in me nitpicking. The sense of world and place is great in this film, and I’m fond of the world building that the creator indulged in.
Then there’s World Builder, which scratches my film-making and game dev itches at the same time, and is just a sweet little story to boot.
And then there’s Carousel, one of the best CG short films I’ve seen to date. The clowns are creepy, the “moment of time” hook is brilliant, and the story told really works well for what could have simply been an exercise in showing off fancy image-smithing.
Until next time, then! I’m hoping to dive back into Steam, but the Tinker Plastic Dice should be at my place this week or early next week, so I’ll be busy again with that for a while.
Posted in Administrative, art, Game Design, tagged Area Control, art, board game, Fall of Ra, Game Design, Kickstarter, Pantheon Wars, print and play, Tile Game, Triple Triad on August 13, 2015| Leave a Comment »
Once upon a time, I designed a small “area control” tile-capture game for a game development exercise. I called it Alpha Hex, a simple, abstract name for a simple, abstract game. It has evolved over the years, and I’m looking for ways to bring it to market as a tabletop board game. Perhaps someday it can be released as a tablet game as well, but for today, it’s a Print and Play game in what I call a “Paper Beta” format. We would greatly appreciate your help in taking a look at the game and seeing just how well it works, or doesn’t, as the case may be. It’s been fantastic so far in our experiments and testing.
Please print out the files below and give it a try! If you will tell your friends about it, all the better!
It’s ready to play, though we are keeping an eye on how well it plays, and we are trying to make sure it has sufficient depth to offer good value. We have plans to add another wrinkle to this particular game, the Deity Cards, but at the moment, I’d like to get this out into the wild to see what sort of feedback we can gather. If you have the time and inclination, please take a look at the game, and if you can tell us how it played for you, we’d love to hear it.
Pantheon Wars: The Fall of Ra is an “area control” game played on a 39-cell board. You can play a shorter game on the 19 cells in the middle, which is how we have done most of our testing to date, but both work well. Players compete to control the most tiles, with ties decided by control of the Nile river and delta cells on the board. Tiles played on the board stay where they were played, but control of those tiles shifts as the game proceeds. Success comes from smart play and careful planning.
If you have played Triple Triad, you will probably easily understand the core mechanics, but I’ve tried to keep the rules clean enough and the basic ruleset simple enough that it doesn’t require knowing that game. Pantheon Wars: The Fall of Ra is designed specifically around being easy to learn, but with enough complexity in play decisions and circumstances that there is room for careful thought and skill testing. Players find that to be true in testing, and it’s my hope that getting some new people to look at the game will let us refine it further where needed.
I call the game a “beta”, but it’s really one that has been through several cycles of development already. I’d be happy with the game being released into the wild as-is, since we’ve had a lot of fun with it and so have our testers to date. Still, there is room for polish, and when we get the Deity Cards polished up, we will need to give them a thorough period of testing as well.
We would love to get this made as a commercial product, too, and I’ve been investigating options for a Kickstarter project to make that happen. Before we do that, though, testing the game some more is in order, and the more people we can reach to get this tested, the better. More eyes can also mean a better launch for the game if we do get to take it to Kickstarter.
If you have the time and interest, then, please download the files below and print them out. It should give you all you need to play the game with 2 to 6 players. I print the board and tiles on photo paper and then mount them on matboard, then cut them out, to give a better feel to them and more durability, but you should be able to play the game if you just use simple paper on everything. I’m happy to answer questions about the game, either here or over on our Facebook page:
I would also love to ask you questions about how the game worked for you. If you are willing to let me ask you some questions, or just want to ask some, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Fall of Ra” somewhere in your email subject line.
Thank you all!
If you want these all in a single .PDF file, it’s presently hosted over on Dropbox at this link (though the rule text has since been tweaked a little bit for clarity, they function the same way):
Board in 3 parts for printing on 8.5″ by 11″ paper
Board combined for larger format printing
Tiles and Control Markers (we’ve been using flat marbles instead of these colored squares, but it’s handy to have these markers in the print and play files, just in case)
I’ve played video games since Bowling on the Atari 2600 back in 1980. I’ve played on most major consoles here in the U.S. (the Neo Geo is the one I skipped… that thing was stupidly expensive, though I loved some of its games in the arcades of the day), though I’m still stuck in the PS3/XB360 era due to lack of funding. I’ve played PC and Mac games, from simple DOS games like Sleuth up through Star Control 2 and The Dig, and later, Batman: Arkham Asylum (I know, it’s a port, but it’s my most graphically intensive PC game) and Minecraft.
I discovered a taste for design in the Dark Castle days, drawing out new levels on graph paper. I further refined my interest in mechanics when I did some serious work designing a world and game systems for a RPG in the King’s Quest days, though it wound up being more of a Final Fantasy Tactics sort of game. I really, really wanted to make a good sequel to Chrono Trigger, and made many notes on what I’d do. Chrono Cross, great game that it is, just didn’t scratch the same itch.
I’ve always enjoyed games, both playing and designing. In many ways, creating new games is more satisfying, since I’m a creative sort and would rather produce than consume.
My BFA is in Computer Animation, and while some of my classmates have worked for Pixar, Rhythm and Hues, Blue Sky, Dreamworks and Weta, I wound up in the game industry. I’d have loved working at Pixar making Disney films, like I planned to do as a kid, but circumstances led to other choices. I still love animating, though I’m most experienced at modeling, texturing and solving weird tech issues, since I’m a “Technical Artist”, comfortable with tech and art.
I worked for Headgate Studios, largely working on EA’s Tiger Woods games. Then I worked at Wahoo Studios, making a few Kefling games along with a smattering of other projects both internal and contract work. I have a list around here somewhere of the 15 or so games I am credited in, which qualifies me as a veteran of sorts. That said, as is so often true, time and economics caught up with me, and I’m now “retired” from the industry after almost a decade working on the art in games, with a bit of dabbling in design.
These days, I design my own games, write about what I’d do if I had pie-in-the-sky budgets to design games, do graphic design, make cool game accessories and try to find ways to make a living in a freelance world since there just aren’t career opportunities at the moment. Once in a while, I even get to play games (though some of that time is just playtesting my games… I really need to update Chromaround).
Games and I, we have history.
Anyway, I’m in between serious contracts, and while I’m scrambling for something new to pay the bills, I have a few minutes here and there. So, given that I’ve been collecting games over the years, adding to my Steam collection and assorted game bundles, I have more than a few games to fill that time with.
So, I’m going to be systematic about it and just start plowing through my game backlog. I’m going to give each game 15 minutes to really grab me, then do a quick writeup of what happened, probably with a screenshot or two, and with some commentary about the design and art. Pith may be present. I might revisit the games, but I probably won’t. Still, I want to do a bit of exploration. It’s good to see what’s out there, and how other games are designed.
I’ll post those writeups here, though I’m not committing to any regular schedule or format. Perhaps this is the sort of thing YouTube is for, but I hate being in videos and hearing myself. Writing, that I can do. We’ll see how it all settles out.
I know, I know, some games really need more than 15 minutes to get a proper shakedown, but, well, I can’t be the only one who only barely has time to graze games. I could devote dozens of hours to the latest Final Fantasy when I was in high school, but these are different times. I think it’s a good game design that has the ability to do something to earn further attention within those 15 minutes. I simply won’t be doing some games justice, but that’s life in this saturated, cutthroat market. There are still lessons to be learned, I think.
See you next time with a bit of commentary on what I’ve been playing, then I’ll mostly shelve those games and start trekking through the wilds.
This should have posted on Martin Luther King Jr.’s holiday. Sorry, I’ve been busy.
I believe that games are uniquely and exquisitely suited to explore content of character, since games, as a medium, are all about choice. That’s the nature of an interactive medium. It saddens and disappoints me that so many discussions of character in games begin and end at the character creation screen, with a Politically Correct checklist and identity politics.
Games as a medium deserve better. Gamers deserve better.