Saturday, December 31, 2011

TGAM a retrospective 2011


We did a puzzle

Back when we were excited about MvC3 we did an homage to Poison

You know that regular piece we do? You know Unit of the Month? No? Crazy

We realised Something

We had too much free time

We did a lengthy piece on "Digital Convergence"

We predicted it 

Black and White came out

We decided we weren't having fun

We did an Interview

We lost something

We invented the quadruple/triple inverted commas

We joined the 3D fad

Well that is it for this year, we'll be back in 2012 for the Mayan apocalypse, a million HD remakes and announcements of the next consoles?

Abba said it best...

Love and Next year we promise it'll be better,

TGAM X

GOTY:2011

I was really struggling to recall any stand out gaming experience this year. There were plenty of polished experiences but nothing that particularly blew my mind. UNTIL LAST NIGHT!

We treated ourself to Wii Play Motion, partly for a sexy red controller to match our sexy red classic controller but also to finally get on the Wii Motion train almost two years after it came out, now that Zelda makes the accessory worth owning. Before, this list didn't seem to justify the purchase.

We were big fans of Wii Play especially Tanks!, in fact we think there are only 41 games better than it in existence. So we were quite looking forward to Wii Play Motion. Don't get us wrong there are some rum games in the pack and the experience is severely hampered if you don't have more than one Wii Motion Plus controller. Sometimes rather unnecessarily, a number of the games could easily have been pass the controller multiplayer. However, Star Shuttle is phenomenal and we wish there was a whole game of this stuff. The concept is simple; you and your Mii buddies are putting together a spaceship or station and you have to manoeuvre your little shuttle carrying bits into the proper orientation and then dock them to the ship. The genius bit about the game is that you can control your shuttle in 3D space using six directions of thrusters. At first it can be quite tricky but then after a while your brain clicks with the game and I found myself pulling off all sorts of crazy near misses and daring stunts all in the name of perilous space station construction. Stop for one moment to think about what you are doing with your hands though and it all falls apart. That's a special kind of gameplay sweet spot, especially with the Wii Motion Plus concept when the control design just works and couldn't have been achieved without motion controls. I love it, it makes me miss Colony Wars and Astrolander and wish there was a full game of precision space station building. I haven't explained it very well at all but GOTY 2011. Fact. YEAR OUT..

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Have a Hi-Res Holiday!

I mentioned earlier in the year playing Ocarina Of Time in HD And I have been, And also enjoying it!

But over the holiday's I have been dabbling with other HD projects. Firstly after completing Skyrim at level 72 *Bragging rights* I had a been bitten by the Elder Scrolls bug and decided to have a looksee at Morrowind and the improvement Mods:


As you can see it's very pretty, on top of this though there were mods to enhance the models, and the clothing and such, it was comparable, if not better than Oblivion Graphics. However the controls and interface were dire, I was hoping to approach it with the same controls as Oblivion/Skyrim. but it is really optimised for Keyboard and Mouse.

Secondly, while playing Ocarina of Time I found myself feeling nostalgic, and remembered playing FF7 around the same time. So I decided to have a look into HD mods for FF7 (skip the intro):


as you can see the silly models on the world have gone, in general most graphics have been greatly improved. including the sound which has been updated with the official soundtrack score, Most of what you need is here.

Love and Knights of the Round, Mimic, Mimic, Mimic.

Richie X


Thursday, December 15, 2011

I used to be addicted... till I got an arrow in the knee.

There is a fantastic piece on video-game addiction floating about the internet, describing evolutionary reasons fro addiction, and more importantly discussing "Unethical Game Design". The tricks that developers use to trap the user into wanting to come back for more. A very thought provoking piece, check it out here

or here:


It's only 15 mins... c'mon.

Love and Obscure Skyrim memes,

Richie X.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron Trailer

Oh gosh...

I dunno if it counts as an addition to out sister blog: Dinosaurs in Games

GRIMLOCK!!!

Love and inappropriate indie music,

Richie X

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Oh yeah... Skyrim

I did promise you all an update, but I was a little busy with killing Draugr, Dwarven Spheres, Falmer and "talking" to dragons. i.e. Playing Skyrim.

If anyone out there cares for my character I have maxed out Archery, Sneak, Enchanting, Alchemy and Smithing, purely to get maximum damage on my bow.

So what have I done? Well I fucked about at the start, pretty much the moment I could wander about, I did some random dungeons, joined the Dark Brotherhood and Thieves Guild. I did a touch more of the main plot, then did the Mages guild, I still have the companions and the rest of the main plot to do.

How about the game in hindsight now?

Well It's great, it's not too buggy, though there are some annoying bugs, which has kinda halted my sidequests, so now I play the waiting game for the patch. What I am most disappointed about is the "Guilds" quests, Dark Brotherhood and Mages Guild was over so quickly, I have spent more time faffing about in other dungeons than on those "storylines". The Thieves guild is tedious, you are forced to do silly little thieving/pickpocketing missions a minimum of 40 times, which involves fast travelling from the guild (which has 2 loading screens to get to the quest givers) and only being allowed to do a maximum of 2 tasks.

And well, I'm level 52 (the world level cap is 50), and I feel I am around Half way through the game with 580/1000 Gamer points.

Well just an update,I best get back to Skyrim, those pesky Mudcrabs wont kill themselves...

Love and Lolligaggin'

Richie X




Chuff_72 Strikes Again: Infinity Blade 2

Are mobile games any good yet? Are they even proper games? For dinosaur games no definitely not. Chuff_72 continues to look at mobile games and work out if they are any good yet here's his skinny on Infinity Blade 2.
 
Infinity Blade 2, in my opinion, is the sequel to Infinity Blade, and it’s a good one.
 
I'm fairly certain I completed the first game, where *SPOILERS* you defeat the End Boss *END SPOILERS*, however at the start of this one he is not dead, I guess that's standard for an Immortal… I'm not sure why we all thought he was dead, he clearly states he is Immortal a number of times, so yeah, not unexpected. The original ended on a cliff-hanger of sorts, and there was a cool "hidden" ending. This time there is a new random woman, the main guy has gained a name and a voice and then he dies, only to wake up in a metal cave/room, wearing only his pants.
 
While the game does seem to just chuck you in head first apparently there is a whole novella covering the back story, and the bits in between games, Matrix style, however I'm not convinced writing a book about it is the best way to go. I appreciate the effort, it got me to download the iBook app thing and waste £2 on the book, but I'm never going to read it on my iPhone, I don't read much anymore anyway, and the thought of trying to read an entire book on my mobile just doesn't appeal. So I'm kind of left half knowing what's going on, but it's also clear that there's a bunch if info I'm not privy too.
 

***Moaning below, feel free to skip***
 
Also, I would just like to point out that the novella is written by one Mr Brandon Sanderson, a very talented fantasy author, so I'm sure it is a very high standard, well done, pats on backs etc. However, for the last 15 years I have been reading a series of books called The Wheel Of Time, the original author, Robert Jordan, died in 2007, before finishing the last book in the series. At one point in my life this was the greatest series of books I had ever read, but by the time I had finished book 9 I realised nothing had actually happened to progress anything in the story since book 6, for 2293 pages (exactly). By book 11, another 1659 pages WITH REALLY SMALL WRITING, I just needed the fucking thing to finish. I have also re-read the entire series twice, resorting to the audio books for the third re-read, which has a total run time of 335.15 hrs (exactly). As I write this it is making me depressed so I'll wrap up fast.
 
Brandon Sanderson took over the series for books 12 and 13, which he rattled out in 2009 and 2010, and they were fucking brilliant, he seemed to understand the characters better than Robert Jordan, and he could actually write about the birds and the bees and male/female interaction without regressing the characters to 9 year olds at a school disco. So here we are, present day, I'm going to be 30 in a matter of weeks and there is still no book 14, Wikipedia lists it as "To be completed by Brandon Sanderson". So this is a polite request to stop stalling, writing other shit that nobody cares about and complete the cunting thing. Thanks, Chuff_72.
 

***Hi, welcome back***
 
So, Infinity Blade 2.
 
It's really good. There is a new gem system for buffing weapons and armour, three unique (slightly different) weapon styles and a much larger campaign. I am also a graphics whore and I loved this one long time.
 
The game itself is very similar to the first, slightly refined and with a few new twists on the basic concept, but it is still essentially a glorified Super Punch Out, but I loved Super Punch Out so that's cool with me. The win/lose structure has not changed, so you get infinite tries vs the standard goons, but as soon as you face a boss character you get one shot, lose and this incarnation of pants man dies and you have to start again.
 
There are also about 4 times as many sets of armour, magic rings, and weapons than you will ever need to complete the game, and Mastering them all is as addictive as usual, slap an XP bar on something, give it a loud noise when you fill the bar and you have created gaming crack, congrats.
 
The story that is sprinkled about is just vague enough and alluding to cool things that it pulls you along nicely, there are four or five "after credits" moments, I enjoyed all of them. There is a really nice science fiction element going on too, which was hinted at in the first, but is even more pronounced in this one. The enemies you face initially seem human but further into the campaign become more and more robotic sounding, to the point where a dude climbs into a giant metal robot dog mech to slap/bite the shit out of you.
 
My only real negative would be that in the original you could sell back weapons/armour that you had multiples of and you would occasionally pick up really valuable stuff to sell on, in this one you pretty much only gain money from the bags of gold you grab and from selling Gems, so progress feels more of a grind and it’s more obvious that the devs desperately want you to purchase some extra gold. Anyway, I happily smashed my way through without resorting to virtual gold, but I'm not happy that I have spent a couple play throughs using the same Mastered Iron Stone, all that wasted XP makes me sad.
 
As a Mobile game:
Infinity Blade 2 is pretty much perfect, it can be played in short bursts, the RPG elements add the perfect level of reward vs play time, and the whole thing looks incredible.
 
As a real game:
I guess it would be fun on Kinect, Wii Plus, or Move… But not that much fun.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

BUY KINECT NOW AND THERE MIGHT BE SOMETHING INTERESTING TO DO WITH IT IN THE FUTURE!

Out-fucking-rageous. This advert is on the actual telly-vision. Except unlike the version in that link it carries the disclaimer along the lines of "visionary applications only". 

Basically, Microsoft have created an advert for the Kinect, yet another advert featuring a chilled out version of the Pixies' "Where is My Mind?", showing a whole host of things that might be possible in the future using Kinect but which aren't at the moment. 

Amazing new low from MS when it comes to Kinect. Can't sell any when you show what you can actually do with it today? Then hypothesize about the future. When the product might be useful. I think more ads should be like this one. Fuck four wheeled cars, just advertise flying cars with the disclaimer "made-up future bullshit in no way reflects existing product". Tobacco companies should advertise non-existent anti-cancer medicines to allow us to smoke as much as we like. Just occasionally take an "non existent visionary anti-cancer agent" every now and then to keep lung cancer at bay. Amazing.

Why does this advert even exist? Techheads and technology/interactive academics are really interested in the technology that Kinect uses. The masses that the product was designed for can't see the difference between this and what they already have on the Wii. The people that did pick up the kinect are really fucking disappointed with the  2 average and six shit games that need it. 

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Quality Assurance: The ass-end of the Industry.

Its not often we do a serious article, you know, about real things... But this is something I have had a lot of experience with. And would like to share a few gripes and annoyances with the Industry, specifically "Quality" assurance.

Hey there little man, do you like computer games? Well clearly getting a job in the games industry makes sense that way all your n00b-pwning skills you have accumulated wont go to waste; they are now "experience". So how could you get in the industry? Programming? Nope. that involves a course which takes 3 years, by which time the language you have learned may be defunct. 3D Modelling? Again nope, more course work, and an Art degree... Games Design, Yeah why not, you have played so many games, you know what makes a good game you could write an epic RPG, or create the next 3rd person hack n' slash hit. Oh no, wait, you have to spend more years doing a course on how to design games, which are ultimately, bested in gameplay buy indie hits. So what's left? Quality Assurance. What is required for that? lets see:
  • Do you want to get paid for playing computer games?
  • Do you know what a "bug" is?
And that is your typical QA tester job ad... go check out gumtree, that is where they live. However let me rewrite this with a little reality:
  • Are you prepared to work odd and inconsistent hours for minimum wage? Including 12-16 hour days due to "Crunch-time"* at the end of a project, in part caused by lazy developers and bad management (people more important than you, and don't you forget it).
  • Are you prepared to receive minimal training in non-transferable skills, since you are a trash resource, likely only to be used for a single project, replaced by the next unemployed games playing sucker person that applies.
  • Are you prepared not to work? since QA is sporadic you will not always be called upon.
  • Are you prepared to limit your career and prospects, your prospects are limited to perhaps running a team, however you will not receive formal training, and will just further the damage to bad management.
  • Are you prepared to work on shovelware games that no-one will ever hear of? As all the good ones need real testers.
Quality Assurance, if you didn't know, is usually performed towards nearing the time the game is to be released, to check for errors and problems with the game(s). So all those games you have found problems with are usually all to blame on the "Quality Assurance" budget.

Now it's not just QA that is to blame, as I mentioned before, some of the glinty-eyed low-level testers do make it to management, you know the overweight nine-inch-nails T-shirt wearing bearded ones, which still have issues with women. Now these "men" are in charge of delivering/managing the game. I dont want to get into a management style argument, with relaxed vs strict. though I will say that the latter has proven more productive when the assburgers/ADD ridden games players are involved.

So what is the solution? Well some may argue, there isn't a problem. the games get out there and make money, yet studios fold, and games are still buggy. In this writer's humble opinion, an outlined business plan, with viable and achievable business benefits, and respected, professional testing teams. Could revolutionise and remove the "Crunch-time"* allowing for respectable Quality Control before the game gets releases.

Ahem...

P.S. This is a general overview, there are a few companies i'm aware of out there that actually utilise an efficient and correct approach to projects, and have eliminated the need for crunch time, and cutting quality time/costs. and hats off to you guys.

* ZOMGWTFFFF! it's the project deadline, and all we did was play WoW!!!


Love and Games Industry rantings,

Richie X