Posts Tagged ‘iphone’

GamingMMORant

Dear Indie Game Developers…

Last year for E3, I made a post with a few guidelines I would have liked game developers to keep in mind while practising their craft. Naturally, nothing changed but I think I’ve found a new audience to plead to.

Steam Greenlight

A few days ago, Valve launched Steam Greenlight, a customer facing round-table where game developers (typically small companies and indie set-ups) get to present their digital babies and a raving horde of juvenile imbeciles Steam customers either rip the living shit out of them or fawn like drooling nincompoops critique and provide feedback in the hopes of uncovering potential hits and grooming them to take their place in the Steam store itself. It is, of course, a colossal travesty of ignorance and fanboy excess an exciting process to witness! So…

Dear Indie Game Developers…

…not every RPG game has to have blue text boxes and a white font. We get it, it’s ‘retro’! It’s like Final Fantasy! But you’re also drowning in a sea of similar clones who all had the same bright idea.

…you’re not a huge developer with hundreds of employees churning out mountains of quality assets and hours of content for a triple-A game. Stop pricing your slightly-better-than-shareware like it was the next Fallout or Call of Duty.

…I know ‘Hunt for the Ember Lodestone: The Challenges of the Fire-Scorched Demon Mistress from El-quor-Marankta Seven‘ sounds impressive, but unless this is the latest long-awaited part in a hugely successful series of games, maybe you should lay off the subtitles and pick something a bit more snappy/memorable.

…yes, Minecraft was very successful, yes, it wasn’t a wholly original game and yes, Notch has more money than he knows what to do with now. But, no, not every game has to be a multi-player adventure sandbox world-building survival-based voxel game. Basically, if you find yourself appending ‘-craft’ to the title of your game, you’re a joke.

…and while we’re at it, no Slender clones, no Super Meat Boy clones, no Terraria clones and no Day-Z clones.

…just because every major game these days seems to have a near-endless trail of DLC in its wake, like an incontinent goldfish, doesn’t mean you should. Your original content barely qualifies for DLC status alone so why do you think you can piecemeal it even further? You’re offering a game that doesn’t have the backing of hundreds of artist/coders/designers/musicians behind it – you should be offering more, not less (for more money).

…stop using the ‘retro‘ tag as an excuse for producing terrible graphics, ear-grating music and one-dimensional gameplay. We know you’re not really paying homage to anything – you just suck. That goes for ‘old-school‘, ‘classic‘ and ‘nostalgia trip‘ too. You’re not fooling anyone.

…your pretentious experimental art/thought journey ‘game’ might have gone down great guns at Indiefest 2004 but please don’t get too upset if it doesn’t appeal to the knuckle-draggers just coming down from a 8-hour L4D2, CoD, TF2 stint.

…enough with the silhouette artwork already. Yes, Limbo did well and looked great but they used it for atmosphere. You’re just a lazy bastard who can’t be bothered to spring for proper graphics.

…maybe your droning, nasally voice isn’t really suited for promoting the game in your trailer. You’d probably do fine for YouTube unpacking clips, rants about how Blizzard screwed you over in the last patch and narrating your clan’s new CoD kill-fest but for your game, just stick to gameplay clips and music. It’s for the best.

…while we’re on the subject, you and your friends aren’t voice-actors. The professionals get paid for a reason.

…six players at the same time doesn’t make your game an MMO project.

…just because whatever engine you’ve licensed can do a screen full of glows, motion blur, bloom effects and depth of field, it doesn’t mean you have to go crazy using them all. Calm down.  And no amount of post processing will cover up terrible graphics, anyway.

…spell-checker. Use it.

…let me guess, your game is all about zombies, right? Yeah, well, so is 95% of the other games on Greenlight. The rest are hidden object games or dating sims.

…you might have done well with your sub-Facebook game on the iPhone/Android or whatever but people might be expecting a little more meat on the bones of their PC games.

…people will figure out you’re nothing but hot air if all you’ve got to show are renders of art assets. Maybe wait until you’ve actually written some code before trying desperately to stoke the hype train up to speed?

…engines. Nobody cares you used the Unreal/Cryengine/Unity engine for you game as long as it’s good. You don’t get a special badge for mentioning it.

…engines. Nobody wants to play a game you churned out after ten minutes with some tatty game-maker. You might think you can get away with not mentioning it but we all know.

Thank you.

GamingRant

Press [A] for Awesome!

Dragon's LairYears ago, there was a game in the arcades (ask your parents) called Dragon’s Lair. You might even have heard about it. Since ‘retro’ became cool, it has been ported to every single platform in the known universe. What was once a game that came on a big silver Laserdisc (ask your parents) the size of an LP (ask… oh, just face it, I’m old), can now be played from the palm of your hand on an iPhone or Android unit. It differed from other games at the time because instead of being given immediate and direct control of your character, you were prompted at certain specific points for an input (joystick direction or button mash) that either led to success or death. Think one long quick-time event and you’ve pretty much got it sussed. Get the waggle right and your character did some awesome death-defying dodge and got to live on to the next precarious event. It was very popular at the time. Not so much now except with the retro freaks.

Games moved on. Players wanted more than linked FMV, no matter how lush it looked or how action-packed the canned moves were. They wanted control.

But these days it looks like we’re coming full circle. One thing I noticed from the demos shown at the recent E3 – canned awesome is back. Yeah, we have control over our grizzled soldiers, our wrong-man-at-the-wrong-time-in-the-wrong-place or our plucky English roses with an archaeology fetish but jabbing away at the game pad now has them cinematically leaping across obstacles, wrestling weapons from foes and performing grisly take-downs that’d have most action movie stars green with envy. Have we reached a tipping point where we’re once again handing back our control just so we can look awesome?

We used to get our awesome quota from cut-scenes. If we needed our protagonist to look just that little bit more heroic and death-defying than the game engine could muster, the cut-scene would be there to show us the big explosions, the cityscape-altering alien invasions or simply the snappy back-and-forth banter that would have been missed if done in-game while we were too busy scouting round for that last health pack pick-up. But cut-scenes got too big and people eventually complained that they wanted a game, not a movie with only occasional joystick waggling.

Watch DogsThese days cut-scenes are sneaky – popping up in bite-sized chunks every few seconds in triple-A titles. They’re integrated into the gameplay with the developers worried that you’ll lose interest if you’re not seeing something humongous, kinetic and awe-inspiring taking place in the game world every third or fourth step your character takes. Round a corner, blammo! Open a door, surprise! Scratch your nose, woo-haa!

I admit, canned actions of cinematic awesome look nice but ultimately leave me feeling a bit unfulfilled. I know that while it was my random button jabbing that brought the moves into being, I’m not really responsible for the dynamic and rather graceful way my hero is separating the bad guy from his spine. I don’t deserve it. That’s not skill. Just like Dragon’s Lair, I’m simply pressing the right button at the right time. It’s how you play the game, it’s what I’m supposed to be doing and yes, more often than not, it does look amazing but I just don’t feel… awesome.

Gaming

LocoRoco Yari

Way back in the mists of time (okay, somewhere around 2008-ish), I worked on a port of the popular Sony PSP game LocoRoco with Marco Mazzoli. Yes, that Mr. Mazzoli of the excellent iPhone/iPod/iPad game, Spirit. That one I keep on mentioning. You did buy it, right?

The port was for the Sony Ericsson Yari – a phone with motion sensing tech, so fairly ideal for the gameplay that LocoRoco delivered. My task on the project was a general reduction of art assets, reworking the bitmap graphics for the phone’s smaller display and reducing polygons for all the levels and scenery. Marco did an excellent job in producing an accurate recreation of the PSP gameplay but the destination hardware wouldn’t have been able to cope with the original game assets so everything needed scaling back somewhat. The levels basically lost 50% of their polygon count.

Not possessing a Yari myself has made it a little difficult for me to see the finished game in action so I’ve always had to rely on the kindness of strangers. By ‘strangers’ I mean Marco and by ‘kindness’ I mean a link on Youtube of the gameplay, uploaded by a random Yari-owner (thank you, Aivlys2010). Enjoy!

Gaming

Spirit v1.1 update

Spirit for iPhoneA little while back I posted about Spirit, a new game for the iPhone and iPod Touch created by Marco Mazzoli and you all rushed out (well, tapped your way to the Appstore) and bought it. Right? You did, right? It’s still only $0.99/£0.59p, a bargain for such a great game. Of course you did – you’d need to be some kind of freakishly drab ne’er-do-well, tighter than a duck’s chuff whose mere existence is a blight on all creation not to have snapped such a slick and entertaining game up at that price.

And now you have even fewer reasons to hold off purchasing this top title as just the other week Marco released version v1.1 of Spirit, introducing the much anticipated OpenFeint integration, adding a new ‘Extreme’ difficulty mode, tweaking gameplay and smoothing out some kinks under the hood.

The OpenFeint feature adds online leaderboards meaning, if you’re like me, you can now quantify how horrifically bad at the game you truly are. If however you’re vaguely competent, you’ll enjoy measuring up against all your friends (you did get your friends to buy the game too, right?) and rubbing their faces in your sheer excellence.

The Extreme difficulty mode kicks off right from 1-1 with a full board of busy enemies who appear to have been hitting the Red Bull all night. Everything is quicker and more aggressive and again, if you’re like me, your ass will get handed to you in very short order. But, if you like a challenge and want to prove your legendary gaming prowess, getting to the top of the Extreme leaderboard would certainly go some way towards doing so.

The update is of course free so everyone smart enough to have snapped the game up already can enjoy these new features simply by visiting the Appstore again. Everyone else, buy the game. Now!

Gaming

Spirit for iPhone and iPod Touch

A few days ago a friend of mine, Marco Mazzoli, released his first iPhone/iPod Touch game called ‘Spirit‘.

It really is a great game, one which I thoroughly recommend and I’m not just saying that because Marco will find out where I live, and beat me to death with a sock full of batteries while I sleep if I don’t… is a friend but because it looks great, it’s very slick and the gameplay is incredibly more-ish.

Previously, you’d have to go along to the iTune Store page and stare vacantly at the screenshots presented there, trying to imagine what those lovely images would look like if only they moved… as if by magic! Well, not any more as Marco has put together a video of the gameplay and made it available on YouTube.

Now, in theory, I should be able to embed it on this post…

Phew!

So, as you can see, an excellent game and definitely one you should rush off and purchase right now! Especially since it’s still available for the low, low price of  $0.99 / £0.59!