Thursday, February 28, 2008

GuitaRPG Features Showcase

Special thanks to Nick Bakewell for jamming out on his real guitar, and Jrhee for reminding me to make the video.

Check out the small version over to the right!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Reducing the Clutter

Games have become increasingly flashy and cluttered with special effects, numerous enemies, bombastic sound, and poor representation of these elements in the overall balance of the gaming experience. It is obvious that games don't have to be this way, and, if you trace the history of gaming from before we had controllers and computer processors, you'll find that games thrive on simplicity, straightforwardness, and elements that clearly communicate their function and rules. Such values I privilege in my assessments of videogames. After all, at the end of the day, if you have two equally fun, challenging, and deep games but one has a high learning curve that involves hours of play before the player can begin to train their eyes to sift through the gallimaufry of graphics, and the other is so cleanly presented that even those who aren't into gaming at all can watch you play and not only understand what's going on but offer helpful comments and/or advise, then it is clear that the latter game is better than the other.

In this post, I'll take a moment to point out some of the trends I have found that most easily lead to creating cluttered gameplay experiences.

simultaneously moving and shooting
  • Certainly some games handle this ability better than others. In general, the functions of moving and shooting work to deconstruct each other. In an FPS, if you try and shoot at an enemy, they'll probably move out of the way. As they're moving, they'll probably shoot at you. To keep yourself alive, you have to move as well while continuing to fire. Unfortunately, both character's movements shift the targets and thus the aim. This awkward shuffling dance is something I like to call the FPShuffle. At its worst, both players can't hit each other and dance around madly about until a lucky shot is delivered or some outside factor intervenes.
  • In non FPS games, moving and shooting generally increases the negative space of a given battle field. Take Geometry Wars for example. Once the game picks up, as you move away from you enemies and thus from danger, you can shoot in the opposite direction. The enemies in this case don't have any projectiles to fight back with, so they must mindlessly pursue you through your trail of hot death. Relatively, when you continually move back and shoot as the enemies continually move forward and die, you're practically standing still. Think of it like running around on an endless plain of nothingness. No matter how far you go, you're really always at the same place: right where you are. Of course, the sides of the stages in Geometry Wars provide boundaries, but these boundaries do little to reduce the expansion of the negative space into an endless plain.
  • Of course, when looking at cases of moving and shooting, you have to look at what extent each option is strategically important. In Super Smash Brothers Melee, the characters in the game have a lot of movement and dodging options. When players grab the super scope, fire flower, or ray gun, they have to fire it from a stationary position. Because these projectiles fire straight, they're relatively easy to predict and out maneuver. Before you say that the shooting function in this case is clearly secondary to the opponent's ability to dodge, it's important to note that the projectile wielding player still has access to their ability to maneuver, dodge, and most of their fighting moves as long as they're not firing. So the balance comes from using one's normal moves while switching strategically to the projectile. It's also interesting to note that Super Smash Brothers Brawl adding the ability for players to fire such weapons while moving. The ability to dodge multiple times in the air was added as well. It is clear that with the increase in air maneuverability and control comes an increase in to ability to shoot thus keeping both elements in check and balanced.
over powered player ability
  • If the player has too much control and power over their environment and enemies, then the developers have to do increasing more to ramp up the difficulty in a game. Take Geometry Wars again. Because the player can shot a dazzling spray of bullets, the enemies are simply no match. To keep the player interested and challenged, the game eventually fills the whole screen with different kinds of enemies the majority of which can be destroyed with a single shot. Doing this not only significantly adds to the amount of base level information that must be processed for the player, but it eats up game resources as well. Geometry Wars Galaxies for the Wii features a two player offline multiplayer mode. Even on a system as powerful as the PS3, online play for this game would be impossible. The speed at which the games moves and the amount of enemies on the screen is too much information for our current internet speeds.
  • Ultimately, the challenge in a game comes from the balance between the player ability to destroy the enemies and visa versa. Keeping the levels lower keeps the game manageable for the player and the technology.
speed of character/enemy movement
  • In the same way that the player's power is only relative to their enemies, speed is also relative to the enemies and environment. If the enemy bullets in a game travel blazingly fast, and there is no cover/defensive system, the player has to be able to out maneuver these bullets by moving even faster.
  • The sense of speed in a game can be created in a variety of ways. The most obvious method of creating speed is making the elements on the screen move faster so the player has less time to react to them. However, this same feeling of speed can be simulated by distracting the player. If the player just realizes a tiny slow moving bullet is inches away from blowing him/her up, then they'll feel that the bullet swiftly sneaked up to them regardless of how fast it actually travels. Giving the player a few simple things to actively process can fill their attention so that the game feels fast because of all the mental calculations they must do.
over bearing graphics/sound/special effects (especially for death animations)
  • Everyone loves cool graphics. Beyond telling us where things are by giving the objects in a game shape and form, they can simply look cool. According to the design philosophies of "form fits function," any sound or visual element should fit the function it has in the game. If I shoot an airplane out of the sky, I don't want to hear it moo like a cow. If I dodge out of the way of an energy blast on level 6, I don't want to secretly get hit by the invisible part of it because the programmers forgot to tighten up the graphics. Likewise, when I destroy a tiny insignificant enemy plane, I don't want it to explode in a dramatic lingering explosion especially if the explosion effect obscures my view of the game. Everyday Shooter features very interesting vector graphic effects that at times can get in the way of the gameplay. There are times when I lost sight of my character or incoming enemy bullets because the explosions were so dazzling.
  • Devil May Cry 4 has a similar problem. I feel that the developers were so proud of the graphics and animations they made for the main characters Nero and Dante, that in battle their flashy displays can be distracting and often obscuring.
invincible frames
  • Game designers used invincible frames back in the NES and SNES days to develop the challenge of a game without having to do too much work. In other words, such developers did what they could with their limited time, resources, and, most importantly, experience, and I appreciate the hard work they put into their games.
  • Now, there is no excuse for having obvious and excessive invincible frames for characters, and especially for enemies. Granted, invincible frames are completely necessary to create balance (especially for fighters). However, there is a skill and a craft into making them as clandestine as possible. Super Smash Brothers Melee does a great job hiding these frames by appealing to the 3rd dimension. If you get up from being knocked down to the ground, you have momentary invincible frames. If a projectile is traveling right at you as you stand up, it'll pass right through as if your character stood up and to the side dodging the blast. It's the same way for all the dodges in the game. You can even pause and see that the characters shifts quickly into the foreground or background to avoid attacks. The straightforward logic in these invincible frame concealments falls in line with the principle of "form fits function." Clearly being able to see a character side stepping a vertical attack needs no additional explanation.
  • Even games like Everyday Shooter and Geometry Wars concealed invincible frames nicely. If the player blows up and is spawned back into the action, they are invincible for a few moments so they can get their bearings straight. To add a form that fits these invincible functions, both games change the look of the player graphic slightly. They appear to have a small shield around them. When this shield goes away, it is obvious the invincible frames have run out.
  • Games like Devil May Cry 4 do a poor job of concealing their invincible frames. Knock an enemy down to the ground in DMC4 and you're free to slash them to pieces. But when they start to stand up, you can't do any damage to it at all. Your sword appears to pass through such enemies as if they were a ghost. What makes standing up so completely untouchable? You would think with all the next gen power in the PS3 and Xbox360, developers could have found a better solution.

combos that are practically a substitute for a standard attack
  • Thanks to the work of developers like those at Capcom, combos are now ingrained into our videogaming consciousness. With a little skill, timing, and know-how, a player can string together a series of moves where, if the first hit connects, the rest are guaranteed. Why settle with just one good hit when I can get in a few? This is the essence of a combo attack: fitting together moves like a jigsaw puzzle in context to an enemy and a given situation. There is a significant level of satisfaction in finding these combinations.
  • When a game makes combos for the player to use that are as easy as hitting the same button over and over, or what's worse, hitting any button randomly and repeatedly, the combo loses its appeal. If any player can easily string together attacks in a combo, usually, the game boils down into a button masher and the enemies are given more health so that the players don't pile through them without any challenge. Kingdom Hearts suffered from this. In essence, the simple combos in Kingdom Hearts replaced the function of a one hit standard attack. Doing this is an easy way to drag out a game into mindless button mashing.
Parts of a game that the player can affect without seeing the direct results
  • Interactivity, the heart of the videogame medium, is essentially cause and effect; input and output. If I shoot that barrel of oil, it'll explode. If I arrange these blocks, they'll disappear. Being able to see, hear, or anticipate an event, do an action, and then experience the results is important for building the fiction of a game world and teaching the rules and intricate mechanics of a game.
  • This is where camera positioning and perspective are key. If you're battling enemies in an area by shooting arrows at them, it's important to see where those arrows hit whether it's on the wall or in the enemies. But if the camera or screen is positioned in a way where you can't even see what happens to the arrows you fire, then that's a part of the cause and effect that you're missing out on. If it's important for the player to know, then why hide it off the screen?
  • Geometry Wars suffers from screen positioning. Because the player is super powered with the ability to shoot wide spread bullets with unlimited ammunition, they're often killing enemies and hitting targets that are off the screen. As the game becomes increasingly more difficult, the player automatically gets a faster fire rate and more enemies to hit. More enemies and more bullets means more things that can happen off screen. To the player, it's all good because they're getting more points, and they don't even have to think about it. But that's precisely the issue at hand. The more the player can turn their brain off to the cause-effects of the game, in a sense the less interactive the experience is for that player. And because that works to deconstruct the core of the videogame medium, it can be said to increase clutter within a game.
too much HUD
  • This is an easy one. HUD stands for heads up display. It simply consists of all the menus, tags, meters, maps, radars, and any other pieces of information the game designers decide to slap onto the screen. Too much HUD not only literally clutters the screen, but HUD of this nature is implemented because the designers feel that it is important for the players to have such information at easy access at all times. In other words, the designers feel that the player must have access to information that they can't otherwise or easily gather from just looking and listening to the game. When there's too much HUD, the player tends to use the game visuals less while relying more on the information in the HUD. An example of this in Halo could be something as simple as running around with your eyes on the radar instead of on the screen because the radar can tell you if there are opponents lurking around the corner.
  • Valve's Team Fortress 2 designers wanted to do away with abstract and distracting HUD items. For them, if they could have everything from classes to characters be instantly distinguishable and understandable from a glance, then that would be more powerful than having to read such information from any kind of HUD. Instead of a map or radar, they designed their internal spaces to utilize shapes and light to guide the players naturally to their goals. Each class has a very distinguished design and animation that can be recognized in dim lighting or from a far. I believe it was Matt Groening, creator of the Simpsons and Futurama characters, that believed a cartoon character was good/unique when anyone could recognize them from a silhouette. Such game design decisions help to prove how powerful "form fits function" is in an interactive medium.

Theses are just a few games that I've mention that have some clutter some where in their design. Hopefully, you'll be able to come up with some more examples. Feel free to post any that you think of.
  • geometry wars
  • everyday shooter
  • Devil May Cry
  • Ninja Gaiden
As a final note, I invite you to play Neo*RPG if you haven't already. And if you have, play it again. The download for the game can be found along the right side under the "Downloads" section.

Neo*RPG is an example of a game that eliminates every single one of the types of clutter that I have previously outlined. You can't move and shoot at the same time. Your character isn't overly powerful at all. The speed of movement for the enemies and characters seems slow at first, but quickly feels fast as the levels becomes increasingly complex and the enemy design starts to layer together. The graphics are minimally designed, while at the same time were added to communicate a specific function or condition. There are no invincible frames. Combos emerge from the simple mechanics. In other words, there aren't built in combos. They all have to be set up. All the action is all on the screen. And the HUD is very minimal.

Playing Neo*RPG should give you a hyper clean gameplay experience. Though it's far from perfect, Neo*RPG is a great game to teach with and learn from, and I will be continually referring to it in the future. In the meantime, go find some clutter.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Language of Creators

In an article at called "So You Want to Make a Game" several indie developers are interviewed about their craft. I lifted a few quotes from the articles that fall in line with the approach I'm taking with my games and that support the kind of critical-thinking we do here on the blog.
  • Go find the mechanic at the heart of a favorite title
It's important to start a game off at the core by thinking about the core mechanic.

  • For Desktop, Preece created a game based solely on the real-time strategy genre's "mazing" mechanic -- forcing units down a path of destruction -- and banning any feature that didn't interact with that primary mechanic.
Preece's approach to game developing involves focusing solely on the primary mechanic/function of his game.

  • Mario is like that. There's already some interesting things about Mario when you're just moving him around. He's got a bit of inertia. If you hold the jump button, he'll jump a little bit higher.
As if taking notes straight out of Miyamoto's book, Mak understands the power of making a game around a mechanic that is fun by itself. Once you do that, the game practically makes itself. After all, you don't have to worry so much about making a fun game when simply moving the character around is satisfying.

  • What I'm trying to say is that If you have a turd and you try to add stuff on top of a turd, it's still going to be a turd.
Many games these days are not only building on "turds," but they're copying and stealing turds from other games. It's a sad cycle. I won't name any names.

  • Don't get married to your idea. With myself, I've seen is I'll spend all this time making this technology that didn't really lead to good gameplay, but I spent three months on it so I'm going to use it no matter what. You can't be afraid to throw out work that you didn't like.
There are many mechanics and elements in Neo*RPG and GuitaRPG that I had to let go of as I went along. You can even find little traces of the magic system that I left in Neo*RPG. It's tricky and buggy, so I don't recommend clicking the scroll wheel anytime soon.

  • As you play a lot of games, you get a sense of when a game is pretty tight. I think Street Fighter is pretty tight. Maybe I should say Mario because it's simpler. Is it? N is tight. You can tell. There's no need to add anything else. It's really tight. Every aspect of this game is talking to each other and enforcing each other. And if I add anything else, it'll destroy that equilibrium.
Supporting the primary function of the game is ultimately about creating that sense of wholeness, balance, or "equilibrium." If the options and elements that are being added don't enhance the game or primary function in a significant way, then perhaps it shouldn't be added (especially when the game is nearing equilibrium). It takes a lot of skill and experience both for the game maker and the critical-reviewer to bring to the surface and express this balance. Hopefully, by participating in the design challenges on the blog as well as the development of GuitaRPG, you'll becomes a crafter that has a leg up on understanding and explaining the craft.

Game makers have a unique and privileged perspective on games. Just look at the success of Nintendo under the leadership of Satoru Iwata.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Critical Casts #5 Everyday Guitar Bros.

In this podcast we, my brother and I, talk about Everday Shooter and GuitaRPG. The show also features a "special guest." As I promised there is a new design challenge ready and waiting for all of you to tackle.


I'll have the latest GuitaRPG demo and the Design Challenge post up soon.

Show Notes:
We out.

Design Challenge #4

Take your favorite RPG (or any RPG) and describe an element from that game (battle system, menus, story, scenario, etc.). Tell what it is, why you like it, and try to comment on how that idea can be combined with music and incorporated into GuitaRPG.

  1. Fire 1, 2, & 3
  2. Final Fantasy Series
  3. Magical Spells. Collecting a wide variety of spells many of which increase in power.
  4. Each spell in GuitaRPG could be a small musical riff/phrase that can be used by executing a specific button combination. The resulting sound of music will correspond to the "spell" in one way or another. Perhaps Fire 1, 2, & 3 would be a rock guitar riff that increases in difficulty as your fingers burn their way across the "frets."
Feel free to post as many ideas as you want with as detail of RPG stories as you want from your past.

Kangaeru ne (Think about it)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Eureka! Level Design... I've found you.

If you listened to the latest podcast, you know that I've been mulling over how to approach solidifying the level design for GuitaRPG. Here's a short list of all the elements I've been tossing around...

  • How they move
  • How they attack
  • How the represent music
  • How music is made through their interaction with the player
  • How to have 4 players without them crowding each other
  • How the player moves considering the limitation of the Guitar Hero controller
  • Coordinating moving/music/and attacking
  • power meters
  • combo meters
  • roulettes
  • and other notifications
RPG stuff
  • Turned based/Real time
  • Random Battles
  • world map/dungeon map/battle area
  • How all these elements work with music

Well now I have the answer. In my head at this moment, I'm battling in GuitaRPG and I'm having a blast. I know that doesn't mean much for you guys because you can't play what I'm thinking. I'll surely get to work pumping out a demo of my mind. In the meantime, let me just say that it's a combination of...

  1. Grandia's Battle system
  2. Crystal Chronicles
  3. Dragon Quest Swords
Special thanks to Peter Gault who's own ideas for a Guitar RPG game helped jog my thoughts back on track.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Design Challenge #1 Charlie Wilson's Advance Wars

Charlie Wilson's Advance Wars (referred to as CWAW from here forward) is the name of a game that is built into a sort of matchmaking service using the online muliplayer functionality of Advance Wars: Days of Ruin. This game merges elements from the turnbased strategy, ARG (alternate reality game), and communication genres of videogames. Inspired by the major motion picture Charlie Wilson's War, CWAW creates an environment where politics, money, and power is free to circulate between the involved players, and a world where one player can covertly turn the tables of a war.

In order for such an elaborate set up to function, the necessary elements of war and politics must be set. These include choosing sides, picking one's battles, and obtaining and distributing wealth of any kind.

Choosing Sides:
CWAW can function optimally with 10 participants. Though the engine can support more than two warring factions, for the purposes of this write up I'll keep things simple by only using 2 even teams. The armies of 5 can be gathered in number of ways. Random teams can be selected from a group of 10. The groups can come as a clan of 5 members. Or teams can be assigned to balance the sides based on online rank/skill level. The assigned teams are permanent.

Picking One's Battles:
The battle maps for CWAW are not chosen at random, nor are they selected and agreed upon by the players. Instead, individual battle maps are linked together to create a "world map" or more specifically a large section of land. On this map, each side has a square that represents their capital building. This square represents a map that is a heavily guarded against enemies. Besides the Capital square, there are a variety of other types of squares. One type of square contain balanced pre-deployed maps that came with Advance Wars. Another type features the most balanced makes where players have to build their own units. Each team takes turns picking battles on the map.

It may sound complicated. But, just think of the world map like a normal Advance Wars level except each square on the world map zooms into a a level in Advance Wars. The world map set up is very similar to the campaign mode where each step represents a battle that determines how you progress through the game.

Obtaining and Distributing Wealth:
This feature of CWAW is the most important feature. In order to turn the tides of the battles that are unbalanced for the attacker (ie. the capital and adjacent squares), the attacking side must secure and assign additional support for those battles. Support can come in a number of forms.
  • Additional Units
  • Additional Buildings (cities, factories, etc.)
  • Land Deformation (ie. destroying bridges and roads, or cutting down woods)
Generally, in order to obtain support, a player must win a battle on one of the balanced map. To keep things as simple and streamlined as possible, after the a player wins on a balanced map (and their victory is reported), they get 1000 funds. The player can then decide to do one of several things with the funds. They can save it, or spend it, or donate it. When the player saves their funds, after enough wins, they can collect enough money to enter a match with additional support. A player can buy specific units to start the match with or, with significant funds, they can buy additional factories or captured buildings to help them turn the tide of a stacked battle. If the player has no need for any amount of the money they've earned, they can choose to throw their support behind a teammates' battle. It's easy to see how with a simple set up like this, the skilled players will quickly become influential and pivotal in determining how their army proceeds and the success of their actions. In order for the army to secure success, they may have to collaborate, vote, and pull their resources together. But if a particular player has a different plan, and this player has never lost a battle, then they might take matters into their own hands. From the three simple actions of save, spend, and donate, a world of negotiations can occur.

More Complexity:
I have just described the simplest version of CWAW. From such a simple idea, the rules of CWAW can become much more deep and complex with elements that can shape the strategies of individual battles instead of just looking for a clear cut winner and loser.

What if a player could earn more than just 1000 funds from a particular battle? There are a number of options for adding more variety and bonuses to each individual battle in CWAW. Each map can have special winning conditions that would add to the funds given to the victor. For example, a possible bonus condition could be something simple like, if the player goes out of their way to capture 3 additional buildings, then they get an additional 3000 funds if they win. This bonus would be available to both players and would be best suited in a pre-deployed map where the number of capture-able infantry units are fixed. In such a situation, it is possible that the losing player might sacrifice more powerful pieces to eliminate all of their enemy's infantry so that they don't receive the bonus upon achieving victory.

What if the funds for winning weren't fixed at a minimum of 1000? What if the funds were determined by the players overall performance based on the set of statistics displayed at the end of the game? These stats include the number of days, units left, funds spent, loss value, properties captured, how many of each individual unit was used or produced, and how many of each individual unit was lost in battle. By crunching these numbers, it is possible to determine and reward the more swift and economical player.

Using funds to establish additional properties is a powerful option that would only be balanced by its expense. An alternative to doing this could be to build units elsewhere and drive them, ship them, or fly them to the battle field of choice. There are several missions in the previous Advance Wars games that require the player to protect specific units for a number of days in order to achieve victory. This idea is very similar. In CWAW, players can move special units from map to map. In order to move a unit safely, the player has to keep the unit from being destroyed in addition to winning the battle.

Coming up with interesting ideas is easy. The world map can be modeled after real world places, or reflect real world battle sites. The map could change climate depending on the real world weather conditions for that particular day. CWAW is quite flexible and can be as complex as you want. What's most important is that the battles have a sense of place that connects to a bigger picture, and that each player participates in the war through three simple actions. Save. Spend. Donate.

To run and maintain CWAW can take very little time and energy depending on how complex the rules are. All the information can be maintained by a single person without coding anything. A simple spread sheet or even pencil can paper can get the job done. And this job isn't any more involved than being a banker in a the board game Monopoly. In fact, CWAW is very much like a board game like Risk. Furthermore, CWAW is not that different from Mario Party if you substitute the mini games with Advance Wars matches, squeeze the spaces closer together, add more players, put those players on teams, and place it all on a map instead of a colorful Mario theme board and you pretty much have CWAW.

Hopefully, I'll be able to find 10 or so participants to try CWAW out. If I do manange to pull off a demo run of CWAW, I'll let you guys know.

Till the next design challenge.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Critical Casts #4: Music Merging with Games

In this cast, I discuss how GuitaRPG has progressed, where it fits in the grand scheme that is the merging of videogames and music, and some thoughts I'm tossing aroudn about GuitaRPG's level design.

The link to the cast...

DOWNLOAD Critical Casts #4

You can always subscribe to the Critical Casts podcast via iTunes. The links to the feed/itunes is located to the right under Critical Casts.


Show Notes:
There is no new design challenge for this week. Keep working on the last one.


Monday, February 11, 2008

Design Challenge #3

In the future Design Challenge posts, I'll elaborate on the ideas that I discuss in the podcasts. The posts are numbered by the podcasts where the challenge was introduced. If you have an idea, comment, or concern about a particular design challenge, these posts are the place to express yourself. You can post links to pictures or write out your ideas as you see fit. You can think these challenges as far as you want through the design phases. I'll be sure to read and comment on everything in one way or another.

Here's the design challenge from Critical Casts #3.

Take a book or any kind of story where there isn't any action and try to design a game that reflects, simulates, or teaches the themes/lessons/ideas. In other words, try to adapt a non-action book to a game keeping in mind all the principles of solid game design. Examples..
  • The Bible
  • Aesop's Fables
  • Any non fiction text (a history book/event)
I already have my idea percolating in the back of my mind. I'll give you guys a hint. It involves this man...

Friday, February 8, 2008

Assembling Allies

Critical-Gaming is growing. The blog now features original podcasts, videos, essays as well as other content that promotes the development of Critical-Gamers. On that note, I introduce Peter Gault. Peter contacted me expressing his interests in gaming. Because his views lined up with the views and aims of being a Critical-Gamer, the only course of actions left was to join forces. As the Critical-Gaming blog finds the best place for Peter and his contributions, don't forget to show your support.

Here's an article that Peter wrote. Hopefully this will be the start of a back and forth correspondence between Peter and myself in which we will discuss innovation and where Mario Galaxy fits within the spectrum. So without further ado....

Quality as Innovation by Peter Gault

Seth Schiesel, in his 2007 games of the year round up, criticized Super Mario Galaxy for its supposed lack of innovation; such a statement, while questionable within itself, also brings into question the definition of innovation. If we are to take innovation as simply being “things that are different” then yes, I would concede that Super Mario Galaxy is not “different” from the other Super Mario games. However, innovating a game is not simply tacking on feature x, which hasn’t been done before, and saying, “look, innovation!” Rather, a game provides an innovative experience by providing a fresh experience; this can be from new features, but also from refining the features that have been previously developed.
Before addressing the question of innovation in SMG, I would like to use another case study, World of Warcraft. WoW was not innovative, if applying the definition used by Seth Schiesel. Player vs. player combat, mailboxes, and dungeons were all things present in previous MMO’s such as a Everquest or Dark Ages of Camelot. However, World of Warcraft innovated the genre by tying these elements together in a way that no other MMO had. For example, the mailboxes, while not a new feature, were integrated well with the auction house; one could bid on an item, and then go out questing in order to pick up the said item anytime from virtually anywhere on the map. This support of the questing structure enhanced the flow of the game, providing for a better overall experience. Likewise, the player vs. player works so well because any player can easily jump into the battleground quest while being able to wait and do other things in the mean time. World of Warcraft did not succeed in bringing in a ton of new features, but innovated on the features already present.
In a similar manor, Super Mario Galaxy innovates by providing arguably the best Mario experience ever. Granted, it is based off previous games, but it refines that experience with a tighter control scheme and a better camera. Overall, it provides an awesome experience for the player in ways that Super Mario Brothers 3 can not.
As the game industry looks to the future, it should not simply be thinking, “how can I provide new features?” Rather, the thought should be, “how can I provide a better overall experience?” A game that can refine and redevelop a genre is innovative in its quality, not its novelty.

-Peter Gault

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Critical Casts #3 GuitaRPG

This podcast is all about listening....

You can download Critical Casts 3 HERE

Now you can watch it...

GuitaRPG youtube tutorial

Show Notes...

Download the GuitaRPG demo..HERE
  • If you don't have a guitar hooked up to your PC, try using 1-5 for the fret buttons and to strum.

Use this GlovePIE script (just copy paste it)

Key.i + Wiimote.Rumble= wiimote.RawAccz > .75
Key.m + Wiimote.Rumble= wiimote.RawAccz < .30

Key.1 = Wiimote.Classic.A
Key.2 = Wiimote.Classic.B
Key.3 = Wiimote.Classic.X
Key.4 = Wiimote.Classic.Y
Key.5 = Wiimote.Classic.ZL
Key.6 = Wiimote.Classic.R
Key.8 = Wiimote.Classic.Minus
Key.9 = Wiimote.Classic.Plus
Key.Backspace = Wiimote.Classic.Down
Key.Backspace = Wiimote.Classic.Up

Wiimote.Led1 = true
Wiimote.Led4= true

Key.P = Wiimote.Plus
Key.M = Wiimote.Minus