Game Review #10

Trine

Trine is a side-scrolling action platformer and puzzle game.  It was developed by the Finnish company Frozenbyte.  Trine has received recognition for being one of the most aesthetically pleasing and well executed puzzle platformers in recent years.

The narrative of Trine is straight-forward and not too exciting, but it does hold your interest.  It takes place in a forsaken and ruined kingdom. After enjoying a period of great peace, the king died without leaving an heir, plunging the kingdom into political instability. Taking advantage of the chaos, an undead army suddenly appeared and attacked, forcing the inhabitants to abandon the realm.  After an unspecified amount of time, Trine begins with a thief searching for a legendary treasure in the Astral Academy, an institution of magical studies. Unknown to her, a wizard remained at the academy to study the skies, while a knight arrived there to protect the academy. The three meet at the chamber of the ancient treasure and, touching the object at the same time, disappear.

These three characters become the main characters of the game Trine.

  1. Thief: The thief’s main weapon is her bow.  The bow can be charged by holding down the fire button before releasing, and longer charges make for farther, straighter shots. The thief also has a grappling hook which can be fired at wooden surfaces and used to swing to other platforms.  The thief’s possible upgrades include shooting more arrows with each shot, faster charging of her bow, and more damage inflicted with flaming arrow.
  2. Wizard: The wizard has the ability to use sorcery to move objects remotely, as well as conjure new objects into existence. Initially, the wizard is only able to conjure a cube-shaped object. However, he acquires the ability to conjure long, straight objects, called planks.  The cube and plank behave as normal objects, obeying the laws of physics and gravity.  Later in the game, he learns the ability to conjure a floating object shaped like a small pyramid.  They remain at a fixed point in space, unless the wizard moves it, and can can hold weight and be used as a new platform.  Conjured objects are primarily used to help overcome obstacles and reach difficult areas. The plank, for example, can be used to bridge gaps.
  3. Knight: the knight’s initial weapons are his sword and shield.  He acquires a flaming sword during the game, which inflicts more damage and can light torches. The knight also acquires a sledgehammer.  He has the ability to lift certain objects and hurl them.  His shield can be used to deflect enemy attacks, as well as falling objects and projectiles.  The knight’s possible upgrades include additional sword damage, charging attacks, and additional sledgehammer attacks.

The core mechanic behind Trine is the use of physics.  Each character can interact with various objects found in the game using different abilities.  Everything in the game is subject to gravity and laws of physics.  You have to time your jumps, as well as the creation of boxes, pillars, and platforms.  Trine uses Nvidia’s PhysX physics engine to provide objects and characters with full physics interaction.

The player controls and switches between the three different characters to try to complete levels. There is also a cooperative play feature, whereby multiple players can join in at any time to control different characters simultaneously.  Each character has their own health and energy meter.  Energy is used for certain weapons and abilities, and is replenished by blue-colored bottles found throughout levels.  Health is replenished by collecting heart-shaped containers, which result from destroying certain enemies. The player also has a single experience meter that is shared among all characters, and is improved by acquiring green-colored bottles found throughout levels.  Every 50 experience points, each character is given one point towards the purchase of upgrades to their abilities.

When a character dies, the player must choose another living character to continue playing the level. If all three characters die, the player is sent back to the last checkpoint crossed, and all three characters are resurrected.

My biggest complaint is that there isn’t large variety of enemies.  There are only a few varieties of skeletons, flying bats, and the occasional big beast creature.  However, I think this game is all about being a platformer, not a fighting game.  The enemies are there just to add some challenge and fun.

check out the game at:

http://trine-thegame.com/site/index.php?page=home

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Herigstad lecture

This week we were to listen to guest lecturer Dale Herigstad.  He lectured on several ideas, including the idea of layering in augmented reality. Herigstad discussed the idea of layering information and designs in a single, 3D space, calling augmented reality the layering of information and designs in a single real life 3D space.  I feel that not being able to see this lecture and only listening to the audio made it much more difficult to understand.  It seems that he had a powerpoint or some sort of visual aids that he relied on and made numerous references to.  It was hard to really picture what he was saying.

He also made reference to the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3TL80ScTLlM.  This video was somewhat confusing.  It didn’t really seem like they were participating in the world.  They were in this bubble of technology and it seemed that they were just interacting and changing things for themselves.  I like the idea of having technology like that at your fingertips, but not to that scale.

I think that the idea that you can know things about people using implants and  just looking at them changes the way people will interact.  Seeing a list of people’s likes and dislikes before you even meet them will cause you to act differently and possibly not approach them at all.  How will you really get to know people?  This technology could be great for certain things, but it does scare me to some extent.

Herigstad talked in depth about layering.  It is the idea that you can tap into other information that is outside of the current program, while still being involved in the current one.  He gave the example of how it is already a part of our lives.  On almost every sports event on TV, there are various tickers and scoreboards placed around the screen.  You can also find these in great quantities on news shows.  These tickers are insight into another program, but while still watching your current program.  It creates access to more information and makes you aware of a greater space.

Overall, I enjoyed this lecture, but I don’t feel that I got all that I could out of it due to the lack of video.

Game Review #9

Torchlight

Torchlight is an action-role playing game released by Runic Games.  Development of the game is led by Travis Baldree, designer of Fate, and Max Schaefer and Erich Schaefer, co-designers of Diablo and Diablo II, joined by the team that developed Mythos.  This fantasy-themed game is set in the fictional town of Torchlight and the expansive caverns and dungeons nearby, which adventurers explore to collect valuable loot and battle hordes of monsters.

The player controls a lone hero who explores a series of randomized dungeons, fighting large numbers of enemies and collecting equipment, gold, and other loot. The game also features a single town which serves as a hub, to which the player character can periodically return to buy and sell items to NPC vendors and obtain quests. As the protagonist delves into the dungeon, a series of quests are presented which involve battling unique bosses that advance the main storyline. Optionally, the player may take on side quests, random quests or visit branching dungeon areas. The graphics are three dimensional and viewed from an overhead perspective, similar to the isometric perspective used in the original Diablo. The game is controlled using a point-and-click mouse interface and keyboard hotkeys.

The game generates each level of the dungeon by assembling modular “chunks” of the game environment. Each chunk is designed by hand and may be composed of multiple rooms. They can contain scripted events and interactive objects such as levers that open secret doors or cause bridges to move. This approach to level generation is intended to create dungeons with more purposeful design, instead of environments that simply look like “crossword puzzles that have been extruded upwards.”

I stumbled upon this game through Steam, a free digital distribution and multiplayer communications software.  It’s great for people who play, or want to play games on the computer.  They constantly have great discounts on various titles.  Check it out.

Torchlight features 3 character classes:

  • The Destroyer is a wandering warrior skilled in melee combat, although he also has the ability to call upon ancestral spirits to produce magical effects.
  • The Alchemist is a spellcaster drawn to magical power of Ember. He can fire blasts of magic and electricity from his specialized focus glove and can summon imps and steampunk-styled robots.
  • The Vanquisher is an elite city guard, sent undercover to investigate the town of Torchlight. She specializes in ranged weapons and can also use traps against her foes.

This game has a great “fun factor.”  It’s a hack-and-slash, but doesn’t have a lot of button mashing like most games of its genre.  There is a multitude of  ways to upgrade your weapons and items, as well as pass them to your other characters.  This creates much more interest in the game overall.

My biggest complaint is that you can’t re-specialize  and experiment once you have chosen your skills.  I would like to try all of the combinations of skills on each character, but unlike most other games, once you choose your skills, you are stuck with them, unless you make a new character from scratch.  Other than that, the only thing that I wish it had was more unique fights.  There are a unique few boss fights following the storyline, but throughout most of the game, the fighting style stays the same.

Overall, I would say that this game is worth trying out if you can find it for a discount during one of Steam’s sales.  Its a good buy if you like titles such as Diablo.

Project so far…

Our group project game is all about spreading joy.  It takes place during a sad and gloomy time on the BSU campus, finals week.  You play as Charlie Cardinal and run down McKinley giving hi-fives to students in order to cheer them up!  However, beware of the professors because they will cause your “Joy-O-Meter” to decrease.  If you can make it down McKinley and to the scramble light, you can consider your mission a success.

We currently are finishing our storyboards.  We need to solidify our ideas and actually write them down and draw them.  We first started doing this using the computers and a Wacom tablet, but found that it was a lot faster and more organized (although a little less pretty) to do it by hand.

I am most excited about learning to utilize Flash more effectively.  I’ve been looking at open source code and trying to alter it to fit our ideas.  So far, it has been a lot of fun, and knowing a little bit of Java helps occasionally.  We have been discussing alternate ways to control the characters in our game and have found something really interesting.  Hopefully we can get it to work.

Game Review #8

Nanaca Crash!

This ‘Kitten-Cannon’-like game may be the most ridiculous and intricate one yet.  You launch your bike into as many of a certain type of people as possible.  Each color person has their own effect, whether it be to launch you in a certain direction, or just stop you dead in your tracks.  Seems simple right?  Well, after playing this game further, you can see that each color person can change what they do.  There is a meter called ‘special’ in the top right corner.  This tells you which color person will give you a special when you hit them.  If you manage to do this, you have to click the screen within a few seconds of it telling  you to, and you get a huge boost in speed and height.

To make it even more complicated, the purple girl acts as a “through.”  Hitting her causes you to go through her like nothing has happened, as well as the next person you hit.  However, if you get the purple girl as a ‘special,’ it can create a combo and make things even more complicated.

Another reason that this is different than most ‘kitten cannon’ games is that you can actually hit yourself either up or down by clicking the mouse while the ‘Aerial’ text in the top left corner is glowing (red for up and blue for down).

Although this game does have some strategy involved, it mostly is just a game where you pray for luck.  All you can do is click at the right times and hope everything falls into place.  There aren’t many resources or other objectives, but the outcome is of the upmost most importance… bragging rights.

Despite this being a more complex game, it is definitely worth checking out.

Give it a try! http://megami.starcreator.com/nanaca-crash/

Game Review #7

Summoner 2

Keeping with the theme of the week, women and games, I chose to review a game that I played a few years ago with a strong female lead character.  The main character is Maia, a goddess reborn, with the extraordinary ability to turn into powerful guardians, or summons. Maia must heal the legendary Tree of Eleh, the source of Aosi, the language of creation. Along the way, she meets a host of characters, including Yago from the original Summoner game. As Maia travels across the worlds of Halassar, Galdyr and the incredible Twilight Realm, she discovers her ultimate goal, and the being that seeks to stop it from occurring.

This game actually has a few female characters.  Out of the eight total characters, three of them are female.  Each one has their own unique personality and are actually the most interesting characters in the game.

1. Maia is the character which players will nearly always have in their main party. She can use swords and maces, and has fire magic which has the potential to be very powerful if enough skill points are spent on it. On top of this, she can also turn into powerful summons. Her versatility easily makes her the most powerful character in the game.

2. Sangaril is a Munari assassin sent to kill Maia 10 years beforehand, she was only 16 and had never seen joy before. When she saw the happiness Maia gave to her people, she could not kill her and has been her protector ever since. She uses swords & daggers in melee. Many of these are based on Japanese weaponry. She is also the only character that can equip Crossbows.  Her skills include stealth, backstabbing, poison, etc, and if used correctly can be very damaging.

3. Iari is a mystery throughout a large part of the game.  Her origins are mostly unknown, but she is a machine made by the legendary gods of the Munari, the Unseen.  She is a mystery to all but Morbazan, who seems to know something of her past.

Although Maia looks like a female idealization, she is not over sexualized.  She has fairly modest clothing and the story is mostly based on her actions as the hero, not as her as an object.  I don’t think this necessarily makes any women want to play this game because of that, it is simply an observation.

Overall, I think that this game had some issues with the gameplay itself, but had a good story and was enjoyable.

Women and Games

I must say that this video was quite insightful.

I do believe that there is and has been a bias against women in gaming culture.  It seems that it is more socially acceptable for a guy to be a gamer than a girl.  A lot of women play casual games such as flash games or The Sims, but gaming seems to be male dominated.  Why is it that women aren’t perceived as being gamers?

The industry is portrayed as full of action games with a more masculine feel, but now-a-days you can see loads of more feminine and gender neutral games on the shelves.  There are tons of casual games out there, and these casual games may be the key to changing the way that the gaming industry works.  The video shares the idea about getting more women into games by starting them out on casual games and working their way into other games.  They use these casual games as a gateway to gaming.  This is a very interesting idea.

But why aren’t there as many women gamers as there are men?  A lot of people believe that it is the portrayal of women in games that drives them away.  Some games are full of scantily-clad women, which are used as a selling point.  You can almost tell that these games are written by men and for men.  However, those who always blame the game designers for this sexuality are mistaken.  As mentioned in the video, it isn’t always the game designers that make these female characters into sex icons.  He gave the example of Lara Croft. She is the idealized female character and sex symbol of gaming, but she wasn’t created as that.  She was meant to be a strong female Indiana Jones type character.  It was the marketing department and others that made her the sex icon that she is now.  Nevertheless, the sexuality exists and could be driving women from games, and if games hope to bring in more of a female audience, this may need to be changed.  Women don’t necessarily want to see or play as any of these sexually charged characters, however, as the popular advertising slogan goes, “sex sells.”

Hopefully with the earlier introduction of girls to games and through more casual gaming, more women will feel welcomed into the gamer community.  If we can get more women into the industry and create more diversity, games can only get better.  Having a women’s perspective on a game during creation can greatly impact it’s design.  Men and women view things differently and adding this viewpoint can add elements to games never before thought of.