Deconstructing the game: Mass Effect

Anyone following me on twitter can see that my relationship with Mass Effect has been one of love and hate; mostly hate. I remembered really liking the game when I started it up back in 2007 but that was a very busy year work wise for me and so I never got too far on the first planet I traveled to, Noveria. When I returned to the game I only felt it was right to start over so as to get the full experience and then just plow through to the end.

While playing through the game I ran into a lot of hurdles toward my enjoyment of the experience. For every ten issues I would have, however, one great moment of sheer brilliance would show up that would keep me playing. I guess you could say it was similar to my experience with Hotel Dusk in a way, except Hotel Dusk wasn’t by a “AAA” developer and also isn’t an RPG.

Mass Effect is a great story wrapped around a game marred by a lot of problems that really get in the way of the actual gameplay being fun enough for all the effort put into completing it. While playing through the game I kept thinking about how much better SNES RPGs handled some of the same things that Mass Effect tried to tackle on almost every level such as inventory systems, switching partners, informing the player of how to play when a new vehicle is introduced (hell, ALL of that is in Chrono Trigger alone, let alone others), etc. and so forth. Continue reading

Deconstructing the game: Vanquish

Ah Vanquish… where do I start? I’d be lying if I said the first trailer, you know the one that featured live action footage and flying flower petals, blew my socks off. Or even had me anything more than perplexed. I mean, here was a brand new game by quirky awesome developer Platinum games, and it looked… bland and a hint like Halo and Gears of War. The white suit, the live action… the current trend of bullshit space marine games being popular in the west… I was worried that Vanquish was a compromise to try to make a western friendly game for a studio that generally does its own thing.

The reality is that Vanquish, while a game rife with space marines in it while also on the surface very Western friendly, doesn’t follow the curve; it rocket slides around it, under it, laughs at it and turns around and shoots it in the fucking face with rocket launcher; while in slow motion. Vanquish is an amazingly playable cover based shooter that stands out in a genre that I usually find to be not compelling and somewhat generic. Continue reading

Some more sprite interaction

This is a representative animation of our hero, Brad, gut punching Ugly John and lifting him up; probably with some bad intentions. This was done in photoshop (where I do all of my animating) and was just a test to see how things might look in a game type situation. Because of the way photoshop animates, Ugly John is stuck moving at the same slowed down pace as Brad, the bigger, stronger character, but of course when these guys are up and running in some sort of playable form, they will be animated at different speeds. Also, I cut straight to the gut punch just to shorten the animation for this test. Usually it would need a little more punches to the chin before activating, like most brawlers out there… if this were an actual game.

This is probably the last interaction piece that I do until Brad and Ugly John are done completely (full sprite sheet) and ready for my pal to start the whole interactive process. And while he does that, I will continue the whole writing a design doc thing that I’ve been working on for so long. Continue reading

Do they play video games in what?

Gibberish as a way to convey characters speaking to each other in a game is one of the worst design choices… ever.

It’s almost like leaving a kill screen in a game, because it gets me annoyed to the point where either the volume goes down or the game goes off as my eyes start bulging while animals or what have you go on sounding out shit that couldn’t even be conversation. Granted, there are some (many) games with voice acting that is atrocious as well, but I’m not talking about those games here as that is, while probably far more rampant, more likely the result of poor production planning than a dumbass thinking he is clever making a heinous error.

And at least a kid playing a game can understand Sonic saying some dumb one liners, instead of smacking his head in dumbfounded confusion while Squeely the pig oinks and burps over pages of on screen text. Continue reading