Archive for the ‘ESCape Artists’ Category
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By Darwin Geronimo
My love for games extends not only to digital games but tabletop games as well. Companies such as Sony and Microsoft spend millions of dollars developing and designing controllers comfortable to the player’s hands but no video game can replicate the feel of rolling dice in your hands or shuffling a deck of cards or moving pieces on a game board. I look forward to every new tabletop game I receive as much as any video game.
My love for tabletop games arose right around the time I became interested in designing games. I bought my first and still my favorite tabletop game about two years ago after I played it at a convention. The game is called 7 Wonders and to this day, I still consider it the most well-designed tabletop game I have ever played. Thematically, you are the ruler of a civilization based around one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and your goal is to create the greatest civilization in the world. Throughout the course of the game, you build structures that enhance one of your civilizations traits such as military might or available technologies. The beauty of the game lies in its draft mechanic. Each player chooses a structure to build from a hand of cards and then gives whatever cards they do not build to another player while also receiving a new hand of cards from a different player and the process is repeated. The most interesting part about this mechanic is that all players perform this step at the same time. Therefore, rather than the game lasting as long as the sum of all player’s turns like in a typical turn-based game, it is only as long as the sum of the slowest turns amongst up to seven people making for a rather fast-paced strategy game.
What truly interests me about 7 Wonders and tabletop games in general is the communication of the rules of the game. Tabletop games do have many of the same liberties as video games do. A video games programming will often restrict players from breaking the rules of the game, though kudos to speedrunners for finding holes amongst the rules of the game. The thing enforcing the rules of a tabletop game is each player’s understanding of the rules outlined in the rule book. Designing a rule book is one of the most crucial parts of creating a tabletop game. All your mechanics from your game are derived from the rule book. If a player fails to understand what is written in the rules, then they are not playing the game you had intended them to play. It is an excellent exercise for beginning designers to create a tabletop game and to effectively communicate the rules of said game. That is why as an aspiring designer, I will hold tabletop games in the same regard as video games.
About the Author
Darwin Geronimo is a 21-year-old senior from California State University East working toward his Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Physics with a minor in Mathematics. His specialties include scripting, game physics, data analysis, and critical problem-solving. He hopes to one day break into the industry designing systems and mechanics.
By Sarah Howell
Sunless Sea is a spin-off of a popular browser game called Fallen London by the same company, Failbetter Games. Sunless Sea is based in the same universe and the player takes on command of an Unterzee steamship as their captain, whose background and goals are customizable. The player only wins when they achieve the goals they set at the beginning of the game, or when they discover their calling along the way.
In terms of story, Sunless Sea has few rivals. The setting is alternate history in 1800 and London has fallen underground, the soil overhead closing and leaving New Londoners in a subterranean archipelago. The Zee and Underzee (navigated by Zailors) is filled with danger and meaningful choices that will determine your followers, crew’s mood and general well-being in the world. The player will find quickly that no Captain can survive without trade but the legality of that trade is up to the player. The risk of shipping Souls for Echoes, the currency of Underzee, might outweigh the gain if the police of New London get a hold of the ship. All this and more, important crew members, smugglers and crime lords, hinge on the player’s pull and influence that they gain in their travels. More than items can be sold; stories and news also fetch a tall price from isolated islands but getting there is risky, but necessary.
A character’s death is permanent, Sunless Sea even warns you that many captains will die before the player fulfils their ambitions and masters the game. A captain’s passing, however, lends perks for the next captain to reap whether it’s in the form of knowledge, connections or treasures. In this top-down rogue like game, players must navigate the Zee, avoiding pirates and monsters and maintaining their crew’s sanity in the pitch blackness of the Underzee. The game’s map is built on a tile system and few islands are permanent fixtures between games, adding another challenge to the Unterzee. In SUnless Sea, you are expected to embrace the challenge; you are even expected to die (several times). The only question that you have to answer is this; how?
After the release of Hatred, a lot of people were angry about the whole game; In fact, the game was removed from Steam Greenlight but was brought back a few months later. With a goal to kill as many people as possible, the game started people wondering “what kind of game am I playing?” It started a lot of controversy – shouting about real life events that are similar to this game – and describing it as a serial killer simulator. After looking at the game I can certainly agree with that analysis.
At first I saw it as some arcade style shooting game playing some bad guy. But the more I saw of the gameplay, I found a lot of disturbing things about Hatred. And I can understand why some people compare it to actual incidents that are similar to Hatred, which offend them. So now the question is, when it comes to video games should there be a limit in regards to Moral and Ethical terms?
I agree that there need to be a limit as to what the designer does. Sometimes the designer can get his research wrong which can be insulting to a group depending on a past or recent event which led to a lazy design in game development. Extra Credits went over this topic a few times on several games whether made by a famous publisher or just a few designers.
The sad part about this is that some people who design such horrible games don’t care how everyone reacts to it or who it offends. There have been Top Ten about these kinds of games all over the internet with even more disturbing ones out there. I even took part in a class talking about some of them and describing how loathsome they are.
It’s the job of the developers, designers, and programmers to stop and think about what they put in their games otherwise there will be conflict with a lot of people that will be offended with what kind of game is put out there. Now, I’m aware that not every game is perfect; even though other games people are familiar with also got a bad recognition like GTA and Payday. However, in those games you don’t have to kill people at random, and in Payday the game takes away points if you will, from a random citizen.
But there are times when a game company or a few designers do it because they think it’s a good idea; but a lot of times it isn’t and there will be consequences. I know that there are better games with smart developers that avoid ways to make a game raise controversial questions.
About the Author
Brian Massey has been studying game design for 4 years now. He is 21 Years Old. He earned the Deans Honors List last semester. He has learned game design aspects such as 3D Modeling and Special Effects. He went to Japan to Form Software in a study aboard program to learn more about the company. He hopes to not only be a part of a large game design company but also that one of his game ideas be created and shown in the real world.
1. 100 Bullets – Great storyline, great characters, and options to go the team-mission solving way, or, the vengeance seeking regular guy.
2. Sandman – Pretty sure this would have to be an RPG. Not really a shoot him up. Again, a nice set of characters to choose from with the Endless Ones there.
3. Saga – Yes. Yes. Yes. I love games I can play with my Sig Fig, and this is an excellent candidate for a well illustrated, couple friendly fantasy game.
4. Reiko Zombie Killer – This is an anime, but I think an anime style zombie fighting game with cool “familiar,” like characters would succeed in alt-world/Hot Topic Yugi-Oh collision of some kind.
5. The Goon – man I love the goon, another great illustrated comic, with a loveable lead, and awesome diverse villains for some cool special moves.
6. We3 – Obviously, it would have 3 characters, but cyborg animal fighters sound awesome!
7. Transmetropolitan/Doktor Sleepless – Crazy weapons, body modifications, and another awesome potential game world.
8. Dark Tower Series – Technically, it’s a book first, but I loved the illustrated series that Stephen King has, and if I had to choose one, it’d be this guy, and I’d play up the riddles.
9. Sweet Tooth – Cute. Who doesn’t love forest creatures in flannel? I’m obviously a big Ani-Morph fan.
10. Phonogram – But instead of Brit Pop, it’d really just be indie music mythical creatures, gods, etc.
By Sarah Howell
Since rumors of its existence the Oculus Rift has captured the attention of many. Since its conception – which is the very nature of the thing – the Oculus Rift, also called Oculus or Rift, is a virtual reality head-mounted display developed by Oculus VR, an American virtual reality technology company founded by Palmer Luckey and Brendan Iribe. It originated as an independent company, raising US$2.4 million for the Rift’s development, before they were acquired by Facebook in March 2014 for roughly US$2 billion in cash.
The Rift began when Luckey developed the idea of creating a new, better, head-mounted display that was both more effective than current models and more affordable. Luckily, John Carmack had been doing his own research into the idea and stumbled upon Luckey’s ideas and developments.
In 2012, days before Id Software announced that their updated version of Doom 3 would be compatible with head-mounted devices, Luckey’s first prototype was shown at the Electronic Entertainment Expo. It was a duct-taped, head-mount unit that featured a high speed IMU, 5.6-inch (14 cm) LCD display with dual lenses positioned over the eyes to provide a 90 degree horizontal and 110 degree vertical stereoscopic 3D perspective. The headphones will use HRTF audio, to mirror a 3D environment more effectively.
The consumer version of the Rift is projected to be released Q1 2016, next year. Developers promise that improved tracking system, adjusted seating and standing perspective and software updates will make it more realistic. Development kits have been released to game developers, keeping them up-to-date with the software advances. Even though a hefty price tag, US$1,500, is all but promised on the first consumer VR versions, it is likely that virtual and augmented reality will become a part of our daily lives.
Sarah Howell is a 25-year-old graduate with a Bachelor’s of Art and Science degrees in Entertainment Design and Game Design and Development, as well as a minor in writing. She is skilled in story creation, management, 3D modeling and multimedia design.