Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Call of Duty 3 (Wii)

Time playing = 30 minutes - 1 hour.

First Impressions -
So, I loved Call of Duty 1.
I played Call of Duty 2 next, which was pretty awesome, but it felt like it was getting repetitive, and didn't add too much new stuff to the formula.
I played Call of Duty 1: United Offensive after that. It was boring.

I loaded up Call of Duty 3 (Wii version) and I did not expect much.

From the first hour of gameplay, it plays just like the other call of duties. It has a short tutorial, then throws you straight into an intense battle. And of course, every soldier has his little commentary about random stuff. (And seriously, that whole incident with the "Let's retreat dudes/I'm gonna shoot you soldier!/Hey Look, I found a hatch! was just dumb.)
Then you have to go into battle again.

The interface in this game is really, really clunky.
I don't see how a Nunchuck + Wii Remote makes this game any more interactive than a potential PC counterpart.
To shoot you have to hold B (The trigger underneath - Right index), which is sensible.
To use the SIGHTS you have to hold A (Top round button - Right thumb), which is understandable, but doesn't make any more sense than pressing Z on your keyboard.
To change stances you have to tap or hold down Z (Nunchuck - Left index/middle finger), which is okay in theory, but takes some getting used to.
Jumping requires the pressing of C (Nunchuck) with your left index finger, which again, is not any more innovative than using the Space Bar.
And then it gets really awkward by having you use "<--" to throw grenades and "2" to use binoculars.
Just to clarify: The top of the Wii Remote contains the 4 directional buttons on a "plus." The bottom contains the (1) and (2) buttons. Both sets of buttons require extra effort to get to, and are not accesible without looking down at your remote and/or letting go of B or A.

Pressing "<--" is not very fun at all. I'm gripping the WiiMote with my right hand, index finger on the B trigger, thumb on A, and the rest of my fingers underneath. My other fingers are NOWHERE near the 4-Directional cross, or (1) and (2). Just to press either of those requires me to stretch my thumb to an uncomfortable position, which also makes me lose my aim, which then makes me throw the grenade really high up instead of straight, thus effectively killing myself or my fellow soldier.

Using the Wiimote to aim is more realistic I guess then a mouse, but it's very shakey and hard to keep your shot steady. This is probably more life-like, but it is annoying when you're used to perfect aim for so long.
Finally, turning is a nuisance. If I try to get my character to turn a little bit, I aim the remote to the left a tad, and he doesn't turn at all. If I try to make him turn 90 degrees, I gleefully slide the remote to the edge of the screen and he makes a quick 180. So when I'm in a CQB situation, I'm lucky if I'm even facing the enemy.
If I played the game longer, I'm sure I'll get used to it.

I only played the first mission, and those are my current views. If I play the game longer, I'll probably get used to the controls setup, but for now, it seems really foreign to me, and uninnovative. And I don't even know if I want to play the game longer, because it contains essentially the same combat and gameplay that I've played through in the first 2 Call of Duties, which I thought was even getting repetitive. So for now, I don't want to play the 3rd one.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, February 22, 2007

LOST - That last episode.

The last episode of LOST was boring and it made me realize three things:

Nothing happened in the last episode.
This episode was basically boring. The whole episode had all the characters arguing in each other's faces and acting crazy about nothing.
Sawyer and Kate are the first LOSTies to actually ask questions about the island's mysteries flat out, and once again they get a partial answer which is open to speculation (The kids have a better life...).
Jack for some reason can't stop screaming or yelling, and going on a temper tantrum.

And I've been waiting forever for something to happen. The first episode of the (NEW 2nd half) season progressed the story alot. The second episode with Desmond explained mysteries, raised questions, and progressed the plot a little.
But I'm still waiting for them to rescue Jack and attack the others which they have literally been promising for about 5 episodes in the NEXT WEEK ON LOST, but instead fill the episodes with 20 minutes of flashbacks which could've contained more story...

No mysteries were revealed.
NEXT WEEK ON LOST: 3 of the answers to the biggest mysteries are revealed!
But really, nothing is revealed, or nothing that you already knew, or didn't even care about knowing.

I enjoy mysteries and hints rather than answers and explanations.
It's true. I don't want to be flat out told what the hatch does, why the others are there, what the smoke monster is, and all that stuff. I want it to be a mystery. I want them to keep feeding me hints. I don't want the answers, not right now at least.
I want to form my own theories about all the clues out there. I want to keep thinking about the big picture.

But I do want the answers eventually. If LOST ever finishes without answering all the questions, I will kill somebody.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Top 10 Things to have in a FPS

# 1 - Bullet Time
Almost every single new FPS has some kind of bullet time feature where time slows down and you can shoot ten enemies at once. It increases the game's awesome factor by a power of 2.
Awesomeness of a game = [(Features + Bullet time)²] * [Graphics]

# 2 - HDR Lighting
This is a new fad. It's like back when 3D was invented, and if you had a 2D game, that meant it was ugly, even though the 2D graphics looked 5x better. You just have to have this in your game today.
Graphical Score = [(Textures + Rendering) * Animation] + (HDR Lighting)³

# 3 - Vehicles
If you can drive around or fly around in a game, then the game is cooler... for some reason.
Fun level of a game = (Weapons / Artificial Intelligence) + [(Puzzles)*(Combat)] + (Vehicles/Combat)

# 4 - The Weapon List
The weapon list for every FPS goes something like this:
Melee Weapon: Could be a wrench, crowbar, knife, sword, etc.
The Pistol : Any normal pistol will suffice. You just have to have one.
The Assault Rifle: This will be the all purpose gun for most of the game.
The Shotgun : If you don't have a shotgun in your FPS game, then it will probably be bad.
The Machine Gun: Sometimes it's in there, sometimes it's not.
The Rocket-Launcher: Most games have this, but sometimes it's out of context, so it's scrapped.

Weapon's Score = [(# of Weapons in game)*(How good the weapons are) / Length of Game] + Special Weapon

# 5 - The Special Factor
Sometimes an FPS comes out of nowhere claiming it's better than all the rest because of
X= Gravity Gun.
X= Vehicles.
X= Pretty graphics.
X= Innovative weapons.
X= That one feature in Prey where you can become an eagle and walk out of your body... or something.
[(Special Factor) / (How bad the rest of the game is)] = (How good the special factor is).

# 6 - Jumping Puzzles
Jumping puzzles have slowly diminished over the past years. I can see why too.
Call of Duty would've been twice as good if they included a jumping puzzle in Stalingrad to get up onto the top floor of the apartment. You would have to jump with your partner through a series of broken rooms until getting to the top where you could finally snipe the enemy. If you fell once, you would die. Also, the enemy would be shooting at you through the open windows on the side while you continue to jump on groups of furniture, crates, and broken walls.
Jumping Puzzles = (Fun) / (Frustration)²

# 7 - Crates
It is impossible to have a First Person Shooter without crates. A FPS without out crates is like defying the laws of gravity. How else would you fill up empty rooms? Where else would you hide obscure packs of ammo and health? And what else could you use for your jumping puzzles?
# of Crates in a game = [(# of Urban Areas in Game) * (Length of Game)] * [How many ammo packs you need to stash]

# 8 - Keycards
There will always be locked doors in FPSs. Something has to open those doors. And that something has to be hidden at the end of an unnavigable maze that has dozens of baddies guarding it. Fun.

Somehow this is dying out with jumping puzzles.

# of Keycards in a game = [How bad a game is] * [How many locations in the game]

# 9 - Two Different Enemies

It's not fun enough to attack your enemy. It's twice as much fun to have two different enemies, so then you have a 3-way hate triangle. Then, you can watch your two enemies shoot each other over and over from a distance instead of playing the game. It's so much more fun.

if (combat == repetitive) {
then: enemy[zombies].EnterScenario=true;

# 10 - Bad Voice Acting + Dialogue

It's a new fad. Take corny dialogue, and then have it read and acted out terribly.

if ((story == Subpar) && (Production_Values == low)) {

then: Bad_Dialogue.Enabled=true;


if (Bad_Dialogue.Enabled == true) {

then: (80%) BadVoiceActing.Enabled=true;


Labels: ,

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Next Gen FPS

First person shooters have existed for the past 10 years. Over time, they have slowly developed to include new features. DOOM had your arsenal of weapons, and made you run around arenas, pick up keys, open doors, and shoot enemies. As the years progressed, games like Half-Life came around, where it wasn't all about shooting. New features were introduced like sneaking around, solving puzzles, using vehicles, and new weapons.
And now it's been about 15 years since the first First Person Shooter came out-what's so different about today's FPSs?

Bare Minimum
- Players should be able to stand, crouch, and go prone (especially for outdoor maps).
- Players should be able to pull themselves over short ledges, even if they can't jump over them.
Interaction With the Enviroment
FPS's for the most part have mainly been combat situation after combat situation in a series of arenas. Games like Half-Life 2 add physics to the equation and make the gaming world a more interesting place to play in.
Interaction with the enviroment barely exists in most FPS games today (e.g. Call of Duty), but utilizing it could do so much more for the game.

America's Army would probably score a 6/10 for interaction. In AA, you can lean, roll, crack open doors, and do some other stuff.
CS would score a 3/10 for interaction. Some custom maps allow for more interaction, but the basic gameplay allows none.

Destructive enviroments have been in games for a long time now, but they seem to do little more than act as eye candy for the player.
Enviroments should change the gameplay, and shape the gameplay, and understanding the enviroment should be useful to the player.

- Lighting is a key factor in any game. Make the lights shoot-outable, have light switches, fuse boxes, power conduits that control an entire room, and other things that control electricity.
- Players should leave footprints, kick up dust, and leave blood if they are shot.
- Enviroments should be destructable and alter the gameplay. A well placed nade should blow up a door, or destroy a section of a wall to create an alternate entrance.
- Objects should be pick-upable and furniture should be able to be moved to create blockades.
- You should be able to shoot down trees, create avalanches, bury yourself in the snow, push a rock off a mountain, or climb up a rock wall.

Skill, Teamwork, Wits, and Manpower
The more ways there are to win, the better.

- Having a primary objective is always better than deathmatch, and including a secondary objective usually makes it even more fun.
- Different objectives=More ways to have fun. Counter-Strike has bomb-planting, hostage rescuing, and VIP missions. America's Army has single objectives by pressing USE on a special object. Call of Duty has Capture the Flag, and Headquarters mode. Battlefield has take the entire map by controlling special zones. You could take all these together and make even more objectives, creating diverse, fun, and different maps.
- Winning should NOT be all about skill. There should be many ways to defeat the enemy, including being skillfull. Other ways might be using teamwork, outsmarting the enemy, flanking the enemy, creating a barricade, rushing one choke point, or some other alternative.
A skillful player should be able to kill an inexperienced player, but an inexperienced smart player should be able to kill a dumb player, no matter how good the dumb player is.
A team of mediocre players using teamwork should be able to defeat a team of professional rambos acting independently on the other team.

For Example (Putting all this together):
2 players enter a building. In today's Counter Strike: Source scenario, all they can do is shoot each other, nade each other, or knife each other, and the enviroment around them is unchangeable, and non-interactive. (Yes you can shoot those wacky crates, break those little bottles in two, but doing those things serves nothing really except for being eye candy.)
The players should be able to shut out the lights, chase each other down in the dark, hide under tables, desks, and chairs, and interact with everything in the enviroment.
One player could cut out the electricity in a section of the building, disabling all lights and doors. The other player could enter the ventilation shaft, and sneak around the rafters.
The first player could set up himself in a room and blockade all the doors and hide in the corner, waiting for his opponent.
The enviroment should be able to kill the other player. Shooting down objects from the ceiling, pushing down bookcases, and shooting explode-able objects should do it.
Then you can add objectives into the map, and having special ways to complete each of them. This makes the conditions for victory change, introducing new gameplay factors, and different ways to play a map.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007


LOST - Borrowing from other media.

Desmond is Donnie Darko. (Time travelling, controlling fate, altering the future)
Hurley is the guy from A Beautiful Mind. (Seeing imaginary people and interacting with them)
Sayid is kind of like Jack Bauer (war torture machine).
The rest - I don't know.

There are two realms of LOST episodes. There are the ones that are heart-wrenching, inspiring episodes like the one where Boone dies. Then there are the ones about Science Fiction, weird stuff, and hallucinations.
It's hard to know what kind of show you're getting into when you watch an episode. You better brace yourself for being confused and having your suspension of disbelief challenged by crazy plot elements.

LOST - Being weird and confusing all the time, and not stopping it.

You will watch the whole show with your mouth switching between half-open gaps, and full open gaps. The occasional gasp will be heard. 3/27 MYSTERIES will be REVEALED. Stay tune, because you've been waiting 3½ seasons for this. >:D

Labels: ,

Monday, February 12, 2007

Beginner's Guide to Drawing (For Adventure Games?)

Alrighty then... I am going to outline several (common?) mistakes that face beginner artists when creating their first backgrounds. All of these mistakes I made myself, and I hopefully have outgrown them by now.

1 - Make A Sketch
When I first started drawing, I had some idea of what I wanted the background to look like, but ideas always work better when fleshed out first. After making a sketch, you can re-evaluate your ideas and change them if necessary.

2 - Color Choice
I think this is quite a common mistake that beginners make. When I first started drawing, I used alot of highly saturated colors. In real life, you won't come across pure blue, red, or white that often. You should choose colors that are less saturated and don't strike out of the screen very brightly (but it all depends on what you're drawing).

3 - Perspective
Many beginner drawings look flat, fake, and unrealistic because of bad perspective. 1 Point perspective is easy once you learn it, and it can help make the leap from a fake drawing, to a more realistic one.

4 - Objects
Rooms exist with alot more than bare walls, blank ceilings, and just a chair or table. This seems quite obvious, but many people (myself included) just draw rooms as bare as can be, until they start thinking about it. There are many things that can be added to a room besides the basic furniture. These could be lights, vents, baseboards, outlets, switches, or other pieces of furniture.

5 - Shading
Shadows can add life to a picture, and make objects stand out, or appear realistically. There's some kind of special rules for shadows, but I forget them or never learned them.
6 - Broken & Dirty

When I first started drawing, I would draw objects as clean as possible. This meant that all tables, chairs, and walls looked liked they were just built yesterday. But as in the case of real life, things get old, dirty, and they wear out over the years. You could add cracks, dried out paint, smudges, or anything that would happen to the item in question if it existed for awhile. You don't have to go overboard though. Some things actually do manage to stay clean :P.

7 - Lighting
It gets dark outside when it's late. Night and day should always be conveyable in your pictures. Make the scene darker or lighter if necessary, depending on whether it is an interior or exterior scene. Always pay attention to your light sources, whether these be lamps, the sun, the moon, or a single light hanging from the ceiling. Lighting is very important to a realistic picture.

Teh Secret Trick! Okay everybody knows this, but flipping a picture horizontally will expose errors that you did not see previously. This is because of something in your brain/eye.

This guide is not based on any proven techniques, professional or otherwise. It is mainly based on my personal experience, and the advice of some other people.

The End.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, February 08, 2007

LOST is back

Despite the negative comments about how the show is too slow, nothing happens, they don't reveal enough, it all amounts to nothing, there are too many flashbacks, or there are too many plot-holes...

...I still love LOST 5x better than 24.

Let's recap:
You have the Dharma Initiative that appears to be a special scientific experiment that challenges all known scientific laws, which occured sometime during the 80s--and they supposedly built all the hatches, stations, and all the stuff on the Island.

You have the Others who are a group of MODERN people on another island off-shore who for some reason play psychological mind games and are very smart. They also keep prisoners (The blonde lady is there against her will?) and want only the "good" people or the children.

You know the island has some mystical powers of black smoke, hatches that have the power to split planes in half, and electro-magnetic pulses eminating from deep within the island.

And then finally we have our LOSTies who are stuck in the middle of this giant mess being tossed left and right, without a clue what's going on. One of them should finally get the guts to say: "Hello others, how did you get on this island, what are you doing here, and why do you kill all of us?" The LOSTies might ask some kind of question like this once or twice, and then they'll leave it alone forever like nothing happened.

I still like LOST. :(

Labels: ,

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Evolution of Adventure Game Interfaces

Since the adventure games have developed as a medium, one aspect has always been in debate--the interface. The interface has the power to make puzzles fun, interesting, or just simplistic and boring.

Traditional text adventures had the "do-anything" interface. To solve puzzles, you just type in whatever is needed. This could be from "Block door with chair," "Eat roast," "Turn on Speakers," or "Close drawer." These are all unique commands which were unfortunately terminated when adventure games "upgraded" to the point and click interface.

In the Sierra interface of the 90s, there were four actions: Hand, Eye, and Mouth, and walk. With this interface there are only four things you can do to your game world, which over-simplifies the game, making puzzles simplistic and boring in most cases.

Lucas Arts had an upgraded version of this by having a total of 9 verbs: Give, Push, Pull, Talk to, Walk to, Pick up, Use, Open, and Close. It's better than the Sierra counterpart, but it still groups all actions to a total of 9 verbs. You could say this is three times better than the Sierra interface, but it still limits interaction with the game world.

And then for some reason in the mid 90s, a large majority of games decided to adapt the "Two-Action" interface. This means, you can either look at the object, or "do-whatever" with the object. It's ultra-simplistic, and removes alot of thought from puzzles. With this interface, you have the greatest chance of a player solving puzzles by accident, or resulting to just trying to click on everything.

Adventure games need to change. For too long they've been stuck in the 2D realm where the player does not think and the actions are too specific and simplistic, and the game is a mesh of recycled cliches.

2 Adventure games have stood out to me as being the next big things in adventure games:
Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy):

Penumbra is a first person adventure game that uses physics and the mouse cursor for you to preform a variety of actions, from pushing objects, moving barrels, opening doors, and various other things. The actions feel natural because of the way you have to move the mouse to actually open the door, i.e. you have to pull the mouse towards you to open a locker door, as you would in real life.

Fahrenheit also has you moving your mouse in a pattern to preform actions, each action specifically having its own special pattern for the mouse.

And now we come to the Wii.
With the Wii, you can eliminate all "verb-bars" and interfaces thanks to the power of the motion-sensor. With the nun-chuck the player can control the movement of the main character. With the Wii-remote, the player can do virtually anything to an object (Pushing it, pulling it, opening it) all by simple gestures. You don't have to have any more push, pull, open, or hit, commands. You can just let the player swing the remote with hard enough force, or hold down the B button to drag an object, or open it. Then the player can use his brain and his movements to solve puzzles instead of randomly clicking on everything and hoping something will happen.

Most adventure games have sadly become just a click-fest without too much thought, but hopefully new technolgical advances like the Wii can give the players a "thinking" chance.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, February 05, 2007


I made a new story which is another Science Fiction thing:

I started another blog about US History. It should be educational: