Monday, August 27, 2007

The Desolate Room

The Desolate Room is an exploration/RPG game about one extraordinary thing:
You play as a coffee machine who must search an island for eggs. No joke.

Okay, but besides that, there is a sinister plot about a virus, destroyed robots, a computer mainframe, trickery, betrayal, and tons of RPG combat.

There are two methods of gameplay in this game:

1) You play as the last robot alive on an island (a coffee machine) (really, you do, but in a serious way) that walks around an island caring for his now dead robot masters. You have to collect various items at different stages of the game by searching the island. Also, you can collect power ups that give you speed boosts. (EXPLORATION and COLLECTING)

2) The coffee robot continues to try to care for his dead robot masters but after uncovering data chips on the island and entering into a cyber-world, Mr. coffee uncovers their past and what led them to their deaths. (RPG battles and MAZE NAVIGATION)

2) (continued) Once you enter the cyber world, you navigate a maze and can shoot at enemies from top down view, like Zelda, except you have a gun. You can pick up power ups that will help you in randomish encounters with enemies that turn into RPG battles. After going through a cyber-maze long enough, you will come upon a boss. After you defeat him, you get more of the story and then a new task that may be in the cyber-world, or the outside world.

The only thing bad about the combat is that it's nearly impossible to defeat any bosses without wandering around in the cyber-space maze collecting random junk to give you a boost in the boss battle. If a random enemy pops out before you reach the boss, you lose that boost and have to go collecting all over again. Without that boost, you stand no chance against the bosses. So, too many battles depend on these little boost powerups scattered throughout a maze, and without them, you'll lose each battle.

However, an interesting feature of the combat is the "charge" bar. When each character has his turn to attack, they only get attacks that correspond to the current level of the bar. The character can then use attacks that are equal to, or less than the current charge level, or spend his turn charging up higher. By using this method, you have to strategize on whether to use weaker attacks, or charge up the bar and risk dying to unlock better attacks.

Overall, it's an interesting game with nice graphics, presenting a well-told story with an interesting spin on RPG combat with a "Charge" bar.

The Desolate Room


Thursday, August 23, 2007

300 in 5 sentences


In Sparta, there are some spartans who live happily and peacefully (while violently and brutally training to become barbaric and unparalled warriors).

In the rest of the world, the Persian army is coming to kill everyone.

The Spartan king takes 300 dudes to a small crevice to fight 1,000,000 enemy soldiers.

The Spartans do pretty good, but they die, while giving enough time for the rest of Greece to fight back later.

This is Sparta.


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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Elements of an FPS

Elements of an FPS (as presentend in numerous "good" shooters such as Bioshock and Half-Life)

The "Safe-Impress the player" Introduction
Start off the game with the player in an impressive enviroment making them amazed at what they just saw. (e.g. the train ride in Half-Life 2 and the opening of City 17, or the reveal of Rapture in Bioshock) You can show danger in this part, but you can't let the player die, otherwise he would get angry and quit the game. (So, that's why I was a little bored in Bioshock. Even though they scared me with enemies on the outside, I knew they couldn't touch me because that would violate the safety rule. Boringness ensues.)

Suggestion: I know I can't die in the beginning because dying that early would be unfair to the player. That removes all sense of suspense and danger. How about keeping the reality of danger there, but make it easy to escape it. For example, after the resonance cascade in Half-Life 1, everything was destroyed. Head-crabs would pop out of nowhere which WOULD ATTACK you, hurting you. But they did hardly any damage and you could outrun them fast. It's better to have that, than just to have nothing and voices screaming at you in the shadows.

Show the Enemy
This is a very simple trick popularized by Half-Life 1. Before confronting the player with a potentially scary or dangerous enemy, first show the player the enemy from a distance where the player is safe, and has a chance to observe the enemy. This is done in the Bioshock Demo multiple times and in Half-Life for most of the enemies. In Half-Life 1, when introducing a new stronger enemy type, they had the enemy contained in a glass pod. To proceed through the game, you had to break the pod, but you had as long as you wanted to to observe the enemy before attacking him.
The seemingly only exception to this rule is when you want to surprise or scare the player with a zombie-like enemy who will leap out of nowhere leaving the player shocked at this new enemy.
(Once again, I wasn't afraid of the giant monster enemies in Bioshock because I knew they were letting me observe them in a controlled enviroment. Safety and lack of supsense ensued.)

Scripted Sequences

A pipe breaks next to you as you walk by; a plane flies by overhead and explodes in mid-air; a wall suddenly explodes and hordes of monsters come through; these are all scripted sequences that will catch the player off-guard (usually) and increase the atmosphere and tension. The only thing they serve is the "cool" factor and they usually trigger when they player walks onto a certain tile. Rarely do they provide any signfigance to the gameplay. There were several moments like this in Bioshock and I was like, "That's great, it looks kind of cool, but I know it has nothing to do with anything."

Scripted sequences are fun when you actually have an impact on them. In the Bioshock demo, there was an enemy below me pounding on a door, trying to get the occupant to open it. I wanted to see what would happen so I didn't shoot him. Nothing actually happened. I think it would be cool if different things happened if you shot him or not, but that wasn't the case here.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Bioshock Demo



The Good:

- Presentation: the world, the characters, the story, the setting; they were all interesting.

- The enemies are real people, not clones; they had conversations with each other; they had lives and problems before I decided to hack away at their guts. It almost makes you sorry for killing them.

- You have weapons - you have plasmids - you have enemies - and then you have the enviroment - Each of the four is a variable in an equation that you have to write in every combat encounter. How do you evaulate the answer? That's up for you to decide.

- The enviroment didn't have random junk lying around for you to walk over and pick up. You had to search the place and press use to pick stuff up.

The Bad:

- I thought it was kind of illogical that your plane happens to crash right in the middle of the giant atlantic ocean within 50 feet of a mystical tower that happens to descend into an underwater metropolis. I also thought it was awkward that there was an invisible wall in the ocean ten feet away from the tower so I couldn't swim away, and that the horizon was way too low making the scene look fake.

- I remember in one room there was about twenty things that I could pickup and I just picked up everything having no idea what each did. It was almost like a bad adventure game.

- I didn't get to fight a Big Daddy? : (

The Ugly:

- Scripted sequences no longer make me go "Ooh! Aah!" I lost that after playing Half-Life 2. Now whenever a plane crashes or a pipe breaks, or a door explodes, I just say, "That's nice developers, but I know that's a scripted sequence! I'm not impressed!"

BioShock Demo:
8.5 / 10.0

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Computer Geek Jokes™

How does the computer geek go surfing?
On his key board.

Why didn't the computer geek want to go to the hardware store to upgrade his PC?
Because it was a hard-drive.

Why doesn't the computer geek like to garden?
He hates bugs.

Why was the computer geek so slow?

Because he ran out of memory.

What makes the computer geek happy?
His joystick.

Where does the computer geek go to get a drink?
The spacebar.

When does the computer geek go crazy?
When he doesn't have Ctrl.

Why does the computer geek hate being at Home?
Because it's right next to the End.

Why did the computer geek keep throwing food to the snake?

He wanted to see if it would get longer.

Why was the computer geek broke?

Because he used his tab too much.

Why didn't the computer geek have any windows in his house?

He used Linux instead.

What did the computer geek do when the top of his desk was messy?
He threw all his icons in the recycling bin.

What did the computer geek trade in his Explorer for?

A fire fox.


© 2005-2007 TheJBurger


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

L.A. Confidential (In Five Sentences)

L.A. Confidential

There are some cops who live in Los Angeles.

Lots of people get shot and killed.

The cops find out who did some of it, or they don't find out who did all of it.

Some more people get shot and killed.

The cops find out that the first people who got shot and killed were really killed for another reason by another person that requires 15 minutes of thinking to fully comprehened; the bad guys die.


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