Friday, 26 December 2008

Game Technology

My first gaming experience was on the Amiga A500 16/32-bit multimedia home/personal computer. It was mainly used for gaming, rather than a personal computer. At the time, its advanced graphics and sound were beneficial and well developed. It was simple to use with the games being stored on floppy disks and gameplay being achieved using the ‘Quickshot’ joystick (right image.) I found this joystick easy and comfortable to use. Ergonomically, the design was well thought out. The joystick consisted of two convenient buttons, simply used with the thumb and index finger which provided efficient gameplay. Although the Amiga A500 was not aesthetically pleasing, its performance was enjoyable.

Playstation 1 and 2 was easy to use from the gamepad as the simple functions of it allowed easier control in games. The gamepad evolved from the NES Controller D-Pad (left image) and used features such as analog, rumble and wireless all of which originated from Nintendo.

Nintendo Wii’s controller is shaped more like a remote control rather than a gamepad to suit the gameplay. It is only a matter of time before a rival company releases a console with similar features.

In terms of appearance, Playstation 2 looks much better than the first, however Playstation 3 looks more pleasing than the second. Companies will continue to release new consoles and their looks will improve. Sony released a slim, better looking Playstation 2 which is half the size of the original.

I think the joystick is dying technology as people have had their time with them and moved on to better inventions. It’s not clear as to whether the game pad is dying technology since there are so many consoles that rely on them for gameplay. However, since Nintendo’s release of the Wii, the remote-like controller might become the next best thing.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Storytelling in Games

Stories, fiction or based on true events are the backbone of movies that determine the success or failure of them.

As for games, a strong storyline doesn’t always necessarily make a better game, there are many aspects that establish whether a game is successful or not, one of which is the game player’s own decision.

On the contrary, Namco’s booming series of ‘Tekken’ uses storylines for the characters with each having their own personal reasons for entering the tournament and competing for the prize. Completion of the game would assume that the particular chosen character won the tournament and their ending is shown, therefore depending on what character is chosen, there are multiple endings.

The ‘Resident Evil’ series by Capcom has become a huge triumph with various games starting from Playstation. The storyline of the T-Virus with zombies allows an action-based gameplay to entertain the player so they can engage with the storyline. If this wasn’t successful, there wouldn’t be a Resident Evil 5 out today.

In some games, the player can create their ‘own’ storyline where there are alternative conclusions and ending sequences. These are influenced by the players’ actions during gameplay, but this can become tedious when the player figures out the different endings and the game stops there. The ‘Grand Theft Auto’ series by Rockstar Games avoids this as the player can continue gameplay between or after completing the missions around the locations. These ‘sandbox’ games allow free roaming around the game to maintain the player’s interest and add to the realism of gameplay.

After contemplating, I feel that having a storyline for games allows the player to connect and feel part of the game. After all, without a story behind it, there wouldn’t be a game.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Games Design

Gameplay relates to how a game acts in response to the player’s control and as a result, how pleasing the whole gameplay is to the individual player.

‘Rockstar Games’ have the market cornered when it comes to the design of their games. Their series of ‘Grand Theft Auto’ has an addictive quality with their clever use of storyline combined with gameplay and graphics. They create aspects of the ‘Grand Theft Auto’ games effectively. For example, their plants and bushes are produced by slotting two flattish planes of leaves together which is clever as the realism of the plants are portrayed. This technique goes unnoticed when walking or driving past the plants.

It is the whole companies’ responsibility to help sell their games, but the games design department has a major role in this for the aesthetic value of the game, but this can sometimes overshadow other important features of a game such as gameplay.

Many companies create video sequences in the middle of gameplay just to boast about their ultra-realistic 3D graphics which end up making the game tedious when the videos drag on. Where is the gameplay in that when the player is is just staring mindlessly at the screen? Some companies forget that people purchase games to play them, not watch.

Use of colour is an important principle with different genres in order to be an effective game to sell to the market group. For example, if the genre was horror, common colours throughout the game would be black, grey, brown and red. Setting the scene is important for the genre of a game. In a horror game, the story is frequently set in dark, secluded, claustrophobic corridors, warehouses, forests etc. In a fantasy game, the scenes are likely to be set in open fields, jungles, sea fronts and large, spacious buildings.

When I play games, it is important for them to have the correct mood set for the relevant genre to create a more realistic effect needing to be achieved by the games designers. Also, there should be a relevant balance between actual gameplay in a game and the aesthetics from game design and ‘Rockstar Games’ have done this successfully with the ‘Grand Theft Auto’ series.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Writing About Games

There is always a possibility that reviewers would sound biased towards others due to conflicting interests and ideologies by writing subjectively. Writing about the obvious, heard it before, aspects of a game makes the review become tedious which makes the reader lose interest, hence having no effect on them.

I like the whole concept that New Games Journalism is about the gamer deconstructing the segments of the game and engaging with it to focus on what is important in them in their point of view. The gamer notices and digs deeper into the game so they can relate to the aspects of the game that interests them. They are experiencing the game in their head, not in real life as the situation in the game does not exist; it is a digital world that provides entertainment in the mind of gamers. NGJ allows journalists to write effectively about in-depth meaning and interest of the game, breaking it down to minute details and not just stating the obvious aspects of the game such as the graphics and aesthetic value.

Having an objective ranking system for games is not necessary for sales as gamers are likely to stand by their subjective views when purchasing a game. Besides, how can an objective ranking system work when the “facts” could be misleading due to subjective opinion? For example, one person may state that a game has faster game play. Fair enough. But another person can disagree because they have experienced games that have had an even faster game play than the game being reviewed.

As for my own writing, I try to value objectively and subjectively equally in all fairness so I review the world more reasonably with some opinion and belief rather than taking a side and failing to notice some important things in the way things actually are.