[This review contains spoilers, so don't even think of reading it if you plan to play i!t]
Portal 2 is a game that does everything right, but your experience can vary quite a lot depending on if you have played its predecessor before. Valve did really the best possible job anyone could have done on a sequel of a game that drew much of its acclaim from an innovative and quite genius feature.
I’m talking about the portal gun, of course, and if you have played Portal before, this game will not give you quite the same feeling of joy right from the start. Instead, you’ll feel happy to be back in Portal’s world, and intrigued to see the new things. There’s a fine balance here to strike, to ease new players into the game but also to give veterans new things to feast on. I find Valve did perfectly in almost every aspect. Read More
The first Portal was, and is, a very special game. I hadn’t known about it when it was released and only found out about it after my friends told me to give it a try. They said “It’s a really cute little puzzle game. You’ll be done quickly, but it’s worth it, and it doesn’t even require monster hardware!”. Needless to say, I gave it a try and sure enough, I was quite amazed by the brilliance of the portal gun and the gameplay that it offered. It’s a rarity these days, to start playing a video game and to just feel this pure joy of play. Portal was just…fun. Read More
Today I finished the long-awaited indie point-and-click adventure game Gemini Rue, and just wanted to share some impressions with people who have played it themselves.
Gemini Rue is from a gameplay point of view a classic adventure game. You control a protagonist by selecting objects of interest with the mouse and have the option to interact with them by choosing to look at them, do something with your hands, talk to them or do something with your foot. The puzzles weren’t frustrating, but also not so easy that one could just click their way through the game without having to stop and think every once in a while. I was never primarily into the puzzling aspect of point-and-click adventures to be honest, but the puzzles of Gemini Rue were enjoyable and felt like they fit in very well, enriching the experience. Only twice did I feel like I was stuck because of a puzzle not very well integrated rather than my lack of wit. After looking at the hints (over the years, I’ve learned to keep my self-discipline at a good degree when using walkthroughs for adventure games) for both puzzles I had to admit that I simply hadn’t given enough thought for an alternative approach. Read More
Yesterday over a good round of beverages with my friends, the discussion went to Final Fantasy 7 and Crisis Core. I vented my disappointment about the shit-poor character development of the game, to the shock of two of my friends. “It’s Zack’s story!”, “The story was fucking good!” and even “You’re not a true Final Fantasy fan!” were some of the comments I got. I don’t want to go in depth on why Crisis Core is one of the most horrible abortions of game writing by Square Enix to date – you can read my review on that if you want. I whined about how Aerith was such a badly written character, devoid of any real personality and how Zack’s relationship with her was one of the most overrated and pretentious love stories in video game history. The most ridiculous comment I reaped was “But she was an ancient!”. Ha ha. Read More
Posted by dolgion on Wednesday Feb 16, 2011 Under Game Design
Wanted to take a little break from the tutorials and thought I’d write a bit about old classic point-and-click graphic adventures by LucasArts. Some years back, I was deeply into those games. I played Indiana Jones 4, Monkey Island 1 -3, Day of the Tentacle and so forth. They’re just really well done games, and it feels like in terms of classic narrative, point-and-click adventures are just the best suited kind of games.
The best of the lot is in my opinion Day of the Tentacle. Many people like Monkey Island better, and that one is a fantastic game for sure, but DotT was unique. Where Monkey Island created great fun from the great humor and a classic hero story, DotT did things differently. You have 3 characters that you can control. They’re all in the same house, but in different time zones. Read More
Posted by dolgion on Wednesday Jan 19, 2011 Under Game Design
In Shanghai on the 2nd Day of GDC
What is experience? I don’t mean experience points or the improvement of a skill by being exposed to real life situations. I mean the entirety of the feelings, the emotional states and the mental states that something can put you through.
Last month, I went to GDC China, which meant I had a trip from Mongolia’s capital Ulaanbaatar to Shanghai. I went to the border with a night train and my friend and I shared a compartment with an older couple. They were fun people and told us about life in socialist times. Then, they told us about their kids and their work – prison inspectors. We had a lot of fun conversing and when we came to the border we parted ways. Going over the border it was the first time I went to China, and I remember the border troops directing the cars, the Chinese scripts and how empty the town (Erlian) was from the Mongolian one (Zamiin Uud). I remember how it was so early that there were no cars, no people and it was a little bit eerie. Then we went to Beijing with a sleeper bus, which was so uncomfortable, and stinky. I remember how we made a stop in the middle of the night somewhere in the country side of Northern China and didn’t want to have food, because we weren’t hungry and willing to deal with the others who were hustling to get their meals quickly. Read More
I just watched a very interesting documentary film about text adventures. It’s called “Get Lamp” and was directed by Jason Scott. If you’re into game design and the art of story telling, regardless if it’s movies, books, games, music or whatever, then I dearly recommend this film to you. It’s really interesting and also captivatingly done as a documentary.
So the film basically contains a load of interview snippets with influential people such as Scott Adams (Creator of Adventure Land) or Mark Blank (Co-Creator of Zork), as well as people who are just really enthusiastic about Interactive Fiction and love it with all their heart.
It takes a look at the history of the text adventure genre, the broader definition and characteristics of interactive storytelling and also at a look at the current state the art form is in, with a shy look at the possible future. Read More
Posted by dolgion on Thursday Dec 16, 2010 Under Game Design
My GDC Cup
From December 5th to 7th, the Game Developer Conference China 2010 took place in Shanghai, China. I attended, even if only partially. It was my first time personally attending such an event and well, it was just too f*cking bad I couldn’t properly check out all the talks. My pass was a Tutorials and Summits pass. I pretty much had to miss out on the first day due to complications with getting to Shanghai, and of course, all the tutorial sessions took part on that first day. Shit. Read More
Posted by dolgion on Friday Oct 15, 2010 Under Game Design
I just read a nice article, and it highlighted a phenomenon that I couldn’t quite put my finger on myself. It’s about role playing and creating immersion in games that aren’t necessarily labeled as RPGs.
“Immersion”…a real buzz word these days, isn’t it? It is one of the number one goals and driving forces of game developers and designers. Motion controls, advances in game graphics (3D graphics (the one with the glasses), 3D graphics (the one we currently have), shaders and Bump maps), Dolby-Surround sound, are all technological achievements that directly or indirectly were developed to allow people to more easily get lost in those digital worlds. Read More