Game Concepts – Great ideas of Genius

There are those among us who feel games are becoming increasingly predictable – a marketing dominated creative process where developers simply take elements from other successful games, try to throw in some token new thing and call it a day. So I thought I’d just throw out some slightly different ideas, just for the hell of it. If a butterfly flapping its wings can truly destroy the universe (as my people believe) then maybe this article can, uh, take down some butterflies.

Ashes of Destiny: The Cricket Saga

Okay, so you take a sport that everybody loves (Cricket) and you combine it was a genre that everybody really ought to love (RPGs) and this is what you get.… To be this lame takes ages.

A Tale of Two Revivals

Lately Capcom has been one of the best all around publishers in the business. Their games have mostly been of high quality, and time and again they prove that they listen to and want to please their fanbase. The strange twist to all of this is that Capcom is legendary for relying on sequels and familiar franchises, yet two of their recent success stories have come from sequels (of sorts) to two of their oldest franchises, both of which were deemed risks. I am referring of course to Bionic Commando: Rearmed and Mega Man 9. These games are two different takes on the retro revival, and each demonstrate the successes and difficulties that can arise when trying to sell them.… All the lonely gamers, where do they all come from?

A design element that deserves to die: The time limit

Ahh, our old enemy the time limit. Is there a lazier way for a designer to increase the difficulty of a game?

The latest object of my scorn due to this lazy design element is Star Fox Command on the Nintendo DS. Before you get to the Star Fox part of the Star Fox game, you plot out flight paths for Fox and his allies on an overhead map of the planet, keeping in mind enemy squadrons that approach the Great Fox, cities that need liberating, and objects on the map that may assist you in your quest. The caveat? You have a limited number of turns in which to accomplish the planet’s mission objective.… Postgaea 2: Cursed Memories

Pieces of a Perfect Game: Koei’s arduous slip into mediocrity

Good strategy games can be hard to come by on consoles. The only company that reliably produces games in the genre is Koei, and, as I’ve noted before, their recent track record is not so good.

Koei is now widely known for their willingness to recycle old work in the form of Dynasty Warriors – to put it more nicely, they haven’t fixed anything that isn’t broken in a while. Their lesser-known, but longer-running, Romance of the Three Kingdoms series is now on its eleventh iteration. I haven’t gotten the latest one yet, because by now I’ve figured it out (took me long enough): Koei has a secret recipe for the ultimate officer-based strategy game, but they insist on releasing it a piece at a time.… Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Post

What happened to competition? From arcades to gamerscores

Remember high scores. You don’t see them around very much, though they still pop up in some of my favorite new games. But why exactly did they begin to disappear? We generally hear explanations involving the rise of story based games and other such nonsense, but when three of the most popular games of the decade are Halo, Madden and World of Warcraft, it is tough to accept this as an era of Single Player. There must be another reason.

Before we look for that reason, we should start from the beginning and look at the nature of the high score. There were surely hacks and exploits available in some classic games (as any Street Fighter fan will know), but I would like to think they weren’t commonplace, and that more often than not the list of high scores in an arcade cabinet was the honest work of skilled players.… Garou: Mark of the Posts

Fillet Mignon with a side of Pork Rinds: Awesome games and their stupid minigames

The average gamer supposedly plays 7.8 hours a week. That’s an ESA study so I think they rounded down to make gamers seem less crazy. Other studies show more like 20-30 hours a week, which makes more sense to me. For us hardcore gamers, I’m sure the number would be even higher.

So while we waste our life away playing video games, it has become painfully apparent to me that, like most products in our corner cutting capitalist society, video games have a lot of filler. A video game, especially an RPG or MMO, is graded on how much of your time it takes to beat. In most cases, a game with short playtime is over quickly and generally unsatisfying (much like sex with me).… In the beginning games created the heavens and the earth.

Some thoughts on “presentation”

I don’t want to brag, but when I’m not writing fantastic and thought-provoking articles on vl, I spend the rest of my time as a game designer at a video game company (which is awesome, btw). And as such, I try to expand my knowledge on the subject of game design as much as I can. And today, a surge of information flooded my cerebrum after giving the Assassin’s Creed Sampler OST a listen.

Composed by Jesper Kyd, Assassin’s Creed is steeped in Persian aural stylings. If anyone has ever listened to or played Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, you can understand what Assassin’s Creed will sound like. It’s a little more orchestrated, and keeps the hummable melodies to a minimum, but it’s essentially the same thing.… This better not be as bad as everything else here.

Turning up the difficulty

In my last column I talked about mindless games and whether such a concept actually makes sense. Today, we talk about something else that stems from this debate. Usually when I read a review of a “mindless” game that I myself have played, the first thing to come to me is not “they’re kind of right” or “they’re kind of wrong”. The question on my mind is “did they play it on hard?”

When I was a kid I didn’t play games on any sort of difficulty – few NES games actually had a difficulty setting; you played against whatever they threw at you. When difficulties did start popping up, it was always Easy mode for me.… U R Not lamE.

Lost in Space: Looking for a worthy 4X Game

I love the 4X genre. It’s most likely a combination of the fact that I’m a huge geek and love space, and the fact I was beat up a lot in middle school and high school and didn’t kiss a whole lot of girls back then (see the first two reasons of my 4X love if you’re unclear on why that is). My love of the genre started on the old Mac II with Spaceward Ho, a game that lives on today in Palm Pilot versions (which are quite badass). Then came Pax Imperia I, followed by the graphically enjoyable but gameplay poor sequel. I tried other games along the way, such as Hegemonia, but nothing really stuck.… Lame is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.

Our favorite game settings

If a game has a good setting, you don’t forget it. You may even end up referring to it as if it were a real place – “I wonder what the weather’s like in Midgar this time of year…” However, setting hasn’t really been a prevalent factor in our games until the modern consoles, both due to a loosening of size constrictions and the advent of 3D graphics. Most NES and SNES games had little setting to speak of outside the instruction manual. But developers have been getting better at creating alternate realities, showing us worlds that we swear are real. With more than enough amazing settings in games today, videolamer decided to list some of our favorite examples.… They’re reading her… and then they’re going to read me!