Zen Of Design

The design and business of gaming from the perspective of an experienced developer

Month: May 2005 (page 1 of 3)

You Don’t Want Realistic A.I.

In reading over the ridiculously overhyped gamer’s manifesto from last week, Jamie points out what I failed to, which is that people think they want realistic AI, but they really don’t. His quote:

One of the reasons we make game AI stupid is not always lack of processor power but often because a smarter AI would school our players too deeply and they’d turn to simpler games. Look at chess – we’ve got some great AI there, so great nobody wants to play against the computer. Stealth games would be another example: if the security in a stealth game actually was decent, playing these games would become an exercise in frustration instead of an exercise in feeling like a kick-ass ninja commando.

Yep. It is ridiculously easy to write an AI that will kill you instantly.* And you may think you want a world where every guard in the complex converges on you if you trip an alarm, but in reality, you don’t. It is actually a much larger challenge to write an AI that doesn’t pwn on demand, but still appears intelligent. Continue reading

There Is No God of War Porn Here

Time for the lazy man’s post — the monthly google keyword search. This month, we had kind of a theme. See if you can spot it. Continue reading

3D Isn’t the Problem

The games industry continues its inevitable slide to a world where games are all 3D all the time. The conventional wisdom is that 2D games are losers that won’t sell in the new world, and games like Age of Empires, Starcraft, and Diablo are dinosaurs that snuck in below the wire. So it wasn’t a huge surprise that both HoMM V and Civ IV both showed at E3 with full 3D visuals.

Going 3D isn’t automatically a negative for a license, provided that the gameplay is king, and that you don’t stray too far from what the license is really about (I’m looking at you, Advance Wars). Still, there is definitely past examples of games not handling the transition well. Greg Costikyan, in particular, is concerned about these storied licenses. Continue reading

Life as Booth Beefcake

Gaming Horizon has an entertaining article about Professional stuntman and actor Ilram Choi’s experience as a performer on Namco’s stage to promote Soul Caliber III. He played Mitsurugi. Continue reading

Morpheus Gets Pwned

In a plot device supposedly written by the Wachowskis themselves, Morpheus was killed in the Matrix Online yesterday. MTV has the best account. Here’s about their future plans:

The next task for Morpheus’ followers, however, will be to figure out whodunit. Chadwick promised that the murder mystery will unfold every few weeks through the course of “The Matrix Online”’s first year. Players will be encouraged to figure out not just who the assassin is, but what Morpheus was really all about. That means, in fact, that thanks to the wonders of flashback scenes, “Matrix” users haven’t heard the last of Laurence Fishburne’s voiceover work in the game. “We’re going to milk Morpheus as long as we can,” Chadwick said. “He’s a great character.”

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Get In Line

Two actor organizations which purport to represent Union video game voice actors is threatening to go on strike.

Voice actors have worked under a contract with game publishers since 1993. But now that video games generate nearly as much revenue as domestic movie ticket sales, actors say they want a piece of every game sold rather than one-time up front fees.

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I’m Guessing He Was Hungry When They Interviewed Him

Found on Kotaku, Hideo Kojima, designer of the Metal Gear Solid series, tells us the difference behind the three next-gen platforms.

PS3 would be like a dinner that you only have once a year or twice a year on your anniversary etc. Xbox 360 will still be a special dinner so you might go there two or three times a month on the weekend or something. Revolution is the kind of great dinner that you have everyday at your home. What I want to emphasize is that all three are dinners meaning that they have a salad, they have a soup and maybe have a dessert but they are a little differently, maybe other dinners have two salads or two appetizers or maybe extra coffee on top of that. The point is that they are all individualistic dinners. So if they are all dinners, like a steak dinner, the choice is up to the users and the game designers at the same time.

If the game creators and the users want to have a great steak for their anniversary, they go maybe to PS3. But if they want great dinner, great steak with their family, a little bit more casual during the weekends, they might select Xbox 360. Or why not have a great steak at your house everyday, they might choose Revolution. So my impression of the battle between the consoles is, it’s not about what kind of dinner it is. It’s more about how much the dinner will be. Will it be worth the cost of being served? Or where can I have this dinner – number of restaurants, is it near my house or do I have to take a cab or train or bus? I think the battle amongst the next-gen platforms lies in that area.

Well, that certainly clears things up.


The Next Generation of Consoles Misses the Point

Continuing our theme of Rant Wednesday, Stuart Roch is ranting about the PS3 insisting it’s not a gaming machine.

Why, why, why?! Why must Sony persist in their efforts to make a PlayStation console to replace DVD players and stereos in people’s living rooms? Is it just not cool enough anymore to make great game machines? I swear I wish they would just get over this preoccupation with the uber home entertainment system and be satisfied with the fact that they make great gaming consoles. I promise you that I’m not going to buy a PS3 and trade in my PC and high-def DVD player in favor of this supposed all-in-one solution.

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Gamer’s Manifesto

This one’s been making the rounds lately (I first saw it on Game Girl Advance): a players’ manifesto on how to fix the gaming industry. A seriously entertaining read, here’s one of the less profane snippets:  (2014- Damion notes: updated to a new version of the article from 2007)

[P]romise me that you won’t play the same Madden commentary sound files on every fifth play. “Whoa, he looked like he was hit by a truck! A five-ton truck hauling a trailer!” Yes, you’ll hear that one six motherslapping times in one game of Madden ‘05. YOU HAVE A HARD DRIVE NOW, taking data from a 9 GB DVD. You have NO excuse to keep recycling the same mindless observations over and over and over again until we’re pointing at our television with a shaking finger and screaming “EAT ME, JOHN! JUST EAT MEEEEEEE!” as most of us do now.

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Not Everyone Thinks Smaller Is Better

Check out what the King from Katamari Damacy has to say on the subject of the ever-shrinking consoles.

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