Zen Of Design

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

Month: January 2007 (page 1 of 3)

Quick Hits for the Week

Item: Vanguard comes out tomorrow.
My Take: I’m gonna play it. Seriously. If anyone else is interested, or any Vanny guilds need someone who doesn’t know what the hell is going on, let me know. Continue reading

Gears of War Review

(Old Salvaged post from 2007, reposted by request – attempting to set the date)
Well, I finished it on Casual because, as readers of the site may have surmised, I am not actually hardcore. I am fine with this. I’m splitting time with lots of games right now anyway.

I’m still not good at shooters on a console. I’m better than I was. I can actually target something with a sniper rifle pretty quickly, but I can’t seem to compensate for weapons going off-target as I hold down the trigger.

David’s suggestion to change the art to ‘not suck’ in the options screen was right on, and helped a great deal. It came a little late, though it made the final boss mob fight a much more pleasant experience.

Remember how Unreal and Quake used to go to great lengths to show how beautiful they could make a gaming space? Both Rainbow Six and GoW seemed intent on showing me they could do squalid.

I’m pretty sure I didn’t fall asleep in any story bits, but I still left not knowing exactly what happened, or why we made a pit stop at my dad’s house.

It seemed like the overall backstory was pretty cool, too, but the only place I can seem to find information about it is GameFaqs. And whoever wrote that FAQ berated me for not being hardcore enough to know this stuff.

It’s cool when monsters say ‘Boom’. Especially right before they explode.

That freaky crossbow is the most difficult to use weapon since the goo gun in Unreal.

What happened to health bars and health packs in shooters?

It’s 10X easier to use Rainbow Sixes cover system, but it’s 10X cooler when Gears of War’s works right.

Hey, Epic, if you’re going to have huge levels that depend on you only walking in certain parts of the map, how about making the AI for your sidekicks smart enough to not walk there? Kthx.

While you’re at it, if you could make the AI smart enough to not run kamikazi charges into the final boss monster, that’d be great.

Overall, though, the AI in GoW runs circles around the AI in Rainbow Six. (Wouldn’t it be cool if we could put ‘em in the same game?) Still, there were numerous times I was begging for the ability to give my troops a direct order – a feature that GoW definitely skimped on.

I didn’t hate the voice acting, which is rare, and I actually liked 3 of the four main characters. Unfortunately, the fourth is Dom, the guy who has all the personality of a peanut shell, and who is with you on all the two man missions. Don’t look now, but Baird’s character actually showed evidence of character development!
Not enough sniper rifles lying around. I spent far too much time using the gun that looks really cool but isn’t. And no, I didn’t use the cool looking bayonette even once.

If you’re going to make me choose a weapon based on icons and not names, how about making sure the weapons have easily identifiable silhouettes? Why am I confusing a sniper rifle for the shotgun?

Why straight humanoid enemies? Why are they called locusts when they really appear to be just pruny people?

Their change of pace levels were pretty good. The berserker levels were tense as hell. The APV and mine cart episodes were frivolous fun.  I really enjoyed the reloading minigame, once I got used to it. This, of course, was on the final boss level. It’s easy with a sniper rifle, and undoable with the machine gun. That game took me something like 7 hours, and I suck. One wonders how fast someone with Halo chops would get through it, or how much longer
it would take me on Hardcore or Insane. My sample attempt at it was… not encouraging. In Hardcore reality, the fate of the human race is decidedly screwed if they’re depending on me.

Overall, a good pickup, despite my bitching. I’d definitely pick this one up if you get a chance.

What’s Gibson up to?

Newsweek asks the asinine question of the week: will Guitar Hero make fewer people play guitar?

Clearly, Guitar Hero is fun. But by bestowing the rewards of virtuosity to those who haven’t spent years to earn it, is it dumbing down musicianship? If a teenager can easily become a make-believe guitar hero, does that mean he won’t ever bother to master the real thing?

Continue reading

My Real Thoughts on Gears of War

Well, I finished it on Casual because, as readers of the site may have surmised, I am not actually hardcore. I am fine with this. I’m splitting time with lots of games right now anyway.

I’m still not good at shooters on a console. I’m better than I was. I can actually target something with a sniper rifle pretty quickly, but I can’t seem to compensate for weapons going off-target as I hold down the trigger. Continue reading

Second Life as Ponzi Scheme

Raph links to a great article about Second Life, which comes to the conclusion that Second Life is a Ponzi scheme, or something similar.

No, SecondLife is a classic pyramid scheme. Or, more of an Amway-like pyramid: partially legitimate, partially ponzi. Sure, there are plenty of legitimate SecondLife customers who just like to go there to get their kicks, spend a couple dollars, and be on their way.

Continue reading

The Problem With Blogging…

… is that occasionally, a reader will send you something that makes your head explode. And with that introduction, I present the Abortion-Themed d20 pen and paper sourcebook. Continue reading

WoW Machinima

Probably the best WoW Machinima I’ve seen to date yet.

My Brief Gears of War Review

It sure is… grey.

Fun With Communities

It’s easy to build an adversarial relationship with your community. It’s hard to recognize and encourage really cool things in the community. One of the things that’s really cool in communities is when they go meta. Continue reading

Rainbow Six: Vegas

I just finished R6:V.

I think I really enjoyed it, but since I haven’t played it 60 to 80 hours, I can’t really be sure.

By the end, I had truly mastered the art of using my squadmates like canaries in the coal mine, in hopes that their deaths might point out muzzle flash I could use. And then it was snipe, snipe, snipe. Which I seem to be getting better at. At some point, I’ll go online and be disproven of this. Continue reading

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