Monday, April 30, 2012

Gaming blog #3!

3/20 -- 3/27

This week's game is a board game, not a video game!  It's David Sirlin's Puzzle Strike, playable online for free if you click this link:

Puzzle Strike is a board game designed as a representation of a puzzle-video game that was designed to represent a fighting game.  It's Street Fighter II meets Tetris meets board game.  It is crafted exceptionally well, and is a great deal of fun to play.

The best part (I'll skip an overview of the mechanics this time around) is the game's potential for last-second comebacks.  The closer a player is to losing, the more advantages they gain (why isn't teaching like this?  Often we fail our failing students by not providing additional support or guidance, especially at the college level).  I had an incredibly lucky draw where I needed to draw one specific chip out of a pile of 16, and did it!  Felt great.

There is a lot of strategy discussion available for those of us who like playing games at a high level -- it's really the community that makes this game.  Everyone is really helpful, and polite even when they lose!  Seriously, this is one of the models for behavior in a community.

The website also has one of the other two Fantasy Strike games, Yomi.  It's 1v1 only (Puzzle Strike is 4 player FFA or 1v1), but might be a little deeper for really serious players.  It's also a more direct fighting game allegory, so it's up my alley.

Sirlin also maintains a blog about game design (lately his own games, but often others as well) that is well worth reading at -- check it out!

3/28 -- 4/4

This week I got back into playing Audiosurf  This game is incredible and I should really write on it at some point.  It highlights how far mainstream games have to go in terms of engaging with audio.

The game invites you to upload any .mp3 (or .wav, .ogg, .m4a) file to it, and then an algorithim processes the audio and creates a race track / roller coaster out of it for you to ride through.  In addition, the game places blocks in the road that you collect and organize in colors.  It's an incredible experience that needs to be shown, not discussed in mere words.  Here's a couple videos to watch -- slower songs are mostly uphill (, fast songs are mostly downhill, and the best of the bunch are songs with large changes in tempo and orchestration (

If you have time for only one video, make it the last one, it's fantastic; in my opinion, Mitsuda's short piece is the best track in the game.  :p

The game provides a unique way to listen to a piece of music.  Listeners gain foresight into what's coming up by viewing the track ahead -- often multiple minutes ahead if you see around a bend in the track.  The colors involved give us this synethseic experience with the music that's just incredible -- I doubt I'll ever get tired of playing, since I'm always acquiring new content for it!  :p

4/5 -- 4/12

I have some awesome friends.  I was unable to attend PAX East this week, but I was fortunate to have my friends pick up a PAX exclusive skin for League of Legends -- it's a Sivir skin (costume) that resembles something out of TRON: Legacy.  It's ideal.

League of Legends is slowly patching the current metagame away, as 0 score supports (the support hero in the bottom lane of 3 lanes) are becoming less and less viable.  I am hoping that they eventually go away completely.  The new item in this patch is the Maw of Malmortius, an upgrade to the Hexdrinker.  I realize that the people reading this don't play LoL, but it is an item for physical attackers that increases both damage and magical resistance.

This is good, because 0 score support characters are typically spellcasters.  Giving items that increase magical resistance makes spellcasters weaker, which is what needs to happen to force 0 score support characters to have to buy items and have an income.

4/13 -- 4/20

I attempted to do a dungeon with a group of random folks after enjoying running one with the class.  Unfortunately, I got griefed out of the experience twice and decided to give up.  I disliked having to plan everything out in advance anyway, I must confess -- I much prefer a game where improvisation plays a useful role, which might be why I enjoyed my role as the Druid DPS / Healer hybrid.  Switching roles when Stephen needed some extra support healing brought some of that fast improvisation from League of Legends into the World of Warcraft play experience, which was really nice.

I played a game that blew my mind this week -- Fez, for Xbox Live Arcade.  It utilizes a unique mechanic that really takes a while to wrap your head around.  I'm not sure I can share it in words, but I'll try:  Fez is played from a 2d platforming perspective, but the world is a true three-dimensional environment.  Pressing any of the shoulder buttons shift the world 90 degrees, giving you another two-dimensional environment with which to interact.  Since the environment shifts and not the character, this creates puzzles of physics whereby a gap too large to jump across might appear to be crossable given a different shift of perspective -- and because of the game's 2d platforming rules of movement and space, the distance does not just appear to shift; it actually has.

Amazing, amazing stuff that demonstrates how our medium is still in its infancy.  I love having to really wrap my mind around games, and Fez forces that experience in a fantastic way.

4/21 -- 4/27

This week was the beginning of my large winding down of gaming for the remainder of the academic semester as projects become due.  However, I could not resist the opportunity to play Diablo III during the open beta weekend, from 4/20 to 4/22.

I played a _lot_ of both Diablo I and II -- an unbelievable amount.  As I have mentioned in writeups on the readings, when they talk about items in the Diablo games being sold in real life, I've had a copy of every single item mentioned and then some.

Diablo is a very simple game -- movement and combat are all performed with the left mouse button.  In Diablo I, left click is the melee attack function, and serves this general purpose in Diablo II also (though it can be remapped for casters, for instance).  Right clicking casts whatever spell you have active...and that's it.  Go kill things, have a good time...and most important, find stuff!

The loot drops in Diablo are absolutely incredible.  I will never forget the emotional high that you experience in Diablo I when you see a gold (unique) item drop.  It's this item loot system that Blizzard built on when they made World of Warcraft, but there's still nothing quite like the rush of having to compete for loot drops with other players like you do in Diablo I and II.

D3, as it turns out, has item drops on a per-character basis, not per-server.  As a result, you don't directly compete for drops anymore.  This is, of course, more equitable for everyone involved -- but since I was _really_ fast on the trigger and had a solid Internet connection, I didn't mind the old system.  The magic is definitely still there, and I can't wait for the 15th of May when the game releases.

Blizzard has done a lot to create a variety of builds for each character.  Each skill is balanced with regard to weapon damage, not a flat value.  This prevents certain skills (like Diablo II's Frozen Orb) from being outright superior in every case to others (Diablo II's Frost Nova is worse than Orb in every possible circumstance).  Also, in a nod to World of Warcraft (and maybe League of Legends, who also ran with this concept) each character uses a different resource to power skills.  My Monk builds up Spirit as he attacks, which does not diminish over time, allowing me to release incredibly long combos on difficult foes.

The game was incredible to play, and it will make for an excellent reward for finishing all of my projects.

No gaming from 4/28 -- 4/30 :(  That will be fixed tonight with Puzzle Strike and League of Legends for sure.

No comments: