Friday, June 29, 2012

DOTA2 versus LoL

As someone who played Warcraft 2 and League of Legends before ever playing a DOTA game, I have to say that DOTA2 is practically unplayable to me. To better define this, there are things that work a certain way in League of Legends (such as auto attacking), that are so hard to manage in DOTA2 that I could not stand to play the game.

There are other severe differences that makes the game more... boring from a player perspective. Certain guys have abilities that use up almost all their mana. It makes you wonder why you would ever use a rank 1 Q ability if its not meant to be used more than once. The camera lags a bit, so that moving the camera while moving away quickly results in the camera NOT moving fast enough and the character turning around to auto attack.

Secondly, the character names are really boring for so many of them. Its more like you are picking a class rather than a character to play. I would rather be choosing more of a character, the way Street Fighter is more about choosing the fighter than the Shotoken Karate guy.

This is not a game you check out if you started with League of Legends. It is a game you play if you loved DOTA and though League of Legends was too mainstream. DOTA2 focuses its gameplay towards the hardcore player. As such, I don't see them equaling the numbers that League of Legends has reached.

Has anybody else played DOTA2 and League of Legends? Was your experience different?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

MMO concept: Mechanized World

I've been thinking of what kind of setting and player customizations I would want in an MMO.  I feel that when thinking of a game, the story should come first, and then you can build the mechanics around the story. Even if all you have of the story is a single phrase.

"Mechanized world, where three factions have splintered to control the world."

The idea is that you would create the society first and split it from there. I'd split it as Renegades, Enforcement and Scientists.

Players choose a faction, which determines parts and style available to make their avatar. The avatar would be a modifiable robot. The game would not have any leveling up. Everyone would begin with standard gear. New gear that is found would have positives and negatives balancing each other out, i.e.: this laser is more powerful, but causes you to overheat.

As you customize your avatar and decide on his weapons, armor etc., you would also have macros designed to cause special effects with your weapons. These programs would be part of the gameplay (concept is still being worked on, I might reveal more later).

The question becomes, what are you willing to sacrifice to function a certain way? I'm not sure how big this game would get, but I can see flaws already in here.

But, are the things that I see just things that really don't work, or are they things that are so different from the current MMO or RPG models, that I don't know how to work with them?

Other things come to mind, such as showing that someone is improving (I mean, with equal negatives, it is assumed that you are just as functional as a neutral person), or giving a sense of progression (with a game designed for everyone to be able to play right from the start, how do you show progress?).

These are answers for a different time, for now, lets think of what combat systems would give us the most options of giving negatives to the player so that we can give them more benefits. I immediately thought of a skill based combat system, where you could allow for targeted attacks be giving up some power, or give your attacks more aggro by increasing the base damage.  By having your attacks require scaling for damage, you would negate the aggro, but require more stat manipulation to get the attack's damage up. There is a great deal that can be done here, and not much more unless we design some stats to track.

Finally, we can attach an element system to this (perhaps a modified Chaos system). All these interesting game decisions came from a story idea, and I think it makes for the most interesting design decisions. Have I mentioned crafting yet? No, but you could easily see how getting parts from defeated machines would work out (especially when using Chaos as the element system). So there you go. The beginnings of a game.

Fanfiction.net / Sad Face

I got an e-mail saying that one of my stories went above and beyond what was allowed on fanfiction.net.  I was upset, since my stories never go past a traditional R rating in a movie (I don't really go into too much detail, just enough to squick somebody before I move on with the narrative). I believe that the specific issue was that my story was too much like Hostel or Saw in its maturity, where as soft core porn makes it through all the time.

So even though I had taken someone's advice and spread the story to adultfanfiction.net (which not only can accept my story, it can categorize it), I decided to also create a deviantart page which will contain my stories (I also want to use it to contain my artwork as I make it). This along with this blog and a website coming later will create a triumvirate super power of a portfolio for me (this is just an allegation of a portfolio as it is). Essentially allowing people to experience my content however they choose to.

http://pangoriafallstar.deviantart.com

Monday, June 4, 2012

Korra - Temporary Streaming only

So an interesting thing about what nick.com is doing with Legend of Korra. They are only showing the episodes for a short while. After the release of the 8th episode, the first 2 episodes disappeared. This means that that only 6 episodes are currently available.

This makes sense though, when you look at their business model. The goal is to give dedicated viewers free streaming video, while allowing those coming later, to buy the videos from Amazon.com or iTunes (though not from Google Play). I'm all for people watching these video's legally, which is why when I saw that the first 2 episodes disappeared, I immediately wanted to direct people to the cheapest alternatives.

iTunes and Amazon.com have the shows in HD for $2.99 each. iTunes as a bonus has episodes 1&2 together for $4.99 (a $1 savings). Furthermore, Amazon.com has the shows in Standard Format for $1.99 each.

Amazon.com also gives you their TV pass. TV pass is essentially a subscription for the season. You pay for each episode at a reduced price, and are charged the reduced price as the show is made available. You get to keep all episodes purchased this way as well.

I still wish they would make it available for Hulu Plus or Netflix subscribers (the way Phineas & Ferb are available to Netflix for example). But just because its not, does not mean you should pirate the videos. It's only $2! So please, if you want to watch the first 2 episodes, go to Amazon.com and download them for $4 (or if you want them in HD get both from iTunes for $5).

Continued support of online distribution methods is the only way we'll see other shows (like Game of Thrones, which is only available if you also have HBO on your cable/satellite subscription) made available to us. Thank you for your time.

/soapbox

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Game Flow - Super Mario Bros.

Stage 1-1, Start

Designer/Game
Goal - Mario starts sitting alone in a field. The goal is unclear at this point in the game.
Conflict - A timer is ticking down, and soon enough a goomba will show up.
End State - timer reaching zero, mario getting touched while small, falling, reaching the goal or warp pipe

Player/Gamer
Reaction - Since this is a player's reaction, it includes reactions to the goals, the conflict and the potential end states. Possible reactions to the goal include experimentation of movement with the controller. The conflict is presented with a countdown timer. Most people would assume that the game ends at the end of the countdown. Even without input and enemy eventually appears and kills the player if they do not react to it. There are too many states to list every possible experiment in this blog, so lets move on.
Analysis - Again, this is the player's analysis of the goals, conflict and end states. It is important to note that reaction and analysis float continuously back and forth and through the decision, unlike a novel which tends to be more linear. Analysis occurs after they react to a to what happens after each decision they make. Such as, "Oh the timer is counting down, well let me try to do something in this game,"
Decision - Decisions are just that. These are things that the player tries to do. Overall decisions are a result of reaction and analysis.

All this is happening within the first seconds of the game. As you can see, the player side is clearly defined, and the game/designer side is clearly separated. I believe that this balance is an example of why Super Mario Bros. is such a fun game. It allows the player to control themselves, instead of letting the game control them.

On a higher level, there is very little control of the overall goals and conflict of the game. The player has the decision of which level is next mostly taken away from them, except in the cases of the secret warp pipes. In these cases, the player experiences a similar state of automation as they do on the micro level. There are designer stated limitations that the player works within to make a decision on how to proceed with the game.

Designer/Gamer
Goal - Get Mario to the end of the last stage. This will include passing by or defeating Bowser.
Conflict - Several stages and bosses until the end of the game. Limited number of lives to succeed before a complete reset occurs.
End State - Losing all lives, reaching the end of the game.
Reaction - Mario automatically proceeds to the next level when the goal is reached. The player has no control over what Mario does once an end state is reached on the micro level.

Player/Gamer
Analysis - By playing the game, the gamer can identify warp pipes and short cuts and life loops that allow them to manage their gameplay a bit.
Decision - The gamer chooses whether to go through a warp pipe or simply go after level goals.

The overall control of the Mario games is not up to the player in the macro level. They lose a bit of automation. If you look at future Mario games, they like to give the player the ability to control their macro level game play (starting with Super Mario Bros. 3 which introduced and overworld, and improved upon in Mario 64 and Mario Sunshine, where he goes through portals from a central hub).