Am I The Only One Thinking Adventure Games Should Be Using 2D?

I tested the new Monkey Island game demo, and after finished the demo I started to look a place to purchase a Monkey Island game. No, not the one I tested (which uses 3D) but the special edition (that’s 2D).

I feel that 3D just adds extra layer on a system that doesn’t need one. In 2D, it has everything that there’s needed, and 3D does not bring (in my opinion) anything that would make the game any better. And, as a bonus, I somehow like the (handdrawn) 2D art over 3D in adventure games. Always have.

Maybe it’s just me, but I feel adventure games should use 2D rather than 3D.

What you think?

Ditching Game Idea #2 (and #3), Trying The Next One

After doing some prototyping for the co-op stealth game idea and Prison Escape theme/remake, I’m end the prototyping for these. Co-op stealth is somewhat promising, but it might have the danger of becoming too puzzle like without enough variation. The Escape remake seemed like a fine idea for a single player game, but multiplayer turns out to be a slightly trickier beast to tackle.

In the end it boils down to this question that one of my earlier blog posts about multiplay made me think: would I want to play a game like this?

To be honest, I liked Thief solo-play but that was ages ago. The prison escape (spectrum version) was interesting (and definitely worth a remake), but I think it would not offer much replay value.

This lead me thinking: what have been the most memorable gaming experiences in my life? A pretty immediate answer was “traitor” based games: mafia/werewolf (social/party game, not a video game) and Battlestar Galactica (board game) have been so much fun.

This lead me to the next point: how could I bring this into a video game? Would it work?

Apparently it does, since after doing some research I noticed that Kane & Lynch 2 is having a certain type of multiplayer mode where there’s undercover cop infiltrating among the robbers. Half life mod Trouble in Terrorist Town is a mod that takes the werewolf game’s gameplay and somehow converts it into a video game. While there are certain issues with the gameplay, the mod is relatively fun to play.

So. I’m now prototyping this traitor game idea of mine. In a nutshell it’s about this:

  • 3-6 players (or more)
  • 0-2 of the players is a traitor, unknown to others. Only traitors (if any) know who the other traitors are.
  • The gameplay is about cooperation: with limited resources, the players try to survive day after day until the game ends. Meanwhile… the traitors try sabotage and reduce enough resources.

I’ve yet to decide a theme, but it might be about werewolves. For example, in a 4 player game 3 players are town guards while 1 player is the werewolf. The werewolf shape shifts during nights, attacking the village citizens, terrorizing the town. In day time, the werewolf is in human form and disguises as one of the guards.

Going forward with this.

What “Cooperative” Means to You?

I believe that “people in same teams” doesn’t automatically make a game cooperative. For example, in Rogue Spear that I played… at some point I started to be skilled enough to try “ramboing” in one level, running to the other house and those some grenades and pretty much take all the 5-6 enemies (did that once). Meanwhile other teammates were lurking behind some walls.

Sure, there was also options to go in a team… but was it cooperative? Sometimes perhaps, sometimes perhaps not so.

Left 4 Dead is said to be a cooperative shooter, and there’s truth in this. For example, if you go solo, you end up in ground with zombie hordes all around you. Or one of the boss zombies catches you, and you need a teammate to aid you. There’s several things where a teammate is needed. It could be classified as a cooperative since you need others in order to win.

NHL ’10 drops somewhat in the same category: you control one player on the ice, and for example scoring goals is much easier when there’s other team mates making solid passes. You can try play solo, but playing in team is more effective.

Which gets me to the point of what “cooperative” – to me – means in game.

Cooperation means that two (or more) players need others to help them out or they cannot proceed any further. In Army of Two this means helping the other guy climb up, who can then help you climb up. In Battlefield one guy can drive the tank, while other guy is in using the tank machine gun. In several games, there’s unique roles where each player needs to take part and help the whole team to survive.

Being in a same team doesn’t automatically make a game cooperative. But games that support situations where people can support each other. This makes a game cooperative, and usually fun too, in my pretty humble opinion.

If you have more examples on cooperation in games, please feel free bring ‘em here.

Multiplay Or Not (Take 2)

I’m currently on an exploration venue. I started thinking of new game ideas for the next project, built first prototype (threw it away). Then started working on idea #2, which evolved into a prison escape themed stealth game.

I’m now in the edge of “multiplay or not“, a theme which I mentioned couple of months ago. The idea of Great Escape remake is a nice one, but there’s one thing that’s lacking: multiplayer. The more I tested the game, the more I thought about it, the more I was drifting away from multiplayer.

And regarding multiplayer, I’m presenting myself a question which the game concept must pass:

“Would I enjoy playing this game?”

That’s the solution. That’s the answer to “multiplay or not” question.

The answer for single-player “Great Escape” remake is “yes, like once”.

If it was a multiplayer, probably a lot more often.

And how to make it multiplayer? Well, that’s the challenge. I’m doing some circling around and listing what kind of multiplayer games I enjoy and how I could present these concepts in a multiplayer game in a fun way. I think I’ve found the art style (minimalistic) and (possibly) a theme (prison/escape seems fine for now, although if I find a different one, this might go – samurai theme is still in the back of my head).

Next step: digging deeper in the ground of “what I enjoy in multiplayer games”.

Games: Art/Science Ratio?

Continuing the yesterday’s theme, but let’s put more fine grained options to answer.

[poll id=30]

Pick one that feels closest to your liking. I deliberately did not put 60/40 answers (just choose 50/50 instead then, since that’s closest).

I want to see “how much ‘both’” there is in games.

And of course all answers are correct answers, different games just have different amount of art/science in them.

Me Thinks Respawn Has a Huge Impact on The Gameplay Experience

Almost ten years ago I spent quite a bit playing Rogue Spear online. This “shooter” game had one very unique gameplay element in it: there was no respawn. In online gaming, if you got shot… that’s it. You had to wait for one team to win the whole round before you could participate in a new round.

Some people might think that it would be better if you could respawn after death… but me thinks that this would ruin the gameplay. The fact that you could not respawn made it important to stay alive. You had to be careful since one shot could kill you. It made a huge impact on how people played the game. It wasn’t a shooter game the way Quake or others were. It was different.

Bit similar thing was introduced in Battlefield 1942. You would respawn… but only every 30 seconds or so. (I don’t know if nowadays you can define the respawn rate on the server, but anyway). This made you think a bit before rushing towards the enemy. You had to think a bit. You could rush… but it was a choice to consider.

After playing these 2 games, I tried playing Wolfenstein Enemy Territory… and didn’t really like it. Everybody was running screaming around shooting stuff that moves. Same happened with Quake Live.

Of course there was more than just respawn rate (such as character movement speed, weapon damage rates and such) but to illustrate how powerful impact respawn rate has, consider this. In Zombie Master mod for Half-life, there’s some servers/maps you respawn in the game after death, in some servers you have to wait until the round restarts. This makes the world of difference on the feeling.

On those servers where you respawn, the game is degenerates into running & shooting wildly… it’s brainless shooting. It becomes meaningless… boring too.

In maps where there’s no respawn, things immediately change to more tactical – and more careful playing. There’s meaning in playing.

We value rare things. Things like player’s life. Respawn rate has a big impact on this.

(My theory is that Buddhists must find life pretty boring.)

“The Great Escape” Remake. Sort of. Anyone Know C64 Emulator For This?

Theme brainstorming got good amount of replies, and somehow woke up the desire for using the jail break theme in my stealth proto. The comments about the game The Great Escape got me even more curious (since I really liked that game on C64 three thousands years ago).

I started hunting for more info (couldn’t find it on some PC emulator just yet), and noticed that:

  • Few years back, somebody started doing a remake of it. (I suppose it got never finished) and got cheered up.
  • I saw some discussion threads where one guy was asking “Anyone know where I can find Great Escape…?” and some other guys wishing for “this should be fully remade using 3D”

Basically, it looks like nobody has done this game earlier… and that there might actually be interest for this. (Not that I care, I only care about me having fun nowadays).

Doing a proto of this sounds fun, so (1) I will try and see if I can find it somewhere to play (or just will check the Walkthrough videos to refresh my memory and see if I can remember what was fun about the game) and then (2) turn my ninja proto into a jailbreak prototype. This could first be thought bit as a “remake” of this fine classic, although for copyright – and for fun design – purposes I gotta change and add some (many) things quite likely.

You gimme the emulator, I’ll give you a beer
In case you happen to know where I could find an emulator to test this game, I’ll just might buy you a beer. Or two if you also tell it to me. But only for the first guy to enter (I know some smart guys would have applied if I would not add “only the first one gets the beer”). Via paypal. M’kay?

Update: Somebody already won and pointed me to http://www.zxspectrum.net/ (use browser search to locate the game). Twitter isn’t that useless after all.

It’s really great thing to have this blog and write things out loud. I’ve been pondering the theme, the replay value, and “purpose for the stealth” in my mind… and somehow I feel that the pieces start to get into the right places.