Thursday, November 17, 2016

Homework 11

Awesome Sauce Game:

Papers, Please

Papers, Please is a simple, pixel-styled game that takes place in a fictional country which parallels the Soviet Union. You play as someone assigned at a boarder checkpoint who admits foreign travelers into the country. It starts out very simple, but quickly becomes complex.

The story is one of the biggest draws to this game. It is a compelling yet simple story in which you make judgments over people's lives and decide whether to help them and get punished, or follow along with your job. There are times that you must act out of your own self-interests, and times where you must help those who are corrupt and evil in order to save yourself and your family.

This is the screen where most of the game takes place. You look through passports and judge their validity to decide whether or not you let someone in. As the game goes on, there are more requirements to who is admitted and who is not. More papers are added and some are taken away or modified, and it becomes a toss up of trying to admit more people to make money and risk letting in an unqualified person, and taking your time on each one and not be capable of getting through many people.

As you go, there are often people in difficult situations that need help in one capacity or another. Some people are escaping their countries with their families, and often their paperwork is incorrect. It ends up being a moral dilemma on your part as to whether to do your job and remain loyal to your country, or to help people in situations just as desperate as your own.

I mention the story a lot because that's what really drives what goes on. What occurs in the story can affect the mechanics, such as denying suspected terrorists from certain countries or having to shoot at them in order to save a guard you befriend. Some people, like Jorji, return multiple times and how you treated them in the past can change their reactions and ultimately the outcome of the game. This intricate story with so many possibilities and stories of both these people and yourself makes it worthwhile to play through it multiple times to me, even with how difficult it can get later on to process the papers.

Onto the interface.

As I said before, most of the game takes place on the first of these two screens. At times, the desk can become cluttered and difficult to work things around with, but this is a purposeful challenge to make you slow down in your process and check through all the details. You also have to navigate through a book and end up memorizing some aspects such as the cities in the countries that issue the passports and what legitimate seals look like versus forged ones. This increase in challenge is partly what prevents me from continuing, though, because of how long it's been since I last played it. I feel a bit incapable of remembering and working well.
The second part of the game involves your family, which you never directly see. You can only see their statuses and you have to make decisions about your finances and whether you can afford food, heat, or medicine. Members of the family can die, and you can also adopt one of your nieces. Everything has a consequence, though, and if you can't afford rent next week due to failure to manage money, you will lose. Consequences are high and the challenges are difficult, but it feels very rewarding to be able to get your family through it all.

On a final note, I'll mention the art style. I personally love pixel-styled things because it creates a lot of simplicity and allows the player to get a feel for the environment. It helps to create a very specific atmosphere, and the dull colors and limited pallet of this game adds to the oppressive feeling you get from the dialogue and interactions. The green and red stamp colors are the only things that stand out from the rest of it, and it puts a lot of emphasis on the main decider of the game. Ultimately, what happens depends on those stamps about who is let through and who is denied entry. It's an artistic emphasis on the biggest influence to the game.

All in all, gorgeous and intriguing game. Perhaps one of my favorites. I'll know when I finally manage to play through it to the end.

Not so Hot Stuff:

Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

This is probably the closest to a bad game that I've played. I enjoyed it, but it definitely wasn't as fun or interesting as the other games in the series. Still enjoyable, but there are a few things that could have been vastly improved.

For starters, the mechanics of the game are a bit unusual. Nintendo had a trend for awhile of trying to create new and unique ways to interact with the games they created. One such thing was the motion controls of the Wii. They added onto those to be more sensitive and exact and implemented it into this game. You control the sword by swinging as usual, but you also control the direction you hit in. Specific enemies block in certain ways for you to use these different attacks, but it tends to be annoying and tedious rather than a fun and interesting challenge.

There is also a stamina bar, which, in theory, is a good way to get players to strategize about how to battle an enemy. Mostly, though, it ends up being an annoyance as you try to get around the world. Tasks take a long time without being able to quickly move about, and the most noticeable times when there is a matter of having depleted stamina, it's outside of combat, as in combat I never found much need to monitor my stamina. It was just frustrating as you went about completing simple tasks.

The interface is also a bit strange. The inventory system doesn't pause the game when opened, from what I remember, and it is awkward to select as you try and get the right object as the cursor often selects imprecisely around where you're trying to aim. You're also restricted to carry a certain number of items, which can be inconvenient when you need to prepare for a temple or a fight.

The environment also hits and misses a lot of places. On the surface world, everything is fairly nice and looks vibrant and interesting for the most part. There are some areas where the design isn't fully there, though, and it looks fairly boring and uninteresting, like the desert.

Granted, deserts tend to be barren and uninteresting to look at for the most part, but it's fairly flat in colors and doesn't seem wholly enjoyable. You do make parts of the desert fill with life again, but wandering around before then is a bit boring and makes it hard to navigate sometimes since everything does look fairly similar.

The sky you fly around in is also pretty uninteresting. There isn't  much for large portions of the sky you do fly around in, and one of the major mechanics of the game is to fly from place to place. It is very fun to actually fly around and the motion sensitive controls do work really well for this part, but adding a more dynamic atmosphere with a better appearance than tan clouds would have made it that much more enjoyable.

There are also dialogue choices in the game, but they don't add much to the experience since they change a few lines of what's said and that's the extend of the impact. It's also strange to have a Link that is actively speaking and responding when he's mostly silent in the other games he's portrayed in. Another person that struggles a bit with dialogue is Link's companion, Fi. Fi is the living component of Link's sword, and she talks like a robot. It is intentional, but it becomes annoying to read her long, unnecessary explanations of things that could have been simplified. It doesn't quite fit to have this magical being speak like an android, since they're two very juxtaposed things. She also serves very little in the actual story line and is mostly there to just tell Link what to do next, not unlike Navi. Her design is very nice, though, so props on that.

The last big issue I really have is the cut-off nature of the areas. You fly to get to each place, and there's not much to do or explore in between. Traveling between it all becomes inconvenient and takes up unnecessary time, as you have to go back and forth and nothing is conveniently placed. There's only one main shop area, and with the limited inventory you have, once you do run out of items (which can happen pretty quickly), you have to leave the area you're in and return to Skyloft to replenish things, such as your shield which deteriorates during battles.

Despite these aspects, though, I did enjoy playing it. The story wasn't very great, but the ending was intense and epic, and it would have been great to have the rest of the game match up to it and the gorgeous battles that lead to the conclusion and ultimate explanation of what caused these reincarnations of Links and Zeldas in the other games. It was an important game, and one that I wish was better done than it had been.

Homework 10

Examples of interfaces between people and the real world:
1) Car steering wheel/gas pedals
2) Stove dials
3) Elevator buttons
4) Handles on a sink faucet, or sensors on some sinks
5) Door handles
6) Handle bars and pedals of a bike
7) Desk chair adjustments
8) Treadmill settings and options
9) Shower head adjustments for strength and spread of water
10) Light switches

Good interface between player and game:

Skyrim has a very simple but effective interface. It only presents what is relevant, and it leaves most of the screen visible. Most of the time, health, stamina, and magic bars aren't present unless they're not at full. The compass at the top is fairly good to be a simple way to quickly see what's in the environment without having a map taking up a corner of the screen.

The interface with inventory is also very simple and easy to understand. You can clearly see the objects and pertinent information to them which allows you to make easy judgments about what to hold on to or get rid of. The shops are set up in a similar way, clearly marking what is part of the shop keeper's inventory for you to buy, and what's a part of yours for you to sell.

The dialogue options are fairly straightforward as well, highlighting what's selected and showing you what you have and haven't said. The only thing that can be a bit confusing at times is what's a list of dialogue you can just go through and what's a choice that won't go back to the same options and questions. Other than that, though, the interfaces they use are easy to understand and very simple and clean-looking.

Bad interface between player and game:

This is where I'm kind of struggling. Most of the games I've played haven't really been bad games, and so it's hard for me to say what really is bad. The closest thing I can think of is a game that mostly just had an interface you had to get used to. So, here's Long Live the Queen.

This is where about half the game takes place. You select classes to increase various skills, and it later affects what happens in the story based on those stats. There's a lot of information between the two, and it takes some getting used to in order to understand what's going on. You also have to go back and forth between a lot of the screens, which can be a bit annoying. I'm not sure how else you might present this, though. The only thing I could think of is allowing something more side-by-side, or being able to sort or search through the categories so there isn't so much going on at once.

This is the mood meter, and it's another fairly important aspect to the game. Depending on Elodie's mood, her performance is affected one way or the other. The issue with this is more of a mechanic thing than an interface one, though. People are usually inclined to try and make her cheerful and level out her mood based on how this is laid out, but really the strategy that should be implemented is very different. It is only stated once about how these feelings affect one another, but it's very vital to understand in order to play the game right and eventually succeed.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Assignment 8

Alrighty. So for this project, I made a basic, very simple object of what will eventually become the jackal guards, one of the enemies in the game. In the stuff I did, it only has the torso and head thus far, but I've also been developing the arms some since.

Here it is in Blender:

It has very basic shapes right now and I just added a general black texture to it for the time being. I'll go back in later and add more complex things when I find the time to experiment.

Then this is how it looks in Unreal:

(Ignore the other stuff, I was just messing around)
It ended up being much larger than I anticipated, but that's simple enough to scale down. I did notice an issue when trying to actually build the game, and the texture on the jackal would become solidly black. I don't quite know what might cause this problem, though, so I'm going to look deeper into it.

I tried to upload both things into GitHub, but I couldn't really succeed, and no one else seems to have uploaded their things either. So this is about as far as I got with that:

And that's all she wrote.

Actually got the jackal onto GitHub, along with the right hand of our main character. We still have yet to put all of our objects into one Unreal project, though.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Assignment 6

Account: yotoll

Assignment 5

I further designed and cleaned up the HUD, so that there is a better concept of the visual behind the interface the player will be presented with. I also looked up some music for ideas of game themes, but that isn't so easily presentable.
I've developed the life bar a bit more with the cleaner lines and color closer to what will likely be in the final version. Later we'll incorporate the actual readout in Unreal, so this is more or less a template image.
The circles on the bottom right are the attack mode (spear extended) and the "puzzle" mode (spear retracted).
The bag is the inventory display. The objects will appear there and will be able to be scrolled through.
The dot in the center is the basic cross-hair.

All of this may be later altered and probably significantly sized down, however. Some of the objects appear too large and take up too much of the screen, so I will likely shrink them. There is also a bit too much color, so I'll probably make a more transparent and greyscale version of all of them.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Assignment 3

I made a simple throne room scene without anything fancy done to it.

First, I started with the blank layout without starter content.
Then I deleted all the objects that were created by default.

Next, I added a light and a cube and flattened the cube to make the floor.
After that, I took two cylinders and joined them together to make a column, and then duplicated the column and added another light. (I couldn't quite figure out how to blueprint it, so I duplicated it for the time being.)

After that, I started constructing the throne from blocks. I also added a camera that looks towards the throne.

I added all of the throne objects into one folder and added the back. I also tried to bring everything as close to the floor as I could without colliding with it, but it's still floating. It's fairly simple to fix, though, and physics is turned off for everything so it doesn't affect much other than the visual.

And, finally, a spotlight for dramatic effect.

My level:

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Assignment 2

Our team met up at Dirac on Monday, around 1:30. It was just Enara, Connor, and I, though. Jacob was unavailable at the time.
We talked some about the games we were interested in designing and ideas we had behind that, and also discussed a bit of our talents. We don't have much decided on yet, but it's a promising start and everyone seems willing to contribute and cooperate.

Edit: We met up again later on the 15th with all of us present and came up with our game idea. We'll be doing a puzzle game with possibly some combat that focuses around escaping a pyramid/tomb.