12/30/07

DIARY OF PLAY: Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations

These words represent my thoughts as I play the game in question. Just a warning. Stuff in bold I added later.

Heh. Hemorrhoids.

For the most part, it makes sense, but at times my thoughts seem to get ahead of the game. This game requires me to think in the moment, as opposed to having a long term strategy...at least for now.

I don't like how you move from scene to scene. It just seems real easy to get lost with how they have it set up.

I don't like how the save system forces you out of the game. <- discourage abuse! But doesn't stop it...what was their intent behind this decision? Did they do it to encourage you to know WTF you're doing?

Did Mia really need to wear that low-cut a dress Capcom? I mean really, come on.

When I finally nailed Dahlia, I felt real proud of myself.

Nice characterization. I actually am interested in asking these people questions. I never seem to lost for to long.

those profiles are useful, but annoying. I hear the next game will get rid of them. That should streamline the whole thing...

That must be the cleanest damn toilet in the world.

Psyche-Locks are fun. Like a condensed trial.

Heh. Butz.

I like the Examination system. but in cluttered areas it get mildly confusing.

In court, and lost. I have no idea why this picture is peculiar. I made a guess...wait! THANKS ONLINE GUIDES!!! Man, you really gotta watch the details!

Poor Gumshoe. Can't catch a break.

If Godot keeps on drinking coffee like that, he's gonna need a 20 minute break.

I love the characters they got in this game.

They need more inventive names with the testimony.

Did they design it where after all that hard stuff, everything falls together? If so, a stroke of genius. If not, well, accidental genius still counts

I love pwning Godot.

Confetti? I court?

Outta the frying pan and into the fire....

I like how you can tell if you're on the right track by the green text that shows up.

Man, I love them Psych-Locks.

Lost again...how do I break this PL?

A BREAKTHROUGH!! Thanks to that article!

Broke those damn PL's w/ a detail I overlooked. Victory is very nice.

Just made a breakthrough in trial. Such satisfaction!

The autopsy says 1:00 am as time of death! WTF?

Godot coughed up his beloved coffee. PWNED!

The photo is wrong... how do I present it?

I now the flaw is that the box in the photo doesn't have paint on it...how do I say that?

I seem to get ahead of the game...oooohhhh...I was supposed to think the diamond mentioned in the letter was the Tear...<-That was never mentioned

I pressed the right statement, but since all the animations are the same for the first couple of seconds, I reset the game, figuring I lost.

Such a heartwarming ending.

where do I go? find the green stone thing? I always miss the profiles...ditching them seems better and better...

Old guy is perv. Nice use of dialog (by Gumshoe) to lead me in right direction.

How am I supposed to know to present Maggey w/ Victor's Testimony!?!?

Viola's sprite emotes are starting to wear thin...and then she cries. Nice timing...?

They shouldn't lead the right answers with 'Your Honor'. I makes me think I made a mistake! I nearly reset, when I had the right answer!

God, victory is soooooo awesome in this game!

The judge speaks Spanish? Random.

Glen's Calendar says: Meet w/ Tiger! It contradicts Tiger's testimony! <-games cannot (yet?) determine why I present evidence/ take the actions that I do.

Hot testimony?

Why ask me if I want it amended?

forgot about him posing as me

Gumshoe to the rescue!

Gotcha bitch!!

Has Maggey been wearing the same dress this whole time?

12/29/07

IN THE MOMENT: Team Fortress 2

One thing that has always annoyed me about video game reviews is when they try to rate the online portion of a game. Let us take Halo 3 for instance. Any review of Halo 3 is complete and utter poppycock*, at least, moreso than your average game review. The reason that Halo 3 reviews transcend normal review poppycock, attaining new levels of poppycockery**, is that they all try to rate what is on the disc, not what is on the net. No one on this planet really gives a damn about Master Chief's story on any real level. The only reason we kinda sorta care is simply because he's been with us for a while. When people actually play Halo, they don't say "Check out this awesome story!", they say "BOOM HEADSHOT FAG!". They care not about the arc (why am I killing this Grunt?) they care about the action (I killed a Grunt! w007!)

So what? You might say. Is not the action defined on the disc, in form of the Halo code?

Yes. I would reply. The action is defined on the disc, but that is not where it resides. A definition is different from an actual thing you see. A definition is but a property of a thing. What the disc contains is code, which is but an actions definition; it is not the action itself.

At this point, you would have two options. Option one has you stroke your chin (or, seeing as you are probably a gamer, your Cheeto-soaked goatee) in mild interest and ask me to continue. If this is your chosen option, please jump ahead to the paragraph marked A.

Your other option is to vehemently disagree with my point. If so, please email me with your retort, and skip to the paragraph marked B, or rather the point of this post, as paragraph A is unlikely to sway you.

A) I would continue to say that there is no point in playing Halo if you don't play the multiplayer; playing Halo's multiplayer is like playing Half-Life's single-player. It's the whole god-damned point. While it is incredibly useful to understand games as abstract systems of mechanics that the player must use to overcome obstacles...and shit, I forgot where I was going. Crap.

*God, I love that word

**Patent Pending

12/28/07

PROBLEMS AND FIXINS: Mass Effect

In Brief: Weapon holstering is a wasted button, and the squad commands, though not horrid, is lackluster. Texture popping? Really?

In Long:

Ah Mass Effect. How I remember when I first read that preview in EGM so long ago. The promises, oh the sweet, sweet promises. Oblivion in Space?!!? FUCK YEAH! Take Everything I love about Oblivion, and put in interstellar travel.

I should have realised it was to good to be true. Oblivion's world was jam packed with stuff to do; it seemed like with every five steps i took I came across 2 dungeons, 3 camps, 5 quests, and a dragon. Replicating this shit-to-do/land-area ratio across the entirety of our Lactose Avenue of a galaxy was far to tall an order.

This is not to say that Mass Effect is a bad game, it is merely not the game I wanted, or rather, hoped for. What is here is most excellent; a story that, for the first time, actually made me care about the characters, an immense world that, while not dense, is still pretty cool, and of course, freaking sweet weaponry.

But that being said, there is plenty here to hate. What can loved has been done already by others far more prolific than I, so I will go into what to hate about this game. Once again: I like this game. It is one of the few games that managed to actually make me excited about shooting the Bad Guy (tm) as a bad guy, not as a general obstacle in my path. It ambitious, so I find it hard to outright hate it. However, if we molly-coddle it, then we do the game a disservice. We owe it to Mass Effect to frank about what sucks


To begin: I MOTHERFUCKING HATE THIS GODDAMN CONTROL SCHEME SO MOTHERFUCKING MUCH. I hate it for a variety of reasons. Number one, I hate it because it didn't tell me how to do much of anything. Oh sure, it told me how to point and shoot, but crap, I've played GoW for Pete's sake. I KNOW HOW TO MAKE THE ENEMY DEAD WITH MY GUN. What I don't know is how to switch my gun, how use my abilities, how to aim my abilities, how to boss around my squad, how to heal my squad, how to equip myself and my squad, etc. So, first point the game does not tell you how to talk to it. The game to does not tell the player how to properly interact with it.

To elaborate: This control scheme is so horrendously inefficient, it makes me want to read Garfield so I can remember how to hate things that AREN'T Mass-Effect-Control related. First, off, when I say inefficient, I mean that there are button presses that don't need to be pressed, sticks that don't need to be pushed, things that can, and should have been mapped elsewhere. Inefficiency is an underrated crime in my book.

Five (5) buttons all do the same thing (draw your weapon). But that's 0kay; all five of those buttons are combat related (weapon switch, shooting, aiming, power-using and the dedicated weapon draw button). But only one (1) button puts away your weapons (still-okay). BUT this button is NONE of the previous buttons. And indeed, this completely separate button has only ONE FUNCTION: putting away your goddamned weapon.

How to fix this? Move all weapon functions to left bumper. On tap draws weapon. Tap again to swap to last used weapon. Hold to bring up weapon menu, and double tap to holster. And now, all attack-related commands are on the bumpers and triggers, which means only 2 fingers can access those commands

In the last of my moanings on Mass Effect's controls, we come to squad commands. This is where that right stick could have really come in handy. You see, my problem with Mass Effect's squad system isn't so much that it is outright BAD it's just it could have been better. As they have it, you control your squad with the D-Pad (The only arrow I know does anything is the top one, but that ties back into Issue 1). It's not bad per se, but if Bioware had access to an extra button or two (the weapon draw/holster ones) it could have been better. What I was thinking is that X brings you into squad command mode, where you issue movement orders (Attack orders already work rather well)

Next, we come to technical problems. Normally, console games pride themselves on a lack of such things. But Mass Effect has one HUGE technical problem. Texture popping. Every damn texture in the game seems to pop nigh constantly. Turn a corner? Pop. Enter a building? Pop. Reach a cutscene? Pop, pop, pop.

My recommended is fix goes like this:

1. Take Bethesda Software out to drink.
2. Get Bethesda Software very, very drunk.
3. Sneak into Bethesda Software's offices, and copy the loading code they used for Oblivion
4. Implement code in Mass Effect.
5. PROFIT!**

And of course, there are the general crashes that come with being a 360 game. Fucking Micro$oft, AM I RITE?!!11one?//1

And so, we come to the biggest problem of them all: the actual combat. This combat ranges from almost fun, to game-quitting frustrating. Part of this stems form the fact the Bioware at times don't seem to appreciate that, for all their RPG trappings, they ARE MAKING A THIRD PERSON SQUAD SHOOTER. Let me repeat: SHOOTER. You do not put SHOOTERS on long, poorly lit, bland catwalks and corridors. You put SHOOTERS in nice, open areas, with ample cover. At times, Bioware seems to know this, and at times they don't.

So that's it. Maybe later I'll talk about I liked about Mass Effect.

*UNLESS it's a Platformer or that's the whole point of the game (Echochrome, or, The Reason I'm Seriously Considering A PSP)

**4 and 1/2. ???

A Topic has been Decided! Commence Revelery Upon Reaching the End of this Post, and No Sooner

This will be a blog about game design, with an emphasis on video games. I want to be a game designer, so this will hopefully help me in that respect. Pad out the resume and what-not