[ Shihiko° × Game。]

About Games. by Shihiko°

February 9th, 2011

This was one of the recent headlines going around lately. News has it that Konami has gained enough shares of Hudson Soft and is now taking over or absorbing the company into Konami. This is a sad thing to see because during my primary to high school years I was a fan of Hudson Soft games… Especially the Super Bomberman series, special mentions to Super Bomberman 4 [Super Nintendo] and Bomberman SS [Sega Saturn] as they were the probably the most outstanding Bomberman games in terms of game play and design before the experimenting started and the series started to lose it’s edge.

Sure Konami is probably taking over Hudson because they aren’t doing so well in the recent years, and Hudson has quite a few great valuable intellectual properties in their treasure chest. Hopefully Konami does a better job with Bomberman as for a classic party game it just isn’t as fun any more with the broken game play, network play lag, poor graphics quality for simple looking characters and lack of good mountable creatures. Bomberman wasn’t the only franchise that was losing it’s edge in the games being made, anyone remember Bonk?

Bonk was one of those unique platform games that Hudson had in it’s arsenal. You had this prehistoric cave man or boy that goes around the world smashing things with his gigantic head and eating chunks of meat, fruit and candy for power ups. Well for some odd reason when ever Hudson makes something from 2D to 3D they don’t have very good 3D lighting or textures and the game just looks ugly compared to the classics. When you think about it, if it wasn’t the game play that was ruined from the series it was the look and feel that ended up taking the blow.

Although these are Hudson game examples, they aren’t the only ones who have released new generation versions of their old classical games only to have it play poorly compared to the originals. One I can think of is Taito’s Bubble Bobble series, though in the PSP version that was made which wasn’t by Taito it was obviously licensed by them and allowed the PSP title to be created… It wasn’t the end of the classical style, but it was still a poor implementation of 2D in 3D of a classic game. Another Bubble Bobble was released on DS which sticks to the classic style and really works well with the Dual Screen of the DS.

So back to Hudson, in the recent years I don’t ever remember hearing a title that was successful that came out from them… but I do remember when they were trying to market and make that Bomberman Act: Zero game saying how it was going to be a reboot of the Sega Saturn version of the game and I thought Wow that is going to be such an awesome game! and then when it came out I was wondering What the? That’s nothing like Bomberman SS. Funnily enough the game was published by Konami. :P

One last example that shows something is wrong… that is when the original franchise’s game play loses to a the spin off’s game play. When playing Bomberman Portable on the PSP it was full of disappointments with the same issues mentioned in the beginning… poor game play, adhoc network play lag issues, poor graphics and texture quality… it’s as if all the 3D objects in game used the default texture: Lambert in Maya and they just stuck one light source in the game. Then comes Bomberman Land for PSP… I mean sure the game isn’t really Bomberman, but it also supports the classical multiplayer battle mode… Sadly it was much better than the franchise release. Bomberman Land had better adhoc network play and the simple 2D graphics does the job right while the main game may not be about blowing things up, the battle mode game play was acceptable to the series standard.

Now days classical franchises get rebooted or remade all the time… it is hard to keep track of how all of them are doing, but it can be assumed that if we aren’t hearing about them in the news then they are probably not doing well. Nintendo seems to be the rare type able to keep their franchises’ reboots or remakes up to scratch… or are just more successful at keeping the quality, look and feel of their games at a representable standard. We will see what happens with Hudson’s franchises with Konami’s take over… Everything goes Act: Zero?

Edit: An insider story to the downfall of Hudson was posted recently, it gives more in-depth details to what I was talking about also some nice information that I didn’t even know about… especially the development environment of Hudson being interesting and the origin of the name. You can read it here.

February 7th, 2011

Of course that isn’t the official name, it is the code name for the PlayStation Portable 2. The Neo Geo Pocket… Umm Next Generation Portable, was announced last week at the Sony press event in Japan. Though I did mention a few things in the list of potential the device has… I did not expect size to come into play. The NGP is actually quite large, as in larger than the original PSP and has the same style of look and feel of the original.

Technically I am really into the device specifications, makes me really want to design and develop games for it… However the size and the product so far doesn’t sit right with me when it comes to the controls. Anyone else feel that the size seems too large to be portable? Sony might be putting this up as a device that is going to be up against the iPad and the 3DS, so actually it is smaller than the iPad but it is powerful and more capable than the 3DS. While the PSPhone [XPERIA Play] is put up against the iPhone… If that’s the case I’m all in for it being large, but then why design it to look similar to the original PSP?

I can see the design of the PSPGo being more suited for the idea, as it means some games can just utilise the touch panels to play… Think of a game similar to LocoRoco with only the L and R buttons exposed while also having the touch panels on the back and front of the NGP along with the Gyro, Sixaxis and Accelerometer… These are plenty of inputs for a intuitive game don’t you think? Also means the device will be more balanced for when you are to stick your finger out to touch the screen. When holding the original PSP, if you were to let go of one hand and try to press buttons while touching or poking the screen you notice that the hand still on the device actually needs quite some energy to support the weight of the device while pressing buttons. NGP being a larger device might be more strain on the hands during touch gaming and may ruin the experience.

Also if the result is a thicker device so they can fit true analog sticks, I’m sure people will still be fine with it when slid open as the thickness will probably be the same as the current design with a less wide approach. Even if they decide not to go with the slide design on this iteration, hope the future slimming designs will receive the PSPGo treatment because I quite like the idea of being able to sit down the device in a cradle and connect up the Bluetooth DualShock 3 and play a game with that mini-console feel. Again this goes with my theory that future game consoles should all go mobile as the more powerful home consoles become, the more expensive it is to develop for and high good quality games will be out of reach to small developers and big developers won’t risk the investment anyway so it just becomes a huge waste to the industry.

Alright back on topic… Design aside, if they were to sell the device as it is now… I would probably still buy it because I would want to play Minna no Golf NEXT [Development Title]. Which you can read about at the Mingol Community site. Though the price would still be an issue… I am speculating the cost of the device to sit around 45,000 yen at the moment. However maybe by production or release it will be around 40,000… or the 3G version will be 45,000 while without it will be 40,000 yen. A little steep to sell if it is at that price, but if the future of home gaming consoles end here… then the price may not be too bad.

The potential of the device still stands. I don’t have much to add from the previous points other than what I mentioned here… but over all the impression Sony has given to the gaming industry from the press conference seems to be a positive one and seems to have brought a large portion of attention to their side. With the 3DS release coming later this month, I would say they played this one well.

[I'll come back and edit this with a few images.]

February 7th, 2011

Not sure if this would work or how such a system would start up… but imagine if the game industry was made up of a community where the companies that make games post up their concepts to the consumers and have people bid on the ideas. Some times as a consumer I feel that it is hard to make a difference or see potentially good ideas for games go to waste because the newest first person shooting clone game came out the other day because they are low risk and sell well to the market.

So the idea is that we have a system where ideas for games are posted in simple concepts and detailed game design documents for consumers to read, and they then put money into the production of the game… Example: Level 5 posts up that they will be making a new type of RPG game and will be looking to get Ghibli to create the art and design for the game world and characters. Consumers then look at it and can consider putting money into the idea because many people enjoyed the quality of their previous collaboration… This then gives the company an idea of how many people want this game to be made and also gives them an extra amount of funds to help start the project. It can be quite flexible with small bids of a dollar and larger bids of even a hundred dollars or more…

What is even possible is that companies can out bid a game that they want part in creating. This may seem a little strange when you think about it… but it can also be a good thing. There are many cases where a great idea ends up in the wrong hands and results in a poor quality game that tarnishes a franchise. Example: Sonic… yeah poor hedgehog gets reborn as everything these days but recently there have been some exceptional fan base remakes or concept works that seem more fitting to the franchise than what the big companies are pushing out. In this case, these fan made projects can also receive bids and support from consumers to have these ideas pushed to completion. Though this case maybe a little tricky as there are intellectual property and licensing issues that maybe involved, then again with the money and interest generated… a company such as Sega might see that if they were to license the game created by these fans it would actually be doing their franchise good and they don’t really have to do squat? Hence they could bid/donate support by granting the license for free…

Episodic game development becomes possible with this system… features to games can be bid on to help improve future iterations or versions of the game. Some game ideas sound great and all, but they might not work out when they are completed, rather than release a game and risking it all for a experimental concept the games can be developed in sections with consumers bidding on the next features before the wrong decisions are made. Developers can then take these risks without it being a huge blow on their budget as it is the consumers who are bidding are putting cash on the line for experimental features that could break the game. I think recently I read about a game which might be doing this business model… another plus to this model is that the developers receive instant feedback before the game is completed, so any experimental routes can be salvaged in the worst scenarios. This system potentially works well for making MMO games, as they require a lot of resources to develop now days especially with Blizzard still holding that genre at their disposal.

Now wait a second, you might wonder what the bidders get from the game or company for bidding on the game proposals…? Well the system is also similar to looking for investors. These people who contributed whether it is a little or more will be rewarded by the developers with either a free copy of the game, beta testing opportunities or extra content for when they purchase the final release. So those who only contributed a little still receive something, while those who contributed more may receive a collectors edition of the final product.

Let’s try to put this concept to work…

  1. A game proposal is posted up for consumers to read, discuss and bid. The proposal asks for 20,000 dollars to begin prototype development.
  2. Everyone can see the title of the game, genre and basic information of the idea. Non-Disclosure Agreements are placed on detailed game design documents.
  3. Consumers who approve of the idea and would like to see it become reality can bid and invest on the game proposals.
  4. The initial development budget is acquired and the game goes into development. If the original developers back out, the money returns to the consumers and the project stops here.
  5. Prototype is completed, the consumers or investors are invited to review the concept and play the prototype…
  6. A video is made of the prototype to drive more interest and the game goes into the bidding cycle again
  7. With enough interest and investors the development reaches the end of the project… The game is published and released to the market.

Ideally this is what would happen if the game was successful, but there will be cases where the game doesn’t get past the prototype stage and the investors will feel like their time was wasted. I guess there is ways around this problem, but then again if the developers were to have some penalty for experimenting or taking a risk with an idea that people actually bid and voted for then there would be less interesting proposals and more first person shooting clones and we will be back to square one.

February 5th, 2011

Earlier they review came through and Typ-iT was approved for sale for the App Store. What sale though? The game is Free. :)

Typ-iT


View In iTunes

  • Free
  • Category: Games
  • Released: 04 February 2011
  • Version: 1.0
  • Size: 5.2 MB
  • Language: English

Though I just looked at the leader boards, only seven people have played… but none of them tried to play the harder word list. Scores are fairly average so far, but still fun to see people try the game. I also checked twitter, but no one has tried the Twitter system yet. Which is a shame because that took time and effort to set up… Ah well hopefully it will pick up over a few days. I’ll probably play and get some high scores and tweets going on it to make it more interesting. :D