[ Shihiko° × Game。]

About Games. by Shihiko°

May 16th, 2011

I wanted to write about this a month ago, but I didn’t really know if other people felt the same about the game. Anyway let’s begin since I have time and haven’t really written anything interesting about gaming for awhile… Here is a video of Jill DLC for reference to what the game looks like.

So Marvel Vs. Capcom 3… I played it a month or two ago shortly after it was released. I also saw it at Tokyo Game Show 2010… My first impression then and my impression now is unchanged, game does look absolutely beautiful and well styled in terms of graphics or aesthetics. Now that’s not how we are supposed to judge games, but Capcom really did do a good job in that department…

Coming from a background of playing a few of the older and original Vs. series from Capcom and even the SNK ones I have had quite a good sample of the games and know what it is all about. Sure each one had it’s faults or bugs but that isn’t what we should be complaining about, since good players will always figure out loop holes and bugged combos in these games. With that aside what are these games about? I’ve always felt the game seemed to be all about outrageous super combos and character combinations that you have always dreamed of in a fighting game.

When it comes to outrageous super combos, Gouki/Akuma is not short of them of course… Well in MvC3 the problem doesn’t lie in the amount of outrageous super combos we have in our arsenal to use, but actually it’s the character combinations… MvC3 has too few characters to be offering 3 on 3 teams, it isn’t long before you start repeating combinations or using characters you have no interest in for the sake of achievements or trophies.

Just to clarify, I’m not saying that 3 on 3 teams is bad… but in the current case it is where it lets MvC3 down. Let’s rewind a little and see why… before MvC3 there was Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom which offered 2 on 2 instead of 3 on 3, this may have been more of an issue with the Wii not being able to handle it but that’s probably not the case. TvC also had a different system that is probably closer to the SNK Vs. Capcom style where some characters can have their vitality split with other characters taking up one or two slots or even all slots. Of course the SNK Vs. Capcom style was more of a KO rotation system instead of a tag team system that Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom and Marvel Vs. Capcom series uses.

Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 however had 3 on 3 yet it wasn’t a problem right? That’s because the roster for MvC2 is so big that if they didn’t have 3 on 3 you’d never get through all the characters anyway. This also definitely played a part in making MvC2 a great classic and also a great game in the series… I remember unlocking characters in MvC2 was such a chore and the closer you are the finishing the roster the harder it was to gain points to unlock the characters, so you would unlock all the characters you like first and then finish off the rest when you eventually got around to it. However playing MvC3, well there is so little characters you unlock them without even trying and also the idea that the rest of the characters or future characters maybe DLC only really does kill the game.

If they were going to limit the number of characters we will be able to play as then they should have limited the size of the teams as well. Even with the possibility of more characters in the future, the fact that it is DLC means that you’re going to have to pay up if you ever wanted the complete the roster. As a game with a main selling point which is about random characters and probably fan service [Remixed Jazz Track was a nice touch though.] rather than a fighting game, selling your characters separately really does let down the game… on top of that the DLC characters currently offered aren’t completely new characters to the series but old characters that existed in previous versions of the game. Jill of course is a variation but she is still a character that appeared in the previous games.

Capcom maybe getting way ahead of them selves trying to milk their customers, but maybe try not to ruin the games in the process if parts you are are trying to milk with is a vital aspect that makes the games unique. Another strange approach is that they are trying to sell CPU AI teams as a challenge or some kind of DLC… What? Is there something I’m missing here? Selling an AI team combination? Seeing as we have Online Mode, why would anyone in their right mind buy this… I’m sure I’d rather more characters even if they were going to be charging for it at least there is a chance of seeing characters that I might be interested in using. Kobun/Servbot for example?

One last thing, I have yet to buy the game after playing it… It’s not that I don’t like it, but it is the fear that this game doesn’t seem complete enough and we are going to get a Super Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 later this year which has double the characters. :P Or better yet, Super Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 Arcade Edition Remix HD… You get the idea. ;) Though Capcom may actually know their audience better and these points maybe proven wrong with their return on investment.

May 15th, 2011

So with the PlayStation Network coming back, it’s interesting to see what will happen from now. Personally I didn’t have any Credit Card details in my accounts and I was on holiday so mainly not too affected by this whole incident. I do wonder what happens to people who have extra accounts or multiple accounts created for the purpose of having another alias… There will be a Welcome Back Package given to all PSN users, does this mean even dummy accounts will receive free PS+ Service and free games? Will this mean out of the few games you are able to choose for free you get to collect them all if you had multiple accounts?

I bought a new PS3 for a friend during the time the hacking and downtime happened. Do they receive any of the services if we create a new account for them? It would be interesting if that is the case, but from a business point of view if you didn’t have an account before the hacking then you probably shouldn’t be eligible for the Welcome Back Package. Since you aren’t a returning customer…

One last thing I do think maybe an issue is the Secret Question and Answer. Though we maybe prompted to update our passwords and some details, the original PSN didn’t let you change your Secret Question and Answer… So if they don’t allow us to update this, then wouldn’t hackers or people who buy the information of customers from the hackers have the answer to the question and still be able to access your account? Also I forgot the answer to one of the accounts I made since I gave it a really stupid question… it would be nice to have that one changed haha… Well here is to a good PSN rebirth and Sony to have everything working right for their customers as soon as possible. :)

I watched this video earlier… felt different seeing Kazuo Hirai do this well rehearsed speech from a office desk… though yeah I guess better than seeing a Kevin Butler spin off. :P

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

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.

September 30th, 2010

Of all the Survival Horror series, one I enjoy most is the Project Zero or Fatal Frame series… if I were to make a website for a game it was either that or Minna no Golf.

Project Zero Work in Progress.

That would probably have been the case if there wasn’t already a nice website out there for the game and also if the game was more true to it’s original feel. With some game series or franchises, things get a little stale or game play or design go backwards instead of forwards. Project Zero is probably one of those who have fallen into this area of progression, with the game starting off to a great start with Zero, then topped by Crimson Butterfly and then holding it’s position with The Tormented… while the latest release Mask of the Lunar Eclipse on the Wii wasn’t improving it seemed the series was heading sideways.

With basically a drought for news on anything to do with the series and Nintendo holding the localised release of the game in western countries… you’d think that maybe the series might be dead. Well yesterday there was a few articles and press releases which contain visuals of the new upcoming work in progress Project Zero featuring the characters from Crimson Butterfly. This could be signs of a remake or Mio and Mayu have matured, but why is it for the Wii again…?

Seeing as with the previous version, Nintendo had rights to the publishing of the game… and their decision was to hold the release of the game in western countries [due to chances the game will not sell well in western regions]. Eventually it lead to fans creating a English patch for the Japanese game. Tecmo did also say that they would try not let this happen again in the future as they are quite sorry the game was unable to reach the western fan base of the series. So what are they doing now…?

I’ve always looked forward to a HD version of the game to play. Looks like that may not be happening, though I don’t see why if they are already remaking it anyway… Also if the motion controllers are what they are after, that doesn’t mean much as the PlayStation Move is now available so that doesn’t make sense. The only reason this could be happening is that Nintendo maintains the license to the series or franchises now as Tecmo may have sold it to them for a set number of years. A move which may have cost the series it’s progression and success.

Anyway here is what the original Crimson Butterfly looked like… comparing with the new graphics up the top there is clearly a noticeable difference. Mio and Mayu have had their costumes modified a little and some other enhancements… really? One thing that was irritating about the Wii release was that in Lunar Eclipse, there wasn’t much difference between the look of the girls you were in control of. Most of them were given enough polygons to emphasize their face and chest while the rest of the body was pretty much left for awkward moments when stretched or animated. The original PlayStation 2 releases of the game seemed to have done a better job… it just seems like they wanted the game to look better than the originals however decided that they would need to cut corners else where [such as straight and stiff looking limbs that fold awkwardly] to maintain that effect.

That aside the Wii never seemed to do the game much justice. Ignoring that Suda did change the way the game play and system works a little, there are times where the game would lag uncontrollably when travelling between rooms or sections of a building. Why does it happen? I even tested it with USB loaded version of the game and it still had the same lagging performance at the same area of the game… this wasn’t a bug that just happens to be on the game because we are running it off a disc. It happened even when the developers were probably testing it off the Wii SDK… which means they should have fixed it in the testing phase. If they were struggling with resources and performance in the first place, why announce another release for the Wii when there are clearly better alternatives out there where the series can succeed on?

Well I look forward to the release of this game… but there is always going to be that thought of how much better this series could have been if they weren’t crippling their ideas and development teams just for a little bit of cash. With the PlayStation Move now available, there is no excuse not to make this in HD if they wanted the motion controllers… Also atleast if they released it on the PlayStation 3 the game would be region free and not force legitimate people to hack and modify their consoles just to play a game they would have gladly purchased if it were released in their respective regions. [Also more exposure for the game if people were playing it online on the PSN or Live with the Trophies and Achievements systems.] In the end I could move over to Biohazard for my Survival Horror gaming… too bad the horror factor in that is pretty low.

August 20th, 2010

So today’s about a month since my PlayStation Plus Experiment… How’s it going so far? Well I have received three months worth of premium avatars and a few games which I already have or aren’t that fun. Quite dissappointed with the service so far, still no news about cross-game voice chat and no premium dynamic themes to keep.

Continuing on however… According to next month’s schedule they don’t look all that great at all. For the Japanese PSN The next free title will be Warhawk… A game that is over two years old. Also there is no premium dynamic theme or avatar lined up to collect so I maybe skipping next month’s subscription.

Now what have I learned about this so far? First off the experiment works of course… I have received three months worth of avatars and games for only one month’s payment but none of the games were that interesting or worth my time or I already have it.

Subsciptions need to be unsubscribed once you have started it otherwise it will automatically renew and charge your credit card or PSN wallet at the end of the period. The service can to be unsubscribed from the Account Manager menu.

Once it reaches the end of the period you will automatically lose your Plus icon from your online status. Apparently there is a bug that allows free PSone games to continue to work even after the subscription period. However there were no PSone games for free on the Japanese store for me to test this.

As for the service so far, well there really is no benefit for power users so far… It seems you’d probably get or benefit out of this service if you were a casual PlayStation gamer and didn’t own that many games because you’d be getting essentially a new game that you have never played before. Since the service also offers automatic update, it basically allows you to set and forget your system and whenever you boot it up you’ll be ready for and game or any online networking since it would have kept your system up to date for you no matter how much you neglect gaming on it.

Well that’s the report on the experiment so far… More to come as time goes on… Hopefully they will improve the service alot more but I really done see it as a service that makes users feel they are missing out on something special…

July 25th, 2010

Answer: Yes.

Well technically yes, everyone has their way of solving a problem. Unless you are solving a logical problem, there probably is no correct way to how you deal with or solve it. Since this isn’t a psychology site there won’t be any dwelling on that matter.

So what is problem solving skills for when part of a game development project? In most cases it is the game designer/planner, programmer and graphical or non-graphical user interface designer that needs the skill in general.

Just a quick outline of what each job probably deals with on a regular basis…

  • Game designers/planners have to identify flaws in their design before production and find the solution before it becomes a game breaker later.
  • The programmers probably face a lot of problems with balancing visuals and functionality and solve it while bringing a game to surface from the designs.
  • Graphical or non-graphical user interface designers would need to find the solution to making an easy to use interface that is capable of handling the needs of the game.

So how to establish or practice problem solving skills? Programmers have it a little easier here, as they actually practice their logical thinking and problem solving with the more programming they experience.

Exercises for game design can be a bit of work if doing it with designs/works from scratch. An alternative would be to play games often and try to break them, find flaws, bugs and problems and think of solutions that would prevent these problems occurring in future designs.

Do you hate it when you interact with a game or software and find some things are not where they should be? Looking for the close button in the top corner but it isn’t there? User interface problem solving is probably easier to solve than the others, various ways of doing it include applying your own experiences with the controls you are using to interact, then tweaking and testing until you feel others will use it the way you intended, but the ultimate problem to solve is when you hand it to someone to try…

These are all just an idea, they aren’t always how you should find your solutions as a solution can be found differently… An example is the other day I thought of an idea to program but instead of trying with my solution I had offered my friend the exercise to see if he was up for it. I had my own solution and ideas planned for it but as my friend also had his own ways of solving the problem, I didn’t fully explain my methods to him. The result of course was a different solution to the same problem. Granted I probably still feel my solution is much simpler, but there is nothing wrong with his solution either as it does the job required.

Though everyone may solve problems differently there is another skill that probably is required… Identifying Problems. That is of course because identifying problems is the first step to finding a solution and finding the solution will lead you to the Answer.