Includes

Bars

2009-10-23

Time Chess

Imagine a 6-turn cycle of turns in regular chess. These six "phases" represent times of day. There are three different types of phases:
  • Day = During Black's daytime turn, Black can only see Black pieces (day blindness)
  • Twilight = Both players can see all pieces
  • Night = During White's nighttime turn, White can only see White pieces (night blindness)
There are two turns, one black and one white, in each type. The arrangement is such that each player once a round has no idea what their opponent's last move was. This introduces a great deal of uncertainty to the game.

2009-09-28

POI Connections Map

In the indie game "The Path", 99% of the gameplay consists of wandering around in the woods. The inherent issue with this is that you get lost. They tried to counteract this by giving you two kinds of maps.

FYI: Sometimes, feeling lost can be a good thing. An integral part of the experience in "The Path" is that you the player "feel" like you're wandering around.

There are a number of POI (points-of-interest). Each of the POI have their own symbol. The major POI are shown constantly on the edge of the screen according to their direction relative to the camera's direction. When you rotate the camera, these POI symbols would move around the edge of the screen. I call this the "heading up" map.

There's also a traditional "north up" map. Where you are on this map is not immediately obvious. The only thing this map shows is the "path" you've taken around the woods. You'd think you could use this to navigate by walking around and following the path you make on the map in real time. "The Path" doesn't let you do that. It only shows you the "north up" map for a few seconds, involuntarily, every 10 minutes or so. This effectively makes the "north up" map completely useless.

This was beyond a doubt the most frustrating aspect of the game. What, I know where I've been but I can only remember every 10 minutes, and only in a brief glimpse? That's not how the human brain works. If the characters are really that addle-brained, then they're too stupid to live. In reality, if we're lost, we seek connections between things we remember.

IMHO, instead of giving priority to the "north up" map's symbolic "path", the "north up" map should of been left out entirely and more effort should of been spent making the "heading up" map more useful.

Here's how I would of done it...

2009-09-09

Email-Based Browser Game Save File System

I was halfway through reading this Kotaku article when I came across this:
Then, a man who'd been waiting in line for nearly half an hour for a turn at the microphone put it something like this: "[I define] ‘Gamer' as someone dedicated to the perfection of fun. You can't do that in 10 [minute intervals]."

There was an audible hiss from the crowd and the panelists shifted uneasily. Was this guy saying casual gamers didn't count as gamers, or just classifying all short gaming experiences as casual games?
Now, if this were true -- if "casual" games were inherently incapable of perfecting fun and therefore not worth people's time -- then every single game made at the Global Game Jam this year (including the one I helped make) would be devalued simply because the games weren't supposed to have a play time longer than 5 minutes.

Naturally, I was rather upset by this, and then the following occurred to me:

2009-08-07

Scientists aren't idiots

In Resident Evil 5, the first time you encounter "lickers", they're being held in rooms with transparent walls. Sense tells us that these transparent walls should be strong enough to keep the lickers inside.

Nope. Guess what happens 10 seconds later.

2009-07-25

Thought Ticker Redux

I originally thought of a GUI device called a "thought ticker" back in June of last year. It shaves off a thin bar at the bottom of the screen and dedicates that now empty black space for what is essentially closed captions of the character's mind.

This device serves as a thought bridge between the character and the player without use of speech bubbles or voice acting.

2009-07-23

Save Point Teleportation

I was recently watching a speedrun of Metroid Fusion, and it occurred to me that there's no realistic logical reason for a futuristic game to have save points. They simply have no real world purpose or equivalent.

2009-07-17

Volume-based Inventory GUI with Full Motion

I previously posted about an alternative to grid-based and slot-based inventory systems called "volume-based inventory" where instead of an object occupying a visual "honeycomb" in the GUI, it would take up real physical space on your person (pockets, backpack, etc). It was an effort to make an inventory system which made more real-world sense, but I also want to try using it to make a more immersive gaming experience.

Alone in the Dark (2008) also tried to re-invent the inventory screen for a more immersive experience. What they did was have your character open their jacket to access items and have you select items from a first-person perspective. They wanted certain items in your inventory to be instantly-accessible during combat. However, it proved to be just a re-skinning of a traditional slot-based inventory screen.

I think I've come up with something better for what they were trying to do. However, it requires Full Motion.

2009-07-12

Teleporters should be universal

I was just watching someone play Two Worlds. There are teleporters in the game that can take you to the location of another teleporter somewhere else in the world.

...but, you can't take your horse with you.

2009-07-11

"Friend Codes" + "Canned Responses"

"Friend Codes" are a recent trend in online gaming (mostly by Nintendo) where instead of having a screen name, your online identity is given to you by the game as a number anywhere from 12 to 16 digits in length. Both players must add eachother's respective friend codes to their friends roster before they can play together. You are expected to only show this number to people you trust.

"Friend codes" exist because the game host doesn't like young children to be exposed to adults playing the same game without their consent. To their credit, friend codes do what they're supposed to, and it's very effective. The problem is that friend codes are expected to be acquired outside the game, while out in the real world. This is a big hassle to gamers that don't have much social time available to spend on finding their friends' friend codes.

2009-06-30

Save Timelines

Many games try to have as much plot as feasibly possible. Many of those games wish to include a branching storyline. Even if the developer has a large budget, practicality issues arise when developers try to do branching storylines because a lot of additional effort must be made to design and implement these story branches and the player typically cannot be expected to play through the entire game again just to experience the other branches.

Games with branching storylines rely on the player to find these alternative paths on their own. For example, some players intentionally make numerous saves as backups that they can go back to at any time. When branching storylines are involved however, keeping track of what saves are important and why is time-consuming and often impractical, as the player often has no way of knowing if their current decisions have any impact on the plot.

I assert that if it were easy for the player to go back in time to the key plot points in a game and make different choices, more players would be willing to play through this additional content.

2009-06-17

Tents and Sleeping Bags: Lookouts, Turret-Defense, and Character Perks

Another RPG sleeping mechanic that doesn't make much sense to me is only being able to use tents and sleeping bags on the world map. It's a fuggin' tent! Where you use it shouldn't matter (unless of course it's too cold, or you'd get in trouble with the law for sleeping there).

Tents and Sleeping Bags: Use Limits and Sizes

Looking over my last post, it occurred to me how stupid it is to have "tents" be expendable items in a traditional RPG. It's a fuggin' tent! It's not like a potion where after you use it once it's useless. Do not make tents expendable. Same goes for "sleeping bags".

2009-05-26

HP-based Injury System

Assume you're making a turn-based RPG.

Every time you revive, 10% of your maximum HP is knocked off.

Camera Item

Many games suffer problems caused by bad camera angles.

The alternative generally is to give the player control of the camera, but that has the chance of the player abusing that control (such as to look around corners).

One way to discourage such abuse could be to make camera-control an item.

2009-05-04

Deserved Player Killing: Chat-based

You know what would be awesome? If CC info for MMO subscription (or signup, I'm fine with free-to-play) was (unbeknownst to the player) used to determine if the player was actually female, then give the player the undroppable "cyber-killer". This weapon would allow the player to instantly mute and kill anyone nearby who chats "cyber" or "sex".

2009-04-22

Applications of Rumble and Speaker on Linking Cap

First, read about the Linking Cap.


Now normally, I'd say the only components of a WiiMot+ that would be needed for the Linking Cap are the 3IRLED triangle, bluetooth, and what's necessary to get a one-to-one motion tracker. That means no input buttons (aside from the power button), no IR camera, no rumble, and no speaker.

However, if we aren't going for just the bare minimum, some extra functionality could be added by leaving in rumble and the speaker.

2009-04-16

Limiting Public Chat

One way to nerf the bad sort of newbies could be to simply limit how many public chats a user can send in a real-time day. (I recommend a minimum of 10) Private chat between friends would always be unlimited. Private chat in multi-user chatrooms (which are created between friends and daisy-chain out invitations a la "degrees of Kevin Bacon") would also be unlimited.

The number of public chats allowed could be reduced if you also reduced the "reload" time.

2009-03-31

Unkillable recurring boss

There is a difference between "super-strong" and "unkillable".

Never Rhyme

Never let a character's lines rhyme.

EVER!

...unless of course it's that character's "gimmick" and you can do it in such a way that it doesn't get annoying.

See: Unskippable: Resident Evil 5

2009-03-30

Off-the-clock repair

Repair shops repair entirely different kinds of things, so it's natural to assume they have specialists for each type. Oh sure, everyone there CAN do everything, but it's going to be a less-efficient job when the specialist is out to lunch.

2009-02-11

Rumble on Touch

In an ordinary videogame, everything you can interact with is either assigned to a hotkey or visible on-screen.

In Full Motion, that isn't always be the case because not everything you can interact with is always on-screen.

So, why not have the controller rumble when you "mouse over" an object not visible on screen? It could even rumble a bit more when you "select" the object. Both of these would serve as a sort of tactile "screen" for object selection.

2009-02-04

Flammable Gas Traps

In Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, there are "gas traps" which damage your health when you get near them.

It occurs to me that these "gas traps" should be flammable.

2009-01-03

Dev Team Videos can be Cheap Unlockables

You know the author of a book. You know the director of a film, and its major players. You know the names of the members of your favorite band, and if you're a music buff, you might even know who inspired them. So why do we still have no real idea who makes our games?
Sure, we're often familiar with whoever's name is on the project as director. You'll see the publisher's producer quoted constantly on a title you're looking forward to (sometimes with unintentionally hilarious results) - even if that guy's never laid a finger on the game itself.
Game teams are often enormous, and it's unlikely that the audience will be familiar with every hard worker who made a successful project happen. But marketing departments are apparently so terrified to let "the message" get out of their control that it's very rare that the press is able to speak to a real, live designer - which means the audience probably never knows who that is.
Why is this a problem? Other than the fact that individuals deserve credit for what they do, it may result in an under-valuation of games themselves; the danger of treating games strictly as a software product and not as the product of the creative and technical expertise of its development leadership means that many audiences will never never see games as anything other than - well, software products. Not art, not experiences, not human interaction, just shiny things in boxes that tend to sell units.
-- Leigh Alexander, Kotaku
There's a ridiculous amount of space on game discs these days. Most games fill the remaining space with unlockables, usually the game-breaking superweapon kind. Why not instead record some short, low-video-quality interviews (individually or as a group) with the entire development team and make the videos be unlockables in the game?