Category Archives: Games

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Is it possible to make a Social game too casual?

Category : Games

I've been enjoying a couple of the Facebook games out there lately, but there are some that have me in a quandry. Such as the Dungeons & Dragons: Tiny Adventures. According to the game, it is designed so that you can adventure on the go and do any number of other tasks...and it will take care of the work for you. What this means is that you click "Find Adventure" once and come back in a couple of hours to click it again. You can read the outcome of the various moments if you like by clicking "Update Adventure". Of course, if you want to try to play it, it blocks you with a time limit. The adventuring is timed so that you do not advance too quickly, even if you actually want to play the game.

Instead of doing something (creating a farm, matching three, clicking a flower to donate to your favorite eco-organization) you basically let the game play itself with a minimum of interaction. That minimum comes down to clicking "Find Adventure" and perhaps having it use a healing potion if during the course of the turn-based system playing out (with or without your interaction) you happen to fall below a pre-determined point.

To me this seems counter-intuitive in terms of role-playing. My goofy thief is level 11 and I have not done anything to attain it. I have not even read most of the adventure logs since they seemed to repeat. I have not actively (or passively, really) made any decisions about what to do in the adventure. In fact, it isn't even half as interactive as a Choose Your Own Adventure book unless you count picking up the book at the library and letting it play itself as interaction.

Which begs the obvious question: why do you click "Find Adventure" at all? I don't know. Perhaps I wanted it to do something; I was hoping something new would happen. I used to read the adventure logs, but haven't since level 10 since they were largely repeats with a random "rare" occurrence. Having clicked the button, closed the tab, gone back hours later to click again, I don't have a very definitive answer. Rather, I have more questions since it is not addictive. I don't read the adventure logs anymore. And it really has no bearing whatsoever on my FB interactions. My level 11 thief will stay at level 11 unless they delete her or have some sort of reset for people who aren't playing anymore.

Being a Dungeons and Dragons branded game, I really wanted to like it; which I think is why I have clicked "Find Adventure" and let it play without me for as long as I have--about a week or so.

See, it hits the "too casual" low for me. Not only do I not do anything, but there is no reason that I would ever have my FB friends play it. At least FarmTown and Farkle and Bejeweled have a point. I can play Scrabble with others and enjoy it because I'm playing it; I'm doing something. Even if there is not a random non-engaging storyline (that is for the most-part well-written).

So, I have to say goodbye to Tiny Adventures. Its core design was flawed from my experience with it. While I understand wanting to provide a limited, but engaging experience (Legends of Zork is doing a better job of this since I actively have to do something while exploring, even if it is extremely limited in what I'm doing and how I'm grinding); I feel that it has failed completely on the engaging part of the experience, pushing the branding beyond any sense of gameplay or adventuring engagement. There are not "players" so much as readers who don't even have to read during the grind.

Reading FML's or random Tweets or clicking "I'm Feeling Lucky" on Google with random words from the dictionary is more adventurous and fulfilling.

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Persona 3 has an interesting summon mechanic.

Category : Games

To anyone that hasn't played it, it would be rather morbid: shooting yourself in the head to unleash your inner potential. But to a lot of traditional RPG players, the Persona games inspire a rather strange brand of RPG freak.

So captioned an image.


Yeah. This is me much of the time.

Yeah. This is me much of the time.

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Resident Evil 5 – Viral Videos

Category : Games

These are the currently released viral campaign videos for Resident Evil 5. It hits the shelves 3.13.2009.

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A lot of awesomeness from my InstantAction peeps.

Category : Games

If you haven't played on, I suggest that you fire up a new tab, install the plugin and get playing. It's a great gaming site that offers some damn fun games in your browser.

Here is one of the best commentaries on why you should be playing Legions (as well as how to play it on IA).

But the guys at InstantAction also turned me on to one of the coolest books that the world has been waiting for since the writing of the original (say that a couple of times fast!):

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!

Price: $9.12

3.4 out of 5 stars (989 customer reviews)

848 used & new available from $0.01

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RockBand Tuesday / Guitar Hero Thursday Releases

Category : Games

Rock Band 2 (12/23/2008)

Quite a few fun songs from holiday fare and Foo Fighters on RockBand 2 to Reggae and hard rock on Guitar Hero World Tour!

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RockBand Tuesday (12/2/2008)

Category : Games

That's right, I'm back from my honeymoon and enjoying a little R&R from it--that is, after I did my GarageGames reports! Oy vey!

The lineup this week is interesting as usualy, though my favorite is easily the Squeeze tune. There's a fun metal track here if you want to make sure you rate highly in vocals.

Children of Bodom - Are You Dead Yet?

Tutto è Possibile - Finley

Hay Poco Rock N Roll - Platero y Tu

Tempted - Squeeze

Ready, Set, Go - Tokio Hotel

Real World - All American Rejects

Headphones On - Miranda Cosgrove

Body I Occupy - The Naked Brothers Band

I Don't Want to Go to School - The Naked Brothers Band

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RockBand Tuesday (10/28/2008) Releases

Category : Games

Missed a week since I had an appendectomy, but it was Nirvana fun. So it was a good week to Rock Band!

Looks like this week will be fun as well. Here's the line-up.

Hong Kong Garden - Siouxsie and the Banshees

Kiss Them For Me - Siouxsie and the Banshees

The Killing Jar - Siouxsie and the Banshees

Dammit - Blink 182

Well Thought-Out Twinkles - Silversun Pickup

Melatonin - Silversun Pickups

Pretty in Pink - Psychadelic Furs

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Triggering Problems in Graphical Adventure Games

Category : Games

I'm not sure how many people played Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, but I have to say that I really enjoyed the majority of what the game had to offer. Unfortunately, I also was extremely irritated by some segments (especially the segments where I was being chased and had to lock/unlock doors with precision in timed sequences when the trigger detection was sketchy to say the least. But I liked the ambiance, the environments, and the cut-scenes. I enjoyed the storyline as well. The only parts I didn't really enjoy were the irritating action sequences.

One of the most impressive pieces of the adventuring aspect of Cthulhu to me was the means by which you connected the dots to get to one place or another. there was room for exploration, though it was semi-linear in that some of what you were discovering was triggering other events in the timeline, but it felt somewhat open-ended yet rarely made me feel like I was being led by the nose. It also rarely had me scratching my head and wondering what to do next (unlike a section of F.E.A.R. where I kept trying to find a way to avoid Alma when running backward was really the way to go).

So what went wrong with my enjoyment of the game?

I really disliked the initial chase scene. To set the scene, you are in a hotel room and some townies decide that they're going to kill you. The puzzle basically has you opening and closing doors, locking them, and sliding bookshelves up against them to stop the fishy townies. A pretty good setup for a tense escape sequence as long as it works.

It seems like a pretty easy setup...and it should be once you figure it out. Unfortunately, figuring it out is irritating because you have to perform exact steps with problematic triggers. The problem wasn't figuring out the order that I had to do things. That part was easy (though annoying since each mistake lead to death and load times). But the horrid trigger detection on the locks gave me fits.

Here is the sequence of the escape puzzle that irritated me:

  1. Run into the connecting room. Turn around. Close the door. Lock the door.
  2. Run to the bookcase and push it aside. Open the door. Run into the next room. Close the door. Lock the door.
  3. Run to the hallway door. Lock it.
  4. Run to the connecting door and unlock it. Open the door. Enter the room. Turn around and close the door. Lock it.
  5. Push the bookcase in front of the door you just locked.
  6. Run to the window and push the bookcase out of the way.
  7. Open the window. Go through it to the balcony.
  8. Jump to the next balcony. Open the door and push the clock in front of the door.

There is much more to the sequence that actually works, but this is the part that was most irritating. The main reason it is irritating is that the triggers for opening and closing the doors and locking them often get muddled in the engine. So sometimes you will be trying to lock the door only to open it and happily letting death into the room with you.

What made it more annoying is that it is a timed puzzle. Enemies are breaking down the doors around you and you have to do everything in sequence exactly...and quickly. So having bolts that don't bolt and instead open the doors to let death (and loading times) in become extremely annoying.

What could have been done?

Intelligent triggers (or at least larger trigger areas for the locks. Whenever I watch people playing first-person games, I notice that they often target the mid/upper-mid level of the door to open it. If it is a shooter, they often keep their constant mid-height target inline so as to be able to shoot crouching enemies as well as standing ones. If it is an adventure game, they usually just expect the door to open when they click it. Precision is usually not much of an issue when it comes to triggers.

But in Cthulhu, the locks were above the usual "door opening plane" (for back of a better term). So, clicking anything in approximately the right are would have been enough to lock or unlock the door. Unfortunately, that's not how it worked. It seemed that the collision was sketchy for the locks. Sometimes I thought I had clicked directly on the lock...and boom. The door opens and a townie kills me. Wait...didn't I unlock the door? Rinse, repeat. Ad infinitum. Or at least it felt like it.

I do not know how the triggering was setup in Cthulhu, but I would have made sure that the vast majority of the upper part of the door was unlocked. The yelling and chopping of the townies was enough to invoke the sense of urgency, as was the linearity of the action. I didn't need the triggers conspiring against me. Rather than making the situation feel made it feel cheap. And that pissed me off since I really enjoyed the game!

I still recommend the game to people looking for an adventure game with a hint of action, but little design pieces like this make it harder to recommend.

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RockBand Tuesday 10/14/2008: Motley Crue – Dr. Feelgood (full album)

Category : Games

That's right, Motley Crue's Dr. Feelgood is coming to Rockband this Tuesday. Below are the songs from the album so that you can see if you want to pick it up.

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Offspring Pack and New Singles for RockBand Tuesday…plus AC/DC Album!

Category : Games

Alright, every since Marni and I picked up RockBand, I've thought that it would be wicked awesome if they had AC/DC on it. In Novemeber, they will have a very sweet exclusive with 18 tracks! Oh, and this is this week's lineup (which is wicked sweet), followed by the AC/DC tracks!

This is going to be a great week. The Offspring pack is a lot of solid fun, with Gone Away having long been one of my favorite Offspring songs. The addition of Bad to the Bone, Nearly Lost You, and Push it is merely the icing on the RockBand cake!

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