jp's GameLogBlogging the experience of gameplay Muppets Movie Adventures (VITA) - Thu, 22 Jun 2017 10:17:10 was sort of a "palate cleanser" - I was looking for something that wasn't about military dudes shooting things in a dark sci-fi future. As a palate cleanser it really worked! I appreciated the brevity of the game as well as it's variety (within a theme). The Muppets are making movies and the game has 5 levels, each featuring a different character, each making a different movie (theme/setting/etc.). The game is short enough that I finished it in 4 hours (or so?) over two days and, while I really didn't like the first level (Kermit and pirates), the remaining four where much better. And, curiously, demonstrated some nuance in character control and mechanics for platform games. I felt that each of the 5 characters (well, Kermit twice) controlled a little differently - both in their movement as well as jumping and the variation in these controls led to different play experiences. Such that I hated the first level, really enjoyed the 2nd and 5th, and felt the 3rd and 4th were ok. It got me thinking of a design/analysis exercise game that could showcase these sorts of things? (ala Steve Swink's game feel which I think are no longer available?) Anyways...the main variations (in terms of gameplay) were: single/double-jump, with/without shooting, and...nothing else really! The game is also an interesting example of the little things that make a big difference in the overall experience. Little things...but they all go to that design polish..for example: a. When you die you get a black screen with a message (a movie "director" making a comment and then asking to go back to "action"). There's three messages, and they're cute and fun. But, you get tired of them really quickly, can't skip them and it makes the re-start process annoying. I have no idea if they're being used to hide the loading, but still... b. The end credits trigger when you defeat the last boss on the 5th level. You can't skip them and they're REALLY , REALLY, long. (btw, the game was developed by a Spanish team, yay! using Unity...) c. The loading bar progresses very un-uniformly, so you feel like it gets stuck on some parts. Once it's done, the screen goes to black for a few seconds and you wonder if the whole game crashed... d. When you turn, the character often takes a step forward - I died a lot from this, and the controls felt imprecise as a result e. Some dangerous objects were really hard to see (rakes on the floor in the cowboy level (3)) f. There was an area in level 4 (vampire castle) where there are steps going down...but you can't go down because you die (drop off). Who puts steps going down when you're not supposed to go down? g. You're supposed to collect stars and objects in the game, but the game deliberately forces you to play each level twice to get them all. They're not hidden away, really. They're just not available until you're on the 2nd play through (they might be faded out, or behind a locked door). The idea is fine, it's just the execution felt a bit cheap. To be fair there's also quite a few examples of neat little good design that I appreciated (including a few uses of touch controls). Overall, glad I played it - helped me think about good game design - glad it was short. And on to the next game!Thu, 22 Jun 2017 10:17:10 CDT Mercenary (VITA) - Wed, 21 Jun 2017 13:16:27 this yesterday. The ending is basically working with the Helghast to prevent ISA from getting their hands on a terrible bio weapon. In a nutshell, both sides want to use it (to "end the problem once and for all")... so, you go ahead. Weirdly, the character you play is silent on the whole issue and it isn't until a rogue mercenary bursts into your comms to tell you that mercs need the war to go much money in it for everyone, that the bio weapon is destroyed (well, half. It's a serum and a boy who had something injected. Thankfully you don't kill the boy). It all feels kind of dirty, actually. Your character is essentially a bad person who doesn't care and has surprisingly little agency. Ugh. I guess you get a feeling from this from the "interrogation". Each mission has a certain amount of "intel" to find. Sometimes you get it from terminals you can connect to, other times you have to sneak up on an officer and then, via screen swipes, slap them around, beat them up, threaten them with a knife and, once they've coughed up the intel, you kill them by snapping their necks. It's quite brutal and...uncomfortable. But in a not so good way, because there's no sense that it's been designed that way for any purpose other than... showing some on-screen violence? There's no real reflection for the player and the rest of the game's context doesn't really support your actions or behavior. I guess I'm glad I played it?Wed, 21 Jun 2017 13:16:27 CDT (PS4) - Tue, 20 Jun 2017 13:54:30's battles get harder. Much harder. New enemies appear and all the rest, and although my weapons are better and I've increased some stats, the pace is slower than the enemies. I'm worried I won't be able to make it to the end (before frustration sets in). I'm not playing on "easy", which I guess I could...but...oh well, one mission at a time. I've just finished the first(?) hell-dimension mission. Really cool (and creepy) stuff. I wonder what's next...Tue, 20 Jun 2017 13:54:30 CDT Mercenary (VITA) - Tue, 20 Jun 2017 13:44:51 It's taken me a bit to get used to the rhythm of combat in this game (as well as my perceived slowness for aiming - I mostly fire from the hip now and aim via strafing)...but it's been a surprisingly compelling experience so far. I'm a little confused as to where in the timeline the game is - I think it's supposed to run parallel to Killzone 3? (which I did play, so maybe I'm just going to whatever is/was familiar). I haven't played the latest console one (4?) so maybe I'm wrong. In terms of the storyline, it's surprising how much trust and responsibility the ISA is putting on a mercenary to carry out super-critical missions...but I guess it wouldn't be clever to have you "guarding a remote outpost" or doing random non-central missions in backwater places. In any case, the ISA have just betrayed me (left me to die) and I've been picked up by the Helghan! So, who knows how the rest of the game will go on... In terms of gameplay, it's interesting that the mercenary-side is "enforced". You get paid for kills and little objectives, as well as from picking up ammo drops. You have to buy all your equipment from these mercenary chests (that are surprisingly common and available for warzone). You even have to buy your ammo re-supply (unless you can scavenge enough, I've had to buy re-ups a few times).Tue, 20 Jun 2017 13:44:51 CDT it to the Man (PS4) - Tue, 20 Jun 2017 09:09:58, what a pleasant surprise. I bought this game blind while I was in the UK. I think it was cheap. Actually, I'm pretty sure it was cheap because otherwise I wouldn't have bought it blind. :-) It's super short (4 hours?) but tight, and enjoyable. In a nutshell it's an old-school-style adventure game where you pick up objects/things and deliver them to where they need to go (that's the core nature of the puzzles). The conceit however is that you can read other people's minds (because there's an alien) and, because the world is sort of a 2D-cardboard cut-out (think Little Big Planet), the objects you can pick up are stickers! And you can place them (in pre-determined locations) to solve puzzles. It works REALLY well. It also helps that the devs clearly did their homework with the UI and it is, for the most part, really easy to figure out where you can go (there's a great map with key people/things marked out) and try things out. It's not really a game about solving puzzles, but rather about interacting with the characters, learning about them, and the crazy world they're in. There's some platforming, but again, it's not really the point - even though there are sections where you need to avoid guards that can be pretty annoying. One of the coolest things (I wish more games used/did): when you read characters minds, you hear their thoughts through the speaker in the PS4 controller! You have to do this a lot, and it really sets the tone - hearing them think is louder and closer to the player, kind of like hearing the thoughts in your head? I'm surprised by how little attention the game got? At least I don't think it got all that much attention. It's genuinely funny, the art style is wonderfully realized, and the gameplay is also resonant with the aesthetic and all the rest. I'm really glad I played this little gem.Tue, 20 Jun 2017 09:09:58 CDT (PS4) - Fri, 16 Jun 2017 16:25:22 this out from the library to play (co-op) with the kids. It's fun, and a bit crazy, but I'm not sure how much depth there really will be. We've already cleared the first 2 worlds and it's starting to feel a bit "samey" even though the environments change and there are environmental differences (parts of the level shift around or you have slightly different recipes). I'm curious to see how much longer they're excited to play, I would say we had fun, but it wasn't raucous fun.Fri, 16 Jun 2017 16:25:22 CDT (PS4) - Mon, 12 Jun 2017 16:40:28 booted this up and WOW! There's a lot to be said for "old school" first person shooter action. Doom definitely has it in spades. I can feel it mostly in how fast you move around...and then there's the secret areas (which often hide special items that let you level-up your armor and weapons. So, an interesting mix of old-school action sensibilities with modern progression systems. There's no onscreen radar/map (yet?) so it's somewhat annoying to die because a monster warped in right behind you without you realizing. I've started to get used to that - but it's still a bit annoying (my current solution is to move, and keep on moving all the time with frequent 180s (just to see what's behind me). The finishing move is also a really interesting design innovation(?). If you damage an enemy enough they'll glow which means you can take them out with a finishing move. The neat thing is that a finishing move then drops ammo and health. So, if you're really low on health - it's in your best interest to get in close!Mon, 12 Jun 2017 16:40:28 CDT Bison: Launcha Libre (iPd) - Tue, 06 Jun 2017 18:44:34! For a F2P game, I'm pretty surprised at how quickly I was able (after purchasing two permanent upgrades) grind my way through the game to a point where I had unlocked everything I wanted to unlock. These are meta-unlocks, to be fair, since the in-game ones well, you get to the end, travel back in time and all those get reset (except for the meta-unlocks, like cash multipliers). Worth it? Yes, absolutely. Will it succeed in the F2P marketplace? I'm guessing that no? Sure, I spent money, but for me it was spend X, play the game a while, and then you're done. This is a far cry from the "games as service" that most F2P games rely on. On the other hand, if you're not going to do much liveops stuff, then I guess it doesn't matter? As in, if you compare revenue to what you wanted/expected if you followed a traditional retail model, then so long as you get the same amount, it doesn't really matter? I'm guessing that a lot of studios are experimenting with this, though it seems like this game was a flash/web game port? Either way, definitely fun, but I'm done and glad. (because I can move on to another game!)Tue, 06 Jun 2017 18:44:34 CDT (PS4) - Tue, 06 Jun 2017 13:19:45 played this over two evenings. I had forgotten about this game, I don't think it reviewed very well (haven't checked) and it came out close to another underwater game that I think also reviewed poorly? (Song of the Deep?) For some reason it never really stood out...though upon thinking about it a bit more I would remember that Wintory did the music and that maybe someone else from That Game Company (or formerly at) worked on it? Either way, the the game really is beautiful, and peaceful...and pretty, and colorful. But. It never really worked for me the way Journey did. I was mostly just swimming around looking for stuff and then leaving for the next area. I've been trying to think WHY does it not work the way Journey did - and I don't mean to imply that it should be the same, or similar, or a sequel, or anything like that. Rather, that the experience did not feel interesting and fulfilling in the way that Journey did. They definitely got the visuals down. And the visuals are really nice and interesting... Then, maybe it's about the movement? My greatest frustrations with the game came from the swimming - mostly the camera and direction. I often had a hard time trying to get to a spot I wanted to get to without missing/overshooting, etc. It felt imprecise and awkward in that I was fighting the controls rather than, say, "the water" or "the current" (if there was one...) It just didn't feel right? I'm sure there's a story - but I just couldn't be bothered to carefully examine all the mosaics to try to understand it. But, here's the thing - I didn't do that for journey either. However, Journey really felt like a, sorry, journey. There was an emotional arc that was "readable" despite my lack of attention to the wall decorations. Just the idea that you're going towards this mountain (at least, you can imagine that) gives the game some sense of anticipation that you can "grok". I never felt that about this game, other than one point where you're going deeper...but you're not always doing that so it felt more like an interlude than a trip. Mostly I just felt I was going from one place to the next. So, no real sense of a journey in a game that's maybe about a journey? Anyways, the game didn't really hang together for me in that sense... so a second reason why I'm not too enthused about it. Stuff I did enjoy? (other than the visuals) There's lots of sea creatures - and I enjoyed being able to grab one and swim along with them. It felt nice and carefree in a playful way. And grabbing onto the giant whales was super cool.Tue, 06 Jun 2017 13:19:45 CDT of the Borderlands (PS4) - Wed, 31 May 2017 19:13:34 this the other night. Really enjoyed it even if it did feel/get a bit long in the end? It seems like the sweet spot for me is about 90 minutes (or less) per episode and I think that some of the ones in this game come out to 2hrs? As a game it's a nice example of what you can do withing a certain style as you push it's limits (a little, just a little) as well as figure out what the core/essence is. Telltale seems to have moved away from puzzle-y bits/parts (this game was no exception) and upped the ante a little bit, in terms of variety, for quick-time events. I enjoyed how natural and interesting some of the ones in this game felt - maybe it's because this game felt like those action-ey bits could be more traditional? After all, it's a Borderlands game - which has an established style and gameplay vocabulary? Hmmm.. I might have to pick up some of their other games just to see? (the Game of Thrones one as a recent example, but maybe also the Back to the Future one, 'cause it's older/earlier?)Wed, 31 May 2017 19:13:34 CDT