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    Mar 28th, 2012 at 22:12:34     -    Blackjack (Other)

    Unlike my previous entry for Blackjack, this round was played in a smaller group of three people. During this session, we found ourselves significantly less entertained by the game due to a large portion of the social aspect. As such, our focus became more on optimizing our moves rather than interpersonal comments and influence. The game was still engaging due to the inherent complexity of determining the best move, either asking for more cards or not, but was less interesting with less people. Unlike before, a competition between myself and one other occurred wherein we attempted to prove different strategies were optimal. Our strategies were based upon evaluating each hand independently and attempting to choose the best move for each hand as opposed to evaluating the game one deck at a time where the likelihood of certain cards appearing was noted heavily.

    While this game has no story beyond that of what is woven when played socially, this game is quite enjoyable due primarily to its simple set of rules. In our third game, group K'kree's tower defense game, I hope to be able to implement a similarly simple set of rules that are easy to pick up as well as include strategy that proves complex to master.

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    Mar 28th, 2012 at 22:01:36     -    Blackjack (Other)

    For my second game analysis assignment, I chose to play Blackjack with a group of friends. We gambled with monopoly money as currency to give the normal competitive feel to the game. The gameplay of blackjack is fairly straightforward. The game is played with a traditional deck of 52 cards and the objective of the game is to gather cards that total to as close to 21 as possible without going over. Each player is dealt two cards initially and can request additional cards from the dealer. Numbered cards count as their face value while cards with faces count as 10's. Aces are allowed to count as either 1 point or 11 points. The innovative nature of this game can be seen in the amount of complex choices that can results from a simple set of rules. The game rewards players that devote a lot of thought to the status of the deck being played from, such as which cards are still available and are likely to turn up next, and the positive or negative effects that requesting another card could produce. The game is heavily reliant on probability to play well but also holds an element of luck. As such, new players can quickly learn to play the game but mastering it takes a large amount of effort. The game's reward structure revolved around making bets in accordance with the hand of cards held by the player. If the player believes that he or she will have a hand with a score closer to 21 than the dealer's, then they typically should place a large bet. Less fortunate hands, therefore, deserve smaller bets. The reward structure in this game was quite engaging due to the element of randomness that drove the gameplay and could upset seemingly promised victories or redeem near-hopeless situations. Socially, the game enticed players to playfully jest with one another and drew many remarks designed to discourage or encourage certain actions. Additionally, friends that were simply observing were drawn into the game and found themselves taking sides and rooting for certain people to win each hand. This game has very few elements that could be changed without completely altering how it would be played. Additionally, this game could easily and I'm sure has already been crafted into a video game. Overall, it is a very enjoyable, easy to pick up card game that is best played with others.

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    Feb 5th, 2012 at 23:42:14     -    League of Legends (PC)

    The gameplay style of this game is based on fast-paced strategy that incorporates RPG elements as a primary mechanism. The innovative aspects of this game are that there are a large variety of characters suitable to a huge spectrum of playstyles and a great degree of customization within this large cast of characters. The game is designed around being engaging and high intensity while at the same time requiring a great deal of tactical consideration. While many would consider this a great design element since it requires the player to utterly engross themselves in the action, other people may find the game overwhelming in terms of complexity and the speed of the chaotic fights. Personally, I thoroughly enjoy these elements. This game only has a few selectable maps. One in a king of the hill style, one for teams of three to duke it out, and one for a party of five to give it their all. Of these maps, I will talk most in detail about the five person per team map. This map is very carefully designed to allow an immense amount of strategy in its overall layout, complex architecture, and placement of enemies. The map is split into three major lanes that players and minions are encouraged to fight in to protect towers as well as a jungle in between these lanes containing neutral monsters. The architecture I referenced is in regard to the spacing of various environmental features that both enable and limit the movement options of the player. Some characters can take advantage of certain terrain such as small corridors to optimize their abilities while other characters may require more room to function. Such considerations create another layer of depth in the game. The locations of the enemies on the map also indicate good level design in that their locations and rewards for defeating these monsters are often pivotal to winning the game. Often, even keeping the opposing team from taking advantage of the benefits from defeating these creatures is a bonus in itself. The game creates conflict through pitting two groups of five against each other in an arena-like competition where the goal is to work together to destroy the other team's base and the turrets that protect it. The game is relatively simple in this regard, however, each match has a drastically different outcome due to the large selection of characters, tactics, and execution of skills. Personally, I would like each match to take less time, as normal matches can easily extend upwards of 45 minutes in length. Additionally, the game is team-based, which often means that a single unskilled ally may cost the rest of the team a win. The game attempts to match players by approximate skill levels but sometimes fails to accurately gauge the talents of the players. In terms of how this game has affected my own ideas for making video games, I would like to mimic this game's large selection of characters that are, for the most part, reasonably well balanced. The large array of possible playstyles almost makes each match played seem like a different game with each character often having many different skill routes available that have different functions within the team. For example, one character may be capable of playing either as a damage dealer or a damage absorber based primarily on the skills chosen to level first and the player's choice of items to complement these skills. This game also exhibits emergent complexity within the dynamic battles that involve a large number of players. The low health but high damage characters, for instance, want to avoid the high hp, tanky characters while targeting other burst damage characters. The tanky characters, however, are interested in protecting their own squishy characters while disrupting and attempting to disable the primary damage dealers of the other team. Several other roles also exist but these are good examples. When a large fight breaks out, both teams try to arrange themselves to optimize the team's damage and minimize the abilities of the other party to protect themselves. This leads to a very complex, dance-like interaction between the two groups based on much more simple interactions between individual players on the teams. The reward structure is very polarized. Winning a game leaves the player feeling quite accomplished and fulfilled after spending a large amount of time and effort to meet their goal. Losing, however, has the exact opposite effect in that in comparison to other games, a loss is nearly crushing. This is primarily due to the fact that a great amount of time and mental effort has been expended only to be met with failure. Personally, the wins out perform the loses and makes the game thrilling to play. The game often causes the player to enter a state of flow in which they are rapidly making tactical decisions both on a small scale battle between players and the larger scale of tactically dominating the map. In terms of social interactions involved with a match of League of Legends, players must communicate with their team to first determine which role they desire to take on a team and secondly organize themselves, once the game has started, in order to coordinate movements that lead to capturing targets and eventually winning the game. Bystanders are generally not involved or interacted with. My first round of playing this game was a rather painful experience. The game is very team oriented and relies heavily on your and your teammates abilities to communicate or approximate what each other are planning. When playing with people who are of largely different play levels, higher or lower, people begin to expect incorrect actions and hinder rather than aid their teammates. In my match played for this log, I chose to play a support character that tries to keep a squishier character safe from harm. The squishy character, however, saw my aid as an enabling to act recklessly instead of as improving their normal playstyle with added damage and health. This lead to them charging the enemy team with an inflated idea of how powerful they were. Needless to say, they were quickly cut down. My teammate's ego, however, was not. The draw back to playing a support class is that you yourself are not particularly capable as a fighter and draw your power from the increased damage stats of the squishier champions.

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    Feb 5th, 2012 at 23:40:24     -    League of Legends (PC)

    Today I played my second of two sessions for League of Legends. I, again, played a support character in order to balance my team between offense and utility. This time, however, my teammates were more aware of what my position in a team was. I was able to harass the enemy team with basic attacks and some small damage skills while keeping my squishy partner alive. As the match went on, the difference in their attack power was massively noticeable in comparison to the opposing team's main damage dealer, due in part to the fact that they were unable to farm minions as well due to my constant harass and lower stats. When we began having full team fights, my team took advantage of the few openings that I, as support, could provide and we were able to achieve victory quite quickly. The other team, however, fell into a cycle of blame passing instead of cooperation. The design elements of the game that make it interesting, for instance the deep level of strategy only capable of being performed by multiple people, also make it frustrating at times. This is the case when, like in this particular match, people bicker and blame others for their own failings. It is a double edged sword that I deem enjoyable.

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