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    Mar 4th, 2008 at 18:32:10     -    Team Fortress 2 (PC)

    Gamelog Entry #2

    GAMEPLAY

    In the second session I was still having fun. I could probably play for a few more hours before I felt the need to eat, sleep, socialize, etc. I had a real intense round where I basically held off the whole attacking team by myself, and at the end of the round it labeled me as the “MVP” of the team. That made me feel good because our team was getting owned before that round. Being crowned the MVP is one of the many subtle but satisfying rewards for doing well in the game.
    In this session there was a player who was abusing the in-game voice feature, he was playing classical music, then changed to fifty-cent. A few players on the team lost their cool at that point, and cursed at him. This happens a lot, again the in-game mic is a mixed blessing. Some people play things that are awesome like Rick Astley, and others hurt our ears and minds with things like ‘Boots wit da Fur.’ Valve has mostly fixed this problem though with the addition of the mute player mic feature.

    DESIGN

    Team Fortress 2’s game design is an interesting thing to talk about. Let it be known that it is an awesome, well designed game. It’s got a few things that have never been done before, that work really well. Simultaneously, the thing about TF2 when compared to the first team fortress is that conceptually they are exactly alike. The eight playable classes are the same. There have been a few tweaks to them, but they have very few things that are actually new. Even the maps are the same.
    But I think the mastery of how improved these things are is what makes this game so awesome. Examples of improvement in classes: The medic has been drastically improved for healing, where his healing in the first team fortress was impractical. Now he can heal at a range and still have mobility to dodge enemies, or hide behind a wall. He also has a game breaking ability called the Ubercharge, where he and a teammate become invincible for ten seconds.
    The scout has been outfitted with a double jump that allows him to switch directions in midair, making his movement untouchable in comparison to the other classes. He also has a more powerful shotgun, making him a formidable opponent in the hands of a good player. In the old Team Fortress, the scout was essentially useless because of how fragile he was in combat.
    The gameplay improvements are huge as well. They do something with collision in this game that I’ve never seen before. It’s a simple concept: instead of being blocked while running into friendly players or devices, the avatar appears to kind of squeeze by. If you intentionally try to run inside of a still player you can see how it works. There is technically no collision, but a force that pushes you to the edges of where collision would be. It also pushes the avatar with the perfect amount of force: not so much that it jars or interrupts your movement, but not so little that you can overlap numerous players and appear like a Doppleganger to the enemy.
    Then theres one of the coolest things about TF2, which is the feel of the game. The original Team Fortress was actually a very silly game, with people flying around the map with various purposeful explosions, as well as a gratuitous amount of gore and yelling from the different avatars. Team games tend to be more tactical, moment by moment strategy operations with navy seals and Tom Clancy. This is what Team Fortress 2 looked like in its early stages of development. But somewhere along the line, it was decided that they’d take the originial ridiculous chaos of the first Team Fortress and take it to the next level, and it was executed Beautifully.
    The graphics are key in this execution. The artwork in this game is 3-D cartoon-esque, looking very similar to the artwork in the animated feature The Incredibles. These graphics allow for the ‘silly chaos’ of the game to take form. Unrealistic features, like shooting a rocket launcher at your feet to propel you high into the air wouldn’t work as well in a more serious aesthetic environment.

    So whether or not Team Fortress 2 has much innovation, it’s still very well-designed and a ton of fun.


    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Mar 4th, 2008 at 22:44:52.

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    Feb 29th, 2008 at 14:08:10     -    Team Fortress 2 (PC)

    Gamelog Entry #1

    SUMMARY

    Team Fortress 2 is the Action Packed sequel to the classic Half-Life mod Team Fortress. It’s an exciting team based first person shooter with an emphasis on its eight playable classes. Attack, Defend, Capture Objects and Control Points. You may or may not work as a team, but either way you’re bound to kill some fools.

    GAMEPLAY

    I love this game. I played the old version for some time, so I’m predisposed. Throughout the first session I was having a good time. As with any online game, there were brief moments of frustration like when I died very quickly several times in a row, but it was only temporary.
    I was flowing while playing TF2, especially when I was killing several players without dying. I was in the magic circle and I preferred that people didn’t bother me while I played.
    There is no story to TF2 Whatsoever. It has no single player mode. Yet its levels have a bit of content to them. In one attack/defend map, the last capture point is a fortress type thing with a giant lazer gun on top. Each class has its own character as well. For example, the Scout (notably the fastest moving character in the game,) has a fast talking New Yorker accent, and included in his arsenal is a metal baseball bat. In advertising for the game, Valve released a few hilarious videos each featuring one of the eight playable classes. (You can find them on youtube or any other popular video hosting site.) Other than these things, TF2 doesn’t have a story, and doesn’t really have characters, though each class certainly has ‘character’ if you know what I mean.
    This is the first multi-player game that I have gamelogged, so I did get the chance to have social interactions with others for once. I didn’t really talk to anybody directly, but when we lost, one of our teammates on his microphone scolded us for having too many of one class. There is always at least one guy on your team who feels the need to talk all the time, which is kind of O.K. because it’s supposed to be a team game that requires cooperation, but it all depends on the guy.

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    Feb 21st, 2008 at 03:03:56     -    The Legend of Zelda (NES)

    Gamelog Entry #2

    GAMEPLAY

    My second session of this game went on for two and a half hours. For the first hour, it was all in good fun, but immidiately after I was starting to get really frustrated. All I wanted to do was get to what was called "Level 2," the dungeon that was the next easiest. Although it's possible to play this game doing the dungeons in any order, I see myself as a competent gamer who has been playing RPGs all of his life and can find the 2nd level.
    But I really, couldn't find it. And it was extremely frustrating and I didn't want to play anymore. At this point I also had no idea what the backstory of this game was, and I had went everywhere on the map that I could go. The game was becoming much less interesting to play because I had already seen everything there was to see and killed every monster that I could kill.
    Eventually though, I did something I normally never do: I looked for a map online and looked for where level 2 might be. Even seeing it on a map, I couldn't get there easily. I finally did, beat the dungeon, and felt a lot better about the game. That is also the time when I let the title menu of the game idle so that I could see the small prologue, and the index of items. I didn't have the manual, so I had wanted to figure this stuff out on my own, but this really changed my mood, and now I actually am going to keep playing. In the process of finding level 2, I had found levels 3, 5, and 6, and found 6 separate secrets within the game. I was still dissapointed that I had to look up on a guide somewhere, but I did try my best.

    DESIGN

    Oh, where to start. Innovative elements of this game included the fact that you could do the dungeons in any order. This really made the game have more freedom to it, you had the outer gameworld, and you could come and go into the dungeons as you pleased. Also, being able to have a primary and secondary weapon and being able to choose which ones you currently had and whether you used the A or B button was definitely a cool feature. Most common was the sword and the boomerang, but things like bombs or bows or candles were often necessary.
    Let me list some good and bad things about the design with this game.

    Good: The shield is not just for aesthetics, if you face an enemy who throws a projectile at you, it will bounce off of your shield! very cool. This makes combat more complex than just hitting enemies with a sword at the right time or right angle.
    Bad: Enemies can be right on top of each other with no collision. This is sometimes really lame when there are four monsters bunched up in a narrow corridor and they just keep throwing arrows at you and theres not really a way for you to approach them other than to wait until they unbunch.

    Good: The boomerang in Zelda is one of the classic weapons in the history of gaming. The boomerang not only can stun enemies temporarily, but you can use it to retrieve rupys or hearts that are out of your reach. The boomerang is also the only weapon that you can throw at an angle, you can curve it and throw it diaganolly, making for some really skillfull action that really transcends the 2-dimensional combat.
    Bad: Every enemy is different. But there are a few enemies who are just downright irritating. There are ones that burrow underground, and pop up, which is fine... But when they come out of the ground at random places on the screen, you often don't get to them in time to hit them with your sword, and to clear a screen of them is just torture. Even more torturous are enemies that fly around and are invulnerable most of the time. They do stop though temporarily, and it's random. I had to wait for one of them to become vulnerable for like thirty seconds, and I was just over it by then.

    Good: The world is made up of something like 100 rooms, and almost every one has enemies to fight. The game regulates the number of enemies really well. Instead of having the monsters respawn every time you go in the room, if you've already slain them all, they remain slain. (Until you enter a dungeon.) If you've slain 2 monsters, the rest of the monsters remain.
    Bad: The minimap is just a giant black square, with your green dot somewhere on it. There is no map, no grid. The logical thing is to get a piece of paper and pen and start going to work, but I wanted to play it as a novice gamer would... and it was really frustrating. See the above to see how impossible it was for me to find level 2.

    I realized early on that this game is pretty hard, and I imagine inexperienced gamers would be turned off by it almost immidiately. It's pretty easy to die quickly, and you only have to die once to GAME OVER. The nice thing about it is that you don't really lose much by dying, you still get your items and your progress back.
    I loved the game's reward structure. Getting new items was just really cool, even if I wasn't sure what they did. I knew a larger shield must've been better, but I didn't realize for a while what the difference was. The reward structure was very clear: get RUPYs, get items/gear. With this, the player gets that idea of progression that really makes them want to play the game for long periods of time.
    Firstly, if I was to change anything about the game I would definitely make the map and world more understandable and accessible. I would add cooridinates, squares, anything to make it so the player would be able to know where a certain room was. The game did this better in the dungeons, but the outside world just kind of left you for dead, which I know was intentional, but frustrating nonetheless. Another thing I think I would change is the use of the select button. Select pauses the game, and so does Start, but start lets you access your different gear. I think if Select was used to cycle through your different gear, it would really improve the gameplay, so you wouldn't have to pause the game and switch weapons every time you wanted to use something. I also think that Nintendo games got really lazy with explaining things in game, but I suppose that was what the manual was for.
    Anyways, what The Legend of Zelda is a really well made game, despite my beef with finding level 2 on the map. The gameplay and its form of progression make it a game you want to keep playing, even if it's over twenty years old.
    (I'm actually going to continue playing it, too.)

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    Feb 21st, 2008 at 01:45:22     -    The Legend of Zelda (NES)

    Gamelog Entry #1

    SUMMARY

    in The Legend of Zelda, you play as Link, a young warrior whoi must traverse the lands and dungeons of wherever to save Princess Zelda from "Prince Darkness" Gannon! Slay monsters and recieve RUPYs, to buy better items and gear! Defeat monster bosses to collect pieces of the sacred TRIFORCE! This classic NES game is known to be unclassifiable in genre. It is an rpg-action-adventure-puzzlerama. If you can find the second level in the first two hours of play, you'll absolutely love this game.

    GAMEPLAY

    I had a blast in my first sesssion. I was naturally excited to play this game. It wasn't my first time, though I never owned the game when I was a kid. I had to play on a friend's NES, and so I never played it for more than half an hour at a time. As I played I was all about it, and I didn't lose interest in the entire first session. Sure, I was doing the same thing the whole time, walking around, hitting monsters with my sword.. But there was so much space on the minimap that my little green dot had not been!
    Starting out I had no clue what the storyline was. In fact, when I was a kid I thought Zelda was the name of the character I was playing. Until the second session, I didn't think to let the title menu idle in order to get a little text out of it. There, it told me that I was Link, that Zelda was a princess, Gannon was a bad guy, and Pieces of the Triforce were things I needed to get. It also said to see the manual, and it's my understanding that theres a ton of backstory in the manual, and "invaluable maps." Don't get me started on maps yet.
    So other than the text in game that I hadn't seen, there really wasnt any story. You walk around, kill things, and sometimes you'll make your way into dungeons and kill some monster and get a piece of the triforce. There really isn't anything else story related, other than getting a piece of the triforce and seeing a little animation of Link holding it up in the air and a triumphant MIDI sound. There is a bit of text, though, when you go into caves and there is a man or woman standing there. They say things like "buy something will ya," or "take some medicine before you go." They never say anything related to the story, but they do often give hints on how to find secrets / solve puzzles. I go into this more in the second entry.
    What his game really does well is give the player a sense of progression. This really contributed to my flow in the first session, because I just had the feeling that I was making progress the whole time. "getting money, getting money, getting hearts, getting hearts, getting items, getting items!!!!" I think instilling this feeling into players is becoming a really, really important factor in making a successful game. I think world of warcraft, which can often be a really lame game, really has its success in this illusion of progression. The legend of Zelda did this very well.
    The gameplay was fun because with the different types of monsters you did have to mix up your game, and fight each type differently. Sometimes though, that could get annoying, and I'll go into that more in the 2nd gamelog.

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