jp's GameLogBlogging the experience of gameplay Read Only Memories (PS4) - Mon, 17 Dec 2018 10:18:09'm probably about halfway through the 2nd chapter and I'm surprised by how retro the game is - both visually as well as in its game design. I guess there are a few quality of life improvements, but this isn't really a game that benefits all that much from being played with a controlled rather than a mouse. With the controller - due to how they've set it up - you cycle through different objects of interest in a scene, but you have to know which direction to cycle (press left or down to get to an object that's down/left of the one currently selected?). They didn't implement a mouse cursor - which would make it easier. I've missed a few things in a scene because I didn't notice they were objects of interest. On the other hand, at least I don't have to "scan" the mouse cursor around to see what's clickable and what isn't. The game's narrative is, at this point, marginally engaging for me. A super-scientist/engineer has gone missing and you, a lowly reporter, have been tasked by his clearly state-of-the-art AI/robot to find him. So far nothing special. It's supposed to be very cyberpunk but so far it's like the Disney version of cyberpunk with no grittiness and jsut a bit of 80's newwave flash at best. We'll see how it goes...Mon, 17 Dec 2018 10:18:09 CST Men at Sea (PS4) - Sun, 02 Dec 2018 19:43:32 actually first played this last weekend - but I feel asleep while playing. I'm blaming tiredness not the game, but I guess my overall impression, now that I've finished it (all the different ways you can finish it) is that I'm somewhat disappointed. The game itself is quite simple, clean, and pretty. But... a. I had trouble with the cursor - it's movement never felt smooth and I often overshot what I was aiming for. I'm not sure if this was just a "bad port" issue? (I think that the native version of the game is touchscreen, which makes more sense) b. I was super excited the first time I finished the game - I got a book with a code! It went on a shelf in the game and I was invited to explore further stories/playthroughs. The number, if I recall, was a five-digit one and it game me the impression that, well, there were thousands of different stories (playthroughs). Furthermore, you're invited to visit a site, input your code and you can buy a book! (physical or digital, your choice) Wow! I was so impressed - and it's such a neat idea. Like a little storybook you can have. I imagined people buying the book to gift to little kids and such. But then, as I played through again, and again I realized that the number is a gimmick. There aren't really thousands of different games. In other words, there aren't that many playthroughs, in fact I completed them all in 90 minutes or so. This was such a disappointment! Now, it's not that the playthroughs were bad or anything like that - just that I thought the game was so much more than it ended up being. Sigh. This is like a No Man's Sky of branching narrative games. c. I think it was neat how each playthrough acknowledged previous ones and there was also an effort to shorten some parts that would have been really boring to play through so many times. It sort of skipped ahead (for example the moment when you take fire from the fireplace, the first time you play there's more dialogue and stuff - after that it just skips to the moment when one of the burly men has the torch). It doesn't skip EVERYTHING, and some scenes started to get really long in the tooth (burly men sinking in the ocean particularly), but I did appreciate the attempt to make things shorter than the original playthrough.Sun, 02 Dec 2018 19:43:32 CST Drift: Zen Edition (PS4) - Fri, 30 Nov 2018 22:47:53 of this game looked really cool. That's the only reason I bought this game. Having played it for (only?) a few hours, I'm surprised by a few things: a. It's really hard. I just don't seem to get it - in terms of how to best control the car, control my turns and acceleration and what I think are the basic game controls. I bombed the tutorial. My score was in the bottom 5% of all scores! (I eventually got it up to the 45% percentile but that was many attempts later). It's just hard. For me. Which I'm interested in - personally - because I feel like I'm really in the dark as to what I should do to get better at the game. b. There's an "overworld" which is how you get into levels and also how you progress in the game. Zones are gated and in order to lower the drawbridge to the next zone you need to complete a bunch of objectives in a zone. THESE I CAN DO! And, I enjoy just driving around each zone and trying to get the objectives complete - the objectives are generally gameplay related (drift in circles around this thing, drift under this other thing) - but since there's no time pressure I can take my time, plan my route, try again and so on with a lot less pressure and, I must say, a bit of fun. c. So, the overworld/zones I enjoy playing in, but the levels themselves are a disaster for me. It's very sweet/sour sort of experience and I wonder how better players feel about the overworld. For me it's not easy, but I have enjoyed it - will better players find it a cakewalk and a boring grind?Fri, 30 Nov 2018 22:47:53 CST Dawn (PS4) - Fri, 30 Nov 2018 22:37:35 finished this last weekend and I have to come clean on a few things: The game's first two chapters didn't really impress me all that much, but once the game gets going - it really moves along quickly and with fun twists. It's interesting to compare this game to other games with branching narratives - e.g. the Telltale Games - in this sense, the butterfly effect stuff is interesting in how it provides context as well as memory, you can read the entries to remember what has already happened and stuff like that. They also do the "previously on..." segments (much appreciated) like Telltale did, but the butterflies add a lot more. I was curious to see if the butterflies would influence me towards/against certain decisions or not. I don't think it did, and I think that's a good thing here. The one thing I was confused about where the detailed stats for each character - I looked at them a few times, and saw how certain choices made things go up/down (you get an "updated status" message) but I didn't get a sense that the stats mattered all that much. Once you're done you can go back and replay chapters - but you have to do them from the start. So, going back to try things differently, while possible, felt more onerous than I was willing to go for. On the other hand, replaying definitely goes faster (and you peek behind the curtain - e.g. quicktime events that don't really matter). I played the entire game worried that someone would die at any moment. I don't think that's possible (most deaths are probably in the last three chapters or something like that), but the illusion that this was possible definitely enhanced the experience for me. A lot. I made it with only two deaths. I mean three. I thought this was pretty good because one was "on purpose" - I did something I knew was a bad idea...Fri, 30 Nov 2018 22:37:35 CST (iPd) - Sat, 24 Nov 2018 16:21:30've been playing this on the phone a little bit here and there. It's essentially a rogue-lite (you can purchase stuff that carries over). It's cute, and it can get challenging, but I'm not all that excited. Well, there are lots of different characters, and the game incentivizes finishing dungeons with more than one, BUT there is a grind to get loot to buy decent starting equipment for them which is a bit of a drag. On the other hand, each character has different abilities (that you unlock as you level up within a dungeon, you always start at level one) which provide different tactical opportunities. Overall, I think I might stick with it until the end - but for one character. I may not if I get to a point where it feels to grindy. The story? Some sort of forest creatures, and time travel and all woodsy? I haven't paid much attention and it seems mostly a bit...boring? Maybe there's a big twist somewhere along the way. So far the "sprite" (sproggy?) that tells you what to do is very suspect...Sat, 24 Nov 2018 16:21:30 CST Trek Bridge Crew (PS4) - Sun, 18 Nov 2018 20:17:10 played a demo of this at GDC and it was awful. It just seemed really dumb and I felt that I couldn't do anything. I was wrong! I picked this up on a trip over the summer in Italy. I gambled that it would work in English (it did!) so that was a huge sigh of relief. I played the Engineer tutorial which was fun and then decided I'd jump online to play with some other people. I must have spent 20 minutes or so in the lobby waiting - at most there were two other people, which might have been on Rifts? I wonder because they had hands they could move around (it took 5 minutes for one to make rude gestures). But, maybe they were using PSMove controls? I was using a controller and deliberately stayed quiet - though, as noted by one of the randos, he could hear my breathing. Oh well. I never did get that multiplayer match. Fortunately, there's a campaign so I played the first mission of that. I had to bail because, not having done the captain tutorial, I got to a point where I was unable to figure out how to proceed (UI wise). The tutorial sorted me out, it was a dumb thing but I was ready to go! It was a fun, albeit easy, mission. The Kobayashi Maru! Weird choice for your first mission, but it was a simulation (within the game), so it makes sense from the training perspective? Anyways, I'm looking forward to some more missions....Sun, 18 Nov 2018 20:17:10 CST Dawn (PS4) - Sun, 18 Nov 2018 20:11:01 started playing this a loooong time ago, but never finished or got too far. I don't know why, other than perhaps something else - more exciting at the moment - came along. I also neglected to write anything about the experience so here goes for a more recent play session. I thought I'd play some more - at least finish one play through - because the unplayed pile of shame is very large. I'm surprised by how easily I was able to get back in. The game does a good job of reminding you of prior choices and important scenes. I also recalled being confused about the flashback scene. It's one where you play a few girls who are running away and then they die. They were being bullied, apparently by all the different characters you play now. I was confused for a moment because the flashback scene was inside the cabin and the scene I played had me...trying to get into the cabin. Anyways, it all made sense in the end. I found a few more totems - that trigger partial flash-forward scenes. Somehow I should be able to make sense of them to avoid/prevent what they refer to. I'm not sure how that will work out, to be honest. At this point I have one section of each of the totems. I've also been picking clues - again, I'm not sure how they will come into play. I'm guessing they might affect future events in some way? For example, I found a baseball bat - and there was a message alerting me that, it mattered somehow (it was one of those butterfly messages where things go one way or another). I'm curious to know how the clues and totems play out and whether or not its possible to "get everything" in one playthrough? I'm guessing not - and I'm surprised by how many clues it seems I've missed so far...Sun, 18 Nov 2018 20:11:01 CST Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved (PS4) - Mon, 05 Nov 2018 17:50:51's a special pleasure to playing a game you know is hard, it kicks your butt...and then you get better! I wouldn't say that I'm particularly good at the game (other than the fact that my scores were better than my two other PSN friends who had played the game, based on what the game loaded in) but I feel like I got better, which I think is the main point. (it's pretty clear that I'm not super good because I was only able to get 3 stars on three levels - after trying a lot, from "regular" play I never got more than 2 stars) I'm not sure how this incarnation of geometry wars compares to earlier ones, but I'm really surprised by how much the shape (topology?) of the environment affects the play experience. It would seem that playing on a sphere, cube, pill, peanut, rectangle would mostly be the same, but it was not. I noticed that each shape required that I try out different tactics to succeed in a way I was not expecting - in great part I think it has to do with how different playfields have different line of sight (e.g. being able to shoot/kill enemies that are out of your line of sight) and as you move around you might inadvertedly die/lose a life to an enemy that was just over the horizon and you ran into. It also affects how much you have to pay attention to what's going on - some environments have corners you can hide in, others might have more open space you can dodge and weave around and so on. I almost want to say that the surface area you can cover with bullets varies as well... I got reasonably far - enough to unlock a few drones, upgrade others, get some drone supers, etc. And I really, really enjoyed how varied the experience was across the (25 or so?) levels I played. In the beginning I had decided that my goal was to clear the first boss. Given how poorly I did in the beginning this looked like a really hard goal. But, as I got better (and understood how the score system worked) I just kept going. Each new level had a new wrinkle or variation that seemed interesting and exciting to try out. So I did. Sometimes it was the level goals (get a score in X time, get a score at least X in one life), sometimes it was the topology of the playfield, other times it was specific settings - like the level with an "infection" that multiplied stuff you had to kill for no points or the one where you couldn't shoot, but could activate mines (which you had to do strategically in order to take out enemies that dropped score multipliers without which it's impossible to get the target score). I think I'm adding this one to my list of games to refer students to as a case study for interesting variations on a solid gameplay core. It also highlights how score systems and game goals can drive the experience in super important ways. Great game.Mon, 05 Nov 2018 17:50:51 CST Tour de France 2016 (PS4) - Mon, 05 Nov 2018 17:17:10 time I played I saved in the middle of a race - I was surprised that the race was going to be long...and being able to save mid-race was a surprise and a boon. Yesterday I booted this up with the intention to finish the race I had started. It's been a while since I first played and I don't think I remembered any of the things I had learned in the tutorial. I assumed that a quick look at the controller layout would help me get going and how poorly could I do in a race that was at least 150km! I was in for a surprise - but it didn't have anything to do with the race. When the game loaded I was looking at a screen I hadn't seen before and one in which I could give instructions to my team(!) AND in which I could fast-forward the race. So, I didn't need to pedal or anything just...hold down fast-forward and watch the race play out... I assumed that the FF would only go until the bit I had saved at and that I would then be forced to assume direct control of the cyclist...but no! I ran the entire race in a few minutes (even at high speed!). And...that was that! I don't even know how I placed. Clearly there was a lot still to learn - but also, clearly, this was not the sort of game I was terribly interested in playing. But, I'm still intrigued by how the game mixes the simulation part of managing a team during a really long race and the individual aspects. I'm not sure I could handle cycling the entire race...and I'm not sure how you could learn what goes into that without having to replay the race over, and over, and over. Yes, there are series of challenges you can do, but AFAIK those only really help with the micro- skills. I'm not sure how'd you'd get to the macro skills. When I first started the race I wondered how to know if I was using up too much of my energy or if I should focus on staying with the pack, for how long, etc? I'm not sure I could do a race and at the end of it all be able to understand what I did wrong (if I didn't win) or what I could have done better... Anyways, for now it goes on the shelf...Mon, 05 Nov 2018 17:17:10 CST! Go! Cosmo Cops! (DS) - Mon, 29 Oct 2018 13:22:39 the beginning I was sure I'd play for a few hours and then move on. But, I just kept on going until I was done! If I had to pick a game that implemented interested mechanics for touch-screen and platforming - this would be it. The story is absolute nonsense, but there is plenty of variety in the swinging, yanking, pulling, etc. you do - enough that I enjoyed exploring levels and played it all the way to the end. Also, it's not that long (appreciated!) which meant that the variety didn't really out-stay it's welcome. Weirdly, it wasn't until I got to a level I died on three-times in a row because I was unable to do a specific move that I went back to the tutorial and realized that my mental model as wrong for the basic moving around. AND that this incorrect mental model had made things harder for me since I'd often swipe and get the wrong effect. I was always swiping from the character rather than anywhere - and some mechanics required touching the character with the stylus. Thus, my swipes were sometimes interpreted as character touches when I wanted them to be swipes. This made things easier/much better - which was helpful towards the final levels of the game. That being said, I'm curious about the progression. You pick a character and then play a bunch of levels with that character. The earlier ones are easier than the latter. THEN, you play as the other character and I think the levels got easier and then harder again? I wonder if there is some sort of difficulty adjustment going on behind the scenes? I don't think so... Once you've finished with both characters you get to play the final boss and then you're done.Mon, 29 Oct 2018 13:22:39 CST