Archive | August 2013

2DS: Good move or bad?

Nintendo announced the 2DS, though it seems like a bad move… a DS aimed at younger children might not be such a bad idea…. What are your thoughts?

I think that the design is extremely weird, the handheld seems large and uncomfortable and it doesn’t close (though there’s a slider to protect the screen).

Software wise… It’s a 3DS that plays 3DS games in… 2D. It has been proved that the 3DS can harm children’s eyes, but you can turn it off so why 2D console? Because parents are lazy, don’t know how to turn off the 3D on 3DS and will buy the 2DS for their kids. Let’s see if Nintendo proves critics wrong again… I’m still on the doubting side.

Important Recent Development In Game Industry

What do you believe is the most important, recent development in games and why?

 

I believe that the most important development in games in recent years is the amount of research that is put into games.  The time where we used to just shoot at aliens is long gone, we now gain knowledge through games, either playing them or making them.  Video games have gained such an important status in our every day life that even in classrooms games are used to teach.

 

Now that games are more and more story driven, almost like Hollywood movies, there is a much greater part of research, for example in history. A good example of this is the Assassin’s Creed series, though the story isn’t based on facts, the historical period and environments are, and that is all due to research. Making video games makes us explore, research, interpret and deepen the knowledge on Physics, Chemistry, History, Geography and much more. We, as game designers, can be a part of the evolution of any of those areas because gamers enjoy when it’s more realistic. Assassin’s Creed wouldn’t be such a success if Venice from the 1500’s weren’t accurate.

 

Will Wright’s example, Spore, is also a great example of this, he teaches the basics of Darwin’s evolution through a game where you play as a cell and evolve from there into the new species!

 

The species evolves, so does the student. Now that the game industry is at a high peak and everyone enjoys games, it’s essential that the teaching methods evolve too, and that is what’s happening in various schools, children learning through games. Doyle’s example is a great one, where she taught kids through a simulated computer game where the students had to learn the patterns of the “enemy”.

 

Another great development related to knowledge, is the way the world is shifting towards approving games as beneficial for brain and body development: greater sense of analysis, sharper reflexes and so on. Knowledge is the most important development in the game industry, whether it is the acceptances of games because they are now seen as beneficial or the knowledge we gain through them, it can only make society improve, because knowledge is what pushes society further.

 

Do you believe there are any upcoming developments in games that will revolutionize the industry?

 

I do believe that the industry will keep moving forward, the World surprises us every day, and the game industry won’t be an exception. I believe that games will play a major part in research of a lot of scientific areas, because it’s the way our children will be taught in the future. It seems that the tendency is to shift towards a digitally interactive classroom and courses will be less theoretical and more practical in years to come, and games will be a part of this revolution. There are already a great amount of software that are supposed to teach our children, but this is an area that will be developed deeper in years to come!

Thank you,

Goncalo Pereira

 

References:

Wright Will. (2007, 17th July). Spore, birth of a game, TED Talks.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3NA-aKpgFk&list=PL8tIYC89Mc94shp4nhI0vnAnzJixlkQdg

 

Sara Corbett. (2010, 15th September). Learning by Playing: Video Games in the Classroom. The New York Times.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/19/magazine/19video-t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

A Moment that Defines You

Below is a narrative that we had to write for an assignment. What specific piece of software, book or other media inspired us to be where we are now!

THE SONG OF TIME

“A dark time is approaching. Willst thou run? Or fly? Willst thou sink? Or swim? Willst thou finish? Or die trying? And in the end, willst thou soar? Or willst thou suck? Coming November 23, have ye what it takes?” Every time I saw these words on TV, I had goose bumps. I remember clearly seeing that blond fellow with a green tunic, a shield and a sword fighting monsters, dragons blazing fire, jewels and that epic trailer song made me almost beg my mom for that game. It came out on November 23 and my birthday’s November 30. It was my 10th birthday. I’m sure everyone remembers being 10 and wanting some toy so much that every single day you would ask your parents for it.

 

November 30 finally arrived, a week that looked more like an entire year of wait. I went to school, and when I came home, my birthday present was waiting for me. It had the right shape, I opened it, but unfortunately, it wasn’t what I asked for. It was FIFA 98, a Nintendo 64 game too, but just not what I really wanted. My mom told me “When you talked about that Zelda game, we had already bought FIFA for you”. I was a bit disappointed, but considering Christmas was only 25 days away, hope wasn’t lost.

 

That period of time flew by, being a person that loves everything about Christmas, from the decoration, to the family dinners and reunions, to the giving of presents, I didn’t think much about that game. I was too busy glazing at my Christmas tree with the beautiful star on its top or just sitting near the presents and wondering what could be there (resisting temptation to open them too). In the meantime, toys and game commercials bombarded us kids so I lost a bit of focus on that game. In 1998, we didn’t have so much internet communication as we do now, and I wasn’t very interested in video game magazines back then, I just wanted to play, I was ignorant of the fact that Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was being considered the best video game of all time and that it was exploding the review scores.

 

Christmas eve came, and all the family was together with some friends, a very big dinner, with the sweet smell of cakes and all that amazing food we Portuguese eat on that beautiful night. I remember looking at the garden covered with pure white snow, however I didn’t appreciate all those details as much as I do now as an adult, the only thing I could think of, of course, were the presents that waited for me below the tree.

 

Sitting at the table, I looked every two minutes at the clock, time didn’t seem to move forward, instead it seemed that I was frozen in time by some remote like in the movie Click. Dinner was over and we went to the living room for some games, now the focus was on the digital clock of the VCR. It seems strange that only 15 years ago, we had a VCR, and now we are looking at 4K (Twice the power of FULLHD TV and Blu-ray) players coming out for next Christmas.

 

00:00 showed on the VCR. “Let’s open the presents!! Let’s open the presents”.

–       Calm down. Said my dad walking slowly towards the Christmas tree. We started opening the presents, but still no sign of Zelda. Presents were running scarce and my heart was pounding, but still no game, until all the presents were gone. I was feeling bits disappointed, but after all the presents were given…

–       Oh wait, look, we have a last one over here. Said mom coming from the hallway with a rectangular shaped present. It’s for you. She said.

 

I opened the present, slowly because I didn’t want to look like a wild animal who hadn’t eaten for weeks. I opened from the sides, the box was yellow on the sides with some characters drawn I didn’t recognize, I couldn’t tell what It was. The top of the box was black and in yellow there it was, that beautiful shield with a sword and these words “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time”. The reason I didn’t recognize the box was that it was the special edition. I opened the game box and started going through the user guide. (Those were the times where games came with a nicely colored user guide). So many characters, so many objects, that game looked amazing. I even read the plot in the user guide. However I wasn’t allowed to play it straight away, I had to wait for the next morning. Needless to say that it was a sleepless night.

 

On Christmas morning, I woke up at 7 (those were the times where I didn’t want to sleep until midday because I wanted to watch cartoons or play new games). I went downstairs, plugged in my N64 and inserted that game for the first time, ironic that during that time I didn’t know that the game was about the change my life forever. The first image that popped into the screen was a beautiful background and the hero galloping on his horse Epona, with a soft melody behind it. I press start, introduce my name, and dive into the most epic adventure I ever was part of.

 

To briefly explain the concept of the game, you are a small hero that has to save the world. Sounds pretty cliché right? However, how this story is built, it’s incredible, with monsters, friends, memorable characters, epic music, goddesses, collecting items, it’s the perfect soup made with the perfect ingredients. From the first sword you get, to the slaying of Ganondorf, the main antagonist, you live the adventure. That game gives you such a feeling, that you feel everything the character is supposed to feel, you are sucked into the screen, into the game. You are the hero.

 

In the game, you play an unusual instrument to make something specific happen, and there’s this particular moment, where you have to open the gate to a temple, where you will grab for the first time the Master Sword, a needed weapon to complete your quest. When you enter that temple, you hear the most epic song in that game, the Song of Time, you walk slowly towards the gate, open it and see a magnificent sword in a stone, where you grab it and lose yourself in a time space for 7 years. You fall asleep as a child, and wake up as an adult. All that combined with the epic songs, gave me the most memorable time in any game.

 

After I finished that game, I knew that it was what I wanted to do. Build videogames so that I could make people feel the way I felt playing that game, I want players to dive into my games like I dove into that one. Every single feeling, emotion, world, characters that my imagination creates; I want to share them with the World. That game, all those epic moments combined were the trigger for a passion that never ceased to grow over time.

 

I never stopped writing ideas for video games; I keep my notebooks close to me, because I know someday I will have the opportunity to build entire games around them. As an adult I started looking for the numerous fields that entered the process in building a video game. There were the artists, the developers, the sound editors, the managers; no field seemed to suit me until I saw the design part. The design consists on building the ideas, levels, and the brain behind the game. That was what I was looking for, that’s me!

 

Every time I use the Song of Time (used in the game to travel in time), and travel to my childhood memories, that game comes to mind. I’m glad and proud to be part of a generation that was so much influenced by that game and that it still inspires people. I wish to inspire people with my games, make them feel happy or sad, feel the pain of the character. It brought me joy and a future. Game Design is my future, thanks to that amazing piece of software.

 

Gonçalo Pereira

 

 

Notes: Full Sail logo is property of Full Sail University

References: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzhw_jxWJoU

A Few Events that Shaped the Industry

I had this new assignment for my game history class where I had to choose 5 events that shaped the industry in recent years.

 

In chronological order, this is what I chose:

2004 – Nintendo Press Release about the first Dual Screen handheld

2006 – First clinic for video game addicts in Europe

2007 – Foundation of Zynga and the pioneer of social network gaming (Now with serious problems due to the shift to mobile gaming)

2012 – Death of 38 Studios and the 100$ Million debt

2013 – Brenda Romero’s resignation from IGDA after GDC party with exotic dancers

THE WAR TO RULE HOME GAMING

When we talk about console wars in the early 1990’s we immediately think about these two characters: the blue hedgehog Sonic and the Italian plumber Mario, or SEGA and Nintendo.

During the console war, there are a few remarkable moves that companies did to outshine the competition, for example the Nintendo licenses. Nintendo forced third party companies like Konami (TMNT, Metal Gear), to release only 5 games a year and exclusively for the NES, however some companies released so many good games and gained so much credibility that they were exceptionally allowed to release five more games during a year. This way, Nintendo controlled the quality and quantity of the releases and maintained a monopoly on the market.

When SEGA joined the war, they knew they were entering a tough market that was controlled by a well-implemented company, so they strategized differently. SEGA aimed its consoles at an older audience and tried to give an image of being a company that sold “cool” products and that Nintendo was for kids. Their idea was simple, appeal to the older brothers, and the younger ones will want to be like them and play the same thing. They also took a much more aggressive position in advertisement, they attacked Nintendo directly with this phrase “Sega does what Nintendon’t”. This, in my opinion was a smart move, because they felt the inferiority in the market and had to call attention to themselves, and attacking Nintendo by name was a move full of courage.

However, there were two main mistakes SEGA did: Firstly, they didn’t release the console with a mascot, Nintendo had already Mario, Link and Metroid as recognizable characters and Sonic only came later, if it had been released sooner, they could have made a bigger impact. The second mistake as been made a lot of times by many companies, they seem to forget that gamers want games, instead they focused on the power of hardware. Wii sales are a recent example of this. Sega machines were more powerful but with exclusive licenses and great first titles Nintendo remained on top.

Nintendo however, in my opinion shouldn’t have despised SEGA; they were so confident and full of themselves that later on, they actually were behind on the market (45%).

Nintendo won the war; SEGA released so much hardware, so many add-ons that consumers started to get confused, they went to CD, then back to cartridges. They only had to control the market with good games after taking over. However the Nintendo v Sega war will remain, in my opinion the best console competition that marked an era with an extremely large quality content of games.

Gonçalo Pereira

A Thought a Day Keeps Insanity Away

Opinions from an observer

Gonzo for Games

Games! History, news and design...

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.