Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time Analysis

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Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time (PS3)

Positives:

+ Great control over the characters, has a great feeling of accuracy and precision.

+ Characters with different abilities, makes the player adapt quickly to new techniques and new ways to play but the controls are almost the same, making it easy to understand.

+ Tons to collect add replay value to the 100% completion fans.

+ Cross-saving is a great feature for those who’d like to continue their game on the Vita, addiction is sometimes temporary, and this gives the opportunity to players to continue their game and not shutdown the console and not playing the game again if they don’t have the time in front of the TV.

Negatives:

– Same old formula, with little innovation in the levels, it seems like everything has been done before in the series.

– No risk was taken regarding gameplay; Sly has had pretty much the same techniques for a few years now, except the suits that were a positive innovation.

– The game is quite straightforward and doesn’t offer much of a challenge, lacking charismatic bosses and hard ones too, there is no sense of punishment if you die, making the game easier.

– Hacking levels are extremely dull and unoriginal, they wanted to make it retro style or old school at some point, but they end up just being generic games, that don’t add much to the experience of the players.

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Thoughts:

  • A fun game from a well-known series but that fails to deliver enough innovation to be memorable.
  • The gamer doesn’t quite identify with the characters, those lack a bit of deeper insight, especially Sly’s ancestors, they are a bit dull and we know almost nothing about them, just a few piece of information given with some humor but that is forgotten extremely fast
  • Just one or two techniques from Sly’s relatives that are different isn’t enough and are, sometimes, too easy to master.
  • Mechanics haven’t changed for years, the way you control Sly, jumps, or hanging from ropes, etc. has always been the same.

Would Like:

o   Risks taken with gameplay and techniques, maybe more combos for fighting, that wouldn’t make the game so repetitive.

o   Added value to Sly’s family with more unique techniques, even some hidden techniques and a deeper story to them, they forgettable characters.

o   Hacking games, if they are supposed to bring some nostalgia at some point, they should do it more carefully maybe showing some old games, or “blinking the eye” to some of the arcade classics, they are all quite easy.

o   Co-operative more, with Sly and it’s family members would be a nice addition, if both had more unique techniques, levels could be more complex.

o   More challenging puzzles, too many hints are given (an option to disable them?) and the puzzles are too straightforward.

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Civilization V Tutorial Analysis

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Civilization V Tutorial- PC

Gameplay Successes:

+ In-game tutorial let’s you understand what steps you should take and have a quick start in the game.

+ Helps getting started and to know what moves to do next

+ Comes in form of advice from counselors which it’s more believable instead of just pointing out what you have to do with information.

+ The tutorial isn’t rushed, when new options open, it quickly guides through it without taking too long, because players want… to play.

Negatives:

– It contains too much text; it should be more interactive instead of having to read everything.

– Clearly lacking information: It has so much text in some parts of the tutorial but then it’s clearly lacking menu exploration and explanation of options, I think a nice interactive video or “guidance” would explain the player in a easier way.

– No explanation at all about some features of the game and options available.

– Not very concise and precise, lacks some assertiveness.

Thoughts:

  • Feels as if the creators believed that everyone would already know how to play the game, explanations should always be give, or at least an option to skip tutorial for experienced Civ players, on the other hand, newcomers should have all the explanations about the features
  • This tutorial is done in a clever way, by the advisors, but the fact that you have to do, or tend to do exactly what they tell you at the beginning, it may affect your strategy in the long run
  • The tutorial is lacking in regards to the game, it’s a great, complex strategy game, and for those kind of games a more deep introduction should be given, especially for newcomers: i.e. strategy tips, military options, democratic options and so forth.
  • Some video implementation with examples could have relieved the text weight on it.

Would Like:

o   A special tutorial level at the beginning of the “adventure” to introduce newcomers, this could be skipped by more experienced players so that they don’t lose time if they don’t want to.

o   Nice vocal integration into the tutorial, and avoid those deep mythical voices. A Morgan Freeman style narration would be perfect…

o   A feature that would guide your mouse through the menus and options of the game with interactive clicks and choices.

o   A correction should be made so that you aren’t forced to take the steps that the game indicates because they can have an impact on your strategy or style of play.

Multiplayer Video Game Analysis

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Guardians of Middle-Earth – MMOBA PS3

 Gameplay Successes:

+ Button set up with the wished attacks or moves, making it easy to use and a fast way to chose any move.

+ Character pacing is well balanced between the slower and faster characters, making it a strategy element, when choosing if a faster or slower character.

+ Basic classes known over the years, nothing to add here, makes it simple for MMORPG starters

+ Classic Tolkien characters, making players going to the characters they prefer and with whom they connect in the world of the Lord of the Rings

+ Use of minions to help during the game is a good feature, making the battles more intense.

Negatives:

– Server issues, sometimes it takes way too long to connect to a game, more money should be invested into having more stable servers.

– There are only two types of map with one or three paths, more maps could be added to bring a larger variety and more strategies between players and teams

– Small amount of characters in the beginning, making the game very limited in terms of choices

– Confusing set of potions to chose from, it should transformed into a simpler menu with better and more clear definitions

– Glitches and freezing times during the game, this should be patched and fixed, because it ruins the experience for the players

 

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Thoughts:

  • The fact that you have to buy some characters demotivates some of the players
  • The limited settings and maps brings the experience to a repetitive stage, at some point, players believe it’s always the same
  • There should be more incentive so that players pick up other characters, we see over and over again the main characters from the story, such as Legolas, Gandalf, Aragorn and so on…
  • Enemy characters seem too unattractive to the players, it seems that hero teams are always more complete with players and don’t need CPU characters.

Would Like:

o   A mode where players could regroup and discuss live strategy or chat that is more users friendly

o   Unlocking of characters through leveling up instead of currency exchange.

o   More prizes per victory, some victories don’t give any self-accomplishment.

o   Larger customization for example accessories or clothes

A Highly Rated Game Analysis… Pokemon Red

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Pokémon – Red Version (Gameboy) – 10/10 IGN Masterpiece | 9.3 IGN Users Rating | 87.86% from Game Rankings – Based on 21 Reviews

Gameplay Successes:

+ Catching Pokémon with poke balls – simple and clear, having to lower the wild Pokémon energy and throw a poke ball to catch it, the greater the power of the Poke Ball (GreatBall, UltraBall, MasterBall) the easier it is to catch it, it’s simple and intuitive.

+ Turn-based fighting system was the best solution for the Game Boy’s power, it makes the fighting more strategic

+ Only an action per turn makes the game more intense and the planning more important: i.e. think carefully when using an object because you won’t be able to use a Pokémon move, if you are in a difficult situation, one little mistake could make the difference between winning and losing

+ Variety of items makes the game more fun and personal, each one invests in the Pokémon he thinks will benefit more, you can improve attack, defense, health and so on…

+ Wide variety of Pokémon at that point (150) made this game extremely huge for that time and with a lot of options

+ Perfect amount of Pokémon in a team (6) makes it more important to balance out your team with types.

+ Many different types of Pokémon make the perfect RPG, having to carefully strategize on how your team will be built

+ Exchange system to complete the Pokédex was a great innovation.

+ Shortcut (select) to use an item was extremely useful if the same item was used frequently.

+ Use of PC to store Pokemon so players don’t lose them was a great system and it worked perfectly because there were computers all over the world, so you could change your party often – same worked for items

Negatives:

– Characters speed, the trainer walked slowly, further in the game a bicycle was given but it was upsetting having to select the bike every time; this issue was already fixed in recent games with running shoes that make the character walk faster without having to chose a bicycle

– Item organization was confusing; everything in the same bag, players would spend a lot of time looking for a particular item if their bag was full, issue addressed in new games, with different compartments for the items.

– Secret moves such as H&M’s weren’t a very annoying feature, because the player had to chose a Pokemon that could learn Flash for example to enter a dark cave, even if he didn’t wish that Pokemon on his or her party. This issue could be addressed by making those moves a Pokemon Trainer feature, as long as he has them, he could use them without the use of a particular Pokemon.

– Although it’s a Pokemon’s feature, I believe that Gym Champions having an exclusive type, makes the game easy when it comes to combats with the CPU, from the second or third gym champion, there is no real challenge until the Elite 4

Thoughts:

  • Wild Pokemon appeared, at some points, with a ridiculous frequency (caves are the best example of this)
  • Use of the Old Rod to only catch Magikarp makes that Rod almost useless because you can catch higher level Magikarps with other rods
  • The fact that you only have one opportunity to catch some Pokemon (Legendary or Snorlax) makes them unique and gives a great sense of accomplishment after catching them.
  • Feeling that some Pokémon became overpowered at some point in the game and that the CPU trainers had no chance to win
  • No real purpose in having Pokemon Safari

Would Like:

o   Starters catchable further in the game – that would not hurt the exchange system if other Pokemon were exclusive.

o   More variety of wild Pokémon, it seems like you are seeing the same over and over again, 150 Pokemon gives enough quantity to have a greater variety.

o   More types – As there are now

o   A larger amount of moves usable by Pokemon because the H&M’s occupy one space

o   Abandoning H&M’s use on Pokemon

o   A darker story involving Pokemon and not just a kid wanting to be a champion.

Gameplay Pitch – Clu Clu Land

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INTRODUCTION

Clu Clu Land, NES is a action-puzzle game where you take control of Bubbles, a small fish that has to “draw” the figure on screen by collecting the gold bars while being careful of not falling into a pit or getting touched by a fluffy blue monster. It is an ageless game, with not a particular age in mind; it’s from 3 to 100 years old. This game has appeared has a mini game in other recent games.

THE CURRENT PROBLEM

  • Two player mode is co-op only, and we all know that games are always successful if they incorporate a battle system or a versus system, in a game the objective is winning, and bringing the feeling of competition increases adrenaline and it will bring more audience, especially the competitive people. My pitch will improve the game bringing a new experience to player with a versus mode, widening the range of people interested in it, because people like challenges, and especially being able to brag to their friends that they are better. Winning against the CPU is fun, but don’t you like sitting next to your friend and feeling proud that you are superior…? The lack of competitiveness can be a reason to stop playing a game, with this implementation there will always be a reason to come back to it.
  • The minor problem are the rubber bands, in some levels if you get stuck in them you take too long to get out of it, this new gameplay will provide a solution and a way to destroy them temporarily as well as monsters. When you are stuck in those Rubber bands it seems like a dead end and you lose a great amount of time, because the game does not provide the best responsiveness, this pitch will provide the solution.

SOLUTION

When you finish a video game, depending on the game you decide to go back to it, or leave it until you have nostalgia…

  • The two player mode is basically the same as the player 1 mode, you play against the computer, and the finish line is the same, you have to complete all Gold-drawings or puzzles to complete the game, once that is done, it can be quite repetitive and it’s basically the same, playing alone or with a friend. The addition of competition, Player 1 vs. Player 2, has replay value, because you will want to come back to the game and play against your friend to see who is the best, this is the key element that you need to play it all over again, and jumping into another mode loses the repetitiveness feeling. If at the end of co-op mode you have nothing to do, you will change the game on your console! If you have another option, you will keep playing, bringing a larger audience into the game.

Are there any small problems, like the rubber band that make you want to throw your controller out of the window and sell your game out of irritation? This would be the solution….

  • When you get stuck in two rubber bands and you see time dropping and you are bouncing off the two rubber bands, this gets on your nerves because the fact that the game sometimes hasn’t got a good response to movement, you can’t get out of that bouncing, if there is a solution to destroy the rubber bands or to go through them or knowing where they are, I bet you wouldn’t mind getting stuck in them, because you would ultimately have some options instead of just timing perfectly the movement to get out of that bouncing…

 

IMPLEMENTATION

v  For problem one implementing a versus mode, Tetris style, you would have the same basic elements as in co-op or solo mode, but you would need to work faster and draw your gold figure faster than your opponent to win, and there would be options such as first one to win 2 or 3 games would win the match. In this competitiveness mode, buttons would be the same, however I’d implement two different power-ups, one that would affect directly your opponent by freezing his screen for a few seconds, and another one that would destroy some parts of the drawing. The screen would be divided in two, the drawings smaller and Bubbles would be faster, rising the adrenaline between the two players. In this game you basically play with the shooting button and the D-Pad, you would be able to shoot at your opponent, even from the different “screen”, the “bullets” would continue their progress in the direction of the opponents screen, with the possibility of hitting your opponent.

v  The other button, which is basically for nothing in the game, implementing a use of power-ups in that button, so the player could choose and strategize when he would use them, selecting the precise moment to unleash hell on their opponents, instead of just collecting the power-up on screen and activating at that precise moment.

v  For problem two, the idea would be to implement that second button option of adding the use of “stored” Power-ups so that the player could use them at the time they decide instead of just collecting them and having them activated immediately. Furthermore for the destruction of the Rubber Bands or the direct destruction of monsters, implement a “super shooting” mode by holding down the button for 5 seconds, would facilitate those struggles of being bouncing off the rubber bands, but that 5 seconds would still be a small punishment of being trapped.

v  (Blue Monsters have to be frozen with a shooting and then pushed against a wall to be destroyed)

v  Making the possibility of having two new power-ups, either one to see for a few seconds their location and then disappearing, or another one that would destroy the rubber bands: These could be achieved after destroying 10 monsters, and 15 respectively.

CONCLUSIONS

In conclusion, these implementations would bring two important things: being a puzzle game, people sometimes get bored once they finish them, adding competitiveness would add replay value, thus a more addictive game. The addition of power-ups and the time use by pressing the button left free on the game, would add a element of strategy, making the game a bit more complex attracting people who consider the game to be too simplistic and with little options.

 

Gonçalo Pereira

 

Out of Control – My Views on Controls..

 

We are living exciting times, and especially times that are evolving really fast and where it’s easy to define the future. There are some data that we can analyze to predict the future, but other things that may seem as a temporary can still stick and improve in the future.

For many years now, the connection between the player’s reality and the reality onscreen has been the controller; the controller from the dawn of time has been the gateway to excitement, to adventure. It was already an extension of the gamer’s hand, even before the motion controls. If a game is well built, well designed, the player will immerse himself in it, it can be with a Motion Control pretending to hold a sword, or even with a keyboard and mouse, if the game is good, if the mechanics are well constructed, we will lose the bridge between reality and game reality, because the player dives deep into the game, through a controller, it can be a D-Pad or a joystick, A keyboard and mouse or a Wii Mote: All is defined in the mechanics. This also works for motion control, like our handout clearly states, it all depends on the mechanics, if the mechanics are good, if the player easily learns how to play a game, the designer will have more chances of the player sticking to his game.

With the appearance of motion controls and touch screen controls, what’s clear and a fact is that the audience for games as broadened exponentially and it has opened doors in term of designs. Designers are now presented with challenges of making compelling games with easy to learn mechanics, still bringing a great experience, and the designer must work hard to find good mechanics in controls such as touch screen and motion controls. If we look closely, motion controls brought a broader audience to game consoles, and this of course turned into profit quickly, because of the fascination people had. Motion controls seem to be fading a bit, because the population of gamers will always enjoy having a classic controller in their hands and immerse themselves into an adventure without having to move, this also brings a true experience, however it can be more difficult to grasp for other people who are not used to it, and that entered the gaming world through motion control. Even though it seems to be fading, it’s up to the designers to bring fresh new ideas and to exploit this technology as much as any other: throughout history it is known that people don’t always like change, and those who already played games before motion controls, even though they may enjoy some motion control games they are still attracted to the classic controller. However, we live in a time where “what’s next” prevails, and those who entered the gaming world through the move of an arm throwing a bowling ball, will have their attention caught easily by something new: It’s up to the game designers to keep motion control alive if they wish to do so…

Motion controls also don’t work with many games, and I quote Riccitello from EA: 75-minute session on FIFA would be “frigging tiring.”  Why game controllers will remain important is simple: People who started gaming before motion controls, will always like a classic approach to games, even if they endorse motion controls! Like in all types of control, motion, touch or controller driven, it’s all about the mechanics, the gameplay, the quality of the game and the capability of drawing players in, players have to have a sense of mastering the controller, being able to predict the results onscreen with their controller, they must feel that they are in power, and that must work in all types of control, they must have a sense of self-accomplishment, that they are learning something and that they are getting better as they progress and being rewarded for it!

I believe that for touch controls there is a slight difference, this is due because where they are mostly used: Cell phones. The majority of touch control is used in iPhones, Android phones, Windows phones and so on, and the percentage of people that have a touch screen phone is huge, so developers saw this as an opportunity to bring more people into the game world. Bringing solid experiences, easy to learn and completely addictive. Satisfying controls, such as Angry Birds, for experienced or non experienced gamers that in one level pick up how to throw the birds and win, and along the way just learn the abilities of the different birds, this is all due to one thing: mechanics.

Done well, multi-touch removes abstraction – instead of moving a device like a mouse to point at something, you just point at it; instead of clicking on piano keys or trying to remember which keyboard key corresponds to each note, you just play the note.

This is extremely important, touch control, gives the player a sense of power, of feel that at the tips of his fingers he decides the fortune of the game, it’s up to game designers to exploit this feeling and hunger for control that players want, the same has having the feeling to be completely in control of a character with a PS3 controller, the player has the same feeling with a touch screen controller.  We have learned what experiences the classic controller gave to the players, and it is important to transport them into the other types of control: however the classic controller won’t disappear because it still is the most accurate way to have control over an object or person. Touch control is not as precise and it can still gain more public if designers manage to bring the same experience (or feeling) as a classic controller, but you never feel fully “stable”, but the large audience (tablet and phone owners) and the cheap games will keep touch control alive and this gives a chance for it to evolve and improve.

There are also new ways such as 3D and virtual reality, still very young and it’s still hard to control with 3D and virtual reality, my firm belief is that whatever control you use, if it does not provide the user with accurate, precise actions, it won’t be effective:

However, everything changes when the space is behind the display monitor. It becomes hard, like learning to fly an aeroplane using controls. So the old idea that your desktop will be easier to use if it’s a 3D virtual space that you can navigate around hasn’t really made things easier. Certainly, we’ve made big advances in 3D navigation with such product features as SteeringWheels, but these interfaces are for navigating spaces that truly need to be in 3D, such as CAD models.”

Thank you for reading,

Gonçalo Pereira

Sources: Howson, G. (2009, June 10). EA Talk Motion Control. The Guardian. Retrieved from: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/gamesblog/2009/jun/10/games

Unknown Author (2011, March 12). Beyond the Touchscreen: Interfaces of the Future and 3D Software and Augmented Reality. PC Plus Issue 305. Retrieved from: http://www.techradar.com/news/software/beyond-the-touchscreen-interfaces-of-the-future-934424#null

 

Memorable Designs

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The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time (Nintendo 64)

+ Liked the locking system, it was easier to throw things such as bows, boomerangs and so on to hit targets, it also kept us with an eye on the foe at constant times

+ Liked the zoom view to look around, we could better observe the environment

+ Liked that we had to play the ocarina with the C, A and B buttons, made the controller look like a real Ocarina

+ Liked the fact that in one controller we could have several objects listed in the C buttons, making it quicker to select.

– – Major dislike to the fact that we had to enter the menu to select gear (i.e. swords, boots and tunics) for the simple reason that it made the Water Temple a game industry nightmare. -> Issue fixed on the 3DS

 

Pokémon Red(GameBoy)

+ Liked the simple method of using two buttons A and B for almost every action

+ Liked the option of giving an item to the Select Button, make it quicker to reach (I used for the Bike)

+ Liked the walking freedom with the D-Pad around the Pokémon World.

+ Liked the possibility of changing Pokemon through the Link Cable.

– Disliked the impractical use of HM, because we had to have a Pokemon with that move in our party, if we didn’t we’d have to go to a Pokecenter to retrieve one from the PC, it could take long to do that.

 

Championship Manager 01/02(PC)

+ Liked that we could control a whole football team through some clicks and make the decisions as a coach.

+ Liked that we could set the prices on contracts, transfers, tickets and everything involving the club.

+ Liked that I could train two clubs at the same time or play with another friend, everything from the same computer

–       Disliked the quantity of Menus, made it look like I missed a lot of options

–       Club’s budget at the beginning of the game seemed unrealistic (for the bad for some, and too good for others).

 

Heavy Rain(PS3)

+ Liked that we could do a characters actions as if we were in real life

+ Liked the fact of being part of a movie and following the directions on the screen with simplicity

+ Liked that that kind of gameplay made people that didn’t enjoy video games so much, could have a game experience as if they were in a movie

+ Liked that with a simple push of a button we could transform the story’s ending into something different

+ User friendly controls for beginners

–       Disliked that the game was limited in regards to gameplay, for more experienced gamers, even if there could be a harder difficulty as long as you knew what buttons to push before hand, it would become easy.

–       Disliked the slow motion of the characters, the game seemed too slow.

 

Super Mario 64(N64)

+ Liked the triple jump with the press of three times A button, making us able to reach high places

+ Liked long jump and backflip

+ Liked the quantity of different levels and how each one could have a good amount of variations

+ Liked the sliding levels, which made a platform game look like a racer at a few points in the game

+ Liked the use of the joystick to beat the boss

–       Disliked the camera, some close ups where horrible, and some levels you couldn’t move the camera, making some movements more difficult at certain angles.

–       Disliked the use of the Cape with wings, controlling it was tricky and unfriendly.

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