I spent a good thirty minutes or so trying to think of a witty title for the piece I’m about to write, at which point a phrase I had used to describe my position on the subject to a friend popped into my head. “That’ll do,” I thought.
Enough foreplay – let’s get down to business.No comments
[23:19] <@xephyris> i was asking a friend if he had bought deus ex
[23:19] <@xephyris> it came out as desu ex
[23:19] <@Iie-Kyo> lol
[23:19] <@SonicTempest> lol
[23:19] <@SonicTempest> get on making that mod
[23:54] <@xephyris> so this desu ex mod
[23:54] <@xephyris> what should be in it
[23:55] <@SonicTempest> all UNATCO agents replaced with Suiseiseki
[00:12] <@xephyris> should call it Desu X
[00:12] <@xephyris> suiseiseki vs x-japan
[00:12] <@SonicTempest> lol
[00:12] <@SonicTempest> don’t you know
[00:12] <@SonicTempest> X Japan have some crazy powers
[00:13] <@SonicTempest> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhoqBgpTu00 here’s my evidence
[00:14] <@SonicTempest> fwiw, correlation between the PV and the song lyrics? none whatsoever w
[00:14] <@xephyris> www
[00:14] <@xephyris> i figured they did an OP for this animation or something
[00:14] <@xephyris> no, huh w
[00:15] <@SonicTempest> no this is the actual PV for this song w
[00:15] <@xephyris> it’s got a HnK vibe for some reason
[00:15] <@xephyris> also, x japan can fly
[00:15] <@xephyris> this proves it
[00:17] <@SonicTempest> w
[00:18] <@SonicTempest> also the drummer can fire Kamehamehas
[00:18] <@xephyris> lol
[00:18] <@SonicTempest> and is apparently Jesus
[00:19] <@SonicTempest> so yes, stiff competition for Suiseiseki w
[00:20] <@xephyris> ww
Or so it would seem!
I was tempted to make this a blog post about ‘games I’ve been playing’. Then I looked at my last ten posts and decided against that. Instead I’m going to talk about something a bit more technical.
Starting in June of last year I took up a position that was a new thing for me – client-side web development. Up to that point I had mostly been doing backend stuff – writing backend services, maintenance scripts, that sort of thing. The last time I had done any client-side work was all the way back in 1999, when I was designing websites for school clubs and the like.
So how did 27-year old me take this on? Well, with some trepidation and a lot of help from Stack Overflow. Not to mention looking at other people’s code, and talking to the actual client experts on my team.
And it’s been fun! Well, sort of.
The one thing you learn immediately is that there is a whole new set of problems you need to grapple with. The two biggest ones are:
- Browser differences
This is mostly down to IE-related issues, although I’ve seen some weirdness in my code because of Chrome and Firefox as well. Because the Web pretty much grew as organically as it did, and because MS took over the browser market back in the 90s and then spent the better part of a decade sitting on its ass doing nothing with Internet Explorer, a lot of JS and CSS has to be written with old versions of IE in mind. My sense of it is that IE9 is sort of better in this regard and IE10 closes the gap even more, but there are still lots of people out there running IE7 and 8 for whom special code needs to be written to handle stuff like..calculating offsets of page elements (and probably other things, but that’s the first thing that sprung to mind).
Granted, there are now frameworks in place to help deal with this kind of problem (yay for jQuery) but I’m not always able to use them for various reasons. As such, it’s a challenge, but it’s also something I’ve found interesting to dig into (and make notes on, to save myself some time spent investigating in the future). Thank goodness for Quirksmode.
Still, I’m having fun, for now. I have dipped into the jQuery/HTML5 pool a little bit and want to see what else I can do there, although right now my work projects don’t seem to be taking me in that direction. Perhaps it’s time for a side project of some sort…2 comments
Some, if not all of you are probably watching HBO’s adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy magnum opus A Song of Ice and Fire (aka Game of Thrones). I, being the poser/purist that I am, have been reading the books instead, mainly so that I can read the original story
and then complain about how the TV adaptation screwed everything up. I’m enjoying it so far, and I’m about 25% of the way through the last book that has been published (A Dance with Dragons).
And then, I came across this little image on DeviantART:
Which got me thinking about whether Game of Thrones would make good fodder for a fighting game or not.
(WARNING – There will be some minor spoilers for those who haven’t read the books, or for anyone who’s only been watching the HBO series. So be forewarned)
It goes without saying that combat figures heavily in the story, although it tends to be of the army vs. army variety rather than one-on-one. In addition, while there are a few characters who use signature weapons, there really aren’t anything in the way of ‘signature moves’ like you might expect in your average shounen manga. There are also plenty of characters who wouldn’t wield a weapon for any reason (like perhaps 90% of the female cast), so clearly some improvisation will be necessary.
That said, I do think of some characters that might work in a fighting game setting, although with how those characters might end up playing. Here are a few of my ideas so far:
- Robb Stark – a straightforward character who uses ice-based attacks (I know he doesn’t use Ice, shut up) and can summon his direwolf Grey Wind to do some attacks for him.
- Jon Snow – Seemingly cut from the same mould as Robb with a direwolf (Ghost) to match, but tilted a bit more to the defensive side of things. Might help to think of Robb and Jon as the Ryu and Ken of the game, maybe?
- Brienne of Tarth – a close range character who relies heavily on speed and mixups due to her speed.
- Hodor – One of the servants of House Stark who carries Bran Stark on his back and somehow manages to be the game’s only grappler. Bran can use his skinchanging ability to take control of Hodor for some of his attacks. (Seriously, I can’t think of anyone else who could fit as a grappler, and even Hodor uses a sword a bunch of times in the books)
- Gregor Clegane – aka The Mountain. The game’s resident ‘big guy’ who relies on powerful normals and hard-hitting special attacks to dish out damage. His power is of course offset by his speed.
- Tyrion Lannister – now before you start laughing, I don’t intend for Tyrion to be fighting on his own – cast your mind back to Chang and Choi in CvS2, or even Carl Clover in BlazBlue. The idea here is that Tyrion and his sellsword Bronn are playable as a unit, with each character being able to move independently through special button inputs.
- Jaime Lannister – couldn’t go without him, obviously, although having him in the game post-hand removal might make for a more interesting play style. Alternatively (or additionally), put in Loras Tyrell so you can go nuts with the flower effects.
- Melisandre – Fire. Lots of it. The game’s zoning character.
- Thoros of Myr – More fire. Except this time on a sword. Since Thoros’ gimmick in the books is that he lights his sword on fire to strike fear into his enemies, he might work well as a character with a ‘powerup’ mode where his sword bursts into flames. He might even be able to call on the members of his Brotherhood without Banners like Anguy and Tom Sevenstrings for some of his moves.
- Either Oberyn Martell or Areo Hotah – the former is seen using a spear in the books, the latter a poleaxe. Either would be well suited to the role of a ranged/poking character a la Billy Kane from Fatal Fury/KOF.
There are some wrinkles – for instance some characters are dead before they would normally have had the chance to meet some of the others on my above roster, and some factions aren’t really that well-represented (Pretty much no-one east of Westeros, for instance). But if anyone has any other ideas, do post them in the comments! Not that I’ll be able to do anything with them…but it might make for some interesting discussion.1 comment
One of the big pieces of news coming out of GDC last week was this comment from Fez developer Phil Fish:
But when he asked what the panel thought of modern Japanese video games, Phil Fish (pictured) immediately replied “your games just suck” – a comment that sparked an audible reaction from the crowd, though some were cheering.
Others looked on awkwardly as the Japanese developer was then subjected to a string criticisms about game design flaws in his native country. The developer nevertheless thanked the panel for their response and returned to his seat.
As rude as that was to the man who asked the question, that’s not really what irritated me about that particular outburst. Let’s keep in mind that Phil Fish is a guy who’s somehow managed to spend five years working on a 2D platformer. Even if you take into account the fact that only two people are working on it, that seems like a really inordinate amount of time to have spent working on a relatively simple game.
Given, then, that he has yet to release anything, it seems incredibly hypocritical for Fish to turn around and relegate all modern Japanese games to the rubbish bin. Especially when such a relegation is thoroughly unjustified – in the last few years I’ve played BlazBlue, King of Fighters XIII, Trouble Witches Neo, Valkyria Chronicles, Yakuza 3, Vanquish, Bayonetta, Metal Slug XX and Hard Corps: Uprising – all high-quality games, and all made by Japanese developers. And there are even more titles worthy of attention that I haven’t gotten around to playing yet, like Demon’s Souls and its sequel Dark Souls, Deadly Premonition, Yakuza 4. not to mention countless arcade games.
My guess is that Fish thinks that the Japanese only make Zelda and Mario games, or something, or is completely ignorant of what they’ve actually been up to in the last few years. Either way, all he does is come off as an asshole and a colossal moron at the same time.
In other stupid-shit-developers-said-at-GDC-news, here’s an interview Jonathan Blow (the developer of Braid) did with Gamespot:
Ignoring for a second the ludicrousness of his statement that fun and challenge are mutually exclusive, Blow seems to be under the impression that all Japanese games are like Zelda, in that they handhold you every step of the way without letting you discover anything. Much like Fish, it seems Blow has yet to play any Japanese games not made by Nintendo. I wonder if he’ll ever get around to trying Bayonetta or Vanquish…my money’s on ‘No.’1 comment
There’s a bit of a stink being raised by some mobile/social developers about other developers cloning their games. Some are even going so far as to launch lawsuits against the accused. The first one I was aware of was NimbleBit accusing Zynga of ripping off their tower building game Tiny Tower, but other studios have since come out and made similar accusations against other developers.
I’ve been thinking a bit about this issue. The underlying assumption seems to be that cloning of games is bad…but this is something I can’t bring myself to agree with. For without cloning, we would never have gotten all the quality fighting games that came out in the wake of Street Fighter II. Hell, Capcom fought and lost a lawsuit that established the legal basis for its original concept to be cloned by developers like Data East, SNK and others.
On top of that, cloning is pretty much how a concept is improved upon and refined. Capcom made Street Fighter II, and every fighting game that has come out since then (well, every good fighting game, anyway) has been a refinement and an improvement over the mechanics established in that first game. Not to mention that a lot of these games started out as pure clones, but as time passed the developers began to add mechanics and tweaks that added depth and differentiated them from the original (for instance Ryuuko no Ken’s power meter for doing special and super moves…heck, the entire concept of a super move, KOF’94’s 3-on-3 battles and so on).
If I do have a problem with this particular issue, it’s that the games being cloned…well, aren’t that good. I played Tiny Tower for a bit on my iPhone, and between the need to pay real money for things to get done in any reasonable time frame and the fact that the game itself had no real interesting goals, and felt like a poor ripoff of SimTower (a game I enjoyed a good deal when I was a kid), I didn’t really feel too bad about wiping it off my phone after a couple of days.
I guess you could argue that it’s about the principle of the matter, that big studios like Zynga shouldn’t be stealing concepts from smaller studios. The fact is, though, that this sort of thing has been going on for ages in the games industry and it’s not about to stop happening, so I suspect these studios would be better served by iterating on their own concept and making it better rather than crying foul at other people’s attempts to cash in.No comments
My last comparison theatre entry (and indeed, my last blog entry) was quite some time ago, for which I apologise to the three people who read this blog. And now, to business.
One of my favourite things in the world is Hokuto no Ken, a shounen manga about a powerful martial artist using his skills to bring peace to a post-apocalyptic world. There have been several Hokuto no Ken video games, but the ones I’d like to bring into focus are the following two.
Yes, that would be Arc System Works’ Hokuto no Ken: Shinpan no Sousousei Kengou Retsuden for the Atomiswave and PS2 versus Koei Tecmo’s Hokuto Musou for the Xbox 360 and PS3. In my view, the stark contrast between these two games really drives home how developers need to think about the qualities inherent in the source material before adapting it into a video game. Specifically, the former is a great example of playing to the strengths of a theme, while the latter is an example of how to inherit all the weaknesses instead.
As I mentioned, Hokuto no Ken is about the travails of a powerful martial artist (called Kenshiro) in a post-apocalyptic world. Throughout his travels, Kenshiro meets several other powerful warriors of other martial arts styles, and comes to blows with several of them. These confrontations are often pretty epic and span several episodes, if not entire story arcs, culminating in a one-on-one face-off between Kenshiro and his rival. Along the way, of course, Kenshiro has to deal with his rivals’ various assortment of minions, mostly in a comically effortless manner, as demonstrated by almost every single Hokuto no Ken clip ever uploaded to Youtube.
So how does this tie into game design? Arc System Works’ Hokuto no Ken game is based off the confrontations between Kenshiro and his rivals – a strictly 1-on-1 fighting game that has subsystems designed to match the various themes of the manga and anime as well (for instance, the Fatal K.O. moves). It is, in other words, based on what to Kenshiro must be his most challenging and epic confrontations ever, and it manages to bring that feeling across brilliantly, with fights between skilled players often resembling epic battles from the anime series. It is, therefore, based on the best parts of the source material.
Hokuto Musou, on the other hand, is a Musou game, which means you spend a large amount of time running around beating up nameless grunts. This wouldn’t be so bad, except that Koei Tecmo decided to follow the depiction of these grunts in the series, literally, and as a result they put up about as much resistance as the lore would have you believe, i.e. none. There are 1-on-1 boss fights, but being based on the same fighting engine as the rest of the game they’re hardly worth noting at all. Hokuto Musou, then, takes something that’s mostly used for comic effect in the source material and tries to stretch it out into a full game, and the end result is rather terrible. Honestly, if you want to see what a Hokuto no Ken brawler should play like, go play God Hand. Actually, play God Hand anyway, because it’s an excellent game.
Moral of the story, then? If you’re adapting something into a game, think about what sort of mechanics would be appropriate to bring across the best parts of the source material.
And the other moral of the story is to spam Arc System Works with requests to make another Hokuto no Ken fighter. In HD, with the budget of BlazBlue, so we can have more moments like this one:
The ‘big’ release of last month was Duke Nukem Forever, a game that’s been about fourteen years in the making, mainly due to purported incompetence on the part of 3D Realms. At least year’s PAX, Gearbox officially announced they were taking over development after 3D Realms was shuttered and promised to finish the game. And that’s what finally launched last week.
And apparently, it’s terrible. But that’s not what I’m intent on talking about here – there are plenty of places you can go to find out about the problems with what Gearbox has just shat out (I recommend Rock Paper Shotgun’s take). No, my peeve has to do with how some people are reacting to the bad reviews – the same way a lot of people react to bad reviews of anything. One particular phrase.
“It’s good in its own right.”
Now what the hell is that supposed to mean?
To realise how silly that statement is, you have to think about what we mean when we say ‘good.’ There isn’t any universally accepted scale of ‘goodness’ – you can’t say that a cake is good because it’s a 500 on the goodness scale. On top of that coming up with a universal scale would also be very difficult because goodness is highly subjective. Therefore all judgments of quality are necessarily relative.
Given that, saying that something is ‘good in its own right’ is the same as claiming to be able to judge the quality of it without comparing it to anything else. Which is quite clearly nonsense. Even unqualified statements of quality have an implicit comparison embedded in them – for instance, when I say that the Duke Nukem Forever demo failed to convince me that the final product would be any good, I’m implicitly evaluating DNF’s mechanics against those from the best FPSes I’ve played, and realising that it falls short in several areas.
What I suspect that people who pull the above statement are trying to say instead is “I liked this game.” Which is reasonable – there’s no real accounting for taste. But to say that you like something is not the same as saying that it’s good. I mean, hell, I play games that aren’t quite as good as popular opinion would have you believe (for instance, Team Fortress 2). It’s entirely possible (and up to a point, acceptable) to say you like something while admitting that in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really hold up.
So please, by all means, go ahead and like Duke Nukem Forever, or KOF XII, or any number of games that were generally received poorly. But if you’re going to claim that they’re good by some arbitrary standard, then my inevitable follow-up question is going to be ‘compared to what?’No comments
Some of you are probably aware of the imminent launch of Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition for PC. You’re probably also aware that the PC version uses Games for Windows Live to facilitate its online features. However, what became clear yesterday that was hitherto unknown was the game’s form of DRM.
Essentially, if you’re not signed into an online GfWL profile, you lose access to all but fifteen characters on the roster and can no longer save progress in things like Challenge Mode. This is essentially Capcom doing its best Ubisoft impression, or would be if it weren’t for the fact that Ubisoft has in fact ditched its always-on DRM for its more recent PC releases like Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. Needless to say, it’s completely asinine, especially considering that GfWL has offline profiles to deal with this kind of crap in the first place.
What this means is that people without Internet access (for instance, at a tournament venue with unreliable Internet access) won’t be able to use over half the characters in the game. This is just a massive deal-breaker all around, and judging by the comments on the post I linked above lots of others seem to agree. There are several legitimate use cases for needing to be offline while playing games – in fact Ars Technica covered one angle I hadn’t considered a while back with their article about deployed soldiers being unable to play their favourite games because of a constant connection requirement.
But whatever – I’m not here to pontificate about the evils of DRM, as there are plenty of places you can go to for that sort of thing. All I wanted to say is that if you were looking at buying the PC version of Arcade Edition, and this rubs you the wrong way, go leave a comment on that news post or send an email to Christian Svensson to let Capcom know how you feel about this issue.2 comments