More Gamescape Notes

I didn’t get to all the games at Gamescape, but here are the ones I hit today. There’s another post with several from yesterday.

  • - Combat Core - A 3D arena fighter with lots of junk (weapons, powerups) to pick up in the environment. Developer Micah Betts explained to me how the block degrades so you can’t just spam it, and you fill up your special meter by hitting folks and picking up the jewels they drop. Think of it like coin mode in SSB, but if coins powered up special attacks. He said Power Stone was a big inspiration, and he sought to fill the void that it left (haven’t had a game like it in 10 years, I think he said). Thinking back to Ben Ruiz, I remarked that it looked like it worked well just as a button masher, and he said that was definitely one style of play he had accounted for. He was looking more for something fun than something technical, and to that end, he cited the fact that there are only two attack buttons and no super special inputs.
  • - Null X Void - A 1D fighter. My first thought was to compare it to Divekick, which I reluctantly admitted to David Kim. He said that Divekick had indeed served as inspiration. It doesn’t play like Divekick, though; you just want to push the other player to the edge of the playfield. If you directly push against the player, though, you swap places with them, so instead, you want to time your charge move just right in order to push your opponent—it requires some finesse. I asked him what kind of variation he had been looking to implement, and he mentioned mulling over powerups and different player abilities.
  • - Flutter Bombs - An air combat game where you play as a butterfly. You get straight shots and bombs. Controls work like a third person shooter, only holding the right trigger moves you up (releasing lets you fall). I should’ve asked Hadar Silverman if he had played any Descent. Instead, I asked about Kolibri, which he said he hadn’t heard before—except that someone brought it up just before I had. He suggested a few potential mission structures, from surviving waves of enemies to guiding a flight path over treacherous waters. None of the enemies were finished.
  • Philosoplay.comThat Rock Paper Scissors Game - A multiplayer game for three: one person controllling a paper airplane, one person controlling a rock, and one person controlling a pair of scissors. It’s your job to collide into the player that’s weak to you and avoid the player that’s strong against you. Tony Powell was like super energetic and mentioned that the game had been stripped down somewhat just so it was easy to demo, but the real version will have special attacks to differentiate each combatant.
  • Stumblesoft.comBattle Recruits - I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this, but Dave Gibbons gave me a real simple way in: it’s Snake, only your tail extensions are folks that you recruit. I only played the first level, which just had a tower to attack, and I didn’t ask what enemies would be like. Anyway, Dave mentioned that the levels took on a twisty turny structure, and it was your job to navigate carefully around your tail to avoid hitting it (if you hit your tail, your troops scatter). You want to gather troops so you can send them off to attack for you.
  • Lindsay GraceBlack Like Me - A puzzle game where you have to match the color given. The choices get dimmer and dimmer over time, making it harder to match. I asked Lindsay Grace how you go about balancing something like that, and he said it took a lot of testing. He also mentioned it was in the app store, so he had real data of folks playing to readjust how hard stuff was.
Attempting to rigorously define interactivity is about as joyous as rigorously defining the word game into your preferred pigeon hole. You might see healthy debate in this conversation. I see a black hole event horizon through which my will to live is disappearing.

Joel Goodwin (via notgames)

Here, the author imparts what it takes to enjoy “secret box” style games (derogatorily called “walking simulators”). My taste differs (both in subject matter of criticism and genre of game), but I find this very useful for understanding his taste. I’ll be returning to this in a few days and rereading it.

This show featured the basketball team Harlem Globetrotters as undercover superheroes, who would transform from their regular forms by entering magic portable lockers. Each member of the group had individual super powers and overall, all members of the group could fly.

The Globetrotters received their missions from a basketball-styled talking satellite called the Crime Globe. Most episodes culminated in the Super Globetrotters challenging the villain and his henchmen to a basketball game for whatever treasure or device they sought. The civilian Globetrotters were always bested by the villains’ super-powers in the first half, but they would use their own super-powers in the second half (often at the admonition of the Crime Globe) to save the day.

Gamescape notes

Not gonna write down too much, since I didn’t learn all that much, but here’s the basics.

  • - Dead Man’s Trail - Overhead shooter with procedurally generated maps (each individual map segment is hard designed, but how rooms link together is random—think Binding of Isaac). You want to find stuff in town and get back to your starting point. Finding a gun and using it to hold off zombies helps.
  • (on Tumblr)- SuperTrip and UDLR:SWIPE - SuperTrip is an AR game about using your GPS to find places in real life. Like a scavenger hunt provided by your phone. UDLR:SWIPE is a puzzle game that involves swiping and colors. Didn’t get a real great sense of this (I didn’t sit down to play it). Here’s a video.
  • - Elite Force - Horde mode but with customizable upgradeable weapon sets to cater to your playstyle. FIrst person shooter. If I knew like anything about FPS games or horde mode in general I could probably say something else.
  • - Echoes of Eridu - The guy demoing this game emphasized a heavy influence from Mega Man X, which was apparent in the shooting, dashing, and platforming style. The dash works like it does in MMX, as does the wall jump. The game tries to balance challenges to work on two different axes: platforming vs. combat and long-range weapons vs. short-range weapons. I think I remember the guy making a comment that at one point in design, the platforming challenges weren’t beefy enough, so they had to redo some stuff. Also said they tried to balance the number of unique enemies with the number of unique platform types.
  • - This was just a postcard floating around. Not sure what to make of it, although maintaining an open mind can be difficult. Games associated with it at the show were You and Black Like Me, neither of which I spent time with today.
I also started getting moleskins and taking notes on my writing and it's helped me appreciate reading more so in a way I'm following your advice I guess.

High five. 8) Although, I prefer the good ol’ marble notebook.



How and Why to Dive Deep
I was discussing a video game essay with a friend last night. It seemed impossible to get anything informative or meaningful out of the essay itself, and so I asked, why bother? Couldn’t you just conclude pretty early that this wasn’t worth looking at?
Below are my notes from the conversation that followed.
-Respect is key.
  • It makes you a nicer person, but that’s beside the point—you really just want to get better at analysis. This is about increasing your understanding of the subject matter, and in general, sharpening your ability to chop up and digest information critically.
  • To that end, each subsequent point in this list is just an elaboration on the sentence, “respect is key.”
-Take each paragraph on its own, understanding it point by point. Keep notes of your thoughts.
  • "Notes" can mean a lot of things. Whatever works for you is best, but it can help to look at Shane Parrish on how to read.
  • You want to be able to zoom in to understand one point, zoom out to understand a collection of points, or zoom over from one point to another and understand the relation.
-This is a worthwhile endeavor no matter the material.
  • Use it on GameFAQs reviews, I don’t care. If it gets pedantic, that’s okay; you won’t know until you look closely.
  • Some pieces will call for more analysis and understanding than others. You can stop zooming in when it does get pedantic. (Which isn’t to say you can just skip parts of whatever you’re reading, alright? This just means you can only dive so deep on certain statements. Learn when to move onto the next statement.)
-This is a matter of communication. You don’t want to talk past someone, you want to engage them. The best way to understand where someone is coming from is to listen closely.
-This really doesn’t take that long.

Currently deciding on what genre to tackle in August! Once we choose a genre, we’re gonna vote on a game from that genre and spend August playing through it together.

This guy is cool. He runs cool discussions on games. Check out the link!!

He says:

We don’t talk about story, or graphics, or triple AAAnything very much. We’re focused on and fascinated by interactivity, systems, rules, and the meaning that can be conveyed through gameplay