E3 Impressions: Beyond. Two Souls.

If you’ve been a fan of my blog, or followed me for any length of time, you’ll know I’m an avid fan of Quantic Dream. Their game designs are phenomenal, and they’ve managed to push the boundaries of graphics capabilities on the PS3 time and time again. If you’ve never played Heavy Rain, or if you haven’t seen that tech demo for their short film, Kara, that I covered earlier in the year – I insist you check them out. It will most definitely help you grasp why I’m on the seat of my pants for Quantic Dream’s newest IP: Beyond. 

Two Souls. One Adventure.

In the Kara demo, I described how Dream’s new graphics engine was going to expand the capabilities of what a gaming system can deliver emotionally, and this time it’s no different. Before I carry on, I would like to ask you all to please watch this trailer. I won’t say anything about it until you’re finished, because I don’t want to talk about details until you’re done. I would also definitely recommend watching it in FULL screen to get the best effect.

Now, what’s so amazing about that? Well, let me just start off by saying: ELLEN PAGE! I got goosebumps when they announced that the Inception actress was going to be playing the lead role in this new IP! Seeing that kind of star power start to come to video games is so intriguing and warranted. Let’s focus on the game though shall we? Here’s what I know:

You play the game as Jodie Holmes, brought to life by Page’s performance. According to David Cage, the game’s creative director, you follow the progression of her life and her interactions with this being. I caught a name in the trailer, so I assume this entity is named, Ivan. Now there are no details to how they are linked together, but with a game that states “Two Souls” as it’s tag line, I can only imagine the possibilities as to how these two are interconnected.

It seems to me Quantic Dream has really pushed the envelope this time around. They’re going from having one of the most unexpected successes in Heavy Rain, to now trying their hand at an action-drama. I can’t wait to see how it unfolds, but it looks like there will be tons of off-your-seat action, explosives, escaping, and that constant guise of mystery with this game as I try my hardest to figure out what’s going on in this game! It seems to me that Ivan might be some sort of poltergeist, maybe an imaginary friend come to life, I’m not sure – but I’m eager to find out!

I’ll keep you all posted as I find out more, but definitely Quantic Dream and their love-child: Beyond, is one to definitely keep watch on, and I will just for you guys. Anything new I’ll report as soon as I get word, but for now just let your mind’s be boggled and your thumbs twitch to play this, what looks like it will be, remarkable game! I’m certain that this game will probably be rated M for Mature, but that’s just my guess. The game should be out sometime in 2013 EXCLUSIVELY to the PS3.

I can’t wait for a full release date!

Game of the Week: Reprisal

Hey there folks. Now, usually, I’m all about games that catch my eye artistically. I mean, seriously, I’m devoted to companies like Double Fine and thatgamecompany and the artistic games they output. I find that games and art have this, sort of, symbiotic relationship. This being said, I’ve found that recently I’ve been enjoying a number of games that characterize how games can truly emphasize their artistic merits. I’ve traveled in a demo of  thatgamecompany’s Journey, I’ve been marveling longingly at video for The Unfinished Swan, and I’ve even been playing a lovely retro-art game called Reprisal by Electrolyte Games founder and designer, Jon Caplin.

Retro Revolutions – ahh how I love them!

This game transports me back to the days of my Gameboy Color, with it’s tightly interwoven text-based storyline, it’s hauntingly beautiful chip-tune soundtrack, and it’s pixelated, vibrant art style. This game all but had me at, “Hello.”  So, without further ado, let’s dive in to Reprisal.

Conquer your foes! – with pixelated toes!

As if it were something out of Avatar, you play as the leader of a nation trying to acquire both land and elemental powers back from warring tribes. There are 4 nations and 30 levels within the game. While some of the beginning levels are quite easy, as you advance in skill gaining more and more new powers, the game gets more complicated and intriguing. The game has heavy elements of strategy and coordination and will definitely keep a player guessing as to how to defeat and conquer islands. It definitely reminds me of a throwback of the old game Populous. If you haven’t ever played that game, then this game will definitely give you a reason to go check out a vintage classic.

I set FIRE – TO THE PLAINS! Watch them BURN as I STEAL YOUR BASE!

Now, how about those accessible features? Well I’ll spare you a dissertation and open up!

Pros:

  • All game instructions are done via text-based format. Perfect for deaf players.
  • Controls extremely simple. WASD/Arrow Keys can be used to view map.
  • Single button input controls for game make it easy on motion impaired
  • Chiptune music is amazingly relaxing and a welcome from the retro classics.
  • Color scheme is vibrant and characters, although pixelated, are easy to identify.
  • Game maps aren’t severely large so it makes for easy navigation.
  • HUD display provides easy access for all spells, advice, etc.

Cons:

  • Chip-tune soundtrack can tend to get repetitive, but is easily muted.
  • Colorblind gamers may have an issue with some levels due to similar color tones.
    • i.e. Green tribe on ‘forest’ land, Blue tribe on ‘ice’ land, etc.
  • Game has to be saved in order to play, so it requires a use of a Kongregate account.
  • Game gives no hints/instructions on how to defeat enemies if you get stuck.
  • Game AI can quickly overwhelm you if you don’t strategize properly.

Overall the game not only gives a lovely artistic twinge to the start of my day, but it keeps my brain working like crazy to try and determine how to defeat these pixelated powerhouses. The game lacks a bit in defining it’s storyline, but it definitely imposes a great strategy game within a very simple beginning narrative. It always makes me smile when designers can put together something so simple and make something so special!

So quickly, grab your keyboard, grab your mouse, become a leader and command your tribe! Take over the many islands of Electrolyte Games whimsical strategy game and, as they say, take back your history!

Play Reprisal for FREE on Kongregate today and share the love of pixel battles! – OR if you choose to forgo the Kongregate account you can play it directly from Caplin’s direct site dedicated to the game:

Reprisal

Pixel style!

Thanks goes to Mr. Caplin for sharing this lovely morsel of pixel goodness with the world!

Game of the Week: Teddy’s Excellent Adventure

Have any of you ever lost a toy as a child before?

Have you ever wondered if they’d ever try and find you?

Well I found a lovely, simple, little game that was designed by PlayKidsGames. The artist Jimp and code by Gazsmith Games collaborated together to create this lovely, charming, little platformer that I simply feel that I have to share with folks. I was immediately drawn to it due to the art style, but more than that it’s the story and childlike characteristics of this game that make me just smile when I clicked on it. Join me as we go on an adventure with a teddy in his search for his owner with, Teddy’s Excellent Adventure!

Cute + Platformer = Teddy

I swear when I saw the title I was immediately drawn to my childhood memories of Winnie The Pooh and Christopher Robin, but while the game doesn’t have Disney-esque artwork it’s simple whimsy are what will grab you. It’s a combination platform/point-and-click adventure. The mechanics are very simple and it makes the game simple and light for all ages to enjoy. You can use either the Arrow or WASD keys for movement, and a simple click of the mouse controls interaction with objects within the game.

‘Oh I love honey and I’m a pooh-bear, so I do care, and so I climb there!”

Now, here’s a quick breakdown of the accessibility of Teddy’s Excellent Adventure:

Pros:

  • WASD and Arrow Keys are a benefit for giving users a choice of control
  • Relaxed gameplay, that gradually amps up in intensity, is a nice touch.
  • Simple puzzles and platforming provide exhilarating gameplay as puzzles get tough.
  • Art style is warm, inviting, and seems to be easy on the eyes. Good for colorblind.
  • All words/tutorials are text based. Great for deaf gamers.
  • Music changes from moment to moment depending on puzzle/area.
  • If you fail, game allows you to start from start of newest stage.

Cons:

  • Platforming, while simple, can become a bit of an issue for motion impaired in later sections of the game. Doesn’t ruin game, just will make game more challenging.
  • Some sections have very similar color schemes and may make differentiating objects a bit hard for colorblind gamers later in the game.
  • Music can be a bit loud, but can be muted, so that helps.
  • No sound cues/audio other than music makes game extremely difficult for blind.

Other than that, this game is full of fuzzy, cuddly, adventurous fluff and should definitely be looked at. It may be simple, but isn’t that something that we all sort of secretly desire? Simple games that we can enjoy and experience in short amounts of time? The game has this lush draw of trying to get to the end. You want to so desperately get your teddy back to his owner and it drives you to continue working towards accomplishing goals. So – you can gladly check out Teddy’s Excellent Adventure on Kongregate now! – and while we’re at it I’ll also promote the promoter of this game: PlayKidsGames.

If you’re looking for a great little site full of educational/kid friendly games PlayKidsGames is a in-depth site with a large library of educational flash games that can be shared with kids.So – go platform the stuff and fluff out of this game! I’m sure this game would make Winnie blush with happiness. In fact, I’m pretty sure, he’d be busting with happiness:

Take care folks and enjoy your gaming – one input at a time!

Game of the Week: Rock of Ages

Well, for those who don’t know much about me, you can probably tell by the games I represent on a weekly basis that I love the quirky, the weird, the odd-ball wall flower that’s gathering dust in the corner of your high school gym locker – so you won’t be surprised to learn that I’m a massive Monty Python fan. Give me Terry Gilliam and John Cleese and I will probably love that movie/show. Now why do I say this, well, I stumbled upon a game today that harkens me back to my youth watching The Holy Grail and The Meaning of Life, and it’s name is:

Rock of Ages by Atlus Games

Now what exactly is Rock of Ages? Well, let’s see – take a game like Katamari – throw in some tower defense style gameplay, and then lay on top of it the quirky animation styles and rambunctious humor akin to something you’d see out of a Monty Python animation and you’d have Rock of Ages. It’s a time-traveling, boulder smashing, tower defense game with style – and lots of it!

The object is that every level – you have an opponent, and you are to roll your ball down to the opponents gate as fast as you can in attempt to break it. The opponents job is to try and stop you by placing up barracks, explosives, soldiers, catapults, and even cows within your path to slow your momentum. You alternate turns rolling toward each others gate, and the first person to break through the door and roll over their opponent wins. If that doesn’t sound interesting and fun, well then you sir [ or madame ] have very little humor in your life and I shall dub thee a ninny!

For those about to ROCK – We will CRUSH you!

Rock of Ages takes you on a pseudo-historical lesson while you smash into the masses, but what’s great about Rock of Ages is that it’s highly accessible to multiple players. There are a lot of aspects that they got right during the development that pose a strong case towards an accessible game.

Here’s how the accessibility breaks down:

Pros:

  • All cinematics are pantomime w/ minor voice mumbles, and if characters do speak it’s in text format – plus all rules and tutorials are given in text format. Perfect for deaf gamers.
  • Simple controls make the game easy to pick up and control.
  • Tutorials are simple and informative.
  • Visual symbolism is heavy in this game making it easier for deaf gamers.
  • Colorblind gamers shouldn’t have a problem with this game. All color tones seem to balance.
  • Options of movement inversion, and a Southpaw setting for left-handed.
  • Tower-defense setup isn’t timed and so you can take as much time as you need to prepare your battlefield. A definite plus for motion-impaired gamers.
  • HUD displays are easy to see and understand how to use.
  • If you fall off the track, an auto return action occurs placing your boulder in play.

Welcome TO THE JUNGLE! We got LOTS OF PAIN!

Cons:

  • Motion-impaired gamers may have some issues steering via console – sticks tend to be a bit less sensitive – often causing boulder to fall during harsh turns in track.
  • No option for stick sensitivity changes on console ports [ unsure of Steam version ]
  • Text can be a tad small and unreadable in some cases for vision impaired gamers.
  • Tower defense setup requires use of multiple buttons across controller, so it makes setup much harder for one-handed or motion impaired.
  • Boulder is able to begin travel before your setup phase ends – so if you take longer than comp. opponent it can cause issues for your overall game.

One Boulder to Rule Them All! History has met it’s match…

Overall though this is a quirky, out of the box, little gem of a game and I think anyone who loves history, Monty Python style animation, and just flat out loves to smash things – should definitely check out this wonderfully odd-ball smashing tower-defense game. You can pick it up on PSN, XBLA, and Steam if you’re a PSN Plus member you can get Rock of Ages for FREE, but otherwise, I believe it’s 800 Microsoft Points for XBLA, and on Steam for $ 10. I can’t imagine that the PSN purchase price would be any more than that either – so GO FORTH my MINIONS!

Wreck your ball into the chronicles of history to be forever enshrined with the happiness that is Rock of Ages!

 

Game of the Week: Awesomenauts

How to premise this next game in as few words as possible, while still delivering what it’s all about?

Well how about this – take the over-the-top quirkiness of classic late-80’s and 90’s cartoons, toss in some violence, some online gameplay and throw it all together into one of the most odd, unique, and action-packed tower defense games I’ve ever laid eyes on – and you’d roll yourself a spacecraft full of Awesomenauts designed by Ronimo Games. [ – even the name sounds like it was pulled from an ’80’s cartoon! ]

The game is played online with others [so it’s unfortunate for those lacking constant internet access] and you get [ currently 6 ] characters to choose from as your character. Essentially the premise is that with every level you have an array of turrets assigned to your team [ usually 3 + ] They are color coded Red or Blue accordingly. Your goal, if you choose to accept it: Destroy all of your opposing teams turrets and power base before they destroy yours – while simultaneously defending your own base from opposing online players, grabbing upgrades for yourself, etc. Sound ‘Awesome’ enough yet to give this game a look?

I pity the fool who messes with the Awesomenauts!

The game is a 2D side-scroller and it’s so action packed and fast-paced that I swear it becomes addictive after the first few matches. Mix all of this with interesting and quirky characters, a dynamite soundtrack, and memorable one-liner quips as you thwart off enemies and you’re in for a blast with Awesomenauts. Picture the A Team – but in space.

Well, now that I’ve gushed over the gameplay enough let’s talk about the accessibility of the game hmm?

Pros:

  • All cutscenes between matches have subtitled dialogue, perfect for deaf players.
  • Controls require a lot of buttons, but they are simple to navigate – so that’s a plus.
  • Fast-paced action and gameplay makes for an intriguing memorable experience.
  • Mini-map in corner to visually show off where turrets are being attacked.
  • Simple, well defined upgrade system for characters during gameplay.
  • Large print text during gameplay perfect for vision-impaired gamers.
  • Game is available in multiple languages:
    •  English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, and Dutch 
  • 3 player local co-op vs. online opponents makes game much more fun.

We’re like the Three Musketeers, or the Three Amigos – of AWESOME!

Cons:

  • Game requires use of two-hands. One-handed gameplay possible, but much harder.
  • Game requires precision and quick reflexes. The fast-paced gameplay lends to speed.
  • Color scheme may be very harsh for colorblind gamers at some points in the game.
  • No customizable settings on control scheme. It’s a set scheme, no option for change.
  • Game requires an internet connection to play – you can play offline practice via bots – but the fun is truly in online opponents.
  • Flashy animations may be harsh on epileptic patients.

Live to WIN! Take it ALL! Keep on FIGHTING TILL YOU FALL!

Overall the game was an addictive experience from the first turret kill. I’ve only had the privilege of playing as Leon or Lonestar, but the other characters seem to be really unique and interesting as well, and it seems as though Ronimo Games is going to be making more available soon… more Awesome? Yes please!

So thank you Ronimo Games – you’ve provided me with yet another tower-defense game that will probably consume a vast majority of my time again! Awesome game deserves some awesome praise! Congrats guys on a great game and I hope to see more from this studio. Please consider a possible patch to add customizable control schemes to the board – overall that’s the one thing that I felt hindered this game the most for me.

So go forth my minions! – be Awesome, and you too can save the galaxy from your friends in Awesomenauts which is available for XBox 360 and PS3 via the XBLA or PSN for 800 Microsoft points – which I believe equates to like $8 via PSN.

Now GO! FIGHT! WIN!

Game of the Week: Skull Girls

Today I couldn’t seem to find any Inspirational Gamer of the Week news – but I did find a game worthy of some definite accessibility praise this week, and so I felt like sharing with you all. Today we’re going to be talking fighting games [ yes, I know the dreaded fighting game – so much button mashing and quick reflexes required!] This is true, but there’s far more in the newest indie title Skull Girls by Autumn Games and Reverge Labs. Now – let’s get ready to RUMBLE!

Now when you hop right into the game the color schemes are vivid, quirky, and down right cartoony – but that’s the feeling that the game goes for – and it works to it’s advantage. There are some levels that are darker in tone – but overall the game is a visual overdose, just like it’s male counterpart fighters. The uniqueness comes in the visual hand-drawn animation styles that the game uses.

It reminded me of some quirky, wacked out, 1950’s/80’s cartoons, and it definitely added to the ambiance of the gameplay. You get to play as any of 9 possible characters [ at least from what I saw in the demo – there could possibly be more to unlock via full version ] The controls, while robust, were pretty easy to grasp – and having a solid tutorial system was a definite bonus into easing my way in.

Now onto the ACCESSIBILITY – AWWWAY!

Pros:

  • Fully customizable control scheme!! Yes – you heard that right. You have a button configuration set up in the Options menu. A FIGHTING game with BUTTON REMAPPING? GENIUS! Only one button can be attached for one input, but it’s awesome to see developers put accessible functions like this in!
  • Colors are vivid, bright, and easy to keep track of. Hand-drawn animation lends itself to looking like what would happen if Disney ever designed a hardcore fighter. Despite some moments via combo maneuvers – colorblind gamers should have little problem with this game.
  • Tutorials are all text-based, and while there is a Story mode [ which I didn’t get to check out ] most all important dialogue was text-based, so not sure if that’ll change via Story Mode, but for now, rest assured that some form of text-based subtitles will be present for deaf gamers.
  • Easy to use, understand, and navigate tutorial system that amps up your progression slowly, to ease you into performing more difficult combos and maneuvers. A plus.
  • Customizable Assists function for when playing tag-battles. Program your moves the same way an arcade fight stick would!
  • Multiple difficulty settings [ Sleeper, Easy, Normal, Hard ] make for more accessible gameplay.

Cons:

  • Button mashing/fast-paced gameplay can make the game difficult for motion impaired gamers [ not impossible, but just more difficult than normal
  • High intense graphics during combos, etc. could lend itself to seizures for epileptics. The graphics aren’t as intense as say, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, so if you can handle that game you should be able to handle this one. Just a fair warning though. 
  • Control scheme can be difficult to master, I honestly felt like I was button mashing to figure out combos a lot of times – but a suggestion to beat that: play through tutorials first, customize your button inputs, and then go to town!

Another One Bites the Dust! Another One Bites The Dust!

Overall, the game is delightful. The controls are smooth and fluid, despite having a bit of a learning curve to them, and while I haven’t invested myself into the Story mode yet, I’m pretty certain [ considering the cast of female characters you get to choose from ] that the Story mode will be a very – odd/different – experience than any sort of fighting game experience I’ve had previously. Now I hate saying if a game is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – for one, it’s not for me to judge, and two – I’m a designer. I look at the game not for it’s wrappings, but for the mechanics that make it more accessible and entertaining and why they make it entertaining to the user.

Bombs Away!

Skull Girls is a definitely user friendly piece and should be ventured and looked at by all. If you want a fighter where you can really let your hair down and brawl to the wall – this little indie nugget may just be your ticket to a new found freedom of control! Take care folks and happy gaming! Props to Autumn Games and Reverge Labs – for seeing a need in the accessibility of fighting games and filling that need with Skull Girls. Your design decisions are very much appreciated!

Game of the Week: Dragon’s Dogma

Well, you’ve done it. You’ve outsmarted the likes of the Qunari, saved Kirkwall and have become the Viscount to end all Viscounts – callo-calla-what fraptious day! – but wait, you’ve grown bored with not having dragons to slay you say? Need something to fulfill your dragon slaying fixes till the time comes when Bioware will pull back the lids on Dragon Age III? – well your quest is over dear mortals! There is potential in one little gaming hatchling on the horizon, and it’s name is Dragon’s Dogma.

Dragon’s Dogma is an RPG game produced by CAPCOM. Yep. The makers of some of the most prolific FIGHTING games have taken to the RPG arena – with this new IP title, and you know what? – it looks promising. There’s clearly a lot of aspects that I’m going to discuss here, but what you should know is that I’ve only played the demo for the time being. A demo does not a great first impression always make, therefore, keep an open mind and a reptilian, cold-blooded, open heart as I guide you through what may very well be your next gaming addiction.

Now the Dragon’s Dogma demo didn’t give any hints to the campaign. I didn’t feel like I learned anything about story or anything – but I did find on their website a sort of explanation for why your created hero embarks out into this dragon and creature infested world. It’s a little digital action comic and it clarifies a lot of the questions that I had while playing the demo:

Apparently you play as your created character who is a soul villager who stands up to this fierce dragon in a village called Cassardis. You stand up to him and the dragon, pretty much, calls you out. He steals your heart and goats you into finding him later in the game. You later awake somewhere safe, your scar from the dragon’s talon healed – you have become what’s dubbed as an “Arisen” and you must go forth and try to the dragon and seek vengeance upon it. Does that premise sound appealing to you? It did to me too, and this is what happened.

Here’s where things get juicy – the accessibility portion of our show – right?

Now I saw a lot of grand things, and I saw a lot of tweaks that may need to be looked at before final release, but alas, here goes – because I truly enjoyed my experience with this demo and I feel it needs to be shared:

Pros:

  • Text-based instruction perfect for deaf gamers. Most instructions are text based or visually noted, so helps deaf gamers with learning controls, etc. 
  • Character customization is robust and easy to use. Sliders for most changes, or just click on a predetermined face/body part/etc. makes for quick and simple customization.
  • Party AI is actually really helpful. If you feel stuck they’ll direct you, pin enemies, etc.
  • Lots of HUD displays [ Map, move notation on-screen buttons, etc. ] is a plus.
  • Multiple classes lends itself to allowing a player to pick what control scheme may fit him/her best. If you feel like ranged combat would be more suitable so you don’t have to be in the immediate party attack radius you can choose to be an archer.
  • Colors are nice and vivid, which will help for colorblind gamers – no harsh tones.

Cons:

  • Text is small and difficult to read for vision impaired players. Can also make it hard for deaf players to see instructions, etc.
  • Physically impaired gamers will have a heart attack via the control scheme. 16+ inputs, and while there are at least 6 custom settings for button placement – you have to use L1 and R1 for attacks and defense respectfully and L2 and R2 for grappling an enemy, and or using special abilities. Highly complex controls, easy to get to know, hard to actually pull off.
  • Camera angles. Fast paced gameplay lends itself to losing sight of enemies and party fast if you don’t keep your camera steady.
  • Inventory system, while aware of it, is almost unnoticeable via gameplay. No HUD for it on screen makes for a hassle via combat sequences for the impaired.

This is only what I’ve witnessed so far, but Capcom has done a rather decent job at this game. Yes, there’s quite a lot of issues with it as far as accessibility, but they’re designing the game for console players. It’s only scheduled to be available for 360 and PS3 – and so like I’m used to seeing – the accessibility goes down via console play. I’m hoping at some point they’ll release a PC version that’ll allow more players to play it. I’m hoping for a lower screen inventory bar, a party customizer setting, some customizable control settings – shoot anything to give this game a bit of an edge accessibility wise.

Lions… and Goats?… and Snakes?! OH MY!

I truly am intrigued by this story, and I’d love to see this game do well. I personally will probably be picking this game up when it comes out May 22nd. The game is unique in many ways, because it employs the use of party mechanics – so if you’re more of an RTS player you could effectively play as an overseeing-healer while your party battled enemies. I also found it amazingly intriguing with the grapple mechanics. You can ride creatures and stab them – how cool is that? The game is open world with side quests, main quests, and a slew of high energy battles.

You can check out Dragon’s Dogma right now on XBox and PS3 – and get ready to hunt some dragon May 22nd. Here’s looking at you Capcom – time to see what your RPG can do! I’ll most likely post a full review whenever I get a chance to get my hands on this nugget!

Happy gaming folks!

Development: “Project D” is a Must See…

Now, quick, here’s my 50th post – and in honor of my newest blogging achievement – I felt like we should go a little retro. I love retro games – the old NES, the SNES, the Sega Genesis, etc. They’re the type of systems and games that drove me into my love of video games. I recently saw a video series that I felt spoke volumes to my retro heart:

Project D

Project D is a heartwarming, nostalgic, and educational view on how children view current video games vs. retro games. The series podcast is the chronicle of a young boy, Dylan [ 11 ] who gets introduced to a series of retro games to see what his opinion and interaction will be with them. If you haven’t seen it yet, I’d seriously recommend seeing it. The video will help give developers a glimpse into the mind of a child, the entertainment value of vintage vs. modern gaming. The old debate of graphics vs. gameplay – all of these topics are discussed in the series, and you’ll definitely get a heartwarming nostalgic feeling with some of the old school games they detail:

  • Contra
  • Battletoads
  • Megaman 2
  • Punch Out
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

I’ll make it easy for everyone to access by posting them here, but check them out and let me know how you feel.

Here’s the Question of the Day based on Project D:

Do you feel like aspects like: graphics, movement, player interactivity, etc. affect the appeal of a game? – does a game have to have superb graphics, amazing sound, etc. to be entertaining to players?

Let me know how you feel and let’s start the discussion!

 

I personally know, that whenever I have children, I’m going to be doing this with my kids. You can only learn how to build games and admire games by respecting, playing, and studying the vintage retro moments from our youth.

I think this sort of project is definitely a wonderful solution if you want to give children a real view of appreciation for how far games have come for them. Take care folks – and enjoy this lovely project! I hope more and more families actually try this out – it might actually make games and family interaction grow!

Development: Understanding Games

You know there are often times when I have to sit back and reflect on my college education. I feel like sometimes the general consensus is that game design is an easy field of study and that it’s all about fun and games – well, I can tell you from personal experience – it’s not. It’s a frustrating, difficult, yet rewarding experience. You may be designing something that’s intended to be a fun experience had by all, but it requires dedication, determination, and trial and error fixes to make a masterpiece.

Now why am I talking about this today? Well, I’ll let you in on some of my studies.

Understanding games since 2007!

I’ve recently started one of my first game design courses – and as a part of our study – we were asked to view a set of games [ or more like tutorials ] on understanding how video games work. These “games” were designed by developer, Andreas Zecher. They’re pixelated doses of joy and educational for anyone who wants to get to know some of the basics on what make games interactive and enjoyable to any player.

We’re pixelated practitioners of punctual programming!

Now here are some minor accessibility notes on these light little interactive tutorials:

  • Multiple languages – English and German for most [ Dutch added for Ep. 1 ]
  • All info is text driven – so deaf viewers will be fine.
  • Most games represented are easily playable via mouse or arrow keys.
  • Some portions may cause issues for color blind gamers.
  • Text is small, which could make it difficult for vision impaired gamers.

Otherwise, these tutorials are definitely a memorable little piece of pixelated education that should be enjoyed and shared. Whether you’re an artist, designer, programmer, music artist, etc. I think these games definitely help share how interactivity and making your medium a fun experience can go a long way into making something worthwhile. You can play/view all 4 episodes of Understanding Games here. Have fun, learn a little something, and enjoy the ride my fellow developer/gamers!

Understanding Games: Episode 1

Understanding Games: Episode 2

Understanding Games: Episode 3

Understanding Games: Episode 4

Game of the Week: Swindler

What do you get when you combine a ball of ooze with looting, puzzles, and retro style appeal? – You get one of my new-found gems on the inter-webs called Swindler by Nitrome Games. Now Nitrome Games has a slew of other titles to explore, but today I wanted to exclusively focus on Swindler – but I plan on doing a Developer of the Week post for Nitrome so stay tuned in for that one if you want to see more of their games in detail!

GLOOP! GLOP! THIS IS A SLIME UP!

Now, why Swindler – what makes this title worthy of checking out? Well, first off I was immensely drawn to it by the design decision to go with a retro fit and art style. The NES/SNES and arcade style gameplay really lend to the charm of this game – as well as the accessibility of the game. The music is nice and ominous, and while it can be a repetitive track the sound definitely makes this game something special – when you hear your little slime spy splat from messing up a move it truly is a gaming joy. Now – onto the accessibility!

Dum dum dum – Ba-na-na! Dum dum dum – ba-na-na- ba- na- na -NA-NA!

Swindler is comprised of a story about a little ooze blob who’s soul mission is to steal these gold chests from the depths of every one of these puzzle levels. There’s 25 levels while the game may look and control very simply – the game is actually a cognitive problem solving tester. Swindler starts you off slow, letting you get used to the wrapping and movement physics of the little bungie blob – but once you’ve solved a puzzle or two – the game’s difficulty shifts.

S0 – what’s the story here?

Don’t be fooled into thinking a game is easy to play or solve just by mechanics alone. The graphics are simple and lovable – the adorable explosions that your little Swindler goes through as he fails to traverse the level is definitely memorable – but overall this game will definitely have you spending time and brain power on these twisting flipping puzzles.

The levels are pretty small in design, but they’re definitely hard – and I think that’s refreshing. The controls break down to simple use of the arrow keys and the occasional use of the spacebar. There is a sadness that comes along with not being able to switch to a ‘wasd’ setting – but otherwise the game plays very simple and lean with plenty of challenge to outwit your poor little blob. Avoid monsters, maneuver your way around traps and steal all the loots till your hearts content – in this lovely little Swindler that will steal your heart!

Pros:

  • Simple gameplay w/ few controls excellent for motion impaired gamers.
  • Audio not required to play the game and all instructions picture/written.
  • Colors are bright and vivid and easy to see for vision impaired gamers.
  • Engaging gameplay and 25 levels gives a lot of time to play around with Swindler.
  • Level saves after every victory, so if you have to leave, start from last save point.

Cons:

  • No opportunity to switch controls to WASD for left-handed gamers.
  • Colorblind gamers may have a bit of trouble w/ the vivid contrast color scheme.
  • Slightly repetitive soundtrack can become a bit old – but can be muted anytime.
  • Precision actions can become problematic for one-handed/motion impaired later.
  • Difficult puzzle solving can make game tough/problematic for cognitive impaired.

Swindler is definitely one of the very MANY successes in the Nitrome library of games. I’ll be giving more detail on these guys later – but I would definitely check out Swindler if you’re looking for a rewarding little retro puzzler game that has an infectious little green blob of a thief that steals his way into your heart. You can play Swindler now on Kongregate for FREE!

Take a peak – spread the word – and share in this joyful little retro gem before it steals away into the vaults of anonymity.