My most played game – Overwatch. Sometimes maddening, other times hilarious, it made me think of 6v6 combat as a puzzle. What playstyle do I prefer? How can I use that to help the team and accomplish the objective? It doesn’t hurt that that characters have a lot of personality, thanks to the wide variety of emotes and voice lines.

Persona 5 – Effortlessly stylish and cool, and yet utterly WTF in the way only a Japanese role-playing video game can be, you literally live day-by-day as a maligned Japanese high school student. But at night, you become a Phantom Thief, where you enter distorted dimensions and fight warped mental perceptions in order to make reality a better place. Fight monsters, manage your time. friends, and resources, and see if you can make a difference.

Wolfenstein: The New Order would have likely been my game of the year if I hadn’t seen how many hours I put into Overwatch. Released in 2014, this installment of the Nazi-killing franchise envisions an alternate timeline where the Nazis triumph and BJ Blazkowicz must resist and survive. This game could’ve easily been an ultraviolent run and gun (and can be if you want) if not for two pleasant surprises – 1) broken stealth mechanics so if you want to be sneaky and kill someone by throwing a knife at a guy’s knee, go for it and 2) the writing which makes for some deeply intimate moments for the game’s cast of characters. The New Order does a great job making things incredibly personal for our protagonist and his friends, something that I felt was lacking in this year’s sequel The New Colossus. Add in the trauma of this past year’s politics? Violence can be cathartic. Resistance can be healing.

Seedship is an interactive fiction game written in Twine. You are a ship AI that is tasked to find humanity’s next home. It’s a simple game, challenging and fascinating. The game gave me a sense of wonder and occaisionally loneliness. It’s very much like life, I suppose. You do your best with what life has given you and hope for the best.

dumpart:

I need help! I’m planning on making a VERY story based game where the player gets to choose how it goes with many different pathways and many endings. One of the ending I’m very confident about (like I think it’s the best one) but the other ones… Not so much. My question is, how do you write a story that goes an entirely different direction? Where you have to think of all the possibilities? Thank you so much for reading this, I just need some advice

idareyoutowrite:

From what I know about most games, the endings while varied depend on only a few decisions, usually moral ones. For example, in Bioshock, here’s then an ending for good morals (saving all Little Sisters), one or two endings for grey morals (saving most or half), and an ending for bad morals (reaping all of them). That makes the alternate endings more simple as they only hinge on one or two decisions–and really only repetitions of one decision–rather than countless variables in continuity. If you wanted, though, you could of course make things more complicated.

Really, an alternate ending is like any other story. Stories are a series of choices and consequences. So, to achieve an alternate ending, you would need to write alternate stories or at least alternate timelines indicating which choices lead to which consequences. Depending on the amount of choices you want, you will have many endings or only a few. Keep in mind that each decision will lead to a whole branch of choices and each of those to an entire tree of alternate storylines. 

I haven’t done this myself but I would assume that the best way to keep track of this would be either in the form of a table or perhaps a tree diagram such as they use in statistics.

Again, I’ve never done this before myself so I admit I’m a little out of my league. 

If anyone else has anything to add, as always, feel free to comment.

I find Interactive Fiction and story-based games fascinating because the player is the main character. Therefore, what the player has in mind may not be what the author has in mind.

Here’s an example – the player-character comes across a bully and their friends demanding money from someone. 

What can the player do?

  • try to stop the bully
    • is the player able to convince the bully to stop with words?
      • what if the player fails?
    • is the player able to stop the bully with action?
      • what if the bully and their friends are stronger?
      • what if the player hits first and asks questions later?
    • what if interfering makes things worse?
    • what if the player succeeds, but the bully will come back when the protagonist isn’t around?

That’s a lot of options and possibilities, just for trying to do one thing. What if the player wants to do nothing? What if the player wants to join forces with the bully in order to try and get some of the money? What if the player wants to go get help? What if the player wants to kill everyone?

These types of questions can also be applied to non-player characters as well. What if the bully decides to double-cross the player and try to take their money as well? What if the person who owed the money never intended to pay back their debt? What if the bully really needed the money? After all these factors, how will the player-character be perceived by the story world afterwards? What would be the worst-case scenario for every choice the player-character made?

It’s very difficult to anticipate all the possibilities, because you can play “what if?” until your imagination runs out. It’s a balance between expecting and/or directing the player-protagonist’s choices. As @idareyoutowrite said, it depends on how complicated you want your game to be and what choices you want to make available to the player, the protagonist character, and everyone else in your game.

Twine is a really great tool for mapping or creating this type of story. It sort of follows the tree structure mentioned above. There are two versions, 2.0.11 (tutorial) and 1.4.2 (tutorial). Either will work and ultimately publish to an HTML file so you can play it on a web browser. I believe you can do slightly more complex things with 1.4.2 because it’s been around longer and people have coded macros for it but you should be able to do things like have stats and inventories with both. When you’re finished, you can upload the HTML file to a web server, dropbox, or philome.la. It’s not the only tool (Inform 7, StoryNexus), but it might be one of the easiest to use. 

For more examples of what Twine can do, you can check out philomela’s twitter feed, Twine’s twitter feed, the Interactive Fiction Database, or sub-Q

limnori:

Claire: a true heroine.

Thomas Was Alone is a game where you make quadrilaterals representing artificial intelligence overcome obstacles to get from here to there. The story is charming in that oh so British way but the desire to connect and to be more is immediately relatable and palpable. The soundtrack is both melancholy and hopeful and the game becomes more than the sum of its parts.

Which I think is the point.

Claire is also my favorite.

available on PS3, PC and Mac (iPad as well)

On Friday afternoon, Twitter alerted me to a video game deal in Canada where if you traded any current generation (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U) game, you could trade it in for Assassins Creed 4, Call of Duty: Ghosts, or Battlefield 4.  These three games were released earlier this month so it looked like a pretty great deal. While I would never pay full price for any of these games, I’d definitely try out Assassins Creed 4 for free.

Lesson #1:  If gamers can learn to exploit game mechanics, they can learn to exploit real life offers.

Sometimes you play a game and you find a way to level up ridiculously quickly or you find a way to easily make a lots of money. Apply this knowledge to the real world and you get some impressive Extreme Couponing thinking. According to a gaming forum and a deal forum I checked up on, people were planning on going to an EB Games to buy a game under $2, trade it in a FutureShop or Best Buy for a new game and either do the following:

  1. Sell it on Kijiji (basically Canada’s Craigslist) at full price/profit
  2. EB Games had an offer where you could upgrade any of these three games to next generation (XBox One, PS4) for $10. So you could upgrade for pretty cheap.
  3. Each PS3 game has an online code to let you upgrade to next-generation for $10 so if you didn’t get a PS4 immediately, you could ensure you’d get a digital PS4 copy of the game whenever you did decide to upgrade.
  4. Although the limit was 1 game per customer per day, people were planning on bringing their SOs or family members so they could get multiple games.
  5. FutureShop and Best Buy were also doing a trade 2 for $60 gift card deal.  These games were on the eligible trade list. So suppose you bought 6 games for $6 at EB Games. You make the trade for 6 new games. You trade 2 for $60, that’s $180 in gift card return for $6 investment.
  6. Wal-Mart apparently accepted returns without a receipt so you could theoretically return 6 games for $360.

Lesson #2: When in doubt, trust the hardcore.

Another exploit mentioned by the folks on both forums was to reserve a copy of the game you wanted on Friday. The reservation is good for 24 hours and then you do the trade when you pick it up. At the time, I could’ve made a reservation but by the time I decided to actually go through with it, Future Shop and Best Buy both disabled the option. (The deal initially came from Future Shop but since they are owned by Best Buy Canada, people assumed correctly that the offer would also be valid in Best Buy.) Most stores honored the reservation. The store I lined up at on Saturday were honoring reservations.

Lesson #3: Early is never early enough. (aka If you’re gonna go crazy, commit to it.)

While I technically live in Toronto, I actually live on the outside fringe of the city. I actually have a Future Shop about 10 – 15 minutes drive away and the nearest Best Buy is 5 minutes drive from there. On Saturday, the forums were reporting lines of 200 – 300 people in downtown Toronto where my neck of the suburbs was harder to tell.

Why? Because I decided to go 30 minutes before the store opened. It turns out the store opened early for the trade-ins and was letting small groups of people in. So while I was maybe 30th in line when I got there, I was far from first. In fact, by the time I got to the front of the line at 9:50am, all they had was Call of Duty left.

So I left and did a different gaming errand that was within viewing distance of Best Buy.  At the time, the line seemed pretty long, maybe 50 – 60 people. But when I finished my errand at 10am, the line was gone, so I thought maybe I had a chance.

I was so wrong. The line was probably at least 80 people when I joined. The guy in front of me had actually gone to the game section first, grabbed the last physical copy of the Assassins Creed 4 and then went to the back of the line so he was set. After another hour of waiting, all the PS3 versions of Assassins Creed 4 were sold out. I should’ve stayed and gotten the Xbox version then but I think I had tunnel vision but I went home.

I debated whether to go or not on Sunday. I basically left it to my subconsious. It woke me up at 7:30am. My subconscious is a jerk. Even though there was a post of people in line at 7:30am, I still dithered. The Future Shop on Sunday opened at 11am, did I really want to wait three more hours?

No. So I showed up at 9:30am again. I was maybe 50th in line. I was basically where the physical store actually ended.  Even though it was chilly and a little damp, the worst part was the wind. I was at a weird angle where the wind would just hit my part of the line really hard. When we moved up 5 feet, it was better because the building actually blocked us.

Someone from the store came by and said they only had 6 copies of PS3 Assassins Creed available. I knew my chances were pretty much toast but I figured I might as well get something since I was doing this. By the time I got to the front doors, someone from the store was counting off how many people would probably get games. It was actually a little frightening.  Even then, people weren’t leaving the line.

A different guy from the store mentioned how these lines were even crazier than Boxing Day (12/26) lines. He speculated that the reason the stores were doing this promotion was because they had ordered too many current-generation games and they weren’t selling because people were waiting for next-generation games. And these stores make way more money on the used game market anyway.

I was able to get the 2nd to last copy of Battlefield 4 for Xbox. All PS3 games were gone when I was 2nd in line.

Observational Notes:

  1. While there wasn’t as much PS3 stock available to begin with, PS3 games are on high demand to buy/trade on Kijiji.
  2. FS/BB ordered a ton of Call of Duty: Ghosts. One store apparently traded at least a thousand COD games on Saturday.
  3. You apparently can shoot down a skyscraper in Battlefield 4. Not easily, but it’s supposedly do-able.
  4. I should’ve brought an MP3 player in addition to my water bottle and book on Sunday. Since it would rain lightly and sporadically, I didn’t want to bring out my book and I waited 20 minutes before saying out loud, “OH MY GOD I AM SO BORED.” which actually led to me having a conversation with the guy in front of me. Big ups to the guy.
  5. Big ups to all FS/BB store employees. They got sprung with this late Friday afternoon and did the best they could. My local stores were organized, informative and professional. I may not have gotten what I wanted but it wasn’t a horrible, frustrating experience.
  6. The used game market is going to be flooded with these games now. Someone’s speculating AC4 is going to drop down to $20 for Christmas and $10 for Boxing Day. The trade value for these games has probably dramatically dropped as well. It’ll be interesting to see whether I can get any value for this game in the future.

‘Assassin’s Creed’ writer: 11 women who need their own games | Hero Complex – movies, comics, pop culture – Los Angeles Times

Ubisoft writer Jill Murray has a simple piece of advice for game designers who are struggling to find compelling female protagonists.
“There’s a trick to finding inspiring women,” Murray said at a game industry conference on Tuesday. “You just type anything, and then you type ‘women’ into Google. So if you want women warriors, just type ‘women warriors.’ This is a piece of cake.”
…To make her point, Murray presented 11 women — both today and through history — who, she said, should star in their own games. She did it briskly, with humor and in under 30 minutes, making sure to offer potential plot lines for each character.

TLDR:

Reminds me of: Assassins Creed 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum.  If there was a mix between Assassins Creed and Watch Dogs set in the future, this is a glimpse of what I’d hope it’d be.

Don’t play if you don’t like: Quicktime Events, lots of unskippable cutscenes, autosaves, c-c-combo fights, linear worlds, completionist collecting item tendencies, maybe getting dizzy

PROS:

This game is ridiculously pretty.  The backgrounds and especially the scenery.  The graffiti!  There was a time when I just didn’t want to play the game because I never wanted to leave a certain view of the Eiffel Tower.

The NPCs look great, Nilin looks amazing.  When it rains, you can see some hair plastered to her forehead in cutscenes.  Sometimes she brings her arms together as if trying to get warm.

Awesome music.Just freaking listen to it okay?  (YouTube playlist)  In combat, every combo hit provides a melodic complement. 

The ideas. The game is set in 2084 in Neo-Paris where buying and getting rid of memories is common.  Nilin is a Memory Hunter who has had her memories wiped and goes off to get them back.  She also has the ability to ‘remix’ memories, or affect them so a different outcome can occur.  The application of this technology to the prison population as well as its ill effects are appropriately creepy and disturbing.  As for Nilin’s ability, well…the game took me to uncomfortable places and I’m glad it did.

CONS:

Camera/perspective.  The game sometimes zooms out or zooms at a particular area when you explore.  Which is okay, but sometimes it’s a dizzying experience.  I haven’t felt this dizzy in a game since maybe Portal 2.  Also, sometimes during combat, the camera just moves around so you’re not sure who you’re hitting.

Combat. It’s simple yet not.  You unlock certain ‘pressens’ or hits.  You create combos from them that can do damage, regen health, or decrease cooldowns of your special ability.  It takes some getting used to.  The problem was that while the fighting feels similar to Batman: Arkham Asylum, 1) you don’t get a counter and 2) you don’t get an indicator as to who you’re hitting.  This is a problem with mobs, especially when you desperately need a combo.

Collecting items.  There are things you can collect to increase your health bar, your focus (for special abilities), your ability to unlock more ‘pressens’ and for more world-building.  The menu when you play the game only gives you the total.  You only find out how many of what are in each episode when you go into the main menu and ‘load an episode’ from your game.  This is ridiculously frustrating.  There are pictoral hints to some things but it’s very local and sometimes if you go too far, you’ll miss them since you can’t really backtrack.  And since it autosaves, you can’t reload a save and look around.  This is somewhat minor, but it was annoying enough.

IN THE END..

I think it’s a great debut from a first-time French developer and it’s really great we have a sci-fi nonwhite female character in a videogame that has nothing to do with the space military.  It’s not a perfect game and I don’t think it’s for everyone but I’d suggest you’d give it a try, whether you buy it at full price or wait for a price drop.