Monday, September 24, 2007


There's an interesting update on Make It Big In Games right now, about focussing your game's design. That's all really, I don't have any new content to post so I may as well pimp someone else's good stuff.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What did Halo ever do for us?

A subject that seems to come up fairly often (and you'll no doubt see a lot more frequently in a week's time when people rush to be the first and hippest dissenting voice on the internet) in game discussions is "why on earth does everyone think Halo is so good?"

It's usually followed by a list of things that the poster doesn't like about the Halo games, and often surmises that people like them because they're told to, and their feeble sheeple minds can't possibly do anything but play along.

Now, I'm no huge fan of Halo. The level design of both games was fairly shocking in single player, they shoot their load early making them a bit of a grind for the 2nd half, and the online community can at best be described as "retarded".

But I think people downplay (intentionally or otherwise) what they did that made them stand out from most other FPS games (even revered titles like Half-Life 2 don't do anything differently to Doom in the basic mechanics). And while I'm not saying the Halos were the first games to implement these things, I think they probably had a massive influence in them finding their way into a huge number of FPS games since (possibly even to the point of being the accepted way of doing things now)...

  • The regenerating health or shield that allows you to completely recover if you avoid being shot for a bit. Which results in having no health kits and allows slightly more risk-taking on the part of the player.

  • Only being able to carry a very limited set of weapons, forcing players to think a little more about what they want or need to use, instead of just stockpiling a huge personal arsenal in their back pockets.

  • Off-hand grenade throwing, so that you can use them in the heat of combat instead of having to switch to your grenade weapon, throw, then switch back to your gun.
And though it doesn't seem to have caught on in the world of shooters-with-vehicles, personally I much prefer the "point in the direction you want to go and then press forwards, and the game will work out the rest" way of driving as opposed to just rigidly aping how a vehicle drives.

God, I sound like a Halo fanboy now. Eurgh.

Monday, September 17, 2007

You know you're a loser when... get the "Centurion" achievement in Soltrio Solitaire.

In other Soltrio Solitaire news, I've stopped buying the extra game packs. Although that's only because my addiction has focused itself on 3 deck Easthaven in voyage mode (which I am officially the 5th best player in the world at, something I'm not sure if I should be happy or sad about).

And now I've added "Soltrio" to Google toolbar's custom dictionary.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Good idea - The Godfather's assassination missions

The Godfather game got a fair amount of flak, and it's easy to see why. Film license games never get an easy ride of it, but when you're doing a game of what's widely considered one of the best movies of all time you'd better hope you really ace it. And Godfather didn't.

That's not to say it's a terrible game, while there's plenty that could be improved upon, there are a lot of things it does very well.

One of them is the assassination side missions. Upon meeting with various made men you're instructed to whack a range of targets. Each has a little scenario set out with it, and each also offers a bonus objective.

Completing the bonus gives you much more respect and money, but they add a lot to the challenge. In a sandbox game you can usually kill anyone quite easily with your array of weapons, or just by running them over. But when you know that you'll treble your payout by shooting the target in the knees and then killing him with a broken bottle, it adds a motivation that can drastically alter how you approach the situation.

The beauty is that making the much harder objectives optional allows you to bypass any that you're having real trouble with, and fall back on your usual shotgun / molotov / car wielding ways to progress.