Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Twisted Firestarter

This bit of news provoked two separate thoughts in very quick succession. One: Has there been a single good Spyro game since Insomniac stopped making them? Two: When are Sony going to release the PS1 Spyro back catalogue on Playstation Network?

I'd buy them all again in a flash. Imagine having a good platform game (that isn't Daxter) to play on the PSP!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Don't hate the Player

As you might be able to tell if you pay attention to the bits of my blog that I update over on the right there, I recently bought a PlayStation 3. Despite still only ticking one out of four of my buying requirements, the urge to play Ratchet & Clank had become too great. After all, there are only so many Mexican terrorists that you can shoot with a range of realistic weaponry before it all becomes a bit tiresome and repetative.

So, from my position as someone who's owned an Xbox 360 for the last two years, here are my thoughts on the PlayStation 3. Who knows, maybe indignant Gamefaqs arguers will balloon the number of hits I get and I'll be able to blow off this game developing lark and live off my AdSense revenue.

First off, some things that I really like about the PS3...

  • The Xmb is quick to navigate, consistent, user friendly, and looks slick. It's a world apart from the mess of the Xbox dashboard & blade system.

  • Touch sensitive buttons to eject the disc, and switch the power on & off. Such a minor thing, but I'm a sucker for that kind of thing.

  • Remote play is a cool feature. I'm not sure I'll ever use it (aside from the one time I tried it out by sitting in my living room playing G-Police on my PSP while it was being piped through the internet and back by my PS3). But it is cool, and there's got to be something to use the PSP for, right?

  • It's so quiet compared to the 360, a big plus in girlfriend-acceptance factor in the living room (especially given the size of the thing).

  • I like having prices in proper money in the online store, so I don't have to do mental calculations to work out how much a pointless bit of DLC costs. And it's nice to not have to prebuy set amounts of cards or points, since it allows you to put exactly the amount you need to make a purchase into my wallet (well, as long as it's above £5, but I can live with that).

Now on to the things that I dislike about the PS3...

  • Having to install demos and games once they've downloaded, before I can play them. It seems completely pointless, since the downloads are in the Gb range anyway they can't be compressed too heavily. And the installation can't be done in the background. How about having "automatically background install" as an option at some point, Sony?

  • The Supplied USB cable for charging your controller is tiny. I can't believe anyone has their sofa that close to their entertainment system. Another annoyance is that when the system's in standby it doesn't leave the USB power on to charge a connected controller, so you can't leave it to charge overnight like you can with the 360's play and charge kit.

  • Speaking of controllers, the Sixaxis is a horribly light and flimsy feeling thing, and as of yet I've not played anything that's been improved by the whole motion sensing thing. Thank goodness DualShock 3's restore much needed weight, even if Sony are dragging their feet about releasing them in Europe.

  • Strange as it seems, I really miss the rich presence stuff that Xbox Live has. You can't see your friends list while you're playing a game, you can't see what games your friends have been playing, what they're doing in that game, or how far they've played through it. I guess Home is supposed to be adding some of these elements, but ... well that's an entirely different scathing blog post I think.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Good idea - Rainbow Six Vegas 2's experience system

Non-RPGs have often dabbled with adding in experience systems, and recently the idea seems to have really taken off in first person shooters. Halo 3 had fairly limited multiplayer progression, and then Call of Duty 4 had a fantastic online experience system. Now the Rainbow Six Vegas 2 (and that's the last time I'm ever going to type the ridiculous football score name out in full) developers have implemented a logical progression from that.

In R6V2 you have a single character, who is shared across all three game types - campaign, multiplayer, and terrorist hunt - and every kill that you or your team makes earns you experience (though obviously you earn more for making the kills yourself). At certain experience levels you earn a new rank, and with those come new types of armour and camouflage.

R6V2 also adds the A.C.E.S system (I forget what it stands for), that rewards you for kills made in certain ways. So shooting enemies at long distance will improve your sniper level, and killing filthy terrorists with explosives increases your assault rating. Leveling up these categories gives you experience bonuses (towards your rank)and is also how you unlock weapons, themed to the category you improve.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Reasons why working in the games industry is still great

1) Sometimes you get really cool stuff given to you.