Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Game Designer's TAX

As a videogame designer there are certain games that you just have to play. They are the tax that you have to pay for having such a cool job. You are forced to play every new zelda game for a little bit at least to see what new things have been done. You are forced to play half-life 2 to see what everyone is talking about in regards to their cut scenes and what cool puzzles they did with their physics engine.

Recently I have been playing a lot of games just to see what everyone is talking about - such as Black and Full Auto. I don't really play FPS's for the most part so when playing Black I'm having a really hard time figuring out what is 'cool' about it. It looks great but after playing Call of Duty 2 on the 360 I am having a hard time going back and appreciating a FPS on the ps2. Full Auto on the other hand I have enjoyed way more than I thought I would with all the bad reviews/hype going on. It's not the greatest game and arguably burnout looks better but I am still having fun playing it.

On the flip side of Game Designer's tax - you are also forced to play really bad games which is where you can learn a lot. Hopefully you can figure out why the game is bad and maybe even take notice of some of the good things and use them in your own game. Some games are just bad no matter what, but I find there is often more to gain from playing a bad game than a good game.

Before going to bed the past few days I've been playing Rub Rabbits, the sequel to what I felt to be the strongest DS launch title - Feel The Magic. Both names are just downright awful and I have a feeling they changed the name from Feel The Magic to somehow get people to see that Rub Rabbits is a way more appealing name - thus buying 3 copies at once. I had to go to around 3 or 4 different stores to even find a copy. Most of the time it was me walking into the store and mumbling, 'do you have rub rabbits?' and the clerk not having a clue as to what game I was asking for - probably thinking it was code word for me trying to buy animal porn.

Which is a shame because I think this game definitely falls into Game Designer's tax - but on the good side. There are a lot of cool elements that they do - including gimmicky things requiring the playing to turn the DS 90 degrees or even 180 for some of the mini-games. Beyond that though there is actual good game design - when bad characters come on screen they make a noise and when the good characters come on screen (the ones you aren't supposed to kill) they make a different sound helping you as the player react besides with just visual cues. I could go on forever about the nuances of this game but I hope everyone out there reading this may go a little out of their way to find a game that it seems like Sega doesn't want anyone to know about and or buy.


omar kendall said...

Damn, I was ready to jump in here and correct you on Half Life 2. I was going to say that it doesn't have any cut scenes, and then I remembered it has two - one at the very beginning, and one at the very end. Shit.

I haven't been playing Rub Rabbits as regularly as I want to; primarily because I think that while the game has a great design aesthetic, I don't know if I have that much fun playing it. For instance, I recently played the Roshambo Battle, and while I thought the set-up of it all - the Dragonball-esque style theatrics - were really cool, I never really "got" what the skill involved was. Picture flashes, press the counter. Two pictures flash, guess the counter? It's little things like that that just lose me sometimes.

Cool post.

Derek Daniels said...

I guess 'cut scenes' was a poor choice of words - maybe how they tell their story in real time without the need for cut scenes. It was late, bleh.

That particular game in Rub Rabbits sucks IMO - I basically guess against what the person has in the picture that is screen left. The one nice thing they do is let you take out 4 guys at once. You are slowly building your way up - taking out 4 or 5 by themself and you see the bar thinking, 'damn - i got like 6 more dudes to take out - i'm never going to get that lucky' then they throw out 4 at once.

I beat the game last night and I thought the final boss was even a good example of how to do old school bosses well.

Anonymous said...

There's a game called Trace Memory for DS that has some of those tricky gimmick puzzles. One of the more difficult ones required you to partially close the unit, then peek inside so that one screen reflected onto the other and completed an image.

Derek Daniels said...

Really? That sounds awesome. I bought both Lost In Blue and Trace Memory the same day and only opened up Lost in Blue. I need to go back and play both, maybe once i get a new DS. I gave my old one to my moms to try out Animal Crossing also prepare her for when that DS Brain Training game comes to america.

omar kendall said...

That's bizarre about Lost in Blue/Trace memory...I also bought them both on the same day but have only played Lost in Blue - what the hell?!?