Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dungeon Crawler Battles

     So the long awaited Diablo III is out, and it feel like Blizzard has somehow failed one of their prized IPs with content 'their grandmothers could play'.  They allowed a free beta weekend where everyone was able to try it for themselves and see the 10 year awaited title.  While playing it, the game felt a little too easy and a few things you've come to expect from the old Diablos are just missing, like choosing stats and the feeling of being able to wonder aimlessly.  But the saddest part is surely the leveling system and their skill trees...
Diablo III Skill System
     You can try it out for yourself, at http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/barbarian and see basically everything you're expected to play around with in the game, which isn't really much for the assumed AAA title.  The game itself is decent graphically, and the voice-overs are probably the highest quality content in the game.  I did like the level designer, and the dungeons were nicely rendered and had many interactive qualitys to them which made me go around and destroy everything!  The interface was nice and clean, but the game didn't have too many many variations on gameplay for the classes.  Today Blizzard announced it's free 90 day (with many conditions like you must have played WoW) in hopes to get more people on board their flagship.  It's interesting how Blizzard is somehow expecting their old fans to have incredibly low standards with a game that built the standards for the genre, however I hope its due to the creators dropping certain features for other ones, and the story should be prime.  It's a shame really, they've had soo long to work on it and their demo likely doesn't represent the final game very well(I hope because if it does... >_>)...

     However we're in luck, there is another Dungeon Crawler that isn't cherry coated, and is actually 'scary' as my friends compare it.  Apparently this game has been around for a bit in Alpha (about a year or so) and has finally hit Beta.  The game is Path of Exile, and it looks very nice... It might not have a zoom feature like Diablo III, but the actual game system and the passive skill tree is insane!  How insane?
Path of Exiles Skill System
     You are able to also check this one out for yourself, and try it real time: http://www.pathofexile.com/passive-skill-tree/ And unlike many other games, this tree allows for the same class to have totally different uses and gameplay styles, making for actual intense replay-ability.  Not to mention the art style and feel of the game is much darker and gnarly looking.  The game company itself is a small one, and it's amazing what they have created considering Diablo III is their competition.  However this doesn't stop there, Path of Exile is set to be a Free 2 Play game, and their business models doesn't really support a pay to win aspect, making it more like TF2 where you are able to buy cosmetic items or items abundantly available in the game as it is.

     I hope the Diablo team realizes their flaws and accepts their fanbase's wants in order to produce the type of game 10 years in the making should look and feel like, or perhaps they want to go the way of Duke Nukem Forever and just add Half-Life's strict one path to take style to the dungeon crawler genre.  What happened to making a game that follows how the previous games worked?

Friday, April 20, 2012

The trend of Video Game Music

     Music is an important part of the experience in any video game.  It serves not only to portray the feeling of the game and actions, but all old-school games which were inferior in hardware had to make use of some sort of melody to make any memorable tune at all, there were no audio renderings or sampled sound effects back then.  Simple pitches and usually four banks; where you would get lucky to have extensive noise functions much less reverb.


     Many of the older genre of Video games have very memorable music because they had nothing but pitches to work with, many of them have very complex melodies.  I feel this is somewhat lost in today's modern video game music trying to recreate the style and sound of a production movie soundtrack.  Sometimes I feel cheated with all the orchestration going on, and that feel the loss of nostalgia you come to expect from a video game's 'chip tunes', and the wide variety of styles you may find in one game.


     Not to say modern music hasn't made it's impact in video games, such as Halo's OST and Shadow of the Colossus' arrangements.  However it's rare to get the quality of immersion in modern games such as Osmos, where the soundtrack is strangely what is should be, or Perfect Dark 64 where all the music was well timed and situational.  Everyone knows Pac-Man's Theme!

Kerbal Space Crash!

     Who isn't into space games?  I know a lot of people think it's Rocket Science, but that's only half the fun.  It's mostly physics and mastering our ability to defeat gravity, which is basically the objective of this game.  Kerbal Space Program is a pretty unique game, the goal is to, get as far as you can... which seems easy going one way, but the real challenge there is to get back.  Frankly, leaving earth is it's own challenge but once you can get past that, you can experiment with getting to the moon, perhaps farther, or just in orbit, and staying there.  The interesting part is you can build your own rocket, in about any design you can think of, and then program the rocket to go of in stages to time your ascent into the heavens.

     The game is on a pre-order/donate basis, but there is a demo out you can get your hands on and try this out for yourself.  The demo is more than a demo, it's basically the full working game, but an early stage of development build, so it lacks the nicest features that the game has updated.  Which isn't too bad, but the game is worth the donation.  You'll be surprised how fun building rockets and trying to save your little guys from their unknowing doom.



Here is my 7th try at a rocket, of the production line 'Jupiter' which was pretty successful.  I had other lines and more rockets but this one worked well with the parts I used with an even earlier release.  One thing is for sure about this game, Jeb is loving it!

http://kerbalspaceprogram.com/