So last night I was taking the train to Glasgow for dinner and drinks with some old friends. As a result, it meant I was running late with my usual Friday release of Something for the weekend. My intention had been to post it when I returned in the evening, but as I was heading home I received the terrible news of attacks and mass murders in France. Needless to say, I felt it would be bad taste to promote the post during this time, and understandably my thoughts were elsewhere also.
The death toll from attacks in Paris last night has surpassed 100, with a further 300 injured. This was seemingly a random act of aggression, targeting innocent people who were oblivious to any ill-intent. This senseless killing was completely unwarranted, and cowardly in its execution. The very fact that some individuals made the conscious decision to mindlessly kill people is a horrible thought to consider, and yet here we are. Another attack. More innocents dead.
My thoughts go out to those lost, to their suffering loved ones, and to Paris; which has stood united having already suffered multiple attacks in the last year.
What follows is an unedited version of my regular weekly review. Thanks for reading.
No surprises that this week, I’ve been traversing the wastelands in Fallout 4.
Power Armour in Fallout 4
Though I haven’t played that far into the game, what I’ve seen so far is an ambitious, dense, post-apocalyptic landscape. There have been a lot of bug reports, but playing through on the PS4 version, I’ve only encountered some fairly playful clipping issues which haven’t really caused too much upset.
A lot of work has gone towards creating a believable world. As I’m sneaking through what remains of a diner, I can pick up the most products which litter floors and broken shelves, many of which with their own unique branding. It wouldn’t be enough to just create a world which was destroyed by nuclear war. The team first had to create a world where the player could believe people once lived, happily consuming produce, working 9-5 jobs. Granted, Boston isn’t what it once was, but if you use your imagination to cover up the rust and the collapsing roofs, it’s almost like the bombs never fell.
The crafting options have been completely overhauled since my time playing Fallout 3. No longer are you resigned to building out weaponry from blueprints found scattered across the wastes. Imagine Fallout Shelter on Jet, and you’ll be still be nowhere near as complex as the crafting choices on offer. Players are able to spend time building and developing their own colonies, populated with their own citizens. My better-half has been enjoying it immensely, but having already spent a lot of time passively enhancing my shelter on mobile, I really don’t want to get sucked in to this kind of gameplay again. Much like the base-building mechanic in MGSV, It can feel like a full-time job in itself.
My friend and journalist Matt Kamen has been writing a five day review of Fallout 4 for Wired Magazine. Definitely worth a read, as everybody has a different experience depending on how they play.
I also started playing through Life Is Strange this week. I was keen to pick it up following the release of final chapter; more so after the announcement of a sequel. From what I’ve seen online, the character design in this game is quite interesting, though the biggest draw was how highly rated the story and dialogue is.
Max and Chloe from Life is Strange
I’ve spent about an hour introducing myself to the game, clicking on everything I could, and trying to get a feel for the simple, but enjoyable “rewind” mechanics. It’s been fun so far.
From around the web..
Don’t develop games full-time, warns Alex Nichiporchik (@aNichiporchik). In an article which discusses the pitfalls of burnout and the dreaded crunch, Alex talks about why he loves developing games and his time in the industry. Whilst his personal advice makes sense, it might not work for everybody. There are still plenty of good tips to be learned from his personal experience.
Mushroom 11’s Itay Keren (@itayke) presents How to design the best camera for your side-scrolling game, a great presentation which annotates many popular games approach to cameras and framing the action. Whilst side-scrolling camera movement wasn’t something I had put much thought into previously, framing your character in any game is incredibly important. Although modern games seem to have less problems with it, the first generation of 3D games were often criticised for their poor camera movement.
Justine Colla (@pastasauca) wrote a useful post mortem on using pin badges as promotion for their game, Station Stop at PAX Australia. I actually really enjoyed reading the step-by-step process of how the team designed and created promotional badges for their game. They turned out really well!
How to Design Levels With the “Super Mario World Method” written by Patrick Holleman (@tgdfweb), is a great analysis of the show, don’t tell technique in gaming. An excerpt from his eBook, Reverse Design: Super Mario World, Patrick looks at the way players are taught level mechanics in Super Mario World gradually, before exposing them to more challenging sections of the game. From a game design point of view, this method has always been more immersive, and feels more rewarding, than a direct tutorial approach. It’s a great article and in the wake of Super Mario Maker, where everybody has a chance to employ these techniques, it may even help players appreciate the intricacies of level design.
Twitter – Follow Friday
Andrew has worked on a number of Edinburgh based events, including what is clearly my favourite (because I never shut up about it), Games Are For Everyone. Now on its third outing, The Mash House has seen a consistently high quality selection of independently developed games made playable to the public. He even managed to swing a special guest for this week’s event..
Cara Ellison, writer, games journalist and globe trotter will be in attendance at GAFE this week to promote her latest book, and provide a special playlist as guest DJ for the evening. Her Twitter feed provides amusing commentary on a host of issues. I also discovered this week through her radio interview that she’s a fellow Scot, so that’s worth a shout-out too! Among other things, she is credited as a writer for Charlie Brooker’s (@charltonbrooker) How Video Games Changed The World (YouTube).
Check out Cara’s website for more of her work.