Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Monstorous trees, anyone?

While talking about Blizzard's Diablo III, Lead Designer Jay Wilson made this really interesting comment on the state of designers in games:

I don't know anybody who isn't trying to hire background people. Part of it is that there's so much background to create, and part of it is that most people would rather create a big, giant monster than a tree. But boy, what we wouldn't give for some good tree creators! People who love to create trees are worth their weight in gold!

A very intersting observation, and quite true too. Heck, who'd pass up the opportunity to create a race of six-legged blue-skinned aliens or six-headed fire-breathing demons in favour or a deciduous forest or a flower shrubbery? I know I wouldn't...

Friday, August 22, 2008

F.E.A.R. of the dark...

I completed F.E.A.R. yesterday.

Things I liked.

Enemy AI: This was a bunch of smart fuckers. They'd often turn over couches or crates for cover, and fire with just a hand sticking over. Sneaky bastards. Plus they had good aim too.

Atmosphere: Quite creepy. Lotsa silent stretches where you keep expecting something to attack you or a creepy vision to appear. Plus those sighting of little Alma n Fettel walking around and suddenly disappearing were disorienting.

Music and Sound fx: Great sound effects all around. Engaging bg music when it came around, and at a few places some really good music kicked it. Stuff that I wouldn't mind listening to as stand-alone songs.

Weapons: The weapons were 30 different shades of fun. I love the HV Penetrator and the Particle Weapon. Too bad there weren't enough enemies in all to use them on.

No Crate Smashing: Good thing I didn't have to spend all my time breaking open crates to hunt for supplies n hidden items.

No Cheap Attacks or Triggers: In a lotta games, if you pick up a particular item or perform a task, it triggers off an enemy attack. None of that crap here.

Things I didn't like.

No sense of immersion: I didn't have a name, and was constantly referred to as "F.E.A.R. Pointman." Pretty stupid. Even during the pre-level mission displays, none of them read "You need to.." or "Your mission is.." but rather, the alienating "F.E.A.R. Pointman needs to.."

Enemy variety: Seemed like I spent the entire game basically fighting the same enemy, with a few helmet varities. The interesting, challenging enemies like the Power Armor n the Stealh Assasin were in way too much of a short supply.

Not enough action: For a first person shooter, I was doing remarkable less shooting than expected. I spent a lotta time just running around and getting from place to place. So less in fact, I didn't really get much of a chance to adequately use some of the better weapons found later in the game.

Storyline Reveal: I had to read a buncha online post to understand the plot completely. While I like the story, It unfolds in a very convulated manner, and isn't very clear within the game.

Drab, recycled Environments: Everything was gray, and I felt like I was basically spending all my time in a warehouse or office building. Could have used a whole lot more variety.

Sad-ass boss fight: One shot to kill Fettel n eleven shots to kill Alma. A major let-down.

A couple of random observations:

Linear Level Progression: The levels were ridiculously linear. I dunno if I like that or not, beacuse I don't really like dead ends, but even the few places which served as "puzzles" were embarassingly easy to figure out.

All in all, I'm more than a little surprised this game was so highly rated and won so many awards. I suppose that's more of a commentary on the state of the other games out there.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Words I Learned Today: Manic Pixie Dream Girl

You learn something new everyday. Ofcourse, it's entirely debatable whether that learning lasts for more than a day, but that's an entirely different topic altogether. Today, I learned the phrase "Manic Pixie Dream Girl", who, according to Nathan Rubin, as used in his review of Elizabethtown, is a girl that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures. Imagine the endless conversation possibilities this opens up:

You: Hello, I learnt a new phrase today.
Girl: Really? How utterly wonderful, what is it?
You: "Manic Pixie Dream Girl"
Girl: What does it mean?
You: A girl who exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.
Girl: Wow. Will you be the father of my babies?

Like I said, fascinating.