Archive for July, 2009


Gaming Foibles – Boss Fights


Name me a good boss fight. Go on. Do it now. What’s that, Glados from Portal? Okay, fair take. Shadow of the Colossus you say? Okay I’ll give you that one too. Actually, I’ll admit. There are SOME good boss fights, but really not many. I can count them on one hand, which is a shame, as gaming is absolutely rife with the buggers.

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The Downer Ending:


Warning, beneath lie spoilers, I can’t even tell you what games I spoil, because that  itself would be a spoiler. Read on at your own peril.

I don’t know how many of you have played Ubisoft’s loquaciously named Peter Jackson’s King Kong: The Offical Game of the Movie (yes that really is it’s full title). It’s a clever little game by Michel (Rayman, Beyond Good and Evil) Ancel, it has a minimal HUD, a clever ‘ecology’ system where creatures eat one another, and an ammo light philosophy which often sees you improvising with thrown spears.

And you die at the end.

In telling the iconic King Kong story, Ubisoft were forced to tackle something few developers had before, a sad ending. Nowadays more and more developers are choosing to take on the challenge of ending a game in defeat, putting their story above standard gameplay win conditions. Who are they? How successful were they? The mother of all spoiler collections lurks beneath the cut.

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Recently Dante has ventured back into the alternative megaverse that is Eve Online, and by all accounts is enjoying placidly mining rare minerals from asteroid fields and gaining new skills. But it’s in Dante’s nature to always be doing more than one thing at the same time. So, as he sets his ship to harvest he hops over to the 360 and throws cars at helicopters in Prototype.

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Gaming Foibles – Terrible Voice Acting


Gaming hasn’t always had the sky-high production values it has enjoyed in the past five years. Visuals have improved immeasurably over time, but voice acting has always lagged considerably behind. Below we’ll investigate some of the worst offenders. Click on the game titles for examples, especially that god awful old woman from The Witcher.

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Tales of Monkey Island


Not long ago Ludo played the demo of Telltale’s return to Lucas Arts’ most beloved adventure franchise. And after debating over the pricing options (or lack thereof) I eventually gave in and decided to see how it measured up.

Conclusions within.

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armchair developer – prototype

Alex Mercer

Open world games have a habit of closing off much of the world and revealing it bit by bit as an indicator of progress. We’ve seen it with GTA’s islands and Assassins’ Creed’s horrible glowing blue walls. As we talked about in our last podcast, this is counterintuitive in a game where there’s so much joy in sandboxing. Prototype gets it right by giving you the whole city straight away. Then there’s an issue with keeping the player’s interest in the environtment. Prototype’s shifting influence structure provides an answer to this, you don’t unlock new environments, you change the existing one.

It doesn’t go quite far enough. Currently there’s a few changes that you’ll notice in the infected areas. There’ll be infected running around and causing havoc and there’s a fierce bit of colour correction turning the skies a suitably apocalyptic blood red. The actual geometry of the city changes little, which seems like a missed opportunity to properly warp the world.

The quest design is really uninspired as well. Kill X number of hunters. Destroy X number of water tankers, out of which Hunters will appear. Disable X number of viral detectors. Absorb this target. The objectives feel as though they have nothing to do with plot progression, character progression, and nothing to do with the territory system which goes for the most part completely unused. The story is pretty weak too. Cutscenes interject every now and then with no relevance to the missions that surround them. The web of intrigue montages are for the mmost part devoid of real information.

So, the task is to properly utilise the territory system to incorporate it with the story and create a more unified experience. This is going to involve a fairly heavy rehaul of the game. here goes.

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If I Were a Superhero …

Here’s a comic I did. It’s about Prototype, which I’ve been playing thinking about a lot recently.  Venture below the cut for big ol’ scans of each of the three pages.

This was done as part of the Tag Project at where someone foolishly gave me a slot every Tuesday to  draw and write about each week’s theme. There’s a load of other artists on there as well (one for every day of the week, so follow the link if you like this sort of thing and comment and contact us with any thoughts).

Inspired by a game which I really think is almost, almost great I’m planning an Armchair Developer feature where I lay out my vision for what Prototype could have been, it’ll have diagrams and everything. There’s a load of good thoughts on this right here as well:

Until then, gratuitous violence and the word SPANG in giant letters below.

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