Riot Games have gone all out for their 10 year anniversary, which is a pretty exciting thing to be able to say. Riot Games made the Free-To-Play giant, League of Legends, which is a major title in the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) genre. For years, they’ve run just the one game but this year, they’ve decided to throw caution to the wind and show how much progress they’ve made in their world.
I remember saying during my review of One More Dungeon that rogue games may not work for first person shooters, then I reminded myself of the fantastic Heavy Bullets which made me backtrack on this statement a bit. I also forgot about the game which I am going to talk about today and that is Tower Of Guns. The game is available for OSX, Windows and Linux from a number of different online retailers, which can all be found on the developers’ website.
Have you ever tried to write your own tabletop roleplaying system, or perhaps a board game? If you have plenty of patience it’s fairly easy to put something together that works, although “fun” takes a hell of a lot more effort to achieve. A basic rule set is actually surprisingly easy to throw together, but that must then be followed by testing said rules until you hate them to make sure that they absolutely work, and while you might say “the simpler the better” sometimes the simple rules are the easiest to get drastically wrong, and you end up patching over the open crack with specific rules.
At least that has been my experience of game design, others may differ. There’s one particular example I want to pick on here, and it’s one you may have already guessed if you read the title, and didn’t just dive in without looking. (more…)
SUPERHOT has been on my radar for some time. I played the original demo probably two years ago and was very impressed so when they decided to Kickstarter the game I went ahead and backed it. I must admit I was really looking forward to play the final release, so I picked up my copy on it’s official release of 25th February 2016.
Multiplayer games are a staple in the video game industry, as a way to interact with others through the medium… Or just to show someone how l33t you are. However in recent years, a lot of multiplayer games have changed how they are played. No longer are we playing games of healthy competition, but more games are out there to show that you’re better for having played them longer than someone else. Join me as I take a look back through multiplayer games of old and how modern games tackle the communication between people.
We’ll begin by taking a trip down memory lane, or for many of us, a year before we were even conceived. In the early 1970s, the first ever Pong consoles were released to the general public and people were buying them by the boat load. Well okay, perhaps not quite a boat load of them, but people all over were willing to get their hands on a way to interact with their television sets in more than a typical watch the broadcast way. They wanted to play Pong, a game that was only available in the arcades prior, in their home with their own friends without having to take change to play on the machines.
Whilst Pong was all well and good, it was just the first in a long line of easy games to pick up and play. We started to get games like Dig-Dug, Pac-Man, even games like Tetris supported more than one player after a while, for a little bit of competitive gaming between friends and family. But by the time the SNES was out, most of these simple two player games started to dwindle in favour for more complex, trickier to play single player games. Sure action games and fighting games were still popular enough to have two player modes, but games were already making their way into RPGs and more.
Now this isn’t to say that multiplayer games disappeared, but they had to evolve and adapt. Over time, we went on to playing less random action/adventure games, less platformers and more into shooters. These games were more like Quake and Unreal. Around the same sort of time, the PS1 came out and even more single player games came out. Games along the lines of Crash Bandicoot and Spyro. In the case of Crash, this was a platformer that did away with multiplayer all together, in favour of a more in depth story in the game. It’s not a traditional platformer, but it still is one. Hey, at the end of the PS1 years, my favourite RPG of all time came out: Final Fantasy IX. No main Final Fantasy game had done multiplayer at this point.
So shooters were the thing that really kept multiplayer going for a period of time, but then around the 2000s, the long standing MMORPG World of Warcraft came out. It’s incredible to think that next year the WoW community will have the Burning Legion to defeat in World of Warcraft. MMORPGs weren’t new… I was very accustomed to playing games such as Dark Ages of Camelot and City of Heroes at this point… But now the RPG genre was being more innovative and more involving of multiplayer, but really, this was a different way to play: This was about working together to defeat huge enemies, or fighting one another in intense battles. These are games of numbers, the more numbers you have, the better you do is the general rule of thumb.
Now we’ve got the indie scene, a thriving community with countless fun games to play. Since I got my OUYA last year, I have played many cool multiplayer games, such as Amazing Frog? and Hidden In Plain Sight (which is also on Steam). These games have brought back the sense of fun, the sense of pure silly gameplay along with a little bit of competitive nature and in some cases: skill of the game. But whilst multiplayer games never left us, it sure feels now that we’ve got a more diverse library of games out there. Now there are games for those who want to invest plenty of time, as well as games which you just put on at a party. What’s your earliest memory of a multiplayer game? Share your favourite multiplayer games in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.
P.S: If you are ever in doubt about a good multiplayer game to get into, consider getting a fighting game or a shooter. Those generally are multiplayer. If you want something a bit different, for fighting check out Guilty Gear, for the characters are so outlandish, you end up falling for each and every one of them. I personally like using Bridget and Faust as my guys. For FPS, I implore you to play the Unreal Tournament games. Those are my personal picks for franchises!
So here’s something new I’ve been pondering:
I’ve been getting back into the point-and-click puzzle solver recently. I got a copy of the remastered Grim Fandango, was given a copy of a game called Amazone. I found myself considering their stories more deeply, the way they allude to future events early on, spin threads of narrative across chapters, acts, ages…
A P&C has a tendency to be a fairly linear game-style, moving from puzzle to puzzle, unable to progress to the next until the first is complete. More often than not you’ll be able to resolve multiple puzzles alongside one another, so if you’re stuck on one you can move to another for a while, so on, so forth. This kind of progression is not for everyone but it offers the genre one fantastic opportunity, cohesive and consistent story telling.
RPGs offer a similar experience, although rarely is the story quite so imperative. As in the film industry action often draws some of the priority away from the story, although time constraints aren’t a factor as they are in films, story requires a break in action, and the more story the greater the pauses in between action opportunities. It’s very difficult to weave both together simultaneously, and doing so often detracts from one or the other experience anyway.
That’s not to say of course that puzzle-solving is not without its’ deficits. Getting stuck on a puzzle can often lead to rage quitting which has a tendency to break the flow of narrative rather devastatingly, but they are advantaged heavily by the fact that the entirety of the gameplay (at least in a well designed game) is part of the story itself.
Myst III Exile is a prime example, each age visited is supposed to teach a valuable lesson that led the boys Sirrus and Achenar to a corrupted conclusion, and their vengeful victim Saavedro uses those lesson ages to teach Atrus a lesson of his own.
Each puzzle develops the ages as a rich and living world, every step uncovers some new dark truth about the arcing legends surrounding the series, and of course as with every Myst game there are books dotted around to add to the experience.
I think one of my favourite aspects of any game are things like books and journal entries. The Elder Scrolls games have the richest library to choose from, but Dishonored, Myst, the Witcher, and even the occasional FPS often have material worth the read or listen to. The sad fact is that in most games the introduction of book stops the flow of play altogether while you take a break to read, that’s why in the Witcher and ESO the effects of reading said book are immediately noticeable: “Block skill increased” or “Information added to journal”
That’s not to say that the relaxed pace of a P&C makes the storyline any more memorable, indeed RPGs and FPS games have the advantage when they successfully blend action and narrative in creating more dramatically tense moments that stay in our minds that much better, but depending on how you play can make those moments few and far between, or readily clicked-through distractions to the bloodshed and looting.
And what of other gaming genres? Is the platformer limited entirely to the story of “Try the next castle, swear I saw some shady looking dragon-turtle going in there!” Does strategy remove you too far from the personal experience to offer a rich storyline? Or does the scale of forces only add to the opportunities for grandiose moments of significance?
I open the question then to you, humble reader (or arrogant reader, I don’t judge), what narrative devices do you enjoy in games? What genre do you think best suits the story tellers art?
Naah! I’ll just tell you. It’s tabletop, it’ll always be tabletop! But hey, the question’s out there.
No interview this week, but not to worry. I’m rarely short of things to discuss.
The first game was released some time after a wave of games attempting to blend the best of the western gaming market’s favourite genres, the First Person Shooter and the Role Playing Game. The most famous game of which was Bioshock, another 2K title which arguably fell a little heavily into the FPS category. The most famous flop was Hellgate: London, which attempted to bring a Diablo-like feel to the combination, and while the gameplay was sound it was also dull and little awkward.