Gone Too Far - Part 4

Posted in Design Articles

JUL 24 2014 
Gone Too Far - Part 4
Black and White has since turned into Red and Blue, thanks to videogames. Just how bad are morality systems in games, though? And is there anything we can do about it?

Good and evil. Light side and dark side. Renegade and paragon. Law and chaos. Anyone who's played a AAA title in the last ten years knows the basic gist of the "morality" system. And yet, any time a hint of such a system appears, we collectively roll our eyes in anticipation of another game's worth of obvious choices, system abuse, choose-your-own-ending finales, and maybe a split that enables either an aggressive playstyle or one full of defensive/healing powers. It's all very rote, even silly; and yet, it's almost a requirement for any sort of big-budget title at this point.

Full Article »


Author: Space Lizard

Atelier Escha & Logy

Posted in Game Reviews

JUL 17 2014 
Atelier Escha & Logy
Wherein I take my first plunge into a long-running series of anime RPGs with stupid subtitles! This is a review of Atelier: Escha & Logy: ~Alchemists of the Dusk Sky~.

This summer has been so agonizingly dry on game releases that, here I am, buying and reviewing an entry in a long-running hyper-Japanese niche RPG seemingly aimed at ephebophiles. Worse yet, I think I am enjoying it. Perhaps it is heatstroke-induced delirium. Perhaps I am the only person in the hemisphere disinterested in Shovel Knight. Whatever the reason, sit back and relax while I attempt to give a reasonable, mature breakdown on why I stuck this one out and didn't end up as a crumpled heap on the floor as I tend to do after, say, your average Ar Tonelico game.

Full Article »


Author: Space Lizard

Gone Too Far - Part 3

Posted in Design Articles

JUL 14 2014 
Gone Too Far - Part 3
Some ground-level insights into map-making in today's foray! GET IT? IT IS JOKE.

The term "mapping" is, in a game design sense, rather perplexing. Mathematically, a "map" is a one-to-one transition of a set of points from one field to another. In the physical realm, a cartographic map is essentially the same: taking all of the relative distances between cities and landmarks, and shrinking them down by an equal amount in order to fit onto a rectangle of paper. Then, we talk about a map in a videogame (most likely an RPG, but it could work anywhere), and things get weird. We immediately - naively - go in with the notion that this map should be a scaled-down representation of some location for our avatars to traverse, as if it were real life.

This is pretty wrong, though, and it's a harmful outlook for budding designers. The purpose of mapping in a game is not to recreate a geologically-accurate landscape, or to give the player a believable setting to wander around in. In a game world, a map is not scaling down the world's elements into computer memory; rather, it's scaling down gameplay content into a manageable area or hub. Making things "realistic" should be a side effect of this; not the other way around.

Full Article »


Author: Space Lizard