Sunday, November 28, 2010

Facebook Bejewled Blitz Elite Tricks

I really enjoyed doing this to the extent where the excitement of getting high score pales in comparison. Then, my friend linked me this video. I really didn't think it was possible to do it in the real match -_-;

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Game Design: "Greed in games"

Just this afternoon, I was (somewhat) silently looking at my friend's returned paper and remarked on his 6-11 framework of a ancient Intellvision game Astrosmash. In his framework, he listed the existence of the 'Collection' instinct which leads to the 'Greed'. My lecturer actually circled this section and wrote 'Why?'. The question I ask is, why not? If you looked at the video link on Astrosmash I gave above, you can see clearly why my friend actually wrote 'Collection'; the points. It's not really literal collecting per se...wait, see now I'm confused. Suddenly it seemed very obvious that the player is driven to collect points in this game. Suddenly, when you put it that way, isn't many, if not all, games driven by greed?

That reminded me that I actually have a draft sitting in my blogspot here waiting to be written. I had this idea that games were all driven by some greed because for some odd reason, all the assignments I did about the 6-11 framework somehow had 'Greed' listed somewhere. A game without 'Greed' somehow doesn't cut it. I wish I could list an example but I couldn't! All games, digital or not, computerized or board, have some form of Greed. Which leads to the question: 'What is Greed?'

Is it because the idea of Greed is too broad? In my definition and words, Greed is basically the desire to possess something they don't have. From this simple definition, I believe that there is greed in every human being. I can even say that even monks are greedy in the sense that they want to seek enlightenment. Without greed, there is no drive. What is a human without drive? Without 'want'? Wouldn't they just be an empty shell?

It didn't seem so obvious then as it did now. Why do I play games? What kept me hooked? What kept OTHERS hooked? Why did I lose interest in some of them? Is it true that EVERY game plays with our greediness? Is it true, based on testing my friends' pre-alpha games, that the better games always have a better hook that preys on the greedy nature of humans? In game design discussions, it's always asking what players WANT WANT WANT. The moment a developer does not consider that, a game will just...crumble. If it doesn't and sells well, I think it is an 'Accident'. I think a lot of games are accidents, like 'Everquest' or 'Starcraft'. You can disagree with me on that; it's not the point of the discussion.

We start by looking at the infamous 'High Score'. Back then when Pong was first developed, it didn't have any way to track scores. I find it extremely hard to believe that people find the game fun without tracking the score at some given point of time, whether physically or mentally, consciously or unconsciously. Then came the arcades and High Score was introduced. My lecturer 'forced' me to watch this documentary known as 'Chasing Ghosts' which shows exactly how important it is to the arcade scene.

Whether the game LASTS is based on how difficult it is to fulfill a player's greed and their tolerance. A good example is the Disgaea series. From that game you can draw out 3 main groups of people because of it's extreme grind. Firstly, those who don't have the tolerance nor time to dedicate will just be greedy for the story. When the story ends, the game ends. Secondly, those who have too much time and incredibly tolerance to grind through everything and obtain everything the game have to offer to create the ultimate party/character. Thirdly, those who are greedy enough to try but do not have the tolerance, time nor dedication to continue.

I think it's rather safe to agree that most people fall under the first and third category. I'm not gonna conduct surveys on this; it seems pretty obvious and more so in this generation since people are getting busier and busier. I personally know people from all three categories and the ones fulfilling the second are thought to be insane and usually either have no job, play games during their jobs or in National Service (^^).

But you see, the moment a player loses interest is when it feels tedious to fulfill the greed within the player. If there's an incredibly difficult boss fight that only skilled players can defeat, the player will fight use the greed within him to drive himself to improve. After many futile attempts, they might give up, possibly due to a serious case of learned helplessness. When they give up depends on their tolerance level of such events.

All this leads to why I find the idea of 'Achievements' ingenious. The combination of the simple mechanic of collecting points in game and the fact that you are showing it (usually) to the rest of the world creates a rather powerful effect on gamers. Suddenly, pride and competition comes into play and together they can furiously generate lots of greed until the player chooses to 'let it all rest and move on'.

That choice, by the way, isn't really an easy choice. It means there is an emptiness in you that you find that it's better just to ignore it. It's still a hole in you, in the end, a hole that's difficult to ignore. A hole that will forever be waiting to be filled. How well you ignore it also depends on how perceptively tedious it is to achieve it (again, your tolerance level).

If we have to look at all the genres of games, there is always the existence of preying on the greediness of us. You might be playing RTS'/fighting games and you are greedy for the defeat of your opponent, maybe also greedy to add to your win-loss ratio, be it against him or not. You might be playing RPG's and want to beat all the bosses and secret bosses, and collect the best weapons in the game. You might be playYou might be playing Bejeweled and...well you know how this will go. OR, you can just be greedy for the story of the game.

Greed exists in all games. Card games, board games, dice games, Dungeons and Dragons, Zelda, FPS', Civilization, exists because it is part of the human nature. Game developers have the be aware of that when they are designing their games, and I believe this will bring them closer to making their games 'Fun'.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

AFAX Aftermath!

Alas, the festival came and went once again. This festival was vastly different for me though as it has emotionally affected me in many ways (goes to show how otaku I am). It's actually due to 2 events: the movie screening of Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya and the Day 1 concert featuring Aniki and JAM Project.

I honestly haven't done anything otaku-related for a long time. I could always barely resist all the figurines and stuff but for some reason when it comes to Yuki merchandise, all voices of reason failed. It happened in Weiss Schwarz (just look at the old otaku posts), it happened in AFAX and it's gonna happen in a very large scale very soon.

The first day was pretty okay. I wasn't really looking forward to anything in particular, just minding my business, looking at figurines and accessories just like what I did for the past two AFAs. For some reason, this year's AFA is flooded with Touhou, Yuki (I don't see the other SOS members) and nendoroids. There weren't that many back in 08 or 09 and I know because I look out for these 3 things.

The main highlight was the concert though, and now I kinda regretted not getting the VIP seating. JAM Project was freakin' awesome. Days ago I was jokingly telling my friends that their members will sing their individual songs. Holy shit I really didn't expect them to really do that. Endou singing 'Yuusha oh Tanjou', Okui singing her popular 'Rondo Revolution', Yoshiki with his 'Makka na Chikai', Katadani with 'We Are' and of course Kageyama with his extremely popular 'Cha-la Head Cha-la'.

The entire stage is electrifying and I was sure I lost my voice singing 'Yuusha Oh Tanjou'. They also sang Rescue Fire, Rocks and SKILL. It's a really epic time with them. Even with my aching back, legs, fingers, wrists, arms and hands, I kept standing. Aniki didn't help the condition when he came up lol.

End of day 1, bought a so-called $30 3D poster that anyone who is sane wouldn't buy, a $58 Yuki Nendoroid and $15 for the movie the next day. I don't seem to spend alot compared to others but it's infinitely more than what I have spent the past 2 AFAs combined. Good thing there weren't other Yuki stuff and good thing I didn't enter the KKNM booth.

Second day, I managed to pull myself early enough to rush down to the event and grab a nice seat for myself. It was a pretty hard decision, deciding whether to spend $15 to come down and watch since I already know what's gonna happen from the book. I savored every moment of the movie. It was fantastic, the way Haruhi smiled, the way Yuki shy away from everything, the way Mikuru break into tears. Kyon was finally given lots of depth but it was great because it was illustrated and animated beautifully.

You can really tell the ungodly amount of effort put into this movie. Aside from having vivid details, the expressions on each and every character were incredibly well done. Every part of the plot were like pieces of art, carefully strung together to form a great masterpiece. Perhaps my otaku/fanboyism is blinding me and causing me to be extemely biased, but I can safely say that Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya will not disappoint Haruhists out there.

Time to save up for the Haruhi extra pack! It's finally coming and I must be prepared for it >.<

Sunday, November 7, 2010

My [Fallout: New Vegas] Unarmed/Melee build

NOTE: For those coming here to look for the pure Melee build, you can skip all this to the bottom of the post. This is specifically an Unarmed-Critical build. The pure melee build I came up with is actually more straightforward and is posted all the way below.

I've been playing quite a bit of Fallout: New Vegas this weekend, and again I'm tempted to make a pure unarmed/melee character despite how much I love shooting people down. Seems that all Fallout games have this weird effect on me...

Anyway, I followed the basic rules of assigning stats I have for all the Fallout games I played:

1) Never put 10 in any stat. 8 is usually good enough. 9 if you can afford. AGI might be an exception.

2) Check if CHA is useless in the game. In Fallout 3 and New Vegas, it's so bad you might as well dump it no matter what character you play unless you like seeing your companions being badass instead of you.

3) Never EVER dump INT unless you are forced to.
4) END is not as important in most builds, including this unarmed/melee build. It's good to have, not bad to lose it either.

5) AGI should be 8 or above for FO1 and 2. For Fallout 3 onwards, depends if you want to screw your VATS AP or not.

So here's a simple breakdown:

S - 8 (+2 from power armor and implant)
P - 5 (+1 from implant to qualify for Better Critical perk at level 16, enough time for you to play around the world before entering The Strip)
E - 5 (For Toughness perk)
C - 1 (crappy stat)
I - 4 (I wish I had the old Gifted trait to turn this into 9 =/, 4 for Comprehension/Educated perk)
A - 8 (I like VATS)
L - 9 (For the love of critical %)

I probably metagamed abit, like finding out if certain implants are available (especially for my 5 Perception). I could probably drop -1 INT for +1 AGI to be REALLY REALLY min/maxing, but that would involve me running to The Strip at level 2-3.

This build though, is very similar to most of my Unarmed/Melee character builds in all the Fallout games I've played, but they are usually very easy to screw up and shoot your own feet by wasting 1 stat point or picking the wrong perk.

In New Vegas, perks for Unarmed/Melee should be very straightforward. Plan ahead, make sure you have 45% into Melee Weapons to qualify for the Super Slam perk by levle 8 (yes, even if you are making a pure Unarmed build). The rest should be no-brainer:

2: Confirmed Bachelor/Intense Training
4: Comprehension/Educated
6: Toughness
8: Super Slam
10: Finesse
12: Piercing Strike
14: Purifier
16: Paralyzing Palm/Action Boy (I haven't decided yet)
18: Ninja
20: Action Boy/Toughness (anything you want really)

The rest should be more or less up to you because by then you should be one-hitting Deathclaws (or so I heard :p). Anyway, once you are in the game, do NOT piss off Caesar too much. You need to get the Legion Assault Kung-Fu move from one of his lackeys in his tent at The Fort.

Before I forget, my tagged skills are: Unarmed, Sneak and Speech. Tagging isn't as important in Fallout 3/New Vegas, but with your INT at 4, every bit really helps. Especially since you are spending some on Melee Weapons if you are playing Unarmed.

I'll just sum up my build by saying that it's mostly a crit-fisher unarmed build, taking advantage of the fact that Unarmed's crit damage is through the roof (2x I think). If you are playing a Melee Weapons build, you might be better off dropping luck and dumping perception so you can have more points to spend somewhere else.

My hardcore playthrough was pretty tough at the start, like more melee characters in all Fallout games. The good doctor gave me a boxing glove for a weapon and I thought it was a joke item that can be thrown away when I saw it at first. I didn't realize the developers were serious about making me wear that crap and try to do damage. I hardly did do any with it btw.

Hey but look at the bright side. I don't have to carry ammo, so that can be reserved for food, drinks and other wonderful drugs out there. Keep all your drugs, you'll never know when you need them. Keep the Buffouts, Med-X, Rad-X, RadAways, Jet, SuperBombs, Psycho and even Mentats. All these will turn you into the HULK that even makes Super Mutants pee their pants.

Your first breakthrough will be Freeway. Run to Mike and at his shop and beg him to show you his secret wares. There you will see the Power First, everyone's favorite unarmed weapon in FO1 and 2 (then again, back then there were only 4 unarmed weapons in the game, not counting boxing gloves). From thereafter, everything should be smooth sailing.

Then we come to the 4 main factions of the game. I initially wanted to help NCR but after going to all its camps, it felt like a dog place to be in, mostly because it reminds me of National Server =/

So I wanted to help House, but realized he's too screwed up as a person to help. Caesar is...well...I thought the wasteland setting is bad enough, but crucifying people openly? Turning towns into ghost towns? Not happening. I love the robots House has though, so that really gives me one option, which is to help Yes Man who will help me take over New Vegas. Neat!

Besides look at how happy he is!

*updated 24/12/10*
Melee Build?
The main reason for crit-fishing for an Unarmed build is that Unarmed does 100% extra damage on critical (as far as I know when I posted this). I have one/two hit a Deathclaw before with this build so I don't think it's far from the truth.

The melee build is in fact much simpler and you can build it with ease since it isn't worth it to look for high crits; it's more important to get better raw damage. Melee is essentially almost as easy to build as a gun character imho:

S - 8 (+2 from power armor and implant)
P - 1 (don't need this imo)
E - 9 (+1 from implant to make it 10)
C - 1 (crappy stat)
I - 8 (to make the game really easy)
A - 8 (I like VATS)
L - 5 (you can actually drop this further since there is a +1 luck implant...)

As you can see from above, it's really easy to build a melee character. Your strength and endurance stats are max out, allowing you to be the ideal melee tank you would expect to be. High intelligence means you have a ton of skill points to distribute for other skills. And since you are no longer looking for Better Criticals perk, you really don't need perception at all. The rest of the stats are just flavor.

The stats above aren't the best SPECIAL for melee build, but I'm just showing that you can have more freedom of allocating points wherever you wish as compared to the crit-fishing Unarmed build. Also, with that many skill points, perks should be incredibly easy to qualify. As for the perks themselves, you basically pick everything that increases your damage and survivability. You can even choose to branch your specialization and try a bit of throwing/lockpicking/whatever.

For the unarmed-critical build, not so much...