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I've decided this will be my last blog entry here. And now it will solely be based at Days of Gaming. So I guess if anyone feels like reading what I have to say (also there is more stuff like reviews) then go there after this. But enjoy this read here because it shall be my last (here).
Sunday, September 12
With the semi recent announcement that Killzone 3's load times will be almost non-existent, it got me thinking about load screens and load times. And in Killzone 3's case it makes me think that saying load times are almost non-existent isn't that big a breakthrough. It was common place a long time ago and has been done plenty of times even recently. A big example is the Jak and Daxter series. And that made me realize that Killzone 3 will most likely have load times, but what it won't have is what we would consider a loading screen. Instead the loading sections would be replaced with cut scenes or a elevator right, much like Jak and Daxter did so well and Mass Effect (1) failed so miserably at.
Mass Effect: Numerous, long, and awful. It failed at masking loading screens
But what I started thinking about wasn't necessarily the fact that I doubted what Guerrilla said about Killzone 3, but how developers have been coping with load times. Some just use a load screen that is plain and boring, others use a short movie or repeating clip (this is different from a cut scene), some have used cut scenes, some just add the words loading and blur the screen for a couple seconds, and then there are the games that try to mask load times with long corridors or an elevator ride.
Load times have almost become a staple of video games (well that and Blu-ray movies&hellip and what I really wanted to define was my most favorite **** Without a doubt I would love there to be no load screens or for them to be masked just like Jak and Daxter (not like Mass Effect&hellip. But that just isn't going to happen with every game. And I would rather a developer work on improving the game rather than spend all their time making that zero second load time. So I came up with a small list of what I think is the best, if there is an actual load screen.
It goes something like this.
- A loading bar, NO spinning wheel or something like that. If the bar slightly changed it would be nice (to indicate the game didn't freeze).
- Some form on non-moving picture. Yes the animated videos of Mass Effect 2 were nice, but felt unnecessary and seemed like if they weren't there the loading would probably have been faster.
- For the picture… some concept art/sketch would be great, be it an environment or character art.
- If text is included, not entirely necessary, it should either be a helpful tip (not obvious button equals reload) or funny. Also they should change throughout the game. I am pretty sure a tip isn't needed when I am 30 minutes away from finishing… just saying.
- Pictures shouldn't reveal anything that hasn't been revealed yet, coughJadeEmpirecough.
These are the things that I think would make the best loading screens, obviously the less loading screens the better, but if they are there they could at least be good.
And for the whole subject of Killzone 3, I didn't mean to come off as harsh because I think what they are saying isn't entirely truthful. I have to thank them for getting closer to no load times, and if it is true then I have to applaud them for actually doing it.
But now onto the question. What is your perfect loading screens, not including no loading screens and load times? If you have a game as an example then go ahead and say it.
Now this may be considered advertising, but I am also putting the entire blog entry in this too. I have a new blog somewhere else and I plan on putting everything there. So you can read this one and maybe check out my new place (at least for the design). So enjoy the read, but this will most likely be my last entry here. Maybe one more....
Sunday, September 6
Ask almost any "hardcore" console gamer and they will undoubtedly say that motion control just needs to go away or even possibly die. They don't think it adds much to games. Plus why do they need to look like an idiot while playing them? But then I got to thinking… didn't we, in a way, take this "freedom of movement" step already? And wasn't it recent?
Dual Analog was a huge improvement for gaming. Yes, it took a little bit to get used to, but it allowed for so much more. It gave console gamers the ability to look up and down while move forward and backwards. Without console gaming, and even possibly gaming in general, would not be the same. But when it comes to Dual Analog the effect is usually more in game than compared to what the Wii motion controls do. Many can say what the Wii motion controls have far less impact on the games themselves, which means it could have easily been done with a normal controller.
Is this really what we want?
But I don't think that is true. With every new technology not every avenue is explored immediately and I think motion control is just taking longer than Dual Analog. Look at newer games like Zelda and the Skyward Sword. It would be a pain to switch between a vertical and horizontal slash. It not only would take up an extra button but it also would be down right awkward and unnecessary. With a motion controller it is simplified, much like how dual analog simplified looking up and down while moving forward and backwards. Another game that would benefit greatly from motion control would be Metal Gear Solid: Rising, even though I think there are no plans for it… sadly
Whose arm looks broken? All Thanks to Kinect.
The examples I gave may just seem like I justified people's belief that motion control in unnecessary. Because like I pointed out, motion control would only make it easier, which may be only a small impact. But that was roughly the same thing dual analog did when it was released. There were already shooters with the ability to aim up or down, but dual analog only made it easier. Also some games, even now, don't really benefit from dual analog (primarily RPGs like Final Fantasy). So how different is motion control?
This completely unreal event may be something of the past.
I think the biggest thing hurting motion control is casual games. You see a Wii controller, Playstation Move, or a Kinect and you will immediately think, casual games. Fortunately for dual analog it didn't get associated with just a type of game but gaming overall, which includes casual games. Motion controls don't have to be built solely around casual games, even though majority of them currently are. If the casual games weren't associated with motion controls I think it may be regarded as the next dual analog. Because we all know the only other complaint is that they make you look stupid while using them… And we know that isn't necessarily true… unless you are using the Kinect. Then you look stupid and incredibly creepy.
So the question is, do you think that motion controls are the future and if so are they capable of more benefits than just freedom of movement? If not, then explain your reasons, beyond the ones I mentioned.
Many games have touted the ability of creating your own story and many have in ways done this. Now the story you can create is still determined by the developer and it usually has about as much depth as the history of the United States, as in how many people can we kill (I am an American, thank you). Not only that, but many of these games also tout the ability to partake in moral choices. Thus far the developers have done a fine job in making those games good, but the games really aren't good because of either of those things. They just really haven't done much in creating a great "create your own adventure" that is a real "create your story" story or done very well with moral choices.
And when I say there is not much depth to the story created, I am talking about two different things. One is how you really cannot create your own true story, but only one of the 2 or 3 the developers have lined up for you. The other is about choices and consequences. For the most part there really are no consequences, except for the one or two that have an actual effect beyond a slap on the wrist for doing something bad or the emotionless smile for doing something good.
Now there seems to be two different styles of these games, the ones that are all about do anything you want like Fable (1) and Oblivion (or Morrowind if that is your fancy), then the ones that focus more on the moral consequences with a defined story like Mass Effect and Fable I guess.
Now many people will say that for the games that just let you do what you want really do let you create your own story and that is true, at least somewhat true. They do let you choose your own story, but not necessarily create one. For example with Fable (1) there are essentially two stories you can choose from and those are being a Bandit and murdering townspeople or being a Hero and murdering bandits. You can't choose to become a business mogul and create a huge franchise, or create a gladiatorial league, or anything beyond those two different stories. Now obviously games will never have true create your own story because there will always be a limited amount of choices. This is even the case with Oblivion, they do let you do a lot of things in the game and more so than Fable. You can choose to follow the mage's story, or the thieves story, or the fighter's story, and etc, but in the end you become the mage, thief, or fighter that either is a hero and kills bad people/beings or is bandit that kills good people/beings.
Above: No matter how many ****s and background to start from in the game there are only so many stories to choose from.
And yes I know the whole being good and killing bad people or being bad and killing good people has a lot to do with moral choices, which is why this blog entry is about both story and moral choices. They go hand in hand even if not done that well. I also know that you can some what create your story in those games, but it would essentially mean doing absolutely nothing. Instead of following the designated stories brought about by the developers you can either do side missions or again absolutely nothing, but even then those are just stories designed by the developers. Because just doing side missions makes you an adventurer and not a hero or villain, and doing nothing essentially means you are not playing the game.
Also I am not looking at "creating", or choosing, your own game as have a very wild or different character **** For example I always make my sorceress in Diablo 2 a battle sorceress with a flail, but that doesn't create or choose a new story for me. It is just another way to play through the same types of stories.
Now I am not saying these games are bad, but I am saying that the ability to do anything and truly create your own stories is just not fully there yet. However, these games are trying and doing a good job at offering more than the games that don't tout the ability to create your own story.
Now onto the problem of moral choices, or just choices in general. I will not be getting into how moral choices make no sense because "good" and "bad" are decided by the user.
The problem with moral choices is how they are implemented in the game. In almost any of the choices in games they never come down to, if I was in this situation what would I do, but more to the point of, I decided to make a mass-murdering psychopath so what would make me be more evil.
Not only that, but for the most part the "bad" choices tend to give the players more rewards that "good" choices. Taking the "bad" path many times can leave someone with more items, special weapons, and experience (because the "good" choices some times avoid fighting). Also doing those "bad" choices usually don't have many consequences. In Fable (1) and Oblivion you could go around slaughtering all the guards in a town and still have everyone like you, but now your character as probably leveled up from the experience. The only time someone may stay away from you in oblivion is if your sick, diseased, because apparently being ill is far worse than going around killing 30 innocent people.
Above: This is a choice, but not necessarily a moral one. Even with this action there is only positive rewards (people liking you more).
Some games have improved a little bit on this formula, but it still isn't perfect and sometimes have restrictions. Bioware has been adding more character interaction into the mix with moral choices. If you tend to be more evil than the "evil" characters will like you more and the "good" characters will like you less. It is even possible to lose characters loyalty in Mass Effect 2 depending on a moral choice, which really just means you try and keep both or which character you like more. However, Mass Effect 2 blurs the line a little bit between "good" and "bad" with some of the interactions you make. By taking the "good" choice you can endorse a store by saying that it is your favorite store on the citadel and in return you will receive a discount. That doesn't seem so bad until you realize you can do that to about three different stores and they all say the same thing. That doesn't seem like something a "good" person would do considering how they are using and manipulating people.
Above: Your choices will affect whether or not some of these characters like you in the end.
I don't want to give the impression that I think developers should stop because they are not that good, but just the impression that I don't think they are that good. I want developers to keep trying to create a game that really allows you to create your own adventure rather than just choosing one of out the three adventures made up for them. I would also like to see other companies look at what Bioware is doing in the moral choice corner. Because we all know Peter Molynuex (Fable) could actually start trying and if he finally decided to start he could start by trying to copy someone else that does it so much better. Ok so I was kidding on the whole Peter Molynuex thing (partially) because I really liked Black & White.
Also I do know a "choose one of several developer created adventures" really just enables the ability to replay the game more than once and experience something newish the second time. The same goes for moral choices too. In one play through you can be "good" and the next "evil" and it is supposed to be a different game play experience, which it really isn't. So I understand that they both do their job somewhat well, but I want to see their job go much farther than just two play throughs, and be almost a limitless playground of things to do and choices to make.
As for the question I would like to ask the people that read my blog (I think there is a couple… maybe, hopefully). What do you want to see developers excel more at, Create your own Adventure or Moral Choices? And then there is the obvious option of both.
I would say both because that is what I want, but on a more realistic stance I would say moral choices because I can see developers actually getting the down better. For a team to make a truly open ended adventure where you could create your own story from scratch it would cost a fortune because think of how many genres that game would have to combine and do well. Moral choices seem like a more accomplishable task, for the most part, I know they can't perfect it because no two persons moralities are the same and it would have to be far more than just "good" and "evil", but I think they could get closer.
Also please do not say MMOs are what I should be looking at for the "create your own adventure" game because I know about them and have played them, but I left them out for a reason. That reason being almost no moral choices, unless you consider being a paladin or not a paladin a moral choice.
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