The Animal Farm

February 23rd, 2006

Penguin Push again

Okay, I finally got around to putting Penguin Push on this site in exe form. You can find it here. I suggest you all play it again, and this time beat it!

~Zach

February 23rd, 2006

Bits of Info to Chew

The 6th 72 Hour Game Development Competition has been announced. We’ve upgraded everything, creating a fully automated forum to handle voting, submissions, and judging. I say we, but props really must be given to Jeff and Peppermint Pig for doing most of the technical/design work. There’s also an actual main page to display news and such. Unfortunately, since the forum went down last time and Pixelation has vanished, we’ve lost touch with a lot of our core competitors. Thus, there’s a lot less activity, and I’m not too confident right now that the competition will get the 20-30 entries it normally receives. Hopefully we’ll still get some good games, though.

Zach’s faith in Old MacDonalds Farm strikes me as odd. The game will have a marvelous backend, no doubt. The technical minds that went into the programming form a conglomerate that I poetically refer to as The Super Geniuses. The design we had to work with - and the associated look and feel - are what worry me. It doesn’t seem like much of a game as it does a twisted experiment. There’s no real ‘gameplay’ to speak of. You buy some plants and animals to sustain your farm, and you move your animals around, letting AI take care of the rest. Combined with the actual look of things - billboarded quads on an overly-simple 3D terrain - you’re left with a ‘bleh’ feeling. I prefer the direction Project Geo is taking myself. It’s shaping up to be quite the game, both in terms of looks and gameplay. Hopefully we’re going to have another non-class project starting soon, but I’ll talk more about that when the time arrives.

I’ve been playing a lot of Suikoden 3 lately. It starts out real slow, and after 25 hours, I don’t think I’ve even scratched the story yet. It’s also very infuriating how random survival seems sometimes. Case in point: right now, I have had to do the same strategic battle over four times. The battle’s objective is to survive x number of turns, where x is not defined anywhere. I have beaten it once, and during that encounter it lasted four turns. Then I was thrown into a standard battle that annihilated my entire party before I got off more than one attack. So I had to do the strategic battle again, and I survived at least ten turns, and then got killed. It was at that point that I screamed angrily and threw the controller at my Dreamcast. Poor Dreamcast. She just wants to be loved.

Yes, Zach is playing WoW again. Do me a favor and e-mail him reminding him that he is dead on the inside. It sure will save me a lot of trouble.

Digital watches do cartwheels in the meadows.

February 20th, 2006

A Discourse on Game Design

There’s a constant debate among game designers at GameDev.net about the appropriate way to allow players to save their game and the appropriate way to punish these same players for losing. I’m becoming more and more of the opinion that this should really be a non-issue: players should be allowed to save whenever they choose and pickup from that point without consequence. If a player dies, he should simply be put back at the last point he saved and allowed to continue playing.

Designers have a responsibility to their players above all considerations. If a player wants to (or, as is the case sometimes in real life, has to), the player should be allowed to quit at any point without losing more than a few minutes of work. Anything else is simply frustrating, and frustrating a player is a bad thing.

Case in point: Suikoden 3 versus Wild Arms Alter Code F. Suikoden 3 is a frustrating game. I’ve died a large number of times, and because save points are typically placed before large sections of text, I have to sit through the same scenes over and over. Wild Arms, however, implemented a feature that allowed me to retry a battle if I lost. I beat Wild Arms over the course of a weekend, nearly non-stop. On the other hand, I quit playing Suikoden every few hours because I’m fed up with the frustration. Disregarding everything else, it’s clear which one I would call a better game. And I do disregard everything else when I throw that controller down, irritated that I have to do the same things again.

Repetition is boring, and it’s hardly an optimal punishment for loss. At its best, it simply makes me want to stop playing the game. At its worst, it makes me want to stop playing the game for good. That is not good game design.

Veggie-eating carrot-head!

February 20th, 2006

Seriously, I suck

I have no excuses for my incredibly long bout of AWOL to this site. I would like to claim I was off fighting hoards of badguys in some far off world. But I wasn’t. Have I been busy? Maybe. Busy for me anyway. But really, busy for me is about 20 to 30 hours of doing schoolwork + work a week. Noone would call that busy. In fact, I am enjoying almost all of my time spent doing homework. In fact, if we ignore half of my classes, I like all the homework I have. Women’s Studies and Design of Algorithms really aren’t all that fun.

I started playing WoW again, haven’t gotten far though. Not really much to say there, I play anywhere from 0 to 6 hours in day, usually closed to 3 though. I enjoy it as a time-killer, but I have no intentions of getting Uber and having an “all-purple” outfit for my hunter.

Project Geo is a game I am working on with 4 other people for one of my classes. I am excited about this game and think it has potential to be really fun. The Old MacDonald’s Farm Game, or OMFG, is the other game I am working on in a team. This game has potential to be amazing, what with 6-player networked-play going on. I have some serious doubts the everything will get done though. We have our first big, big demonstration this week. That class is basically all I have been working on at work. I am in charge of the GUI. As of now, I am pretty sure I am almost finished designing the main HUD for gameplay. The only real work left for me is the server browser. That shouldn’t be too difficult, though. I have to get the GUI to work better with the actual game simulation as well, but that is only a few messages, so it should also be be rather simple. Yesterday, I met with Sowas and James( teamates ) and we got some nifty stuff working. I will admit, I am excited. Either Sowas or I will post a link to the game when it comes time.

Raytheon, the company I interviewed with last semester and who I really want to work for, still has not contacted me. The last time they did was to tell me that I should get either a phone call( hire ) or an email( no hire ) by the end of Feb. That is in 8 days, really only 7. Am I nervous? Hells yes. I will be posting about that sometime soon, I am sure.

~Zach

What it is ho!? What’thuuu?

February 13th, 2006

Yes. God yes.

February 5th, 2006

Final Proof

Fate had seen fit to play She’s All That, Mrs. Doubtfire, and the Superbowl at the same time. My head exploded trying to decide.

Are you a magnet? Because you’re attracting my buns of steel.

|