Entry 18: Portal

July 2nd, 2011

This was a triumph! I’m making a note here: huge success! It’s hard to overstate my satisfaction!

Portal, little more than a Valve prototype game, quickly became a runaway success, not to mention the origin of numerous internet catchphrases and memes (the cake is a lie!). GlaDOS, the game’s antagonist, has been named the villain of the decade and even best game villain of all time by various publications. With Portal 2’s launch right around the corner, I decided to revisit the original game and play it straight though.

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Entry 17: Today I Die

July 2nd, 2011

Next on our list of assigned games is a little art game called “Today I Die”. Visually, it is made up of sprite-based graphics reminiscent of early VGA adventure games. Gameplay consists of mouse dragging items or characters across the screen and placing them on or near other items. Other mechanics include holding items for a certain time and waiting as they change, and dragging items around to avoid contact with other, pursuing objects.

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Entry 16: Fruit Ninja and Pewpew: Android quickies

June 30th, 2011

Recently I’ve been downloading many Android apps as to study as I am hoping to develop some games for the platform. There are several kinds of Android/mobile games; some, like Gameloft’s library of games, attempt to reproduce the home console experience on tiny smartphone devices. But another kind of game caters specifically to the mobile format and the usually very short game times associated with it. This short playtime means that they resemble older arcade games in many ways; like those early games, they are designed for a quick turnaround.

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Entry 15: Drop7

June 29th, 2011

The next title in the list of digital games assigned for class, Drop 7 is a mobile (iOS, Android) “puzzle” game. At first glance, the game plays like a strange combination of Bejeweled and Connect Four, but that description does the game a disservice.

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Entry 14: Guild Wars

June 28th, 2011

Guild Wars is a unique online computer role-playing game. Some consider it an MMO along the lines of World of Warcraft, but while it has many qualities in common with an MMORPG, it remains very different in a lot of aspects. It’s hard to encapsulate my play experience with Guild Wars in a single notebook entry, since I’ve been playing it on and off since its release in 2005. Still, as it is a unique departure from the established MMO “genre” in both mechanics and business model, I consider it worthy of analysis.

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Entry 13: Darkspore

June 27th, 2011

I recently had the opportunity to play the beta for Darkspore, a game still unreleased as of this writing. Darkspore is an interesting creature. Created by Maxis, best known for Will Wright’s Sim and Sims games, it is a kind of spin-off of Spore, Wright’s latest published game, which is perhaps best known for its creature creator.

Darkspore is essentially a fusion of that creature creator with a traditional Diablo-style “Action RPG” game, with a strange dash of Pokémon-style “gotta catch ‘em all” mentality thrown in. Though it initially seems to be an odd combination of elements, the end result is a revitalizing of the action RPG genre, made a little stale by too many Diablo clones set in varied but similar medieval fantasy worlds.

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Entry 12: VVVVVV

June 12th, 2011

The next game on the “required playing” list for this Notebook is simply titled VVVVVV and is an interesting contrast to Spelunky. Like Spelunky, VVVVVV is an unforgiving platformer; unlike Spelunky, VVVVVV’s uniqueness comes not from randomness, but from a single mechanic. Aside from moving left and right, there is a single action the player can take: reversing gravity.

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Gameplay Notebook Entry 11: Spelunky

June 12th, 2011

So, the Gameplay Notebook returns. This time, ten of the games I’m going to be looking at will come from a list of assigned titles. Frankly, I’m glad to try them; these aren’t games I’d usually play, and I definitely welcome new gameplay experiences.

First up on the resurgent GN is Spelunky.

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Summer Updates

June 12th, 2011

After an insanely busy pair of quarters, summer is finally here. With it comes a new round of updates. First up is a new set of gameplay notebook entries, which will be uploaded daily for the next forty days. Next up is some new information about my recent and current projects, along with (hopefully) some new editorial entries.

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Remembering Lost Travelers

February 2nd, 2011

This past week NASA has been remembering the anniversaries of its three greatest disasters: Apollo 1, Challenger, and Columbia. I had not realized how close to each other the three anniversaries were.

Its no secret that I have the greatest admiration for the space program. These men and women, and their Cosmonaut counterparts from Soyus 1, Soyuz 11 and other failed Soviet missions, are nothing less than my heroes, and so today I am remembering them as well.