Saturday, June 24, 2017

MURDERED SOUL SUSPECT (PC)


Years ago I had this idea for a game: You start as a ghost. Your body is on the ground, you were assassinated minutes ago. A number of friends/relatives surround the corpse. You don´t know which, but one of them killed you. They all leave the scene and from that moment you start an investigation to find who of them murdered you. It would have been a game about talking to other ghosts with unfinished businesses, unlock new areas and puzzles using paranormal powers: Possession, telekynesis, etc. I also had a fairly good final story twist

Never got the chance to pitch it, though. Then I found Murdered soul suspect, which plot is surprisingly similar to what I had in mind. I got it reasonably cheap at Steam, played a bit but left it for other games for 2 years. Only recently I decided to finish it - and even did all the achievements

It holds a 51-59 in metacritics, and I fail to understand why. User rating is around 70, which sounds about right. Admittedly gameplay is not mainstream, it´s all about investigation and collectibles. And you can probably finish the game in 4-5 hours if you focus on the main missions. But still if you dig that type of experiences (there aren´t so many investigation games in the market, after all) it´s very enjoyable and the plot is reasonably good. And the setting feels very fresh to me

I personally recommend it to anybody who likes detective stories / gameplay, or collectibles (there is a gazillion of items to find). Critics were unfair with this game, I believe

Sunday, May 28, 2017

RAGE (PS3)


Knowing that PS3/Xbox 360 will be discontinued (as well as its online services) some day, I´m still trying to finish some old games before that happens. In the last months I´ve been playing Rage, and honestly it´s been a bit of a testing one...

Fairly hyped before its release, it was met with mixed reviews. I personally consider the PS3 version (don´t know about other platforms) as a technical failure. My reasons are:



  • LoD popping everywhere. Worst game I´ve seen
  • Don´t undertand why they had to instance dungeons. Streaming technology should have made it possible, and honestly the game as a whole it´s not so detailed
  • Forces you to save all the time. Checkpoints are non-existent in some areas, or simply ignore the "no more than 5 min lost" rule

All things considered it felt to me like a game conceived for PC, and at some point someone told the dev team "Ey, you do remember we´re supposed to deliver it on consoles as well, right?"


Design wise is not bad. If you like Mad-max settings it´s probably appealing. The shooting mechanics are well implemented and the game balance is adecuate. I´m not too hot about the AI movement options, though, since some enemies move too fast both horizontally and vertically. For PC is probably ok, but in console I had some issues targeting. Also not totally sure if the collisions shouldn´t have been more indulgent, I would often miss when I´m almost sure it should have been a hit


Aside from the core mechanics, the game offers some acceptable (not particularly new) racing challenges, crafting, mini-games, and side missions. In terms of content delivered it´s solid, it took me up to 21 hours to finish the game, plus 90% of the trophies (I am of the completionist type)


Anyway, not a bad game but definitively not a memorable one

Sunday, April 16, 2017

HIDDEN FOLKS (iOS)


Looks like I can find more time for mobile games than console/PC. Particularly during flights, where you don´t have many leisure options. That´s the case of Hidden Folks

It´s a hidden object game, much like the old "Where is Waldo" books: You´re presented with a gigantic 2D scenario and a list of objects/people to find, along with a hint per each. I presume the biggest challenge for designers was to find the sweet balance between how much info you give to the player, to make it challenging but not impossible

Overall I´d say the game is brilliant in that regard, since I managed to finish all scenarios but one without going to internet walkthroughs. And on that one, I missed only one of the objectives. So all things considered, I´d say the game does well in the difficulty curve

I gotta say I love the visual style. It´s unique, simple, fits the purpose of the game and still has personality. Good work! There are also a shit ton of animations to make the world feel alive, and also whenever the player interacts with the canvas. On the other hand, I think that affected performance negatively, particularly in some of the bigger levels

I think it could have done better regarding rewards: Whenever you find one of the items there is little celebration, nor a list of achievements to make. You just keep going finding more stuff, until the game allows you to move to the next level. They can probably do better in that sense

I certainly recommend this game to anyone willing to test his observation skills. If you´re not, then it´s probably not for you, but still it feel fresh to anyone willing to find something different in their mobile gaming!


Monday, March 20, 2017

SUPERMAN RETURNS - A POSTMORTEM



Very interesting article about what went right / wrong during the development of Superman Returns:

Click here

My favorite part: "In retrospect, we had the tough combination of new game/new engine/new team. Generally you want a maximum of one of these things for a project. Two becomes difficult. Three is damn near impossible"

Enjoy!

Monday, January 23, 2017

ASSHOLE-DRIVEN DEVELOPMENT

An interesting article, I can soooo totally relate to some of my previous companies:

Asshole-driven development

Take a look at the comments, too. Some of them are even better than the original

Saturday, January 7, 2017

TREASURE HUNT 2016


Like every year, I organized a treasure hunt for my nieces and nephews at the family reunion. Each time I try to do something different, with the additional complication of kids growing older each passing year. This means the challenges and rewards need to be updated

There were around 13 kids. I chose 2 captains based on seniority, and each selected their teams by turns. Somehow girls ended up all together plus one of the boys, so they asked him to be moved so it was girls vs boys. It was unfair since it´d be 5 against 8 but that´s how they liked it

I had previously hid poker chips all around the house. The 1 dollar pieces were at plain sight, 5 dollar chips a bit more hidden. Then the 25 and 50 dollar pieces were fairly hidden but the kids could use some hints written on paper (no more than 5 hints active per team). There were also two 100 chips particularly hidden, one per each team, also with paper hints

I gave them 30 min to look around the house and try to find as many chips as possible. I would say they found 70% of them. Girls outperformed the boys here, and despite being less they got 40% more currency. Go girls!

These chips would be used on the second phase: The auction. They were supposed to use that currency to bargain for the presents. This year I went to Flying tiger, trying to offer “more adult” items. I bought around 30 little items raking from 1 to 3 euros each. On top of that I also got 3 gift cards of 10 euro each for the older ones

The auction went like this: I showed briefly all gifts to them, then gave some minutes to come up with their strategy. Then I would go gift by gift asking them what they wanted to offer from the chip pool they had. They would commonly raise the stakes trying to beat the other team. Boys were more aggressive than girls and actually used better their resources. They got the majority of gifts and by the end have used almost all their chips. Girls were much more conservative and the auction ended with half of their chips being unused. Still they got the gift cards which is what they wanted, so everybody was happy ;)

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

STREAMFRAME


Months ago I gave it a try to a new management tool: Streamframe. Now I finally found the time to share my opinion about it, so let´s go with it ;)

It´s essentially a videogame production tool in the form of a social network. In other words, it´s like Facebook has been adapted for tracking tasks. It´s web based and although couldn´t find confirmation, I suspect it´s possible to use it on your mobile phone (ala Slack)

The visual design is probably one of their strongest points. It´s really nice to see, elegant and relaxing. Aside from that it offers a wide array of small tools to support your organization efforts: Task creation and tracking, calendar, notes, messages and chat. They also added the possibility of "liking" other people´s posts

However it seems to have the same issue than most other production tools: It´s only fully useful for 2D assets. Maybe animations too (ala Shotgun) but for 3D and code there is no way you can review work into the tool. Can´t blame them, no other tool does afaik. Aside from that there were some weird decisions about how you interact with the tool (i.e. you can´t do anything unless you create a "space" - other tools don´t require you to do that -, couldn´t find a way to move an existing task to a new deliverable, no drag & drop, doesn´t update info particularly fast...) that makes it feel like a public Beta, waiting for some usability improvements

It probably works great for small teams where everybody makes an impact on the product, particularly with young / hipster users, other than that I don´t see it working on a big production, tbh