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Posts posted by 0kelvin

  1. Reordered the site now as follows:

    Readability and contrast

    Good examples
    Excess / Lack

    Pointing out paths

    Absence of landmarks
    Paths that are properly highlighted
    Paths that aren't properly highlighted

    Challanges and obstacles

    Randomness (this page contains no screenshots, it's a rant about how excessive randomness as in Path of Exile leads to frustration)
    Good challenges
    Challenges that are badly presented

    Architecture and design

    Form and functions that are non recognizable
    Lack of coherence
    Examples of nonsensical design choices
    Exploring the environment
    Good examples of coherence
    Problems with collision


    Good examples
    Bad examples

    Long essays on main category page. Screenshots and comments on subpages.


  2. So I wrote 10 pages and plan to translate to english later. Now I have to do some cleaning up and choose a better structure for the text. I didn't wrote much, it's mostly screenshots and commentary. Currently it is as follows:

    - Readability and contrast. I choose FEAR 2, Diablo 2, Path of Exile, Prey 2006, a map of mine and Unreal Tournament's Outpost 23 to talk about how having too much / little contrast is a bad thing.

    - Poorly highlighted paths. I choose Shadow Warrior, Unreal Tournament 1, Jedi Knight 1, Prey 2006, as examples of paths that the player have a hard time finding.

    - Well highlighted paths. Max Payne 1, Alan Wake, Jedi Knight 2, Shadow Warrior, as examples of paths are are clearly visible nad the player can easly follow.

    - Bad puzzles. Prey 2006 is a lesson on how to make puzzles that are both too easy and too confuse because the player have no idea of what to do.

    - Good puzzles. Prey 2006 and Jedi Knight 2. Interestnly, the ideas in Prey 2006 are creative. It's the execution of the puzzles that is poor.

    - Exploration. Doom SIGIL, Bioshock Infinite and Alan Wake as examples of what you can do to engage the player to explore. In the case of Bioshock I criticized how they place a locked chest in one place and the key very far away in a way that forces you to backtrack a long journey for little gain.

    - Landmarks. Discovery Channel, doom 1993, Alan Wake and Jedi Knight 2 as examples of how landmarks are a good thing.

    - Lack of landmarks. UT1 and GoldenEye, as examples of how a map with no landmarks at all, assymetric design and the same lights and textures reused everywhere create a map that is very hard to navigate.

    - Coherence and cohesion. I use Shadow Warrior and Prey 2006 as examples of how things in the game world are out of place or lack any logic behind it.

    - Form and function. I use Prey 2006 as an example of objects that you just can't tell what they are and levels that you can't tell where you are. It's just nonsense. That and how you have to make good use of the mechanics that you have. For ex: in the same space you have a regular bridge to cross and an anti-grav bridge that makes you corss the same chasm walking upside down.

  3. After reading the comments @Minos made about Resident Evil 2's lighting in his blog I decided to write about that too.

    Prey 2006 was such a bad experience in terms of leveldesign that I'm taking it as a lesson. They clearly made this game with no sense of direction at all. They place lights on doors that are so small and so weak that you can barely notice them. Even worse, they place strong lights on things that serve no purpose at all. They just thought that it looks cool and that's it. You are constantly driven in the wrong direction because the strong lights are leading to nowhere.

  4. I'm playing John Romero's Sigil. Things that I noticed:

    - Romero knows how to make the game hard. It's not quantity of monsters, but quality. It's the placement combined with the leveldesign that makes it hard.

    - The music perfectly matches doom

    - There are clever tricks such as presenting the player with a cyberdemon but you don't have enough ammo or weapons to kill it. What do you do? if you look closely there is another way to frag it that doesn't require weapons at all.

    - The secrets are well hidden. It's never obvious.

    - Romero really liked the hell's theme. Each map has a sense of being a living nightmare and there are scary moments

    - Doom does not render true 3D space but the levels are designed in a way that you have heights and you can freely explore the locations in a non linear way.

    - There is a steady player's progression. There are mechanics that once you learn it, the same procedure happens in the next levels.

    - Sometimes Romero places a deco representing death and there is some ammo next to it. A few steps further and there is a sharp turn. It's not just random placement or deco that is just that, a deco. It's a warning sing, very subtle indeed.

  5. "This does not bode well, for it confirms my darkest fears. While I did not allow myself to believe the Ancient Legends, I cannot deny them now. Perhaps the time has come to reveal who I am. My true name is Deckard Cain the Elder, and I am the last descendant of an Ancient Brotherhood that was dedicated to safeguarding the secrets of a timeless Evil. An Evil that quite obviously has now been released."

    Deckard Kain in Diablo 1.

    (I'm not making a joke)

  6. I decided to start writing about leveldesign. The idea came after so many maps that I made for unreal and being frustrated by how bad the levels in Prey 2006 were. Shadow Warrior also has some confusing levels. F.E.A.R. in contrast has great leveldesign.


    In Prey 2006 they placed a slot machine with a pipe next to a door. I spent almost a minute trying to open that door. They placed the machine in a way that you are tempted to use it because it really feels as if the machine would unlock the door.

  7. I played the first up to level 7. Having to fight horde after horde is tiring and boring.

    The second game I read some negative reviews in steam and decided to skip it.

    The third game seems to be in the right direction except for their art. They are relying on oversaturated graphics for some reason. Compare it to Doom / Doom Eternal, SW3's lighting and colors are pushed in a way that makes the screen hard to focus on the important things.

  8. I'm playing bioshock 2's Minerva's Den. The storyline is better than bioshock 2. But bioshock game is such an unstable game, it crashes way too often. In infinite the game would almost crash, minimizing itself and pausing for no reason. Right now bioshock 2 crashed and refuses to open, something is corrupted.

    Levine made a self contained game in bioshock 1. The storyline ends there. Columbia is also self contained. But Columbia suffered from a creativity crisis somehow. The last levels are all at night, with a thunderstorm, snow and the only explanation for it is that you crossed into another dimension. That ghost boss and the white boys are clearly a throwback to Rapture City. They even placed bath tubes in that dark research lab, mimicking Rapture's setting.

    Finished Burial at Sea and they forcibly connected both bioshock's worlds for no reason. It creates a paradox where you can't tell which city came first.

    For the next game they should keep upgrades, powers and weapons. But make the weapons and the powers meaningful, with tech that is part of the game's world and is required in different scenarios. In infinite you could skip almost all powers and weapons due to their redundant nature.

  9. Just deleted Prey. This game is the most stupid FPS game ever. Nothing in it makes sense. The leveldesign, the plot, the enemies, the powers, the weapons, everything in this game is completely nonsense. It feels as if they stitched together unused ideas from quake and duke nukem. Then they made some levels that are clearly inspired by the Independence Day movie.

    Why did they ever made it? The gravity trick and the portals are cool but that's all about this game. The sole puzzle that had some creativity in it was the cube one. Everything else is illogical. No single level in this game has a sense of being belivable, it's just a series of constructions that scream hollywood movies.

  10. I played the DLC and I must say, the alternate reality Rapture City surpass Columbia. They brought back the survival horror feeling from the first bioshock and perfected the leveldesign.

    The way they link Columbia to Rapture is about the chicken and the egg problem. Which one came first? With multiple universes that do not share a single timeline it's impossible to know. That literally creates an infinite loop with no beginning or end. That's why I think bioshock 4 would have a hard time sticking to the infinite's multiverse. It can be a universe in its own, but at the same time I'd be bound to Elizabeth's timeline in one way or another. The easiest solution is just to leave Elizabeth behind.

    Elizabeth's power was wasted on infinite. In Max Payne 2 there were levels that you would see the same plot from Mona's perspective. They lost the window to explore Elizabeth in more creative ways, such as using alternate realities to bypass security for instance. They nearly did that in the DLC when Eliabeth opens up a tear for you to grab the winter plasmid from another reality.

  11. If what Elizabeth says about constants is taken to the next level, a further bioshock game would have a villain that would naturally seek the power to rewrite reality or the power to control the outcome of all choices made across the multiverse.

    The quantum experiment that leads to the portals to other universes is a closed loop. The villain himself is what caused the loop in the first place. It's the villain that goes on searching multiple universes for his goal that causes his own demise because he can't forsee all possible futures. If they erase the Lutece from ever existing the multiverse is never explored in the first place. In that case the Lutece scientist is the ultimate villain for creating the loop in which all timelines exist. In bioshock universes' loop there is always a man, a city and a lighthouse. There is always the villain who creates the city, the hero that explores the city and the lighthouse that connects all universes. In all universes there are constants, yet in some versions the hero is successful and in others he isn't.

    Marvel's Avengers solves the grandfather paradox by branching the timeline. Preventing yourself from being born in the past does not erase yourself, rather it branches the timeline. In bioshock's multiverse theory that's not the case as the finale shows that commiting suicide does erase already existing universes.


    I can agree with Elizabeth being a way to make the game less frustrating and more seamless. It's a new take on traditional saves. You aren't forced to rewind and try again like Prince of Persia Sands of Time for instance. The way the player is brought back also ties in that game's universe. One idea that I just had is having Elizabeth auto pickup all consumables for you.

    About Levine, maybe he has great skills in storytelling but poor management skills. I have a feeling that bioshock 3 changed the gameplay in many ways due to the publisher's intervention.

  12. I have to say that Bioshock infinite does not live up to its expectations. The universe that they created is vast and can be reused infinitely, as the name implies. But they made many changes to the gameplay that dumbed down the game.

    Elizabeth recharges the player for free, which makes the game way too easy. The powers are way too good. I finished the game with lightning alone because it's overpowered. They forced the player to carry two weapons at most, which is a console oriented thing. The lack of different ammo types for each weapon and all powers being bought with cash further simplified the game.

    In bioshock 1 you are often left without ammo, health and eve. In infinite there is an overabundance of health, ammo and vigor. Thanks to Elizabeth recharging you through out the game. The enemies are much easier because they are dumb and can't do anything other than shoot at you. Their damage is also reduced from previous games. The big guys in bioshock infinite are way easier to kill than big daddies.

    On the other hand I really appreciate that Elizabeth is an interactive NPC with immunity to damage. Having her open locks is much better than playing puzzles. The idea of hacking isn't bad in the previous games, it's the repetitive nature of it that gets annoying over time. They could add some extra depth by having a supporting character with customizable powers / gears in the way Diablo 2 did. Or make a supporting character that acts as a mule, stocking health and goodies.

    If you compare Bioshock to Star Wars, in Star Wars the choice of light side vs dark side has much deeper implications. In bioshock infinite they removed the choice and there are no multiple endings. They imply that in the multiverse there is no such thing as freedom as there are constants that cannot be changed in any way. According to the theory, the villain is always paired with the hero and even though there are infinite universes, you always have one point that bifurcates in space-time in two different directions, meaning that you have closed loops where the only way to prevent the loop from ever happening is to stop it at its origin. It's the same idea used in DC's multiverse. In one universe superman is superman, in another he is the villain.

    If they make Bioshock 4 in another universe inside one of the multiple lighthouses, it makes the game less creative by putting the player inside an already known place where some universal rules are already known. If the hero commits suicide to prevent the birth of the villain, who is an alternate self in another universe, that would create a closed loop. Bioshock ends itself. Or at least, it ends the hero-villain loop in this case. There would still be infinitely many other universes where the same character is neither the hero nor the villain.

    For bioshock 4 they really need to balance out complexity vs simplicity. The gameplay in infinite was oversimplified, most of the skills, weapons and armor mean very little to the player. In fact some are completely useless. The soldiers in infinite did not feel part of the city, they didn't have the same sense of being residents as in Rapture's splicers and big daddies. The sky-lines and grappling that they made for infinite were there to add some hollywood-esque twists but at the same time you could skip them in battle if you didn't want to jump. Flying around like that added some eye-popping value but not that much in terms of gameplay.

    I would say that they really need to have auto pickup. In Diablo and path of exile it's a pain to pickup stuff from the ground. Bishock forces you to press twice, once to search, then again to pick up. Over time it strains your fingers.

  13. Surprisingly, Bioshock infinite added some twists that made the game more fun. They clearly designed this game to be played on consoles.

    The girl gives you some free money, ammo and vigor that helps a lot. There is also a shield that regenerates by itself. You no longer get stuck with no cash to buy health and eve.

    HAving the girl is much better than having to use a camera to level up some passive bonus skills.

  14. The mechanics in bioshock 2 are a bit more polished. You can use powers and weapons at the same time, which makes a huge difference. The pipe puzzle was swapped out for something much easier, push a button at the right time. It doesn't cause the strain that the previous puizzle did. The camera is updated with no longer requiring you to swap your weapon.

    I wish there would be a Jedi Knight game with the same level of interaction and depth that bioshock has.

    [EDIT] I'm not a fan of Bioshock afer all. What I feel from this game is that it has RPG elements that add depth to an FPS game. But the way it does that is like trying to blend oil and water.

    I'd say that Bioshock suffers from a split personality where half of it tries to be a more slow oriented RPG game. The other half tries to be a fast paced FPS. That's the dilema that I felt from having to manage resources in an FPS game.

  15. The atmosphere in Bioshock is outstanding. The level of interaction that the player has with the environment is also terrific.

    Notwithstanding the game has some flaws in its design. I find the idea of managing life, cash and mana in the same way as an RPG not quite apealling. The skills add a lot of depth to the game but the way you have to care about farming $$ and resources make the game a bit dragged. By the second level you are presented with a camera to take pictures of enemies. Taking picures of enemies to level up is an idea that I found game breaking. You have to be constantnly switching between fighting and taking pictures. I'm not enjoying this.

  16. Alan Wake has some issues with pacing. The world wasn't designed to be linear in the first place. That creates many dead zones that you have to traverse in long journeys that doesn't add much to the plot. The enemies are the same everywhere. There isn't much diversity and they all have the same pattern of attacks. There are also some points in the story that Alan loses all his items and weapons and the player is forced to start anew.

    Sam Lake really likes to begin stories at the ending scene, with a series of flashbacks throughout the game. If they ever make Alan Wake 2 they need to add more variety to enemies and more interaction to the environment. And make the progression less dragged.

    I could felt that they struggled really hard with an open world attempt. They failed and then resorted to reusing many concepts from Max Payne, such as turning on radios and TVs in game.

  17. Max Payne 3. The environments are really good but the mechanics are a departure from what Max Payne was. It was never a game with cover. The whole game turned into a cover shooter.

    The music keeps the gritty style but I'm not a fan a drums played like that.

    Max Payne 3 is a a combination of many elements from MP1 and 2. It follows the same ideas of police brutality, building exploding, corrupted police, etc.

    One thing that I didn't like is the pace. The added cutscenes that completely break the pace and it seems to be caused by the game having to fit onto consoles' tiny RAM. The game flow is interrupted by dialogues and other cutscenes way too often.

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