Thursday, September 30, 2004

:: Final Game Post #2 ::

Dark Dawn: I had originally hoped to be able to finish this game that a friend and I had designed over the summer. The game was nearing compleation, but something wasn't working, but I didn't know quite what it was. Because of our discussions/readings I can now better describe what was wrong with it. Although for this class I think my time would be better spent on designing a more conceptually interesting, perhaps less object-oriented game, atleast now I know what I need to work on if later on I do decide to develop Dark Dawn.

The problem I was running into was that I had not enough control of any of the three scale/duration graphs. But to understand the problems I was having, first I have to explain what I was trying to acomplish.

As you may have read before, I am a fan of Magic: the gathering -- as is my friend who helped me -- and we were always thinking of ways to improve upon it. So, when we were about 13 we decided to make our own game. Drawing inspiration from our love of StarCraft and Risk we tried to make a game that involved resource managment and strategic unit placement. But we were 13. So after a day and a half of drawing pirates and monsters we got bored and moved on. That is, until this summer when we found ourselves at home and bored. So after trying to entertain ourselves with some games of Magic, we decided to give Dark Dawn a second try.

The basic idea of the game is you chose one of four clans (each with their own uniqe characteristics) who inhabit a mythical planet. You then chose which of the four lands of this planet you will inhabit. Each land affacts different clans in different ways, as well as having uniqe characteristics of their own (such as shore size, achres of fertile land, and ore content.) You also draw a Capitol card, which again alters your gameplay depending on your clan (how much enrgy you get, or how much certian units cost, etc.) You then set up Farms and Mines for your Workers to generate "money" from, and along with energy you gather in a number of different ways, you begin to recruit units. Units are either Advanced (can attack other lands) or Homebound (can only defend), and you assign them to the first of second line of defense. Anyway...the goal is to build an army that can punch a big enough hole in your opponants defense for long enough to get a "flag bearer" unit through to your enemys Capitol. If he stays there one turn, you win.

The biggest problem has been the spacial scale of the game. With so many cards, and so many tokens floating around, we had a hard time finding a space big enough to play on, and when we did our spread got so big we couldn't keep track of it all. (see diagram -- and that just one players set-up)

And although in theory you should be able to play with four people -- or more if we modified it slightly -- we had a hard enough time getting through it with just the two of us. So at this point it looks as though the Number of Players is locked firmly at two, since one player is out of the question.

We wanted the game to be longer than the average Magic match, and for the most part it is. The problem is, however, that the beginning of the game (mostly setting up your Capitol, getting workers out, and mineing) is very time consuming. And since it is turn-based, one player has to sit and watch as the other takes 5 - 10 mins to decide where he gonna send his workers and make sure he doesn't cheat when collecting farm or mine tokens. (It would really work better if this process was a bit more if it were a computer game.) Once the game gets going the pace seems pretty strong and the combat can be alot of fun. There is good stratigy in placing units and who attacks where and when. But once the scales got tipped more than just a little the game was over in only a few turns, so there needs to be more ability to come back from behind.

Now I know why Dark Dawn was struggling, and for this corse will try to make a game less complex so that I can learn to control the Player/Scale/Duration graphs before I tackle something this large.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

:: Final Game Post #1 ::

Real-World Side Scroller: I'm not sure if this will be my final game, but it's the only game I've thought of that is site-specific, so I'll go with it for now.

As I mentioned in my first post, I was interested in pen and paper or analog side scrollers. Since then it had occured to me that escalators would be a good "platform" to deploy this sort of game. Thier clear plexi-glass sides, and automatic movment lend themselves to simplifying some of the problems with making a large-scale real-world side scroller.

On the outside of the plexiglass the game designer could use markers or pre-made stickers to create obsticles, enemy's, coins and bonus' that define the course. Then one at a time each player would kneel on a stair of the escalator. (Perhaps a large cardboard box or some devider could be placed on the stair above the player, to prevent him from seeing the corse ahead.) As the escalator moved upwards the player would drag a marker on the plexi to show his path as he avioded bad guys and encircled coins to "collect" them. At the end of the corse (top of the escalator) the player would get off, and the game designer would follow the players "path", awarding points and penalties for coins collected or obsticals hit, as he erased the players marks so the next player cannot see.

If the game were to be deployed at a place like AMC VanNess 1000 theatre, where there are multiple levels of escalators, at the end of each "level", the lowest scoring player would be eliminated, and all remaing players would continue to the next, more difficult level, until the culmitive high scores were added and a winner was crowned.

The only way this plan could be feasable is if it were done either before or after regular buisness hours.

FENNIS; it will own your soul!

Fennis (fence-tennis) is quite possibly the greatest game ever ...that you've never played ...that was desgined for a broken tennis court.

The game came about when a friend and I went to play some tennis at a local tennis court in early spring. When we arrived we found that the courts had not yet been set-up (no nets in the middle). Refusing to be denyed our fun, we decided to play anyway. What followed was the birth of a beautiful new art form: Fennis.

Two :: Players
Two :: Tennis raquets
Six :: or more Tennis balls (preferably orange "fuzz-rounds", available at Excerd Drugs)
One :: Tennis court, fenced in by an 8' to 12' high fence equally spaced from the court on either side, and with no net in the middle.

Players take their positions on opposite sides of the court. The goal section of the fence behind each player is marked (or agreed upon). It is usually the entire height of the fence, and as wide as the singles markings of the court. Players decide how many points the game will go to (usually 21). Then they volley for serve.

A serve must be bounced once on the ground, then hit towards the opponant. If the ball gets past the opponant and hits the goal area of the fence, it is worth one point. A dead ball can not score. The ball dies when it bounces more than three times in-a-row inside a play area (gray areas on diagram -- players cannot leave their play area) or is hit over the fence (out of bounds). Whoever was last to touch a dead ball, loses possesion. (So, if you try and block a ball from scoring, but it does anyway after hitting your raquet, your opponant gets the points and the ball).

Bobbling a ball is when you hold the raquet like a frying pan and bounce the ball on the raquet. You can bobble a ball to get back in a better position, to save a ball from dying, or to pysche out your opponant. If the ball stops on your raquet, it is dead.

However, this is where Fennis is seperated from other, less totally-incredably-awesome games: If Player One's serve is returned by Player Two (and it usually is) then the ball is worth two (so if it gets past P1 and hits the goal zone behind him, then P2 gets two points). But, if the two point ball is volleyed back by P1 before it dies, it is then worth three points...and so the point value builds until the ball dies or someone scores. So the point value of any single play is potentional infinate. This creates some very heated matches, and since the play zone goes forever in either direction (or atleast as far as the fence streches) players can run after a stray ball in an attempt to bobble it back and try to score big. The game can get very hecktic and very physically demanding. There is also a good deal of stratagy, since if your down by alot early on, you may risk keeping a ball live to score big, but if your ahead by a little, and its near the end of a game, then you can deliberatly kill high-value ball.

I have only played one on one, but have always thought it would be interesting to expand it to multiple people per team, perhaps expanding the goal zone to a larger one, or having multiple targets. It would be great to have three games playing simultaniously next to each other, and they were allowed to "share" the balls (but then keeping track of the point value of each ball would be much more difficult).

There could even be a MOD designed to increase the dodge-ball like stratagy invovling multiple balls and goal zones where players would bobble the ball alot more, and try to catch the other team off gaurd when they shot the ball.

Anyway, if you ever find a tennis court in disrepair, rejoice! For you have discovered a new Fennis court!

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Prime Time, baby!

This week I will review the game of football as it is played by the NFL.

I find football and interesting sport for a few reasons. One reason is that watching people get clobbered and bend joints in directions other than those they were ment to bend in brings about a kind of awe and amazment that I find quite addicting. Another more game-design-related reason is that when you are watching a football game it is acutally two seperate but realted games you're witnessing. When you hear that the Redskin's are gonna take on the Cowboy's on Monday, what is actually gonna happen is the Cowboy offense is going up against the Skin's defense, and inbetween the Washington Offense will try to play against the Dallas D. So instead of two Teams (big "T") there are four seperate teams (little "t")playing two one on one matches. Each match decides when and where on the feild the other match-up will play. Then each Team (big "T" again) has another team called the "special teams", who has a player called a "kicker" who's job it usually is to win or lose the game for the rest of his Team.

The great thing is that anyone can score, offense, defence, special teams (okay maybe the coach can't, but he can try). For example, during Saturday's game a member of the Houstan defense intercepted the ball from the KC offense in their endzone, and ran 102 yards for a TD.

The Magic Circle in the NFL is extremely well defined and enforced. There are a group of people (called "referees") who are not playing the game but are on the feild and in the stadium watching it the entire time to ensure there are no violations of the Magic Circle.

Players themselves are clearly makred as playing by very specific uniforms and safty equiptment they must wear. Inside the Magic Circle anyone not wearing the same color jersey is your mortal enemy. Even though outside the game they may be your friend, brother, ex-team mate or childhood role model, once in the game you want to hit them, hurt them, make them drop the ball.

While playing the game, players are allowed to do things that would otherwise be completely socially unacceptable. An example being that they are allowed to (under some circumstances) run full steam into another player and try to get them on the ground in the quickest, most violent way possible -- as long as the poor sap they are hitting has the ball. However, as soon as the refs blow the play dead, no one may be clobbered. If someone is clobbered after the whistle has blown, its bad news for the offending player and his team, as they will be assesed a penalty by the refs.

Both Teams accept constraints to make the game more difficult, but also more enjoyable (if not so much for them, atleast for the fans). For example, the feild is limited in width so that runners cannot go around the big burly 375lb. defensive linemen, but at somepoint are forced to run at them. The defense, on the other hand, is not allowed to punch, kick, or shove an opponant who is trying to recieve the ball, even though it would be alot easier to prevent him from catching it if they did. Players must also wait for the ball to be snapped before clobbering other people. They can't just run past everone and nail the QB before the ball has been snapped (even though sometimes they try).

Anywhoo... I could go on and on about the role of the coach (besides yelling, screaming, and throwing his clipboard at the ground) or the impact of 20,000 screaming, halfnaked, face-painted, foam-finger waving fans ...but why talk about football when I can go watch it?

Go Cowboys!

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Exsquisite Corpse @ Thrift Store

This game was created by the brilliant minds of: Katie, Rea, Kwansoo, Elliot, and Grey

1 "Corpse"
3 - 333 Other Players

One :: Thrift Store w/ dressing room
One :: Bag per player
One :: Polariod Camera
One :: Roll of not-too-adhesive tape
One :: Blind-fold
Cards with numbers 0 - no. of players

All players draw the numbers from a bag. The player that draws zero is the corpse.

All players enter Thrift Store. Corpse goes into dressing room, strips, blindfolds him/her self, and thinks of a title for the peice. All other players wander through the entire store, and must select any one item (clothing, electronics, jewlrey, etc) and place it in the bag. When all players have an item, the player who drew number one gives their item to the corpse, who must dress him/herself. Then the next person (number two) gives thier item, and so on until the corpse is wearing an item from each player. Tape may be used to attach unusual items, but NOT to cover the body.

Once the corpse puts an item on, it may not be removed or moved until after the game. Once the corpse is fully dressed, she/he exits the dressing room, removes the blindfold, annouces the title of the peice, and a polariod is taken.

Then the number one player becomes the corpse, and the other players rotate accordingly. The game continues until each player has been the corpse once (or twice, or more) or untill people think of something else to do, or they are kicked out of the store.

All players gather at one location. There is no corpse. The human body is devided up into a number of sections equal to the number of players. (Ex: three players, body is head, torso, legs. Six players, the body is head, body, left arm, right arm, left leg, right leg. Etc.)

All players dispurse to one specific or any thrift store, where they find an object to match their body part. They purchase the item (shoplifting is not suggested, codoned, or promoted, but is completley allowable) and return to the original location, without showing any other players their item.

They body parts are read off, and the corrosponding items revealed. They are attached to a wall or together to form a sculpture representing the body as they were intended to.

The corpse decides how he/she will interface with an object. They will chose the method (wear, tape, shove in oraphas, etc) that may or may not fit the normal affordance of the object since they will be blindfolded and can only go on what they feel. The context will change from where the item is found to the resulting grouping of items in the exsquisite corpse.

Assasians Race 2000

The memebers of 783 Arguello are engaged in a feirce battle for their survival. (we're playing assasians). Halfway through this remarkable, earthshattering event the score is:

Prof. John St. John (JAY) -- 2
Dr.TomServoBOT-Killer9000 (GREY) -- 3
Quantum Shue (KWANSOO) -- 0

Dr.TomBOT drew frist blood and has amassed three kills so far, but quick on his heels is Prof. John St. John with two confirmed assasinations, and despite claims of "I could get you ten times in one day..." Quantum Shue reamins scoreless.

"To re-cap the rule changes":
This is a passive version of assasians, with kills being awarded to boobytraps and devices left to be triggered by the victim at a later time. Bugs, which must be reasonable in size and noted as a bug, can score a point if they remain on the victim undetected from the time they leave the house until returning home. Score will be kept until Friday, when the winner will win, and the losers will cry about it.

What has happened thus far:
The action began when a bomb planted by Dr.TomBOT rocked the house as Prof. John St. John returned home late Tuesday, triggering the device. Retaliation came swiftly in the form of a parcial explosive, planted in Dr.TomBOT's bag which was left (rather foolishly, I must admit) ungaurded in the hall overnight, giving Prof. John his first kill. Quantum Shue became the target of multiple attacks after leaving both assasians alone for a prolonged period on Wednesday evening. Shue returned to an slew of booby traps and explosives. First, a combination Anvil/Bomb which did not fall on its target, but did explode, gave Prof. John one out of a possible two additional points. Dr.TomBOT went on a contact poision spree, leaving serveral locations contaminated, including serveral kitchen appliances, of which Prof. John fell victim to, as well as the personal affects of Quantum Shue, which were (unfortunatly) detected and neutrolized before they could claim another life. Quantum Shue did, however, fall to poison on his game controller placed by Prof. John, and was in for another nasty surprise when he attempted to acitvate his Playstation console, for the game disc had been replaced with several pounds of C4-explosive by Dr.TomBOT. Dr.TomBOT has had no luck with the land mine placed under the hall carpet, as the device was not sensitive enough to be triggered by the scrawny housemates. (the bubble wrap wouldn't pop when it was steped on...DAMN IT!)

Keep checking back for further updates!

Monday, September 20, 2004

Anyone feel like getting outraged?
...and we thought Canadians were harmless

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Magic: the gathering with it!

Firstly, although I have not played for some time, I feel I must retort all those "Magic is for loosers without girlfriends" people. I know you're out there.

Magic is a complex game played by "popular" people (sometimes) and any references to Poke'Mon or Yu Gi Oh are completely misguided and wrong (Magic invented the game-type, is way better, and is about gameplay not making money and selling merchandise to ten year old kids.)

So, on to the review:

SCALE: One of the reasons Magic is so interesting is that the game can be played with two people and be totally a solid experiance -- or the game can be played by four, or five, or six, or more (with the same rules, even!) and still be just as great. The game is most definatly different on a larger scale, (some may say more challenging, some say it becomes much dirtier) but the fundimentals are the same, and it definatly works without feeling like a game that was ment for only two people that is being streched to six.

EQUIPTMENT: One down-side to Magic is a bit steep on the "entry fee." It's hard just to say "...ya, I'll try that and see if its any good..." because you'll need a soild library of cards to draw from to build any type of deck that will be fun to play. Although, since someone is most probably nagging you to learn how to play, chances are you'll have a friend with a large enough stash that you can get started by using thiers (or atleast learn on his/her decks). But again, inorder to get at all serious about playing, there is a substantion investment in the cards that will need to be made. (It's not like picking up a deck of Hoyle for $1.29 at Wallgreens). And its hard to play Magic without getting serious (or laughing at the friend who's trying to recruit you and call him a pansy).

ABILITES / REQUIRED SKILLS: HOWEVER!... It is not to say that someone with all the great cards can't be taken down by someone just starting with only a few rares and/or uncommons. Magic is a great combonation between the cards you have (in your stash), the cards you get (when you play), and your skill. Throwing out a Lightning Bolt your first turn may seem like a smart call to an agressive player, but when your opponant casts a Ferral Thaliad (6/3 ...I think) and all you're drawing is mana, you realize it may have been prudent to have saved your 'Bolt for a rainy day. Also, a card that someone may think is garbage, another player may realize a way to use it in a deck, or a certain card combonation that makes it a great card. Being creative with deck construction or card usage can have big pay offs.

Well, I better stop talking about Magic before I write home asking to have my collection sent out.

Oh -- and to anyone still reading who actually is at all current with Magic: What the hell is with the new card design? I hadn't seen any since Weathervain, but I caught a glimpse of some 8th edition ... ak! What is this, Star Wars: the card game -- take two? Am I right? I think Yu Gi Oh was getting to them and they tried to appeal to younger kids... or something. What a mistake! Stick to what you are...the original. Don't sell out!

Exquisite Corpsicle

I think that the exquisite corpse is okay in helping yourself free up your thought processes and free-associations and blah blah blah, but it is more interesting as a tool to learn about other people. It would be a great game to play with people you just met or are starting to get to know, because you can learn something about a person rather easily that would otherwise take a long while. Besides whether or not they can draw you can also learn how they think (literally, abstractly, obscenly, uniquly, etc.) and if they are profectionists or more laxed or slobs or whatever.

On a side note, I want to apologize for the past and future slaughtering of the english language that my blog has been/will be. I havn't figured out how to spell-check on this thing I wun't.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Numero Uno

Howdy people --

I thought I'd start by sharing something that I remebered the other day after class, that I had forgotten for some time, and might explain why I'm interested in this class:

When I was maybe eight or nine and the first nintendo came out me and my sister where so excited about it that I actually made a pen and paper side scroller that we played. It was really strange, and I'm not sure why we didn't just play more Mario, but the idea was I would tape several peices of 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of paper together long-ways to form a long strip of paper and I would draw obstacles and bonus' and such. Then I'd hide either end under a napkin on the floor and slowly pull the paper through the opening in the middle as my sister dragged a penicl on the paper, marking her path.

It was fun even though it was alot of work for only little play (once she played it once she new the map well enough to win easy). I guess the idea is that even back then I was not only interested in playing games, but trying to figure out what about them I liked.

Anyway... now-a-days I like all kinds of games:

  • Video Games shooting (halo) racing (burnout) and anything in an arcade where the hardware adds to the experiance (time crisis, driving sims, etc).

  • Old school video games...especially NES and Genesis, but also old arcade classics like 1943.

  • Cardgames like poker or uno or that crazy korean hwa-tu (spelling?!) ...especially when money is involved.

  • People Games... Anything were there is no tools other than people. I usually don't find parties to be all that exciting until there is some sort of competition going on, and the simpler the better.

    I'll add to the list as I think of more. That's all for now.