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3 Games you need to play: Part 1: Kerbal Space Program
9:46 PM on 12.10.2012
Mechanically Masterful: Chivalry
5:17 PM on 11.26.2012
Mechanically Masterful: Guild Wars 2
8:44 PM on 11.06.2012
Mechanically Masterful: Battlefield 3
8:34 PM on 10.29.2012
XBOX 360 FINAL REVIEW OF LIFE
7:24 PM on 10.23.2012
Vanquish review!
2:24 AM on 02.05.2012





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In a puddle of tears and confusion, I've come to grasp with the fact that I can't recommend one single game above 2 others in my mind. After trying to stuff all 3 games in one blog, I've found instead of presenting a wall of text comparable to a masters thesis I'd break it up over the month of December. SO! In this short 3 part series, I'd like to go over those 3 games, each coming with a glowing recommendation from myself, and try and convince you that these games are worth your hard earned loonies.

But I digress, Here are my favorite games this year. (In no particular order)



Kerbal Space Program.

An effort in quick building, simple game play, easy controls, all on top of a robust and complex
physics simulator. In KSP(Kerbal Space Program) You are tasked with assembling a rocket, and blasting off to what ever destination you feel fit. Assembling a rocket is quick and rewarding. In a few short minutes you can have a multiple stage ship, blasting off into the orbit around Kerbin. (The games "earth"). W,A,S,D,Q,E control your ships direction, space changes ship's stages, ctrl and shift affect throttle. There a computers you can attach to your ship to help with this. It's all very simple, which
is half the strength of the game.

The other half, is the brilliantly complex and compelling physics system. It adds difficulty and challenge to the simple ship building. Sure it's easy to snap a solid rocket booster to a capsule and get a few hundred feet in the air, but the real-world esque physics demand more from your mind, and your rocket. Getting to orbit around the planet is a task and a half. Getting to mun (ksp's version of the moon) is one thing. Properly constructing a lander module to safely land and get back is another task all together. Since version 0.17 came out, they've added a substantial amount of planets and celestial bodies to explore. The recent release 0.18.1, has added ship docking (so you can build an international space station!) and the possibilities and challenges keep on growing.


Here is a quick little video I did when I first got the game. This is one of my first flights ever.


And after some progress, I finally managed to land on Mun. It was one of my most satisfying attachments in gaming. Because it's all on you. No hand holding, just your ingenuity, and skill. (also maybe a lot of luck.)You can check it here

Lastly here, I'd like to give a shout out to the sub reddit for the game. They have a great friendly community, with lots of information and can be found right here.

A simple ship building game, with impressive physics. Incredibly low barrier of entry, with a seemingly endless skill roof. KSP is a simply amazing game, made by dedicated developers, who are set on not releasing the full version until everything is ironed out. Get it while it's still cheap! The developers have indicated they are going to raise the price once more before retail release.








No game Iíve played this year has nailed itís core game mechanics like Chivalry Medieval warfare has.

In previous entries in this November series, Iíve highlighted games that have a lot going for them. Guildwars 2 has brilliant art direction and pleasant music, Battlefield has lagless net code, great sound design, and obviously the graphics are awesome. Chivalry has none of that. Iím not going to get into what game mechanics are again, please see my last two posts for more detail of what I would define game mechanics to be.



The sound design at the best of times barely breaks the barrier of bad. The Graphical assets in the game hardly inspire. The net code can get pretty bad, and the game has itís share of bugs. But none of that matters. Not a thing. The gameplay mechanics are so great, and are executed so well, that the game is still, after all that is said, still brilliant.

Honestly, itís the best example that I can think of to showcase how a bad game, can be made amazing by having a solid foundation of core game mechanics to base itself around. The level design is bland, but because what you are doing is so awesome, it makes a castle setting, or an arena setting really come to life. ĎA fight in an arenaí seems so clichť. Even typing it out was boring. But god dam the arena level in Chivalry is such a fuck tonne of fun.



The fighting in the game is played out in 3 basic parts, all of which are simple when separated out, but piled on top of eachother in the heat of battle, things get complex fast, and youíll have to think on your feet to stay alive.

Part 1. Positioning The first step of any battle in Chivalry is position. Position is key. Youíll have to pick where you fight your enemy in an area that isnít advantageous to your enemy, and gives you a clear stricking path. This means, looking at hills (there are a lot of mounds and raised platforms in the game), looking for obstructions so your swings arenít obstructed. Fighting in and around buildings. Picking where you fight is paramount to survival.

Part 2. Timing The fight mechanics in chivalry are built around timing your attacks and block. You have 3 types of attacks, overhead, stab, and slash. Each to my knowledge to the same amount of damage, but all have different timings. Much like in a street fighter game, where you have heavy, medium, and light attacks for different purposes, Stab, slash, and overhead are used for different things. Stab gives you a quick lunge with a long reach, slash sweeps wide hitting a large area in front of you, and overhead is a long slow hit. Each can be used to throw off the timing of your opponent. If the block in time and parry you, you stagger and are exposed to a direct attack. So timing of your attacks, mixing up the range between you and your enemy, and changing from stabs to slashes, to overheads is key.



Part 3. Mind games Mind games in Chivalry, just like any other fighting game you've played, play a paramount part when you partake in battle. Running forward to feint a charge, just to back up at the last second and let your opponent swing at the air, thus exposing himself for a quick lunge to the chest, is how you start to rack up a kill count. Wildly slashing at your opponent pushing him close to a ledge, to all of a sudden switch to a kick, propelling him to his doom? Changing strategies, doing different things, tricking your opponent with different thingsÖ.justÖ.ughÖ.fucking love this game.

Seriously Chivalry is awesome. Itís not a perfect game as I noted early in this blog thing, but the game mechanics are so solid you are going to have fun no matter what. Even if you play it for a few hours and put it down, youíll have a blast for those few hours.

PS: Bought a wii-u, add me @Lenigod








In the world of mmo's game mechanics often take the passenger seat to a skinner-box theory of game design. The notion that you have to do one repetitive task over and over until you eventually get a reward. Kill 100 mobs to get a level, Collect 1000 pieces of iron to get a new sword, get gear, get better gear, get even better gear. Anything to keep the player invested for a long period of time, with little reward actually given, yet tons of incentive to keep going. If you just level up twice more, you can use that sweet new shield. So you do, and you use it, and your happy. If you just kill that one last boss, it might drop that last piece of gear you need to complete the set. It does, and you move on to getting a whole new set of gear. It's an endless cycle of tedium. Often called the gear treadmill, it's constantly running forward without getting anywhere.

Generally mmo's find a lot of people wanting more, which is because the game design of them has been purposefully warped in such a way that it keeps people playing for thousands of hours, and keeps people paying thousands of dollars. Because of this, a lot of mmos take a hit in other areas to support that monetization model. Things that don't lend themselves to that golden chalice of continued support.

Guild wars 2 changes all that.



At it's core. Guildwars 2 well seem very familiar to world of Warcraft, or Everquest 2, or Final fantasy 14, or any other mmo. The art style is somewhat reminiscent of WoW(World of warcraft), there is that grand scale of things like in EQ2(Everquest 2) and to me the story and theme of the game feels a lot like FF14(Final Fantasy 14). But what GW2(Guild wars 2) does that WoW, or FF14 doesn't, is nail game mechanics.

What are game mechanics though? There is a popular misconception that game mechanics are rules. For example and since we are talking about it, how much damage you gun does to an enemy per bullet. That is a rule of the game. It take 3 bullets to kill some one for example. You can fire 10 bullets a second, that's a rule. You can have 32 people per team, that's a rule. What a game mechanic is, is the underlying architecture of the game. That is, it's what makes the game feel a certain way. How fast you can run, what your sprint animation looks like, the sound of your laboured breath, and the vulnerability as you put your gun to your side while you go full bore across an open field. All these things are the game mechanic of sprinting. Sprinting makes you feel fast, vulnerable, it has an intense tone to it, like this is something difficult to do, yet it's easily done, simply by holding shift.

So by my definition, rules of a game are small simple things. You jump only this high. You run only this fast. It takes 10 seconds to re-spawn. These are rules. Where as mechanics of a game, are large broad strokes. It feels like this to sprint, and you get this reaction from sprinting. Those big ideas, those are what I consider game mechanics, and Battlefield 3 nails game mechanics.



The main thing that is different, and what becomes immediately apparent, is the combat in the game. Movement, positioning, and dodging take precedence over the standard all out dps(Damage per second) fire fights of other mmos. (*Note. When I say other mmo's, let's just assume I'm talking about WoW, because I have the most time investment in that mmo) The way the game is played, at a fundamental level, is completely different. You are not spamming spells, over and over, just to kill a boss. In GW2, the game is more about, dodging enemy attacks, healing yourself, putting on some buffs, getting a few attacks in, and then repeating that process.



Almost all attacks require no target, rather, they are cast when you press them, and need to be aimed. Again, the emphasis in all this is on position. You need to be free of obstacles, need a line of sight, need to be the right distance. It's all daunting at first, but the battle mechanics in GW2 are brilliant. Add on top of all that how fast paced the game is. Where in other mmos you'd fight a boss who might have a few phases, each with a unique 'twist' to them, in GW2 those bosses are similar, but because the combat is so loose, fluid, and fast, the 'twists' come up a lot more often.

For example, there is one ogre-like boss, who has a giant mouth where his belly should be. You fight him in a giant arena, and he vomits fire balls at you that you have to dodge (The fire targets you so you must dodge, or take a lot of damage). Then he'll send a shock wave out in front of him (you'll have to be in a position to avoid that). Finally he well start to suck in air from his belly-mouth. You have to pick up the vomit fire balls, and throw them into his mouth to stop him, else he'll do a large area of effect attack (you'll have to be near the front of him to get a good throwing angle, see the pattern emerging here?). These 'twists' happen a lot. It's a lot of fun, it keeps you on your toes, and most importantly, the game mechanic of a regular mmo, where you are concerned about damage metres, is subtlety shifted to an area, where you are having more fun fighting bosses and enemies because the fights are more engaging, because of the mechanics of the game. It's not a focus on damage, it's a focus on fun boss fights. It's brilliant.



The other piece of the puzzle here is the platforming mechanics. Jumping, probably one of the most important things in an mmo, Is implemented extremely well in GW2. So much so that the game has jumping puzzles built right into it, with rewards at the end. Arena net really knew they hit something special, and it shows.

The problem other mmo's, and platforming games have, is either a lack of control, or too much control when you jump. The jump might feel off compared to the tone of the game. For a game like Killzone, The jump feels laboured, heavy, you don't jump very high or far. It's spot on for the game, and the mechanics for jumping in Killzone are great. For a game like Jak and Daxter, the jumping feels tight, not floaty, but nice and high, and very predictable, which is exactly what you want in a fantasy platformer. Where a game like Limbo, you can never quite tell if a high jump is going to end in a fall-death. It wasn't quite high or fast enough, or maybe it wasn't low and slow enough. It's hard to tell, but while limbo might be a fantastic puzzle game and amazing visual experience, it's platforming was lackluster. That right mix is a difficult thing to get, but GW2 nails it.

The jumping in the game is nice and high compared to your character. It feels like you can jump really high, but not unrealistically so. There's no double jump, or extra height mechanic, because even with the game being a fantasy one, its built in such a way that it's grounded in a realistic way. Gravity, jump height, speed and length of jumps feel spot on. You have a decent amount of control in the air (You can juke right, and left in the air, and then back again, think megaman). The platforming mechanics in the game are spot on, and it's a ton of fun to do platforming sections.



There is a lot to say about any mmo. The design choices are what people usually talk about. What the world looks like, the type of content, the basic design principles of the game, to the over arching design through the entire thing. How parties work, or how dungeons work, and in an mmo, more then any other game, these are extremely important things. GW2 has a lot of excellent design choices, some maybe aren't as strong as others, but GW2 has such strong game mechanics, and ones I enjoy so much, that I don't think I'll stop playing it for a long time to come.








Battlefield 3 has long since struck a chord in the long time series fans. Often praised for it's sleek animation sets, stunning visuals, and vast open maps, the other side of the argument abhors it's simple 'consolised' approach to what was supposed to be a return to form in the vein of battlefield 2. Complaints are often raised about the similarity between every gun, the battle log, and the obsession with blue tinting everything.



But what are these things rooted in but aesthetic changes? The animations of a game don't make Rayman origins better then super Mario world. The graphics of Gran Turismo 5 don't make it a better game then the original Forza game. Certainly poor design choices, bad audio, sloppy graphics are detrimental to a game, but those are only pecies that fit around one thing.

Game Mechanics.

What are game mechanics though? There is a popular misconception that game mechanics are rules. For example and since we are talking about it, how much damage you gun does to an enemy per bullet. That is a rule of the game. It take 3 bullets to kill some one for example. You can fire 10 bullets a second, that's a rule. You can have 32 people per team, that's a rule. What a game mechanic is, is the underlying architecture of the game. That is, it's what makes the game feel a certain way. How fast you can run, what your sprint animation looks like, the sound of your laboured breath, and the vulnerability as you put your gun to your side while you go full bore across an open field. All these things are the game mechanic of sprinting. Sprinting makes you feel fast, vulnerable, it has an intense tone to it, like this is something difficult to do, yet it's easily done, simply by holding shift.

So by my definition, rules of a game are small simple things. You jump only this high. You run only this fast. It takes 10 seconds to re-spawn. These are rules. Where as mechanics of a game, are large broad strokes. It feels like this to sprint, and you get this reaction from sprinting. Those big ideas, those are what I consider game mechanics, and Battlefield 3 nails game mechanics.



First and foremost of BF3(Battlefield 3) successes, is movement. Standard walking is at a brisk un-frustrating pace. You can move in all directions, without any hamper to your speed, and you can jump, go prone or otherwise without any frustration. It seems like such a simple thing, but the speed in which you can do things, is incredibly lack lustre in a lot of other games. Killzone 3 for example, while a great game, with a good sprint mechanic, left the normal movement, laggy and slow. There was an odd dichotomy of that game where you could sprint like a gazelle for minutes, but slowed down to the pace of paint drying as soon as you stop sprinting.

Compound this with the animation sets in BF3. Jumping over obstacles, while at first disorienting, is actually used as a sort of 'skip' It's fast, and while it might not actually be faster then a standard jump in the game, that simple mechanic of 'vaulting' over things, feels fast, it looks fast, levels are designed in such a way that there are lots of things to vault over, and you don't feel like an idiot, and vulnerable for vaulting over something. You get a cool animation, a reward, for doing so. It keeps the game visually pleasing. Other animation sets are similar. Reloading doesn't seem overly contrived, and feels fast. First person driving animations don't look obtuse, while still feeling necessary. All the animation sets in the game, add credence to their respective game mechanics underneath.

*Note. I'll give you the stupid death hand animation. While it's there to make the respawn time see less then it actually is, it's kinda dumb after just a few games, and most people i know agree, those extra couple seconds would be better spent in the load out screen waiting for the respawn timer.



Shooting, the most import thing in an fps, feels great. In every great fps game, each gun has a satisfactory feeling to firing it. The anticipation as you pull the trigger, the roar of metal and gunpowder as bullets fly out of the chamber, and the satisfaction of your smoking muzzle after the bullet is fired. The 'weight' of the guns feel proper. They look great, sound great, the recoil feels fair, yet difficult to manage. Every aspect of the shooting in bf3 is near perfect.

Honestly. There is nothing inherently wrong with BF3 at all. The shooting is great, the movement is superb, the animations in the game are spectacular, driving vehicles is immensely fun, getting kills brings a satisfying feeling, winning games feels rewarding, the experience system in the game is well implemented and keeps players yearning for more.



And since the mechanics of the game are so solid, the developers can do anything they want with the dlc. As has been the status quo' for the first 3 packs. They can make more of the same game (karkand), they can do a fast paced, quick mode, small level dlc pack (conquest), and they can do vast open huge worlds, filled with vehicles and explosions and ac130's (Armoured Kill) And it's always going to be fun. Even if there is nothing to destroy, even if there are no vehicles, even if the map was just a completely flat grid and it was only 1v1, it would still be fun. The mechanics of BF3 are so strong, that even if the game mode was don't kill any one, you'd still have a good time playing it.

Even if the game has at times poor level design. Even if it has unbalanced or 'too-same' weapons. Even with some of the more in-depth broken things with the games design, BF3 still comes out on top with the basics. There isn't a FPS that I can think of that feels better. It's that perfect blend of Chocolate and Caramel. While clearly not for everyone, I fucking love me some chocolate.








Sony wins?

I'm back







Lenigod
2:24 AM on 02.05.2012

This game is the best! It even has a feature that is similar to when metal gear soild shook your ps1 controller while battleing mantis, in that it kills your ps3! It was so cool I never saw it coming!

Watch the video to find out more about vanquish?