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LONG BLOG

What if we could remake games: part 01

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In this, I try to look at games I like in a critical and analytical fashion, and then imagine if I had the authority and the means to have them remade.

What I mean is I won't go "I think this would be cool to add," or "I don't like this, so I'll leave it out." I mean to look at what worked for the games and what didn't, not just for me, but for others.

Anyway, the first game I'm looking at is a game I'm sure a lot of you agree has room for improvement, Dead Rising Chop Till You Drop. I personally like the game a lot. It's a personal 8.5/10 for me (although RE4 is a 9.5/10), but for others I admit it's a 7/10 at best.

Why not remake the first Dead Rising?

CTYD was meant to address many of the complaints of the original game. It did, but didn't go far enough. This is part of what my hypothetical remake would do.

So just say "I'd make them put actual effort into it this time."

No, no, no. That's just being vague. It's not helpful at all. Plus it ignores that what was done with the game was unprecedented. That is important. The original game was already a first in gaming in that it used the multi-core processors to make loads of enemy AI. Now CTYD tried to squeeze that all onto a single core process, and still have the loads of area detail that the mall required. How many SD games had both loads of enemy AI (not that Hitman game, those were extras, not bots) coupled with areas with lots and lots of detail, that doesn't even use streaming (as GTA would). If there are, I would like to hear about it. Now that is not an excuse for the game.It's just...

Firsts in gaming and electronics suck more often than not.

This is why my hypothetical game here is a remake instead of doing it over (like I would do with the Star Wars prequels). We would use what we learned from the first time as a road map. We'd know what does and doesn't work on the Wii and get more out of the system.

Zombies before graphics.

Zombies get improved first. Some were turned off by the zombies reappearing in frame Now they do that in the original game. It's just done outside off frame, but you can see them if you turn fast enough. But for me, there is a more practical reason to increase the zombie count. When I'm level grinding, doing a special move can cause them to disappear, or just turning the camera away from the zombie cluster for a second too long. I got used to it, but I would definitely remedy that here.

But it wouldn't be to get as many zombies in the original game. This would still be CTYD. The zombie density would be the same. It would just be constant here and have a larger radius around Frank (again, the original has a radius, it's just harder to tell). And like the original game, respawning and swapping would be behind Frank. So even if you clear out the zombies ahead of you with the Chicago Typewriter, you could still get attacked from behind if you don't pay attention to you all your surroundings.

Now what about the graphics?

I would keep the polygon count and texture resolution the same. They weren't that high in the original game, because the nature of the game was scale. But that doesn't mean I would leave the graphics alone. Just that the first priority would be increasing the zombie count to a satisfactory level. After that's done, I would see what could be done with the graphics.

But one absolute would be a more vibrant color palette (as that hopefully shouldn't require any more resource optimization). It wasn't so bad when I played the game on an SDTV, but then my roommates and I got an HDTV, and I could see why some were put off by the graphics. Too many spots looked outright muddy. Others looked horribly faded. It wasn't universal, as the plaza areas looked good. Just that the original game was a huge contrast to the brown look of so many HD games, and this game should as well.

Now if there is room to do other things with the graphics, I would improve the lighting and shadows, as those did help the other game a lot.

Do the cut scenes in game.

The graphics in CTYD could actually do decent animations. You could see it when you fight the prisoners. So I would remove the FMVs, which would also have the benefit of more ROM space to add more content. More on that later.

Remove the linear escort missions.

I got used to them, but I can definitely see that making the escort missions required, and effectively doubling their length, was not a good design decision. This can not be blamed on the Wii or the perceived lack of effort. It was all by choice, and it doesn't quite work. But would I make the escort missions time based like the original? Not quite.

Make the game case based instead of time based.

What I mean is that when you complete each case, particular side missions, including the escort missions, open up. Some even close past a certain point (as in the survivors didn't make it). So if you like you can just tear through the story (for speed runners). Others can do the side missions for 100% completion. And some bonus missions would require beating some of the side missions to unlock them.

This way it has the freedom of the original game, without the time turning that freedom into confusion for some.

Also, because of that, I'd remove the ropes, so there would be more freedom to move around the mall, and more freedom in the missions, such as...

Include missions about just killing zombies.

The main draw of these games is fighting zombie hordes. So there should be missions that encourage those things. It would be sort of like the "Odd Jobs" and "Second Amendment" missions (which would still be included here), just in game.

Some would be fun, like putting every Servbot head in the Paradise Plaza toy store on zombie heads. Others would be more action, such as getting on a cart, and it rolls forward. You have to use your shotgun and take out as many zombies as you can before the cart reaches the end. And you had better get that reference.

Include a camera angle that is tilted above Frank.

It would still move with him, but it wouldn't be directly behind him. This is because since games lack depth perception (one thing 3D gaming could actually solve) it's hard to make out small distances. I've missed a lot of attacks thanks to that little problem. Fortunately it wasn't too much of a problem...

Include a hardest difficulty setting, which is "Hard" but the life bar is like the original game.

Those who haven't played the game think fewer zombies makes this game easier. Those who have played it (even if they didn't like it) know that it's the life bar that makes this easier. Even at minimum it takes about seven to eight hits on Hard to get a game over. So it's twice as good as the original life bar without any improvement.

So to those who want more of a challenge, the hardest difficulty would be the punishing life bar from the original. One hit and you lose a whole unit. Although drinking juices to restore health wouldn't revert. That isn't a challenge. It's just frustrating. You'd still be able to just safely take the healing items in the sub screen.

Restore and revamp the camera system.

In a way, I can see how they left it out. For one thing, zombies fading away precludes taking pictures of corpses. And getting up close would be hard when they lunge at you half the time. But here I would just make a new camera system. You'd have different conditions in what pictures to take. Yet I would leave that guy as a zombie in this game. He's just annoying. Taking pictures in this game would just be about getting proof. In fact, if you take enough of the right pictures, you could even get another ending, one made just for this remake.

As for the actual taking pictures, I would have the control be the same as with the rifles. In fact, the camera would be the default equipment in the rifle slot for weapon selection. And the pictures could even be saved in the Wii system memory or an SD card, like the screencaps in Crystal Bearers.

Have Motion+ plus as an option for the melee weapons.

It might be a bit gimmicky, but there is a reason for this. But some options would be that instead of the usual A for one attack, swing Wiimote for anther attack, and stun zombie for another attack, they would all be in how you use the motion plus. Although some weapons would be obvious in the right motions. To use the golf club, you swing it like one. At least that would be for the most powerful golf club attack.

Plus it could be a way to have more options in swinging the weapons high and low instead of pressing up or down on the d-pad (which was only practical for swinging down anyway). A parrot comes flying your way, just swing upwards with the baseball bat and send it across the field.

Include multiplayer.

Right from the start I would have multiplayer modes to enjoy. You don't have to unlock them, just have fun. Some could be split screen multiplayer, some could be first person like a rail shooter (but just as an option, not as the game of course). But it's not against each others. It's still about killing zombies. Some modes would be who could take out the most. Some would be cooperative and some modes could even involve trying to be the last survivor. You can't hurt your opponents with weapons, but you can stun them, especially when your opponent is facing down a horde.

Now the split screen part would likely have a hit in the graphics, and/or zombie count, but for having all your buds with you taking out the undead, I think that's a good tradeoff.

Local would get the priority, but online would be an option, at least for some of the modes.

Actually market the sucker.

This is why I would have Motion+. Have ads where people are using the Wiimotes like weapons. You would then see Frank on screen taking out the zombies in that manner (no blood of course, unless it's a red band commercial). Don't market it like a party game, but as something like being an action hero in a zombie film. I would hope enough people would want something like that to at least make this a modest hit.

Now that's all I can think of for this game right now, but I hope it's a good way to look at how to improve games without being too vague or fanboyish. Next time, I'll look at a game that's a bit more popular, and thus might be a bit controversial about the changes I propose (sure this is hypothetical, but some would still argue).
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About Lord The Night Knightone of us since 6:44 PM on 10.07.2007

I have a Wii and a DS, and my brother has a 360. I don't have anything against the PS3. We just can't afford one yet, but I do want a PSP when I can.